Изображения страниц

the prophet's attention, his mind appears to be principally fixed on a far more exalted subject, and he suddenly breaks forth into a declaration of the future miraculous birth of the Messiah himself: “ Hear ye now, O house of David;" said the prophet, “it is a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also ? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call (or thou shalt call) his name IMMANUEL:” vii, 14. In explaining this passage as relating to our Lord Jesus Christ, we are fully justified, first, by the wonderful correspondence of the event with the prediction ;* secondly, by an apparent allusion to that prediction in the prophecy delivered by Micah respecting the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, lastly, by the positive declaration of the apostle Matthew, who, after describing the event in question, writes as follows : “Now, all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, GOD WITH US :"> Matt. i, 22, 23.

Since the names in use among the ancient Hebrews were generally understood to be characteristic, it became customary with them, when they were describing the character or circumstances of any person or place, to say that such person or place should be called “ by such or such a name : see Isa. iv, 3; ix, 6 ; xix, 18 ; xxxv, 8; lvi, 7: Jer. vii, 32: Zech. viii, 3: Matt. v, 19, &c. When, therefore, we read that the name of the holy child of the virgin Mary was to be called “ God

* Nothing could be more striking than the sign or miracle here predicted, namely, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son; and nothing more extraordinary than that exact fulfilment of that prediction, as recorded by the evangelists Matthew and Luke. The Hebrew substantive nohy has, like our word “virgin,” the pecular meaning of “ virgo in!acta.Most critics derive this substantive from obx condidit, thence inferring, that nohy properly signifies “ a young woman, who liveth obscure or concealed at home, under the care of parents, unmarried :” vide Taylor's Concordance. Thus, in Gen. xxiv, 43, the word is used to designate Rebecca, before she married Isaac; and in Exod. ii, 8, it is applied to Miriam, the unmarried sister of the infant Moses : see also Cant. vi, 8.

† But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judáh, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be Ruler in Israel ; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth ; then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel; and he shall stand and feed in the strength of Jehovah,” &c.; Mic. v, 2-4.

with us,” we are to understand, not that this was to be his proper name ; for, according to the apostle himself who quotes this prediction, his proper name was to be Jesus: (ver. 21 ;) but, that his nature and condition were to be actually such as the title in question expressed. If, then, this title expressed the nature and condition of Jesus, I know not how we can avoid the conclusion, that he was himself “GOD WITH us”. that he was himself that present and manifested Deity, whom the Jews were accustomed to describe as the “ Word of Jehovah," and whom the Christians identified with the true Messiah, the founder of their own religion.

This explanation of Isa. vii, 14, is amply confirmed by a corresponding passage, which Bishop Lowth regards as the conclusion of the same general prophecy-a passage which, for the obvious purpose of escaping from the force of its evidence in favour of Christian doctrine, some of the Jews have explained of Hezekiah ; but which the analogy of Scripture plainly precludes our interpreting otherwise than as relating to the Messiah of Israel, whose peaceful, universal, and eternal reign is so often described in similar glowing colours" For unto us a child is born : unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called (or in other words, he shall be) Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, (or the Father of Eternity, the Prince of Peuce. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever :" ix, 6, 7. Here, then, in connexion with a prediction relating to the birth of Jesus Christ, there is a full and manifold declaration of his deity; for it is Jehovah who is elsewhere described by the prophet as “wonderful in counsel ;” (ch. xxviii, 29 ;) it is Jehovah who can alone be represented either as the Father of Eternity, or as the eternal Father of his people ;* it is Jehovah who blesses his children with peace ; (Ps. xxix, 11 ;) it is Jehovah only; whom it would not be blasphemous to denominate the MIGHTY GOD :f comp. Isa. x, 21 : Jer. xxxii, 18 : Neh. ix, 32.

* Heb. 7 IJN. + Heb. 731 8. The substantive bu Deus, is not to be confounded with big robur or robustus. Michaelis derives it from an Arabic root, signifying, to do good; and if this derivation is correct, it may be considered as perfectly synonymous with our word God. bx is used, in a multitude of passages of the Hebrew Scriptures, to designate Jehovah; aor is there, I believe, a single instance of its application to any being who was not the object either of true or false worship. In the present

We have already found occasion to notice, as an indication of the divine dignity of the Messiah, in connexion with the period of his ministry, that the last and greatest of the prophets of the old dispensation was sent before him, to prepare his

way, and to usher in his presence. Now, this view of the subject is fully substantiated by the fact, that John the Baptist was himself the subject of the prophecy, and is described by his predecessors as the immediate precursor of the Supreme Being.

We may first advert to the predictions of the prophet Malachi on this subject. They are as follows : “Behold, (saith Jehovah) I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple : even the Messenger (or Angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith Jehovah of Hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming ? And who shall stand when he appeareth ? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto Jehovah an offering in righteousness :" iii, 1–3. Again, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of JEHOVAH :" iv, 5.

That John the Baptist was the person whom Malachi describes as the messenger sent by Jehovah, and as Elijah the prophet, may be asserted on the authority of our Saviour himself; for, when speaking to bis disciples respecting the Baptist, Jesus said, “ This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my Messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee ;* and again, “ This is Elias which was for to come :" Matt. xi, 10. 14.

This point being settled, we may, in the next place, learn, from the history of the New Testament, that the other Person here pointed out-the Person whom John was to precedewas Jesus Christ ; an inference which appears to be fully confirmed, first, by the title Messenger or Angel of the Covenant, . title wholly inapplicable to the Father, yet properly descrip

astance, its usual meaning is confirmed by the addition of the adjecVe 79. mighty. Jehovah is again denominated 7120 5x the mighty God, in the very next chapter: vide ch. x, ver. 21.

* Our Lord's quotation of this passage is in precise accordance with that of the evangolist Mark (ch. i, 2); and the difference between ihe words thus cited and the passage, as it now stands, in the propheies of Malachi, must, I presume, be attributed to some various reading in the text, either of the Hebrew original or of the Septuagint version, of which we have now no record,

tive of the Son: and secondly, by the comparison, with this passage, of Matt. iii, 11, 12; Luke iii, 16, 17; where we find John describing the cleansing, fiery, baptism of his successor, in terms which substantially and remarkably accord with the words of this prophecy.*

Lastly, while these prophecies plainly mark the distinction between the Father and the Son, they, nevertheless, represent the latter under the character of the Supreme Being ; for, in Mal. iii, 1, 2, he is described as the Lord,t and is represented, not only as coming to his own temple, but as exercising divine attributes in the spiritual purification and paternal chastisement of his people; and again, in the obviously corresponding passage of the following chapter, (iv, 5) he appears to be denoininated JEHOVAH.

These passages in the book of Malachi may be regarded as containing an explanatory republication of one of the prophecies of Isaiah, who has described John the Baptist ata person “crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovahmake straight in the desert a highway for our God :” ch. xl, 3. Now it cannot, I think, with any truth be asserted that John was the forerunner of the Father, or that he prepared the Father's way; for the Father was the sender of both John and Jesus, and was equally the author of the Jewish, the baptismal, and the Christian, dispensations. But John was the forerunner of Jesus Christ ; and when he preached repentance, and declared the near approach of the kingdom of heavenwhen he spoke, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away

the sin of the world” —when he baptized the people with water unto repentance—when he directed their attention to that Saviour who was to baptize them with the Holy Ghost--when he declared his own declension, and the increase of him who was come “ from heaven," and was “ above all ;"

—then did he prepare the way of the son OF GOD. If, therefore, we are to depend on the declarations of inspired prophe


*“ I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to

he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire ; whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire:” Matt. iii, 11, 12.

+ The LORD 31980. The Substantive 1998 Lord, when preceded by the article n, as in this passage, uniformly denotes the Supreme Being : comp. Exod. xxiii, 17; xxxiv, 23: comp. Exod. xxii, 17; xxxiv, 23; Isa. i, 24; iii, 1; x, 16. 33 ; xix, 4. Vide Taylor's Conc. and Rosenmuller, Schol. in loc.

cy, we are surely safe in concluding, that the incarnate Word, of whom John was the appointed and designated precursor, was no less a Being than JEHOVAH, the God of Israel.

This plain reasoning will be found to derive substantial confirmation, first, from the evangelical import of the context in Isa. xl; for this prophecy contains an especial reference to the forgiveness of sin,* and to the eternal endurance of the truths of the Gospel it and it makes mention of Jehovah in his pastoral character, and as actually appearing in the cities of Judah :f and, secondly, from the plain testimony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who have severally quoted this prediction as applicable to the Baptist; and for the very purpose of illustrating the fact, that he was the forerunner of Jesus Christ : Matt. iii, 1–17: Mark i, 1–8: Luke iii, 1--22.

On a due consideration of the scriptural evidences now adverted to, I know not on what principle we can refuse to allow that the angel of God declared the deity of the coming Messiah, when he thus spoke to Zacharias respecting his promised son: “And many of the children of Israel shall be turn to the LORD THEIR GOD; and he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias..... to make ready a people pre-pared for the LORD ;” (Luke i, 16, 17;) and also, that the same doctrine flowed from the lips of Zacharias himself, when he thus addressed his new-born infant : “ And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the HIGIIEST ; for thou shalt go before the face of THE LORD, to prepare bis ways :” ver. 76.

In connexion with the period when our Lord was dwelling among the Israelites, his divinity appears to be again recognized in one of the prophecies of Zechariah. After describing his interview, in a wonderful vision, with that mysterious angel of Jehovah, who was Jehovah, (vide ch. i, 12—20) the prophet, commissioned by his heavenly visitor, breaks forth in the following evangelical strain : “Sing and rejoice, o daughter

* "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is parduned :ver. 1, 2.

+ “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; but the word of our God shall stand for ever:” ver. 8. The apostle Peter quotes this passage, and adds," and this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you:” 1 Pet. i, 25.

“Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his hosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young;” ver. 9-11,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »