Page images



of Christ was followed by his resurrection on the third day. This preternatural event was preceded by an earthquake, and the rolling away of the stone which closed the sealed sepulchre, by an angel, whose countenance was like lightning, whose raiment was white as snow, for fear of whom the keepers became as dead men,"a who encouraged the women arrived to inspect the sepulchre, and informed them that Jesus was risen. Two angels also announced to "Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women that were with them, the same event.' To his apostles, "Jesus showed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, have heard of me. ye For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence. Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Sa-· maria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." "All power is given unto me in heaven and in b Luke xxiv. 5, 10. John xx. 12.

a Matth. xxviii. 1—6. Acts i. 3-5, 8.

earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you; and lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." "And he led them as far out as 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 a cloud received him out of their sight." "He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." "And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, 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, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven."d "And they worshipped him. Then returned they into Jerusalem, from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey."e

Thus, celestial messengers, and supernatural events, and the immediate voice of God himself, bore testimony to the unparalleled dignity and mission of Christ, at his birth, at his baptism, after his temptation, at his transfiguration, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension. His promise of the miraculous gifts of the Holy

a Mat. xxviii. 18-20. b Luke xxiv. 50, 51. Acts i. 9. c Mark xvi. 19. d Acts i. 10, 11. e Luke xxiv. 52. Acts i. 12.

Ghost to his apostles and disciples, was amply fulfilled on the ever memorable day of Pentecost. Then happened that display of divine power which astonished and converted thousands of Jews and Gentiles. "When the apostles and other disciples were assembled, suddenly there came a sound, as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling atJerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now, when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold! are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea,and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians; we do hear them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one

to another, What meaneth this? Others, mocking, said, These men are full of new wine."a The conclusion of this narrative bears internal evidence of its veracity. In such a multitude as was here assembled, it is most probable that some could not distinctly hear what the apostles and disciples uttered, and had therefore recourse to the supposition of their being drunk. Others, under the strong influence of prejudice, and of aversion from new and extraordinary truths, would easily concur in this opinion. But this notion was completely refuted by the apostle Peter, who explained to the assembly the prophecy of Joel relative to the event which they had immediately witnessed, and to others of a like wonderful nature, which were soon to ensue; evinced that the words of David, contained in the 16th Psalm, had been verified only in Jesus Christ; and asserted, "that all the house of Israel should hence know assuredly, that God had made that same Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ." This address operated such conviction on the minds of the hearers, that "they said unto Peter, and unto the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren! what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins,


a Acts ii. 1-13.

b Psal. xvi. 8-11.

c Acts ii. 14-36.

[ocr errors]

and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." The extraordinary and miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit continued with the apostles of our Lord during the whole course of their lives, and were also communicated to other members of the primitive church. How long these were thus enjoyed, is not so easily determined."

The apostles, in obedience to their divine master's command, taught all nations, and carried his gospel into the uttermost part of the earth; attested it by the miraculous powers which he had conferred on them, and illustrated it by the purity of their lives. During their ministry the Christian faith grew and increased every day, triumphed over Jewish prejudice and obstinacy, over heathen blindness, superstition, idolatry and pride, and over all the violence and fury of persecution which their opponents, however hostile to each other in every thing else, concurred in exciting and exercising against the gospel, and established its firm and liberal dominion in myriads of hearts which had before been immured in the dungeon of ignorance, and bound in the chains of sin and Satan. The gospel had, before the death of the apostles, made its way

a Acts ii. 37-41. b 1 Cor. xii. 10, 28, 30; xiv. 2.


« PreviousContinue »