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Christ; and in their valedictions they desire the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to the churches.
Rev. John FLAVEL.
“ Thou hast ascended on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men ; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” – Psalm lxviii. 18. When the ark had ascended Mount Sion, and was deposited in the place assigned for it, the singers are supposed, by Dr. Chandler, to have proceeded with this part of the Psalm, in which they celebrate the ascension of their God and King, by the symbol of his presence, to the heights of Sion, after having subdued their enemies, and enriched his people with the spoil of the vanquished, and the gifts of the tributary nations ; of which much was probably employed in the service of the tabernacle, and afterwards in building the temple, first designed by David, “ that the LORD God might dwell,” and have a fixed permanent habitation among his people. But the whole transaction, like many others of old, being a figurative one, the apostle (Eph. iv. 8) has applied the words before us to our blessed Saviour, (the true ARK, on which the glory rested,) who personally ascended up to the highest heavens, “ led captivity captive," by triumphing over his conquered enemies, and having received gifts from his heavenly Father as the fruits of his victory, gave them unto men, as was most conducive to the establishment of his church, “ that the Lord God might dwell among them.—Thou hast ascended on high ;” thou, O Christ, who didst descend from the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens to the lower parts of the earth, art again ascended from the lower parts of the earth to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens: “thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also ;” and being thus ascended into thy glory, thou hast received of the Father the promise of the Spirit, with all his gifts and graces, to bestow upon the sons of men, even upon such as heretofore have not only broken thy laws, but appeared in arms against thee; yet of such as these, converted by the power of thy gospel, wilt thou form and establish a church; “ that the LORD God may dwell among them;" that so, of thy faithful people, gathered from all parts of the world, may be built up a living temple, "a habitation of God through the Spirit.” BP. HORNE.
Jews, and Gentiles of various nations, were struck with one general surprise, when they found fishermen, and persons of no learning, declare in every tongue the wonderful works of God and his grace. And while they were busy in their inquiries into the cause of this great event, “ Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice," as their speaker, and beginning with the prophecy of Joel, concerning the pouring out of the Spirit upon all flesh, preaches to them the life, and death, and resurrection of Christ. “ We are witnesses,” says he, “ that God has raised him from the dead ; and being exalted by the right hand of God, he has shed forth these wondrous gifts of the Holy Ghost, which the Father had promised him, and of which your own eyes and ears are present witnesses."
Acts i. 14. 33.
Since the gifts of the Spirit are shed forth in a way of promise and prediction, they more plainly appear to be Divine. It is the promised Spirit which our Saviour gave to men. It can never be said they were casual events, or they happened by chance; they were foretold by the ancient prophets, by John the Baptist, and by our blessed Saviour. They were promised to Christ Jesus by his father, and he promised them to his own disciples, and bid them wait till they received them at Jerusalem. - Luke xxiv. 49.
Is the Spirit sent down to men in this wondrous manner ? Then God has not failed of his promises to the Jews and Gentiles made by his ancient prophets; then the Father hath not failed of his promise to his Son Jesus, nor has the Son of God failed of his promise to his disciples and followers. Are these wondrous gifts of the Spirit sent down to publish and confirm the blessed gospel ? Then surely it demands our firmest faith, since it was propagated at first by such Divine miracles, and has been established by such surprising and glorious gifts. How wisely, therefore, has God ordained these visible and sensible wonders, to prove the exaltation of his Son Jesus! And though the founder of Christianity submitted to death, yet the Christian church was never designed to die, because Jesus lives again in an exalted state, and hath all the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit in his hand, which have been the life and soul of the church.
Thus all-glorious and divine is our salvation, from the original love, power, and promise of God the Father, through the sufferings, the death, and exaltation of Jesus Christ his Son, and by the gifts and graces of the blessed Spirit. Hence arise the talents and furniture of ministers, and hence the faith and hope, the life and holiness, the joy and comfort of Christians !