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CHRIST informs his Disciples of his sufferings and Death: He declares, that he shall judge the World, and gives a description of the last Judgment: He is transfigured in the presence of three of his Apostles: At the foot of the Mountain of Transfiguration, he cures a Youth, who had a dumb and deaf Spirit: And, returning to Capernaum, pays the Roman Tribute, with a piece of Money, taken out of the mouth of a Fish by Peter, agreeable to his Master's Direction.
THE disciples, as they still retained their expecta
tions of a temporal kingdom, were, doubtless, highly elated with the discourse of their Master, which they had lately heard; giving them the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and enabling them to bind and loose with such authority, were very agreeable to them, and, it is to be supposed, that they explained these grants to mean some great temporal powers and honours they were to be invested with. Their divine Leader, to abate their high swelling conceits, and to lead them into clearer views of the nature of his kingdom, and the final issue of his ministry amongst the Jews, informed them that it was appointed in the eternal councils of his Father, that he should be rejected by the rulers of Israel, persecuted with the utmost malice, followed with false accusations, and, at last, put to death as a malefactor, with circumstances of the greatest cruelty and public shame.
The disciples were exceedingly alarmed at this prediction of their Master; he had just before accepted the title of the Messiah, and declared, that he would bestow high honours, peculiar privileges, and extraordinary powers on his apostles; and his now declaring, that he should be arraigned, condemned, and put to death as a malefactor, was so contrary to their expecta
tions, that they thought it impossible to be true. Peter, who was of a warmer temper than the rest, heard his Master talk of dying at Jerusalem with the utmost astonishment, and could not forbear hinting, that he did not believe it to be true; and he proceeded to blame his Master, for mentioning any such thing. For this boldness, our Lord sharply rebuked him: Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me; for thou favourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
It was the false notions of the nature of the Messiah's kingdom which Peter had imbibed, and his love to the world, and desires after its grandeur and glory, which induced him to utter that imprudent language, which brought so severe a rebuke from his Master. It was, therefore, a lesson, which our Redeemer, at this time, thought peculiarly proper to inculcate, that all who would afterwards obtain that glory which belonged to the subjects of his kingdom, must deny themselves; that is, they must always be ready to give up every worldly pleasure, every thing which tends to gratify the senses, and even life itself, whenever the cause of CHRIST required it. And he informed them, that whosoever pursued the glory an blessedness of his kingdom, in such a way as to be ikely to obtain it, must expect to meet with troubic, vexation, disappointment, affliction, and distress: for, our Lord declared, that he who would be his disciple, must take up his cross daily, and follow him.
Our Lord thus opened to his disciples the true nature of his kingdom, and let them know, that it was quite the reverse of what they had expected: for though they had undergone many afflictions, difficulties, and trials, there were greater and more severe exercises of their patience and fortitude still to come; these it would be in vain to attempt to shun or evade, for they must follow their Master, in the foot-steps of his affliction, which, if they attempted to shun, they
would fall into greater evils; but those who persevered in the way of their duty with patience and fortitude, though they might lose their temporal lives, they would certainly gain an happy immortality: For whosoever, said he, will save his life, shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Our great Redeemer, having explained to his attentive disciples, the usage they must expect to find from the world, and the reproach, trouble, affliction, and variety of distress which they must expect to go through; then thought proper to change the scene, and represented to them the grandeur, glory, dignity, and majesty in which he should appear, when those sufferings were at an end: For the son of man, said he, shall come in the glory of his Father: and then he shall reward every man according to his works. This consideration might have been abundantly sufficient to quiet their minds, and reconcile them to the various difficulties, troubles, and afflictions which lay before them. Then their despised Master will appear in greater glory and dignity than the most pompous earthly prince; he will assume the birth-right of the skies, and sit as the supreme judge of heaven and earth then will his enemies meet with the punishment which they have so justly deserved, and his friends most assuredly receive their eternal reward; but those who, through fear of the difficulties and troubles which lay before them, have deserted his cause, will find themselves deserted, and finally rejected at that awful day; for said our great Redeemer, Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
As this is the first time which our exalted Redeemer
mentioned this great event to his disciples, it may not be amiss to take a short view of this grand, magnificent, awful, and most interesting scene. As the Son of God is the exalted person who shall judge the world in righteousness, let us, for a moment, contemplate the glory, grandeur, and dignity in which he will appear: he himself declares, that he will appear in the glory of his Father, and with the holy angels: he will appear arrayed in the majesty of that God, who dwells in light, and whose glory no mortal can approach; not the blessed inhabitants of the heavenly world, can bear the blaze of that boundless glory which surrounds the eternal throne, but veil their faces in the presence of that God, who dwells in light, and fills the heavenly regions with the boundless blaze of uncreated brightness. How small, how dim a speck is the sun, when compared with the eternal fountain of light, or with the brightness of that God, who pours the beamy radiance from world to world, and could, with one ray of glory darted from his throne, light up a thousand suns.
In this boundless brightness, and majestic pomp, will the Son of God appear. Ah! how unlike the despised Galilean; how unlike the person, who groaned and bled on Calvary! Not now attended with twelve weak disciples, twelve mean, illiterate, fishermen; but surrounded with myriads of celestial spirits, and numberless hosts of mighty angels. With what celestial pomp, with what unutterable brightness, they descend through the sky, while the sun, overpowered with excessive light, shrinks, and disappears; and the whole bright assembly descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God. The trumpet, with tremendous roar, resounds through the regions of the dead: the dead awake and rise; some exulting with joy at the sight of their Saviour, and others terrified, confounded, and filled with inexpressible horror, at the sight of their judge: the great and mighty, the rich and noble, warriors,
captains, princes, and potentates who ruled the world, and did what they pleased amongst the sons of men, now have lost all their honours and command, and are filled with the utmost consternation, amazement, and. dismay: they cannot bear the brightness of the Judge, they would plunge into eternal darkness, to avoid his piercing eye, and they call upon the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand.
However reluctant, they are forced to appear: urged by strong necessity, and driven by frowning angels, they crowd to the bar, and stand, trembling and astonished, on the left-hand of their Judge. The elect of God, gathered by angels from the uttermost parts of the earth, are placed on the right-hand; they lift up. their heads with joy, and, beholding the great Judge of heaven and earth, with exultation and transport, can say, This is our God, we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in him. And now the time is come, when flagrant outrageous vice shall be thrown down and despised, oppressed, afflicted virtue shall be exalted; now is the time, when the mysteries of Providence shall be unveiled, when all the clouds and darkness, which surrounded the ways of God, will be cleared away, and the wisdom, justice, and goodness of the divine conduct, fully vindicated, both in those who are saved, and those who perish: now the church of CHRIST, his spotless bride, purchased with his blood, shall appear in all her glory and beauty, all vain hypocritical pretenders will be exposed, and every thing that offendeth, done away.
An awful silence is proclaimed; the books are opened; the secrets of all hearts, and every dark deed which had been carefully concealed, are brought to light, and then the exalted King of the universe, who sits in Judgment, proceeds to pass that sentence, which of