Of Christs Glorious Ascension.
Morn: 11. Octob. 1691
20. John. 17 latter part.
But go to my Brethren, & say unto them, I ascend unto my Father & your Father, & to my God & your God.
Wee have upon this occasion been treating of Christs deep Humiliation for the sake of sinners, from 53. Isa. 5. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. And from thence have passed to speak of Christs Exaltation. Both are for our sakes, & therefore both ought to be known, meditated upon, & improved by us. Now Christs Exaltation consists of three steps or degrees, directly opposite to so many steps, or degrees of his Humiliation (1) The first step of his Exaltation, was his Resurrection from the dead, directly opposite to Death: concerning which we have spoken somwhat already from 28. Matth. 6. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said: come see the Place where the Lord lay. We come now
- 1. In the Second place to speak of Christs Ascension into Heaven (which is directly opposite to his descending into the Grave, & to the Lowest place of the earth) for which purpose have made choice of this text. But go to my Brethren, & say unto them, I ascend unto my Father & your Father, & to My God & your God. These words are part of our Saviours Heavenly discourse with Mary Magdalene. In the former part of the Chapter, we find Mary industriously seeking after Christ, yea & running to & fro to carry tydings to the Apostles concerning Christ. 1. 2. v. Yea & weeping after Christ at his Sepulchre. 11. v. Now to comfort this mourner in Zion, two Angels are dispatcht from Heaven. 12. 13. v. And because their words of comfort did not stick, Christ himself comes to discourse with her. 14. 15. 16. v. And then in this 17 v. where our text is, two things are observable
- 1. A Prohibition. Touch me not.
- 2. A commision. But Go to my Brethren &c.
- 1. A Prohibition. Touch me not.
- Qu: But why so? Christ bids Thomas touch him, & more than touch him, namely run his hand into his side. 26. 27. v. Why then dos he forbid Mary to touch him?
- An: Because Mary came with too much of a carnal disposition. She would have had com̄union with him by sense, but he directs her to com̄union with him by Faith. And therefore he adds the
- Reason. of this Prohibition. For I am not yet ascended to my Father. And therfore touch me not now by sense, but touch me then by Faith. Q.D. Mary thou wouldst out of great affections now clasp & cling about me by thine arms of flesh, but I would have thee clasp & cling about me rather by thine arms of Faith when I am ascended to my Father in Heaven. So sais Austin, Mitte fidem in coelū & fetigisti.74 But sais Christ I have other work for thee to do now, & that brings us to the second thing, namely
- 2. A commission. Text. But Go to my Brethren &c. Severall things might be here noted but my present purpose is only to Speak of Christs Ascension & so the Doctrine is this, namely
- Doctr. Our once humbled & wounded & bruised Mediator has been long since exalted not only by a Glorious Resurrection from the Grave, but also by a Glorious Ascension into Heaven. Here are three things that are contained in the doctrine two of which have been spoken to before, & the other third, I would speak to at this time.
- 1. Our Mediator has been humbled.
- 2. Our Humbled Mediator, has been long since exalted by a Glorious Resurrection. These have both of them been discoursed of. Now then that which remains is
- 3. Last. That Our Mediator is long since exalted also by a Glorious Ascension into Heaven. The Ascension of Christ was a Glorious designe, & carries in it many things appertaining to the Salvation of our Souls. In the prosecution of this Point I purpose to Speak to these following particulars, viz.
- 1. To Show you that Christ is Ascended.
- 2. How Christ Ascended.
- 3. To Show you the place from which, & to which Christ Ascended.
- 4. To Show you the time when Christ Ascended.
- 5. Last: Why Christ Ascended. 1. Then, that Christ Ascended.
- 1. This Ascension of Christ may be proved by the Types by which Christs Ascension was prefigured. 44. Ezek. 2. 3. You find here after the restitution of the Temple, God forbids any to enter in at the Gate of the Holy of Holies but the high-Priest only, that Gate must be shut against all others: why so Heavens Gate is shut against all sinners, they cannot enter thereinto by their own virtue, but only by our Prince, & great high Priest the Lord Jesus, who has opened it, & entered in at it, & that for our sakes. Hince upon this account Christ is called our Fore-runner. 6. Hebr. 19. 20.
- 2. This Ascension of Christ may be proved by Prophesyes of Christ Ascension. 68. Psal. 18. Thou hast Ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive &c. The Apostle Paul interprets this of Christ Jesus. 4. Eph. 8. The Prophet Daniel also foresaw this Ascension of Christ. 7. Ch. 13. 14.
- 3. This Ascension of Christ may be proved by the Histories of the Evangelists. 16. Mark. 19. 24. Luke. 51.
- 4. This Ascension of Christ may be proved by many witnesses both Angelical & Humane. 1. Acts. 9. 10. 11.
- 5. Last: This Ascension of Christ is also ratifyed & confirmed by the Apostles in their Epistles. 4. Eph. 7. 8. 9. 1. Tim. 3. ult. 4. Hebr. 14. & 1. Pet. 3. 21. 22.
- II. The next thing is to Show you how Christ Ascended. And here two things may be considered, namely the subject of this Ascension, & the manner of this Ascension.
- 1. The subject of this Ascension, & that was Christ, Christ ϑιαυϑρωπος,75 or the whole Person of Christ. 4. Eph. 9. 10. Properly & really as to his humane nature which is only capable of local motion, but as to his Divine nature figuratively, for as God he is every where. 23. Jer. 24. Do not I fill Heaven & earth? saith the Lord. Yet by reason of the union of the Deity, with the Humanity this Ascension is attributed to the whole Person, althô properly Ascension agrees to but one of his Natures, viz. the Humane.
- 2. The next thing is to consider the manner of Christs Ascension: And this the Scripture describes in sundry particulars.
- 1. The Scripture tells us that Christ Ascended blessing of his Apostles. Ult. Luke. 51. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, & carried up into Heaven. This is a great comfort to Christs Ministers, that thô the world hates them, & therefore curseth them, yet their Lord loves them, & therefore blesseth them. This is that which far out weighs the other. 109. Ps. 28. Let them curse, but bless thou. Yea & takes his leave of them with Blessing of them: as Good old Jacob did his Sons. 48. Gen. 1. &c. And no doubt but the Apostles here are lookt upon as common persons, & so they receive the Blessing for the whole &c. And hereby Christ shews us that by his Death we are redeemed from the curse of the Law, & that he going to Heaven is now able to pour down all Spiritual blessings upon us.
- 2. Christ Ascended visibly in the very view of the Apostles 1. Acts. 9. 10. He was not sodainly snatcht away as Elijah nor privily translated as Enoch, but in the presence both of his Apostles & Disciples.
- Obj: But why not in the sight of all the Jews, that so they might be certifyed in this Point?
- An: Why no doubt but this was Gods meaning in it, namely that the great points of Religion should be taught us rather by hearing, than by seeing, 10. Ro. 17. But yet the Disciples they are taught by sight, that they might the better teach others which should not see.
- 3. Christ Ascended by his own mighty Power. Others have Ascended into Heaven in their Souls (& as is very likely) in their bodies also, as Enoch. 5. Gen. 24. & Elijah. 2. Reg. 2—11. Yet these went not into Heaven by their own Power, as our Lord Jesus did.
- 4. Christ Ascended in a cloud. 1. Acts. 9. A cloud received him. Hereby he shows that he is Lord of all creatures: He had before trampled upon the Earth, walked upon ye Sea, Vanquished Hell or the Grave, & now the Clouds receive him, & the Heavens give way to entertain him. And as he went up in Clouds, so he shall come down again in Clouds. 1. Acts. 11. 24. Matth. 30.
- 5. Christ Ascended with the sound of a Trumpet. 47. Ps. 5. God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a Trumpet. Not a Trumpet on Earth sounding Hosanna, but a Trumpet in Heaven sounding an Hallelujah. Certainly great joy was in Heaven, at the Ascension of Christ into it. The Angels no doubt struck up their Harps, & welcomed both their Lord, &. ours with loudest Hymns, & sweetest Praises.
- 6. Last: Christ Ascended in Triumph. 4. Eph. 8. He led captivity captive &c. As in the Romane Triumphs The Conqueror ascended up to the capitol in a chariot of State, the Prisoners following on foot with their hands bound behind them, & he threw down pieces of money to be gathered up by the com̄on People. So here
- 1. Christ led captive all our enemies, Death, Hell, the Law, & the Devil, all captived by this great Champion.
- 2. Christ gave gifts unto men. Before the Holy Ghost was sent only by drops, as it were, but it now came pouring down in full showers, as we read. 2. Acts. 1. &c. &4. Chap. 31–32. So much for the second thing, how our Lord Jesus Ascended. And this may suffice at present.