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ments; in the ten hundred and forty-fifth from the erecting of Solomon's temple; in the seven hundred and eighty-fifth from the building of Rome; in the six hundred and thirty-ninth from the first Babylonish captivity; in the three hundred and fiftysixth from the death of Alexander the Great; in the seventy-third from the beginning of the reign of the first Herod; in the thirty-seventh from the birth of Christ; in the thirty-sixth from the death of Herod; in the twenty-second of the reign of Tiberius with Augustus; in the nineteenth of the reign of that emperor alone; and in the seventh year from the commencement of the ministry of John the Baptist. On these principles, it appears, that the resurrection took place late on Saturday, the fourth, or early on Sunday, the fifth of April; and that our Lord ascended into his glory, either on Wednesday, the thirteenth, or, as is more generally supposed, on Thursday, the fourteenth, of May.
The apostles, having witnessed the ascension of our Lord, returned with great joy to Jerusalem, a walk of about seven furlongs. Here they divided their time, between the temple, which they regularly attended at the stated hours of public devotion, and a large upper room, where they assembled together for the purpose of offering up unto God continual supplications and prayers. Among the most regular attendants at this place of sacred retirement, were the eleven apostles, Mary the mother of our Lord, and those near relations of his who are denominated his brethren; and who, though they were formerly noted as not believing in his mission, appear to have since been converted to the truth.
In one of those days which they thus spent in waiting for the promise of the Father, an hundred and twenty of them being collected together in this upper room, Peter arose, and, standing in the midst of the disciples, addressed them to the following effect: Men and brethren, equally united by the ties of religion and of friendship, it was necessary that this passage of scripture should receive a fulfilment, which David, moved by the prophetic Spirit of God, delivered in the sixty-ninth and hundred and ninth Psalms, concerning Judas, who betrayed his Master with a kiss, and was guide to those who led him away to judgment and to death. His dreadful crime and calamitous end must be fresh in the recollection of every hearer; for he was formerly numbered among us, the apostles, and obtained a lot in this holy and important ministry. This man, as you all recollect, occasioned the purchase of a field with the reward of his iniquity, by casting it down in the temple, and refusing to take it again; and, by some accident, after having hanged himself, fell violently with his face on the ground, burst asunder in the midst, and poured forth his bowels on the spot. This fact, the historian observes, could not be reasonably doubted, since it was well known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and they, in memory of the shocking event, denominated the piece of land which was thus purchased, Aceldama, or the field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein; which was admirably fulfilled by the purchasing with the wages of his iniquity, not a garden, or dwelling-place for the living, but a buryingground for the dead; and it is added in another passage, and his bishoprick let another take his office of overseer in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, of these men who are now present among us, and have associated with us during the whole of our Lord's ministry, including that of his forerunner, must one be chosen to bear witness, in the apostolic character, to the resurrection of the Son of God from the dead. The assembly consented to the proposal; and, after mature deliberation, fixed upon two candidates for this office; Joseph, who was denominated Justus, from the integrity of his life; and a person no less eminent for his piety, who was named Matthias. They then solemnly addressed the all-seeing God, and intreated him that, being ac
quainted with the secrets of all hearts, he would indicate who was most fit for the apostolic office, by regulating the fall of that lot which they were then going to cast. Having, therefore, given forth the lot, it fell upon Matthias, who was immediately added to the number of the eleven apostles.
Nothing further of sufficient importance to be recorded occurred till the arrival of the feast of Pentecost. This solemnity derives its name from the greek word pentekostos, fiftieth, because held fifty days after the passover. It was observed by the Jews in commemoration of the enunciation of the law to Moses, fifty days after the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt. This was the second of the three grand festivals in the ecclesiastical year, at which all the males were enjoined to appear before the Lord at the national altar. It is called by several names in the Old Testament; as the feast of weeks, because it was celebrated seven weeks, or a week of weeks, after the passover, or rather, after the first day of unleavened bread; the feast of harvest, according to Mede and Bochart, because, as the harvest begun at the passover, it ended at Pentecost; or, according to others, because at this feast the firstfruits of their wheat-harvest were brought and offered to God; and, for the same reason, it was denominated the feast of first-fruits.
When the day of Pentecost was fully come, or, as the Syriac renders it, when the days of Pentecost were fulfilled, on the morning of the fiftieth day after the passover, which corresponded to Sunday, the twenty-fourth of May, they, that is, probably, the hundred and twenty disciples, with the women, were all, in the unity of the Spirit, met together in the same place, the large upper room to which they had been accustomed to resort. While they were sitting here, a sound was heard from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the whole room with its astonishing effects. While they were filled with wonder at this supernatural event, bright flames of a pyramidical form, which were so divided at the points as to present the appearance of cloven tongues, were seen to rest one upon each of their heads who were at this time assembled together. Immediately they felt themselves filled with the inspiration of God, and enabled to speak with languages which they had never acquired by human education Beginning to exercise these miraculous gifts, the room appeared agitated with an unaccountable confusion; and, being overheard by their neighbours, a report was soon spread, that something very extraordinary had happened to the sectaries of Galilee.
There were at this time sojourning at Jerusalem, either as fixed inhabitants of the city, or as strangers, collected for the purpose of celebrating the annual feasts, devout men from almost every region of the habitable globe. These, having heard the report, ran together with the rest of the multitude, and were confounded; because that every one in the assembly heard some one or other of the disciples speaking, not only in his own language, but in that particular dialect of it which he had learnt from his infancy. Astonished beyond measure at this miracle, as all must be who consider its extent, they inquired eagerly one of another, whether all these that spake were not Galileans as well by country as by religion. How then, said they, does every one of us hear them speaking in our native languages the wonderful works of God? In this mul titude of strangers, there were Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, nations inhabiting different provinces of moderu Persia; the dwellers between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, whom some suppose to be of the remnant of those Israelites who were carried away captive by the kings of Assyria, and are usually denominated the nine tribes and a half. Here were also natives of Judea, where the dialect was so different from that of Galilee, that Peter was charged, on that ground, with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. To these are to be added the natives of Cappadocia, and Pontus
and of the country more properly called the proconsolar Asia, as well as the inhabitants of the neighbouring provinces of Phrygia, and Pamphylia, of Egypt, and the parts of Africa which are about Cyrene, together with strangers, both Jews and proselytes, who had arrived from the capital of the Roman empire; and lastly, the inhabitants of the island of Crete, and such as ordinarily resided in different parts of Arabia. These were all amazed, and enquired to what these things would proceed; while others, who were ignorant of the languages which were spoken, turned the whole into derision; alleging that the orators who had excited such general attention were only miserable fanatics, who had increased their fervour to a remarkable pitch by the free use of new and sweet wine.
Desirous to vindicate the character of his brethren, but still more desirous of the conversion of his enemies, Peter now stood up with the eleven, and thus addressed the multitude with an elevated voice: Ye men of the Jewish nation, from whatever part of the world ye have arrived, and all you who are the stated inhabitants of Jerusa lem, let this be known unto you, and do you diligently hearken unto my words for these men, whom some of you have condemned as drunken and dissolute wretches, are very far from being in a state of intoxication, seeing this is but the third hour of the day, (nine o'clock in the morning) the hour of morning sacrifice, before which you know, that none, who have any regard for their character will allow themselves so much as to taste wine, and much less to drink any large quantity of it, whereby they would be rendered incapable of attending the service of the temple on this solemn festival. But this which occasioned so much admiration, is that great event which was foretold by the prophet Joel, [chap. ii. 29..32.] "And it shall come to pass in the last days, the times of the Messiah, saith God, I will pour out an extraordinary effusion of my Spirit upon all orders and nations of men; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream prophetic dreams. And on my servants and my handmaidens, who seem to be the meanest members of my family, I will pour out largely of my Spirit; and they shall not only proclaim the riches of my grace, but announce the awfui judgments which shall fall on the heads of their enemies. Nor shall it be long before they have a public confirmation of their testimony. For I will exhibit wonders in heaven above, and prodigies upon the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke. Yea, so great shall be the confusion both in church and state, that the sun shall, as it werc, be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and terrible day of the Lord comes, (when he shall take vengeance of his euemies by the destruction of the city of Jerusalem.) And it shall come to pass, that at this time my gospel should be freely preached, and every one that calleth on the name of the Lord shall receive salvation." Men of Israel, hear these words with becoming attention: Jesus, the despised Nazarene, whose mission God hath attested by miraculous powers, and wonders, and signs, which God wrought by him in your most public places and assemblies, as you yourselves also know; him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up from the dead, having loosed the pains of death, forasmuch as it was impossible that he should be finally holden of it. For David, speaking in the person of the Messiah, saith, [Psalm xvi. 8, &c.] "I have regarded the Lord as always. before me; because I know that he is at my right-hand, that I might not be tossed and agitated by any of my sufferings. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue, the glory of my frame, was glad. Moreover, also, my flesh, while it lodges in the sepulchre, shall rest in a joyful and assured hope because
thou wilt not leave my soul in the world of separated spirits, nor even permit my body to experience corruption in the grave. By making me the first-fruits of them that slept, thou hast appointed me to go before in the untrodden paths which lead from the grave back again to vital air; and thou wilt also so manifest thyself unto me, as to fill me with joy by the light of thy countenance." Men and brethren, whom I esteem as members of the house of Israel, permit me to speak to you freely concerning the patriarch David, who delivered this valuable prediction, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre remains among us in Jerusalem, even to this day. He, therefore, could not speak this of himself; but being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn to him with an oath, that of his posterity he would raise up the promised Messiah to sit on his throne, as the king of God's covenant people, he spake this of Christ, that his soul shall not be left in the unseen world, nor his flesh be suffered to see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, of whose resurrection we are all witnesses. And though he appeared in this world as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, he is now exalted by the right-hand of God; and, having, as the great anointed of the Lord, received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he hath shed forth this miraculous effusion, the effects of which ye now see and hear. For David is not himself, in this sense, ascended into heaven; but he saith himself, [Psalm cx. 1.] "The Lord saith unto my Lord, sit thou at my right-hand, until I lay thine enemies prostrate at thy feet." Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, that Lord and Messiah, whose kingdom you profess so earnestly to desire.
When Peter had delivered this admirable discourse, a large number of the multitude were pricked to the heart with a conviction of their enormous guilt, and said to Peter and to the rest of the aposties, men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, repent, renounce your former principles and practices, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, that you may enjoy the remission of your sins; and e shall not only receive that blessing, but also experience the miraculous assistance of God's most Holy Spirit. For the promise, as is evident from the forecited passage of Joel, is made unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, as well in distance from Jerusalem as in alienation from God, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he bear his testimony to these important truths, exhorting them to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they might thus be saved from the awful calamities which were about to punish that perverse generation. Then they who heard the word of Peter, with readiness immediately submitted to baptism, thus announcing their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The number of those who were thus added to the society of the faithful, were about three thousand souls. These persevered in their profession, and continued sted fast in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in social prayer. And a reveren ial fear fell upon every soul, and many miracles were performed by the apostles in the name of Jesus; and all that believed were as much as possible together, and had all things common. And sold their possessions and effects, and divided the price of them to all their brethren, as every one had particular necessity. And they continued unanimously in the temple at the appointed hours of worship every day, and breaking bread from house to house, eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Praising God, and having favour among all the people. And the Lord added daily to the church such as had been made partakers of his pardoning
Of what nature was that community of goods which was established at the church
Jerusalem, has occasioned much dispute. Dr. Doddridge, who appears to have entertained the generally received opinion, that all the produce of their houses and lands was brought into a common fund, has the following note on Acts ii. 44.
"Peculiar reasons made this community of goods eligible at that time, not only as so many sojourners, who had come from other parts, would justly be desirous to continue at Jerusalem much longer than they intended when they came up to the feast, that they might get a thorough knowledge of the gospel, but as the prospect, likewise, of the Roman conquests, which, according to Christ's known prediction, were soon to swallow up all Jewish property, would, of course, dispose many more readily to sell their lands. But the New Testament abounds with passages which plainly shew this was never intended for a general practice. None can reasonably imagine, that the number of Christian converts, even then at Jerusalem, is to be accounted for, by a desire to share in these divided goods; for it is evident, that as the portion each could have would be very small, so the hardships to be endured for a Christian profession would soon counterbalance such advantages; and accordingly we find the converts at Jerusalem were soon reduced to such necessitous circumstances, as to need relief by the contributions of their Gentile brethren. Candour would rather lead men to argue the incontestible evidence of the gospel, from its prevailing on the professors of it to part with their estates to relieve persons who, excepting the community of their faith, had no particular claim to their regards. If such instances were numerous, this argument is strengthened in proportion and if they be supposed few, the objection is proportionably weakened.”
Mr. Haldane, after quoting Acts iv. 32, 34, 35, makes the following pertinent observations: "This may either express, that the whole property of the members who had all sold their houses and lands was put into a common stock, from which the necessities of each were supplied; or the words may, with equal propriety, be understood to mean, that there existed so much love in this church, that each was ready to communicate to the wants of their brethren to the utmost of his power; that to testify their affection, and to supply the wants of the poor, some who had houses and lands sold their possessions, and laid the price at the apostles' feet, who superintended the distribution to those who had need. If the words may be taken in either sense, it remains to endeavour to ascertain the true meaning. It is no slight argument for the latter, that it represents matters in a point of view much more natural and easy. corresponding both with the practice of other churches, and the precepts delivered to them by the apostles. The former teaches us to view the church of Jerusalem as singular, in adopting a custom which must necessarily have been attended with very great confusion and inconvenience, and which, while it savoured more of ostentation, does not seem so well calculated to answer the end. In supplying a great number from a common stock, some would be in greater danger of being overlooked, than if their fellow disciples, after taking what was necessary for their own families, liberally distributed to the support of their brethren. Besides, some would require almost, or altogether all that they could earn. Did such bring their earnings to the treasury, and then take them away? this must have been the case, if the communion be understood in its common sense, unless we are also to understand that they gave up working altogether, and that every one was supported from the common stock. But the complaint of the Grecians plainly shews us who were supplied out of the public fund. They complain of their widows being neglected; on the common supposition, each individual was to be supplied; and probably, in this case, there would have been a general complaint that the Grecians were neglected, in place of their widows only eing mentioned.