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which is from Hierusalem a sabbath-day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into a parlour, where abode Peter and James, John and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the Son of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued still with one accord in the temple, lauding and praising God, and making their prayers, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesu, and with his brethren.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Christ, who loved his disciples, declareth unto them his
love, even unto the end ; yea, he never ceaseth to love them. Matt. xxviii. For though he leave them, as concerning his bodily pre
sence; yet with his love, grace, and power, he is ever still with them. Forasmuch now as after sufficient proof of his resurrection he will depart from them, and go to his Father that had sent him ; he taketh them forth with him unto the place, from whence he mindeth to depart from them. And manifestly, before their eyes, he ascendeth into heaven into the glory of his Father; that they might be witnesses, as well of his glorious ascension, as of all other things which they had heard and seen before. O how fervent words spake he then unto them! How deeply entered he into their hearts! How earnestly printed he those his last words into them! The eternal wisdom speaketh nothing vainly, nothing slenderly, nothing without profit. Although the disciples, as men yet somewhat carnal, do ask questions concerning the restitution of a bodily and temporal kingdom, yet maketh he no answer unto their demand, but directeth them unto that which is for their profit, and belongeth to their office; drawing their hearts from the earthly kingdom, from the which they ought to be mortified, unto the kingdom of heaven, even unto the kingdom of God; in the which he himself is king, and into the which they now were received as citizens, that they should declare the same throughout the whole world, and offer it unto all men.
This is the gospel of the kingdom of God, which for a
testimony unto all nations must be preached in the whole world, to witness the grace of God unto the elect; but to the damned and unbelievers, a testimony of their damnation ; in that they are convinced of their own infidelity, and shall have no excuse, if they contemn and despise the grace offered unto them. By this ought we also to learn to see such things which are most profitable and wholesome unto us; and which bring us the nearest way to put our trust in God, and to love our neighbours; for that part of the play is ours. As for unprofitable and contentious questions, if we meddle not with them, then the less division, and the more love and edifying in the church of God shall follow. Many times are we too much careful for such things as we desire ourselves; as, what end this thing or that will come unto, when God will set up our prosperity, and what shall be done hereafter, when and how God will punish those that are against us. And this temptation, carnal zeal, and curiosity, chanceth oft even in the hearts of the faithful; as we see here in the disciples of Christ. Sometimes there be froward and wicked minds, which, pretending to be Christians, seek out of the gospel nothing but honour, lucre, and profit: but such be both false and feigned. Notwithstanding, all these set apart, we ought to commit and refer all things unto our merciful Creator and gracious Father, who can right well order and dispose them, how and when he will, as he thinketh best to further his glory, and to edify his elect children. Our care ought rather to be, how we may lead a godly life, and beautify the faith of Christ with good works. We must look, that we be neither ungodly nor hypocrites; but to live virtuously and innocently in his sight, and patiently at his hand to wait for our deliverance. The kingdom of Christ, that is published and offered through the gospel, is not a corporal, but a spiritual kingdom; neither consisteth it in outward things, but in a pure and faithful believing heart: and yet reacheth it throughout the whole world, and amongst all nations. In the hearts of all faithful believers doth Christ reign through his Spirit, and there overcometh he the devil, sin, and death.
And to the intent they should well understand this kingdom, he commandeth them to wait for the Holy Spirit, whom he had promised them; as if he would say: “ Now go I to
my Father, now enter I into my kingdom, that I may mightily reign upon the earth. This thing ye understand not; but when the Spirit is given you, ye shall perceive it well. All things in heaven and in earth are given into my power. In those that are mine shall I reign, and make them righteous through faith; yea, invincible shall I make them against all enemies : hereof shall ye bear witness, when ye are baptized through the Holy Ghost. This my kingdom shall ye publish in all nations, from one end of the world to another. Thus shall I reign from sea to sea; of the which my kingdom the prophets spake so much before.”
Of this kingdom doth Christ take possession through his ascending up to the Father, at whose right hand and in this kingdom he sitteth ; reigning much more mightily in his church, and working more effectually in those that be his, than he did before, when he lived yet corporally with them.
Thus taking his leave, he giveth them loving words, comforteth them, and admonisheth them of their office; that they all may be diligent therein, that they continually direct and lift up their hearts into that kingdom; and that they take in hand to bring all men to the same into the obedience of Christ. His blessing he giveth them, saluting them, wishing them good, and praying heartily unto his Father for them.
Thus was he taken from them, and carried into heaven. By the heaven we understand the incomprehensible light in the which God dwelleth, and which no mortal man can attain unto. From thence came Christ unto us; and thither is he gone again, even into the invisible glory and clearness of God. For the eternal Word and Power of God, dwelling in God's incomprehensible light from everlasting, became man, and had his conversation upon earth in all parts, sin except, as a very true man. But when he had fully finished and throughly ended the work that was given him in commission of his heavenly Father, and had obeyed him even unto the death ; forasmuch as in all things he had honoured and glorified his Father upon earth, it was convenient that the Father also should glorify his Son. And therefore raised he him from death, and took him up into heaven; not after the Godhead, (for so was he always in heaven,) but after the man
our sakes, 18 cour and glory, ition of the Goreigneth;
hood. For his true human nature, which he took upon him for our sakes, is carried and taken up out of this world into the invisible honour and glory, into the highest incomprehensible, and into the perfect fruition of the Godhead.
In this honour and glory Christ dwelleth and reigneth; and yet amongst those that are his doth he finish and perform all things by his Spirit, having governance in the hearts of the faithful through belief, through love, through patience, and innocency of life.
To the intent now that this kingdom might be erected in the hearts of men, it was necessary that he should give his disciples commission to publish the same, and to prepare men's minds thereunto through the preaching of the gospel. But first he made the minds of his disciples ready and apt to receive the Holy Ghost, whom he afterwards poured into others by them; and therefore he commanded them, until the Spirit appear and open the work, to wait still at Hierusalem ; from the which place the kingdom of Christ was afterwards planted in all the world. Of the promise of the Spirit read Isai. xliv. Jere. xxxi. Ezek. xxxvi. Joel ïi. John xiv. xvi.
Considering that the mystery of Christ's ascension is great and excellent, and that there is notable power contained therein to those that be faithful believers; the evangelists do therefore describe very perfectly the time, the place, the persons, with all circumstances and assured testimonies thereof. He ascendeth up before his disciples, that they might openly and evidently see it with their eyes : there did appear angels, as messengers and witnesses from heaven, even two of them, that in the mouth of two all truth might be established. The white apparel signifieth the evident glory, into the which Christ is taken up, as a noble, royal, and mighty King and Conqueror, entering into his heavenly kingdom.
Thus the high and glorious King, clothed with our nature, is entered into our royal palace, as one that mindeth faithfully to despatch our matters. He is our own mediator and advocate in the presence of the Father; notwithstanding our sins committed, we have a free entrance unto God by him. Our flesh hath he in himself carried up, and exalted our nature unto the right hand of God the Father. Wherefore
we that are bones of his bones, and flesh of his flesh, do justly conceive a comfortable and assured hope, that our mortal bodies shall also be taken up, and have immortal and eternal joy.
The earnest-penny of his Spirit hath he given and left behind him unto us, and contrariwise he hath of us taken an earnest-penny and pledge, namely, our sinful and wicked flesh, which he in himself hath carried up into the kingdom of heaven. Now where the parcel is, there shall also be the whole sum.
By this we that are flesh and blood have a comfortable and assured trust, that in Christ we shall have the possession and inheritance of heaven. Our sins in him are recompensed, heaven in him is opened, in him is the hope of immortal life sealed and made sure unto us; Christ, the victorious and glorious conqueror, is able to defend his church: so that from henceforth no man shall have power to condemn his elect and faithful believers. Rom. viii, Heb. v. vii. viii. x.
That his flesh is withdrawn from us, and taken into heaven, it is our great profit; to the intent that all our devotion and God's service may be directed upwards in the spirit, and that the minds of faithful believers may be drawn from earthly unto heavenly things, even unto the place where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God the Father.
When the disciples saw that their schoolmaster was taken away from them into heaven, they perceived and considered the thing that they knew not before, although Christ had told it them, John vi.; namely, that by the ascension they should receive understanding. Therefore they worshipped Jesus Christ, and according unto his commandment they returned to Hierusalem, where they kept themselves until the time that the Spirit came : neither were they idle, but continued in the holy fellowship and godly exercises, with prayer and devotion, preparing and making themselves ready unto the coming of the Spirit.
By occasion hereof (all niceness, curiosity, and contentious questions, all pride, vain-glory, and fond affections and desires set apart) we ought with upright minds, and with the eyes of faith, to be alway taken up into heaven, and there to have our dwelling, where Christ our head sitteth at the right hand