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When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, LORD, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.
Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Then go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
And when he had spoken these things, he lift up his hands and blessed them.
And it came to pass that while he blessed them, they beheld, and he was parted from them, and was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And he was received into heaven, and sat at the right hand of GOD.
And many other signs truly did JESUS in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the CHRIST the Son of GOD, and that believing ye might have life through his name.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
At what time the Apostles returned from Galilee to Jerusalem is not related; but it is very probable that
they remained in Galilee till the usual time of going up to the Holy City, in order to be in readiness for the celebration of the feast of Pentecost; when they might safely repair thither without suspicion, because the law of Moses required every man to appear in the temple at that festival.
Our LORD commanded his Apostles not to depart from Jerusalem to pursue their worldly business, but to wait for the accomplishment of the Divine promise, relating to the descent of the Holy Spirit *; because it was the Divine will, that the visible descent of the Holy Spirit. should be made in that Holy City, in which the Divine presence had so frequently been manifested, and because the Gospel, according to the prediction of Isaiah, was to go forth from Jerusalem.
The minds of the Apostles had been already illuminated by the Holy Spirit, communicated to them when our SAVIOUR breathed on them, so that they were enabled to understand the Scriptures; but in a short time they were to be baptized with the Holy Ghost, that is, cleansed, purified, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, as the priests of the law were purified by the washing of
The promises of God, respecting his sending the MESSIAH, were faithfully accomplished; but there were other promises, which our LORD himself had lately repeated, relating to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, which John the Baptist had also foretold †; these, our LORD assured his disciples, should likewise be fulfilled in a few days.
The Apostles, judging that our LORD was preparing for some great solemnity, supposed that the kingdom of the MESSIAH would immediately take place, and that
* See Section xxv.
† Section xvi. vol. v.
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 receive 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, that 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 faithful 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 to be witnesses of his life and doctrine. While he was blessing his disciples, by which he supported his character 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 in agony, and there they now saw him triumphant; from which they were taught, that his pas sion and his ascension had the same tendency.
From the last verse of this Section we understand the nature of the Gospels, 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 confirmation 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, Philip, 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 and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of JESUS, and with his brethren.
And they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing G.
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 him in his heavenly state: he therefore sent two minis