Page images

world, we may become, in the temper of our minds, fitted for the society of more perfect beings in heaven, who are employed in searching out thy wisdom and greatness, and in fulfilling thy benevolent purposes, and in grateful celebration of thy praises through endless ages.

Now unto Thee, O Father, who art the only living and true God, be praise, &c.

The Lord bless us. &c.

April 10, 1785.



MATTHEW xvii. 9.

And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man shall be risen from the dead.

THE event to which our Lord here alludes, was what is called his transfiguration, or that sudden glorious change and splendour in which he was beheld by three of his disciples, whom he made choice of to be witnesses of some of the more private and extraordinary transactions of his life, where a greater number of them could not have been properly admitted.

In this extraordinary divine interposition, Moses and Elijah were introduced as conversing with Jesus, expatiating upon the subject of his sufferings and death upon the cross, which he was soon to undergo at Jerusalem; and particularly dwelling on the happy consequences of it in his gospel, by his dying in


attestation of it, being thereby confirmed and preached with effect through the world, and the virtue and everlasting happiness of mankind to be promoted by it: a motive the most animating and joyful to a mind like his, and able, as it was calculated and intended, by the divine assistance, to support him safe through that his most severe approaching trial and conflict.

And the whole of the heavenly vision was closed by a voice from the supreme Father, out of the cloud that overshadowed them, declaring his high approbation of Jesus, and the duty of all men to attend to him: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him."

The words prefixed to my discourse contain the beginning of a conversation held upon that occasion. The whole of it together stands thus, (Matth. xvii. 9.) "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man shall be risen from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias shall truly first come, and restore all things: but I say

say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise also shall the Son of Man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."

It is proposed to consider this short dialogue, and explain some difficulties which are in it, and then endeavour to point out some of that useful instruction with which every thing recorded concerning our Lord, or delivered by him, furnishes us; for none could be at any time near him without enjoying the means of becoming wise and good. And,


It was very natural for the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, to imagine that such a wonderful testimony from heaven as they had just been privy to concerning their Master Jesus, in which no less persons than Moses and Elijah were present, when related to their countrymen, would be likely to make deep impressions on them, and induce them to receive him as their great promised prophet, the Messiah, Christ-the character which he had taken upon him. And it must have appeared very strange

strange to them to be restrained from naming it at present to any one; and it is thus that they express their surprise upon the occasion: "His disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?" 、 q. d. Why should you give us such a prohibition, when our learned ment each, and it is gerally believed, that our famous prophet Elijah will come down from heaven to do honour to the Messiah? And since this very thing has now happened, if we are permitted to publish it, it will be a prevailing argument to bring men to believe in you.

Although we cannot account for all our Lord's conduct at all times, who was in many things under an immediate divine direction, we may perceive a wisdom, in many respects, in the silence which he enjoined his disciples to observe for the present with regard to this heavenly vision.

For as the Jewish nation were most uneasy under the Roman yoke, and had their minds inflamed with the notion of a great temporal prince and deliverer to be raised up for them by Almighty God, had such an immediate declaration from heaven, of Jesus being the Messiah, and so highly favoured of God,


« PreviousContinue »