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See the following passages of Scripture, 1 Tim. 3:16. Heb. 4:14. 7: 26. 9:8, 9, 24. 10:19, 20.
§ 8. Another circumstance connected with the ascension of Christ, is his employment at the time, which is described by the evangelist Luke in the words just quoted. Whilst Jesus was in the very act of blessing his disciples, he was parted from them. It is the privilege of the righteous, not only to die blessed, but even whilst blessing others. Both dying Jacob, and dying Moses, blessed the ten tribes of Israel; so Christ, when he left his disciples, blessed them.
Having loved his own, he loved them to the end." John, 13:1. As the great design of our Savior's coming into the world was to be a public blessing to his people, so blessing was the last thing he did for them, and that either by conferring blessedness upon them, as a divine person, or else by praying for a blessing for them, as man; whereby he gave them a specimen of the work in which he is engaged in heaven, where he ever lives to make intercession for them. It is further noticed, that "he lifted up his hands and blessed them." The ancient manner of blessing others, was sometimes by the laying on of the hands, as Jacob did when he blessed the sons of Joseph, Gen. 48:11; at other times, when many persons were to be blessed, it was by lifting up, hands, as Aaron is said " to lift up his hands towards the people, and bless them." Lev. 9 : 22. So Christ, the High Priest of our profession, blessed his apostles with uplifted hands.
$ 9. I will now proceed, my dear Benjamin, to point out the design of Christ's ascension. We may consider it as a testimony of his Messiahship and the acceptance of his work. We have already seen that it was both typified and predicted that Messiah was to ascend into heaven; it was therefore necessary for Jesus Christ to ascend into heaven, as well as to have died and risen from the dead, according to the Scriptures. It also proved the perfection and acceptance of his work; as the discharge of the debtor
from prison, proves that the creditor is satisfied, so Christ's resurrection was a proof that the law of God was perfectly satisfied, and God well pleased; and his ascension gives a further degree of assurance. Had Christ been an unfaithful servant, and not done his work to the perfect satisfaction of his Father, the justice of God would not have permitted him to be taken out of the grave, much less to be exalted to heaven and glory.
The infinite wisdom of God would never have entrusted him with all power in heaven and on earth, to act as the Mediator in heaven, if he had not been faithful in the management of what had been before committed to him ; because, if he had been unfaithful in one, there was no ground to think that he would be faithful in the other. But it is a strong argument that he will be exact in the glorious part of his charge in heaven, since he has been exact in the ignominious part of his work on earth. It is because he is a faithful Witness, that he is the “ Prince of the kings of the earth.” Rev. 1:5. It is this argument the Spirit uses to convince the world of the righteousness of his person, and the righteousness of his mediation, that there is a full expia. tion of sin, because he is received and entertained by the Father. John; 16: 10.
§ 11. It was expedient that Christ should be rewarded for his humiliation. Reason as well as revelation voula teach us, that Christ
, in order to perform the engagements and bear the heavy loads appertaining to the work of redemption, would need more than common support. The difficultites he had to encounter required a joy to be set be. fore him, and a joy which should not be at a remote distance, but placed immediately in view ; something which should succor him in the day of tribulation, and afford the certainty that he should have “ beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." All this was to be derived from the prospect of an immediate victory over death, and the full possession of
life and glory; he was to receive all power in heaven and on earth, and reign as Lord of all. It is evident from the Holy Scripture that he derived support from this source. David as a prophet having foretold the resurrection of the Messiah, continues to speak of his ascersion also, saying. " Thou wilt show me the path of life ; in thy presence is fullness of joy; a: thy right hand there are pleasures for everniore.” Psa. 16 : 11.
The apostle, in exhorting Christians to run their spiritual race, directed them to imitate the example of Christ, sayo ing, “ Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb. 12 : 2.
§ 12. Another end to be answered by the ascension of Christ, was to triumph over his enemies. My dear Benjamin will remember, that in the prediction contained in Psa. 68, it is said that Messiah should lead " captivity cap. tive;" and the apostle assures us this was fulfilled at the ascension of Jesus : in his epistle to the Ephesians, ch. 4: 8, and in writings to the Colossians, he says, “Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Col. 2: 15. In these words there is evidently an allusion to the solemn iriumphs of princes : after having obtained some remarkable and complete victory, they made a public triumphal show, rode through the streets in the greatest state, and had all their spoils carried before them, and the kings and nobles whom they had taken they tied to their chariots, and led them as captives. In like manner, Christ spoiled his enemies on the cross, conquered them at his resurrection, and openly triumphed over them at his ascension. He overcame the world, bound the devil, and spoiled hell, weakened sin, destroyed death, and triumphed over the grave.
§ 13. To carry on the work of Mediator, was another end of Christ's ascension into heaven, both as it respects
his priestly and kingly office, for he was to be a "priest upon his throne.” Zech. 6: 13. Respecting his kingly office, I shall write to you in a future letter, my present observation relates to his priestly office only. I have observed in the commencement of this letter, that the Levitical high priest, entering the most holy place with the blood of atonement, sprinkling it on the mercy seat, was typical of Mes. siah's entering into heaven with the blood of his own sacrifice; and this was fulfilled at the ascension of Christ : "For Christ is not entered into the holy placęs made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9 : 24. As the high priest entered on the behalf of the people, with the names of the twelve tribes on his breast and shoulders, so Christ has entered heaven in behalf of all his people, bearing the memorial of every saint on his heart.
Had Christ remained on earth, he would not have done the whole work of a high priest. It was not enough for the legal high priest to slay and pour out the blood of the sacrifice in the outward tabernacle, and offer it upon the altar on the day of expiation; but he was to pass within the veil, to present the blood of the victim to the Lord, and sprinkle it towards the mercy-seat,
his relurn to publish the atonement and reconciliation to the people; so that there would have been no analogy between the type and the antitype, if our Savior, after his oblation on earth, had not, in the quality of a priest, passed into the heavens, as through the veil which separated the heavenly sanctuary from the outward court. The legal priest was also to burn incense; by insence, in Scripture, is frequently meant prayer; this also made it necessary for Christ to ascend up into heaven. Intercession is a great part of his priestly office, as will be shown hereafter, and could no more have been performed except in heaven, than the oblation, the first part of his office, could have been performed any where but on earth.
14. The descent of the Holy Ghost, with all his gifts and
graces, was another great end and design of Christ's ascen. sion into heaven. We have already seen that it was predicted that Messiah was to ascend, that he "might receive gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell
amongst them.” Psa. 68: 18. The same was foretold by the prophets, Isa. 32: 15; 44: 3. Joel, 2: 28, 32. I have also shown, that the Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly told his disciples that it was necessary for nin to return to his Father, else the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would not descend; and after his resurrection he again said to them, " Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you : but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke, 24: 49. Accordingly, on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Lord descended, in a most copious manner, upon the disciples, enduing them with miraculous powers, and communicating remarkablo gifts and graces to the believers in general. The apostle, speaking on the subject, says, “ When he ascended up on high he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descend. ed first into the lower parts of the earth ? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some paštors and teachers.” Eph. 4 : 8–11.
The giving of the Spirit depended on the glorification of Christ as Jesus, a Savior.“ In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.") John, 7: 37–39. The Spirit was not given in that eminency and fullness of gifts and graces till the glorification of Christ, wherein he absolutely received zhe keys of all the treasures of his Father, as well as the