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the knee; and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.' Here was a clear representation of the exaltation of Christ, who came from prison, and judgment, and the dungeon of the grave, and was raised by God the Father to the rule and government of the Universe, with the express command that all things both in heaven and in earth should bow down before him.
From these expressive types of the ascension and exaltation of Christ, we pass on to the prophecies relating to the same subjects; and first, to the prediction of his ascension. To this point the text is precise and full. Thou hast ascended on high,' saith the Prophet David to Christ, in spirit; thou hast led captivity captive.' This expression, taken in its connexion, refers with singular propriety to Christ, who was to conquer sin, death, and hell, and, triumphing gloriously over them, 'with his own right hand and holy arm,' to ascend up into the highest heaven, thence to send the precious gifts of pardon, peace, and every Spiritual blessing to the sons of men, 'that the Lord their God might dwell among them.' The prophecy of Micah may also be mentioned in this connexion, as conveying the same The breaker is come up before them,' saith
great truth. the Prophet. They have broken up and passed through the gate, and are gone out by it, and their kings shall pass before them, and the Lord at the head of them.' This passage to us appears rather obscure, but the commentaries of the ancient Jews applied the title of the Breaker-up expressly to the Messiah. When shall we rejoice?' saith the writer in 'Bereshith Rabba.' "When the feet of the Shechinah shall stand on the Mount of Olives, when the captives shall ascend from hell, and Shechinah in the head, as it is written by the Prophet, 'Their King shall pass before them, and the Lord at the head of them.' But, perhaps,
there is no passage of the Old Testament prophecies more beautifully expressive on this point, than the well known imagery of the twenty fourth Psalm, 'Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.' Thus we find the ascension of our Lord clearly predicted, both by type and prophecy.
His exaltation was predicted, with the utmost clearness, by the Psalmist, in that remarkable text, 'The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.' That this was applied to Christ by the ancient Jews, appears manifestly from our Saviour's question to the Pharisees. How doth David, in spirit,' saith he, 'call Christ Lord?'
For we read that
no man was able to answer him a word;' whereas they might all have given him an easy answer, if it had not been confessed that the passage referred to the Messiah.
To these prophecies of the Old Testament may be added the prediction of our Lord himself, who expressly foretold both his ascension and his exaltation. 'What,' saith he, and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before;' and when he was arraigned before the Council, he predicted his exaltation, by saying, 'You shall see the Son of Man, sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.'
2. Having thus set forth the types and prophecies relating more particularly to these wonderful events, we shall now proceed to the evidence of their fulfilment.
The ascension is mentioned expressly, by two of the Evangelists, but the largest account of it is given in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. From the whole taken together, we learn that our Lord continued to appear unto his disciples for the space of forty days after
his resurrection: that then, he led them out, as far as to Bethany, and lifting up his hands, blessed them; and when he had finished his last instructions, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.' From this we see that the ascension of our blessed Lord was public, at the village of Bethany, in open day, and that it was witnessed both by men and angels.
The exaltation of Christ is mentioned in various passages. Thus St. Mark, speaking of it, saith, that he 'ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God.' St. Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost, and looking steadfastly into heaven, 'saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.' And St. Paul frequently speaks of Christ sitting at the right hand of God, angels, and principalities, and powers being made subject unto him.' Thus is the language of our Creed shown to be in precise accordance with Scripture; but the meaning of the expression, sitting on the right hand of God the Father Almighty,' may require some consideration.
1. In the first place, then, the right hand of God is a metaphor, or figure of speech. God, being a Spirit, can have no corporeal parts, and consequently in a strict sense, can have no hands at all, these bodily members being only suited to the wants of creatures like ourselves. But in his communications with us, he stoops to our feeble capacity, by employing such expressions in the language of men as furnish the best analogy to the common under
standing. Recollecting, therefore, the figurative sense which such expressions must always bear when applied to the Deity, and reflecting on the different acceptations of the phrase amongst mankind, we shall have no difficulty in perceiving its true and appropriate meaning.
The hands of man are those members which are most active, and which are chiefly employed in the execution of his will. They display the strength of the body, and most of our actions are performed by them. But there is a distinction, by general custom, and perhaps by nature, established between them, by reason of which the right hand is much stronger than the left. Hence, as the hands of man are the instruments of his power, and as the right hand displays his greatest strength, so, by a metaphor easily understood, the hands of God signify his general potency, and the right hand of God signifies his vast and omnipotent control.
In this explication of the term, when Christ is said to sit at the right hand of God, we may understand it to mean the absolute sovereignty and dominion which he has obtained in heaven. And in the same sense he himself spoke when he said to the Jewish council,' Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power.' In the second place, the right hand amongst men is the most honorable station. Thus the Psalmist saith, 'On thy right hand did stand the queen, in gold of Ophir.' And when Bathsheba went unto king Solomon, 'He sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother. And she sat at his right hand.' Hence, by a simple metaphor, the right hand of God signifies the place of celestial distinction, and Christ being set there, expresses the honor and glory of his place in heaven. The same sense is clearly conveyed to us by St. Paul, where he saith
that Christ Jesus, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;' and again, saith the same Apostle, We have an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.'
In the third place, as the gifts of men are given and received by the hand, and as 'every good and perfect gift cometh from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning,' therefore the right hand of God is the place of celestial bliss and infinite happiness; even as the Psalmist has so beautifully expressed it, ‘In thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.' In this sense also, Christ Jesus is said to sit on the right hand of God, because the sufferings of his humanity are over, and he rests above, in the unspeakable delights, the pure and infinite enjoyments of heaven.
As regards the other part of the phrase, where it is said that Christ SITTETH at the right hand of God,' it is perfectly obvious that this is a figure also, and indeed one in the most common use. Properly understood, it has no relation to the posture of our blessed Lord, but signifies his entrance upon his mediatorial office as King and as Judge, sitting in the throne of power, as Solomon sat on the throne of his father, according to the prediction of the Prophet, In mercy shall the throne be established, and he shall sit upon it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.'
Seeing, therefore, the substantial meaning of the expressions before us, we may understand, from the whole, the fulfilment of the prophecy which the angel Gabriel delivered to the Virgin mother of our Lord, when he said 'The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever,