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1. Do not the words suggest the solitary personal grandeur of Jesus as He stands among the other teachers and prophets of the Church? The Church has had many teachers, and many teachers who were sent immediately from God. The mission of Moses and Elias, the mission of Samuel and Isaiah,
and, we may add, the mission of John and of Paul, was each as divine a · the mission of Jesus. But, while their mission was divine, their persons were human. Jesus alon, is divine in His mission, and in His person too. And this is the grand distinction and privilege of the Christian Church, that its founder is not only a Divine Messenger, but the Incarnate Son of God For “ God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son." And this was the Father's testimony, given forth as at His baptism, so here again at His transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear Him.” “You have heard Moses and Elias (as though he had said), and they were worthy to be heard, for they were my servants; but now hear Jesus, for He is my Son." It is impossible not to perceive that the different manner in which God speaks of Christ, from that in which the prophets are spoken of, is no accidental circumstance, but a circumstance which has its foundation in the essential difference of their nature. We know the parentage of Moses, for he himself tells us—“There went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi; and the woman conceived and bare a son.” (Ex. ii. 1, 2.) And of Elijah, we know that he was a Tishbite, and one of the inhabitants of Gilead. (1 Kings xvii. 1.) And another of the prophets tells us that he was a herdman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, and that the Lord took him as he followed the flock, and sent him to prophesy to Israel. (Amos vii. 14, 15.) But, “what think ye of Christ? whose Son is He?” Let all the prophets and seers, the legislators and teachers of the Church, all the wise, the venerable and the good, all the great and mighty men of old, whose history finds an imperishable record in its annals- let them all be gathered together ; but which of them all will you place on a level with Christ? Their parentage was exclusively human, their origin altogether earthly. Great men as they were, they were nothing more than men.“ Jesus only is the Son of God."
2. The words suggest the exclusiveness of the work of Jesus as the Redeemer of the Church. The Church has had many instructors, but only one Redeemer. Jesus came not so much to teach, to legislate, or to reform, as He came to redeem. Above all other purposes He came to die, and to make atonement for sin by dying, that He might reconcile us to God by the shedding of His blood. In this work He has no coadjutor and no rival. Here we most emphatically say, “ Jesus only.” We have no Saviour but Jesus, Moses was not crucified for us, nor were we baptized into the name of Elias. But Jesus, the good shepherd, laid down His life for the sheep, and when we were baptized we were baptized into His death. Moses and Elisa may talk about “the decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem," but they can only talk about it. And they did talk about it. They talked about it to Him on the Mount; and in the records of the sacred Scriptures they talk about it to us, as do all the prophets. And they talk about it
with profound wisdom, and holy, adoring reverence, and unutterable amaze. ment, as that event, in the history of God's providence, which is of all others the most mysterious, and fraught with the richest blessings to mankind. But they describe it as an event in which He stands altogether by Himself. “He trod the winepress alone, and of the people there was done with Him." "He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him, and His righteousness it sustained Him." (Is. lix. 16.) And, 63 Christ exclusively fulfils the part of a redeemer, so the great redemptive act is His death. Hence this was the selected topic on which Moses and Elias conversed with Him even at the moment of His transfiguration, and it is that event which He will have His Church keep in perpetual remembrance. “Jesus only " is the Redeemer; and the death of “Jesus only" is the act of redemption-at once its price and consummation.
3. I take the words as suggesting next the permanency of the Christian dispensation as contrasted with that of the law and the prophets. Moses and Elias were once the great oracles of the Church of God; but there is here a greater than Moses and a greater than Elias. And when these great men, the chief lawgiver and the chief prophet of the ancient church, had paid their personal homage to Him who is infinitely greater than themselves, they disappear from the scene. The apostles saw them, and knew them, and teard them conversing with Jesus; but while they stood by, amazed spectators of that scene of transcendent glory, the cloud overshadowed them, and Moses and Elias were seen no more, a voice at the same time coming out of the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I delight, hear him.” And when they looked “they saw no man, but Jesus only." Who does not perceive that all this was symbolical? Moses and Elias were the representatives of the law and the prophets. The Church had heard them, heard them liten, heard them long, heard them till it was now to hear thein no longer. But while they disappear Jesus remained-Jesus the author of the new dis. pensation, Jesus the mediator of the better covenant, Jesus the only legisator, and the only prophets of the Christian Church. Jesus remains, and "Jesus only." The Gospel supersedes the law; the Gospel supersedes the prophets. Not under a dispensation of bondage are we living, nor a dispensation of expectancy and hope, but under a dispensation of liberty, and a dig. pensation which realizes all that the prophets foretold and waited for. And, like its Author, this dispensation abideth. Moses, as a servant, quits the bouse when his work is done. Christ as a son abideth, and his work abideth with him. “We have received a kingdom which cannot be moved.” Then Let us stand fast in this liberty. Judaizing teachers there were who in the Apostles' times would have led back the Church to Moses, and such teachers There are still—men who are fond of ceremonies, and array themselves in priestly vestments and are craving after altars and incense. But, beloved, el no man" seduce you from the simplicity that is in Christ ;" and to all llose who would thus “ teach for doctrines the commandments of men," and lead you back to “the beggarly elements," as Paul calls then, of an obsolete conomy, let your answer be, Moses no more, and Elias no more, but Jesus henceforth, and “Jesus only."
Thus far I have considered the words as they are connected with Christian doctrine. They have suggested to us the solitariness of Christ's personal grandeur-Jesus only is the Son of God ; the exclusiveness of Christ's official work-Jesus only is the Redeemer of the Church ; and the permanence of the dispensation of Christ-Moses and Elias are gone, but Jesus remains, and “ Jesus only."
I now connect them in two additional observations with the experience of the believer, and the hope of the sinner.
First, then, Christ is the only unchanging source of the believer's comfort. I make a distinction between the safety of the believer, and his comfort. The latter is an ever-varying experience, the former has the certainty of an absolute fact. The man who abides in Christ is not more safe at one time than at another. He is always safe, because always abiding in Christ. But he may not always enjoy the blessed consciousness of his safety. And his comfort fades as that consciousness declines. His comfort, moreover, springs from many sources. There are Divine ordinances designed to be the channels of grace and joy, and there is the communion of saints, and there are the “exceeding great and precious promises," and there is the hope of a glorious immortality, to which every child of God is begotten again in the new birth. And, besides these, there are many more which I need not enumerate. But they are all fluctuating; and, notwithstanding them all, his peace is often interrupted, and his joy eclipsed. Sometimes, like the disciples on the Mount, he may ascend to the loftiest elevation of Christian experience, and, losing sight of the world, and all mundane things, seem like them to be encompassed with the purity, the brilliancy, and the society of heaven. And then he is ready to say as they did—“Lord, it is good to be here.' Let me remain on this mountain-top; let me never quit such a scene as this ; let me never go down again into those turbid and tempestuous regions I have left below.” But that celestial vision was brief as it was brilliant: while they gazed upon it, it faded from their view, but too exact an emblem of the often evanescent nature of spiritual comfort. Yet, let our observation be detained on this significant and most instructive fact, that when that sublime spectacle had disappeared, when the heavenly voice was no longer heard, and the heavenly visitors were no more scen, all was not gone : Jesus still remained, but “ Jesus only." Then let the believer understand that Jesus must be the abiding source of his comfort. Let him build not on frames and ecstasies, and transient though withal they be bright and blessed memories of the past, but on the unchanging constancy and abiding presence of Jesus, and of “Jesus only.” And let it be strongly insisted upou that when other comforts leave us Jesus does remain. We may be bereft of heavenly visions, though we sometimes see them; heavenly voices may be silenced, though we are sometimes privileged to hear them ; but we are never bereft of Jesus. If we must descend from the summit of the mount and resume our course of toil and conflict in the plain, Jesus will come down with us and pursue it by our side. He is not only the central object of our brightest visions, but the ever present companion, the ever loving friend, our staff in weakness, our light in darkness, the ever abiding and never exhausted source of our peace and jor: My concluding observation is, that Jesus is the only hope of the sinner. Jesus only, my guilty fellow-sinner-Jesus only is the way to God. “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” but the name of “ Jesus only." He is “the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by Him." Neither Moses, nor Elias, the lawgiver, nor the reformer, can render you any help. Obedience to the law cannot save you, for you have incurred its penalty already; and reformation cannot save you, because reformation cannot obliterate past sin. The best service that Moses can render you, and Elias as well, is to leave you alone with Jesus. And with Him they have left you. Turn then to your only hope With an absolute and exclusive reliance, trust yourself to Christ. The Father bids you hear Him. Listen to His gracious words :—“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this ?"
Among the prophets of the Lord ;
But Jesus is the Incarnate Word.
They taught the Church, or gave it laws,
Jesus redeemed it with His blood;
In this, the exclusive work of God.
The gospel supersedes the law,
Though prophets from the Church withdraw.
And heavenly visions disappear,
Jesus remains my Comforter.
The sinner's only way to God;
Whom Jesus cleanses in His blood.
THE THRONE OF GRACE,
"Let us therefore come bollly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."'-Hcb. iv. 16.
Then God has not shut us out from all ) wrath, from which we should have communication of a gracious nature with | heard the words of awful doom, "DoHimself! This He might have done. | part from me, ye cursed, into everlastConsidering our sins and inquities, how ing fire, prepared for the devil and his grievously we have offended against | angels;” such a throne as it shall be Him, how utterly we have corrupted at the last when men shall cry unto ourselves, how full of enmity our minds | the rocks and to the hills, Fall on us, have become by their carnality, and and hide us from the face of the Lamb: how completely our hearts have been for the great day of His wrath is come, alienated by wicked works; He might and who shall be able to stand? But justly have said, “They shall be driven it is a throne of grace, and from it from my presence and friendship; they issue sweet words of mercy and comshall no more behold the light of my passion, to still our fears, and inspire countenance; I will no more conde us with hope of salvation and eternal scend favourably to notice them, nor shall they be permitted in any man You will observe it is a throne-elner to participate in my favour.” But though of grace, yet a THRONE. Now He has not done so; on the con a throne is the seat of a king, not of a trary, He has set up a throne of grace, subject; and this is the throne of from which to dispense to His guilty heaven's King, to whom the apostle and worthless creatures mercy and thus renders adoration and praise: grace.
“Now unto the King immortal, inHe has not set up a throne of awful visible, the only wise God, be glory majesty, surrounding it with all that is and honour, for ever and ever, amen." terrible to man; with rolling thunders | We do well, therefore, to remember 1 and flashing lightnings, upon a moun | coming to it that God is Lord of tain that burns with fire, yet covered | Heaven and Earth, a great King abore with blackness, and darkness, and all gods, infinitely exalted above tempest, so terrible in its aspect that | blessing and praise; glorious in hoheven the favoured servant of God might ness, fearful in praises, continually well say, “I exceedingly fear and doing wonders; who hath made quake ;” but He has set up the mild heaven and earth, and whose kingdom and peaceful throne of grace.
ruleth over all. Let us, therefore, It might have been a throne of judg come with all reverence and godly ment; on which the great Judge of all fear. Let us approach with all sube the world should have been seated, in | cerity and truth, for God is a Spirit, all the awful solemnity of strict and | and must be worshipped in spirit and impartial justice, and to which we | in truth. might have been dragged by the | That we may not be overwhelmed angels who shall at last summon all to with fear and dread at the thought of appear before His dread tribunal, to His Almightiness, and infinite majesty, hear the fearful sentence: “ Thou art and most marvellous glory, let us also weighed in the balance and found remember that in Christ Jesus, He is wanting.” But it is a throne of grace, | our God and Father, and that God was and speaks goodwill to man.
in Christ reconciling the world unto It might have been a throne of terrible | Himself. And when our Lord taugos