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Epiftle for this Day, which begins thus: The former Treatife have I made, O Theophilus, &c. Where by the former Treatife is generally understood the Gospel according to St. Luke and 'tis fo call'd, in respect to this latter, of the Acts of the Apoftles: for which reafon, St. Luke is fuppos'd to be the Author of both. In both which, he dedicates or directs his Difcourfe to the excellent Theophilus; which is not thought to be the proper Name of any particular Perfon, but a general Title belonging to every true Lover of God, for fo the word fignifies and to all fuch he feems to addrefs himself in both. In the former Treatife or Gospel, St. Luke gave an account of all that Jefus began to do and to teach, until the day that he was taken up; that is, from the day of his Birth to the time of his Afcenfion into Heaven. In this latter he gives a Relation of the Acts of the holy Apofties; After that Chrift thro the Holy Ghoft had given Commandment to those whom he had chofen. And

The first thing he relates of them, was Chrift's confirming them in the Belief of his Refurrection, by his particular Appearance to them; in the third Verfe: To whom he fhew'd himself alive after his Paffion, by many infallible Proofs, as fhewing them his Hands and Feet, with the Print of the Nails that faften'd them to the Crofs, letting them thrust their Hands into the Wound made in his Side by the Soldiers Spear; eating and drinking, and talking freely with them after he rose from the dead; and by many other palpable Evidences convincing them that it was he himself, in the fame Body in which he lived and died. This great Care he took for their Satisfaction, condefcending to all they defir'd to that end, becaufe they were to preach and publish him to the World, and become the Witneffes of his Refurrection to all People. And the better to confirm them in the Truth of thefe things, he would not prefently leave the World after he was rifen, but ftaid and convers'd with them upon Earth, for the fpace of forty Days. Had he gone away fooner, he might have left the World in great Doubts about the Reality of his Resurrection, they might have concluded him to be only fome Ghost or Spectre, that appear'd for a while, and then vanifh'd away. And therefore to remove all Scruples in fo weighty a matter, upon which all the Faith and Hopes of Chriftians depend, he continu'd forty Days with them before he went from them, to give them all poffible Affurance in that great Point; during which time he was daily feen and heard of them,


Speaking to them of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God: which things related to the planting and propagating of the Chriftian Church, to the appointing of his Apoltles to be the Overfeers and Inftructors thereof, and to the giving them a Commiffion to appoint others to thofe Offices, for a conftant and orderly Succeffion in it to the world's end.

Our Bleffed Saviour having thus fettled and provided for his Church here upon Earth, he began to difcourfe to them of his afcending into Heaven. But before that,

He affembled his Difciples together at Jerufalem, where at his meeting with them, he commanded them that they Should not depart from Jerufalem, but wait there for the Promife of the Father, which (faith he) ye have heard of me. What this Promife of the Father was, appears both by St. Luke and St. John; viz. the Promife of the Holy Ghoft, whom the Father promis'd to fend in his Name, Luke 24. 49. John 14. 16. & John 15. 26. in all which places he is promis'd as a Comforter, an Advocate, a Witnefs, and Remembrancer. This Promife was more obfcurely and remotely reveal'd by the Prophets in the Old Teftament, in the Prophecies of pouring out the Spirit upon all Fle, but more plainly by our Saviour in the New. Hence we find St. John declaring in the beginning of the Gofpel, I indeed baptize with Water unto Repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whofe Shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with Fire: Mat. 3. 11. Where the baptizing with the Holy Ghoft and with Fire, is clearly meant of the Holy Spirit's vifible defcending on the Apoftles in the form of Fire, partly for the enlightning their Minds with the Knowledg of Divine Truths, partly to inflame their Hearts with the Love of them, and Zeal to promote them; and partly likewife to feparate and confecrate them to the Office and Duty of the Apostleship to thofe ends: for as Chrift was confecrated to his Office by the Holy Ghoft's coming down upon him at his Baptifm in the shape of a Dove, and lighting upon him, and a Voice faying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleafed; fo were the Apoftles anointed and fet apart for their Of fice, by the Holy Ghoft's defcending upon them in the form of Fire, with a Voice faying,. As my Father fent me, even fo fend I you. For the compleating of this Promife, Chrift order'd his Difciples to ftay at Jerufalem, where in a little time they fhould fee and find the fulfilling of it; telling

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them in the next words, that John truly baptiz'd with Water, but ye shall be baptiz'd with the Holy Ghoft not many days hence. To baptize fignifies to wash or purify, and was a Ceremony belonging to all the kinds of Purification among the Jews, efpecially to the receiving of Profelytes, and admitting of Difciples into the Church. Now this St. John did by Water only, after the manner of the Jews; but Chrift promis'd them a farther Addition to it, by the vifible Defcent of the Holy Ghoft upon them, to inftate them in a power of propagating the Gofpel, and governing the Church of Chrift: Which Promife was fulfill'd to them foon after, as we read in the next Chapter. And what was here done to the Apostles, as the Firft-fruits of the converted Jews, was after done to Cornelius and his Family, as the Firft-fruits of the converted Gentiles; for upon St. Peter's preaching to them, the Holy Ghoft fell on them, as it had done upon the Apoftles before, Acts 10. 44. & Acts 11. 15, 16. But befide this Defcent of the Holy Ghoft, which was peculiar only to fome Perfons, there was after a common Defcent of it, that belong'd to all Chriftians, whereby they receiv'd Strength to perform all that God requir'd of them. This is that Spirit, mention'd by St. John, Chap. 7. 39. that was to be given to all that believe. And of this our Saviour fpake, Chap. 3. 5. faying, Except a Man be born again of Water and the Holy Ghoft, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: that is, unless he be initiated into the Chriftian Church, not only by the wafhing of Water, a Ceremony ufed by the Jews, but by the Communication of the Spirit, granted to Chriftians in their Baptifin, to enable them to perform what is promis'd therein, he cannot be a true Member of it either here of hereafter.

But whilft our Saviour was thus difcourfing to the Difciples of the fpiritual Gifts and Graces of the Holy Ghost, their Minds ran too much upon the temporal Powers and Preferments of this World; for when they were come together, they ask'd him, saying, Wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Ifrael? ver. 6. The Jews were antiently poffefs'd of a large and flourishing Kingdom, of which they were after difpoffefs'd, and carry'd away captive into Babylon, and thereby difpers'd over the face of the whole Earth. Now there was a Prophecy in Daniel, that the Saints of the Most High should be again reftor'd to this Kingdom, and poffefs it for ever and ever; Dan. 7. 18. This


they expected to be done by the Meffias at his coming, which made the Mother of Zebedee's Children petition, that her two Sons, James and John, might fit the one at his right Hand, and the other at his left, in his Kingdom; Mat. 20, 20, 21. With thefe Hopes and Expectations the Difciples themselves were too much poffefs'd, which made our Saviour check their Vanity; and to wean them. from fuch Thoughts, faid unto them in the next words, It is not for you to know the Times or the Seafons, which the Father hath put in his own power: meaning, that this Inquiry of theirs was impertinent and improper for them to make, fince God Almighty hath referv'd the Secrets and Seafons of fuch things to himself, and hath not thought fit to reveal the Time or Manner of his entring upon his Kingdoni.

That which is fit for you at prefent to know, is that ye fhall receive Power, after that the Holy Ghoft is come upon you and ye shall be Witnesses unto me, both in Jerufalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermoft parts of the Earth. Where he feeks to raise their Minds from earthly to more fpiritual and heavenly Matters, letting them know, that the Holy Ghoft fhould fhortly come upon them, and then they fhould bear teftimony to the Truth of all that he had faid and done; divulging it first in the great City of Jerufalem, then in all Judea and Samaria: and because the Gospel is to be preach'd to the Heathen World, ye shall publish it even to the uttermoft Parts of the Earth.

And when he had Spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a Cloud receiv'd him out of their fight. And this will lead us to our Saviour's Affumption up into, Heaven, that great Act of his Exaltation; which being the principal Subject of our Meditations on this great Festival, must be a little the more largely infifted on. To which end, I fhall confider, firft, the Act of his Afcenfion; next, the Proof and Evidence we have of it; and then the Circumstances of Time, Place, and Manner of this great, Action.


For the Act or Nature of his Afcenfion, we are not to understand by it only a metaphorical Tranflation from a lower to a higher Condition, which is often ftil'd afcending; nor yet fuch a figurative Elevation of the Soul, as mounts it up to Heaven on the wings of Prayer and Meditation, for fo we all ought to afcend every day but by Chrift's Afcenfion is meant a real and local Tranflation of his

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his natural Body from Earth to Heaven, whereby he who lived, died, and role again, left thefe lower Regions, and was taken up into the highest Heavens.

This was typify'd in the Old Teftament by Enoch's Tranflation into Heaven, of which we read, Gen. 5.24. as alfo by the High Prieft's going once a year into the Holy of Holies. David's rhetorical Speech in the 24th Pfalm, Lift up your heads, O ye Gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlafting Doors, and the King of Glory hall come in was myftically meant of the Meffiah's triumphant Entrance into Glory whom he after thus befpeaks, Thou hast afcended up on high, thou hast led Captivity captive, and receiv'd Gifts for Men. All which Types and Prophecies were fulfill'd in Chrift's Afcenfion into Heaven, and after pouring out the Gifts and Graces of his Holy Spirit upon his Disciples and Followers.

For the Time of his Afcenfion, it was on the fortieth Day after his Refurrection; for he thought fit to ftay fo long after he rofe from the dead, to manifeft the Truth of his Refurrection, to fettle his Church, and to provide for a Succeffion of Officers and Overfeers in it to the world's end. And having by these things finifh'd the Work which his Father gave him to do, he went up again to the Glory which he had with his Father before the World began.

For the Place of his Afcenfion, that was on the top of the Mount of Olives near Bethany, about a mile distantfrom Jerufalem, where our Saviour led forth his Difciples, and being arriv'd at the top of the adjoining Hill, he there imparted his laft Mind and Meffage to them, and then took his leave of them, telling them that he was now going: to his Father and as the High-Prieft was wont to blefs the People at his going into the Holy of Holies, fo did the Son of God then give his Followers his folemn and final Benediction. And while he was thus bleffing them, he is of a fudden parted from them, and mounted up flowly and by degrees, fo as they might for fome time follow him with their Eyes, and difcern his Motion; till being come up at fome confiderable height, a Cloud receiv'd him out of their fight, and hinder'd their Eyes from following or difcerning him any further. Thus did our Saviour, in the fame human Body he receiv'd from the Bleffed Virgin, visibly ascend up to Heaven: How he was welcom'd there by the Father, and with what Joy he was receiv'd by the bleffed Inhabi-, tants of that Place, is a matter better to be conceiv'd than deftrib'd.


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