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and refers to this story. To point out the absurdity of such interpretations, is quite unnecessary.38
XVI. It will be more useful to observe, that Christ chose rather to ascend from this, than from any other place, for the following reasons. 1. That as he had given evidence of human weakness and of the greatest love to us, when his sweat was great drops of blood, whilst conflicting with the wrath of God on mount Olivet ; so he might exhibit a certain proof of his divinity, by ascending to heaven from the same place. 2. That the same place which had afforded a commencement to his ignominy and passion, might prove a kind of step to his highest glory, and that from the very spot where he had struggled with infernal hosts, he might ascend in triumph above all heavens. Thus also we learn from him as our pattern, that we must not expect to possess the joys and glories of the triumph, till after the labours of the contest are accomplished; and that we need not despair of being advanced to the kingdom from the same place, to which we have lately been led forth to the conflict.
XVII. The place to which Christ ascended, is the highest heaven. Hence the following expressions: "He
was taken up into heaven;" "Who is gone into "heaven;"f" We have a great High-priest that is "passed through the heavens,"s that is, the visible heavens; "Made higher than the heavens ;"h" He as"cended up far above all heavens." i
XVIII. The heaven to which Christ ascended, is not
d Luke xxii. 39.
1 Pet. iii. 22.
e Acts i. 11.
Β Διεληλυθότα της Ουρανες, Heb. iv. 14.
h Heb. vii. 26.
i Ephes. iv. 10.
58 See NOTE XXXVIII.
God himself, nor the heavenly society, or glory, or blessedness; but "his Father's house," and "his dwelling"place." It is not every where, but in the highest regions. "He was received up into heaven ;" and there the body of the Lord Jesus has its assigned abode. "I go," says Christ, "to prepare a place for you, "that where I am, there ye may be also."m "Seek "those things," says Paul, "which are above, where "Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”n
XIX. Christ is in heaven, too, with respect to his body, so as to be contained in heaven; not indeed as in a prison, but a most august palace. "Whom the "heaven must receive until the times of restitution of "all things." Nazianzen has well interpreted the words of Luke thus: "For he must reign till then, "and be contained by heaven till the times of restitu"tion."
xx. Since the Scriptures, then, so expressly mention the place whence, the place whither, and the way by which Christ ascended, and affirm that his ascension happened in the sight of the disciples; it is exceedingly absurd to set aside this local motion, and to define the ascension of Christ as a mere disappearing, or glorification, of his body. It is one thing, to disappear, or to be glorified; and another thing, to ascend. The two first are distinguished from the last, as things which precede, are distinguished from that which follows.P And there is no reason why men should imagine the
* Orat. ii. de Filio:
j John xiv. 2.
k2 Chron. vi. 21. Deut. xxvi. 15.
1 Mark xvi. 19.
m John xiv. 3, 4.
• Acts iii. 21.
" Col. iii. 1:
P Luke xxiv. 31. Mat. xvii. 2.
distance betwixt the highest heaven and this globe which we inhabit, so immense, that it would require several centuries to pass from the one to the other. At the command of God, motion may be accelerated beyond what we are able to conceive: and the body of Christ, after his resurrection, was not an animal body, pressed down by its own weight; but spiritual, and obedient to the spirit, so as to be immediately present wherever the spirit would have it to be.
XXI. The CAUSE of the ascension is the omnipotent power, both of the Father and of the Son. It is distinctly attributed to each. Sometimes the Father is said to have exalted and received up the Son, and sometimes the Son himself is said to have ascended. Each mode of expression has its own emphasis. By the one, the will of the Father is signified; by the other, the power and authority of Christ; and since both are used, the unity of the Father and the Son is denoted. Of the Father it is said, "Being by the “right hand of God exalted," and again, "Him "hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince "and a Saviour." Christ took not this honour to himself, to rush into the heavenly sanctuary before the appointed time; but waited till he was received up by the Father. "GOD hath highly exalted him." As by raising him from the dead, he gave him a discharge in testimony of his having made full payment; so now, when he had accomplished the whole work of his embassy, he recals him from the foreign land where he had sojourned for a time, to his native country, and heavenly palace.
XXII. The word 'Avans, Analepsis, is a remark
4 Acts ii. 33.
I Acts v. 31.
• Philip. ii. 9.
able term, which is often employed on this topic by the sacred as well as ecclesiastical writers. It occurs in the following passages; "When the time was come, that he "should be received up." "He was received up into "heaven." "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven," &c. "Unto that same day that "he was taken up from us." "-Received up into glory." Irenæus calls the ascension of Christ " his bodily analepsis, reception, into heaven;" and the Greeks style the very day of the ascension, Analepsimus,* the reception-day. Now, as has been learnedly noted by Budæus, 'avaλaplaven signifies to resume, to take back again: and in Demosthenes against Neæra, ἀναλαμβανειν τον παιδά, to receive the child back again, is opposed to disowning;† as amongst the Latins, agnitio, the acknowledging of children, is the opposite of abdicatio, the renunciation of them. He therefore concludes that Analepsis signifies " the acknowledging of Christ, who was previously in a manner disowned by "the Father." Beza rejects this observation as an empty quibble. We concur, however, with several eminent writers in cordially receiving it; for it both suits the genius of the language, and affords excellent instruction. Thirty-three years prior to that event, the Son was sent by the Father to accomplish the work of redemption, during the performance of which, he was so afflicted in body and mind, that he appeared to be forsaken of God, and treated with neglect; but the fact
† Tῳ ἀποκηρυττον.
t ̓Αναλήψεως αυτέ, Luke ix. 51.
‘Ο ἀναληφθεις ἀφ' ὑμῶν, Acts i. 11.
Ανελήφθη ἀφ ήμων, Verse 22.
* Ανελήφθη ἐν δόξῃ, 1 Tin. iii. 16.
of the ascension doth itself imply a declaration on the part of the Father, that he recognises him as his Son, and that it is his will that he should be crowned with glory and honour. This analepsis, then, involves the justification of Christ.y 39
XXIII. But in other passages of Scripture, Christ himself is said to have ascended. To this the word 'Avaßaris, ascension, refers ; akin to which is the term Пogevoμal, I go; which was frequently used by Christ himself, and repeated in the history of the ascension.b These expressions intimate, that our Lord, making use of the right which he acquired by his obedience and sufferings, found a way for himself to heaven. By his "resurrection from the dead he was declared to be the "Son of God with power;" "all power being given "him" alike "in heaven and in earth." He now, therefore, avails himself of that power. As the glorified Son of God, being "without sin,"e being no longer defiled, so to speak, with the guilt of any sin, to prevent his access to his Father's house, or to require him to remain without, or stand at a distance; but, on the contrary, having accomplished his whole work, in the highest perfection, according to his Father's will and his own engagements, and having obtained a solemn testimony of this in his resurrection, he now goes to his Father with joy and alacrity; and, the gates of heaven opening spontaneously to give him admittance,
y 1 Tim. iii. 16.
John xx. 17. Ephes. iv. 8-10.
b Acts i. 10, 11.
d Mat. xxviii. 18.
39 See NOTE XXXIX.