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them in the next words, that John truly baptiz'd with Wa ter, but ye shall be baptiz'd with the Holy Ghoft not many days hence. To baptize fignifies to wash or purify, and was a Ceremony belonging to all the kinds of Purification among the Jews, efpecially to the receiving of Profelytes, and admitting of Difciples into the Church. Now this St. John did by Water only, after the manner of the Jews; but Chrift promis'd them a farther Addition to it, by the vifible Defcent of the Holy Ghoft upon them, to inftate them in power of propagating the Gofpel, and governing the Church of Chrift: Which Promife was fulfill'd to them foon after, as we read in the next Chapter. And what was here done to the Apostles, as the Firft-fruits of the converted Jews, was after done to Cornelius and his Family, as the Firft-fruits of the converted Gentiles; for upon St. Peter's preaching to them, the Holy Ghoft fell on them, as it had done upon the Apoftles before, Acts 10. 44. & Acts 11. 15, 16. But befide this Defcent of the Holy Ghoft, which was peculiar only to fome Perfons, there was after a common Defcent of it, that belong'd to all Chriftians, whereby they receiv'd Strength to perform all that God requir'd of them. This is that Spirit, mention'd by St. John, Chap. 7. 39. that was to be given to all that believe. And of this our Saviour fpake, Chap. 3. 5. faying, Except a Man be born again of Water and the Holy Ghoft, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: that is, unless he be initiated into the Chriftian Church, not only by the wafhing of Water, a Ceremony ufed by the Jews, but by the Communication of the Spirit, granted to Chriftians in their Baptifmm, to enable them to perform what is promis'd therein, he cannot be a true Member of it either here or hereafter.
But whilft our Saviour was thus difcourfing to the Difciples of the fpiritual Gifts and Graces of the Holy Ghoft, their Minds ran too much upon the temporal Powers and Preferments of this World, for when they were come together, they ask'd him, faying, Wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Ifrael? ver. 6. The Jews were antiently poffefs'd of a large and flourishing Kingdom, of which they were after difpoffefs'd, and carry'd away captive into Babylon, and thereby difpers'd over the face of the whole Earth. Now there was a Prophecy in Daniel, that the Saints of the Most High should be again reftor'd to this Kingdom, and possess it for ever and ever; Dan. 7. 18. This
they expected to be done by the Meflias at his coming, which made the Mother of Zebedee's Children petition,. that her two Sons, James and John, might fit the one at his right Hand, and the other at his left, in his Kingdom; Mat. 20. 20, 21. With these Hopes and Expectations the Difciples themselves were too much poffefs'd, which made our Saviour check their Vanity; and to wean them. from fuch Thoughts, faid unto them in the next words, It is not for you to know the Times or the Seafons, which the Fa-. ther hath put in his own power: meaning, that this Inquiry of theirs was impertinent and improper for them to make, fince God Almighty hath referv'd the Secrets and Seasons of fuch things to himself, and hath not thought fit to reveal the Time or Manner of his entring upon his Kingdom.
That which is fit for you at prefent to know, is that ye fhall receive Power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be Witnesses unto me, both in Jerufalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermoft parts of the Earth. Where he feeks to raise their Minds from earthly to more fpiritual and heavenly Matters, letting them know, that the Holy Ghoft fhould fhortly come upon them, and then they fhould bear teftimony to the Truth of all that he had faid and done, divulging it first in the great City of Jerufalem, then in all Judea and Samaria: and because the Gospel is to be preach'd to the Heathen World, ye fhall publish it even to the uttermoft Parts of the Earth.
And when he had Spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a Cloud receiv'd him out of their fight. And this will lead us to our Saviour's Affumption up into Heaven, that great Act of his Exaltation; which being the principal Subject of our Meditations on this great Festival, must be a little the more largely infifted on. To which, end, I fhall confider, firft, the Act of his Afcenfion; next, the Proof and Evidence we have of it; and then the Circumstances of Time, Place, and Manner of this great, Action.
For the Act or Nature of his Afcenfion, we are not to understand by it only a metaphorical Tranflation from a lower to a higher Condition, which is often ftil'd afcending; nor yet fuch a figurative Elevation of the Soul, as mounts it up to Heaven on the wings of Prayer and Meditation, for fo we all ought to afcend every day but by Chrift's Afcenfion is meant a real and local Tranflation of
his natural Body from Earth to Heaven, whereby he who lived, died, and rofe again, left thefe lower Regions, and was taken up into the highest Heavens.
This was typify'd in the Old Teftament by Enoch's. Tranflation into Heaven, of which we read, Gen. 5. 24. as alfo by the High Prieft's going once a year into the Holy of Holies. David's rhetorical Speech in the 24th Pfalm, Lift up your heads, O ye Gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlafting Doors, and the King of Glory hall come in was myftically meant of the Meffiah's triumphant Entrance into Glory whom he after thus befpeaks, Thou haft afcended up on high, thou haft led Captivity captive, and receiv'd Gifts for Men. All which Types and Prophecies were fulfill'd in Chrift's Afcenfion into Heaven, and after pouring out the Gifts and Graces of his Holy Spirit upon his Difciples and Followers.
For the Time of his Afcenfion, it was on the fortieth Day after his Refurrection; for he thought fit to stay fo long after he rose from the dead, to manifeft the Truth of his Refurrection, to fettle his Church, and to provide for a Succeffion of Officers and Overfeers in it to the world's end. And having by these things finifh'd the Work which his Father gave him to do, he went up again to the Glory which he had with his Father before the World began.
For the Place of his Afcenfion, that was on the top of the Mount of Olives near Bethany, about a mile distantfrom Jerufalem, where our Saviour led forth his Difciples, and being arriv'd at the top of the adjoining Hill, he there imparted his laft Mind and Meffage to them, and then took his leave of them, telling them that he was now going: to his Father and as the High-Prieft was wont to bless the People at his going into the Holy of Holies, fo did the Son of God then give his Followers his folemn and final Benediction. And while he was thus bleffing them, he is of a fudden parted from them, and mounted up flowly and by degrees, fo as they might for fome time follow him with their Eyes, and difcern his Motion; till being come up at fome confiderable height, a Cloud receiv'd him out of their fight, and hinder'd their Eyes from following or difcerning him any further. Thus did our Saviour, in the fame human Body he receiv'd from the Blessed Virgin, visibly ascend up to Heaven: How he was welcom'd there by the Father, and with what Joy he was receiv'd by the bleffed Inhabitants of that Place, is a matter better to be conceiv'd than defcrib'd.
As for the Manner of his afcending, that we may be fure was not by a natural or artificial means; he was not, as Elias was, mounted up in a Whirlwind, or carry'd thither in any fiery Chariot, but he went up by the fole Influence and Virtue of his Divine Power. No human Body can raise it felf from the Grave by its own natural Strength, and much less can it mount it felf up to Heaven; nothing but the Almighty Power of God, who made and rules all things in Heaven and Earth, could bring this mighty thing to pafs.
For the End of his Afcenfion, it was firft and chiefly for himfelf, to refume his former Glory, which he had with his Father before the Foundation of the World; and likewife to advance his human Nature, in which he did and fuffer'd fuch great things for Man's Salvation, and reward it with the highest Honours: fo we read, For this caufe God bath highly exalted him, and given him a Name above every Name, that at the Name of Jefus every Knee should bom, of things in Heaven, in Earth, and under the Earth; Phil. 2. 9, 10. A fecondary End of his afcending was for our fakes, to go before (as himself declares) to prepare a place for us, where he means fhortly to receive us to himself, that where he is, there we may be alfo. In the mean time, he is there to receive our Petitions, and to appear in the Prefence of God for us.
For the Proof of his Afcenfion, we have the Teftimony of the Apostles and Difciples, who were Eye-Witneffes of it; for whilft he was talking with them, they beheld him taken up, till a Cloud inclos'd him, and intercepted their further fight of him: to which was added the Teftimony of the Angels, who when the Apostles had loft the fight of him, came from Heaven to fignify his Arrival thither; for while they looked stedfaftly towards Heaven, as he went up, behold two Men ftood by them in white Apparel: which two Men are fuppos'd to be two Angels in the fhape of Men appearing in bright fhining Array; who alfo said unto them, Ye Men of Galilee, why ftand ye gazing up into Hea ven? Why fpend ye your time in gazing after him, who is gone, he is too high to be difcern'd, and too bright to be feen with mortal Eyes, and therefore you were better prepare for his fecond Coming, than be too much concern'd for the Loss of the firft: for this fame Jefus, which is taken up into Heaven, ball fo come in like manner as ye have feen him go into Heaven. His going thither, is not a total de
parting from you; for he fhall return again in as glorious a manner, as he hath now left you; as you have seen him carry'd up in a Cloud, fo will he come again in the Clouds of Heaven, with a numerous Train of Angels attending him in Power and great Glory; at which time he will execute Judgment upon Earth, and then all his faithful Servants fhall be caught up together in the Clouds, to meet the Lord in the Air, and fo fhall they ever be with the Lord; 1 Theff. 4. 17. This is the Sum of this Day's Epiftle, of which we may make the following Ufe and Application. As,
1. The Confirmation here given of the glorious Refurrection and Afcenfion of our Lord, may abundantly confirm our Faith and Hope in him; for what Doubt may we reafonably entertain of him, who hath given fuch illuftrious Inftances of his Divine Power? or what Good may we not reafonably hope for, from his great Ability and Readiness to fupply all our Wants, and to fave our Souls? This Hope we have (faith the Apostle) as an Anchor of the Soul both fure and fedfaft, fince our Forerunner is enter'd within the Veil, and made an High-Prieft for ever after the Order of Melchifedeck; Heb. 6. 19, 20. This may keep us from fluctuating in Uncertainties, and fix our Hopes of Mercy and Salvation in him.
2. Chrift's Afcenfion may teach us to receive him not only as our Saviour, but as our Lord and King. So St. Peter told the Jews, that he whom they crucify'd was made both Lord and King, his Foes are all now become his Footitool; and being afcended far above all Heavens, he is to reign for evermore. And therefore we must not only rely upon him, but worship, ferve, and adore him: fo we find the Apoffles did, who upon Chrift's mounting up and leaving of them, went immediately to the Temple, and were there continually bleffing and praifing God, Luke 24. 52, 53. So muft we pay our conftant Duty and Adorations to him, if we mean to follow where he is gone before: which if we are careful to do, then,
3. His Afcenfion may affure us of our afcending after him for he is afcended not in a private Capacity, for himfelf only, but as our Head and publick Reprefentative; and he will fhortly have his whole Body with him. In his Refurrection he was the Firft-born from the Dead, or the First-fruits from the Grave; in his Afcenfion he was our Forerunner, to go before to take poffeffion, and to prepare