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[God has on many occasions signally manifested his regard to prayer-It was at the beginning of Daniel's supplications that an angel was sent to reveal to him the period fixed for the Messiah's advent- The reason that God assigned for sending Ananias to open the eyes of Saul was, “ Behold he prayeth”bmThus Jesus was at this time engaged in prayerHe had retired to a mountain for that very purpose: and this was the season which God chose for distinguishing him in this most signal manner-It is worthy of remark, that every time that God was pleased to bear testimony to his Son by an audible voice from heaven, it was either in, or immediately after, prayer-And if we cultivated more holy intimacy with God, he would more frequently vouchsafe to us also the special tokens of his love-]
" While he was praying,” his form was visibly and wonderfully changed
[In his transfiguration, as it is called, the Godhead displayed itself through the vail of his human nature: his countenance shone like the meridian sun; and his very garments were so irradiated by the lustre of the indwelling Deity, that they were white and dazzling like the light, yea, “ so white as no fuller on earth could whiten them”d.He had hitherto appeared only in the form of a servant;" but now he appeared in his own proper form as God; at least, so far as his divine nature could be rendered visible to mortal eyes-Nor was this transfiguration intended as a mere ostentatious display of his glory: it was necessary perhaps for his support as man; that, when he should come into the scenes of his deepest humiliation, he might not faint-It was also well calculated to prepare his disciples for that awful view of him, which they were afterwards to have, when they should see him in the garden, prostrate on the ground, bathed in a bloody sweat, and supplicating “with strong crying and tears” the removal of the cup which his Father had put into his hands-]
The history further informs us respecting II. His conversation with his attendants
Moses and Elijah were sent from heaven to attend upon him
[The body of Moses probably had been preserved, as that of Elijah had been translated to heaven, without suffering the total change which is usually effected by death-They were on this occasion arrayed “ in glory," somewhat like to their divine Master, though, of course, they were but as
twinkling stars in comparison of the meridian sun-And there was a peculiar propriety that these should be selected to wait upon him, not only because they had been faithful and highly honoured servants of God, the one being the giver and the other the restorer of the law, but because they fitly represented the law and the prophets; and, in bearing testimony to him, resigned, as it were, their authority into his hands-]
These conversed with him respecting his own approach. ing death
[One might have expected that they should have talked of heaven: but they had a subject in which all were yet more deeply interested; a subject, in which the inexhaustible treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge are contained; a subject, which fills all heaven with wonder, and which eternity itself will not be sufficient to unfold-Yes, that subject, universally exploded from the societies of men, was the one which occupied their attention during this delightful interview; " they spake of his decease which he should accomplish in Jerusalem”- what do we lose by lending ourselves so entirely to other topics, and so totally discarding this! And how infatuated are men, that, even in the society of their dearest friends, they do not improve their hours by conversing on a subject of such universal importance!-]
Nor were his earthly followers wholly excluded-We read of III. The peculiar privilege granted to some of his disciples
Some more distinguished favourites were admitted to this heavenly vision
(Christ has sanctified human friendships by manifesting the same attachments as are common among men. He not only chose twelve out of the body of his disciples to be his stated followers, but admitted three of them to more peculiar intimacy than the rest: and even of these three there was one, who lay, as it were, in his bosom, and was called, by way of eminence, “ The disciple whom he loved”-But the three, who had been taken up to the mountain to spend their time in prayer, had fallen asleep, and lost thereby much of the vision, which they might have seen, and of the conversation, which they might have heard-Alas! What an irreparable loss did they sustain! Well might Jesus have said to them, “ Sleep on now and take your rest”-But the effulgence of his glory roused them at last, and they both beheld this bright assemblage of persons, and heard the sublime discourse which passed between them-Happy were their eyes which saw, and their ears which heard such things -Can we wonder that Peter
should exclaim, It is good for us to be here; and that he should propose to erect tents for the accommodation of Christ and his heavenly guests, regardless of his own ease, if he might but protract his present enjoyments?--But though well meant, it was an ignorant proposal; for it was needful both for themselves and for the world, that they should speedily resume their wonted labours, and fulfil the work assigned them
Peter however may well be excused, for “ he knew not what he said”-]
They also heard the testimony, which the Father on that occasion bore to Christ
[While the apostles were wishing to rest in their present comforts, they were overshadowed with a cloud, and their joys were turned into fear and dread—The cloud perhaps was like that, which guided the Israelites through the wilderness as a symbol of the divine presence: and what can we expect, but that, as sinners, they should tremble at the near approach of the divine Majesty?-But the testimony which they heard, amply compensated their transient fears: their divine Master was proclaimed as the only beloved Son of God; and they were bidden to “ hear him,” him chiefly, him constantly, him exclusively-Such was the singular honour conferred on him: and though they were forbidden to mention it for a season, lest it should provoke their enemies to wrath, and their fellowdisciples to jealousy, yet doubtless it tended much to support them in their subsequent conflicts-] INFER 1. How indisputable is the truth of our holy religion!
[This was a most remarkable testimony to the character of Jesus; and it was given by God himself: and would God interpose in this manner in order to deceive? or could those disciples be mistaken in what they so plainly saw with their eyes, and heard with their ears?-Surely, strange as the tidings of the gospel may be thought, here is evidence enough that it is not a cunningly devised fable”—It is remarkable that St. Peter selects this very event out of the many thousands to which he was a witness, in order to establish beyond a doubt the truth of that doctrine which he preached-Let us then receive that gospel which is so well authenticated, so firmly established-Let us “ hear Jesus,” our divinely appointed teacher, and make him “our beloved” Saviour, “ in whom our souls are well pleased”-]
2. How diversified are the states of God's people upon earth!
[These highly favoured disciples were now upon the
mount; but they were soon to descend into the valley again, and to go “ through much tribulation in their way to the kingdom”—Thus it is with all the Lord's people; the present is at best a chequered scene; nor is trouble ever nearer to us than when we are saying, “ My mountain standeth strong; I shall never be moved"_Let us then be thankful for any seasons of joy; but never be so elated by them as to wish to set up tabernacles here, or to forget that we may soon experience a sad reverse: yea, let us rather improve our joys as means of strengthening us for future conflicts-] 3. What a glorious place must heaven be!
[It must have been inexpressibly delightful to have beheld, though for so short a time, this heavenly vision: but what must it be to “ see Jesus as he is,” in all the full blaze of divine majesty; to see him, not attended with two only, but with ten thousands of his saints; and to hear, not a conversation about future sufferings, but songs of everlasting joy and triumph? What must it be to see and hear such things; ourselves resembling the Lord Jesus; our bodies fashioned like unto his glorious body;” and our souls “ shining above the sun in the firmament;” our body no longer to become torpid through sloth, nor our soul to be agitated by surprise or terror; but in the perfect exercise of all our faculties to participate that glory, with a full assurance that it shall never end? Well may we then say, It is good for us to be here- Then we shall need no tabernacles, for “ we shall dwell in the temple of our God, and shall go no more out"8_May we all be counted worthy of that honour! may we be admitted to the enjoyment of that beatific vision; that “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also may appear with him in glory!”—]
CCCV. A DEAF AND DUMB SPIRIT CAST OUT.
Mark ix. 25-27. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him,
Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, Come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
VARIOUS, and extremely opposite, were the states, which our Lord, in the course of his ministry, experienced
He was not wholly a stranger to seasons of exalted joy
But he was chiefly conversant with scenes of sorrow and affliction
He had just come down from the mount on which he had been transfigured
And the splendor of his glory was yet visible in his countenancea
But he descended only to behold the miseries to which sin had reduced us
And to renew his labours among a scoffing and unbe. lieving people
To bring into view the various circumstances of the history before us, we shall consider 1. The wretched state of the youth who was brought to
him Imagination can scarcely point out a more distressing scene than that exhibited in the context i
[Here was a youth afflicted with an epilepsy, or falling-' sickness
This affliction was greatly increased by his being a lunatic
To complete his misery, he was possessed by an evil spirit
And impelled him, on the returns of his disorder, to rush into the fire or into the watere
He moreover tare and rent the youth with most excruciating agonies
And deprived him of the powers of speech and hearing
Thus had Satan tormented him even from his very childhoodh.
So that, in the very bloom of life, the youth pined and languished in the extremest misery.-) .
This scene too justly describes the invisible influence of Satan over the souls of men
2 This is not absolutely asserted by the Evangelist: but it is the most probable reason for the great amazement” which the people discovered at the sight of him, ver. 15. This idea is confirmed by the account given us of Moses the Jewish lawgiver, who experienced a similar continuance of glory on his counter.ance after conversing with God on mount Sinai, Exod. xxxiv. 29, 30. with 2 Cor.jii. 7. b Matt xvii, 15. c Ib.
d Luke ix. 39. e Mark ix. 22, flb. ver. 18. 8 Ib, ver. 25,
Ib. ver. 21. i Ib, ver. 18.