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required correspondingly different presentations of the apostolic commission. Matthew, in writing for the Hebrews, gave such portion of the discourse as was most suitable to the Hebrew mind. Mark, writing for the Romans, gave the form demanded by their peculiar condition. Luke, when writing a gospel, with a view to the wants of the Greeks, gave one form of the commission; but in writing the Acts, having a different object in view, he gives us other facts omitted in the former record. As this book was written more than thirty years after the facts occurred, and when the church was in a very different condition from that in which it was at first, we look with interest at the statement of facts which it was deemed necessary to place on record in this last narrative of the history. The Acts of the Apostles has been called the gospel of the Holy Ghost, from the prominence given to that Divine agent in the book. We find this very feature in the record of the commission. Whilst the portion of our Lord's words quoted by Luke, in his gospel, mentions the scriptures three times, we find here the same number of allusions to the Holy Ghost, thus giving us a clue to the great object of this fifth gospel. The design of the book, and of the form of the commission given in the book, is to present prominently the great fact that the New Testament dispensation is pre-eminently a dispensation of the Holy Ghost. We have also
the further facts not mentioned elsewhere, that our Lord tarried on earth forty days after his resurrection, holding many conversations with his disciples, and that the topic of them all was the kingdom of God, which he had come on earth to set up. There are several points here deserving our attention.
I. Waiting for the promise of the Father. . Christ "commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” Here is one of the most difficult duties to which a christian is ever summoned. To work for the promise is easy, to wait for it is often very hard. There is a restless eagerness to enjoy what is hoped for, that makes us uneasy under any delay in the fulfilment of the promise.
This feeling we detect in the question of the disciples, “ Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?" It is plain from this question that there was not a little carnality still in their views. Trammelled by their traditional and national expectations, they could not fully comprehend, either the promise of the Father, or the nature of the kingdom of God. They expected evidently a temporal, rather than a spiritual kingdom. Burning with the glorious memories of the past, when the magnificence of David and Solomon shed on Israel a splendor that outshone the glory of all the rest of the earth, and secretly chafing under the crushing yoke of Rome, they looked and longed for the great Deliverer, who was to unfurl the banner of David on the hills of Judea; and rallying, with the war-cry of the past, all the true sons of Israel would sweep from her hallowed soil every trace of the haughty invader, and again make Jerusalem a joy of the whole earth. Impatient for these glorious destinies, they were eager to rush to the conflict. Hence they asked whether at this time he meant to restore the old kingly line, and with it the kingly splendor, to Israel.
As the question was only in regard to the time, and not in regard to the nature of the kingdom, and as the lesson to be taught was the lesson of patiently waiting for the promise, whether it was clearly understood or not, our Lord confines his reply to the single point raised in the question, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." He knew that the teachings of the Holy Ghost would soon explain to them the nature of the kingdom. His single aim was to reprove that impatient desire that they manifested to wrest from the future its untold secrets, and read the chronology of that book that God alone can open and peruse.
The feeling here reproved is by no means an unusual one, nor is it yet extinct. There has been
always, and is now in many minds an intense desire to lift the veil that hides the future, and force on the wheels of the ark of God. It sometimes appears in a very offensive form, selecting certain delusive data of prophetic interpretation, and then predicting the very day and hour when the Son of Man shall come; startling for a while the credulous and superstitious, but in the end hardening men more obdurately in scepticism and sin. The gross delusion of Millerism in our times is an illustration, and some very popular expositors of prophecy incur somewhat of the same condemnation that rests on these grosser forms of enthusiasm and error.
There is a time when the great purposes of God shall be finished, and, especially, when the last awful appearance shall be made. But this time is wisely concealed by God, in order that no man or generation may be lulled into presumption. It is designed that the end of the world to the race, may be like the end of the world to the individual : certain in its event, that all may prepare for it; uncertain in its time, that this preparation may not be postponed, and life lost and wasted in sin. Hence to those who would wring from prophetic data the precise year and day of the coming of Christ, and most of those data the very revelations that the disciples had when they asked Christ this question, i. e., the prophecies of Daniel, we may
very properly reply, “It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." Of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the Son in his human and prophetic capacity, for it is not designed to be revealed to any mere creature in his simple capacity as a creature. Hence this prurient desire to wring from the sublime symbolism of prophecy the exact dates of a table of chronology, is at once a folly and a crime.
There is an anxiety as to what is coming, that is lawful and commendable. This feeling expresses itself in the prayers, “Thy kingdom come." " Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwellon the earth ?” This anxiety will lead us to labour and to hope. But when this anxiety rises into impatience; when the slow progress of the gospel makes us grow weary in the work of spreading it; when the little fruit that we see tempts us to cease our efforts to plant and to water the seed; when we are ready to say it is useless to work on when that work seems to be so utterly in vain ; then we reach a point of anxiety that is sinful, and have some of the feeling reproved in the disciples. We would have the promise fulfilled " at this time," now, and are unwilling to wait in patience, and need then to be reminded that it is not for us to know the times and seasons that the