Acts 5:32
Him hath God exalted, etc. The Jewish temple a material symbol of the Divine method of grace. The chief chamber was the place of God's glory - the inner, nest presence-chamber of the great King; its chief feature, the mercy-seat, a proclamation of love to all. Yet access to the blessedness only by the appointed way, through the consecrated rites and persons; thus the will and righteousness of God sustained at the same time as his mercy. Compare heathen ideas of Divine favors - slavish, cruel, degrading, capricious, destructive of righteousness both in God and in man. Moreover, no heathen system appealed to a universal humanity.

I. THE COMMON WANT.

1. Deliverance from sin, both by remission and moral elevation. Show that the conscience regains satisfaction, the life security, the heart peace.

2. A free and unpurchased forgiveness, lest we should be burdened by their inequalities, destroyed by their despair, seduced by their errors, enslaved by their superstition.

3. Confidence without fanaticism, peace of mind without inertia, and a sense of righteousness without pride.

II. THE DIVINE SALVATION.

1. It is built upon facts - a personal history, an accumulation of historic evidence, an ascent from Bethlehem to the heavenly throne. The supernatural absolutely necessary to hold up the human spirit in its greatest emergency. God's right hand must be seen, must be conspicuous. We cannot depend on mere human sympathy, wisdom, or strength.

2. The twofold character of Christ meets the twofold demand of the soul, for the greatness of the King and the compassion of the Savior. The exaltation of Christ was both human and Divine. We recognize the great fact of mediation and reconciliation.

3. The one supreme test of sufficiency, the gift of the Holy Ghost. We do not appeal to men on the ground that God can save them, or that there is in Christianity a satisfactory theory of the atonement, but on the ground that the Spirit of God is saving them, that the gift is there - repentance and remission.

APPLICATION. What was true of Israel is true of us. The state of the Jewish world was the condemnation of all men. If God so wrought for us," how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" The gift has all God's heart in it. Return his love. - R.







And we are witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Ghost.
The book of Acts is one continuous testimony to the Ascension. As the Gospels contain the record of what Jesus began, so the Acts contain the record of what He continued "to do and teach" (Acts 1:1). Our Lord prolongs His days, and some of the earliest of the new "days of the Son of Man" are recorded here. This word of St. Peter sums up the witness to the Ascension in a more compendious form than any other. It unites the two testimonies — of God and man — as they are not elsewhere — united. Let us consider these as —

I. THE SUM OF THE HISTORICAL TESTIMONY TO THE FACTS OF THE GOSPEL. That which the evangelists afterwards wrote the apostles now preach under the inspiration of the same Spirit, viz. —

1. The Divine mission of Christ. "The God of our fathers raised up His Son Jesus." Peter is here, and as long as we follow him in this book, a minister of the circumcision. Jesus in His preaching is the promise given to the fathers of the Jewish covenant. "Beginning at Jerusalem " He testifies to the council, who, however, could only receive the first principles of the doctrine of the dignity of Christ. Hence the reserve with which the holy name is always introduced. It is not God's "only begotten Son," but His "Servant" Son, whom He raised up of the seed of David, a prophet approved of God as the other prophets were. But St. Peter did not preach only for Jews. His words are so ordered as to bear the higher and broader meaning. The "Servant" was not only a descendant of Abraham and a prophet like unto Moses; God "raised Him up" in a sense that has no parallel. As Divine, Christ's goings forth were from everlasting; as human, He was raised up by a peculiar and heavenly generation. St. Paul at Antioch takes up Peter's words, and gives them the wider application.

2. The death of Christ. Here also we mark the specific application to Jewish hearers. St. Peter proclaimed Christ's death as it could only have been proclaimed to the actual crucifiers. The same message that offered them pardon painted their crime in its most awful colours. The death of Christ is the central theme of New Testament testimony as declared by human witnesses under the direction of the Holy Ghost. As a fact, it has the largest place in the record. Here only all the evangelists unite, and wherever we turn in the later scriptures the Crucifixion is always near at hand. This, however, is a light thing compared with the meaning of the event. The "tree" becomes the "Cross," and it is placed in the centre of New Testament theology. While the work of Christ's mission is the whole sum of truth, the Cross is the whole sum of Christ's work, and it is at the foot of the Cross that the apostles survey the whole truth as it is in Jesus.

3. The exaltation of Christ. Once more we mark the influence of Peter's hearers. Every word is chosen to mark the contrast between the act of men and the act of God. They raised Him up to the tree; God raised Him up to a glory that was the measure of His humiliation. This is the testimony of the Holy Ghost to all mankind, and in a special sense. The apostles could only witness to Christ's life, death, resurrection, and ascension, but the Spirit throughout the entire New Testament proclaims through the apostles that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

II. THE SAVING SUPREMACY OF CHRIST AS OUR PRINCE AND SAVIOUR AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER. It was declared by our Lord that the Spirit should glorify Him after His departure, and one part of that office He discharged by giving Him the new names acquired by His death.

1. Christ became, by His ascension, the Prince of His people. He was not that in the deepest and widest sense until He was received into the heavens. Then God highly exalted Him because of the suffering of death.

2. So also He became our Saviour, in the most comprehensive sense only, when, all His offices complete, He began His mediatorial reign. "His name shall be called Jesus," said the angel; and by that name He was always known. "Unto you is born a Saviour," said the angels; but we never hear that name given Him till now.

3. But the full significance of the new name is found only in the combination.(1) He is the Saviour of the subjects of His kingdom, and none are His true subjects who are not delivered by His power from their guilt, their subjection to sin and the empire of Satan. The whole tenor of His instructions is faithful to the one idea of the gathering out of the world a people who are saved from their sins. As He began, so He ended with the "kingdom of heaven." This also was the burden of apostolic testimony. St. Peter (chap. Acts 2.) proclaims a saving grace that rescues souls from an untoward generation and adds them to the Church as saved. And the Holy Ghost everywhere bears the same testimony. The kingdom is still not of this world.(2) And He is the Ruler over those whom He saves. Absolute submission to His authority is the law of His Church — a law to which the Spirit everywhere bears testimony. Our salvation is made perfect by holy obedience. This testimony, added to the former, completes the witness to the Redeemer's lordship in heaven. Those who would make Him a king over all men alike are rebuked by the declaration that He is a prince only as He is a Saviour. Those who would make Him only a Saviour are rebuked by the declaration that He is a Saviour only as He is a prince.

III. THE SALVATION WHICH OUR PRINCE IN HEAVEN BESTOWS ON MAN UPON EARTH. And here St. Peter preaches, as the organ of the Holy Ghost, the "common salvation," to use his own phrase, in a manner that is by no means common.

1. Jesus in heaven is the Giver of repentance and pardon. These two words express the whole sum of salvation provided in Christ and proclaimed in His gospel. The former comprises all that is to be wrought in man as preparation; the latter comprises all that man, thus prepared, receives from Christ's mercy. The two together comprise "all the words of this life."

2. To these things bear the apostles witness, and so does also the Holy Ghost —

(1)As the vindicator of Christ's claims to all who hear the gospel, but more specifically to those who obey.

(2)As the revealer of Christ's mercy.

(WB. Pope, D. D.)

American National Preacher.
I. THE RESPECTIVE WITNESSES — the apostles in the first case, and the Holy Ghost in the second. With regard to the APOSTLES: we may remark, that their evidence, as it will bear the strictest scrutiny, so it is worthy of universal credit.

1. These witnesses must have had the strongest reasons for what they affirmed, concerning the Saviour's resurrection — or they would not have espoused a cause so extremely unpopular and hazardous.

2. Next to their peculiar situation — the nature of the evidence which these persons gave affords the strongest grounds of confidence. They were eye-witnesses of the fact.

3. And this is further strengthened by the number of witnesses herein concerned.

4. The place where they declared the fact strongly confirms it. They chose the spot where the event happened — the city where dwelt the very murderers of the Son of God — as the first place in which to spread their report.

5. The time which they chose also is another evidence of their integrity. While the transactions of Calvary were yet fresh in the memory of all, and while the enemies of the Saviour were still in transports of joy on account of their supposed victory, His disciples boldly declared that He was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven.

II. But there is a higher kind of evidence: THE HOLY GHOST also (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:33).

1. This He did by enabling them to work miracles in confirmation of the truth.

2. The transforming effects of the gospel on the hearts and lives of men afford us another proof.

3. Consolation and peace afforded to the mourner are also in proof. His smile makes the poor, the needy, the trembling rejoice.Conclusion:

1. The evidence of an ascended Saviour gives us encouragement for faith and prayer, and love, and praise.

2. How dangerous for sinners to disobey and dishonour Him!

(American National Preacher.)

(text, and Isaiah 43:10): — Men bear for God two kinds of testimony — in-voluntary and voluntary.

I. THE JEWS WERE INVOLUNTARY WITNESSES. They had "the law and the prophets." They glorified in this. But their formalism and worldliness prevented them from seeing the meaning of these oracles of God. They were called into court, as it were, by God. "Bring forth the blind that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears"; "Let all nations be gathered" and confronted with these Hebrews. Who among the heathen can announce coming and far-distant events, or even show former things? But the Jews can. The law and prophets in their hands — books seven centuries old — declare the history of man from the Creation and announce the coming One — "My servant whom I have chosen" — seven centuries in advance. You Hebrews, God said by Isaiah (Isaiah 43:8), "with eyes but seeing not," hold these books in your hands. "Ye are My" unconscious, involuntary "witnesses." So He may say still. These Hebrews nave, most tenaciously, and often at the hazard of their lives, held fast these sacred volumes through all these centuries. Peeled and scattered over the earth, they have guarded these documents while they have misread them; "a blind people that have eyes" — shrewd, far-seeing, and intelligent in all other matters, but perverse and ignorant in this, they have remained involuntary witness-bearers to the veracity and supremacy of God.

II. CHRISTIANS ARE VOLUNTARY WITNESSES in a twofold capacity — as a Church and as individuals.

1. Against atheism asserting there is no God, the Church proclaims: "There is, and we know, worship and obey Him."

2. Against paganism, with its many gods, the Church testifies: "The Lord our God is one Lord."

3. Against many-faced infidelity denying that there is any revelation from God, if there is a God at all, the Church avers: "We have. God spake at sundry times and in various ways to the fathers by the prophets. In these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son."

4. Against those who deny the manifestation of God in three persons, the Church keeps uttering its benediction: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all."

5. Those who deny the necessity for any atonement may hear the Church declare: "The wages of sin is death, but we have redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins," and see her "showing forth His death till He come" in her holy communion.

6. To sceptics who scornfully ask: "Where is the promise of His coming?" the Church testifies: "We wait for the Son of God from heaven. He will appear, and then all mysteries will be solved."

7. To Romanists who assert that there are other mediators than Jesus, the Church proclaims "one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus."

8. False liberalism may say to the sinner: "Be sincere and you need no more"; the Church echoes her Founder's words: "Except a man be born from above he cannot see the kingdom of heaven," and those of His beloved disciple: "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

(J. Hall, D. D.)

Does the religion of Christ stand the test of the Baconian philosophy?

I. WE SHALL PROBABLY FIND CHRISTIANITY A RELIGION THAT WILL SUBMIT TO THE TEST OF EXPERIENCE, because —

1. It is a religion for all men. There is nothing in Christianity narrow, exclusive, sectarian. Now how can this be unless it be put to the test of fact? The masses cannot reason closely.

2. Only by commending itself to his experience will this religion do for any man all the time. There are times when philosophy and theology cannot sustain a man. In trouble and death mere reason will not sustain him. He must then know his support.

3. The method of experience has been found to be better fitted to give an understanding of things. The world knew little of the sciences till Bacon's time. One pound of fact is worth a ton of argument. It is probable, therefore, that God designing a religion for all men would so arrange that it could be subjected to the most convincing test.

II. DOES CHRISTIANITY SUBMIT ITSELF TO TESTS THAT MAN CAN TRY? Yes; let us observe them —

1. A verification of the promises of the Bible as touching

(1)charity. Ask any man who has tried charity for twenty or thirty years if it pays.

(2)Prayer.

2. Let us come to the heart of Scripture. We are told that he who believes will be saved. Can we know we are saved? If there is a fact in the universe of which we may be certain, it is that Christ reveals Himself to the believer as his Saviour.

III. A FEW QUESTIONS TO THOSE WHO STILL OBJECT.

1. Is mystery confined to Christianity? I will undertake to explain the mystery of the Trinity to any man who will unfold the mystery of a single seed.

2. On the testimony of a few competent witnesses we believe in the wonderful revelation of the spectroscope. Millions of competent witnesses declare that they know by experience Christianity to be true.

3. Owen finds a fossil five hundred feet down. He says that animal lived on the surface because there are sockets for eyes. Nature makes nothing in vain. It must have lived where light was. Now in man we find yearnings, hopes that nothing but immortality can satisfy. Can you believe that God made light for the eyes, but nothing for the soul? Conclusion: Many doubt .the possibility of knowing the forgiveness of sins. I say to a man, "Saturn has three rings and eight satellites." Says he, "That cannot be, for I have conversed with many men who have looked at Saturn, but they never saw any rings or moons." I apply the telescope to his eye; he looks, but sees nothing. Why? He is blind.

(C. D. Foss, D. D.)

There are two methods by which conclusions are reached — the method of argument and that of experience. These have their representatives in Aristotle and Bacon. By the first we are led by reason; by the second fact. Which is the better method? A farmer ploughing his field turns to the light a bit of yellow substance. He examines it. It seems to be gold. He reasons; gold has been found in the neighbourhood; the geological conditions are all favourable, and it, has the appearance and gravity of gold. This is the first method. But suppose he takes that substance to the metallurgist, and an acid is applied that will take hold of nothing else but gold. He now knows through experience that it is gold. Take the case of character: you wish to know if a man is honest. You say he looks honest, has honest associates, comes of an honest stock. Now that is all argument. But suppose his partner says, "I know he is honest; he has been with me for twenty years." That is the method of Bacon — experience. Is it not the most conclusive?

(C. D. Foss, D. D.)

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