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which He had assumed into union with His Godhead, (for His Godhead being omnipresent could not change its place of residence) He went up take possession of the glory which He had merited for Himself and all His followers by His obedience unto death. 3;'
Two modes of expression are used in the Scriptures when they describe this event. Sometimes our Lord is said to have ascended, and sometimes to have been taken up, in consequence of which the antients called it both the ascension and the assumption. The former of these terms denotes that it was by His own right and power that Christ ascended; and the latter that it was a judicial act of God the great Lawgiver, assigning to Christ as Mediator the reward of His work.
The place chosen for the scene of our Lord's ascent was mount Olivet. To the garden which lay at the foot of this mountain He had “ ofttimes resorted, 'both alone and with His disciples, for the purposes of secret prayer and religious conversation." In this place “ He had enjoyed many delightful seasons of fellowship with God. Every spot perhaps of that distinguished ground had been consecrated by the footsteps of a meditating, and the knees of an adoring Saviour. Here also His dying sorrows began. Well might a good man say, “ All places are happy, or miserable, in propor~ tion as God vouchsafes or denies His gracious
presence therein." In Gethsemane, where Jesus had so often experienced the ravishing consolations of His heavenly Father's countenance ; in this very
Gethsemane did the same blessed Jesus experience the first outpourings of His Almighty Father's wrath. Here it was that His righteous soul became “ exceeding sorrowful even unto VOL. II.
« death.” Here it was that the spotless victim began to feel the dreadful weight of imputed guilt, and the terrors of avenging justice ;-when His inward agony forced His very blood from its veins, which made its way even through His threefold vesture and fell clotted to the ground ;-when Himself lay prostrate on the ground with His garments literally rolled in blood."* From a higher part of this same mountain our Lord ascended. And there seems to have been a peculiar design in the choice of the place. Let the believer remember to set future glory against present sufferings. Let him, in imitation of his Lord, “for the joy that is set before him, endure “ the cross, despising the shame." Let him “ reckon that the sufferings of the present time “ are not worthy to be compared with the glory " that shall be revealed in him.”
The place to which our Lord ascended was the highest heaven, the peculiar residence of Jehovah. He“ was made higher than the heavens." “ ascended up far above all heavens.” The believer will join issue with the Divine appointment, and acknowledge that no elevation could be too great a reward for Him who “ made His “ soul an offering for sin.” The glory which He received was no more than an equivalent for the work He had performed. The glory which He had given to God, and the salvation which He had procured for men, entitled Him to the highest exaltation from God, and to the highest love, gratitude, and adoration from man. As there was nothing relative to the person
and work of the Messiah, which was not anticipated by types and prophecies under the preceding
* See two Sermons, intitled “Jesus seen of Angels."
dispensation, and nothing so prefigured or predicted which was not accomplished in Him; we may rationally expect to find that an event so glorious to Him, and so important to His church, was the subject of frequent notice in the Old Testament, And the expectation is just. For the exaltation of Joseph from a dungeon to the government of Egypt; the exaltation of David, after a long series of sufferings, to the throne of Israel; the removal of the ark to mount Zion; and the annual entrance of the high priest into the holy of holies—these were all typical representations of our Lord's ascension. Prophecies also of this glorious event are not rare. The an-, tient church sang of it while they carried the ark of God to mount Zion in this triumphal strain;" « Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led çap
tivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God
might dwell among them.” (Ps. lxviii. 18. Comp. Eph. iv. 8.): On the same occasion and with a similar reference to Christ, the 47th Psalm seems to have been composed. Therein the church exultingly proclaims that "God is gone “up with a shout, even the Lord with the sound “ of a trumpet :" and adds “ Sing praises to “God, sing praises; sing praises unto our king,
sing praises: for God is the king of all the “ earth; sing ye praises with understanding." The 24th Psalm speaks still more copiously and distinctly on the subject. Therein we contemplate “ the Lord of glory, after His resurrection from the dead, making His entry into the eternal temple in heaven, as of old by the symbol of His presence He took possession of that figurative and temporary structure which once stood upon the hill of Sion. We are to conceive Him
gradually rising from mount Olivet into the air, taking the clouds for His chariot, and ascending up on high; while some of the angels, like the Levites in procession, attendant on the triumphant Messiah in the day of His power, demand that those everlasting gates and doors, hitherto shut and barred against the race of Adam, should be thrown open for His admission into the realms of bliss. “Lift up your heads, Oye gates, and be ye lift
up, ye everlasting doors, and the king “ of glory shall come in." On hearing this voice of jubilee and exultation from the earth, the abode of misery and sorrow, the rest of the angels, astonished at the thought of a MAN claiming a right of entrance into their happy regions, ask from within, like the Levites in the temple, “Who “ is this king of glory?" To which the attendant angels answer, in a strain of joy and triumph, (and let the church of the redeemed answer with them). The LORD strong and mighty, the Lord
mighty in battle”--the LORD JESUS, victorious over sin, death and hell. Therefore we say, and with holy transport we repeat it, “ Lift up your “ heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye ever“Jasting doors, and the king of glory shall come
And if any ask, “Who is the king of “ glory?". To heaven and earth we proclaim alouds The LORD of Hosts,” all-conquering MESSIAH, head over every creature, the leader of the armies of Jehovah, “He is the king of “ glory." Even so, Glory be to thee, O Lord most high! Amen. Hallelujah."'*
We believe this important article of our creed on the evidence afforded in the word of God.
* Dr. Horne on the 24th Psalm. In addition to these prophecies, the reader may consult Ezek. xliv. 2, 3. Dan, vii. 13, 14, Mic, ii, 13,
Therein we have the testimony of angels and of holy men, who could not be deceived them, selves as the fact which they attest was evident to their outward senses ; nor could they be deceivers of others, as they had no motive to im. pose on mankind. (Acts i. 9, 11.). All that immense mass of evidence, both internal and external, by which the Bible is proved to be the word of God, demonstrates also the reality of this comfortable truth, that our Lord hath “as“ cended into heaven."
In this article of our creed we comprehend not merely the fact and its attendant circumstances, but also various considerations which are inseparably connected with it. A mere assent to the naked fact, without a reference to other circumstances, can afford no comfort to the conscious mind, nor can it be
foundation for confidence toward God in the use of the subsequent prayer.
But when we profess to believe that God's
only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ • ascended into the heavens,” we are supposed to exercise faith in Him as the atoning sacrifice and the justifying righteousness of His people. We profess to believe that He hath “ finished «s the work which was given Him to do” on earth, by satisfying Divine justice on our behalf and giving everlasting honour to the holy law of God. For His assumption to His mediatorial throne was a part of that visible testimony which was given to Christ that His vicarious engagements were fulfilled, and consequently a material part of that foundation on which our peace of conscience and hope of salvation are built. His ascension was a part of the stipulated reward annexed to His sufferings and death,