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the Father the promise of the holy spirit, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” Again -after the cure of the lame man- It is by faith in his name, whom the heavens must receive till the time of the restitution of all things, that this man is made strong." And upon the second appearance of the apostles before the Sanhedrim, when they were reprimanded for continuing to teach in the name of Jesus, they profess their unshaken allegiance to that God “who had raised him up, and exalted him with his right hand, to be a prince and a saviour." Thus we find them, upon every occasion, speaking and acting with the most perfect consistency, as men who had the fullest proof, both immediate and consequent, of the continued existence and virtual presence of their master; nor can the argument of Christ's exaltation to glory be evaded but by denying that the gifts of the spirit were ever conferred. But a bare denial will not satisfy any candid enquirer, and if no proof has been or can be given that either is false, we must of necessity admit that both are true.
The fact of Christ's ascension being established beyond any thing that can wear the face of a reasonable doubt, an inquisitive mind would naturally ask-Where, or what, is that heaven to which Christ is gone? What nature does he now sustain? What is meant by his sitting at God's right hand? What is the kind of power, which he now exercises, and which he is to deliver up to the Father, at the final consummation of all things? What will be his state after that event, and that of his faithful friends and followers, who shall share in his glory? It cannot be expected that we shall obtain à full insight into these things in the present limited condition of our facul
ties they will, doubtless, be the subjects of delightful meditation when that which is perfect shall come. Yet as the first attempts of the half-fledged nestling strengthen its pinions for more successful efforts and a loftier flight, so perhaps we, by the exercise of such reasoning powers as we now possess, may be qualifying ourselves for the easier attainment of higher measures of knowledge, and, consequently, for the enlargement of our capacities for happiness. We will then,
1.-Enquire where, or what is that heaven into which Christ is said to have ascended or passed?
It would be a hopeless undertaking, if we should attempt to reconcile all that we read in the scriptures concerning heaven, with the discoveries of modern science; and, to the honour of the latter, it may be affirmed, that we have, by its assistance, obtained more just and consistent ideas of the divine power and wisdom, than revelation itself has afforded. This tells us, indeed, that the Almighty fills heaven and earth, and that the heaven of heavens cannot contain him-it assists us to form the best conceptions of him we are able to do, as a pure and perfect spirit-eternal, immortal, invisible; but, perhaps in compassion to human frailty, at the same time gives descriptions so nearly resembling the splendour and state of an earthly monarch, as rather to lower than aggrandise the subject. With the enlargement of mind, acquired by late additions to human knowledge, we are enabled to consider the universe itself as the temple of the great Creator, and to believe that there is no part, or portion, or habitable abode within it, where his glory may not be manifested, and his creatures made happy, to the utmost capacities of their several
natures. But when we consider the great variety of senses in which the term heaven is applied in the sacred writings, and take it in connexion with the ascension of Christ, it seems most rational to understand it as meaning no more, than that he has so withdrawn from this earth, as to have no visible connexion with it, and subsists in a manner, to us necessarily unknown-but still at no immeasurable distance from it, nor such as may not admit of his proper concern in its affairs, although in a way of which we understand as little as of the agency of God's general providence. Something of this kind, on which however I am far from pretending to speak confidently, I think, must be admitted, to account for the facts related of his appearances to Paul and others after his ascension, and to establish the propriety and applicability of many expressions in the apostolic writings. But,
2. If this be the proper view to be entertained concerning heaven, how shall we reconcile it with the accounts given us of the celestial glory of Christ, and his occupying a place in the immediate presence of God?
Wherever or however it be that Christ now exists, there can be no doubt but he enjoys the immediate and plenary communications of the divine presence and favour, which cannot be considered as confined to one part of space more than to another. It is equally certain, that at the time of his departure from earth, his nature must have undergone a great and important change. After his resurrection, he retained all the substantial characteristics of an human body, but at his ascension, he must have acquired the capacity of existing in a mode entirely different.
Gravitation must, with respect to him, at that moment have lost its power, and an inconceivable refinement of his material frame must have succeeded. To this we may reasonably suppose Paul to refer, when he speaks of the change to take place in our bodies at the resurrection. “There is," says he, "a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." And, as it was foretold at the ascension of Jesus, that he should so come in like manner as he was then seen to go into heaven, so the apostle tells the Philippians, that believers look for that event, when the Lord Jesus Christ" shall change their vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." There is nothing in this at which human philosophy, which has often been represented as the parent of infidelity, need to be startled, or to sneer at as absurd or impossible. The modern discoveries in chemistry clearly prove, that matter, at one time in a condensed, visible, and tangible form, may at another become so expanded as to occupy a space inconceivably greater
so subtile, as to be no longer an object of sightso rarefied, as not to be perceptible by the touch. And if it has pleased the Almighty to communicate intelligence to matter under one form, it cannot be denied that it may also be his pleasure to communicate, or continue, or increase it, to the same matter under any other or more advantageous modification, These things I mention to show the reasonableness of believing, that there may be such a refinement of the material body of Christ, as to justify all the high expressions which are used concerning him in his exalted state, and as to render him capable of per forming the important functions to which, God his Father hath appointed him. And, as I trust all this
will be allowed to be rational, so it will be easily perceived to be consistent with those ideas which Unitarians entertain concerning the person of Christ. However sublimated, into whatever different forms changed, or with whatever powers endowed, matter can never become essentially spirit, or be one with it in such a sense as the orthodox creed affirms. Jesus is still a derived and dependent being. Be his present ever so superior to his former state, be his glories ever so resplendent, they are all given, and cannot raise him to an equality with the Giver.
Our next head of inquiry then will be,
3. What is meant by Christ's sitting at God's right hand?
This is one of those figurative expressions so much in use in the East, and which we meet with so frequently in the scriptures. The right hand, in its most common metaphorical acceptation, signifies strength or power, and so the effects of the omnipotence of the Deity are ascribed to his right hand. In allusion to this, when a sovereign prince invested any one with authority over provinces or other parts of his dominions, he placed him at his right hand in token of favour as a public notification of his advancement to that high dignity, and of the confidènce reposed in him. On this subject I need say but little. It cannot be necessary to enter into a formal argument to convince my audience that by Christ's sitting or standing at the right hand of God, nothing more can be intended than that he hath invested his beloved son Jesus with a pre-eminent degree of power and authority, resembling, though entirely subordinate, to his own. His original, uncreated glory, his sovereign and absolute dominion, he nẹi