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VIII. But since Christ is not more honourable than the Father, what is meant by his being placed at the Father's right hand? For the solution of this difficulty, it is observed by learned men, that when one, for the sake of honour, is placed at the right hand of a king, we must not attend so much to the person of the king as to his throne. The throne itself, too, is to be considered as having two sides,—having a seat not only on the right hand, but also on the left; whilst the seat on the right side, is more honourable than that on the left. Yet the king's own seat in the midst of the throne, is more eminent than either; for the middle place is the most honourable of all. To this there is a reference in the ambitious request of the sons of Zebedee, who employed their mother to solicit, that it might be given them to sit, the one on the right hand of Christ, and the other on the left, in his kingdom. The same form is alluded to in the following passage of Suetonius concerning Tiberius:-" After this, when a young "man, in the triumph celebrated for the victory of Ac"tium, he accompanied the chariot of Augustus, riding
upon the horse on the left hand; while Marcellus, "the son of Octavia, rode upon the horse that was "joined to the chariot on the right." The right hand horse, as the more honourable, was given to Marcellus ; to whom Augustus had destined the empire. Augustus himself, however, it appears, held the middle, being the highest place. The middle, therefore, is the first place; and the right hand, the next.
See loss. Harm. Evang. lib. iii. cap. 6. sect. 7.
+ Dehine pubescens, Actiaco triumpho, currum Augusti comitatus est sinisteriore funali equo, quum Marcellus Octaviæ filius, dexteriore veheretur. Tib. cap. vi.
• Mat. xx. 21.
IX. The learned men add, that it is not necessary that a third person be associated with the king, on the left hand; for it is understood that a vacant seat, which might be occupied, is on that hand. Of this we have an instance in Solomon, who, to confer honour on his mother Bathsheba, caused her to sit on his right side ;p for had he caused the left side to be occupied, whilst the seat on the right was vacant, he would have seemed to prefer some one for whom that seat was reserved, to his mother. But by the mode adopted, he assigned her the honour next to that which belonged to the king. Christ, therefore, is on the right hand of the Father, because the Father is considered as sitting in the midst of the throne, to whom our Lord, as Mediator, is next in dignity. Hence he is said to sit on the throne of the Father; not excluding the Father, or superior to Him, but with the Father: as his Mediatorial dignity in the state of exaltation makes the nearest approach to the Divine.
x. In making these observations, the learned men indeed discover ingenuity. But it will be no disadvantage to us, to lay aside such hypotheses, and perhaps unnatural refinements; provided only we remember, that, since it is impossible for any to be greater or more honourable than a king in his own kingdom; a king, when he makes any one sit on his right hand, wishes him to be very highly honoured, yet doth not exalt him above himself. To be at the right hand of the highest, is the dignity next to the highest; or, if the case so require, it is to possess equal honour. necessary to imagine a vacant seat on the left. In Psalm xlv. 9. the Queen is represented as standing on the
Nor is it
r 1 Kings ii. 19.
4 Rev. iii. 21.
right hand of the King; and we read nothing of a person occupying the left. Nero, according to Suetonius,* placed Tiridates king of Armenia, "next himself on "the right hand." And with this Casaubon judiciously compares the following passage of Eunapius:† "And so great a height of wisdom and power did he "attain, that the king himself became enamoured of "him, and had him for his assessor in public, setting "him in the right hand place." Claudius, according to Suetonius also," appointed a triumph to Aulus Plau"tius; and, having gone forth to meet him, when he "made his entry into the city, proceeded to the Capi"tol, and returned,-supported his side," that is, if we adopt the interpretation of Eutropius, marched on his
left." This he did, surely, not for the purpose of degrading, as Becanus would understand it, but of exalting him; yet by no means so as to advance him above himself. Hence it appears, that princes placed on their right hand, those on whom they wished to confer the greatest possible honour, without any reference to a third place in relation to which the prince held the middle station. From this custom, then, we ought to explain the expression, that Christ is on the right hand of the Father. The meaning is, that he is exalted by the Father to the highest dignity, and honoured with a name which is above every name."r "He shall be "exalted," says Isaiah," and extolled, and be very high."s
XI. Let us now inquire into the import and force of the term SITTING. This word denotes, 1st, Honour. It belongs to servants, to stand;--to a master,
+ In Edesio.
Is. lii. 13.
to sit. Of the former see 1 Kings x. 8. Dan. vii. 10. Angels are called those that stand by. Of the latter see Dan. vii. 9. "I beheld till the thrones were cast "down, and the Ancient of days did sit." See also 1 Kings ii. 19. and Esther i. 14.-" Seven princes of "Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and "which sat the first in the kingdom." "I sat chief," says Job." Christ, therefore, whilst he sits by the Father, possesses a dignity superior to all the angels. "For to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit "thou on my right hand." 2dly, Judicial and royal authority. "Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, "judging the twelve tribes of Israel."w "I sit a queen." In like manner it is said of Christ,-" And "he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon " his throne;" and again,—" In mercy shall the throne "be established, and he shall sit upon it."z 3dly, Rest after labours which have been sustained. The blessed and glorious rest which Christ enjoys, is plainly indicated in the Father's address to him; when, having invited Christ to sit, he devolves on himself what remains of the work of conquering and triumphing over his enemies:-"Sit thou at my right hand, until I make "thine enemies thy footstool." 4thly, An undisturbed abode for a long period in the same place. "Shi"mei dwelt, sat, at Jerusalem many days."" He con"tinued, sat, there a year and six months." So also
.7 .Zech. iii הָעוֹמְדִים .16 .Dan. vii קָאָמַיאַ*
"Chap. xxix. 25.
Mat. xix. 28.
▾ Heb. i. 5.
* Rev. xviii. 7.
y Zech. vi. 13.
* Is. xvi. 5.
a Gen. xviii. 1. Mic. iv. 4. John iv. 6.
b Ps. cx. 1.
d'Exados, Acts xviii. 11,
* 1 Kings ii. 38.
the glory of Christ will be constant and perpetual; "for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under "his feet."e
XII. It is not inconsistent with this sitting, that Stephen saw Christ "STANDING at the right hand of "God." The expression must not be understood grossly, as relating to the posture of the body, but as referring to the thing denoted by that posture, namely, Christ's glorious rest and ample authority. The standing attitude in which he appeared to Stephen, was intended to indicate his perfect readiness, amidst the glory with which he is surrounded, to defend and strengthen that noble martyr, and to receive his spirit.s "We must consider," says Gregory the Great, "what " is intended by Mark's expression, he sat on the right "hand of God, and by Stephen's saying, I see the "heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the "right hand of God. Why does Mark affirm that "he sits, while Stephen avers that he saw him stand$6 ing? But know, brethren, that it belongs to a Judge, "to sit; to a Warrior, or Helper, to stand. Since "therefore our Redeemer, being exalted to heaven, " even now exercises universal judgment, and will come "at last as the Judge of all, Mark describes him as "sitting after he was received up; for, in consequence " of the glory of his ascension, he will appear as Judge "at the end of the world. Stephen, engaged in the "labours of the contest, beheld him whom he regard❝ed as his Helper, in a standing posture; because he “ fought for him, and supported him by his grace from
Homil. xxix. In festo Adscens.
e 1 Cor. xv. 25.
f Acts vii. 56.