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and sufferings; and so shall we if we follow on in his strength : 'Let us,' therefore, 'lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,' Heb. xii. 1.
III. The third step of our Lord's exaltation, is his sitting at the right hand of God.
This phrase, 'the right hand of God,' Heb. i. 3. Mark xvi. 19. Eph. i. 20. 1 Pet. iii. 22. is not to be taken properly but in a figurative sense. For God being a pure Spirit, is void of all bodily parts. When it is said, that Christ sits at God's right-hand, it is a borrowed expression, wherein the Lord is pleased to condescend to the weakness of our capacities, to the end we may form suitable thoughts of that glorious and exalted state into which Christ is advanced in the heavens. The phrase is wholly metaphorical, taken from the custom of kings and princes, who use to place those at their right hands, and next to themselves, upon whom they would confer the chief marks of favour and honour. More particularly, the right hand denotes,
1. Majesty and honour. It is the place we confer upon those we highly esteem. Thus, Solomon placed his mother at his right-hand, when he was set on his royal throne, 2 Kings ii. 19. And it is said of the church, the spouse of Christ, to denote the honour that he puts upon her, that she is at his right-hand,' Psal. xlv. 9. ' Upon thy right-hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.' So God, in testimony of the great honour and esteem that he puts upon Christ as Mediator, hath set him at his right-hand, which on this account is called 'the right-hand of the Majesty on high,' Heb. i. 3.
2. His power. Hence saith the Psalmist, Psal. lxxvii. 10. 'I said, This is my infirmity : but I will remember the years of the right-hand of the Most High.' There we find God's power under
' the metonymy of a right hand, opposed to the infirmity of his servant. My infirm and weak faith (saith Asaph) made me apt to sink under the weight of Heaven's displeasure ; but when I called to mind my sweet experiences of the divine power which had been exerted for my deliverance in former distresses, this revived my spirit, and refreshed me again.
Christ's sitting at the right-hand of God,' implies the following things.
1. A state of rest, Micah iv. 4. ' They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree.' Christ had a troublesome life while in the world; but now that he has finished the work the Father gave him to do, he has for ever sat down at the right hand of God,' Heb. x. 12. and is thereby set beyond the reach of men and devils.
While here, they would give him no rest from his cradle to his grave; but now they may tear his picture, and persecute his members, but they cannot reach his person.
2. Continuance in that state, 2 Kings vii. 3.' Why sit we here until we die ?' said the four leprous men at the gate of Samaria. The days of sorrow that he met with on earth shall never recur; his crown shall flourish on his head, and his kingdom stand firm and be established.
His sitting at God's right hand' denotes,
1. The accomplishment of that work, and the consummation of all those offices, which he was to perform on the earth for the redemption of elect sinners. For till all this was finished, he was not to return to his glory. 'For he that hath entered into his rest, hath ceased from his works, as God did from his,' Heb. iv. 10.
2. The great delight and satisfaction that the Father had in Christ, and in that glorious work which he had finished. When he returned from earth to heaven, the Father welcomed him with the greatest testimony of satisfaction and joy, 'Sit thou on my right hand,' &c. Psal. ex. 1. 3. The great honour and dignity to which he is advanced in hea
While he was here on earth he vailed his divinity with the infirmities of the flesh, and lived in a mean and low condition : but now he is exalted to the highest honour. In this respect he hath bestowed more honour on his own Son as Mediator, than ever he did on any creature : for, as it is said, Heb. i. 13. To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool ?'
4. His being invested with sovereign dominion and supreme authority and power. God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name,' Phil. ii. 9, 10. He hath set him at his own right-hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, &c. 'Thou madest him a little lower than the angels,' i. e. in respect of his state of humiliation on the earth ; 'thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and set him over the works of thy hands, and hast put all things in subjection under his feet, Heb. ii. 7, 8.
It is Christ as Mediator that sits at the Father's right hand. With respect to his divine nature, which in the days of his flesh was as a bottle in the smoke, apparently sullied and vailed, it now breaks forth in all its essential glory and splendour. And with regard to his human nature, which while tabernacling here bore the likeness of sinful flesh, and had nothing more engaging in it than that of other men to outward aspect, it has attained a glory far
superior to all creatures, even the very angels being made subject to the man Christ.
The ends for which our Redeemer sitteth at the right hand of God are these following.
1. That, as a mighty King, he may protect and defend his church and people, against tho rage of all their enemies, both temporal and spiritual, Isa. xxxii. 1, 2; Deut. xxxiii. 26, 27.
2. That he may subdue all the enemies of his kingdom and people, the devil, with all his retinue, the world, the flesh, sin, and hell, Psal. ex. 1. Acts ii. 36. Heb. x. 12, 13. 1 Cor. xv. 25.
3. That with royal munificence he may dispense unto all his faithful subjects all those gifts and graces that may qualify them for the fruition of that glory that is to be revealed, Acts v. 31.
3. That he may act the part of a powerful intercessor for them, Rom. viii. 34.
5. That all his friends and followers may with him be translated into heaven, and advanced unto a glorious state, being made kings and priests unto God, Eph. i. 4, 5, 6. Rev. iii. 21.
Use. Behold hero the great difference between our Redeemer's state while here on earth, and what it is now in heaven.
How wonderfully is tho scene changed! When he was on earth, he lodged in a stable, but now he reigns in a royal palace. Then he had a manger for his cradle, but now he sits in a chair of state. While here he was hated and scorned by men, but now he is adored by angels. Here his name was reproached and reviled, but there he hath a name above every name.
Here he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; but now he is anointed with the oil of gladness, and filled with inexpressible delight and joy. While here he seemed to have no form or comeliness why he should be desired; but now he is manifestly the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person. Hero he lay grovelling upon the ground, sweating drops of clotted blood; but there ho sits upon a royal throne, surrounded with many myriads of holy angels. Here he groaned, but there he triumphs ; here he was crucified, but there he is crowned.
2. Behold how highly our nature is dignified and ennobled, in the person of our Redeemer. It is far exalted above that of the angels; and these glorious spirits bow the knee to him who is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh.
3. This lets us see that the redemption of lost sinners, that was brought about by the death of Christ was very pleasing unto the Father. The great dignity and honour that is now conferred upon him, speaks a fragrancy in his satisfaction to God, as well as a fulness of merit for the sons of men.
4. Then we should draw near to him in all the duties of worship, with the most awful reverence and deepest prostration of soul, such as becomes the glory and dignity of his adorable Majesty. Let us have grace whereby we may serve him acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.
5. Then let this exalted Saviour have your hands and your heart. Will ye deny him a lodging in your souls, to whom tho Father has given to sit on his right hand ? Tho rejecting of Christ in his humble estate, was grievously punished on many individuals, and occasioned tho destruction of the Jewish church and nation. And shall ye escape, if ye reject him now in his exalted and enthroned state? It is better that our hearts be his throne, where he may sway his sceptre in a way of mercy and grace, than that we be made his footstool in wrath.
6. Let this settle and compose the hearts of the Lord's people, with respect to the state of religion, and tho interests of Christ's kingdom among men. Christ is seated on his throne, and will see to his interest in the world. Zion's God and King reigneth, Isa. lii. 7. If Christ be on his throne, all his enemies shall be destroyed. As sure as he reigns King for ever, so sure shall Antichrist be degraded and hurled from his throne, and all the rags he has left behind him in the Protestant churches be burnt up.
IV. The last step of our Lord's exaltation, is his coming to judge the world at the last day. As I discoursed to you of this formerly*, I shall be the briefer now. I shall endeavour a little to consider,
1. The manner and circumstances of Christ's coming to judge the world.
2. The Judge.
First, I am to consider tho manner and circumstances of Christ's coming to judge the world.
1. IIe shall come with observation, in the view of the whole assembled world : for all the kindreds of the earth shall on that day see this mighty Personage with their bodily eyes. None of all the sons and daughters of Adam can possibly avoid this wonderful sight. 'Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him,
* This probably is the discourse on The General Judgment inserted in the Four fold State, as no other Sermon on that subject is to be found among the author's MSS.
and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him,' Rev. i. 7.
2. Though he shall come with observation, or in a visible manner,
3. He will come very seasonably, at the very precise point
4. He will come very terribly. In that day the radiant rays of his majestic glory will break out with such an awful brightness, as will cause convulsions of the most formidable horror in the breasts of the ungodly. See Rev. vi. 14—17.
5. He will come gloriously : for 'then shall they see the Son of man coming with great power and glory,' Mark xiii. 26. To evince this, consider,
(1.) That this coming will be ushered in with that which our Lord himself calls the sign of the Son of man,' Matth. xxiv. 30. What this sign of the Son of man is, interpreters are not agreed. Some take it to be Christ himself, others the burning up of the world, others the sound of the last trumpet, and the Papists the
But I think none of these can be the sign of the Lord Christ coming to judgment. I rather incline to follow the opinion of a judicious divine, who gathers what the sign of the Son of man is from Matth. xxiv. 27. 'For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west ;, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be;' that is, with infinite brightness and splendour will he come at that day. When he appears the second time without sin unto salvation, such rays of radiant brightness will set upon and shine from his body, as will darken all other lights, and awaken the drowsy world to look for his coming. Now, that such a brightness will encompass and shine from our Redeemer's body, we have no reason to doubt, seeing at his transfiguration upon the Mount 'his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was as white as the light,' Matth. xvii. 2. Now, all this beauty and brightness that appeared on our Redeemer's body at his transfiguration, was but a type and figure of that refulgent splendour which will shine from it in that