OTHER LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
Consider first, that as in consequence of the ascension of our Lord we ought to be daily carried as it were upon the wings of love up to him in his heavenly kingdom, so we ought by this frequent ascending thither to be daily more and more enamoured with that kingdom of love; to conceive the highest ideas of that incomprehensible happiness of the soul’s being there eternally united to her God, and absorbed in him, and with the most ardent desires to long daily more and more for this fountain of life. But what then must the sentiments of the soul be, when after she has begun, by the practice of this devotion, to relish something of the sweetness of the good things of her Lord in the land of the living, she finds herself still a prisoner in this foreign land, in this earthly Babylon? O how does she wish to be delivered from this captivity! to see an end of this long pilgrimage! How does she lament her banishment in this vale of tears, at so great a distance from her true country! How does she despise this miserable world, and even loathe its choicest enjoyments! O my soul, that these were your sentiments.
Consider 2ndly, and give ear to the exhortation of the apostle, Coloss. iii. 1, &c., ‘If thou be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; and the things that are above, not the things that are on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then shall you also appear with him in glory.’ How happy are those Christians that enter into these sentiments upon occasion of the ascension of our Lord; who consider Christ as the great object of their love and their true life; and, as he is in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, turn all their intentions and affections towards heaven; who consider this their true life as absent arid as hidden from them here below, and therefore, continually aspire after that happy revolution when they shall cease to die and begin to live. And in the mean time, whilst they remain in this region of death, they seek, as much as they can, to divest themselves of this body of death, by mortifying, as the apostle admonishes, their members that are upon earth, and by crucifying the flesh with its vices and concupiscences.
Consider 3rdly, that as we are informed by church history, our Lord, at his ascension, left the last prints of his feet upon the top of Mount Olivet, in the place from whence he ascended, which no length of time, nor encampments of armies, or other accidents, nor even industry of man, could ever efface or cover over, that we might learn that the true way for all that desire to follow Christ, by ascending after him to heaven, is to have his footsteps always before their eyes, and to walk in them by a diligent imitation of his life and conversation. They that are careful to walk in his footsteps are his disciples indeed; and they that are his disciples indeed, will infallibly, if they persevere, ascend to heaven after him, and be for ever with him.
Conclude to lay up in thy heart all these lessons which Christ desires to teach thee in his ascension and so to adhere to his footsteps, that nothing in life or death may ever separate thee from him.