Page images
PDF
EPUB

lighted upon our Saviour's head; and the reason why I think so is this, both because wherever any mention is made of God's or the Holy Ghost's appearing in an indefinite form, it is always in a body of light and visible splendour, of which I have given you sundry instances; and also because it seems to have been a very early tradition in the church, that it was in a very glorious appearance of light that the Holy Ghost came down upon our Saviour : and therefore in the gospel of the Nazarenes, as Grotius observes, it is said, that upon the Holy Ghost's descent, ευθύς περιέλαμψε τον τόπον φώς μεγα, « immedi

ately a great light shone round about the place ;" and Justin Martyr, speaking of our Saviour's baptism, saith expressly, πύρ ανήφθη εν τω Ιορδάνη,

“ that " there was a fire lighted in the river Jordan;" that is, the water, immediately after he was baptized in it, seemed to be all on fire by the reflection of that bright and flaming appearance in which the Holy Ghost descended upon him; so that while he wore thiş crown of visible light, his head, as the painters are wont to express it, was circled round with the rays of that glory in which he was wont to appear from between the cherubims. And this glory of his was questionless seen by many of the apostles, who were sundry of them disciples to John the Baptist, and so may reasonably be supposed to be present at the baptism of our Saviour.

And as for his transfiguration upon mount Tabor, it is said, that upon it his face did shine as the sun, and that his raiment was white as the light; or, as St. Luke expresses it, o ipatiquò avtoũ dellòs étaotpántov; that is, his raiment was like the whiteness of a flash of lightning, Luke ix. 29. So that from head to foot he was all enrobed in a visible glory, and covered with all that brightness and dazzling splendour, in which he was wont to appear in the tabernacle of Moses. And accordingly you have mention made of a cloud that overshadowed the three disciples, whilst Jesus remained in his transfiguration, which is exactly agreeable with that cloud that covered the tabernacle of Moses, whilst the glory of the Lord filled it, as you may see, Exod. xl. 34. And that this glorious transfiguration was a part of that glory of the Word which St. John here says they beheld, is evident, because himself was one of the three disciples that were eyewitnesses of this glorious scene, and it is expressly said of him and his brethren, that they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him, Luke ix. 32.

2dly, This glory which they saw, consisted in those great and stupendous miracles that he wrought in the course of his ministry, in proportion to that extraordinary power in which the glory of the divine presence discovered itself in the tabernacle of Moses. For thus we find that it was from the tabernacle that God exerted all that miraculous power by which he punished the rebellions of the Jews, and wrought those miraculous deliverances for them. It was from the tabernacle that he commanded the earth to open and swallow up Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, and that he sent forth that devouring fire which consumed their two hundred and fifty accomplices. It was from the tabernacle that he smote the false spies with the plague, and sent forth an army of fiery serpents to destroy the murmuring Israelites. It was by his presence in the tabernacle that he conducted them through the wilderness,

and drave their enemies before them; that he divided the river Jordan to open them a passage into Canaan, and made the wall of Jericho to fall flat at the blasts of a few rams' horns. And

And upon the account of this miraculous power which he exerted from the tabernacle, the ark that was contained in it, and was the special seat of his presence, is called the ark of his strength, Psalm cxxxii. 8. and God is said to send them help from his sanctuary, and to strengthen them out of Sion, where the ark was reposited in the sanctuary of the temple, Psalm xx. 2. Thus also those words are to be understood, Psalm lxxx. 2. Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and help us ; because the ark, from whence God was wont to put forth his strength in saving of that people, marched immediately before these three tribes. And this was very well understood both by the Israelites and the Philistines; for when the Philistines had overthrown them, they desired that the ark of the Lord might be fetched out of Shiloh, that so when it came among them it might save them out of the hands of their enemies, 1 Sam. iv. 3. And when the Philistines understood that the ark was brought into their camp, they were sore afraid, and cried out, God is come into the camp.-Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hands of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness, ver. 7, 8.

From whence it is evident, that they both looked upon the tabernacle as the seat of God's miraculous power, and this miraculous power is called the glory of God; for thus, when the ark was taken by the Philistines, it is said that God delivered his strength

into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand, Psalm lxxviii. 61. and his glory, and the miracles that he wrought from the tabernacle in the wilderness, are mentioned as synonymous terms, Numbers xiv. 22. Because all these men have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, &c. So that it is evident, that he exerted his miraculous power from the tabernacle, and that this miraculous power was his glory.

And consonantly hereunto it was from the tabernacle of human nature wherein he dwelt, that the eternal Word exerted that miraculous power whereby he cured the sick, calmed the sea, raised the dead, vanquished the devils, and wrought all his miraculous works, which were so many and so great, that they ravished his friends with joy to behold them, and struck terror and amazement into his enemies; for so it is said, that they were all amazed at the mighty power of God that was in him, Luke ix. 43. And that when they saw how the devils trembled and fled before him, they marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel, Matt. ix. 33. So that by their own confession, that miraculous power which he exerted in the tabernacle of human nature did far exceed that miraculous power which he exercised in the tabernacle of Moses. And this miraculous power of his is also expressly called his glory, John ii. 11. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. So that as his miraculous power was called his glory when he tabernacled among the Jews, so it was also when he tabernacled in human nature, and so by consequence this also was a part of that glory of his which his apostles saw while he dwelt among them.

3dly, This glory which they saw consisted also in the surpassing excellency and divinity of his doctrine, agreeably to that expression of his glorious presence in the old tabernacle, viz. his giving laws and oracles to the Israelites. For thus we find that God told Moses, that he would meet him in the tabernacle, and commune with him of all things, which he would give him in commandment to the children of Israel, Exod. xxv. 22. And, Numbers vii. 89. you have the manner of his communing with them described; for when Moses, saith he, went into the tabernacle, he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark, from between the two cherubims. For Christ, as I have formerly shewed you, being the civil prince or sovereign of the Jews, the cherubims were the throne upon which he sat, and from whence he gave laws and directions for the administration of the affairs of his kingdom : and accordingly he is said to dwell between the cherubims, Psalm xcix. 1. and to ride upon the cherubims, 2 Sam. xxii. 11. and the sanctuary wherein the cherubims were seated, is expressly called the throne of the Lord, Jerem. xvii. 12. because here it was that he sat in all his majesty, and gave forth his laws and ordinances to the kingdom of Israel. And this was an eminent expression of the glory of his presence among them,

, because hereby he asserted his sovereign authority, and did publicly challenge to himself that right to his glorious power which from all eternity was inherent in him. And hence the apostle calls the giving those divine laws and oracles a glorious mi

« PreviousContinue »