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the divine in nuence of the holy spirit, which he bath shed on iis abundantly, and sent to abide with us for ever, that he might not leave us comfortless. Let not your heart be troubled therefore, neither let it be afraid. For greater is lie that is with us than he that is in the world; and, if ye be strong and the spirit of Christ abideth in you, ye shall overcome the wicked one; "and to him that overcomcth,” says this King of Glory, * will I grant to sit with me in imy, thrond, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”. • But it was expedient, likewise, that he should ascend into heaven, there to present himself a sacrifice for a guilty world, and intercede with his Father for the pardon of the sinner. By his voluntary death on the cross, he had performed one part of the sacerdotal office, which was to offer unto. God the sacrifice for siv; and, by his ascension into heaven, there to appear in the presence of God for us, he completes the priestly character, the principal part of which was to present the blood of the sacrifice before the divine mercy-seat in the holy of holics. But Christ, being conie a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building, t neither by the blood of goats and calyes, but by his own blood, entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for usi As God had accepted the death of the Saviour for i the death of the sinner, and as the former was qualified by his meritorious passion to be an advocate with the Father for the latter, where could he soi effectually plead in his behalf as in the courts of the everlasting King? Where could the High Priest of ::. .: ; :: 7 g. 1"sin
's... " * " Thonus regis apud Orientales amplus et latus est, adeo ut præter sedem regi propriam alii quoque quos honore afficere cupit rex, in eodem ihrono sedes habere queant.” Dicu. 'p " Non hujus structuræ. Non secundum constitutum in natura ordinem, sed conceplum supernaturali modo.” Grotius, &c.
“ Alludit (apostolus) ad ritum V. T. quo Pontifex Adytum ingressus coram arca stabat orans pro populo. Ut autem solus Pontifex hoc præstitit, ita solus Christus pro nobis in cælo intercessosem agit.” J. Capell. .. , i to mi w .... .
our profession* so powerfully intercede with our offended Sorereign, for compassion to the criminal, as at the divine mercy-seat? : And, if it was necessary that the high priest, under the first covenant, should once every yeart alone enter with blood into the holy of holies, which lie offered for himself and for the errors of the people, how much more requisite was it that Christ, who offered himself a sacrifice for sin, once for all, should continually present himself to God, in the heavens, as a full, perfect, and sufficient, oblation? being called of God a' High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.
A third reason for the necessity of Christ's ascension was, that he might go, as he himself tells us, and prepare a place for us. I Man, by his disobedience to his maker, ha forfeited his title to happiness and his hopes of heaven: his Redeemer recovered his title to the former, and renewed his expectations of the latter. The voluntary sufferings of the Saviour were accepted for the deserved punishment of the sinner, and the wrath of God was appeased by the death of his own Son. But, that the sinner might receive satisfaction that he was again restored to favour, that the prodigal son might again return into the presence of his father, and that the doors of heaven were once more open to him, it was proper that he should have such proofs of this as admitted of no doubt or dispute. And what could have afforded him such full conviction as the ascension of Christ into heaven? Nay, without this, would he not have been left in a state of uncertainty and despondency? Could he reasonably have expected an inheritance in the heavens, had his Redeemer continued a wanderer on the earth? Could he ever have hoped for entrance into the heavenly Jerusalem,
• High Priest of our profession. “ Moses proprie fuit apostolus, sive legalus, . Aaron pontifex, utriusque partes implevit Christus, at, multo quam illi sublimius, - Nostræ addidit, q. d. non contessionis Judaicæ, non fwleris legalis et typici, scd evangelici.” J. Capell. .:t Once every year. “Nempe uno tantum die, die expiationis, decimo mensis Tisri.” Grotius, &c.
' “ Similitudo sumpta ab uno comitum, qui in itinere prægressus ad diversorium, ubi cæteris cubicula assignat, et efficit ut venientibus parata sint.” Grotius .',. M 2
had not he who undertook to conduct him thither gained admission himself? But now our forerunner Christ is gone into heaven,* and is on the right hand of God, the sincere believer has the strongest assurance that he shall follow him; and, since the great Captain of our salvation has taken possession of the dominions he had acquired by his victory on the cross, the Christian soldier may look forward to the recompense of reward, and with a well grounded expectation wait for a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
The expediency of the ascension of our Saviour, it is to be hoped, is sufficiently evident; let us therefore, in the next place, see the comfortable reflections to be drawn from it by the sinner.
The first, which presents itself to our minds, is, that we have a inost convincing ratification of the truth of that voice from heaven, Matt. ii. 17, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. P” The birth of Christ, of a virgin, bespoke him an extraordinary person, his resurrection from the dead declared him the Son of God with power, and his ascension into heaven fully confirmed it. But, had the Christian been left destitute of this last testimony of the divinity of his Saviour, all the preceding proofs and arguments afforded him might probably have had but a weak influence on his mind. For, though the divine and human natures were as perfectly united to each other, in his state of humiliation on earth, as they are in his state of exaltation and glory in heaven, yet, had the blessed Jesus after his resurrection taken up his residence here, his disciples might have looked upon him as an uncommon man, but would have had some difficulty to believe that he was God. And, if he had not ascended into heaven again, this might have created a diffidence in them whether he had come down from
*“ Hoc alterum fidei, et pacatx conscientiæ fulcrum." Gejerus.
+ This is, &c. “ Hic est filius ille, olim a me promissus, rex, sacerdos, et doctor, OceanTOS. Repetitur articulus magna emphasi, ille dilectus, unice scilicet, tanquam unigenitus. Repetuntur etiam Matt. xvii. 5, addito, audite eum, ubi obsignatur in magnum illum ecclesiæ prophetam, quem omnes audire tenentur, Deut. xviii. 15; ut hîc obsignatur in pontificem maximum ecclesiæ, jam scilicet in munus suum inaugurandum.” Lightfoot, &c.
heaven at all.* But now there is no room for dispute, even in the breast of the sceptic himself, when we preach not only Jesus and his resurrection, but his ascension likewise. And, if he cannot read Christ's divinity in that sermon of the angels on his resurrection, Matt. xxviii. 6, “ He is not here, for he is risen," yet he cannot remain an infidel any longer, when he is informed, by the same angels probably, t that this same Jesus is taken up into heaven; and, being ascended on high, he bath led captivity captive, having spoiled principalities and powers; and hath given gifts unto men, even the exceeding riches of his grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably.
A second reflection, to be drawn from the ascension of our Saviour, is, that we have a powerful advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. A reflection which affords comfort to the distressed, joy to the sorrowful, help to the weak, hope to the despondent, confidence to the sinner, and happiness to the saint. Are there any blessings we could wish for, or any mercies we can hope for, which the intercession of Christ cannot obtain for us? Will our heavenly Father be deaf to our prayers, when they are offered up in the name, and through the merits and mediation, of his only-begotten Son? With what boldness may we approach the throne of grace, when we sue for infinite mercy through infinite merit? But, had the sinner no other shelter from divine justice than his hopes of uncovenanted mercy; could he not plead the merits of a Saviour, as well as pray for forgiveness to the offender; God be merciful to me, a sinner, would be but a heartless and discouraging petition. Could he, with any degree of assurance, pray
* " Qui valet in cælum ascendere, non mirum descendisse; quum naturale sit, res ad locum originis suæ redire." Brugensis.
† Two men, Act. i. 10, i. e. “ Angeli specie virorum; vide Matt. xvi. 2.” Piscator, &c. and Luke, xxiv. 4.
" Orando et interpellando pro nobis, non supplicum more se prosternendo, sed desiderium salutis electorum eloquendo tum mente, tum verbis quæ ipsum non dedeceant, vel postulando jus in vita ante promeritum, sibique promissum, nempe gratiam et salutem.” Tirinus. The righteous. " Innocentem et sanctum, et quidem perfectissime, qui patri per omnia placet, ac reconciliatore pro se non eget; neque enim idoneus est advocatus qui ipse sit reuş." Estius, &c.
for blessings, when curses were his desert? Or hope for the bounties of heaven, when it is mercy to him that he escapes the miseries of hell? But what confidence does it inspire the suppliant with! how does it lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees !* if, with the cye of faith, we look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,+ who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God, making intercession for us. Do the sins of men cry out for vengeance? the blood of Christ, which speaketh better things than that of Abel,# calls aloud for mercy. Has the sound of your iniquity reached to heaven? behold your gracious Redeemer pleading in your behalf, and hear him utter this short but emphatical prayer for you, “ Father, forgive them," and then despair if you can.
Others are often insincere in their professions of friendship, or unable to perform what they engage for; but can we doubt the sincerity of him who laid down his life for us? Can we dispute his power to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by him, when we see him exalted far abore all principalities and powers, and advanced to the highest dignity in the heavens?
A third, and the last, reflection I shall at present observe to be drawn from the ascension of our blessed Lord, is the assurance we liave of the truth of that declaration of the angels to the apostles, Act. i, 11, that “ this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so
• “ Manuum similitudo sumpta a laborantibus, genuum a currentibus. Christiani vita et labrir est et cursus.”. Grotius.
† " Consummator dicitur fidei ; quia certamen hoc decurrentibus, postquam ad metam pervenerint, reddit constituta præmia, et æternam mercedem eis præstat.” Estius, &c. i.
: " Legendum facă zo Abia, nt subaudiatur auce, ex membro antitheto. Et sic legerunt Græci veteres et Syrus. Vide Gen. iv. 10, Heb. xi. 4.” Grotius, &c. “ Si legas tòr, referri possit ad gartospir, ut Abel sit casus genitivi. Sic vertas, quam illà aspersio Abelis, i, e. aspersio sanguinis in primo illo sacrificio Abelis, Gen. 'iv. 4. Et sensus erit, sacrificium Christi longe efficacius est, quam sacrilicium animalium Abelis, et proinde quàm omnia V. T. sacrificia. Sacrificium autem Abelis hic nominat; tanquam primum omnium in Scriptura memoratorum, quod etiam Deus testadin est sibi gratissimum esse, idque præ illo Caini.” Knatchbull, &e.