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if he had not risen again from the dead according to his own sure word of prophecy. Accordingly, He foretold that event, both figuratively and literally; and with a regard to time and circumstance so minute, that its accomplishment, in all the particulars foretold, stamps the whole as from and of God. Early in his ministry he foreshadowed the event, clothing it, however, in figurative language; "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up :" but "he spake of the temple of his body;" adds the sacred historian'. Later in his ministry, and as the event approached its accomplishment, He foretold it in the plainest possible terms; in terms so plain, that even his enemies, the Pharisees, understood Him to speak literally, and to foretel a resurrection of the very body in which He should die; for, upon his crucifixion, in their urgent request to Pilate that a watch should be set over the dead body, they argued the reasonableness of their jealous care from his own declaration, that He would "rise again." "Sir," said they, "we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again"." And surely such had been his declaration, accompanied with every particular of the sufferings and manner of death which should lead to it. "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the Chief Priests and unto the Scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him; and the third day he shall rise again." He did "rise again from the dead," as, and when he had said; and by his resur
1 John ii. 19-21. 2 Matt. xxvii. 63.
Matt. xx. 18, 19.
rection proved Himself the conqueror over sin and death; vanquishing the grave for us as well as for Himself; being the first-fruits of them that sleep. We now know "that he is the very paschal Lamb which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world." "By his death hath he destroyed death?" "by his rising to life again"-most glorious proof as it is, that He so completed the work of redemption as to satisfy his Father's wrath, and win again his favour" he hath restored to us everlasting life." How blissful this truth! how full of joy unutterable! joy felt in our inmost hearts, though no tongue can give adequate expression to it. Our bodies, to dust though they may have returned, shall be again living, sentient, and even glorious bodies, like to his. Death they shall know no more; no, nor sin, nor sorrow. Heaven will be gained. Rest with saints and angels will there await those faithful unto death. There we shall see God face to face. And all this will be shared with the righteous of every age and degree; with dear friends and relatives long separated by death; friends now deeply mourned or mourning. Fear and doubt are for ever cast away. Jesus is risen his power, supreme; Himself, the Lord alike of death as of life. Justly, therefore, does the Church remind us, that "chiefly are we bound to praise God for the glorious resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Can we own this duty of thanksgiving, and forbear the duty of obedience !
WHAT if Jesus Christ be risen for our justification? What if He thereby hath accomplished our reconciliation with the Father? Do we not daily risk its forfeiture? daily offend again? And how are we daily to be renewed as sons of God, but through Him who daily intercedes for us? and who, that he might plead on our behalf continually, "hath ascended up where he was before, and, seated at the right hand of God, ever liveth there to make intercession for us." Every prayer of penitence or praise, every supplication for mercies needed, every thanksgiving for mercies vouchsafed, is offered hopefully, only as it is offered through Him. Hence the Church reminds us, that however strong be the bond of duty which draws us to the footstool of the mercy-seat, "giving thanks unto HimHoly Father, Almighty, everlasting God," no thanksgiving is accepted except through the ascended Saviour -"his most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who having, "after his most glorious resurrection, manifestly shewed himself to his Apostles,” “in their sight ascended up into heaven '." Nor is that
1 We have here a beautiful instance of the care with which the Church reminds us as well of the testimony whereon our faith rests, as on the doctrines which she offers for our belief. Does she require us to believe that Jesus really rose from the dead? she recalls to our attention the evidence of the fact. During forty days the risen Saviour lived with his disciples. How was it possible for them to be deceived in the fact ?-So with respect to faith in his ascension, the Apostles were witnesses of the event under circumstances which leave no difficulty, except, indeed, to the caviller. The ascension of
all. Our Church closes this strain of gratitude by a reference to our Lord's memorable and affecting address to his disciples, when, upon finding them sunken in spirit, and lost to hope in the prospect of his death and removal from them, He declares, that "he goeth away from earth, to prepare a place for them in heaven, that where he is, there they may be also❞—be with Him, not only peaceful and at rest, but triumphant and in glory" that where he is, thither we might also ascend, and reign with him in glory."
Strangers to religious ordinances, then, must cease to wonder that the lowly Christian, as he bends before the altar of his God, and partaketh there, according to the Divine bidding, the blessed emblems of the body and blood of the ascended Saviour, finds his heart to strengthen with a firmer faith, to glow with a brighter hope, and spring again to duty with a holier resolution ! He is, indeed, and must be still, an unworthy worshipper below, but his Saviour is not only reigning above, but preparing a place for him in his own bright heaven! Where now are the cares of earth? What now are its joys? The one are light as the other
our Lord into heaven did not take the Apostles off their guard; for it is especially observed by the historian, that "while they beheld, he was taken up out of their sight." Moreover, the wondrous event was sufficiently gradual to allow them to watch its progress, till "a cloud received him out of their sight;" and after having "looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up," they continued their stedfast look so long, that the angels, who had attended their ascended Lord, spake of them as "gazing up into heaven"—a term eminently expressive of the mingled feelings of wonder, awe, and conviction, which must at that moment have filled their minds. Their faith then was no weak credulity, but belief upon the plainest possible testimony. Acts i. 9-11.
are vain, in comparison. So long as these high, and holy, and happy thoughts fill the soul of the meet communicant, the Apostle's language can alone faithfully pourtray his feelings" Our conversation is in heaven 1."
If there be one event more than another, the grateful recollections of which are enduring; abiding with us in our going out, and coming in; it is that to the consideration of which we are called on Whit-Sunday; and for the celebration of which also there is therefore a peculiar preface appointed. On that day we commemorate the gracious heavenly gift-the Holy Ghost --by whom alone we can hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; can find strength for our weakness, courage for our fears, counsel for our doubts, and comfort for our tribulation. He is to us, what the Saviour was to his immediate disciples, our kind Master, with whom we spiritually live, and whom we love to obey "not for wrath but for conscience sake." He is our wise counsellor to whom we refer all our difficulties. He is our ever present friend', to whom we look, amid all sorrows, for sure consolation. Is He not emphatically, "the Comforter;" who is to "abide with us for ever?" Still more hopefully do we now offer our prayers, and joining our praises to those of the angel choir, with them laud and magnify God's