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duly attended to it) of the possibility of a resurrec
And what is no less important, the manner in which both Moses and Elias appeared on this occasion, afforded the disciples an occular demonstration of a day of retribution, agreeably to what their divine Master had a few days before told them, that he would reward every man according to his works.
For we are informed, that both Moses and Elias appeared also in glory; a glory somewhat similar, we may suppose, though far inferior, to that with which Christ was invested. Like him they were probably clothed in raiments of unusual whiteness and splendor; and the fashion of their countenances might also be changed to something more bright and illustrious. Now this would be a just representation of the glorified state of saints in heaven, of those who had been rewarded according to their works. For we find those holy men, who have passed victoriously through their Christian warfare, described by St. John as clothed in white raiments;* and by St. Matthew, as shining forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.†
The glory of Christ therefore on the mountain, was a symbol of his exaltation to be the judge of the earth; and the glory of Moses and Elias was an emblem of the rewards given to the righteous in heaven.
When all these circumstances are put together, they throw considerable light over the concluding part of Christ's conversation, which has not yet been noticed. Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. This has commonly been supposed to refer to the signal manifestation of Christ's power in the destruction of Jerusalem. But we know of no one of Christ's disciples that survived this event except St. John; and our Saviour here speaks of more than one,
*Rev. iii. 5.
+ Matth. xiii. 43. Matthew xvi. 28.-St. Mark says, "Till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."-St. Luke, "Till they see the kingdom of God."
But besides this, in the 27th verse of this chapter, we are told that the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, to reward every man according to his works.This, undoubtedly, relates to Christ's final advent to judge the world. When, therefore, it immediately fol lows in the very next verse, Verily, I say unto you, that there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom; is it not most natural, is it not almost necessary to understand these similar expressions as relating to the same great event?
But did Christ then mean to say here that some of his disciples should live till the day of judgment? Most assuredly not. He meant only to intimate that a few of them should before their death, be favoured with a representation of the glorious appearance of Christ and his saints on that awful day. And this illustrious scene was actually displayed to three of them, about six days after, in the transfiguration on the mountain. Indeed St. Peter himself, who was present at the transfiguration, plainly alludes to it, in a manner which powerfully confirms this opinion. "We have not," says he, "followed cunning devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." That is, our Lord's coming in his kingdom with power and glory, and majesty, to judge the world, And how does St. Peter here prove that he will so come? Why, by declaring that he and the two other disciples, James and John, were eye-witnesses of his majesty; that is, they actually saw him on the mount, invested with majesty and glory similar to that which he would assume in his kingdom at the last day. "For," continues the apostle, "he received from God the Father, honour 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; and this voice, which came from heaven, we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."*
2 Pet. i. 16, 17, 18.
This is St. Peter's own comment on the transfiguration, in which he expressly compares Christ's glory and majesty on the mount, to that which he will display in his final advent; and considers the former as an emblem, an earnest, and a proof of the latter.
It is then evident, I think, from the foregoing observations, that the scene upon the mountain was a symbolical representation of Christ's coming in glory to judge the world, and of the rewards which shall then be given to the righteous, topics which had been touched upon in Christ's discourse with his disciples six days before; and that one great object of this expressive action, as well as of that conversation, was to reconcile the minds of his disciples to the sufferings which both he and they. were to undergo, by shewing that they were preparatory and subservient to his future glory, and their future
The other great purpose of the action on the mount was, I apprehend, to signify, in a figurative manner, the cessation of the Jewish, and the commencement of the Christian dispensation.
It appears to have been one prevailing prejudice among the disciples, that the whole Mosaical law, the ceremonial as well as the moral, was to continue in full force under the Gospel; and that the authority of Moses and the prophets was not, in any respect, to give way on the establishment of Christianity, but to be placed on an equal footing with that of Christ.
To correct this erroneous opinion, no less than to vanquish their prepossession against the sufferings of Christ, (as already explained) was the scene of the transfiguration presented to the three chosen disciples, Peter, James, and John.
'There are several remarkable circumstances attending that event, which lead us to this conclusion.
Moses 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 familiarly with Jesus, it probably con
firmed them in their opinion, that they were to be con sidered 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 Moses, and one for Elias." The full 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 constant place of your abode, and that we may always continue under the protection and government and -UNITED EMPIRE of our three illustrious lords and masters, whose sovereign laws and commands we are equally bound to obey!"
The answer to this extraordinary proposal was instantly given both by action and by words. 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 giv ing of the law on Mount Sinai. On the mountain where our Saviour was transfigured, a new law was declared to have taken place; and therefore God again appears in a cloud. But there is one remarkable differ ence between these two manifestations of the divine presence. On Mount Sinai the cloud was dark 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 transfiguration, 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.
Exod. xix, 16.
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 economy; but the gracious words which issued from the cloud, most clearly explained the meaning of what was passing before the eyes of the disciples, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: HEAR YE HIM." "This is my Son, not as Moses and all the prophets were, my servants. HIM, and him only, you are now to hear. He is from henceforth to be your lord, your legislator, and your king. The evangelical law being established, the cere monial 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 perfectly harmonizes. Moses and Elias instantly disap pear, 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 further observed, that there was reason to expect, about that time, some such declaration as this respecting the cessation of the Mosaical law. For St. Luke informs 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 those great doctrines of repentance and redemption by the blood of Christ, by which men were restored to aright state of mind, and the favour of God; till he had thus prepared the way for the Messiah, 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 transfiguration took place; and this great revolution, this substitution of a new system for the old one, was made known in that remarkable man