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Nothing is more grand, more precious than the news to be announced to them. “ I ascend to my Father," he who is so by nature; “ and to their Father," by adoption and grace: “ To my God,” in covenant with me as their head, and “ to their God," in covenant with them through me and under me. Words which at once show the triumph of Jesus Christ, and the triumph of the Christian. Let us illustrate these two ideas.
1. It was the triumph of Jesus Christ, and removed the scandal of the cross. When the Saviour expired, his disciples were filled with astonishment and consternation. All their hopes died with him upon the cross; and they could not reconcile his ignominy and sufferings with the character of the deliverer of Israel. But scarcely have they time to reflect upon this event, which prostrated their hopes, before the resurrection of their Master, and the glory which followed it, is announced to them. Their eyes immediately are opened; those prejudices concerning a temporal kingdom and a worldly glory of Messiah, to which they so pertinaciously clung, were abandoned; and the rays of glory, with which Jesus was encircled in springing from the tomb, shed upon
person, his doctrine, his ministry, the nature and extent of his mission, a light which directs and cheers the apostles. They now comprehend what before they could not conceive, that his kingdom is not of this world; that it extends to all ages; that it is to be exercised from heaven; that he will re-descend only to judge the world; and that, “ having been declared the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead, he has thus received a name which is above every name.” (Rom. i. 4. Phil. ii. 9, 10, 11.) Here they see the accomplishment of the predictions of the ancient prophets, and the splendid terms in which they spoke of the triumphs of Messiah. Here was explained that mystery hitherto covered with darkness to them, of the humiliation, the sufferings, and death of the Son of God. Here was understood by them in all its extent, the prayer of Jesus ready to expire: “ And now, ( Father, glorify thy Son with the glory which I had with thee before the foundation of the world." Yes, if Christ crucified, was for a short time a cause of triumph to his enemies, of perplexity and grief to his disciples, Christ risen becomes a cause of confusion to these enemies, and of joy to these disciples. “If thou be the Son of God," said the blinded Jews when insulting him, “ come down from the cross.” Jesus did more: he came alive from the tomb; and this miracle of divine power is only the first step of that elevation into which he is entering; the first ray of that glory which he is about to enjoy in the bosom of his Father ; the first degree of that supreme grandeur, with which his God, who is not the God of the dead, but of the living, is about to crown him, in “ making him sit at his right hand in 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." brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your father, and unto my God and your God.” This is then the triumph of Christ.
2. It is also a source of the richest consolation and trust to all believers.
“ I would wish this text,” says the excellent Baxter, “ written on my dying bed ; I would wish to view it with my closing eyes, that I might exult in the agonies of dissolution.” Ah! Christians, never forget it! Engrave it on your minds and hearts in in
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effable characters; it is a firm warrant for the sublimest hopes; a pledge of the highest elevation. And let it also be your rule in all your conduct; your consolation in your trials; your trust in the most disastrous situations.
If the Father of Jesus Christ is your Father and your God, always listen with docility to a voice at once so august and tender; follow the glorious example of the “ first-born among many brethren,” who has given you a model of the most perfect obedience; and strive to be able to say with him in your closing moments, O my Father, my God,' “ I have glorified thee on earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”
If the Father of Jesus Christ is your Father and your God, submit with an entire resignation to all the dispensations of Providence, as Jesus submitted to them. Let us suffer like him, that we may reign with him; and convinced that the will of our Father is always wise and good, if the weakness of our nature should make us for a moment cry, “ Father, let this cup pass from me without my drinking it,” let us instantly add, “ Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done;" firmly convinced that “all things work together for good to those that love God;" and that our trials will tend to honour and glory when Jesus shall be manifested.
If the Father of Jesus Christ is your God and Father, then let this tender assurance augment your faith, your love, your detachment from the world. . Yes, believers, intimately united to Jesus Christ by the bonds of the truest and tenderest love, regard, ing him as your brother and your Saviour, you shalt participate in his glory, after participating in his sufferings. “ Sealed with the seal of this adoption,”
which permits you to regard God as your Father ; regenerated by the Holy Spirit, “ heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” Your country is in the heavens, where Jesus has preceded you only to prepare mansions for you. It is there that, united for ever to him, you shall enjoy in all their plenitude the delights of that love which you imperfectly understand below. How calculated is this hope to support us in the midst of trials and temptations, in the midst of the vicissitudes of life, and in the arms of death itself! Ah! when is it that we shall have sentiments and a conduct conformed to this hope; that, no longer fascinated by earth, our hearts shall ascend with our ascended Saviour? Then, after having with Mary here below wept his absence, groaned at the interval which separates us from him, laboured to sanctify it by communion with him, we shall with joy perceive the moment of our dissolution approach; we shall with transport behold that tomb opening for us, which shall confine for a short time our mortal and corruptible bodies, only to restore them like his, incorruptible and immortal; then, resting in his embraces, our hearts overflowing with gratitude, we shall feel the full force of these words: " I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and unto my God and your God.”
Is there here any dejected and humble penitent that can derive no consolation from these words; that, pressed down under a sense of sin, fears that the Saviour will never be found by him; that, like Mary, is bitterly weeping, and seeking Jesus? Be of good cheer, thou “ tossed with tempest,” and “ not comforted;" Jesus is near thee, though thou perceivest him not; he marks thy tears, he listens to thy groans, he sees thy penitential sorrow; and he
will surely, he may suddenly, he may on this very occasion, manifest himself to thee, speak to thee the accents of peace, and, like Mary, change thy tears into rapture. Though thou standest before the seat of Christ, as the brethren of Joseph before this patriarch, not perceiving his affection and fearing his anger, yet he shall soon cry to thee, not “I am Joseph, thy brother,” but, • I am Christ, thine elder brother, thy Lord and thy Redeemer.'
And you who never have been affected by the love of the Redeemer, and never have felt the power of his resurrection; who, though you are assured that this Redeemer liveth, and know where to seek him if you would find him, yet continue contentedly without him, we pity your folly, we tremble at your guilt. Ah! the time is rapidly coming, when you shall feel the infinite value of their privilege who can regard the Almighty as their God and Father reconciled in Christ. In imagination place yourselves on the bed of death, at that middle point between time and eternity, which you must shortly reach; your acquaintance stand silent and gloomy around your couch, watching each fresh symptom of danger, and feeling a chill on their blood and spirits as they mark death approaching, and you unprepared. But in vain are their prayers and tears ; your eyes swim; your tongue falters; a cold sweat bedews your face; you groan; death drives his arrow deep into your heart; you expire; and your soul, red with unexpiated guilt, falls before the throne, not of a reconciled Father, but of an offended Judge; not of a covenant God, but of the tremendous Jehovah, armed with thunders to avenge your violations of his law, and your contempt of his Son!.