Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

of which the Wisdom of God reserves for a later age. They who find in the primitive documents such dim shadowings of mysteries to be fully revealed in their appointed time, will be condemned by them as fanciful and uncritical; and they will cry out against their principles of interpretation as foisting into the older records the ideas of later ages. But to the man who believes in the reality of divine revelation, it cannot seem incredible that the older communications from God to man should contain intimations of truths which are afterwards revealed in explicit terms. Why should it not be so? To the infinite mind of God there can be no growth in knowledge. When he made the first revelations to man, it was in full view of all the subsequent revelations. Why should not the former contain in themselves, like seeds sown in the earth, the germs of all the latter? Why should not the truths of Scripture follow the universal law of his works: "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear'? We are persuaded that this is indeed the law of revelation, not less than of nature.

To illustrate more clearly our meaning, we will take those remarkable passages of the Old Testament in which God is spoken of in the plural number: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" ;1 "Behold the man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil";9 "Let us go down and there confound their language"; 3 "Whom shall I send and who will go for us ?" * We say not that these are revelations of the doctrine of the Trinity. We would not rest upon them as proof-texts. But when we learn from the pages of the New Testament that this mode of speech has a foundation in eternal verity; when we find it in such passages as the following: " If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and ire will come unto him and make our abode with him";5 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Gho*t be with you all''8—when we find this harmony between a primitive mode of speaking of God and

'Gen. 1:26. 5 Gen. 3: 22. 8 Gen. 11: 7.

• Isa. 6: 8. 5 John 14: 23. 6 2 Cor. 13: 14.

the New Testament revelation of the great mystery of three persons in one God; and when we further remember that He who made the first dim manifestation of himself to man, made it in full view of the last full revelation, we cannot but regard the passages which we have quoted from the Old Testament as adumbrations, or if one prefers, anticipations of the doctrine of the Trinity contained in the New Testament.

That the principle of interpretation now contended for has been abused by a large class of interpreters, we frankly admit. They could see nothing but the good things themselves revealed by Christ and his apostles, where there was only "a shadow of good things to come." In their zeal to find everywhere predictions of events belonging exclusively to New Testament times, they hardly left the Church of the Old Testament any gospel belonging appropriately to itself.' But the abuse of a true principle should lead us not to reject it, but only to apply it with greater caution. One thing is certain beyond contradiction, that the writers of the New Testament have proceeded upon this principle. They find the pages of the Old Testament thickly sown with the seeds of truths, whose full growth was reserved for their own day. Following their guidance, let us reverently inquire whether the passages now under consideration contain anything which can be reasonably understood as an adumbratit n or anticipation of the high mystery afterwards revealed concerning the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God, and dwelt from eternity in the bosom of the Father.

We remark, in the first place, that the entire costume of the first passage (Prov. i. 20-33), conveys the idea of something higher than a mere poetic personification of wisdom as a divine attribute. That God's wisdom personified should be

1 Vitrin^a, for example, refers the 58th chapter of Isaiah to the Protestant churches at the period of the decline of the Reformation (Periodus Ecclesiac Instauratae Dcclinantis). No doulit the Holy Ghost intended it for them, and all like them; but not in such a way that it did not have its first and immediate reference to those to whom it was originally addressed.

represented as addressing to the children of men such words as these: "How long, ye simple, will ye love simplicity, and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?" — is not surprising. That she should add: "Turn ye at my reproof," is altogether natural. But when she proceeds to say: "Behold I will pour out my spirit unto you;" and afterwards, "Because I have called and ye refused. I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsel and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fearcometh;" * * "Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but shall not find me;" —we are irresistibly led to think, not, of a poetic personification, but of the personal God himself, in his awful majesty and holiness. The "spirit" which Wisdom promises to pour out upon those who listen to her voice, is beyond all question the Holy Spirit, to bestow which is the peculiar and incommunicable prerogative of God himself. Compare such passages of the Old Testament as the following: "And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders; and it came to pass that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied." 1 "And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them."2 "I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."a Had we no other passage but that now under consideration, we might say that the inspired writer had passed unconsciously from the idea of wisdom as a divine attribute personified, to that of the personal God himself. But in the eighth chapter Wisdom is expressly distinguished from God, and represented as his companion, dwelling with Him from eternity. We are led, then, very naturally, to think of such declarations of the New Testament as the following: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

from the Father, he shall testify of me." 1 Here the incarnate Word, who was from eternity in the bosom of the Father, promises, upon his return to the Father, to send from him the Holy Spirit to be the Comforter and Guide of his people. And the same eternal Word was from the beginning, as we shall see hereafter, the Revealer of God's counsels to men.

We remark, again, that the description of Wisdom (Chap, viii. 22-31), does not apply so naturally to a mere attribute of God as to a true personal being; and that its remarkable agreement with those passages of the New Testament which speak of our Lord in his pre'existent state, warrants us to regard it as an adumbration, by the Spirit of prophecy, of this great " mystery of godliness." We prefix to our remarks upon it the following

Translation.

"Jehovah possessed me (or, obtained me) as the beginning of his way, before his works, of old. From everlasting was I founded, from the beginning, before the earth was. When there were no deeps was I born ; when there were no fountains laden with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I born; when he had not yet made the earth and the fields and the first of the clods of the world. When he prepared the heavens, there was I; when he set a circuit upon the face of the deep; when he established the clouds above; when the fountains of the deep were made strong; when he appointed to the sea its limit, that the waters should not pass its border (or, his command). And I was at his side as one brought up by him (or, as an artificer) ; and I was daily a delight [to him]; exulting before him all the time; exulting in the habitable abode of his earth ; and my delight was with the sons of men."

Annotations.

Vs. 22. Jehovah possessed me (or, obtained me) as the beginning of his way, before his works, from olden time.

The first clause of this verse, 'ivn mflftn ">M|3 rrim, has been the subject of the most earnest controversy. The Septuagint renders it: Kvpios eKriae fie apx>lv oS&v avrov; the Lord created me the beginning of his way. In this the Chal

l John 15: 26.

dee Targum agrees with it: God created me in the beginning of his creation; the Syriac version: the Lord created me in the beginning of his creation; and the Arabic: the Lord created me the beginning of his ivays.1 The other Greek versions, on the contrary, employ the word i/CTijaaro, possessed. 2 So also the Vulgate: Dominus possedit me in initio viarum suarum. Since all the ancient fathers of the Church agreed in understanding this passage of the hypostatic Wisdom of God in the person of the Logos, Arius, following the version of the Septuagint, maintained that he is, in the proper sense of the word, a created being, though brought into existence before all other creatures, above them all in dignity, and the one through whom God made them all. The orthodox, on the contrary, denied to the word Vri? the sense of creation, and, interpreting it in harmony with the word ^ttin, / was born, which occurs in the 24th and 25th verses, understood it of the eternal generation of the Logos from the Father, in such a sense that he is himself of the same substance with the Father, and ciieternal with him.3

The more recent interpreters are also divided in their opinions in respect to the signification of fijl?' in this passage. Michaelis and Schultens render it "possedit," possessed; Ziegler, "warb um mich," acquired, and adds in a note: "Er warb um mich, oder besass mich. Beydes kann nap heissen." He acquired me, or possessed me. rwp can mean both. De Wette renders: "bereitete mich," prepared me. Many, as Gesenius, Muntinghe, Umbreit, Bertheau, Stuart, render: created me. But since these latter understand wisdom here as simply a divine attribute personified, which must have been ciieternal with the divine being, they are compelled to admit that it is only in a figurative

1 Sec in Walton's Polyglott.

3 Sec Remains of Origen's Hexapla by Montfaucon, in loco.

3 Which, excluding all idea of the literal generation of substance, amounts in reality to the proposition that the first and second persons in the Godhead bold to each other eternally the relation of Father and Son. This idea of the proper eternity of the Son and his equality with the Father in respect to substance (6/joovaia) was brought out more definitely by the Arian controversy.

« AnteriorContinuar »