No. 7

Luke 9:33
And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
Peter's desire was from a good principle.  Grace had changed his heart, and given him a taste for heavenly things.  He loved his Saviour and when he saw him transfigured, and had a specimen of the glory of heaven in the appearance of M&E[Moses and Elijah], he would willingly have bid the world adieu.  He wanted to build tabernacles.  His motive was right, but his proposal was wrong and proceeded from ignorance and fear – not knowing what he said for he was afraid, as is added by Mark [9:6]. [1]
[3. His Proposal
Let us make three tabernacles.]
  3.1 He knew not what he said
    3.1.1 His proposal was inconsistent with the design of Christ's coming.  He had been offended at the mention of his cross before (Matthew 16:22). [2]  Now he seems quite to forget it.  But Peter's soul and all his hopes depended upon his Master not staying there, but returning to his state of humiliation.  This is the appointed, both for Head and member to enter into glory through sufferings.
    3.1.2 He knew but little of the state of glorified spirits, when he thought of tabernacles for Moses and Elijah.  It is so with us, we are apt to form low and earthly notions of heavenly things; indeed we can form no others, having no ideas but what we have received by our senses.  When we strive to go beyond this we are soon lost.
    3.1.3 He was ignorant of the design of his own calling.  He was not to live upon the mount but to be a fisher of men, to do and to suffer for Christ and to glorify God in the world.
  3.2 [He was afraid]
He was afraid – surprised and confused – so that he forgot himself, and spoke without thought, and as it were without being aware of what he said.  Perhaps this is one reason, why sensible manifestations are so sparingly vouchsafed, considering the weakness of our animal frame; they would too much engage and swallow up our thoughts, indispose for the services of common life, and deprive us of the power of sedately using our judgments.
Several observations may be made upon this passage applicable to our general use, and especially to young converts.  Peter here seems to judge, talk, feel and mistake, as many since his time have done, in what is called their first love.  We may note therefore:
1. That the growth and attainment of a Christian is not to be estimated by sensible comforts and manifestation.  Peter was warm-hearted and lively; he was happy for the season and if he had been at leisure could have told a wonderful story of his experience.  Yet at this time he knew but little experimentally either of himself or his Saviour, in comparison of what he knew afterwards.  Some poor souls are apt to be discouraged when they see others comfortable and taken up upon the mount, and ready to say, O that I was so – but there is a difference between pleasant frames and a steady, habitual exercise of grace.
2. A person's being in a lively frame and near the Lord will not exempt him from the danger of making great mistakes – in what they would propose and determine to do in such a frame.  Some people are ready to think that any purpose that comes into their minds, when their spirits are lively and they have liberty in prayer, must therefore be right and proper.  They will say, I trust the Lord was surely with me when I purposed it, and therefore it must doubtless be from him.  The Lord was surely and sweetly with Peter at this time but he did not put it in his heart to build tabernacles.  Satan may be near at such a time likewise, and many plausible motions may arise from Self.  If we would be wise builders we must build not upon feelings and suggestions, but upon the Word of God.  Is your spirit quickened by a taste of his love and a glimpse of his glory? – then to the law and the testimony to learn his will concerning you, and do not think your frame will warrant you to do anything, which you are not directed to by the Scripture.  Innumerable enthusiasms and offences have arisen from a want of caution in this respect.  The zeal of young converts is very apt to spend itself in singularities and things not commanded.
3. A want of experience makes us very apt to mistake and misapply the cordials the Lord gives us by the way.  Peter did not say, Now we have seen his glory, let us take courage, and be willing to do and suffer for him for he is worthy.  Let us improve the remembrance of this to make us more earnest in pleading with our friends and obstinate countrymen to believe on him.  Friends and neighbours, services and sufferings were all forgot and he only thought of building tabernacles, and having his present comforts continued.  There is much selfishness in our hearts often when they seem best disposed.  St Paul was better taught – he had been caught up into the third heaven – yet though he had an earnest desire to depart and be with Christ, he was willing to wait for his happiness, for the sake of being useful to his church. [3]
4. We may observe our Lord's gracious compassion to the weakness of his people.  He accepted Peter's willing mind according to his light, and though what he said discovered ignorance, rashness and selfishness had too much place in him, we do not find he rebuked him upon this occasion.  He knows our frame, he remembers we are but dust.  He does not teach us all at once, but with patience and tenderness as we are able to bear it.  We should learn of him.  If we advise (as we ought to do) young professors of what is amiss in their first joy, let us do it with candour and gentleness and make allowances for those mistakes which can only be corrected by experience.  Fruit is not ripened as soon as it is formed, but it is not to be thrown away because it is yet green.  If good in its kind, allow it time and it will come to maturity.
5. Let not those who are upon the mount, depend upon their present warm desires and resolutions, but rather pray to the Lord to keep them watchful and humble.  The enemy is upon his watch, and he gained great advantage of Peter after this and terrified him to a denial of his Master.  It is written for our instruction.
But some are not concerned with these things.  Instead of building tabernacles upon the mount with Peter, their hearts go more with the rich man in the Gospel, who would pull down his barns and build them larger, and enjoy the good things of the world for many years.  Alas, this, if you could have it, would be a poor portion.  You must die and leave all, and what will the world be to you then?  O that you may be wise in time and seek the things that are above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.

[1] Mark 9:6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
[2] Matthew 16:22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
[3] 2 Corinthians 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
Philippians 1:23-25 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

Cowper & Newton Museum, 714(16), N40

Marylynn Rouse, 06/08/2020