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Lord and Master, according to the message he had sent them by the women, and having, in all probability, appointed this meeting at some former appearance, not mentioned by the evangelists, the brethren set out for the mountain in Galilee, perhaps that on which he was transfigured. Here five hundred of them were gathered together, waiting the joyful sight of their great master, after he had triumphed over death and the grave; some of them not having yet seen him after his resurrection from the dead.

The disciples did not wait long before Jesus appeared, on which they were seized with rapture; and with hearts overflowing with gladness, they approached their kind, their benevolent Master, and worshipped him. Some few, indeed, doubted, it being a thing agreeable to nature for men to be afraid to believe what they vehemently wish, lest they should indulge themselves in false joys, which vanish like the morning cloud. But Jesus afterwards appeared frequently to them, and gave all of them full satisfaction, and instructed them in many things relating to their preaching the gospel, establishing the church, and spreading it through the known world.

Our blessed Saviour, either at his appearance on the mountain, or some subsequent appearance, not mentioned by the evangelists, probably ordered them to return to Jerusalem, as he proposed to ascend visibly into heaven from the top of the mount of Olives.

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CHAPTER XLIII.

Jesus ascends into Heaven : The principal Arguments

of the Deists against our blessed Saviour's Resurrection considered and refuted: Reflections on the

Life and Doctrine of our great Redeemer. ABOUT twelve days before the feast of Pentecost, called in the law the feast of weeks, and nearly forty days after our blessed Saviour arose from the dead, the disciples repaired to Jerusalem, probably in conformity to a command given them by their great Master at one of his appearances; unless we suppose they went up to that city, in order to purify and prepare themselves for the solemnity now approaching.

However that may be, the blessed JEsus made his last appearance here to his apostles: and, after instruct .. ing them in many particulars concerning the kingdom of God, and the manner they were to behave them. selves in propagating the doctrine of the gospel, he put them in mind that, during his abode with them in Galilee, he had often told them, that all things written in the law, the prophets, and the Psalms concerning him, were to be exactly accomplished. At the same time, he opened their understandings, that is, he removed their prejudices by the operation of his spirit, cleared their doubts, improved their memories, strengthened their judgments, and enabled them to discern the true meaning of the Scriptures respecting his divine mission.

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Being thus qualified by him for receiving the truth, he again assured them both that Moses and the prophets had foretold that the Messiah was to suffer in the very manner he had suffered, that he was to rise from the dead on the third day, as he had done, and that repentance and remission of sins was to be preached in the Mes

siah's name amongst all nations, beginning with the Jews at Jerusalem.

After this, he delivered unto them their commission, to preach the doctrine of repentance and remission of sins in his name amongst all nations, and to testify unto the world the exact accomplishment in him of all things foretold concerning the Messiah; and, to enable them to perform this important work, promised to bestow on them the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, which he called the promise of his Father; because the Almighty had promised them by his prophets in the Old Testament.

Being thus fortified for the important work they were going to undertake, he led them on to the Mount of Olives as far as Bethany; where, standing on a hill above the town, he told them that he was now raised to the government of heaven and earth; for which reason they might go courageously through all the world, and preach the gospel to every rational creature; assuring themselves that affairs in all countries should be so ordered, as to dispose the inhabitants for the reception of the gospel; that they who believed, were to be admitted into his church by the rite of baptism, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and to be taught, in consequence of their baptism, to obey all the precepts he had enjoined them: that such baptised believers should receive pardon of their sins, together with eternal life in the happy mansions of his Father's kingdom; but that those who refused to embrace the doctrines of the gospel, should be forever excluded those happy regions, and have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; that while they were employed in this work, he would be with them to the end of the world, to guide them by his counsel, to assist them by his Spirit, and to protect them by his Providence. Finally, that those who should, through their preaching, be induced to believe, should them. pelves work most astonishing miracles, by which the

gospel should be propagated with the greatest rapidity and success.

After Jesus had spoken these things, he lifted up his hands and blessed them; and in the action of blessing them, he was parted from them in the midst of the day, a shining cloud receiving him out of their sight: that is, this brilliant cloud encompassed him about, and carried him up to heaven, not suddenly, but at leisure, that they might behold him departing and see the proof of his having come down from heaven, as he had promised them.

The blessed JESUS ascended in a cloud which was more bright and pure than the clearest lambent flame, being no other than the Shechinah, or glory of the Lord, the visible symbol of the divine Presence which had so often appeared to the patriarchs of old, which filled the temple at its dedication, and which, in its greatest splendour, cannot be beheld with mortal eyes; for which reason, it is called the light inaccessible in which the Almighty resides, and with which he is surrounded.

It was probably on this occasion that our Lord's body was changed, acquiring the glories of immortality, perhaps in the presence of his disciples, who stedfastly beheld him as he mounted from the earth. And as he ascended, the flaming cloud that surrounded him marked his passage through the air, but gradually lost its magnitude in the eyes of those who stood below, till at last it vanished, together with their beloved Master out of their sight; for he was received up where the Divine Being manifests himself in a peculiar manner, and was set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high ; all power in heaven and earth being now given him: and this universal government he will hold, till he establishes the dominion of righteousness, when he will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be all in all. I Cor. xv. 28.

Thus did the great Redeemer of mankind depart in a most illustrious manner, after having finished the grand work which he left the bosom of his Father to execute; a work which God himself in the most remotest eternity contemplated with pleasure, which angels with joy described as to happen, and which through all eternity to come, shall at periods the most immensely distant from the time of its execution be looked back upon with inexpressible delight by every inhabitant of heaven; for though the minute affairs of time may vanish altogether and be lost, when they are removed far back by the endless progression of duration, this object is such, that no distance, however great, can lessen it: the kingdom of heaven is erected on the incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God, the kingdom and city of the Almighty comprehending all the virtuous beings in the universe, made happy by goodness and love; and, therefore, none of them can never forget the foundation on which their happiness stands established: the human species in particular, recovered by the labour of the Son of God will view their deliverer, and look back on his stupendous undertaking with the highest rapture while they are feasting without interruption, on its delicious fruits: the rest of the members of the city of God will contemplate it with perpetual pleasure, as the happy means of recovering their kindred that were lost; possibly the grand confirmation of the whole rational system in subjection to him who reigned for ever, whose favour is better than life itself, and at whose right-hand there are pleasures for evermore.

We have now followed our dear Redeemer through all the transactions of his life, and enlarged on the stupendous miracles of his resurrection, as the whole Christian doctrine is founded on that glorious event. And it is abundantly evident from this history, that our blessed Saviour shewed himself to his disciples and friends only, not to the Jews in general. This circumstance gave Spinoza a pretence for raising an objection

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