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the ark, which we spiritually apply to the ascent of our Lord; and the Church is excited to rejoice, and to sing praise, because “God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trump.” The 103d psalm is an animating act of thanksgiving to God for his mercy and love to mankind; the greatest display of which was this day afforded in the exaltation of our human nature to his right hand, and in his merciful acceptance of the intercession of his Son Jesus, who this day went to heaven; to plead the merits of his blood in our behalf.
Q. Explain the lessons for the day.
A. The first lesson for the morning service (2 Kings ii.) contains the history of the taking up of Elijah into heaven, and his conferring a double portion of his spirit on Elisba; which may prefigure our Saviour's ascension, and the sending down of the fulness of his Spirit on the apostles and disciples. The second lesson for the morning (Luke xxiv. ver. 44,) records our Saviour's last conversation with his disciples on earth, and describes the manner in which he was separated from them and taken up into heaven. The first lesson for the evening (Deut. x.) records the ascent of Moses into the mount, to receive the law from God, in order to deliver it to the Jews; which event was a type of our Saviour's ascension into heaven, to send down the law of faith, the perfection and consummation of the old law. The second lesson for the evening (Eph. iv. to ver. 17,) is obviously and peculiarly appropriate to the day, displaying the exalted and glorious design of Christ's ascent into heaven, which was the establishment and perfection of his Church.
Q. Explain the epistle and gospel for the day.
A. The epistle (Acts i. 1,) after taking notice of the ascension of Christ, teaches us, that we are not to stand gazing up into heaven," astonished and confounded at the miraculous ascent of our Lord; but so to prepare ourselves, that we may with joy behold him, who “ shall come in like manner as he went into heaven.” The gospel, (Mark xvi. 14,) like the second lesson at morning prayer, relates our Lord's last discourse to his disciples, and his reception into heaven. Thus, in the first lessons we have the type, and in the epistle, the gospel, and second lessons, the antitype of the ascension.
Q. What are we to believe concerning our Saviour's ascension ?
A. We are to believe, that the only-begotten and eternal
Son of God, after he rose from the dead, did, with the same soul and body with which he rose, by a true and local translation, convey himself from the earth in which he lived, into the heaven of heavens, the most glorious presence of the majesty of God.
8. Was not the ascension of Christ typically represented under the law ?
A. The high priest was appointed once every year to enter into the holy of holies; by which ceremony it was denoted, that “ the High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, was to enter into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us ;''n for all the Jews believed that the tabernacle did signify this world, and the holy of holies the highest heavens. Wherefore, as the high priest did pass through the tabernacle, and with the blood of the sacrifice enter into the holy of holies; so was the Messiah to offer up himself a sacrifice, to pass through all the courts of this world, and, with his blood, to enter into the highest heavens, the most glorious seat of the majesty of God. The ascension of Christ was also prefigured by the translation of Elijah into heaven.
Q. Was not the ascension of the Messiah prophetically declared ?
A. The ascension of Christ was declared prophetically by the psalmist : “ Thou hast ascended on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men.' The phrase on high, in the language of David, signifying heaven, could properly be applied to no other conqueror but the Messiah, who was to conquer sin, and death, and hell, and triumphing over them, to ascend into the highest heaven, and thence to send the precious and glorious gift of the Spirit unto the sons of men. The ascension of Christ was also prophetically declared in those psalms that are appointed for the day, as has been already shown.
Q. When did our Saviour ascend into heaven?
A. The Saviour ascended into heaven forty days after his resurrection. While he was blessing his disciples, he was taken up in a cloud, they all steadfastly looking at him till he was entirely gone out of sight.
Q. What testimony did the angels bear at his ascension? A. While the apostles were looking after our Saviour,
two angels appeared to them, assuring them, that as Jesus was taken from them into heaven, so he should, in as glorivus a manner, return again to judge the world.
Q. Why was the ascension of Christ visibly performed in the presence of the apostles !
A. It was not necessary that the apostles should see the resurrection of Christ, because his showing himself to them after he was alive, was a sufficient proof of his resurrection. But since the session of Christ in heaven was not to be visible to them on earth, it was necessary that they should witness the act of his ascension, that they might bear their testimony to it.
Q. What is meant by Christ's sitting at the right hand of God?
A. By Christ's sitting at the right hand of God, is meant the advancement of his human nature to the beight of dig. nity and authority in the presence of God. The right hand denotes the place of greatest honour and favour; and the expression sitting, denotes fulness of possession and perpetuity of glory.
Q. What were the ends and effects of Christ's ascension into heaven, and exaltation at God's right hand ?
A. Christ ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, that he might there exercise his prophetical office, and impart to us his Holy Spirit, for our instruction, assistance, and comfort ;P that he might there exercise his firiestly office, presenting his meritorious blood before God, and interceding with him in our behalf;9 and, finally, that he might there exercise his kingly office, govern, protect, and deliver us, and at length exalt us to heaven, where he has prepared a place for us.r
Q. Since Christ has ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, is not profound adoration due to him?
A. Since Christ has ascended into heaven, and is ad. vanced to glory and power at the right hand of God, we should render him the honour and worship, the fear and reverence, the service and obedience, that are suitable to his state; joining with every creature in heaven, in earth, and under the earth,” in sending up acclamations of blessing and praise to him, to whom “all power is given in heaven and in earth."
9 Heb. iv. 14; ix. 24.
p Acts ii. 33; John xvi. 7.
Q. Should not the ascension of Christ and his session in glory tend to cherish our faith and hope?
À. We cannot certainly distrust the accomplishment of any promises declared by him, who is ascended into heaven, and who sitteth at the right hand of divine wisdom and divine power, there ordering all things for the advantage of those who love and serve him. « Jesus, our forerunner, having entered within the vail,”'s we can cherish the blessed hope of a joyful and happy rest, after the troubles and sorrows of this wretched life ; for a where he is, there we shall be also."
Q. Should not the ascension of Christ, and his exaltation to glory, excite our joy, and animate us with confidence in our prayers to God?
Å. We have cause for joy that our Redeemer, who laid down his life for us, and was “ obedient unto the death of the cross," has obtained a glorious victory over all his enemies, and is exalted to almighty power and dominion: we have cause fos joy that we have so merciful and kind an Intercessor, always ready to do us good offices at the throne of grace; to which, therefore, we should come with boldness, that “we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Q. Should not the ascension and exaltation of Christ ani. mate us in our obedience ?
A. It should animate us to zealous and holy obedience, to reflect that our Lord is exalted to everlasting glory and dig nity; and that God hath designed the same rewards for us, if we tread in the footsteps of the Saviour, “running the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."
Q. Should not the consideration of the ascension and exaltation of Christ elevate our affections above the world?
A. Since Christ, our divine Forerunner and Head, hath ascended into the heavens, we should also seek the things that are above. To our divine Head we should evermore be joined, deriving life, strength, and activity from him : where our divine Master is, there should our minds be, constantly attentive to his pleasure, and ready to serve him : where the city is, whose denizens we are, and where our final rest must be, there our thoughts and affections should be placed: by its laws and principles should our conduct be
regulated. Though “ absent from our Loud in the body, we should be present with him in our spirit;" contemplating him with an eye of faith, fixing our love upon him, reposing our confidence in him, and directing to him our prayers and praises; that being thus raised above the world, its vain delights, its sordid interests, its empty glories, we may be prepared for the perfect fruition of the glorious and blissful presence of our God and Saviour.
Of the SUNDAY after ASCENSION Day.
Q. EXPLAIN the lessons for the day. A. The first lesson for the morning service (Joel ii.) contains the prediction of the descent of the Holy Spirit, the actual completion of which prediction the Church, on this day, looks forward to commemorate on the ensuing Sunday. The second lesson (John xvii.) is part of the animating prayer of Christ for his disciples, that they might be sanctified and preserved in unity by that Spirit of truth which was to descend upon them. The first lesson for the evening service (Zeph. iii.) is principally occupied in celebrating the salvation which was to be conferred upon the Church, the spiritual Zion; which salvation was completed, when Christ, ascending into heaven, became the “ King of" his spiritual 5 Israel," and sent that Holy Ghost, through whose mighty power his people are to be gathered and redeemed from their captivity to sin and Satan, and made “ a praise throughout the earth.”. The second lesson for the evening (2 Thess. iii. to ver. 17,) directs us to pray, that the “word of God may have free course, and be glorified;" which we may be assured will take place, through the powerful operations of the Holy Ghost, whose coming we are soon to commemorate; and also exhorts us“ patiently to wait for the coming" of that blessed Saviour who has ascended into heaven; and “ not to be weary in well-doing,” since we have the prospect of a glorious reward in heaven.
Q. Explain the collect, epistle, and gospel for the day.
A. The collect prays for the descent of “the Holy Ghost to comfort and to exalt us to heaven, whither our Saviour