Imágenes de página

Emmaus; He would seem to manifest His presence whenever and wherever He would, and appears superior to all ordinary bodily necessities. His Ascension into the heavens, exhibiting a supremacy over the ordinary laws of matter, is but the last and most conspicuous of these numerous evidences of His having entered by His Resurrection, in body as well as in spirit, into a new and glorified condition. Whatever manifestations, in short, are recorded of Him, exhibit Him as having assumed an entirely new state of bodily and spiritual existence-an existence one indeed with His former state of humiliation, but completely freed from its restrictions. He appears to transcend the limitations of the flesh, no less than to have burst the bonds of the grave; and from the time of His Resurrection, while remaining man, He possessed a life, and exerted a power, infinitely above those of our present humanity.'


It would seem, in fact, that we have an exact and vivid description of the change which had thus passed over the body of our Lord in St. Paul's grand description of the resurrection body of Christians. The appearances of our Lord after His Resurrection, and the fact of the Ascension itself, are visible illustrations of the Apostle's argument, that all flesh is not the same flesh,' but that, as there is one kind

* See Dr. Milligan on The Resurrection of our Lord, Lect. I. pp. 10-24.

of flesh of men and another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds; as there are also celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial, but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another; so also, is the resurrection of the dead. 'It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.' In those words the Apostle presents our Lord, in His glorified state, as being as distinctly a type of the spiritual body, animated by the quickening spirit, as Adam was of the earthly body, animated by the living soul. A spiritual influence, infinitely superior to that which is exhibited in our present earthly frame, will hereafter animate those who rise in Christ, and will transform them; and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.' That image was actually seen in our Lord, in the complete transformation which His body underwent, though remaining one with that body which suffered and was buried. He rose and ascended, as our Article states, quoting His own words, 'with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining

to the perfection of man's nature' Handle Me and see,' He said, 'for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have '-but all these elements of man's nature perfected, glorified, placed in new relations, and endued with a new life. There is thus no essentially greater wonder in the Ascension than in our Lord's various appearances before it. It was His last solemn farewell to His disciples; it marked the moment when He assumed the full exercise of that power which He had won by death, and it was thus distinguished by circumstances equally striking in themselves and symbolical of His exaltation. But it is an event substantially one in character with those which had preceded it since the Resurrection; it is indissolubly united with them, and rests on the same evidence.

But this manifestation of the Saviour's glory in respect to His bodily nature is accompanied by a similar assumption of power in the moral and spiritual sphere. He himself, indeed, needed no glorification in this respect. His previous humiliation had affected His bodily state only, and His spiritual and moral glory was as great before His Resurrection as after it. Even while the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us in the ordinary conditions of human flesh and blood, those who had pure hearts beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

But that moral and spiritual power which He did not need for Himself He did need for others. It is clearly revealed in the Gospels, alike by the evidence of experience and by express statements, that His power to influence the hearts of men, and to quicken them into true moral life by spiritual influences, was exercised under limitations and restrictions during the period of His ministry and before His death and resurrection. St. John expressly tells us, in reference to one of His great promises, This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.' The same truth is repeatedly urged by our Lord Himself in His last discourses to His disciples. It is expedient for you,' He says, 'that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.' This truth, it be observed, affords perhaps the most striking of all illustrations of the immense efficacy and supreme necessity of the atoning work of our Lord in His death on the Cross. It was indispensable for the manifestation of God's justice that the natural consequences of man's sin should be allowed to work themselves out, as they did by the rejection and crucifixion of our Lord, and that He should take upon Himself those consequences, before God could interpose, as He had from the first



[ocr errors]

purposed, to deliver mankind by the supernatural operation of His Spirit from the ruin which they had brought upon themselves by their revolt from Him. It was necessary that Christ should be 'set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare the righteousness of God for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare,' the Apostle insists, 'at this time His righteousness; that He might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.' When this had been done, and when our Lord could pass in His glorified humanity into the presence of the Father, there pleading His sufferings, of which His body still bore the marks, as a sufficient penalty and atonement for human evil, then was it possible for God, through Him, to set free that gracious influence of His Spirit from which the sins of men had hitherto debarred them. Christ, by His perfect obedience and Atonement, had won that gift; and the Spirit was henceforth, if we may so speak, placed in His hands as the reward of His work, to be by Him bestowed upon all who submitted themselves to Him in faith. In this respect the Saviour was glorified at the Ascension in His moral and spiritual no less than in His bodily nature. He possesses a power which he could not exert before; He is able to give the Comforter to His disciples, and that Spirit henceforth proceeds from the Father and the Son, to exercise over the

« AnteriorContinuar »