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lesson as a lesson from God: it may, perhaps, be the last serious impression which their sins, if unrepented of, and still unforsaken, will permit Him to afford : perhaps this night, this hour, their soul may be required, and then what would this world and all their pleasures and profits do for them at the last moment between time and eternity ? May we all awake from the death of sin, unto a life of righteousness; and “Christ, who is now risen from the dead, who is become the first fruits of them that sleep,” will still be our Saviour, mighty and willing to save; our God and Father, able and ready to forgive.
SERMON ON THE ASCENSION.
ST. JOHN, CHAPTER 14, VERSE 2. my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not $0, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
THERE is not a single circumstance in the short period of our Lord Jesus Christ's abode upon earth, which is not intended for our serious contemplation and affectionate remembrance. In the concluding portion thereof, we are made acquainted with the awful mystery of our redemption, through the sufficient sacrifice of the Son of God; 6 God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.”
After this we are brought to believe in the triumphant victory of our Lord over death and the grave, and His glorious and visible ascension into heaven. This last display of Almighty power, our church again more distinctly brings before us in the especial services of this portion of the year, and it will be a proper subject for our present and most serious consideration.
Before our Lord underwent His last and bitter sufferings, He knew that His disciples would be heavily bowed down under the sorrows of His leaving them, though it were to take possession of “the glory, which he had with the Father, before the world began.” He therefore comforted them with the assu. rance in the text, that He only went before them to the regions of unmixed happiness and glory.
But, though not honoured as the first disciples were, with the personal and visible presence of the Saviour of us all, and so not grieving as they had cause to grieve, under the temporary absence of such a master, yet we also require comfort, in the weakness of our faith and hope, from a Redeemer's love, under the sad imperfection of our best services.
There are doubts, and fears, and difficulties, which natural corruption and indwelling sinfulness, and our own superadded wickedness, raise in our minds respecting spiritual things; the present state, and the future destiny of our fallen, though still immortal souls. To meet these doubts and fears, and to answer these difficulties, we greatly need that help which, in the sound knowledge of God's covenanted mercy in Christ, our Saviour's gracious assurance can alone supply. The whole weight and enduring efficacy of the comfort We seek after herein, may be well and happily derived from that portion of our blessed Saviour's discourses with his disciples, from which the words of the text are taken. Let us then dwell in thought upon them, and let us each raise up a silent, secret prayer to Him, who sees and governs the innermost thoughts of the heart, while we consider those grounds of comfort and support, which the words of the text seem so readily to afford.
These words may be considered under two divisions : First, “In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you.” Secondly, “ I go to prepare a place for you."
When our blessed Saviour so expressly says, that in His Father's house are many mansions, He clearly teaches two things : First, that there is a future reward for the children of God; Secondly, that there are many rewards for many candidates.
With respect to the assurance given in Holy Scripture of a future life and its eternal blessedness, it is matter of deepest gratitude that it is there so frequently, and so plainly made known to us. No divine truth is more clearly stated, and more awfully enforced upon us all than this; that “though, after our skin worms destroy this body, yet in our flesh shall we see God." And well is it for us that a truth so momentous, so far beyond the power of unassisted human reason to find out, should have been
so repeatedly and plainly made known to us by God himself. There is, in the thought of dying, and much more in the thought of being again no more for ever, something so fearfully appalling in natural terror and apprehension, that we need all the comforts which religious truth alone can give, to enable us to bear up under them. So strong are these natural fears, that they were, perhaps, the best argument which ancient heathens, however learned and wise in other things, could have met with in the exercise of human wisdom, to teach them that man would not die for ever. To the mere natural man, to die is an overwhelming thought: to the Christian believing, it is an awful thought: but in the holy and conscientious exercise of a living faith, in the promises and future blessedness of a purchased salvation in Christ Jesus, it more and more ceases in its natural terrors, and issues finally in a joyful and glorious hope, which, in the Redeemer's power, deprives “ death of its sting, and the grave of its victory.”
With respect to the number of those who shall inhabit these " many mansions,” nothing is said in Scripture which can lead the insincere believer, (him who believes with the understanding only, and neglects to use his knowledge aright,) into dangerous presump