Far Above

From “Discourse 2096,” Horae Homileticae (1819)

The right hand of God is a metaphorical expression for the place of the highest dignity and glory in the heavenly world. There Jesus sits, exalted “far above all” creatures in earth, in hell, or in heaven. The phrase, “principalities and powers,” is applied in Scripture to men, devils, and angels, (Titus 3, Ephesians 3, Ephesians 6). And the apostle evidently intended to comprehend them all, because he specified yet further “every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.”

Now it should seem, that as, on earth, there are different ranks and orders of magistrates, from the king, who is supreme, to those who exercise the most limited jurisdiction, so there is a gradation of beings both in heaven and hell. We read of Michael, the archangel; and of Beelzebub, the prince of the devils; and to them we ascribe a pre-eminence among their fellows.

But, however exalted any creature may be, Jesus Christ is raised “far above” him. The luster of the whole universe, in comparison of his, would be only like that of the twinkling stars before the meridian sun; they may have a splendor in his absence; but before him they are constrained to hide their inglorious heads; they are eclipsed, they vanish at his presence. If he but suffer one ray of his majesty to appear, men fall, as dead, at his feet; devils tremble; and “angels worship him” with profoundest adoration…

In investing his Son with “all power in heaven and in earth,” God had especial respect to the welfare of his Church…The Church is called “his body,” and “his fulness.” The body, we know, consists of many members: and it is the whole aggregate of members that constitutes the body: and the body, joined to the head, forms the complete man. This is the precise idea in the text. Every believer is a member of Christ: the whole collective number of believers form his entire body: and, by their union with him, Christ himself is represented as complete…

The head, however, exercises a control over the whole body. Because it is the residence of the soul, it may be said to actuate all the members: it moves in the limbs, sees in the eyes, hears in the ears, speaks in the tongue, and imparts a vital energy to the whole. Thus does Christ “fill all in all.” There is not a member of his mystical body which does not derive all his strength from him. From him the understanding receives its comprehension; the will, its activity; the affections, their power. It is by him that we live; or rather, as the apostle speaks, “he is our life.” In all persons, there is the same absolute dependence on him.

Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an English cleric, the most prominent evangelical Anglican leader of his time. He served Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for 43 years, converting thousands of students, and inspiring many to ordained ministry, especially in the mission field.  He helped to organize the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. His great work was the Horae Homileticae, a sermonical commentary on the whole Bible. He is commemorated on November 12 on the calendars of several Anglican churches.

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