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neither hands nor shape. Those words, therefore, signify that Christ is in union and immediately present with the Father,—sharing the glories of his throne,—invested with power and dominion on high, and over all creatures ;--and, consequently, “able to save to the uttermost them who come to God by him.” There he “ever liveth,” mediating and interceding for his sincere though frail and oft-offending disciples in every age; bestowing his grace on those who are proper objects of it ;-and withdrawing it from those who despise its assistance, and who quench his Holy Spirit. The first effect resulting from his visible ascension thither, was his sending down on earth to his disciples of those days, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. The permanent effects of it are, his continual intercession and mediating for us, with the Father,--and his working of reconciliation and salvation for us. The last effect of it will be, his coming to judge the world in righteousness,-awarding to every man according to what his work shall have been,—"according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad.” Then, even death itself shall be finally destroyed ;-and “all those that are in their graves shall arise and come forth.” When all things shall thus be subdued unto the Messiah, then shall he “also be subject unto Him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
The knowledge of this grand event, (the ascension of Christ to heaven)—and, particularly, the knowledge of the very important ends which Divine
Providence intended that it should accomplish, or to which, at least, it should be preparatory, ought to quicken and inspire true Christians in every age, to imitate the behaviour, and conform to the precepts of their Heavenly Master ; that, at length, they may also themselves ascend, whither he is “ gone before to prepare a place for them ; that where he is, there they may be also.” But if we hope “ to see him as he is,”—and to receive true satisfaction and delight in so beholding him,—we must make it our earnest endeavour to be “ like him." And like him we never can be, unless we are transformed into his image, by copying, in the best manner we are able, the purity of his disposition,-his generous, beneficent, disinteressed actions, — his resignation to the divine will, in every occurrence and in every affliction. We must disengage ourselves as much as possible from the attractions of the world,-remembering that here we are but strangers and sojourners, and that our final abode is in another state of existence. We should set our affections on things above ;-and in order to do this effectually, we must obey the will, and strive to obtain the favour of Almighty God.
But further,-as the last promise he made to his disciples before his ascension, that he would, in a few days after, send them the Holy Ghost the Comforter, was fulfilled in a most miraculous and astonishing manner,—we are also assured, that the same Comforter is with us in all the ordinary supplies of grace, and will be with all true Christians till the very end of the world. This Holy Spirit does not enable us to speak with tongues or to prophesy, or to work miracles, as the Apostles did, -as was then necessary for publishing the new doctrines and dispensation of Christianity ;-but it assists us in all our virtuous efforts, and trains us to all goodness. It implants and nourishes in our hearts those seeds of righteousness, which will ripen into the best and most plenteous fruits, unless we perversely stifle them in their growth, and, through headstrong passions and vicious pursuits, entirely choke and suppress them. The Holy Spirit will not force us to be good, though it will always assist us in being so. Where force is employed, there can be no freedom of acting ; and where compulsion prevails, there can be no such thing as choice. If, then, we would imitate our blessed Saviour, and would hereafter rise in glory, and ascend to the joys of heaven, we must delight in obeying the precepts which he has left us ;-we must seriously and heartily adopt them as our rule of life ;--we must invoke the assistance of the Spirit of God, to co-operate with us in our holy purposes,and must endeavour to live in such purity, that our bodies may be suitable residences for that Divine Spirit. The work of righteousness will then proceed as the genuine produce of our hearts ;--the fruits of the Spirit will be evident in our lives and conduct; —and this earth will be only a state previous and preparatory to heaven.
To those, however, who, though they profess and call themselves Christians, have little of Christianity beyond its mere title, the Ascension of Christ will be unavailing. It can have no beneficial influence on hearts that are hardened in sin, or on minds that are bent upon persevering in error. Our blessed Saviour's promises do not apply to incorrigible sinners ; for they are, in the very nature of the case, excluded. It is not to the man who suffers himself to be overcome,-but it is “to him that overcometh,” -to him who encounters and subdues the temptations with which he is surrounded, and who passes through all trials untarnished and unshaken,--that Christ will grant the privilege of sitting with him on his throne, and of sharing the happiness and glory of the celestial mansions. Let us, therefore, only convince ourselves of what is our true and lasting interest. Let our hearts be fixed immoveably where our best treasure is deposited ;-that, in our passage through this transitory world, our serious thoughts, our ardent desires, and our humble but earnest hopes, may be fixed in heaven, “ from whence also we look for the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.”
LIVE PEACEABLY WITH ALL.
ROMANS xii. 18.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with
It is St. Paul's custom, in almost all his Epistles, after he has cleared and determined the particular points that are the occasion of his writing, to throw together some precepts and exhortations relating to those moral duties by which the welfare not only of the Christian community, but of mankind in general, is promoted and secured. The chapter from which the text is taken, is a collection of such concise but important precepts. If we examine them closely we find that they follow one another in a regular train ; and yet, as each of them enjoins a distinct duty, they may be considered separately, and be enforced by arguments peculiar to themselves, without any connexion with the preceding or subsequent subjects.
The text relates to the duty of peaceableness,-a duty which all men acknowledge to be, in some cases