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Ess. x.) : to Christ Preexistent, . 249 temple-as made manifest to the prophet in a vision of glory; and it was then that the prophet heard the voice of Jehovah, saying, “whom shall I send, and who will go for us? ...... Go and tell this people, hear ye, indeed, but understand not; and see ye, indeed, but perceive not: make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be heal. ed :" ver. 9, 10. Here, according to the theology of the Jews, there must have been an appearance of the Word of Jehovah ; and it is the Word of Jehovah who, in the Targum on the passage, is introduced as thus addressing the prophet. Here also according to the principles of divine truth, as held by the apostles of Jesus Christ, there must have been an appearance of the Son of God, who is himself the “Word of Jehovah,” and whom these early Christians were ever accustomed to regard as the “Image of the invisible God,” in whom alone the Father is made manifest: see John i, 18; xvii, 6; 1 John iv, 12; 2 Cor. iv, 4; Col. i, 15; Heb. i, 3. Why, then, should it excite in us the least degree of surprise, when we find an evangelist incidentally declaring that the glory which the prophet Isaiah saw, on this memorable occasion, was the glory of Christ? After relating that, although Jesus had performed "so many miracles” in the presence of the Jews, "yet they believed not in him," the apostle John accounts for the circumstance by citing this remarkable prophecy respecting the judicial blindness and obduracy of that bewildered people: and adds, “ These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him:" John xii, 37-41.
Such an incidental application to Jesus Christ, of a - 6 See ver. 8. “I heard the voice of Jehovah, saying," is, in the Targum, paraphrased, " I heard the voice of the Word of Jehovah, saying."
250 Who was with God, and was God. [Ess. x. well-known passage of the Old Testament relating to Jehovah, is perhaps more really forcible as an evidence of the deity of our Lord than the most deliberate and direct affirmation of that doctrine; for such an application affords a plain indication that the doctrine in question was currently and (if the term be not improper) familiarly admitted and understood both by the authors of the New Testament and by those persons, in their own age, for whose use their writings were intended. Nevertheless, the truth, to which the apostle has thus incidentally adverted, he has elsewhere deliberately and directly affirmed.
I venture to assert, that there is not to be found in the whole Scriptures a single passage which bears stronger marks of deliberation, decision, and solemn emphasis-not one of which the authority, in point of reading, is more irrefragably determined—not one of which the interpretation is more truly placed beyond the reach of an unsound and infidel criticism-not one in which the highest meaning of the divine name is more plainly indicated by the context—than that memorable passage in which this apostle has promulgated to the church, in all generations, the absolute deity of Christ preexistent. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GOD: the same was in the beginning with God :" John i, 1, 2.
On reviewing the contents of the present dissertation, we are to remember that, in the numerous passages of the New Testament which speak of our Lord's having proceeded from God, and of his having descended from heaven and come into the world, there is a distinct recognition of the fact of his preexistence with God and in heaven-that, from other declarations of Scripture, we learn that Christ was in being before John the Baptist; in the days of Job; before Abraham; in the beginning; before the foundation of the
Ess. x.]' ' Recapitulation.
251 world; and even from the days of eternity—that he thus preexisted, not in the nature of men or of angels, or of any other order of creatures, but in that of the Supreme Being himself, as appears from a variety of reasons-first, because he was from everlasting, and is described in terms which are elsewhere employed to denote the First Great Cause-secondly, because he was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God-thirdly, because he was the Only-begotten Son of God, of the same nature with the Father-fourthly, because he was the Word, or mediating Person by whom the Father effected all his purposes, and whose attributes and operations prove him to have possessed that actual deity, which the Jews were ever accustomed to ascribe to him fifthly, because to him is expressly and repeatedly attributed the work of the creation-sixthly, because he was the Light and Life of men, the spiritual Lord and Governor of the people of God, the Angel in whom was the name, character, and power, of the Almighty—and lastly, because it is both directly and indirectly declared by the sacred writers, that he was Jehovah and God.
While, therefore, the preexistent Messiah was plainly distinguished from the Father Almighty, as the Only-begotten Son of that Father—as one mediating is distinguished from one originating, and as one sent is distinguished from one sending—it is abundantly evident from our premises (whether they are considered separately or viewed as a whole) that he actually subsisted in the nature of God—that he truly participated therefore in the unity of the Father's essence. And let it be observed, that, as he subsisted in the nature of God, so he subsisted in that nature only. The whole of the information communicated in Scripture respecting the person and character of 252 On Christ, during his Abode on Earth. [Ess. x. the Son of God, in his preexistence, points to his deity, and to his deity alone. In connexion with those other stages of our Lord's history which are subsequent to the event of his incarnation, the Scriptures frequently promulgate the doctrine of his humanity as well as that of his divinity; and some persons have proceeded so far in error as to consider the statements which have respect to Jesus, as a man, to be subversive of those which have respect to him as God. But, as far as relates to Christ preexistent, there is no room for any mistake of the kind ; because the testimonies of Scripture on the subject of his deity, in connexion with his preexistence, are not only plain and decided, but simple and unmixed. The whole substance of those testimonies is, in fact, found concentrated in the doctrine of the apostle, that the Word was in the beginning—that the Word was with God-and that the WORD WAS GOD.
ON JESUS CHRIST, DURING HIS ABODE ON EARTH.
In one of the preceding Essays, I have adverted to the many ancient prophecies which describe the human descent, birth, life, ministry, violent death, and resurrection, of the Messiah ; and also to the actual accomplishment of those predictions, as it is recorded in their respective histories, by the four evangelists. Now, I conceive that no one, who takes a just and comprehensive view of these prophecies on the one hand, and of the Gospel narratives on the other, can refuse to admit the doctrine of the real and proper humanity of Jesus Christ. He who descended from Abraham, from Judah, and from Jesse, and “was Ess. x.] His actual Humanity.
253 made of the seed of David, according to the flesh" - who was born of the virgin Mary, and lay a helpless infant in the manger—who increased in "stature,” and in “wisdom," as he advanced in years—who performed all the laborious functions of a minister and a prophet—who thought, and spake, and wept, and was afflicted, and prayed, like ourselves—who, lastly, expired on the cross, and was consigned a corpse to the grave—was unquestionably MAN-a creature of God, endued with a human body and a human soul.
And who was that Person who thus became incarnate, was born, lived, died, and rose again, a man? It was he who shared the glory of the Father before the world was—the Only-begotten Son of God, who dwelt in his bosom—the Word by whom all things were made, by whom all men were enlightened, and who was himself Jehovah. Since, then, eternity is the very first of the attributes of Deity, since the divine nature is unchangeable, so that he who was God in the beginning is God for ever-it plainly follows that, when the Son or word of the Father assumed our nature, and was born a child into the world, he who before had been God only, became God and Man. ·
As this doctrine is a sound deduction from all the various testimonies of Scripture respecting the preexistence and the human life of our Saviour, so it more especially distinguishes certain parts of the New Testamnent, in which the two subjects are immediately connected, and which declare the original divinity, and the incarnation of Christ, in the order of their succession. This description applies in its full force to that sublime passage which forms the exordium of the Gospel of John. For it is after having declared the absolute deity, and described the wonderful works of Christ peexistent, that the apostle proceeds to say, “ And the Word was made (or became) flesh, and