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Lu.xxiv.51. and carried up into heaven.
Acts i. 9. and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Mar.xvi.19. he was received up into heaven, and sate on the right hand of God 43.
43 In each of the three dispensations a visible ascension of the body has taken place. Some holy personage has been visibly taken up into heaven. In the first of these periods, between the Creation and the Deluge, Enoch was translated: "He was not," says the Scriptures, "he did not die;" for, "he walked with God, and God took him." During the second period, from the Deluge to the Advent of our Saviour, Elijah was visibly taken up into heaven: "It came to pass as he and Elisha still went on and talked, that behold there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. During the third period, which has continued nearly two thousand years, in which we and the whole Christian Church now live, and which will be concluded only by the day of judgment, Christ, our Lord, while in the act of blessing his disciples"and while they beheld, was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight." He ascended into heaven, and he now sitteth, till he shall again come to judge the living and the dead, at the right hand of God. Whatever were the sundry ways and divers manners in which God, by his prophets appealed to the Jewish world; whatever reception we ourselves may give to the precepts and the sanctions of his Evangelists and Apostles, who have more especially written for the Christian dispensation, this is undeniable: that God, in every age has made most abundant provision to prove and demonstrate to all the certainty of another life, and another state of being. In the great mercy of our Almighty Creator, this solemn truth has been enforced by three visible ascensions into heaven, an earnest to the world of the certainty of that great day, when all the Church of God, from the days of Adam, till the sounding of the trumpet of the Archangel, shall assemble before the judgment seat of Christ. As surely as Enoch, and Elijah, and our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, so also shall we ascend from our graves, to give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad.
Where is now the body of Christ, which ascended in a visible and tangible shape? Wherever body exists, it must exist in reference to place, and heaven cannot therefore be merely a state or condition. There must be, then, in some part of the universe of God, a place in which the glory of the Deity is more immediately and peculiarly manifest, where the body of Christ now is, the real "holy of holies," the true Christian heaven. There is the seat of that happiness which is peculiarly prepared and destined for the faithful followers of Christ. There is the abode of angels; there, are the spirits of the just made perfect; there is God, the Judge of all. To that place, and to the state and condition of happiness which is enjoyed there, every son of man may arrive, to whom the invitation of divine mercy has been extended. There is our home, here is our pilgrimage. There is our Father, here we are pilgrims of strangers. There is the Son of God, our Brother, and our Friend, here we live among fallen creatures, a cold and selfish world. There is peace, and repose, and rest, here is vexation, turbulence, and sorrow. Frail indeed is the veil or
And they worshipped him,
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath-day's journey".
mortality which separates us from that holy mansion of God our
44 The difficulty of this verse, when collated with the ac-
1. In Luke xxiv. 50. we read, "He led them out as far as Bethany," and in this passage (Acts i. 12.) that when the disciples came back from the place where our Lord had ascended,
they returned from Mount Olivet, distant from Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey." But now the town of Bethany was about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem, John xi. 18. and that is double a sabbath day's journey.
2. Josephus tells us, that Mount Olivet was but five furlongs from the city, and a sabbath day's journey was seven furlongs and a half. Antiq. lib. xx. cap. vi. O kai τng toλews ävтiкový κείμενον, ἀπεχει στάδια πέντε ; which being situated in front of the city, is distant five furlongs.
These things are all true. 1. That the Mount of Olives lay but five furlongs distant from Jerusalem. 2. That the town of Bethany was fifteen furlongs. 3. That the disciples were brought by Christ as far as Bethany. 4. That when they returned from the Mount of Olives, they travelled more than five furlongs. And, 5. Returning from Bethany, they travelled but a sabbath day's journey. All which may be easily reconciled, if we would observe, that the first space from the city was called Bethpage, which part of the mount was known by the name "to the length of about a sabbath day's journey," till it came to that part which is called Bethany. There was a Bethany, a tract of the mount, and also the town of Bethany. The town was distant from the city about fifteen furlongs, i. e. about two
Lu, xxiv.52. and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
John xx. 30.
Joh. xxi. 25.
And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
St. John's Conclusion to the Gospel History of Jesus Christ.
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.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.
miles, or double a sabbath day's journey: but the first border
Our Saviour led out his disciples, when he was about to
45 It has been supposed by Grotius, that the Gospel of St. John was originally terminated at the end of the 23d verse of chapter xx. and the remainder of the Gospel was added by the Church at Ephesus. This opinion, however, is rejected by Wetstein, Michaelis, Whitby, &c.
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