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in his hands. He will guide them with his counsel, and afterwards receive them to glory.” Perhaps many things have been taken away—but he has not withdrawn himself. Perhaps you have been Jeft alone of friends and relations—but, with the Saviour, you can say, I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
Do not, therefore, groan under your exercises - If I am His, why am I thus? 'You are thus, because you are his? He chastens you, because he loves you. He will not let you alone, because you are not bastards, but sons. He destroys the cisterns to bring you nearer to himself, the fountain of living waters. He hedges up your way with thorns, that you may not pursue those paths which led you astray from him, your exceeding joy:
And, rather than you should stop short of the prize of your high calling-rather than you should sit down satisfied with a portion in this worldhe will spoil your prospects—turn every pleasure into a pain-and imbiiter or dry up every spring of comfort.
O, heavenly Father, who knowest what things we have need of before we ask thee; express thy concern in what way thou pleasest; but never treat me with neglect! Chide me, if I err; take peace from me when I sin; fill me with painful reflections and apprehensions when the world is drawing me away from thee; but never-never say~"He is joined to idols-LET HIM ALONE.
THE ASCENSION OF OUR SAVIOUR.
Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my
Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John xx. 17.
It is not necessary to inquire-whose language is this? No sooner do we hear it, than we exclaim, with one of his followers on another occą. sion-it is the Lord!
The words are addressed to Mary Magdalene, as a reward for her constancy in adhering so firmly to him; and for her affection, in seeking so early after him. He appeared to her before he showed himself to his apostles. The relation is singularly interesting. But we have only to remark, that she was so transported with the sight of her Lord and Saviour, that she was going to embrace his feet, and bedew them with tears of joy. But he said unto her, “ Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father-but shall soon; and there is no time to lose-private satisfaction is to be relinquished for public serviceemploy you immediately as my herald; what you have seen, I wish others to hear-use no delay; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God."
There are two things in the words which require our attention. I. The person to whom the message is addressed. II. The substance of the intelligence.
1. It may be asked—why was not this information sent to the scribes, and pharisees, and chief priests? Why did he not thus convince his enemies, and render his resurrection undeniable? Because—“Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that he hath.—The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way:The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant." He never refused explanation to any humble inquirer
-but he was surely not obliged to force information upon those that hated knowledge. To what purpose
is it to adduce evidence to those that wilfully shut their eyes, and will not see. They had seen him heal the sick with a touch, and raise the dead with a word. They knew the report of the guards, and had given them money to propagate a known falsehood, “Saying, his disciples came by night, and stole him
while we slept
But his own followers only laboured under infirmities. They loved him, and had forsaken all to attend him. They wished to be established in the truth; they were willing to come to the light, and had doubtless been praying—"What I know not, teach thou me. And then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain; as the latter and former rain upon the earth.” And thus enlightening, and thus refreshing, was the message to the perplexed and desponding disciples.
But what I wished to observe here, was, not only the sending this message exclusively to his
disciples; but also his addressing them under a particular name-my brethren. This is more than he would have said of angels. He is only their Lord—but he is our brother. "He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Thus, he is “bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Both he that sanc. tifieth, and they who are sanctified are all one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. Wherefore, in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful and a faithful highpriest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Many an elder brother has stood between the affections of the father and the rest of the children, and by engrossing the whole of the inheritance, has reduced the younger branches to dependence, if not to beggary; but Jesus pitied those who were less happy than himself, pleaded for them, shared with them in all their miseries, and determined to make them partakers of all his honours and riches. Thus they have fellowship with him: they are "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ."
By using this name, he would show that his elevation had not made him forgetful of those he was to leave behind. Though he was now rich, and they were poor; though he had now a glorious body, and they were groaning under the burden of the flesh; though he had now all power in heaven and in earth, and they were weak, despised and persecuted-he calls them brethren. Yea, he will not be ashamed to do this, even in the great day, when he shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations: in the presence of men, of angels, and of God, he will say, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
His addressing them in this message as brethren, would comfort his disciples. One had denied him; and the rest had forsaken him, and fled! They had acted a very unworthy part, and their consciences made them uneasy. And had they heard of his resurrection alone, it would have filled them not only with surprise, but with terror; and, afraid of his rebukes, they would have hid themselves from him, rather than have approached him. When, therefore, he sends them word that he is risen from the dead, he calls them brethren; and by this he seems to extend his arms to embrace them again: by this he seems to call after them, and say Return, ye backsliding children: “I am ready to pity the weak, and to pardon the penitent.” Thus he dispels their anxiety, and fills them with hope. And thus realizes his illustrious type, when he made himself known to those who had treated him with baseness and cruelty. Joseph saw what confusion, and anguish, and dread, the discovery of himself had produced in those who were now in his power, and at his mercy: and, therefore, with his name, he is
eager mention his relation, and to give them encouragement to trust in him. "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth iny father yet live? And his brethen could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you; and they came near: and he said, I am Joseph, your BROTHER, whom ye sold into Egypt.