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SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION-DAY,
O Gtd, the King of glory, who hast exalted tkiae or.i# Son Jesus Christ with great triumph in:J iky kingdom in heaven; ice beseech thee leave us xtK com/artless, but send to us thine Holy Ghost to cxvnjvrt us, and exalt us unto the same place tchither our Saviour Christ is gone before; who liveth ami rtigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one G*td, ttortd without end. Amen.
THE tender concern which our blessed Lord manifested for His dear disciples previous to His ascension into heaven, displays the ardor of that love with which He loved them. When He apprized them that He was speedily to be removed from them. He entered into their dis^tressinsr feelings on the occasion with most anxious sympathy, and provided for their support and consolation by the most affectionate and comprehensive promises. "I will not," says He, "leave you comfortless; I will come ** unto you."
If it should be asked in what manner this promise is to he understood, since our Lord's personal presence was to be withdrawn from His church till " the time of the restitution of "all things," an answer to the inquiry may be given in His own words: "I will pray the •' Father, and He shall give you another Com-, "Ibrter that He may abide with you for ever; »• even the Spirit of truth, whom the world ~>cam)Ot receive, -because it seeth Him not,
"neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him, *' for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you. *' I will not leave you comfortless, I will come "unto ' you." The change of persons here observable is to be explained by the union which subsists between the persons of the Godhead, in consequence of which the acts of each are attributed to the other.
« It may further be inquired whether this promise was confined to the twelve Apostles in. their personal capacity, or whether it is to be extended to all the members of the -Christian, church unto the end of time. Here again our Lord's own words will supply a solution of the difficulty. For He says, " Lo; I am with you "always, even to the end of the world;": which milst undeniably relate to the Apostles in their official capacity as representatives of the universal church which was to be built on them as its foundation, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. For the Apostles personally considered, when they had served*'their generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and ceased to need the promised consolation; but there are disciples of our Lord who still sojourn in the wilderness, and therefore still need Divine support and help. It is certain that our church understands -the promise in this extensive sense, for thereon our collect for this day is founded.
Our present Collect consists of a preface and, a prayer. The preface recites that act of Divine mercy which has been commemorated in the church during the preceding week, the assumption of our Lord Jesus Christ to the kingdom ill heaven—And the prayer implores the Communication of the Holy Ghost, in the character of Comforter, as the promised result of that assumption.
God is addressed in the introduction of our collect as " the King of Glory;" a title which is justly due to Him in whatever view He is contemplated. But in that view which we are now called to take of Him, it seems peculiarly appropriate. For however brightly His glory shines in creation and providence, it shines with a clearer lustre in redemption. In the face of Jesus Christ, who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, both angels and men discern a glory that excelleth. And it is not only the general aspect of the scheme of grace which is radiant and reflects glory on the Divine attributes, but every specific act of mercy which the gospel discloses diffuses its own beams, and adds to the general blaze which issues from the crown of " the "King of Glory." And among these none is more splendid than that instance which we now commemorate. For which of the Divine perfections is not illustrated by the assumption of the Mediator Jesus to the mediatorial kingdom, as the head of His mystical body the church? All irradiation is primarily from the sun. All honour descends from the throne. And all glory, whether that with which the Son of God as Mediator is invested, or that which is prepared for His redeemed, flows from God as the Sovereign King in Zion.
The act which is ascribed in our collect to Divine mercy, is the exaltation of the Messiah to the throne prepared for Him in heaven. We have already remarked, that both the resurrection and ascension of Christ are spoken of in Scripture after different manners, being sometimes attributed to the Father, and sometimes; to the Son Himself. Both views, as we have shewn, are strictly just. In our collect the exaltation of our Lord is ascribed to God the Father, who in the covenant of grace had stipulated to bestow this reward on the Mediator of that covenant for His obedience unto death. "Christ Je«' sus, being in the form of God, thought it not "robbery to be equal with God: but made Him"self of no reputation, and took upon Him the "form of a servant, and was made in the likeness "of men: and being found in fashion as a man, "He humbled Himself, and became obedient "unto death, even the death of the cross. WHERE"FORE God also hath highly exalted Him, and "given Him a name which is above every name: *.' that at the name of Jesus every knee should "bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, "and things under the earth; and that every "tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to "the glory of God the Father." (Phil. ii. 6—11.) The manner in which Christ was exalted to the kingdom in heaven is noted in our collect. It was worthy of God who exalted Him, and of Christ who was exalted. This ascension was a most triumphant scene. "All heaven was in concert above; and all the peopled air was harmony, as He ascended through. Some, of the Cherubic host were dispatched as heralds, making proclamation as they flew, "Lift up your heads, "O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting "doors, that the King of Glory may come in."~< "Who is this King of Glory?" chaunted others »f the ecstatic legions. "The Lord," Jehovah n human nature, '' strong and mighty" to sav; "the Lord mighty in battle," the conquerorof sin and death and hell, returning triumphant fj>m His successful warfare: "the Lord of Hois," Creator of us "angels and the Ransomer o'the
"nations of them that are saved;" "He is the "King of Glory."—" Who shall ascend into the "hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in His "holy place?" "He," of whom alone it could be said, that He had "clean hands and a pure "heart:" In His nature totally sinless; and in His life, the perfect fulfiller of all righteousness. —Thus did "God go up with a shout, and the "Lord with the sound of a trumpet." Attending spirits sang, "Rise up, Lord, and let thine ene"mies be scattered;" whilst the gazing disciples responsive from below, cried out, "Return, O "Lord," now in the power of thy Spirit, and hereafter in the brightness of thy personal coming, "to the many thousands of Israel!" Might it not be said concerning those highlv favoured persons, who were witnesses of His ascension, "They have seen thy goings, O God, even the "goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary: "the singers went before, the plavers on instru"mehts followed after?" All the joy of the blessed was in full exercise, all the melody of heaven was at its height, when Jesus was ushered to His throne; and "when, as a lamb newly "slain," and as a God totally and finally victorious, He "entered into the holy place for us." No such occasion of triumph as this had ever occurred before. At the creation indeed, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. At the nativity "a mul'' titude of the heavenly host praised God and 'said, Glory to God in the highest, and on 'earth peace, good will towards men." When tbir God lay prostrate in the garden, hung on th cross, and was deposited in the grave, we my almost suppose their songs of joy to have e«i turned into lamentation and mourning and