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had not come ;" John, 16:7; he begins where Christ had finished. For he takes of his, and shows it to us. John, 16 14. And therefore it is said, "The Holy Ghost was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." John, 17: 39. He was then given as a sanctifying spirit, but not given in the measure that afterwards he was, to furnish and qualify men with gifts for service. And, indeed, by Christ's ascension, both his sanctifying and his ministering gifts were shed forth more commonly and more abundantly upon men; so that whatsoever good of conversion, edification, support, or comfort you receive from spiritual ordinances, he hath shed forth that which you now see and feel. It is the fruit of Christ's ascension.
6. If Christ had not ascended, how had all the types and prophecies that prefigured and foretold it been fulfilled? "And the Scriptures cannot be broken." John, 10:35.
So that, upon all these accounts, it was expedient that he should go away. It was for his glory, and for our advantage. Though we lost the comfort of his bodily presence, yet if " we loved him, we should rejoice, because he went to the Father." John, 14: 28. We ought to have rejoiced in his advancement, though it had been to our loss; but when it is so much for our benefit, as well as his glory, it is in all respects a ground of joy that he is ascended to his Father, and our Father; to his God, and our God. It was in view of all the blessings flowing to us from his ascension, that he charged his people not to be troubled at his leaving them. John, 14.
INFERENCE 1. Did Christ ascend into heaven? Is our Jesus, our treasure indeed there? Where then should the hearts of believers be, but in heaven, where their Lord, their Life is? Surely it is not good that your love and your Lord should be in two different countries, said one that is now with him. Up, and hasten after
him, that he and you may be together. Christians, you ascended with him virtually, when he ascended; you shall ascend to him personally, hereafter; Oh that you would ascend to him, spiritually, in acts of faith, love, and desires daily. How good were it, if we could say with the apostle, "Our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour." Phil. 3:20. A heart tending upwards, is the best evidence of your interest in Christ's ascension.
2. Did Christ go to heaven as a forerunner? How should we haste to follow him? Come, christians, "Lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets you, and run with patience the race set before you, looking unto Jesus." Heb. 12: 1, 2. The Captain of our salvation is entered within the gates of the new Jerusalem, and calls to us out of heaven to hasten to him; proposing the greatest encouragements to them that follow: "He that overcometh shall sit with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev. 3:21. How tedious should it seem to us, to live so long at a distance from our Lord!
3. Did Christ ascend so triumphantly, leading captivity captive? How little reason then have believers to fear their conquered enemies! Sin, Satan, and every enemy, were in that day led away in triumph, dragged at Christ's chariot wheels, brought after him as it were in chains. It is a triumphant sight to see the necks of those tyrants under the foot of our Joshua. He made at that day "an open show of them." Col. 2: 15. Their strength is broken for ever. In this he showed himself more than a conqueror; for he conquered and triumphed too. Satan was then trodden under his feet, and he hath promised to tread him under our feet also, and that shortly. Rom. 16:20. Some power our enemies yet retain, the serpent may bruise our heel, but Christ hath bruised his head. 4. Did Christ ascend so munificently, shedding forth
so many mercies upon his people; mercies of inestimable value, reserved on purpose to adorn that day? Oh then see that you abuse not the precious ascension gifts of Christ, but value and improve them as the choicest mercies. Now the ascension-gifts, as I told you, are either the ordinances and officers of the church, (for he then gave them pastors and teachers,) or the Spirit that furnished the church with all its gifts. Beware you abuse not either.
Abuse not the ordinances and officers of Christ. This is a prevailing sin. Surely God hath written to us the great things of his law, and we have accounted them small things.
And see that you abuse not the Spirit, whom God sent from heaven at his ascension, to supply his bodily absence among us, and who is the great pledge of his care and tender love of his people. Take heed that you do not vex him by your disobedience; nor grieve him by your unkindnesses; nor quench him by your sinful neglect of duty, or abuse of light. Oh cherish the Spirit, and obey his voice; comply with his designs, and yield up yourselves to his guidance and conduct. Methinks, to be entreated by the love of the Spirit, Rom. 15: 30, should be as great an argument as to be entreated for Christ's sake. Now, to persuade all the saints to be tender of grieving the Spirit by sin, let me urge a few considerations:
He was the first and principal mercy that Christ received for you at his entrance into heaven. It was the first thing he asked of God when he came to heaven. So he speaks, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you." John, 14 16. So that the Spirit is the first-born of mercies; and deserves the first place in our hearts and esteem. The Spirit comes not in his own name to us, (though, So, he deserves a dear welcome for his own sake, and
for the benefits we receive by him, which are inestimable,) but he comes to us in the name, and in the love, both of the Father and the Son; as one authorized and delegated by them: "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father," John, 15 : 26; and in John, 14: 26, the Father is said to send him in Christ's name."
But you should beware of grieving the Spirit, on account of his own nature and office.
In his nature he is God: co-equal with the Father and Son in nature and dignity: "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me." 2 Sam. 23:2, 3. He is God; the Rock of Israel. God omnipotent, for he created all things. Gen. 1:31. God omnipresent, filling all things. Psalm 139: 7. God omniscient, who knows your heart. Rom. 8:27. Beware therefore of grieving him, for in so doing you grieve God.
Think also of his office, and the benefits we receive by him. Gratitude and ingenuousness must compel us to obey him; for he is sent in the character of an Advocate to help us to pray; to indite our requests for us; to teach us what and how to ask of God. Rom. 8: 26. He comes to us as a Comforter. John, 14:16. And none like him. His work is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us; that is, to take of his death, and resurrection, ascension, yea, of his present intercession in heaven, and show it to us. It was he that formed the body of Christ in the womb, and so prepared him to be a sacrifice for us. He filled that humanity with his unexampled fullness, Luke, 1: 35; Isa. 61:1; Col. 1: 19; thus fitting and anointing him for the discharge of his office. It is he that gives efficacy to the ordinances: without him they would be a dead letter. It was he that blessed them to your conviction and conversion. 2 Cor. 9:6; John, 16:9; 1 Pet. 1: 12; 1 John, 3: 24; Rom.
8:9, 26; John, 14:26; Ezek. 36:25-27. Without him you could never have had an interest in Christ, or communion with Christ. It was he that so often hath helped your infirmities, when you knew not what to say; comforted your heart when it was overwhelmed within you, and you knew not what to do; preserved you many thousand times from sin and ruin, when you have been upon their slippery brink. It is he, in his sanctifying work, that is the best evidence your soul has for heaven. It were endless to enumerate the mercies you have by him. And now, reader, dost thou not blush to think how unworthily thou hast treated such a friend? Oh grieve not the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent as soon as he went into heaven, in his Father's name, and in his own name, to perform all these offices for you.
5. Is Christ ascended to the Father as our forerunner? Then the door of salvation stands open to all believers, and by virtue of Christ's ascension they also shall ascend after him, "far above all heavens." O my friends, what a place hath Christ prepared for you! what a splendid habitation hath he provided for you! "God is not ashamed to be called your God; for he hath prepared for you a city." Heb. 11: 16. In that city Christ hath provided mansions and resting-places for your everlasting abode, John, 14: 2, and keeps them for you till your coming. Oh how august and glorious a dwelling is that, where sun, and moon, and stars shall roll as much below your feet as they are now above your heads! May God give us a joyful meeting within the veil with our forerunner, and sweeten our passage into it with many a blessed foresight and foretaste. And, in the mean time, let the love of a Saviour inflame our hearts, so that whenever we cast a look towards that place where our forerunner is for us entered, our souls may say, with melting affections, Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ; and again, blessed be God for his unspeakable gift.