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fell upon the face of Moses when he had conference with God, and was turned towards him. This is the effect which happens to us according to the sense of the apostle; whose words, though very obscure when taken independent of the context, will be easily understood after what hath been said—" We all, with open "(that is, unveiled) face, beholding as in a glass "the glory of the Lord, are changed into the "same image, from glory to glory, even as ,by "the spirit of the Lord;" or, as the margin reads, by the Lord who is the spirit of the law, as aforesaid. Of all which the sense, in brief, is this: there was. a glory on the face of Moses underneath his veil, and there is a glorious spirit under the letter of his law, which they who behold stedfastly are themselves transfigured and glorified after the manner of Moses. Whoever beholds the glory of God is himself thereby glorified, as he who looks at the sun is shone upon by it. All we can see of God in this mortal life is in his word: there that light doth still shine which illuminated the face of Moses; and they who behold it reflected as in a glass from the figures and ceremonies of his law, are changed (Gr. transfigured) into the same image, from glory to glory; from the glory of the law which appeared in Moses, to
the glory of the gospel which appeared in the transfiguration of Jesus Christ *.
A sight of that glory which is in the spirit of the law, is not only our privilege, but is absolutely necessary toward the conversion of a natural man into a spiritual one; if it doth not rather presuppose such a conversion; because a natural man can neither receive nor discern the things of the spirit of God. This was the case of the Jews; they were not able to see the inward spirit of our Saviour's parables; and so, instead of being converted they were only condemned by it. "Their ears, said he, are dull "of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; "lest at any time they should see with their "eyes, and should hear with their ears, and "should understand with their hearts, and "should be converted, and I should heal them."
Hence Hence we see, that they who have the spiritual sense which discerns spiritual things, may be converted and healed: while they who have it not are only hardened in their unbelief. Instead of improving they grow worse, and are farther from God than ever: "whosoever hath not, ** from him shall be taken away even that he *' hath." As it was with Christ in his parables, such to this day will be the success of every preacher of God's word, who keeps up to his profession as a minister of the spirit: if his hearers do not grow better and become spiritually minded, they will grow worse as the Jews did. The spirit of God's word which should convert and heal them will never prove to be an inactive indifferent medicine: it will either do good or harm; it will operate either towards life, or towards death; it will make men turn to God or drive them farther away from him: which is a serious and fearful consideration; and I pray to God you may lay it to heart. My only desire is to do you good, and I should be sorry to speak to the condemnation of any one soul committed to my charge. But you see how the case is: as the benefit is great, so is the danger: if there should be darkness where there ought to be light, how great will be that darkness!
Such then is the excellence of the sacred style, that it is accommodated to our capacities, it delights our imagination, and leads us into all truth by the pleasantest way; it improves the natural world into a witness of our faith ; it transfigures us from natural into spiritual men, and gives us a foretafte of the glorious presence of God. If these are the effects of it, it must be of infinite value to particular persons in their several studies and professions.
And first, it is absolutely necessary to a Christian preacher: whose doctrine, if it be after the form of the scriptural imagery, will be more intelligible, more agreeable, and more edifying to all sorts of hearers. If this is the method God hath been pleased to prefer for the teaching of man, it must be the best when one man undertakes to teach another. We have seen how our Saviour's preaching was in the form of parables: how the apostles in their interpretation of the old testament apply it as a figure and shadow of things to come; and how in their exhortations they reason from some parallel case in the ways of nature. And still it will always be found, that nothing has such an effect in preaching, as the skilful handling of some image or figure of the scripture. For truth, as we have often observed, does not enter 1
ter into men's minds in its own abstracted nature, but under the vehicle of some analogy, which conveys a great deal of sense in very few words: and therefore the best preachers have always taken advantage of some such analogy, after the manner of the scripture itself, which gives us the pattern of all true preaching.
Let me shew you how this is by an example. Suppose a preacher would persuade his audience not to abuse the station in life to which Providence hath appointed them; and not to presume upon the character they may sustain amongst men for a short time here upon earth: he reasons from the transitory nature of worldly things: and this he teaches them to see in a glass, by setting before them the changeable scenery and temporary disguises of men in a theatre. In the world at large, as upon a stage, there is a fashion in the characters and actions of men, which passeth away, just as the scenery changes, and the curtain drops, in a theatre; to which the apostle alludes. The world is a great shew, which presents us various scenes and fantastic characters; princes, politicians, warriors, and philosophers; the rich, the honourable, the learned and the wise: and with these, the servant and the beggar, the poor, the weak, and the despised. Some seldom come