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nature, he would not have received the first fruits up on high; Christ taking the first fruits of our nature, this day carried it up to God, and by these first-fruits hath made the whole stock to be sanctified. And the Father hath highly esteemed the gift, both for the worthiness of him that offered it up, and for the purity of the offering, so as to receive it with his own hands, and to set it at his right hand. To what creature was it that God said, Sit thou on my right hand? To the same to which he formerly had said, Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return. This gift went far beyond the loss; Paradise, says Chrysostom, was the place from which we fell; but we were this day carried up to heaven, and mansions are there provided for us. Christ, says Cyprian, ascended up into heaven in the sight of his disciples, that they and we might assuredly believe that we should follow, and not deem it impossible 5) for us, body and soul, to be translated thither 1."
The exaltation of our Lord to the right hand of God, an expression of frequent use by the apostles, indicates the pre-eminence of his station, and the completion of his mediatorial office. His mission on earth was discharged by his incarnation, but his everlasting love survives in heaven. May we not then triumphantly exclaim, "who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" "It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God,
'Rationale in locum.
who also maketh intercession for us 1?" Jesus, "the surety of a better testament," or covenant, stood as an endearing contrast to the Jewish priesthood, whose station it was to plead for the people; for they were not "suffered to continue by reason of death, but this man, because he continueth, ever hath an unchangeable priesthood; wherefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them"."
After all that the Redeemer has done for us during his painful residence on earth, does it not exalt his character and enlarge our hopes, that he still pleads for sinners? It is not for us to dive into the secrets of another world, and ask for explanations. In such a case as this, it is neither necessary nor possible: what God has revealed, and clearly revealed, with that we must be contented. The intercourse of angels, and all the wonders of the unexplored regions of the sky, must continue concealed in the darkness which surrounds the throne of the Almighty. But oh! what wonders do we not even now behold! The splendour of the sun, the brilliant brightness of a moon-light night, the landscapes of wood and water, of mountain and valley, the human face divine, the works of art as well as nature, and above all, the expansions of a mind stored with heavenly graces ;-all tend to raise us, even in our own opinion, and assure us that we were born
1 Rom. viii. 34.
2 Heb. vii. 21, 22, 23.
for another and a better world! "What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the Son of Man that thou visitest him 1!"
The doctrine of the intercession of Christ at the right hand of God, stands high in every believing breast. Know we not the ardour of those who plead for mercy at the footstool of an earthly judge? Is it less to implore forgiveness from him who is eternal ? "Turn ye, then, to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope." Value the intercession of the Saviour. "With what holy joy," says the pious Doddridge, "may the Christian reflect on his interest in such an intercessor? We should be often entering into this pleasurable thought. The Lord Jesus is pleading for us above, and he ever lives to make intercession there. We had pious friends, who were once bearing us on their hearts before God in prayer; but they are now sleeping in the dust our dear religious parents, our holy ministers, our guides and companions in the ways of God! We have no warrant to expect any further assistance from their prayers. In this sense, Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel does not, and cannot, acknowledge us. But Christ is an ever-living intercessor, without whose interposition theirs had been vain, and in comparison with whom we have none on earth, or in heaven to desire. As Christ has by one offering, perfected for ever them that are sanctified; so
1 Psalm viii. 4.
2 Zech. ix. 12.
by one continued intercession, in which he needs and admits no associate, he for ever secures them 1." May God in his mercy permit my heart to ascend upon the wing of prayer, and to form a part of the ever-available intercession of my only advocate and redeemer Jesus Christ our Lord!
VI.—On heaven and heavenly things.
To speak of heaven, it seems necessary to have been in heaven :-to write of heaven what God has been pleased to reveal of it, is to lay the foundation of a contemplation which no power or ability of man is able to complete. The picture of heaven, which a sanguine mind would be desirous to delineate, would bear no resemblance to that state of blessedness, which revelation gives us reason to expect. And no wonder: for in a state where the very nature of men differs in every known respect from present experience, how is it possible to connect things so infinitely dissimilar? Yet with all this, there is an heaven, as there is an earth; both appropriated to the respective uses of those beings, whom God is pleased to place in them. It will not then bear a dispute that the same plastic hand which made man what he is, will so arrange the
1 Doddridge, Serm. III. "Power and Grace of Christ."
being with which he will be endued in a future state, as will be applicable to all the purposes which were intended by his creation.
In this, we must rest under the veil of this transitory life. Yet the reach of human reason and the ray of immortality which darts upon us in the divine promises, as well as in the divine threatenings, raise up hopes on one side and apprehensions on the other, which have, and are intended to have, a considerable influence on the character and conduct of mankind. Happiness and misery are too nearly allied in our present mode of existence, to permit us to be insensible of future consequences. If man has any thought, he must start at the alternative, when connected with a never-dying being. I cannot think that any Christian can entertain one doubt on this subject. And though we have reason to believe that corruption has contaminated the whole nature of man, the blessed privilege of being born again restores the prodigal to his indulgent parent, and, through our only Mediator and Redeemer, opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
The ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven gives a sanction to our Christian hope; and his human nature being introduced visibly into the invisible world, is an assurance that man may be raised from the grave, and accepted in the highest state of elevation by the same power that received the Saviour into heaven. All beyond this surpasses the limit of the highest human intellect. So secret are the horrors of the prison