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given it by Christ. Extraordinary and temporary, as prophets, apostles, evangelists; ordinary and standing, as pastors and teachers, which remain to this day. Eph. 4:11. And those stars are fixed in the church-heaven by a most firm establishment. 1 Cor. 12 : 28. Thou. sands now in heaven, and thousands on earth also, are blessing Christ at this day for these his ascension gifts.
4. Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended with a blessing on his lips : whilst he was blessing his people, he was parted from them. Luke, 24:50, 51. Therein making good to them what is said by him, "Having loved his own, he loved them unto the end." John, 13:1. There was a great deal of love manifested by Christ in this last act on earth. The last sight they had of him in this world was a most sweet and encouraging one. They heard nothing from his lips but love, they saw nothing in his face but love, till he mounted his triumphant chariot, and was taken out of their sight. Surely these blessings at parting were sweet and rich. They were the mercies which his blood had so lately purchased for them. And they were not only intended for them who had the happiness to be with him when he ascended; but they reach us as well as them; and will reach the last saint that shall be upon the earth till he come again. They who surrounded Christ were but representatives of the future churches. Matt. 28: 20. In blessing them, he blesseth us also.
5. He ascended, as well as rose again, by his own power. He was not merely passive in his ascension, but it was his own act. He went to heaven. Therefore it is said, Acts, 1:10," he went up,” namely, by his own Divine power. And this plainly evinces him to be God, for no mere creature ever rose from earth, far above all heavens, as Christ did.
VI. Why did Christ ascend ? I answer, 1. If Christ had not ascended, he could not have interceded in heaven for us; and take away Christ's intercession, and you blight the hope of the saints. For what have we to support us, under the daily surprisals of sin, but this, that "if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father:" mark that, " with the Father ;" a Friend
upon the place; one that abides there, on purpose to transact all our affairs, and as a surety for peace between God and us.
2. If Christ had not ascended, you could not have entered into heaven; for he went to "prepare a place for you.” John, 14 : 2. He was the first that entered heaven directly, and in his own name; and had he not done so, we could not have entered in his name. The forerunner made way for all that should come after him in their several generations. Nor could your
bodies have ascended after their resurrection but in virtue of Christ's ascension. For he ascended in the capacity of our llcau and Representative; to his father, and our Father; for us, and himself too.
3. If Christ had not ascended, he could not have entered on the glory he now enjoys in heaven. This world is not the place where perfect felicity and glory dwell. And then, how had the promise of the Father been made good to him? Or our glory, which consists in being with, and conformed to him, where had it been ? " Ought not Christ to suffer, and to enter into his glory?" Luke, 24: 26.
4. If Christ had not ascended, how could we have been assured that his payment on the cross made full. satisfuction to God ? How is it that the Spirit convinceth the world of righteousness, John, 16 : 8, 10, but from Christ's going to the Father, and returning hither no more? which gives evidence of God's full satisfaction, both with his person and work.
5. Further: How should we have enjoyed the blessings of the Spirit and ordinances if Christ had not ascended? If Christ had not gone away, "the Comforter
had not come ;" John, 16:7; he begins where Christ had finished. For he takes of his, and shows it to us. John, 16 : 14. And therefore it is said, " The Holy Ghost was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." John, 17: 39. He was then given as a sanctifying spirit, but not given in the measure that afterwards he was, to furnish and qualify men with gifts for service. And, indeed, by Christ's ascension, both his sanctifying and his ministering gifts were shed forth more commonly and more abundantly upon men ; so that whatsoever good of conversion, edification, support, or comfort you receive from spiritual ordinances, he hath shed forth that which you now see and feel. It is the fruit of Christ's ascension.
6. If Christ had not ascended, how had all the types and prophecies that prefigured and foretold it been fulfilled ? And the Scriptures cannot be broken." John, 10: 35.
So that, upon all these accounts, it was expedient that he should go away. It was for his glory, and for our advantage. Though we lost the comfort of his bodily presence, yet if "we loved him, we should rejoice, be. cause he went to the Father.” John, 14:28. We ought to have rejoiced in his advancement, though it had been to our loss; but when it is so much for our benefit, as well as his glory, it is in all respects a ground of joy that he is ascended to his Father, and our Father; to his God, and our God. It was in view of all the blessings flowing to us from his ascension, that he charged his people not to be troubled at his leaving them. John, 14.
INFERENCE 1. Did Christ ascend into heaven? Is our Jesus, our treasure indeed there? Where then should the hearts of believers be, but in heaven, where their Lord, their Life is? Surely it is not good that your love and your Lord should be in two different countries, said one that is now with him. Up, and hasten after him, that he and you may be together. Christians, you ascended with him virtually, when he ascended; you shall ascend to him personally, hereafter; Oh that you would ascend to him, spiritually, in acts of faith, love, and desires daily. How good were it, if we could say with the apostle, "Our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour.” Phil. 3:20. A heart tending upwards, is the best evidence of your interest in Christ's ascension.
2. Did Christ go to heaven as a forerunner? How should we haste to follow him? Come, cbristians, " Lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets you, and run with patience the race set before you, looking unto Jesus." Heb. 12:1, 2. The Captain of our salvation is entered within the gates of the new Jerusalem, and calls to us out of heaven to hasten to him; proposing the greatest encouragements to them that follow: * He that overcometh shall șit with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Rev. 3:21. How tedious should it seem to us, to live so long at a distance from our Lord !
3. Did Christ ascend so triumphantly, leading captivity captive ? How little reason then have believers to fear their conquered enemies ! Sin, Satan, and every enemy, were in that day led away in triumph, dragged at Christ's chariot wheels, brought after him as it were in chains. It is a triumphant sight to see the necks of those tyrants under the foot of our Joshua. He made at that day "an open show of them.” Col. 2 : 15. Their strength is broken for ever. In this he showed himself more than a conqueror; for he conquered and triumphed too. Satan was then trodden under his feet, and he hath promised to tread him under our feet also, and that shortly. Rom. 16 : 20. Some power our enemies yet retain, the serpent may bruise our heel, but Christ hath bruised his head. 4. Did Christ ascend so munificently, shedding forth so many mercies upon his people ; mercies of inestimable value, reserved on purpose to adorn that day ? Oh then see
abuse not the precious ascension gifts of Christ, but value and improve them as the choicest mercies. Now the ascension-gifts, as I told you, are either the ordinances and officers of the church, (for he then gave them pastors and teachers,) or the Spirit that furnished the church with all its gifts. Beware you abuse not either.
Abuse not the ordinances and officers of Christ. This is a prevailing sin. Surely God hath written to us the great things of his law, and we have accounted them small things. And see that
you abuse not the Spirit, whom God sent from heaven at his ascension, to supply his bodily absence among us, and who is the great pledge of his care and tender love of his people. Take heed that you do not vex him by your disobedience; nor grieve him by your unkindnesses; nor quench him by your sinful neglect of duty, or abuse of light. Oh cherish the Spirit, and obey his voice; comply with his designs, and yield up yourselves to his guidance and conduet. Methinks, to be entreated by the love of the Spirit, Rom. 15 : 30, should be as great an argument as to be entreated for Christ's sake. Now, to persuade all the saints to be tender of grieving the Spirit by sin, let me urge a few considerations :
He was the first and principal mercy that Christ received for you at his entrance into heaven. It was the first thing he asked of God when he came to heaven. So he speaks, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you.” John, 14 : 16. So that the Spirit is the first-born of mercies; and deserves the first place in our hearts and esteem.
The Spirit comes not in his own name to us, (though, if
80, he deserves a dear welcome for his own sake, and