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In common with your correspondent Abdiel, I entertain no doubt of the fulfilment of the prediction in Matt. xvi, 28, and its parallels, in our Lord's transfiguration before his three disciples and I regard the interpretation as equally obvious and satisfactory. The difficulty, however, which is frequently expressed in private discussion on the subject by sincere inquirers after prophetical truth, and the fact that commentators almost universally explain the passage differently, proves that to other persons the interpretation contended for does by no means approve itself as satisfactory; and consequently, that it needs confirmation.
It is with this object that I beg to offer to your readers the suggestions following.
As a preliminary to the right understanding of the prediction, it is important to mark the context which introduces it. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my 'words in this sinful and adulterous generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with His angels; and then He shall ' reward every man according to his works.”—Then comes the prediction that we are considering; "Verily I say unto you there be some
ON THE FULFILMENT OF MATTHEW XVI, 28,
IN THE TRANSFIGURATION.
To the Editor of the Investigator.
standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of
man coming in his kingdom :" or as Mark expresses it, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." Immediately on this follows the history of the transfiguration.
Now it is evident, as Whitby justly observes, that the coming intended in the introductory verses is Christ's second and glorious advent, when "He shall judge the
quick and dead at His appearing and His kingdom."* And I would insist on it, as almost a necessary consequence, that it is of the same glorious advent that Christ speaks when He declares, that some were standing there who should ' not die till they had seen it." Certainly this is the natural inference from the context. And nothing, but the impossibility of otherwise explaining the passage in question, can justify an interpreter in affixing to the words, "coming of the Son of man," in two successive and closely connected verses, two meanings entirely different.
This consideration is to my own mind a sufficient objection against those interpretations which refer us for the fulfilment of the prediction in question to Christ's ascension into heaven,-to the consequent descent of the Holy Spirit and extension of the Gospel kingdom,—or to the judicial destruction of Jerusalem,†-as Ve- lem,t-as comings of the Lord Jesus which, severally, all or one at
* 2 Tim. iv, 1.
† Of Bishop Horsley's extraordinary interpretation I say nothing, as I conceive the learned prelate could scarce have expected any to be satisfied with it. If I remember right, he supposes Judas to have been the disciple specially intended by our Lord: and INVESTIGATOR, No. VII.
least of the apostles lived to witness. What may be the authority in any case for applying to these events such a phrase as that of “the Son of man coming with power in His kingdom," I have yet to learn. The passages usually cited to authorize such an application of the words are, as is known to most of your readers, disputed passages; and all admit a very different construction. But, if the context of the preceding verses fixes the meaning of the words, coming in His kingdom,' in v. 27, to Christ's second and glorious advent, then it is undeniable that here, at least, the interpretations fail.
But how then, it will be asked, can the prediction be explained, seeing that the disciples did all soon taste of death, and that the coming of their Lord in glory is an event still future?
The key to the right interpretation is, as I conceive, to be found in other Scriptures; from which we learn, that they who saw a thing or event prefigured or pre-acted in vision, were not unfrequently said to see the thing or event itself. A few examples will place this beyond doubt.
It was in vision that Michaiah saw pre-acted the scattering of Israel; Isaiah, the glorification of the Lord Jesus as King of all the earth;* Ezekiel, the death of Pelatiah as he prophesied; John, the gathering of the quick and dead to judgment; and probably,--though with this difference, that he saw the event pre-acted in type,-Abraham, the day of Christ. t
In the same way they might be
with this meaning to the prediction; that in comparison with the horrors of the second death which Judas should experience at Christ's second coming, the miseries of his first death would be as nothing;-so, indeed, as that in the comparison he might be said "not to taste of death till he saw the Son of man coming in His kingdom! !"
* We learn from John xii, 41, that Isaiah in this vision saw Christ's glory: and from those expressions of the Prophet, "mine eyes have seen the King;" and of the Seraphim, "the whole earth is full of his glory" we infer that it was a prefigurative vision of Christ as the universally acknowledged King of this lower world. So bishop Lowth observes; The vision related to His future kingdom, when the veil of separation was to be removed, and the whole earth was to be filled with the glory of God, revealed to all mankind."
+ "The day of Christ" will appear from the comparison of many Scriptures to mean generally the day of Christ's second manifestation, and universal establishment of His kingdom. Here it includes, probably, the eternal day during which the kingdom will last. The occasion of Abraham's seeing it appears to have been when on Mount
said to see the glorious manifestation of Christ in His kingdom, who saw it prefigured and pre-acted on the mount of transfiguration. For then, as the learned and pious Mr. Baxter has it in his chapter “On the sensible manifestation of Christ's kingdom in the transfiguration," appended to the Dying Thoughts,-Christ having promised some of his disciples a sight of his kingdom coming in power, did give them "such a glimpse of it as Moses had of the back parts of God's glory." But when I speak of the transfiguration as a prefigurative vision only of Christ's second coming, such as that they who saw it might be said, as in the cases just cited, to have seen Christ's second coming itself, I am speaking much below the truth and grandeur of the subject. For it should be remembered, that the visions in which things distant or future were revealed to the prophets were of various characters, and with various degrees of similitude to the things represented. Generally it was in symbolic representations, and in resemblances shadowy and unsubstantial, that the thing signified was represented to the Seer; as in the revelations, probably, to Michaiah, Ezekiel, and St. John. So it is written in the Book of Numbers, (chap. xii, 6,) of God's general revelations to the prophets; If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known to him in a vision and will speak to him in a dream :”—the Prophet's bodily senses being locked on the occasion. Whereas "with
Moses," it is said in special contrast, "I will speak mouth to mouth, even 'apparently and not in dark speeches; ' and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold." And so Theodoret on Ezekiel i, 5, says; oтɩ k αυτας εθεωρεν των αορατων τας φύσεις οι θεσπέσιοι προφηται, αλλ ̓ εικασματα Tiva. And again ; Πανταχε ὁ θειος προφητης το όμοιωμα τιθησι, διδασκων ἡμᾶς σκιαγραφίαν τινα των θειων τεθεασθαι, και εκ αυτην των αορατων Tηy quoi. But in the transfiguration the disciples beheld not symbols but realities; not the pre-acting in visionary resemblances, but the pre-acting in fact, though on a smaller scale, of the wonders of Christ's second coming: and they beheld this not in a trance, but with their eyes open. (εлоптаι, 2 Pet. i, 16.) With their bodily eyes they beheld
the KING," as all shall at the last see Him, "in His beauty:" with their bodily eyes they beheld the risen and changed saints, Moses and Elijah, with bodies also glorified, brought to meet Him: with their bodily eyes they beheld that cloud of the Father's excellent glory, which shall attend His second coming, overshadowing Him : and out of the cloud heard the voice of the Ancient of days attesting to His excellence; delegating, as it were, to Him the kingdom, and requiring all to pay Him homage"Hear ye Him !”
Of two objections, that I have seen to the interpretation I am advocating, one advanced by Whitby is, that in the transfiguration there was no rewarding men according to their works, in accordance with what is
Moriah he received back as from the dead Isaac the heir of the "promises," and type of that greater Heir of all things, whose actual dying on the same mountain, strange as it might appear to the patriarch, was necessarily to precede His inheriting. The angel that called to Abraham out of heaven, and emphatically renewed the promises, Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth bless themselves," (vide Scott, ad loc.) did then, probably, enlighten the eyes of the patriarch to see the Anti-type's history in that of the type. For he called the name of the place JEHOVAH Jireh; or (such, it is said, should be the translation) "In this mount the Lord shall appear."
specified in the 27th verse as characteristic of the coming of the Lord intended. But how could Whitby forget that a part—the first part of the so rewarding men on the great day is to consist in the rewarding the righteous, and the public admission of them to a participation of their Lord's glory;-even as Moses and Elijah were then admitted?
Another objection, that we find in Poole, dwells on the power" with which the disciples were to see God's kingdom come, as a particular unfulfilled in the vision of the transfiguration. But, surely, never till the last day will mortal eye behold such visible power in exertion, as then served to mark that anticipative manifestation of the KING in His kingdom! power which in a moment arrayed the Lord's body of humiliation in more than solar brightness ;power which opened the gates of hades and of the grave, and summoned Moses as one of the first fruits of the resurrection, and Elijah of saints that shall be changed to attend and share his glory-power which brought down heaven to earth, and the tabernacle of God, even the Father, among men! The working of the very same energy was then seen which St. Paul describes as characteristic of Christ's second coming; "the changing of man's vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto His glorious
body, according to the working, (evep-
vised fables, when we made known
to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; but were eye witnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father · honor and glory, when there came • such a voice to Him from the ex
cellent glory, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.' This voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount."
With this, the best of commentaries on the Gospel narrative, I conclude. It is to my mind in itself a conclusive testimony to the fact of the transfiguration having been intended as an anticipative representation of the power and glory of Christ's second coming. If that event be regarded in any other light, such as a mere general attestation to the truth, Messiahship, and essential dignity of Christ, I must beg to say that the Apostle's allusion is stript of all its point, and of most of its force and beauty.*
*I take this opportunity of submitting to your more learned readers, whether the translation of the ensuing verse in this chapter of St. Peter should not be altered. Και εχομεν βεβαιοτερον τον προφητικον λογον, is rendered in the received version, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy." The The comparative more sure," in this position, implies a comparison between the evidence from the transfiguration and the evidence from prophecy; as if, though the former was strong, it was excelled in strength by the latter. This comparison I cannot believe that the Apostle intended. I would propose therefore construing exw in the sense of karεxw, to hold fast: just as it is construed in 2 Tim. i, 13, ὑποτυπωσιν εχε ὑγιαινοντων λόγων. "Hold fast the form of sound words." Then the translation would be, "And we hold faster the word of prophecy ;" i. e. of prophecy on the subject of Christ's coming. 'We grasp it with firmer faith;' firmer on account of the all-convincing light and evidence which was shed on that great subject in the transfiguration. The expression is very similar to that in Heb. iii, 6. "Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence of the hope firm unto the end:” the original standing thus, ει την παρρησιαν της ελπιδος μεχρι τελος βεβαιαν κατασχωμεν.
To the Editor of the Investigator.
There can be no doubt, that numhers are employed by the inspired Writers to fix the commencement and termination of the prophecies, which they have delivered: and, though there may be various opinions, as to the beginning and completion of a prediction; yet, with respect to the prophecy which I am led to consider, no one has, I believe, ever questioned, that it has commenced many centuries ago, and that it must terminate before the Millennium.
REMARKS ON DANIEL XII, 12, 13,
Proving from them a Resurrection and the Advent of Christ previous
to the Millennium.
In Daniel xii, 12, we readBlessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hun· dred and five and thirty days." It is the opinion of many eminent writers on prophecy, that this period of 1335 prophetical days must be dated from Anno Domini 533, and consequently that it will terminate in 1868; which opinion I conceive is strongly corroborated by the present state of the times: but no one has ever intimated, that the 1335 days will terminate subsequently to the Millennium.* If then the 1335 days have never been supposed by any writer to expire after the Millennium, we may safely conclude, that the 1335 days will terminate previous to the Millennium; and from this conclusion it will be evident, that the first resurrection, and consequently the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, will precede the Millennium. For the 13th verse is as follows:-"But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and 'stand in thy lot at the end of the days." If therefore Daniel is to sleep in Jesus, (which thou shalt rest clearly implies,) and is to stand in his lot at the end of the days, (that is, have his part in the resurrection :-and what can standing in his lot signify but this?) and these 1335 days, as we have before shewn, will expire before the Millennium; it is very manifest from this, that the first resurrection, and consequently the coming of Christ will precede the Millennium. For all acknowledge, that at the coming of Christ the resurrection will take place; and Daniel pronounces him blessed, who comes to the 1335 days-why? Because he will then have part in the first resurrection. St. John tells us the same thing, Rev. xx, 6; Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resur"rection."
Thus for the expression, "thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot,”we have no other sense than what. has been given; which is I conceive evident from the Scriptures which declare, that all believers, who die previous to the coming of our Lord, shall rest or sleep in Jesus; and at his coming shall stand in their lot, or, in other words, have their part in the first resurrection.
* Mr. Faber is an exception to this remark. ED.