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The Ascension Day.
GRANT, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe Thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with Him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
“ And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel ; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”—Acts i. 10, 11.
HE life of a believer is not here. It is beyond the
skies. For where his treasure is, there his heart is also. Therefore his affections are no more fixed
upon the earth, because the centre of his comfort is not situated within the circle of earthly things. But they are set upon things above, “where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God ;" because his fellowship is not with the world, but with the Father and the Son. Therefore he “gazes stedfastly towards heaven.” But with what an expression of countenance ? Not with the hopeless glance of an orphan, who regrets the parent of whom he has been for ever deprived—not with the dejection of an exile taking the last sad view of his native shore. No, the view of the believer is a believing view. The eye of faith which passes the cloud that intercepted Jesus from the sight of the world, beholds (like the dying martyr) “ the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God;" but always remembers that “the same Jesus, which is taken up from us into heaven, shall so come in like manner as we have seen Him go into heaven.” There is no view the Christian obtains of his ascended Saviour which does not kindle in his bosom the prospect of His speedy return. There is no glance he obtains of the glory which dwells beside the throne of the Father, which reminds him not of the “ glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” For this is our comfort, “ that when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.” “Therefore our conversation is in heaven"
(where our affections are set), because from thence we look for the Saviour, the "Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself ;'' even so, come, Lord Jesus.”- Amen.
“ So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following."--MARK xvi. 19, 20.
E was received up into heaven, and the personal
presence of the Son of man was finally withdrawn from the world, which for three and thirty years beheld Him under different circumstances and in different vicissitudes. But did His personal influence on human affairs equally cease ? Did He cease to interest Himself in them, or was His human presence necessary to enable Him to take a part in them? The evangelist having stated His ascent into heaven, and exaltation to the right hand of God, immediately proceeds: “And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." His very removal to the exalted position which He attained as the reward of His sufferings, would rather, from the context, seem to have qualified Him the more abundantly to furnish His disciples with a more unlimited control over the natural world, than He was in a condition to communicate before His ascent; and this is no more than what He says Himself (John xiv. 12): “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also ; and GREATER WORKS than these shall he do, BECAUSE I GO UNTO MY FATHER.” “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” His Church in all ages has not ceased to experience the protection of an invisible Hand, which shapes its general interests in its darkest conjunctures, and watches over the concerns of its meanest members with a more than paternal care. “For the which cause I also suffer these things : nevertheless, I am not ashamed : for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim. i. 12.) This witness is true and faithful, and can appeal for its support to the collected experience of many tried spirits in many ages, which unite in confirming it. 0 Christian soul ! if thy Saviour were confined to earth, and thou hadst still His bodily presence, it would no doubt be sweet indeed; but it is no less certain that the ascension which has parted Him from His people
has enlarged the influence and power which worketh unto their good; for He not only ever maketh intercession for us, but hath sent down the Holy Comforter to sanctify and guide us.
Whence those triumphant bursts of joy,
Whose sound through heaven rings ?
And crown Him King of kings.
At sight of Him yon seraphs bright,
Exulting, clap their wings;
And crown Him King of kings.
Look up, ye saints, and, while ye gaze,
Forget all earthly things;
And crown Him King of king 3.
While here, He bore our sin and shame,
From this our comfort springs ;
And crown him King of kings.
We hope, ere long, beyond those clouds,
To tune celestial strings,
To crown Him King of kings.