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Thus'. God called Abraham, and he said 2017, in the Septuagint, cdo
Behold l*: But our English translators, paying greater regard to the idiom of their own tongue, than to the force and meaning of the sacred original ; and proposing, as we say, 'to make sense of it,' have inserted the substantive verb; and now we read in this and similar places here am I. From the verb am, however, being wanting, both in the Hebrew, and in the Greek of the Septuagint, we may have ground to remark, that being or to be is God's prerogative, and that none can justly say of himself, I am, but He, who has existence from himself, the self-existent Jehovah, the true I am, the essence eristing. This divine name Jehovah, or I AM, Jesus takes to himself on another occasion, in his conversation with the Jews, when he tells them, that their father Abraham' saw his day, and was glad i' and, on the Jews objecting to the possibility of that, as Abraham was dead so long before he was born, he thus removes that objection. “* Before Abraham was, '
•I AM;' not as our modern writers, in their zeal for purity of style, would have said · I was, but in the present tense · I am.' Had there been nothing peculiar in this expression, I am, the Jews might have ridiculed him, as our nice grammarians would readily have done, for speaking incoheL2
1 Gen. xxii. I. 2 See Sam. 4. 6. 8. In all which places Samuel, on being called by God, still answers, · Behold I,' &c. 3. St John viii.
4 ver. 58.
rent nonsense. But the Jews, we find, looked upon the expression in another light, as being a blasphemous profanation of the divine name, I AM, which they believed, and very justly, belonged to none other but God. And upon this account it was, that they took up stones to cast at him; which, had they considered Jesus to be a fool, (as some no doubt, from his language, would have been disposed to consider him), would have been an act of the most idle and wanton cruelty : But their preparing to stone him to death, which was the appoint-. ed punishment for the sin of blasphemy, plainly shewed, that they believed him to have been guilty of that crime, by arrogating to himself one of the divine titles'. Yet, if they would have looked back to their own prophets, they would have seen, that even in their writings, the name Jehovah was often applied to the Messiah. For instance, in the prophet Isaiah we read”, “ Thus saith Jehovah, your Redeemer :' 3" As for our Redeemer, Jehovah is his
1 By the bye, this may help to account for the ridiculous story among the Jewish Doctors, that “ Jesus of Nazareth,' as they call our Saviour, had somehow or other stolen the tetragrammaton, or ineffable name je. bovah, out of the sanctuary, which he magically sewed into his thigh, and by virtue of that charm, performed all his many miraculous works. However senseless such a tradition must be thought, it shews that the Jews once knew, that Jesus had made use of this divine name ; and we are not to wonder that this account, like all other discoveries which have for their object the authenticity of the gospel, should be much corrupted from the original truth, in passing through such pilfering and treache. rous hands, as Jewish Rabbins are well known to have been.
* Isaiah xliii. 14.
3 xlvii. 4.
• Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer : • 1, Jehovah, thy Saviour and Redeemer :' 3" I will • raise unto David a righteous branch—and this is • his name, whereby he shall be called, Jehovah our righteousness.' Hence the expression, • the name • of the Lord,' throughout the Old Testament, is even by the Jewish Targumists themselves acknowledged to signify the Messiah ; and accordingly our Saviour frequently assumes to himself this character; as in that petition of the Lord's prayer “, “ Hallowed be thy name ;' 5. Father, glorify thy name :' o I have declared to them thy name,' &c. 7
But to return to the application of the argument, it seems evident, that our Lord, on the occasion mentioned, not only assumed this divine name, when he told his pursuers syw beple, I AM, but likewise emitted some splendid visible manifestation of
1 Isaiah xliv. 24.
2 xlix. 26.
5 St John xii. 28.
St John xvii. 26. 7 Mr Hutchinson, with his usual penetration, hath said a great deal upon this subject, and has traced the derivation of Onw, the heavens, from this Hebrew word nu, a name. Whence he commonly reads the names, where we have the heavens; as in Psal. xix.
• The names exhibit the chabod Jehovah,' Jehovah the glory, &c. But what I have already hinted, without any of his observations being adduced, is sufficient to prove the title, that the Messiah has to the sacred name JEHOVAH, or I AM.
glory, since we read, that on his saying 'I AM,' they • went back, and fell to the ground. His bare telling them, that he was Jesus of Nazareth, (as our translation, “ I am he,' would imply no more), could not be thought capable of producing such an amazing effect. But his so openly declaring his divinity, accompanied with some visible sign thereof, would very naturally throw them into confusion, especially when they thought on the errand, on which they were come.
And there appears a satisfactory reason from his own words for his doing so at this time, in order to provide for the safety of his disciples, and give them an opportunity, if they saw fit, from the disorder of their enemies, to make their escape-'. if therefore ye seek me, let • these
Thus have I pointed out those immediate passages of the gospel, which, as I said, can scarcely be denied to have a reference to some visible and apparent erhibitions of glory, made by or upon the person of Christ. Nor is it to be doubted but exhibitions of this kind were frequently both made and seen, though not expressly mentioned. In the end of the first chapter of St John's Gospel, on Nathanael's declaring his belief, that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus saith unto him, · Verily, verily, I say • unto you, henceforth ye shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and . descending upon the Son of man.
1 St John xviii. 8.
the Son of man. This is certainly a promise of some glorious manifestation : perhaps the adverb 'ATE ’apre (which properly signifies henceforth, or from this time, not barely hereafter) may be found to imply a frequency or repetition of such manifestations. And what was to be the nature of these manifestations, may be gathered from the history of Jacob's heavenly ladder', and from the expression of the heavens opening, which always portends something great'. Yet there is no positive description given us of any such glorious manifestation as Christ here promises, except at his baptism, and again at his transfiguration. The first of these solemnities took place before his disciples were called, and consequently before this promise to Nathanael was made; and at the other there were none present but three, whom our Lord
particularly selected, James, Peter, and John, so that Nathanael, to whom this promise was made, was not there. For which reason it will be granted, that there must have been frequent openings of heaven made publicly, in presence of all the apostles at least. Whether the
Whether the passages referred to at the foot of the page : may not be considered' as pointing to something of this kind, I shall leave to every reader to judge for himself. Nor is it any just objection against this, that the evangelists
i Gen. xxviii. 12." 2 See Matth. iii. 16. Acts vii. 56. Acts x. 11. 3 St Matth. iv, Is. St Luke xxii. 43. xxiv. 4. Acts i. 10.