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Evangelists, becomes impenetrably obscure; the expositor finds himself perpetually embarrassed, unable to reconcile one text of Scripture with another, and driven to expedients which render the whole written word a source of doubt and darkness, rather than of light and information.
3. The third point suggested in the words of the text is the manifestation of the divine glory by this union of God and man in the person of our blessed Saviour: “ We beheld “ His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten “ of the FATHER."
The glory of the Son of God, in his twofold character, is inseparable from the glory of THE FATHER. It was manifested in his birth, his ministry, his doctrine, his life and conversation, his miracles, his fulfilment of prophecy, his death, his resurrection, his ascension. These bore testimony that “God
was in him of a truth.” St. John, St. Peter, and St. James, were witnesses also to another extraordinary instance of his glory, his Transfiguration, when “there came such a voice to “ him from the excellent glory, This is my “ beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased o.",
Under the Jewish dispensation there had been sundry manifestations of the Divine
0 2 Peter i. 17.
glory, awfully majestic, and signally displaying the agency of an almighty, though invisible hand. Yet many of these derived their chief importance from their connection with that ulterior purpose, the coming of the Messiah. To this they were preparatory; and they redounded to the glory of God the Father, as bearing reference to the great work of our redemption, in which the Divine power, and wisdom, and goodness, most transcendently shone forth. This is strikingly illustrated by the prophet Haggai, when encouraging the Jewish people in the work of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem, he adverts to the consequences of the Messiah's appearance: “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts,
yet once it is a little while, and I will shake 6 the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and “ the dry land; and I will shake all nations, 66 and the Desire of all nations shall come, “ and I will fill this house with glory, saith 6 the Lord of Hosts. The silver is mine, and “ the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts. “ The glory of the latter house shall be
greater than that of the former, saith the “ Lord of Hosts: and in this place will I give peace,
saith the Lord of Hosts P.” With reference to the personal appearance of Christ
p Haggai ï. 6, 7, 8, 9.
in the temple, and not to the exterior grandeur of the temple itself, this prediction was delivered. In circumstances of outward splendour, the second temple was confessedly inferior to the first; and it was unaccompanied with those visible tokens of the Divine presence, the Shechinah, the Urim and Thummim, and the cloud of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat, which distinguished the temple of Solomon. But the want of these was, in the Prophet's contemplation of the event, to be infinitely more than compensated by the immediate and visible presence of Him, of whose dignity these were but significant symbols. It was not silver and gold that were to be the glory of this latter house; but the fulfilment of that prophecy of Malachi, “ The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly “ come to his temple, even the Messenger of “ the covenant, whom ye delight inq.” It was the coming of “the Desire of all nations;" of him, whose name was to be “ called Wonder“ ful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the ever
lasting Father, the Prince of Peace"." It was His glory which was to fill this Temple, and make its glory surpass that of the former. It was there that He was to teach “ with authority, and not as the Scribes;" there that 9 Malachi ii. 1.
Isaiah ix. 6.
“ His word” was to be “with power;" there that by His miracles and His discourses he was to minister to the necessities both of the souls and bodies of men.
4. This leads us to the last point presented to our contemplation in the words of the text, the gracious purpose of this wonderful dispensation ; the Word, the Son of God, thus manifested to the world, appeared “full of grace and truth.”
By the coming of our Lord “in the flesh,” was made known to mankind the free and unmerited
grace of God, in the remission of sins through His atonement and intercession, and in the gift of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to work out their salvation. He appeared “ full of grace,” in bringing these glad tidings to the sons of men; “full of truth,” in verifying the promises made of old concerning him to the Patriarchs and Prophets, and in giving the most substantial proofs that what he promised he was all-powerful to perform. The glory of the Christian dispensation as far exceeded that of the Jewish, as the accomplishment of any good exceeds the expectation of it; the Gospel being in fact the completion of the Law; the Law, but the anticipation of the Gospel. The Law in itself, and apart from its connection with this better covenant, was inefficient, either as to the expiation of guilt, or to a sanctifying influence upon the heart.
It typified those blessings, and pointed to a future Saviour, through whom they should be obtained. For the Gospel it was reserved to realize these to the faithful of every age, and to carry into effect what the other had either mystically represented, or prophetically announced. “ This,” then, we may now say with St. John, “is the “ witness of God which He hath given of His “ Son:" and, “ if we receive the witness of “ men;"—if we believe the testimony given by the Evangelists and Apostles, thus corresponding with the Law and the Prophets ;“ the witness of God is greater';" that witness, which the very facts declared by the sacred historians assure us was actually given to the Son, by the Father himself who sent him.
Upon a retrospect, then, of this great subject in all its principal bearings, what a field is open for grateful contemplation! When we reflect upon the boundless compassion of God the Father, in providing the means of our redemption ; upon the wonderful condescension of God the Son, in uniting his divine to our mortal nature, and, for our sakes, submitting to its bitterest degradation and suf
s 1 John v. 9.