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pleased In the mean time, though the cure was performed by degrees, it was accomplished in so short a space of time, as to make it evident that it was not produced by any natural efficacy of our Lord's spittle or touch, but merely by the exertion of his miraculous power." The blind man's expression after the first imposition of Christ's hands, may easily be accounted for, on supposition that he was not born blind, but lost his sight by some accident; for, if that was the case, he might have retained the idea both of men and trees in which light, his words, I see men as trees walking, express the indistinctness of his vision very properly.
From Bethsaida Jesus went north, into the territory of Cæsaria Philippi. Here, after having prayed with his disciples, he inquired of them what was the general opinion entertained of his character. And they said, some say thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Thus most of the people took Jesus of Nazareth for a different person from what he was, because he did not appear with that external grandeur with which they supposed the Messiah was to be adorned. Wherefore, that he might know whether his disciples, who had long enjoyed the benefit of his doctrine and miracles, had formed a juster idea of his character, he asked them what they thought of him themselves. Simon, in the name of the rest, replied, that they firmly believed him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, the long expected Messiah, who was a person of infinitely greater dignity than Jeremiah, or Elijah, or John the Baptist, or any other mortal man. The epithet of living is here given to the true God with the greatest propriety, as it distinguishes him from the heathen idols, which were things without life, stocks and stones, the work of men's hands. He accepted the title of Messiah, congratulating Simon on the knowledge which he had of his person and function; a knowledge which had been communicated to him merely by the teaching of God. Moreover, in allusion to his surname of Peter, which signifies a rock, Jesus promised that he should have a principal hand in establishing his kingdom. The Christian church was to be erected on his labours, as on a solid foundation: so that it should never be destroyed while the world lasted. [Mat. xvi. 19.] And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: thou shalt open the gospel dispensation both to Jews and Gentiles, for thou shalt be the first preacher of the gospel to both in point of time. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Whatsoever thou shalt preach as a precept of the gospel, or term of men's salvation, shall be ratified in heaven as such; because thou shalt have the infallible direction of the Spirit of God in this matter.
He then charged his disciples that they should keep his character a profound secret, as he was speedily to suffer death as an impostor, and to rise again on the third day. Perhaps his meaning was, that he did not wish it to be proclaimed that he was the Messiah, lest the multitude, who were inclined to espouse his cause from a mistaken notion of the nature of his kingdom, should rise in arms to deliver him from the power of their rulers. Christ thought fit to foretel his own sufferings plainly, in order to depress the towering imaginations which had, no doubt, arisen in the minds of his apostles, from their misunderstanding the preceding discourses. Though their faith was now so confirmed that they might receive this information without being in danger of forsaking him, Peter, whom he had been so lately honouring with the keys of the kingdom, conld not help being much displeased to hear his Master talk of dying in Jerusalem, immediately after he had been saluted Messiah, and had accepted that sacred title. [Mat. xvi. 22, 23.] Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me for thou
savourest not the things that be of God, but of those that be of men. The appellation, Satan, should here be understood merely, as in a former instance, as denoting an adversary, one who, filled with the ideas of a carnal kingdom, might, in a certain limited sense, be deemed an adversary to the pure and spiritual kingdom of Christ.
Because Peter's indecent behaviour proceeded from the love of the world and its pleasures, Christ thought proper publicly to declare that all his followers must not only deny themselves of every unlawful pleasure, but be contented to suffer many things for his name's sake. But, to encourage them to so hard a warfare, he further assured them, that he that would save his life should lose it; so he that should lose his life by dying for his sake, should find it in the everlasting salvation of his soul. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what, at the last great day, shall he give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, whosoever shall be ashamed to avow himself my follower in the midst of persecution, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works; reward him, not with the honours of a temporal kingdom, great offices, and large possessions, but with the joys of immortality. He shall come in his own glory, the glory peculiar to him as God-man ; probably, the majesty and splendour of his glorified body, a visible representation of which he exhibited in the transfiguration about a week after this discourse was delivered. He shall come, also, in the glory of the Father, augustly arrayed with the inaccessible light wherein God dwells; and which, darting through and enlightening all space with its ineffable brightness, shall make even the sun to disappear. Withal, to render his advent to judge the world the more grand, he will come with his holy angels, attended by the whole host, [Mat. xxv. 31] a vast train ready to execute his commands. In this majesty, the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, [1 Thes. iv. 16.] making heaven, earth, and hell, to resound. The dead of all countries and times hear the tremendous call. Hark! the living, filled with joy, exult at the approach of God; or, seized with inexpressible terror, send up doleful cries, and are all changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Behold! the dead press forth from their graves, following each other in close procession. The earth seems quick, and the sea gives up its dead. Mark the beauty, the boldness, and the gladness, of some springing up to honour but the ghastly countenances, the trembling, and the despair of others, arising to shame and everlasting contempt! See how amazed and terrified they look! with what vehemence they wish the extinction of their being! Fain would they fly, but cannot. Impelled by a force strong as necessity, they hasten to the place of judgment. As they advance, the sight of the tribunal from afar strikes new terror; they come on in the deepest silence, and gather round the throne by thousands of thousands. In the mean time, the angels, having brought up their bands from the uttermost parts of the earth, fly round the numberless multitude, singing melodiously with loud voices, for joy that the day of general retribution is come, when vice shall be thrown down from its high usurpation; virtue exalted from its debasement to its superior station; the intricacies of providence unravelled; the perfections of God vindicated; the church of God, purchased with his blood, cleared of them that do iniquity, and of every thing that offendeth, and established impeccable for ever. [Psalm lxviii. 1.] Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away. As wax melieth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righ
teous be glad, let them rejoice before God, yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. [Rev. xviii. 8. For strong is the Lord God who judgeth. And now the Son of man appears on the throne of his glory, and all nations, princes, warriors, nobles, the rich, the poor, all stript of their train and attendance, and every external distinction, stand naked and equal before him, silently waiting to be sentenced to their unchangeablo state. And every individual is filled with an awful consciousness that he. in particular is the object of the observation of Almighty God, manifest in his sight, and actually under his eye; so that there is not one single person concealed in the immensity of the crowd. The Judge, who can be biassed by no bribes, softened by no subtle insinuations, imposed upon by no feigned excuses, having been himself privy to the most secret actions of cach, needs no evidence, but distinguishes with an unerring certainty. He speaks! Come from among them my people, that ye receive not of their plagues. They separate. They feel their judge within them, and hasten to their proper places: the righteous on one hand of the throne, and the wicked on the other, not so much as one of the wicked daring to join himself with the just. Here the righteous, most beautiful with the brightness of virtue, stand serene in their looks, and full of hope, at the bar of God; a glad company-whilst the wicked, confounded at the remem brance of their lives, and terrified at the thought of what is come, hang down their heads, inwardly cursing the day of their birth, and wishing a thousand and a thousand times that the rocks would fall on them, and the mountains cover them but in vain ; for there is no escaping, nor appealing, from this tribunal. Behold, with mercy shining in his countenance, and mild majesty, the king invites the righteous to take possession of the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. But, with angry frowns, he drives the wicked away into punishment that shall have no end, no refreshment, no alleviation. Everlasting punishment! O the rejoicing! O the lamenting! The triumphant shouting of ascending saints caught up in the clouds to be ever with the Lord! The horror, the despair, the hideous shrieking of the damned, when they see hell gaping, hear the devils roaring, and feel the unspeakable torment of an awakened conscience. Now they bitterly cry for death; but death flies from them. Now they envy the righteous, and gladly would be such; but all too late!Lo! the Son of God bows his head, the signal for his servants, the heavens and the earth, to depart, their work being at an end. See with a terrible thundering noise, the heavens pass away, the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth, and all the works that be therein, are burnt up! The frame of nature dissolves! Earth, seas, skies, all vanish together, making way for the new heaven and the new earth. It appears! The happy land of promise, formed by the hand of God, large, beautiful, and pleasant, a fit habitation for his favourite people, and long expected by them as their country. Here, all the righteous, great and small, are assembled, making one vast blessed society, even the kingdom, and the city of God. Here God manifests himself in a peculiar manner to his servants, and wipes away all tears from off their faces, and adorns them with the beauties of immortality, glorious to behold. Here they drink fulness of joys from the chrystal river proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, and eat of the tree of life. And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. But every one, happy in himself, imparts the blessings to his fellows; for mutual love warms every breast, love, like that which subsists between the Father and the Son; mutual conference on the sublimest subjects, refreshes every spirit with the divine repasts of wisdom; and joys, flowing from the tenderest friendships, fixed on the stable foundation of an immoveable virtue, gladden every heart. All the servants of God serve him in perfect holiness. see his face, feel transports of joy, and, by the reflection of
his glory, shine as the sun in the firmament for ever and ever. And there shall be no night there, and they need no candle, neither the light of the sun; for the Lora God giveth them light, and they reign for ever and ever. Happy day! happy place! happy people! O blessed hope of joining that glorious society! All the servants of God shall serve him, and see his face. Serve God and see his face! what an immensity of felicity is here! Imagination faints with fatigue of stretching itself to comprehend the vast, the unmeasurable, thought.
And he said unto them, there are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. You need not doubt that there shall be a day of judgment; for there are some here present that shall not die, before they see a faint representation of the glory with which I shall come, and an eminent example of my power exercised on the men of the present age. ingly, the disciples saw their Master coming in his kingdom, when they were witnesses of his transfiguration, resurrection, and ascension; had the miraculous gifts of the spirit conferred upon them; and lived to see Jerusalem, with the Jewish state, destroyed, and the gospel propagated through the greatest part of the then known world.
About six days, if we reckon exclusively, and about eight days, if we reckon inclusively, after our Lord had accepted the title of Messiah, happening to be with his disciples and the mnltitude in the country of Cæsaria Philippi, he left them in the plain, and went up into an exceeding high mountain, with Peter, the most zealous, James, who was probably the most active, and John, the most beloved disciple. In this solitude, while Jesus was praying with the three, he was transfigured. His face now became radiant and dazzling; for it shone like the sun in its unclouded and meridian clearness his garment acquired a snowy whiteness, sweetly refulgent, but, in a degree, inferior to the lustre of his countenance. Thus, for a little while, during his state of humiliation, the Son of God permitted the glory of his divinity to break forth and shine through the veil of his human nature, with which it was covered. Moreover, to heighten the grandeur and solemnity of the scene, Moses, the great law-giver of the Jews, and Elijah, who had been a most zealous defender of the law, appeared, dressed in all the beauties of immortality. The disciples were asleep when the transfiguration began, and thus lost the pleasure of hearing a part of the conversation between the blessed Redeemer and these two glorious saints. In general, however, they heard enough to give them to understand that the subject they talked of was the atoning death of Jesus, by which he was about to redeem lost sinners to himself; a subject that had given great offence to the disciples, and, above all, to Peter, a few days before. Probably, the streams of light which issued from the body, and especially from the countenance of Christ, and the voices of Moses and Elias talking with him, made such an impression on the senses of the disciples, as awakened them from their sleep. Opening their eyes, they beheld, with unutterable amazement, their Master in the majesty of his transfigured state, and his illustrious attendants, whom they might know to be Moses and Elias, either by revelation, by what they said, or by the appellations which Jesus gave them when speaking to them. Peter, particularly, being both afraid and glad at the sight, was in the utmost confusion. Nevertheless, the forwardness of his disposition prompted him to say something, and he requested permission to build three tabernacles, one for our Lord, and one for cach of these holy men; for he said it was good to remain there. Perhaps he now thought that the glorious reign of Messiah was at this instant begun, and intended to call up the multitude to behold the glory of his Lord. While he yet spake, a bright cloud over shadowed them, and they feared as they entered into the cloud, their hopes being
blasted by the disappearing of the two messengers from heaven, and behold a voice came out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him. The voice, as Dr. Macknight well remarks, uttering these words just as Moses and Elias disappeared, intimated that men were no longer to hearken unto them, speaking in the law; but, for the future, were to obey Jesus, because Moses and Elias, though both eminent in their stations, were only servants; whereas, this was God's beloved Son. Besides, the thing uttered by the voice, hear ye him, plainly alluding to Deut. xviii. 15, signified, that Jesus was the prophet of whom Moses spake in that passage, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." When the three disciples heard the voice coming from the clonds, loud as thunder, and full of divine majesty, such as mortal ears were unaccustomed to hear, they fell flat to the ground, on their faces, being in a great panic; an effect which visiors of this kind commonly had on the prophets and holy men that were favoured with them. In this condition the disciples continued, till Jesus came to them, raised them up, and dispelled their fears.
Jesus and his disciples having been in the mountain all night, the transfiguration may be supposed to have happened either in the day-time or in the night. That it was night, is probable from the disciples falling asleep while Jesus prayed, a circumstance which could not well happen by day to all three at once, and in the open air. Next morning, as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged the apostles to conceal what they had seen. He had good reasons for this conduct. He knew that the world, and even his own disciples, were not yet capable of comprehending the design of his transfiguration, nor of the appearing of Moses and Elias ; and that, if this transaction had been published before his resurrection, it might have appeared incredible, because hitherto nothing but afflictions and persecutions had attended him. The disciples obeyed the injunction, though they were at a loss to understand what the rising from the dead should mean, and questioned much among themselves respecting this matter. Being also surprised at the sudden disappearance of Elijah, they enquired of their Master why the scribes asserted that Elias must first come. Our Lord did not deny the necessity of Elijah's coming before Messiah, according to Malachi's prediction, but assured his disciples that he was already come, and described the treatment he had met with from the nation in such a manner, as to make them understand that he was speaking of John the Baptist. At the same time, he told them, that though the Baptist's ministry was excellently calculated for producing all the effects which were ascribed to it by the prophets, they needed not be surprized to find that it had not had all the success which might have been expected from it, and that the Baptist had met with much opposition and persecution; for that the person and preaching of the Messiah should meet with the same treatment. By considering attentively these particulars, they understood that he meant John the Baptist.
As Jesus came down to the plain with his disciples, he saw the nine surrounded by a great multitude, and the scribes disputing with them. Probably, the multitude had remained there all night, waiting till Jesus should return. When the people looked on him as he was coming, they were greatly amazed; and, rumming to him, they saluted him with particular reverence. It seems, that as Moses's face shone several hours after he had been with God on the mount, so something of the glory of the transfiguration remaining in our Lord's countenance, and on his raiment, might astonish the multitude, and attract their veneration. When the salutations of the multitude were over, Jesus asked the scribes what was the subject of their debute