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saying, Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unte thee." Our Saviour, who saw every thing that passed in his mind, and perceived, probably, that this expostulation took its rise more from disappointed interest and ambition than from a generous concern for his master's cre> dit and honour, gave him an immediate and severe reproof. "Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou art an of fence to me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
He then proceeded to shew, not only that he himself must suffer persecution, but that all those who would at that time come after him, and share with him the arduous and dangerous task of sowing the first seeds of the Gospel," must deny themselves, and take up their cross, and follow him." But then, to support them under those severe injunctions, he cheers them immediately with a brighter scene of things, and with a pros pect of his future glory, and their future recompence. "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Fa ther with his angels, and then shall he reward every man according to his works." And he adds, " Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man com. ing in his kingdom." The meaning of these last words I shall enquire into hereafter. But the evident tendency of the whole passage is to prepare the minds of his disciples for the cruel treatment which both he and they were to undergo, and at the same time to raise their drooping spirits, by setting before their eyes his own exaltation, and their glorious rewards in another life.
This discourse, however, he probably found had not sufficiently subdued their prejudices, and reconciled them to his state of humiliation; and therefore he determined to try a method of impressing them with juster sentiments, which he frequently had recourse to on similar occasions; and that was, representing to them, by a significant action, what he had already explained by words.
Accordingly, within a few days after the foregoing conversation, he taketh with him Peter, James, and
John, and bringeth them up into a high mountain, (probably Mount Tabor) apart. Very fanciful reasons have been assigned by some of the commentators for his taking with him only three of his disciples. But all that it seems necessary to say on this head is, that as the law required no more than two or three witnesses to constitute a regular and judicial proof, our Saviour frequently chose to have only this number of witnesses present at some of the most important and interesting scenes of his life. The three disciples, whom he now selected, were those that generally attended him on such occasions, and who seem to have been distinguished as his most intimate and confidential friends. St. John, we know, was so in an eminent degree. St. James, his brother, would, from that near connection, probably be brought more frequently under his master's notice; and as St. Peter was the very person who had expressed himself with so much indignation on the subject of our Saviour's suffering, it was highly proper and necessary that he should be admit ted to a spectacle, which was purposely calculated to calm those emotions, and remove that disgust which the first mention of them had produced in his mind.
With these companions, then, Jesus ascended the mountain, and was transfigured before them; " and behold there appeared Moses and Elias talking with him." They were not only seen by the disciples, but they were heard also conversing with Jesus. This is a circumstance of great importance, especially when we are told what the subject of their conversation was. St. Luke gives us this useful piece of information; he says, that "they spake of our Lord's decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." The very mention of Christ's sufferings and death by such men as Moses and Elias, without any marks of surprize or dissatisfaction, was of itself sufficient to occasion a great change in the sentiments of the disciples respecting those sufferings, and to soften those prejudices of their's against them, the removal of which seems to have been one of the more immediate objects of the
transfiguration. But if we suppose further (what is far from being improbable) that in the course of the conversation several interesting particulars respecting our Saviour's crucifixion were brought under discussion; if they entered at any length into that important subject, the great work of our redemption; if they touched upon the nature, the causes, and the conse quences of it; the pardon of sin, the restitution to God's favour, the triumph over death, and the gift of eternal life; if they shewed that the sufferings of Christ were prefigured in the law, and foretold by the prophets; it is easy to see, that topics such as these must tend still further to open the eyes, and remove the pre possessions of his disciples; and the more so, because they would seem to arise incidentally in a discourse between other persons casually overheard ; which having no appearance of design or professed opposition in it, would be apt to make a deeper impression on their minds than a direct and open attack upon their prejudices.
But the circumstance which would, probably, be most effectual in correcting the erroneous ideas of his disciples on this head, was the act of the transfiguration itself, the astonishing change it produced in the whole of our Lord's external appearance.
From the expressions made use of by the several evangelists, this change appears to have been a very illustrious one. They inform us, that "as our Saviour prayed, the fashion of his countenance was changed; his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment became exceeding white and glistering; as white as snow, as white as the light, so as no fuller on earth could whiten it." Now Christ having assumed this splendid and glorious appearance, at the very time when Moses and Elias were conversing with him on his sufferings, it was a visible and striking proof to his. disciples, that those sufferings were not, as they imagined, any real discredit and disgrace to him, but were perfectly consistent with the dignity of his character,
and the highest state of glory to which he could be exalted.
But further still; Jesus had (in the conversation mentioned in the preceding chapter) told his disciples, that the Son of man should come in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels, to judge the world. The scene on the mount therefore, which so soon followed that conversation, was probably meant to convey to them some idea and some evidence of his coming in glory at the great day of judgment, of which his transfiguration was, perhaps, as just a picture and exemplification as human sight could bear.
It is, indeed, described in nearly the same terms that St. John in the Revelations applies to the Son of man in his state of glory in heaven. "He was clothed, says he, with a garment down to the foot. His head and his hair were white like wool, white as snow; and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." It is remarkable, that St. Luke calls his appearance, after being transfigured, his glory. St. John, who was likewise present at this appearance, gives it the same name. "We beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of his Father." And St. Peter, who was another wit ness to this transaction on the mount, refers to it by a similar expression. "For he received, says that Apostle, from God the Father, honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."*— There can hardly, therefore remain any doubt, but that the glory which Christ received from the Father on the mountain, was meant to be a representation of his coming in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels, at the end of the world; which is one of the topics touched upon in the preceding chapter.
Another thing there mentioned was our Saviour's resurrection. Of this, indeed, there is no direct symbol in the transfiguration: but it is evidently implied in that transaction; because Jesus is there represented in his glorified, celestial state, which being in the natural
* 2 Pet. i. 17.
order of time subsequent to his resurrection, that event must naturally be supposed to have previously taken place.
But though this great event is only indirectly alluded to here, yet those most important doctrines, which are founded upon it, a general resurrection and a day of retribution, are expressly represented in the transfiguration.
In the sixteenth chapter of St. Matthew, Christ tells his disciples, that when " he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels, he will reward every man according to his works:"* From whence it necessarily follows that every man who is dead shall rise from the grave. And in confirmation of both these truths, there are two just and righteous men, Moses and Elias, who had many years before departed out of the world, brought back to it again, and represented (as we shall see hereafter) in a state of glory. That they actually appeared in their own proper persons there is not the least reason to doubt.. Grotius even goes so far as to affirm, that their bodies were reserved for this very purpose. But there is no necessity and no ground for this imagination. For though, indeed, the sepulchre of Moses was not known, yet his body was actually buried in a valley in the land of Moab, and therefore must have seen corruption; and as the whole transaction was miraculous, it was just as easy to Omnipotence to restore life and form to a body mouldered into dust, as to re-animate a body that was preserved uncorrupted and entire; and, indeed, was a much exacter emblem of our own resurrection. We may, however, readily admit what some learned men have justly observed, that Elias, having been carried up into heaven without undergoing death, he was here a proper representative of those who shall be found alive at the day of judgment, as Moses is of those who had died, and are raised to life again. And his appearance a second time on earth, after he had been so many ages dead and buried, must have been a convincing proof to the disciples (had they
* Ver. 27.