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paces, we are to understand Luke as describing the distance of that part of Olivet which was nearest to the city, in which way the distance of mountains was commonly measured. For Be thany, on the other side of the mountain, nigh to which, as Luke himself informs us, our Lord ascended, was full two miles from Jerusalem. After the apostles returned to the city, they spent the greatest part of their time in the temple, praising and blessing God, as for all his benefits, so in particular for the resurrection of their Master from the dead, after he had been unjustly and inhumanly crucified by a cabal of wicked men, for his glorious ascension into heaven, and for the promise that was made them concerning his return. Perhaps they were much in the temple likewise, because they expected their Master at his return would make his first appearance there. Luke xxiv. 53. And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. The apostles, about eight days after this, received the Holy Ghost, according to their Master's promise. He descended upon them in a visible form, which betokened both the efficacy of his operations, and the first fruits thereof. Cloven tongues as of fire sat on each of them, and immediately they were inspired with the faculty of speaking all the languages of the world. After the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them, the apostles were led to form a more just notion of their Master's kingdom, for they immediately applied themselves with great earnestness to their proper work of preaching the gospel first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, afterwards in all the different countries of the world, according to the instructions they had received from their Master's own mouth at parting. In spreading the knowledge of the Christian religion in far distant countries, they met with great approbation and acceptance, both from the Jews and Gentiles, who were not able to resist the evidence of the miracles whereby they confirmed their doctrine. Of these things Mark gives us an account. From which it is reasonable to conclude, that he published his gospel pretty late. Mark xvi. 20. And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord (i. e. Christ. See Matt. xxviii. 20.) working with them, confirming the word witk signs following. Amen.
CONCLUSION. Thus endeth the history of the life of Christ; a life the greatest and best that ever was led by man, or ever was the subject of any history. The human character of Jesus, as it results from the accounts which the evangelists have given of him, for they have not formally drawn it, is entirely different from that of all other men whatsoever. For whereas they have the selfish passions deeply rooted in their breasts, and are influenced by them in al
most every thing they do, Jesus was so entirely free from them, that the narrowest scrutiny cannot furnish one single action in the
only. The happiness of others was what he had chiefly at heart. And while his contemporaries followed, some one kind of occupation, some another, Jesus had no other business but that of promoting the welfare of men. He went about doing good. He did not wait till he was solicited, but sought opportunities of conferring benefits on such as stood in need of them, and always reckoned it more blessed to give than to receive; in which respect he differed exceedingly from the rest of mankind, and was much more like to God than to man. In the next place, whereas it is common even for persons of the most exalted faculties, on the one hand to be elated with success and applause, and on the other to be dejected with great disappointments, it was not so with Jesus. He was never more courageous than when he met with the greatest opposition and the worst treatment, nor more humble than when men fell down and worshipped him. He came into the world inspired with the grandest purpose that ever was form. ed, even that of saving, not a single nation, but the whole world; and in the execution of it went through the longest and heaviest train of labours that ever was sustained; and that with a constancy of resolution, on which no disadvantageous impression could be made by any accident whatsoever. Calumny, threatenings, opposition, bad success, with the other evils befalling him, served only to quicken his endeavours in this glorious enterprise, which he pursued unweariedly till he finished it by his death. In the third place, whereas most men are prone to retaliate the injuries that are done them, and all seem to take a satisfaction in complaining of the cruelties of those who oppress them, the whole of Christ's behaviour breathed nothing but meekness, patience, and forgiveness even to his bitterest enemies, and in the midst of extreme sufferings. The words, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, uttered by him when his enemies were nailing him to the cross, fitly expressed the temper which he maintained through the course of his life, even when assaulted with the heaviest provocations. The truth is, on no occasion did he ever signify the least resentment by speech or by action, nor indeed any emotion of mind whatever, except such as flowed from pity and charity, consequently such only as expressed the deepest concern for the welfare of mankind. To conclude, the greatest and best men have had failings which darken the lustre of their virtues, and shew them to have been men. This was the case with Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, Solomon, Paul, and the other heroes cel braied in history. The same thing may be said of all the greatest geniuses in the heathen world, who undertook to instruct and reform mankind; for, omitting the narrow. VOL. II. 4 K
ness of their knowledge, and the obscurity with which they spake upon the most important subjects, there was not one of them who did not fall into some gross error or other, which dishonoured his character as a teacher. · The accounts we have in history of the most renowned sages of antiquity, and the writings of the philosophers still remaining, are proofs of this. It was otherwise with Jesus in every respect. For he was superior to all the men that ever lived, both in the sublimity of bis doctrine, in the purity of his manners, and in the perfection of his virtues. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, Whether you consider him as a teacher or a man, he did no sin, neither
from spot or weakness, at the same time that it was remarkable for the greatest and most extensive exercises of virtue.. But never to have committed the least sin in word or in deed, never to have uttered any sentiment that could be found fault with, upon the various topics of religion and morality, which were the daily subjects of his discourse, and that through the course of a life filled with action, and led under the observation of many enemies, who had always access to converse with him, and who often came to find fault, is a pitch of perfection plainly above the reach of humanity; and therefore he who possessed it must certainly have been divine. Accordingly, the evidenee of this proof being undeniable, both as an argument and as a matter of fact, Jesus himself publicly appealed to it, before all the people in the temple, John viii. 46. Which of you convinceth, (or rather, convicteth) me of sin? And if in affirming that I am perfectly free from sin, I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
Such was the person who is the subject of the evangelical his. tory. If the reader, by viewing his life, doctrine, and miracles, as they are here presented to him united in one series, has obtained a clearer notion of these things than before, or discerns a beauty in his actions thus linked together, which taken separately does not so fully appear; if he feels himself touched with the character of Jesus in general, or with any of his sermons and actions in particular, thus simply delineated in writings whose principal charms are the beauties of truth; above all, if his dying so generously for men strikes him with admiration, or fills him with joy, in the prospect of that pardon which is thereby purchased for the world let him seriously consider with himself what improvement he ought to make of the Divine goodness.
Jesus, by his death, has set open the gates of immortality to men, and by his word, Spirit, and example, graciously offers to make them meet for, and conduct them into the inheritance of the saints in light. Wherefore, being born under the dispensation of his gospel, we have, from our earliest years, enjoyed the best means of acquiring wisdom, virtue, and happiness, the lineaments
of the image of God. We have been called to aspire after an exaltation to the nature and felicity of God, set before mortal eyes in the man Jesus Christ, to fire us with the noblest ambition. His gospel teaches us that we are made for eternity, and that our present life is to our after existence, what childhood is to man's estate. But as in childhood many things are to be learned, many hardships to be endured, many habits to be acquired, and that by a tedious course of exercises, which in themselves though painful, and it may be useless to the child, yet are necessary to fit him forthe business and enjoyments of manhood : just so, while we remain in this infancy of human life, things are to be learned, hardships to be endured, and habits to be acquired, by a laborious course of discipline, which, however painful, must cheerfully be undergone, because necessary to fit us for the employments and pleasures of our riper existence above. Our Father, ever mindful of us, has sent down Jesus, the express image of his own person, to initiate us into, and carry us through this course of education for eternity. Inflamed therefore with the love of immortality and its joys, let us submit ourselves to our heavenly Teacher, and learn of him those graces which alone can make life pleasant, death desirable, and fill eternity with ecstatic joys.