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Resurrection, and beamed forth in full splendour at the Ascension, that day which has no setting, which will be, not ended, but absorbed in Christ's glorious appearance from heaven to destroy sin and death ; that Day in which we are, is described in these words of Christ as a state of special divine manifestation, of special introduction into the presence of God. By Christ, says the Apostle, “we have the access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” He “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” “Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.” “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” “ As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” And our Lord says; “I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him ... We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” Thus we Christians stand in the courts of God Most High, and, in one sense, see His face; for He who once was on earth, has now departed from this visible scene of things in a mysterious, twofold way, both to His Father and into our hearts, thus making the Creator and His creatures one; according to His own words, “ I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you; yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more: but ye see Me; because I live, ye shall live also. At that Day ye
shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you'.”
Now, in behalf of this mystery, I observe :
First, that Christ really is with us now, whatever be the mode of it. This He says expressly Himself; “ Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” He even says, “ Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them?” And in a passage already quoted more than once, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.” Christ's presence, then, is promised to us still, though He is on the right hand of the Father. You will say, “ Yes; He is present as God.” Nay, I answer; more than this, He is the Christ, and the Christ is promised, and Christ is man as well as God. This surely is plain even from the words of the text. He said He was going away. Did He go away as God or as man? “A little while, and ye shall not see Me;" this was on His death. He went away as man, He died as man; if, then, He promises to come again, surely He must mean that He would return as man, in the only sense, that is, in which He could return. As God He is ever present, never was otherwise than present, never went away; when His body died on the Cross and was buried, when His soul departed to the place of spirits, still He was with His disciples in His divine ubiquity. The sepa
* Rom. v. 2. Eph. ii. 6. Col. iii. 3. Phil. iii. 20. 2 Cor. iv. 6. Gal. iii. 27. John xiv. 21-23; 18-20.
Matt. xxviii. 20; xviii. 20.
ration of soul and body could not touch His impassible everlasting Godhead. When then He says He should go away, and come again and abide for ever, He is speaking, not of His omnipresent Divine nature, but of His two natures. As being Christ, He says that He, the Incarnate Mediator, shall be with His Church for ever.
But again : you may be led to explain His declarations thus; “He has come again, but in His Spirit; that is, His Spirit has come instead of Him; and when it is said that He is with us, this only means that His Spirit is with us.” No one, doubtless, can deny this most gracious and consolatory truth, that the Holy Ghost is come; but why has He come? to supply Christ's absence, or to accomplish His presence? Surely to make Him present. Let us not for a moment suppose that God the Holy Ghost comes in such sense that God the Son remains away. No; He has not so come that Christ does not come, but rather He comes that Christ may come in His coming. Through the Holy Ghost we have communion with Father and Son. “ In Christ we are builded together,” says St. Paul, “for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” “Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” “Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The Holy Spirit causes, faith welcomes, the indwelling of Christ in the heart. Thus the Spirit does not take the place of Christ in the soul, but secures that
place to Christ. St. Paul insists much on this presence of Christ in those who have His Spirit. “Know ye not,” he says, “that your bodies are the members of Christ ?” “ By one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.” “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye
reprobates?” “ Christ in you, the hope of glory.” And St. John: “He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” And our Lord Himself, “ Abide in Me and I in you: I am the Vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” The Holy Spirit, then, vouchsafes to come to us, that by His coming Christ may come to us, not carnally or visibly, but may enter into us. And thus He is both present and absent; absent in that He has left the earth, present in that He has not left the faithful soul; or, as He says Himself, “ The world seeth Me no more, but ye see Me !.”
You will say, How can He be present to the Christian and in the Church, yet not be on earth, but on the right hand of God? I answer, that the Christian Church is made up of faithful souls, and how can any of us say where the soul is, simply and really? The soul indeed acts through the body, and perceives through the body ; and where is it? or
Eph. ii. 22. 1 Cor. iii. 16. Eph. iii. 17. 1 Cor. vi. 15 ; xii. 13. 27. 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Col. i. 27. 1 John v. 12. John xv. 4,5; xiv. 19.
what has it to do with place ? or why should it be a thing incredible that the power of the Spirit should so visit the soul as to open upon it a divine manifestation, which yet it perceives not, because its present perceptions are only through the body. Who shall limit the power of the gracious Spirit of God? How know we, for instance, but that He makes Christ present with us, by making us present with Christ? As the earth goes round the sun, yet the sun is said to move, so our souls, in fact, may be taken up to Christ, when He is said to come to us. But no need to insist on one mode in which the mystery may be conceived, when ten thousand ways are possible with God, of which we know nothing. Scripture says enough to show us that influences may be exerted upon the soul so marvellous, that we cannot decide whether the soul remains in the body or not, while subjected to them. St. Paul speaks of himself, " Whether in the body,” he says, “ I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth : .. caught up to the third heaven.”
And he repeats his statement: “I knew such á man,” meaning him
à self, ** whether in the body I cannot tell, or out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth : how that he was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” St. Paul was brought into Paradise, yet his body remained where it was ; and whether his soul was separated from it, was a question which he could not decide. How can we pretend to decide what the Holy Spirit