12 MARCH (PREACHED 1770)
Far from the madding crowd
‘And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart.’ Matthew 17:1
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Exodus 33:12–34:7
The place to which he led his disciples: this was a high mountain. What mountain, or where situated, is a point of more curiosity than use. The reason of his choosing such a place seems obvious—it was doubtless for the opportunity of retirement. When he would show them his glory, he took them aside from the crowd. He taught frequently in public, in the temple and in the streets, but he revealed himself more intimately to his disciples when he had them apart from the world. Hence we observe the Lord withdraws his people from the hurries of the world to show them his goodness and his glory. To this he calls them by his Word and Spirit and oftentimes by his providence. Not that they are to forsake their stations and services in life—he will give them grace and wisdom for their public callings also—but they must not be engrossed with these. They must have seasons of waiting upon him in the mountain apart, or they will deprive themselves of their best privileges. The ordinances, though public in one sense (as with regard to their outward administration they are open to all), are, in another, private. Many can tell what a retreat they find in them from the noise and cares of the world. Therefore they are glad to go up to the house of the Lord, which is called the mountain of his holiness. In their own houses they are in the midst of hurry and confusion, and they expect when they return to meet new trials at the very threshold of the door. But while they are in the mountain they are at peace—there for a little season they forget their distractions, they get balm for their wounds and are renewed in strength for the warfare. How sweet are Sabbaths and ordinances in this view! They say with Peter, It is good to be here [Luke 9:33], and here, if it might be, they would stay—and return to an ensnaring, troublesome world no more.
How welcome to the saints, when pressed
Now, from the throng withdrawn away,
With six days’ noise, and care, and toil,
They seem to breathe a different air;
Is the returning day of rest,
Composed and softened by the day,
Which hides them from the world awhile?
All things another aspect wear.
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 2 [1/5], LUKE 9:28