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was assumed that the reader might have read no other book. The same plan will be acted upon in this Guide to the Acts of the Apostles; except that it will be taken for granted, that the reader has been already carried through the explanation of the Gospels, in the former work :this will be supposed in a general way, without any particular reference to passages, which might confuse by continued repetition.
In compliance with a desire frequently expressed, the portion of Scripture itself will be printed; and the marginal readings, as they occur, will be inserted between parentheses. This plan secures some attention being drawn to those renderings which our translators have offered to the choice of the reader; of which many altogether lose the benefit.
Thus modified (and as it is hoped improved) the work which was begun as “the Cottager's Guide to the New Testament,” will proceed as “A Guide to the Acts of the Apostles.” It will be published like its predecessor, in monthly numbers, but with some difference in its outward appearance; and will be carried on in such portions that its completion may be expected in one volume.
The book of the Acts of the Apostles, (or the Acts of the holy Apostles, as it is frequently called by the early christian writers,) gives an account of the first preaching of the Gospel after our Lord's ascension.
This book was written by St. Luke, the author of the third Gospel. He was a physician (Col. iv. 14); and accompanied the Apostle Paul in a considerable part of the journeys
of which he relates the particulars. He was with him at Rome, where the Apostle was allowed to live in quietness for two years, as stated at the end of the Acts (xxviii. 30, 31); during which time the book was probably composed.
By a comparison of this book with the epistles of St. Paul (ten of which must have been written during the course of the history which it relates), we are enabled certainly to conclude that both those letters and this book were really written under the circumstances, by the
persons, and at the times which they profess. The various coincidences on most minute and unimportant points, which may be traced by diligent examination, leave no reasonable doubt that the works are the true and genuine productions which they declare themselves to be.
The period included in the history of the Acts of the Apostles extends over thirty years, from A.D. 30 to A.D.60.
A GUIDE TO THE
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
The Lord's Ascension.
May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it. Amen.
Acts, chap. I. verses 1 to 12. 1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began 2 both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that
he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles 3 whom he had chosen : to whom also he shewed himself alive after his
passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and 4 speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being
assembled together with them, [or, eating together with them,] com
manded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for 5 the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For
John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy 6 Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together,
they asked of him, saying, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the 7 kingdom to Israel ?" And he said unto them, “ It is not for you to know
the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you :
[or, the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you]: and ye shall be
witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, 9 and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” And when he had spoken
these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received 10 bim out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven
as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel ; which also said, “ Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? this 11 same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, 12 which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
St. Luke addresses this book to the same person for whose especial benefit he had written his Gospel (Luke i. 3); and refers him to the account given in that former work, of the works which our Lord Jesus Christ had done during his life upon earth, and the doctrines which he taught. St. Luke had already brought this account down to the day of the Ascension of Jesus (Luke xxiv. 50-53), when he had commissioned his chosen apostles for the work to which he had appointed them by the Holy Ghost. To these he had given many evidences of the truth of his resurrection, so clear and convincing that it was impossible to doubt them ;-shewing himself alive to his disciples after having suffered death upon the cross, and appearing to them from time to time during a period of forty days; upon which occasions he conversed with them concerning the Gospel kingdom, which they were to be the instruments of establishing
Having met his apostles collected together, he charged them to remain in the city of Jerusalem, in expectation of the great gift which he had promised them from God the Father. (John xiv. 16, 26.) He explained what that gift was, telling them that they should be baptized by the Holy Ghost within a few days of the time he was speaking to them. He contrasted this baptism with the outward baptism of water, as it had been used by John the Baptist. The one being the outward washing which cleanses the body—the other the inward renewing which purifies the soul.
Upon this occasion the apostles enquired of him, whether it was his intention immediately to raise the Jewish people from their conquered condition as a Roman province, to make it once again what it was in the days of Solomon. This (it may be supposed) was the meaning, which these
Jewish disciples would attach to the phrase "restore again the kingdom to Israel.” It is declared in the prophets that a restoration of the kingdom of Israel shall take place; and however mistaken the notions of these disciples might be, Jesus did not see fit to correct them ; but replied only as to the point of the time at which they expected this great event, telling them that they were not to be made acquainted with the particular times and seasons at which God might please to bring about the events that He had commissioned his prophets to foretell. These He has reserved in his own power, to be directed by his sovereign will. It was enough for them that they were shortly to receive the spiritual power of the Holy Ghost upon them, and to become the witnesses to the Gospel of Christ first in Jerusalem, then throughout the countries of Judea and Samaria, and then over the whole extent of the world.
In the midst of this conversation, and whilst the disciples were looking upon Jesus, he gradually ascended before their eyes, until he was surrounded by a cloud which hid him from their sight. They continued looking earnestly upwards in the direction in which they had seen him go, until their attention was attracted by the appearance
of two men clothed in white, who were standing amongst them. These addressed the apostles as Galileans; asking why they continued looking upwards so intently into heaven; and assuring them that the very same Jesus, who had just been taken from them up into heaven, would certainly return, appearing in the same manner as he had been seen to go into heaven. (Matt. xxiv. 30. Rev. i. 7.)
Having received this information, the Apostles left the Mount of Olives, where the ascension of our Lord had taken place, and returned to Jerusalem, the nearest gate of which was not above two hundred yards from the place, that is about the distance described as a sabbath-day's journey.
APPLICATION. 1. In repeating the account of the ascension of our Lord, which St. Luke had already related to Theophilus in that former treatise of which he speaks, he selects out of Jesus's last words those which charged the apostles to wait