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The precept here enjoined requires everything to be relinquished which engrosses the mind to the exclusion of God and duty. The objects of pursuit may not, in some instances, be criminal in themselves, but the desire or passion which prompts us to pursue
them is sinful in as far as it prevents that entire devotedness to God enjoined in the gospel. Wealth, and fame, and rank, are in themselves, and when confined within due limits, laudable objects of pursuit. Some of our desires are sinful in themselves, and must immediately be checked ; while others, not inherently bad, require due regulation and restraint. There is no sin in pursuing human learning, provided it be not carried to such an excess as to blind our eyes to the pearl of great price.” In like manner, diligence in business is highly commendable, and the acquisition of wealth if it be not pursued with undue ardour, nor idolized when acquired is not improper. But wealth and learning are unhallowed, unless gilded by genuine and fervent piety; our wealth, our fame, our learning, our talentsall must be consecrated by true piety, or they will enhance our guilt and increase our condemnation.
Whatever object then engrosses the mind to the exclusion of the love of God, must be rejected; the idol of our affections, however dear in our sight, must be renounced. There can be no compromise in the matter; we must bid away from us all such objects of ungodly esteem. The victim of avarice must give up the inordinate pursuit of that wealth which he now idolizes so much; the proud slave of ambition must resign the elevated position which he may have gained by unworthy means, and renounce the symbols of that command which he has usurped; the blind votary of fashion must give up those foolish pageants, and desert the gay
and splendid hall; he that spends his days and nights in the acquisition of mere human learning, must devote his talents to the study of that learning which “cometh from above," and be content to exchange the empty applause of men for an incomparably nobler rank, and brighter fame. In short, the gospel says to every one, “ Give God thine heart, the whole undivided heart, and he will reward thee with heaven.” From the enthroned Deity a heavenly radiance is shed around the christian, casting a light and a glory about the path of his soul, and investing him, even while in this world, with a beauty which is not of earth.
A. R. B.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF CHRIST.
The transfiguration of our blessed Redeemer forms a striking contrast to his state of humiliation, for it was a scene of exaltation, majesty, and glory. On Calvary he was ignominiously suspended on a cross between two thieves. On Mount Tabor he was glorified between two prophets. There Peter denied him ; here he saw bis glory, and acknowledged his Godhead; there the sun was darkened; here a bright cloud overshadowed him; there the voices of his enemies cried out, “ Crucify him;" here his Father's voice is heard from heaven, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him.”
The design of this glorious appearance of Christ was doubtless to prevent the scandal that the disciples might take at the cross, He showed them his glory that they might not be stumbled at his future disgrace. He showed them Moses and Elias doing homage to him, that they might not be stumbled at the injuries he would receive from Pilate and Herod. At the transfiguration there wag seen a council the most august that ever assembled; a council composed of prophets and apostles ;-Jesus Christ the Great Ilead of the church presides there in person, and the Father, with a voice clear and audible, pronounces the oracle. There was seeis the church militant and triumphant. The church militant, in Peter, James, and John ; the church triumphant, in Moses and Elias. Let us, then, ascend Mount Tabor, and survey the glorious scene exhibited.
This mountain, remarkable for its height, is in the tribe of Zebulon. According to Josephus, it is thirty stadia, or upwards of three miles in height, of a conical form, and rises in the plain of Esdraelon at two hours distance eastward from Nazareth. The scenery is every where delightful, the soil rich, and the foliage beautiful. There are three altars built in commemoration of the transfiguration of Christ. After a laborious ascent of near amb hour, Maundrell reached the highest part of the mountain, whiclo he describes as having a plain area at the top, fertile and pleasant, and of an oval figure extending about a furlong in breadth, and two in length. This area is enclosed with trees on all sides, except towards the south. From the top of Tator there is an extensive and beautiful prospect; to the south a series of valleys
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and mountains extending as far as Jerusalem ; to the east, the valley of Jordan and the lake of Tiberias; and beyond this, the eye loses itself towards the plains of the Hauran, and then turning to the north, by the mountains of Hasbeya, reposes on the fertile plains of Galilee, without being able to reach the sea.
Tabor is also celebrated by the victories which Deborah and Barak gained over Sisera, (Judges iv. 10—24,) referred to in Ps. lxxxix. 12,“ Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.”
There are places consecrated, in a peculiar manner, by the presence of God; such were Bethel and Peniel to Jacob, and such was the spot where God appeared to Moses in the bush. We, too, can record favoured places where we experienced some happy moments, some Bethel visits, and where we received a token for good.
This glorious scene occurred in the presence of eminent witnesses, Peter, James, and John. Various reasons have been assigned for our Lord's selecting only three, and these three. They were sufficient as witnesses; they usually attended him, and were his confidential friends. John was to be the historian of his conduct and miracles; Peter was to open the gospel dispensation, while James, as the brother of John, would naturally accompany him. The same disciples were with him also at Gethsemane, and at the raising of the daughter of Jairus.
The people of God are often favoured with extraordinary discoveries, and the Lord manifests himself to them as he does not unto the world. Abraham, and Job, and Isaiah, in the Old Testament, and Paul and John in the New, describe these visits in glowing terms. In the house of God, and at the table of the Lord, how frequently has the believer had cause to say, “ I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”
The design of the transfiguration was to give the disciples a bright representation of the glory of Christ; "he was transformed, or “ metamorphosed,' before them. His face shone as the sun," the emblem of his glory, having light in itself, and communicating light to others. His raiment was white as the light, so as no fuller on earth could whiten it. Thus his appearance to Saul of Tarsus was marked at mid-day by a light above the brightness of the sun.
Light as the emblem of wisdom, knowledge, purity, pourtrayed the Son of God, the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world. In bis nature no taint of sin was found; he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
Christ was transfigured to prepare the disciples for his sufferings, and by giving them a confidence in his character, to render them bold and fearless, and prepare them for suffering for his sake. Christians are sometimes favoured with enjoyments preparatory to their enduring great trials. We hear David saying, “ My mountain is strong, I shall never be moved ;” and soon after he exclaims,“ Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.”
The particular period when the transfiguration occurred is remarkable, “as he prayed.” Prayer opens heaven, and draws down supplies from above. “ He that prayeth,” says Gurnall, “invites God into his farther acquaintance, and soon shall have it;” and “faithful prayer,” says Dr. Stibbs, " works wonders in heaven and earth.” Christ said of Nathaniel, “ When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee."
Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw.
Brings every blessing from above. When Moses was conversing with God, he said, “ I beseech thee show me thy glory.” The request was bold, but it was graciously answered. When Cornelius was praying, (Acts x, 1,) an angel came to him and said, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” And when Peter went to the house-top to pray, he saw heaven opened. (Acts x. 9.) What an encouragement to us to read and hear in a praying frame, and “ in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let our requests be made known unto God.”
Two illustrious characters attended the transfiguration of Jesus, Moses and Elias; and thus, says Mr. Henry, the law and the prophets honoured Christ. Moses the wisest lawgiver, and Elias the most zealous prophet. Like the Saviour they both fasted forty days and forty nights. Their death was also singular ; Moses, after he had been led to Mount Pisgah, and Elijah conveyed to heaven by a chariot of fire. Thus the law, in the person of Moses ;
the prophets, in the person of Elijah; and the gospel, in the person of Christ, assembled on one spot, all engaged in the same important work, all promoting the eternal design of the Godhead. Moses recognizes Christ as the substance of types and shadows; Elijah as the object of his predictions, while a voice is heard from kreaven declaring the supremacy of Jesus, the Son of God, “ This is my beloved Son, HEAR YE HIM.”.
Another striking circumstance connected with the transfiguration of Christ, was the subject of conversation. “ They spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” This related to the issue and consequence of his sufferings, his sacrifice, his atonement. This was shadowed forth in the typical sacrifices of the Mosaic economy, the constant theme of the prophets, the boast and confidence and joy of saints in every age of the church militant, and the subject of the triumphant song of the spirits of the just made perfect in glory
We may derive, from this important scene, some useful and important remarks.
There is a state of blessedness where the bodies and souls of saints shall finally rest, and where some of them are now actually reposing. Enoch, Elijah, and the bodies of the saints who arose at the death of Christ, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many; for so it seems likely,” says that judicious commentator, the Rev. Thomas Scott, “ that they also went to heaven with, or after their ascended Saviour.”
A peculiar glory will beautify the spirits of the just. Moses and Elias appeared in glory. Glorious indeed, but far inferior to his, as the planets are inferior to the sun whence they derive their lustre. The glorious bodies of the saints are described in 1 Cor. xv. 41-45. The idea of degrees in glory appears to be fully established in the sacred scriptures. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars ; for one star differeth from another star in glory; so also is the resurrection of the dead.” These saints who were eminent for holiness, zeal, piety, and labour, will be eminently exalted and glorious in heaven. What an inducement to covet earnestly, and cultivate diligently, the best gifts.
We should not tremble at the idea of conversing upon the