« AnteriorContinuar »
much reproached by the Egyptians for worshipping "the God of Israel," as we are by you, sir, for worshipping the Logos. And St. Paul, alluding to these words of Moses: "The children of Israel tempted Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us or not?" Exod. xvii, 7; says to the Corinthians, "Let us not tempt Christ, as some of them [the children of Israel] also tempted [him] and were destroyed of serpents, 1 Cor. x, 9; which shows the apostle believed that Jehovah, leader of Israel through the wilderness, was the very Logos, who sustained openly the office of Messiah, when he was at length manifested in human flesh.
And as the Scriptures show that these transient manifestations of Jehovah are in general to be understood of Christ in his Divine nature, or in his "form of God," see Phil, ii, 6, your own reason, sir, prejudiced as it is, must see the propriety of this doctrine. For if there be, in union with the Father's Godhead, a Word, a Son, "whose goings out are from everlasting," " who was in the beginning with God [the Father] and was God," insomuch that he can say, as "the only begotten Son of the Father, I and my Father are one," in a sense which can be true only with respect to him who is the proper Son, and the " express image" of the Father, see Rom. viii, 32, in the original, and Heb. i, 3;—if there be, I say, such a Being, whom St. John calls the Logos, and whom the Father names his " well beloved Son;" and if the Scriptures testify, that the Father sent this Son to redeem mankind, and to bless all nations; is it not more reasonable to believe that the Father occasionally sent him first to redeem the Israelites from the Egyptian captivity, and to bless that favoured people, than to believe that the Father, who never personally appeared, no, not for the redemption of all mankind, appeared, nevertheless, sometimes as a man, and sometimes as an angel, for the redemption of the children of Israel from their house of bondage 1
A Son, even the proper Son of God, may, with the greatest propriety, be sent by his Father, to do works worthy of omnipotence, such as the redemption of a world, or the deliverance of a favourite people; but to suppose the Father personally to appear as a partial Saviour in Cicloud or in a flame, on a mountain or in a temple; to suppose him to show himself sometimes as an angel, and sometimes as a man, is contrary both to the analogy of faith and the dictates of reason.
Beside, the Scriptures inform us, that "by faith Moses endured as seeing Him who is invisible," because "he dwells in the light, which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see," Heb. xi, 27, and 1 Tim. vi, 16. And they declare, that if the Father be visible, it is in his Son, John xiv, 9. From these rational and Scriptural premises, I conclude that Jehovah, who appeared to Moses, and to the seventy-two elders, and who said to the people of Israel, "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the house of bondage," is that "express image of the Father," that "Prince of life," who said, " He that hath seen me hath seen the Father: I and the Father are one." The reviewers* have proved to you, sir, that this was the opinion of
* Monthly Review for January, 1784, p. 61,—" To prove (say these gentlemen) beyond the possibility of dispute or evasion, that by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Justin meant Christ, we refer the reader to his celebrated apology to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, (pp. 93, 94,) in which this expression is not only applied to Christ, but even vindicated as his own appropriate and distinct character. Justin, one of the most ancient and respectable fathers, who had the honour of sealing the truth of the Gospel with his blood, one hundred and thirty years after our Lord. And Bishop Bull confirms the proofs brought against you, where he writes, "That the Son of God was he who appeared to Moses in the bush, and said, 'I am the existent Being,' Justin, in his dialogue with Trypho, eagerly contends. The case is this: That description of God, in Moses, I AM, equally agrees to the Father and the Son, as to one God; always saving the distinction of persons: which is excellently explained by Justin, after this manner:—God the Father is [o uv] the Existent, as always existing of himself; God the Son is [o uv] the Existent, as existing with the Father, and eternally begotten of him.1' (Bull by Grabe, vol. i, p. 347.)
Meaning to resume the important subject the first opportunity, I now release you, and subscribe myself your sincere friend, and obedient servant, in the Word made flesh, John Fletcher<
The subject of the former letter continued.
Rev. Sir,—Should you deny that Jehovah who "appeared to Abraham" in the plains of Mamre, accompanied by two angels, was the Logos, we prove our assertion thus. The Scriptures nowhere speak of any transient incarnation of the Father; it is therefore unscriptural to suppose, that the person who "did eat of the butter, milk, and cakes," which Abraham did set before him, and who kindly inquired after Sarah, was the "Father." Nevertheless, that he was God, is evident; for he is called eight times Jehovah in the context. And therefore the analogy of faith requires us to believe that it was Jehovah the Son, who already condescended to quit his "form of God," and to appear in the form o£a servant, that he might " receive sinners and eat with them:" compare Gen. xviii, 8, with Luke xv, 2, and John xxi, 12.
The same reasons prove that the Divine person, who stood above the mysterious ladder which Jacob saw in Bethel, was "Jehovah the Son." "Behold," saith the historian, "Jehovah stood above it, and said, I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; behold, I am with thee in all places whither thou goest, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And Jacob waking out of his sleep said, Surely Jehovah is in this place, and I knew it not: it is none other but the house of God and the gate of heaven," Gen. xxviii, 13-17. Now the God who appeared to Abraham, Gen. xxii, 1, to Isaac, Gen. xxvi, 24, to Jacob, Gen. xxviii, 13, and to Moses, Exod. iii, 6, is again and again called the angel of Jehovah, or rather Jehovah the angel, as appears from Gen. xxii, 11, 12, 18; Exod. iii, 2, and Mai. iii, 1. Now that this Jehovah, angel both of the Jewish and of the Christian covenant, is "the Son," appears from these three reasons: (1.) The Father never sustained the part of an angel, a messenger, or an envoy. Who should send him? (2.) The Son, who can with propriety be sent by the Father, is frequently said to have been delegated on errands worthy of redeeming love. And (3.) The Scriptures expressly declare that Jeho. rah, Angel of the covenant, is our Lord Jesus Christ. Compare Mal, iii, 1, &c, with Mark i, 1, &c.
Nor will it avail to say that the Jews, not having the New Testament, could not find out the truth I assert: for, as has been observed in the former part, the Old Testament clearly indicates that, in the Deity, there is a mysterious distinction of interlocutors and agents, though without any division. The Jews who, as we have seen, had this key given them at the very beginning of their revelation, could not but take notice, that although each of these interlocutors is called Jehovah, yet one of them is Jehovah the envoy, the ambassador, or the angel. And they might as well deny the veracity of Moses, as deny that Jehovah, who appeared to Jacob in Bethel, is Jehovah the envoy. For Jacob said to Rachel and Leah, "The angel of God appeared to me in a dream, saying, I am the God of Bethel where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land," Gen. xxxi, 11, 13. Now the God of Bethel declared to Jacob in Bethel, that he was the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and therefore every attentive Jew could not but see that Jehovah-envoy, or the angel of the Jewish covenant, was the God of the patriarchs, viz. the Logos, the Son, who, being "Jehovah, rained from Jehovah fire upon Sodom," after he had told Abraham that he could not spare that wicked city.
Christ is represented in the New Testament as the Captain of our salvation, armed with a sword, Heb. ii, 10, and Rev. xix, 15. And the Old Testament exhibits Jehovah-envoy as sustaining the same character. "When Joshua was by Jericho, he lift up his eyes, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went to him and said, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay, but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy:" the very charge which the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob gave to Moses from the flaming bush in Horeb. And when Joshua had obeyed, the man, who appeared as Captain of the Lord's host, gave him directions about the takmg of Jericho, as the God of Abraham had given directions to Moses about the delivering his people from the Egyptian bondage. These orders are thus expressed: And "Jehovah said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thy hands Jericho; ye shall compass the city six days," &c, Josh, v, 13, &c, and vi, 2, &c.
Unless we absurdly suppose that the Captain of the Lord's host appeared merely to bid Joshua loose his shoes from off his feet, it follows from this narration, that the personage who appeared to Moses' successor, was Jehovah God of Abraham. This is evident, (1.) From his being called Jehovah, and (2.) From his requiring and accepting religious worship from Joshua. And that it was Jehovah the Son is equally plain, (1.) From his assuming the form of a servant: (2.) From his styling himself the Captain of Jehovah's armies; for according to the analogy of faith, the Son, Jehovah-envoy, may be called the Captain of his Father's host, but the Father can never be sent on an expedition, as Captain of his Son's armies.
That Jehovak-envoy, so frequently styled the envoy of Jehovah; or as
we have it in our translation, "the angel of the Lord," was known to the Jews, as the "mighty God," whose name is Wonderful, appears from the following account: "The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, and said, Jehovah is with thee: and Jehovah looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, [the might which I impart unto thee,] and thou shalt save Israel: have I not sent thee 1" And when Gideon drew back, "Jehovah [namely, the angel Jehovah] said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." Hence the Israelites, when they fell upon the Midianites, shouted, "The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon." When Jehovah-envoy, who appeared only as a traveller, with "a staff in his hand," disappeared, after giving a proof of his divinity, by showing he was God that answereth by fire, see Judges vi, 21, Gideon perceived the infinite dignity of the personage who had spoken to him, and remembering that Jehovah had said to Moses, "No man shall see me [in my form of God] and live," Exod. xxxiii, 20; and thinking he was to die immediately, cried out, "Alas! O Lord God, for because I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face: and Jehovah [as he disappeared] said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die: and Gideon built an altar there unto Jehovah, and called it Jehovah-Shalom," that is, The God of peace. From this account it is evident, (1.) That the angel, who appeared to Gideon, is the very angel Jehovah, who appeared to Abraham on Mount Moriah, to Jacob in Bethel, and to Moses in Horeb. (2.) That he is Jehovah, who answers by fire, seeing he manifested his glory to Gideon as he did to Moses and Elijah, by a supernatural fire. (3.) And that as the analogy of faith does not permit us to believe that God the Father ever appeared as a man with a staff in his hand, it was without doubt Jehovah Jesus, who, as the great Saviour of the Israelites, appointed saviours for the deliverance of his people, and Gideon among others; as afterward in the days of his flesh, as the great apostle of our profession, he appointed twelve apostles to instruct mankind.
This doctrine is confirmed by the account we have of the manner in which Samson was raised to the office of a temporal saviour of the Israelites. A personage, who is called several times the angel of the Lord, or the envoy Jehovah, appeared as a man to Manoah and his wife, to whom he promised the birth of Samson. Manoah, not knowing his dignity, asked him his name: and the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret, or wonderful? Prli, the very word afterward used by the prophet, who saith, His name shall be called Wonderful, Peli, Isa. ix, 6. "So Manoah took a kid, with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto Jehovah; and the angel of the Lord [or Jehovah-envoy] did wonderfully," for showing himself the God that appeared in the burning bush to Moses, and accepting the propitiatory sacrifice, which Manoah and his wife offered, "he ascended in the flame of the altar as they looked on, and fell on their faces to the ground. Then Manoah knew that he was [Jehovah-envoy, or] the angel of the Lord; and he said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God: but his wife [perceiving that it was Movak-Shalom, the God of Gideon, the God of peace, who had appeared unto them] said to him, If Jehovah were pleased to kill us, he would never have received a burnt offering at our hands," Judges xiii, 23. • Vol. HI. 33
The same reasons which prove that the person who appeared to Gideon is Jehovah Jesus, prove also that the person who appeared to Manoah and his wife, whom they at first called a man, and before whom they trembled when they knew him to be God and Jehovah, is that very Emmanuel, that God manifested in the flesh, whom Christians worship as Jehovah-Shalom, coming to make peace and reconciliation. * *.*
The foundation of the proofs of Christ's divinity from the writings of the prophets, is laid in the three original prophecies recorded by Moses concerning the Messiah.
Rev. Sir,—In the two last letters I have endeavoured to show, both from Scripture and reason, that the Israelites might reasonably expect a Divine Messiah, and that it is most unreasonable and unscriptural to suppose, that, whereas the Son appeared on Mount Calvary for the redemption of all mankind from the tyranny of sin, death, and Satan, God the Father appeared on Mount Horeb merely to redeem one single nation from the tyranny of Pharaoh. Coming now to the point, I shall confront your first fundamental proposition with the prophecies of the Old Testament. Speaking of the Messiah as a mere man, and repeating in your Disquisitions on Matter and Spirit, what I have already quoted from the beginning of your History of the Corruptions of Christianity, you write, p. 331: "Nor can it be said that any of the ancient prophecies give us the least hint of any thing farther."
In direct opposition to this doctrine, I shall show that* all the prophetic books of the Old Testament contain strong hints or express declarations of the Messiah's divinity; and I enter upon this task the more willingly, as I hope to present you with some new observations on this important
Subject. .. ;.-. -.M>i A
The oldest book is Genesis: Moses, the writer of it, is the first prophet of the Jews, the oldest people in the world. And in that book we find the three original promises relative to the Messiah. The first was made immediately after the fall, in these words: "I will put enmity-fcqtween thee [O serpent] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," Gen. iii, 15. As if the Lord had said to the tempter, "By the instrumentality of a serpent thou hast triumphed over the woman, and by her over the man, but the day is not lost: a long and dreadful war shall be waged between thee and my Church, the spiritual mother of all living souls, the mystical woman of whom Eve is a type: and another Eve shall one day bear a Son, the second and better Adam, whom I call the seed of the woman, because he shall be miraculously formed of the substance of a woman without the interposition of a man, as Eve was miraculously formed of the substance of Adam without the interposition of a woman. Armed with Divine power, he shall enter the field against thee, and thy forces. By the help of the wicked, who are thy seed, thou shalt indeed bruise
• Had it pleased the Lord to spare Mr. Fletcher, he had purposed to do thi»