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strength and faithfulness : In returning, they were erected by recovering grace, into endless monuments of the certainty of that declaration (a declaration which holds as true of every individual believer, as it did of the elect apostles), Those whom thou hast given me, to save and redeem, I have kept : and [sòsis] not one of them is, or can, finally, be lost.--The sacred history informs us, that, prior to his ascension, Jesus conversed with his disciples, on the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. On the fortieth day from his resurrection, leading them to the Mount of Olives (it should seem to that particular part of the Mount which immediately overlooked the village of Bethany), he took his last farewel, on earth, of those who were to see him no more on this side glory.-A wise and tender parent, when about to travel into a far country, takes care to leave his remaining family in the charge of such hands as he can safely trust. Nor would the Shepherd of Israel ascend from his flock below, until he had revived them with the assurance of their soon receiving such a plenitude of the Holy Ghost, and of power from on high, as they had never yet experienced. Very lately, they had given dismal proof, in their own personal conduct, of the exceeding low ebb to which the exercise of inherent grace may be reduced, without the special presence and guidance of God the holy Spirit. Christ therefore promises them the future security of his effectual influence; Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence; and ye shall be witnesses to me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. And now the great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, is for passing into the heavens. Having glorified his Father on the earth, and finished the work of his people's salvation which had been given him to do; he prepares to be glorified himself, by
participating, in his human nature, as much as it can receive of that glory, which, as a divine person, he had with the Father before the world was. But not until, in quality of king and priest, he has more solemnly and authoritatively, blessed his apostles and disciples, in his Father's name and in his own. When Elijah was taken up into heaven by the ministry of seraphs (sublimely styled, a chariot and horses of fire), the ascending prophet dropped his mantle on the plaintive Elisha who was left below; with which precious legacy, Elisha smote the waters of Jordan, so that they parted hither and thither, and Elisha went over on dry ground. So the ascending Saviour, Elijah's illustrious antitype, entailed his blessing, and bequeathed his mantle to the children he left behind: the mantle of his righteousness, and the covering of his spirit; wherewith his saints are enabled to smite the waters of affliction, persecution, temptation, and death itself. All which shall cleave in twain, like a scroll that is rolled baek, and leave a way for the ransomed of the Lord to pass safely and comfortably over.
This was perhaps the tenor of the blessing wherewith Jesus the man of God, himself both God and man, blessed his mystic Israel, as he mounted to his throne: And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep, through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one. Father, I will that these, and they also who shall believe on me through their word, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory. I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me : for they are thine.
* 2 Kings ii.
And it came to pass, that while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven *: Giving it may be, as he soared, this parting benediction to his church collective, The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace, Numb. vi. 24. 26. Thus did he put his name upon the people of his love, and blessed them.
But where were the angels all this while ? were they unactive, on so distinguished an occasion ? Surely, no. He was seen of them, he was praised and waited on by them, when he ascended up on high and led captivity captive. All heaven was in concert above; and all the peopled air was harmony, as he ascended through. Some of the cherubic hosts were dispatched as heralds; making proclamatioh, 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 of the extatic legions ? -The Lord, Jehovah in human nature, strong and mighty to save; the Lord, mighty in battle, the conqueror of sin and death and hell, returning triumphant from his successful warfare; the Lord of hosts, creator of us angels, and the ransomer of the nations of them that are saved; he is the king of glory t. 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 f: 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 S : attending spirits sang, Rise up Lord, and let thine
+ Psalm xxiv. 7.10.
* Luke xxiv. 51. Acts i. 9.
enemies be scattered * ; while 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 highly 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 players on instruments followed after t; all the joy of the blessed was in full exercise, all the melody of heaven was at the height, when Jesus was ushered to his throne, and when, as a lamb newly slain, as a God totally victorious, he entered into the holy place for us.
Thus, at sundry times, and in divers manners, was Jesus seen of angels. They also see him now. At this very moment, they are beholding him in glory. Angels, who were never incarnated, view, with wonder, the exalted humanity of him that wept in the manger and hung upon the tree.
“ Princes to his imperial name
bend their bright sceptres down ; Dominions, thrones, and pow’rs rejoice
to see him wear the crown:
Arch-angels sound his lofty praise
thro' ev'ry heav'nly street,
submissive at his feet:
" Those soft, those blessed feet of his,
which once rude iron tore!
while all the saints adore 7."
* Numb. x. 35, 36.
+ Psalm 1xviii. 24, 25.
| Dr. Watts.
Angels shall see him, and augment the splendor of his appearance, when he shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire. He will, as himself expresses it, come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, Matth. xxv. 31. The voice of the archangel shall sound, and the trump of God.One branch of their business will be, to gather together the dust of his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of the heaven, Mark xiii. 27. By their ministry, perhaps the knot of indissoluble union, between the glorified soul and the risen body of each respective believer, may be tied. They perhaps will, when Christ gives the signal, set fire to the world, and regulate that conflagration which shall issue in the new heaven (i. e. a new body of air) and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness Whether angels will share in the glory of the millenniary state; or, whether that reign will be peculiar to Christ and his redeemed people only, is not I believe, clearly revealed. But this we can make no doubt of, that, when the millennium is over, and the second resurrection (the resurrection of the unjust) has taken place; when sentence shall be past, and the books closed; when the unrighteous are turned into hell, and the elect enter with Christ, into the final enjoyment of glory; angels and saints will for ever see, for ever admire, and love, worship and resemble him that sitteth on the throne.
But, must believers wait until death and glory give them a sight of Christ ? No. As he was on earth seen of angels; so, blessed be the riches of his grace, he is even on earth, sometimes seen of men: seen not literally, but with the eye of faith, and in the light of his holy Spirit. When our evidences are clear and bright, when he manifests himselft to the souls of his people, and gladdens them with sweet views of interest in his covenant favour,
* 2 Pet. iii. 17-10-12, 13. + John xiv. 21.