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When they were going away, Peter, transported with the divine communion, cried out; Master, it is good for us to be here, and let us make three tabernacles (of the branches of the groves, such as he had been used to weave at the vintage festival), one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias-not knowing what he said.' His unreflecting impulse, however, gave utterance to a very natural aspiration, the desire for a perpetual residence of Jesus in such glory, and in such open intercourse with heaven, in a region where the blessedness should be within easy reach of the toiling millions of the earth below. He vaguely thought, perhaps, that if this dazzling vision could be made perpetual, the most effectual method would be taken to establish the kingdom of God among men. A nightly visit to this holy mount' would convert to religion and to God every spectator of the glory. An ascent of this sacred hill would melt the hearts of Scribes and Pharisees, awe the ungodly pride of sanhedrims, confound the superstitions of the Gentiles, and lift up to heavenly life the grovelling souls of all nations. Vain had been his teaching in the synagogues; the wicked crowds, undaunted by his speech, or by his miracles, had endeavoured to‘entangle Him in his talk,' or to lie in wait to catch something whereof they might accuse Him.' Scarcely 500 brethren in the faith had yet rewarded his ceaseless toils and agonizing labours by night and day. The written words of Moses and the prophets were obviously inadequate to awaken the profane millions on the territory below, or to raise the life of saints to a level with His own. But oh! if this divine vision could remain ; if He, their master, would forbid the departure of the saints; if Elijah would but send his chariot of fire away, and continue to converse in glory with Moses and the Lord ; if all three would establish their permanent home beneath these overshadowing splendours, then their hearts who loved Him would be entranced for ever into a celestial purity, and the wbole world would make a pilgrimage that should end in its conversion.
But this was not to be. When the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. An awful seal of secrecy was placed upon their lips, and they descend to the shadows of death below. But Christ's death and resurrection once accomplished, they may 'tell the vision' to every man ; and the belief in its reality has much to do with every man's daily life, and every man's feelings in the prospect of departure.
They spake of his exit, of his departure from this dark and sinful world into their world of light above ; and Moses and Elijah will not have conversed in vain, if, through the testimony of the Apostles, they persuade us how 'good' it must be to be there.
The reality of Christ's presence in the upper regions of the universe, in the upper chambers and mansions of the palace of the Great King, and the 'sameness' of Christ's character yesterday, to-day, and for ever,' are the foundations of all our piety, of all our comfort, and of all our hope. He has gone to appear in the presence of God for us. And it is that same Jesus who there receives the Christian's departing soul. We have but to transfer the sensation of Peter's rapture at Hermon to the Paradise of God, in order to cry out, no longer like him unwistfully, 'to depart is to be with Christ,' which is good,' and 'far better,' and best. For there is the glorious band of the apostles and prophets of the human race, the noble army of martyrs, and the innumerable company of the spirits of just men made perfect all conversing together of the exit into that glory which Jesus accomplished at Jerusalem ; all . in broad circle lovelier than the rainbow,' surrounding and thronging, as the multitudes did below, that same Jesus, whom through the fourfold reflecting mirror of the evangelical histories we have known so well on earth.
Let us then, since all depends on realizing that he is unchanged by the lapse of eighteen centuries, think of the sameness of Jesus Christ—the fact and its bearings.
In every sense of the word Jesus was and is THE SAME ; both in the sense that his character was the same all through, and that it is unchanged and unchangeable. Stay for a moment to consider the first sense of the word. He was the same all through ; His life was wholly pervaded by one principle and feeling. His aim, that which He always loved to do, was constantly one. We do not see this even in the best of men. There is in them a higher and a lower, a bright and dark side of the mountain. In wearly all there seem to be some departments of character which grace has scarcely reached. There are some branches of the tree, facing the cold north, whose growth has been stunted and arrested. The manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal is not uniform. Some inconsis. tency remains. There is a mixture, perhaps of solemnity and levity, a graft of the character of the saint upon that of the sinner. A man is sincerely good in certain helpful companies and occupations, not so good elsewhere ; righteous, but not so loving as he ought to be; loving and affectionate, but not adequately severe and just; kind and faithful, but not sufficiently devout; good in the sunshine, but failing in the storm. In Christ there was absolute uniformity. His character was all of a piece, like His robe, 'woven from the top throughout.' He never breaks down. Wherever you obtain a glimpse of him, on mountain side, beneath the village tree at even ing surrounded by the peasantry, on the waters of the lake, on the high road, in the synagogue or in the temple, in town or country, by day or night, by sunlight at work, by moonlight at prayer, or by lamplight in the upper chamber, at dinner or at supper, at home or
abroad, it is always the same Jesus. And that same is the highest. It is not a wearisome sameness, but like the brightness of the unwearying sun.
We can conceive of nothing higher in order to fit the idea of Incarnate Deity. The character of Jesus stands up unabashed under that inconceiveably great trial—of the question, Is it suitable to the idea of God manifest in the flesh? It is. Holy, yet compassionate ; intolerant of evil, yet eating and drinking with publicans and sinners. Always good, yet always condescending in tenderness to the worst. There is no break where weakness appears. No pride, no vanity, po rashness, no violence, no sentimental weakness. No levity, no presumption, though 'thinking it not robbery to be equal with God.' The light goes down to his feet. He is wholly transfigured. It is not that his face is sun-like and his feet are dark or that one-half of his nature ‘glisters, while the lower is in shadow. His feet are • like fine brass burning in a furnace. He is not like Nebuchadnezzar's image, descendin from gold to earthenware ; but he is pure refined gold throughont— the image of God unseen. This sameness of Jesus raised his whole life to the level of a divine Epiphany. In his presence the common meal rose to the dignity of a sacrament, and the washing of wearied feet became at once an example of brotherly affection, and a parable of forgiving mercy. The royalty of his nature went down to the skirts of his apparel. If the breastplate of Urim flashed upon his bosom, the pomegranates and the silver bells of the commandments of the Lord marle music upon the fringes of his robe. The hem of his garment was as full of restorative virtue as his healing palm. Nothing in Him bore the trace of defilement. When he spat upon the ground, the clay became a collyrium, and imparted vision to the blind. Human nature in Him seemed to lose all its gross ness ; to become transparent as crystal, pure as the blue of heaven.
When you meet your fellow-creatures, you feel that they, like you, are limited. They have a few score of chief ideas, and there an end, a certain stock of patience, beyond which you must not trespass. But here was a fountain out of which burst the ocean ; exhaustless wisdom, exhaustless love. So full of truth, so full of grace, when through his eyes the Godhead shone.'
And by an easy transition we rise from this sameness of Jesus to the sameness of his unchangeableness in glory. Other men change in the different periods of their life, and often within short spaces of time. Some change their feelings, their manners, their friendships, with the measures of their property, and a once thoroughly good. companion is spoilt by his prosperity. Some in middle life grow suddenly good ; are smitten as by lightning from heaven into truin and piety—are converted, so that you would scarcely know themi. Some from being good become worse; their old extravagantly nar
row beliefs become so extravagantly broad as to be not distinguishable from indifference. Some from being good grow better -more earnest, honest, self-sacrificing, intelligent, compassionate. Changes in character are going on all around us, as in nature, in the seasons, in the trees and flowers. But Jesus is the same everywhere and always. No one can point out any moral progress or retrogression. He grew in 'wisdom and stature,' but not in goodness. No one can detect any change of opinion, or principle, or feeling, or aim. He was as immutable as the sun in the heavens. You feel that having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end ;' that his death was but the carrying into practice of the feelings and doctrines of his life. There was no halting like Cranmer-no right hand to burn first for its retractations and falsehoods—but he was the same from first to last ; 'the same yesterday and to-day,' the Lamb of God without blemish and without spot.'
And this same Jesus was taken up from us into heaven and here is the point to notice-unchanged and unchangeable. The radiance of bis white robe of immortality left his spirit what it was before. His affections are not transferred to his new sphere of being. He is now exactly what he was when he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not;' when he sat at rest under the sycamores of Bethany, in the garden of Martha and Mary, and Mary feasted her soul by looking up into 'that siderial countenance,' and 'hearing His words.'
He was 'the same' when he ascended. No earthly mantle of human affection fell as he went up; He took it with Him. It was while he blessed them' that he was parted from them. The familiar face beamed down upon them as he slowly rose through the air. The familiar hand was outstretched to bid farewell, and to beckon them to the skies, as he soared through the firmament.
And every indication afterwards told that it was the same Jesus who had taken the reins of universal power. When the Spirit was poured forth from on high,' and it sat .as cloven tongues of fire on each of them,' it gave them power to utter in every language the same parables and words of mercy which He had spoken on earth. .He shall take of mine and shew them unto you. They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ,' to repeat the words, to explain the life and death, to reproduce the miracles of Him whose only change in heaven was that he was 'glorified.' The old tenderness for the lost—the old compassion for the prodigal-was now poured forth in a tide of love from the right hand of God.' The mission of the Comforter was to represent the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee, whom God had highly exalted.' His name' performs the same wonders as his presence. The lame man 'leaps as an hart,' and fills the temple with his praises. When He
descends for a moment to arrest Saul of Tarsus on the highroad to Damascus, it is the same Jesus, "Jesus of Nazareth,' not Jesus of Paradise ; the same in boundless grace; the same in the very style of his language, 'Why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks!' This is the very manner of the Son of Man,' who plucked the flowers of his discourse on earth by the Wayside, and spake the familiar parables of Galilee.
And ever since he has exhibited in his great providence over the affairs of his church, the same characteristics which we find depicted on the Gospel page. The spiritual history of Christendom is like the vast shadow of Jesus Christ falling over the centuries—a shadow, which like Peter's at Jerusalem, heals all manner of disease among the people.
The same compassion to sinners he has shown for eighteen hundred years as during the three years of his Syrian ministry; and sinners have felt it. He has been speaking from heaven' in all languages all his old parables—the parable of the lost silver, of the lost sheep, of the lost son, of the returning prodigal, of the good Samaritan. Men have, in hearing these words, felt that they were not the utterances of the dead, but of One Jesus who was alive.' In every generation the leper has heard the same, ‘I will, be thou clean.' The Magdalen has heard the same, Go in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee;' Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.' In every age and land, the Lord has turned and looked upon Peter, and Peter has gone out to weep bitterly.' In every age the crushed and trembling soul of the dying malefactor has turned to the Crucified with, 'Lord remember me when thou comest in Thy kingdom,' and heard the same wondrous answer, 'Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. No century has passed without sudden conversions of Saul of Tarsus, smitten by a spiritual appearance of Jesus on the high road of his sinful life. Our own day has witnessed the most wonderful exhibitions of this power of Christ in heaven over both individuals and multitudes in Ireland, in America, in England, in Wales, in Scotland, in France and Paris itself, in Jamaica, in India, in the islands of the Pacific, men have fallen to the earth crying, "Who art thou Lord ? What wilt thou have me to do? They have been cut to the heart, and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?' In every age, pre-eminently in our own, the children have been moved to chaunt ‘Hosannah, blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.' The jailer has sprung in trembling, calling for light, and exclaiming, 'What must I do to be saved ? Savages have become civilized, and races haunted by the fiends of hell have laid aside their maniac violence, their cannibalism, and their superstitions, and come to sit at the feet of Jesus, 'clothed, and in their right mind.' Some are 'won without the word,'-some by the