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Thou hast led Captivity Captive. These Captives! were the Saints, whose Bodies Christ railed with his owa from the Grave, where they had been kept in manner of Captives and Prisoners of Hope, when their Souls*, in the mean Time were in Abraham's Bosom, and * Place of Refreshment, waiting patiently, for this happy Day and Deliverance.
These all died in the Faith, not having received the Promises, but having seen them afar off, and were perfwaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were Strangers and Pilgrims on the fearth.
The Way unto the Holy of Holies was not yet made manisest, until by the Blood of Jesus Christ we had . .2 Liberty to. enter in by a new and living Way, wbicJk Heb. he hath consecrated for us'through the Vail, that is ta 10. 19.fay, his Flesh, which like a Vail covered in some Mea* sure his Divinity, and was taken up into Heaven, as, an. Earnest of our Ascension, who are Heirs and Co-heira with him in Glory. .
As Christ was the First-fruits from the deadj so he Was the iirst that entrcd into the celestial Paradise, and Acts 2. opened the Gates of Heaven to all Belie vejs, admitting them into a more immediate and intire^Possession of the Divine Presence; as it is written, No Man hath ascended, John up into Heaven, but he that came down from Heaven, eves* 3. i|» ttk Son of Man which is in Heaven.
The royal Prophet foreseeing this, spake of Christ's Ascension into Heaven by Way of Apostrophe and Acclamation unto the Angels, these Guards and Attendants of the heavenly Mansions. .' 'J0 '• Lift up your Heads, 0 ye Gates, and be ye lifted upj Pfal. ye everlasting Doors, and tbji Kjngof Glory shall c&rne 24. 7. in. . • m' Who Is this Kjng of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, he ttffa J\ing of Glory. Selah. .~
v '.. ^But But tfa the Prey be token from (he Mighty,. or the lawful K 4^. Captive delivered t24.
Yea, for thus faith the Lord, £*f ?» Captives of the Mighty shall he taken away, *»d the Prey of the Terrible staff. he. delivered.L
For, I will Contend with them that Contend with thee, and will save thy Children.
O Blessed Conqueror J Happy Captives, and
Triumphant Captivity, s. iitfrereby thou hast spoiled principalities, and Powers, and released these Prisoners pf Hope* from the Bondage of the Grave, and their bog Expectations, into persect Happiness., and endless Joys. • . • . .. A.. 1" .'. '• , r •
'Thou hast received Gifts for Men, even the Gists of the 5; .r; Holy Ghost, which he plentifully dispersed on the Day ofPentecofl ; giving some Apostles, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors |nd Teachers, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the Work of the Ministry, for the edifying of theBody of Christ,his itfystical Body the Church,till we all come in the Unity of the Faith and Knowledge of the Son of God, unto a .persect Man, unto the Measure of the Stature of the Fulness of Christ. .'•''
However, Our. Blessed Saviour did Purchase4 the Grant of these Gifts, from the first Instant of his Incarnation, until his bloody Passion on the Croft, which was'she meritorious and procuring Cause of all Goodr ness to his" Church in former Ages, as well as afterwards ; yet the solemn Publication, and Effusion of these Gifts was not until his Ascension into Heaven; therefore said he unto his Disciples, It is expedient for you, that I go away ; for if I go not away, the Comforter Joh.16. will not come unto you y but if I depart, I will fend him ly. untjt&j/ou.'
Tnou hast received Gifts for Men, not for the Fallen rigels, who through inordinate Love and Admiration
oftheir own Excellencies,' wrtere-With tne"y were treat-
, And.the Tour and Twenty^ Elders. which fat before God^ W. their Seats, felt upon theirfacts, andWbrftipped God9 faying, Wec give .thee Thanks 0 Lord (}od Almighty, , • which arty and was,1 and art to come, becauje thou has; ta, ken to thee thy Great Powery and hast Reigned. '., •
J' Thy Throne 0 God is for ever and everf the Scepter of ... :%hy K/ngdorn k a right Scejttirs. ''\.\ ",'.,'.'. '•' u'' Thou loves Righteousness, an^d hWest'Wickedness, therefore God, even thy 'God hltth Anointed thee with the Oyi of GUdnefs above.thy Fellows.
All thy Garments smell of Myrrh, and Aloes, and Casfta,outofihe ivoryPaiaces whereby they have made thee glad. . For this End,; our blessed Lord Ascended on higlr, led Captivity Captive,; and received Gifts for Men, yea .for the Rebellious also, that the Lord God'might dwell Rev. 2. among them, as it is written, Beho'td the Tabernacle of j. 3 God is with Men, and he 'will'dwell with them, and they pall be his People., and God'himself shall be withthem,and be their God.
O;how great is this Promise, and' this Privilege, that God will be our, God, even .our.own God, then all will be ours 5 his Wisdom to Teach us, and his Goodness to Pity us,. and'his.Power to Desend. us, and all Things will work together for our Good If God "be with us, who can be against us, for as to pre^ vail over vi: . As the King of IfrathfoiA to^ithe King of jijjjrid, I am thine, and all that 1 have is thine., Blessed is the Nation whdfe God is the Lord, and the People whom he hath chosen for his Inheritance. '' VI:... . .'v »'
After thV manner our blessed Lord Ascended on' high, with .a Glorious.Train of Saints and; Angels, in publick View^ arid before many Witnesses, > to whom he she wed himself. alive, after hisPassion,. by many in- Act fallible Proofs,being seen of them, .Fourty Days, \nd.> speaking of theHhingipcrtainin^ to theKingdom of God.
When' he had led forth.his Disciples'as/far as B(fth*wy,I to draw their Afsections after him, and lifted up his' Hands and blessed them, when a bright shining Cloud;,' (like that on .Mount-Tabor) which wasa Sign Of'the Divine Presence, and. Glory, received him out of their i Sight, which cannot but greatly strengthen our Faith, and' cherish oar Hopes, and fill our Hearts with un-" speakable Joy aftid Comfort, when we consider the excellentGlory,to which our blessedLord is nowExalte'd,. and the great Blessings.which we have by the fame.' . Now our blessed Lord, who is Ascended into Heaven, and fitteth on the right Hand of God, is invested witb.all Power and Authority, Angels and Arch-Ange!s being made Subject unto him; he hath on his Vesture, and on his Thigh, a' Name written, of Kjngs, And LORD of Lords, him hath God Exalted .. V on his right Hand, to be a Prince, and a Saviour, forto give Repentance to Israel, and Forgiveness of Sins, so that we may boldly. fay,T#i? Lord is my Helper,md I will not fear what Man can do unto me." And again, The right Hand of the Lord is Exalted, the right Hand of the Lord dofb' Valiantly; / shall not die, but live and declare the Works of the Lord.
• • i. Now
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Now our blessed Lord is Ascended into Heave*, theffc to appear in the Presence of God for us; not in a low supplicating Manner, as in the Days of his Flesh on Earth, when he sell on his Face, and prostrate himfelf on the Ground, offering up Prayers and Supplkati• ons, with strong Crying and Tears for himself and us, when he was to suffer for our Sins y but now bting exalted on tjie right Hand of Majesty, and highly advanced in Grace and Favour, he is 'able to fave them to the uttermost that come to God by him, fcing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them.' . In this respect, even after the Power of an endless. life, Christ is a Priest for ever, presenting his holy Humanity, his persect Obedience and chearful Sufserings in* our Behalf, and his continual Representation, ('shewing his deep and wide Wounds which he received for our fakesj is a continual Intercession for us.
For Christ is not entred into the Holy Places made> with Hands, which are Figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the Presence of God^ for us, with all our Names, and Necessities Ingraven up'on his Heart, and upon the Palms of hia. Hands, whereof Aaron was a Type, when he entred into the Holy of Holies, bearing the Names of the Twelve. Tribes of the Children of. 2/r4e/,Engraven. upon Twelve*, precious Stones, and set in Gold, in the Breast-plate of Judgment, upon his Heart, for a. Memorial before the Matth. Lord continually. Behold, faith the Lord, I have G^f2o£ en thee upon the PaLms of my Hands,thy Walls are continuW ally before me. When our blessed Saviour faid to the pother of Zjbedee's Children, That to set the one on;his right Hand and the other on his left, in the Kjngd'om o£ Glory, was not his to give it; because he was yet in theState of hisHumiliation,whenheappeared in theForm ©f i."Servant, before he had payed the Price of our Redemption,.