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the following Sunday, the thirty-sixth day, were favoured with another appearance, which Paul describes to "all the Apostles," 1 Cor. xv. 7, immediately preceding the last, at the ascension, on the fortieth day, or Thursday following. We do not, indeed, presume to erect this arrangement of the several public appearances into a theory, but it may be allowed, surely, to rate as an hypothesis, approximating nearer to the truth than any that has been hitherto proposed; founded upon the probable assumption that THE LORD's day was so denominated from the frequency of his appearances thereon. His last manifestation to the beloved disciple, and not long before his death, was made at Patmos, during his exile there, A.D. 97, certainly on THE LORD's day.
At this important general meeting of the Apostles, our Lord renewed to them, in their collective capacity, the commissions given to their leaders before; and coming up to them, in close conference, he stated his own authority, and their Apostolic functions and powers, more fully and explicitly than heretofore.
All authority is given me in heaven and upon earth. Go ye, therefore, into all the world, publish THE GOSPEL to all the [human] creation. Discipline all the nations, baptizing them in the name of THE FATHER, and of THE SON, and of THE HOLY SPIRIT; and teaching them to keep all my commandments delivered unto you. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth, shall be damned.
And these signs shall accompany the believers; they shall expel demons, in my name; they shall speak in new tongues ; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly potion, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
And lo, I am with you all the days [of the Church,] until the consummation of the world. Amen. Matt. xxviii. 18—20, Mark xvi. 15-18.
He now appointed the last meeting for the following Thursday, the fortieth day from the resurrection, at Jerusalem; and there being associated with them he instructed them not to leave Jerusalem immediately, but to wait for the fulfilment of the promise of THE FATHER, which they had heard from him: And lo, I am going to send forth the promise of my Father upon you; but remain ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye shall be endued with power from on high: for John indeed baptized
with water, but ye shall be baptized with THE HOLY SPIRIT, not many days hence, Acts i. 4, 5; Luke xxiv. 49.
Then he led them forth from the city to the Mount of Olives, as far as the district of Bethany, which began a sabbath day's journey, or six hundred paces from the city; and, according to tradition, he went up to the middle summit of the mountain, Luke xxiv. 50; Acts i. 12.
And when they were come together there, they enquired of Him, LORD, wilt thou, at this time, restore again the kingdom to Israel? or establish the spiritual kingdom of THE MESSIAH upon earth, at the regeneration foretold by the prophets, and confirmed by his own repeated predictions. But admitting its future certainty, he gently checked their unseasonable curiosity, respecting the particular time: It is not your concern, to know times and seasons, which THE FATHER reserved in his own power, and which he had told them before, in his prophecies on Mount Olivet, none but THE FATHER himself then knew, (Matt. xxiv. 36; Mark xiii. 32.) He further admonished them that their only concern was what related to their ministry, for which they should be endued with suitable powers to exercise it in the appointed places, again renewing his promise; But ye shall receive power when THE HOLY SPIRIT shall come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, the scenes of my ministry, and unto the extremity of the earth, or habitable world.
Then lifting up his hands he blessed them, and while he was blessing them he was taken up while they were looking on, and a cloud withdrew him from their sight, into the heaven, and he sate on the right hand of God, Acts i. 6—9; Luke xxiv. 51; Mark xvi. 19.
And while they were gazing into the heaven, as he was departing, with anxiety and grief; to comfort them for his loss, with the hope of a similar return, to restore that kingdom at the regeneration, about which they had so earnestly enquired; two angels in human form, and white apparel, (probably the same who had ministered to the resurrection, and now to the ascension,) stood suddenly beside them, and said, Ye Galileans, why stand ye looking into the heaven? This same JESUS, who is taken up from you into the heaven, shall so come, as ye have
seen him going into the heaven, or with the same splendour and glory in the clouds, Acts i. 10, 11.
Then they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. And they went forth and preached every where, THE LORD co-operating and confirming the word, by means of the signal miracles accompanying it, Acts i. 12; Luke xxiv. 52, 53; Mark xvi. 20.
CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
Having now finished the foregoing survey, and comparison of the FOUR GOSPELS, humbly endeavouring to establish the credibility and consistency of these incomparable MEMOIRS throughout, by a close examination and critical harmony of their contents; we are naturally led to enquire, what was the concurrent design of the Evangelists in writing their respective Gospels? and this we learn from the conclusion of the last :
"These are written that ye might believe that JESUS is THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD; and that believing, ye might have [eternal] life in his name, [or religion,"] John xx. 31.
This benevolent design, so signified, and addressed to the Asiatic churches, at whose entreaty John wrote his Gospel, is to be extended to the world at large, who are invited to the perusal of these memoirs of the life and ministry of the GREAT AUTHOR and FINISHER of OUR FAITH, and the CAPTAIN of OUR SALVATION; proving him, by the most unexceptionable testimony, divine and human, to be THE CHRIST, or KING OF ISRAEL, THE SON OF GOD, in his human and divine prophetic character; and also THE AUTHOR of eternal life and happiness to all those that believe in and obey him, as peculiarly THEIR LORD and THEIR GOD.
That these memoirs, indeed, were "written" for the benefit of the whole world we learn, 1. From the incidental observation of our Lord, foretelling that the circumstance of anointing his head preparatory to his embalmment, should be recorded to the woman's honour, wheresoever this Gospel should be preached in the whole world, Matt. xxvi. 13. 2. From his general commission to his Apostles," to discipline all the nations of the world," &c. Matt. xxviii. 19. And 3. From his prophecy, that "the
end," or destruction of Jerusalem, should not "come, until this Gospel of the kingdom [of Christ] should be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all the nations," Matt. xxiv. 14. And accordingly, THE GOSPEL was published, in writing, as well as orally, by Matthew, Luke, and Mark, by Peter, James, and Paul, some years before that event. And we may conclude, in obedience to OUR LORD's injunctions, under the guidance and assistance of his HOLY SPIRIT, for an everlasting possession to future ages, in order to supply the place of their transient preaching, most perfectly, Luke i. 4; 2 Pet. i. 13—15; 2 Tim. iv. 5, 6.
I. If we recapitulate the evangelical evidences of CHRIST'S character, they may be reduced to the following heads, as appealed to by OUR LORD himself, in his debates with the Jewish teachers, and discourses with his disciples.
1. The first, upon which he plainly lays the greatest stress, was taken from the stupendous miracles which he wrought, exceeding in number, variety, and magnitude, those of all his predecessors, the prophets. "The works which I do, bear witness of me, that THE FATHER hath sent me.”- If I had not done among them the works which no other man did, they had not incurred sin." And this was confessed by the astonished multitudes,-" It was never so seen in Israel!”- "When THE CHRIST cometh, will he do greater miracles than these?"
2. The second was taken from the wondrous chain of prophecies, of which he was the subject, both in his Divine and human nature, as THE Son of God, and THE SON OF MAN conjointly; his mission, his sufferings, and his glories, which were all together fulfilled in him, and in no other person. "Search the Scriptures, for they testify of Me." If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed ME, for he wrote of Me."-" O inconsiderate and slow-hearted to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not THE CHRIST to suffer such things, and afterwards to enter into his glory?"
This prophetic argument is justly considered as "firmer" than the argument from miracles, by Peter; because it is a growing evidence to believers, as it shall be better understood in all its branches*.
See the first and second classes of Prophecies respecting CHRIST, in the Appendix to this volume.
3. The third, particularly addressed to his disciples, was his exact and minute foreknowledge of future events, respecting himself and them; and also his astonishing Scheme of Historical Prophecy, reaching to the end of the world, and consummation of all things, and stretching even into eternity; with a clearness and precision infinitely surpassing those of Moses and the Prophets, which he came to complete, unfold, and explain to future ages, both in those delivered personally by HIMself, and afterwards by his Apostles, and finally, in the Apocalypse *.
"Now I tell you, before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I AM [THE CHRIST."]" And they remembered his sayings." This also is a growing evidence, becoming, daily, clearer and brighter with the fulfilment, until the end.
4. The fourth was peculiarly addressed to the Jewish unbelievers, as an argumentum ad hominem, calculated to silence and confound such; namely, the testimony of John the Baptist, whom the multitude reverenced as a Prophet, and the Scribes and Pharisees durst not deny, or dispute his claim. "If I bear witness of myself, without further evidence of my Divine mission than my own assertion, my witness is not true, and deserves no credit; but there is another, that beareth witness of me, namely, John the Baptist; for ye sent unto John, and he bare witness of THE TRUTH. He was, by your own acknowledgment, a burning and shining lamp, and, for a season, ye were willing to rejoice in his light. I therefore insist upon his testimony, as that of a Prophet and a righteous man; hoping it will not be rejected by you, to your shame, and because it is founded upon the ancient prophecies concerning THE MESSIAH, or CHRIST +.
OUR LORD, however, intimates the inferiority of John's testimony, compared with his own miracles. "But I have greater witness than John; for the works which THE FATHER hath given me to finish, and which I do, bear witness of me, that THE FATHER hath sent me.”
5. The fifth was the legislative capacity, in which he came, not to destroy the law and the prophets," as the Scribes and Pharisees idly imagined, but "to fulfil," to complete them by
See the third and fourth classes of Historical Prophecies, in the Appendix. The amount of John's testimony to JESUS as the CHRIST, is considerable, as may be seen under the foregoing article respecting him.