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since to her, as to a spouse peculiarly dear, Christ, when leaving the earth, last turned his attention.*

xiv. Casaubon is of opinion that this miracle of the impression of Christ's footsteps is highly deserving of credit, because so many writers, and amongst them the celebrated Jerome, concur in relating it. To me, however, to confess the truth, it appears in a different light; nor do I doubt that this is one of those fables, which a later age has either devised or eagerly embraced, contrary to the belief of earlier times. Eusebius, as Hornius has judiciously observed, when giving a very particular description of the Church on mount Olivet, makes no mention of this miracle ; and surely, he would not have omitted a circumstance so notable, and so likely, had it been founded in truth, to be of great utility for the confutation of the heathen. It is also passed over in silence by Socrates, Theodoret, Sazomenus, and by Nicephorus, the father of fables ; who yet indulge in splendid trifling about the discovery of the cross. Compare what we have said in the tenth and several subsequent Sections of the sixteenth Dissertation. As to the marks of footsteps that are still pointed out to travellers, the thing itself shows, that these are merely the tricks of idle people. Nor doth the modern story agree with the ancient. According to the ancient account, the marks are impressed on the earth ; according to the modern, on the rock. The prints of footsteps, besides, are not now to be seen, but only the print of one foot, in a certain part of the rock; the other print, with the stone on which it is said to have appeared, having been

A Lapide ad Act. i. 12.

2 E



removed by the Turks to a mosque of their own.* And doth our Lord, in reality, now take so little interest in the traces of his feet, that, although anciently, when a pious Empress erected a most splendid Church to his honour, he would not suffer it to be covered with an arch, yet he now permits one part of that sacred memorial to be transferred to a temple dedicated to the false Prophet ?

xv. Hornius supposes that he has discovered the source of the mistake, in the words of Eusebius in his Life of Constantine ;t where, when narrating the visit of HELENA to Judea, he says; “But, as she regarded “ with due veneration the footsteps of the Saviour, &c.”I What is spoken in general of Judea, where Christ lived, was perhaps ignorantly applied to mount Olivet, whence Christ ascended. And, without doubt, a very small matter is sufficient to give rise to a fable, which, how improbable soever, increases in course of time to a prodigious size. But the occasion of the story, I am rather inclined to think, was taken from a prophecy of Zechariah. In the writings of that Prophet we have the following words: “ His feet shall stand in that “ day upon the mount of Olives ;"b_which expression, Baronius, taking it in an extremely literal sense, has applied to this affair. Or it may have been taken from these words of the Psalmist : “ We will worship “ at his footstool ;"c_which Paulinus renders thus, “We have worshipped where his feet have stood ;"

* Dalla Valle Itin. lib. i. cap. 37. + De Vit. Constant.

xlii. ! Ως δε τοις βημασι τοις σωτηρίοις την πρέπεσαν απιδιδε

сар. .


%. b Zech. xiv. 4.

c Ps. cxxxii. 7.

and refers to this story. To point out the absurdity of such interpretations, is quite unnecessary.3

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 ;d 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.

xvil. 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;"{ " We have a great High-priest that is "passed through the heavens,"g that is, the visible heavens; “ Made higher than the heavens ;"" " He as"cended up far above all heavens.” i

XVIII. The heaven to which Christ ascended, is not

d Luke xxii. 39.

e Acts i. 11. 11 Pet. üi. 22. 8 Διεληλυθότα τες ερανες, Heb. iv. 14. h Heb. vii. 26.

i Ephes. iv. 10. 38 See NOTE XXXVIII.

God himself, nor the heavenly society, or glory, or blessedness; but “ his Father's house,” i and “his dwelling

place.”* It is not every where, but in the highest regions. “ He was received up into heaven;" 1 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 6 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 restitu6 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 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.

* Orat. ü. de Filio: j John xiv. 2. k 2 Chron. vi. 21. Deut. xxvi. 15. I Mark xvi. 19.

m John xiv. 3, 4. n Col. ii. 1:

• Acts iü. 21. p Luke xxiv. 31. Mat. xvii. 2.

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,”l_and again, " Him “ hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince “ and a Saviour.”r 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 'Avaantos, Analepsis, is a remark

4 Acts ü. 38.

* Acts v. 31.

• Philip. ii. 9.

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