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The few words that follow this command, and which conclude the Gospel of St. Matthew, contain a promise full of consolation, not only to the apostles themselves, but to all the ministers of the Gospel in every succeeding age. “And, lo, says our blessed Lord, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” That is, although I am now about to leave you and ascend into heaven, and can no longer be personally present with you, yet the Holy Spirit, whom I have repeatedly promised to send unto you, shall certainly come to supply my place, shall constantly abide with you, and shall enlighten, guide, assist, support, and comfort you to the
end of the world. Here ends the Gospel of St. Matthew. But it must be observed, that in this last part of our Saviour's history, he has been much more concise than the other evangelists, and has passed over several circumstances which they have recorded, and of which it may be proper to take some notice here, before we close this Lecture. C C 3 It It appears from the other evangelists, and from the Acts of the Apostles, that Jesus continued among his disciples for forty days after his resurrection, giving them repeated and infallible proofs of his being actually raised from the dead, and “speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God *.” In one of these discourses, he took occasion to advert more particularly to those things that were written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning him. He showed how exactly and minutely all the predictions respecting him, contained in those sacred books, were accomplished in his birth, his life, his doctrines, his sufferings, his death, and his resurrection. This stamps at once a divine authority on those books, and gives a sanction to the interpretation of the passages alluded to, and the application of them to our blessed Lord, by our best and most learned expositors. - It
It is added, that on this occasion he opened their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name amongst all nations, beginning
at Jerusalem.” He entered, we see, at large into the great evangelical doctrines of the atonement, of the redemption of mankind by his death, of the resurrection, of repentance, and the remission of sins through faith in his name. These are most important topics, and his illustration of them to his disciples must have opened to them an invaluable treasure of divine knowledge. And as these doctrines are but briefly touched upon in the Gospels, and more fully unfolded and explained in the Acts and the Epistles, it is highly probable that a very considerable part, if not the whole of what passed in these discourses of our Lord to his disciples after his C C 4 resurrection, resurrection is faithfully preserved and detailed in those inspired writings. This places in a very strong light the high importance of those writings, and the high rank they ought to hold in our estimation, as forming an essential part of the Christian system, and completing the code of doctrines and of duties contained in that divine revelation. It is remarkable also, that St. Matthew has made no mention of the concluding act of our Lord's life on earth, his ascension into heaven. The reason of this omission is not perhaps very easy to assign, nor is it necessary. We know, that in several other instances various circumstances are omitted by one evangelist which are supplied by the rest, and others passed over by those which are noticed by the former; a plain proof by the way that they did not write in concert with each other, but each related his own story, and selected such facts and events as appeared to him most deserving of notice. In the present case it is sufficient for OUIT
our satisfaction that the ascension is related by two of the evangelists, St. Mark and St. Luke. The latter of these tells us in his Gospel, and in the Acts, that “Jesus led out his apostles (and the disciples that were with them) to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted from them and carried up into heaven, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly towards 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. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God *.” The last observation I have to make is, that neither St. Matthew nor any other of
* Luke, xxiv, 50–53.