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not into the holy places made with hands, which are figures SERM. of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the XXXI. presence of God for us.
Thus were these points aptly signified: they were also predicted: for David, in the 68th Psalm, celebrating the glorious triumphs of God over the enemies of his people, and in consequence upon them his solemn entrance and Hue etiam. seating himself in Sion, the hill which he delighteth to dwell m, (the usual emblem of heaven,) subjoineth; Thou Aa/iPs.lxviii.is. ascended on high, (OVTO7, to the high place of heaven,) Ihou lw.fi led captivity captive: thou hajl received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them: which words appositely suit to our Lord's triumphant ascension, after having subdued all the enemies of his Church, and upon which he liberally dispensed wonderful gifts and graces to his people, and are Eph. It. S. by the unerring interpretation of St. Paul applied thereto.
The ascension of our Lord seemeth also (at least according to mystical exposition reasonably grounded) to be respected in the 24th Psalm, as generally throughout, so particularly in those words, Lift up your heads, 0 ye gales; P**1, "iv< and be ye lift up, ye everlajling doors; and the King of' glory shall come in: where, according to the first and more literal sense, the entrance of the ark (the symbol of our Lord himself, in whom God is most specially present, in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily) Col. ii. 9. into the temple is described: but in a second more elevate, more proper, and more full meaning, the entrance of our Lord (the true Shechinah) into heaven scemeth denoted; the doors of that temple not made with hands, into which he, lite Lord of glory, at his ascension did enter, being indeed most truly the everlafling doors; and the doors of the earthly temple being only such as typifying them.
Again, the session of our Lord at God's right hand is expressly foretold by David; The Lord, faith he,said untoPfol.ex. 1. my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I have made thine enemies thy footftool. Who but the Messias could be that Lord of David, unto whom God spake? Who but he
SERM. could be an eternal priest after the order of Melchizedek? XXXI. ]sjot oniy therefore our Lord himself expoundeth that
Matt. xxii. place of the Messias, but the ancient Jews did commonly
44- understand it to concern him; as appeareth by their tacit
consent, and forbearing to contradict our Lord so interpreting it.
In sine, all the prophecies, which are very many, that concern the spiritual and eternal kingdom of the Meslias, (his being invested with and exercising regal dignity and power over God's people for ever,) do in effect declare the ascension and session of our Lord; particularly those
Psal. ii. 6,8. of David; I have Jet my king upon my holy hill of Zion;
psai' x']v-'6t and, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre
Heb. i. 8. 0f thy kingdom is a right sceptre: and that of Daniel;
13, M.' Isaw in the night vifions one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him: and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, Jhouldserve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which Jhall not pass away, and his kingdom that which Jhall not be destroyed. So were these points forestiewed and foretold, to the manifestations of God's wisdom and the confirmation of our faith.
III. Now for the ends and effects of our Lord's ascension, and his abode in heaven at God's right hand, (I join them together as coincident, or subordinate,) they are in the Scripture declared to be chiefly these.
In general, our Lord by them was invested in the complete exercise of all the offices, and in the full enjoyment of all the privileges, belonging to him as perfect Mediator, Sovereign King, High Priest, and Archprophet of God's Church and people: he did initially and in part exercise those functions upon earth; and a ground of enjoying those preeminencies he laid here; but the entire execution and possession of all, by his ascensiofi into heaven, and in his session there, he did obtain particularly.
i. Our Lord did ascend unto, and doth reside in heaven, at the right hand of divine majesty and power, that as a king he might govern us, protecting us from all SERM. danger, relieving us in all want, delivering us from all XXXI. evil; that he might subdue and destroy all the enemies of ~~
his kingdom and our salvation; the Devil with all his retinue, the world, the flesli, fin, death, and hell; whateverdoth oppose his glory, his truth, his service; whatever consequently, by open violence or fraudulent practice, doth hinder our salvation: The Lard J'aid unto my Lord, Sit psaj. cx.,. thou on my right hand, until I have made thine enemiesMatt- *x"thy footjiool; so God by the Holy Spirit in David did Heb. i. 13. speak unto him: whence St. Peter doth thus infer; There- Acts ii. 36. fore let all the houj'e of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made him Lord and Chrijl; that is, his being seated in that place of special eminency is an infallible argument of his royal majesty and sovereignty: and, This man, Heb. x. it, faith the Apostle to the Hebrews, after he had offered one 13" sacrifice for Jins, for ever fat down at the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies le made his footjiool; and accordingly, He must, as St. Paul faith, 1 Cor. xv. reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet. By a*' various combats in his life, our Lord did worst and weaken his and our enemies; and in the last great battle on his cross, he did thoroughly rout and overthrow them; but by his triumphant ascension into heaven he led captivity Eph. W. 8. captive, enjoying the glory and benefit of his victory; by fitting at God's right hand he keepeth them down in irteeoverable subjection under his feet, so that none of them can make any successful insurrection against him: for no power certainly shall ever be able to withstand his will and command, who sitteth at the helm of sovereignty immense and omnipotent; at that right hand, which can do any thing, which wieldeth and nioderateth all things every where; no fraud can elude, no secret conspiracy can escape his knowledge, who, sitting in that heavenly watch-tower of infinite wisdom and omniscience, beholdeth whatever is done, said, or thought in all the world.
He so there with royal might protecteth us; and with royal goodness, munificence, and clemency, he doth also thence dispense grace and mercy to his faithful subjects: SERM. for all good gifts and graces bestowed on the Church in
XXXI. generai for common edification, and to each member
thereof singly for its particular benefit, which are useful
Eph.iv. la.for perfecting of the saints, for the work of the miniftry, for the edification of Christ's body in truth, holiness, order, and peace, are expressed to proceed from our Lord's as
Eph. iv. 7. cension; To every one of yon, faith St. Paul, is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Chris; that is, to every one of you proportionably, according to the quality of your employment, rank, or station in the Church, and according to the particular exigency of your needs, as Christ in wisdom seeth fit, grace is afforded; in correspondence, addeth he, to the Psalmist's prophecy concern
Eph. iv. 8. ing our Saviour, Having ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Particularly in virtue or consequence of his ascension and glorification, to all true penitents and converts unto God, mercy, and pardon for their sins are dispensed: that repentance should be acceptable to God, and available for attainment of mercy, our Lord did indeed merit for us by his suffering; but he effectually dispenseth it in God's name, being now instated in glory, as a noble boon of
Acts T. si. his royal clemency; God, faith St. Peter, exalted him as
4?. 'a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and
remission of fins.
2. Our Saviour did ascend, and now fitteth at God's right hand, that he may, in regard to us, there exercise his priestly function. Having in this outward tabernacle once offered up himself a pure and perfect sacrifice for the expiation of our fins, he entered within the veil, into the
Heb. x. 12. most holy place, there presenting his blood before God himself, to the full effect of obtaining mercy for us, and
Heb.ix.24.restoring us to God's favour; He is, faith the Apostle, entered into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us; so that whenever we by our frailty do fall into fin, and-do heartily by repentance turn unto God, invoking his mercy, our Lord is ready, by applying the virtue of his sacrifice, and pleading our cause with God, upon the terms of that gracious covenant purchased and ratified by his blood, to procure mercy for us: for, If SERM. any man Jin, we have, faith St. John, an advocate with the XXXI.
Father, Jesus Chri/l the righteous, who is a propitiation for 1 j0hn ii.
our fins, and for the fins of the whole world: and, Who, ]> 2- ... . . . J . Rom. vin.
faith St. Paul, is he that condemnetk? It is Chri/l that 34.
died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us; that is, seeing our Lord hath offered a well-pleasing sacrifice for our sins, and doth at God's right hand continually renew it, by presenting it unto God, and interceding with him for the effect thereof; what, supposing us qualified for mercy, can hinder us from obtaining it?
Our Lord also doth at God's right hand discharge the princely ministry of praying for us, and so interceding in our behalf, as thereby to acquire from God to be conferred on us whatever is needful or conducible to our salvation; He, faith the Apostle, is able to save to the ut- Heb.vii.95. termofl those that come unto God by him, seeing he ever livelk to make intercession for us. More particularly he, by his mediation there, doth procure for us a free access to God in devotion, a favourable reception of our petitions and services, a good success of them in the supply of all our needs; for, Through him we have access by MeEph.ii. 8. Spirit unto the Father; and, Having a great High Priest,Heb.iv. 14. that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God—letTM'"' us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in the time of need, faith the Apostle to the Hebrews: and, He, as he is repre-Rev.viii.3. fented in the Apocalypse, is that angel of the covenant, who at the golden altar before God dotli offer up the prayers of the faints, incensed by his mediation and merits.
Hence in his name and through him it is, that we are (J.ohn *• »• enjoined to present our prayers, our thanksgivings, and Rom. v. 9. all our services; * doing all, whatever we do, in the name of^y "'•la* the Lord Jesus. Eph. v. 90.
3. Again, our Lord telleth us, that it was necessary be*°h"'i'6 should depart hence, and enter into this glorious state, xvi. 93,94.) that he might there exercise his prophetical office, by im- 1?parting to us his Holy Spirit for our instruction, direction,