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into the heavens, you also will in heart and mind thither ascend, and with Him continually dwell.
But is it so with all of us, brethren? Do you all know the power of this attraction? You affirm your belief that Jesus hath ascended into the heavens. Do your hearts and minds then follow Him, and dwell with Him ? Is there this proof that you and Christ are one? Professors, mere professors of religion, your own hearts answer 'No.'
You are earthly, you are sensual, you are sinful,'you do not love to think of Christ, you are conscious of no drawings of the soul towards Him; the things of this world please you far more than the thought of Christ in heaven; you have a relish for the one, you have no relish for the other, and you know it. Then be not deceived. If an ascended Saviour leads not your hearts to heaven, it is because you have no part in Him.
Believers, you long for heavenly mindedness, you pray for it, you desire to overcome the world, you would have your hearts above it. Let me bid you often to call to mind how near you stand to Christ in glory, yea, how you and He are one, and pray that you may feel this more.
. So shall you indeed become more separate from earth, and have your hearts more closely attached to the unseen realities of heaven. 0 it is by conscious union to a glorified Redeemer that the Holy Spirit sanctifies the soul. Then seek more to know this union. Ask it of God. Meditate calmly on the fact that you are joined to Christ. Carry the thought with you into the
vortex of the world, with all its temptations and cares, “I am one with Christ, Christ my glorified Saviour.' O it will check many an evil thought, and give you a settled and increasing spirituality, and joy, and stedfastness. Think of yourselves as sitting with Christ in the heavenly places. Feel the fact, and you cannot serve the world, nor walk in sin.
Let me suggest one thought more. How sweet to a child of God in distress and affliction is the comfort to be gathered from the consideration of union to Christ in glory. Is he poor, or sick, or under contempt? Is he persecuted by man, or tempted by Satan, or in any other sort of tribulation ? Let him reflect that all such trial is but for a season : Christ is in heaven, and where Christ is there he is soon to be ; yea, in one sense, there he already is: he is raised to sit with Christ.
Afflicted children of God, try to rise above the things which are temporal. Where is Jesus ? Seek your refuge there ; seek your repose and consolation there. Sufferings, sorrows, wants, temptations, persecutions, none of these things can separate you from Christ. Let them be sanctified, and they shall make you know yet more of the blessedness and security of union to
“ Your life is hid with Christ in God," and whatever your trials now, “ when He shall appear, you shall be like Him, for you shall see Him as He is.” Then, “comfort one another with these words."
EPHESIANS V. 25, 26, 27.
CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT,
THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY AND CLEANSE IT WITH THE WASHING OF WATER BY THE WORD, THAT HE MIGHT PRESENT IT UNTO HIMSELF A GLORIOUS CHURCH, NOT HAVING SPOT OR WRINKLE, OR ANY SUCH THING, BUT THAT IT SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH.
What a golden chain of gracious truths, my Christian brethren, do these few words of the inspired Apostle exhibit before us.
You have, as it were, the history of Christ's acts and purposes toward his people all drawn out. May the Holy Ghost be with us, and bless us, in our examination of it.
The Apostle makes four distinct statements in the text. He declares, in the first place, the fact that Christ hath loved the Church : next, that He hath redeemed it : then, that He doth also sanctify it : and finally, that He will ere long glorify it. These shall be, by the help of God, the several points of our present discourse.
I. CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH.” Now here is a wonder at the outset. For who was Christ ? and what was the Church ?
Who was Christ ? The only begotten, eternal, and equal Son of God: as great, and glorious, and holy, as the everlasting Father.
And what was the Church ? A company of fallen, corrupted, earthly, sinful men.
Mark the contrast. Hear the voice of the Father respecting each. “ Unto the Son," He saith, “ Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.” But of men it is written, “ there is none righteous, no not one; they are all gone out of the way; there is none that doeth good.” Mark, I say, the contrast. On the one hand, a Being all infinitely pure : on the other hand, a wretch all wofully depraved. And yet the one loves the other. Christ, that hated iniquity, sets his heart on objects themselves desperately wicked. Christ, that ever loved righteousness, chooses those of whom not one is righteous, no not one.
Now, is not this a wonder? A mystery ? That Christ should love angels, angels that never sinned, we can understand. But that He should love men, sinful men, how could it ever be ?
We answer, there are two sorts of love : the love of complacency, and the love of compassion,
The love of complacency is that of one who sees in another all that delights himself, all that is pleasing to his mind, and congenial to his nature. Thus God loves Christ, beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth.” This is the love of complacency
But then, there is the love of compassion : that is, when one has his heart drawn out towards
This is my
another, not because he beholds what is pleasing, - but because he beholds what is pitiable. He
sees misery, and ignorance, and error, and ruin, and helplessness, and this awakens interest, calls forth tender solicitude, and glowing benevolence.
So God loves the world. The world lieth in wickedness. It is all unholy: just what God abhors. But the world is lost: it is ruined: it is hopeless in its woe. Therefore God pities it. “ God so loved the world, that He sent his only begotten Son to save the world. " Such is the love of compassion.
Now this helps us to understand the truth we are speaking of: Christ's love to the Church. There was nothing in the Church, in other words, Christians, there was nothing in you to make you worthy of his love. You were all unclean. You were perishing in sin. Therefore it was Christ loved you: not because you were lovely in yourselves, but because you were most wretched: not for your goodness, but for your helplessness. This touched his heart. Your sin would have repelled Him: but your misery attracted Him: and so from mere compassion, and free grace, He looked upon you, and resolved to bless you.
“None eye pitied thee,”—it is the Lord that speaks, and addresses his Israel of old, fit emblem of his Church at large, “None eye pitied thee, and when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thy blood, I said unto thee, live. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold