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Secondly: Here is a vision of departed saints. Moses, Israel's great lawgiver, and Elijah, its most illustrious seer;--representatives of the "law and the prophets.” Many centuries had run their course since the unknown grave in “the valley of Moab” closed upon the body of the illustrious lawgiver; and also since the prophet of sublime intrepidity, without seeing death, ascended to heaven in “ the chariot of fire and the horses of fire." But these centuries had not impaired their energies, nor weakened their interest in earth. They are here on this mountain now; here, perhaps, as the representatives of those myriads of the Old Church who had reached their celestial homes. The beauty and the excellency of Christianity are, that it reveals to us the existence of the departed good. We are left in no suspense on the subject. It opens the doors of Heaven, and shows us "the great multitude which no man can number," &c.
Thirdly: Here we have a vision of Divine glory. “ The cloud overshadowed them.” This was the well-known, the usual, and expressive, symbol of the Divine presence and glory. It gleamed in the sword of the cherubim at the gate of Eden; it flashed on Sivai ; it lighted the Israelites through the Wilderness, across the Red Sea into the Promised Land ; it often filled the Tabernacle with its mystic radiance ; shone for ages over the Mercy-Seat; and like a strange star it glided through the heavens, and guided the Wise Men to Bethlehem where the King of the Jews was born. Now it lighted up the Mountain in a blaze. It was the manifestation of the Divine glory. Christianity, however, gives us a more real and full display of the Divine glory. It gives the incarnation of Himself. “ The brightness of his glory."
II. THE VOICES OF CHRISTIANITY, “ And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus,” &c.
First: Here is a voice of social discussion. “They were talking with Jesus.” What was the great theme? Luke tells us ;—“The decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” They call death a “decease," which means, not a destruction, but a departure-not an extinction but an exit. Christ's “decease" at Jerusalem or the Cross, is the great central truth of revelation-that which gives unity, life, worth, to the whole. Take this fact from the Bible, and you take the foundationstone from the superstructure, leaving ruins; the soul from the body, leaving a putrid carcass; the sun from the system, leaving blackness and chaos. The Cross is the great theme of discourse between the good in all worlds ; it is the chorus in Heaven's anthems; it is the key to interpret all the mysteries in the moral empire of God.
Secondly: Here is a voice of Divine affection. “A voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved son.” This utterance reveals the glorious fact that the Creator loves ; that He is neither insensitive nor malevolent, but that He feels; -and His feeling is love. And the utterance reveals, moreover, the object that has undoubted claims to universal love. Whatever the Creator loves most, demands the paramount affection of the creature. This object is Christ.
" The Father loveth the son.” God loves Christ, let man love Him too; and then the Divine heart will meet and mingle with the human, and man and God be one in Christ. Since this utterance from Heaven has been made, no one need be in doubt as to what object should be supremely loved, nor need any wonder at the terrible words of the apostle, who says :“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be anathema maranatha.”
Thirdly : Here is a voice of imperative duty. “Hear him." He who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, is now in “these last days” to speak unto us by His son.
Moses and the Prophets, who had hitherto been the only authoritative organs, must now retire into a secondary place. This voice would undoubtedly remind Moses of the voice that descended on his soul in the solitariness of the desert many centuries before: “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me;
shall hearken." “ Hear him." He is the oracle, the prophet, the lawgiver. Test everything by His utter
The deduction of reason, the traditions of the past, the pronouncements even of evangelical ministers, aye, and even the statements of Moses and the prophets, must be tested by His word. Whatever agrees not with His dicta must be repudiated without compromise, denounced without mercy. Ye men of enquiring thought, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” And
ye thoughtless millions take heed that ye “Refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him who spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven ; whose voice then shook the earth, but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only but also heaven.”
There are three remarks which we shall now offer upon these VISIONS AND VOICES.
First: That their appreciation requires a true Christian discipleship. Of all the millions of men on earth, of all the disciples, there were but three that Christ honored with this wonderful scene;-Peter, James, and John-the sons of thunder and the man of rock. Mark says, emphatically, he suffered no man to follow him," but these three. The reason why Christ selected only three of His disciples and no more, and these three rather thau any of the others, does not
appear; but the reason why He selected disciples rather than others is obvious enough. They alone were morally qualified to appreciate and enjoy the scene. “The carnal mind discerneth not the things of the Spirit.” There is an ear for moral voices, there is an eye for moral visions. The world is full of these Divine voices and visions; the mount of transfiguration is only a specimen of what holy souls may find on every spot of the globe. Let the moral ear be opened, let the moral eye be unsealed, and the world will blaze with the radiance, and echo with the voices, of the
« that Transfiguration. The presence of these disciples on this occasion, and no others, significantly proclaims the fact that none but His disciples will be admitted to the enjoyment of His fellowship and glory in the heavenly world. “He is to be admired in his saints.”
Another remark which we will offer on these VISIONS AND VOICES is :
Secondly : That their impression upon the disciples was very deep. Peter was entranced, “He wist not what to say;" and in the mysterious ecstacy of his emotions, he exclaims, “ Lord, it is good to be here : if thou wilt let us make three Tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." He felt himself very near heaven. The disciples never forgot this impression. John wrote afterwards, and said, “we beheld his glory ;” and Peter too, after the lapse of many years, writes of what he heard and saw upon “The holy mount.” It must have been truly delightful for them to have felt themselves in the presence of that Moses whose wondrous history in the Wilderness they had read in childhood; with that Elijah who had thundered in the ear of a corrupt age, opened the windows of heaven, and wrought many illustrious deeds of marvel and of love ; and with that Christ now more glorious than they had ever beheld Him before. If there is such rapture as this on this cold earth with Christ, with only two of His perfected saints, and death still awaiting Him; what must be the joy of being with Him for ever amidst the countless myriads of His redeemed ones ?
Another remark which we shall offer on these VISIONS AND VOICES is :
Thirdly: That their suggestiveness to every Christian student is very great. Many glorious truths are suggested by this incident-we
can only specify a few. (1) It suggests the conscious existence of departed men. The fact that Moses and Elijah now appeared shows that, those who have left this world not only exist, but exist in the conscious exercise of all their powers. (2) It suggests the glory of the resurrection body of the good. That body of Christ, which now corruscated in every part with the bright rays of heavenly splendor, is the model after which our vile bodies" shall be formed. (3) It suggests the fact that centralizes all redeemed souls together.
The death of Christ is that fact. (4) It suggests the necessity of special revelation from God to qualify for special trial. These three disciples had to go down to Gethsemane, &c. (5) It suggests the sublime joys of the celestial world. “ To be with Christ,” &c.
Germs of Thought.
" Awake to Righteousness, and sin not.”—1 Cor. xv. 34.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Ninth.
The grand subject of this chapter is the doctrine of the general resurrection of the body ; but this text refers to the resurrection of the soul. And this spiritual resurrection is for many reasons a greater and more glorious work than the resurrection of the body. It must be admitted that to call up from the deep and the dust, the bodies of all the generations of men that have ever trod this earth or breathed this air, and to make the whole race, without the exception of one individual, stand forth on the platform of existence in the full consciousness of his own identity, will be a work of stupendous and inconceivable magnitude. But to raise the soul from the grave of prejudice, ignorance, lust, depravity, is a greater work. It is a greater work, first,Because the soul is greater than the body. What is the casket to the jewel, what is the house to the tenant, what is the barque to the crew ? Heap worlds on worlds ; one soul outweighs them all.” It is greater, secondly,—inasmuch as it can only be accomplished with the full concurrence of the man. In the material resurrection the man has no choice.