But perhaps it may be considered that we have digressed from our subject. We return, then, to the circumstance which more immediately claims our attention. We are informed that Jesus was praying when he was transfigured; nay, it is remarkable that St. Luke represents his special object of ascending the mountain to have been in order to devote himself to this sacred engagement. "It came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter, and John, and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." Prayer was as much the Saviour's duty, as it is the duty of any of his people. He had been expressly commanded by his Father to ask of him to give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. All his works, whilst he was tabernacling in the flesh, were accompanied with prayer; and his present exaltation at the right hand of his heavenly Father, instead of suspending, rather imparts a more sublime intensity of fervour to his petitions. In vain had he shed his blood without this; for his prayers are as essential for the salvation of sinners, as his sufferings on the cross for their redemption; and therefore the apostle, in the twenty-fifth verse of the seventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, connects the unlimited ability of Jesus to save, not only with his having offered himself as a sacrifice, but also with his ever living to make intercession for us. O! how welcome and delightful must be the accents of supplication to the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth, when he withholds blessings, even from his well-beloved Son, until he ask for them! And how necessary is prayer, when Jesus cannot obtain blessings without it! There is a reserve manifested by the Holy Spirit in this, as in other instances, as to the contents of our Saviour's petitions. Most probably they had some reference to that splendid scene in his earthly history, into which he was about to enter. We may imagine him to have addressed his heavenly Father in language somewhat similar to that which he employed when he was about to devote himself as a spotless victim on the cross: "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
But we must pass on to the description which is given of the transfiguration of Jesus. "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." On this we can say but little, for no imagination can conceive, nor can words express the exact nature of that splendid scene which is here so slightly glanced at. The Holy Spirit has employed the most concise mode of description in order to restrain our fancy within proper limits. We are, therefore, altogether incompetent to expatiate on a subject so sublime, for we know nothing, beyond what is written, of the glory which is associated with spiritual bodies. When Paul was led to speak of a state of future enjoyment, he could only express himself in the language of conjecture, and say, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." And when, on another occasion, he was anxious to comfort the church by a description of the resurrection-body into which the Saviour shall change the vile bodies of his people, he could only describe it by the use of words which merely implied a direct contrast between what we now are and what we shall be. Our present bodies are earthly, natural, mortal, and corruptible; our resurrection bodies shall be celestial, spiritual, immortal, incorruptible: but these latter expressions are only negations of the former; as to any positive apprehension of the nature of glorified bodies, "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." And there is much wisdom in this reserve: there is enough told us upon the subject to encourage us to persevere in our endeavours to attain to the joy that is set before us, but not as much as would, in the meantime, render us too much discontented with our present state.
We must, however, carefully note that the Holy Spirit, in so far describing the Saviour's transfiguration, has given a literal account of a real transaction. There is no cunningly-devised fable here. There was nothing visionary in the exhibition itself; there is nothing fanciful in the description of it. Jesus was actually metamorphosed; "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light," and, as on all ordinary occasions in the days of his flesh he was God manifest in the nature of man, so, during the continuance of this splendid scene, he exhibited his human nature manifested in and encompassed by the brightness and glory of his Godhead.
But it may be profitable to inquire into some of the uses of this great transaction, for such an occurrence could not have taken place without some important object. It was intended to prepare the Saviour for his approaching sufferings; to shew the interest which heaven took in his sacrifice; to be a source of strength and comfort to the church, by giving a type and specimen of that high degree of glory to which the nature of man is destined to be exalted in consequence of the Saviour's dying love. But the leading object of this event was to give a representation of his second coming in majesty at the last day. It is not by any gratuitous assumption that we maintain this, but on the sure ground of strong scriptural testimony. We find St. Matthew representing the Saviour as promising some of his disciples that they should not taste of death till they saw him "coming in his kingdom;" and in the parallel passage in the ninth chapter of St. Mark, he is represented as saying that there were some standing with him who should not see death until they had seen the kingdom of God "come with power." Now the apostle Peter combines the substance of these two declarations, in a manner which distinctly shews that he considered them as having a reference to the future advent of the Redeemer. "We have not followed cunningly-devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and he speaks of "majesty," "honour," and "glory," which are the appendages of a kingdom, and are to be the characteristics of the second advent of Jesus, in contrast with the meanness, poverty, and degradation of his first appearance in our world. Those, therefore, who say that the transfiguration had a typical reference either to the effusion of the Spirit on the day of pentecost, or to the destruction of Jerusalem, are greatly in error. It was meant to be a specimen and earnest of our Lord's appearance hereafter in glory, when he shall come to be admired in all them that believe, and to establish his everlasting kingdom of righteousness and peace in the earth. The use of a type is to arrest and embody in a kind of visible indication the prominent features of its antitype; and, accordingly, if we examine the leading circumstances of the transfiguration, we shall find such a resemblance between it and the second coming of our Saviour, as will clearly establish such a relationship between these two events. Jesus appeared in literal human nature on the mountain; so shall he come again, as the Son of man, possessing the same nature with his people; for the apostles were informed when he ascended, that the very same Jesus who had been taken up from them into heaven should even so come in like manner as they had seen him ascend into heaven. He appeared in glory, and not in humility; such as he shall descend hereafter, when he shall come with all his holy angels and sit upon the throne of his glory. As he was visible on the mountain, so, when he shall come again, every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. As he was encompassed by a cloud on the summit of Tabor, so shall he come hereafter in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. As he stood in majesty upon the mountain, so according to the declaration of the prophet, his feet shall stand, when he comes again, upon the mount of Olives. And as Moses and Elias appeared in glory with the Saviour, so shall he bring his people with him on his return to our world, for, when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.
Such we believe to have been the great primary object of this interesting event. How full of consolation and encouragement must it appear in this important view to every believer who is still struggling with the infirmities and trials of his earthly pilgrimage. It directs the attention of such to the crown of righteousness that awaits him, and says, "Be ye stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
[Y] From a scriptural small work, with the style and spirit of which we are much pleased, "The Transfiguration," an exposition of Matt. xvii. i. 8, by the rev. Daniel Bagot, B.D., minister of St. James' chapel, Edinburgh, and chaplain to the right hon. the earl of Kilmorry. Edinburgh, Johnstone: London, Whittaker, Nisbet: Dublin, Curry, jun., Robertson.
NO SALVATION WITHOUT AN ATONEMENT.—But let me turn your attention to the sad effect which a denial of the Saviour's Deity has upon the prospects of man for eternity. It is a truth written, as with a sunbeam, upon every page of scripture, that man is by nature a fallen, a guilty, a condemned creature, obnoxious to the righteous judgment of God. We are told, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;"—that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:" Jehovah himself is represented as looking down from heaven upon the children of men, to investigate their characters with that omniscient ken by which he explores the utmost boundaries of the illimitable universe, and pronouncing this solemn verdict—"There is none righteous; no, not one:" and the apostle Paul, when reminding the Ephesian church of their past unregenerate condition, says that they were "children of wrath, even as others." If man, then, be in a guilty and condemned state by nature, it is an awful and important question, how shall he obtain pardon and justification with God, on account of his past transgressions? and how shall his sinful and unholy nature be sanctified and prepared for admission into the realms of everlasting glory? Can personal repentance, on the part of the sinner, obliterate the crime of which he has been guilty, so as to reinstate him into the condition of a sinless and unfallen being? Unquestionably not. For whatever act has been performed by God, or angels, or by man, must remain for ever written upon the pages of eternity, never to be erased; and, therefore, no subsequent repentance on the sinner's part, no tears of sorrow or contrition, can ever blot out his past transgressions; nor even could the united tears of angels erase the record of those offences for which man is brought in guilty before God! Can, then, subsequent obedience achieve the work of the sinner's justification? This, alas! will prove as ineffectual as repentance; for though we should render to God a perfect obedience for the remainder of our lives, still the sin we have committed is sufficient to procure our conviction and condemnation; for the wages of sin is death! Shall we, then, have recourse to the abstract mercy of God, as the foundation upon which to rest our hope of pardon? This is the Unitarian's plea: "I believe," he says, "that God is merciful; and I repose in his kindness, and trust he will have compassion on me." Alas, my friends! it was bad enough that Mr. Porter should have yesterday adopted the algebraic principle of neutralizing one text of scripture by another; but to carry up this principle to a contemplation of the character of God, and to bring it into collision with the attributes of Jehovah, and thus to set his mercy against his justice—his compassion against his truth—his grace against his holiness, and thereby to neutralize and annihilate one class of attributes by another, is a guilt that is direful, blasphemous, and indescribable.—From speech of the Rev. Daniel Bagot, at the Belfast Unitarian [Socinian] discussion.
LAYS OF PALESTINE.
(For the Church of England Magazine.)
By T. G. Nicholas.
"She hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day."—Jer. xv. 9.
"Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved."—Ps. lxxx. 19.
'Tis eventide; the golden tints are dying Along the horizon's glowing verge away; Far in the groves the nightingale is sighing Her requiem to the last receding ray; And still thou holdest thy appointed way. But Salem's light is quench'd.—Majestic sun! Her beauteous flock hath wandered far astray, Led by their guides the path of life to shun; Her orb hath sunk ere yet his wonted course was run.
In ages past all glorious was thy land, And lovely were thy borders, Palestine! The heavens were wont to shed their influence bland On all those mountains and those vales of thine; For o'er thy coasts resplendent then did shine The light of God's approving countenance, With rapturous glow of blessedness divine; And, 'neath the radiance of that mighty glance, Bask'd the wide-scatter'd isles o'er ocean's blue expanse.
But there survives a tinge of glory yet O'er all thy pastures and thy heights of green, Which, though the lustre of thy day hath set, Tells of the joy and splendour which hath been: So some proud ruin, 'mid the desert seen By traveller, halting on his path awhile, Declares how once beneath the light serene Of brief prosperity's unclouded smile, Uprose in grandeur there some vast imperial pile.
O Thou, who through the wilderness of old Thy people to their promis'd rest did'st bring, Hasten the days by prophet-bards foretold, When roses shall again be blossoming In Sharon, and Siloa's cooling spring Shall murmur freshly at the noon-tide hour; And shepherds oft in Achor's vale shall sing[Z] The mysteries of that redeeming power Which hath their ashes chang'd for beauty's sunniest bower.[AA]
Thou had'st a plant of thy peculiar choice A fruitful vine from Egypt's servile shore Thou mad'st it in the smile of heav'n rejoice; But the ripe clusters which awhile it bore Now purple on the verdant hills no more, The wild-boar hath upon its branches trod; Yet once again thy choicest influence pour, Transplant it from this dim terrestrial sod, To adorn with deathless bloom the paradise of God.
Wadh. Coll. Oxon.
[Z] Isaiah xv. 10.
[AA] Isaiah lxi. 3.
INFLUENCE OF RELIGION ON A STATE.—Religious faith is necessarily and unavoidably political in its influence and bearings, and eminently so. Christians are generally well informed—and knowledge is power. They have there in Christian countries, as citizens and subjects, directly and indirectly, a large share of influence in the state. In most Christian states, if not in all—for a state could hardly be called Christian, if it were not so—Christianity is made a party of common law, and, when occasion demands, is recognised as such by the judicial tribunals. It is eminently so in Great Britain; it is so in America; and generally throughout Europe. It is also, to a great extent, established by constitutional law, and thus incorporated with the political fabric, furnishing occasion for an extended code of special statutes. The great principles of Christianity pervade the frame of society, and its morals are made the standard. The second table of the decalogue is adopted throughout as indispensable to the well-being of the state; and a thousand forms of legislation are attempted to secure the ends of the great and comprehensive Christian precept—"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." More especially is it deemed the highest perfection of civilized life and manners, in the code of conventional politeness, to exemplify this latter divine injunction. Otherwise life would be much less comfortable—hardly tolerable.—A Voice from America to England.
DUTY OF SUBJECTS.—We ought not only to look at the queen's duty, but recollect also what is our own; for the prosperity of a nation consists, not only in having a religious governor, but also an obedient people. The events which have passed before our eyes during the few last years, may serve, I think, to convince us of the truth of such an inference. Can we look back on the loss of human lives, the almost paralyzing alarm excited by the threats of an infuriated populace, and the absolute destruction of property which took place during the riots in the city of Bristol, and not see that all those calamities sprung out of a want of obedience to the existing authorities? Nor was that the only occurrence of the kind which has taken place. What repeated acts of incendiarism have we as a nation suffered from, as well as from the still more recent riots which have arisen in our south-western and other counties? and may we not ask, whence have those scenes of strife, discontent, and tumult, sprang, but from the cause I have already referred to?—want of subjection and obedience to the government of our kingdom. What were the scenes of misery and horror which broke out from time to time, when internal wars and insurrections so greatly depopulated our land? Cast your eye up and down our country, and view the still remaining barrows—those unsculptured, unlettered monuments, which cover the slain of our people—and ask, are these Britons slain in their own land, a Christian land, a land where (to remind you of the present privileges of her constitution) we have a national established church, of sound scriptural and protestant faith, and a preached gospel?[AB]
[AB] From "The Liturgy of the Church of England, Catechetically explained, for the use of children, by Mrs. S. Maddock. 3 vols. London: Houlston and Co." These volumes seem well adapted to explain to those for whose use they have been published—the liturgy of our church. The catechetical form in which the subject is treated, rather, however, detracts from their value, and should the authoress be called on for a new edition, we should advise her to publish in a different form.
London: Published by JAMES BURNS, 17 Portman Street, Portman Square; W. EDWARDS, 12 Ave-Maria Lane, St. Paul's; and to be procured, by order, of all Booksellers in Town and Country.
PRINTED BY JOSEPH ROGERSON, 24 NORFOLK STREET, STRAND, LONDON.
The masthead in the original referred to Vol. IX., although this issue is in fact part of Vol. X. of this publication. This has been corrected.
A table of contents has been added for the convenience of the reader.
Minor punctuation errors have been repaired.
Archaic spelling is preserved as printed. Please note that both Oronooco and Oronooko appear in the text as variable spellings.
The following typographic errors have been fixed:
Page 20—servicable amended to serviceable—"... both exogenous and endogenous, render them extremely serviceable to mankind."
Page 21—organisable amended to organizable, for consistency—"... indeed gum is that organizable product which exists most universally ..."
Page 23—productivenes amended to productiveness—"... of which there are several varieties, differing essentially in productiveness, ..."
Page 23, fourth footnote—Hedwiz amended to Hedwig—"Eheu qualia! Hedwig."