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and must always remain, an essential part of His experience, an indispensable element in His nature. Hereafter they hoped to share the glory upon which He had entered; but for the present, while upon earth, as He had been, they could chiefly be one with Him in those humble graces of which He had been so perfect an exemplar. It is thus impossible to separate any one part of the mind of the Apostles from the rest. He that ascended is the same also that descended, and the very depths of earth are thus united to the loftiest heights of heaven. Thus it is that one part of the New Testament supports the others, that the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles combine to produce one harmonious result. Consider them separately, and they may
be difficult of comprehension; but read them united, and the story they tell of the Incarnation, the Passion, the Resurrection, and the spiritual life of the Church after the gift of the Holy Spirit, exhibits a complete unity.
These considerations enable us to close this lecture with some thoughts which may help us to rise above controversy, and which may be a support to us in many a difficulty of faith. We have seen that St. Peter's faith in the Resurrection was not simply faith in a past event, but was faith in the living Lord who had risen and ascended, and who now bestows all grace upon His people. His appeal to the Jews was built alike on the past and on the present, and the present was as important an element in it as the past. It may be the same to ourselves. Of course, if the historic reality of the events narrated in the Gospels could be disproved, we should have to reconsider our position altogether; and it is hard to see what would remain of the beliefs and convictions which so many generations of Christians have held dear. But there is no such disproof; and on the other hand we possess-every Christian should possess in his own experience-a conviction, not less clear than that to which St. Peter appealed, of the living power and life of our risen and ascended Lord. After all, there is this permanent evidence to the truth of our Lord's Resurrection, and to His present glory and power, that all Christians, and the Church at large, can approach Him by prayer, and receive from Him a grace and power, of which they may be as assured as of any other fact in their experience, to enable them continually to realize in increasing degree the graces of the spiritual life. In proportion as we realize this privilege, will our path be untroubled by the shadows of doubt, and shall we be enabled to bear witness to others of the power of the Lord's Resurrection.
OUR LORD'S RETURN TO JUDGMENT
“ And while they looked stedfastly towards heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel ; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven."— Acts i. 10, 11.
It must at least confirm our faith in those angelic manifestations which are narrated in the New Testament to observe how profound is the significance on each occasion of the utterances of the heavenly messengers. The name of Jesus, with the assurance that 'He shall save His people from their sins, has, from the moment it was uttered till the present day, embodied the sum and substance of the Gospel. The song of the multitude of the heavenly host near Bethlebem, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men,' has been similarly felt, at all times, to express the essential glory of the Christian dispensation. The clear and calm gaze of heaven seems to penetrate to the heart of the great mystery it contemplates, and the central truth is presented to our meditation in one pregnant phrase. The same characteristic marks the utterance
of the angels to the Apostles on the occasion of the Ascension. There is something intensely natural and vivid in the description of the Apostles looking stedfastly towards heaven as He went up—all their hearts and minds yearning after their Lord, lately restored to them from the grave, with whom they had lived in sacred communion for forty days, and now suddenly vanishing from them into those mysterious depths. At that moment angelic voices recall them to earth and to the realities around them, and tell them what is the chief significance, for the practical purposes of life, of the event they were witnessing. That which it was of supreme importance for them to realize and keep in mind was, that the Lord who had thus left them would return, the same in nature, in character, and in power* This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. All their life was to be controlled by this belief; their thoughts were ever to look forward to that great day. He had ascended into heaven and bad assumed His seat of power and judgment at the right hand of the Father, and He would hereafter return to execute that judgment visibly, in human form, and with the human as well as divine authority with which they were familiar. Thus, at the very moment of the Ascension, the thoughts of the disciples were
directed by heavenly guidance to the future return of our Lord to establish his kingdom finally, and to execute judgment; and in accordance with this direction, the creed of the Church has ever combined the two truths in intimate connection. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.'
That the last angelic words uttered respecting our Lord's work and office, at the moment of His departure, should thus point us forward to His future return to judge the world, is a fact of deep and manifold significance; and it merits our attention the more at the present day, by reason of the vivid light it casts upon some of the most conspicuous of our perplexities and controversies. For its due appreciation it is important to bear in mind how exactly this final angelic message corresponds with the whole tenour of our Lord's ministry and teaching. We are told that His preaching was from the first summed up in the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;' and, although that proclamation has a double aspect-of salvation no less than of judgment—the aspect of judgment would seem to be the primary one. Such, certainly, was its meaning in the mouth of John the Baptist. He explained his proclamation to mean that One was coming after him whose fan was in His hand,