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He that will come to raise up His servants in power and glory, so that they may ever be with Him, will come in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not His gospel.
Christian friends, it may be well for all of us to try ourselves by these words. For though they can scarcely have the same force on our lips as they had on the Apostle's, they may yet help us much. They may help us to ascertain what our hope in Christ is; whether in any sense our “life is hid with Christ in God ;" whether in any reality we confess that we “look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."
THE POWER OF CHRIST'S ASCENSION.
EPHESIANS i. 19. “The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.”
It seems, at first sight, very strange that the Festival of our Lord's Ascension into heaven should be so universally neglected.
It is not strange, of course, that those who think it wrong or inexpedient to commemorate the great facts of our Lord's Life on certain days should take no account of such a day. They regard it not, just as they regard not any other day. We judge them not: to their own Master they stand or fall.
But it seems strange that very many should keep Christmas, the day of Christ's Birth; that many, though not so many, should keep Good Friday, the day of His Crucifixion; and that so very few should keep the day on which He commenced that mediatorial reign under which we are now living. It seems unaccountable at first, but, when we come to examine it, it is by no means so, for we keep Christmas with
something of the same kind of gladness with which we keep our own birthdays, or the birthdays of our friends. The Son of God came then amongst us, and we welcome Him.
We sing“ Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning.”
Christmas joy is the joy of children. The veriest babe in Christ can enter into it. We all know that Christ came into the world to save men, and so all can in a rejoice.
It is different with Easter. Easter joy is a higher joy than that of Christmas. It is the joy of a work completed, of a salvation accomplished. It is a more spiritual joy is Easter joy, and so the many can hardly realize it. And still more' so with Ascension Day. It requires a deeper insight into the things of the kingdom of God to set before ourselves the reason why, both on His own account and on ours, we should rejoice at the departure of the Saviour from amongst His people.
It requires a still further insight into the things of God to apprehend that Christ went away from us in order that He might be more effectually present with us. He went away, as to His bodily presence, that He might be present far more effectually by a spiritual presence. He went away, as to His bodily presence, from a few, from His disciples, and from
the city of Jerusalem, that He might be present spiritually to the whole church, built up by His Spirit as the Jerusalem from above.
He ascended up from a condition in which He could teach but a few in order that He might be in a place where He could teach all. He went up from a place in which, if He had continued, He could have appeared to assist but a few, and He ascended to a place, an elevation, up to which every child of Adam, who hears of His love, and grace, and power, , can look up to Him and claim His aid.
All this teaches us why the Festival of the Ascension is ignored by the world around us, even though that world around us professes to worship according to the Prayer Book. It is simply because the things of the Ascension are far above out of the world's sight. The things which we gain by the Ascension are far too spiritual to be within the range of the vision of a carnal world.
Now I say that it takes some considerable degree of spiritual insight to understand what we gain by Christ's Ascension. Am I right in saying so? I will give you one proof. You who are spiritual know that St. Paul was the most spiritual of men, and that he wrote his letters in order that he might make his brother Christians, especially those whom he had converted to the faith of Christ, as spiritual as himself. You also know that there is no letter in which he endeavours to do this more earnestly than in the letter of his to his converts in Asia, which we call the Epistle to the Ephesians. Now, if you look to the beginning of that letter, you will find that he tells these Ephesian Christians what He prayed for most earnestly on their behalf. And what was the crowning spiritual blessing which he besought His God to give them ? It was that they might effectually apprehend what God had done for them, when He raised up Christ as on Ascension Day, and set Him on His throne at His right hand. These are some words of the
5 I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention
my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give you the spirit of wisdom ... the
of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the glory of His inheritance, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the might of His power, which He vrought ir Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and given Him to be head over all things to the church."