« PreviousContinue »
temple. This glorious building is visible only to the of faith. The light falls into this temple from above. There, no longer groping in the dark, we walk in the light of the sevenbranched candlestick. It is no longer inquired, in this temple, “ Wherewith shall I come before the Lord ?” Here we know of an offering that justifies the ungodly. There is no longer any room for the saying of Cain, “ My iniquity is greater than that it
Here it is said, 6. Where sin abounded, grace
hath much more abounded.” Here there is no longer any occasion for the exclamation, “Let not God speak with us, lest we die !” Here we learn exultingly to cry, " Abba, Father !” and to cast our cares, like children, on the Eternal God who careth for us. The robe, with which every one here is clothed, is a robe of righteousness. The bread that is here broken to us, is the bread of that peace which passeth all understanding. The cup of blessing, of which we here partake, is a portion which no one taketh from us. The air which is breathed here, is the air of paradise. The incense of prayer and intercession, kindled here, ascends as a sweet savour to the Lord. The
songs which resound here, have for their burden, “I have obtained
!” The Preacher's instructions in this temple are, “ Comfort
ye my people.” If there be a happy abode under the sun, it is within this spiritual tabernacle. Happy are they that are in such a case, however poorly they may live as it respects the body! They need not envy kings upon their thrones, or the renowned of the earth in their pavilions of honour. Verily, they are the happy ones, who thus abide under the shadow of the Almighty, who are hidden in this pavilion, and in the secret of this dwellingplace, founded on the Rock of ages! Though they may have to pass through great troubles and to encounter great adversities, in this life, they know whither their way conducts them. Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; there remaineth a rest for the people of God.
Who introduces us into this mansion of peace ? One only who bears the key of David ; He on whose worth the house is founded, as on an eternal rock. He still stands at the gate, ready to open it. O, supplicate his mercy ! Rise not up from his feet, until he has opened the door of his kingdom unto thee, and until thou also canst rejoice in him, as the “He that openeth, and no man shutteth ; and that shutteth, and no man openeth.” Amen.
* Marginal reading of Gen. iv. 13, with which the German agrees.
"I am desolate !" complains the royal psalmist, Psa. xxv. 16. Here he spoke truth ; but not the whole truth. He felt himself desolate ; but feelings may deceive us. The Lord was still with him, behind the veil.
“ I am desolate !" is a complaint that is frequently heard in the tabernacles of the righteous. But it ought not to be made so hastily. Have we forgotten who it is that saith, “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee ?” And again, “ Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Zion saith, the Lord “ hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? Yea, they may forget ; yet will I not forget thee."
Many exclaim, in reference to the way in which they have to walk, “ I am desolate!” Well, supposing it were so, and that the Lord led thee by a way in which no others went, would that be a misfortune ? If he does but lead us, then we may well be satisfied. Shall the clay say unto the potter,
6 What doest thou?" Still I believe, that even in this sense, no one can say, in reality, “ I am desolate, or solitary.” Oh, there are many that travel the same road; only we do not hear of it. Look into the Scriptures. There, at least, you will certainly meet with some one in whose way you may trace your own. The idea of being solitary or desolate tends to make us fearful and unbelieving. “I stand alone !” thinks many a one in respect of his faith in Christ; “I believe things which millions seem to reject as visionary and foolish.” And then the doubt is ready to suggest itself, “ Am I then right, and so many others
Yes; “ Let God be true, though every man a liar.” “ I am desolate !” No, indeed, thou art not. Read the pages of history, and what do you there behold ? Martyrs exclaiming at the stake, “ None but Christ; none but Christ!” In the gloom of midnight dungeons, there have been heard songs of praise to Jesus Immanuel—God manifest in the flesh. Moreover, be thou well assured, that the number of those now upon
earth who have, like thyself, enlisted under the banner of Christ, is not so small as it would often appear to thy desponding heart. And even were it the case, is the race of beings that surround thee the universe ? Lift up thine eyes on high! Behold the “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands," standing before the throne of God, and before the Lamb! Listen to the jubilant cry of the glorified hosts, which no man can number! These are the companions of thy faith, like-minded with thyself, who stand on thy side, and exultingly say with thee,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing !"
But, christian, even if thou knewest nothing of this, still that word, that sure word of prophecy to which thou givest heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, is a word confirmed and sealed so as none other is. Consider that all the best blessings of God under the sun have ever been found where this word is preached and received, and no where else. There is a golden thread running through the dark labyrinth of human history, and it has always followed the course of this word. There, and there only, love, joy, and peace, in their highest and truest sense, have been found. There only do men meet death, not only with calmness, but with heartfelt satisfaction, because they have had a desire to depart and to be with Christ. And should even thy own knowledge and experience of all this be very limited, still
repose on the certainty of the word of God. Let us contemplate this as it is exhibited in the subject of our present consideration.
MATTHEW XVII, 5.
“While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them : (and
they feared as they entered into the cloud, Luke ix. 34:] and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
A NEW phenomenon now occurs on the holy mount. We have reached the most interesting part of the transfiguration scene. Let us collect our thoughts, in order calmly and adoringly to consider, I. The bright cloud; and, II. The testimony which proceeded from it.
I. “ While Peter yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them.” This bright cloud had an important and sublime signification. It was the Shechinah, or Divine habitation, the sign of Jehovah's peculiar presence, like that vouchsafed in the early days of the Old Testament. In the time of Moses, a cloud, resembling a pillar rising towards 'heaven, formed the habitation in which Jehovah went before his people Israel in the wilderness. He also invested in a cloud the manifestation of himself on mount Sinai. At the dedication of Solomon's temple," a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house. Then said Solomon, The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.” But a cloud somewhat different from that on Sinai, and in the temple, was here. No stormy tempest accompanies it. It carries no rolling thunders, as on Sinai ; no lightnings flash from it ; nor is it attended with thick darkness : but glittering as if the sun shone behind it, and bordered with light as with the dayspring from on high. Thus this cloud appears as announcing the beginning of a new covenant period.
Moses and Elias enter with Jesus into the cloud, as into a presence-chamber, or as into a Father's house. How far from that ancient leader of Israel now is the expression, “ I exceedingly fear and quake !" with which he once approached the darkness wherein God dwelt! Nor does Elias now cover his face as he did upon Horeb. Both of them have become strong to bear the nearness of the Eternal. They are so in Him who accompanies them, and who took them under the shadow of his wings.
II.“ And behold, a voice out of the cloud which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him!" This voice came from no far distant height, but from the bright cloud which now overshadowed Jesus, Moses, and Elias. It is the voice of Him“ who sitteth upon the throne between the cherubim, who clotheth himself with light as with a garment.” It is the voice of the everlasting Father. He, from whom are all things, clothes his almighty voice in human language, and audibly testifies concerning the Son of man. Oh the blessed realities of the holy mount! Surely they are an anticipation of the fulfilment of the great prophetic voice out of heaven, " The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God," Rev. xxi. 3.
This testimony on the holy mount is unspeakably rich in meaning. First, it comprehends, in a very few words, the sum of the Old Testament, which, in Christ Jesus, is Yea and Amen.
“ This is my Son!" is from the book of Psalms.
“ Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” The addition, “In whom I am well pleased,” is out of the prophets, namely, in Isaiah xlii. The words, “ Hear ye him," you will find in the writings of Moses. “ A prophet like unto me, shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me.
Unto him shall ye hearken.” There is, moreover, in these words, a reference to the three offices of our Lord. “ This is my Son,” shows us Christ as a King: “ In whom I am well pleased," points him out as the Mediator and High Priest, in whom God reconciles the world unto himself. “Hear ye him," represents him to us as that Prophet, to whose instructions we must listen. Finally, this testimony throws light upon the relative character which the Redeemer bears. The voice, “ This is my Son," tells us who he is, with respect to his Divine nature and incarnation. The relation he bears to us is implied in the words, “In whom I am well pleased ;” and in the injunction, “ Hear
ye him.” So full of meaning are these Di. vine words ; indeed, who is able to express all the fulness of meaning which is contained in them !
We already know the intention of this great testimony of God the Father. It doubtless addressed itself, first, to the five witnesses of Christ's transfiguration, before whom, as the representatives of the visible and invisible church, Christ is here solemnly proclaimed the priestly Head of the new kingdom; and his dominion over all things, and especially over the church, purchased with his own blood, was here formally ratified to him by the Father. We may, however, well believe, that this testimony of the Father was also intended, like that at Jordan, for the Saviour himself, and was to afford support to his faith, in the prospect of his approaching sufferings. And cannot we perceive, that after each of these his Father's public acknowledgments, a new power appears in him, a new grace manifests itself in his discourses, a new ardour in his words and actions, and a more exalted state of mind for conflict and victory? Yes; in his human nature he grew like his people, and went from strength to strength.
“ This is my beloved Son." The Father calls him his beloved Son, in a sense and meaning which can belong to no other being on earth or in heaven. This appellation bespeaks him to be no mere creature; it avouches heaven to be his throne, and earth his footstool. It evinces him to be the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person. It presents him to us as the Word that was with God, and was God, hy whom all things were made, and without whom nothing is