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ing that they were preparatory and subservient to his suture glory, and their suture rewards.
The other great purpofe of the action on the mount was, I apprehend, to signisy, in a sigurative manner", the cejsatlon of the Jewish, and the commencement of the Christian dispenfation.
It appears to have been one prevailing prejudice among the disciples, that the whole Mofaical law, the ceremonial as well as the moral, was to continue in sull force under the Gofpel; and that the authority of Mofes and the prophets was not, in any respect, to give way on the establishment of Christianity, but to be placed on an equal sooting with that of Christ.
To correct this erroneous opinion, no less than to vanquish their prepossession against the sufserings of Christ, (as already explained) was the scene of the transsiguration presented to the three chofen disciples, Peter, James, and John.
There are several remarkable circumstances attending that event, which lead us to this conclusion.
Mofes and Elias must certainly be allowed to be very natural and proper representatives of the law and the prophets.
When the three disciples saw these illustrious persons conversing samiliarly with Jesus, it probably conssirmed them in their opinion, that they were to be considered as of equal dignity and authority with him; and under this impression, Peter immediately addressed himself to Jesus, and said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; and if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Mofes, and one for Elias." The sull meaning of which exclamation was, "What greater happiness, Lord, can we experience than to continue here in the presence of three such great and excellent persons! Here then let us for ever remain! Here let us erect three tents, for thee, for Moses, and Elias, that you may all make this the conftaat place of your abode, and that we may always continue under the protection and government, and Unites Empire of our three illustrious lords and masters, whose sovereign laws and commands we are equally bound to obey 1"
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The answer to this extraordinary propofal was instantly given both by action and by words. "While he yet: spake, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my . beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: Hear Ye Him."
The Cloud is the well-known token of the divine presence under the law: many instances of it occur In the Old Testament, but more particularly at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. On the mountain where our Saviour was transsigured, a new law was declared to have taken place; and therefore God again appears in a cloud. But there is one remarkable difference between these two manisestations of the divine presence. On Mount Sinai the cloud was darl and thick: "and there were thunders and lightnings, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, and all the people that were in the camp trembled*." At the transsiguration, on the contrary, the cloud was bright, the whole scene was luminous and transporting, and nothing was heard but the mild paternal voice of the Almighty expressing his delight in his beloved Son. These striking differences in the two appearances evidently point out the different tempers of the two dispensations, of which the former, from its severity, was more calculated to excite terror; the latter, from its gentleness, to inspire love.
This circumstance alone, therefore, indicated a happy change in the divine œconomy; but the gracious words which issued from the cloud, most clearly explained the meaning of what was passing before the eyes of the disci- . pies, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: Hear Yb Him." "This is my Son, not as Mofes and all the prophets were, my fervant:. Him, and him
* Exod. xlx. \d.
only, you are now to hear. He is srom henceforth to be your lord, your legislator, and your king. The evangelical law being established, the ceremonial law must cease; and Moses and the Prophets must give way to Christ." With this declaration the conclusion of the whole scene on the mountain persectly harmonizes. Mofes and Elias instantly disappear, and "when the disciples lift up their eyes, they see no man save Jesus only." The former objects of their veneration are no more. Christ remains alone their unrivalled and undisputed sovereign.
In support of this interpretation it may be surther observed, that there was reason to expect, about that time, some such declaration as this respecting the cessation of the Mofaical law. For St. Luke insorms us, that the "law and the prophets were until John;" that is, they were to continue in force till John the Baptist had (as our Lord expresses it) restored all things, had preached thofe great doctrines of repentance and redemption by the blood of Christ, by which men were restored to a right state of mind, and the savour of God; till he had thus prepared the way for the Meshah, and publicly announced the kingdom of God; and then they were to be superseded by the Christian dispensation. Accordingly, not long after the death of John, the scene of the transsiguration took place; and this great revolution, this substitution of a new system for the old one, was made known in that remarkable manner to the three disciples. This secondary meaning here assigned to the vision on the mount, will assist us in explaining an injunction of our Lord to his disciples, for which, though other reasons have been assigned, yet they are not, I think, altogether satissactory.
In the 9th verse we are told, that as they came down from the mount, Jesus charged the disciples, saying, "Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen again from the dead."
If the only intent of the transsiguration had been to represent, by an expressive action, our Lord's resurrection and exaltation, and a suture day of retribution, it is not easy to assign a sussicient reason why this injuriction of se
cflecy, till aftCT his resurrection, should have been given 5 because he had already foretold his resurrection to his disciples*, and he also apprized them before his death of his coming in glory to judge the worldf. . It does not therefore appear, how the publication of the vision on tht mount could have been attended with any other consequence, than 'that of confirming what Jesus had already made known.
But if we suppofe that one purpofe of the transsiguration was to typisy the abolition of the ceremonial law, and the establishment of the evangelical, a plaitt reason presents itself for this command of keeping it for some time private; for it was one of those truths which the first converts were not able to bear. Great numbers of them, though they sirmly believed in Christ, yet no less sirmly belived that the Mofaical dispensation was still in sull force. This prejudice, it is well known, continued several yean after our Lord's resurrection. Mention is made "of iev"eral thousand Jews who believed, and yet were all zeal"ous of the law." And it was the suspicion that St. Paul had forsaken, and taught others to forsake Mofcs, which brought his lise into the most imminent danger, and actually occasioned his imprisonment. No wonder then that a transaction which was designed to presigure this very doctrine that St. Paul was charged with, and that was 1b ossensive to the Jewish converts in general, should be thought unsit by our Lord to be publicly divulged till some time, perhaps a considerable time, after his resurrection.
From the whole, then, of the preceding observations, it appears, that the transsiguration of Christ was one of thofe emblematical actions, or sigurative representations, of which so many instances have been pointed out, andat the same time very distinctly explained, and elegantly illustrated, by some of our best divines.
The things represented by this signissicant transaction
1. "t . *Chap. xvi. Si. f Chap, xxv.
First, the suture glory of Christ, a general resurrection, and a suture retribution.
Secondly, the abrogation of the Mofaical, and the establishment of the evangelical dispensation.
And the immediate purpofe of these representations was, as I before observed, to correct two inveterate prejudices which prevailed among the disciples, and the Jewish converts in general.
Of these one was the extreme offence they took at any mention of the death and sufferings of Christ, which they conceived to be utterly inconsistent with his dignity.
The other was their peisiiation that the ceremonial law was not done away by the Gofpel, but that they were to exist together in sull force, and to have an equal obedience paid to them by all the disciples of Christ.
But though the removal of these prejudices was, as I conceive, the primary and immediate design of the transsiguration, yet there are also purpofes of great utility to all Christians in general in every age, which it might be, and probably was intended to answer.
In the sirst place it affords one more additional proof of the divine mission of Christ, and the divine authority of his religion.
It is one of the sew occasions on which God himself was pleased, as it were, perfonally to interpofe, and to make an open declaration from heaven in savour of his Son.— "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him." Two other instances only of this kind occur in the Gofpels; one at our Saviour's baptism, the other on his praying to his Father to save him from the sufferings that awaited him.
Now these signs from heaven may be considered at a distinS speciet of evidence, different both from miracles and prophecies, frequently and earnestly wished for by the