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they should at this time be invested with the miraculous power which he had promised them; and being eager to know whether their conjecture was right, they asked our LORD if this was his intention of calling them all together. But he checked their curiosity, by desiring them to be contented with such revelations as Divine wisdom saw fit to make them. What was, proper and requisite for them to learn, he said, would be communicated in its proper season. All that was necessary for them to know at that time was, that they should receive power to perform the task required of them by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and be enabled to bear witness to the LORD wheresoever they should be dispersed.
He then solemnly repeated his promise of sending the COMFORTER; and enforced his command for converting and baptizing persons of all nations who would re ceive his doctrine, and profess their belief in the FA THER, SON, and HOLY GHOST; assuring them, that he would never forsake his true disciples, but support and comfort them as long as the world should last, on condition of their fidelity. Then pronouncing an affectionate and solemn benediction, he gently rose from the earth; and while they beheld him with the strictest observation, a cloud received him out of their sight, and he ascended to heaven,, where he sat down at the right hand of God the FATHER.
It was very fit and proper that our LORD should ascend, as there were yet many ages to come before the end of the world. It was also necessary that he should ascend visibly to confirm the faith of his disciples *.
To heaven CHRIST ascended as our KING, that he might subdue his enemies, and protect his subjects; and
*See Bishop Newton's Dissertations on the Prophecies.
as our Priest, :hat he might enter into the presence of God the FATHER, to intercede for us. He also went, as he declared, to prepare a place for each of his faithfu followers, and in his resurrection to give them a pledge of their own.
There was the utmost propriety in the circumstances attending the ascension. Our Lord went up in the presence of all his Apostles, those whom he had chosen t be witnesses of his life and doctrine. While he was blessing his disciples, by which he supported his cha. racter to the last, he did the work of heaven, and left us an example of kindness and benevolence.
The place our Lord fixed on for his ascension was the fittest that could be selected. Mount Olivet was the scene of his passion; there two of his Apostles had beheld him
agony, and there they now saw him triumphant ; from which they were taught, that his passion and his ascension had the same tendancy.
From the last verse of this section we understand the nature of the Gospeis, and the design of the Apostles in publishing them to the world. They are not given to us as complete narratives of all our Lord did while on earth, nor even of all the miracles he wrought in cona firmation of his doctrine, but as testimonies of what the Apostles themselves saw and heard, recorded for the purpose of proving that Jesus was the Son of God,
THE ANGELS' DISCOURSE WITH THE APOSTLES AFTER
THE ASCENSION OF JESUS.
From Acts, Chap. i.
And whilst they looked stedfastly towards heaven as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel.
Who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven! This same Jesus who is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him
go into heaven. And the disciples worshipped the LORD, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Phillip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. They all continued with one accord in prayer
supplication, with the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
And they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. After our LORD was gone quite out of sight, his Apostles continued to look stedfastly up to heaven, hoping, perhaps, that he would return, or that the cloud would be withdrawn, and they should obtain a view of hin in his heavenly state : he therefore sent two minis.
tering spirits to restrain their curiosity, and to confirm their faith concerning his second coming : which he had himself frequently intimated to them, but which it is likely they did not at that time recollect, though it was very necessary they should do so, in order to reconcile themselves to the loss of his presence.
When the disciples had heard from the keavenly mes. sengers, that the Lord was actually gone to heaven, they believed his repeated declaration, that he was the Son of God, and as such paid him adoration.
In order to understand the phrase of sitting at the right hand of God, we must recollect that our SAVIOUR con. stantly referred the glory of his mighty works to God The Father. Our LORD was the only begotten Son of this glorious Being : for the GODHEAD, or WORD, which dwelt in him (or constantly remained with him, as our souls do with our bodies) proceeded immediately and essentially from the fountain of Being, and be never had a mertal father. Sitting at the right hand of God, signified being exalted above all creatures, to be honoured as the next in power and dignity to the Father. The following sections will explain this more fully.
When the Apostles found their Lord would return no more to earth till he should descend to call mankind to judgment, they resolved to go back to Jerusalem, in obedience to his command. A sabbath-day's journey is generally reckoned by the Jews to be two thousand cubits, which was the distance between the arlo and the camp when they marched. This is usually computed to be about a mile.
Struck with the profoundest awe and reverence at the wonderful things they had lately seen and heard, the Apostles resorted to a private apartment, where they could without interruption give way to the pious effusions of M 6
their hearts, which exulted with rapturous delight at their blessed Lord's exalration, and the hopes of being in due time partakers of liis heavenly kingdom. Here they were joined by Mary our LORD's Mother, whose sorrow was now turned into joy : and here they exchanged congratulations with those pious women who had so courageously followed their beloved Master, and so tenderly bemoaned his death. What a happy change of scene was this! Private praises could not sufficiently express their gratitude; therefore they took every opportunity of attending the public service of the temple, that they might in the sacred courts bless the name of God, and make supplication for the aid of his Holy SPIRIT, which their divine Master had repeatedly taught thema to expect.
Let the thoughts of our Lord's ascension lead us to pay a willing allegiance to him; let it also animate our devotion, and comfort us in our passage through life, and excite us to use our best endeavours to purify our hearts and exalt our affections, that we may aspire after heavenly joys, and at length follow our blessed Redeemer to the regions of eternal bliss !
The following Psalms, written by King David, appear to be prophetic of our LORD's exaltation, and are excel. lently calculated to assist the minds of Christians in meditating on this important subject.
EXTRACTS FROM THE PSALMS
The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For be hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.