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and thrilling truths to urge to its performance. Nor do I like more, an abstract treatise upon the Atonement or Total Depravity, such as we often hear, which has no more to do with daily life than has the theory of a rainbow. Every thing should spring from life and return to life again, but mount meantime the highest heaven of pure and everlasting truth. Thus preached the Apostles, thus the Saviour.
Much depends upon the delivery. Many men preach as if they do not believe what they are saying. I often go into a church, and am much interested, till some unlucky tone shows me that the preacher himself does not believe (at the time, what he is preaching. Therefore I should suppose that when any man takes his sermon into his pulpit in his head or in his hand, he would always earnestly pray that God would also put it in his heart, that the scripture may be fulfilled which says,
“ That which is with you, shall be in you. For myself, I like a conversational style of delivery. Away with form and stiffness when reasoning on themes like these! Away with all barriers which may divide heart from heart! Why not talk to a congregation from a pulpit, as you would talk to a multitude in the street, if suddenly called to address them. Let them not hide themselves from the force of truth under the notion that you are doing something professional going through a necessary ceremony, which it is necessary and proper for them to listen to, and criticise. Lay aside ail stiff proprieties, all artificial tones, and let your manner be modified only by the natural influences of place and occasion. I should distrust the depths of my religious convictions, if they had to be propped up by an artificial manner of expression.
“ For of the soul the body form doth take,
For soul is form, and doth the body make. "
It is well for a preacher when preparing his discourses, always to keep in mind what are the ends of all preaching. The object of preaching is to produce faith-faith in things unseen. If the congregation when they leave the church have more faith in unseen things than when they entered it, they have been advantaged. If God, eternity, responsibility, judgment, appear more real to them—if Christ and his gospel, mercy, reconciliation, love, have come up from the region of words into the region of things—then the time has not been misemployed, and on the great day of account the man of God will not be called to weep over that sabbath as a wasted talent.
THE TRANSFIGURATION.- A SERMON.
BY F. H. HEDGE.
Matthew, xvii. 12.
“ AND after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them, and his face did shine as the sun and his garments were white as the light.”
The transfiguration of Christ is to be regarded rather as an event in the lives of the disciples who witnessed it, than as an event in the life of the Saviour himself. It was an effect produced on their minds, and not any thing which essentially affected his condition. He needed no such outward sign to assure him of that divine nature to which his own consciousness bore unceasing testimony far stronger than any outward sign could supply; but it was necessary that their minds should be quickened and elevated beyond the ordinary reach of human vision and human experience, in order that they might fully apprehend the glorious character and the glorious destiny of their master. Therefore, though this miracle considered in itself, i. e. as a preternatural occurrence, and viewed both in respect to the evidence upon which it rests and the inferences of divine power, and a divine purpose which it warrants, stands on precisely the same ground as the other miracles; yet, it has, when viewed more nearly, an aspect peculiar to itself. It appears then not as a miracle wrought upon Jesus, but as a miracle wrought upon those three who were with Jesus in the mount as witnesses of his glory. I do not mean that the change which is described as having taken place in the person of the Saviour was not an actual occurrence, that the phenomenon had no existence except in the minds of the spectators, but that the phenomenon is chiefly important when considered in reference to them-it was what passed in their vision rather than what passed in the person of Jesus with which we are concerned.
Considered in this point of view the transfiguration is an event not wholly unparalleled in human experience. Something similar in kind, though different in mode and degree, has occurred to most, perhaps to all of us. Has it never occurred to you, that a friend whom you have long known, and
loved, and revered, has at some moment of deeper emotion and more intimate communion, appeared to you in new man. ifestations, shining with a glory which he had never yet exhibited, which you had never conceived him capable of exhibiting—his whole nature exalted, every faculty ennobled, every affection more intense, every virtue more refined, every word more quickened and quickening, until you imagined the very fashion of his countenance to be altered, and could almost persuade yourself that you stood in the presence of a superior being? For so it is in all our intercourse in this world; even with those of our most intimate acquaintance, we can never acquire that perfect intimacy which belongs to a more perfect state. We can never see and know them as they are. We are divided from them by an impenetrable veil of flesh, and only at rare intervals and favorable moments are we permitted to catch a glimpse of the spirit that dwells within. But not to insist on this personal transfiguration, there is another phenomenon in human experience to which the occurrence related in the gospel more nearly corresponds. There are moments in the life of every reflective mind when all things appear to us in a new and clearer light, when the whole scheme and every purpose of our being is made plain. The feature is unrolled before us like a chart, in which our own destiny, traced in lines of light, beckons us on beyond the kingdoms of the world. The truths which are to guide, the works which are to occupy, the trials which are to perfect, the harvests which are to crown us, are all comprehended in a single glance; the visible world around us, the invisible world around that, and God who is around all are brought nearer to us—we feel that they are of us and we of them-parts of the same whole. We are made sensible of the mysterious affinity, the more than affinity, the perfect oneness which binds us to the universe and its author, and are dissolved together with them in conscious union. All that christianity unfolds is then transfigured before us, and this transfiguration is of Christ, for it is only by and through him who is the informing word that such visions are vouchsafed to us. It is only at particular seasons and under particular circumstances, that this elevation of the soul can take place. They must be seasons of deep and intense excitement, supposing and requiring an unusual activity of thought and feeling. It was on a mountain apart that the disciples were gathered when they beheld the altered countenance of the Saviour. It is only when raised above the ordinary level of human life and human converse, that we can participate in like revelations.
Not every excitement, however, can bring Christ, or the objects of Christianity transfigured before us. There is an excitement of the brain—there are moments of mental exaltation, in which the intellect is roused to higher efforts of creative power, and the understanding converses with the problems of science and the speculations of philosophy, as with familiar things--when imagination wanders amid shapes and deeds which eye hath not seen, ear heard, or the heart of man conceived — when fancy gathers into living pictures, and traces on airy tablets the colors and the forms of an ideal world. In such moments there is a glory and a joy, but it is of the earth, and Christ is not there.
Again, there is an excitement of the heart: there are moments of rapturous emotion, when the whole frame is tremulous with deep feeling, and every pulse bounds with sensations which cannot be uttered, when affection is kindled into burning passion and every generous sentiment pants to express itself in generous action. This is a noble fervor but this is also earthly, and Christ is not there. And there is also a moral enthusiasm, more noble still; that virtuous passion kindled by the sight of earthly wrongs and earthly woes, under the influence of which a generous nature gives itself up to ceaseless toil and ceaseless sacrifice in the behalf of suffering humanity. Yet, even in this—though there is less in it of earth than of heaven—even in this the full glories of Christ are not apparent.
That state of being which alone can bring Christ transfigured before us, is a general elevation of the whole spirit, differing from those partial excitements I have described, as the excitement of perfect health differs from the tumult of the senses when inflamed with wine. It is no turbulent emotion—no fever of the blood-no unnatural heat. It has nothing of the whirlwind or the tempest, but that repose which belongs alike to nature and to mind in their most healthy moods—the calmness of the sunshine--the tranquility of intense contemplation. The spirit absorbed in rapturous vision broods over the deep things of God-freed from the flesh it wanders unconfined in its native element. Earth's thousand voices are hushed and Christ is present in transfigured beauty. The great objects of his kingdom pass before us, no longer dim with earthly mists, but radiant with that pure light which flows directly from him the great Sun of Spirits.
Again, it is evident that the season of transfiguration must be a season of retirement. Not in the crowded assembly, not in the deafening tumult of social intercourse, can the soul attain that force and clearness which lift us above the visible
world, and bring us into communion with spiritual things. Three only of Christ's disciples—his most intimate companions were made witnesses of his glory. It is only in private communion with those who are nearest to us in spiritual affinity, or in more private communion with that spirit who is nearer to us than any finite spirit can be—it is only at such moments that we can participate in the moral elevation I am describing. In addition to these requisitions there is required, moreover, a certain degree of moral purity, without which no converse with spiritual things is possible. Only the pure in heart, we are told can see God, and only they can see the things which pertain to the kingdom of God.
Such then are the conditions under which Christ may become transfigured to any one of us. It has already been hinted in what this transfiguration consists-in a nearer and clearer presentation of the great objects of christianity. Foremost and chief among these objects are the facts of our religion. I mean those central and eternal facts which constitute the life of the christian scheme and the essence of all christian instruction-the existence of God, of a moral law, and an immortal state. It is not that these truths are never present to our minds, or are never understood in our ordinary moods. We do perceive them and know what they mean. We neither deny them with our lips nor doubt them in our hearts, but we have not that stirring sense, that living conviction of their reality, that full appreciation of their truth, which is given us in these more favored moments. They appear like the objects of nature, when seen under a clouded sky. They are visible enough-every outline is perfectly distinct-every hue is fully defined, but all is cold and dull, wanting that perfect illumination which gives not only light, but freshness and splendor and the glow of life to all that it touches. What these objects are when the sun again smiles upon them, such are the truths of religion when transfigured to us in a season of spiritual illumination. They seem to be new revealed—they have all the freshness which belongs to a new revelation. If before they were visible, now they are radiant and beaming with that divine intelligence from which they spring. If before they were familiar, now they are identified with our very being. If before they were intelligible, now they are become objects of consciousness; and whereas, before we saw them in the reflected light of our own understandings, we now see them, as it were, in the mind of God-their reality and their dread import are brought home to us with a vividness which makes us feel that they are the only realities which deserve the attention