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CHAPTER XVI. Christ's manifestations to the patriarchs and prophets in his
pre-existent state, and to his Aposiles after his resurrection and ascension.
We think, had the Doctor with equal spirit and diligence compared these passages of the old testament, with the new, and especially with Stephen's exposition before the Council of the Jews, the first chapter of John's gospel, the first chapters of Paul's Epistles to the Hebrews and Colossians, we cannot but conclude that the Doctor would have discovered, that the character which had made his appearance “at sundry times and in divers manners,” was one of the characters, which composed the Trinity, that is, the Son of God, and not the human soul of Jesus Christ.And, had the Doctor then considered, that he who was rich, had already agreed to become poor, that we, “through his poverty might be rich," and was about to take on himself the seed of Abraham, as the apostle expresses it; had the Doctor deeply considered this, it is thought he would have seen the consistency of our Lord's making his appearance at certain times in theglory of that God-head. As he did when he appeared in the cloudy pillar, and on Mount Sina, where 6 there was under his feet, as it were a payed work of a sapphire-stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness;" and with the sound of a trumpet, and in flaming fire, in order to dediver such a body of divinity as was contained in the divine law graven by him upon the two tables, and in such a public manner to give sanction and authority to the same. As he did to Isaiah in the temple, chapter 6, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims : each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
Thus it appears, when it was necessary, on such important occasions and to deliver such sublime messages, our Lord did appear in some measure in the glory of his God-head, in order to give sanction to the message delivered ; and it is nothing inconsistent. When he appears to Abraham, or Manoah, to communicate the promise of a son, although an errand worthy of redeeming love, he appears as an angel, or man, or man of God. Had the Doctor thoroughly weighed all these points, in his great wisdom, being assisted by his deep piety and candor, we think he would have believed, and been in sentiment with us, that this character, was the proper Son of God, in his pre-existent dignity.
It may be observed, that the appearance of our Lord, at sundry times to the apostles, after he came in the flesh, was somewhat like his ancient appearances to the patriarchs and prophets, in the two respects above stated. His first appearance after the resurrection, was to Mary Magdas
n, in a common habit, no doubt, for she suppos I him to be the gardner, and said “unto him, ir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where hou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”— But when he spake in his usual voice and accent, nd “saith unto her, Mary,” she knew him. Ind again on the same day, as some of his disciles went “ to a village called Emmaus," he apleared as a traveller on his journey. And at aother time to Saul of Tarsus, in his native glory nd splendor, accompanied with uncreated light bove the brightness of the sun in its meridian ight and effulgence. And to John on the Isle of ?atmòs in a similar state of dignity and glory, ind "he had in his right hand seven stars," and je walked in the midst of seven golden candleticks, and opened a door in heaven, and showed ohn the throne of God, and some things, which t was impossible for man to utter.
We may discover in all this a perfect consisency. There can be nothing inconsistent, in supposing that he that hath created the intelligent powers of man, can reveal himself to man, in that node or form, which he in his infinite wisdom, und pleasure, seeth fit; and we for ourselves, consider we can see much wisdom in our Lord's, manfestations of himself to the children of men, “at sundry times, and in divers manners,” as we have cited.
We think every christian will see as perfect consistency in our Lord's manifestations to his chosen, after his coming in the flesh, as in his ancient manifestations to the patriarchs.
Look for a moment at the two made to Mary, and the disciples, as they went to Emmaus. Notithstanding all the information and instruction
they had received from our Lord and the scrip tures, it is strikingly evident, their minds were beclouded and dark, on this important point of our Lord's resurrection; and needed instructions for their confirmation on this point of the prophcies, that related to the resurrection of our Lord. And their minds were perfectly ripe for such instruction, consequently, nothing could be more consistent, and fit, than for our Lord to make his appearance to them in a similar form, in which they had known and conversed with him, before his crucifixion-and that their eyes should be holden from recognition of him, until he had opened to them the scriptures, which related to that point, that they might have a rational understanding of that fact, which then labored in their minds, and was about to be called in question by the sharpsighted, and keen avidity of their enemies. The time required it.
It is an experimental fact, that no person is in à proper situation to receive instruction, till they are convinced of the need of such instruction; and generally not, until the mind becomes perfectly deliberate. Therefore, if our Lord had made his appearance, in these cases in the glory of the Godhead, it would have been morally impossible, for them to have received such instructions, as were strictly necessary, on so dear and interesting points. Had he appeared in the resplendant glory of the God-head, in that case, there could be little doubt, but their minds must have been agitated, with terror, or joy, or probably with a mixture of both, even to that degree, in which their understanding and memory, could not have been in proper exercise.
But in the evening as they sat at meat with him, and the time had fully arrived for our Lord to sanction the conversation and instructions, he bad given them," he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures ?”
Should we now spend a few thoughts, on the manifestations of our Lord to Paul and John, after our Lord's ascension to glory, it is probable we shall derive some further advantage from them. Paul informs us, that he journeyed, verily thinking, he “ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” And by authority of the chief priests, imprisoned, put to death, punished in every synagogue his followers, compelled them to blaspheme, and persecuted them even unto strange cities. As in Acts, chapter 26.
“ Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the high priests,
6 At mid-day, 0 king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me, and them which journeyed with me.
“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying, in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
Here let it be remarked that Paul had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and instructed in the scriptures; but was so zealous for the Traditions of the fathers, which had so blinded