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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 sufferings, it was highly proper and necessary, that he should be admitted 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 surprise 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 theirs against them, the removal of which seems to have been one of the more immediate objects of the transfiguration. But if we suppose farther (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 cause, and the consequences of it; the pardon of sin, the restitution to God's favour, the triumph over death, and the gift of eternal life; if they showed, 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 farther to open the eyes and remove the prepossessions 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 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 farther 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 Revelation 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 the Father." And St. Peter, who was another witness to this transaction on the Mount, refers to it by a similar expression. "For he received," says that apos

tle, "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." 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 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 workst:" 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 reanimate a body that was preserved uncorrupted and entire; and, indeed, was a much exacter emblem of our own resur* 2 Pet. i, 17.

+ Ver. 27.

rection. 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 duly attended to it) of the possibility of a resurrection.

And what is no less important, the manner in which both Moses and Elias appeared ont his occasion, afforded the disciples an ocular 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 as 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 splendour; 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 raiment *;" and by St. Matthew, as "shining forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Fathert."


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 • Rev. iii, 5. + Matt. xiii, 43.

t 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."

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. But besides this, in the twentyseventh 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 follows 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 to 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 cunningly 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*.


This is St. Peter's own comment on the transfigura

2 Pet. i, 16, 17, 18.

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