9 DECEMBER (PREACHED 1770)
Urge the testimonies of Scripture
‘And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.’ Matthew 17:9
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 1 Corinthians 2:1–16
The account of the Transfiguration closes with the former verse [And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only]. But this verse seems to belong to the subject, and I shall employ our present opportunity in some observations upon it. It contains an injunction of secrecy for a limited time, after which they were freely to declare what they had seen. May we humbly enquire why our Lord was pleased to forbid them to speak of it till he should have risen from the dead? It may afford us some instruction for our own conduct. I conceive there might be several reasons. One reason: on account of the people. They daily saw Jesus conversing among them as a common, yea, as a poor man. The scribes and Pharisees traduced him and treated him as an impostor. Now the doctrine and miracles of our Lord in public were suited to convince the unprejudiced that he was indeed a teacher sent from God—but his transfiguration was a point which, if it had been mentioned, must have depended on the testimony of the three disciples. Who would hardly have been believed [them], when they could only say and not prove! Afterwards, when he had declared his power and glory by rising from the dead, and sent down his Spirit to confirm the words of his servants, the case was different. The disciples might enlarge upon our Lord’s public works and urge the testimonies of Scripture concerning him. But they were directed not to take notice of this; having no such proof as the world would call for to offer, their bare assertion of such an extraordinary event might bring their sincerity into suspicion. It seems still a good rule, when conversing with unawakened people with a view to their good, to keep to such things as we can plainly prove from the Scripture. And there may be some kinds of experiences which, for this reason, it would be improper to lay before worldly people, because, not being able to understand them, they would be more prejudiced against anything else we could say.
FOR MEDITATION: ‘… But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word’ (Isaiah 66:2).
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 13 [1/4]