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"mystery of godliness," which “angels desire to look into;" that object which the great God has marked with special precision as his own; the wonder of Heaven, the joy of the earth, the theme of eternity, was “ to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks foolishness ;" is to a faithless and perverse generation a thing of nought, the song of the drunkard, the jest of fools ! If that blood has fallen and lies with such oppressive weight, both as a temporal and a spiritual curse on those who rashly imprecated it on themselves and their children, and then impiously and remorselessly shed it; “ of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ?"* May that blood be upon us, and upon our children, lo cleanse, noi to condemn, to exalt, not to overwhelm us, and be it our determinate resolution, through the grace that is in Christ, to know nothing in comparison of Christ Jesus, and him crucified, "and to glory in nothing but his cross."
V. Observe, The superiority ascribed, by a voice from the most excellent glory, to Christ the Lord, swallowing up and eclipsing all created excellency and perfection." This is my beloved Son, hear him,"+ proclaims the voice, and instantly Moses and Elias disappear, that Jesus may be all in all. They have brought their glory and honour and laid it at his feet; they have pointed out to mankind in whose light they shine, in what consists their chief eminence and distinction. They in effect say the same thing with John Baptist ; " He that cometh after me is preferred before me, whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”Ị “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." They forbid us to look toward them, or to trust in them for salvation. Having given this testimony to their Lord and ours, they retire to that world of bliss into which they found admission through that blood which cleanseth from all sin, through that decease which Christ was ready “to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Let us joyfully bend the knee to Him, who, " for the suffering of death, is crowned with glory and honour, and has obtained a name that is above every name;" whom Moses and Elias acknowledge as their greater ; włom all the angels of God are commanded to worship, as " the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature," " by whom were created all things that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers ; all things were created by him, and for him."||
Finally, the passage exhibits to our wondering eyes a glimpse of that glory which all the faithful shall finally attain ; in the person of one who had never tasted death ; whose body, by a miracle of Almighty power, was fitted for heaven and immortality without seeing corruption in the grave; and of one, who, as we must, died and was buried, and by a similar miracle, was either ransomed from the power of the grave, or whose glorified spirit was fitted with a temporary vehicle of transparent flesh for the present grand occasion ; but above all, in the person of the greatest of the three, who was pleased to clothe humanity, which had not yet, but soon was to suffer death, with a transitory glory, the forerunner of that which should quickly follow, and do away all the ignominy of the tomb, and become the sure pledge of that glory with which he shall invest all them that believe, after “the fashion of his own glorious body." While we contemplate Mount Tabor, the immortal spirit looks through the frail tottering fabric of flesh and blood, in which it is inclosed ; and while, from its present connexion, it surveys with concern the inroads of disease, the wastes of time, the approaches of dissolution ; from the visions of God, from
Heb. x. 29.
Luke ix. 35.
Jobo i. 27.
Jolin i. 29.
|| Col. i. 16.
the power of free sovereign grace, from the present attainments of the faithful, beholds with rapture the splendour of that vehicle in which it shall ascend " to meet the Lord in the air," when “mortality shall be swallowed up of life," when it shall be united to a body insusceptible of pain, undepressed by its own gravity, unfettered by the laws of dull matter, uncondemned to mortality. Glorious and blessed day, when the meanest of the saints shall resemble Moses, not in that green and lively old age which experienced not dimness of eyes, nor abatement of natural vigour, but in that renovated youth, that unfading beauty, that impassive strength, that immortal lustre, wherein on the mount of the Lord he was seen ; and shall resemble Elias, not by mounting with the help of a chariot of fire and horses of fire into heaven, but with native force, immediately derived from the great Source of life and motion, shall spontaneously ascend up to his native seat; shall resemble Christ, his divine head, not in that sinless infirmity to which he voluntarily submitted in the days of his flesh, but in that glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and which for a moment burst forth on the mount of transfiguration, when“ his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." Glorious and blessed gospel! which first taught the resurrection from the dead, which has “ abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light;" whose “ exceeding great and precious promises" make men "partakers of a divine nature ;" whose hallowed page represents saints and angels quitting their heavenly abode to minister to the necessities of wretched mortals ; and wretched mortals rising to the everlasting possession of heavenly thrones. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ?" “ Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus
But now the curtain is dropt, Moses and Elias have resumed their places in heaven, and the glory of Tabor is no more. Yet, though unseen, they cease not to instruct us. Though withdrawn, they are in the midst of us still; the distinction of past and future they feel no longer, and separation by space cannot keep celestial beings asunder. Providence brought together into one place the giver and restorer of the law; and the first harbingers of the gospel blending earth and heaven together in homage to the Son of God. And all distance between them too is now forever done away. Remote as we are, we behold them together in a state of glorious perfection, but permitted to converse with us no more. But He is with us still, their Lord and ours; his voice we can still hear, after they are silenced, and Him we are commanded to hear. “ Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever :" “ To Him all the prophets give witness," and he is “ the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
And thus have we finished our proposed delineation of the lives of the patriarchs, from Adam, the father of the human race, down to Moses, the great legislator and prophet of the Hebrew nation ; with the intermediate illustrious personages, whoin the Spirit of God has preserved from oblivion, for our information and use ; whom Providence raised up in the earlier ages of the world, to occupy distinguished stations, and to accomplish important designs; who, by their respective characters, offices and declarations, predicted or prefigured the Messiah; who edified the world, while they lived, by their doctrine and example; and who, being dead, continue living monitors and instructers of mankind.
While we contemplate the progress of these venerable figures along the plain of existence, we feel ourselves in motion, we are hurrying down the stream, we begin to mingle with the assembly of the departed, we leave our
* 1 Cor. xv. 57.
place among men empty. Of those who entered with us on this career of meditation, “ some are not ;" their course is finished, they have fulfilled their day, they are gone to join the men who lived beyond the flood. The cold hand of death has frozen up some of the streams of friendship; the congelation is gaining upon our own vital powers, and marking us for the tomb, where the endearments of social affection, and the meltings of sympathy, and the glow of love, are felt no more. we sorrow not” over departed worth “ as those who have no hope.” God, and angels, and “the spirits of just men made perfect,” have gained what the world has lost : they move in a higher sphere; they perceive with purer intelligence, act with superiour energy, enjoy with more exalted capacity; they die no more, they are as the angels of God in heaven : and Providence charges itself with the care of the forsaken, the helpless and the forlorn whom they have left behind. And we look forward together to that day, when we shall join Moses and Elias, Peter and James, and John, and all who have died before us, or shall die after us in the Lord, not in the glory of Tabor, which was to pass away, but of Mount Zion which is above, and which endureth to endless ages--when we shall come together “unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel,"* and dwell in a tabernacle not erected by the hands of man, the habitation of an hour, but in " a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
Be ye therefore “ followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Purchase for yourselves a deathless name among the "ransomed of the Lord.” Consider yourselves as encompassed, observed, tenderly regarded by those to whom you were dear while they tabernacled among men, and who now love you with the ardour of immortals. Add to the consolation which they enjoy, that of marking your progress in wisdom, your growth in grace. Cultivate acquaintance with the language you are to speak, the spirit you are to breathe, the manners with which you are to conform, the persons with whom you are to converse, eternally. Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set. before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith ; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”+ " Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 6 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure." I
Heb. xii. 22-24.
+ Heb. xii. 1, 2.
1 John iïi. 2, 3.
END OF VOLUME V.
HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS,
COURSE OF LECTURES,
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