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53

They return to Jerusalem, and praise God in the temple. praising and blessing his house, and in their own retirements. Amen. SECT: God, Amen.

May God always be praised by us, and by all_cemi. who receive his gospel, for the discoveries and Luke attestations of it given to these his servants, and xxiv.

by them to us! MARK XVI. 20. And, in a few days after this (as will be shewn Mark And they went forth, and preached every

more largely in the following history), their XVI. 20. where, the Lord work. ascended Lord, in remembrance of his proinise to ing with them, and them, sent down as a royal donative the extraorconfirming the word dinary influences of his Spirit upon them, fully with sigas following. Amen.

to qualify them for that important office to which
they were designed. And going forth with this
furniture, they preached the gospel every where
throughout the whole Roman empire, and even
among the barbarous nations, with amazing suc-
cess; the Lord, according to his promise, work-
ing with them, and confirming the word of his
grace by the signs and miracles which followed it;
which were at once the most solid, as well as
the most obvious and popular demonstrations
of those Divine truths which they delivered.
Amen! So may the presence of the Lord be al-
ways with his faithful ministers ! and may his
gospel be attended every where with efficacy
and success, as well as with convincing evi-

dences of its Divine authority! John XXI. 25.

And thus we have given a summary account of John And there are also wany other things

the most remarkable passages of the life of Christ XXI. 25. which Jesus did; [and during the time of his abode on earth : but af. many other signs truly ter all, it must be considered only as a specimen, did Jesus in the pre- rather than a full narration ; for there are also sence of his disciples, which are not written many other things that Jesus said and did, and in this book ;) the indeed many other signs and miracles, that Jesus which; if they should wrought, both before and after his resurrection, I suppose that even in the presence of his disciples which are not writthe world itself could ten in this book of the four evangelists, which is not contain the books here completed ; and which indeed are so nuJohn XX. 30.] merous, that if every one (of them) should be re

corded in all its circumstances, I am persuaded
the work would amount to so vast a bulk, that
the world itself would not be able to receive the
books that should be written; but the very size of

the volumes would necessarily prevent the geJohn XX. 50. But nerality of mankind from procuring or reading these theme. But these most nccessary and impor

tant

é The world itself would not be able to which we meet with other instances in receive the books, &c.] There would be scripture : (see Gen. xi. 4 ; Numb. xiii. 33; no great inconvenience in allowing an and compare John xii. 19.) But I think hyperbole here, as most expositors do, of the sense given in the paraphase easier 3 Q2

and

494

Reflections on the great design of the gospel, SECT. tant things are written, in this plain way, and in these are written, that ecili. this portable volume, not merely that the reader we might believe that Jolin may be amused by so curious a story, but that Son of God, and that XX. 30. the faith, the hope, and the piety of Christians, believing, ye might

may

be confirmed; and especially that you may name. (Amen.) (JOHN more firmly and assuredly believe that Jesus is XXI.-25.] the Messiah, the Son of God, partaking of the same Divine glory with the Father, and the sure object of his people's confidence; and that believing it, you may be so influenced by his instructive discourses, his complete example, and his dying love, that you may have eternal life through his name. And may God grant, that as it is all most certainly and circumstantially true, so it may have that bappy effect upon all those by whom this history is perused, from age to age! Amen,

IMPROVEMENT.

Luke

Thus did our victorious Saviour ascend on high, and lead xxiv. 51. captivity captive : the chariots of God which attended him were

twenty thousand, even thousands of angels! (Psal. Ixviii. 17, 18): and being gone into heaven, he is there seated on the right-hand of

God; angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject to Acts i.9. him ; (1 Pet. iii. 22.) Let us his humble followers look after him

10 with holy joy and pleasing expectation ; congratulating his triumphs, and trusting through bis grace to share them.

Like the apostles, let us bow down and worship him; and while we continue bere below, let us make it our daily labour and care to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right-hand of God: (Col. iii. 1.) And, instead of amusing ourselves with the vain dreams of temporal grandeur and felicity, or with curious inquiries after those times and seasons which the Father has reserved in his own power, let us apply with vigour and zeal to that business which he has assigned us; labouring to the utmost to promote his gospel, and, by a diligent improvement

of

Luke XXIV. 52.

Acts

and more suited to the remarkable plain- of the heavenly world, to learn from our
Dess of St. Johu's style. Elsner explains blessed Lord himself, or from those who
this passage, as if the evangelist had said, conversed with him on earth, a multitude
“If they were all to be particularly writ- of such particulars of his life, as will be
len, the unbelieving world would not ad- well worthy our everlasting admiration.
mit theni, so as to be moved by them to In the nean time, the pious and atten-
faith and obedience." And he produces tive study of what is here recorded, may
instances in which ywe say bias such a sig- most happily prepare us for such disco-
nification. But, as Jolin knew the unbe- veries, and add an unutterable relish to
lieving world would reject even what be thcm : Amen! So may it be, to the au.
had writ, this could be no reason for his thor of this Exposition, and to all those
Writing no more.--Perhaps it may be a who do, or may peruse it!
mori delightful part of the entertainment

cciii.

xxi. 25

Reflections on the great design of the gospel.

495 of our time and opportunities, to prepare for his final appearance, sper. when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with more public splendour than he returned thither, and shall come in the glory of Ver. his Father, and his own glory, with a majestic pomp which every ni eye shall see, and with the sound of a trumpet, which even all the nations of the dead shall hear. In the mean time, let us thankfully own his gracious presence Mark

xvi. 20 with his disciples, whom he left behind him; and with admiring gratitude reflect upon the happy consequences of that presence, in the establishment of the gospel in the world, and the transmission of it even unto us, in so remote an age and country.

Let us especially praise him for these sacred records which John contain such an authentic and exact account of those important facts in which we are all so nearly concerned ; records incomparably more valuable than the writings of our private estates, or the charters of our public liberties. Let us earnestly pray, that their great design may be answered in us; and make it our importunate request to Him who is the giver of all grace, that through the operations of that Holy Spirit, without the influence of which even scripture itself, with all our advantages for understanding and improving it, will be but a sealed book, or a dead letter, our faith may be nourished and confirmed by every portion of it which we read; and that our hearts may be so delivered into the mould of his word, that believing on Christ, under all the John characters he bears, we may have life through his name; and xx. 31 may at length receive the end of our faith, in the complete salvation of our souls, through him, to whom with the Father, and the eternal Spirit, be undivided honours, and everlasting praises. Amen, and Amen!

THE

496

St. Luke connects this history with his gospel.

THE ACTS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES,

'WRITTEN BY ST. LUKE.

SECT. 1.

$t. Luke connects this history with his gospel, by a more particular

account of the ascension of Christ than he had there given. Acts I. 1-12.

SECT.

i.

Acts

Acts I. 1.

Acts I. 1. T. TIE former treatise, which I lately com- THE former treatise

posed, and inscribed to thee, 0 Theophi- Thcophilus, of all that

lus, contained a faithful narrative, as far as Jesus began both to do 1. 1. might be necessary for the confirmation of a and teach,

Christian convert, concerning all the most con-
siderable things which Jesus began both to do and
to teach, and gave an account of the manner in

which

a The former treatise I composed.] This the translator seems to call his master.former treatise is undoubtedly the Gospel, Not to mention the supposed allusions to which was written by St. Luke, and de- this book in Barnabas, Clemens Romadicated by him to Theophilus: and, as nus, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, it this history of the Acts was written by the is certain that Irenæus, Clemens Alexansame person, it is allowed by all antiquity, drinus, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius, the author of it was St. Luke, whom the bear the most express testimonies to the apostle Paul styles the beloved physician, genuineness of it, in a multitude of passages, (Col. iv. 1 +) and speaks of as his fellows which I need not here insert, as they are lubourer, (Philem. ver. 24.) who was with produced at large by Dr. Benson, in the him at Rome, when he wrote his epistles first Part of the Appendir to bis History of to the Colossians and to Philemon, and the Plantation of Christianity, Vol. II. p. again afierwards when he wrote his Second 295–310; and, since the publication Epistle to Timothy; (2 Tim. iv. 11) and of that, by Mr. Biscoe, in his learned so continued an associare and companion to Discourses at Boyle's Lectures, chap. xiv. the apostle Paul, as it is evident, from xv. where he has shown in a most conhis manner of expression, the penman of vincing manner, how capable these ancithe Acts had been, in several of his tra ent writers were of judging in this matter, vels, and in his dangerous voyage when and how universally it was owned by the he went first to Rome. This book is ge- Christians of the first ages as a sacred book, nerally thought to have been written How incontestably it demonstrates the truth about the year of our Lord 63, at which of Christianity, is shewn at large in both time the history ends, which it is reason these useful treatises, and every attentire able to suppose would have proceeded fur- reader must needs observe it for himther, if it had been written later: and self. probably, as Mr. L'Enfant and others b Began both to do and to teach.) To behave observed, it made as it were a second gin to do a thing, as Heinsius and many Part of St. Luke's Gospel, which in all other critics have observed, is a cominon copies has the author's name prefixed, Greek idiom for doing or undertaking a thing. while this is left without a title in the oldest Compare Mat. xii. 1; with Luke vi. 1; manuscripts; though in the Syriac Version and Mark vi. 2; with Mat. xiii. 54. See it is expressly ascribed to Luke, whom also Gen. ii. 3; Septuag. Numb. xxv. 1;

Judg.

Acts

which he was taken

that he the

up, after

shewed himself alive

Christ being now to take leave of his disciples,

497 which Christ opened the gospel, and in which he sect. confirmed it, from his first appearance on earth

i. 2 Until the day in to the last period of his abode upon it; Even

to the

very day in which he was taken up into 1. 2. through Holy beaven again, after he had by the influence and Ghost had given com- assistance of the Holy Spirit“, with which he apostles whom he had himself was so abundantly anointed, given a chosen.

proper charge to the apostles, whom he had chosen
to be the prime ministers of his kingdom, and

the great instruments of extending it in the
3 To whom also he world: To whom also, in order to fit them 3
after his passion, by

more completely for the discharge of their immany infallible proofs, portant office, he presented himself alive after being seen of them hissufferings, with many most evident testimonials forty days, and speaks of the truth of his resurrection; while, though ing of the things pero he declined appearing publicly among the Jews, of God:

he often shewed himself to his disciples, being
seen by them at various times for no less than
forty days, and speaking to them of the things
concerning the kingdom of God, which was then

shortly to be erected by their means.
4 And, being assem And, on the fortieth day after his resurrec-4
bled together with tion, having assembled them together with pecu-
them,
them that they should liar solemnityd, he charged them not to depart
not depart from Je. from Jerusalem directly, though he was now

rusalem,

to

Judg. xiii. 5 ; xx. 31; Luke iii. 8; xxi. agree very well with this interpretation. 28; and Acts ii. 4. Yet in most of these To render it, the orders they were to erecute places it refers to some of the first actions by the Iloly Spirit, (as in the Translation of or events of the kind. Accordingly I ap- 1727,) is altogether arbitary, and is sub. prehend, with Chrysostom, that the phrase stituting a quite different truth instead of here refers to the account which Luke bad what was written by Luke. I have be. given of Christ's ministry, froin the begin- fore inserted the remaining verses of this ning and first rise of it, (as he speaks, Luke section in the two last sections, to complete i. 2, 3,) to the ascension, with which he the History of our Lord to the time of his concludes his Gospel.

ascension: (See note d, sect. ccii). But c By the Holy Spirit.] It is certainly notwithstanding this it will be easily exmuch more agreeable to the order and con- cused, that I have not omitted them here struction of the words in the original, to in their proper place, that the whole connect and explain them as above, than History of the Acts might stand together, to refer them, as the Syriac and Ethiopic and the work be kept entire. Versions do, to his choosing the upostles by d Having assembled them together. ] Though tre Spirit, or with Elsner, (Observ. Vol. I. some considerable ancient as well as mo. p. 353,) to his being taken up by it. It is dern crities, and particularly Chrysostom, 110 wonder, considering how short a history and Theophylact, understand the word we have of wbat passed between Christ's ouveni 404! as expressive of Christ's resurrection and ascension, that this should eating with his apostles during the forty days be the only place which speaks of bis acting spoken of above; the Notes of Elsner, by the Spirit after he rose from the dead: (Observ. Vol. I. p. 355,) and Raphelius, nor can I, with a late learned and ingeni- (er Xen. p. 146, et Herod. p. 320, & seq.) ous writer, think that a sufficient reason seem abundantly sufficient to justify the for adhering to the versions mentioned a version here given. bove. (See Benson's Plantation of Christie e Not to depart from Jerusalem.) This anity, Vol. I. p. 14, 15. His breathing seems a plain intimation, that, after our on the apostles, and saying, Receive ye the Lord had met his disciples in Galilec, be Holy Spirit; (John XX. 22;) seems also to appointed the apostles to meet him at Je

rusalem,

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