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did to the disheartened Paul in Corinth, "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, for I have much people in this city." Acts xviii. 9, 10. But for this sweet promise many a heart would have sunk in attempting to preach the gospel to others.
Is it a day of toil f The work to which they were summoned was one of amazing, indeed of appalling magnitude. It was the conversion of the world to God, the downfall of all that was strongest and dearest to Jew and Gentile, and the establishment of a religion of self-denial and toil. Well might they shrink from a work so vast, but for this promise, which secured more to be with them than were against them, and enabled them to wield a power that was mighty to the pulling down of strong holds. We are not therefore surprised that before the last of that company on Olivet was called home, the gospel had been preached to the very ends of the earth. But the same cheering presence is needed still, for the work is still a vast, and almost an appalling one. Nor less deeply is it needed in every work of the Christian life. We can " do all things," only when Christ strengthens us with his presence. With that presence we need not falter, for he is mighty to save, and will give us the victory at last over every opposition.
Is it a day of trial? Many a child of God has had these days, but many a one has also had the presence of Jesus to support in them. They have had trials of cruel mockings, and scourgings, and every form of suffering, and yet been sustained through them all by the hope of a better country. In poverty Jesus has told them of the heavenly riches; in sickness, of the land where the inhabitant no more says, "I am sick;" in loneliness, of a presence closer than that of the dearest on earth; in danger, of a succour that no human power could break down. As Paul stood before Nero, or lay in the Mamertine prison, he tells the secret of his unquailing courage, "The Lord stood with me and strengthened me." As others have entered the furnace, and felt the flame kindling upon them,the fourth form of the Babylonian furnace has been beside them, and delivered them from the very smell of fire. In the catacombs of Rome, among the crags of Piedmont, along the plains of France, through the glens of Scotland, and wherever a martyred disciple has borne high testimony for Jesus, there has he been beside the sufferer to fulfil his promise. And with the widowed, the orphaned, the neglected and pining ones, whom all others have forsaken, there has been ever this abiding presence, that enabled them to feel that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to us.
Is it the day of death? Even there, and even more fully there, has this promise been verified in the past, and shall be in the future. In that lonely valley, Jesus has always met his trusting and obedient ones, and his rod and staff have sustained them there. Stephen found him there as he cried, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," and Paul found him there, as he exultingly looked up to the crown of righteousness, when the time of his departure was at hand. Thus has it been, and thus shall it be, for when heart and flesh shall fail, he shall be the strength of our heart; and as we go down into the dark valley, his presence shall make the valley all light.
THE TENTH APPEARANCE—APOSTOLIC COMMISSION IN MARK.
The difference between Matthew and Mark, just such as we would expect—The Roman gospel. I. The commission. Its extent—Are infants excluded from baptism by its terms ?—The illogical infer-. ence—Why infants are not named in the commission—The real warrant of the commission. II. The authenticating seals. The miracles of the soul. III. The consequences of accepting or rejecting—The awful words—Eternity the only interpreter.
"'Go preach my gospel/ saith the Lord,
Bid the whole earth my grace receive;
He shall be damned that won't believe.
And ye shall prove my gospel true,
By all the wonders ye shall do.'"
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents ; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Mark xvi. 15—18.
The narrative of Mark is condensed, and hence sometimes difficult to adjust to the other gospels The apostolic commission, as he gives it, is closely connected on the one hand with the appearance to the eleven, as they sat at meat, in v. 14, and with the ascension on the other, in vs. 19,20. As those two facts were certainly separated by an interval of some days, or weeks, it is obvious that the evangelist did not intend to give these events in reference to their exact chronology, but only in reference to their general connection. Hence we may, without the least violence, connect the commission with the events of vs. 19, 20, rather than with those of v. 14, since it must be disconnected with one or the other as to the precise time of its utterance. This then will place it, where it certainly belongs, to the tenth appearance of our Lord in Jerusalem and upon Olivet, in connection with his ascension. It is true that we might refer the appearance in v. 14 to this last occasion, and suppose that it described the last interview which began in the city and ended on the mount of Olives, but the general judgment of expositors and the most natural conclusion is, that it refers to one or two appearances soon after the resurrection, recorded by the other evangelists.