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" Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chos en: to whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infal lible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things per taining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Is rael ? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his HIS power. " ACTS I. 2-7.
IN this his second statement of the event, the inspired historian has been directed to express very precisely the kind of evidence by which the resurrection of Jesus was proved to the original witnesses, and through them to us. " To whom he showed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs; being seen of- them forty days, and speaking of the tfiings pertaining to the kingdom of God." As the faith of the whole Church depends absolutely on the resurrection of our Redeem er, it pleased God to give ample evidence of the fact.
1 8 The ClinrcJi in the House. But he gave no other evidence than that which appeals to the senses of men. There is no other possible way of proving a fact than by the evidences of the senses. Even our Maker cannot give us other and better evi dence of a fact, unless he should first change radically our nature. The evidence of Christ s resurrection is complete. Faith is satisfied, and reason too. But ob serve how this bears on the Romish dogma of transubstantiation. The pillar on which that house stands is
the assumption and assertion of the priests that the senses may deceive, and cannot implicitly be trusted. Themselves being witnesses, if this assertion falls, their \vhole doctrine falls with it. But the self-same as sumption that sustains transubstantiation, would leave the resurrection of Christ unproved and incapable of proof. Either the evidence of the senses is valid proof of a fact, or it is not. If it is, transubstantiation is false; if it is not, the resurrection of Christ is not proved. The very same evidence in kind and degree which proves that Christ has risen, proves also that the bread and wine, after priestly consecration, remain bread and wine, and are not changed into the very body and blood of Christ. Thus the Roman apostasy cannot sustain its fundamental superstition, without at the same time and by the same means destroying the proof that the Redeemer has risen. Antichrist ! But, alas! such superstition goeth not out by reasoning, how ever clear. Those who drink the wine of Rome s abom inations, would not throw aside their falsehood, al though one rose from the dead to tell them it was false. No Protestant should make light of Popery, as if it were out of date and effete. It is a power of dark ness; but it is a power. It sees its own way and knows its own mind better than the statesmen who, without believing it, fawn upon it and flatter it, apparently from sheer fear of being counted illiberal in religion. The signs of the times bode trouble. Perhaps the present generation of Protestants may need to learn again the meaning of their own name. It is not flat tering to the inteMectual pride of the age, if the age had eyes to see it, that one of its great movements is towards a system which is at once an irrational super stition and an unmitigated tyrrany.
Final Instructions. 19 last question which the disciples addressed to
their Master immediately before he ascended out of their sight "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ? " has been perhaps too hastily represented as evidence of their great ignorance and great earthliness, up to the period of the Pentecost, notwithstanding their privilege of constant intercourse with the Lord. The question, I apprehend, sprang from a true spiritual desire, and from a sound though defective knowledge regarding Messiah s kingdom. When you look up to the sky on a clear night, and fix your eye on two stars shining near each other with equal brightness, they seem to your sense equally dis tant from the earth. But if one is a planet of our sys tem, and the other a fixed star, the difference between their distances is very great not indeed beyond the pow r er of figures to express, but beyond the power of imagination clearly to conceive. The distance of the planet from the earth is only a small fraction of the distance of the star. Into the spiritual firmament these men of Galilee looked under the instruction of the Lord, but as yet they looked as children. They saw objects distinctly; but they could not judge correctly of relative distances and magnitudes. The two ob jects were clearly set before them in the writings of the prophets and the words of Jesus, these two, their own baptism with the Holy Ghost as with fire, and the restoration of the kingdom to Israel the union of all nations under David s sceptre in the New Jerusalem. The Master had now given them the distance of one of these objects: it was at hand "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." In the same prophecy of the Old Testament they had read of that baptism, and of the universal submission of the nations to the throne of David. They saw the two stars in the same direction, and they thought that they were in the same plane. Now they had obtained express intimation regarding one of these twin prom ises, that its fulfilment was at hand. It was natural that they should expect that the same bright particu
lar star, which they had been accustomed to see shin ing side by side with it in the pure expanse, would approach also at the same time. Hence their question,
2O The Church in the House. " Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the king dom to Israel ? " Their conceptions, I think, were by this time much more elevated than they were at the beginning of their course. Their idea of the kingdom was now truer than when the sons of Zebedee sought by early application to secure places near the throne; and yet it may also be freely owned that their thoughts fell far short, not only of the reality, but even of the views which them selves a few days afterwards obtained. The baptism by the Holy Spirit will come immedi ately. Its time is known and declared; but the gather ing of the nations under the sceptre of David s Son, although fixed in the heavens and shining brightly thence, is still far away. Times and seasons, ages and epochs, intervene. By these, in indefinite measure and unexpressed number, its approach is indicated. The time of the end lies hid in the Father s counsel. A wide expanse, by man immeasurable, lies between the baptism by fire of the first apostles for their min istry, and the cry, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ." The business of these men is to strike in upon the work, and leave the issue to God. When shall the kingdom of Christ be complete ? Answer: What is that to thee ? follow thou me. These ages and epochs are not only hidden in the Father s purpose, they are also held in the Father s hand. He doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. He will not fail in his purpose; he will not miss
his mark. While it is right and proper for Christians in this age of the world to observe the signs of the times, and endeavor to gird up their loins and watch for the com ing of the Lord, it is an evidence of shallowness, and cause of much evil speaking, when at every political event, supposed to be very great because very near the observer, they give forth a new calculation to fix the date when the dispensation will come to a close. Unbelievers are indeed ready to scoff at the simplest and purest profession of faith in God; but disciples should beware lest they give adversaries occasion to repeat their sneers. The prophecies of Scripture reveal the
Witnesses. 1 1 coming event, and keep it before us like a star in the firmament; but they do not inform us how near it is. The Master, when the disciples asked him, besides refusing to give them the day and the date of his own final victory, told them why he withheld the in formation. He withheld it for their sakes. His lan guage is not, I shall not tell you the times and seasons; but, It is not for you that I should. We could not go so steadily in harness for present labor, if there were not blinders before our eyes, to conceal the plan of Provi dence and the goings of God in the world. It would not be for us, but against us, if we were able to count on our fingers, from a prophetical text or two, how many years the world will last. Such knowledge would puff up, and therefore it is not given; it would lead us to talk and speculate, instead of doing with our might what our hand finds to do. It is not enough that we submit to leave the ages and epochs in the Father s hand, because we cannot wrench them out of it: we should be glad and grateful that he spares us such sights into the future as we should not be able to
bear. It is the part of a dear child to read eagerly all that the Father reveals, and to trust implicitly wherever the Father indicates a design to conceal. "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find" not prying or predicting, but " watchiner." 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
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