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of Galilee; with Paul, the last of the apostles, as with one born out of due time, he spoke, , after his ascension, from heaven. But these all saw and believed; these, his earthly messengers, as well as those heavenly ones who announced his birth to the shepherds, and his resurrection to his sorrowing disciples, these all saw him with their eyes, and heard him, and talked with him. Of them he was seen; and by them, his witnesses, he was preached unto the Gentiles. They who sat in darkness, and who lived without him in the world, to them was his salvation made known, and his holy name declared. And, lest they might, after all, be disposed to envy the lot of his chosen messengers, who had seen him with their eyes,—while to them he was only preached, they but heard of him from the reports of others,—his own especial word has been recorded for their-I had better say for our-comfort ; for their case is ours.
“ Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.” Lastly, it says, “ that he was believed on in
, the world, and received up into glory.” This comes naturally after the words that had just been used before. He was preached to the Gentiles, and they believed: the kingdoms of
the earth did him homage ; from the rising to the going down of the sun, all nations have heard of his name, and all the world is full of his glory. Not in one little country only, or amongst one single people ; but all the ends of the earth have heard the salvation of our God, and Egypt and Babylon are become united with Israel,—a blessing in the midst of the land. This is the kingdom of Christ; this is the fruit of his sufferings, and of the labours of his servants. But here it is no more “God manifest in the flesh,” or seen with the outward eyes of his messengers.
“ He was received up into glory;"—he went away that the Comforter might come unto his people in his stead;—he ceased to be manifest in the flesh, to be seen with the bodily eye, that his Spirit might be made manifest to our spirits,—that he might be more than seen by those who willingly received him, and in whose hearts he found a temple, wherein he might continually abide.
“ He was received up into glory and gave gifts unto men;"—the gift of his Holy Spirit, which, so long as he was manifest in the flesh, was not given. St. Paul himself has taught us to associate the ascension of Christ with the descent of the Holy Spirit; and, indeed, were
we not so to associate it, it would rather be a subject of sorrow than of joy. The revelation of the Gospel ends then with its concluding and final truth, that the Son of God was taken up into glory, and that the Spirit of God was to abide with his people, till the Son shall again return from heaven, when all things are at last accomplished. He was manifested in the flesh to take away our sins, and was received
up into glory when the kingdom of heaven was opened by his blood to all believers, and his Spirit henceforth was required to fit them for entrance into that kingdom, by forming them again after his image.
This then is the mystery of godliness ;—this is the great truth, unknown and undiscoverable by our unaided reason, which the Gospel has now made known to us. For what we know of God the Father, although that too has mercifully been confirmed by his own word, yet, according to St. Paul, it was not undiscoverable by our own reason, but rather it is made a matter of blame that men did not make it out for themselves. The works of creation so clearly declare their author, that they who turned from the worship of the one true God to make to themselves gods of things created, whether in heaven or in earth, are left, in the
words of the Apostle, without excuse.
The knowledge then of God the Father,—I mean such knowledge of him as we have ever gained, or can gain,-is not called a mystery; because a mystery, in the language of the Apostles, means a truth revealed, which we could not have found out if it had not been
Yet, as experience has shown that men did not, in fact, make themselves acquainted with God the Father, so it has been mercifully ordered, that even what we could have discovered, if we would, has yet been expressly revealed to us; and the Law and the Prophets are no less full and plain in pointing out our relations to God the Father, than the Gospel is in pointing out our relations to God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
I would beg attention to these words, “ that the Scripture is full and clear in pointing out our relations to God.” For the revelations or mysteries of the Gospel, like those of the Law and the Prophets, never pretend to tell us any thing of the nature of God as he is in himself. This, indeed, is a mystery; not in the sense in which that word is used in the Scripture, but in the sense in which we commonly use it now: it is not a truth revealed, which could not otherwise have been known; but a truth which has not and cannot be revealed, and which cannot be known at all. And mysteries of this sort, and in this sense, are indeed incomprehensible: but, then, they are no part of revelation, as it is in fact a flat contradiction to talk of revealing or making visible what is not and cannot be revealed. Such points as this are no matters of belief; for it is folly to talk of believing what we cannot understand. I do not mean that we cannot believe a thing unless we understand how it is effected; but that we cannot believe it unless we understand what it means ;-as otherwise, it is evident, that we can only believe that something is something: we can no more believe it, than we could believe a proposition in an unknown language. But far, very far, are the truths revealed in the Scriptures, from being of such a character as this. We cannot indeed understand how the divine and human natures were united in the person of Christ, nor how the Holy Spirit influences our minds; but we can full well understand, and know, and feel, what it is that is meant, when it is said, that He who was in the form of God, that is, whose being and nature were divine, Him the form of a servant, and was made in