« PreviousContinue »
words in the Song, are usually referred: "Who is "this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars," as if perfumed with pillars, " of smoke, perfumed with “myrrh and frankincense," better than "all powders "of the merchant."a 2. He actually wafts the soul itself to heaven, after its sèparation from the body, to enjoy the presence of Christ, till the day of judgment. 3. He will convey the whole man, in fine, to the place where Christ is.-And such is the order which the Lord observes, that there is no possibility of passing to the higher degrees but by the first. Whoever expects to be admitted to heaven, is deceived, unless he feel himself impelled by the Spirit of Christ, to seek those things which are spiritual and heavenly, and manifest that impulse by the holiness of his life.
ON CHRIST'S SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND
I. WHOEVER loves Christ in sincerity, cannot fail, on many accounts, to take pleasure in meditating on that unbounded glory, to which the Father has been pleased to exalt him. No spectacle can be more excellent, more splendid, or more delightful in the esteem of believers, than that to which they are invited in the following terms: "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, "and behold king Solomon with the crown where"with his mother crowned him, in the day of his es“pousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.""King Solomon," is the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, the son of David, the Prince of Peace, the Supreme Wisdom. "The day of his espousals," is the time of the New Testament, confirmed and sealed by the Mediator's blood; who, after ratifying his Testament on earth, himself ascended to heaven, that, by the Spirit of grace and liberty, sent down from thence, he might dwell for ever with the Church. It is also called
Song iii. 11.
"the day of the gladness of his heart :" for then, having finished the most grievous sufferings, he was himself" anointed with the oil of joy above his fellows ;"b and embraced the opportunity also of displaying the riches of his grace and mercy, by conferring on his people the most signal benefits, the enjoyment of which would inexpressibly gladden their hearts. Christ cannot but rejoice, when he fills his much loved people with joy, and causes them to delight themselves in his blessings. "The crown" put upon his head, denotes the great glory of his heavenly kingdom-a glory which includes the multitude of his faithful subjects, who are given to him, "that he may be glorified."d God the Father, doubtless, gave him that glory; as Solomon owed his kingdom to his father David. Yet the crown is here said to have been procured by his "Mother:" because, as Bathsheba, by earnest and importunate entreaties, solicited the crown for her son; so likewise the Church, from whom according to the flesh Christ came,e and who, by hope and expectation conceived and brought him forth,f entertained a most ardent wish, that he should bring the sharpest conflicts to a successful issue, and in consequence rule peaceably and gloriously in the midst of his enemies. Besides, by the word of faith, she brings forth those, who are "the glory of Christ.”g "The daughters of Zion," even all believers, as many throughout the whole world as belong to that kingdom of the Messiah, which is given him in Zion, are invited to "behold" the crown. For this purpose they are required to "go forth,"—to go out from the world, and
"their own people,"h and from themselves and the reasonings of the flesh. They must turn away their eyes and their minds from all other persons and things; since in the contemplation of Christ alone, they will find in abundance, whatever is calculated to administer the most ample satisfaction.
II. Acquiescing, therefore, in so kind an invitation, let us now apply ourselves with pleasure to devout meditation on that glory which the Scripture attributes to Christ, when it affirms that he SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. All those inducements that can stimulate the students of divine truth to the diligent investigation of any doctrine, concur to attract our attention to this noble theme. As, however, it is a topic singularly sublime and profitable, so it is also attended with considerable difficulty; which has given rise to a variety of controversies amongst Theologians, both ancient and modern. Let us then be careful that we do not wander from the true sense of a very important article. We may attend, in the first place, to the words, and then proceed to a more accurate consideration of the subject.
III. With regard to the expression, it does not seem so necessary to examine what is meant by the right hand, (for that will throw no great light on the question at issue,) as what is denoted by a person's BEING AT THE RIGHT HAND. It must be inquired, besides, whether there be any latent force in the word SITTING.
IV. There are some who suppose, that by Christ's sitting at the right hand of God is intended a glory somewhat inferior to the Divine; and the reason they assign for this opinion is, that amongst the ancients,
h Ps. xlv. 10.
the person at the left hand was accounted more honourable than the person at the right. The first writer, so far as I know, that conceived this notion, was Antony of Lebrixa; who, judging nothing more incongruous, or more indecorous, than that the Son should occupy the first place, which it became him, although equal in nature to the Father, yet as the Son, and as man, to yield to the Father,-began to suspect that the order of sitting amongst the ancients was different from that which is observed in modern times, and imagined that he had proved by several testimonies, collected from old writers, that the place at the left hand was deemed superior in dignity.* Goropius Becanus embraced the same opinion, and defended it by additional proofs. Baronius, too, supported this new sentiment by new arguments, for the honour of his Roman Pontiff, whose legates, it appears, sometimes sat on the left hand in the ancient councils. That this circumstance might prove no disparagement to the Holy See, he contends that, with the Romans, the place on the left, was, in sacred matters, the more honourable, and that on the right the less so. But Lipsius proves incontrovertibly, that the arguments adduced by Becanus are by no means solid, but mere straw and stubble, which cannot stand the ordeal of strict examination. Compare Turnebus, and Casaubon, who keenly satirizes that rage for the paradoxical. Even the evidence of the
See his Quinquagena, cap. 39.
+ Hieroglyph. Lib. iii. p. 41. et seq.
‡ Ad annum ccxiii. sect. 6. and again, ad annum cccxxv. sect. 56. et seq.
§ Elect. Lib. ii. cap. 2.
|| Advers. Lib. xiv. cap. 24. Lib. xviii. cap. 29. Ad Sueton. Nero. Cap. xiii.