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appearances evidently point out the different tempers of the two dispensations; of which, the former, from its severity, was more calculated to excite terror; the
latter, from its gentleness, to inspire love. This circumstance alone, therefore, indicated a happy change in the divine oeconomy; but the gracious words which issued from the cloud most clearly explained the meaning of what was passing before the eyes of the disciples, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased : HEAR YE HIM.” “This is my Son, not as Moses and all the prophets were, my servants. HIM, and him only, you are now to hear. He is from henceforth to be your lord, your legislator, and your king. The evangelical law being established, the ceremonial law must cease; and Mos Es and the PRoPHETs must give way to CHRIST.” With this declaration, the conclusion of the whole scene on the mountain perfectly harmonizes. Moses and Elias instantly disappear, and “when the disciples lift up their eyes, they see no man save Jesus only.” The former objects of their veneration are no more. Christ remains alone their
unrivalled and undisputed sovereign. In support of this interpretation it may be further observed, that there was reason to expect about that time, some such declaration as this respecting the cessation of the Mosaical law. For St. Luke informs us, that the “law and the prophets were until John ;” that is, they were to continue in force till John the Baptist had (as our Lord expresses it) restored all things, had preached those great doctrines of repentance and redemption by the blood of Christ, by which men were restored to a right state of mind, and the favour of God; till he had thus prepared the way for the Messiah, and publicly announced the kingdom of God; and then they were to be superseded by the Christian dispensation. Accordingly, not long after the death of John, the scene of the transfiguration took place; and this great revolution, this substitution of a new system system for the old one, was made known in that remarkable manner to the three disciples. This secondary meaning here assigned to the vision on the Mount, will assist us in explaining an injunction of our Lord to his disciples, for which, though other reasons have been assigned, yet they are not, I think, altogether satisfactory. In the 9th verse we are told, that as they came down from the Mount, Jesus charged the disciples, saying, “Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” If the only intent of the transfiguration had been to represent, by an expressive action, our Lord's resurrection and exaltation, and a future day of retribution, it is not easy to assign a sufficient reason why this injunction of secrecy, till after his resurrection, should have been given; because he had already foretold his resurrection to his disciples”, and he also apprised them, before his death, of his coming in glory to judge the world +. It * Chap. xvi. 21 does * M W i - - i. t Chap. xxv.
does not therefore appear, how the publication of the vision on the Mount could have been attended with any other consequence, than that of confirming what Jesus had already made known. But if we suppose that one purpose of the transfiguration was to typify the abolition of the ceremonial law, and the establishment of the evangelical, a plain reason presents itself for this command of keeping it for some time private ; for it was one of those truths which the first converts were not able to bear. Great numbers of them, though they firmly believed in Christ, yet no less firmly believed that the Mosaical dispensation was still in full force. This prejudice, it is well known, continued several years after our Lord's resurrection. Mention is made “of several thousand Jews who believed, and yet were all zealous of the law.” And it was the suspicion that St. Paul had forsaken, and taught others to forsake Moses, which brought his life into the most imminent danger, and actually occaVol. II. F sioned
sioned his imprisonment. No wonder then that a transaction which was designed to prefigure this very doctrine that St. Paul was charged with, and that was so offensive to the Jewish converts in general, should be thought unfit by our Lord to be publicly divulged till some time, perhaps a considerable time, after his resurrection. From the whole, then, of the preceding observations, it appears, that the transfiguration of Christ was one of those emblematical actions, or figurative representations, of which so many instances have been pointed out, and at the same time very distinctly explained, and elegantly illustrated, by some of our best divines. The things represented by this significant transaction were: First, the future glory of Christ, ageneral resurrection, and a future retribution. Secondly, the abrogation of the Mosaical, and the establishment of the evangelical dispensation. And the immediate purpose of these representations was, as I before observed, to