Acts 1:9
After He had said this, they watched as He was taken up, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.
Sermons
The AscensionR.A. Redford Acts 1:9
The Ascension as the Visible Sign of the Acceptance of the RedeemerR. Tuck Acts 1:9
A True Commencement Must have Respect to What has Gone BeforeH. C. Trumbull, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
Aspects of Christ on the EarthActs 1:1-12
Christ Directs Thought to HeavenActs 1:1-12
Christ Preceding His Apostles to HeavenA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
Christ's Finished and Unfinished WorkA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
Jesus LivesJ. Stoughton.Acts 1:1-12
Literary HistoriesW. R. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
St. Luke a Model for the Bible StudentR. Burgess, B. D.Acts 1:1-12
Teaching to be Combined with DoingGf. Pentecost.Acts 1:1-12
The Ascending LordMonday ClubActs 1:1-12
The Ascension of ChristJ W. Hamilton.Acts 1:1-12
The Ascension: its Central PositionNesselmann.Acts 1:1-12
The Beginning of Apostolicity (1J. Parker, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Beginning of Apostolicity (2J. Parker, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Coronation of ChristW. B. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
The Ever-Active ChristA. Verran.Acts 1:1-12
The Gospels and the ActsW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Gospels the Living Picture of ChristLittle's "Historical Lights."Acts 1:1-12
The Last Days of the Gospel PeriodW. Hudson.Acts 1:1-12
The Memorabilia of ChristActs 1:1-12
The Ministry of Jesus a BeginningW. Hudson.Acts 1:1-12
The Permanence of Christ in HistoryA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
The Pre-Eminence of the Doctrine of Christ IncarnateEvangelical MagazineActs 1:1-12
The Resurrection and Ascension of ChristD. Jennings.Acts 1:1-12
The Unchanged PlanW. R. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
The Uniqueness of Christ's Earthly MinistryD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
TheophilusBp. Jacobsen.Acts 1:1-12
The Ascension. Heaven and Earth Visibly UnitedR.A. Redford Acts 1:6-11
Heavenward Gazing Recalled to Earthward WatchingP.C. Barker Acts 1:9-11
The Uplifting of JesusE. Johnson Acts 1:9-11
Christ in HeavenG. H. James.Acts 1:9-12
Christ's Way to Heaven UnclosedJ. Alexander, D. D.Acts 1:9-12
Comfort in a CloudActs 1:9-12
Taken UpW. Johnson.Acts 1:9-12
Taken UpW. M. Punshon, LL. D.Acts 1:9-12
The Angels Watching JesusChristian AgeActs 1:9-12
The Apostles' Last Sight of JesusW. Hudson.Acts 1:9-12
The AscensionH. C. G. Moule, M. A.Acts 1:9-12
The AscensionS. S. TimesActs 1:9-12
The AscensionDean Vaughan.Acts 1:9-12
The AscensionAbp. Tillotson.Acts 1:9-12
The AscensionThomas Jones.Acts 1:9-12
The AscensionH. Allon, D. D.Acts 1:9-12
The AscensionD. Moore, M. A.Acts 1:9-12
The AscensionC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension and the Second Advent Practically ConsideredC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension CloudDean Vaughan.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension of Christ and its LessonsG. T. Stokes, D. D.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension of Christ and of ElijahJ. Baumgarten.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension: its Diffusive BenefitsDean Goulburn.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension: its LessonsArchdeacon Farrar.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension: its Moral UsesW. Denton, M. A.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension: its PurposesJ. De Witt, D. D.Acts 1:9-12
The Ascension: the Saviour's GiftsT. Goodwin, D. D.Acts 1:9-12
The Intervening CloudActs 1:9-12
The Trail of the Ascending SaviourF. B. Meyer.Acts 1:9-12
Wisdom in BereavementS. Conway Acts 1:9-14

I. CIRCUMSTANCES IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING. Our Lord led the apostles out "as far as to Bethany," on the eastern slope of the mount of Olives, a mile, or somewhat more than a mile, below the summit of the ridge, whence they afterwards returned by the way across the mount to Jerusalem. The middle summit of Olivet, Jebel-et-Tur, is, however, the traditional place of ascent. He has led ourselves further than to Bethany, for he has led us all our life till now; while all the way by which he has led us has been strewn with blessings - blessings temporal and spiritual. When he had led them as far as to Bethany (ἕως εἰς, or ἕως πρὸς, as far as towards Bethany, or the descent that led down to the village, or over against it), he lifted up his hands and blessed them. The high priest of the Aaronic order had three things to do - offer Sacrifice, make intercessions, and bless the people in the name of the Lord. What a beautiful benediction was put into his lips and pronounced upon the people, "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace"! Better and more beautiful, if that be possible, are the blessings which our great High Priest invokes on our behalf and commands upon us. Of these we have a specimen in his intercessory prayer, as contained in the seventeenth chapter of St. John.

II. THE PARTING. "He was parted from them," or "stood apart from them (διέστη)," as it is expressed by St. Luke. Amid certain cheerful tones one sorrowful note is struck, one sad word occurs, one painful sentiment is expressed. Some find the motto of this world in the words, "Man weeps;" others write it in the words, "We part; "a yet higher and better authority has expressed" one words, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." This last combines the other to his world is a vale of weeping and a place of parting. What tongue could tell the painful partings that from time to time take place? Who could count the bitter tears that are shed? Those partings ofttimes wring the stoutest heart and wet the manliest cheek. At the railway station, or before going on board the emigrant ship, many a sorrowful separation we have all seen. The separation caused by death usually lasts the longest, and is, therefore, in proportion sorrowful. Yet it is not all pain in the parting of a Christian; this passage suggests an element of pleasure. When our Lord was parted from his disciples, he was carried up to heaven; when the Christian is parted by death from friends, loving and beloved, he sleeps by Jesus, and them that so sleep the Lord will bring with him. The day, moreover, is coming when Christian friends, parted by death, shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with one another, and with our Lord.

III. THE ASCENSION ITSELF. The expressions employed to describe our Lord's ascension are, "He was received up into heaven," St. Mark; "Carried up into heaven," St. Luke; while in Acts we read

(1) that "he was taken up," an expression similar to that of either Gospel; and again,

(2) that "he went up" or "he went" (Revised Version). Here, then, we have the power of the Father and the Son. As he rose by his own and his Father's power, he ascended by the same. Further, it may be implied that he went up with joy- fullness to those realms of glory whence he had descended while the Father welcomed him home, and took him to that paternal bosom where he had been before all worlds. It must have been a splendid sight to witness. Some time ago we stood where many thousands were assembled to see an aeronaut ascend. With gradual ascent the aerial machine rose; upward and upward it glided; higher and higher still it mounted, while majestically and magnificently it moved. At length a silvery cloud received it, and screened it from the view; again, on emerging from the cloud, it pursued its way along the sky till it dwindled to a dark spot in the distance, and then passed out. of sight. How grand, we thought, must have been the sight, apart from every other consideration, of our Lord's ascent from that spot where his feet last stood on Olivet! If, when our Lord was transfigured, his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment became white as the light - if on that occasion his face and figure assumed somewhat of heavenly splendor - equally or more resplendent and heavenly, we may well suppose, was his appearance as he rose from earth in his journey through the sky. The glory of heaven was round about him; that glorified body shot upward with wondrous buoyancy. Enoch was translated - we are not told how; Elijah was borne up amid a whirlwind by a chariot. of fire and horses of fire; Jesus, who had walked upon the waves, now mounts upon the winds, making the cloud his chariot and upborne on the wings of the wind. Glorious in his appearance, glorious in his motion, glorious in all the indescribable grandeur of his heavenward ascent, he proceeded on his way till a cloud - a bright cloud, a cloud silver-lined and beautiful - coming underneath received (ὑπέλαβεν) him as in a chariot, and hid him from their eyes.

IV. HIS ATTENDANTS. Neither went he alone; thousands of invisible beings formed his escort and carried him aloft. To this perhaps the psalmist, foreseeing it in prophetic vision, may allude when, in the sixty-eighth psalm, he says, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels." No conqueror ever enjoyed such a triumph, no monarch ever had such a train. At length they reach the high battlements of heaven; the accompanying angels demand admittance; standing without the portals, they raise the voice like the sound of many waters as they say or sing, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." The angels within respond, making inquiry," Who is this King of glory?" Then both, uniting in full chorus together, sing, "The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory." The Father everlasting takes him by the hand, and sets him at his side, and there he sits for ever at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

"Who is this King of glory - who?
The Lord, for strength renown'd;
In battle mighty, o'er his foes
Eternal Victor crown'd.

"Who is this King of glory - who?
The Lord of hosts renown'd,
Of glory he alone is King,
Who is with glory crown'd."

V. THE WITNESSES OF THE SCENE. The witnesses of the scene were men on earth and angels from the sky - the one to testify that he rose from earth, the other to bear witness that he entered heaven. The former fact may perhaps be expressed by the other by ἀνελήφθη; while his intermediate progress and journey between may be expressed by ἀνεφέρετο, imperfect, and πορευομένου, participle - both marking his gradual ascent. The human spectators, struck with the grandeur of the scene, stood as if riveted to the spot, and continued gazing up into heaven as though they would never be satisfied with seeing such a sight; or perhaps the surprise it occasioned was blended with sorrow, as if their Lord and Master had gone from them never to return. But two angels, apparelled in white, comforted them with the assurance that "this same Jesus, which is taken up from them into heaven," shall come again in like manner through the riven sky visibly and gloriously. The human witnesses of the Ascension felt personally interested in the result, the angelic looked pryingly into the things connected therewith. The sorrow of the disciples was succeeded by great joy, for though they had lost his bodily presence, his spiritual presence - nearer, closer, in every place, and at all times - is promised them instead.

VI. THE PLACE WHENCE HE ASCENDED. The place of the Ascension suggests a lesson of instruction and comfort. A garden on the western slope of Olivet had been the place of his sorest trial and the scene of his deepest tribulation prior to the Crucifixion; an upland on the eastern side, or near the summit of the same hill, was the place of his triumph. On one side was the dark enclosure, still noted for its sombre aspect and gloomy olives, where the Savior agonized, sweating great drops of blood, and praying for the bitter cup, if possible, to pass; on the other side was the spot whence he ascended. There, too, men and angels met - men asleep from sorrow and oblivious of sympathy, an angel ministering strength and succor to the suffering Son of God; here men are rapt spectators, and angels swell his train. On one side of the mount were sorrow and suffering, on the other glory and triumph. May it not to some extent be the same with ourselves? The valley of Achor, which means "trouble," has often proved the door of hope. "We glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope." Humiliation goes before exaltation; the cross precedes the crown: "If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified together;" while our trials here shall enhance our triumph hereafter.

VII. THE PURPOSES SERVED BY THE ASCENSION. One purpose was triumph over his and our enemies. Having spoiled principalities, or reft them from him, he made a show of them openly. It was a custom of antiquity for a conqueror on the day of his triumph to have captives bound to his chariot and dragged along at his chariot-wheels. So with Christ. When he led captivity captive, he bound to his chariot-wheels sin, Satan, death, and hell. Sin he buried in his own grave, having borne its penalty. As for Satan, the old serpent, he has bruised his head, destroying his works. Death he overcame by dying, and through death he has destroyed him that had the power of it; while in him and by him we can adopt the tone of triumph and say, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?" Of the grave he has said, "I will be thy destruction;" and the day is hastening on apace when the earth shall cast forth her dead. Another purpose of the Ascension is the bestowal of gifts. On the day of a triumph the conqueror distributed many and costly gifts, sometimes dealing them out deliberately, and sometimes throwing them broadcast among the multitude. We read of Julius Caesar, on the occasion of a great triumph, bestowing munificent donations on his soldiery, and distributing many gifts of grain and gold to the people as they crowded around. A greater than Caesar or Solomon is here. Jesus, on the day of his triumph, having receiving gifts for triumphal distribution, "gave gifts unto men... he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Even on the rebellious he has conferred his favors," that the Lord God might dwell among them." From the day of his ascension until now he has lavished on his people, with unstinted generosity and most bountiful hand, the benefits of salvation and the results of his redemptive work.

VIII. PREPARATION ABOVE. Having made provision for us when he was here below, he is gone to prepare a place above. He ascended to provide a place for us; and, having prepared it for us, he is now preparing us for it. In his Father's house are many mansions; he is gone to prepare one of those mansions for each of his followers. A mansion! Here is a word that denotes stability and implies duration. The most solid structure that ever man reared shall yield to the tooth of time. The pyramids of Egypt shall one day, we doubt not, be levelled with the sands of the desert that blow around them. The Roman Colosseum shall perish. The Parthenon of Athens shall be left without one pillar standing. St. Peter's and St. Paul's shall become heaps of rubbish. The castles of kings, that seem to defy decay, shall moulder. Earth itself shall be removed, and its everlasting hills shaken. But all the many mansions in glory shall be durable as the throne of God himself, and stable as the pillars of the universe.

"O Lord, thy love's unbounded ?
So full, so vast, so free!
Our thoughts are all confounded
Whene'er we think on thee:
For us thou cam'st from heaven,
For us to bleed and die,
That, purchased and forgiven,
We might ascend on high?"







And when He had spoken these words, while they beheld, He was taken up.
How we talk about "up," took "up" I What eager, earnest; faces are looking up through the clouds of sorrow. The atmosphere above us seems palpitant with the hopes and aspirations of hearts below. The secret of this is, God is "up," and Jesus was taken "up." Note —

I. THAT THE DEPARTED GOOD ARE "TAKEN UP." Jesus promised that the disciples should follow Him (John 14:2-5); and all good spirits find their higher level. Heaven is the rendezvous of all goodness, the barn of God into which He gathers His grain. Our loved ones are not far away, only the cloud separates us. But Jesus was not taken up until "He had spoken these things," i.e., finished His work. When we have done that, like Him, we shall be taken up to our reward.

II. THAT GOD SUPPLIES THE PLACE OF THE DEPARTED GOOD (ver. 10). Jesus went up and the angels came down; and they took His place beside the desolate disciples, and who knows but that they hovered about until the Holy Ghost supplied the Master's place. So it is. If God takes Moses, He brings up Joshua; if He takes up Elijah, Elisha catches his falling mantle. This law of compensation is seen all through nature, human life, and religion.

III. THAT THE DEPARTED GOOD SHALL COME AGAIN (ver. 11). This was the disciples' comfort in regard to the departed Christ. "This same Jesus." So "they that sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him." Do not grieve then that the grave has closed upon them.

(W. Johnson.)

I. THE LORD WAS TAKEN UP INTO HEAVEN.

1. Fact of the ascension: stated here (Luke 24.; Acts 1.)

2. Also implied — e.g., John 6:62; John 20:17.

3. And in Acts and Epistles asserted — e.g., Ephesians 4:10; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:22. Also in the Acts and Epistles, implied passim (the Saviour being ever referred to as living, invisible, glorified, and to come again from heaven). See, e.g., Acts 7:55, 56; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:16. 4.

(1)An absolute miracle.

(2)And also a consoling and teaching truth, in what it says of the reality of heaven and as aiding us in grasping that reality (Colossians 3:1). Heaven is where He is.

II. HE SAT ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.

1. The metaphor (from an Oriental throne, a seat admitting more than one occupant) implies the share of the incarnate Lord in the supreme glory — more than mere nearness to it.

2. See in support of this, Revelation 22:1, etc. ("throne of God and of the Lamb"); and especially John 17:5 (where N.B. that "with Thine own self" is παρὰ σεαυτῷ, "by Thine own side"; and so at the end of the verse, τῇ ἱόξῃ εἰχον πρὸ τοῦ κόσμον εἶναι παρά σοι).

3. Reflect — "the Son of Man (Acts 7:55) is at the right hand of God." Not only is Christ there as God the Son (John 1:1, etc.), but as man — as Jesus (Acts 1:11; Hebrews 4:14). What a pledge for His brethren (John 17:24, etc.).

III. AFTER THAT HE HAD SPOKEN TO THEM.

1. Merciful prelude. The clear, spoken revelation given before the mysterious removal. We see Him not (1 Peter 1:8), but He has spoken —

(1)In human speech.

(2)In visible life.

(3)In atoning death (see Hebrews 12:24).

2. Application of this and the whole ascension truth (John 17:13). He has spoken. He is there.

(H. C. G. Moule, M. A.)

I. The ascension of our Lord is a topic whereon FAMILIARITY HAS WORKED ITS USUAL RESULTS; it has lost for most minds the sharpness of its outline and the profundity of its teaching because universally accepted by Christians; and yet no doctrine raises deeper questions, or will yield more profitable and far-reaching lessons. First, then, we may note the place this doctrine holds in apostolic teaching. Taking the records of that teaching contained in the Acts and the Epistles, we find that it occupies a real substantial position. The ascension is there referred to, hinted at, taken as granted, pre-supposed, but it is not obtruded not: dwelt upon overmuch. The resurrection of Christ was the great central point of apostolic testimony; the ascension of Christ was simply a portion of that fundamental doctrine, and a natural deduction from it. If Christ had been raised from the dead and had thus become the first-fruits of the grave, it required but little additional exercise of faith to believe that He had passed into that unseen and immediate presence of Deity where the perfected soul finds its complete satisfaction. St. Peter's conception of Christianity, for instance, involved the ascension. Whether in his speech at the election of Matthias, or in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, or in his address in Solomon's porch after the healing of the crippled beggar, his teaching ever presupposes and involves the ascension. He takes the doctrine and the fact for granted. Jesus is with him the Being "whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things." So is it too with St. John in his Gospel. He never directly mentions the fact of Christ's ascension, but he always implies it. So, too, with St. Paul and the other apostolic writers of the New Testament. Is he exhorting the Colossians to a supernatural life: it is because they have supernatural privileges in their ascended Lord. "If ye then were raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God."

II. BUT SOME ONE MAY RAISE CURIOUS QUESTIONS AS TO THE FACTS OF THE ASCENSION. Whither, for instance, it may be asked, did our Lord depart when He left this earthly scene? The childish notion that He went up and up far above the most distant star will not of course stand a moment's reflection. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles does not describe our Saviour as thus ascending through infinite space. It simply describes Him as removed from off this earthly ball, and then, a cloud shutting Him out from view, Christ passed into the inner and unseen universe wherein He now dwells. The existence of that inner and unseen universe, asserted clearly enough in Scripture, has of late years been curiously confirmed by scientific speculation. Scripture asserts the existence of such an unseen universe, and the ascension implies it. The second coming of our Saviour is never described as a descent from some far-off region. What a solemn light such a Scriptural view sheds upon life! The unseen world is not at some vast distance, but, as the ascension would seem to imply, close at hand, shut out from us by that thin veil of matter which angelic hands will one day rend for ever.

III. The ascension was A FITTING AND A NATURAL TERMINATION OF CHRIST'S EARTHLY MINISTRY, CONSIDERING THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPTION OF HIS SACRED PERSONALITY. The departure of the Eternal King was, like His first approach, a part of a scheme which forms one united and harmonious whole. The Incarnation and the Ascension were necessarily related the one to the other.

IV. Again, we may advance a step further, and say that not only was the ascension a natural and fitting termination to the activities of the Eternal Son manifest in the flesh, IT WAS A NECESSARY COMPLETION AND FINISH. "It is expedient," said Christ Himself, "that I go away; for if I go not away the Comforter will not conic to you." Let us take the matter very simply thus. Had our Lord not ascended into the unseen state whence He had emerged for the purpose of rescuing mankind, He must in that case (always proceeding on the supposition that He had risen from the dead, because we always suppose our readers to be believers) have remained permanently or temporarily resident in some one place. He might have chosen Jerusalem. There would have been nothing to tempt Him to Antioch, or Athens, or Alexandria, or Rome. Nay, rather the tone and temper of those cities must have rendered them abhorrent as dwelling-places to the great Teacher of holiness and purity. At any rate, the risen Saviour, if He remained upon earth, must have chosen some one place where His presence and His personal glory would have been manifested. All interest in local Churches or local work would have been destroyed, because every eye and every heart would be perpetually turning towards the one spot where the risen Lord was dwelling, and where personal adoration could be paid to Him. All honest, manly self-reliance would have been lost for individuals, for Churches, and for nations. Judaism would have triumphed and the dispensation of the Spirit would have ceased. The whole idea, too, of Christianity as a scheme of moral probation would have been overthrown. Christ as belonging to the supernatural sphere would of course have been raised above the laws of time and space. Sight would have taken the place of faith, and the terrified submission of slaves would have been substituted for the moral, loving obedience of the regenerate soul. The whole social order of life would also have been overthrown. The ascension of Jesus Christ was absolutely necessary to equip the Church for its universal mission, by withdrawing the bodily presence of Christ into that unseen region which bears no special relation to any terrestrial locality, but is the common destiny, the true fatherland, of all the sons of God.

V. We have now seen how the ascension was needful for the Church, BY RENDERING CHRIST AN IDEAL OBJECT OF WORSHIP FOR THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE, THUS SAVING IT FROM THAT TENDENCY TO MERE LOCALISIM WHICH WOULD HAVE UTTERLY CHANGED ITS CHARACTER. "We can also trace another great blessing involved in it. The ascension glorified humanity as humanity, and ennobled man viewed simply as man. The ascension thus transformed life by adding a new dignity to life and to life's duties. This was a very necessary lesson for the ancient world, especially the ancient Gentile world, which Christ came to enlighten and to save. Man, considered by himself as man, had no peculiar dignity in the popular religious estimate of Greece and Rome. A Greek or a Roman was a dignified person, not, however, in virtue of his humanity, but in virtue of his Greek or Roman citizenship. The gladiatorial shows were the most striking illustration of this contempt for human nature which paganism inculcated. We leave to science the investigation of the past and of the lowly sources whence man's body may have come; but the doctrine of the Ascension speaks of its present sanctity and of its future glory, telling of the human body as a body of humiliation and of lowliness indeed, but yet proclaiming it as even now, in the person of Christ, ascended into the heavens, and seated on the throne of the Most High. It may have been once humble in its origin; it is now glorious in its dignity and elevation; and that dignity and that elevation shed a halo upon human nature, no matter how degraded and wherever it may be found, because it is like unto that Body, the first-fruits of humanity, which stands at the right hand of God.

(G. T. Stokes, D. D.)

So many of the events of our Lord's incarnate ire are connected with Olivet that it might almost be called the mountain of the Lord Jesus. It was His closet, His pulpit, the place of intercourse with His disciples. Bethany at its base was their home. Underneath it was Gethsemane, and there from its crest He rose. Consider —

I. SEVERAL ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ASCENSION.

1. As to the manner of it, it was visible. These things were not done in a corner. His crucifixion and burial were public. It was requisite that His resurrection should be so. Forty days did He accumulate proofs of it, and then in the broad open day He ascended up on high.

2. The place where it happened is worthy of notice. "He led them out as far as Bethany." There was a peculiar fitness in this selection. Prophecies had fixed the place of His ascension as the Mount of Olives, and Bethany was at its base. We can imagine the feelings of the disciples as they trod the familiar road. It is fitting that the Conqueror should pass by Gethsemane, that He should pass the place where He wept over Jerusalem, and that His triumph should take place in view of the house of sorrow.

3. The act during the performance of which He was lifted up on high. "Blessed them." This was His daily work, for which He became incarnate, and for which He returned to His glory. He blesses now, not from the mountain, but from the throne.

II. THE PURPOSES OF THE ASCENSION.

1. The personal results were the publicity of the scene and the triumph of His entrance into His primal glory. It was a witness which all the world could understand that His work on earth was done. It was only the complement of Calvary, the ovation of the triumph actually won on the Cross. Moreover it was a part of the consequences of redemption that the Father should not only sustain the Son in His sufferings, but because of them He should exalt Him to pre-eminence of government and honour.

2. There were representative results. Christ is the federal Head. By His exaltation our own race derives surpassing honour. Humanity is throned in the highest.

3. There were mediatorial results. "He received gifts for man."

(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)

S. S. Times.
1. Was as indubitable as any act of His life — "As they were looking, He was taken up."

2. Brought angels to the earth immediately with a message of comfort.

3. Is no excuse for standing idly gazing into heaven. There is work here to be done, the doing of which will quickest hasten His return.

4. Is only for a while. He will return again, and come in great power and great glory.

5. Has given to us an advocate on high — He ever liveth to make intercession for us.

(S. S. Times.)

We have three narratives of the ascension, each of which presents it in a somewhat different application.

1. In St. Mark the aspect of faith is predominant. It sets before Christian people, in their life of faithful labour, the form of Him who, though now out of sight, is still and evermore working with them, and confirming His words by signs following.

2. St. Luke presents it in its aspect of love; sets before Christians, in their hours of loneliness or of depression, the form of Him, who, when He left this world, left it with hands uplifted in blessing.

3. In the Acts we have the aspect of hope. As St. Luke's Gospel closed with the narrative of the Ascension, so the Acts opens with it. It was not more naturally the close of the gospel than it was the beginning of the history of the Church. It was the event which, while it withdrew from personal work below, introduced Him into that life above, and the power of which He works through others. And we are to regard it as a fact full of hope. The words of the two angels give it this aspect. Learn

I. THAT THE POSTURE OF THOSE WHO LOVE CHRIST MUST HENCEFORTH BE ONE NOT MORE OF RETROSPECT THAN OF EXPECTATION. It is well indeed that you should treasure the thought of Him as He was on earth. His wonderful works, His perfect example, His Divine words. And to look up after Him into heaven, and see Him there the High Priest of man; the Resurrection and the Life, first of the soul, and hereafter: also of the body; to ascend thither, in heart, after Him. Thus it is that men are made strong for conflict, victorious over temptation, and at last fit for heaven. But .all this is a different thing from vain regret and idle contemplation. To gaze up into heaven not after One who is gone, but for One who shall come is our work. And in those few words lies the whole of the vast difference between two states and lives; those of a true, and wise, and diligent, and those of a dreamy, and gloomy, and torpid Christian.

II. BUT HOW DOES THE ASCENSION FOSTER THIS HOPE OR SUGGEST THIS DUTY? The words of the angels will answer that question. The ascension was intended to make real the thought of Christ's return. He might have simply disappeared, and left them to form their own conjectures what had become of Him. Perhaps even then they might have formed the right conjecture from His own words. But it would have fallen far short of the conviction inspired by the actual sight. There would have been a mystery which might well have diminished the comfort and impaired the satisfaction of His disciples. But now they would feel that they could trace Him in His glory, and expect Him to come again. Nothing is more remarkable than the personal hope of the personal return of Christ, which cheered the first ages of the Church. It is no good sign when the language of Scripture is read as an allegory, but a sign of the decay of faith. It was in the dark and cold ages of the Church, when even the wise virgins too often slumbered and slept, that this definite hope of the Bridegroom's coming was lost sight of. And was it not by a just retribution that they who refused to infer the Advent from the Ascension, came at last from denying the Advent to deny the Ascension also? If ever the faith of the Church is brought back to its simplicity in matters of doctrine, it must be by its being brought back to its simplicity in matters of fact. Take one of the Gospel miracles by itself, and of course it is improbable. But take each one in connection with the proofs Christ gave of His holiness, truth, and goodness, and thus of His Divinity, and we shall find it not only credible, but natural also; consistent, harmonious, and to be expected. Even thus is it with the hope of which we are speaking. It might be in itself hard to be understood, that God should bring this dispensation to a close by the personal advent of the Mediator as Judge. But view that purpose in the light of the Incarnation, and the Advent in the light of the Ascension; and all shall become symmetrical. The disciples saw Him go: why should it be incredible that He should likewise come? "A cloud received Him out of their sight": even so shall a cloud be the sign when they who look for Him watch His appearing. Conclusion: What to us is our Lord's ascension?

1. Do we know anything of the assurance that we have in heaven, One who knows our frame and has felt our infirmities? One who ascended, that He might intercede for us, minister to us the Spirit, and prepare a place for us?

2. If there is One, up there, who sees and will judge; what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness!

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

1. While blessing His disciples (Luke 24:50, 51; cf. Leviticus 9:22). The first tidings of our Saviour's birth were attended with blessings to men; and when He died, He breathed out His soul in blessings to His enemies. So now He is translated into heaven with a blessing in His mouth. And, indeed, His whole life was a blessing to mankind — a blessed pattern to us; in imitation whereof we should endeavour that our whole life may be h blessing too.

2. In the view of His disciples. After the apostles were fully convinced by several appearances that He was indeed risen; that they might be fully satisfied that He came from God and went to Him, He was in their sight taken up. And this is no small confirmation of the truth of our religion.

3. In a cloud fitly represents the law. Elias was carried up by a whirlwind in a fiery chariot, with horses of fire: but our Saviour in a cloud; to signify to us the coolness and calmness of the gospel dispensation, in comparison of that of the law; which difference our Saviour had before observed to His disciples upon a remarkable occasion (Luke 9:54, 55). And there is likewise another difference. The blessing which Elijah left to Elisha is conceived in very doubtful words (2 Kings 2:9). This was suitable to the obscurity of the law; but our Saviour makes a plain and absolute promise of the Holy Ghost, answerable to the clearness and grace of the gospel (ver. 8).

4. Into heaven (ver. 11). And this is elsewhere more particularly expressed, by declaring the dignity to which He was exalted (Mark 16:19). This exaltation of Christ was conferred upon Him as a reward of His great humiliation and sufferings (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 2:9, 10).

II. THE CONSEQUENT BENEFITS.

1. The sending of the Holy Ghost in miraculous powers and gifts upon the apostles, to qualify them for the speedy and effectual propagation of the gospel, and to give credit to them in the preaching of it (John 16:7).

2. His powerful intercession for us at the right hand of God (Hebrews 9:24).

3. A mighty confirmation of our faith.(1) As to the truth of His doctrine in general. If after all the miracles of His life, and His resurrection from the dead, any man can doubt whether He came from God; yet this is evidence beyond all exception that God took Him to Himself.(2) As to His coming again to judge (Acts 10:42).Conclusion: The consideration of our Saviour's ascension is very comfortable to all true Christians.

1. In respect of our condition in this world. The Church, and every particular member of it, is exposed to trouble and danger; but it is a great comfort that we are under His patronage and protection, who hath "all power given Him in heaven and earth" (Hebrews 4:14, 15).

2. In respect of the happiness which we hope for in the next; world. No religion hath given men so sensible a demonstration of a blessed immortality as Christianity by the ascension. The reasonings of the philosophers concerning immortality besides their uncertainty are only calculated for the more refined and speculative part of mankind; but every man is capable of the force of this argument, that He who declared to the world another life after this, and the happy condition of good men in another world, was Himself visibly taken up into heaven.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

I. THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD IS IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH THE OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS HISTORY. His birth, the voice from heaven at His baptism, His works, His words, were all supernatural. When He was crucified the earth trembled, on the third day He rose, and then, in opposition to the laws of gravity, He ascended up to His Father. All this is perfectly harmonious. Of old His name was called "Wonderful"; and if you reject what is wonderful in the history of Christ, then there is no Christ whatever. It is the light of the sun that makes that luminary what it is. Extinguish the light of the son, and it becomes a dark, invisible body, revolving uselessly in the depth of heaven. After the sun has set there is twilight. But it grows feebler and feebler every minute, and by and by all is enveloped in the darkness. Now you may eliminate from Christianity the supernatural facts of it, and after you have done that for centuries, very likely, the twilight of the setting sun — the after effects of what Christianity once had been — would remain here; but as for the Christian religion and Church, and the Christ of history, without the supernatural they cannot be.

II. THE CONDUCT OF OUR LORD AT THE TIME OF HIS ASCENSION HARMONISES WITH ALL THAT IS WRITTEN OF HIM BEFORE THAT TIME. "While He blessed them." That was His work. He was like Himself to the end. His heart was not embittered by the Cross. His last look was one of sympathy and love. It was the same at the end as at the beginning.

III. THE ASCENSION IS CONNECTED WITH THE CARRYING ON OF HIS OWN WORK.

1. He ascended "that He might fill all things" — that is, the hearts of men, the governments of the world, all literature, art, science, philosophy, commerce, courts of law, pulpits, with His influence, The facts of the history of the Redeemer, the truths embodied in these facts — have saved Europe from animalism, or materialism, or downright atheism. Thess facts, like leaven, are put into the hearts of men everywhere.

2. Christ has left the spirit of His life here. Fragrance is on the rose, but distinct from the rose. The rose is the fact, the fragrance is something over and above the rose. The landscape is one thing, its beauty of another. There are truths in the Book, but the genius with which those truths are treated is another thing. There are the facts of the Redeemer's life, but there also is the spirit of His life upon those facts — a fragrance, a beauty, a genius, a tenderness, an atmosphere, a divineness which belong to no other facts in the world. It is not the salvation of your souls only that you owe to Him — He has humanised humanity, and He is rectifying and consecrating Europe by the influence of the spirit of His life. Let any artist here say if I am wrong. He has beautified art, and pagan art can never exist again.

3. He ascended that He might send the Holy Ghost down among men. By Holy Ghost I do not mean a mere influence, or power, or energy going forth, but a personality, come down to regenerate the heart and create in it a noble ambition, strengthen it for brave purpose, and consecrate it.

IV. THE ASCENSION INSPIRED THE NOBLEST FEELINGS IN THE HEARTS OF HIS APOSTLES (Luke 24:52). While they looked at the glorious vision they instinctively felt a reverence and admiration that could not be expressed. These feelings are not to become extinguished in Christian hearts. The lowest state of mind, in regard to the Redeemer, is stolid indifference. The highest state to which many people attain, is inquiry concerning Christ. Inquire by all means, but there is a higher state than that. A great number seem never to attain to anything higher than simply believing on Jesus. But our religion means more than knowledge, faith, awe, hope. It means reverence, admiration, transcendent wonder. How many of us are content to live without elevated moments when the soul is lost in wonder, love, and praise?

V. THE ASCENSION TEACHES THAT VIRTUOUS SUFFERINGS LEAD TO AND END IN GLORY. It was becoming that Jesus Christ should have ascended from the Mount of Olives. At the foot of that mountain was the place of His sorrow and agony. The death of a good man is, by far, more an ascension to heaven than a descent into the grave. It is very little after all that the grave shall possess of us. Take a tree, consume it, and then look at the small quantity of ash left. That is the only thing that tree derived from the earth. Where are the other elements? They belonged to the skies and have returned to the skies to mingle with their brother elements. Death is the consuming, and the little heap of ashes, when the burning is over, is all that the grave shall have of us; but the intellect, the will, the conscience, the affections, the imagination, the spirit, the man returns to God who gave it.

(Thomas Jones.)

I. ITS HISTORICAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND CHARACTER.

1. As to the historical fact. If, like Matthew and John, the other evangelists had omitted to tell us of the ascension, yet we could not have conceived of any other sequence of the resurrection; we could not have imagined the life of Christ to have wasted away in old age or sickness, much less to have died a second time. It was needful —(1) To His redeeming triumph, that His conquest over death should be final.(2) To His redeeming reward, that glory should follow His humiliation.(3) As a soothing to our Christian feeling, that His body, broken and bleeding on the Cross, should be uplifted and glorified.(4) As an historical basis for apostolic preaching, and as a doctrinal element of most important practical influences. And that which our reason must have concluded, Scriptural testimony confirms, not to mention the allusions of the Prophecies, the Psalms, and the Epistles, and our Lord's own predictions in John, which can only be understood of a bodily enthronement; we:have here the explicit declaration of two inspired writers, and all the disciples were witnesses of this departure; while three only beheld His transfiguration, and none His resurrection.

2. As to its circumstances —(1) The time selected was the fortieth day after His passion, the mystic period of Moses' abode on the Mount, of Elijah's sojourn in the wilderness, and of the Redeemer's own temptation — an interval after His resurrection long enough to furnish indubitable proof of it, to restore the agitated disciples to calmness, and to instruct them in the truths associated with His death and resurrection.(2) The place. Once more our Lord accompanied the eleven across the brook Kedron, and along the path which He traversed to His passion. Once more, as He ascended the well-known track to Bethany, the guilty city would rise to His view, until perhaps they reached the spot "where He had sat down and wept over it; there the temple reared its head; there was the scene of His trial, and "the place that is called Calvary, where they crucified Him"; immediately at His feet was the garden of Gethsemane; while not far distant was the scene of His tenderest human friendships.(3) There was doubtless a studied adaptation to the thoughts and feelings of the disciples in the mode of this leave-taking. There is always a gloom about final separation from those we love; but its circumstances greatly determine the character of our recollections. We see through the wasting and parting tabernacle, the beamings and breakings through of celestial glory, the moral glory of faith, and hope, and triumph overpowering, the pain and dissolution; then the recollection is not so much of earthly life departing as of heavenly life commencing. And thus we may imagine the Redeemer selected the circumstances of His final departure, and we do not wonder that "they returned to Jerusalem with great joy." We might easily have imagined grander circumstances. There was not, as at His birth, a multitude of the heavenly host; no chariots of fire, nothing that could divert attention from His own identity and glory. The disciples would probably have been dazzled and confounded had it been otherwise. And there is delicacy and encouragement in His parting attitude; He, their Saviour and friend, without any array of terrible magnificence, leaves them, and enters heaven in the act of blessing. And thus the most timid is taught to have confidence in our great High Priest. Let us not, then, think, when conscious of His departure, that it is necessarily in anger. The cloud that receives Him may but be the vail that hides the richer blessings still which He is preparing to pour out upon us.

II. ITS MEDIATORIAL AND DOCTRINAL IMPORTANCE.

1. The Ascension is the final historic attestation of the validity and acceptance of the Atonement. A moral attestation is continually going on in the effects which the preaching of the Atonement produces. But the Ascension is a direct personal attestation to the sufficiency of Christ's expiatory death.

2. The Ascension was the necessary introduction of the Mediator to the scene and reception of His mediatorial reward. Mark tells us that "He was received up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God." "God hath highly exalted Him."

3. Christ ascended that He might bestow the promise of the Father, the gift of the Holy Spirit.

4. He ascended that He might, as our High Priest and Intercessor, "appear in the presence of God for us."

5. He ascended to reign as Mediatorial King, to superintend the providence of the world, to be "head over all things to His Church," and to "expect until His enemies shall be made His footstool."

6. He ascended according to His promise, to "prepare a place" for His disciples in His "Father's house."Conclusion: learn —

1. How to conceive of the spiritual world, a world in which human nature shall be glorified as it has been glorified in Christ.

2. How precious the encouragements of our Christian life. We have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." "We have not a High Priest who cannot be touched," etc.

3. The attitude and temper of our Christian life. The effect on the disciples was an effect not of sorrow but of joy.

(H. Allon, D. D.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

I. The place. It is only natural that a sacred interest should attach to the spot which received the last print of the Redeemer's footsteps. No doubt the honour accorded to particular places may open the door to much of fraud, and folly, and superstition. But the Mount of Olives was a fit scene for the ascension. Around no other spot does there gather such a cluster of hallowed associations.

2. The witnesses. Romulus is said to have gone up into the clouds in a thunderstorm, and of Mahomet it is pretended that he was miraculously taken up into heaven; but no witnesses were ever produced who saw these events. Our Lord was careful to have chosen and competent witnesses. He did not challenge all Jerusalem to see what was going to take place; nor invite the five hundred assembled at Galilee. The miracle is not harder to believe than that eleven holy and loving men should be mistaken in the identity of one, with whom they had eaten and discoursed after He rose from the dead.

3. The form of transport. A cloud: that emblem of mingled obscurity and light which Deity often employs as a medium through which to converse with man. Thus Jehovah "maketh the clouds His chariot." Of the glory which settled on the Mount of Transfiguration, the characteristic feature is that it was "a bright cloud." It was a pillar of cloud which went before Israel in the wilderness, and it was the descending cloud at the dedication of the Temple which told of an accepted sacrifice, and an approving and present God. Most fitting was it, therefore, that such a substance should enshrine the glorified humanity of Jesus. It spoke of His Deity. It connected Him more directly with the symbolisms and revelations of the heavenly world. It preserved the weak vision of the disciples from being confounded and dazzled. It prefigured the method of their Lord's return.

4. The manner. It was mild, merciful, and majestic. Like a conqueror, wreathing his brow with trophies — like a priest, lifting up his hands to bless — like a parent, gathering his loved ones round to give them a parting charge. He gave them —

(1)a charge: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations," etc.

(2)A parting promise: "Lo, I am with you alway."

(3)A benediction: "And He lifted up His hands and blessed them."And thus, in the mode of the Saviour's parting, we cannot fail to see a blending of His three offices. As Prophet, He provides for the future evangelisation of the world. As a King, He engages for the perpetual preservation of His Church. As a Priest, He scatters from the throne of His ascension all the treasures of heavenly benediction.

II. THE LESSONS.

1. The grandeur of the scheme of redemption, as seen in the joy of the heavenly host in this its earthly consummation. When God brought His only begotten Son into the world, it was said, "Let all the angels of God worship Him." How gladly would they welcome Him back to their own pure courts when His work was done. "God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with a sound of a trumpet." "Lift up your heads, O ye gates," etc.

2. The special honour put upon our nature — upon His humanity, and upon ours.

3. The cementing and hallowing of those ties which subsist betwixt Himself and His Church — in their several relations of King and subject, Advocate and client, Head and members, Bridegroom and bride.

4. A recognition of Christ's title to universal empire. It is the solemn investiture of the Saviour with authority over all worlds, times, economies, intelligences. "He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet."

(D. Moore, M. A.)

1. Jesus retired from Jerusalem for this final act of His earthly life. Great deeds are better done in solitude, when one is shut up to the Father alone. A man's piety cannot be very deep, if it does not sometimes have a few personal and unutterable reserves in it.

2. Christ chose a spot hitherto full of only debased memories; Bethany, "house of the poor." This ascension made it historic, more even than the august march of the Shekinah over the same plot of ground (Ezekiel 11:23). Very much of our earthly geography will be famous in heaven to those who love Jesus.

3. Our Lord took with Him only His humble circle of disciples as witnesses. Those simple fishermen had seen His humiliation; now they saw its offset. "Not many mighty, not many noble are called." Lady Huntington once wrote that she was accustomed, every time she met this verse, to "thank God for the letter M." What she meant was that, she (being a woman of rank) was not necessarily excluded from Divine grace, as she would have been, had the word been "any," not "many."

4. Christ paused at the final moment for a priestly act. He extended His hands; but there is no hint of His imposing them. He was blessing His disciples; He was in no sense mysteriously ordaining them. If any one asks what He said there is room for conjecture (Numbers 6:23).

5. There was great grace of suggestion in the gesture. When His hands were extended, all would see plainly the prints of the nails in His resurrection body. It was a most instructive lesson to learn; the Son of God showed "the marks — stigmas — of the Lord Jesus" at the moment of His coronation and advance to His throne.

6. Jesus left the field of His vast triumph without any display or fuss. All the pageants, all the hallelujahs, were reserved for the celestial city when the lawful Prince of glory came in. It is not everybody who is great enough to disappear when in the moment of success.

7. When our Lord returns, it will be with the same form of greeting (ver. 11). Then let all believers learn that the crown of a religious and Christ-like life is blessing; the symbol of Jesus' gospel is blessing; the very prediction of His coming again is blessing; the attitude He chooses is the silent grace of benediction.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Christ ascended —

I. THAT MEN MIGHT BELIEVE IN HIM. For three years He had taught, and with what result? Most of those who believed trusted in Him not so much for spiritual blessings as for the conquest of the heathen invader or for the "loaves and fishes." Now contrast this failure to awaken the faith of men, while He lived on earth, with the success of His apostles after the ascension. The first sermon was followed by the conversion of three thousand souls. The reason of this contrast is not hard to find. While Jesus lived a human life, and performed miracles, He called forth admiration and wonder, but this only prevented a deep spiritual movement in men's hearts. In the Gospels we seldom come across narratives of men convicted of sin and crying for redemption, but after the ascension Christ began to move upon the conscience of the world as "The Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world."

II. THAT MEN MIGHT KNOW HIM AND COMMUNE WITH HIM. Men were won, indeed, by the beauty of His character. But who knew Him? Whose heart throbbed in sympathy with His? Where will you find the record of any real communion on the great themes that were nearest His heart? When He addressed them they but half understood Him. But contrast these disciples after the ascension. Then they began to know Him. They grasped the significance of His coming, His labour and His death. Knowing Him now in the spirit and aim of His great mediatorial life, they communed with Him, and illumined with this new knowledge and inspired by this communion, they went forth to preach the gospel, and it proved itself the power of God and the wisdom of God. We easily understand this. The daily life of men serves as often to conceal as to reveal them. How often a great statesman is not seen in his true proportions until he has been received "out of sight"! How often the child knows not the meaning of a father's or a mother's life until death has separated the parent from them! So it was with the disciples.

III. IN ORDER THAT HIS PEOPLE MIGHT TRULY FOLLOW HIM. While He was with them on the earth the disciples sought to imitate His outward life, to repeat His miracles, and His judgments. I cannot detect a single sign that the mind which was in Christ Jesus was in one of them. The result was that they never became independent of His physical presence. But how different when He had ascended! The impetuous and ambitious Peter lays down his life, like his Master, for the redemption of men. The "son of thunder" breathes forth the spirit of Christ in the words, "Little children, let us love one another." Instead of attempting to imitate Christ's outward life, they sought to drink into His spirit. And so it is with us.

IV. THAT HE MIGHT BE THE SPIRITUAL REDEEMER OF THE WHOLE WORLD. The Church and the world are to become one; the spirit of Christ is to become the dominant spirit of the world's life. In order to achieve this Jesus removed Himself from the limitations of place and time and nationality; and, ascending on high, seated Himself on the throne of universal dominion. And thus it was that when Christ had gone the Church moved forward on the path of universal conquest.

(J. De Witt, D. D.)

It has been said that in the early ages an attempt was once made to build a chapel on the top of the hill from which Christ ascended into heaven; but that it was found impossible either to pave over the place where He last stood, or to erect a roof through the path through which He ascended — a legendary tale, no doubt, though perhaps intended to teach the important truth that the moral marks and impressions which Christ has left behind Him can never be obliterated; that the way to heaven through which He passed can never be closed by human skill or power; and that He has before us an open door which no man shall be able to shut.

(J. Alexander, D. D.)

Sometimes, when the sky is beclouded, we do not see that across the garden path there sways a ladder of gossamer, linking tree with tree; but when the sun shines it is revealed by its silver sheen. So, as the infidel looks upwards, he can see no bond of union between this atom of star-dust and the metropolis of the universe, until his eyes are opened, and he sees the ladder left by the trail of the departing Saviour. Thank God, we are not cut adrift to the mercy of every current; this dark coal-ship is moored alongside the bright ship of heavenly grace; yes, and there is a plank between them.

(F. B. Meyer.)

Christ's ascension lights up our thought of heaven. Says one: "The presence of the glorified humanity of Christ seems a necessary preliminary and condition of our presence in heaven. We could not be at home among those august and terrible splendours unless we saw I-lira, our Brother, in the heart of all. As Joseph's brethren, who had been all their lives wild Arab shepherds, would have felt ill at ease indeed in the proudest court in the world had it not been that their brother was there upon the throne, so we would not have found heaven to be our home unless we found it to be the place of the presence of Jesus Christ. Heaven is no place for us unless Christ Jesus be there:

"My knowledge of that life is small,

The eye of faith is dim;

But 'tis enough that Christ knows all,

And I shall be with Him."

(G. H. James.)

Christian Age.
It takes a spiritual nature to see the spiritual facts of this world. Doubtless there were thousands in Galilee and Judaea who passed the Messiah without a glance. Let us have a walk of two miles through the heart of any metropolis with any man, and we would not care for any further exposition of his character. He is to be judged by what He himself "sees." Around the display in the window of the diamond-broker there gathers a certain number by the silent process of natural selection. At the toy store a different crowd augments itself. Before the bulletin board of the stock exchange a third company collects; and at a bookseller's shop a fourth. While men were watching the movements of Herod or the campaigns of Caesar the angels were watching Jesus. They hovered over the manger at Bethlehem; minstered to His fainting frame in the wilderness; guarded the tomb in the garden, and followed with glad eyes His form as it disappeared in the clouds above Olivet. It is a crucial test of character whether we see or slight the living Christ in the men and women of our own day.

(Christian Age.)

I. OUR FAITH IN CHRIST'S DIVINITY IS MADE SURE. He who said, "I came down from heaven," spoke also of the Ascension as the means whereby the doubts of His disciples should be removed (John 6:38, 51, 61-69.).

II. OUR HOPE IN HIS PROMISES IS STRENGTHENED. Where He is gone we shall also go, since He is gone as our first-fruits, and to prepare a place for us.

III. OUR LOVE IS INFLAMED. By His going up into heaven our hearts are raised in expectation to the same place, and our love is kindled by the fire of the Holy Spirit He sends down from thence.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

So long as a lamp in a room is placed on a low level its light may be intercepted by the bodies of persons around it, and so prevented from reaching others who are in the remoter corners. But let it be lifted up to the ceiling, and it sheds its beams down on all who are below. Our Lord, while on earth, was circumscribed by place and earthly relationships; but since His ascension, His presence and influence are diffused everywhere through the spiritual world, as the rays of the sun are through the natural.

(Dean Goulburn.)

I. HEAVENLY-MINDEDNESS. He went as the great Forerunner of His people, and we must follow in His course. Where the Head is there should the members be; and our treasure, life, affection are meant to be with Him at the right hand of God.

II. SIMPLE DUTY. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, which is emphatically the Epistle of the Ascension, this is the aspect of the doctrine which is always urged. Because Christ is highly exalted and we are raised up together with Him, therefore we are to be lowly and meek, and to forbear one another in love; to put off the old man, etc. It is the same lesson which is taught in two of the Psalms appointed for the service of Ascension Day, "Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, or who shall rest upon Thy holy hill?" Is it only the lofty, the devoted? No, but common men who, by God's grace, have lived their common lives in the paths of purity and duty, the lowly, the undeceitful, the unmalicious, the uncorrupt.

III. HOLY FEAR How are you living? As Christ ascended, so shall He one day descend to awful judgment. If you be a hardened sinner, and will continue so, then fear; for then to you the lesson of Christ's ascension is a lesson of wrath and doom.

IV. But if you be living in justice and mercy, and walking humbly with your God, then the lesson is one of HOPE. It is a pledge to us of that forgiveness which Christ died to win. For Christ is our Intercessor.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

It was the custom of the Roman emperors, at their triumphal entrance, to cast new coins among the multitudes: so doth Christ, in His triumphal entrance into heaven, throw the greatest gifts for the good of man that were ever given.

(T. Goodwin, D. D.)

While the going up of Elias may be compared to the flight of a bird which none can follow, the ascension of Christ is, as it were, a bridge between heaven and earth, laid down for all who are drawn to Him.

(J. Baumgarten.)

1. Four great events shine out in our Saviour's story — His birth, death, resurrection, and ascension. These make four rounds in that ladder of light, the top whereof reacheth to heaven. We could not afford to dispense with any one of them. That the Son of God was born creates a brotherhood; that He died is the rest and life of our spirits; that He rose is the warrant of our justification. and an assurance of the resurrection of all His people. Equally delightful is the remembrance of His ascension. No song is sweeter than this — "Thou hast ascended on high; Thou hast led captivity captive," etc.

2. Each one of those four events points to another, and lead up to it: the Second Advent. Had He not come a first time in humiliation He could not have come a second time in glory "without a sin-offering unto salvation." Because He died we rejoice that He cometh to destroy the last enemy. It is our joy that in consequence of His rising the trump of the archangel shall sound for the awaking of all His slumbering people. As for His ascension, He could not a second time descend if He had not first ascended.

3. We will start from the ascension. Picture our Lord and the eleven walking up the side of Olivet. They come to a standstill, having reached the brow of the hill. While the disciples are looking, the Lord has ascended to the clouds. They stand spellbound, and suddenly a bright cloud, like a chariot of God, bears Him away. They are riveted to the spot, very naturally so; but it is not the Lord's will thai they should long remain inactive; their reverie is interrupted. Two messengers of God appear in human form that they may not alarm them, and in white raiment as if to remind them that all was bright and joyous. As they had once said to the women, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen"; so did they now say, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus," etc. Their reverie over, the apostles at once gird up their loins for active service; they hasten to obey the command, "Tarry ye at Jerusalem." Here is —

I. A GENTLE CHIDING.

1. What these men were doing seems at first sight to be —(1) Very right. If Jesus were among us now we would fix our eyes upon Him, and never withdraw them. When He ascended up into heaven it was the duty of His friends to look upon Him. If it be right to look up into heaven, it must be still more right to look up while Jesus rises to the place of His glory; but they went further — they stood "gazing." "Look" is ever the right word. "Look unto Me, and be saved." Be your posture that of one "looking unto Jesus," always throughout life. But it is not commendable, when the look is not that of worship, but of curiosity. If infinite wisdom had withdrawn the object, what was their gazing but a sort of reflection upon the wisdom which had removed their Lord? Yet it did seem very right. Thus certain things that you and I may do may appear right, and yet we may need to be chidden out of them into something better. A steadfast gaze into heaven may be to a devout soul a high order of worship, but if this filled up much of our working time it might become the idlest form of folly.(2) Very natural. I should have done the same. Hearts are not to be argued with. You stand by a grave. You cannot help it, the place is precious to you; yet you could not prove that you do any good, and deserve to be gently chidden with the question, "Why?" It may be the most natural thing in the world, and yet it may not be a wise thing. The Lord allows us to do that which is innocently natural, but He will not have us carry it too far. We must not stand gazing here for ever, and therefore we are aroused to get back to the Jerusalem of practical life, where we may do service for our Master.(3) But was not after all justifiable upon strict reason. While Christ was going up it was proper that they should adoringly look at Him. But when He was gone, still to remain gazing was an act which they could not explain to themselves nor justify to others. I remember a woman whose only son was emigrating. The train came up and he entered the carriage. After the train had passed, she ran along the platform and pursued the flying train. It was natural, but what was the use of it? We had better abstain from acts which serve no practical purpose.

2. What they did we are very apt to imitate. "Oh," say you, "I shall never stand gazing up into heaven." I am not sure of that.(1) Some Christians are very curious, but not obedient. I remember one who was great at apocalyptic symbols, but he had no family prayer. By all means search till you know all that the Lord has revealed concerning things to come; but first see that your children are brought to the Saviour, and that you are workers in His Church.(2) Others are contemplative but not active — much given to the study of Scripture, but not zealous for good works. When a man's religion all lies in enjoying holy things for his own self, there is a disease upon him. When his judgment of a sermon is based upon the one question, "Did it feed me?" it is a swinish judgment.(3) Some are impatient for some marvellous interposition. We get at times into a sad state of mind, because we do not see the kingdom of Christ advancing as we desire. The Master is away, and we cry, "When will He be back again? Why tarries He through the ages?" In certain cases this uneasiness has drawn to itself an intense desire for sign-seeing. What fanaticisms come of this! If I were introduced into a room where a large number of parcels were stored up, and I was told that there was something good for me, I should begin to look for that which had my name upon it, and when I came upon a parcel and I saw in pretty big letters, "It is not for you," I should leave it alone. Here, then, is a casket of knowledge marked, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons," etc. Cease to .meddle with matters which are concealed, and be satisfied to know the things which are clearly revealed.

II. A CHEERING DESCRIPTION — "This same Jesus." I appreciate this the more because it came from those who knew Him. "He was seen of angels."

1. Jesus is gone, but He still exists. As surely as He did hang upon the Cross, so surely does He, the self-same Man, sit upon the throne of God. Jesus lives; mind that you live also. "Jesus "means" a Saviour." Oh, ye anxious sinners, the name of Him who has gone up into His glory is full of invitation to you! Will you not come to "this same Jesus"?

2. He who is to come will be the same Jesus that went up into heaven. He will be "the same Jesus" in nature though not in condition: He will possess the same tenderness when He comes to judge. Go to Him with your troubles, as you would have done when He was here. Look forward to His second coming without dread. On the back of that sweet title came this question, "Why stand ye here gazing into heaven?" They might have said, "We stay here because we do not know where to go. Our Master is gone." But oh, it is the same Jesus, and He is coming again, so go down to Jerusalem and get to work directly. Do not worry yourselves; it is not a disaster that Christ has gone, but an advance in His work. Despisers tell us nowadays, "Your Divine Christ is gone; we have not seen a trace of His miracle-working hand, nor of that voice which no man could rival." Here is our answer: He lives; and it is our delight to turn our heavenly gazing into an earthward watching, and to go down into the city, and there to tell that Jesus is risen, that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting life. His ascension is not a retreat, but an advance. His tarrying is not for want of power, but because of the abundance of His long-suffering.

III. A GREAT PRACTICAL TRUTH, which will not keep us gazing into heaven, but will make us render earnest service.

1. Jesus is gone into heaven; up to the throne, from which He can send us succour. Is not that a good argument — "Go ye therefore and teach all nations," etc.?

2. Jesus will come again. A commander has not given up the campaign because it is expedient that he should withdraw from your part of the field. Our Lord is doing the best thing for His kingdom in going away.

3. He is coming in like manner as He departed. He will descend in clouds even as He went up in clouds; and "He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth" even as He stood aforetime. Do not let anybody spiritualise this away. Jesus is coming as a matter of fact, therefore go down to your sphere of service as a matter of fact. Jesus is literally and actually coming, and He will literally and actually call upon you to give an account of your stewardship.

4. Be ready to meet your coming Lord. I called one day on one of our members, and she was whitening the front steps. She got up all in confusion, and said, "Oh dear, sir, I did not know you were coming to-day, or I would have been ready." I replied, "Dear friend, you could not be in better trim than you are: you are doing your duty like a good housewife, and may God bless you. When Jesus comes, I hope He will find me doing as you are doing, namely, fulfilling the duty of the hour."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Note here —

I. THE MASTER OF ALL RESOURCES MAKING USE OF NATURAL MEANS IN CONNECTION WITH A STUPENDOUS MIRACLE. Jesus showed Himself superior to natural laws, yet up to the highest point possible He made use of natural means on the way to His glorious end. He might have ascended from the valley, but since He made hills so much nearer heaven, He would not neglect the benefit of His own creation. He who could always have walked on the sea did so but once, and He to whom the highest mountains are but valleys would walk up a hill to ascend into heaven. This should teach us to bless God for means when we have them, and to trust Him for means when we have them not.

II. THE GREAT MASTER GOING TO HIS REST WHEN HIS WORK WAS DONE. He had overcome, and must therefore now go to His throne. He had shown His sovereign power over the sea by walking on it and making it pay His tribute; over the earth by raising the dead and forsaking His own tomb; over hell by conquering Satan; and He must now show His power over the air by a local ascending into heaven.

III. CHRIST SERVED BY OTHER BEINGS THAN MEN. The cloud might be a multitude of heavenly attendants. Certainly celestial messengers instructed the apostles about "this same Jesus." How great is His dignity who has such servants, and what an honour to serve Him.

IV. THAT EVEN CHRISTIAN CONTEMPLATION MUST BE REGULATED WITH REFERENCE TO OTHER DUTIES. It was but natural that the disciples should gaze after Jesus; but the angel's word called them off from an object engrossing and delightful to their work. To neglect the shop for the prayer-meeting, to allow your cattle to hunger that you may hear a sermon, to make private devotion an excuse for refusing to visit the sick and needy, is what God cannot bless; and when a Christian is called from such dangerous ways he ought to feel deeply grateful.

V. THAT THE ASCENSION IS A PATTERN OF THE SECOND ADVENT. It will be —

1. Personal.

2. With clouds.

3. With angelic attendants.

(W. Hudson.)

A cloud received Him
Lovers of nature find almost as much pleasure in watching the clouds as in gazing upon a landscape; in some respects even more, for the colouring is far more splendid, and the whole scene is one of perpetual change and variety. We read very much of clouds in Holy Scripture. The one before us is the Ascension cloud. A last thought is the extent and amount of the change involved in the Ascension. "A cloud received Him." That is all. This and no more is the change made by the Ascension. Behind, above the cloud, is the Person who a moment ago was visible, was audible, was conversing and communing with us, was here, and answering our questions; was speaking of things pertaining to His kingdom. There is now just a cloud between us — between us and Him. That is all. No other change has had place or room. We are still gazing into heaven, only a cloud has intercepted the view. His last act was benediction: while He blessed He was taken from us. The hand is stretched out still. It is to leave His peace with us which passeth understanding. The Ascension cloud has nothing but benediction in it. It was that He might fill earth and heaven, St. Paul tells us, that He went away. In other words, it was that, being out of sight, and because He was out of sight, He might be to us that spiritual presence which alone profits, satisfies, comforts, or saves. The Ascension cloud is all blessing. The mystery which it involves is no illusion. It is true and wholesome doctrine. It is the doctrine of the reality, and the activity, and the nearness to us of that spiritual presence which is our life. Alas I it is quite ether-wise with other clouds which intercept the view of the Ascended. "Earth-born clouds" our evening hymn speaks off They are of all kinds. There is the cloud of simple indifference. The heart feels no want which earth cannot supply. The heart sees no beauty in spiritual satisfaction. Christ is out of sight; the cloud is between, and we care not to pierce it. Let it hide the Invisible; we do not want Him. And then there is the cloud of unbelief. We have heard of the sneer of the infidel; alas! we have listened to it. All things are dared in these days, even if it be to the parodying and caricature of the Bible. Wheresoever the soul has no God in it, there clouds are, and their name is legion. There is the earth-born cloud of sinning. Yes, for one cloud of worldliness, or levity, or conscious unbelief, there are in the individual skies thousands and tens of thousands of damp, dark, heavy clouds of sin; and each one of these hides Jesus Christ from view. If it be no bigger than a man's hand it is enough. Each one of these little clouds places Him at a measureless distance, Him the holy, the undefiled, the separate from sinners. He cannot dwell where sin is, either as guest or host. "A cloud receiveth Him out of their sight." It was one of the earth-born clouds. It was not the sweet Ascension cloud, for that while it intercepts the view of sense only quickens the view of faith, which is the eye of the soul.

(Dean Vaughan.)

A friend of mine told me of a visit he had paid to a poor woman overwhelmed with trouble. "Mary," said he, "you must have very dark days; the clouds must overcome you sometimes." "Yes," she replied, "when I am very dark and low I go to the window, and if I see a heavy cloud I think of those precious words, 'A cloud received Him out of their sight,' and I look up and see the cloud sure enough, and then I think, 'Well, that may be the cloud that hides Him'; and so you see there is comfort in a cloud."

A minister says: "I once visited an invalid lady who for a long time had been confined to her bed, and she said to me, 'The Lord has forgotten me altogether.' I replied, 'Supposing a heavy mist should fall so that you could not see that lighthouse on the other side of the river, would you believe it was there?' 'Oh, yes,' she said, 'because I had seen it before, and I should all the time hear the whistle which warns mariners of danger.' 'Yes, and in the same way you may know that the Lord is near. Your bodily weakness is the cloud between you and your God. His Word still speaks to you, and the eye of faith can surely see through this cloud as clearly as through an earthly mist.' This led her to a life of faith and comfort."

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