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hearts, even of good men, with some degree of trepidation; the apostles, accordingly, "feared," were filled with holy dread, 66 as they entered into the cloud," which closed around
In these solemn circumstances, and while all was reverential silence, "There came a voice out of the cloud, saying," (and including the other clause given by Matthew, the complete saying was this), "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him." This testimony is the same which was given to Christ at his baptism, with the addition, however, of the command, "Hear him." He is the Son of God, in respect of his divine nature; and he is the Son of God, also, by miraculous conception, and by express designation to the office of Messiah, for which he was qualified by the Spirit: and all this he was declared and proved to be by his resurrection from the dead. He was God's "beloved Son," the Son of his love, his dear Son—dear to him on account of all his divine excellencies, and all his media
torial performances. In him the Father " was well pleased" -well pleased with the Son himself for what he was, and what he had done, and was to do and suffer-and well pleased with his people in him, that is, with believers for his sake. "The Lord is well pleased," saith Isaiah, "for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable." The Father closes this great testimony to his Son in the words, "hear him." As if he had said, "Moses and Elias are to withdraw, and to give place to my beloved Son; but their prophecies of him are to be fulfilled; be not troubled, therefore, at their departure, nor seek to detain them. He will be with you, and hear ye him:—hear him with attention, hear him with faith, hear him with obedience."
The sequel of this amazing account, as gathered from the harmony of the three evangelists, is, that, "when the disciples heard" the voice, "they fell on their faces, and were sore afraid. And Jesus touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid," inspiring them, we may suppose, with strength and courage. "And" "suddenly," "when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone." Moses and Elias had vanished, and the disciples, "lifting up their eyes, and looking round about, saw no man any more, but Jesus only, with themselves." He made no refusal of the offered tents, but the event decided the question. The heavenly visitants are gone, and Christ lays aside his visible glory, and assumes
his wonted appearance of common humanity. they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead"-probably, lest till after that great and leading evidence was given, this account_should appear as an idle dream or an incredible tale.* In obedience to his injunction, the disciples "kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen." After his resurrection, however, they made no secret of this wonderful occurrence, but published it to the world, in their preaching, and recorded it in their writings, for our instruction. And well is this authentic record of it entitled to our serious and admiring consideration. We have here a view of the law and the prophets, and a representation of the apostles, and the Son of God himself, the centre and substance of the whole-a view of the church on earth, and in heaven, under its great and glorious head. This was, indeed, by far the most illustrious company ever seen on earth. To conclude with some additional observations:
Let us, 1. Mark in our Lord's transfiguration, a clear proof of his divine mission. Here we have the heavenly inhabitants, and Jehovah himself, bearing testimony to it; and here, in the midst of his humiliation, at which, if there had been nothing of his glory ever manifested on earth, we might have been in danger of stumbling, he is exhibited in his unveiled dignity, and in the glory which he had with the Father before the world was. Accordingly, one of the witnesses of this event, namely Peter,* afterwards selects this miracle out of many, and thus reasons from it, to prove that the gospel was no dexterously contrived imposture, but true and divine. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, honour and glory, when there came such a voice 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. We have here a beautiful example of serious conversation. "They spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem," of Messiah's atoning death, and all the blessings of his purchase. Alas! that the only subject which was found worthy to engage attention when these * Doddridge.
* 2 Pet. i. 16.
heavenly strangers met the Son of God below, should be the only subject which is excluded from the conversation of multitudes! "They are of the world," said John, one of the witnesses of the transfiguration, "therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." Let us not deceive ourselves; if we know not what it is to speak, and to speak with pleasure, of the atoning death of Christ and the important topics connected with it, the mind that is in us must be very different from that of Moses and Elias and Christ; and were we to leave the world thus, we should be quite unfit for the society of the glorified saints and exalted Redeemer. If we do indeed rest our hope on Christ's decease, and feel, in some degree, its constraining influence, let us here feel rebuked for having so often met, even in Christian society, without speaking of any but worldly topics; and let us be admonished and encouraged more fully to avail ourselves of the edification and comfort, which cannot but flow from the interchange of sentiments on that subject, in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and in which are centered all our hopes for time and for eternity.
In connection with this, we may remark, that, as Jesus spoke of his own decease, and Moses and Elias hesitated not to speak to him of it also; so, it would be well for us to accustom ourselves to think and speak of our own death, and, instead of being offended with others for speaking, to encourage them to speak to us of it; and also, when opporportunity serves, and duty calls, prudently and affectionately to speak to them of theirs. Not that there is any propriety or use, except in occasional instances, of speaking as if we were confident that our own, or our friend's death, was just at hand: but, the knowledge and proper consideration of an approaching change, is a likely means of deeply impressing the mind: and especially, the frequent and serious consideration of death, before there is any appearance of its immediate approach, is one of the most likely means, under God, for leading men to prepare for it, and thus enabling them to meet it with composure and safety, when it shall actually arrive. "O, that we were wise, that we understood this, that we would consider our latter end!"
3. The affectionate, but inconsiderate proposal of Peter to construct tabernacles, and to remain on the mount of transfiguration, should be improved by us. Though it was inconsiderate, it nevertheless discovered much love for
Christ, and for religious privileges: and we may safely say that they who have nothing of this feeling-they who, when favoured with these religious privileges in the observance of which Christ is wont to come unto his people and bless them, wish them soon to be over as a weariness to them, and are not disposed to say, "It is good for us to be here," and would not gladly prolong their stay before God, if circumstances permitted-are not Christ's disciples at all. Something very like this sentiment of Peter, though more enlightened and more considerate, is that of the Psalmist, which, in their most favoured opportunities, believers, in general, find so congenial to their souls: "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." But there ought to be limits to this desire; for it may be carried too far. If in their closet, or their family, or the house of God, believers get a more than ordinarily clear discovery of the spiritual glory of Christ, and are much refreshed, and drawn out in the exercise of religious affections, they may feel a wish to continue in the same way, and in this same devout and abstracted frame, and to spend their life in pious contemplation: but that is to forget their situation here it is to forget that this is a state of pilgrimage, a scene of action and of suffering; and therefore, however desirable it is to keep up a right frame of spirit, they must be ready to move on in the path of duty, and to follow Christ whithersoever they are called. And so, with regard to the state of Christians as to prosperity and adversity, joy and trouble-how varied it is below! Now, on the mount, the eminence of enjoyment; and anon, in the valley of suffering. Let us, then, be thankful for whatever favours our Master may send us but, however happy we may be, let us not imagine that such happiness will always continue; and let us not speak, or think, of making tabernacles. This is not our rest. Here we have no continuing city. Let us seek one to come. If we wish to find a permanent abode of bliss, we must look far higher than to the summit of Tabor, higher than the highest mount of joy on earth, even to the heights of heaven.
4. We may infer, from this account, how glorious a place heaven must be. On the mount of transfiguration, heaven might be said, in some measure, to be brought down to earth; and, from what was then seen, some idea may be entertained
of what heaven itself is. How glorious was that sight! and yet it was only a small specimen of what is within the veil. There his redeemed people see Jesus as he is, and in all the splendour of his exaltation. There, too, they see the Father face to face, and the Holy Ghost, or the seven Spirits which are before the throne. There they see the whole host of angels; and there they see not only Moses and Elias, but the whole of the glorified saints-a great multitude which no man can number. There, there is no drowsiness, no cloud, no fear. There, there is no conversation of any coming sufferings, and death, either of Jesus, or of his people. When they do speak of his decease, they speak of it as long ago accomplished, and with adoring gratitude and love, saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." When they do speak to each other of their own sufferings and death, they speak of them with adoring gratitude, as gone by for ever: they speak of them with tenderness, but without a tear; for God has wiped away all tears from their eyes, and with them, there shall be no more death, neither sorrowing, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. There, they may indeed say, "It is good for us to be here." There, there is no need of any contrivance to render their state permanent. There is no need to make tabernacles, for in their Father's house there are many mansions, and their Saviour has prepared a place for them. May we all be partakers of that glory! But, lest any of us should come short of it, let us, in the
Last place, observe the absolute necessity of paying due attention to the declaration and the command, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." Do we, then, receive him in his true mediatorial character? Is he beloved by us? Are we well pleased with him, satisfied and delighted with his person, character, and work? Are we hearing him? Are we attending to him, so as savingly to understand him, believe him, and obey him? If we do not thus hear him, we shall never enjoy his glorious presence, but we shall perish for ever. Let us mark well the words which were spoken by Moses to the fathers, nearly fifteen hundred years before his appearance on the mount of transfiguration: " A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me: him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.