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that when he was young, he girt himself, i hands upon them, and gave them his solemn lived at his pleasure, and went wherever benediction'; during which he was taken his fancy directed him ; but when he should from them, and received up in the regions reach the term of old age, he should stretch of the heavenly. Canaan. The apostles, forth his hands, and another should girt and who beheld their Master visibly ascend into , bind him, and lead him whither he had no heaven, were filled with a greater sense of desire to go, intimating, as the evangelist his glory than they had ever been while he tells us, - by what death he should glorify conversed with them familiarly on earth. God.” ..
And having performed their solemn adora
tion to him, they returned to Jerusalem with * Peter was well pleased to drink the bitter great joy, there to wait for the accomplishcup, and make his confession as public as ment of their great Master's promise. How bis denial, provided all would be sufficient sudden a change was now wrought in the
to atone for his former sin. And seeing minds of the apostles! They who were lately - John following, he asked his great Master, overwhelmed with sorrow, at the very menwhat should be his fate, and whether he who tion of their Lord's departure from them, had been the object of his Master's love, in ! beheld him now with joy and triumph ; they his life-time, should not have as honour were fully satisfied of his glorious advance. able a death as he that had denied him ? ment to the right hand of Omnipotence, and To which Jesus replied, it doth not con- | of that peculiar care and providence which cern thee to know how I shall dispose of they were sure he would exercise over them, events, with regard to him: he shall see the in pursuance of those great trusts he had destruction of the Jewish nations, and then committed to their care. go down to the chambers of the dust in peace. Not long after, nur blessed Saviour ap
CHAP. VI. peared to his disciples at Jerusalem, to take his last farewel of them who bad attended
'ransactions of Peter, from the Ascension him during his public ministry among the
of his blessed Master to the Dispension sons of men. He led them out as far as
of the Church at Jerusalem. Bethany, a small village on the Mount of Olives, where he briefly told them that they THE apostles, though deprived of the were the persons he had chosen to be the 1 personal presence of their dear Lord witnesses, both of his death and resurreetion ; ) and Master, were indefatigable in fula testimony which they should publish in filling the commission they had received from every part of the world. In order to which, bim. The first object that engaged their he would, after his ascension into heaven, attention, after their return to Jerusalem, pour out his spirit upon them in an extraor- was to fill up the vacancy in their number, dinary manner, that they might be the bet- lately made by the unhappy fall and aposter enabled to struggle with that violent tacy-of Judas. In order to this, they called rage and fury, with which the doctrine of together the church, and entered into an upthe gospel would be opposed by men and per room, when Peter, as president of the devils. Adding, that in the mean time, assembly, proposed to them the choice of a they should return to Jerusalem, and there new apostle. . wait till those miraculous powers were given them from on high.
He put them in mind that Judas, one of
the disciples of their great and beloved Having finished this discourse, he layed | Master, being betrayed by his covetous and
insatiable temper, had lately fallen from the filled. The christian assembly were met as honour of his place and ministry. That usual, to perform the public services of their this was no more than what the prophet worship, when suddenly a sound, like that had long since foretold should come to pass, of a mighay wind, rushed'in upon them; and that the care of the church which had representing the powerful efficacy of that been committed to him, should devolve divine spirit which was now to be commuupon another: that therefore it was highly nicated to them. After which there apă necessary the same person who had been peared small flames of fire, which in the familiarly conversaut with the blessed Jesus, shape of cloven tongues, descended and from first to last, and consequently, a sat upon the head of each of them, to decompetent witness both of his doctrine note tbat their enjoyment of this gift should and miracles, his death, resurrection, and be constant and perpetual; and not like the ascension, should be substituted in his prophets of old, who were inspired only at room.
some particular times and seasons... Upon
this they were all immediately filled with This, indeed, was highly requisite; for the Holy Ghost, which, in an instant, enas 'no witness is so valid and satisfactory as abled them to speak fluently several lanthe testimony of an eye-witness, as the guages they had never learned, and probaapostles all along, principally insisted on bly neyer heard. this, that they delivered nothing to the world 'concerning the great Redeemer of 1. The report of so sudden and strange an mankind, than what they themselves had action, was $oop spread through every part seen and heard, as his rising from the dead of Jerusalem, wbich.at that time was full of was a principle likely to meet with the Jewish proselytes, devout men out of every greatest opposition, and which would be | nation under heaven, Parthians, Medes, the most difficult tenet of the gospel to be Elamites, the dwellers in Mesopotamia and believed by the sons of men, they urged Judea, Cappadocia, Pontius and Asia, this great truth, incessantly declaring that Phrygia and Pampbylia, Egypt, the parts of they were eye-witnesses of his resurrection; Lybia and Cyrene, from Rome, from Crete, that they had seen and felt him; eaten and and from Arabia. These.no sooner heard familiarly conversed with him, after his of this miraculous effusion of the Holy return from the chambers of the grave. It Spirit, than they flocked in prodigious n'umwas therefore highly requisite that sueh an bers to the christian assembly; where they apostle should be chosen : and accordingly were amazed to hear these Galileaus speak, two candidates were proposed; Joseph, ing to them in their own native languages so called Barsabas, and Matthias, both qualifi. various and so very different from one ano. ed for the great and important office of the ther. And it could not fail of exceedingly apostleship. And having prayed that the | increasing the wonder, to reflect on the divine providence would immediately guide meanness of the speakers, who were peiand direct their choice, they cast lots, and ther assisted by genius, polished by educa- : the lot fell upon Matthias, who was ac tion, or improved by use and custom. The cordingly admitted into the number of the disciples were destitute of all these assista apostles.
ances: their parts were mean, their educa
tion trifling, and their experience in speakAfter filling up the vacancy in the apo- | ing before great assemblies, trifling.' Yet stolic number, they spent their time in now these persons speak boldly, and with prayer and meditation, till the feast of Pen- the greatest propriety, in various languages. tecost; when the promise of their great Nor were their discourses filled with idle Master in sending the Holy Ghost was full stories, or the follies of a luxuriant fancy.
No, they expatiated on the great and ad- / prophecy must relate to Christ, having never mirable works of Omnipotence, and the been fulfilled in any but him, who both mysteries of the gospel, which human apo died and was risen again, whereof they prehension could never discover. .:: were his witnesses. Nay, that he was not
only risen from the dead, but ascended into This surprizing transaction had different the highest heaven, and according to David's effects on the minds of the people ; some prediction “ sat down on the right band of attributing to it the effect of a miracle, and God, until he had made his enemies his others to the power and strength of nevo footstool :" which could not be primarily wine. Upon which the apostles all stood up, meant of David, as he never ascended boand Peter, in the uame of the rest, under dily into heaven; that therefore the whole took to confute this injurious calumny. house of Israel ought to believe, that this
very Jesus, whom they had crucified, was He told them, that this scandalous slander that person whom God had appointed to be proceeded from the spirit of malice and false. the Messiah, the founder of the christian bood; tbat their censure was as uncharitable church, and the Saviour of the world. as it was unjust: that it was early in the morning, and therefore not a time for drink- 1 This discourse, though the first that St. ing, especially on a day set apart for devo- | Peter ever made in public, deeply affected tion ; that these extraordinary and miracu- | the people, and every word, like a dagger, lous effects were but the accomplishment of pierced them to the heart, so that they cried an ancient prophecy, which the Almighty 1 out, " Men and brethren, what shall we had express)y declared should be fulfilled do ?”. To which Peter answered, the only in the times of the Messiah: that Jesus of | way to expiate your guilt, obtain pardon Nazareth had evidently proved bimself to for the many sins you have committed, and be that great prophet, the Son of the Most | acquire the gift of the Holy Ghost is to High, by many unquestionable 'miracles, repent sincerely, and be baptized into the of which they themselves had been eye-wit: religion of this crucified Saviour. Upon nesses; and thougb by the permission of these terms the promises of the new coveOmnipotence, who was pleased by this nant, ratified by the death of the Son of means, to bring about the redemption of God, will belong to you and your children, mankind, they had wickedly crucified and and to all that sincerely believe and embrace slain him, yet God had raised him from the the gospel. He also used the most forcible dead; nor was it consistent with the justice and endearing expressions to prevail on them and goodness of the Almighty, especially to listen to the inviting calls of the Son of those divine predictions made concerning God, and by that means to save themselves him, that he should be confined in the from that unavoidable ruin and destruction, chambers of the grave; David having par which would shortly fall on the heads of the ticularly foretold, “That his flesh should wicked and headstrong generation of uuberest in hope, that God would not leave his lieving Jews.. soul in hell, neither suffer his Holy One to see corruption : but would make known 1 The effect of this discourse was equally to bim the way to life.” That this prophecy. wonderful and surprising; for great num could not relate to David himself, as he had bers of those, who before ridiculed the relimany ages since been reduced to dust, and gion of Jesus, now acknowledged him for his flesh passed througb the different stages their Saviour, and flew to him for refuge of corruption, bis tomb being yet visible from the impending storm: and St. Luke among them, and from whence he was tells us, that there were that day acued to known never to return; and therefore the l the church no less than three thousalid souls, who were all baptized and received into the letting him go. But though you have put flock of the great Shepherd of Israel, the him to death, yet we are witnesses that He bishop of our souls. A quick and plentiful hath raised him again from the dead, and harvest indeed! “This was the Lord's do that he is ascended into heaven, where he ings, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” will remain till the great and tremendous
day of general restitution. This I know was Soon after this wonderful conversion, | done by your rulers, through ignorance, and Peter and John, going up to the temple not being thoroughly convinced of the greatabout three in the afternoon, near the con
ness and divinity of his person; the ignoclusion of one of the solemn hours of prayer,
rance by which the great and righteous desaw a poor impotent cripple, near forty signs of Omnipotence were brought about, years of age, who had been lame from his and the prophecies concerning the person birth, lying at the beautiful gate of the tem- and sufferings of the Messiah, delivered by ple, and asking alnis of those who entered
Moses, Samuel, and all the prophets, since the sacred edifice. This miserable object the world began, have been accomplished. moved their compassion: and Peter bebold. But now it is high time to repent and turn ing him with attention, said, the riches of to God, that your crying sins may be forthis world, the silver and gold so highly co.
given, that when the Messiah shall appear veted by the sons of men, are not in my to execute judgment upon the Jewish nation, power to bestow : but I possess the power it may be time of comfort to you, as it will of restoring life and health, and am ready
be of vengeance and destruction to others. to assist thee.
You should remember that you are the pe
culiar persons, to whom the blessings and Then taking the man by the hand, he the promises primarily belonged, and to commanded him, in the name of Jesus of whom the Almighty first sent bis Son that Nazareth, to rise up and walk. Immedia he might shower on you his blessings, by ately the nerves and sinews were strength. turning you away from your iniquities. ened, and the several parts of the diseased members performed their natural functions. While Peter was speaking to the people, Upon which the man accompained them in one part of the temple, John was, in all into the temple, walking, exulting, and probability, doing the same, in the other ; praising God.
and the success plainly indicated how power
ful the preaching of the apostles was; five So strange and extraordinary a cure filled thousand persons embracing the doctrines the minds of the people with admiration, of the gospel, and acknowledging the cruciand their curiosity drew them round the fied Jesus for their Lord and Saviour. apostle, to view the man who had performed it. Peter, seeing the multitude gathering | Such amazing success could not fail of exround them, took the opportunity of speak / citing the attention and envy of the rulers ing to them in the following manner : “Men of Israel. Accordingly the priests and Sad. and brethren, this remarkable cure should ducees repaired to the Roman magistrate, not excite your admiration of us, as if we and intimated to him that, in all probability, had performed it by our own power. It was this concourse of people would prove the wrought in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, cause of a tumult and insurrection. Upon our crucified Master, by the power of that this information, the captain of the temple very Christ, that holy and just person, whom seized on the apostles, and cast them into you yourselves denied, and delivered to prison. Pilate, nay, and preferred a murderer before him, when the governor was desirous of? The next day they were carried before No. 19.
the Jewish Sanhedrim: and being asked by , Israel, instead of being satisfied with it, what power and authority they had done would, in all probability, have proceeded this, Peter boldly answered, “ Be it known to a greater violence, had not the people's unto you, and to all the descendants of veneration for the apostles checked their Jacob, that this miracle was wrought whol. malicé ; so that all they dared to do, was Jy in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom to enforce their menaces, and dismiss them. ye yourselves have crucified and slain, and whom the Almighty hath risen again from When the apostles were returned to their the dead. This is the stone which your brethren, they informed them of the treatbuilders refused, and which is become the ment they bad met with from the Jewish head of the corner. Nor is there any other magistrates. Upon which they all joined in way, but which you, or any of the sons of prayer to the Almighty, for an extraordinary men, can be saved, but by this crucified supply of courage and assistance, to enable Saviour.”
them to execute their commission in these The boldness of the apostle was admired perilous times, and plant the religion of by all, even by the court of the Sanhedrim. their crucified Saviour. Nor were their prayAnd it should be remembered that these very
ers offered in vain ; for before they bad conjudges were the persons who had so lately
cluded their fervent addresses to the throne condemned the blessed Jesus himself, and
of grace, the house was again shaken with had no other way of colouring their proceed
a mighty wind, as on the day of Pentecost; ings, than by a second act of cruelty; that and they were instantly replenished with the apostles did not charge them with the fresh measures of the Holy Ghost, and notcrime of crucifying the Son of God in secret,
withstanding all the threatenings of the but in the open court of judicature, and in
Jewish rulers, found themselves enabled to the hearing of all the people.
preach the gospel of their great and beloved
Master, with more boldness than ever. The court, after beholding them with a kind of astonishment, remembered that they
The labours of the apostles were crowned had seen thein with Jesus of Nazareth, and
with abundant success, and it seems, that therefore ordered them to withdraw, while such was the aversion of the juveterate they debated among themselves what was Jews to those who became converts to the proper to be done. It was impossible to faith of Christ, that they are deprived of deny the miracle ; for it was performed be business in their respective callings; for we fore all the people, and the person on whom
find that the professors of the religion of the it was wrought was no stranger in Jerusa holy Jesus sold their effects, and brought lem. They, therefore, resolved to charge the money to the apostles, that they might them strictly, not to preach any more in the deposit in one common treasury, aud from name of Jesus. Accordingly they were thence supply the several exigencies of the again called in, and acquainted with this church. resolution of the council. To which the apostles auswered, That as they had receive But hypocrisy was not unkyown among ed a commission from heaven, to declare to the professors of religion, even in these primi all nations what they had seen and heard, it tive times. Ananias and his wife Sapphira, was certainly their duty to “ obey God ra, having embraced the doctrines of the gospel, ther than man."
pretended to follow the free and generous
spirit of these times by consecrating and deThis was a fair appeal to the consciences voting their estate to the honour of God, of their very judges; but these rulers of and the necessities of the cburch. Accord