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4. Christ was glorified in his ascension.
He foretold, that as he came from the Father to suffer for man's redemption, so he should return to the Father to receive the reward and the fruits of his sufferings. Of the time and place of his ascension he gave previous notice, in consequence of which, more than five hundred brethren were assembled to behold the wonderful and affecting scene, and to receive his last verbal instructions and benedictions. On his way to the place he was attended with his particular disciples, whom he instructed in their duty, commissioned to preach his gospel among all nations, and encouraged by a promise, that he would send down upon them the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When he had led them as far as Bethany, the appointed place of the ascension, he lifted up his hands and blessed them; and while he was blessing them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven, and a cloud received him out of their sight. As they stood wondering at the scene, there appeared angels in glorious apparel, who said, “Why stand ye here gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken
from you, shall so come in like manner, as ye have seen him go up into heaven.” On this they returned to Jerusalem, and gave themselves to prayer.
Soon after his ascension, he bestowed on them the promised gifts of the Spirit, by which they were enabled to work new miracles, speak with divers tongues, and preach the gospel with wonderful success. Thus he demonstrated, that he had actually ascended to his kingdom, was made head over all things to the church, would fulfil all his promises, maintain his own cause, and support his faithful ministers to the end of the world.
That he actually went into heaven, the disciples knew from his previous declaration from his wonderful resurrection—from their own sight, as far as it could follow him—from the bright cloud, the excellent glory, which visibly received him—from the testimony of angels, and from the following effusion of the Spirit, which, he assured them, should be the speedy effect of his return to the Father.
We have evidence of this glorious event from the testimony of the disciples, and from the manifest accomplishment of the promises which he had made in behalf of his church. We see the church maintained—we see the gospel continued in the world we see the preaching of this gospel accompanied with Divine power in the conversion of many from sin to God--we see the opposition, which is made to the cause of Christ, often over-ruled to its furtherance and promotion.
These things, so perfectly consonant to his promises and predictions, are plain evidences that he reigns on high, and will reign till he has put all his enemies under his feet.
This leads us to observe,
The design, on which Christ came into the world, was to seek and to save them who are lost; to call sinners to repentance, and bring them to virtue here, and glory hereafter. This was the object of his ministry when he was on earth. This is still the great object of his gospel, since he has ascended to heaven. When his gospel is received among men with faith and love, and produces its proper effects in turning them to newness of life, then he is glorified; he sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied. Of such he says, “I am glorified in them.”
He was glorified by the wonderful success of his gospel, when it was preached by his apostles. They went forth in his name proclaiming the news, and stating the terms of salvation through him. Many believed in him through their word. By their ministry the gospel spread far and wide. Wherever it went, it produced a surprizing alteration of sentiments and manners. The people exchanged the worship of idols for the worship of the only true God. They renounced their pagan rites and forms for the simplicity that is in Christ. They abandoned the vices in which they had lived, for the purity of manners taught by the gospel. The superstitious became rational; the immoral became virtuous; the vain became serious; the proud became humble; the contentious became peaceable ; the passionate became meek; the dissolute became sober; the selfish became benevolent. They who once were foolish and disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures, after the gospel appeared among them, were saved by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and having believed in God, were careful to maintain good works. The happy effects of the gospel shewed it to be excellent and important, and proved that it proceeded and came forth from God.
Christ is glorified in every one, who, at any time and place, receives, professes and obeys his gospel. Such an one is an instance of the power of the word to mend the heart, and reform the life. He is a living witness, that there is a Divine power attending it. He bears testimony to its truth by his holy profession and godly conversation. He contributes to its success among others by the influence of his good example, and the efficacy of his fervent prayers.
When there is a general revival of the power of religion in any part of the christian world; in any church or society, where the gospel is preached, then Christ is glorified more conspicuously. Then his church increases; converts and professors are multiplied; truth rises and stands forth with boldness; good works abound; error is confounded; vice hides its guilty head; true christians are animated; faithful ministers are encouraged ; heads of families maintain the worship of God in their houses; the young enquire what they must do to be saved; they who fear the Lord speak often one to another, and by their mutual influence provoke unto love and good works.
Then it appears, that Christ is among them of a truth—that he has not forsaken his church, nor withdrawn his Spirit from itthat he remembers and performs his holy promise—that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Christ will be more eminently and extensively glorified in a future time, when his gospel shall go forth with power among all nations; when the ancient Israel shall consider and turn to him; when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come and join themselves to his church, and the ends of the earth shall see his salvation.
How happy will be the period, when the world will be one grand community of saints under Jesus, its head; when his laws shall rule all nations, and his doctrines be the sanctions, which give efficacy to his laws; when wars shall cease among the kingdoms of the world, and controversies among christians shall be laid aside, and all shall unite in one common cause, the promo
tion of virtue, peace and happiness. For such a period we are looking and praying. The Lord hasten the time of its coming.
Finally. Christ will be glorified in the judgment.
To him is committed authority to judge the world. The day is in progress, when he will come forth to execute this authority. He will come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him. He will seat himself on his throne in the clouds of heaven. Before him shall be gathered all nations. He will separate the wicked from among the just, and render to all according to their works.
He will then be glorified in the saints and admired in all them who believe.
On that great day the happy fruits of his death will appear in the nations of them who are saved. The value of his atonement will be conspicuous in the vast multitudes which are redeemed by it. These will unite their voices in songs of praise to him who has paid such a price for their redemption, and has applied it by his grace to their immortal souls. They will admire the glory, in which he appears—a glory of which they had little conception when they dwelt below. They will admire the compassion and love, which brought him down from his glory to a state of mortality, and subjected him to all the pains and indignities of the cross. They will admire his grace in giving them the gospel by the kind disposals of his providence, and in making it effectual to their salvation by the powerful influences of his Spirit. They will admire the grandeur and solemnity of the judgment, and the equity and justice with which it is administered. They will admire the beauty and splendor of the heavenly temple, and the order and zeal with which divine worship is conducted. They will admire the benevolence and charity with which happy spirits unite and harmonize with one another. They will admire the glory of the new raised bodies, which are fashioned like to Christ's glorious body. They will admire the expansion, enlargement and fervor which they feel in their own souls, while they mingle with their fellow-saints in the presence of their Lord. All the happiness which they possess they will acknowledge as the purchase of their Redeemer; and they will admire the grace, which has condescended to make the purchase and to bestow it on creatures so unworthy. When they receive from his hand the crown of glory, they will cast it at his feet in thankful admiration of the gift, and humble confession of their unworthiness to retain it. Thus Jesus will be glorified in the saints.
He will be glorified also, but in a different manner, in them that perish. It will then appear, “ that their damnation is just. ” They will feel themselves guilty before him; and their guilt will be manifest to all. Every mouth will be stopped; every plea will be silenced; every excuse will be resuted; out of their own mouths they will be judged. When the final sentence is passed, and the guilty are detruded to the regions of darkness, “there will be heard the voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia ! Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God, for true and righteous are his judgments. He hath judged them who did corrupt the earth. Again they will say, Alleluia ! and the smoke of the infernal torment will ascend for ever and ever."
The illustration which we have made of our subject reminds us of our high obligation to glorify Christ. It is the will of God, that he should be glorified. God has glorified him already, and will glorify him again. Let us give him the glory which is due
We are to glorify him by a grateful reception and sincere profession of his gospel—by a repentance of all our sins, by which we have dishonored his name-by fleeing from the wrath, from which he came to save us, and laying hold on the hope which he has set before us—by a humble reliance on his blood as the price of our redemption--by an active zeal to promote the interest of his religion, extend the bounds of his church, and increase the number of his subjects—by a steady obedience to his gospel and a visible display of the virtues and graces which it inculcates, and by a faithful attendance on, and improvement of the ordinances which he has instituted for the promotion of holiness in our hearts and lives.
There are seasons when we are specially called to give honor to Christ. Such a season is before us. The hour is now come that the Son of man should be glorified.” We are soon to see him exhibited before our eyes in the holy ordinance of the supe