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ceed to a consideration of that particular event which is the subject of our present inquiry.
That the transfiguration was such an actual change in the person of our Lord as the Evangelists describe, and not a mere vision, or any illusion of the senses, the reverence due to the sacred writers, and the whole tenor of the narrative, forbid us to question. Overpowered as the disciples acknowledge themselves to have been by fear, admiration, and surprise, there seems no room for their imaginations to have operated in producing the effect described; nor can it be supposed that our Lord would have suffered them to continue under false impressions of what occurred, had they been misled by the suddenness or vehemence of their emotions. The change, therefore, in our Lord's appearance, however inconceivable to our apprehensions, was doubtless a real change, such as might be ascertained by the evidence of the senses, and leaving no room for doubt in the minds of the spectators, as to what they "heard, and saw with their eyes, and looked upon, of the "Word of lifed."
The appearances of Moses and Elias were susceptible also of the same kind of proof, and
d 1 John i. 1.
are spoken of by the Evangelists with the same unhesitating confidence. And though neither of these illustrious persons could have been before known to the disciples, yet the conversation that passed between our Lord and them was sufficient to secure them in this respect from the possibility of error; our Lord himself thus virtually certifying the identity of the persons miraculously brought into his presence. The whole transaction, indeed, is so far above human invention, and so far removed from any conceptions the Apostles then entertained of the truths it unfolded to them, that nothing less than the irresistible conviction of their own senses, and the testimony of their Lord himself, can be supposed to have operated to their belief in the reality of the scene. And it is in the very circumstance of its being thus adapted to the removal of their previous misconceptions, that we are enabled to discern its probable and most obvious design.
The disciples, although they had confessed Jesus to be the Christ, do not yet appear to have had distinct apprehensions either of his dignity as the Son of God, or of his humiliation as the Son of Man; nor do they seem to have been aware, that by the accomplishment of the Law and the Prophets in his
person, the whole Jewish dispensation was about to be superseded, and to give place to the universal promulgation of the Gospel. Their misapprehension of the former points was shewn in the conversation that had recently taken place. Their prepossessions respecting the latter appeared on every occasion, and were not entirely removed until a much later period. How far this marvellous event was calculated to dispel these prejudices, is the point that especially claims our consideration.
Moses and Elias were evidently on this occasion representatives of the Law and the Prophets; and their re-appearance from the world of spirits, to hold this conference with HIM to whom the Law and the Prophets had given witness, was an indication of the harmony and connection of the Gospel with the preceding dispensations. Both these distinguished persons had been eminently faithful servants of God, and instruments of promoting his truth upon earth. Both had been signal types of Christ. Both had been permitted to have personal conference with the Almighty, and to see a portion of his glory on mount Horeb. No human testimony, therefore, could equal that which was here given to our Lord's personal dignity and
office by the presence of these illustrious characters; one raised from the dead, the other recalled from the abode of departed spirits, to heighten the glory of his appearance, and to confirm the faith of his disciples.
We learn from St. Luke what was the subject of the conference which they held with our Lord on this occasion. "They spake of "his decease, which he should accomplish at "Jerusalemo. This event was now fast approaching; and was that at the prospect of which the Apostles had taken so great offence. This was afterwards the great stumbling-block both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. Yet it had been prefigured in the Law, and predicted by the Prophets. Moses and Elias may therefore be considered as now called upon to attest the doctrine of "Christ "crucified;" and to confirm what our Lord, after his resurrection, upbraided his disciples with not knowing, that by "suffering these things," he was to "enter into his glory." The necessity of this for the fulfilment of the prophecies is implied in St. Luke's expression that his decease should be accomplished at Jerusalem: and our Lord's last words upon the cross, "It is finished," evidently re
fer to the fulfilment of every thing in the Law as well as in the Prophets, by his death. Thus his humiliation led to his glory. Thus the high purpose of his incarnation was ef fected. Thus he was "glorified in the Father, "and the Father in him." Having "offered "one sacrifice for sin, he for ever sat down on the right hand of God";" and "by one
offering perfected for ever them that are "sanctified." When these things afterwards came to pass, and the Apostles could no longer entertain the fallacious hope of a temporal, instead of a spiritual Deliverer; it could not but greatly confirm their faith in this suffering Messiah, that even Moses and Elias had thus borne testimony to its truth. No faithful believer in the Law and the Prophets could scruple to embrace the doctrine in which they had concurred, and by which their own pretensions as messengers from God had been so signally confirmed. Nor can we doubt that, with this impression on their minds, the Apostles were led so much. the more diligently to "search the Scrip"tures" of the Old Testament, for corroborative evidence of that which, though the main doctrine of the Christian faith, was to them the most difficult to be received.
John xiii. 31.
h Hebr. x. 12.
i Hebr. x. 14.