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SERMON XIV.

The Disciples gazing after their ascending Lord.

A Communion Sermon,

ACTS 1. 10, 11,

And while they looked fledfastly toward heaven, as he went up ; behold, two

men stood by them in white apparel, which also said, Ye men of Galilce, why stand ye gazing up into heaven! This fame Jesus, which is taken upfrom you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen him go juto heaven.

AFTER our Lord had risen from the dead, he tarried on earth about the space of forty days; during which time he had several interviews with his disciples, conversed with them familiarly on things relating to his kingdom ; gave them such instructions and encouragements, as were necessary to guide and animate them in their future work; and, on a day prefixed, he led them out to Bethany, a village nigh to Jerusalem, where, in consequence of previous notice a large number of believers had assembled to be witnesses of his ascension. When he was come to the place, he stood-he lifted up his hands and blessed his chof

them away

en disciples—he fervently implored the divine blessing to attend them, and renewed the gracious promises which had before been made to them : and while he was blessing them, praying for then, and commending them to God ; and while their eyes were intently fixed upon him," he was parted from them;" he rose into the air, afcended toward heaven, " and a cloud received him out of their fight." Here they ftood with their eyes fixed on that spot in the sky, where they lost the fight of him; and here they would longer have ftood, had not the voice of an angel summoned

“ While they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as Jesus went up'two men,”-inen in form, but by the fplendor of their appearance known to be angels, “ftood by them, and said, Ye men of Galilee, why ftand ye here gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, who is now taken from you into heaven, shall fo come, as ye have feen him go into heaven.” On this advice they returned to Jerusalem ; and there afsembling with other devout perfons, they spent their time in such religious exercises, as were adapted to comfort them in present trials, and to prepare them for future labours.

In the words, which have been read, there are two things to be remarked.

Firft ; The posture in which the disciples stood, after they had loft fight of their afcending Lord. And, Secondly, The expoftulation of the angels with them on this occasion.

First ; The posture, in which the disciples stood, after the ascending Saviour had disappeared from their eyes, is worthy to be remarked. “ They looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up; and in this attitude they seem to have continued, after the cloud had received him out of their fight. In this fixed and gazing posture we might

expect to find them after such a scene, as had just paft ; For,

1. This posture was naturally expressive of the disappointment which they felt.

They had all along, while their master was with them, expected, that he would erect a tem. poral kingdom, and advance his countrymen to a superiority over other nations, and his particular friends to a superiority over other Jews; nor could they, by all his premonitions, be persuaded to give up this flattering hope. His death, indeed, gave it a painful shock but did not destroy it. Af. ter this event, some of them say, “ We had ho. ped, that he should have redeemed Ifrael," inti. mating, that their hope was staggered by his un. expected death. But when they saw him rifen from the dead, their languishing hope was revi. ved ; and they asked him, “ Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Ifrael ?" He answered them in a manner,

which rebuked their enquiry, but did not wholly extinguish their hope. “ It is not for you to know the times and seasons, which the father hath put in his own power ; but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” “When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up from them, and translated beyond their fight." Their worldly expectations were now at an end. Their Lord was gone-He was gone ; and they were to see him no more. Their hope, so long entertained, and now so suddenly and totally disappointed, fixed their attention to the spot, where they last had seen him, and where he had vanished from their fight. Their gazing attitude expressed those ardent wishes which fuc

ceeded to their late flattering expectations. So if your most valuable treasure thould be irrecovera. bly lost in the deep, disappointment and despair would, for a time, fix your eyes on the spot, where you saw it fink.

2. This attitude was expressive of affection.

When we take leave of a dear friend, who is going from us to return no more, we follow him with our eyes, and strive to catch the last distant fight of him; and after he disappears, still we look-and look-and still we long to recover one glimpse more of the parting object. When a friend is dead, we inspect and handle his cold remains ; we follow him to the grave; we open his coflin to take one view more. When he is deposited in the earth, we look again. We figh, we weep when the falling dust covers him forever from our sight. We take a mournful pleasure in visiting the ground where he lies, and in reading over and over the dear name infcribed on his monument.

Similar were the sensations of the disciples, when they looked at their afcending Lord, and gazed up into heaven after his disappearance. They had, for years been his constant attendants ; often had they been charmed with his conversation, and enraptured with his devotion; often had they received from him favors, which no other friend could give, and had seen him perform such works, as convinced them, that God was with him. He was now parted from them. No mo should they hear from his lips those divine instructions which had been so plealing; those sweet confolations which had been fo refreshing ; those ardent prayers which had been so enlivening. They remembered, how their hearts had burned within them, when they heard hiin speak as never man spake, and pray as never man prayed. No wonder, that they looked at him Itedfastly as he

ascended ; and that they still stood gazing after he was gone from their fight.

3. This attitude expressed amazement.

Never had they witnessed such a scene as they now beheld in Bethany. Here were assembled more than five hundred brethren to fee Jesus for the last time. Hither the Lord had called his par. ticular disciples, whom he designed to be his apoftles and witnesses. Here he talked with them, renewed former promises, gave fresh afsurances of his presence, prayed over them, bleffed them, and took an affectionate leave of them. While he was {peaking, he rose from the earth. As he rofe, words of kindness and love dropped from his lips, and melted into their ears His body, which had been like other human bodies, was now suddenly changed into a glorious body, like that which had before appeared on the mount at the transfiguration ; or like that which John afterward saw in vifion, and which he thus describes : “ His countenance was as the fun, his eyes as flames of fire, his head white as snow, and his feet as burning brass." In this wonderful form they saw him gently afcending, like a dove, toward 'heaven, until a cloud intervened the same cloud which overshadowed the mount, and which Peter calls the excel. lent glory. This bright and glorious cloud received him and ascended with him; and they be. held, until the wonderful scene was by distance loft to their admiring eyes. If the scene exhibited on the mount was so overwhelming, that the disciples fell on their faces, and were sore afraid ; no won. der that this more grand and glorious scence in Bethany should to amaze them, that they stood, for a time gazing up into heaven, unable to recover themselves, or to know where they were, or what they were looking after, until they were brought to their recollection by the speech of the

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