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To verify which prediction, the disciples particularly to Peter. At beholding the lived to see their master coming in bis king illustrious sight, the disciples were greatly dom, when they were witnesses of his trans amazed ; but the forwarduess of Peter's figuration, resurrection, and ascension, and disposition prompting him to say somehad the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit thing, he uttered he knew not what : “ Masconferred upon them ; lived to see Jerusa ter (said he) it is good for us to be here ; lem, with the Jewish state, destroyed; and and let us make three tabernacles; one for the gospel propagated through the greatest thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." part of the then known world.
Mark ix. 5. About eight days after this discourse, our This disciple imagined that Jesus had blessed Saviour being with the multitude in now assumed his proper dignity, that Elias the country of Cesarea Philippi, left them was coming according to Nialachi's predic. in the plain, and accompanied with Peter, tion, and the Messiah's kingdom was at James, and John, ascended an exceeding length begun. high mountain.
Accordingly, be thought it was necessary In this solitude, while Jesus was pray to provide some accommodation for his ing with these three disciples, he was Master and his august assistants, intending, transfigured ; his face became radiant and
perhaps, to bring the rest of the disciples dazzling, for it shone like the sun in its with the multitude from the plain below, meridian clearness. At the same time bis to behold bis matchless glory. This he garment acquired a snowy whiteness, far thought was much better for his Master than beyond any thing human art could pro to be put to death at Jerusalem, concernduce ; a whiteness bright as the light, and ing which Jesus had been talking with the sweetly refulgent, but in a degree inferior to messengers from heaven, and the design of the radiance of his countenance.
which Peter could not comprehend. Thus as it were, for an instant, the Son But " while he yet spake, behold, a of God, during bis state of bumiliation, was bright cloud overshadowed them; and, beirradiated with heavenly glories ; and to hold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, heighten the grandeur and solemnity of the This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well scene, Moses, the great law-giver of Israel, | pleased : hear ye him.” Matt. xviii. 5. and Elijah, a zealous defender of the laws, appeared in the beauties of immortality, the When the three disciples heard the voice, robes in which the inbabitants of the hea wbich, like the roaring thunder, burst from venly Canaan are adorned. The disciples, the cloud, and was such as mortals were it seems, did not see the beginning of this unaccustomed to hear, they fell on their transfiguration ; happening to fall asleep at faces, and continued in that posture till the time of prayer, they lost that pleasure, Jesus approached, raised them up, and distogether with a great part of the conversa pelled their fears, saying unto them,“ Arise, tion which these two prophets held with and be not afraid. And when they had liftthe only begotten Son of God.
ed up their eyes, they saw no man, save
Jesus only.” Matt. xvii. 7, 8. They, however, understood that the subject was his meritorious sufferidge and Jesus having continued all night with his death, by which he was to redeem the three disciples in the mountain, returned world; a subject that had a few days be to the plain early in the morning, charging ore given great offence to the disciples, them to conceal what they had seen, till
after he was risen from the dead. He well !
CHAP. XVII. knew that 'the world, and even his own disciples, were not yet able to comprehend Our Saviour relieves a Youth tortured with the design of his transfiguration : and that a dumb Spirit. Conforms checrfully to if it had been published before his resurrec the Custom of the Country by paying tion, it might have appeared incredible: the Tribute. Reproves the Pride of his because nothing but afflictions and persecu Disciples, and delirers some excellent tions had hitherto attended him. “He was Moral Precepts. truly a inan of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”
T HEN our Lord approached the de
V scent of the mountain, accompanied But the doctrine of the resurrection, to by bis three disciples, he saw a great multiwhich the transfiguration alluded, was what tude surrounding the nine who were on the the disciples were utterly unable to under plain, and the scribes disputing with them. stand. They had never learned that the The people, seeing Jesus coming from the Messiah was to die; far less that he was to mountain, ran to him, and saluted him be raised from the dead. They were, on with particular reverence. After which the contrary, persuaded, that he was to Jesus asked the scribes, what was the subject abide for ever; and that his kingdom was of their debate with his disciples ? to which to have no end. They were also greatly | one of the multitude answered, “ Master, I surprised at the sudden departure of Elias, | have brought unto thee my son, which hath and could not comprehend what the scribes a dumb spirit : And wheresoever he taketlı meant by affirming that he must appear be him he teareth him: and he foameth and fore the Messiab erects his empire. They, gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: therefore, after long debating among them- and I spake to thy disciples, that they should selves, asked their Master, “Why say the cast hini out ; and they could not." Mark scribes, that Elias must first come ? Toix. 17, 18. which Jesus answered, that Elias should
This answer being made by one of the truly come first, according to the predic
multitude, and not by the scribes to which tion of Malachi, “and restore all things ;"
the question was directed, indicates, that but at the same time, he assured them,
they had been disputing with the disciples on that Elias was already come, and described
their not being able to cure this afflicted the treatment he had met with from that
youth: perhaps their making this unsuccess, stiff-necked people ; giving them to under
ful attempt had given the scribes occasion stand that he spake of John the Baptist.
to boast, that a devil was at length found “ But I say unto you, that Elias is come
which neither they nor their Master were already, and they knew him not, but have
able to conquer. This seems to be indicated done unto him whatsoever they liked : like.
.by the manner in which our Saviour addresswise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
ed himself to these arrogant rulers. "Oh Then the disciples understood that he spake
faithless generation, says he, how long shall unto them of John the Baptist,” Matt.
I be with you ? How long shall I suffer zvü. 12, 13.
you ?" Will no miracles ever be able to convince you ? Must I alway bear with your infidelity. You have surely seen sufficient demonstrations of my power, notwithstanding ye still discover the most criminal infidelity. After speaking in this mayper to the scribes, be turned himself to the father
of the young mày, and said, “ bring thy son The vine disciples, during this whole transhither.” But no sooner was he brought in action, remained silent. They were doubts sight of bis Deliverer, than the evil spirit less mortified to think that they had lost, by attacked bim, as it were, witli double fury, some fault of their owu, the power of work. “ the spirit tare him, and he fell on the ing miracies, lately conferred upon them by gound, and wallowed foaming." Mark ix. their Master: and for this reason were afraid 20.
to speak to him in the presence of the multi
tude, Jesus could easily have prevented this
But when they came into the house, attack ; but he permitting it, that the minds they desired Jesus to inform them, why they of the spectators might be impressed with a
failed in their attempt to heal that remarkmore lively idea of this youth's distress.
able youth? To which Jesus answered, And for the same reason it was, that he
“ Because of your unbelief.” But to encouasked the father, how long he had been in
rage them, le described the efficacy of the
faith of miracles. this deplorable condition ? To which the
“ If ye have faith as a afflicted parent answered,“ Of a child. Aud
grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this oft times it hath cast him into the fire, and
mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, into the waters to destroy hin ;, but if thou
and it shall remove: and nothing shall be canst do any thing, bave compassion on
impossible unto you.” Matt. xvii. 29. No. Mark ix. 21, 22.
thing shall be too great for you to accomplish,
when the glory of God, and the good of the The inability of our Lord's disciples to cast Church are concerned, provided you have out this spirit had greatly discouraged the a proper degree of faith ; even yonder moun, afflicted father ; and the exquisite torture tain, which bids defiance to the storm, and of his son, and the remembrance of its long smiles at the attacks of its mingled horrors, continuance so dispirited him, that he be shall, at your command, leave its firm basis, gan to fear this possession was even too great and remove to another place. for the power of Jesus himself, as the scribes had before affirmed ; and therefore could
The expulsion of the dumb spirit seems not help expressing his doubts and fears.
to have astonished the disciples more than Buť Jesus, to make bim sensible of his mis
any other they had seen their Master pertake, said to him, “ If thou canst believe,
form ; so that our Saviour found it necessary all things are possible to him that believeth."
to moderate their high admiration of his On which the father cried out with tears,
works by again predicting his own death, “Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief."
and retiring for a time into the unfrequented The vehement manner in which he spake
parts of Galilee. causing the crowd to gather from every quarter, " Jesus rebuked the foul' spirit;
But they could not comprehend how the (saying unto bim) Thou dumb and deaf | Messiah, who was to abide for ever, and spirit, I charge thee, Come out of him,
was come to deliver others from the stroke and enter no more into him.” Mark ix.
of death, should bimself fall by the hand of 25.
that universal destroyer. And because he No sooner was the powerful exit .pro- spake of rising again the third day, they nounced, than the devil, with a bideous could not conceive the reason for his dying howling, convulsed the suffering patient at all, and for his laying so short a time in in the most deplorable manner : till Jesus,
Jesus, the chambers of the grave. taking him by the band, restored him to life, and delivered bim perfectly recovered Though they were alarmed at this declarato his father.
tion, they remembered that he had often
temple, he meant, that he was himself the primand from their Master. . Jesus, pera there fore sent Peter to the lake with a line liver. If any man, said the Saviour of the of the first fish that came up, he should
incul cated this doctrine, and reprimanded Our Lord took this extraordinary method Pete r for being unwilling to hear it.
of paying the tribute money in this mavner,
because the miracles were of such a kind as After a sliurt tour through the desart part could not demonstrate that he was the Son of Galilee, Jesus returned into Caper- of the great monarch worshipped in the nauin, the place of his general residence. temple, and who rules the universe. In Soon after bis arrival, the tax gatherers the very manner, therefore, of paying this came to Peter, and asked, whether his tribute, he shewed Peter that he was free Mast er would pay tlre tribute ? That dis from all taxes ; and at the same time gave ciple, it seems, had promised that Jesus this useful lesson to bis followers, that when would satisfy their demasid ; but on a more their property is affected only in a small matu re consideration feared to ask him con degree, it is better to recede a little from cerning bis paying taxes on any pretence their just right than to offend their brethren, what ever.
or disturb the state, by obstinately insisting
on it. Jesus was, however, no stranger to what had happened, and the fear of Peter to ask Notwithstanding our blessed Saviour bad him; and therefore turned the discourse to lately foretold his own sufferings and death, this subject, by saying unto him, " What and though these melancholy accounts had thin kest thou, Simon? Of whom do the greatly afflicted the minds of his disciples, kings of the earth take custom or tribute ? yet their grief was of no long continuance ; of their own children, or of strangers ?
for within a few days they forgot the prePeter saith unto him, of strangers. Jesus
dictions of their Master, and disputed with saith unto him, then are the children free ;" each other about the chief posts of honour insio uating, tliat as he was bimself the Son and profit in the Messiah's kingdom. This of the great King, to whom heaven, earth, debate was overheard by the blessed Jesus, and sea belong, he had no right to pay tri- though he did not mention it till after the bute to any monarch whatever, because he tax-gatherers were retired, when be asked held nothing by a derived right.
them, what they were disputing about on
the way ? This question rendered them all if we suppose this' contribution was
silent. They were fearful of discovering made for the service and reparation of the the cause that had given rise to the debate,
as they knew it would draw on them a reof tbat Omnipotent Being to whom the, tribu te was paid, he could have justly ex ceiving that they still continued silent, sat cused himself. But the blessed Jesus was down, and ordered them to stand round
careful not to give offence; and hin, and attend to what he wasgoing to dehook, telling him, that in the mouth world, is ambitious of being the greatest
person in my kingdom, let him endeavour a piece of money equal to the sum de to obtain that dignity by preferring others ma nded of them both. - Notwithstanding, in honour, and doing to then all the good
we should offend thein, go thou to offices in his power, “If any man desire
and cast an hook, and take up the to be first, the saine shall be last of all, and fisha that first cometh up; and when thou servant of-all." Mark ix. 35.
opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give it The disciples were now convinced that unto them, for thee and me.” Matt. xvii. it was in vain to conceal the subject of the
debate that had happened on the way; and No. 7.
accordingly they drew near to their Master, since he must have entertained very high
You should, added the blessed Jesus, tively : and said unto them, “ Verily, I say
consider that every one who does not perseunto you, except ye be converted and be
cute us, our friend ; and that the ejection of come as little children, ye shall not enter
devils in my name will advance my reputainto the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. xvii. . 3. Unless ye be humbled by the power of
tion, and promote my interest, even though
exorcist, and the devils themselvesshould de Divine grace, and brought to a due sense of
sign the contrary. He also told his disciples the vanity of all earthly preferments, riches
that the least degree of respect shewed him and honours, and become meek and humble in spirit, ye shall be so far from becom)
by any one, even though it should be no more
than the giving a cup of cold water to bis ing the greatest in my kingdom, that ye shall never enter its borders. But whoso
thirsty disciples, is acceptable to him, and
should not fail of meeting with an adequate ever shall be satisfied with the station in
6. For whosoever shall give you a which God has placed him, receives with
cup of water to drink, in my name, because meekness all the divine instructions, how
you belong to Christ, verily, I say unto you, ever contrary to his own inclinations, and
he shall not lose his reward.” Mark is. 41. prefers others to bimself, that man is really the greatest in my kingdon. “ Whosoever,
But on the other hand, the least discoutherefore, shall humble himself, as this
ragement given to his disciples in the propalittle child, the same is greatest in the king gation of the gospel, cone from what quarter dom of heaven.” Matt. xviii. 4.
it will, shall be punished with the greatest Our Saviour, to demonstrate how truly severity." And whosoever shall offend one acceptable the beauty of the grace of humi
of these little ones that believe in me, it is lity is to the Almighty, took the child in his
better for him that a mill-stone were hanged arms, declaring, that whoever humbled
about his neck, and he were cast into the themselves, like a little child, and shewed
sea.” Mark ix. 42. kindness to their fellow-creatures, should
From this saying Jesus inferred, that it bave the same kindness shewed them in the great day of accounts, especially if they per: highest enjoyments of this world, and to
was more advantageous todeny ourselves the formed these worthy actions, in obedience to bis commands.
part with every thing, however precious,
represented by a hand, a foot, or an eye, It appears, from
from circumstances, that than by these to cause the weaket of his James and Jolin, the sons of Zebedee, were friends to stumble. And as the disciples principally concerned in this debate ; for we were appointed to sow the seeds of virtue find that John endeavoured to divert it, by and religion in the world, or according to telling his master, they had seen one cast the metaphor to salt the people for an offering out devils in his name, and had forbid. ing to heaven, in allusion to sacrifices being den hion, because he did not join himself to salted at the temple, Jesus exhorted them their company. To which Jesus replied,
To which Jesus replied, to mortify themselves, that they might apthat they should not have forbidden him, pear worthy of so high an office as that of