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Pilate, the Roman Governor. Pilate at first seemed desirous of releasing bim; but the chief priests declared, that Jesus had forbidden the people to pay tribute unto Cæsar, and had called himself the king of the Jews; and that therefore“ if he let this man go, he was not Cæsar's friend.” Thus at length they prevailed upon Pilate to condemn Jesus to be crucified. This sentence was carried into immediate execution. The morning after he was betrayed, he was crucified between two malefactors, the one on his right hand, and the other on his left : “ Anu they set up over his head his accusation, written, This is Jesus the king of the Jews (e).” At the moment Jesus expired, " the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake; and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour (f).” These extraordinary circumstances compelled the Roman centurion and his heathen companions to exclaim, “ Truly this was the Son of God (g)."
(e) Matt. c. 27. v. 37.
Pilate, having received certain information that Christ was dead, permitted Joseph of Arimathea, who had been one of his disciples, to take the body from the cross, and to bury it; and by desire of the Jewish council, he ordered the sepulchre to be secured by a guard of Roman soldiers, “ lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead (h).” .
On the third day after his crucifixion and burial, early in the morning, Jesus arose, and shewed himself alive, “ by many infaliible proofs,” to his Apostles, and to many others to whom he had been known during his ministry. He spake of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and gave his Apostles this express command to propagate his religion ; “Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (i)." He renewed to them the promise of the Holy Ghost, and directed them to remain at Jerusalem, till they were “ endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and
(h) Matt.c. 27. v. 64.
he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven (k)." "
The Apostles returned to Jerusalem, and being there assembled with other disciples to the number of about one hundred and twenty, Peter proposed that some person should be chosen an Apostle in the room of Judas Iscariot, who had hanged himself when he saw Jesus condemned to death : “ And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of the ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles. (1).”
At the feast of Pentecost, ten days after the ascension of our Saviour, and fifty after his resurrection from the dead, the Holy Ghost descended visibly upon the Apostles: “ There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire,
and (k) Luke, c. 24. V. 49, &c. (1) Acts, c. 1. V. 23, &c.
and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (m)." There were at this time at Jerusalem Jews by birth, and proselytes to the Jewish religion, “out of every nation under heaven," who had come thither for the purpose of celebrating the feast of Pentecost; and when they heard the Apostles, whom they knew to be Galilæans of low condition, speaking, in the languages of their respective countries, the wonderful works of God, “they were all amazed, and marvelled," and were utterly unable to account for so sudden and extraordinary a power. Peter, taking advantage of the impression made upon the minds of these men, explained to them, that the gift, which had excited their surprise, had been predicted by the prophet Joel; he then declared Jesus, whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem had caused to be crucified, to be a Teacher sent from God; and in proof of his divine mission he appealed to the miracles which he had performed, and to his resurrection from the dead; he asserted that Jesus was now exalted at the right hand of God, and had sent the Holy Ghost according to his promise, the effects of which they had just witnessed; and he concluded
with this solemn declaration, “ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (n).” The effect of this discourse, and of other exhortations, which the apostles delivered, was, that three thousand persons immediately professed their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, and were baptized in his name. “Many wonders and signs were done by the apostles (0)," and the number of believers was daily increased. They lived together in the most perfect harniony: those who had possessions sold them, and brought the money to the Apostles; they had all things in common, and there “ was not any among them that lacked (p).” But the disciples soon after became so numerous, that the Apostles were unable to attend to the concerns of the poor; and therefore, by their advice, seven persons were selected whom they appointed “over this business," and who, from their office of “ daily ministration,” were called deacons (9). The Apostles then confined themselves to preaching and the performance of miracles.
The members of the Sanhedrim, and other chief persons among the Jews, alarmed by the
success : (n) Acts, c.2. V. 36. (0) Acts, c. 2. v.43. (p)'Acts, c.4. V. 34 (9) From dianovew, ministro, VOL. I.