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Thus should be accomplished what had been spoken from the first. The church should be raised upon its founder's grave. He had declared, (John xii. 24,) « Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” All might have supposed, as the chief priests and Pharisees supposed, and as the apostles themselves had feared, that when he died upon the cross, his influence would also die : that nothing more would be heard respecting him, when he who “ made himself the Son of God” had suffered the death of man.
But now, on the other hand, the Lord confidently declares, Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And this book relates how they became so; were endued with a power which they had not naturally, being “baptized with the Holy Ghost;" and fulfilled their Master's prophecy, “ Now is the prince of this world cast out.” 3 “ For the weakness of God, is stronger than men.”
Ņothing now remained to detain the Saviour from that “ glory which he had with the Father before the world was.”
9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
3 Jobn xii. 31.
10. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11. 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. ·
This revelation was mercifuily sent at the moment when it was needed by the apostles, both to instruct and to console tbem. Why stand ye gazing up to heaven ? This same Jesus, who is now taken up from you, will still make good his words : “ Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” In like manner as he has now ascended, in the form of man, but in the power of God; so in the exercise of the same divine omnipotence he shall hereafter descend from heaven once more, “ when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.” • “ Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.”6
Here, too, was their consolation. Now they were gazing up to heaven, as if all had been lost when he was taken from them. But he was only gone, as he had said, “ to prepare a place for them :" he would come again, and receive them
4 Matt. xxvi. 64.
5 2 Thess. i. 10. 6 Rev.i. 7.
unto himself; 7 and in like manner as they had seen him ascend, in the form which he bore on earth, in that form would he remain at the right hand of God to make intercession for his people : 8 and in like manner should he come, in the fulness of time, to “ judge the world in righteousness."
With this assurance they might comfort one another. And if they sorrowed that they were left alone in an evil world, they would not “ sorrow as those without hope,” but look forward to a glorious day when they should be received by their heavenly Shepherd into his heavenly fold. For the same heaven which opened to receive their Lord, shall also open to receive “ all them that love his appearing.” 9
ASSEMBLY OF THE APOSTLES.—MATTHIAS
IS CHOSEN IN THE ROOM OF JUDAS.
Acts i. 12-26. 12. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath-day's journey.'
7 John xiv. 3. 8 Heb. vii. 25. 92 Tim. iv. 8. | That is, about the distance which it might be necessary to travel to the synagogue for the purpose of public worship on the sabbath. Bethany, where Mount Olivet was situated, was a mile distant from Jerusalem.
13. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphæus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of Jumes.
14. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
The upper rooms in the East are often large, and extend along the whole length of the house. The place to which our Lord directed his apostles, that they might eat the Passover before the crucifixion, was a “ large upper room.” According to ancient tradition, this was the very room which the apostles were now permitted to occupy, and where they waited for 6 the promise of the Father.” .
That promise did not hinder or supersede their prayer. They all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, und Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. It had been so with Daniel of old. A promise had been made, that the captivity of Judah should not be perpetual: nay, the period of it had been foreshown. And this promise, instead of rendering prayer superfluous, encouraged the prophet to pray. When he “understood by books (Dan. ix. 2) the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem, he set his face unto the Lord, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” And so the apostles here. They continue in supplication. The intercourse which they had long enjoyed with their blessed Master was not broken off, though its nature was changed.
Mary the mother of Jesus, we might expect to find with them. John had taken her under his charge, and her heart was sure to be with those whom Jesus had “ loved to the end.” But we find his brethren also. It had not been always thus. A year before we had read, (John vii. 5,) “ Neither did his brethren believe in them.” In the interval, light had beamed upon them; and they who once doubted his divine authority, and viewed him with jealousy, are now abiding with the apostles, and with one accord joining with them in prayer. God had given them to his beloved Son.
15. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of the names together were about an hundred and twenty,)?
16. Men and brethren, This scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them which took Jesus.
17. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
2 Without reference to those five hundred in Galilee who are mentioned as brethren by Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 6.