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Another prediction of the kind is in Ps. 68: 18; “ Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell amongst them.” This Psalm was occasioned by the removal of the ark into Solomon's temple. Jehovah is here described by his magnificent retinue; "even thousands of angels;" by his triumphant ascension into heaven, and by his being the author of salvation. Tha whole of this description is applicable to the Messiah, and to none else, and was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who made an end of sin, abolished death, spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them open!y; and, having dono so, went up and entered heaven as a triumphant conqueror, and sent down the Holy Spirit with all his gifts and powers. I would name another Psalm, viz. 110: 1. “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thino enemies thy footstool.” In a former letter, it has been shown that our rabbins applied this prophecy to the Messiah, and I shall endeavor to show its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. It denotes the exaltation of the Messiah, his great power and authority, his being crowned as kings and priests are for their people, whom they govern, or for whom they intercede.
Another remarkable prediction, respecting the ascension of the Messiah, is Dan. 7:13, 14; " I saw in the night vi. sions, and behold one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days; andi: they brought him near before him, and there were given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall never be destroyed.” That the Messiah is here intended by the Son of Man, is acknowledged by many of the rabbins. Zohar. Gen. fo. 35: 4. Yarchi, Saadiah Goan, in loco. R. Joshua in Ezra, in loco. Zeror Ham. Sanhed. Medrish Tillim, Ps. 21:7. Hence anani, which signifies clouds, is one of the names of the
Messiah. Targum on 1 Chro.3:24. Ber. Rab. Gen. 28: 10.
I will name but one prediction more, viz. Micah, 2: 13; " The breaker is come up before them, they have broken up, and bave passed through the gate, and are gone out by it, and their King shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them.". Both our ancient and modern rabbins apply this passage to the Messiah. Avcoth Rochel, Mos. Haddarshan. Gen. 40:9. Ber. Rab. Gen. 44:18. Gal. de Arcam's, c. 5, b. 8, c. 23.
The Lord Jesus Christ himself frequently spake of his ascension into heaven. When our people were offended with Christ, because he had said that his flesh was the true manna which came down from heaven, Jesus replied, " What and if
where he was before ?" John 6: 62, i. e. will that convince you that I did not speak of my body literally? for that is not to be eaten, but must ascend on high. Again, he
I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." John, 16:28. And on the day of his resurrection he said, " Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” Sohn, 20:17.
§ 3. I shall now proceed to show, that Jesus Christ did ascend into heaven, agreeably to the foregoing types and predictions. This is evident from plain Scripture declara: tions. The ascension of Jesus is sometimes called going away, John, 14:7; sometimes his being exalted, Acts, 2: 23; sometimes his being made higher than the heavens, Heb. 7:26; and sometimes his entering within the veil, Heb. 6.17, 20; all which are but so many synonymous phrases, expressing his ascension, in a very pleasant variety,
The reality of the ascension of Christ is testified by credible witnesses. Many of the disciples of Jesus saw him ascending. The evangelist Luke says, “ And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifted up his hands and blessed them; and it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." Chap. 24: 50-52. Again, "When he had spoken these things, while they beheld he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts, 1:9-11. Thus Christ ascended in the presence of his disciples. Earthly monarchs display their glory before the eyes of as many as possible, and conceal disgrace. Christ, on the contrary, made all witnesses of his sufferings and ignominious death ; but at his transfiguration he took only three of his disciples, and forbade to tell the rest. After his resurrection he appeared only to his disciples, and poured out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost on the disciples only, They did not see him when he rose, but they saw him when he ascended; because no eye-witness was necessary to the act of his resurrection, but it was necessary to the act of his ascension. It was sufficient that Christ showed himself to his apostles alive, after his sufferings, for they knew that he was dead, and now saw him alive, and therefore were sure that he must have risen. But as his sitting at the right hand of God was not designed to be visible on the earth, therefore it was necessary that they should be eye-witnesses of the act of his ascension. Whilst Stephen, the proto-martyr, was suffering, looking steadfastly to heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and at the same time declared to the Jews that he saw the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. Acts, 7:55, 56.
$ 4. We have also the testimony of holy angels, as we have just seen from Acts, 1: 10, 11. The disciples, although they saw him ascending, yet could not tell whether he had ac
tually entered heaven; therefore, two of the heavenly inhabitants were dispatched to assure them that he actually had entered heaven. When God brought his first-born into the world, he said, " Let all the angels of God worship him." Hence, at his birth, a multitude of angels were praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the bighest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke, 2:14. And when Jesus had finished the work of redemption, he returned again to his Father, with no less demonstration of joy amongst the blessed angels, agreeably to Ps. 47:5. Then also was fulfilled Daniel's prediction, when the Son of Man was introduced by the shouts of angels to the Ancient of Days, who, to express his welcome to Christ, gave him glory and a kingdom.
We have also the testimony of the Holy Spirit, who was expressly promised by Christ to be poured out for the purpose of lestifying of him, as will be shown hereafter.
$5. I might further observe, that the destruction of Jerusalem, and the consequent dispersion of our nation, is a standing proof of the ascension of Jesus into heaven; for, on different occasions, Jesus foretold that this should follow his ascension. John, 7:34. " Then said Jesus unto them, yet a little while I am with you, and then I go unto him that sent me; ye shall seek me, and shall not find me.” Again, ch. 8:21. But having already written largely on this subject in a former letter, page 296, I shall pass on to consider the act itself, viz.
$ 6. The circumstances connected with the ascension of Christ.
With regard to the manner of Christ's ascension, I would observe, that it was not in appearance only, but in reality and truth, visibly and locally, a real removal of his body from earth to heaven, in a sudden, swift, glorious, and triumphant manner. Enoch was translated, but we have no account of the manner. Elijah was taken up in a fiery cha. riot, suited to the fiery dispensation under which he lived;
but Christ was taken up in a bright cloud. A cloud is often used in Scripture in display of God's presence and glory.
$ 7. The time of the ascension is expressly mentioned, Acts, 1:3, 11, 17; When also he showed himself alive, after his passion, by many infallible proofs; being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” It was proper and necessary that he should remain some time with his disciples, both to give them full evidence of his resurrection, and farther particulars in the things belonging to his kingdom. As Hezekiah was to set his house in order before he died, so Christ would not ascend into heaven till he had set all at rights on earth. Christ would have his house well governed after his ascen. sion, and therefore staid the required time to give full directions. Moses was forty days upon the mount, and his face shone; Elijah fasted forty days, and was taken up into hea. ven; and Christ was with his disciples forty days after his resurrection, and then ascended into heaven. We notice, the place from whence he ascended was mount Olivet, near to Bethany. He chose a high and convenient place, to convince his disciples of the truth and reality of his ascension. He had not withdrawn himself secretly, as at other times, but in open view. In the garden of Gethsemane, near to this mount, his pains and troubles began, and from thence he went to the cross, and from the same mount he ascended into glory. How often does the Lord make the place that has been the scene of sorrow, to be the first step to our rising and advancement.
As on a mount he frequently preached and prayed, was transfigured and crucified, so at last he ascended from a mount. This is the place which he had so often honored, in the days of his humiliation; and it was not unfit, therefore, that his exaltation should commence there also. The place to which he ascended was the heaven of heavens, the innermost sanctuary of the Divine Majesty. The flight was to the house of God, to the seat of bliss and consummate glory: