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enough to countervail the loss of life itself for Christ, so the gain of all the world in sin, is not sufficient to countervail the ruin of the soul by sin.
What men do to save their lives and gain the world, he tells us (ver. 38), and of what fatal consequence it will be to them, --Whosover therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed. Something like this we had, Matt. x. 33 ; but it is here expressed more fully. The disadvantage that the cause of Christ labours under in this world is, that it is to be owned and professed in an adulterous and sinful generation ; such the generation of mankind is, gone astray from God, in the impure embraces of the world and the flesh, lying in wickedness; some ages, some places, are more especially adulterous and sinful, as that was in which Christ lived ; in such a generation the cause of Christ is opposed and run down, and those that own it are exposed to reproach and contempt, and every where ridiculed and spoken against.— There are many who, though they cannot but own that the cause of Christ is a righteous cause, are ashamed of it, because of the reproach that attends the professing of it; they are ashamed of their relation to Christ, and ashamed of the credit they cannot but give to his words; they cannot bear to be frowned upon and despised, and therefore throw off their profession, and go down the stream of a prevailing apostasy. There is a day coming, when the cause of Christ will appear as bright and illustrious as now it appears mean and contemptible; when the Son of man comes in the glory of his father with his holy angels, as the true Shechinah, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the Lord of angels.—Those that are ashamed of Christ in this world where he is despised, he will be ashamed of in that world where he is eternally adored. They shall not share with him in his glory then, that are not willing to share with him in his disgrace now.
2 Jesus is transfigured. 11 He instructelh his disciples concerning the coming of Elias :
14 casteth forth a dumb and deaf spirit: 30 foretelleth his death and resurrection : 33 exhorteth his disciples to humility: 38 bidding them not to prohibit such as be not against
them, nor to give offence to any of the faithful. ND he said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of
them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen bthe kingdom of God come with power. 2 | 'And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves : and he was transfigured before them. 3. And his raiment became shining, exceeding 'white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 | And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes 'that Elias must first come ? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and "be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
a Matt. xvi. 28; Luke ix. 27. h Matt, xxiv. 30, xxv. 31 ; Luke xxii, 18. c Matt. xvii. l; Luke ix. 28. Matt. xxviii. 3. e Matt. xvii. 9. Mal. iy. 5; Matt. xvii. 10. g Psal, xxii. 6; Isa. liii. 2; Dan, ix. 26.
d Dan, vii. 9;
Christ predicts his kingdom as now near approaching. Ver. 1. That which is foretold is, that the kingdom of God would come, and would come so as to be seen. The kingdom of the Messiah shall be set up in the world by the utter destruction of the Jewish polity, which stood in the way of it; this was the restoring of the kingdom of God among men, which had been in a manner lost by the woeful degeneracy both of Jews and Gentiles.- That this kingdom would come with power, so as to make its own way, and bear down the opposition that was given to it. It came with power, when vengeance was taken on the Jews for crucifying Christ, and when it conquered the idolatry of the Gentile world.—That it would come while some now present were alive. “There are some standing here, that shall not taste of death till they see it.” This speaks the same with Matt. xxiv. 34, " This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Those that were standing here with Christ should see it, when the others could not discern it to be the kingdom of God; for it came not with observation.
A specimen of that kingdom was given in the transfiguration of Christ, six days after Christ spoke that prediction. He had begun to give notice to his disciples of his death and sufferings; and, to prevent their offence at that, he gives them this glimpse of his glory, to show that his sufferings were voluntary, and what a virtue the dignity and glory of his person would put into them, and to prevent the offence of the cross.
It was on the top of a high mountain, like the converse Moses had with God, which was on the top of mount Sinai, and his prospect of Canaan from the top of mount Pisgah. Tradition says, it was on the top of mount Tabor that Christ was transfigured; and if so, the Scripture was fulfilled, “ Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name. Psal. Ixxxix. 12. Dr Lightfoot, observing that the last place where we find Christ was in the coast of Cæsarea-Philippi, which was far from mount Tabor, rather thinks it was a high mountain which Josephus speaks of, near Cæsarea.
The witnesses of it were Peter, James, and John ; these were the three that were to bear record on earth ; answering to Moses, Elias, and the voice from heaven, the three that were to bear record from above. Christ did not take all his disciples with him, because the thing was to be kept very private. As there are distinguishing favours which are given to disciples and not to the world, so there are to some disciples and not to others. All the saints are a people near to Christ, but some lie in his bosom. James was the first of all the twelve that died for Christ, and John survived them all, to be the last eye-witness of his glory. He bore record (John i. 14), “ We saw his glory;" and so did Peter. 2 Pet. i. 16–18.
The manner of it,-He was transfigured before them ; he appeared in another manner than he used to do. This was a change of the accidents, the substance remaining the same, and it was a miracle. But transubstantiation, the change of the substance, all the accidents remaining the same, is not a miracle, but a fraud and imposture, such a work as Christ never wrought. See what a great change human bodies are capable of, when God is pleased to put an honour upon them, as he will upon the bodies of the saints, at the resurrection. He was transfigured before them; the change, it is probable, was gradual, from glory to glory, so that the disciples, who had their eye upon him all the while, had the clearest and most certain evidence they could have, that this glorious appearance was no other than the blessed Jesus himself, and there was no illusion in it. John seems to refer to this (1 John i. 1), when he speaks of the “ Word of Life,” as that which they had “ with their eyes, and looked upon.”
His companions in this glory were Moses and Elias, ver. 4. They appeared talking with him; not to teach him, but to testify to him, and to be taught by him; by which it appears that there are converse and intercourse between glorified saints—they have ways of talking one with another which we understand not. Moses and Elias lived at a great distance of time one from another, but that breaks no squares in heaven, where the first shall be last, and the last first; that is, all one in Christ.
The great delight that the disciples took in seeing this sight, and hearing this discourse, is erpressed by Peter, the mouth of the rest ; he said, Master, it is good for us to be here, ver. 5. Though Christ was transfigured, and was in discourse with Moses and Elias, yet he gave Peter leave to speak to him, and to be as free with him as he used to be.-Our Lord Jesus, in his exaltation and glory, doth not at all abate of his condescending kindness to his people. Many, when they are in their greatness, oblige their friends to keep their distance; but even to the glorified Jesus
true believers have access with boldness, and freedom of speech with him. Even in this heavenly discourse there was room for Peter to put in a word; and this is it, “ Lord, it is good to be hereit is good for us to be here; here let us make tabernacles_let this be our rest for ever.”—Gracious souls reckon it good to be in communion with Christ, good to be near him, good to be in the mount with him, though it be a cold and solitary place. It is good to be here retired from the world, and alone with Christ; and if it is good to be with Christ transfigured only upon a mountain with Moses and Elias, how good will it be to be with Christ glorified in heaven with all the saints ! But observe, while Peter was for staying here, he forgot what need there was of the presence of Christ, and the preaching of his apostles, among the people. At this very time, the other disciples wanted them greatly. Ver. 14.– When it is well with us, we are apt to be unmindful of others, and in the fulness of our enjoyments to forget the necessities of our brethren; it was a weakness in Peter to prefer private communion with God before public usefulness. Paul is willing to abide in the flesh, rather than depart to the mountain of glory (though that be far better), when he sees it needful for the Church. Phil. i. 24, 25. Peter talked of making three distinct tabernacles, for Moses, Elias, and Christ, which was not well contrived; for such a perfect harmony there is between the law, the prophets, and the gospel, that one tabernacle will hold them all; they dwell together in unity. But whatever was incongruous in what he said, he may be excused, for they were all sore afraid—and he, for his part, wist not what to say (ver. 6), not knowing what would be the end thereof.
The voice that came from heaven was an attestation of Christ's mediatorship, ver. 7. There was a cloud that overshadowed them, and was a shelter to them. Peter bad talked of making tabernacles for Christ and his friends, but while he yet spoke, see how his project was superseded; this cloud was unto them instead of tabernacles for their shelter (Isa. iv. 5); while he spoke of his tabernacles, God created his tabernacle not made with hands. Now, out of this cloud (which was but a shade to the excellent glory.” Peter speaks of, whence this voice came), it was said, This is my
beloved Son; hear him. God owns him and accepts him as his beloved Son, and is ready to accept of us in him ; we must, then, own and accept him as our beloved Saviour, and must give up ourselves to be ruled by him.
The vision, being designed only to introduce this voice, when that was delivered, disappeared. Ver. 8. Suddenly when they had looked round about, as men amazed to see where they were, all was gone—they saw no man any more. Elias and Moses were vanished out of sight, and Jesus only remained with them, and he not transfigured, but as he used to be.—Christ doth not leave the soul, when extraordinary joys and comforts leave it. Though more sensible and ravishing communications
may be withdrawn, Christ's disciples have, and shall have, his ordinary presence with them always, even to the end of the world, and that is what we must depend upon. Let us thank God for daily bread, and not expect a continual feast on this side heaven.
Christ charged them to keep this matter of the transfiguration very private, till he was risen from the dead, which would complete the proof of his divine mission; and then this must be produced with the rest of the evidence. Ver. 9. And besides, he being now in a state of humiliation, would have nothing publicly taken notice of that might seem disagreeable to such a state ; for to that he would in every thing accommodate himself. This enjoining of silence to the disciples would likewise be of use to them, to prevent their boasting of the intimacy they were admitted to, that they might not be puffed up with the abundance of the revelations. It is a mortification to a man to be tied up from telling of his advancements, and may help to hide pride from him.
The disciples were at a loss what the rising from the dead should mean ; they could not form any notion of the Messiah's dying (Luke xviii. 34), and therefore were willing to think that the rising he speaks of was figurative his rising from his present mean and low estate to the dignity and dominion they were in expectation of. But if so, here is another thing that embarrasses them (ver. 11), “ Why say the scribes, that before the appearing of the Messiah in his glory, according to the order settled in the prophecies of the Old Testament, Elias must first come ?" But Elias was gone, and Moses too. Now, that which raised that difficulty was, that the scribes taught them to expect the person of Elias, whereas the prophecy intended one in the spirit and power of Elias. -The misunderstanding of Scriptures a great prejudice to the entertainment of truth.
Christ gave them a key to the prophecy concerning Elias (ver. 12, 13), “ It is indeed prophesied that Elias will come, and will restore all things, and set them to rights; and (though you will not understand it) it is also prophesied of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought, must be a reproach of men, and despised of the people ; and though the scribes do not tell you so, the Scriptures do, and you have as much reason to expect that as the other, and should not make so strange of it; but as to Elias, I tell you he is come; and if
consider a little, you will understand whom I mean—it is one to whom they have done whatsoever they listed ;” which was very applicable to the ill usuage they had given John the Baptist. Many of the ancients, and the Popish writers generally, think, that besides the coming of John the Baptist in the spirit of Elias, himself in his own person is to be expected, with Enoch, before the second appearance of Christ, wherein the prophecy of Malachi will have a more full accomplishment than it had in John the Baptist. But it is a groundless fancy; the true Elias, as well as the true Messiah promised, is come, and we are to look for no other. These words, As it is written of him, refer not to their doing to him whatsoever they listed (that comes in in a parenthesis), but only to his coming. He is come, and hath been and done according as was written of him.
14 kAnd when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them,
and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye | with them? 17 And 'one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, wbich hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he fteareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you ? how long shall I suffer you ? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and “when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him ; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him : but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; belp thou mine unbelief. 25 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. 26 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. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 "And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them. This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
k Matt. xvii. 14; Luke ix. 37. 1 Or, among yourselres ? | Matt. xvii. 14; Luke ix. 38. tOr, dasheth him.
Luke ix. 42. n Matt. xvii. 20; chap. xi. 23; Luke xvii. 6; John xi. 40. o Matt. xvii. 19.
m Chap. i. $;
We have here the miracle of Christ's casting the devil out of a child, somewnat more fully related than it was in Matt. xvii. 14, &c.
Christ laid aside his robes of glory, and came to look after his family, and to inquire what was become of them. Christ's glory above does not make him forget the concerns of his Church below, which he visits in great humility. Ver. 14. And he came very seasonably, when the disciples were embarrassed and run a-ground; the scribes, who were sworn enemies both to him and them, had gained an advantage against them. A child possessed with a devil was brought to them, and they could not cast out the devil, whereupon the scribes exulted over them, and reflected upon their Master, and triumphed as if the day were their own. He found the scribes questioning with them, in the hearing of the multitude, some of whom perhaps began to be shocked by it. Thus Moses, when he came down from the mount, found the camp of Israel in great disorder ; so soon were Christ and Moses missed. Christ's return was very welcome, no doubt, to the disciples, and unwelcome to the scribes. But particular notice is taken of its being very surprising to the people, who perhaps were ready to say, “ As for this Jesus, we wot not what is become of him;" but when they beheld him coming to them again,
they were greatly amazed—and running to him, iney saluted him." It is easy to give a reason why they should be glad to see him ; but why were they amazed, greatly amazed, when they beheld him? Probably there might remain something unusual in his countenance; as Moses' face shone when he came down from the mount, which made the people afraid to come nigh him (Exod. xxxiv. 30), so, perhaps, did Christ's face, in some measure; at least, instead of seeming fatigued, there appeared a wonderful briskness and sprightliness in his looks, which amazed them.
The case which perplexed the disciples, is brought before him. He asked the scribes, who, le knew, were always vexatious to his disciples, and teazing them upon every occasion, “ What question ye with them ?—what is the quarrel now?” The scribes made no answer
, for they were confounded at his presence; the disciples made none, for they were comforted, and now left all to him; but the father of the child opened the cause. Vers. 17, 18. 1. His child is possessed with a dumb spirit—he has the falling sickness, and in his fits is speechless. Ilis case is very sad, for wheresoever the fit takes him, the spirit tears him—throws him into such violent convulsions as almost pull him to pieces; and, which is very grievous to himself, and frightful to those about him, he foams at the mouth, and gnashes with his teeth, as one in pain and great misery; and though the fits to off presently, yet they leave him so weak that he pines away—is worn to a skeleton; his flesh is
-so the word signifies. Psal. cii. 3-5. This was a constant afHiction to a tender father. 2. The disciples cannot give him any relief. “I desired they would cast him out, as they had done many, and they would willingly have done it, but they could not; and therefore thou couldest never have come in better time-Master, I have brought him to thee.”
The rebuke he gave to them all (ver. 19), O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? Dr Hammond understands this as spoken to the disciples, reproving them for not exerting the power he had given them, and because they did not fast and pray, as in some cases he had directed them to do. But Dr Whitby takes it as a rebuke to the scribes, who gloried in this disappointment that the disciples met with, and hoped to run them down with it. Them he calls a faithless generation, and speaks as one weary of being with thein, and of bearing with them. We never hear him complaining, “ IIow long shall I be in this low condition, and suffer that?” but, “How long shall I be among these faithless people, and suffer them ?"
The deplorable condition that the child was actually in when he was brought to Christ, and the sad representation which the father made of it. When the child saw Christ he fell into a fit. The spirit straightway tore him, boiled within him, troubled him (so Dr Hammond); as if the devil would set Christ at defiance, and hoped to be too hard for him too, and to keep possession in spite of him. The child fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. We may put another construction upon it.—That the devil raged, and had so much the greater wrath because he knew that his time was short. Rev. xii. 12. Christ asked, How long is it ayo since this came unto him? And it seems the disease was of long standing; it came to him of a child (ver. 21), which made the case the more sad, and the cure the more difficult. We are all by nature children of disobedience, and in such the evil spirit works, and has done so from our childhood; for foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, and nothing but the mighty grace of Christ can cast it out.
The pressing instances which the father of the child makes with Christ for a cure (ver. 22), - Ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him. The devil aims at the ruin of those in whom he rules and works, and seeks whom he may devour. But if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. The leper was confident of Christ's power,
but put an if upon his will (Matt. viii. 2)—“ If thou wilt thou canst.” This poor man referred himself to his good-will
, but put an if upon his power ; because his disciples, who cast out devils in his name, had been nonplussed in this case. Thus Christ suffers in his honour by the difficulties and follies of his disciples.
The answer Christ gave to his address (ver. 23),--If thou canst believe, all things are pussible to him that believeth. Christ tacitly checks the weakness of his faith. The sufferer put it upon Christ's power-If thou canst do any thing—and reflected on the want of power in the disciples; but Christ turns it upon him, and puts him on questioning his own faith, and will have him impute the disappointment to the want of that-If thou canst believe.—He graciously encourages the strength of his desire : “ All things are possible, will appear possible, to him that believes the almighty power of God, to which all things are possible ;" or, “ That shall be done luy the grace of God, for them that believe in the promise of God, which seemed utterly impossible." In dealing with Christ, very much is put upon our believing, and very much promised to it. Canst thou believe ? Darest thou believe ? Art thou willing to venture thy all in the hands of Christ? to venture all thy spiritual concerns with him, and all thy temporal concerns for him? Canst thou find in thy heart to do this? If so, it is not impossible but that, though thou hast been a great