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at the cost of His inestimable sacrifice. We talk about saving our souls, but we sometimes forget that we must save our bodies. Our bodies are good and great as well as our souls. The Word of God “ made flesh” that He might save our whole nature, and every part of us must be prepared for Heaven. Body, soul, and spirit, we must be sanctified, or else we are not ripe for that land of happiness where all that is is good. “ There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.” Let us not forget this in all the acts of our common daily life. This poor body of ours is heir to a great estate. Let us live in it as mindful of our great inheritance, lest we forfeit our privileges and lose our crown. This body of ours is now upon a journey, travelling onwards to another and higher condition, in which it will for ever rest with God or be tormented with God's enemy. Let us choose the right road, although it may be narrow, and shun the path which leads to death, although it may be broad. For it is horrible to think of endless misery, and it is joy to feel that we may see and know and love our God. Oh, how happy will it be if, through God's mercy, we conquer death by overcoming sin, how happy, how altogether blessed, to put off this miserable flesh, and throw away the rags in which sin has clothed it, and to stand at length within the gates of the eternal city, clothed in the spiritual body; winged like the eagle, swift as the light, brilliant as the noonday sun, mighty as an Angel, subtle as air, clean as snow, endless as eternity. Oh, it is worth our while to struggle for a moment here, and wrestle down sin, and deny ourselves, and bear a few troubles, and wipe away a transitory tear, if we know and are assured that life is the seed-time of an endless harvest, and sorrow but as the rain with which the soil is watered, and trial but like the sun which makes the corn grow. We can put up with a few evils here, if we know that for those who love God they are the road to Heaven, and the fire by which He purges the soul from all its evil, and purifies this body of sin and death, that mortality may be “swallowed up of life,” and that the quickening Spirit may change this poor star, which shines with so dim a lustre here, into another star which may shine with all the lasting fulness of an eternal glory.
ST. LUKE xxiv, 50—52. “And He 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 worshipped Him."
MTHE manner in which an event takes place is only
1 less important than the event itself. In fact, the manner of the event is part of the event, and cannot be separated from it; so that in all matters of great interest and importance it is not less needful, in order to a right understanding of their meaning, that we should know the way in which they happened—their whole accompanying circumstances—than that we should know that they have happened in some way or other, and have become a fact.
The words of St. Luke, which I have just read, contain minute particulars regarding a fact of supreme importance to the welfare of mankind, inasmuch as it was the last act in the earthly life of Him Who is the greatest of the sons of men, and Who, during a short sojourn upon earth, on which He lived for thirtythree years, completely changed the condition of our race, and established new relations between earth and Heaven. We might have known the fact of our Lord's Ascension, and nothing more. We might have
been told, in some few plain words, this great truth on which our hopes hang, and which is the basis of that faith which we possess in a state of everlasting blessedness; and yet everything which could draw, as it were, a picture for our minds, and make vivid our conceptions of it, might have been withheld from us. But it has seemed good to that Holy Spirit, Who is our inward Teacher and the “Spirit of Truth," to set before us a lively image of the great event, to describe to us the very attitudes of the ascending Saviour and His adoring friends, to sketch for us, by a few bold strokes and lively touches, the wondrous scene which chosen eyes witnessed, in order that so great a truth might live upon the world's memory, and attract to itself the loving eyes of unnumbered hearts.
The pencil which was inspired by the Divine Spirit for this purpose was the pencil of St. Luke. From his gospel, and from the Book of Acts,-in which he filled
the outline which had before been sketched in the gospel, with some few additional particulars,— we can form a distinct conception of the manner in which all occurred. The spot which last was trodden by our Lord's feet was the hill of Olives. Standing on the slope of the hill which overhangs Bethany, after parting words spoken, and a renewal of that commission which had before sent out His Apostles, as the appointed witnesses of His truth, to the uttermost part of the earth, while His hands were lifted up in the attitude of blessing, He was parted from them and carried up into Heaven. They saw Him till His form was lost in that cloud which received Him into its folds of mystery, and they saw Him then no more.
But they were told that they should yet again see Him. As they looked up steadfastly to Heaven, with fixed eyes, on knees which bent adoringly, they were called by Angels from worship to the work which He had given them, and were told that He was not gone for ever,
but should so come as they had seen Him go. Why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven."
Such is the sketch which the pencil of St. Luke has drawn for us, and not a stroke of that pencil is without a purpose, or superfluous; but this morning I shall only point you to those touches which the text contains,—to the parting, the carrying, the blessing, and the worshipping, though I shall borrow from the Acts what they can lend to assist our understanding of these four topics, overlooking whatever we there meet with which is altogether new.
Observe, first, that there was a parting. “He was purted from them.” The Ascension of our Lord was a separation from His Church. Personally, He is not with us now. He is with us, but He is not with us in His own person. In His own person He is in Heaven. As far as Heaven is from earth, so far is He absent from us. Heaven is the place of His abode, and the scene of His own proper work which He is now accomplishing as our “ Advocate with the Father," and the anointed Head of His Church. The Church is now a widow because her Lord is gone. The interval between the Ascension and the Day of Judgment is a time of separation. The Church and her Lord are parted as long as time lasts, and will not be reunited until time shall be no more.
It does not follow from this that our Lord is in no manner present. He is not present personally, but