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open arms, rejoicing exceedingly to fee him again in heaven; and therefore he is said to be received up into glory, 1 Tim. üi. 16. . bo (6.) He ascended into heaven in a moft munificent manner, bestowing many royal gifts and blessings upon his people. Hence says the apostle, Eph. iv. 8. IV hen he ascended up on high, be led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. The apostle here refers to Pfal. Ixviii. 18. 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. There is here an allulion to the ancient cuftom of princes or generals, who, after some glori. ous achievements or victories, used to mount their triumphant chariot, and enter into their royal cities attended by their captive enemies, and afterwards to distribute gifts to their subjects and soldiers. Thus Christ at his glorious ascension, when he entered hea. ven with folenin triumph, beftowed many rich and in: estimable gifts upon men, to fit and qualify them for the work of the ministry, and to edify his myftical body. Some of these gifts were extraordinary, as the gifts of tongues and miracles, which were necessary and very useful in the first ages of Christianity. O. thers again were ordinary, and are to continue to the end of the world. And these are of various kinds. To fome he gives depths of learning and a profound judgement, to others a gaining elocution; to some a mighty pathos and melting influence upon the affections, and to others a forcible power of arguing. But they are all designed to gain souls to Chrift, and promote the interefts of his kingdom.
5. Why, or for what ends Christ ascended into heaven.
(1.) That he might be folemnly inaugurated and installed in giory. This was due unto him by mediatory compact. He was to drink of the brook in the way, and therefore should he lift up his head. This was the order that God appointed for his exaltation. The combat was to precede his triumph. He was first to suffer, and then to enter into glory. Hence we read, 1 Pet. i. 11. that the Spirit did testify beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that lould follow. His triumphant laurel grew upon the thorns of his cross, and received a verdure from his dying tears. The palms spread in his way at his entrance into Jerufalem a little before his death, are regarded by some as an emblem of this, it being the nature of that plant to grow and increase the higher, by the weights that are hung upon it. For so did our blefled Lord rise to a more glorious and triumphant height by his heavy pressures,
(2.) To make way for the Spirit. For if Christ had not gone away, the Comforter had not come. This plentiful effusion of the Spirit was very necessary to fit and qualify the apostles for propagating the gospel through the world. Such weak and illiterate men as they generally were, could not have managed so great a work without a mighty magazine of divine eloquence, and vigorous courage. It was therefore need. ful that our great High Priest should enter into the holy place, and appear before God with the blood of his facrifice ; that the treasures of the Spirit might be opened, and that the divine flame might issue out thence to inspire them with abilities for so great an undertaking. .
(3.) To plead and make interceflion for his people. After he had shed his precious blood on the earth for the expiation of their sin, he rose again from the dead, and went up into heaven as their Advocate and Interceffor ; that, by the virtue of his meritorious facrifice, he might answer all the charges brought against them, and fue out all the good things promised to them. . (4.) To prepare mansions of glory for all his followers, John xiv. 2. There were indeed prepared for them from all eternity, in the immutable purpose and decree. pf God, and from the foundation of the world by his
creative power. But they were further prepared by Christ's ascension. And this lies in the following par. ticulars. [1.] By this he fet open the gates of heaven, that poor sinners might enter in, He removed all the bars and obstructions that were in the way, and made a patent passage for them into glory. [2.] He hath as a public perfon taken possession of the celestial kingdom in their name. On this account he is called the forerunner, Heb. vi. 20. [3.] He prepares it for his people, in his fanctifying and purifying it for them. This was typified of old by the sprinkling the tabernacle and all the vessels of the sanctuary, with the blood of the facrifices. Hence it is said, Heb. ix. 23. 24. It was therefore neceffary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these ; but the heavenly things themselves with better facrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with bands, which are the figures of the true ; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. We are not to think that heaven was polluted, and so under any necessity of being made clean: but the cry of man's sin had ascended up on high as it were with a stinking favour ; and therefore Christ be. hoved to go up and perfume it with his precious merit. [4.] He prepares it for his people, in provi. ding and fitting all things for their entertainment against they come ; as Joseph was sent into Egypt to prepare for his father Jacob.
Lastly, The duty that this lays on all that pretend interest in Christ. (1.) Let our hearts be there where our Lord is. Hence is that exhortation, Col. iii. 1. 2. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ fitteth at the right hand of God. Set jeur affection on things abovę, nct on things on the earth. Let us not be pursuing earthly things as our treasure, but live in this world as those whose heads are homeward, to the house prepared by their ascended Lord. (2.) Let us thence be encouraged to encounter with magnanimity and courage all difficulties that we may
III. Thehe right ha right handt. iii. 22. is For God fittipis phrafe, Eph. 1: 20 figurati bodily pahand, it is to
meet with in our Chriftian course and warfare ; knowing that we shall be conquerors at last through him that loved us, Christ fought his way to the glory promised him through legions of armed hofts; and fo muft we, if we would be conformed to him as our head: he has reached to the crown as the reward of his obedience and sufferings; and fo shall we if we follow on in his strength: Let us, therefore, lay aside every weight, and the fin which doth to easily befet us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Heb. xii. 1.
III. The third step of our Lord's exaltation is his fitting at the right hand of God.
This phrase, the right hand of God, Heb. i. 3. Mark xvi. 19. Eph. i. 20. 1 Pet. iii. 22. is not to be taken properly, but in a figurative sense, For God being a pure fpirit, is void of all bodily parts. When it is said, that Christ fits at God's right hand, it is a borrowed expression, wherein the Lord is pleased to condescend to the weakness of our capacities, to the end we may form suitable thoughts of that glorious and exalted state unto which Christ is advanced in the heavens. The phrase is wholly mctaphorical, taken from the custom of kings and princes, who use to place those at their right hands, and next to them, selves, upon whom they would confer the chief marks of favour and honour, More particularly, the right hand denotes,
1. Majesty and honour. It is the place we confer upon those we highly esteem. Thus Solomon placed his mother at his right hand, when he was set on his royal throne, 2 Kings ii. 19. And it is said of the church, the spouse of Christ, to denote the honour that he puts upon her, that fee is at his right hand, Pfal. xlv. 9. Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. So God, in testimony of the great hanour and esteem that he puts upon Christ as Mediator, hath set him at his right hand, which on this account is called the right hand of the Majesty an high, Heb, i, za
2. His power. Hence faith the pfalmift, Pfal. Ixxvii. 10. I said, This is my infirmity : but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. There we find God's power under the metonymy of a right hand, opposed to the infirmity of his servant. 6 My infirm and weak faith,” faith Asaph, “ made me apt to sink under the weight of heaven's displeasure ; but when I called to mind my sweet experiences of the di. vine power which had been exerted for my deliverance in former distresses, this revived my fpirit, and refreshed me again."
Christ's sitting at the right hand of God, implies the following things.
1. A state of rest, Micah iv. 4. They fall fit every man under his vine and under his fig tree. Chrift had a troublesome life while in the world; but now that he has finished the work the Father gave him to do, he has for ever sat down as the right hand of God, Heb. X. 12. and is thereby fet beyond the reach of men and devils. While here they would give him no rest from his cradle to his grave; but now they may tear his picture, and persecute his members, but they cannot reach his person.
2. Continuance in that state ; 2 Kings vii. 3. Wby fit we here until we die ? said the four leprous men at the gate of Samaria. The days of sorrow that he met with on earth shall never recur; his crown shall Aourish on his head, and his kingdom ítand firm and be established.
Hiş sitting at God's right hand denotes,
1. The accomplishment of that work, and the confummation of all those offices which he was to perform on the earth for the redemption of elect figners. For till all this was finished, he was not to return to his glory. For he that hath entered into lis rest, bath ceased from his works, as God did from his, Heb. iv. 10,
2. The great delight and satisfaction that the Fa. ther had in Christ, and in that glorious work which he had finiflaed. When he returned from earth to