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ACTS I. 8.

But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you ; and ye shall be witnesses unto me, &c. Or, You shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you.

THESE words are the more remarkable, because they are the very last words in the conference between the Son of God and his beloved apostles, immediately before his ascension into heaven. Now, you know, when dear and intimate friends are to part, as their love then runs strongest, and their affections are most intire and vehement; so then also they especially discourse of those things wherein most of all they desire to be satisfied and resolved. Thus was it between Christ and his apostles: never was there such dear and intimate friendship, and such sincere and burning love, between any, as between them. The apostles, all of them, loved Christ most truly and passionately; and Peter, who had three times denied him, three times professed his love to him; and being sorry that Christ should question his love the third time, he thus answered; Lord, thou knowest all things; thou


knowest that I love thee (a). And Christ also loved them dearly; yea, he loved them first; and having loved his own, he loved them unto the end (b): and so he was not discontented with them for their leaving and forsaking him, through human infirmity, when he was led away to judgment, and to death. For though death quite puts out all natural love, yet spiritual love is not extinguished, but enlarged by death. Now when such loving friends as these were even now ready to take their last leave of one another, in regard of bodily presence, who would not most willingly have been present, to have heard what discourse passed between Christ and his disciples at this their last parting?

Now Luke acquaints us with the whole sum and substance of Christ's discourse with his apostles, all the time he lived together with them after his resurrection, till the day wherein he ascended into heaven. In the third verse of this chapter, he saith, he did discourse with them touching the kingdom of God: that is, not only touching his spiritual kingdom, which he sets up in each particular Christian, and which begins at our regeneration, and is consummated in glorification; but also touching his mediatory and monarchical kingdom, which, in the time appointed of his Father, he should set up in the world; when he should have the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost ends of the earth for his possession (c); and all people, and nations, and languages, should serve him (d); and he should reign from sea to sea, and from the river to the world's end (e). This was the sum of Christ's discourse with them. And the apostles were fully satisfied touching the thing, only they were unsatisfied touching the time. For besides that the setting up this kingdom of the Messias, in the power, beauty and glory of it, was at that time the common discourse and expectation of all Israel; the apostles them

(b) John xiii. 1.

(a) John iv. 19.
(c) Psalm ii. 8.

(d) Dan. vii. 14.

(e) Psalm 1xxii. 8.

selves remembered many prophecies and promises of the Old Testament, for the restoring the kingdom of David. And this they thought Christ would have done in the days of his flesh; but presently all their hopes were blasted by his death. But when they saw him risen again from the dead, then presently their hearts were revived into their former hopes; but yet again, seeing nothing done all the time he conversed with them after the resurrection, when he was now ready to ascend into heaven, they desire him, first to resolve them of this question, Whether he would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel: Lord, say they, Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? Now Christ doth not deny the restoring of the kingdom to Israel, but denies to acquaint them with the time when it should be done: he tells them, It was not for them to know the times and seasons, which the Father had put in his own power, verse 7.

The like answer to the like demand Daniel received in his time. For when the angel had represented to Daniel the total destruction of the image of worldly monarchy, together with the rise, and reign, and ruin of Antichrist, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world, in the stead of the two former; Daniel said, Chap. xii. 8. And I heard, but I understood not: Then said I, O, my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up, and sealed till the time of the end. So that the angel, who discovered the things themselves to Daniel, refused to discover to him plainly and expressly the time when they should be done; but that was to be closed and sealed up till the time of the end. And so here, in like manner, Christ, who had discoursed largely and clearly to the disciples, touching the kingdom of God, yet denies to discover to them the time when it should be set up in the world. And the reason why he denied this to them, to whom he had not denied himself, was not for

want of love; but because the Father had kept the time and season wherein all this should be done, in his own power. Had this been placed in Christ's power, he had, no doubt, made it known to them, as well as he did those other things which he had heard from his Father; but the Father had not placed this in his Son's power, but had reserved it in his own: and the apostles were not to pry after that which was hidden with God, but were to content themselves with what he had revealed.

But though the Son did not reveal to them what the Father had kept in his own power, yet he tells them what the Father had promised unto them, and what he had also put into his power, and what he would certainly perform ere long; and that was, the gift of the Spirit of power, saying, But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me, &c. As if he should have said, "Do not you trouble yourselves about secret things, which shall not be accomplished in the world till many years after you are fallen asleep; but

do you mind your present business, wherein you are to

serve God in your generation; your present task is to be witnesses unto me, in Jerusalem, and all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the utmost parts of the earth: to declare and make known what you have heard, and seen with your eyes, and looked upon, and your hands have handled, of the word of life. You are to testify to the world, my incarnation, doctrine, miracles, life, death, resurrection, and my kingdom and glory that is to come. You are

to make known to the world, the high and deep, the great and glorious mystery of Christ, and of the gospel. And that you may be fit for this great and weighty work, you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost: You shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you," &c. Which words also may be an answer to another question, which the disciples did or might make, after this manner.

"Our dear Lord and master, why wilt thou leave us, thy poor disciples, among so many evils and enemies in the world, which our weakness must of necessity sink under? We well remember how fearful and foolish we have been whilst thou wast yet with us; but how much more timorous and trembling shall we be when thou art gone from us? When thou wast apprehended by the armed power of the magistrates, thou knowest how we all forsook thee and fled: And I, said Peter, denied thee, and forswore thee, at the voice of a simple maid: and therefore, if thou now quite leave us, what witnesses are we like to be unto thee, and what preachers of thy name, among the obstinate Jews, among the angry and enraged rulers and people; who will be ready, for thy name's sake, every day to deliver us up to a new death? And how shall we be able to stand amidst so many difficulties, troubles, distresses, oppositions and persecutions, when thou hast left us? Surely, we are such weak and infirm creatures, that we shall never be able to hold out, but shall lie down both in shame and sorrow."

To this Christ answers in these words; You shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you. As if he should have said, "You have a hard task indeed, but you shall be furnished with proportionable power. The business you are to undertake, is not human, but divine; the things that you are to teach, are not carnal, but spiritual; the work that you are to set upon, is not man's work, but God's. You are to act among men for God; you are to act in the world against the world; you are to act against the devil, in the very midst of the devil's kingdom. You are to convert Infidels, to make of Heathens, Christians; to bring them near unto God, who are now without God in the world; to carry the light of heaven up and down this dark world, among the people that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to shew them

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