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CHAP. I.

HIS EXALTATION.

121

ers.

a guard to watch it, until the third day had passed. But all the prudence and power of men, could not frustrate the designs of heaven. God had determined that his holy One should not see corruption. It was necessary that Christ should rise from the dead, that he might gain a single victory over him that had the pow. er of death, and become the resurrection and life to all his follow.

On the morning of the third day from his crucifixion, was a terrible earthquake. An angel appeared in a glorious form, causing the soldiers to flee in amazement, and rolled the stone from the door of the sepulchre. The prince of life re. sumed his breath and active being, and went forth to the world a triumphant conqueror. If his death was the most solemn and awful event, his resurrection was the most joyful which ever occurred. Christ came forth to eternal life. Death hath no more dominion over him.” “I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen." He came forth the first fruits of them that slept, to give new evidence of his divinity, and of the resurrection of the saints, and to enter in presence of the world, into his glory. He mingled not much again with the people. He was seen repeatedly by his disciples, and once by more than 500 followers. He remained on earth forty days, instructing in the things of his kingdom. At the end of this period, he met his disciples at Jerusalem; direct. ed them to remain there until they should be endued with mira. culous powers by the Holy Ghost, and then go and preach the gos. pelto every creature. He told them of his Almighty power, and assured them of his presence with them and their successors to the end of time. He then led them to the mount of Olives, and there blessed them, and was arted from them and carried up into heaven; there to intercede for his Church; to prepare man. sions for his followers, and to sit on his throne as King in Zion, who, through all ages takes care of his Church, controls and pun. ishes his enemies, and will be glorified in them that believe.

Thus terminated the amazing incarnation of the Son of God. • Infidelity has seldom had the effrontery to deny the existence of this illustrious founder of the Christian religion. The difficulty of accounting for the existence of Christianity in the world on any other supposition than that of his real being, has proba. bly restrained from this. But Jesus Christ has ever been a stumbling block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek. “He came unto his own, but his own received him not.” The Jews looked for a great temporal prince, and they would not endure any man who should pretend to be the Messiah in a

poor and low condition. The Greek, the refined, the philosophical, the voluptuous, in every age, have been disgusted with the humble and spiritual nature of his kingdom and the selfdenying precepts he has placed before them. But whoever looks carefully at the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth ; at all the ancient types and prophecies* which were fulfilled in him ; at the sublimity of his doctrine ; the purity of his precepts; the holiness and beneficence of his life ; the number and character of the miracles he wrought ; (for he healed the sick, cleansed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, cast out devils, fed thousands from food sufficient only for a few, stilled the tempestuous sea, raised the dead to life,-all glorious acts of benevolence, and acts of infinite power only,) whoever considers what the state of this world would be, did all mankind receive the doctrines and truths, and obey the precepts and imitate the example of Christ;-must exclaim, as did the centurion at the crucifixion, TRULY THIS WAS THE Son of Gov.

CHAPTER II.

Number and character of Christ's disciples. Death of John

the Baptist. The twelve Apostles chosen. The seventy sent. History and character of the twelve. Descent upon them of

* To lead the reader to reflect on the wonderful minuteness of the prediction relating to Christ in the Old Testament, the following are subjoined as referred to in the single evangelist of Matthew.

jii.

Mathew
Isaiah vii. 14.

i. 23.) Jer.
Mich.

V. 2. ii. 6.|| Psalm
Hosea xi. 1. ii. 15.
Jeremiah xxxi. 15. ii. 18.
Judges xiii. 15. ii. 23.|| Is.
Is.
xl. 3.

2. Ps.
18.

ix. 1. iv. 15.|| Zech. Is.

liii. 4. viii. 17.|| Is. Is.

xlii. 1. xii. 17. Zech. Jonah i. 17. xii. 40. Psalm Is.

vi. 9. xiii. 14.
Psalm lxxvii. 2.) xiii. 35.
Isaiah XXXV. 5, 6. XV. 30. Isaiah.
Zech. ix. 9. xxi. 5.

Mathew
vii. 11. xxi. 13.

viii. 2. xxi, 16.
cxviii. 22. xxi. 42.
сх.
1.

xxii. 44.
viii. 14. xxi. 44.

xli. 9. xxyi. 33. xiii. 7. xxvi. 31.

1. 6. xxvi. 57. xi. 13. xxvii. 9. xxii. 18. xxvii. 35. xxii. 2./ xxvii. 46. lxix. 21. xxvii. 48. liii. 9. xxvii. 60.

CHAP. 2.

CHRIST'S DISCIPLES.

123

the Holy Ghost. Outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Three thousand added to the Church. Boldness and success of Peter and John. Holiness and harmony of the Church. Detection of Hypocrisy. Institution of the office of deacon. Martyrdom of Stephen. Persecution and dispersion of the Church. The gospel carried to the Samarilans and dispersed Jers. Conversion of Saul.

The astonishment excited by the appearance, preaching and miracles of Christ, was such, as we might naturally look for from their novel and divine character. But the ill success of his ministry can never be satisfactorily accounted for by those who deny that man is alienated from his Maker, and that salvation is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” Immense multitudes constantly pressed upon him wherever he went, either to hear his doc. trines or witness his miracles; but very few became sincerely attached to his person ; very few were even convinced that he was the Messiah and entered his spiritual kingdom. Those who were assembled at Jerusalem after his asscension, are said to have been but about an hundred and twenty; and at that great meeting in Galilee, where all who were attached to his cause that could conveniently assemble, were probably gathered to. gether, there were but about five hundred. Well might the prophet Isaiah commence his fifty-third chapter, containing a remarkable exhibition of the humiliation and sufferings of Christ, with the exclamation, “Who nath heard our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed!” But Christ knew it to be for the best, and he rejoiced in spirit at the dispensations of grace.

But few of his followers were among the rich or the noble. We indeed read of Zaccheus, a man of wealth ; Nicodemus a ruler; Joseph, an honourable counsellor; and a certain no. bleman, who believed with all his house-evincing that divine grace can triumph over the most exalted condition of life ; but the mass of his friends were from the lower ranks, and his spe. cial favourites were Galileans, a despised people, and chiefly fishermen or publicans. His own life was one of great poverty and reproach; and his doctrines marred the pride of the noble and condemned the luxurious habits of the wealthy.

John the Baptist, who united in himself the two dispensa. tions, the old and the new, was perhaps the first who received Jesus. He pointed him out to others, as the Lamb of God. He had become the head of a religious sect and had many follow

ers, whom he had baptized. But when informed that Jesus had begun to preach and to baptize by his disciples and that the whole country was going after him, he showed the greatest hu. mility and submission to hiin as his exalted Redeemer. He declared that he had no honour but that which came from God; and that he could have no greater joy than in seeing Christ increase, while he should decrease. He recommended Jesus as endowed with an unmeasurable fulness of the Holy Ghost; and assured all who heard him, that the wrath of God would abide on unbelievers in his gospel.

John was for a time revered by Herod; but he had the faithfulness to reprove that vile man for marrying his brother's wife, and was imprisoned. Laid aside from his work, his faith seems in some degree to have failed; he therefore sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Perhaps he designed also to turn their attention from himself to the

great Redeemer. Jesus told them to declare to John what miracles he performed, and the great fact which distinguished him as a teacher from all the philosophers which had ever undertaken to instruct man. kind, “That to the poor the gospel was preached.' Soon after, he was beheaded to gratify the malice of' Herodias,-excited by his bold reproof of Herod. His disciples took his body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. The Pharisees said he had a devil, but Christ bore witness of him as one of the greatest and best of men.

From among his followers, Jesus selected twelve to be his daily companions and intimate associates, whom he commis. sioned as Apostles or preachers of his Gospel. This number was probably chosen, in correspondence to the twelve patriarchs, or twelve tribes of Israel. It signified that he was head or High Priest of the Jewish nation. The persons chosen, were Simon Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew; James, the son of Alpheus, and Simon, called Ze. lotes; Judas, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot. Their mission was confined at first, to the land of Israel. They were directed to declare to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom which was the subject of prophecy, which they and iheir fathers had looked for with the greatest anxiety, and which the Messiah was to set up, was at hand; and, as a confirmation of their doctrine, they were em. powered to work miracles, to heal diseases, cast out devils, and, in many other ways, suspend or counteract the laws of nature. They were cast upon the charity of the people for support, and

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CHAP. 2.

THE SEVENTY SENT.

125

was a new

were directed to shake off the dust of their feet, against any family or city which should reject them.

At a subsequent period, he commissioned and sent forth seventy other disciples (answering evidently in number to the Sanhedrim, and showing thereby, that their power had passed into his hands,) on the same errand, two by two; giving them similar authority, and commending them in like manner, to the charity of the public. They were holy men; but and wonderful employment, and they were put in possession of powers which made them appear as gods upon earth. No wonder, therefore, that they should soon return, as they actually did, not a little elated with the fact, that even the devils were subject to them through his name. But Christ solemnly admon. ished them to beware of pride which had hurled Satan from heaven ; and told them, that he indeed enabled them to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; but that they must not rejoice in this, that they held the spirits in subjection, but rather that their names were written in heaven.

But the twelve constituted his family. They were his intimate friends, his chosen companions. He therefore, sent them forth but once during his life to preach the gospel. When he travelled, they accompanied him. What he spake in parables to the multitude, he privately expounded to them. When he fed the multitude, they distributed the provision. They were with him in his retirement, and partook of the supper at its first in. stitution. He often talked to them about his sufferings, and committed to them the keys of his kingdom. With the exception of Judas, the traitor, they were sincere

Their hearts had been changed by the Spirit of God. They admired, loved, and trusted their Saviour, shared with him his privations and sorrows, and devoted themselves entirely to his service. When they were first called to follow Christ, they were very ignorant. Matthew had been a publican or taxgatherer; the others, were all, probably, fishermen of Galilee. But under the instruction and guidance of Christ, they made rapid advancement in the knowledge of divine things; and with his holy example daily before them, they soon learned to set lightly by the world, to treat one another with condescension, kindness and love, and live as expectants of a better country.

While the grace of God had enlightened their understandings and purified their affections, it left unchanged their natural constitution or animal temperament, so that as great a diversi. ty of character is observable among them, as among any others of

men.

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