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Ascension Lessons

Ascension Lessons

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Published by glennpease
BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D.D., D.C.L.


Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity
captive, and gave gifts imto men. EPHES. iv. 8.
BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D.D., D.C.L.


Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity
captive, and gave gifts imto men. EPHES. iv. 8.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 05, 2013
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ASCESIO LESSOSBROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D.D., D.C.L.Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivitycaptive, and gave gifts imto men. EPHES. iv. 8.WE are met to-day to commemorate the closingscene of our Lord s first sojourn upon earth, to bearwitness to the fulfilment of the redemption whichHe wrought, to look forward to the glory of Hiskingdom. There must be something wanting inthe fulness of our Christian sympathies if such afestival can wake within us no thoughts of faithand love and hope ; if that day which fourteenhundred years ago, as we read, spread joy throughthe whole world, shall find no welcome among us.It cannot, indeed, fail to strike every one that whilethe Birth and Death and Resurrection of ourSaviour are the very measures of our year, HisIncarnation and Ascension are almost unregarded.The beginning and the end escape our notice.The mystery of God s love is forgotten in thefulfilment of man s hope. The glory of Christ striumph is lost in the recollection of His victory.And yet we may be sure that the Ascension forof that alone I would speak now has some specialmeaning for the Church some special meaning fori9S196 VILLAGE SERMOSus or it would not have always formed a distinctarticle in the Christian Creeds.Like the Incarnation, the Ascension is at once
 
an end and a beginning the close of one dispensation, the dawn of another. Taken together, thesewondrous miracles sum up our faith. The onemarks the union of God with man : the other theunion of man with God. Two Evangelists haverecorded each mystery, two have omitted them.The peculiar character of the Ascension is, however, seen in the fact that it is at once the lastevent recorded in the Gospel and the first recordedin the Acts. It limits and unites the life of Christand the history of His Church.The period of preparation by which it wasattended suggests a comparison with the othercrises in Scripture history which were ushered inin the like significant manner. For forty daysMoses was on the Mount before he received theLaw. For forty days Elijah tarried in Horebbefore he obtained the revelation of God. Forforty days our Lord Himself fasted in the wilderness before He began to proclaim glad tidings tothe world. For forty days the spies examinedthe promised land the figure of our heavenlycountry. For so long repentance was offered to theinivites. For so long, according to Ezekiel, thetypical punishment of God s people was to last. Onlyonce more that period is mentioned in Holy Scripture,when it is said in the narrative of the flood that therain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.Some may see in this only an accident ; yet surelythey are wiser who, with the earliest of our Christianxxn VILLAGE SERMOS 197teachers, find in the minutest dealings of God withmen a wonderful harmony, and delight to trace itin its varied forms.
 
It is enough for us to notice the differenceswhich distinguish the forty days after the Baptismfrom these forty days after the Resurrection. Atfirst Christ was led to the wilderness: at last He wasbound by no local ties. Then He was a-hungeredand found no food : now He knew no bodily wants,and yet He ate with His disciples. Then Herefused the kingdoms of the world which Satanoffered : now He bids the apostles proclaim Hispower to the uttermost parts of the earth. ThenHe repelled the Tempter who bade Him castHimself from the pinnacle of the Temple : nowHe is parted from His disciples and rises to thethrone of God. The devil departed from Him atfirst but for a season : now at length the powers of darkness have been overthrown. The angels whoministered to the Saviour now minister to Hisservants. The time of conflict is followed by atime of peace.It has often been said that the Ascension isimplied in the Resurrection that it is impossibleto avoid assuming some such close to the periodof our Lord s personal presence among men. However true this may be, there is that in the Scripturenarrative of it which fancy could have ill supplied.o eye saw when Christ burst the fastenings of the grave, for the fact was proved by His appearance afterwards ; but from Mount Olivet He rosewhile His disciples gazed up to heaven and stillfelt His blessing, because then alone could they be198 VILLAGE SERMOSwitnesses of His exaltation, and yet assured of Hislove. Christ was raised from the dead by theoperation of God s Spirit. He ascended, as itappears, by the exertion of His own will. There

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