« ElőzőTovább »
in particular, referring themselves to one great ORIGINAL, from whom their meaning, use and importance are derived, -I hasten to conclude my plan, by turning over to the gospel history, which exhibits that same Moses, whom we sav expire on Mount Nebo, and “ buried in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor ;" whose dying benediction yet trembles on our ear, and whose funeral elegy we attempted to sing, alive again on Mount Tabor, and giving personal testimony and homage to him whom he prefigured and foretold. The history of Moses is not properly ended till then; and in vanishing from our sight on the mount of transfiguration, he becomes a glorious harbinger of the “ life and immortality which are brought to light by the gospel."
HISTORY OF MOSES.
LUKE IX. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35.
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter, and John, and James,
and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And behold, there talked with him two m were Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter, and they that were with him, were heavy with sleep : and wben they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there caine a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, hear him.
In the narrowness of their conceptions and the presumptuousness of their pride, men are apt to consider themselves as the only, or, at least, the chief inhabitants of the creation of God. A false patriotism, or rather a spirit of insolence and selfishness has gone farther, bas ascribed the consequence of a whole universe to some insignificant little region or district of this little globe, and has represented the men who breathe on such a spot, and converse in such a language, as the only persons who are worthy of consideration. We refect not, what a speck our own country is, compared with the whole earth ; what a point the earth is, compared to the vast solar system; and how the solar system itself is lost in the contemplation of infinite space. We reflect not on the myriads of “just men made perfect,” from the death of “ righteous Abel," down to the expiring saint, whose disengaged spirit is just now on the wing to the bosom of his God; of those who, lost to us, yet live to their Creator. We reflect not on the myriads of, probably, more glorious beings, who people the greater and more glorious worlds which surround ours. We reflect not on the myriads of pure spirits who never left their first estate, that innumerable company of angels who “excel in strength,” “the least of whom could wield these elements.”
Sound reason and “the wisdom which is from above" correct our narrowness of thought and pride of heart; and teach us to say, in the words which our immortal bard puts in the mouth of Adam, first of men, addressed to his fair consort
- Nor think, tho' men were none,
If our ears were not dull and limited as our spirits
" How often, from the steep
We foolishly imagine the world of spirits to be at a vast distance, whereas in truth we are upon its very confines. We consider its inhabitants as entire strangers to us, whereas they are constantly about our path and our bed, attending our going out and coming in, our lying down and rising up. If our eyes were not held, we should even now behold them joining in and assisting our praises, rejoicing together, when, by the ministry of the word of divine grace, sinners are converted, and saints edified. Little did the three disciples think, when they ascended Mount Tabor, that they were so near to an interview with Moses and Elias. Moses, and Elias, and Christ are not far from us; it is our folly and infirmity to think ourselves far from them.
When we look back to the latter end of Moses, the man of God, we attend him up to Mount Nebo, and behold him taking from Pisgah a last look and a last farewell of the glory of this world. We see his eyes closing in peace, and breathe a sigh over his tomb, and bid him a long farewell, and think we have lost him forever. But it is not an everlasting adieu. On Tabor we have found him again, after a lapse of fifteen centuries; we find not only his name, his memory, his writings, his predictions, bis spirit, alive and in force, but his very person, still employed in ministering to the salvation of the Israel of God; and hence we look forwards to the lapse of a few years more, at the expiration of which we hope to meet him indeed, not armed with that fiery law which condemns and consumes, but a minister and a fellow-partaker of that grace which redeems and saves.
We cannot consider ourselves therefore as having yet concluded the history of Moses, while that memorable event of it, which is the subject of this evening's reading, remains unconsidered ; and, as the evangelic page has exhibited him to us alive from the dead, let us devoutly attend to the reason and end of this glorious apparition. It naturally suggests to us the following reflections :
I. That Jehovah is, with undeviating, undiverted, undivided attention, carrying on the great plan of his providence, to full maturity, by every order of beings, in every possible state : by those who cheerfully enter into his views, and joyfully submit to his will; and by those who carelessly neglect or proudly oppose it. We have seen him serving himself of this Moses in the court of Pharaoh, in the pastures of Midian, in the wilderness of Sinai; as a prophet, as a legislator, as an historian. And, to fit him for a new field of action, behold him shining in a new and glorious form. The grave seems to have surrendered up its trust, heaven has yielded up one of its inhabitants, and Moses is now admitted into a land from which he was once shut out. In this world we have still to deplore faculties wasting, impairing, extinguished; usefulness interrupted, cut off in the midst, by the stroke of death, the earth impoverished by the premature departure of wisdom and worth. The bistory of mankind exhibits projects blasted, schemes abortive, instruments feeble and inadequate, concussions violent, revolutions sudden and unexpected ; but far different the view which the scriptures represent of the kingdom of God. In it, one generation passeth not away that another may succeed, but there is an eternal accumulation of citizens, eternally increasing in wisdom, goodness and felicity; faculties ever improving, projects advancing in full certainty of success, means fitted to their end, and the one great scheme of the Eternal Mind proceeding in steady, uniform majesty, to its final consummation. Pleasing, awful thought! " 'I'he counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."*
II. We observe, from this history, The benevolent interest which celestial beings take in the affairs of men. They are no unconcerned spectators of what passes here below. They who have been raised from earth to heaven, have not lost all recollection of the world they have left, nor dropt all concern about their brethren in the flesh. Moses and Elias with joy revisit an inferiour region, if thereby they can be instrumental in promoting the work of redenption ; and exchange, for a season, the society of angels, and the delights of the paradise of God, for the company of simple fishermen, and a barren mountain's top, that we might have strong consolation in contemplating “the sufferings of Christ," and the glory that preceded and followed. () what an exalted, what a generous spirit does true religion breathe and inspire! It makes angels " ministering spirits to them who are the heirs of salvation ;" it brings departed saints back to earth again ; it converts Tabor into Heaven, and determines the choice of an apostle, when in a strait betwixt two, and to prefer abiding in the flesh, because more needful to his fellow-creatures, to the selfish joy, though far better, of departing and being with Christ. But Moses, and Elias, and Paul were themselves men, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, were instructed by sympathy to commiserate, and prompted by affection to relieve, human wretchedness. Behold an infinitely greater miracle of generous, disinterested love; “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”+ Jesus, “ loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."! " Verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham."S “As children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage."'ll
III. The history before us suggests, The sweet harmony, the perfect intelligence which subsist between glorified spirits. Moses and Elias, as they cooperated in the same design, though at different periods upon earth, much more concur in sentiment, in exertion, now they see more clearly and comprehend more fully the intentions of a wise and gracious Providence. Through ignorance, through pride, through jealousy, through malice, imperfect men on earth will differ, will hate and oppose each other ; but in celestial bosoms the dark, malignant, unsocial passions find no place : in them there ever prevails unity of intelligence, unity of design, unity in operation, unity of affection. Prompted by the same motive, aiming at the same end, Gabriel, a multitude of the heavenly host, Moses and Elias-angels single, and in bands, announce to the world the advent of the Saviour, celebrate his birth, witness his transfiguration, relieve his agony, record his death, declare his resurrection from the dead, grace his ascent to heaven, proclaim his second coming. And 0 what must be that harmony and joy! the harmony and joy of heaven, where angels and archangels, the cherubim and the seraphim, patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and the whole multitude of the redeemned, animated by one spirit, adore the same object, rejoice in the same grace wherein they stand, and join in the same triumphant song!
* Psal. xxxii, 11.
John tij. 16.
Rev. i. 5,6.
Heb. ii. 16.
Heb. ii. 14, 15.
Connect with this, the idea of the quick and perfect intelligence which subsists between the children of this kingdom. The happiness of heaven is a social, not a solitary joy. But how can the poverty of our imagination, the coldness of our affections, conceive the intimacy of intercourse, the promptness of communication, the sympathy of feeling, in pure spirits wholly disposed to love, and free from all desire or design to disguise, to deceive, to conceal!
" Where friendship full exerts her softest pow'r,
With what promptitude and intelligence celestial beings converse, say, ye gentle spirits, who know what it is to soothe and relieve the lazy, lingering hours of absence by the friendly aid of letters; ye, whom the murinur of a sigh, or the tone of a single word can instantly instruct; ye, whose hearts the pressure of a finger can awake to rapture; ye, whose kindred, congenial souls the slightest glance of the impassioned eye, can, in a moment, quick as the lightning's flash, penetrate, kindle, inform, assimilate ;
But the purest human affection is ever dashed with doubt, with apprehension, with suspicion ; its communications are liable to be retarded by dulness, prevented by accident, or checked and blasted by a malignant eye, and therefore can at best convey but an imperfect idea of that “perfect love which casteth out fear,” of that divine sympathy which speeds the holy intercourse from soul to soul, of that mutual understanding which needs not the medium of sense to convey it.
Though we cannot conceivc, much less describe, in what manner angels and saints in bliss converse one with another, yet from the text we know, what is the one, great, darling theme of their conversation. Moses and Elias descend from their heavenly thrones, from before the fountain of light and life, appear in glory, revisit the earth, associate with men, to do homage at the feet of Jesus, and to “ speak of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” This leads to a
I Vih, and the most important remark on this passage of our Saviour's history, in connexion with that of Moses, namely, That under every dispensation, before the giving of the law, and under its reign, when it was restored, and after it is abolished ; to righteous men on earth, to just men made perfect, to the angels of God; in the eye of God himself,—there is one object of peculiar magnitude and importance, which is before all, above all, runs through all, and in which all shall finally terminate. It is surely not without a meaning, that the promises, the predictions, from first to last, point out a Saviour that should suffer and die; that all the types, services, sacrifices of the law should represent a salvation that was to be wrought out, to be purchased with blood ; that the whole doctrine of the gospel should be compressed into one point, the doctrine of the Cross; that the throne of God eternal in the heavens should exhibit at its right band, and in the midst of it," a Lamb as it had been slain ;' that the song of the redeemed should celebrate Him who loved the sons of men, and “ washed them from their sins in his blood !" O the infatuation of a careless, unbelieving world! That subject which the ransomed of the Lord dwell upon with ever new and increasing delight ; that great