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and where we are so concerned, there especially in spirit SERM, and heart we may be supposed to be. XXXI.
6. I might add, that God did thus advance our Saviour, to declare the special regard he beareth to piety, righteousness, and obedience, by his so amply rewarding and highly dignifying the practice thereof. We, faith the Heb. ii. 9. Apostle, see Jesus, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour. We fee him, not only as an object of our contemplation, but as a pattern of our practice, and as a ground of our encouragement; Looking up, faith that Heb. xii. 3. Apostle again, unto Jesus, the captain and the perfeiler of our faith, who for the joy that tvas set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God. God, it seemeth, did intend, and he doth propound, our Lord's exaltation, for an engagement and motive to us of following him in the way by which he attained it; giving us assuredly to hope for the like rewards of glory and joy, in proportion answerable to our imitation of his exemplary obedience and patience.
Such are the principal ends and effects of our Lord's ascension, and session at God's right hand; the consideration of which points may have great use, mould have much influence upon our practice.
I. It may serve to guard us from divers errors, which to the dangerous prejudice and disparagement of our religion (introducing into it notions thwarting reason and sense, charging it with needless and groundless incredibilities, exposing it to difficulties and objections so massy, that the foundations of Christian truth are scarce able to support them) have been and are asserted by divers persons, or by sects of men professing Christianity, such as • are that of the old Eutychians, who held, that the human nature of our Lord was converted into his divinity, or swallowed up thereby; that of the German Ubiquitaries, who fay, that our Lord according to his human nature corporally doth exist everywhere; that of the Lutheran Consubstantialists, and of the Koman Transubstantiators, who affirm, that the body of our Lord is here upon earth at once present in many places, (namely, in every place
VOL. V. H
SERM. where the Host is kept, or the Eucharist is celebrated:) XXXI. which assertions, by the right understanding of these points, will appear to be false. For our Lord did visibly in human shape ascend to heaven, (which to do is inconsistent with the invisible, omnipresent, and immoveable nature of God,) and therefore he continueth still a man; and as such he abideth in heaven, and therefore he doth not exist everywhere or otherwhere. It is the property of a creature to have a definite existence, or to be only in one place at one time; for could it be in divers places at once, it might by like reason be in any or in every place, and consequently it might be immense; nor can we conceive a thing to be at once in several distant places, without its being multiplied in essence: it especially is repugnant to the nature of a body at once to possess several places, seeing its substance and quantity do not really differ, or are inseparably combined, whence it cannot be multiplied in dimensions, answerable to many localities, without being multiplied in substance; wherefore since our Lord, as man, did by a proper local motion ascend, Heb. ix. 24. pass through, and enter into the heavens, (being, as it is ActsV 2 9 fa'd in holy Scripture, in the visible form and dimensions Jo, 11. of his body, taken, carried, lifted up, gone into heaven, Luke xxiv. parting from his disciples, going away from us, leaving Markxvi. the world and going to the Father; being where no man
Matt xxvi ^lere can come> or can follow hiTM i being to be no more in 11. tlie world, so that we have him not always with us; being
92 '"'■ there, where we, being in the body, are absent from him; Johnxri.s,seeing he doth now reside in heaven, which must, as St. xiv.25.xiii. Peter affirmed, receive (or hold) him, until the restitution viiil*a8'*1'^'a^ tn*ngs; where he constantly appeareth in God's pre36. xvii.ti.fence for us, and ever liveth to make intercession for us; 'o^ilii'%whence also we do expect, that in the like visible manner *'*"?"• as he went, that he sliall come again, descending, as St. Heb.vii.25. Paiu speaketh, from heaven, and coming in the clouds of Aft1'*' heaven, at the last resurrection and judgment, which is 1 Thes. w. therefore commonly termed his presence and appearance
2Th'rf!?.'7.nere;) since' * ^ according to the tenor of Scripture, 1C0r.xv.47. our Lord did thus, as man, in his flesh go into heaven, and
Phil. i. 20.
there perpetually doth abide in glory, until he shall thence SER^f. return hither to judge the world, we must not suppose XXXI. him to be any where corporally upon earth. He is in- Rev- i# 7deed every where by his Divinity present with us; he is Ma,t-xxiT< also in his humanity present to our faith, to our memory, (e;< i*i». to our affection'; he is therein also present by mysterious "£'' ^T*' representation, by spiritual efficacy, by general inspection 17.) and influence upon his Church; but in body, as we are.^'^M absent from him, so is he likewise separated from us; we 2 Cor. ▼. e. must depart hence, that we may be with him, in the place j Tries, ivs whither he is gone to prepare for us. Who Jliall ascend'"1' into heaven, to bring Christ,.down thence? faith St. Paul, intimating where he doth immoveably abide, in exclusion to all other places. These things (beside many other strong reasons) if we do consider, it will suffice to guard us from those rampant absurdities, which so long, with such impudence and such violence, have outbraved plain reason and sense. But to leave this, and to come to more practical applications.
2. Is Christ ascended and advanced to this glorious eminency at God's right hand? Then let us answerably behave ourselves toward him, rendering him the honour and worship, the fear and reverence, the service and obedience suitable and due to that his state. In regard hereto all the angels of God are commanded to adore him; and Heb. i. 6. they willingly submit thereto, acknowledging him to deserve the highest worship; Every creature (it is in the Re- Rev. v. 12", velation) in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, doth in ]3' its way fend up acclamations of blessing and praise unto him. And shall we then refuse or neglect to do the like? we, who of all creatures in equity and gratitude are most obliged, who in reason and interest are most concerned to honour him, as ourselves receiving most honour and advantage from his exaltation? Shall we be backward in yielding obedience to him, who is in nature so nearly re
1 Secundum majestatera suam, secundum providentiam, secundum ineffabilem et invifibilem gratiam impletur quod ab eo dictum eft, Ecce ego
Tobiscum secundum carncm vero—non semper habebitis me vobifcum.
Aug. in Jah. TraB, 50. ,
SERM. lated to us, and in affection so well disposed toward us; XXXI. who, out of tender good-will toward us, hath undertaken "this high charge, and exerciseth it with design to do us good; who therefore especially is pleased to fit at the helm, that he may protect us from all the enemies of our welfare, and that he may settle us in the enjoyment of happiness? Shall we dare to oppose his will, and not Matt.xxviii. dread to displease him, to whom all power in heaven and 18- earth is given; whose will is executed by the irresistible
right hand of God; who therefore can easily check us in our bad courses, and will surely chastise us for our disobedience? We do plainly hereby incur the heinous guilt, and shall surely undergo the grievous punishment, of rebellion; this being the sentence which, refusing subjection Luke xix. to him, we shall one day hear and feel; Those mine ene9!r' mies, that would not have me reign over them, bring them
hither, andslay them before me.
3. These points do afford ground and matter of great joy and comfort to us. Have we not cause to rejoice, that our Lord hath obtained so absolute and glorious a victory over all our cruel enemies? Should we not with joyful gratulation applaud the triumphs of goodness over wickedness, of charity over malice, of mercy over wrath, of life and happiness over death and misery? Is it not matter of huge satisfaction that one of our kind and kindred, who beareth toward us the bowels of a man and the affection of a brother, who hath yielded so wonderful expressions of good-will and charity toward us, who so loved us as to lay down his life for us, is raised to such preferment? Shall we not be pleased, that we have so good a friend in so high place and so great power; or that he who is so willing, is also so able to do us good? Have we not great cause to acquiesce in our subjection to so just, so mild, so gracious a Governor; the sceptre os whose kingdom is a right sceptre, whose yoke is easy, and burden light? Shall we not be glad, considering that we have so merciful and so kind ah intercessor always resident with God, always ready to do good offices for us at the throne of grace? Considering this, what is there that can be or happen in the world that should displease, discourage, or SERM. disturb us? What enemies should we fear, since all our XXXI. enemies lie prostrate under his feet? What good can we fear to want, since all things are at his disposal, and all good is dispensed by him? What events should trouble us, since all things are managed and ordered by his good hand? Will he suffer any thing to hurt us? Will he fee us need any convenience? Will he let us be oppressed by any mischief or distress, whose office it is and continual care to protect and succour us? Have we not, in contemplation of these things, abundant reason to comply with that precept, of rejoicing in the Lord always? Be our case Phil. iv. 4. in this world what it will, considering where our Lord is,'"'l' we have great cause to be cheerful, according to that injunction of our Lord, enforced by this consideration; In John xvi. the world yejhall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I33' have overcome the world.
4. The consideration of these things serveth to cherish and strengthen all kind of faith and hope in us. If the resurrection of our Saviour might beget in us a strong persuasion concerning the truth of our Lord's doctrine, and a lively hope of salvation from his undertakings and performances for us, his ascension and session in glory (consinned by the fame indubitable testimonies and authorities) must needs nourish, improve, and corroborate them. We cannot surely distrust the accomplishment of any promises declared by him, we cannot despair of receiving any good from him, who is ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of divine wisdom and divine power, thence viewing all things done here, thence ordering all things every where for the advantage of those who love him and trust in him.
It especially doth serve to quicken in us that bleJsedTn.ii.13. hope, as St. Paul calleth it, of a joyful and happy rest after the troubles and sorrows of this wretched life; which hope Heb.vi. 19. we have as an anchor of the foul, both sure andjledfqft, and which enlerelh into that within the veil; where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priejlfor ever after the order of Melchizedek.