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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Acts 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-26

EXPOSITION

Acts 1:1

I made for have I made, A.V.; concerning for of, A.V.; to teach for teach, A.V. The former treatise; literally, the first history, narrative, or discourse. The form of the Greek, τὸν μὲν τρῶτον, shows that the writer had in his mind at the time to contrast the second history, which he was just beginning, and that naturally τὸν δὲ δεύτερον or τοῦτον δὲ τὸν λόγον, ought both grammatically and logically, to have followed. But the mention of "the apostles whom he had chosen" drew him, as it were, into the stem of his history before he was able to describe it. O Theophilus. The omission of the title "most excellent," given to Theophilus in the Gospel (Luke 1:3), is one among other indications that the publication of the Acts followed very closely upon that of the Gospel. Began both to do and to teach. Some take the phrase as equivalent to did and taught; others supply the sense and continued until the day, etc.; or, which is the same thing, supply the terminus a quo, making the whole sense equivalent to "all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day," etc.; others again, as Bishop Wordsworth, gather St. Luke's meaning to be that in the Acts he is about to narrate the continuance by our Lord in heaven of the work which he only began on earth. Meyer thinks that, by the insertion of the word "began," the thing said or done "is in a vivid and graphic manner denoted according to its moment of commencement;" so that our Lord is represented as at one time actively beginning to heal, then to teach, then to walk on the sea, and so on. But the words "began" and "until the day" certainly suggest the beginning and the ending of our Lord's ministry, or rather the whole ministry from its beginning to its end, so that the meaning would be "of all that Jesus did and taught from first to last." To do and to teach. So the disciples on the way to Emmaus speak of Jesus as "a Prophet mighty in deed and word" (Luke 24:19). Compare the stress laid upon the works of Christ in Acts 10:38, Acts 10:39.

Acts 1:2

Received for taken, A.V.; commandment for commandments, A.V.; after that he had given commandment through the Holy Ghost for after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments, A.V. The commandment or directions given by our Lord to the apostles between the Resurrection and the Ascension are recorded partly in Luke 24:44-49; Matthew 28:19, Matthew 28:20; Mark 16:15-18; John 21:1-25.; and yet more fully in John 21:3-8 of this chapter. Through the Holy Ghost. The sense is certain. Jesus gave his charge to his apostles through the Holy Ghost. It was by the Holy Ghost abiding in him that he spake to the apostles. This is the repeated declaration of Holy Scripture. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me" (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38. See also Luke 4:1; Matthew 12:28; Hebrews 9:14; and for the construction, Acts 11:28; Acts 21:4). Received up ( ἀνελήφθη); the stone word as is used in the Septuagint of Elijah (2 Kings 2:10, 2 Kings 2:11). In Luke 24:5 it is carried up. ( ἀνεφέρετο)

Acts 1:3

Proofs for infallible proofs, A.V.; appearing unto them for seen of, A.V.; concerning for pertaining to, A.V. The addition of the words by many proofs makes it necessary to understand the words showed himself ( παρέστησεν ἑαυτόν) in the sense which it bears both in classic and Scriptural Greek, of proved or demon-strafed: "To whom he gave distinct proofs of his being alive after his passion;" the proofs follow—being "seen of them" for forty days at intervals, talking with them, and (Acts 1:9) "being taken up while they were looking." Doubtless, too, he had in his mind those other proofs which he records in Acts 10:41, and those referred to by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). For this sense of παρίστημι, see Acts 24:13, "to rove:" and Lysias's 'Oration against Eratosthenes', where the almost identical phrase occurs which we have here, ἀμφότερα ταῦτα πολλοῖς τεκμηρίοις παραστήσω, "I will prove both these things by many certain proofs." The A.V. rendering, "infallible proofs," was quite justified. Stephanus says, "De certo et indubitato signo dicitur apud Rhetoricos"; and the technical meaning of τεκμήριον in Aristotle is a "demonstrative proof," as opposed to a σημεῖον, which leaves room for doubt; and in medical writers, which is important as regards St. Luke, the τεκμήριον is the "infallible symptom." St. Luke, by the use of the word here, undoubtedly meant to express the certainty of the conclusion based on those proofs. Appearing unto them. The Greek ὀπτανόμενος, corresponding to the φανερωθεὶς of the Epistle of Barnabas, cap. 15., only occurs in the New Testament in this place. In the Septuagint of 1 Kings 8:8 it is used of the staves of the ark within the veil, which "were not seen without." The idea intended to be conveyed, both by the use of this verb and by the use of διὰ (by the space of), is that our Lord was not with the apostles always, as he was before the Resurrection, but that he came and again disappeared (St. Chrysostom). They were fleeting appearances spread over forty days. The nearly related substantive, ὀπτασία, means "a vision," and is frequently used by St. Luke 1:22; Luke 24:23; 26:19. It is also found in 2 Corinthians 12:1-21 :l. Concerning the kingdom of God; a subject which had deeply engaged their thoughts (Luke 19:11), and on which it was most needful that they should now be fully instructed, that they might teach others (Acts 20:25).

Acts 1:4

He charged them not to deport for commanded them that they should not depart, A.V.; to wait for wait, A.V.; said he for saith he, A.V.; from me for of me, A.V. Being assembled, etc. (R.T. on, its μετ' αὐτῶν); more exactly, as he was assembling with them (Field, in 'Otium Norvicense'). Not to depart from Jerusalem. (See Luke 24:49.) It was necessary, according to the prophecy, Micah 4:2; Isaiah 2:3, that the gospel should go forth from Jerusalem. Wait for the promise. (See Luke 24:49.) The promise of the Father formed the subject of our Lord's discourse to the apostles on the last night of his earthly life, as recorded in John 14:16, John 14:17, John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14. He doubtless here refers to that conversation, though not, of course, to the record of it in the Gospel of St. John.

Acts 1:5

Indeed for truly, A.V. Ye shall be baptized, etc. (Comp. Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33.) St. Peter refers to this saying of the Lord's in his address to the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 11:16), and the record of it here may be an indication that St. Luke derived his information of these early events from Peter. A curious question arises as to the baptism of the apostles themselves. When were they baptized, and by whom? Chrysostom says, "They were baptized by John." But it is evident, from John 3:22; John 4:1, John 4:2, that converts were baptized with Christian, as distinct from John's, baptism in our Lord's lifetime, and hence it may seem probable, especially considering that St. Paul was baptized, that the apostles may have been baptized by Christ (Bishop Wordsworth On John 4:2). If so, the baptism with the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was the complement of that baptism, not the substitute for it. "In our case," says Chrysostom, "both (the baptism of water and of the Spirit) take place under one act, but then they were divided."

Acts 1:6

They therefore, when for when they therefore, A.V.; him for of him, A.V.; dost thou for wilt thou, A.V.; restore for restore again, A.V. Dost thou at this time, etc.? It appears from Luke 19:11 and Luke 24:21, as well as from other passages, that the apostles expected the kingdom of Christ to come immediately. It was most natural, therefore, that, after the temporary extinction of this hope by the Crucifixion, it should revive with new force when they saw the Lord alive after his passion. They had doubtless too been thinking over the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit "not many days hence." Restore. (Comp. restitution, Acts 3:21; and see Matthew 17:11.)

Acts 1:7

Times or seasons for the times or the seasons, A.V.; set within his own authority for put in his own power, A.V. It is not for you to know, etc. The time of the end is always spoken of as hidden. Times or season. Times with reference to duration, seasons with reference to fitness or opportunity. Which the Father. The distinctive use of the word "Father" here agrees with our Lord's saying in Mark 13:32, "Neither the Son, but the Father." Hath set within his own authority ( ἐξουσίᾳ). Hath reserved under his own authority ('Speaker's Commentary'); "Has established by means of his own plenitude of power" (Meyer); "Hath put or kept in his own power (A.V., and so Afford). This last seems the best.

Acts 1:8

When for after that, A.V.; my witnesses for witnesses unto me, A.V. and T.R.; Samaria for in Samaria, A.V. Ye shall receive power ( δύναμιν); a word sped-ally used of the power of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 6:8). "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14; see too Luke 24:49); "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power" (Acts 10:38); "Through the power of the Holy Ghost" (Romans 15:13); "The demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1 Corinthians 2:4); "Strengthened with might ( δυνάμει) by his Spirit" (Ephesians 3:16); "The powers of the world to come" (Hebrews 6:6). My witnesses. This function of the apostles, to be witnesses of Christ, is one much insisted upon in Scripture. So we read in Acts 1:22, "Of these must one become ['be ordained,' A.V.] a witness with us of his resurrection." So again in Acts 10:40-42, "God … showed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us …. And he commanded us to testify," etc. (see also Acts 10:39 and Acts 10:42 of the same chapter; Acts 13:31; Luke 24:48; Acts 4:33; Acts 13:31; Acts 22:15, Acts 22:18,Acts 22:20; Acts 26:16; 1 Peter 5:1; 1Jn 1-3, etc.).

Acts 1:9

Said for spoken, A.V.; as they were looking for while they beheld, A.V. They were to be αὐτόπται, eye-witnesses, of the Lord's ascension, arid so it is particularly noted that he was taken as they were looking. He did not disappear from their sight till he reached the cloud which enveloped him.

Acts 1:10

Were looking for looked, A.V.; into for toward, A.V.; went for went up, A.V. Two men. St. Luke describes them according to their appearance. They were really angels. In like manner, in Joshua 5:13 we read, "There stood a man over against him;" and in Genesis 18:2, Genesis 18:16; Genesis 19:10, Genesis 19:12, Genesis 19:16, we read of "the men;" and in 13:6, 13:8, 13:10, 13:11, of "the man of God;" the persons spoken of in all these cases being angels. Gabriel, too, means "man of God." In white apparel, typical of perfect holiness, and of the glory which belongs to the inhabitants of heaven.

Acts 1:11

Looking for gazing up, A.V.; this for this same, A.V.; was received for is taken, A.V.; beheld him going for have seen him go, A.V. In like manner; i.e. in a cloud. The description of our Lord's second advent constantly makes mention of clouds. "Behold, he cometh with clouds" (Revelation 1:7). "One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven" (Daniel 7:13; and so Matthew 26:64; Luke 21:27, etc.). We are reminded of the grand imagery of Psalms 104:3, "Who maketh the clouds his chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the wind." It may be remarked that the above is by far the fullest account we have of the ascension of our Lord. St. Luke appears to have learnt some further particulars concerning it in the interval between writing his Gospel (Luke 24:50-52) and writing the Acts. But allusions to the Ascension are frequent (Mark 16:19; John 6:62; John 20:17; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 4:8, Ephesians 4:9; Philippians 2:9; Colossians 3:1; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:22, etc.). With reference to Zeller's assertion, that in St. Luke's Gospel the Ascension is represented as taking place on the day of the Resurrection, it may freely be admitted that the narrative in the Gospel does not mark distinctly the interval of time between the different appearances and discourses of our Lord from the day of the Resurrection to that of the Ascension. It seems to group them according to their logical connection rather than according to their chronological sequence, and to be a general account of what Jesus said between the Resurrection and the Ascension. But there is nothing whatever in the text of St. Luke to indicate that what is related in the section Luke 24:44-49 took place at the same time as the things related in the preceding verses. And when we compare with that section what is contained in Acts 1:4, Acts 1:5, it becomes clear that it did not. Because the words "assembling together with them," in Acts 1:4, clearly indicate a different occasion from the apparitions on the day of the Resurrection; and as the words in Luke 24:44-49 correspond with those in Acts 1:4, Acts 1:5, it must have been also on a different occasion that they were spoken. Again, the narrative of St. John, both in the twentieth and the twenty-first chapters, as well as that of Matthew 28:10, Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:7, precludes the possibility of the Ascension having taken place, or having been thought to have taken place, on the day of the Resurrection, or for many days after, so that to force a meaning upon the last chapter of St. Luke's Gospel which it does not necessarily bear, and which places it at variance with St. Luke's own account in the Acts (i. 3; Acts 13:31), and with the Church traditions as preserved by St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. John, is a violent and willful transaction.

Acts 1:12

Nigh unto for from, A.V.; journey off for journey, A.V. Olivet, from the Vulgate Olivetum. The particular Greek form ἐλαιὼν, Elaeon, occurs in the New Testament only here. In Luke 19:29; Luke 21:37, according to the T.R., and that followed in the R.V., it is ἐλαιῶν, of Olives. But as St. Luke usually has τὸ ὄρος τῶν ἐλαιῶν when he speaks of it as "the Mount of Olives" (Luke 19:37; Luke 22:39), and as here he calls it Elaeon, which is its name in Josephus ('Jud. Ant.,' Luke 7:9, Luke 7:2; see too Luke 20:8, Luke 20:6), it seems probable that in Luke 19:29; Luke 21:27, we ought to read, with Lachmann and Tischendorf (see Meyer on Luke 19:29), ἐλαιὼν, Elaeon, Olivet. In the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel 15:30, it is "the ascent of the Olives" (A.V., "the ascent of Mount Olivet"); in Zechariah 14:4, "the Mount of Olives." A sabbath day's journey off; i.e. six, or according to Schleusner, seven and a half, furlongs (or two thousand cubits). Josephus ('Jud. Ant.,' 20:8, 6) calls it "five furlongs," but he only measured to the foot of the hill, whereas St. Luke gives the distance from the spot whence Christ ascended. Bethany itself, according to John 11:18, was fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem.

Acts 1:13

The upper chamber for an upper room, A.V.; where they were abiding for where abode, A.V.; son of James for brother of James, A.V. The upper chamber; perhaps the same room where they had eaten the Passover with Christ (Luke 22:12); but this is very uncertain, though affirmed by Epiphanius, and by Nicephorus, who further relates that the very house in which the upper chamber was built into the back part of the temple which the Empress Helena erected on Mount Sion. The word here is ὑπερῷον, there it is ἀνώγεον. The ὑπερῷον (Hebrew הָיּלעֲ, 2 Kings 4:10, 2 Kings 4:11) was the room immediately under the roof; the ἀνώγεον was synonymous. Where they were abiding. A slight change in the order of the words, as adopted in the text of the R.V., makes Peter and the other apostles the nominative case to the verb "went up," instead of, as in the A.V., to "abode." In regard to the list of the apostles which follows, it may be noticed first, that it is identical with that of Luke 6:14-16, except in the omission of Judas Iscariot and the order in which the apostles are named. The order in Luke seems to have followed that of natural birth and association. The brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John, are classed together; Philip and Bartholomew, or Nathanael, go together, and so on. But in this list John follows Peter, his close companion in missionary work (Acts 3:1, etc.; Acts 4:12; Acts 8:14); James follows instead of preceding John; and others are classed somewhat differently, for reasons probably analogous, but which we know not. Of the other lists that in Mark 3:16-19 agrees most nearly with that before us. In all, Simon Peter stands first. The Jude of Luke 6:16 (comp. Jud Luke 1:1) and Acts 1:13 is called Thaddaeus in Matthew 10:3 (" Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus," A.V.) and in Mark 3:18; but no doubt the persons are the same. In all the lists Philip stands fifth. In three Bartholomew is sixth, while in the list in Acts his being named after Thomas makes him seventh. In all the lists James the son of Alphaeus is ninth, and Judas Iscariot the last, except in the Acts, where he is not named, being already dead. The underwritten columns give the four lists in one view:—

Matthew 10:2-5

Mark 3:16-19

Luke 6:14-16

Acts 1:13

1. Simon Peter

1. Simon Peter

1. Simon Peter

1. Simon Peter

2. Andrew

2. James

2. Andrew

2. John

3. James

3. John

3. James

3. James

4. John

4. Andrew

4. John

4. Andrew

5. Phillip

5. Philip

5. Philip

5. Philip

6. Bartholomew

6. Bartholomew

6. Bartholomew

6. Thomas

7. Thomas

7. Matthew

7. Matthew

7. Bartholomew

8. Matthew

8. Thomas

8. Thomas

8. Matthew

9. James son of Alphaeus

9. James son of Alphaeus

9. James son of Alphaeus

9. James son of Alphaeus

10. Thaddaeus

10. Thaddaeus

10. Simon the Zealot

10. Simon the Zealot

11. Simon the Cananaean

11. Simon the Cananaean

11. Judas, the son, or brother, of James

11. Jude, the son, or brother, of James

12. Judas Iscariot

12. Judas Iscariot

12. Judas Iscariot

Acts 1:14

With one accord continued steadfastly for continued with one accord, A.V.; prayer for prayer and supplication, A.V. and T.R. The women. St. Luke, in his Gospel, makes frequent mention of the women who followed our Lord, and generally of things that happened to women (see Luke 23:1-56. 27, 49, 55; Luke 24:10, Luke 24:22, etc. See also Luke 7:37, etc.; Luke 8:23; Luke 10:38, 45; etc.). We notice the same tendency in the Acts, here, and in Acts 2:17, Acts 2:18; Acts 5:14; Acts 9:36; Acts 12:13; Acts 16:14, Acts 16:16; Acts 17:4, Acts 17:34; Acts 18:1-28. 26; Acts 21:9; Acts 24:24; Acts 25:23; etc. Mary the mother of Jesus appears here not as an object of worship, but as humbly joining in the prayers of the Church. And with his brethren. The Lord's brethren are spoken of by name in Matthew 13:55 as "James, and Joses ['Joseph,' R.V.], and Simon, and Judas." So also Mark 6:3 (see too Acts 4:31-35). "James the Lord's brother" is mentioned by St. Paul (Galatians 1:19); "the brethren of the Lord "are mentioned 1 Corinthians 9:5; and again in John 7:3, John 7:5, John 7:10, "the brethren of Jesus" are spoken of. This is not the place to enter upon the difficult question of their parentage. But it may suffice to say that if James and Judas are the two apostles of that name (which Alford, however, thinks they certainly were not, referring to John 7:5, compared with John 6:67), then the brethren here spoken of as distinct from the apostles would be Joses and Simon.

Acts 1:15

These for those, A.V.; brethren for disciples, A.V. and T.R.; and there was a multitude of persons gathered together for the number of names together were, A.V.; a for an, A.V. Peter justifies his primacy by taking the lead in the first onward movement of the Church. Names is a common Hebraism for "persons" (see Revelation 3:4; Numbers 1:2). Gathered together; i.e. to one place and at one time (see the same phrase, Acts 2:1, Acts 2:44). Wordsworth quotes Ignat., 'Ad Magnes' 7., and Clem. Ro 1:4, where the same phrase, ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ, indicative of Church unity occurs.

Acts 1:16

Brethren, it teas needful that the Scripture should be fulfilled for men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, A.V.; spake before by the mouth of David for by the mouth of David spake before, A.V. It was needful, etc. So our Lord declared, "The Scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35); and "All things must be fulfilled which were written" ere. (Luke 24:25-27, Luke 24:44-46). It is most important to our Christian integrity that we should view the Scriptures in the same light as our Lord and his apostles did, as containing real prophecies, spoken by the Holy Ghost. (Compare the manner in which the sixty-ninth psalm is here quoted with that of Hebrews 3:7.) So the Creed, "I believe in the Holy Ghost …. who spake by the prophets" (comp. Acts 4:25; Acts 28:25). Who was guide, etc. If St. Peter had only been addressing his brother apostles, who were well acquainted with the treachery of Judas, it would scarcely have been natural to introduce these words; they would have seemed rather to be explanatory words added by the historian. But the circumstances might be very imperfectly known to many of the hundred and twenty brethren assembled on this occasion; and if so, the reference to Judas's treachery would not be out of place in St. Peter's mouth.

Acts 1:17

Among for with, A.V.; received his portion in for had obtained part of, A.V. For he was numbered, etc. This is said in order to show that the passage in the Psalms applied strictly to Judas, seeing he had held his portion in the ministry and office of an apostle (see John 6:71). His portion; literally, his lot; i.e. the portion which fell to him by lot. The language is taken from the Old Testament (see e.g. Joshua 18:10, Joshua 18:11; Joshua 19:1, Joshua 19:10, etc.). Those who received such a portion ( κλῆρον) were clergy.

Acts 1:18

Obtained for purchased, A.V., an unnecessary change; his iniquity for iniquity, A.V. It is obvious that this verso and Acts 1:19, which are placed in a parenthesis in the R.V., are not part of St. Peter's discourse, but are explanatory words inserted by St. Luke for the instruction of Theophilus and his other readers. Falling headlong; i.e. from the tree or gallows on which he hung himself (see Matthew 27:3-8). The only apparent discrepancies in the accounts of St. Matthew and St. Luke in regard to the purchase of the field, and the name given to it, are that, according to St. Matthew's more detailed account, it was the chief priests who actually purchased the field with Judas's money, whereas St. Luke says, less accurately, that Judas purchased it. Again, St. Matthew explains the name Akel-dama as being given to the field because it was the price of the "innocent blood" of Jesus betrayed by Judas, whereas St. Luke's account rather suggests that it was Judas's own blood shed in his fall which gave the name. But both accounts of the name might be true, some understanding the name in one sense and some in the other. (Compare the different accounts of the name of Beer-sheba in Genesis 21:31 and Genesis 26:32, Genesis 26:33; of the origin of the proverb, "Is Saul among the prophets?" 1 Samuel 10:11, 1 Samuel 10:12 and 1 Samuel 20:24; and other similar cases.) Though, however, there is no serious discrepancy between St. Luke and St. Matthew, it is probable, from the variations above named, that St. Luke had not seen St. Matthew's account.

Acts 1:19

Became known for was known, A.V.; that in their language that field was called Akeldama for as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, A.V. and T.R.

Acts 1:20

Made desolate for desolate, A.V.; office for bishopric, A.V. The book of Psalms, one of the recognized divisions of the canonical Scriptures, as we find Luke 24:44, "The law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms," the last standing for the Hagiographa, of which it was the first and principal book. Here, however, as in Luke 20:42, it may rather mean the Book of Psalms proper. (For similar quotations from the Psalms, see Acts 13:33-35; Hebrews 1:1-14; Hebrews 2:1-18; Hebrews 3:1-19; Hebrews 4:1-16; Hebrews 5:1-14; Hebrews 10:1-39, etc.) His office let another take. Bishop being the English transliteration of ἐπίσκοπος, bishopric is, of course, the literal rendering of ἐπισκοπή; if taken in its wider and more general sense, as in the well-known work of Archdeacon Evans? "the bishopric of souls." This same office is called a διακονία (a deaconship), and ἀποστολὴ (an apostleship) in verses 17 and 25. So St. Paul cells himself διάκονος (a minister) in Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23, Colossians 1:25, etc. So the presbyters of the Church are called bishops (Acts 20:17, Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:2. etc.). The ecclesiastical names for the different offices in the Church only acquired their distinctive use later, and by the gradual growth of custom. In the Septuagint, ἐπισκοπή answers to the Hebrew הדָּקֻףְ, A.V., "oversight" (Numbers, Numbers 3:32; Numbers 4:16, etc.).

Acts 1:21

Of the men therefore for wherefore of these men, A.V.; event out for out, A.V.

Acts 1:22

The day for that same day, A.V.; received for taken, A.V.; of these must one become for must one be ordained to be, A.V. Beginning belongs to the Lord Jesus. He began to go in and out among his apostles from the time that John baptized, and continued to do so till his ascension, the day that he was received up ("taken up" A.V.), as in verse 11. This definition of the time of our Lord's public ministry exactly agrees with Matthew 4:12-25; Mark 1:1-45.; Luke 3:1-38., 4.; John 1:29-51. Must one become a witness, etc. The resurrection of Christ from the dead thus appears to be a cardinal doctrine of the gospel. The whole truth of Christ's mission, the acceptance of his sacrifice, the consequent forgiveness of sins, and all man's hopes of eternal life, turn upon it. All the sermons of the apostles recorded in the Acts and the Epistles also agree with this (see Acts 2:1-47., 3., 4.; Acts 5:31, Acts 5:32; Acts 6:1-15 :56, 59; Acts 10:39-41; Acts 13:30, etc.; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:4; 2 Corinthians 1:9, etc.; 1 Peter 1:1-25.3; 1 Peter 3:21,1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 1:5,etc.). The great care taken to secure competent witnesses is very remarkable. A disciple who had recently joined the company might be mistaken; one who had been the daily companion of Jesus Christ for three years and a half, and knew every gesture and every feature of the Master with perfect certainty, could not be mistaken.

Acts 1:23

Put forward for appointed, A.V.; Barsabbas for Barsabas, A.V. and T.R. Joseph called Barsabbas (or Barsabas). Nothing more is really known of him. His work for Christ has no earthly record, except that Papias (Euseb., 'H.E.,' 3.39) says that, having drunk some deadly poison, by the grace of God he sustained no harm. Eusebius elsewhere (Acts 1:12) says that he and Matthias were reported to be of the seventy, which is not improbable. The derivation of the name Barsabas, or Barsabbas, is unknown; it seems to be a patronymic (son of Sabas, or Sabbas), like Bar-Tholomew, Bar-Jonas, Bar-Jesus, etc. But it might also be descriptive of his qualities, like Barnabas, Son of Consolation (Acts 4:36), in which case one would expect it to mean the same as Justus, as in the case of "Thomas called Didymus" (John 20:4; where Thomas and Di-dymus both mean "a twin"); but no Aramean word of this signification is forthcoming. The surname Justus, with its derivatives Justinus and Justinianus, was not an uncommon Roman name. It was also borne by a Jewish historian contemporary with Josephus, Justus of Tiberias, the son of Pistus (see 'Life of Josephus,'§§ 35, 65) and was the surname of James the Less. Matthias not otherwise known, but said by Nicephorus to have preached and suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia. Eusebius ('H. E.,'3.24) mentions spurious Gospels "of Peter, Thomas, Matthias, and others," as quoted by heretics. A work called 'The Traditions of Matthias'is referred to by Clemens Alexandrinus ('Strom.,' 2.163).

Acts 1:24

Of these two the one whom for whether of these two, A.V. and T.R.

Acts 1:25

To take the place in this for that he matt take part of this, A.V. and T.R.; fell away for by transgression fell, A.V. ( παρέβη). The use of παραβαίνω in an intransitive sense for "to transgress, fall away from, turn aside from; and the like, is frequent in the LXX. (Exodus 32:8; Deuteronomy 17:20, etc.). To his own place. An awful phrase, showing that every man has the place in eternity which he has made for himself in time. If the reading place, in the beginning of the verse, is adopted instead of the part ( κλῆρον) of the A.V., then them is a contrast between the blessed place of apostleship, which Judas forfeited, and that of traitorship, which he acquired.

Acts 1:26

They gave lots for them for they gave forth their lots, A.V. and T.R. ( αὐτοῖς for αὐτῶν); but the T.R. gives the easiest sense. The exact mode of taking the lot does not appear. Some think the name of each candidate was written on a tablet, and that the first name which fell out of the urn after it had been shaken was the one chosen. Some think the lot was taken by dice. But however the taking of the lot was managed, the effect was to leave the choice to God in answer to prayer.

HOMILETICS

Acts 1:1-11

The recapitulation.

St. Luke is like a traveler, who, having gained a certain summit, before he proceeds on his journey through the new country which is opening upon his view, stops and looks back upon the scene which he has traversed, but which he is now about to lose sight of. He marks the sites which had attracted his attention as he journeyed—the rising knoll, the conspicuous wood, the sheet of water, the open plain. But as he looks he spies out other objects which he had not noticed before—an ivy-mantled tower, a dwelling-house, a village, a clump of trees, which add richness and diversity to the scene; and so he adds them to his journal or to his sketch. In like manner our sacred historian, being about to quit the blessed scenes of the life of Jesus Christ which had engaged his pen in the Gospel, and to enter upon the history of the Apostolic Church, casts a lingering look upon the closing days of our Lord's sojourn upon earth, marks again what he had before narrated, recapitulates the history of the days which connect the Gospel with the Acts, but withal adds some striking incidents, throws in some additional words from the lips of the Divine Master, and by a few touches of his master-pen heightens the beauty of the scene, which was the last parting of Jesus from his Church on earth. The Resurrection itself, and the many proofs thereof given to the sight, the hearing, and the handling of the apostles; the commandments to the apostles; the walk to Bethany; the parting blessing; the ascension into heaven; the return of the apostles to Jerusalem; the continual prayers and praises of the disciples while they waited there for the promise of the Father;—those had all been duly noted in the closing chapter of the Gospel. But St. Luke wished, before entering upon his new ground, to mark more distinctly that mysterious border-land between the pre-resurrection and the post-resurrection Church; that strange period which belonged neither to the life of Jesus Christ on earth nor to the history of his Church, properly speaking—the forty days that intervened between the Resurrection and the Ascension. It was important to mark more distinctly than he had done in the Gospel that those manifestations of himself to his apostles, and that converse in the course of which he had instructed them in the duties of the apostolate, were extended over a period of forty days. It was important to do this both as strengthening the other proofs of the Resurrection, and also as showing how full a commission the apostles had received for the future ordering and governing of the Church. Hence the distinct mention of the forty days, and the somewhat fuller report of the conversations between the Lord and his apostles. But the act of the Ascension also was to receive some further light. In the Gospel St. Luke had mentioned the touching fact that it was while in the very act of blessing them that Jesus was parted from them. But now he adds, his mind apparently being full of the importance of proofs of the things narrated by him, that he was taken up u as they were looking," and that they did not lose sight of him till he was enveloped in a cloud. He adds also another remarkable circumstance, of which he may not have been previously aware, that two angels had appeared to the apostles, as they stood looking with fixed gaze into heaven, and announced to them his sure return. And thus, in this recapitulation and expansion of his briefer narrative in the Gospel, he closes with the announcement of that crowning glory of the Son of man which has been the hope and joy and strength of the Church amidst all her sufferings, the second advent of the Lord in the clouds of heaven.

Acts 1:12-14

The grain of mustard seed.

Let us contrast for a moment the account here given with the present condition of Christianity in the world. Christianity has taken possession of the whole civilized world. The thrones, the laws, the institutions of those nations which hold sway in the earth are all based upon the gospel. The arts, the sciences, the literature of civilized men are more or less impregnated with the doctrine of the New Testament. Take the cathedrals of Europe; what an expenditure of thought and skill and wealth they represent! They are among the most imposing monuments of human thought and human labor. Look at the mass of Christian literature—in poetry, in philosophy, in science, in theology, in sacred oratory, in general literature. What countless Christian writers have elevated the human intellect, enlarged the borders of knowledge, added dignity to man, and happiness to mankind! What vast influences, of all sorts, permeating the civilized world, we can now trace up to the gospel! What multitudes of individual men and women in all ages since Christ, and all over the world, have learnt what the true view of human life is, and have found their whole end of living, and their chief enjoyment of life, and their only consolation and support, in the truths which the gospel teaches! How has the world been filled with fruits of righteousness, altering the whole aspect or human society, of which the gospel alone was the first seed! Now turn to the beginnings of the gospel as here exhibited. One upper chamber at Jerusalem, a city in the last days of its troubled existence, contained the whole number of those who acknowledged Christ as their Master. Measured by any worldly standard, anything feebler or more absolutely insignificant than that company cannot be imagined. But the grain of mustard seed was to become a tree in which the birds of the air should make their nests; the little leaven was to leaven the whole lump; the stone was to become a great mountain which should fill the whole earth. And so it has come to pass that the upper chamber at Jerusalem has grown into the Church Catholic, the mother of all the saints that are, or have been, or are to be hereafter. What an infinite encouragement to our faith is this! What a ground for adoration of him whose grace and power and faithfulness work such marvelous effects! What a ground of sure and certain hope that he who has carried his work thus far will finish it, to his own glory, and the exceeding joy of the Church which he has redeemed with his precious blood!

Acts 1:15-26

The rewards of iniquity.

The physical laws by which the material world is governed are not more fixed and certain than the moral laws which secure to iniquity its just reward. Nor has the patient and honest inquirer more difficulty in ascertaining those laws than the physicist has in ascertaining the laws of nature by observation and experiment. Neither is it peculiar to Holy Scripture to set forth the sequences of cause and effect which occur under those moral laws; the history of the world and our own daily experience do so likewise. Holy Scripture does but record and exhibit typical and striking instances by which our own observation and experience are confirmed. Now, there is one feature common to a great many, perhaps more or less to all, acts of iniquity, viz. that they have, so to speak, a double reward. There is the reward which the worker contemplated as the fruit of his misdoing; and there is the reward which he lost eight of, but which followed by an inevitable necessity of the moral Law of God. Both are clearly exhibited in the awful case of Judas. The reward which he looked for, and for the sake of which he betrayed the innocent blood, was the possession of thirty pieces of silver. We know the poverty of the Son of man, and that he had no silver or gold, no houses or lands, with which to reward his followers. We know how days of toil succeeded one the other during which the gains were indeed immense-souls nourished, enlightened, instructed in the Word of God, prepared for the kingdom of heaven, weaned from sin, won to righteousness—but not such gains as would please the worldly mind. And we know the mind of Judas, that it was very covetous and greedy of lucre. We know with what eyes he looked upon Mary's costly offering of love, and how he was wont to rob the bag which contained the alms for the poor. We can well believe, therefore, that to a mind so constituted and so depraved the possession of thirty pieces of silver appeared no mean reward. It would be some consolation for the loss of the portion of the three hundred pence which he might have abstracted from the bag had the ointment been sold and the price given to the poor. Perhaps he had set his heart upon that very field which was bought with the price of blood, and which was to become the strangers' burial-ground. Anyhow, he got his reward. He did the deed and he got the money, "the reward of iniquity"—the reward which he looked for as the fruit of his sin. And sinners very often do get their expected reward. Adam and Eve became "as gods, knowing good and evil;" Gehazi obtained his two talents of silver and his two changes of garments; Ahab got possession of the coveted vineyard; Zimri gained a throne by the slaughter of the house of Bassha; the men of Gibeah slaked their lust on the Levite's concubine; hatred, revenge, ambition, continually by iniquity obtain their reward, and the pages of Scripture and of profane history, as well as our own experience, teem with examples of the reward of successful wickedness. But now let us look at the other reward of iniquity; that which comes in due season as the inevitable fruit of the just judgment of God; that of which Horace, heathen as he was, spoke, when he hid—

"Raro antecedentem scelestum

Deseruit pede poena claudo."

Judas has got his money. Perhaps he has concluded his bargain for the field. He is no longer a poor man like his Master. The former gains of robbery have been swelled by the price of treachery. But he had forgotten his manhood. He had forgotten that man has a conscience, and that a guilty conscience is like the raging sea, which cannot be stilled. He had shut his eyes to everything but the reward he coveted. But now the storm is rising. Remorse begins her terrible work. Vain regret, agonizing fear, terrible serf-reproach, unbearable shame,—all rush upon his soul, and distract and tear it. The remembrance, perhaps, of the Lord's goodness; some distinct impressions of his wonderful love; the recollections, maybe, of some true happiness in his service before the curse of covetousness lit upon him; flashes of the hope once entertained of the kingdom of heaven, but now turned into despair;—these move his heart only to make it capable of feeling more bitterly what he now was, and what he must be for ever. His whole existence a curse by his own exceeding wickedness! "Good were it for me if I had not been born! I have no place to hide in from the terrors of God—the terrors of God's goodness! I am, and must be forever. And God is, and must be forever! But I cannot abide God's presence! I cannot abide my own consciousness!" Such were the maddening thoughts of the son of perdition-of him whose iniquity had gained its reward. He tries to rush from consciousness, to escape from himself and from God. He flings from him the accursed silver; but he cannot fling away the guilt of blood. And so he takes a halter and hangs himself, and goes to his own place. But let us reckon up his gains and losses. He had gained thirty pieces of silver—the reward of his iniquity. But he had lost his apostleship, the highest office on earth; his throne, the highest place of man in heaven, under Jesus Christ; his peace of mind, his serf-respect, his power of enjoying life, the esteem of all good men; any place among men save that of shame, and ignominy, and disgrace, and abhorrence, lie had lost his own soul—his life; all the pleasures of time, all the jeers of eternity. This was "the reward of iniquity," which came upon him by the inevitable justice of God. And this is written for our learning, that we may ponder it and be wise. And we are led to the same conclusion by following up in any other case, and comparing, the twofold rewards of iniquity. The conclusion to which we are inevitably led is—

I. That the three things which are necessary to a man's happiness are:

1. The approval of his own conscience.

2. The sense of being approved by God.

3. The esteem of his fellow men, and of all God's rational creatures.

II. That by iniquity all these three are forfeited, and that the gains or reward of iniquity are as inadequate a compensation for such loss as Esau's mess of pottage was for the loss of his birthright. The gains, the pleasures, the temporal rewards of iniquity, come and go like a dream, like a tale, like a flash of lightning. The eternal reward of iniquity abides; terrible in its undiscovered vastness, awful in its unknown horrors, and in its fixity of tenure; fixity written in the phrase which tells us of Judas that he went "to his own place."

III. We learn that every man has the place in eternity which he made his own in time. A man's own place in the eternal world is that which falls to him by the unchanging laws of God, according to his choice of good or evil in this world. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ has, indeed, opened a way of righteousness to those who had seemed to have lost it for ever; but to those who obstinately love darkness rather than light, and cling to iniquity in the very face of mercy, there remains in the nature of things no other end than that, like Judas, they go each one "to his own place."

HOMILIES BY S. CONWAY

Acts 1:1-8

Christ's mission and ours.

The introduction to this narrative of" the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" suggests to us truths concerning the mission of our Divine Lord and also concerning our own.

I. THE MISSION OF CHRIST. We gather front the opening words of Luke that this was fourfold, and may be included under these heads:

1. Miraculous works. He "began to do" (verse 1). The "mighty works" of Jesus were far from being mere "wonders:" they were

2. Teaching. He began "both to do and teach" (verse 1). The teaching of Christ covered all the ground on which we most urgently need enlightenment. He taught us all that we want to know concerning

3. Endurance. The story of "his passion" (verse 3) is the story of his life. In the case of all other of the children of men, the narrative of the last hours is felt to be but the necessary closing of the chapter. In his case alone the relation of the Passion is felt by us all to be the supreme and culminating point the one indispensable feature of his whole career; that to which everything led up, for which everything prepared, compared with which everything else was unimportant. Never, at any period of his ministry, did the Son of God so truly and so largely fulfill the mission on which he came, as when he was "putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself," as when he was betrayed and smitten and reviled, as when he was "lifted up" on the cross and "poured out his soul unto death."

4. Life. He came to be the holy, loving, patient, truthful, reverent One he was. The historian does not speak here of this his exemplary life before his Passion, hut we may have it in our mind as a complementary thought; he does, however, refer to his life after the Passion (verse 3). This is divisible into two parts.

II. OUR MISSION. We have here indications of the kind and method of service which it belongs to us to render. We are:

1. To look expectantly. We too are to "wait for the promise of the Father" (verse 4); often in our Christian life, from its very beginning to its very end, asking and waiting. We are to ask, to seek, to knock—if need be, again and again; not impatient to receive, but remembering that God knows when as well as how to bestow.

2. To receive gratefully. We too "shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost" (verse 5, and see verse 8). God will come to us in rich effusion if only we ask earnestly and wait patiently; then we shall receive joyfully, and our hearts will fill with sacred and happy gratitude.

3. To submit cheerfully. Our Lord ofttimes says to us, "It is not for you to know" (verse 7). We long to know many things not revealed, and this is his reply to our vain curiosity. Or we long to effect impossible things, and then he says to us, "It is not for you to do." He imposes limits to our action as well as to our knowledge, and within these bounds we must be content to move, rejoicing that we are permitted to know anything of him and do anything for him; rejoicing, also, to believe that soon the circle of understanding and accomplishment will be immeasurably enlarged.

4. To testify faithfully. "Ye shall be witnesses unto me" (verse 8). It was a far higher function for the apostles to bear witness to Christ—to the greatness of his person, the beauty and tenderness of his spirit, the fullness and joy of his salvation—than to be the depositaries of heavenly secrets as to dates and places. There is nothing we should so earnestly aspire and so strenuously strive to become, as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ. We cannot conceive of a nobler work than to be, by life and lip, bearing testimony to him, constraining our fellow men to realize his readiness to receive, his willingness to forgive, and his power to bless and to ennoble them.—C.

Acts 1:9-14

Wisdom in bereavement.

We learn from these verses—

I. THAT THE CULMINATION OF HOPE IN ONE MAY PROVE THE DEPTH OF PRIVATION TO ANOTHER. For the joy that was set before him Jesus "endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). Into that joy he now entered. As the "cloud received him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9), and he returned unto the Father, he took possession of the glorious inheritance for which he had paid so costly a price. But the time of his exaltation was the hour of his disciples sorrow. By his departure they lost sight of their dearest Friend, their wise Counselor, their great Teacher, their honored Lord. So must it be with us. The upright Christian statesman passes to a still larger sphere of usefulness and honor, and the nation mourns; the gifted and devoted pastor is called to a celestial ministry, and the Church is bereaved; the Beloved parent is translated to the skies, and the family hearth is desolate.

II. THAT THE ATTITUDE OF HELPLESSNESS IS ONE FROM WHICH WE MUST SOON BE AROUSED. (Acts 1:10, Acts 1:11.) It was natural and right enough that, when the Savior was taken up and disappeared from sight, the disciples should continue to "look steadfastly toward heaven; their eyes may well have been riveted to the spot in inexpressible awe and wonder. Doubtless all thought was swallowed up in simple surprise and consternation; they stood in helpless, bewildering astonishment. This might last for some minutes, but it could not continue longer. The angels broke in upon it, not with the language of reproach, but with the voice of arousing. A kindly voice is this. When disposed to give way to helpless awe, or fruitless grief, or inanimate prostration of soul, we may thank the minister of God, in whatever form he may come, who says to us, "Why stand ye gazing'? Amuse ye! All is not lost. The past is past, but the future is in front of you."

III. THAT TIME, WITH PATIENCE, WILL BRING HEAVENLY COMPENSATIONS. (Acts 1:11, latter part.) Though the Master was taken, he would come again; and when he returned, it would, indeed, be "in like manner, etc., but in more glorious form and with more splendid surroundings (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Jude 1:14; Revelation 1:7). Moreover, he would come again in unlike manner, but in a way as gracious and, perhaps, even more needful, viz. in the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Heaven was taking away their Strength and their Joy; but let them wait in holy trustfulness, and Heaven would soon give them ample and blessed compensation. God takes from us-from the community and from the individual heart—those that are very dear, things that are very precious to us; then we faint and are grievously distressed; we may be almost paralyzed with our sense of loss and desolation. But there is blessing on its way—Divine comfort, solace, strength. The hand that takes our treasures has large compensations in reserve.

IV. THAT BEREAVEMENT FINDS A PURE AND WISE RELIEF IN COMMUNION WITH GOD AND IN FELLOWSHIP WITH MAN. (Acts 1:12-14.) The apostles, roused by the angels' speech, returned unto Jerusalem and went into the upper room, where they would meet their best friends—those who had the deepest sympathy with them—that they might commune with them and that they might "continue in prayer and supplication." In the time of bereavement and woe we may be tempted to shut ourselves in to our own chamber and nurse our grief. Nothing can be more unwise. Let sorrow, indeed, have its own chosen loneliness in its first dark hours; leave it alone with God, with the pitiful, patient Savior. Then let it come forth; let it go into the "upper room," where it can hold fellowship with human friends; let it go into the sanctuary, where, with the people of God, it can pour out its heart in prayer and supplication: it will not be long before it finds itself joining with them in the accents of praise.—C.

Acts 1:15-26

The path of sin and the way of the righteous.

The passage treats of the miserable end of the traitor apostle and of the elevation of Matthias to the office from which "Judas by transgression fell." We are reminded of—

I. THE PATH OF SIN. (Acts 1:16-20.) This is a gradual descent. "No one ever became most vile all at once," wrote the Roman; and he was right. Some men descend much more rapidly than others the path of folly and of sin, but no one leaps at once from the summit to the foot. We do not suppose that one day Judas was devoted to Christ and the next day Began to think how he should betray him. Probably his evil course was this: first, surprise at the Lord's slower and more quiet method of ministering; then impatience and even positive dissatisfaction with him; then growing doubt of his claims; then cupidity; then treachery; then remorseful despair; then suicide, and the "going to his own place" (Acts 1:25). Those who from being virtuous become vicious men, fall in the same way, i.e. by degrees; more or less slowly: first, the harboring of one evil thought and another; then laxity in word; then carelessness and looseness of action; then occasional transgression; then habitual vice; and then the miserable end. Similarly the passage from godliness to absorbing worldliness is through weakening of a sense of obligation; decline of sacred joy; relaxation of holy habits; grooving abandonment of devotional exercises; losing the soul in temporal anxieties and passing pleasures. In all such oases as that of Judas there is:

1. A gradual withdrawal of the soul from sympathy and intercourse with its Lord.

2. Acts which pain and injure him.

3. A disastrous end—death; the reprobation of the good and true, the retribution of the righteous Judge.

II. THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS. (Verses 21-26.) In the course of Peter, Matthias, and the other ten apostles, there were three things exceptional and peculiar to their position.

1. Bodily attendance on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 21).

2. Consequent witness-bearing to the facts of his life and his resurrection (verse 22).

3. Appointment by direct Divine selection: in the case of the eleven by the Lord himself at the commencement of his work, and in the case of Matthias by appeal to supernatural guidance (verses 23-26). But though these features were not meant to be perpetual, there are those of which they are suggestive which ought to characterize all true and earnest followers of Christ.

HOMILIES BY E. JOHNSON

Acts 1:1-5

The forty days after the Passion.

I. JESUS PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE. In the work of God all is continuous. As in nature there is no pause, but in autumn we find the new petiole or leaf-stalk already formed when the old leaf is detached, so in the kingdom of God. There were ages of preparation for Christ's coming; and when he came, his life-work was a making ready to go. Full of blessing was the ministry of his visible presence; fuller still was to be that of the invisible Spirit. He must go that the Spirit may come (John 16:7). The progress is ever from the visible and finite form to the eternal and infinite spiritual content.

1. Preparation by special instruction. (John 14:15; John 15:12-17.) These parting commands were charged with the holiest unction; were breathed forth in spiritual power, with the deep earnestness and tenderness of a Divine farewell. All his commands are summed up in the great word "love." They were issued to a select band, and ever remain in the select keeping of the true Church. Obedience to Christ is, in one word, the unfolding of love in all life-relations. Christian duties and graces are but the various forms which Divine love would stamp on conduct.

2. By manifestations era risen life. His appearances were firmly accredited as red, says St. Luke, using, a word not elsewhere found in the New Testament denoting valid proof (cf. Luke 24:31, Luke 24:39, Luke 24:43). This firm persuasion of the reality of the Lord's risen life is the inspiration of the early Church; it cannot be explained away without raising more difficult problems. The appearances were accompanied by appropriate activity. He discoursed on these occasions, and on the supreme theme, on religion, on the kingdom of God. Christianity is not sensation—wonder for wonder's sake; its principle is intelligence; its method is teaching. "Go and teach" is the great word of the risen One.

3. By a particular direction. The apostles were to remain in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49). Here were all the conditions of unity provided for: place and time and a common attitude of soul. Spiritual force must be collected in centers, that it may be diffused through the body of the world.

II. THE CHURCH IN THE ATTITUDE OF WAITING.

1. It was for something definite—the fulfillment of a Divine promise. Promise attends all obedience; and perhaps the highest blessings belong to the patient attitude of the soul, the unhaste of perfect confidence in God. It was the promise of a blessing foreshadowed in past experiences. A baptism, therefore a revival and refreshing from above like John Baptist's ministry; yet unlike that in that it was to be more excellent.

2. There was something indefinite, therefore, in the promise. A good not yet tasted, and so not yet conceivable. So is it with all coming good. We know something of that to be expected from past experiences of Divine grace; but the "half has not been told us." The future is ideal, and never exactly imitates the past; while it rests upon the past and elicits its meaning. Obey, trust, wait this is a grand lesson of the Christian life which comes back to us from this page.—J.

Acts 1:6-8

Last words.

I. WISTFULNESS ABOUT THE FUTURE. A curiosity mingled of fear and hope stirs in the disciples minds. The present oppresses; we seek escape into dreams of a happy past or future. There is an clement of truth and of illusion in these cravings.

II. ILLUSORY THOUGHTS OF THE FUTURE. The cherished dream of Israel for five centuries had been the restoration of the temporal power of David's throne. It was a fixed idea, and here reappears. So have we all our fixed ideas, and cannot conceive a happy future out of their sphere. But God's unfolding realities prove better than our sensuous dreams.

III. DIVINE EVASION OF HUMAN QUESTIONINGS ABOUT THE FUTURE.

1. No fixed knowledge of the future, its changes, and those epochs, can be ours. With all our science we cannot touch the beginnings, therefore not the issues, of things. History is a Divine poem, and God does not permit us to guess at the denouement or catastrophe of events. The unexpected happens, and Providence is full of surprises. Enough for us to read the unrolling page from day to day, and subdue our wishes to the actual, rather than measure the actual by our wishes.

2. Strength for the future is enough, and this may be ours. Power, inner power, spiritual power, in other words, a full and vigorous life-consciousness, is what we need. This is promised. But not if we are seeking sensual and selfish ends. Power is imparted for God's ends. Only on condition that we are given up to God's will can we work for God's ends, or enjoy the power thereto. The laws of the kingdom are as strict as any we learn from nature. The narrowing of Divine thoughts to our own petty notions of advantage means desertion and weakness; the inclusion of our purposes within the infinite purpose means strength. All true life-acting may be regarded as witness. Each man stands for some principle, expresses some leading thought in his action. What do we represent? What tale does our life tell from day to day? What negative or what positive is it that our individual life makes clear in the scheme of things? The pessimism of unbelief or the optimism of profound faith in the laws of God's world? To witness for the eternal Truth and Love gives joy and zest to existence; to have no report or message to bring to others of aught felt or tasted of the good of life is vacancy and sadness. The Christian witness is above all of the life of which mere words are a poor transcript. If in some way or other our life clearly affirms the goodness of God by reflecting him, this is witness for him. And the ways of witness are manifold as the glory of the stars, the colors and forms of the flowers. There are special testimonies to special facts or truths which have their place and season and no other; but in all places and times the whole life-witness silently tells. The "living epistle "is intelligible in every tongue and to all orders of minds.—J.

Acts 1:9-11

The uplifting of Jesus.

The evangelist employs two different words, both meaning "he was taken or lifted up" (Acts 1:2, Acts 1:9).

I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE UPLIFTING. The human is raised into the Divine. The body of humiliation is translated into a form of glory. Exaltation crowns self-abasement. The self-emptied One for love's sake becomes the depository for all time of the Divine fullness. For our sake the descent from heaven, and the return thither still for our sake. Heaven woos earth in the Incarnation, and in the Ascension earth is wedded to heaven forever. It is the pledge of permanent intercourse and special occasional visitations from God to man. "The Ascension—that pole-star of our night!" (E. Irving).

II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CLOUD. It was ever a symbol of God. It veils, yet reveals; hides, yet manifests him. The definite ever passes into the indefinite; the visible form into the fainter symbol. Men may ask, "Where is he who came and loved our clay?" The answer is in the cloud-symbol. As in its beauty we see it float between heaven and earth, half-dense and half-transparent with the solar glory, we have the image of the vanished Jesus in the world of pious thought. He is the indefinable link between the world of sense and the super sensual. We cannot analyze the truth. We see it, we feel it, by the spiritual aesthesis; and this is better than all definition.

III. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ANGELS' WORDS. We gaze into the mysterious Divine beyond of our life. Our limited horizon melts into the Infinite. What was more knowable than the living and loving Jesus of Nazareth? Here at last the spell of Divine silence seemed to have been broken, and the unutterable One had uttered himself in an articulate voice, and the indefinable and inimitable in form had clothed himself in a form recognizable by all. Yet now this form melts again into the indefinable; this voice ceases in a hush of mystery restored. Well may we stand gazing into the ether. Was the whole an illusion? Not so; but what God has once revealed remains a spiritual possession for all time. And more; it is the pledge that God will repeat the revelation. Christ will come again; the cloud will reappear; out of the mystery voices will again be heard, the express Image will again stand clear for recognition. Here is a Divine process; out of the indefinable into the definable, back to the indefinable again. Christ appears to disappear, again to reappear; and so

"That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows;

Becomes our universe that feels and knows!"

Let us think that "every cloud that veileth love itself is love." In those alternate revealings and hidings of God from us lies the trial of faith, more precious than gold.—J.

Acts 1:12-26

The interval between the Ascension and Pentecost.

I. THE SCENE IN THE UPPER ROOM. Obedient to the Lord's command, the disciples return to Jerusalem. A certain upper chamber, probably in a private dwelling, became the first Christian Church. Epiphanius says that when Hadrian came to Jerusalem, he found the temple desolate and but few houses standing. This "little church of God," however, remained; and Nicephorus says that the Empress Helena enclosed it in her larger church. It was probably the room in which the Supper had been celebrated, and was to be associated with the power of the risen, as it had been with the suffering of the humiliated, Christ.

1. The assembly. It represented all varieties of character, gifts, and graces. Peter the eager, John the mystic, James the practical, Thomas the skeptical, and others. The feminine clement, destined to play so large a part in the life of the Church, was also represented.

2. Its employment. It was engaged in the highest exercise of the spirit. Prayer is action; as action may be itself a prayer. And there are times of waiting for all, when prayer is the only possible action. The transactions between the spirit and God are the most real of all, and are ever followed by significant results. It was social prayer. True prayer requires both solitude at times and at times society. We need the help of one another in the pursuit of truth. Plato spoke of the "joint striving of souls" in philosophy Common prayer is the joint striving of souls to lay hold upon the strength of God. "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. It was persevering, continuous prayer, as all exertion of the spirit must be to attain worthy ends. Thus was the mind of the Church calmed, and its intelligence cleared for insight into the business of the kingdom.

II. THE DISCOURSE OF PETER.

1. It rests on the past. He begins by pointing to a fulfillment of Scripture. The present event is thus constantly identified in apostolic thought with some word from the past. Nothing befalls except by Divine law. And in the words of poets and prophets of the past, whatever their original meaning, hints of other meanings are to be found. All language is indeed fossil poetry; and as in the earth's strata plants are found to which living organisms correspond, so in the realm of moral law past and present are in inner and profound connection. To the traitor sketched in Psalms 69:1-36, the features of the unhappy Judas closely corresponded. False and wicked relations of conduct repeat themselves in history, and incur the like doom foreshadowed by the prophetic consciousness.

2. It finds hints for present duty in the past. The fragment of a verse from a psalmist ran, "His office let another take." Conduct must run on the line of precedents. Often an old proverb or example may give us our clue. A memory for the old sayings of Scripture and other ancient lore may guide the judgment, or serve as a finger-post to the will. This might run into superstition; as when men in the Middle Ages turned over Virgil's pages for a clue to decision in cases of perplexity. But in the case of the apostles there is no reason to believe (but the contrary) that their habit, in common with all the devout, of falling back on old sayings checked the full and free exercise of their independent judgment.

III. THE SELECTION OF A FRESH WITNESS of the Resurrection.

1. "Witnesses for Christ" is perhaps the largest designation of the "office" to be filled. An "apostle" is one sent—a man with a mission; and the mission is to witness. Of what? Above all of the Resurrection; for it is this which made the gospel a power in the world. "Assurance is given to all men" that Jesus was the Son of God with power, and possesses all the functions of majesty, by the resurrection from the dead. We can hardly conceive how the gospel should have spread without this testimony. Hence the importance of the present business.

2. The mode of selection. It blends human intelligence with the recognition of Divine determination. The call to any function proceeds from God, and is contained in the gift or capacity. Yet God requires us to cooperate with him through all the sphere of freedom. The use of means towards a decision does not exclude the Divine wisdom, but reposes upon it. The junction of the Divine and the human will in such solemn acts is real, though impossible to explain. First, then, there is an exercise of human judgment, and two distinguished brethren are selected. Here the human choice already recognizes the Divine indication in the existence of observed gifts and graces. Next there is prayer, sacramentally sealing the union of Divine with human thought, and seeking a fruitful result. Lastly, there is the casting of lots, in which the human intelligence confesses its inability for the last decision, and surrenders itself utterly to the guidance of God. The lot falls on Matthias; and he is "voted into" the company of the eleven. Two extremes are to be avoided in the crises of affairs. One, to passively "leave everything to God," which really means to excuse one's self from the trouble or thought. The other, to take the whole burden of responsibility on ourselves, which means to move from our point of support. Thus we topple over into weakness and deeper uncertainty. Let faith be at the root of all our thinking; the scales of judgment stand firmly on the Wisdom that works through and in the activity of finite minds.—J.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Acts 1:1-5

The dawn of the gospel day.

These verses form an introduction to the whole book. The risen Christ is the chief Object in view. The light which has been a lowly light upon the earth, is now about to ascend and take its place as the Sun of Righteousness in the heavens. From thence he will shine upon the earth—first upon that part of the earth immediately below the point of his ascent; and from that, as a starting-place, from country to country, till the whole earth is enlightened. The Acts begins its narrative at Jerusalem, the metropolis of Palestine, and ends it at Rome, the metropolis of the world. Again, we recognize the divinely chosen method, the appointment of apostolic witnesses and representatives, who heard the things which Jesus "spake concerning the kingdom of God," and received from him "the commandment," or commission, to preach and labor for the spread of the glad tidings of the kingdom. And then, further, in these verses, the vital distinction is set prominently forth between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of this world—the indwelling presence and operation of the Holy Ghost, which is represented as first in Jesus himself, speaking in him, working in him, promised by him, and then as bestowed upon the messengers of the kingdom according to "the promise of the Father," repeated by the Son. Thus the great fundamental lines of the Book of the Acts are hid down; the kingdom of the risen and glorified Christ proclaimed and spread through the world; chosen and consecrated men the representatives and ministers of the kingdom; baptism of the Holy Ghost the prerequisite for Christian work and achievement, without which it must not be attempted and cannot be accomplished.—R.

Acts 1:1

"Alpha and Omega."

"Concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach." This opening sentence of the Acts, full of significance, as pointing at once to the past years of Christ's earthly ministry and to the future work of his people, in his Name and by his power, and connecting them together. He himself is the Alpha of the kingdom, and he is the Omega. His doing and his teaching really one; in matter and in manner, Divine; the standard for apostles and all others; the Acts of the Apostles a continuation of the acts of their Master. He only began to do and to teach in his ministry; he went on to manifest himself by the Spirit, according to his promise, "He [the Father] shall give you another Comforter [Helper], that he may be with you for ever" (John 14:16). Consider, then—

I. THE PRE-EMINENCE OF JESUS. A spiritual pre-eminence. The short period of his life and ministry; yet containing deeds and words which have created the world afresh. Not the bare history of miracles, or record of religious discourses, but the manifestation to the world of the Divine Spirit through a human history, character, and speech.

II. A PRE-EMINENCE ACKNOWLEDGED IN HEAVEN. "The day when he was received be the consummation of the gospel story; the "doing and up" is distinctly declared to teaching" were not only before men, but before God, on behalf of men. Hence the distinction between Christ's ministry and that of all merely human doers an teachers; God accepts the pre-eminence, is well-pleased in his testimony—a testimony which was wrought out both in active efforts and patient suffering. His pre-eminence is prophetic, priestly, kingly. The necessity, especially in our times, of following Christ is thought to the right hand of God. He is not merely the highest of the philanthropists and the wisest of the sages. He is the Heir of all things, "received up" to heaven, pre-eminence that "in all things he might have the pre-eminence."

III. THE PRE-EMIENCE OF JESUS IS GRACIOUS. His own ministry is followed by the ministry of his apostles. The Acts only the first volume of an endless record of gracious ministration, of which Jesus is the Source and his people the instruments. Hence the value of the Acts. It helps us to see what a Christ-like ministry is; how it overcomes the world, how it reveals the Spirit. Yet compare the Acts and the Gospels, and we are taught how much the servants fall below their Lord. Instances of infirmity and sin in apostles. Encouragement in the great lesson, our life linked on to Christ's. "Acts" a continuation. Keep close to the doing and teaching of Jesus, in its essential features and ruling spirit.—R.

Acts 1:3

The risen Jesus.

"To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God.

I. THE WITNESSES.

1. Prepared and trained for the work. Not shown to all, but to those who could look at the miracle in its spiritual aspect, who could see the fulfillment of God's Word.

2. The certain knowledge of Christ's resurrection a solemn responsibility which all were not able to bear. "Nothing secret but that it may come abroad. Not to the wise of this world, who know not how to use Divine secrets, but to the babes in disposition, simple, humble, self-forgetful, waiting on God.

3. The main work of Christ's servants is witnessing, not theorizing; not building up ecclesiastical structures; not seeking dominion over the faith of others; but "showing forth" the great facts. Our, preaching should be of the nature of witnessing. "Add to our seal that God is true. Although apostles had distinct duties as leaders and founders of the visible Church, they share with all the Lord's people the office of witnesses. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord." See to it that we speak as those who "know the certainty of the things."

II. THE PROOFS. The Resurrection must be proved infallibly ( τεκμηρίοις); that is, beyond all reasonable doubt. We must build on a foundation of fact and testimony. Our first teachers must be those who could say that they had tasted, handled, felt of the Word of Life (1 John 1:1-4). Now the proofs were:

1. Appearances of the risen Jesus, thirteen in number, in various circumstances, to different kinds of witnesses, and with amply sufficient tests of reality.

2. Coincidence of the facts with-the words of our Lord himself and the promises of the Old Testament.

3. Distinction of the signs and proofs of the Resurrection from any other facts; from the possible misapprehensions or illusions of disciples. It was unexpected; proved against unbelief; with growing assurance; and with concurrence of many sincere and faithful men who knew their responsibility as witnesses.

4. Jesus showed himself alive after his resurrection. The fact to which apostles testified was not the mystery of the Resurrection itself, but the simple fact that Jesus was alive. No one saw him rise, but they saw him after he was risen. They might mistake what occurred at the sepulcher; they could make no mistake in talking with a living man, handling him, eating with him, and that for forty days and on many occasions, in one another's presence. Necessity that we should set the proof of the Resurrection and risen life of Jesus first and foremost in our defense of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch.

III. THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST. The forty days and their influence on the first disciples, and through them on all future ages.

1. The personal presence of Jesus lifted up into a more glorious fact. The infirmities gone. The fact of his victory shining in his face. The influence of his condescension; the risen Jesus still the Friend and Companion of his people. The expectation of his return to heaven: "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God" (John 20:17). The effect on Thomas: "My Lord and my God!" The necessity that disciples should cease to "know Christ after the flesh." Henceforth they felt his presence spiritually.

2. Forty days of special instruction "concerning the kingdom of God." The history which follows corrects the view sometimes put forward that the risen Savior imparted to his apostles any body of ecclesiastical laws. Had they received them they would certainly have referred to them. He spoke of the kingdom itself, which is not meat and drink, not external ordinances and regulations, not creeds and shibboleths; but "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." He called to remembrance what he had preached. He opened their understandings to the meaning of the Old Testament. He corrected their worldly views. He showed them the relation of the gospel facts to the kingdom; that is, that he could reign by the power of these facts. "The Messiah ought to suffer, and to enter into his glory." He led them back to Calvary with new faith before he took them to Olivet. Jesus was a Teacher to the last. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life.—R.

Acts 1:4

The Divine equipment.

"Wait for the promise of the Father." The great Head of the Church addressing its leaders. The Son of God speaking to those who themselves should receive power to become the sons of God, and to lilt up the world into a Divine household. In the infancy of the Church all depended on simple obedience to orders. Immense evil from not waiting for God's time and preparation. Here are the two guiding lights—the promise unfolding the prospect, the commandment marking out the way.

I. THE UNFOLDED PROSPECT.

1. The extent of it. "The Father's promise;" infinite as his love. Though faith was demanded, because sight of the future withheld, still the voice was the voice of infinite assurance.

2. The nature of the expectation. "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." The gift already tasted, known by experience. We cannot be without "the earnest of the Spirit" if Christ's. We yet must look for a fuller baptism, especially as meeting responsibilities and trials, anticipating work and fruits.

II. THE WORD OF COMMAND. "Wait."

1. With the word of promise in mind, expecting the fulfillment, "not many days hence."

2. In fellowship with one another and in prayer, that the heart may be open to the gifts, that they may be poured out upon all

3. At Jerusalem, where the two dispensations meet, where the main action against the kingdom of darkness can best commence, where the facts of the gospel have already preceded you, and you can build on the foundation laid in Zion.

4. In self-renunciation and faithfulness, not in slothful indifference or depression. While we make the best of present opportunities, the larger open to us. Do the work of the day in the day, and so wait for the promise of the Father. Individually, here is encouragement—grain of mustard seed will grow. Our Father must desire growth in us. Collectively, many applications—prospects of the Church and of the world. The true method of gathering in the masses, not by departing for Jerusalem before the time, but waiting till we are able to send out into the unconverted world the energy bestowed upon us.—R.

Acts 1:6-11

The Ascension. Heaven and earth visibly united.

Chief points—

I. THE CONTRAST between the earthly, as represented in the disciples, with their Jewish prejudice and thought of "times and seasons," and the heavenly, in the Lord Jesus himself.

II. THE PROSPECT. Separation for a season. Cloud concealing the glory. Promise of return.

III. THE FELLOWSHIP of the disciples with the Master. The mingling together of heaven and earth. The witnesses appointed, that to the uttermost part of the earth the glory of the risen dawn might be seen, and so a new heaven be revealed over a new earth. (Cf. the promise made to Nathanael (John 1:51) and Jacob's dream.)—R.

Acts 1:8

Witnessing for Christ.

"Ye shall be my witnesses."

I. The world through its whole extent NEEDS SUCH A TESTIMONY. The facts which can be testified without the power of God's Spirit cannot speak the whole of the Father's mind concerning man.

II. WITNESSING FOR CHRIST THE MISSION OF ALL CHRISTIANS. Apostles only first because nearest to Jesus himself; chosen by him, not because above others in merits. Witnessing must be as universal in the character and life as the work of the Spirit. All speaks of the same Divine fountain from which all flows. The hope of the Church and of the world is in the waking up of the witnessing spirit. "Martyrs" we should all be in heart, if not in suffering. "Apostolic" in the best sense—"sent out."

III. OUR LIFE-WORK SHOULD BE THE OUTCOME OF DIVINE GRACE. "Ye shall receive power." "The Holy Ghost shall come upon you;" then, being so endued from on high, "ye shall be my witnesses." Spiritual life the foundation of all other life. We should be able to know that the time is come for great work, for we should be conscious of the gifts of God. By no mere conventional forms let us be led away. "Power" the great want of the Church—spiritual power; not wealth, or organization, or external attractions, but that which "comes upon us" from above. Are we working without it? Is our witnessing unto condemnation?—R.

Acts 1:9

The Ascension.

Probably the only direct statement of the fact of the Ascension is by St. Luke. Other evangelists point to the same consummation, but do not describe it, for Mark probably a later addition. As an event, corresponds with the miraculous commencement of the Savior's life, and his many announcements of return to heaven, especially as recorded by St. John. The important place of the fact in the Acts, and its manner of relation, show that it is not a mere halo of disciple-worship round the head of the Master, but the true beginning of the Church's history. Yet, like many other essential facts, only partly presented to the eyes of men. There is a cloud of mystery, a veil over the secret depths of glory. Regard the Ascension—

I. IN ITS RELATION TO THE SAVIOUR HIMSELF.

1. As glorification, and so lifting up of the earthly facts into the higher sphere; scaling of authority; hiding of infirmity; manifestation of kingly power; connecting of the three offices of Christ, as Prophet, Priest, and King, with the one center of his personal existence, his heavenly throne.

2. As the commencement of the wider ministry of the Spirit. Before his ascension Jesus was almost entirely a minister to the Jews; from henceforth he was, through his messengers by the Holy Ghost, the Savior of the world.

II. IN RELATION TO DISCIPLES.

1. As the completion of their faith.

2. As the correction of their errors, and the help to a more spiritual apprehension of Jesus.

3. As the embodiment of the promise of the Spirit, for the High Priest had thus visibly gone into the holiest place, and would return with the blessing. 4. As the discipline which would draw them together, and help them to realize the fact of their Church life as the life of the world.

III. IN RELATION TO THE WORLD AT LARGE.

1. Proclamation of the kingdom of heaven.

2. The setting on high of the gospel facts as a sun in the sky from which the light should pour down over all the earth. The Nazarene speaks from heaven. The Crucified is the Glorified.

3. The help of men's faith to lay hold of the invisible and eternal. He who has so gone, shall so return. "I go to prepare a place for you." The end of the world is in that ascension of the world's highest to heaven.—R.

Acts 1:10, Acts 1:11

The angels' message.

I. A REMONSTRANCE. "Why stand ye looking into heaven?"

1. Against the misuse of signs and appearances. Get at the substance of the fact, and waste no time and strength on the mere form.

2. Against prying into forbidden secrets. Indulgence of fancy in religion. Following the track of sense beyond its reach.

3. Spiritual depression and reaction. Christ is still the same. Be not afraid or perplexed, but set to work and prepare for his return.

II. AN ANNOUNCEMENT. "This Jesus shall so come."

1. A personal advent, but not necessarily pro-millennial. The chief meaning of the promise is that this world is to be prepared for the return of Christ, therefore is to be made his kingdom, so the expectation is practical.

2. The similarity of circumstances is helpful to faith. "Out of sight," "a cloud," "taken up,"—such terms remind us that we must not look for mere sensible indications of the Savior's descent from heaven; but in like manner as he went away, so mysteriously that his disciples scarcely knew whether he was gone and still gazed after him, so he will appear again "with clouds," and only imperfectly seen, until his presence shall be hailed with the shout of the archangel and the trump of God.

3. The assurance of the second advent of the Lord should be the summons to work, and the comfort of all that feel their loneliness and want in this scene of separation from their Savior's visible presence. "Till Jesus comes." The promise speaks peace to us.—R.

Acts 1:12-14

The first roll-call of the Church.

Notice—

THE GATHERING-PLACE.

1. Jerusalem, with Olivet in the background. Henceforth a new Jerusalem. The descent from the Mount of the Savior's glory, a Sabbath day's journey off; return to the duties of life, to new responsibilities, but with a vivid remembrance of the parting interview with Jesus.

2. Upper chamber. The grain of mustard seed must be sown in the common ground of humanity. Yet the commencement of Church life must recognize separation from the world as the law of the new kingdom, fellowship as the condition of union, subordination and order as helpful to activity.

3. The society composed of mingled elements—men and women, apostles and disciples, old and young; those attached to Jesus by spiritual bonds alone, and those who were his fleshly kindred, able to minister with special familiarity of personal knowledge. "Mary "and "his brethren."

4. Their first mutual occupation. "With one accord they continued steadfastly in prayer." Not as excluding exhortation and other forms of fellowship, but as indicating the pre-eminently devout and believing attitude of their minds.—R.

Acts 1:14

The Church's first prayer-meeting.

I. THE PLACE IT OCCUPIES.

1. Under the cloud of a great trial. The separation from Jesus; the attitude of the Jews of the metropolis; the dependence of a company of poor and persecuted people; the sense of ignorance and feebleness. What could they do but pray, especially as they felt that the power had not as yet come?

2. At the threshold of the Church's history. We know what grew out of that first meeting. All great religious movements have commenced in prayer. Little the actors have foreseen of the future. Luther nailing up his theses. Early meetings of the Wesleys. Modern revivals. The "Acts" a commentary upon that spiritual germination of a new life at Jerusalem. Developments of the individual characters represented by the names. Providence works with grace. They that put themselves by prayer into the hands of God are led on by his hand.

3. In the history of the world, a new social fact which is destined to enlarge until it embraces all human interests and associations within itself. A missionary prayer-meeting it was, though as yet the herald-spirit had not taken full possession of the brethren. They knew that they were sent by Jesus to the uttermost parts of the earth. It was a prayer for the baptism which should make all alike messengers of the new life. The success of all evangelistic efforts depends on their following this example of prayerfulness.

II. THE LESSONS IT TEACHES.

1. The spirituality of the kingdom of Christ.

2. The equality of Christians in the Church.

3. The dependence of Divine gifts on our preparation for them, in heart and life.

An outpouring of the Spirit in answer to prayer is a bestowment of grace, on those who are ready to employ it when it comes.

4. Mutual recognition in the Divine presence the prerequisite to individual callings and separate work. The spirit of prayer the preservative against division.—R.

Acts 1:15-26

The Church's first corporate action.

I. A GLIMPSE INTO PRIMITIVE CHURCH LIFE, showing:

1. Its purity and simplicity. No pomp, no complicated organization, appeal to the body of the Church.

2. Its separation from the world. "The names" were recorded in some way, and numbered; probably a written record kept from this time in the upper room. They were all regarded as "brethren."

3. Its reverence for Scripture. The quotation of the Apostle Peter is not either exactly from the Hebrew nor from the Septuagint, but the manner of it denotes entire subjection to scriptural guidance and study of the Messianic prophecies.

4. Obedience to the law of f/brisk. In the acknowledged leadership of Peter. In the desire to complete and maintain the apostleship. In the strict condition of apostolic testimony recognized, the knowledge of the facts from the baptism of John to the Ascension.

5. Realization of the presence and guidance of the Divine Spirit. In the appeal by lot; preceded by prayer and thoughtful action in selection of two, and acquiesced in without a difference.

II. THE SOLID FOUNDATIONS ON WHICH CHRISTIANITY RESTS. Care taken that the witnesses be divinely appointed. The treachery and punishment of Judas thus conspicuously mentioned, that the solemnity of the apostolic office may be there impressively seen. The whole tone of the transaction is that of men feeling their responsibility, not of fanatics carried away with the dream of power, certainly not of impostors "cunningly devising" a statement to take the world captive. The reference to Scripture shows that the apostles and their brethren would follow the track of the Old Testament in their testimony. The publicity of the gospel facts is proclaimed and appealed to. "Known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem."

III. JUDGMENT BEGINNING AT THE HOUSE OF GOD.—R.

Acts 1:17-19

The history, character, and end of Judas Iscariot.

I. An instance of SELF-DECEPTION, its power and fruits.

1. The possibility that only gradually Judas fell away—original basis of narrow-mindedness and self-indulgence leading to love of money and dishonesty.

2. The light turned into darkness. Near to Jesus, but the conscience, once perverted, becoming rapidly its own tempter, kicking against convictions, till convictions themselves become impossible, and the Master, once revered, is hated.

3. The higher the elevation of privilege, the deeper the fall. When remorse lays hold of such a mind it devours all hope, and casts down headlong. Warning against the beginning of evil. Appeal to those who have still opportunity of repentance to listen to the voice of remonstrance. Jesus gave Judas many times the clear note of pitiful admonition, which was rejected.

II. A GREAT LESSON ON THE DUTY OF GOD'S PEOPLE IN THEIR RELATION TO CHURCH DISCIPLINE. The supreme principle must be, not that the Church punishes, but that it solemnly recognizes the Divine jurisdiction. Judas was in God's hands, and God dealt with him. The place was left vacant, to be filled up in dependence on Divine guidance. We can cut off a name and fill up an office, but we must not lay our hand on persons. The great error which has worked so fatally in Christendom has been the Church's usurping the Divine office of punishment, and calling in the secular arm to do its evil will. We should deal with backsliders in the tenderest spirit. At the same time, this conspicuous instance serves to keep us in mind that the kingdom of Christ is a real reign of sovereign power, and that the events of men's lives, their happiness or misery, and what the world calls their fate, all are appointed in harmony with the Divine purpose which is being fulfilled in the Church. The appeal to God by lot was a recognition of the same truth. Though an old Jewish custom, it was sanctioned by God as helping his people to remember the universality of his rule. It was not a blind appeal to chance, but was accompanied with believing prayer and an exercise of human wisdom so far as it went. As at the beginning, so still and always, the Church can be purged of its evil only by God, not by man. We must expect a mingled state, while we aim at purity and maintain a spiritual oversight and watchful discipline in the Church itself. There are two extremes to be avoided:

HOMILIES BY P.C. BARKER

Acts 1:3

The world's supreme question to the front.

"Speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." We hold in our hands, in these words, the key, not of a brief section of this chapter and this book alone, but rather of a very long stretch of time, and an immensely important and absorbingly interesting stretch of the world's history. Matters of the deepest and most touching individual interest, like all the charming incident of the four Gospels, must yield, we are here tacitly reminded—yield both in time and in high equity also—to those of collective, of national, of universal interest. All the capacity of Old Testament history, abounding in monographs of thrilling human import, long led the way onward to this development. And now it might be said the crisis had arrived. All that even Jesus himself had done and taught before "his passion" is to be called only a beginning. He had done, indeed, unnumbered benefits to unnumbered persons. He had taught unnumbered lessons of wisdom and goodness to unnumbered persons. And he had been a light, a wonder, a glory, to a nation. But now, after his passion and resurrection, on to his ascension, his work shows as though cast in larger mould. Its character speaks comprehension beyond what it formerly did. And this is its simple, grand, motto—"the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." We have here—

I. THE MANIFEST INSTALLATION, LONG AWAITED, OF THE ONE ROYAL INSTITUTION OF THE WORLD. Henceforth the question that shall be to the front for the whole world is "the kingdom of God." The kingdom of God and the Church of Christ are not, indeed, identities. But they stand in most real correlation. The just analogy of the relation that holds between them is that of the perfect type, the original model to the faithful copy—a copy ever realizing greater faithfulness of resemblance. For this supreme installation, now come with so little of ceremony, at so unexpected a time, in so unexpected and modest a way, the world had waited thousands of years, while "kings and prophets" had been on the watch-tower. These had died with "hope deferred," but in many cases with faith never stronger than in that dying hour. But further, during the last thirty-three years, since in strangest consent a heavenly band of angels, and certain shepherds, and certain "wise men of the East," and a certain very unwise king, Herod, struck to the heart cowardly, had seemed to set them going, wave after wave of excited expectation and of suspense had swayed to and fro the hearts of multitudes. The expectation and the suspense were just now put to rest, and it should be a satisfied rest, for "this time," to be soon superseded by an untold period of hard work and severe conflict. During the past thirty-three years, this kingdom had been foreshadowed among a thousand things "done" and "taught" that seemed of nearer import, by

1. The distinct preaching of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1) and of Jesus Christ himself (Matthew 4:17).

2. The introduction of it into the model prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples, "Thy kingdom come Thine is the kingdom."

3. The many parables of Jesus, of which "the kingdom of God" or "the kingdom of heaven" was the subject.

4. The missionary tours of the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:7, Matthew 10:8) and of the seventy, (Luke 10:9).

5. The detached observations made by Jesus, having the kingdom as their subject (Luke 17:20; John 18:33-37). But now, during so special a period as the forty days, this subject—"the things pertaining to the kingdom of God "—is spoken of as the characteristic and discriminating theme of Christ's discourse and instruction to the apostles. The inference is plain.

II. THE INDICATIONS OF THE AUGUST CRISIS, WHEN THE MOST ARDUOUS WORK, MOST ENNOBLING PRIVILEGE, MOST TREMENDOUS RESPONSIBILITY, WERE DEVOLVED ON HUMAN AGENTS. And two things are specially to be noted at this amazing juncture.

1. The carrying on of the work of Christ on earth, in the establishing and propagating of the kingdom of God, is given into the hands of men. We know nothing like all which Jesus said to his apostles during these "forty days." Probably we do not know even all the occasions on which he appeared to them and instructed them. But there can be no doubt that there was one reason, and only one chief reason, why the theme of Christ's conversation or discourse was what we are here told it was. The reason this, that the apostles should now be prepared, both in heart and hand, to undertake the lead of the great work, as they had never Before been prepared, probably not even to the conceiving of such a thing.

2. The carrying on of that work, now devolved or about immediately to be devolved on the servants by the Master, is—for so we are irresistibly led to conclude—not prescribed too closely, is not provided for in anything approaching literal detail. Christ spoke of "the things pertaining to" the kingdom of God. One inevitably imagines that under this description principles were imparted—possibly enough information savoring of the character of revelation. These would be lighted up and warmed by the presence of gracious promise and stirring glimpses of the above and of the future. Yet, all as inevitably, one is impressed with the conviction that even that poor earthly judgment of those poor earthly men, who had so often slipped and failed even under the eye of the Master, was not fettered, hampered, overpowered by the severity of binding detail. We seem to see Jesus doing at that germinal time what the history of the Church clearly enough shows he ever has done since, throwing himself and his own expensive work and grand sacrifice alike on the love and the judgment of his servants! It is a marvelous thought of work and honor devolved on men! Nor could it be easy to find either a more stirring or inspiring stimulus both of love and of wisdom's best efforts. The conjunction of the trust Christ offers to repose practically, not on our hearts' love alone, but even on our fallible discretion, illustrates the height of his surpassing grace to us, in the very gracefulness of the grace.

III. THE SUGGESTIONS OF THE SOURCE OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM THAT UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD BE REQUIRED. He who "spake" to loving disciples, friends, servants, and who instructed them now, would by the very act, often repeated before "his passion," but now (it is impossible to refrain from the word) with increased sanctity after his resurrection, ensure their memory, and their grateful memory, of himself. These he would make his own—more surely than the child hallows more and more the memory of the father; more surely than the pupil never conquers, nor wishes nor tries to conquer, the reverence he used to feel to a teacher, whom he once pictured as possessed of all knowledge. To him who gives the grace of conversion, we look instinctively for that of sanctification; as to those who give us life, we instinctively, unconsciously look for the support and rearing of that life. "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world," were words, we may rest assured, not heard exactly for the first time in the rapt moments of the literal Ascension! We are also immediately informed that Christ emphatically directed his disciples, now hanging on his lips, to look for and wait for the Holy Spirit, one of whose main offices was and ever is to bring to remembrance the things already spoken by Christ. Until, then, "God is all in all," and the mediatorial reign of Christ is resigned, he is our one Hope and Trust. He is the Giver of light, knowledge, love. He is the one only Head of his Church. He the Savior and the King of men, who now so condescendingly "showed himself alive" to the apostles, "after his passion, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."B.

Acts 1:4

The supreme promise to the Church.

"Commanded them that they should … wait for the promise of the Father." The exact designation here employed to describe the gift, and the special gift, of the Holy Ghost—namely, "the promise of the Father"—is confined to the writing of St. Luke; as it were, the outcome of his assiduous memory. In the Gospel (Luke 24:49) he remembers it to quote it, in its completest precision: "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you." These are the two occasions of the occurrence of this expression in Scripture. Other portions of Scripture, however, concerned with the same grand subject, are quite in harmony with these two picked expressions. They may possibly all date in the first instance from the words of the Prophet Joel (Joel 2:28, Joel 2:29). But we most thankfully accept the reminding words of Jesus, as here distinctly quoted," which ye have heard of me," as good for asserting the independent choice of the designation by an original authority. When thus viewed, it will exceed in value the words of the prophet, though treasured long, if not in grateful, yet in hopeful memory. We have here—

I. THE MENTION OF THE DESCENT, THE SPECIAL DESCENT, OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, UNDER THE TITLE OF "THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER."

1. This title maintains consistently the strict fidelity of revelation. The uniform representation of Scripture sets forth everything good as originating with the Father. He is the Source. He is the Beginning. Whatsoever comes even nearest of all to him, is still hut "in the beginning with him." He is the "Giver of every good and perfect gift"—of the glorious array of gift that ranks the brightest among its treasures, beyond comparison the brightest, Jesus Christ, "the Son of the Father" and the Savior of the world, and the Holy Spirit, "the promise of the Father," and the Regenerator and Sanctifier of human hearts. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift," the fit refrain of ten thousand songs—songs of life, of light, of warmth, of love, of reason, of memory, of imagination, of hope, of beauty, of joy—is nevertheless heard, first of all, in its fullest tones, in its richest strains, as the refrain of those songs, that celebrate the gift of Jesus to a once prostrate world, and the "promise of the Father" to that same world just begun to lift its head, and gasp for pure air, and to beg for a little light, and a little love and hope. To that doubting prayer of a world crushed under sin and darkness so long, and wrung from it by the bitterness of its effectual woe, how large the answer that came down wrapt in the "promise of the Father" And within the narrower limits of Christ's own testimony respecting the Holy Spirit, this title preserves the harmony of Scripture. "The Father … shall give you another Comforter" (John 14:16); "The Father will send … the Comforter, the Holy Ghost" (John 14:26); "The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father" (John 15:26). We may notice these testimonies of Christ the more observantly, because they grow up lovingly tangled among allusions to his own relations to the Spirit, and to the "sending" of him. Of which more follows immediately.

2. The title is one that specially honors the Father. Taking into account the exact juncture, it may perhaps be viewed as intentionally an almost final act for the days of Christ's tarrying on earth, of honor, of obedience, of the reverent love of a true, sublime Sonship on the part of Christ toward God the Father. Only the day before his crucifixion had Christ spoken with some fullness and in some detail of his own relation to the Spirit. That relation must be a very close one, to answer correctly to the things which Jesus then said and implied as well. For instance: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter" (John 14:16); "The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my Name" (John 15:26); "The Comforter … whom I will send unto you from the Father" (John 15:26); "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. But if I depart, I will send him unto you" (John 16:7); "The Spirit of truth … shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:13, John 16:14). Sot in the whole body of these sayings of Christ is there, indeed, anything that trenches upon the rights of the Father; yet now the great original Promiser is justly brought, and is as it were finally left by Christ in the place of first majesty and prominence.

3. The title offers, for all devout and reverent thought, to link together that present, which ever seems so prosaic, so unmemorable with hallowed antiquity, with the sacredness of the past, with the legitimate enchantment of distance. The promise reminds (and in this case most plainly) of the Promiser. And this Promiser of ages past, long waited for, not seldom distrusted, sometimes despaired of, is now in a moment or two going to be manifested—the faithful Promiser. He is none other than the Father everlasting! Promise adds preciousness to bestowment in several ways—in the very tension of the moral nature which it challenges, in the mutual keeping hold of hands (all the while that the promise subsists), of promiser and promisee, in the educatory processes of varied sort that are sure to be transpiring during all the same interval, and, in a word, in the preparation of the receiver for the thing prepared for him, as well as in his final supreme gratification on receiving it. But come this time, the "forecasting of the years" past, "the reaching of the hand through time to catch the far-off interest of tears" over, and the blank days that have been yield to the dawn of radiance itself. So sang Moses, when now at last he saw the land, "the promise of the Father "—

"My Father's hope! my childhood's dream!

The promise from on high!

Long waited for! its glories beam

Now when my death is nigh.

"My death is come, but not decay;

Nor eye nor mind is dim;

The keenness of youth's vigorous day

Thrills in each nerve and limb.

"Blest scene! thrice welcome after toil—

If no deceit I view;

Oh, might my lips but press the soil,

And prove the vision true!"

(J. H. Newman.)

And so, in higher strain, chants the apostle: "Faithful is he who hath promised, who also will do it"

4. The title offers in a fresh form, to the sensitive, impressible disposition of true discipleship, a pathetic suggestion of the nearness and the continuing purpose and the watching grace of the Father. 'Tis all covered by the word promise. For a promise must be of something welcome and wished for. A promise has no part nor lot with a threat. The only question that lies at the door of promise is the anxious one, as to faithfulness; that assured, the prospect must be a grateful one. So one chosen word, an opportune name, a kindly expression, becomes a suggestion, fruitful and full of fruitfulness. "The promise of the Father" must ever be the "Comforter" of the Church.

II. THE COMMAND TO AWAIT TOGETHER AT JERUSALEM THAT DESCENT, OR "BAPTISM," OF THE HOLY GHOST WHICH WOULD CONSTITUTE THE FULFILMENT OF PROMISE. It is not necessary to linger over the fact that Jerusalem was to be the scene of the "baptism with the Holy Ghost," and the geographical point of departure for the new heralds of" the kingdom of God." It was the metropolis of the land; it was the shrine in a shrine. It had been the ecclesiastical gathering-place of the elect people for centuries upon centuries, and divinely appointed such. But now, if ever work was to date from place, the work of Christ might well begin from the place where he suffered, and the glory of the dispensation of his Spirit be manifested where had been first the manifestation of his soul's sore "trouble," and his humiliation unto death! This, the first crown after the cross! But other suggestions, of more intrinsic importance, arise out of this command.

1. The command, by preventing the separation and dispersion of the apostles, prepared the way for a manifestation which, if viewed merely as a phenomenon, must have been unsurpassed in the experience of the people, whether those who saw it or those who felt it as well. No amount of depth of conviction, no amount of consequent real stir, could be wondered at after such a scene, or the credible report of it only. The impression and the effect must have been justly tremendous then and there. Could we give ourselves leave to imagine for one moment a reproduction of that scene in the modern world's metropolis, we know that, taking into consideration the scale of modern thought, the character and variety and tenacity of modem skepticism, and the wonderfully advanced means of modern communication, nothing short of the genuine turning upside down of "the world" might be expected to be the result. The atheist, the rationalist, the materialist, the mere scientist, would have a hard task before them, and would have hard work to escape the administration prompt of lynch law, as it were! There were, of course, the greatest ends to be secured by that extraordinary demonstration proportionate to the time of day, and guarded from effects that would be absolutely appalling through their forcibleness.

2. The command prevented apostles and disciples separating and dispersing to attempt in an individual, fitful manner their great Master's work. They are to await one united baptism—to have one distinct, impartial impression made upon them and commission entrusted to them. From the first a very needed idea was offered to them, that they were not to air their individualities, but to lose self in one glorious congregation.

3. The command scoured, on the very merits of the case, the proper preparation of the apostles for their work. Not only will they now not go forth in their own individual strength and pride, but not in human strength and pride at all. They are all to be baptized, and with such a force as the Holy Spirit! His life, his light, his love, his tongue, are to be theirs. As with Jesus' spoken charge to "the twelve," and again to "the seventy," under each permanent or temporary item of direction lay this one principle, that they were to go forth in the strength of a Stronger than man, so in this acted charge, this marvel of a demonstration of the Spirit, the same root-principle is conveyed, be it said, with a thousandfold impressiveness. Not one atom of Christ's work must they touch in their own strength, nor begin it presumptuously before they are sufficiently equipped—panoplied by the Word and the Spirit. That lesson has gone, is going, must go down through all time, and all succeeding generations and portions of the Church. Nor is it the least of important lessons being at this very time taught us, by methods often most painful, most humiliating but most healthful, that the work of Christ prospers with the man, with the Church, with the age, which is most thoroughly characterized by a profound trust, and effectual, fervent invocation of the Holy Spirit.—B.

Acts 1:6-8

Craving for forbidden knowledge—its alterative, enlarged, practical trust.

"They asked of him saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time … the earth?" The question of the apostles of which St. Luke here tells us we do not find either in his Gospel or in that of any of the other evangelists, one among many indications of the probability that during "the forty days" much may have transpired between Christ and his apostles not left on record. It may nevertheless be noted, in passing, that the incident happens to be in interesting analogy with such another as that of which we read in John 21:20-23. And except for the fact that it is not put down to the account of Peter, we might probably be pardoned for surmising that it was he again who was the prime mover in it. We have here—

I. THE SIGNS OF EVEN APOSTOLIC CRAVING AFTER FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE.

1. Whoever may have promoted the question, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel most eagerly, we can feel no difficulty in admitting its very natural character. Nor is it at all necessary to affix too mean a construction to the motive of the apostles. Let it be granted only that their mind was not thoroughly delivered from the idea of a "kingdom of Israel" on earth, and we need not straightway therefore conclude that their chief thought or wish was to a "kingdom of Israel" of earth, rather than "of heaven" or "of God."

2. And as the question was not an unnatural one in itself, so also it was one that bears the traces of that deeper impression which had been most legitimately made on the apostles by the marvels of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Whatever might be in store or might not be in store for them in this matter of the long-cherished hope of a kingdom, their conviction was stronger and stronger grown that Jesus was One who could do this thing, who could be the Founder of such a kingdom, and establish it on no doubtful, hazardous, merely adventurous sort of footing, but worthily, strongly, and for ever. If other miracles were for a sign of his authority, and for a grand moral witness of him, this yet more than all else whatsoever: his own death issuing in resurrection! The space of one moment may have awakened again and ripened the impulse to dwell with a fascinated interest on this subject—the moment that in which "these sayings sank down into their ears," namely, that "they should not depart from Jerusalem," that they "should wait for the promise of the Father," and that they should "be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."

II. THE DISTINCT DENIAL ON THE PART OF CHRIST OF THE KNOWLEDGE CRAVED, Christ at once replies in language that we in modern times, at all events, would feel to be very emphatic: "It is not for you to know times and seasons, which the Father hath placed in his own power." Notice:

1. The freedom of this direct denial from asperity. If positive, it is not arbitrary; if severe in its strictness, it is not harsh; if decisive, it is not uncourteous or ungracious.

2. The loftiness, on the contrary, of the reason implicitly contained in the denial. The knowledge begged is not withheld as so much punishment or rebuke. It is withheld in this light, that it is not a thing of man, but of the Father—possibly Christ might still mean of the Father alone (Mark 13:32). But we cannot affirm this with any strong conviction, as he now speaks subsequently to his resurrection. Now, not the most sensitive disciple-temperament could have need to feel wounded at not sharing knowledge affirmed to belong either exclusively or all but exclusively to the supreme Father.

III. THE SUBSTITUTE IMMEDIATELY PROMISED. How often this is the method of Divine wisdom and kindness! How often the analogy of providence illustrates it, in the individual life. So rooted is it in the spirit of Christ's encouraging and bracing doctrine, "Ask, and ye shall have," that even when we ask amiss we very often do have something, and have something that we might have missed of had we not asked at all. So much does heavenly care appraise a hungering nature, an open mind, a craving heart, if it be anything at all within the compass of a right outlook that our desires go forth. And while the new gift is not what we asked, how sure it is to prove itself very superior in kind, and in its being the correctly adapted gift!

1. The substitute now proffered to the anticipation of the interrogators consists in an early and immense accession of power.

2. The substitute both illustrated and was the outcome of very noteworthy principles.

Acts 1:9-11

Heavenward gazing recalled to earthward watching.

"While they beheld, he was taken up … as ye have seen him go into heaven." The exact aspect of the glories of the Ascension depicted here is not found in any of the accounts of the evangelists. Happy for us that second thoughts were brought to St. Luke, and that we were not left without the beautiful and valuable suggestions that arise from these verses! The resurrection of Jesus Christ stamped the stamp of undeniable royalty upon his brow; round his brow the Ascension flung royalty's own golden crown—a crown of unsurpassed worth and luster and unfadingness. Well may we pause and ponder the brief recital of that marvel of glorification. Let us notice—

I. THE ASCENSION ITSELF—what is recorded of it. Nothing whatever is said of it in the Gospel by St. John. In that by St. Matthew the matter leads up to it, and abruptly stops, omitting all description of the great event itself. The language of St. Mark is," So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." The invisible world was for one moment opened to the inspired vision of St. Mark, it would seem, as afterwards to that of Stephen. And the account of St. Luke in his "former treatise" is, "And he led them out as far as to 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 carried up into heaven." There are a detail and an added touch, however, in the passage before us very grateful to read: "When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And … they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up." In the event itself, its unadorned majesty is the characteristic. In the description, the own dignity of brevity is pronounced. There is reason, as well as sublimity of effect, in both the one and the other of these things. Simplicity and brevity obviate distraction, and attention is fixed on the essentials. So we see again the scene with no bodily eye, it is true; men to the end of time shall see again and again the scene, it is true, with no bodily eye, but with a spiritual distinctness and a vividness that may leave nothing more to be asked for that could, in the nature of things, be given. Jesus does not die away on mortal view, but he soars away from mortal view, while the accents of his voice are still in the ear, "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God," and repeating the "promise of the Father" in the gift of the Holy Ghost. And for what is seen it is this: he is borne in an unusual direction—upward, clear in the eye of sense, till "a cloud received him;" and beyond that cloud, only clear where the eye of faith pierces, he is seen "received up into heaven, and … on the right hand of God." In this ascension, therefore, notice:

1. The visibleness of it, as compared, for instance, with the departures, whatever they were, of Enoch and of Moses.

2. The deliberateness of it, as compared, for instance, with the departure in blaze and speed of Elijah. So much to the contrary the manner of ascent of Jesus, that in the all-brief description before us there are nevertheless contained as many as four verbal indications of the distinctness of the amazing phenomenon; e.g. "while they beheld out of their sight … while they looked steadfastly as he went up … in like manner as ye have seen him go."

3. The number of witnesses present to see whatever was to be seen.

4. Not a figment of an earthly trace of Jesus after ascension alleged by foe, not a fancy of it alleged by friend, as compared, for instance, with such things as we read in 1 Kings 18:12; Luke 4:1, and as might have been conceivable.

II. THE FASCNATION OF THE SIGHT FOR THE APOSTLES. One thing betrays it and describes it—their rapt upward gaze. Beneath this one thing what wealth of suggestion may lie! It is probable that the apostles were forewarned of the coming ascension of their Master; of his departure, certainly. At all events prophecy (Psalms 24:7-10; Psalms 68:18; Ephesians 4:8), with which it is likely that they were on their own account acquainted, likelier that Jesus had made them acquainted, had advised them that the departure would be of the nature of an ascension. Yet, judging from the analogy of other forewarnings, mercifully vouchsafed but little improved (Luke 24:25-27, Luke 24:44-46; John 21:4-6), it is conceivable that the moment found them now off their guard, and little prepared for the consummate event. Again, of the exact methods of Christ's departure from his apostles and the women, and others to whom he graciously revealed his presence during the forty days, we are not distinctly informed in each several case. But in some we are told simply that he "vanished" out of their sight. Let it be supposed that this was the method of his going in each ease, and we may guide ourselves to the conclusion that at most the apostles imagined that some one of the occasions of their being blessed with the sight and the voice of him would inevitably prove the last. But what a vision this prepared for them! What a transcendent "gift" even of itself! His "speaking" suddenly but quietly ends. And while all eyes are calmly, attentively, lovingly turned upon the grace of his countenance, "he was taken up." And so their eyes also are lifted up, and thoughts and affections. "A cloud" which receives him "out of their sight" arrests their vision, but not their thoughts and affections. They still look "steadfastly toward heaven," and seem lost in wonder and in meditation. What is it they are seeing, or, so far as they retain the power to think, what is it they think they see? What is it they are experiencing while they gaze?

1. This upward gaze was their last earthly beholding of Jesus. One wonders not it was prolonged as much as possible. That last long look, judging from analogies of inferior matter, how was it wreathed all the way up with richest remembrances most vividly revived! Well indeed might it be so now, at all events. How fragrant crowd the flowers of memory, that nevertheless some while seem to mock our grief! They accord so ill, yet are so spontaneous; again seem to feed it, but fail not at length to help sanctify it, when our last earthly look has been taken of the companion we have so well loved and long time so cherished. But now, men's eyes were being robbed of the welcomed beholding of a Friend of matchless power, and matchless wisdom, and matchless loving-kindness! That riveted gaze—who could have wondered had it drunk out forever the light of earthly eyes?

2. This upward gaze was one that found elements of most impressive contrast with much of the apostles' former knowledge of Christ. There is a great difference between the thoroughest persuasion as to the intrinsic quality of some one whom we trust and love, who nevertheless is left lifelong in the cold shade of obscurity, and the cheerful light and satisfaction that make us proud sharers of the public success and the popularity and the manifestation of our idol. This latter portion Jesus had never sought. That he had never done so, nor shown the slightest disposition to do so, had been occasionally subject of remark and of petulance to some of even his faithful adherents. The Disciples of Christ had, as the overwhelming rule, seen his humiliation; and what of his intrinsic, most real glory they had been privileged to see, was nevertheless veiled with the garments of humiliation. They had seen his modest subjection, his calm, obedient observance of what was due to custom and religious rite, as in his baptism. They had seen his great works, his wise words, his holy life, his undeniable innocence, all flouted times without number, and yet no remedy, no fire from heaven, no thunderbolt, no conspicuous avenger, came to view. Then they had seen the garden struggle, the trial, the Crucifixion. And though they had seen the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, yet up to this present time what became even of these? He seems to take no visible, practical benefit from them. But what their eyes now see opens indeed their eyes! One could imagine that volumes of mist, dark masses of cloud, roll away; the obscurities and conflicting perplexities of some years "vanish," and count themselves all for nothing. The steps of Jesus are no longer on the level, no longer down to submission more submitting; depression is no longer the rule. He rises! Upward is the word! Glory and the realms of air and light are his, and his mode of entrance upon these, in its very uniqueness, awakens fresh impulses of unfeigned adoration. It is an illustration of how those who wait—wait even unto the end—shall be "satisfied."

3. This upward gaze was a silent giving of themselves away at last. It made a willing weaning for them. Now have they done with "the things that are seen," and with self; and they have done with doubt and uncertainty; and they have done with the shadows that are felt, in favor of the momentous realities of which faith is henceforth the trusted and sufficient custodian. So it was no unfruitful gaze. It was not a flash, to leave no permanent effect. It left much more behind it than a mere "glory on the soul." It was convincing evidence, irremovable conviction; it was the kindling of genuine adoration, and a perennial spring of devotion.

III. AN APPARENTLY UNCHARITABLE CHALLENGE OF THE ATTITUDE OF THE APOSTLES, AND AN APPARENTLY INCONCLUSIVE REASON FOR IT, ON THE PART OF TWO MEN, "WHO APPEARED IN WHITE APPAREL." The "two men in white apparel" were neither phantoms, creatures of the brain, nor specters, creatures of the air and heavens. The expression, no doubt, designates angels; it is likely enough such as had once been "men," such as Moses and Elijah, or two "of the prophets." Their interruption, one must imagine, must have been at first unwelcome to the apostles. It seems so at first to ourselves. We would have liked to know what close the apostles would have themselves put to their rapt gazing heavenward, Nor is the necessity or the expediency of the interruption visible upon the surface. Yet we may remark that:

1. We are, as it happens, in ignorance of what might have been the effect upon the spectators of the glorious scene of the Ascension, but for this interruption—the strickenness of a trance, for instance.

2. Intently excited states of mind often answer to the corrective of the mere sound of the human voice, calmly addressed to them. Marvelous instances of this fact are furnished in the history of mental disease.

3. Genuinely exalted feeling may "exalt above measure" (2 Corinthians 12:7), and may need a prompt simple treatment, to obviate the necessity of future much more painful treatment. The simple treatment now was interruption, but with the comforting assurance that the separation was not absolute and forever, but distinctly the contrary.

4. Very vivid experiences of joy, of grief, or of an intricately mingled character, while on the one hand very prone to absorb undue attention for the present, are at the same time the very soil that abundantly rewards the introduction of the seeds of great aspects of the future. Nor could there easily be found a more certain example of this than in what is now before us. It was of first-rate importance that in the heart and mind of the first teachers and preachers of Christianity the second coming of Christ should be closely linked with his ascension. The Christian individual and the Christian Church may never linger too long in the past. It is a silent, wonderful testimony to the vitality of Christ's truth, and its spirit of progress, wide as the world and lasting as the world, that a tremendous future career and consummation are ever marked for prominence. Side by side with the Ascension must the second descent of Christ be kept. Therefore side by side were these great facts (so to say) sown, in the apostolic heart. Further, that the descending Christ would be the same—i.e, one of glorified human body, as the cloud bore him a minute or two ago out of human sight—was a fact to be deeply impressed upon the Church of all time. And therefore, ab initio, it is so impressed on the apostolic heart, while nothing has yet occurred to efface from them the conviction of the real body of Jesus. The words of the "two men in white apparel" are the words of studied precision and emphasis. "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." We can be left in no doubt that the interruption was neither reckless nor heartless. It was not to spoil the infinite serenity, infinite solemnity, infinite charm of moments, that with the eye raised heart and soul to heaven. Momentous doctrinal truth was to be safely sealed and impressed upon the Church's mind. And the choicest of Heaven's seasons must be ungrudgingly given and unchurlishly accepted—a tribute to the importance of that truth; a token, also, of another noteworthy thing, that the Church was infinitely dear to the heart of her Lord at all time; nor that even the purest joy of a few first apostles shall be permitted to stand in the light of the whole Church. In this case there is not the atom of a reason to think those apostles would have asked it. They breathe no murmur that their delicious reverie was disturbed.

5. Last of all, under any circumstances, heavenward gaze, contemplation, seraphic vision, must be exchanged a while for earth's duty. That word is sacred, that call is sovereign. We must come down from the mount, whether it be the Mount of Beatitudes, or of Transfiguration, or of Olivet. Prayer, praise, and those acts of meditation and devotion that may be of sublimest significance, are the aliment of Christian life. It is in "the strength of such meat" that we must live the present life, and do the work of the present days, and teach the "truth as it is in Jesus," by living, humble example as well as by word. And we must ourselves "wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ," "comforting and edifying one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) with the words of the "two men in white apparel."—B.

Acts 1:12-14

A second interval of thrilling expectation hushing itself in prayer.

"Then returned they unto Jerusalem … the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." We have here—

I. THE RECORD OF ANOTHER PERIOD OF WAITING, CHARGED WITH THRILLING EXPECTATION. It may be held that a period of just six weeks had elapsed since the very same persons as are here spoken of had passed through a much briefer interval than the ten days they are now passing through, marked, however, very largely by the same characteristic of thrilling expectation. Perhaps we may say, in the light of such language as that of our Lord himself (Luke 24:25, Luke 24:26), that it was entirely to be set down to the fault of these disciples and women that on that occasion their experience was not altogether one of expectation, instead of being so dreadfully dashed by gloom, by fear, sometimes by a very near approach to despair. That interval of a very short three days may probably have dragged its hours along with fearful slowness. It was, however, the time, if faith had apprehended it, which should have been brilliant with the light and hope of a rising, and therefore finally vindicated and manifestly triumphant, Master—of One who had long time patiently stooped to suffering, humiliation, insult, it is true, and who had at last bowed his head to death, but whose task and subjection were now done, and come the time of "rest from his labors," and of glory in his victory. But we know credibly that the interval was not thus brightened. Memory was faint, and faith faint-hearted. And the impressions of sense that came of Gethsemane, and of the brutal scenes of the judgment hall, and of the fierce sufferings of the cross, and the darkness of death, overmastered the pleading suggestings of faith, and overruled the whispering memories of the vanished Friend's own words. It was natural, indeed, because to be wrong is, alas! the very thing that is so natural with us all; but we may say that never were three days so wrested of their rights. For confident, joyful, ardent expectation were substituted fear, gloom, and only the timidest of hopes. And yet there can be no doubt that the beating pulse of expectation, though the low-beating, would be our correctest diagnosis of that period. And it was now a pulse of expectation, too, but a healthier one by far. Faith had had a little rest, a little occasional change to sight these forty days past, and was the better, stronger, more willing for it. What an inversion had mercifully occurred to them of their ignorance, doubt, fear, in certain cardinal directions—of their estimates of impossibility, or at least incredibility! So, after a few enchanting visions and audiences of their great Lord, they find themselves "left" again! But they are not left "comfortless." They do remember now his words. They return to Jerusalem; they wait. They learn a fresh lesson in waiting. Their waiting rests on memories that now glow with glory, on a few words of direct command, on other few words of express promise, and on one incomparable fact—the Ascension. Things noteworthy in the nature of this period of expectation are as follows:—

1. It was waiting for their life work, which they are implicitly forbidden to anticipate. Yet who could call it wasted waiting? The hasty, the uncertain, and those who may have other motive inferior to the most real motive, sometimes decry a delay, in which they ought to recognize a great meaning and a positive use.

2. It was waiting for even liberty to leave a certain place or separate from a certain circle of companions or associates. The final reason of this became apparent. The startling developments of Pentecost would have been shorn of half their intended value, apart from the solidarity of the apostles and disciples. The conditions of our earthly life, and our sphere of Christian ministry and service, often seem both tieing and trying. Yet there must be valuable consideration for these, and sometimes time does at last surprisingly justify them.

3. It was waiting for a promised marvelous endowment, not of anything so vulgar as outward wealth, not of anything so enviable but dangerous as mere intellectual superhuman illumination, but of the undefined, the mysterious, the awful power of the Holy Ghost. With what anxious outlook we do sometimes wait! With what mistaken, ill-judged longings! Nay, but sometimes past these, with what pardonably trembling, shrinking, fainting, hovering fancy we wait! But oh, if these disciples and women could have gauged beforehand something of that awful gift of the Holy Ghost, what of character, quality, color, would it not have given to their expectation! So men have now and again trembled before the mystery of their own conversion—before some deep change in their spiritual self, and before that supreme exchange of grace and trial here for glory and perpetual security above. And so also, for infinite reason, God veils just a while light, beauty, the blaze of knowledge, even the finish of holiness, from his own.

II. A PERIOD OF WAITING AND OF RICH EXPECTATION, UNDEFINED AS TO ITS DURATION. The tension of the disciples on the occasion of the Crucifixion and entombment was relieved, and might have been much more relieved for them. They had been not only expressly forewarned of what was to be, but of the time also. And Old Testament type and temple parable had offered to deepen the impression on the minds of the disciples, of the women, and of the mother herself. Jonah's "three days and three nights," and the "three days" rebuilding of the demolished temple, spoke the duration of the trial, darkness, sorrow. But now all that is known, all that has been said, is, "not many days hence." And to this, no doubt, the quickened intelligence of the apostles and their associates would have most naturally argued that the delay could not be really long. Christ would never, in the nature of things, keep his disciples long in an inactivity that might degenerate, if prolonged, into indifference or idleness. This exact crisis abounds in aspects and questions of interest. That the apostles should at all be relegated to a period of this kind at such a moment inspiring above all others; that the interval should need to be one of some ten days; that this length of time was not specified to them; and what the ascended Lord's transactions were in that interval above,—are suggestions of questions to which none but conjectural and alternative response can be offered. But these things may be said about them:

1. They bring events and experiences of our own individual life, of our combined religious work, of our own entrance and of the Church's entrance upon the fruition of the immortal hope, into close and grateful analogy with things that passed and that were ordained directly under the eye of our Founder and Lord himself.

2. They are in manifest consonance with the objects and moral advantages of very much of our appointed waiting. Once ascertain and announce time, and it is manifest that a whole range of moral advantage in our education would be swept away, and a vast range of disaster would tyrannously usurp its sacred place.

3. They help comfort every reverent mind, every humble heart, that instead of its first impression being true, that arbitrariness is the hard bondage under which we live, this is the very last thing that can be true. And they help to convince of the greatness of him who, with all the deep counsel of his own purposes, neither forgets nor is baffled in securing the advantage of his own children.

III. THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE PERIOD OF WAITING.

1. It is spent "in prayer." Not in an ill-concealed, graceless return to ordinary work, and which might at any other time have possibly been sacred duty, but which was not so now. Times, the honest work of which is prayer, may well belong to every good life. That of Jesus owned to them. And this was just such a time.

2. It is spent in united prayer. "With one accord." Persons, voices, hearts, hopes,—all were accordant. What an augury, what an example, what a type!

3. It is spent in persevering, united prayer. They "continued." No sense of weariness crept over them; no dullness, no monotony, struck them in this their worship and liturgy.

4. To the company and unanimity of the apostles were added "the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brethren."

Acts 1:16-20, Acts 1:25

Judas, his opportunity and his treatment of it.

"Concerning Judas, which was guide … might go to his own place." The treason of Judas is related by every one of the evangelists; but his subsequent history no one of them as such even alludes to, except St. Matthew. The Evangelist St. Luke, however, here gives it, in his capacity of historian of the" Acts of the Apostles." What he reports St. Peter as saying is not in verbal harmony with what St. Matthew says. But there is not the slightest difficulty in seeing the way to a real and perfect harmony. The only difficulty is in declaring absolutely that one way and not another is the authoritative harmony. That Judas "fell headlong and burst asunder" is a very easy sequel to his "hanging himself." And that the chief priests took counsel, and determined to buy with the abandoned thirty pieces of silver the potter's field, and to devote it to the burial of strangers, is also a very conceivable sequel. It may be it was but the carrying into effect of a bargain which the covetousness of Judas had contemplated and had arranged for—all but the transfer of the money and the thereby "completion of purchase." The chief priests hear of this, and in their perplexity and desire to get rid of the accursed thirty pieces of silver, they close at once with the proposing vendor, whoever he was; but while they devote their purchase to an object the same, the purpose was very different from that which Judas had grown in a covetous mind. We may be tolerably sure he bought for some sort of further gain. They adapt (adsit omen) to a burial-ground. Once, such an end to such a career, of a professed disciple of the Lord, was unique, and then, for that reason, it would fascinate study. It not long remained so, alas! and for that reason, that practical, alarming reason, it has been suggesting for centuries, and still to this day it suggests—ay, it demands—solemn, heart-searching study. Let us get beneath our eye—

I. WHAT INFORMATION WE HAVE TO REST UPON IN FORMING A JUDGMENT RESPECTING JUDAS AND HIS CHARACTER.

1. He was called in the same way as, at all events, a majority of the whole number of the twelve disciples were called. So far as we know, there was nothing special or emphatic in the circumstances that accompanied his call. St. John says nothing whatever of the call of Judas; but that he knew something about it is evident from his allusion to Christ's foreknowledge (John 6:64, John 6:70, John 6:71). Why Christ, with his admitted perfect foreknowledge, did call Judas to be an immediate attendant upon him, is a question that cannot be answered, perhaps. But three things may be remarked upon it:

2. From the announcement of the call of the twelve disciples up to now, the closing days of Christ's life, not a syllable is to be read of Judas, except the damnatory remark of John 6:71. The question of Jesus preceding that running comment belonged, of course, strictly to the occasion, but the running comment itself is merely historic. But the closing days are now come. And they bring this man to the fore.

II. WHAT DEDUCTIONS REGARDING THE REAL CHARACTER OF JUDAS WE MAY BE WARRANTED TO DRAW FROM THESE MATERIALS. It has Been often thought that the key to the opening of his character is held out to us in the one word covetousness, This impression must be supposed to have been derived from the two facts—that he filched from "the bag," and that he asked money for the iniquitous volunteered enterprise of being "guide to them that took Jesus." The foundation is perhaps something slander for what is built upon it. Likely enough his tendencies may have looked this way. He may have known a shade too well the use and "the love of money;" but evidence there is none that he loved money as a miser loves it. Nor did it seem to stick to his fingers as it does to those of an essentially covetous man—not, for instance, when he threw it down on the temple floor at the priests' feet. May not other causes, that moved in deeper groove, and mined their unsuspected approaches in darker and more tortuous channel, have determined this monstrous deformity of growth? We believe that we have before us, in the unenviable, unwelcome riddle of this character:

1. A man to whom ambition (very probably native to him) was the misguiding, the fatuous, the disastrous light. This covetousness was in him; it had been looking out for its own food; it had comparatively long time looked in vain. But now, in what the history of two thousand years, perhaps rather of four thousand years, has shown to be the most dangerous direction of all, the opportunity seemed to open itself within the ecclesiastical sphere. He sees and snatches at the opportunity. Here is a manifest novelty—Jesus! His pretensions are great, and are far from lacking probability, The mighty works he does are supported by significant indications, though not so popular, by mighty words, and deeper still by the framework of cherished prophecies not unknown to Judas, and with which just now the very air, natural, political, religious, is rife. The thought enters his mind to become a disciple—it is not altogether business, for his heart owns to a gentle upheaving of enthusiasm towards Jesus. He essays to become a disciple, puts himself in the way, keeps near and in the right company, and finds himself "called" in the sacred circle. Adventure, religiousness, and a practical good chance seemed all combined.

2. A man with an immense power of self-deception. No form of deception is more aggravated in its character and in its effects than self-deception. The victimizer is the same with the victim. The deadliest harm suffered from another may have, even in the supreme moment, some possible compensation for the sufferer, in high moral feeling, in the exercise of high moral grace, such as forgiveness, or patience under unmerited, uncaused suffering, nay, in the bare thought that one is suffering through another. For now, at all events, the vicariousness of suffering, in a wide range of degree, has a charm of real glory. But to have the very faculty of self-deception is to have one of the worst of enemies while character grows, one of the most vengeful of enemies when the day of settlement comes. And Judas, whether in aiming to become a disciple or in only consenting to it, had little idea of the amount of his unfittedness for it. And so the months that flew on increased the unfittedness and the ignorance by equal strides.

3. A man of amazing power of veiling his real self behind an impassive exterior, when he gradually came to know that real self, and of keeping his own secret.

4. A man who, finding that he is playing a losing game, or thinking so, dares to attempt to retrieve what he counts his error, by heading a dark and desperate scheme, and by providing himself (for this was the probable reason of his occasional "thefts," and of his asking payment for the betrayal) with something in compensation of the "all he had left," together with the other disciples, when he first "followed" Jesus. However, now he stakes "all" on one cast—the event too clearly demonstrates it. He shows himself not the man to bear disappointment and loss, especially when riled, as he probably now felt, by a conviction of having suffered under some delusion. He is not of the temper to brook a practical affront, let it have come whence or how it may! He refuses to remain partners with inward discontent one unnecessary, one avoidable hour! And not the first man of the kind, though the undoubted first of the solemn pitch of enormity, he miscalculates—awfully miscalculates—the hour, and in another hour is falling into the lowest Tophet, under the name of "the son of perdition"! So fell the selfish and typical gambler of this world and time.

5. A man—emphatically not "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted," but—whose branded heart and seared conscience were stricken of God, being restored for one moment to their maximum vitality, that moment their very last! It is impossible to account for the previous phenomena of the history of Judas as recorded, and for this fierce end of his career, without believing that he had long been hardening—heart and conscience grievously and dreadfully injured. Nemo fit repente turpissimus. And Peter, the thrice-denier, stands close by Judas, the betrayer, to point with Heaven's own method of distinctness the difference. The death-struggle not unfrequently has witnessed to the measure of life that body and mind together can claim. And supineness has suddenly snatched and for a moment wielded the weapons of preternatural, if not supernatural, force. And it must be that this was the philosophy of Judas doing these three things at once—"repenting himself," "confessing his sin," and "hanging himself." The third of this series interprets for us the former two. The man who breaks thus, breaks because he is intrinsically weak. The keenest potency of feeling, the fullest, simplest confession of sin, the unequivocal renunciation of his unholy gain, and this all in the right arena, in face of the priests and on the temple floor—and yet these not followed by mercy and forgiveness, but blackened to sight by a self-inflicted dog's death—must proclaim a man strengthless, hopeless, for ever the disinherited "son of perdition." Let us ask—

III. WHAT IMPLICATIONS MAY BE INVOLVED IN THE STRANGE AND REMARKABLY STRONG EXPRESSION HERE APPLIED TO JUDAS, AS DESCRIPTIVE OF THE END OF HIS EARTHLY CAREER. St. Peter says that Judas "fell by transgression" from his apostleship, "that he might go to his own place." It can scarcely be that Peter, who rose to speak thus in the midst of his "brethren," should entirely forget how near he himself bad been to falling from his apostleship; and yet there are essential considerations so differencing the two cases that we could imagine it possible that, in real fact, he never connected them for so much as a moment in his own mind. This the difference—not that, having strayed, Peter so soon and with so genuine a penitence came back, and not that he had been perfectly sincere and was so sound at heart still, but—that, though he undoubtedly fell suddenly by transgression (as Judas fell suddenly), he did not fall "that he might go to his own place." He fell that he might get more estranged from "his own place," and, regaining his footing, might find himself nearer "placed" to his Master, and safer far than before. It is very noticeable that St. Peter does not say that Judas went "to his own place" because he." fell by transgression," but that his fall, come at by distinct and flagrant transgression such as admitted neither defense nor palliation, made his own way to his own place. Some make a bridge of escape, and some cut off from their enemies or for higher reasons from themselves a bridge of escape, but Judas, "by transgression," actually bridges a way of destruction for himself; yes, "by transgression" so pronounced, so aggravated, so enormous, but which drew its greatest, its most distinctive peculiarities from what was antecedent to it. Its long roots lay in a long past. From these it was nourished till it became monstrous. Harder than it is to "pluck a rooted sorrow from the memory" did Judas find it, arrived at a certain point, to pluck himself from "his own" destruction. The disease will now have its course. The road leads to a visible precipice, but Judas cannot stop his driving. The stream bears irresistibly to the gulf. To what do these things point? What were the antecedent peculiarities?

1. Very strong individuality of character ungoverned. Such may make very fine character. But it needs very skilful management, very strict observation; a very firm hand must be kept upon it. Let it be ever remembered that it is not likely to be and is not on side issues that the battle of character, of life, of destiny, is fought. And it is not on side issues that any man's "own place" is determined. And this is the reason why human judgments of self or of others are so often wrong, because they are so prone to be arrested by the glitter or else the glare of what may be a most minor point, a mere detail, a really side issue, instead of being of the very web and woof. A man's "own place" is neither determined nor ascertained by the side issues, which are so often all that lie visible. But there are some potencies of character that do, or otherwise undo, the work. A certain strong persistence of some force—a thought, a taste, a wish, a passion. And when a man has a character of this sort, his best friend has one gospel to preach to him—this, that his work lies clear as noonday before him; he has an option of trembling significance before him; he is set to master or to be mastered, to guide and rule and rise high as the angels, or—to be lured, drawn, dragged, driven, all the appalling way down to "his own place"!

2. Splendid opportunities grossly neglected. The same phenomena and facts of character and of growth to the very end, may and naturally must be true anywhere, any time. But as the "own place" of Judas was different from what could be the "own place" of vast numbers to whom for instance the very name of Christ is unknown, so it is fair to take into account the fact that his opportunities were, for his time of day and for every time of day to which they could apply, literally splendid. The principle will be very rarely unobservable, that in proportion as opportunity was good, gross neglect of it made the surest ill end, yet surer. And make whatever deductions possible, the opportunities of any one of the twelve disciples were splendid—then certainly none more splendid than they. To see, to hear, to watch such excellence, the excellence of naturalness, of simplicity, of perfect truth, of tenderest human kindness, of superhuman holiness,—was it not splendid opportunity? To have the personal inspection, occasional correction, deep-sighted suggestions, and high warnings, not unmingled with gracious encouragement that never bore a tint of flattery,—was it not splendid time of opportunity? To root confidence in such a Worker, not of gaping wonders but of majestic beneficence,—was it not splendid opportunity? In brief, to witness that activity, to hear that teaching, to study that Model, was a mass of opportunity that all the world beside could not give, and that all the world beside ought not to have been able to take away. But Judas let the world, or a small portion of the world, take it away—nay, he pitched it away himself. And he did this to get on to "his own place."

3. The fearful irritation (working sometimes underneath even the calmest exterior) of an unreal religious profession. The horrors of a false position must be counted to be in good truth multiplied infinitely when the false position lies within the domain of religion, and when it consists in the unreality of the person, rather than in merely a temporary unsuitableness to him of the place or the niche in which he has got fixed. In the recesses of a lowly spirit, in the calm retreat and silent shade of religious meditation, in the all-sacred shrine of deepest self-surrender and self-consecration, what music of angels, what whisperings of the Spirit, what tones of Jesus himself, are heard, and what peace that passeth understanding steals blissfully in! But of the vacant hollows of religious unreality, mocking echoes are the tenants habitual, and winds of the most dismal wail wander endless in them! The heart of Judas was not in his work these three years. His concealed irritation must often have been severe. His thoughts were neither where his hands or lips were, and chagrin was often his meat day and night together. His life was joyless; and as the sun ripens all good fruits and many a bad fruit too, so as surely, though strangely, does the sunlessness of joylessness ripen with fearful rapidity and affect the ill fruits of the hypocrite and of religious unreality. And, beyond any doubt, it had been so now with Judas. Irritation, inside and unseen, brings, in bodily disease, many an unhealthy humor to the surface, and out of these forms the loathsome tumor, not infrequently fatal. It is so with the burnouts and the turnouts of a religious profession, career, and office, destitute of reality. In no other directions do disease and inward injury rankle to so deadly effect. Judas is a great Scripture typical warning against the profession, the work, the ministry, and the dignity of religion assumed for whatsoever reason, and by whomsoever, without reality. This is par excellence the usurpation that finds "its own fall, while the usurper falls by some "transgression," little matter what, to find "his own place."

4. The suffering to drift along a huge moral wrong in character and life. Judas was guilty, certainly, of such moral wrong. He was guilty of it in three directions as it affected his professed Master, as it affected his so-called fellow-disciples, and of necessity most of all as it concerned his own soul. If a man lets any serious wrong in his earthly affairs drift, it is not long before he finds it out, for it finds him out. Business rarely indeed drifts right of itself. But wrong never drifts right. Least of all does that highest fashion of moral wrong ever drift right, when the question lies in the domain that brings into contact that which is or ought to be highest in ourselves with that which is indisputably highest out of ourselves. All here is matter of consciousness, of real life, of spirit. It is past us altogether to say, what we almost irresistibly imagine, that Judas was often on the point of making a clean breast of it; but it is not past us to say that during those three years conscience must have often urged him to confess his mistake, to resign the livery he wore, to quit the Master's shamed service, and the disciples' shamed society. In that event there would have been "room for repentance;" there would have been room for help; there would have been room to remonstrate, to rebuke, to revive some spark of grace, to recover yet a soul alive. From some loving brother he might have heard anticipated the words, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" and again, "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened … if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." And the falling away might have been at the last averted. But no! Judas has no mercy on his own soul, because he will not be faithful even to it. The betrayer of his Master is the man to be the betrayer of himself. At every turn the career of Judas is fraught with solemn lessons for every one to whom the grace of discipleship to the Lord Jesus is offered. The character of the test ordained for him is scarcely less plainly or less concisely written than that ordained for our first parents. Yet, nevertheless, thousands of years have not passed away morally in vain in the world's history. And in place of the test of an humble, practical obedience to one individual and merely physical command, the probation for Judas, and for every one of ourselves, is self-consecration to Jesus, Master and Savior, without one reservation, and personal holiness the sequel.—B.

Acts 1:26

The earnest of zeal and fidelity exhibited by the Church expectant.

"And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles." The events with which the passage has to do belong to that brief but remarkable interval of some eight to ten days dining which the eleven apostles were bidden to remain in Jerusalem, and were, in a sense, left alone, their Master and Savior having ascended, and the Spirit, the promised Comforter, not having yet descended. The brief interval invites not a little conjecture, but so much the more than it otherwise might have done, because of the silence broken in this very passage. Had the concord of the eleven, and their united worship and services of prayer and praise in company with the large circle of the hundred and twenty brethren (as given Acts 1:12-14), been our only record of the period, there would have been less stir of conjecture. But, as it is, we are led to wonder whether, while Jesus spoke to the eleven apostles of "the things pertaining to the kingdom of God," he had possibly warranted them to add one to their number. We can only doubtfully answer "No." For while, on the one hand, it would seem strange, if Christ had done so, that Peter should not quote the fact to the general assembly, on the other hand it does seem very strange that Peter should take upon himself to assert the necessity of such a step at such a time of unsettledness as regards the constitution of the Church. Again, beyond the fact that the two, Joseph and Matthias, had been companions of Christ and of the disciples from the time of the baptism of John (John 1:26) to the time of the Resurrection, we know nothing of them. We do not know on what principle the two were selected first of all from any others who might have answered to the same qualifications of having "companied with" the disciples; we do not know how the casting of lots was managed; we do not know whether Matthias ever really ranked with the apostles to any practical purpose, though he was 'voted in;" nor do we know one authentic syllable of his succeeding work or of his death. To conjecture is as unsatisfying as it is easy. Setting aside any detail of mere curiosity, we should certainly have liked to know whether the transaction of this election was authorized; if it were not, whether nevertheless it was legitimate, or whether it was possibly a fresh illustration of the ready zeal, without authority, of Peter. It need scarcely be said, however, that in the absence of any evidence or of any strong reason to believe the latter, we assume the legitimateness of the whole proceeding. And on this showing we notice—

I. THE DEVOTED ZEAL OF PETER. He is a born leader. He had often shown a forward zeal. In the fort of many, many characters lurks also their weakness. Purified from this, the strength becomes apparent again, and the advantage becomes real. It is he who now takes the lead, and says, "It behooves" to fill up the perfect number.

II. THE DISCERNING ZEAL OF PETER. He enthrones this great historic fact of the resurrection of Jesus in its proper seat in the Church for all time. The "eleven," to be now strengthened by one more, are to accept this as their chiefest mission and commission, to be "witnesses of the Resurrection."

III. THE CORRECTLY PROPHETIC ZEAL OF PETER. He takes it that part of the work and of the organizing of the work of Christ is to devolve upon man, and upon those who were the already "chosen" apostles, together with the body of his people and disciples. He calls upon all to join, and arranges for all to join in this proposed election.

IV. THE PRAYERFUL AND DEPENDENT ZEAL OF PETER. Still the wisdom and the choice and the appointment are to rest with him whom we call the Head of the Church. It may not be certain that, so far as the terms of Peter's prayer go, he means it to be addressed exclusively to the risen Lord, yet even this is most probable; and all the more so from his likely recalling of the words of Jesus himself (John 15:16; John 6:70; John 21:17).—B.

HOMILIES BY R. TUCK

Acts 1:1

The apparent incompleteness of our Lord's life.

It was but a beginning. The word "began" is as characteristic of St. Luke as "straightway" is of St. Mark; it occurs thirty-one times in his Gospel. The idea of Christ's life on earth as being a "beginning" fits well into the Pauline theology, which sets in such prominence the present and continuous working of the risen, glorified, living Savior. To the apostles' first view our Lord's earthly life must have seemed a failure; they could not know how it was to be continued and completed. From our enlarged knowledge we can apprehend it as being the necessary introduction to his present and permanent spiritual work. Illustrations of apparent incompleteness of earthly life may be found in the story of Moses, who did not cross the Jordan; and David, who did not build the temple. A man's life is never incomplete if he does well his appointed piece.

I. THE BREVITY OF OUR LORD'S LIFE-WORK. At the longest computation it extended only over three years, and many think the time was even shorter than this. Thirty years were spent in secluded preparations; and we may well ask—What great work could any man accomplish in three brief years? And yet some of the most powerful and permanent influences recorded in human history have come from men whose lives were short. Illustrations are found in every department of life; and the common observation has gained expression in the proverb, "Those whom the gods love die young." Life may be very short, and yet very full of power and impulse for good. "He liveth long who liveth well."

II. THE SUDDEN STOPPAGE OF IT. Taken away by a violent death, our Lord could not make it what men would call "complete," "rounded off." On his last day he had to admit that it must remain, to men's view, seemingly imperfect. "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." So with many human lives, the close comes suddenly, and we wish we could tarry to get things completed. But we must leave them, as Christ did; and we may be restfully assured that, if our work has been good, God will find for it completeness by finding its fitting into his great plan.

III. THE INTRODUCTORY CHARACTER OF IT. It was a "beginning," a "preface," a "threshold," an "ante-chamber," an outward earthly show to help us in realizing a continuous spiritual reality. The remembrance of what was is to aid us in realizing what/s. And, in a yet fuller sense, that brief human life was to lay the intellectual, moral, and religious bases on which the Divine relations with men were from that time to rest. "It behooved Christ thus to suffer, and to enter into his glory."

IV. THE CONTINUANCE OF IT. Of that "continuance" we have several distinct forms of Conception; such as:

1. The work of the Holy Spirit.

2. The actual presence of Christ in his Church.

3. The permanent office of Christ as the one human Mediator, Intercessor, and High Priest.

The relation of the "continuing" work to the "introductory is shown in our Lord's statement concerning the Holy Spirit: "He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." So far as the continuance of Christ's earthly life and influence is concerned, we find it in the holy living of his Church, and the teachings of apostles and ministers. In application, it may be urged that a work so graciously introduced in our Lord's life on earth, and so graciously continued in his present working in his Church, must have its completion some day. Such completion is reached in the believer's "full sanctification;" and, for the Church, in that day when the "kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ," and the "Church" shall be the redeemed world.—R.T.

Acts 1:1

The origin of the Gospel records.

Luke reminds Theophilus of his having written his Gospel, and of the circumstances which called for his labors (comp. Luke 1:1-4). Incidentally we are assured that the historical figure of Christ is the essential foundation of the Christian system; and, therefore, such extreme care was necessary in securing authentic records of his words and works. The trustworthiness of our Gospels may be efficiently impressed by the illustration and enforcement of the following points, which are suggestive enough to be presented without elaboration:—

I. SHOW THE LEADING POINTS OF APOSTOLIC PREACHING AND TEACHING. They were facts, of Christ's coming, teaching, personnel, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection.

II. IN DECLARING THESE, THE APOSTLES INVITED COMPARISON WITH THE OLDER SCRIPTURES. They appealed to existing and recognized inspired writings.

III. THEIR FACTS NEEDED TO BE SET IN DEFINITE WRITTEN FORM. If comparisons were to be efficiently made, the precise facts must be assured. As preached, there would be variety in the statement of the incidents and expressions of our Lord's life, and no suitable basis for faith.

IV. THE MATERIALS FOR SUCH WRITING MUST BE GATHERED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES. Each disciple remembered some special thing. Our Lord's mother could tell what nobody else could know. Other women had special narratives to give. Peter, James, and John were on several occasions of importance alone with Christ.

V. SUCH MATERIALS REQUIRED THE EDITING OF SOME COMPETENT MEN. Illustrate Luke's fitness—as educated, as Paul's companion, as evidencing a careful, critical habit, and as having access to the best information.

Show that, of the many Gospels, and parts of Gospels, that may have been written, there was a Divine selection of four. The wisdom of the selection may be pointed out and impressed; and also the special bearing of Luke's two treatises on the basis-facts of the Pauline theology. Luke's facts underlie Paul's doctrines.—R.T.

Acts 1:1

The threefold aspect of our Lord's human life.

The aspects that need to be so carefully recorded. Two are stated in the text—to do, and to teach; the third we gather from the Gospel itself—to suffer.

I. OUR LORD CAME TO DO. It has been said that "conduct is three-fourths of life;" and upon our Lord's daily life and doings we, first of all, reverently fix our gaze.

1. He came to live; to express in pure, beautiful character, and in sweet, self-denying, helpful intercourse with men, the example of the holy life. Show how this became inspiration for all sincere hearts, and conviction for all self-servers and time-servers.

2. He came to work mighty works. In miracles, of healing and of power, revealing to men the true God and Father, in whom we "live, and move, and have our being;" and making trust in the "living God the Savior" possible for man.

II. OUR LORD CAME TO TEACH. And the teaching was in full harmony with the life, and unfolded the gracious design and mission of the works.

1. He taught the people. As in the sermon on the mount, by his parables, and in the temple porch at Jerusalem.

2. He taught the disciples. By explanation of parable and miracle, by private instructions, by trial missions, and in his modes of dealing with them.

3. He taught his enemies. By severe warnings and denunciations, seeking to arouse the sense of sin, in which alone lies the hope of salvation.

III. OUR LORD CAME TO SUFFER. He could not but suffer personally, in carrying out such a mission; but he, further, suffered mediately and vicariously, as "bearing our sins." For us it "pleased the Lord to bruise him." Conclude by working out the harmony of this threefold aspect, in the light of Christ's perfect and complete obedience to his heavenly Father's will. He did, he taught, he suffered, all that will. And also in the light of our Redeemer's minion as the Savior of the world. He is therein shown to be the perfect Savior.—R.T.

Acts 1:2

The Holy Ghost in Christ.

The statement in this verse is that our Lord spake, and gave his parting injunctions to his disciples, as one who was "filled with the Holy Ghost." Christ's Divine nature is set before us in varying forms; and we should take care lest the demands of Christian doctrine so absorb us as to prevent our receiving the whole scriptural impression. Especially difficult it is to connect the divinity of Christ with the revelation of the Divine Spirit, the Holy Ghost. The difficulty is in part occasioned by our failing to associate the Spirit, in the apostles and in the older prophets, with the Holy Ghost in Christ. The differences need to be carefully marked, but the samenesses also need to be brought to light. We do not fully realize that God can be in man; but precisely this is brought home to us by the teaching of the Holy Ghost in Christ, the man; and the representation that his human words and laws come to us with the perfection and authority stamped by the indwelling Holy Ghost. Scripture gives us three distinct representations of the relations of the Holy Spirit to Christ himself, to his miracles, and to his teachings.

I. THE SPIRIT IS REPRESENTED AS COMING TO CHRIST. Recall the scene of his baptism. The symbolic "dove" brooded over him, or settled on him, and the Spirit of God "came upon him." This took place at the very entrance upon his ministry, so that throughout his ministry we are to conceive of him as specially endowed, as one in whom dwelt the Spirit "above measure" (see Luke 4:1; John 3:34). The sense in which the Spirit came to Christ needs careful treatment. From his birth the Divine Spirit was his Spirit; and in this lies the deep mystery of his Godhead. The Spirit that came to him at his baptism was the specific Divine endowment for the ministry to which he was called, and so it and the descent of the Holy Ghost on the disciples at Pentecost help to explain each other; and they show that the Spirit may still be with us in a twofold sense. As "born again," he is our very life; as called to any work, he comes to us as a specific endowment for that work. It is, therefore, right to realize the Spirit's permanent dwelling in the believer, and at the same time right to pray that he may come to us for special needs.

II. THE SPIRIT IS REPRESENTED AS WORKING THROUGH CHRIST. This was our Lord's teaching concerning his miracles, and it lies at the basis of his solemn warning to the blaspheming Pharisees. The "sin against the Holy Ghost" is shown to be precisely this—declaring the miracles of Christ, which manifested the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, to have been wrought by devilish agencies. So vital is it to the Christian faith and life that we should recognize the Holy Ghost in Christ's mighty works, that the sin of the Pharisees is declared to be "beyond forgiveness." In measure the same is true of the witness and work of Christ's Church now. It is wrought in the power of the Holy Ghost. It is mighty only as this conviction dwells in the workers, and opens the hearts of those who receive the witness and are the subjects of the work. The one thing that Christ's Church needs is to be lifted up to the solemn and inspiring conviction—the Holy Ghost is with us.

III. THE SPIRIT IS REPRESENTED AS SPEAKING THROUGH CHRIST. This is set forth separately because, though, in Christ, miracle and teaching went together, teaching, speaking, preaching is the one great agency of his Church, and therefore we do well to see the truth in precise relation to it. To this point our Lord directed the attention of the disciples in the "upper chamber." All he had spoken to them had been "given him to speak," and just so they might be assured that the Divine Spirit would give them right and fitting words. And in our text the last injunctions and counsels and commands are directly traced to the Holy Ghost. But, properly regarded, the sphere of the Spirit's operation is the human will—the real source and spring of all activity, the center of the human vitality, From the teaching of what the Spirit was, beyond measure, in Christ, we may learn what the Holy Ghost can be, within measure, in man; what he may be to apostles and to us. In conclusion, show, practically, that the necessary condition of the abiding of the Holy Ghost in Christ was his perfect openness and entire submission to the Spirit's lead; and that this Christ-like openness is still the one condition of the Spirit's abiding and working in us. Impress the warnings of the apostles against the danger of resisting, quenching, and grieving the Holy Ghost.—R.T.

Acts 1:3

Sensible proofs of Christ's resurrection.

The resurrection of our Lord is declared to have been a literal and historical fact, of which satisfactory proofs could be given—such proofs as men are accustomed to accept. Here it is stated that our Lord "showed himself alive;" that he "appeared -unto the disciples" (see Revised Version), that the proofs he offered of his restored life were "infallible," as well as "numerous; i.e. they were not merely "probable," or "circumstantial," they were such as naturally and properly carried conviction. The disciples were not deluded or deceived; they acted as reasonable men, and accepted the fact of the Resurrection because convinced by adequate proofs. But when the historical fact is thus fully assured, we must be prepared to receive the further fact which our Lord's ascension declares, viz. that his resurrection was essentially a spiritual resurrection. We have in it the assurance that he himself, the spiritual person, Jesus, lived; we have but the formal part of the truth before us when we say that his body was restored to life. The bodily manifestations during the forty days were necessary, in order to give the disciples and us such proofs as they and we can apprehend, of the real continuance of the life of Jesus himself; through these sensible proofs our minds grasp the fact that "he ever liveth." The "spiritual" cannot be apprehended by us save by the help of figure, body, and form; and our Lord's whole life on the earth is a gracious bringing home to our carnal minds of spiritual truths and realities by sensible appearances and deeds and words. Luke briefly declares the sufficiency of the proofs of the Resurrection. Each point may be illustrated and enforced by the facts detailed in the Gospels, and by the summary given in 1 Corinthians 15:1-58.

I. THE TIME COVERED BY THE PROOFS WAS PROLONGED. It was forty days. Any sudden and passing manifestation of Christ might be explained as a mental delusion or a ghostly vision. The time, in this case, gave sufficient opportunity for testing the veritableness of Christ's restored life. Spirit-manifestations never remain for forty days.

II. THE OCCASIONS ON WHICH THE PROOFS WERE GIVEN WERE MANY, For them see Paul's summary (1 Corinthians 15:1-58.). Some were given at Jerusalem; others in Galilee; others, again, at Olivet. Some on the shore; others on the mountain; others, again, in the house. Some with the sound of voice which all recognized; others with the showing of the crucifixion marks; others with the sharing of bodily food; and yet others with the signs of the old miraculous power. Impress the force that lies in cumulative evidence.

III. THE WITNESSES WHO TESTIFY TO THE PROOFS WERE VARIOUS. Individual men may be selected, such as the skeptical Thomas, or the questioning Philip, and the value of their testimony may be shown. But equally important is the witness of Peter's intensity and John's insight. Add the evidence of the women, and that of "five hundred" disciples, to the majority of whom personal appeal could be made when Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Show what a stream of witnesses. They "crowd the court." Was ever any fact more adequately assured by sober testimony and sensible proofs, such as ought to carry conviction?

IV. THE SUBJECT OF CHRIST'S TEACHING IN THE FORTY DAYS WAS THE SAME. The importance of this continuity needs to be carefully shown. Jesus resumed his work, carried it on from the point where he left off, completing his personal instructions to his disciples, with precise adaptation to his new relations as the risen and ascending Lord, and to their new duty as the preachers of his gospel to the world. Really in this lies the best proof of the Resurrection. Impress the security of the foundation fact on which the gospel rests. Christ "is risen," and our preaching is "not vain."—R.T.

Acts 1:4, Acts 1:5

"The promise of the Father."

It was a characteristic feature of our Lord's teaching, and more especially of the closing portions of it, that he sought to set his Father, not himself, prominently before the minds of his disciples: e.g. "The Father that is in me, he doeth the works;" "I do the will of him who sent me," etc. So, when speaking of the gift of the Spirit to the Church, our Lord impresses on the disciples that they must think of that Spirit as his Father's gift, made to them for his sake. We are to regard the bestowment of the Spirit in different ways.

1. He is the very Spirit given as Divine endowment for the fulfilling of the old prophets' missions; given as Divine endowment for the mission of the apostles and of the Church.

2. He is the fulfillment of the assurance that Christ would "come again," to abide ever with his Church.

3. He is sent by the Son.

4. He is the gift of the Father.

5. He is sent by the Father and the Son.

Allusion may be made to the disputes and separation of the Eastern and Western Churches on the subject of the "procession of the Holy Ghost;" and the importance of accepting the "many-sidedness" of Divine revelation should be urged, even if intellectually we find ourselves unable to fit the varied aspects into a satisfactory harmony. Our Lord would glorify the Father to our thought, by assuring us that the unspeakably precious gift of the Holy Ghost is his gift to us, the abiding sign and pledge of his "so great love," and the fulfillment of his own "promise" to us. This point we take for enlargement and enforcement.

I. BY WHOM WAS THE PROMISE MADE?

1. By God, but by God conceived as the "Father;" so we may find in it signs of the fatherly wisdom, tender consideration, and gracious adaptation to our need. Impress how the preciousness of the Spirit to us is enhanced by this assurance—he is our Father's gift. His "Great-heart guide" for his pilgrim sons.

2. By God, but through Christ, who conveys to us our Father's promise. See the special occasions (John 14:16, John 14:17, John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-15, etc.). Show how the messenger, through whom the Father's promise is made, enhances the value of the promise. An element of tender feeling and sympathy is added to it.

II. WHAT DOES THE PROMISE CONCERN? Set out its first form, the coming of the Holy Ghost, under sensible figures, as a Divine ordination and endowment of the apostles and early Church for their mission. This ordination may be compared with that of Christ after his baptism, and the figures under which the Spirit came in the two cases should be compared. For Christ, a symbolic dove; for apostles, symbolic wind and fire. Set out its permanent form—the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the believer, as his seal, earnest, and assurance of the culture of the spiritual life; and the abiding of the Holy Ghost in the Church, as its inspiration to the fulfillment of its mission.

III. WHY WAS SUCH A PROMISE MADE?

1. Because of the dependency of the disciples on Divine aid. Then and now disciples are not "sufficient of themselves;" "without Christ we can do nothing."

2. Because in carrying out the Divine purpose of redemption the bodily presence of Christ had to be removed, and so a sense of loneliness and helplessness would oppress the disciples.

3. Because God is ever wanting to help us on from carnal and bodily to spiritual conceptions of himself and his work, both in us and by us.

Conclude by showing how the promise gains character by being called the Father's. It is evidently a promise made to sons. Then practically and forcibly impress that our Father will only keep his promise if we keep the spirit and temper, the openness and obedience, of loving and trusting sonship.—R.T.

Acts 1:6, Acts 1:7

Carnal conceptions of Christ's kingdom.

With these our Lord had to do battle all through his ministry. These so filled the minds of his disciples that they were unable to receive aright much of his spiritual teachings. Many of our Lord's sayings can be explained as being designed to correct this mistake, remove this prejudice, and adequately assure his disciples and us of the spiritual nature of the kingdom he came to set up. Though not in precisely the same way, yet quite as truly, the visibility and outward circumstance of Christ's Church may, in our day, occupy our thought rather than its spiritual character and work, and therefore our Lord's cautions to his apostles may be applicable to us. The dream of an "outward and visible" kingdom has not yet altogether faded, and given place to the sober reality of the existing "inward and spiritual" one. Christ is a King, but he is King of truth-seekers; he is "Lord of lambs the lowly, King of saints the holy." Show what the carnal conceptions were that the apostles cherished: the breaking off of the Roman yoke; the restoration of Israelite independence; the resumption of the Davidic kingdom under the Messiah. Show—

I. WHENCE THESE CONCEPTIONS SPRANG. Distinguish between the tone of prophecy and Messianic allusion before and after the "Captivity." Tendency of national circumstances to set prominently the promise of a Deliverer and King, and to set aside the figure of Messiah as a crushed Sufferer. Then show the influence exerted by the Messianic conception of Daniel, and yet that the Jews did not take it in its entirety.

Further point out how the Maccabean princes became Messianic models, and the idea cherished was that Messiah would prove to be a national Hero and Savior, accomplishing the work permanently which Judas Maccabeus had only achieved temporarily. The merely national idea of Messiah cannot be based on a full treatment of the Messianic representations of Holy Scripture.

II. HOW WERE THESE CONCEPTIONS NOURISHED? Partly by the national condition in our Lord's time. Patriotic feeling was crushed down by the strong Roman rule; but patriotism, though it may be crushed down, cannot be crushed out, and indeed only becomes more dangerous to oppressors by being silenced. Partly by the hopeless condition of religion, which called for a great reformer; and, in the later monarchy, the reformers had been kings. Partly by the personal ambitions of the disciples, as illustrated by the request of the sons of Zebedee for the first places in the new court. To be faithful to the truth has often required resistance to surrounding sentiments and circumstances. Such resistance is only made by high-minded men.

III. HOW THESE CONCEPTIONS WERE OPPOSED BY CHRIST. Take:

1. The general tone of his teaching, as illustrated in the sermon on the mount.

2. The prominence in which he set his sufferings, especially after the Transfiguration.

3. The rebuke of those who would use carnal weapons for his defence, as to Peter outside the Garden of Gethsemane.

4. The distinct explanation of the nature of his kingship, as stated to Pilate. In spite of all his efforts with his disciples, we find the carnal notions of Messiah lingering in them (see Luke 19:11; Luke 24:21); and they seem to have been revived by that very resurrection which should have finally removed them. This is indicated in the text. Our Lord's last effort to destroy them is full of wisdom and gentleness. He says in effect, "Don't think about it; bend your whole mind and heart to two things—

Acts 1:9

The Ascension as the visible sign of the acceptance of the Redeemer.

If the secret of the Redeemer's life on the earth be this—that he was working out for us a man's obedience to God in a human body and human spheres, then the closing scenes of the record of that life may be thus represented. In the struggle of Gethsemane our Redeemer's soul won a full triumph of trust, submission, and obedience. This inward soul-triumph was tested and proved, and came off perfectly and triumphantly victorious, in the bodily shame and suffering, and even in the death-agony, of Calvary. As a "man," his spirit and purpose of obedience, and his actually doing and beating in obedience, were thus perfectly tested and proved. What remained necessary to constitute him a perfect and all-sufficient burnt offering, to be presented to God for us? Manifestly this alone, that God himself should give some adequate and visible sign to us that with Christ he was infinitely well pleased, and that he would accept him as our Sacrifice. And just this we have in the Resurrection and Ascension. God raised him from the dead. God received him to his own right hand in the heavenly places. Disciples saw him go up to God; and if Enoch was manifestly accepted of God because of his translation; and if Elijah was declared to be God's prophet by his wondrous fire-journey into the unseen world; much more was the Lord Jesus declared to be the "Son of God," and the accepted Sacrifice, by that breaking of grave-bonds, and passing, to mortal vision, up within the clouds. Our Redeemer's work may be said to lack completeness until his soul-triumph of trust and submission, and his bodily act of obedience, in enduring the cross, as God's will for him, have manifestly and in some open way gained the acknowledgment and acceptance of God. The Ascension properly completes the Resurrection, and both together are the Divine acceptance of the perfect Son, and the acceptance, be it remembered, of humanity in him who was its Head and Representative. Then two thoughts may be unfolded and illustrated—

I. THE RESURRECTION IS THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF MAN'S VICTORY. That is of Christ, as man, for man; of man in Christ. It is his victory over self, the evil power; and over sin, the evil Consequence. Christ mastered self, and obeyed perfectly, as a Son. Christ broke the bonds of death; for the penalties of transgression cannot lie on One who is infinitely acceptable. Now, in Christ, serf is no unbeaten foe; and "death hath no more dominion over us." We have hope in the struggle with self. We have security against the penalties of sin. In Christ death cannot hold us.

II. THE ASCENSION IS THE BEGINNING OF GIVING THE VICTOR THE VICTOR'S PLACE AND HONOUR. He is "highly exalted, and given a name above every name." He is "glorified with more than the glory which he had with the Father before the world was." Exalted to position of highest honor, to a place of power and authority; entrusted with the "bringing on of sons to glory;" empowered to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins; set on God's right hand, our one Mediator and Intercessor; and "Head over all things to his Church." In heaven we may not conceive him as dissociated from the place, relation, and work of earth, but occupying these still in relation to us, only in altogether higher, more efficient, and spiritual modes. He is the "Captain, or Author, of salvation." Able now, as the ascended Lord," to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him."—R.T.

Acts 1:10, Acts 1:11

Christ's coming again.

The scene needs sympathetic description. Effort should be made to realize the state of mind of the disciples on thus a second time losing their Master, and this time losing him in so strange and surprising a manner. It would seem that they had been prepared for the Ascension by the singularity of our Lord's movements during the forty days. Again and again he seems to have closed a time of communion with them by "vanishing out of their sight." On this occasion he not only" vanished," but" ascended," went up from them heavenward. As the disciples gazed upwards they may have expected an immediate reappearance out of the cloud; it seemed to them some surprising display of their Lord's power and glory. And so the truth must be gently broken to them, that they had now finally lost their Lord out of visible and sensible apprehension. This was the mission of the angels, who may be identified with the two who attended our Lord on his resurrection morning (Luke 24:4-7). The point of their message is, "Your Lord will come again some day, but not now. He will come in suddenness and in unexpected ways, 'in like manner as ye have seen him go away; and, until he comes, your duty is not 'gazing,' but carrying out, in simple and loving obedience, the commands he has left." Evidently the angels, while assuring the fact of Christ's "coming again," design to correct the mistaken thought of that coming which was in the minds of the disciples. The parts of their message may be thus set forth.

I. THE SAVIOR WAS, FOR THE PRESENT, GONE OUT OF THE SPHERE OF THE SENSES.

For three years the disciples had enjoyed sensible fellowship with their Lord. All that time he had been trying to teach them the deeper truth concerning himself and his relations with them. For forty days after his resurrection the sensible fellowship had been renewed, hut under conditions which should have prepared the disciples for their Lord's spiritual presence without the aid of sensible manifestations. At the Ascension they were plainly taught that the sensible helps were removed; for them there was no more "Christ in the flesh." Show how this bore on the culture and training of the disciples; and how it recalled the Savior's own words, "It is expedient for you that I go away." In all training, and not least in religious training, it is well for crutches and helps to be presently removed, that we may try our own feet. Illustrate how this is still done for us in the ordering of Providence, as for the disciples in the Ascension. "Looking," "gazing," "expecting" visible appearances of Christ out of the clouds, is declared by the angels not to be the appropriate duty of the hour.

II. THE SAVIOR HAD MADE EVERY PROVISION FOR THEM IN HIS BODILY ABSENCE.

They are recalled to consider the commands he had left. An immediate duty was before them—to wait together at Jerusalem for the gift of the Spirit. A great work was entrusted to their charge: they were to be Christ's witnesses through the whole world. An all-sufficing promise had been made them—they should "receive power" for the efficient carrying out of their work, in the energy of the Holy Ghost.

III. THE SAVIOR WOULD NOW COME TO THEM, BUT IN X TRANSCENDENT AND SPIRITUAL WAY. This is really the meaning of the angels' words "in like manner," "in a like glorious and surprising manner," not "in a like bodily manner." And, according to Christ's own promise, he did at once come again spiritually, to abide in his people; to be "with them always." No conceptions of future sensible manifestations of the Son of God should be permitted to weaken our conviction that Christ is now with us. He has come, he "makes his abode with us." And the present spiritual Christ is a present sanctifying power. The coming of Christ again to his Church in some sensible form is intended to be a secondary thought; bearing relation to Christian culture as holding out before us a high and ennobling object of hope. But it is properly to be regarded as "the sweet light away yonder" which cheers us while we set heartily to the doing of Christ's work in the world, under the daily inspirations and leadings of Christ's spiritual presence.—R.T.

Acts 1:12-14

New associations with the upper chamber.

In the Revised Version "an upper room" is translated "the upper chamber," which permits us to identify the place of the "tarrying of the disciples" with the chamber in which Christ's last words were spoken, and the Lord's Supper was instituted. Show what indications there are that some of the disciples had private dwellings in Jerusalem. John took the mother of our Lord to his own home; Mary, the mother of Mark, had a house to which Peter went; Nicodemus, as a ruler, would have a large house; and if Joseph of Arimathaea had a private garden and tomb outside the city, we may be sure that he had a mansion inside. Recall the suggestions and associations of this "upper chamber." How full it would be of the presence of their Master! How solemn with the recollection of his words, and the sufferings through which he had passed! It was a" holy place." Set out the individuality of the company—the apostles, the women, the disciples; need not think that all the disciples made by our Lord were assembled here. The hundred and twenty names only represented those in Jerusalem, and those from the country who were attending the feast. Fixing attention on the attitude and occupations of this company, we see illustrated—

I. THE UNION OF BELIEVERS. "One accord." The basis of the accordance was their common faith in Christ. It is the only basis of unity for the Church still. One in Christ. Brothers because sons.

II. THE WAITING OF OBEDIENT TRUST. They did not know what was coming. They could not have explained their Lord's promise. They did not understand or know, but they could trust, and show the trust by simple obedience.

III. THE OCCUPATION OF WAITING BELIEVERS. They "continue in prayer." Prayer, which is "the Christian's vital breath," is the Church's "atmosphere." And they who are sincerely waiting for God will be found constantly and earnestly waiting on him. For even the fulfillment of his promises God loves" to be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them."—R.T.

Acts 1:16-19

Judas, an apostle.

That Judas should have been selected by Christ has occasioned much difficulty to Bible-readers. It is assumed that our Divine Lord, by his omniscient power, must have known what Judas really was, and what Judas would ultimately do. But it is so difficult for us to realize that, in gracious condescension, God put himself, in Christ, within the limitations and conditions of manhood; and as our Lord would not use his miraculous powers to provide for his own necessities, so he would not use his own miraculous knowledge to secure himself against the changes and possible crimes of his disciples. Keeping our thought of our Lord's divinity back in our minds, we are to see that, in the selection of Judas, our Lord acted as a good and wise teacher might today. He estimated the qualities of Judas, and his fitness for the apostolic office, and on the ground of these he called him. That Judas had some special fitnesses, which others than Christ could recognize, is shown in the fact that all agreed to his having the trust of the money (John 13:29). Possibly for his practical business abilities he was chosen. Our Lord was condescendingly pleased to order his human life on the earth by his ordinary intellectual abilities as a man, and not by his Divine omniscience. And in this lies the great marvel of his humiliation and limitation. Nothing is said, on the occasion of the call of the apostles, to mark Judas off in any way. He is, indeed, named last, but this may have been due to the subsequent feeling of his brethren against him. That Jesus did absolutely know the character of the betrayer is indicated in John 6:64, John 6:70, John 6:71; but his allusions to him were not at the time understood by the apostles. The evil side of his character comes to view in John 12:6. His plot for the betrayal of Jesus may be given in detail. The idea that he deluded himself to suppose that his action would bring matters to a crisis, and lead Christ to declare himself and set up his kingdom, seems hardly tenable. If such was his thought, his money-loving gaze was set oil securing the chief place of trust in the new kingdom. His vice was covetousness. These remarks indicate so fully the line of thought respecting the office and the character of Judas, that we need give little more than the main topics needing treatment. The effort should be made to show that a root of evil lay in the very disposition of Judas; the circumstances in which he was placed ought to have checked its growth, and even turned it from evil to good. Instead of this, the circumstances were misused—made to foster the evil into strength; and at last there came blossom and fruitage at which Judas himself, a little while before, would have shuddered. In this there is a solemn lesson for all time. We want to keep and cherish such a daily openness to God, that his grace shall sanctify all surrounding circumstances and influences to our good culture.

I. THE EARLY PROMISE. "Once fair for the celestial city." Singularly privileged in call to apostleship. Early sincerity without depth. Usefulness for business qualities.

II. THE FATAL TESTINGS. Privilege was too great. Trust of money tested his one great weakness—money-loving. Opportunity of peculation became too great a temptation. Life finds scenes that surely test what we really are.

III. THE AWFUL CRIME. The utter baseness of Judas's action should be fully shown. Intense moral indignation against all betrayers of trust or of friends is perfectly right. The infinite tenderness and long-suffering of the Lord Jesus make this betrayal the worst ever known on earth. Is it possible that men nowadays may commit Judas's crime? If so, how?

IV. THE MISERABLE END. Remorse came. It is ever bitter and hopeless. It drove to suicide. Judas hanged himself in the very field bought with the rewards of his iniquity; and, being heavy, when they cut him down his body was miserably broken in its fall. The story adds the uttermost shame to the worst of crimes.

Learn that one evil disposition, if unchecked, may poison a whole life; and that this is peculiarly true if the evil disposition be covetousness.—R.T.

Acts 1:16-20

Jewish Christian reading of the Old Testament.

The Jews set an extraordinary value on their ancient Scriptures. They edited them with the utmost care; counted letters and words to ensure that no changes were made; read in them with regularity and order at synagogue-worship; and made elaborate commentaries on them. Of all these things details may be given. We notice—

I. THAT REFERENCES TO MESSIAH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WERE FULLY RECOGNIZED BY THE JEWS. Apart altogether from the question—In whom do we find the Messianic promise realized? it is well for us distinctly to see that the Jews always did, and do still, clearly recognize the Messianic feature of their ancient Scriptures. Christians do not import this element into them. So Christians and Jews have a common standing-ground and basis of argument. And from this common standpoint the apostles make their appeals. With an open Bible they plead for Christ's claim to fulfill the predictions concerning Messiah. But we can hardly say that the Jewish modes of reading and translating the ancient Scriptures are altogether satisfactory to us as Christians in these days. The intense national feeling concerning Messiah made them over-keen to discover Messianic allusions, and they had ways of allegorizing and spiritualizing which we are unable to appreciate. Some of the so-called proofs, from Old Testament Scriptures, given by the apostles appear to us to be illustrations rather than argumentative proofs. We cannot find any designed reference to Judas Iscariot in the passage here taken from the Psalms, only an appropriateness in the historical allusion to one who, though righteous, was a victim of treachery. The psalmist presents a parallel case to that of Judas; but to recognize this suffices for us, and we need not see a definite prophecy of the betrayer. Urge the essential unity and harmony of God's Word in its great principles, which find repetition in every age. Show that we endeavor first fully to apprehend the original, local, and historical reference of a passage, and from it gather the principle which may be of permanent application. Further point out that distinct Messianic references, many and various in form, can be traced; but caution is necessary, lest we force these unduly, and add to them upon insufficient grounds. We recognize two senses of Scripture, which may be called

For the first we need culture, for the second spiritual insight and sympathy. Then—if we have these fitnesses—to us the Bible seems to be full of Christ, because of the truths he came to declare, and the life he came on earth to live—the life of believing and obedient sonship to God.

II. To THESE MESSIANIC REFERENCES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THE APOSTLES HAD A QUICKENED VISION. They knew well the life-story of the Lord Jesus. They fully believed him to be the Messiah. With this in their minds, the Old Testament seemed to them to be full of him. But there was some danger of extravagance. They were liable to bring the Messiahship into passages, rather than to find him in them. The Divine Spirit in them needed to be fully followed, as "leading them into all truth." At the time of Peter's speech the special gift of the Spirit had not come to the apostles; so we have only Peter's opinion, and must take it for what it may be worth. Impress our duty to God's sacred Word. The reverence with which it should ever be treated; the anxiety we should cherish lest, to any portion of it, we should give a private and self-willed interpretation; the need for constant openness to the leadings of the Holy Spirit; and the certainty that he will help us to find Christ everywhere, the "Alpha and Omega" of the Book.—R.T.

Acts 1:21-26

First signs of order in the early Church.

In introducing this subject, notice may be taken of the idea that the apostolic body must number twelve. It was a purely Jewish conception, based on the fact that the tribes composing the nation were twelve. But it was a notion suited to the formality of the age, which made so much of numbers, and washings, and ordinances, and ceremonies. It does not appear that our Lord made any sacredness attach to the number; nor did he, after his resurrection, make any suggestions as to the filling up of the betrayer's office. It may further be shown that the conditions of apostleship laid down by Peter are not otherwise indicated. He seems to have gained the idea by dwelling on the fact that the apostles were to be Christ's witnesses; but our Lord's call to witness was made to disciples as well as to apostles. It would rather seem that the one thing essential to apostleship was direct appointment to office by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. In this view we can fully understand the claim St. Paul makes to the rights, standing, and authority of an apostle. The Revised Version makes a suggestive change in Acts 1:23, reading "they put forward," for "they appointed;" intimating that candidates were first selected by the apostles, and then "put forward" before the entire body of disciples, who made the definite choice. Regarded as the first effort to secure system and order among the Christian disciples, we may find indications of the early recognition of five great practical principles—the five which have been variously powerful in shaping the order of the various Christian communities as one or the other of them has gained prominence. We do little more than state the principles, leaving the questions of their relative values, their adaptations to present religious life, and their influence on the formation of different ecclesiastical organizations.

I. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE NEED FOR OFFICES IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. This is universally recognized. The offices are arranged with more or less precise copying of the early Church models, and with varying sense of the elasticity of the principle. One thing needs to be carefully impressed, viz. that all offices are for use—for the order and edification of the Church.

II. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE EIGHTS OF THE COMMUNITY. All being believers, having the new life and the indwelling Spirit,—all may and should take part in the proposed election. This principle is recognized in all Churches, but is less prominent in some than in others. Prudence provides limitations of the claims which it might inspire.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE EXECUTIVE RIGHTS OF CHRIST. He is the living and present Head and Ruler of the Church, and must be thought of as actually presiding; not only having given us laws, but actually presiding over their execution. All officials in a Church are Christ's ministers and agents, simply carrying out his will.

IV. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE RIGHT OF JUDICIOUS SELECTION. A large number of people cannot make wise and united selection of suitable men for suitable offices. This is a very practical principle, which prudence would have established if for it there had been no early Church precedent. It is found useful in all societies and associations of men,

V. THE PRINCIPLE OF ELECTION BY THE WHOLE COMMUNITY. All the Church joined in the act of choosing one of the two selected ones. It may be impressed that these simple and practical principles lie at the very foundation of Church order, and that the healthy working of Church systems depends upon the wise applications made of them, relative to the circumstances of national and social surroundings, and the "genius" of the community so ordered.—R.T.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Acts 1:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/acts-1.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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