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ous apparition. It naturally suggests to us the following reflections:
I. That Jehovah is, with undeviating, undiverted, undivided attention, carrying on the great plan of his providence to full maturity, by every order of beings, in every possible state; by those who cheerfully enter into his views, and joyfully submit to his will; and by those who carelessly neglect or proudly oppose it. We have seen him serving himself of this Moses in the court of Pharaoh, in the pastures of Midian, in the wilderness of Sinai; as a prophet, as a legislator, as an historian. And, to fit him for a new field of action, behold him shining in a new and glorious form. The grave seems to have surrendered up its trust, heaven has yielded up one of its inhabitants, and Moses is now admitted into a land from which he was once shut out. In this world we have still to deplore faculties wasting, impairing, extinguished; usefulness interrupted, cut off in the midst, by the stroke of death, the earth impoverished by the premature departure of wisdom and worth. The history of mankind exhibits projects blasted, schemes abortive, instruments feeble and inadequate, concussions violent, revolutions sudden and unexpected; but far different the view which the scriptures represent of the kingdom of God in it, one generation passeth not away that another may succeed, but there is an eternal accumulation of citizens, eternally increasing in wisdom, goodness and felicity; faculties ever improving, projects advancing in full certainty of success, means fitted to their end, and the one great scheme of the Eternal Mind proceeding in steady, uniform majesty, to its final consummation. Pleasing, awful thought! "The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations," Psal. xxxii. 11.
II. We observe, from this history, The benevolent interest which celestial beings take in the affairs of men. They are no unconcerned spectators of what
passes here below. They who have been raised from earth to heaven, have not lost all recollection of the world they have left, nor dropt all concern about their brethren in the flesh. Moses and Elias with joy revisit an inferior region, if thereby they can be instrumental in promoting the work of redemption; and exchange, for a season, the society of angels, and the delights of the paradise of God, for the company of simple fishermen, and a barren mountain's top, that we might have strong consolation in contemplating "the sufferings of Christ," and the glory that preceded and followed. O what an exalted, what a generous spirit does true religion breathe and inspire! It makes angels "ministering spirits to them who are the heirs of salvation;" it brings departed saints back to earth again; it converts Tabor into Heaven, and determines the choice of an apostle, when in a strait betwixt two, and to prefer abiding in the flesh, because more needful to his fellow-creatures, to the selfish joy, though far better, of departing and being with Christ. But Moses and Elias and Paul were themselves men, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, were instructed by sympathy to commiserate, and prompted by affection to relieve, human wretchedness. Behold an infinitely greater miracle of generous, disinterested love; "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. Jesus "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen," Rev. i. 5, 6. 66 Verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." Heb. ii. 16. "As children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them
who, through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage," Heb. ii. 14, 15.
III. The history before us suggests, The sweet harmony, the perfect intelligence which subsists between glorified spirits. Moses and Elias, as they co-operated in the same design, though at different periods upon earth, much more concur in sentiment, in exertion, now they see more clearly and comprehend more fully the intentions of a wise and gracious Providence. Through ignorance, through pride, through jealousy, through malice, imperfect men on earth will differ, will hate and oppose each other; but in celestial bosoms the dark, malignant, unsocial passions find no place: in them there ever prevails unity of intelligence, unity of design, unity in operation, unity of affection. Prompted by the same motive, aiming at the same end, Gabriel, a multitude of the heavenly host, Moses and Elias-angels single, and in bands, announce to the world the advent of the Saviour, celebrate his birth, witness his transfiguration, relieve his agony, record his death, declare his resurrection from the dead, grace his ascent to heaven, proclaim his second coming. And O what must be that harmony and joy! the harmony and joy of heaven, where angels and archangels, the cherubim and the seraphim, patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and the whole multitude of the redeemed, animated by one spirit, adore the same object, rejoice in the same grace wherein they stand, and join in the same triumphant song!
Connect with this, the idea of the quick and perfect intelligence which subsists between the children of this kingdom. The happiness of heaven is a social, not a solitary joy. But how can the poverty of our imagination, the coldness of our affections, conceive the intimacy of intercourse, the promptness of communication, the sympathy of feeling, in pure spirits wholly disposed to love, and free from all desire or design to disguise, to deceive, to conceal!
"Where friendship full exerts her softest power,
Ineffable, and sympathy of soul,
Thought meeting thought, and will preventing will,
With what promptitude and intelligence celestial beings converse, say, ye gentle spirits, who know what it is to soothe and relieve the lazy lingering hours of absence by the friendly aid of letters; ye, whom the murmur of a sigh, or the tone of a single word can instantly instruct; ye, whose hearts the pressure of a finger can awake to rapture; ye, whose kindred, congenial souls the slightest glance of the impassioned eye, can, in a moment, quick as the lightening's flash, penetrate, kindle, inform, assimilate;
"Ye whom the sudden tear
Surprises often when you look around,
And nothing strikes your eye but sights of bliss."
But the purest human affection is ever dashed with doubt, with apprehension, with suspicion; its communications are liable to be retarded by dulness, prevented by accident, or checked and blasted by a malignant eye, and therefore can at best convey but an imperfect idea of that "perfect love which casteth out fear," of that divine sympathy which speeds the holy intercourse from soul to soul, of that mutual understanding which needs not the medium of sense to convey it.
Though we cannot conceive, much less describe, in what manner angels and saints in bliss converse one with another, yet from the text we know, what is the one, great, darling theme of their conversation, Moses and Elias descend from their heavenly thrones, from before the fountain of light and life, appear in glory, revisit the earth, associate with men, to do homage at the feet of Jesus, and to "speak of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." This leads to a
IVth, and the most important remark on this passage of our Saviour's history, in connection with that of Moses, namely, That under every dispensation, before the giving of the law, and under its reign, when it was restored, and after it is abolished; to righteous men on earth, to just men made perfect, to the angels of God: in the eye' of God himself-there is one object of 'peculiar magnitude and importance, which is before all, above all, runs through all, and in which all shall finally terminate. It is surely not without a meaning, that the promises, the predictions, from first to last, point out a Saviour that should suffer and die; that all the types, services, sacrifices of the law should represent a salvation that was to be wrought out, to be purchased with blood; that the whole doctrine of the gospel should be compressed into one point, the doctrine of the Cross; that the throne of God eternal in the heavens should exhibit at its right hand, and in the midst of it, "a Lamb as it had been slain;" that the song of the redeemed should celebrate Him who loved the sons of men, and "washed them from their sins in his blood!" O the infatuation of a careless, unbelieving world! that subject which the ransomed of the Lord dwell upon with ever new and increasing delight; that great "mystery of godliness," which "angels desire to look into;" that object which the great God has marked with special precision as his own; the wonder of heaven, the joy of the earth, the theme of eternity, was "to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks foolishness;" is to a faithless and perverse generation a thing of nought, the song of the drunkard, the jest of fools! If that blood has fallen and lies with such oppressive weight, both as a temporal and a spiritual curse on those who rashly imprecated it on themselves and their children, and then impiously and remorselessly shed it; "of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God,