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departed friends to the dark and solitary chamber of the tomb? Do we not often, in imagination at least, go to the grave, to weep there? Do we not, as it were, sympathise with the slumbering dead ? and think with pain upon the changes which are passing upon the lifeless forms of our once beloved associates and friends.
But are we not forgetful in these melancholy moments, that when we left them in the grave, we left them in a mansion where their Father dwells ? in a region over which their God presides ? And that we deposited their dear remains under the care of a powerful and a faithful guardian, in sure and certain hope that in due season they will be raised to a glorious and immortal life; and be introduced into a new and happy state of existence, where death shall be swallowed up in victory?
Wherefore, iny Christian friends, let us eomfort one another with these words, and let us not sorrow as those who have no hope.
THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST.
Acts, 1. 9. And when he had spoken these words, while they beheld,
he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.
The Ascension of Christ, which took place at this season of the year, is an event of great importance in the history of his mission, and in the evidences of the Christian revelation. It is highly worthy of credit; it was productive of many
beneficial consequences; and suggests many useful reflections. The narrative by the evangelists is to the following purport:
Upon the fortieth day after his resurrection from the dead, the apostles being at Jerusalem, Jesus led them forth to the mount of Olives, on the way to Bethany, about a mile from the city. He there charged them not to leave Jerusalem, till they
had received the Holy Spirit which he had promised them in his Father's name; and which would in a few days be poured out upon
them in such abundance, that they might be said to be even baptized with it, as the disciples of John were baptized with water. These artless and honest, but ambitious 'men, still dreaming of a temporal kingdom, in which they were to be advanced to the highest posts and privileges, and expecting, no doubt, that their Master was immediately to be invested with temporal rule, eagerly ask him whether he was now about to deliver the country immediately from the Roman yoke, and to raise it to that high rank and authority over the nations which they had so long expected. Jesus, with his usual wisdom, waves the question, and reminds them, that the season when any event which had been foretold would happen, was known only to God, and would not be revealed to them. And without staying to correct their fond mistake, which he knew would in a few days correct itself, he explains to them the
nature of their commission, and informs them, that when they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they would be properly qualified, and it would be their office to bear testimony to his mission and his doctrine in every part of the world, both among Jews and Gentiles. After this he blessed them, that is, he took an affectionate leave of them, recommending them, no doubt, to the protection and blessing of his Father, and their Father; of his God, and their God. While they were engaged in this solemn exercise, Jesus was taken from them; and while they were looking on, he ascended gradually before their eyes towards the clouds, till at length he disappeared. In the mean time, while they were still gazing, two appearances in the form of men, in white robes, were seen standing near them : who assured them, that that same Jesus should in due time return again to them in the same visible and awful manner in which he had then ascended. After this they probably vanished. And the apostles returned with great joy to the city, tri
umphing in this additional honour conferred upon their Master, and in this new and glorious proof of his mission from God.
Such is the account, as it is detailed by the evangelists Mark and Luke, neither of them probably being themselves witnesses of the magnificent spectacle, but having received the account of it from the apostles with whom they conversed, and faithfully relating the facts which they had learned from undoubted authority.
The other evangelists, though apostles, do not record the fact, but they probably allude to it, Matt. xix. 18, “ Jesus said to the apostles, Verily, I say unto you, that ye who have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit
upon the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This promise has been ingeniously, and, perhaps, truly explained of the authority with which the apostles should be invested to teach and to confirm the gospel, after the resurrection and the ascension of Christ.