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with him. "For he rs entered within the vail, that "is, into tl>e most holy place, even into heaven "itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us." And this brings me,

II. To point out some of the important ends and purposes for which Christ ascended into heaven.

i. He ascended, that he might receive the reward which was promised by the Father, for having undertaken and accomplished the work of our redemption. While he was on earth, he was obscure and unknown. Instead of giving him the honour due to his character and dignity, the princes and people of this world joined to affront and blaspheme him. He was reproached and buffeted, he was cruelly scourged, and at last put to a shamesul death. But, the Son of God was not to be always the object of insult and derision to sinsul men. There were honours in reserve for him, which were promised of the Father, and such as became his native persections, and acquired merit. These, we sind, he claims as a matter of agreement between him and the Father. "I have glorisied thee on the earth 5 I have sinished "the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, "O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with "the glory which I had with thee before the world "was (a)." He ascended then to receive this glory, as the due reward of his labours and sufferings. This is the express language of the apostle to the Philippians: " Because he humbled himself, and became "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, "wherefore God alsohathhighlyexalted him (&)." But who can conceive, much less represent to you, that glory and dignity to which he is now advanced? It is insinitely superior to what eye hath seen, or ear heard: " For he hath a name given him above every "name; that, at the name of Jesus, every knee should "bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, "and things under the earth; and that every tongue

"should

(a} John xvii. 4, j. (ii Philip• it. 8, 9.

"should consess that he is Lord, to the glory of God "the Father." And in another place we sind all the creatures joining together to exalt his name; saying with a loud voice, " Worthy is the Lamb "that was stain: Blessing, and honour, and glory, "and power, be unto him that sitteth up'on the "throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever («)•"

2. He ascended, that he might send down the Holy Spirit, in his miraculous gifts, and sanctifying influences, on his church and people. This promise he himself gave to his disciples before his crucisixion. "Nevertheless, it is expedient for you that I go "away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will "not come unto you: but, if I depart, I will send "him unto you (/>)." Accordingly, soon aster his ascension, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out in an extraordinary manner upon the apostles; whereby their minds were sully enlightened, and whereby they were surnished with all those gifts and graces which were necessary to qualify them for preaching the gospel to the world, and spreading it with credit and success. This was a gracious and important end of our Saviour's ascension. How inestimably precious were those gifts and graces of the Spirit, those noble donations, which he distributed on the day of his triumph? With what gratitude ought we to bless him, both for those distinguishing evidences of our religion at sirst, and for the continuance of those sacred influences of grace, by which our fouls are quickened and renewed; by which they are sanctisied and adorned; by which they are strengthened and comforted? ** Thou hast ascended "on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou;'hast "received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, "that the Lord God might dwell among them. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us witfitbe"nesits, even the God of our salvation." J

3. He ascended, that he might make intercession for his people, appear in the presence of God for

thfpi*

sa ) *cr. v. I J, 13. (b) John St!. 7.'

them, and be their Advocate with the Father. Having, by his death and susserings, purchased their delsverance from the guilt of sin, and by his doctrine and usesul life, pointed out the way of recovery-from the power of it; he did not then leave his work imperfect, nor abandon his gracious design: but, having risen from the dead, he ascended into heaven to plead their cause, to represent their wants, to offer up their requests to the Father, and to obtain for them all necessary blessings. "For Christ," fays the apostle, "is not entered into the holy places made with hands, "which^are the sigures of the true; but into heaven '** itself, there to appear in the presence of God for

us (k)." And O, my brethren, what obligations do we ly under to the blessed Saviour,for this end and purpose of his ascension? How comfortable is it, under all our sinsul failings and lamented weaknesses, that we have an Advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the Righteous? What confolation is it under trials and temptations, that we have such a mercisul and faithsul High-priest, who has knowledge of our insirmities, and is able to succour them that are tempted? How encouraging is it to our prayers, that we have such a Friend in heaven, such a powersul and kind Mediator at the throne of grace? And how animating to the faithsul servant of Christ, when called to combat with his spiritual enemies, that his Lord is pleading for him in heaven, and ever lives to make intercession for him?

4. He ascended, that he might take possession of heaven in the name of his followers, and prepare for them a place of eternal happiness. Christ, our elder brother, is gone before, to take possession of the heavenly inheritance. Hence he is represented in scripture as our forerunner. "Whither," that is, into heaven, " the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, "made an High-priest for ever, aster the order os' "Melchifedec." The lise of the Christian is by faith, and not by sight; and therefore, it was not meet that

Christ

si J Heb. in. a*.

Christ should continue to be the visible Captain oF our salvation on earth; but we have reason to rejoice in the words of consolation which he administered to his disciples, when they were afflicted with the prospect of his departure, " In my Father's house," "are many mansions; if it were not so, I would "have told you: I go to prepare a place for you "(a)." How insinitely, then, are we indebted to Jesus Christ! 'What endearing obligations ly upon us to love and honour him, who not only purchased heaven for us by his death, but who has gone before to prepare it for our reception!

Lastly. He ascended, that he might secure to his followers their admission into heaven aster him. Ire the mean time, having all power in heaven and in earth committed to him, he reigns above as the guardian of their title to an incorruptible inheritance. And he has graciously promised, that he will come again and receive them to the sull possession.of it. "And if I go away," says he, " and prepare a place "for you, I will come again, and receive you to my"self, that where I am, there you may be also (h).n Hence, the Christian's suture ascension into heaven, 'is as certain as that of his Lord and Master. He will come again at the end of the world, and raise their •bodies from the grave: and/having sashioned them. like to his own glorious body, he will translate them in a triumphant manner into heaven; and there they •shall be ever. with the Lord.

It now remains that I direct your attention to some suitable improvement of this subject.

i. If Christ our Lord and Saviour be ascended into heaven,. it becomes us to follow him frequently thither with our .thoughts and meditations. Let our minds be directed to the contemplation of what he is in himself, of what he has done and suffered for Usj and of what he is still doing, now that he is passed into the heavens, and sar exalted abo,ve every name. J D Let

{aj |il--» iiv. t. (i) J«hn Mt• 3.

Let us particularly meditate on that glory and happiness to which he is now advanced as the reward of his sufferings. He who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, is now made «1ad at his Father's right hand, in the sull possession of eternal joy: He that was despised and insulted by inen, is now adored and worshipped by angels: He whose head was pierced with a crown of thorns, is Jiow adorned with a crown of glory: He who was exposed to the ridicule of his enemies on the cross, sits enthroned in the highest majesty, and all his enemies shall be made his footstool. Let us frequently indulge in such meditations as those. And surely, none can be more worthy of our serious attention, or more agreeable to the mind of a Christian.

2. Let the consideration of our Lord's ascension engage us to adore and worship him. This effect we £nd it produced on the disciples, in the verse following the text. When they saw him ascending, they worshipped him. Religious worship and adoration is due to him both from angels and men. Thus, the npostle to the Hebrews; * When he," that is, the Father, " bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, V he faith, Let all the angels of God worship him (a)." And, if those glorious and exalted spirits who surround the throne of God, and minister continually in Jiis presence, prostrate themselves before the Lamb, «ud pay their homage to him; much more ought *we, who are creatures of a lower rank, and who ly under insinitely greater obligations to him. Let us then entertain the most exalted thoughts of our ascended Saviour; let us worship him with the highest acts of homage; and, while we view him by saith ascended into heaven, let us lift up our fouls to him in the Biost servent devotion.

We have much reason to rejoice in the thoughts ef our Lord's ascension into heaven, and exaltation at the right hand of God. This effect we sind his Ascension yifo to have produced on the minds of his

disciples*

Heb. i. 6.

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