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AT PERCY CHAPEL, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD, JUNE 16, 1833.
Mark, xvi. 19.-" So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God."
CHRISTIANITY is founded upon facts; | to his death, in connection with the and it is of the last importance to the promise of the Holy Spirit. He had forming right views of Christianity, told the disciples what instruction that the leading facts which consti- they would receive when the Spirit tute the basis of it, should be correctly came-what wonderful works they understood. The ascension of our would perform-what persecutions Lord Jesus Christ into heaven, is one they would be called to endure-what of those facts to which I now, there- consolations they would be privileged fore, call your attention. After he to experience—and what fruits of had risen from the dead he showed righteousness they would be enabled himself to witnesses chosen before to produce. And while he was conof GOD, but especially to the Apostles, versing upon such topics, of the to whom he gave many infallible deepest interest to his little flock, he proofs that it was he, himself; ap- was suddenly raised before their pearing to them from time to time eyes, from the ground-floated in during the interval of forty days, and their sight in the open air-ascended conversing with them at those inter-carrying their wondering gaze after views concerning the things that him-approached the clouds — dispertain to the kingdom of GOD; particularly, he conversed with them, on those occasions, concerning the mission of the Holy Spirit, "the promise of the Father," which, said he to them, "ye have heard of me." He had repeatedly dwelt on this previous
appeared within a cloud-and was received into heaven, where he sat down at the right hand of God.
Now, in order to a right understanding of this fact, our best and safest mode will be, to look over some of the most remarkable passages
the sum: we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." And in the twelfth chapter and second verse, we read that "Jesus Christ 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." In the first epistle of St. Peter, the third chapter and twenty second verse, we read that "Jesus Christ is gone to heaven, and is on the right hand of GOD; angels and authorities and powers, being made subject unto him." And, finally, in the third chapter of the Revelations and the twenty-first verse, he addresses these words to the church of Laodicea, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
of Scripture wherein the fact is re- | things which we have spoken this is corded, and to explain, where explanation shall be needful, the language made use of in those passages. First, then, in the parallel passage of the evangelical history in the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Luke, we read at the fiftieth verse, that "he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." In the sixteenth chapter of St. John, we find our Lord himself using these words at the twenty-eighth verse, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we read thus at the ninth verse, "when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." In the seventh chapter of the Acts, we have this remarkable testimony from the dying martyr Stephen at the fifty-sixth verse, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of GoD." In the first chapter of St. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians, the truth before us is stated in these remarkable words at the twentieth verse, "GOD raised up Christ from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." In the epistle to the Hebrews there is a variation in the phrase in which this truth is stated. In the eighth chapter and first verse we read, now of the
Now the most remarkable expression, contained in these passages of Holy Scripture, which express the truth of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, are, "the right hand of GOD"-" the throne of GOD”—“ the throne of the Majesty in heaven.” What are we to understand by Jesus Christ having ascended" to the right hand of the throne of the Majesty of GoD in heaven?" My brethren, the language of Holy Scripture is not the language of abstract science, but the language of popular communication.
Had philosophical precision been adhered to in the Bible, the Bible could never have been suitable for the instruction of mankind; for but a fraction of mankind has, in every age, been acquainted with the precision of philosophical language. The Bible being intended for the instruction of men, is constructed after the manner in which men communicate with one another; and, therefore, it is obvious, that if any criti
cising cavillers will bring the rules | truth of the ascension of Jesus Christ of abstract science to the examina- into heaven, must be understood as tion of the words of Scripture, that contained in a popular communicathey shall be able to detect multitudes, tion. The right hand" is perfectly of what would seem to them, the most intelligible, and is the popular mode flagrant contradictions, and so they of expressing strength and power; will in every popular publication. and for the simple reason known to The mode of writing, necessary to the plainest and rudest of mankind, communicate knowledge to the bulk that when a man makes an effort of of mankind, will not bear the rules strength, the point of his body at of abstract criticism. Has GOD, then, which the energy becomes concenspoken to philosophers, or has he trated, is his right hand. It is so spoken to mankind at large? If he used in Scripture. The first place has spoken to mankind at large, it is we meet with it is in the song of obviously an unjust mode of treating Moses, in the fifteenth chapter of the Bible, to come to it with the rules Exodus, when Pharaoh and his host of precise philosophical definition, were destroyed in the Red Sea. and to expect that the language of it "The depths have covered them; shall bear such a system of criticism; they sank into the bottom as a stone. yet it is precisely by this unfairness, Thy right hand, O Lord, is become that some of our professing wise men, glorious in power; thy right hand, in our own times, proclaim the con- O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the tradictions which are contained in enemy." Who will not readily unthe Bible. derstand this to mean, the power of the Lord, set forth, not in the literal right hand, but set forth in the overflowing waves of the Red Sea, which upon that occasion, and for the purpose of overwhelming his Egyptian enemies, were God's right hand? The same use of the expression is found in the hundred and eighteenth Psalm, in the fifteenth and following verses, "The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly." And further, " sitting at the right hand of GOD," which is an expression used in the passages of Scripture I have read to you, is not to be understood as denoting literally a coporeal attitude; for although it might be so literally applied to the human nature of Jesus Christ, yet the whole application could not be literal, because GOD has no literal right hand at which Jesus could sit. What, then, is the
See what is necessary to do when the ingenuity of men is to be guarded against! See in what manner the language of regal documents, the language of acts of parliament is obliged to be guarded! See how all popular statutes are drawn up, and a degree of labour and precision attended to, to meet and repel the ingenuity of offenders? But GOD has not so met and repelled the ingenuity of infidels in the Bible-he has not forsaken the popular strain of communication-he has not adopted the guarded strain and phraseology in which acts of parliament are written; and therein has left the Scriptures as a touchstone to the sincerity of the reader, instead of guarding it, on every side, against the ingenuity of the infidel. If you will criticise then, remember the Bible is a popular communication, and not a philosophical treatise.
Now the expressions which I have read to you, containing the great
sovereignty of GoD is from everlasting to everlasting. "GOD sitteth on the throne judging righteously."
Now bearing these things in mind, let us return to the truth before us, and see what the import of the Scripture is. That Jesus Christ who was dead, and who rose from the dead with all that truly appertains to man's nature, was taken up, exalted to be the executive of Jehovah's universal government, all things entrusted into his hands; he is "at the right hand" of the living God; he is on the throne of the Father exercising universal sovereignty, and enjoying the glory of the majesty of the great, the living GOD. This is the truth before us, that a man is exalted to the throne of GOD, and that universal dominion is put into a man's hand. It is an as
obvious meaning of the text? But that of an image derived from earthly things to give us a simple idea of heavenly things. It is a common practice amongst men, amongst the kings of the earth, to honor with a seat on their right hand, the man to whom they entrust the execution of their government. The expression is so used in the Scriptures, and with reference to the subject now before us. In the eightieth Psalm, these words occur in the prayer of the Jewish church at the seventeenth verse, "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself." How simple this is as a popular communication. If any man be always employed by another, if the affairs of that other be entrusted to his care, and the other keep en-tounding fact, it is a wonderful fact, tirely out of sight himself, and devolve all his business to his friend, how common, how intelligible to the bulk of mankind is it to say, that is his right hand man. It is in this way that the Bible is constructed for the instruction of mankind.
that a man should be taken in the unity of one person in Jehovah, and exalted to be the administrator of the universal government of GOD!
Consider this fact!-meditate upon it for a moment! See what God hath done!-Among all the natures he hath created, ours is the elect nature, the only one that he hath taken into union with himself. "He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham;" and he raised Jesus, as you have read,
ties and powers," even to the throne of GoD itself. Man is the manifestation of God's extreme love. Fallen
Then, in like manner, the other expression so frequently used in the passages I read to you, "the throne." The throne is a popular and well understood expression to denote royalty and kingly sovereignty in general. What is more intelligible" far above all angels and principaliamong men than to say, that loyalty strengthens the throne, or upholds the throne; that is, strengthens the hands of the king, the sovereignty of govern- | man, debased by sensuality and ment? And what is more common than to read of rebellion as making the throne totter; that is, exciting alarms as to the stability of kingly government? And so the expression "throne" is used in the Scriptures to denote the sovereign majesty, and universal majesty of GOD. "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." What can it mean, but that the universal
alienated by hatred of GOD, not only the transgressor of his law, but the rejecter of his love in his Son, is sunk below the fallen angels. They had no opportunity of rejecting God's love; they have broken his law indeed, but they have no opportunity of exhibiting the intensity, of malignity and ingratitude which is shown by every man who hears and rejects the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. On the othering GOD honor, to pray that fire from heaven should descend and consume the ungodly. But no fire descends, and he is baffled; and having allowed himself to identify real religion with his own short sighted and debasing
side, man recovered and restored in Christ is exalted above the holy angels. So that a separation shall take place in mankind, the divers parts of both one, and the same race, shall separate into God's extremes- | views and expectations, we do not one below the fallen angels-the other above the holy angels, one with Jesus who is on the throne of the Father.
unfrequently find him throwing up all together, and plunging from the extreme of fanaticism into the extreme of infidelity.
On the other side the bulk of man
Now consider this fact as it stands connected with the patience of GOD-kind become encouraged in wicked
as it stands connected with the grace of GOD-and as it stands connected with the judgment of GOD.
ness by the patience of GOD. They begin to feel that evil practices, as they are called amongst men, cannot after all be so very wicked or GoD would not bear with them so long. They begin to think that the statements of GOD's anger at sin are exaggerated statements, and after all, that what is so long tolerated cannot be so very revolting to him. They begin to feel that God has no very great horror at what they do, any more than they have themselves. This is the accusation brought against them in Scripture, "Thou thoughtest I was altogether such a one as thyself.” When they are alarmed-when they are expostulated with at all by any messenger of GOD-when you take to task some dishonest fraudulent dealer, or some fashionable retailer of falsehood, and charge his fault home upon him, and set forth the majesty of GoD against such sin, in nineteen cases in twenty, the secret reserve and refuge of the man's heart is something of this kind, "Such things have always been done; men have
Consider the fact before us as it stands connected with THE PATIENCE OF GOD. There is a great mystery to us in the long suffering and patience of GOD. When we reflect on his holy hatred of all sin, his essential opposition to all evil-and when we consider his omniscient readiness to crush every offender, and his knowledge of every offender however skilfully concealed among the creatures -and when, in the radiance of such divine light, he looks down upon this world, and beholds the wide spread of ungodliness, the wrong, the oppression, the tyranny, the hypocrisy, the falsehood, the blasphemy, the licentiousness which characterize the bulk of our species, the first heaving of the human heart under such circumstances, the natural feeling of man, arising out of our common sense of righteous retribution is, astonishment that such wickedness is so long borne with. It is a feeling that has arisen a thousand times in your own hearts-been doing as much evil as I do, many how wonderful it is that God bears with such a world! Now he goes on bearing with patience such a world.
Mark what a trial arises out of his patience to the men of the world! The enthusiast becomes impatient, he is urged on by his zeal, and thinking that he is taking God's part, and do
of them more, for ages; God's patience has borne with them; I will take my chance; He will bear with me; it will last my time." So that they harden themselves in sin, because GOD is not a GOD of immediate vengeance.
Brethren, this is true of men, both