« VorigeDoorgaan »
curse comes, comes also, to you at least, through the Gospel, the blessing. "It is,” indeed, “appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment;" “but Christ also has died to bear our sins; and to them that look for him will he come a second time without sin unto salvation." So that death to the believer is no longer a punishment, but a part of the heavenly inheritance; for all things are yours," whether life or death.” But while, if in Christ, we know that death cannot harm us, yet we need all the power and assurance of the sympathy of Jesus to sustain us under the trial of bereavement. And most generously does he afford to us what we so much need. See it at Bethany. And though he tarried still in the same place where he was for two days after he heard of the sorrow that had fallen upon the family, his heart is with them all along. It is a wise delay, woven into the web of his purposes, and necessary to their glorious completion. Necessary, as he himself says, for the faith of the disciples : “I am glad for your sakes I was not there, to the intent ye might believe.' Neces. sary, no doubt, as a discipline for Mary and for Martha. Necessary, too, as the final step in the process which led him voluntarily to the Cross ; for “from that day forth the Pharisees took counsel together to put him to death," and he " walked no more openly among the Jews."
“And when the Saviour seems to stay,
Regardless of our grief,
But well-timed sure relief." Sometimes the sorrow that broods over our households seems to creep up gradually, as a cloud spreads over, and dims the heavens. And sometimes it comes upon us suddenly, as the lightning shining from one end of heaven to the other. And yet through cloud and storm, the Sun of righteousness is shedding still his light upon us, though we feel not always the healing in his beams. Sometimes with shuddering foreboding we think upon the possibility of some future tria) in which we know that we should need a support not to be found in an arm of flesh. We look round the homes that God has given us, upon our wives and upon our children, and we remember that “the time is short"! We stand beside the open grave, friendly mourners for the chief mourner's sake, and think how soon perhaps we may be chief mourners at another grave! Ast. memory recalls some former day, and the anguish of the old wound is felt again, O Jesus, in the darkness of our dread about the future, in the vividness of our memory of the unfadiñg past, in the sharpness of our present sorrow, be thou with us, let us hear thy voice, saying, “I am the resurrection and the life." I
To you that read these lines, let a friendly heart bear witness that we who know " the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” would not have you ignorant of it. In your happy homes we would rejoice with you; in your sorrowing homes weep with you; for we also have felt your griefs, and we know in our consolation“ Whom we have believed.” “Count it not a strange thing that has happened unto you.” The vacant place—the clothes that shall be worn no more - the books that those lips, once so eloquent, had read to you in the winter's evening8—the playthings that those small hands have handled-we know it all; and He too whom we have named so often, he knows it all, for it is the lot of our common humanity. Memorials these are of home below ; let them be to you prophecies and promises of the home above.
" There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there ;
But has one vacant chair!
“Let us be patient ! these severe afl ictio is
Not from the ground arise ;
Assame this dark disguise,
“ We see but dimly through the mists and vapours;
Amid these earthly damps,
May be heaven's distant lamps !"
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS CHRIST.*
BY THE REV. F. EDWARDS, B.A. THREE of the evangelists record the the glory as of the only begotten of the transfiguration of our Lord. The essential | Father, full of grace and truth.” And unity of their accounts must be manifest Peter, another spectator upon the same to every person who has read them. The occasion, could speak of himself as “an eyegeneral description is the same in each, witness of the majesty of our Lord Jesus although each one supplies some particulars Christ.” When they reflected upon all this, which have not been observed by the others. however much they may previously have Although I have only referred to the account been tempted to regard him as weak and which Luke has given us, I shall endeavour powerless, they would be able to believe that to give a complete description of the whole | he had power to accomplish all the glorious occurrence, by filling in from the others the promises that he had spoken in connection deficiencies which are noticeable in him. with his kingdom. And thus we have, as one Each portion of the narrative will unfold of the probable designs of the transfigura. its own lessons, and the general object or tion, the strengthening and confirming of objects of the whole will be sufficiently the faith of his disciples in him as the clear, when we have taken a comprehensive Founder of a divine kingdom. But this view of the entire narrative. Thus much was not its only, perhaps not its chief dehowever it is necessary that we notice sign. We have most of us known what it beforehand, in order that we may put our is to anticipate trouble and sorrow. Deselves in the right track for the discovery pression of spirits and fearfulness of heart of its design. Only a few days before it's have seized upon us at such times. Prayer, occurrence our Lord had spoken to his however, has always brought relief. As disciples respecting that kingdom of God soon as we have prayed we have recovered which he had come into the world to esta strength. The very act of intercourse with blish, and then, for the first time in his God, and of nearness to him, has brought history, he revealed to them those terrible consolation to our troubled spirit. Ere we sufferings which he was about to undergo have ceased to plead, we have felt strong to at the hands of their chief priests and bear the sorrow the approach of which prescribes. In anticipation of these sufferings viously made us tremble. May there not be takes his three favourite disciples up have been something similar in the case of into a mountain apart to pray, as was his our Lord ? He knew that there was a bapwont. It was during this prayer, and tism of sorrow before him, and that that probably in direct answer to it, the fashion baptism would be hard and severe to pass of his countenance became altered, and he through; and it may be that he was trouwas transfigured before them. Never before bled on its account, and trembled at its had he appeared unto them in the light in anticipation. But now he was favoured which he then appeared. Low, and gro with such special manifestations of his velling, and earthly, were the views which | Father's love, and was so highly exalted they had previously entertained, both of before men, that he must have been prehis character and his work. He had gone pared for his trial ere the hour of that trial amongst them as friend walks with friend, arrived. Thus, regarding the last portion and he had spoken with them as brother of our Lord's life as one of suffering, this holds converse with brother. But ever | transfiguration has been appropriately deafter this, and in probable allusion to it, scribed as his “baptism, or initiation into John, one of the spectators of the scene, suffering.” We have, then, as another of was able to say that he had “seen his glory, | the probable designs of this transfiguration,
* Luke ix, 28–36.
the preparation of our Lord himself for his his kingdom. If you read the early history own sorrows. We have seen, then, that it of the Church, you will see that that may have this double object-the confirma Church was indebted to a few of the tion of the faith of our Lord's disciples in Apostles only for the extensive character him, and the preparation of our Lord for of its triumphs. These few, however, were his own sufferings; at any rate, it will tend those upon whom this special training had to throw some light upon the transaction, been bestowed. Peter, James, and John, if we bear in mind that only a few days be were those who worked the most. In adfore it occurred our Lord had spoken with mitting them into his presence upon these his disciples respecting both these subjects. solemn occasions, Jesus may have intended Requesting you, then, to bear this in mind, so 'to inflame their love towards him, and let me invite you now to pass on to con so to heighten their personal attachment sider with me the different details of which to himself, as to render their desertion from the narrative is composed...
his cause a simple impossibility. I can ima. I. LET US CONSIDER THE EARTHLY WIT | gine that afterwards, when they had to suffer NESSES OF OUR LORD'S TRANSFIGURATION. for their testimony to Jesus, and the world " Jesus taketh with him Peter and James manifested its obstinacy in receiving his and John.”
truthi, they were sometimes tempted to Though Jesus loved all his disciples, there give up their work; and I can imagine too were some on whom he delighted to confer that it was only the recollection of his special favours. But as his selection was | great love to them which he had shown not generally of an arbitrary character, we | upon these occasions, that still bound are at liberty to ask why these three were | them to his service, and made them feel chosen on this special occasion? In reply that they could leave it under no circum. to this question, notice
stances. 1. First, that they were his dearest friends. 3. Thirdly, they were representatives of -Jesus having human sympathies and hu the other disciples.Greater differences man affections, loved some more tenderly | could not have existed between three men than he loved others. Inexpressibly tender, | than those which existed between these passing the love of a woman, was the love | three. They were not chosen for the unihe bare towards each disciple ; but there | formity of their characters. They were were some of them in whom his heart representatives of three different classes found a dearer home, and a closer fellow of the three classes in fact into which ship. These three were the favourite ones. all the disciples of Christ may be divided On all the grand occasions of his life, they Peter was all boldness and impetu. were present. When he raised from the osity, Substituting, as some have done, dead and restored to her parents the child, Paul for James, whose place he seems afterthey only of his disciples were looking on. wards to have taken, we have the type of When he endured the terrible agony in the an earnest, sober, working man-Peter, in garden, they were his chosen companions. fact, minus his impetuosity. And in John, To them did he especially manifest himself we have the type of the loving disciple, after he had risen from the dead. On this who finds his all in his Master's confiding occasion, too, when his glory was to be love. We all belong to one of these classes, made visible, his choice fell upon them as and perhaps in the course of our Christian the witnesses of that glory. Just as we, in experience we must successively pass the hour of our triumph and exaltation, through each one. In the first stage of wish that those we love best, and who best our Christian life, we are best represented love us, should be near us, and would not by Peter—there is nothing that we will not care though the whole world were shut out attempt. We afterwards become more like -so did the Saviour feel. He did not | Paul-find out our true work and do it. desire that a single unfriendly eye should And lastly, we become like John, and find rest upon the scene, but he chose his best that neither in talk nor work is our chiele friends to witness his glory.
est joy.we solve for ourselves the mys2. Secondly, they were to become his most tery that he who dwelleth in love dwelleta active agents.-All the disciples were not in God. But let not the bold disciple preequally talented, nor had all the same sume to claim more of his Master's affec amount of work to perform in their Lord's | tion than the sober, earnest-worker; 106 behalf. The few; rather than the many, | again, let that worker think that he 18 were employed to promote the interests of I beloved than his quiet, contemplative co
came to add dientative of the prophets.
panion. As if he would show that each class | been anxious about the credit of their own was equally beloved, and equally necessary words, they could no longer rest in to the interests of his kingdom, he chooses heaven now that He had come in whom one from each to witness his glory.
the whole centered. There was suspenseSuch, then, were the earthly witnesses of perhaps uncertainty until then. Now that our Lord's transfiguration.
the wonder of all ages was being actedII. LET US CONSIDER THE HEAVENLY now that the law was being fulfilled- now ATTENDANTS UPON OUR LORD'S TRANS that the predictions of ancient seers were FIGURATION. “There appeared unto him being verified-earth had stronger attracMoses and Elias."
tions for them than heaven; and as if to Moses, the representative of the law, and make sure, they came to witness and to Elias, the representative of the prophets, see. And now, in their presence, God
i to add dignity and glory to the says,-Hear, not Moses, not Elias, but Lord Jesus. Both, like Jesus, had’under Him-pointing to his Son. gone long fasts during their lifetime, and 3. It may have been to prepare the dis. both, too, had passed away from the earth ciples for his death.
ciples for his death.-The
Their conversation as others had not done. Now they came turned upon the decease which he was to to minister to Christ. Jesus had elected | accomplish at Jerusalem. But why did some from his earthly followers to witness, they talk about his death? Why not and God, from his heavenly worshippers, | rather talk of his pre-existent glory-comelected others to glorify. We have seen | pared with which this brightness was but that Jesus was not arbitrary in the selec- ! dim? Why not rather tell the disciples tion he made. Was there any reason why | of the bright world from which he came ? Moses and Elias were specially chosen ? | Why not rather inflame the love of his dis
1. It may have been to show the harmony ciples towards him by telling them that of the two dispensations.-The Pharisees angels honoured and observed him above ? often brought forward Moses and the Pro Why did they talk about his death? There phets in argument against Christ. They seems a sad discrepancy between the scene constantly sought after discrepancies be and the conversation. It is as if on one's tween the two. Right glad were they with bridal-day we should talk of the death that the opportunity of being able to say, Moses would one day separate those who had been says so-and-so, but thou sayest thus. As. just united. "Why did they talk of his sured that Moses had come from God, dis death? Oh, my friends, that death was crepancies between him and Christ would, the subject about which there was most do them, have overthrown the divinity of need to talk! Carefully as they had read the Saviour's mission. It was important, the Old Testament, little did they underthen, that their harmony should be demon stand respecting the Messiah. Once wlen strated, and especially that those who here- '| Peter was told of Christ's death, he had after would have to preach and defend the said, That be far from thee, Lord. And religion of Christ, should be thoroughly now that his sufferings were thickening, convinced respecting their harmony. Now, | and death approaching toward him with what could have been better calculated to rapid strides, was there not more need to produce this conviction than the scene | have it shown them that these were the Dere recorded ? Here were Moses and truest signs he could furnish that he Elias--the very parties whose authority was sent of God? They needed to have he was said to overthrow, talking, not dis it shown them, that, according to their old puting, with Jesus. They evidently under writings, Christ ought to suffer these things. tood one another, and did not suppose there | When Moses and Elias talked of his death xas any ground of offence between them. | as something settled and arranged, would The Apostles would, after this, need no not that convince them that it was orurther demonstration of their harmony dained that it was all right? As a pre
2. It may have been to show their own paration for his death, it was needful that Encompleteness without Christ, and their Moses and Elias should appear. Fubordination to him. Their credit was Such), then, were the heavenly attendants not fully established until Christ came upon our Lord's glory. It was during this All that they had said respecting him was convorsation that their eyes were heavy established when he made his appearance. with sleep, but having kept awake, they then, the greater having come, the lesser saw his glory, and the mon who were with ones were to give place. As if they had | him.
III. LET US CONSIDER THE MISTAKEN | and have wept sorely when they have deDISCIPLE AT OUR LORD'S TRANSFIGURA: parted, as soon as their object was accom. TION. “Peter said, Lord, it is good,” &c. plished.
The messengers seemed to be about to de. 3. There was the desire to escape sufferpart. Never before had the disciples witnessed ings by this means - No doubt, Peter such glory, or taken part in such converse. remembered what Jesus had said about his They wist not what to saythey only sufferings. Could they remain there upon wished to prevent the departure. Peter, the mount, these sufferings would be foremost as usual to speak, said, “ Lord, it avoided. He forgot that God sent this is good for us to be here," &c.
joy to brace them for the contest, and to i. Notice, that there was the realisation nerve them that they might endure. He of good.—They knew that the glory por meant that when engaged in the thick of tended no evil. They understood it not, the fight, they should look back to this, and if they had been asked to explain it, | and fight on. We are not allowed to rethey could not have done so. There was main away on some mountain-top alone by fear, and yet they felt that it was well. ourselves. Christ calls us down to the Little, perhaps, would they have been able busy world, and when he gives us joy, it to analyse or explain the feeling, and yet is not to lead us to shirk duty, but to there was the consciousness of good. They prepare us for it. Peter, however, wished were no worse off than we are. We can that life should contain more of the ele. rarely tell why we are happy. Our joys ment of joy than that of work, and think vanish as soon as we look into them, and ing little of his disciples in the vale below, seek to ascertain their elements. They he wished to build tabernacles here. knew full well that all the glory they failed How long Peter might have continued to understand was meant to exalt their this discourse, we know not. When a man friend. They were beginning to learn some does not know what he is talking about, he thing about him which heretofore had been is not likely to make a short discourse. As dark and hidden. The mystery of his life | he was speaking, God came, and a bright was receiving its solution. Unsatisfied with cloud scattered the confusion which he was the hints they had gathered, they wanted introducing into this glorious scene. more. Thinking little of the interest their IV. LET US CONSIDER THE DIVINE APMaster took in it, Peter said, “Lord, it is PEARANCE AT OUR LORD'S TRANSFIGU• good for us to be here." Thus far the vision RATION. “There came a bright cloud." had answered its end.
No doubt, many of you are ready to say 2. There was the desire for the perpetuity that God always surrounds himself with of that good.--"Let us make three taber clouds when he comes. It would be im. nacles, one for thee, one for Moses," &c. possible for him to come to us in any other Here was the beginning of the mistake. manner. Clouds and darkness are round Christianity tolerates no rivals with Christ. about him. He shields us from the es. Christ is never to be placed on an clusive brightness of his person by the equality with the greatest of God's ser clouds in which he comes. But you will vants. If he occupies not a tabernacle by notice that this time it was a bright cloud himself, he will not share that glory with that he came in; and if you want the others. But it was a mistake to think darkness to pass away from God, you muss about tabernacles at all. Our joys are never view him through the medium of Christ. meant to be eternal. They need no taber 1. Notice, first, the Divine approval. nacle to dwell in. It would defeat their “A voice came out of the cloud, which purpose if they could be detained. The said, This is my beloved Son." This must soul ought not to wish to feast upon them, have been a support to the Saviour, in an. but to gain from them an impulse to ticipation of his approaching sufferings. higher purposes and holier pursuits. Like How often has a similar consciousness been pilgrims famished in the wilderness, we our only support! With men, on every ought to be prepared, by the drink at the hand, imputing wrong motives to us, als brook, for the remainder of our journey. understanding our position, and misinter Who would sit down with part of his jour. preting our actions, what could have sup pey unfinished-part of his battle unfought? ported us against these revilings and insin. It was a mistake-a mistake, however, uations, but the calm consciousness themes which is often enough repeated. We have God's approval was resting on us! 14 all tried to make tabernacles for our joys, | Saviour's position was similar.