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The evidences of his resurrection, we mentioned and illustrated in the former discourse.

From the 44th verse, we have our Saviour's discourse to his disciples, before his ascension; in which, he explains to them, from the prophecies of the Old Testament, the necessity of his own death and resurrection. Like an assectionate parent, who is to leave his children on the world, he gives them suitable instructions concerning the design of their mission, andthe doctrine they were to publish; and comforts them with the promise of the Spirit, to supply the wants of his bodily presence, to qualify them for their important work, and.enable them to deliver their mesfage with credit and success. In this manner, as this .evangekst expresses it, " lie showed him"self alive to them aster his passion, by many in"fallible prooss j being seen of them forty days, and "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom "of God (a)."

One great object of our Saviour's mission was, to wean the affections of men from the things of this world, and to six their attention onithe happiness of a suture and eternal state, which he died to j.- .ure. Our Saviour, during his whole ministry, in, proportion as'the prejudices of his disciples could bear it, was instructing them in the spiritual nature of his kingdom. But the period was now arrived, in which their minds would receive the most complete conviction of this important fact. His submission to death, his resurrection from the grave, and his a?scension into heaven, were a combination of circumstances, plainly calculated to show them, that his kingdom was not of this world; and that, whither he was going, there, in due time, they would be alfo. To this evidence, during the fortv days he continued on earth, he added particular instructions concerning the things that pertain to the kingdom of God. And when the time of his being glorisied was at hand, "he led them out as far as to "Bethany, and he lift up his hands and blessed C 3 J* them..

(*) Acts i. 3.

"them. And it came to pass, while he blessed "them, he was parted from them, and carried up "into heaven."

In discoursing from these words, we propose, First, To illustrate the circumstances of our Lord's ascension, mentioned in the text. Secondiy, We shall point out to you some of the ends ?.?id purposes for which he ascended. And, Lastly, Direct you to a suitable improvement.

I. We propose to illustrate the circumstances of our Lord's ascension, mentioned in the text. And,

i. We may attend to the place whence he ascended. It was from the neighbourhood of Bethany; I say, from the neighbourhood of Bethany, because it appears, that the particular place whence he ascended, was the samous Mount Olivet, on. the skirt of which the village of Bethany stood. Thus we read in the Acts of the Apostles (a), that immediately after his ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath-day's journey. This. was the place whither our Saviour was accustomed to retire for meditation and prayer. In such situations, there is a solitude which ministers to devotion, and helps to elevate the mind to the contemplation of divine things. And probably, in this Mount Olivet, there was a convenient place for retirement from the world, where our Saviour had spent many delightsul hours m communion with his Father. There, also, or near to it, probably at the foot of it, was the garden of Gethsemane, a place which he often frequented; where, a little before, he began his paflion with an agony; where he was apprehended, and from whence he was led away to Jerusalem to be crucisied. And, perhaps, he was pleased to honour this place.with his ascension from it, to give his disciples a sensible demonstration of this great truth, that sufferings here, lead die way to glory hereafter; or, as the

apostle

(*) Actsi. xa.

apostle expresses it, that "through much tribulation "we enter into the kingdom of God."

2. To the witnesses of his ascension. His eleven apostles, and probably, also, his other disciples about Jerusalem, to the number of one hundred and twenty, were witnesses of this sact. Thus, we are told, (a) that when they were assembled together, and Christ among them, aster his resurrection, and when he had given them in charge what he would have them to do, as they beheld, he was taken up; and in verse ioth it is said, they looked stedsastly toward heaven, as he went up. Hence he ascended in the view of his disciples, and while their eyes were attentively sixed on him. And this is as sull and convincing a proof of the reality of our Lord's ascension

-as we. could reasonably desire. The same- persons who were witnesses of his resurrection, were also witnesses of his ascension: And their testimony is deserving of the highest credit, from the circumstances mentioned in the former discourse, which, it were improper here to repeat *.

3. We may attend to the work in which he was employed when he ascended :—It was in blessing his disciples. He lift up hands, and blessed them; and it came to pass, that while he blessed them, he was pa;ted from them.

The listing up of the hands was a ceremony used among the Jews in blessing the people. We are informed in one of the books of Moses {b), that Aaron, the high priest, lift up his hand towards the people, and blessed them. In like manner our Saviour, being now to leave this-world, lifted up his hands in a solemn and devout manner, and blessed his disciples. This was the last action he performed on earth; an action prompted by love to them, and such as became him, who is the Prince ps peace, and whose design in coming into the world was to seek and to save them that were lost. When his auspicious birth was proclaimed

(a) Acts i. 9. * See Sermon on the Resurrection, p. 6,—9ft J Let. ix. 4 a.

claimed to the shepherds, it was attended with praise to God, and with peace and good-will to men. His •whole lise was employed in acts of benevolence and love. When he died, he breathed out his foul ia forgiveness to hig enemies. And now, aster his resurrection from the dead, when he was just leaving the world, he^ ascended to heaven with a blessing in his mouth; for it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. The words which he employed on this occasion, are not recorded by the Evangelist; but they were doubtless very powersul and affecting, attended with that divine energy which would give the disciples a sense and seeling os the blessedness he pronounced on them. And, O what warm emotions of love and gratitude would then spring up in their hearts! With what exceeding delight and rapture would they be silled! When the two disciples reflected on the conversation they had with Christ going to .Em'maus, they cried out, Did not ous hearts- bura within us, while he.talked to us by the way, and opened to us the scriptures? Much more would the hearts of his disciples glow with holy affection, and exult with joy, while their Lord was pronouncing his parting blessing. Accordingly we sind, in the verse following the text, "that they worshipped "him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."

A. We may attend to the manner of his ascension —he was carried up. To the same purpose, we are informed, in the Acts of the Apostles, that while his disciples beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight (a). Not that our Saviour was merely passive, or stood in need of any assistance to accomplish his ascension; for nothing is more evident, than that he ascended, as he rose from the dead, by his own power. But the expression is probably designed to intimate, that though our Lord's ascension was his own voluntary act, yet,- for the greater solemnity, he was attended by angels as he

went

(a) Acts I 9.

went up into heaven. This, indeed, is hinted at in the two following verses of the same chapter: "And "while they looked stedsastly toward heaven, as he "went up, behold two men," that is, angels in the appearance of men, " stood by them in white ap"parel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why "stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, "which is taken from you into heaven, shall so "come, in like manner as ye have seen him go into "heaven." Hence the manner of his ascension was honourable and glorious. He returned to heaven as a triumphant conqueror, having obtained the most signal victoay over all his own enemies, and those of his people. He made the cloud his chariot, and angels attended, to grace the triumph, and celebrate the Conqueror. And, O with what transports of joy* and songs of gladness, would they attend him in his glorious passage!" God is gone up with a shout; "the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing "praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our "King, sing praises (c)." And when he was arrived at his Father's court above, how would the whole city of God be moved at his coming? and with what joysul acclamations would he be welcomed home, again to take possession os the glory which he had with the Father before the World was?

Lastly, 'We may attend to the place whither he ascended;—He was carried up to heaven. The apostles saw him ascend gradually from the earth, till a cloud received him out of their sight and two angels came and told them he was gone into heaven. He is elsewhere said to have ascended up sar above al} heavens (d); meaning, I suppose, that part of the heavens,. which is at present visibleto the inhabitants of this earth. Hence, the place whither our Lord ascended, was to the third heavens, the throne of God, and mansions of the blessed; to that place where he is now sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and where all his redeemed shall be for eves

with

se ) Psal. xlvii. J. (d) Eph. iv. 19.

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