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THE AGENCY OF JESUS CHRIST SINCE
HEBREWS, Xiii. 8.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, amd for ever.
'HE assertion of the text might be supported by the consideration, that the mission and preaching of Christ have lost nothing of their truth and importance by the lapse of ages, which has taken place since his appearance in the world. If they seem of less magnitude, reality, and concern to us at this present day, than they did to those who lived in the days in which they were carried on: it is only in the same man
ner as a mountain or a tower appears to be less, when seen at a distance. It is a delusion in both cases. In natural objects we have commonly strength enough of judgment to prevent our being imposed upon by these false appearances; and it is not so much a want or defect of, as it is a neglecting to exert and use, our judgment, if we suffer ourselves to be deceived by them in religion. Distance of space in one case, and distance of time in the other, make no difference in the real nature of the object; and it is a great weakness to allow them to make any difference in our estimate and apprehension. The death of Jesus Christ is, in truth, as interesting to us, as it was to those who stood by his cross his resurrection from the grave is a pledge and assurance of our future resurrection, no less than it was of theirs who conversed, who eat and drank with him, after his return to life.
But there is another sense, in which it is still more materially true, that " Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." He is personally living, and
acting in the same manner; has been so all along, and will be so to the end of the world. He is the same in his person, in his power, in his office.
First, I say, that he is the same individual person, and is at this present time existing, living, acting. He is gone up on high. The clouds, at his ascension, received him out of human sight. But whither did he go? to sit for ever at the right hand of God. This is expressly declared concerning him. It is also declared of him, that death hath no more dominion over him; that he is no more to return to corruption. So that, since his ascension, he hath continued in heaven to live and act. His human body, we are likewise given to believe, was changed upon his ascension, that is, was glorified, whereby it became fitted for heaven, and fitted for immortality: no longer liable to decay or age, but thenceforward remaining literally and strictly the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. This change in the human person of Christ is in effect asserted, or rather is referred to, as a thing already known, in that text of Saint
Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, wherein we are assured, that hereafter Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body. Now, the natural body of Christ, before his resurrection at least, was like the natural body of other men; was not a glorious body. At this time therefore, when Saint Paul calls it his glorious body (for it was after his ascension that Saint Paul wrote these words), it must have undergone a great change. In this exalted and glorified state our Lord was seen by Saint Stephen, in the moment of his martyrdom. Being full, you read, of the Holy Ghost, Stephen looked up stedfastly unto heaven, and saw the glory of God*, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. At that seemingly dreadful moment, even when the martyr was surrounded by a band of assassins, with stones ready in their hands to stone him to death, the spectacle, nevertheless, filled his soul with rapture. He cried out in
ΓΙ * The "glory of God," in Scripture, when spoken of as an object of vision, always, I think, means a luminous appearance, bright and refulgent, beyond the splendour of any natural object whatever.
ectasy, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God." The same glorious vision was vouchsafed to Saint Paul, at his conversion; and to Saint John, at the delivery of the Revelations. This change of our Lord's body was a change, we have reason to believe, of nature and substance, so as to be thenceforward incapable of decay or dissolution. It might be suscep
tible of any external form, which the particular purpose of his appearance should require. So when he appeared to Stephen and Paul, or to any of his saints, it was necessary he should assume the form which he had borne in the flesh, that he might be known to them. But it is not necessary to suppose that he was confined to that form. The contrary rather appears in the revelation of Saint John, in which, after once showing himself to the apostle, our Lord was afterwards represented to his eyes under different forms. All, however, that is of importance to us to know, all that belongs to our present subject to observe, is, that Christ's glorified person was incapable of dying any more: that it continues