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been taken down with some undiscernible remainders thereof from the cross;) he deferred it no longer, both because there was no reason for doing so, and because it was fit, that while men's memories were frefli, their passions warm, their fancies busy, their mouths open in discourse concerning his death; while the designed witnesses were present, (both enemies watching and friends attending the event,) it was, I fay, then most fitting that our Saviour should arise: as for the meaning of the word third, (whether it be to be taken inclusively in respect to the day of our Saviour's passion, or so as to exclude it,) with the reconciling of some Scriptures seeming dissonant in the point, I refer you for satisfaction to commentators upon the Gospel; the question not belonging to the substance of our faith, nor having any very considerable influence (that I see) upon practice. I proceed therefore.
$e asienoco into ^eabcn; ano Cttctlj at tfje rigFjt $ano of Coo, t&e jtetfjet aimigfjtp.
AFTER our Lord had (after his resurrection) consummated what was requisite to be done by him upon earth for the confirmation of our faith, and constitution of his Church; having a competent time conversed with his disciples, (establishing their faith, enlightening their minds Vid. Luke in the knowledge of truth and understanding of the Scrip-u°(d John tures, inflaming their affections, comforting their hearts against ensuing tribulations, all oppositions of earth, and hell, for his fake; directing and prescribing to them how they should proceed in their instructing, converting, and reconciling the world to the faith and obedience of his law; furniming them with commission and authority to testify his truth, to dispense the tenders of grace and pardon procured by him, to collect and build up that Church, which he had purchased by his blood, lastly imparting his effectual benediction to them; having, I fay, dope these things, (which St. Luke expresses altogether by the words i»TaXa/«voj avroif, that is, having given all necessary in- Acts i. s. structions, and laid fitting commands upon them,) he was
Luke xxiv. in their presence taken, carried up, iveX^^r), kn^ipeto,)
and ascended into heaven; he, that is, he according to
his humanity, his body and soul were by the divine power
*niv$uf >U translated into heaven: into heaven; what is meant by
iePet'iii 22 t^lat (m tne utm°ft extent, according to the truth of the
thing) appears by other phrases equivalent, by which
Johnxiii.i.this action is expressed; Ascending to the Father; that is,
Phil. ii. 9. t° the place of God's more especial presence and resi
Eph. i. 2o. dence; where l/*puvlgsTau Tu> rspovumco Tov ©sou, he appears
Afo ii. 33. to the face of God; being exalted to the right hand of
V.31.VI. God, (that is, to the place of highest eminency, and of
Heb.ix.n.greatest proximity to God;) entering <ij ra. œyta., (into
j6 lm''"' those most holy places, that sa-diripov Tou xuTuiteTu<riJ.a.To;,
Lukexxiv. those intimate recesses of inaccessible and incornmuni
Heb. iv.u. cable glory;) being assumed and entering into glory; passing through the heavens, (that is, all places above, infe
Eph.iv.io.rior to the highest pitch of glory;) ascending uxspavai Vt&vtwv Tcuv avpavabY, above, beyond all heavens; becoming
Heb.vii.26. ufaxirtpo; ruiv aupavwv, (more sublime than, advanced above, the heavens;) by which appears, that the utmost term of our Saviour's ascent was that place of all in situation most high, in quality most holy, in dignity most excellent, in glory most august; the inmost sanctuary of God's temple above, not made with hands; the most special presencechamber in those heavenly courts. Thither did our Saviour ascend; and there (as it follows here) he Jitteth at God's right hand, for the ends and uses of these two> (one whereof is only the way or tendency unto the other,) conspiring or being coincident, (I shall join the consideration of them together;) the meaning of which words it is not hard to find out, it being obvious that the state of things above is in Scripture represented to us by that similitude, which is apt most to beget in us reverence towards God, (and which really doth most resemble it;) the state of a king here, fitting upon his throne; personages of higljest rank and respect, his nearest relations, his most beloved favourites, the chief ministers and officers of his crown attending upon him, and surrounding his throne; so yet that for distinction, some place (more emi
nent and honourable than the rest) is assigned to him, toward whom the King intends to declare especial regard and favour; which place (by custom grounded upon reasons plain enough, the opportunity of nearness for all kind of conversation and address; and the right hand's advantage for strength and activity, acquired by use, and consequently also its aptitude to give or take) hath been determined to be the next place at the right hand; (as we fee, for instance, when Bathstieba came to Solomon, it is said, The king—sat down on his throne, and caused a seat toi Kings ii. beset for the king's mother; and she fat on his right hand:)19' thus our Saviour being raised by God to the supreme pitch of honour, of power, of favour with him, having Acts v. ai. advanced him to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission os fins; having J'uperexalted Phil. ii. 9, him, and be/lowed on him a name above all names, to which10* all knees in heaven, in earth, under the earth must bow; hav'mgseaied him in heavenly places, above all principa- Eph- i-10, lity, and authority, and power, and dominion, and name (or title) that is named, both in the present world and that which is to come; having committed to him all autho- Mat "viii. rity in heaven and upon the earth; given all things intoj0hnHi.35. his hands; having made him heir of all things ; subjected x'"-a-xv,iall things under his feet, (angels, authorities, and powers,) Heb. i. 3. crowned him with (sovereign) glory and honour; having "[,*' ?] given him (what that innumerable host of heaven in the Revelation acknowledges him worthy of, v. 12.) power, and riclies, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing, (that is, all good and excellence possible in the highest degree;) God having, I fay, conferred these preeminences of dignity, power, and favour upon our Saviour, he is said therefore to havesealed him *«9<£i/». at his right hand; at the right hand of the power, (as it is Mxtt.'xxyi in the Gospels; that is, of the Sovereign and Almighty64Potentate;) at the right hand of themajesly on AtgA; a?u2a/Luke zxii.' the right hand os the throne of God, (as it is in the Apostle®9, ... to the Hebrews.) So much plainly the whole speech im- xii. a. ports; and if there be any peculiar emphasis designed in J4om"Tl"* the word Jilting, beyond that which is sometimes moreiPe'ui-aasimply and generally said, being at God's right hand, here may be farther implied, the firm possession, the durable continuance, the undisturbed rest and quiet of this glorious and happy condition wherein he is instated; as also, it doth augment the main fense, Jilting being the most honourable posture; and therefore signifying to the utmost that eminency of favour and respect he hath in God's fight; as also, it may denote farther the nature and quality of his preferment; his being constituted to rule and to judge; and therefore expressed as fitting upon a throne of majesty, upon a tribunal of justice.
So much briefly may serve for the explication of these two points: (for as to the words subjoined, the Father Almighty, whereof the latter is addititious, and not extant in the more ancient forms of this Creed, having considered them before, treating upon the beginning of the Creed, and particularly having there taken the word Almighty in its greatest latitude, so as to include both ■xmiToxpa.TKp and wavTo?uvaju.of, passing over the critical distinction made between them; I shall not repeat any thing concerning them.)
Now as to the ends of our Saviour's glorious ascension and abode in heaven, the effects produced thereby, the uses which the belief and consideration thereof may conduce to; the ends and effects thereof, I fay, declared in Scripture, are briefly,
i ft. That as a Priest and Advocate he might there intercede for us, for the pardon of our sins, for the acceptance of our persons, for the success of our prayers, for the supply of our needs, for the collation of all benefits and blessings on us; representing his merits, pleading our cause, presenting our supplications, and interposing his favour
Hcb.vii.'a4. and authority in our behalf; He ever liveth to make inlercejjion for us: He is our High-Priejl, Jit ting at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, there performing that
Rom. viii. office for us: Who Jhall condemn P It is Christ who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedetk for us (there :)
1 John ii.2. If any man fin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Je
A€kv. s\.fus Christ the righteous: God exalted him as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission os fins. It is by him that we do Tgoo-ep^eo-dai raj 0eai, have 0urHeb.vii.45. access to God, not only by virtue of his merits, but by his continual act of mediation: it is he, that in the golden Rev. viii. 3. censer, at the golden altar before God, offers up the incense of our prayers, consecrated and perfumed by his hand.
adly. He ascended and resides in heaven, that as a King he might govern us, protect us, save and deliver us from our enemies; that he might subdue and destroy his and our enemies; the enemies of his kingdom and of our salvation; the world, the flesh, the devil, sin, death, and hell; whatever opposes his glory, his truth, his service, and consequently impedes our salvation, either by open violence or fraudulent practice. God did say unto him, Sit thou at my right hand, till I have made thine enemiesPsal. ex. 1. thy footstool; and accordingly, He must, reign until A*Heb.'i!ia. hath put all his enemies under his feet: no power shall *• J3be able to withstand his will and command, who fitsas. at the helm of omnipotent Sovereignty, at that right hand which governs and orders all things. But having before spoken concerning the royal office and lordship of our Saviour, I shall add no more to this purpose.
3dly. Our Saviour tells us himself, that he went to heaven John xiv. a: to prepare a place for us; to prepare manfions of joy and Hiss in God's presence, where is fulness of joy; at his right hand, where are pleasures for evermore. He is our Tpofyo/tof, our forerunner into heaven, that hath disposed Heb. vi. ao. things there for our entertainment and reception; It is his John xvii. will, that where he is, there we Jhould be also; that i#e34might contemplate and partake os his glory.
4thly. Our Saviour also tells us, that it was necessary he should depart hence, that he might send the Divine Spirit, the power from on high, to enlighten, sanctify, and comfort us; If I go not away, faith he, the Paraclete will]°kn xvi. 7. not come unto you; but if I go, I will fend him unto you: 49. that is, God in his wisdom hath appointed, (for the exaltation of our Saviour's honour,) that so incomparably excellent a gift should be the reward of his obedience; the