Life Of Jesus - The Ascension
( Originally Published 1913 )
WE come now to the last event in the history of our Saviour's life on earth. His work is done. His teachings are finished. His sufferings are ended. Nothing remains for him to do but to return to heaven, from whence he came, and take his seat at the right hand of God. And this is the subject we are now to consider-The Ascension of Christ.
And in considering it, the first thing for us to notice is-the time of the Ascension.
And in all the New Testament there is only one place in which anything is said about the time of the ascension. Indeed it is surprising that so little is said about it altogether. Two of the gospels, that of St. Matthew and St. John, have not a word to say on the subject. And the other two do not say much. All that St. Mark says about it is in a single verse. We read thus in Chap. xvi: 19:—" So, then, after that the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." There are two verses in St. Luke in which the ascension is spoken of. In Ch. xxiv: 50, 51, we find the ascension thus de-scribed: "And he led them out as far as to Bethany; and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."
The most particular account of the ascension that we have in the New Testament is given in the "Acts of the Apostles." In the first chapter of this book we are told that the ascension took place "forty days after the resurrection." We are told of the "many infallible proofs" that he had risen, and how he spoke to them "of the things pertaining to the kingdom of heaven." And he "commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem," until they should " be baptized with the Holy Ghost," which was to take place "not many days" after his ascension. "Ye shall receive power," said he, "after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." Then he told them how "they should be witnesses for him, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and unto the utter-most parts of the earth." "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."
And then we read about the two angels who appeared to the disciples and told them that "this same Jesus, which was taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven."
In the third verse of this chapter we have the only information which the whole Bible gives us about the time of the ascension. Here we learn that this great event took place on the fortieth day after his resurrection. We are not told why the ascension was delayed so long after Jesus had risen from the dead. But, no doubt, there were good reasons for it. And it may be that we shall know all about these reasons hereafter, though we do not know them now.
If we begin and count the forty days from Easter Sunday, the fortieth day will always come on the Thursday in the fifth week after Easter. And this day is always kept in the Church of England, in the Protestant Episcopal Church in this country, and in some other churches in memory of the important event we are now considering. It is called Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday; and the portions of Scripture read on that day all have reference to the ascension of our blessed Lord. And this is all that need be said about the time of the ascension.
The place where the ascension occurred is the next thing to notice.
From what we read in the gospel of St. Luke, we might suppose it was from Bethany that Jesus made his ascension. Here it says, "He led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." St. Luke xxiv : 50, 51. But in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, after describing his ascension, we read that the disciples "returned unto Jerusalem from the Mount called Olivet." Acts is 12. But there is no contradiction here; for Bethany, the home of Lazarus and his sisters, was on the Mount of Olives. It was situated just below the top of the Mount, on the other side from Jerusalem. And so we know that it was either from the village of Bethany, or from some spot between that and the summit of the Mount, that Jesus made his ascension. When he was here on earth he often went to the Mount of Olives. It was from this mountain that " Jesus beheld the city and wept over it," when he used that beautiful illustration, "how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" It was on this mountain that he sat with his disciples when he gave that wonderful prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem, and his coming again into our world, of which we read in the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew.
The Mount of Olives was the last spot of this earth on which the feet of the blessed Saviour stood before he went up to heaven. And when he comes again into our world he will return to the place from which he ascended. This we are told by the prophet Zechariah. For it is when he is speaking of the return of Jesus from heaven that he says—"And his feet shall stand at that day on the Mount of Olives." Ch. xiv : 4. This thought very naturally makes Olivet an interesting place to visit.
I remember, when at Jerusalem, a very pleas-ant visit we made to this sacred Mount. It was at the close of a Sunday afternoon: The sun went down as we stood there. And there was something very sweet and solemn in the thought that Jesus, our glorious Lord, had once stood on that Mount, near where we then were. It was from there that his disciples saw him go into heaven. And when he comes back from heaven, his feet will stand again upon the Mount of Olives. And so, when we think of our Saviour going back to heaven, we may always remember that some spot on or near the top of the Mount of Olives was the place of the ascension.
The Manner of the Ascension—is the third thing of which to speak.
It was a visible ascension. There are only two other persons spoken of in the Bible as having gone up from earth to heaven in a bodily form. One of them was "Enoch, the seventh from Adam." His ascension was not visible. No one saw him go. It took place in secret. We are told in one place that "he was not, for God took him." In another place it is said, "he was translated." This is all we know about the translation of Enoch.
The other case mentioned in the Bible is that of the prophet Elijah. His ascension was visible, indeed, but it was only seen by one person, and that was the prophet Elisha. But it was different with the ascension of Christ.
This did not take place in secret, but in public. It was not only visible, but was witnessed by a crowd of people. All the eleven disciples were there to see it. And there can be no doubt that a great many others, besides the apostles, were there too. And they all saw him, as he rose from the midst of them, and went up to heaven. It was a visible ascension.
It was a calm and tranquil ascension. It was not done in a hurry. Solomon tells us, when speaking of God's doings, that his "judgments are not executed speedily." This means they are not done in haste. God never works in a hurry. After he gave to Adam the first promise, of a future deliverer from the effects of sin, he waited more than four thousand years before he sent him into the world. And, after Christ had risen from the dead, he was not in haste to leave the world, and go back to heaven. We might have expected that he would just have shown himself once or twice to his disciples, so as to make them sure of his resurrection, and would have left immediately for heaven. But it was not so. Instead of this he remained here for forty days. He did not spend all this time in the company of his disciples. He only showed himself to them from time to time, and talked with them "of things pertaining to the kingdom of God." And when at last these days were over, and the time came for him to go, still there was no haste about it. He did not go up with a rush, as a rocket goes up. That would not have been like him. But, as he stood on the Mount of Olives talking to his disciples, who were standing round him, he began to rise slowly and silently towards heaven. And as he began, so he went on. Slowly and silently he continued to rise. Upwards he went, higher—and higher,—till at last a cloud received him out of their sight. That cloud became, as it were, the chariot in which he was carried up in triumph to heaven. It was a calm and tranquil ascension.
It was a blessed ascension. You know how it is at the close of a service in church. The minister lifts up his hands to bless the people, or as we say, to pronounce the benediction. And this was what Jesus was doing at the very moment of his ascension. He knew that the time had come for him to go. He knew that he was about to be separated from his disciples, and that they would see him no more in this world. So he lifted up his hands to bless them ; and, while he was in the act of speaking those words of blessing, the ascension took place. As his hands were stretched out to bless his disciples, he rose calmly in the midst of them and went back to heaven, from whence he came.
It was said of him before he came into our world, that—"men should be blessed in him:" Ps. lxxii : 17. He was the promised seed of Abraham, in whom it was declared that "all the nations of the earth should be blessed." Gen. xxii : 18. The blessing of the world was wrapped up in Jesus. When he came into the world, he came to bless it. And when he began his public ministry in the Sermon on the Mount, the first thing of which he had to speak was the blessings he came to bring. We read, "And when he was set, his disciples came to him, and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, &c. Blessed are they that mourn, &c. Blessed are the meek, &c. Blessed are the merciful, &c. Blessed are the pure in heart, &c." He began his work in blessing; he continued it in blessing; and he ended it in blessing. But the work of blessing in which he had been engaged here did not cease when he ascended into heaven. He has been carrying on the work of blessing men ever since he ascended. He went to heaven to procure for his people the best of all possible blessings. He told his disciples that *it was necessary for him to leave them and go to heaven; because if he did not go the Holy Ghost would not come to them; but that when he went to heaven he would send the Spirit to be their helper and comforter. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand the Scriptures and who teaches us how to love and serve God. And whatever helps us to do this is the best thing—the greatest blessing for us. And when we know that Jesus went to heaven to obtain for us the help of God's grace and Spirit, we may well say that the ascension of Christ was a blessed ascension.
The only other thing we have to say about the ascension of Christ is that it was a wonderful ascension. There were two wonderful things connected with it. It was wonderful to think where he went. He did not go simply to join the company of the angels, who have always lived in heaven, and of the good people who went there when they died. No; but he went where no one else had ever gone before, and where no one else could go. When he arrived in heaven, he rose above all the company that was there, and took his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. This was wonderful, indeed. When Jesus was on earth, he was so poor that he "had not where to lay his head." He was despised and persecuted; "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." He was put to death as a criminal, by being crucified between two thieves. But when he ascended into heaven it was to take his place "far above all principalities and powers." And so his ascension was wonderful when we think—where he went.
And it was wonderful, too, when we think how he went there. If he had left his human body behind him, and had ascended to heaven simply in his divine nature, as God, it would not have been so wonderful. But he did not do this. He took his human body with him. The body that was nailed to the cross and laid in the grave, he took with him to heaven. He ascended, indeed, as the Son of God. But that was not all. No, for he ascended as the Son of man, too. It was Jesus Christ who ascended into heaven. But it was our human nature, as well as the divine nature which helped to make up the person of Jesus Christ. And so when he ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, he took our human nature with him. He took a body like yours and mine, up to that high and glorious place. And he is sitting there now, on the throne of God, as our brother. This is the most surprising thing connected with the great event we are now considering. This shows us how wonderful the ascension of Christ was.
And so, in studying this subject, these are the things about it that we have noticed, viz.: the time of the ascension-forty days after the resurrection ; the place of the ascension—the Mount of Olives; the manner of the ascension-visible -calm and tranquil—blessed-and wonderful.
There are several lessons that may be learned from the ascension of our Saviour, but we can only speak of one. This is the lesson of obedience to the command of Christ.
Just before he went up to heaven, Jesus said to his disciples-" Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." St. Mark xvi : 15. This is the last command he gave to his people. He kept it till now because he wished it to be especially remembered. When we lose a father, or mother, or a friend whom we love very much, we listen attentively to the words spoken by that friend as we gather round the dying bed. We may forget some things spoken by him in the days of his health and strength, but those last words that were spoken just before he died, we always remember. They seem very sacred to us, and we pay particular attention to them. And no doubt this was the reason why Jesus kept this command about the missionary work he wishes his people to engage in, till now. He had finished his work for them. He had died for them. He had done all that was necessary for them to be saved, and to be happy with him forever in heaven. He knew how much they ought to love him for all this. And he knew that those who really did love him would wish to show their love by doing what he had told them to do. And so he kept this—the most important of all his commands-to the last. He wished it to be connected with the thought of his leaving the world and going back to heaven. And as they gathered round him, to see him and hear him for the last time on earth, he spoke these words : —" Go, ye, into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." He did not speak them for the apostles or the early Christians only. No; but he spoke them for you, and for me, and for all his people, till the end of time. He intended his church to be a missionary church. He intended that all the members of that church should feel an interest in the missionary work, and that they should do all they can to help it on. This command is very broad. It takes in "all the world," and "every creature." We have no right to make the field for this work narrower than Jesus made it. And, until the gospel has been preached in "all the world," and until "every creature" has heard it, this command of Christ is binding upon all his loving people. If we do not have the missionary spirit which these words require us to have, that is, if we are not trying all we can to bring "every creature," in "all the world," to be the friend and servant of Jesus and to be saved by him, then, it is clear, either that we are not loving Jesus as we ought to love him; or else, we are not showing our love for him in the way in which he wishes us to show it. He says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." And this is his last and most solemn command for us to remember, and keep.
When he says-" Go ye into all the world and preach," he does not mean that all his people must leave their homes and go out as ordained ministers. What he means is that whether we go out as missionaries, or not, we must have the missionary spirit, and must do all we can to help the missionaries in their work. We must try to get those around us to know, and love, and serve Jesus. And the important question for us all to consider here is —how can we do this? In answering this question, let me point out four ways in which this may be done.
We can be missionaries, and help to preach the gospel, by our example.
A little boy named Ernest had begun to love the Lord Jesus Christ and to be a Christian. One day he said to his aunt, "Now I want to grow up a big man, and then I will be a minis-ter and preach to lots of people about Jesus."
His aunt told him that he need not wait till he was a man before he began to preach. "Try now, every day, to learn your lessons well," said his aunt; "to be kind, and gentle to all, and try by God's help to overcome your bad temper, and so, by your example you may be preaching Jesus every day."
"The Children's Service." A little girl went to a Children's service one Sunday afternoon. On going home she told her mother about it. "What led you to go, Mary?" asked the mother.
"I went, mamma," she said, "because I was invited to come by a kind boy that I met in the street yesterday. I saw him stop and stroke a donkey that was frightened by a cruel boy. Then he kindly picked up my ball that was rolling away and returned it to me. As he did this he handed me a paper about the children's service, and invited me to come. I knew he was a good boy because he was so kind and had such a happy face. He said he was sure I would like the services; and I did like them. And I mean to go every time."
"A Young Hero." Thirty years ago a boy had given his heart to the Saviour. He had been confirmed and joined the church. The next day he went to school. Some of the wild boys of the school heard that he had joined the church, and they made up their minds to have some fun with him about it. At recess time they formed a ring about him, and cried out:
"Oh! here is the good boy, Charley! He is going to be a Christian!"
And what did Charley do? Did he feel ashamed and try to steal away? Did he get angry, and hit, or kick, or speak cross to them ? No. But he calmly looked the rude boys in the face, and said, in a manly way : "Yes, boys, I am trying to be a Christian. And isn't that right?"
The boys' consciences told them he was right. They felt ashamed. The ring was broken up at once, and Charley had no more trouble.
He was preaching by his example.
"A Beautiful Illustration." Mary Duncan was a little girl, only four years old, who was trying to be a Christian. This incident shows us that even at that early age she was beginning to preach, and do good by her example.
One day she was playing with her little brother. In a fit of anger he struck her in the face. But instead of screaming out, or striking him back, she quietly turned to him the other cheek; and said, "There Corie, now strike that ! " The uplifted hand was dropped. The tears came into her brother's eyes. He kissed her, and said—" Forgive me, sister, and I'll never strike you again."
When Mary was asked what led her to do so, her reply was that she had heard her papa read out of the Bible, at prayers that morning, what Jesus had said about it.
And so if we try to be like Jesus, we may be helping to keep his last command, and to preach the gospel—by our example.
Another way in which we may do this is—by our efforts. This means by what we say and do to show that we love him, and to try to bring others to do so too. We find many illustrations of the way in which this may be done.
"Preaching in the Hayfield." A good, earnest minister of the gospel was riding one day past a hayfield. A sudden shower was coming up. He saw a farmer, who never went to church, sending off in haste for a horse to draw his hay in before the rain came. The minister stopped and offered his horse to do the work. It was declined; but the minister insisted, and pulling off his coat, unhitched his horse and went to work helping the farmer to load the hay. They got in several loads, and when the last load was in the barn, and the rain came pouring down, the farmer drew out his pocket book, and said :
"How much do I owe you, sir, for your help ?
"Oh, nothing," said he, "nothing at all."
But the farmer insisted on paying him for his work.
"Well, my friend," said the minister, "did you ever hear an Irishman preach?"
" No," said the farmer.
"Well, you come next Sunday, and hear me preach, and we'll call it even.
The farmer agreed to do it, and for the first time in many years was present in the house of prayer. He found out that the man who could load the hay could preach the gospel too. He believed it. He obeyed it. That hour's work, helping him to save his hay from the rain, was the means of leading him to Jesus, and of saving his soul.
"The Lost Diamond." An elegantly dressed lady, as she stepped one day from her carriage, in the city of Washington, missed her valuable diamond ring. It had slipped from. her finger in some way, as she left the carriage, and had fallen into the gutter, where it was speedily buried in the filth that flowed toward the sewer. She looked with dismay on that muddy stream, and offered a policeman five dollars to put his hand into the gutter and find the ring. He hesitated awhile, but finally agreed, and reached down into the filth and spent some time in groping about the gutter But he failed to find the lost jewel. At length he gave up the search and told the lady that it had probably been washed along, and gone down the sewer. She paid him the five dollars, and he went away. But the lady stood there still, looking sadly down at the place where her lost gem had disappeared. She could not bear to give it up. She lingered and hesitated; and finally, taking off her glove, and pushing back her silks and ruffles and laces, she bared her arm for the work, put her fair hand down into the reeking filth, and after searching patiently in every direction, she found the precious jewel, and carried it away in triumph.
Now there are lost souls all about us, souls for whom Christ died, ten thousand times more precious than that lady's gem. They are lost in the mire of filth and sin. But they may be found and brought to Christ, by such earnest, persevering efforts as she made for that lost jewel. And if we put forth such loving, personal efforts for them, they may be saved. And* those who make such efforts are obeying the Saviour's command to preach the gospel to every creature.
"It's All I Can Do." Bessie King was a bright child about fourteen years old. She was a serious, thoughtful girl, who wanted to make herself useful. One summer afternoon she went into her father's garden and gathered a bunch of flowers. While doing so, she wondered if she could not make some one happy by the gift of these flowers. All at once she thought of her young friend, Nellie Vance. Nellie was sick with consumption. She had been confined to her room for months, and was not expected to live very long. Her mother was a poor widow, and unable to do much for her sick child. But Nellie was trying to be a Christian, and the thought of the loving Saviour made her cheerful and happy.
Bessie was very fond of Nellie and loved to visit her whenever she could. So she gathered some of the loveliest flowers in the garden and hastened with them to her friend Nellie's humble home. As she entered her chamber, she said—" Nellie, dear, I've come to bring you a bit of my summer," and she laid the flowers down by Nellie, who was lying on a couch near the window. Nellie's delight at seeing the flowers was an abundant reward to Bessie for bringing them. It was touching to see the sick child as she lay there, with the bright flowers around her. She handled them so tenderly, one by one, almost forgetting, in the pleasure they gave her, the weary, aching pain, she was always feeling.
"I am so glad you came this afternoon, Bessie dear," said Nellie, when the flowers were arranged. "I have something so happy to tell you." Bessie looked at her with surprise, wondering what happiness poor suffering Nellie could have left to her.
"I have been thinking for a long time," said Nellie, "how little I have done for the Lord Jesus. I have been shut out from people so long, that I'm afraid no one knows I love him; and I can't bear to go away from earth without a word out loud for him. So Bessie, I am going to be confirmed. That will be standing up for Jesus, and it's all I can do."
"But, Nellie dear, how can you be confirmed ? You hav'n't been out of your room for months, and church is more than two miles away."
"I can do it for Jesus," she said firmly. "Mr. Gray has promised to take me in his carriage, and to carry me up in the church."
Bessie could say no more. Her heart was full, and she threw her arms round Nellie's neck and wept.
"I want you to come with me, Bessie dear," said Nellie. But Bessie could not speak. So Nellie went on, and said: " You have your whole life to live for him, so you ought to begin right off. But mine is so nearly ended, that I must come now, or I never can come. It's all I can do. But Bessie I want you to come with me."
And they did both come. Bessie held back at first, afraid of herself, but Nellie talked so sweetly to her that she had to yield. "When Jesus called the little child to him, Bessie," said her friend, "don't you think he would have felt hurt if he had held back, and refused to come to him? Suppose he had said he wasn't good enough, or old enough ! Jesus wanted him, just as he was. He had plenty of grown up people. He wanted a little child then, and he wants us now."
It was a touching sight when the sick child was carried up the aisle, to join her young companions at the chancel; and when the bishop laid his hands on her head, and his voice trembled there was not a dry eye in the church.
Not long after, Nellie was carried again into the church. Yet this time it was not Nellie herself, but only the poor worn body that had suffered so long, and was now at rest Her sufferings were now over, and her work was done. Her spirit was with her Saviour she had loved, to be forever happy in his presence.
Nellie was faithfully carrying out the last command of Jesus, when she tried so lovingly to get her friend Bessie to stand with her and confess him before men. By our efforts to bring those around us to Jesus, we may help to carry out that last command of his.
We can do this also-by our gifts. There is no better use to make of our money than to give it to help in sending the gospel of Jesus to those who do not know him. And the smallest sums are often very useful when given for this purpose. Here is a story of a poor little orphan girl who had earned six cents by running errands, and of the great good that was done by her gift. Her name was Dixey, and we may call the story :
"Dixey's Six Cents." One day, a pale-faced little girl walked hurriedly into a book store in Boston, and said to the man at the counter: "Please sir, I want a book that's got, `Suffer little children to come unto me,' in it; and how much is it sir? and I'm in a great hurry."
The bookseller wiped his spectacles, and looking down at the poor child, he took her thin little hand in his, and said : "What do you want the book for my child? and why are you in such a hurry ? "
"Well, sir, you see, I went to Sunday-school, last Sunday, when Mrs. West, the woman who takes care of me, was away; and the teacher read about a Good Shepherd, who loves little children, and who said these words. And the teacher told us about a beautiful place where he takes care of his children and makes them all happy, and I want to go there.
"I'm so tired of being where there's nobody to care for a girl like me, only Mrs. West who says I'd better be dead than alive."
"But why are you in such a hurry, my child? "
"My cough's getting so bad now, sir, and I want to know about him before I die; it would be so strange to see him and not know him. Besides, if Mrs. West knew I was here she'd take away the six cents I've saved from running errands, to buy the book with, so I'm in a hurry to get served."
The bookseller wiped his spectacles again, and taking a book from the shelf, he said, "I'll find the words you want, my child; listen while I read them." Then he turned to St. Luke xviii : 16, and read to her the sweet words of the loving Saviour. After reading them he told her about the Good Shepherd; how he came down from heaven to seek and save the lost sheep; how he suffered and died for us that we might live; and about the bright and beautiful home in heaven, which he has prepared for all who love and serve him.
"Oh, how sweet that is ! " said the earnest and almost breathless little listener. "He says
`Come.' I'll go to him. How long do you think it'll be sir, before I see him? "
"Not long, I think, said the bookseller, turning away his head to hide the tears that were running down his cheeks. " Now you can keep the six cents and come here every day, and I will read to you some more out of this Book."
The little girl thanked him and hurried away. The next day, and the next, and many days passed away, but the poor child never came to hear about Jesus again. Some time after this a rough-looking woman came into the bookstore, and said in a loud voice, "Dixey's dead! She died rambling about some Good Shepherd, and she said you were to have these six cents for the mission-box at school. I don't like to keep dead people's money, so here it is," and throwing the six cents down on the counter, she hurried out of the store.
The six cents were put into the missionary box on the next Sunday, and when the story of Dixey was told it touched so many hearts and led so many to follow her example with their pennies that by the end of the year "Dixey's cents," as they were called, had brought in money enough to send out a missionary to China, to help in finding out the lost sheep and bringing them to Jesus. And if little Dixey, in her feebleness and poverty, could help to carry out our Saviour's last command, then we may all do so.
But there are other things than money that may be given to the work of saving lost souls. We see this illustrated in the following story. It may be called :
"The Rescue." "O my child, my child ! " cried an almost heart-broken mother, as she met a party of gentlemen, among the hills of Scotland.
" What's the matter? " they asked.
"A few hours ago I left the house and my baby-boy in charge of his sister. Being a fine day, he was lying in the cradle, outside the cottage-door, prattling away in the sunshine. After awhile, baby fell asleep, and my little girl being hungry, went in-doors to get some food. While she was lingering there, I returned, but only in time to see an eagle bearing away my child in his talons. O sirs ! pity me, help me, recover my darling child."
The mother's loving eye had watched the flight of the eagle; and with these gentlemen she went to the edge of the cliff, and looking over the precipice they could see, far down its steep sides, the nest of the eagles, to which the child had been carried. The distress of the mother touched the heart of one of the gentle-man who was a Scotch nobleman. He resolved, by God's help, to try and snatch the child from the terrible death that awaited it.
Ropes were procured, and at his own request, the nobleman was lowered down over the rugged cliff. The two eagles fluttered round, as if daring the intruder to approach their nest; but a brave heart was beating beneath that Scotch plaid. Fearlessly the heroic Scotchman approached the nest. He took the child from among the young eagles. He bound it to his bosom, and gave the signal to be pulled up. Gently, but steadily, he was raised in safety to the top of the cliff ; and with a glad heart he gave back the recovered child to the arms of its grateful and rejoicing mother.
This story illustrates what Jesus has done for us; but, at the same time it shows what we should do for those whose souls have been carried away by Satan the great enemy, and who are in danger of perishing forever. If we feel for them, as this good nobleman felt for that lost child, it will lead us to give, not our money only, but our sympathy, and everything in our power, to bring them to Jesus, that they may be saved through him forever. And so we see how by our gifts, we may help to carry out the great command which Jesus left for his people, just before his ascension into heaven.
And then, there is one other way in which we may help to do this, and that is by-our prayers.
There is a wonderful power in prayer. It is a power which all may use, and which will reach all around the world. We see this strikingly illustrated in the case of the Syro-Phoenician woman mentioned in St. Matt. xv: 20-28. Her prayers caused the casting out of the devil from her daughter. When Jesus was on earth he said to his disciples—"All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." St. Matt. xxi : 22. This is God's promise to you and to me and to all his people. And so when we pray for ministers and missionaries; when we pray for the conversion of the heathen, and for others who do not not love and serve God, we are helping on the good work which Jesus left for his people to do when he said—" Go ye into all the world and preach the. gospel to every creature." It would be easy enough to fill a volume with incidents which illustrate the power of prayer. But we have only room for a single illustration.
"Saved by Prayer." Some years ago, a boy left his home in Indiana for Chicago. He was not there long before he fell into bad company, and was led astray. A friend of his father's, who lived in the same town, happening to visit Chicago, saw that boy on the street one night drunk.
On returning home, he thought at first that he would not say anything to the father about what he had seen; but afterwards he felt that it was his duty to tell him. So meeting him one day in the crowded street of their little town, he took him aside and told him what he had seen in Chicago. It was a terrible blow to him.
On returning home that night, before going to bed, he told his wife what he had heard. They were both so much distressed that they could not sleep. They spent the greater part of the night in earnest prayer for their poor boy. Before morning the mother said, "I don't know how it is, but God has given me faith to believe that our son will be saved and not be allowed to fill a drunkard's grave."
Not long after this, that boy left Chicago. He could not tell why, but an unseen power seemed to lead him to his mother's home. On entering the house the first thing he said was : "Mother I have come home to ask you to pray for me." She prayed with him, and for him, and he soon became a sincere and earnest Christian. Here we see the power of prayer. Let us all use this power, and we shall be helping on the preaching of the gospel in all the world, and to every creature.
And so, when we think of the ascension of Christ, let us always remember the great work that Jesus commanded his people to do; and let us try to help on that work in the four ways of which we have spoken,-by our examples-by our efforts—by our gifts—and by our prayers.
The Collect for Ascension Day is a very suit-able one with which to close this subject:
"Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to have .ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth, with thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen."