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their Eyes against the Light, but fuffer'd Fear and Sorrow to blear and darken them, that they could not fee: they did not look so well as they should into what the Prophets had foretold of his Sufferings, and the Glory that should follow. And therefore to cure the Blindness and Backwardness of their Faith, he began at Moses and all the Prophets and expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things con-, cerning himself; ver. 27. He shew'd them what God had decreed, and the Prophets had reveal'd concerning his Death and Resurrection - , and thereby their Eyes were so open'd, that . they knew him and their Minds so enlightned, that they declare their Belief both of his Person and Doctrine: their Faith overcame their Fears, and all their Doubts were turn'd into Assurance and Extafies of Joy ^ yea St. Thomas, the most diffident and distrustful of all the Company, became so well fatisfy'd, as in the Strength of his Faith to cry out, My Lord, and my God. And indeed,
The Divine Providence seems so to have order'd Matters, that the Testimony of those, that were to publish to the' World our Lord's Resurrection, might be render'd the more credible from the great Averseness and Difficulty themselves had at first to admit or believe it: and St. Thomas's standing out and demanding farther Experiments, as-, ter the rest were convinc'd, serv'd the more abundantly to establish the Truth of it.
Whin our Blessed S%viour had by these means confirm'd their Faith and Hopes in him, he gave them a Commission to go into all the World, and preach the Gospel to every Creature. St. Matthew expresses this Commission in these words j Go and teach, or make Disciples in all Nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost j Mat. 28. 19. And here, for the better executing of this Commission, 'tis added by St. Mark, He that believeth and is baptizfd, flail be saved ; but he that believeth not, flail be damn'd. Where Faith in Christ, and Baptism in his Name, are made the Conditions of that Salvation, which he as a Saviour hath purchas'd for them. So that without Faith 'tis impossible to please God, or fave our own Souls -y and without Baptism, where it may be had by duly qualify'd and authoriz'd Persons, 'tis impossible to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
• Moreover, for the better propagating the Gospel in all Places where they should fcome, he subjoins this Encouragement in the next words: And these Signs shall follow
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them that believe ; In my Name stall they cast out Devils, they /ball speak with new Tongues, they stall take up Serpents, ana if they drink any deadly thing, it stall not hurt them . They stall lay Hands on the Sick, and they foall recover, 8cc. The meaning whereof is, that their Commission should be back'd with a Power of doing Miracles, to gain the greater Credit and Success to it ., for the Holy Spirit should be pour'd down upon them, and that should give them power over evil Spirits, and enable them to cast out Devils. So the Apostles found, for they came and told our Saviour, that the Devils were subject to them through his Name, Luke 10.17. By the fame Spirit they should be enabled to speak with divers Tongues, discovering to all Nations in their several Languages the wonderful Works of God; which they found soon after, as we read, Atts 2. i,2,&c. As for taking up Serpents, our Saviour gave them power to tread on [Serpents and Scorpions, and over all the power of Enemies, and nothing should by any means hurt them -, Luke 10. 19. Of this we read in the Books of the Sybils, Occidet & Serpens, & sallax Herba Veneni occidet; that is, the Serpent shall die, and poisonous Herbs shall lose their Venom, and nothing should harm them. For their healing the Sick, and their Power over all manner of Infirmities and Diseases, we read at large in the Acts of the Apostles.
Now these Signs are generally thought to be peculiar to the Apostles, and to belong only to the first Times of the Gospel, for the more successful preaching and propagating of it; which having obtain'd and prevail'd every where, are therefore ceas'd long since, with the Reason of them: tho others will have them still remaining in the Church, as Testimonies and Evidences of God's special Favour to and Presence with it.
After Christ's sealing of this Commission, and giving 'his. last Message to his Apostles, he took his leave of them, and ascended up into Heaven : so the Evangelist here tells us, ver. 19. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was receiv'd up into Heaven^ and sat on the Right Hand of God.
Of his being receiv'd up into Heaven, enough hath been spoken in the Epistle for this Day ., of his fitting at the right Hand of God, we are here awhile to insist on, And for the better understanding hereof, we must note,
ist, That God being a Spirit, that hath no material or bodily Parts, he cannot properly be faid to have either Right Hand or Left. The Expression is sigurative, and accommodated dated to our Capacity: for the Hand being the Instrument of Power, by which most os our Actions, natural and artificial, are perform'd; therefore the Power by which God is laid to act or do any thing, is usually express'd by the Hand of God. And because the right Hand, by being inore frequently us'd than the left, acquires a greater Strength' and Activity ^ therefore the infinite Strength and Power of God is often set forth and signify'd by the right Hand of God. Moreover,
The right Hand is ever esteem'd the Place of greatest Honour and Dignity. Hence Solomon fitting on his Throne is faid, in honour to his Mother, to feat her at his right Hand, i Kings 2.19. And therefore the right Hand of God is us'd to denote the highest Honour and Dignity in his Presence. Again,
Because Gifts are generally given and receiv'd by the right Hand, therefore the right Hand of God is sometimes let to signify his Bounty, and the Blessedness of those that receive it; according to that of the Pfalmist, In thy Presence is Fulness of Joy, and at thy right Hand are Pleasures for evermor-e, P&l. id.ult. In short the/i, by the right Hand of God, here we are to understand the greatest Power, the highest Honour, the purest Pleasure, and the surest Happiness.
zdly, The fitting at the right Hand of God, is not meant of any one determinate Posture of the Body ., for St.Stephcn, looking up stedsastly into Heaven, is faid to see Jesus standing at the right Hand of God, Acisj. 56. And St, John represents him as lying in his Father's Bosom, John i. 18. But by fitting here is meant the enjoying, inhabiting and posselstng this superlative Degree of Glory. And because sitting is a Posture of Rest, Honour, Command and Continuance, therefore Christ's sitting at the right Hand of God implies his eternal and undisturbed Enjoyment of the highest Hor nour, Power and Happiness with God in the highest Heavens, Of this David prophetically foretold long before, Psal. 110. X- The Lard said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right Hand, ttU I have made thine Enemies ihy FootstooL This Prophecy our Saviour applies tjo himself, as not spoken li* terally of the .natural Son of David, but mystically of the * Son of Godj Mat. 22. 44,45. which made him fay to th« Chief Priests and Elders before his Death, Hereafter fijall ye. set the Son of Man fitting at the right Hand of Power j Mat. 26.64. . .
But what Benefiss or Privileges accrue from Christ's Seslion at the right Hand of God? Why, very great and _ noble ones indeed, both with respect to Christ himself, and to all his faithful Followers. I shall mention only two of them: and they are, a compleat Victory over his and our Enemies; and his powerful Intercession, or Appearance in the Presence of God for us.
(1.) I fay, Christ's sitting at the right Hand of God assures us of a compleat Victory over his and our Enemies; so we read, Heb. 10. 12, 13. He is set down at the right Hand if God, from henceforth expecting till all his Enemies be made his Footstool. And elsewhere, He must reign till he hath put all Enemies under his feet, 1 Cor. 15. Where the Apostle in both those Expressions, of making his Enemies his Footstool, and putting them under his Feet, alludes to the antient Custom of the Eastern Conquerors, who were wont to tread upon the Necks of their subdued Enemies. So we read of Joshua, who having made five Kings his Prisoners, faid unto the Men that went with him, Come near, and put your Feet upon the Necks of them, Josh. 10.4. which was a Token of a perfect'Conquest and SuBjugation of them.
Now this Victory of our Saviour's extends not only to the temporal Enemies of his Church, such as the Jews and Gentiles were of old, and all Opposers of his Kingdom ever since; but likewise to all the spiritual Enemies of our Souls, and our Salvation ., such as Sin, Satan, Death and Hell: all which are perfectly subdued to him, by the Merits of his Death, the Power of his Resurrection, the Triumphs of his Ascension, and the Glory of his Session at God's right Hand. This is confirm'd to us by St. Paul, who tells us, that God raised him from the Dead, and set him at his own right Hand in heavenly Places, sar above all Principalities and Powers, Might and Dominions, and every Name that is named, not only in this World, but also in that which is to come j and hath 'put all things under his Feet, and gave him to be Head over all things to the Church: Eph. 1. 20, 21, &c. And St. Peter to the fame purpose; Jefm is gone into Heaven, and is at the right Hand of God; Angels, and Authorities, and Powers being made subject unto him. 1 Pet. 3. 22. . (2.) Another Privilege proceeding from Christ's sitting at the right Hand of God, is his being an Intercessor and Mediator for us at his right Hand. This is one great Use he makes of his high Advancement, to be ready at hand to plead our Cause, and to appear in the Presence of God for us: Jf any Man fin (faith St. 'John) we have an Advocate .with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous* who ever liveth, to make Intercession for us; i John 2.1. Heb. 7. 25.. And if it be a Matter of so greaf Favour and Benefit to have a Friend in the Courts of Princes, how much greater Honour and Advantage is it to have a Friend and Favourite in the Court of Heaven? Where, as the things we. ask are much greater, so have we need of a more powerful Intercessor; and a greater we cannot have than the Son of God, who by pleading his Merits at the Throne of Grace, is sure to obtain Mercy and Grace, to help in time of need.
This is the Gosoel for this Day, which we may improve in the following Particulars.
1st, From the Disciples Backwardness to believe the Truth of Christ's Resurrection, we may learn to pray for the Increase and Establishment of our Faith in him • , for if the Faith of the Apostles fail'd, who had all the Opportunities and Encouragements to believe, how much more may ours fail, who have so many Suggestions and Temptations to disbelieve him? The Sadduces of old dehy'd both Christ's Resurrection and ours; and we have too many Sadduces still, who seek by all means to undermine the Belief of both: which mould teach us to watch and, pray, that we be not led into Temptation, but may continue firm and stedfast in the Faith to the end.
24fy, From Christ's being exalted to the right Hand of God, we may learn the infinite Wisdom and Justice of God the Father, in recompensing the Sufferings of his Son with so high and honourable a Reward. He humbled himself so low as the Grave, and descended into Hell by his Father's Appointment•, and therefore it was but fit that he should be exalted to the highest Heavens, and seated in the most honourable Place there and so he is, being set down at the right Hand of the Majesty on high: and as no Abasement could be lower, so no Advancement can be higher than his.
idly, From Christ's Exaltation at the right Hand of Power and Glory, we may learn all due Reverence and Subjection' to him: for God hath thus highly exalted him, th.it at the Name of Jesus every Knee should how, and every Tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father y Phil. 2. 9,10,11. Let us then be Subjects of his Kingdom' of Grace -here, that we may become the Subjects' of hist : ... '" Kingdom