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"This is the
blessing and favour of the Lord. generation of them that seek him," this should be the character of all those who "seek the face," who aspire to view, in the heavenly sanctuary, the lustre and glory of the God of " Jacob." Oh, my soul, with what ardour of desire, with what supreme vigour of exertion shouldst thou seek those holy graces that alone will render thee meet for these eternal and glorious rewards!
As the animating truth which is to quicken our piety and virtue, our consolations and triumphs, the last portion of the psalm displays,
3. The glorious ascension of our victorious Redeemer to that eternal kingdom, to the glories and bliss of which he will finally advance his obedient people.
The assembled, congregation of the children of Israel with the voice of joy and shouting bore the ark of the Lord to its destined habitation. Ascending, in long and magnificent procession, the hill of Zion, and arrived at the gates of the tabernacle, the bands of priests and Levites demand admission for the ark of Jehovah. An inquiry is made by the priests who guard the sacred sanctuary, concerning the character and office of him who claims admittance; and in return, the priests and Levites who bear the ark declare the sovereign dominion and glorious majesty of that Lord, the symbol of whose presence is now to be placed in the sanctuary of Mount Zion.
This sublime scene is symbolical of an event infinitely more splendid and glorious, and which claims our rapturous contemplation and elevated faith.
The Lord of life and glory, Jesus, the Son of God, Jesus, our Saviour, our Lord, having trod the wine-press of divine wrath, having triumphed over the powers of death and hell, prepares to take possession of a heavenly temple in the Zion above. Rising from that tomb whose barriers he burst, and shaking off the habiliments of corruption, he ascends, attended by the church of the redeemed, in splendour and majesty to the heavenly courts. Inspired with sublime confidence in the power and glory of their incarnate God, his redeemed people demand that the everlasting doors should be thrown open to their victorious Saviour. They shout forth the animating cry-" Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." Be ye open, O ye gates of the sanctuary; stand wide open, ye durable doors; and the King of glory, the Conqueror of death and hell, shall enter, and commence his glorious and eternal reign. "Who is this King of glory?" exclaim the astonished host of heaven, the ministering spirits of the celestial Zion. "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle," triumphantly respond the attendants of the Saviour. The Lord, of almighty power and resistless dominion, the Lord, whose victorious arm hath dispersed his adversaries, and wrought everlasting salvation. Therefore, "lift up your heads, O gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." Speedily open, O ye gates of Zion; be ye open, wide open, O ye doors which never shall decay; and the King, whose glory filleth the universe, shall take possession of his celestial courts. "Who is this King of glory?" again demand the guardians of the heavenly
sanctuary; and again respond the attendants of the Almighty Conqueror, "The Lord of hosts"the Lord, who created the universe, who now by his resistless power hath redeemed it, hath rescued the fallen race of man from the thraldom of sin and death-"he is the King of glory." He is the Almighty King, who comes to claim his divine glory, who comes to advance his church and people to immortal felicity, who comes to awaken in your celestial courts the songs of praise to the Lamb that was slain, to the victorious Conqueror who bought his people with his blood. Triumphant ascension of the Lord of life! Immortal felicity of the church of the redeemed! Glorious and eternal throne on which the Saviour exercises the sceptre of power and of love! Thither, O Christians, in heart and mind continually ascend. To these blissful mansions the mercy of your Saviour invites you; to these immortal glories the victorious grace of your Redeemer is ready to conduct you.
This neat, impressive, and beautiful sanctuary, reared by pious enterprise and public-spirited zeal -this house, which bears the appropriate and interesting appellation that recalls the glorious event which the psalm we have been considering celebrates the "ascension,"* has now become the dwelling-place of the great King, of Jesus the Saviour, the Lord of life and glory. Its ministrations, its worship, and its ordinances will afford you the light that will guide to the heavenly Zion, the mercy that will refresh and console the contrite
This refers to "the Church of the Ascension," in the city of New-York, at the consecration of which the sermon was preached, VOL. II.
spirit, the grace that will convert and renew the corrupt and disordered soul, and qualify it for those celestial courts on which the victorious Lord hath entered, where he is preparing for his faithful people a place also. Be ever glad, then, to come to this house of the Lord, to behold and to feel, in his word, his sacraments, his worship here ministered, his power and glory; that so (this is our prayer-this should be your desire and aim) you may go from strength to strength, until at length, before the God of God, Jesus the King of glory, you appear in the heavenly Zion.
Risen, Christians, as you are with your Saviour Christ, set not your affections, devote not your supreme desires to a perishing world, from which you must soon be separated. Seek those joys that never will decay, that flourish for ever in that heavenly kingdom where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Seek, earnestly seek, through the power of his Spirit, that purity of heart, that holiness of life, which will render you fit, through his merits, to "ascend into the hill of the Lord, and to stand up in his holy place;" to ascend into the everlasting mountain where Jehovah hath fixed his habitation, and to stand up in that holy place where Jesus, the King of glory, reigns for ever, dispensing joys unutterable and without end.
But what will be the destiny of the ungodly-of those whose hearts are not pure, whose hands are not clean, who have lift up their hearts unto vanity, and sworn deceitfully! Alas! instead of ascending the celestial hill of the Lord, they shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God. Instead of standing up in the holy place of the Most High, they shall dwell where is the de
vouring fire, and make their bed where are everlasting burnings. According to the moral constitution of nature, as well as by the righteous decree of the Sovereign of the universe, the ungodly cannot stand in the judgment, neither sinners in the congregation of the righteous. A day, a fearful day is at hand, when they will behold the righteous ascending the hill of the Lord, while they must descend to the place prepared for the devil and his angels.
Now then, all ye who are enemies to God by wicked works, we beseech you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God. Cease to do evil, learn to do well. Supplicate the influences of the Divine Spirit, and seek their quickening and sanctifying power in the ministrations and ordinances of Christ's church, that you may have clean hands and a pure heart-may not lift up your minds unto vanity, nor swear to deceive your neighbour. Then you too shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and stand up in his holy place: you too shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of your salvation. Your lot shall be here with the righteous, in the light of God's countenance; and your final portion shall be also with them in the presence, the life-giving, joy-inspiring presence of the King of glory; to whom be ascribed all honour, power, majesty, and dominion, world without end.