The Divinity of
The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.—GAL. iii. 8.
If we endeavor to discover how often, and by what modes of statement, such a doctrine as that of our Lord’s Divinity is anticipated in the Old Testament, our conclusion will be materially affected by the belief which we entertain respecting the nature and the structure of Scripture itself. At first sight, and judged by an ordinary literary estimate, the Bible presents an appearance of being merely a large collection of heterogeneous writings. Historical records, ranging over many centuries, biographies, dialogues, anecdotes, catalogues of moral maxims, and accounts of social experiences, poetry, the most touchingly plaintive and the most buoyantly triumphant, predictions, exhortations, warnings, varying in style, in authorship, in date, in dialect, are thrown, as it seems, somewhat arbitrarily into a single volume. No stronger tie is supposed to have bound together materials so various and so ill-assorted, than the interested or the too credulous industry of some clerical caste in a distant antiquity, or at best than such uniformity in the general type of thought and feeling as may naturally be expected to characterize the literature of a nation or of a race. But beneath the differences of style, of language, and of method, which are undeniably prominent in the Sacred Books, and which appear so entirely to absorb the attention of a merely literary observer, a deeper insight will discover in Scripture such manifest unity of drift and purpose, both moral and intellectual, as to imply the continuous action of a Single Mind. To this unity Scripture itself bears witness, and nowhere more emphatically than in the text before us. Observe that St. Paul does not treat the Old Testament as being to him what Hesiod, for instance, became to the later Greek world. He does not regard it as a great repertorium or storehouse of quotations, which might be accidentally or fancifully employed to illustrate the events or the theories of a later age, and to which accordingly he had recourse for purposes of literary ornamentation. On the contrary, St. Paul’s is the exact inverse of this point of view. According to St. Paul, the great doctrines and events of the Gospel dispensation were directly anticipated in the Old Testament. If the sense of the Old Testament became patent in the New, it was because the New Testament was already latent in the Old1. 'Proidousa de h grafh oti ek pistewj dikaioi ta eqnh o Qeoj, proeuhggelisato tw Abraam.' Scripture is thus boldly identified with the Mind Which inspires it; Scripture is a living Providence. The Promise to Abraham anticipates the work of the Apostle; the earliest of the Books of Moses determines the argument of the Epistle to the Galatians. Such a position is only intelligible when placed in the light of a belief in the fundamental Unity of all Revelation, underlying, and strictly compatible with its superficial variety. And this true, internal Unity of Scripture, even when the exact canonical limits of Scripture were still unfixed, was a common article of belief to all Christian antiquity. It was common ground to the sub-apostolic and to the Nicene age; to the East and to the West; to the School of Antioch and to the School of Alexandria; to mystical interpreters like St. Ambrose, and to literalists like St. Chrysostom; to cold reasoners, such as Theodoret, and to fervid poets such as Ephrem the Syrian; to those who, with Origen, conceded much to reason, and to those who, with St. Cyril or St. Leo, claimed much for faith. Nay, this belief in the organic oneness of Scripture was not merely shared by schools and writers of divergent tendencies within the Church; it was shared by the Church herself with her most vehement heretical opponents. Between St. Athanasius and the Arians there was no question as to the relevancy of the reference in the book of Proverbs2 to the pre-existent Person of our Lord, although there was a vital difference between them as to the true sense and force of that reference. Scripture was believed to contain an harmonious and integral body of Sacred Truth, and each part of that body was treated as being more or less directly, more or less ascertainably, in correspondence with the rest. This belief expressed itself in the world-wide practice of quoting from any one book of Scripture in illustration of the mind of any other book. Instead of illustrating the sense of each writer only from other passages in his own works, the existence of a sense common to all the Sacred Writers was recognized, and each writer was accordingly interpreted by the language of the others. To a modern naturalistic critic it might seem a culpable, or at least an undiscriminating procedure, when a Father illustrates the Apostolical Epistles by a reference to the Pentateuch, or even one Evangelist by another, or the dogmatic sense of St. Paul by that of St. John. And unquestionably, in a merely human literature, such attempts at illustration would be misleading. The different intellectual horizons, modes of thought, shades and turns of feeling, which constitute the peculiarities of different writers, debar us from ascertaining, under ordinary circumstances, the exact sense of any one writer, except from himself. In an uninspired literature, such as the Greek or the English, it would be absurd to appeal to a primitive annalist or poet with a view to determining the meaning of an author of some later age. We do not suppose that Hesiod ‘foresaw’ the political doctrines of Thucydides, or the moral speculations of Aristotle. We do not expect to find in Chaucer or in Clarendon a clue to or a forecast of the true sense of Macaulay or of Tennyson. No one has ever imagined that either the Greek or the English literature is a whole in such sense that any common purpose runs persistently throughout it, or that we can presume upon the existence of a common responsibility to some one line of thought in the several authors who have created it, or that each portion is under any kind of obligation to be in some profound moral and intellectual conformity with the rest. But the Church of Christ has ever believed her Bible to be throughout and so emphatically the handiwork of the Eternal Spirit, that it is no absurdity in Christians to cite Moses as foreshadowing the teaching of St. Paul and of St. John. According to the tenor of Christian belief, Moses, St. Paul, and St. John are severally regarded as free yet docile organs of One Infallible Intelligence, Who places them at different points along the line of His action in human history; Who through them and others, as the ages pass before Him, slowly unveils His Mind; Who anticipates the fullness of later revelations by the hints contained in His earlier disclosures; Who in the compass of His boundless Wisdom ‘reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordereth all things3.’
Such a belief in the organic unity of Scripture is not fatal to a recognition of those differences between its several portions, upon which some modern critics would lay an exaggerated emphasis. When St. Paul recognizes an organic connection between the distant extremities of the records of Revelation, he does not debar himself from recognizing differences in form, in matter, in immediate purpose, which part the Law of Moses from the writings of the New Testament4. The unlikeness which subsists between the head and the lower limbs of an animal is not fatal to their common share in its nervous system and in the circulation of its blood. Nay more, this oneness of Scripture is a truth compatible with the existence within its compass of different measures and levels of Revelation. The unity of consciousness in a human life is not forfeited by growth of knowledge, or by difference of circumstances, or by varieties of experience. Novatian compares the unfolding of the mind of God in Revelation to the gradual breaking of the dawn, attempered as it is to the human eye, which after long hours of darkness could not endure a sudden outflash of noonday sunlight5. The Fathers trace in detail the application of this principle to successive revelations in Scripture, first, of the absolute Unity of God, and afterwards, of Persons internal to that Unity6. The Sermon on the Mount contrasts its own higher moral level with that of the earlier dispensation7. Ethically and dogmatically the New Testament is an advance upon the Old, yet both are within the Unity of Inspiration. Different degrees of light do not imply any intrinsic contrariety. If the Epistle to the Galatians points out the moral incapacity of the Mosaic Law, the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches us its typical and unfailing significance. If Christian converts from Judaism had been ‘called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light8,’ yet still ‘whatsoever things were written aforetime,’ in the Jewish Scriptures, ‘were written for the learning’ of Christians9.
You will have anticipated, my brethren, the bearing of these remarks upon the question before us. There are explicit references to the doctrine of our Lord’s Divinity in the Old Testament, which we can only deny by discrediting the historical value of the documents which contain them. But there are also occult references to this doctrine which we are not likely to detect, unless, while seeking them, we are furnished with an exegetical principle, such as was that of the organic unity of Scripture, as understood by the Ancient Church. The geologist can inform us from surface indications, where and at what depths to find the coal-field or the granite; but we can all recognize granite or coal when we see them in the sunlight. Let us then first place ourselves under the guidance of the great minds of antiquity, with a view to discovering some of those more hidden allusions to the doctrine which are found in earlier portions of the Old Testament Scriptures; and let us afterwards trace, however hastily, those clearer intimations of it which abound in the later Messianic prophecies, and which are indeed so plain, that ‘whoso runs may read them.’
I. (a) At the beginning of the Book of Genesis there appear to be intimations of the existence of a plurality of Persons within the One Essence of God. It is indeed somewhat remarkable that the full significance of the two words10, by which Moses describes the primal creative act of God, was not insisted upon by the primitive Church teachers. It attracted attention in the middle ages, and it was more particularly noticed after the revival of Hebrew Letters. When Moses is describing this Divine action, he joins a singular verb to a plural noun. Language, it would seem, thus submits to a violent anomaly, that she may the better hint at the presence of Several Powers or Persons, Who not merely act together, but Who constitute a Single Agent. We are indeed told that this Name of God, Elohim, was borrowed from Polytheistic sources, that it was retained in its plural form in order to express majesty or magnificence, and that it was then united to singular verbs and adjectives in order to make it do the work of a Monotheistic Creed11. But on the other hand, it is confessed on all sides that the promulgation and protection of a belief in the Unity of God was the central and dominant object of the Mosaic literature and of the Mosaic legislation. Surely such an object would not have been imperilled for no higher purpose than that of amplification. There must have been a truth at stake which demanded the risk. The Hebrew language could have described God by singular forms such as El, Eloah, and no question would have been raised as to the strictly Monotheistic force of those words. The Hebrew language might have ‘amplified’ the idea of God thus conveyed by less dangerous processes than the employment of a plural form. Would it not have done so, unless the plural form had been really necessary, in order to suggest some complex mystery of God’s inner Life, until that mystery should be more clearly unveiled by the explicit Revelations of a later day? The analogies of the language may indeed prove that the plural form of the word had a majestic force; but the risk of misunderstanding would surely have counterbalanced this motive for using it, unless a vital need had demanded its retention. Nor will the theory that the plural noun is merely expressive of majesty in 'elohim bara', avail to account for the plural verb in the words, ‘Let Us make man12.’ In these words, which precede the final act and climax of the Creation, the early Fathers detected a clear intimation of a Plurality of Persons in the Godhead13. The supposition that in these words a Single Person is in a dramatic colloquy with Himself, is less reasonable than the opinion that a Divine Speaker is addressing a multitude of inferior beings, such as the Angels. But apart from other considerations, we may well ask, what would be the ‘likeness’ or ‘image’ common to God and to the Angels, in which man was to be created14? or why should created essences such as the Angels be invited to take part in a Creative Act at all? Each of the foregoing explanations is really weighted with greater difficulties than the Patristic doctrine, to the effect that the verb, ‘Let Us make,’ points to a Plurality of Persons within the Unity of the One Agent, while the ‘Likeness,’ common to All These Persons and itself One, suggests very pointedly Their participation in an Undivided Nature. And in such sayings as ‘Behold the man is become like One of Us15,’ used with reference to the Fall, or ‘Go to; let Us go down and there confound their language16,’ uttered on the eve of the dispersion of Babel, it is clear that an equality of rank is distinctly assumed between the Speaker and Those Whom He is addressing. The only adequate alternative to that interpretation of these texts which is furnished by the Trinitarian doctrine, and which sees in them a preparation for the disclosures of a later age, is the violent supposition of some kind of pre-Mosaic Olympus, the many deities of which are upon a level of strict equality with each other17. But if this supposition be admitted, how are we to account for the presence of such language in the Pentateuch at all? How can a people, confessedly religious and intelligent, such as were the Hebrews, have thus stultified their whole religious history and literature, by welcoming or retaining, in a document of the highest possible authority, a nomenclature which contained so explicit a denial of the first Article of the Hebrew Faith?
The true sense of the comparatively indeterminate language which occurs at the beginning of Genesis, is more fully explained by the Priestly Blessing which we find to be prescribed for ritual usage in the Book of Numbers18. This blessing is spoken of as a putting the Name of God19, that is to say, a symbol unveiling His Nature20, upon the children of Israel. Here then we discover a distinct limit to the number of the Persons Who are hinted at in Genesis, as being internal to the Unity of God. The Priest is to repeat the Most Holy Name Three times. The Hebrew accentuation, whatever be its date, shows that the Jews themselves saw in this repetition the declaration of a mystery in the Divine Nature. Unless such a repetition had been designed to secure the assertion of some important truth, a single mention of the Sacred Name would have been more natural in a system, the object of which was to impress belief in the Divine Unity upon an entire people. This significant repetition, suggesting without distinctly asserting a Trinity in the Being of God, did its work in the mind of Israel. It is impossible not to be struck with the recurrence of the Threefold rhythm of prayer or praise, again and again, in the Psalter21. Again and again the poetical parallelism is sacrificed to the practical and theological object of making the sacred songs of Israel contain an exact acknowledgment of that inner law of God’s Nature, which had been shadowed out in the Pentateuch. And to omit traces of this influence of the priestly blessing which are discoverable in Jeremiah and Ezekiel22, let us observe the crowning significance of the vision of Isaiah23. In that adoration of the Most Holy Three, Who yet are One24, by the veiled and mysterious Seraphim; in that deep self-abasement and misery of the Prophet, who, though a man of unclean lips, had yet seen with his eyes the King, the Lord of Hosts25; in that last enquiry on the part of the Divine Speaker, the very terms of which reveal Him as One and yet more than One26,—what a flood of almost Gospel light27 is poured upon the intelligence of the elder Church! If we cannot altogether assert with the opponents of the Lutheran Calixtus, that the doctrine of the Trinity is so clearly contained in the Old Testament as to admit of being deduced from it without the aid of the Apostles and Evangelists; enough at least has been said to show that the Old Testament presents us with a doctrine of the Divine Unity which is very far removed from the hard and sterile Monotheism of the Koran. Within the Uncreated and Unapproachable Essence, Israel could plainly distinguish the shadows of a Truth which we Christians fully express at this hour, when we ‘acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty worship the Unity.’
(b) From these adumbrations of Personal Distinctions within the Being of God, we pass naturally to consider that series of remarkable apparitions which are commonly known as the Theophanies, and which form so prominent a feature in the early history of the Old Testament Scriptures. When we are told that God spoke to our fallen parents in Paradise28, and appeared to Abram in his ninety-ninth year29, there is no distinct intimation of the mode of the Divine manifestation. But when ‘Jehovah appeared’ to the great Patriarch by the oak of Mamre30, Abraham ‘lift up his eyes and looked, and lo, Three Men stood by him31.’ Abraham bows himself to the ground; he offers hospitality; he waits by his Visitors under the tree, and they eat32. One of the Three is the spokesman; he appears to bear the Sacred Name Jehovah33; he is seemingly distinguished from the ‘two angels’ who went first to Sodom34; he promises that the aged Sarah shall have a son, and that ‘all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in Abraham35.’ With him Abraham intercedes for Sodom36; by him judgment is afterwards executed upon the guilty city. When it is said that ‘Jehovah rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven37,’ a sharp distinction is established between a visible and an Invisible Person, each bearing the Most Holy Name. This distinction introduces us to the Mosaic and later representations of that very exalted and mysterious being, the 'malak YHWH' or Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord is certainly distinguished from Jehovah; yet the names by which he is called, the powers which he assumes to wield, the honor which is paid to him, show that in him there was at least a special Presence of God. He seems to speak sometimes in his own name, and sometimes as if he were not a created personality, but only a veil or organ of the Higher Nature That spoke and acted through him. Thus he assures Hagar, as if speaking in the character of an ambassador from God, that ‘the Lord had heard her affliction38’ Yet he promises her, ‘I will multiply thy seed exceedingly39’ and she in return ‘called the Name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me40.’ He arrests Abraham’s arm, when the Patriarch is on the point of carrying out God’s bidding by offering Isaac as a sacrifice41; yet he associates himself with Him from Whom ‘Abraham had not withheld his son, his only son.’ He accepts for himself Abraham’s obedience as rendered to God, and he subsequently at a second appearance adds the promise, ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice42.’ He appears to Jacob in a dream, he announces himself as ‘the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto Me43.’ Thus he was ‘the Lord’ who in Jacob’s vision at Bethel had stood above the ladder and said, ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac44.’ He was, as it seems, the Chief of that angel-host whom Jacob met at Mahanaim45; with him Jacob wrestled for a blessing at Peniel; of him Jacob says, ‘I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’ When blessing the sons of Joseph, the dying Patriarch invokes not only ‘the God Which fed me all my life long unto this day,’ but also ‘the Angel which redeemed me from all evil46.’ In the desert of Midian, the Angel of the Lord appears to Moses ‘in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.’ The bush remains miraculously unconsumed47. ‘Jehovah’ sees that Moses turns aside to see, and ‘Elohim’ calls to Moses out of the midst of the bush48. The very ground on which Moses stands is holy; and the Lawgiver hides his face, ‘for he was afraid to look upon God49.’ The Speaker from the midst of the bush announces Himself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. His are the Mercy, the Wisdom, the Providence, the Power, the Authority of the Most High50; nay, all the Divine attributes51. When the children of Israel are making their escape from Egypt, the Angel of the Lord leads them; in the hour of danger he places himself between the camp of Israel and the host of Pharaoh52. How deeply Israel felt the value of his protecting care, we may learn from the terms of the message to the King of Edom53. God promises that the Angel shall keep Israel in the way, and bring the people to Canaan54; his presence is a guarantee that the Amorites and other idolatrous races shall be cut off55. Israel is to obey this Angel, and to provoke him not; for the Holy ‘Name is in him56.’ Even after the sin of the Golden Calf, the promised guardianship of the Angel is not forfeited; while a distinction is clearly drawn between the Angel and Jehovah Himself57. Yet the Angel is expressly called the Angel of God’s Presence58; he fully represents God. God must in some way have been present in him. No merely created being, speaking and acting in his own right, could have spoken to men, or have allowed men to act towards himself, as did the Angel of the Lord. Thus he withstands Balaam, on his faithless errand, and bids him go with the messengers of Balak; but adds, ‘Only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak.’ As ‘Captain of the host of the Lord,’ he appears to Joshua in the plain of Jericho. Joshua worships God in him59; and the Angel asks of the conqueror of Canaan the same tokens of reverence as had been exacted from Moses60. Besides the reference in the Song of Deborah61 to the curse pronounced against Meroz by the Angel of the Lord, the Book of Judges contains accounts of three appearances, in each of which we are scarcely sensible of the action of a created personality, so completely is the language and bearing that of the Higher Nature present in the Angel. At Bochim he expostulates with the assembled people for their breach of the covenant in failing to exterminate the Canaanites. God speaks by him as in His own Name; He refers to the covenant which He had made with Israel, and to His bringing the people out of Egypt; He declares that, on account of their disobedience He will not drive the heathen nations out of the land62. In the account of his appearance to Gideon, the Angel is called sometimes the Angel of the Lord, sometimes the Lord, or Jehovah. He bids Gideon attack the Midianite oppressors of Israel, and adds the promise, ‘I will be with thee.’ Gideon places an offering before the Angel, that he may, if he wills, manifest his character by some sign. The Angel touches the offering with the end of his staff, whereupon fire rises up out of the rock and consumes the offering. The Angel disappears, and Gideon fears that he will die because he has seen ‘the Angel of the Lord face to face63.’ When the wife of Manoah is reporting the Angel’s first appearance to herself; she says that ‘A man of God came’ to her, ‘and his countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very terrible.’ She thus speaks of the Angel as of a Being already known to Israel. At his second appearance the Angel bids Manoah, who ‘knew not that he was an Angel of the Lord,’ and offered him common food, to offer sacrifice unto the Lord. The Angel refuses to disclose his Name, which is ‘wonderful64’, When Manoah offers a kid with a meat-offering upon a rock unto the Lord, the Angel mounts visibly up to heaven in the flame of the sacrifice. Like Gideon, Manoah fears death after such near contact with so exalted a Being of the other world. ‘We shall surely die,’ he exclaims to his wife, ‘because we have seen God65’
But you ask, Who was this Angel? The Jewish interpreters vary in their explanations66. The earliest Fathers answer with general unanimity that he was the Word or Son of God Himself. For example, in the Dialogue with Trypho, St. Justin proves against his Jewish opponent, that God did not appear to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, before the appearance of the ‘three men,’ but that He was One of the Three67. Trypho admits this, but he objects that it did not prove that there was any God besides Him Who had appeared to the Patriarchs. Justin replies that a Divine Being, personally although not substantially distinct from the supreme God, is clearly implied in the statement that ‘the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven68.’ Trypho yields the point. Here it is plain that St. Justin did not suppose that a created being was called God on account of his mission; St. Justin believes that One Who was of the substance of God appeared to Abraham69. Again, the Fathers of the first Synod at Antioch, in the letter which was sent to Paulus of Samosata before his deposition, state that the ‘Angel of the Father being Himself Lord and God, 'megalhj boulhj aggeloj,70' appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses in the burning bush71.’ It is unnecessary to multiply quotations in proof of a fact which is beyond dispute72.
The Arian controversy led to a modification of that estimate of the Theophanies which had prevailed in the earlier Church. The earlier Church teachers had clearly distinguished, as Scripture distinguishes, between the Angel of the Lord, Himself, as they believed, Divine, and the Father. But the Arians endeavored to widen this personal distinctness into a deeper difference, a difference of Natures. Appealing to the often-assigned ground73 of the belief respecting the Theophanies which had prevailed in the ante-Nicene Church, the Arians argued that the Son had been seen by the Patriarchs, while the Father had not been seen, and that an Invisible Nature was distinct from and higher than a nature which was cognizable by the senses74. St. Augustine boldly faced this difficulty, and his great work on the Trinity gave the chief impulse to another current of interpretation in the Church. St. Augustine strenuously insists upon the Scriptural truth75 of the Invisibility of God as God76. The Son, therefore, as being truly God, was by nature as invisible as the Father. If the Son appeared to the Patriarchs, He appeared through the intermediate agency of a created being, who represented Him, and through whom He spoke and acted77. If the Angel who represented Him spoke and acted with a Divine authority, and received Divine honors, we are referred to the force of the general law whereby, in things earthly and heavenly, an ambassador is temporarily put in the place of the Master who accredits him78. But Augustine further warns us against attempting to say positively, Which of the Divine Persons manifested Himself, in this or that instance, to Patriarchs or Prophets, except where some remarkable indications determine our conclusion very decisively79. The general doctrine of this great teacher, that the Theophanies were not direct appearances of a Person in the Godhead, but Self-manifestations of God through a created being, had been hinted at by some earlier Fathers80, and was insisted on by contemporary and later writers of the highest authority81. This explanation has since become the predominant although by no means the exclusive judgment of the Church82; and if it is not unaccompanied by considerable difficulties when we apply it to the sacred text, it certainly seems to relieve us of greater embarrassments than any which it creates.83.
But whether the ante-Nicene (so to term it) or the Augustinian line of interpretation be adopted with respect to the Theophanies, no sincere believer in the historical trustworthiness of Holy Scripture can mistake the importance of their relation to the doctrine of our Lord’s Divinity. If the Theophanies were not, as has been pretended, mythical legends, the natural product of the Jewish mind at a particular stage of its development, but actual matter-of-fact occurrences in the history of ancient Israel, must we not see in them a deep Providential meaning? Whether in them the Word or Son actually appeared, or whether God made a created angel the absolutely perfect exponent of His Thought and Will, do they not point in either case to a purpose in the Divine Mind which would only be realized when man had been admitted to a nearer and more palpable contact with God than was possible under the Patriarchal or Jewish dispensations? Do they not suggest, as their natural climax and explanation, some Personal Self-unveiling of God before the eyes of His creatures? Would not God appear to have been training His people, by this long and mysterious series of communications, at length to recognize and to worship Him when hidden under, and indissolubly one with a created nature? Apart from the specific circumstances which may seem to have explained each Theophany at the time of its taking place, and considering them as a series of phenomena, is there any other account of them so much in harmony with the general scope of Holy Scripture, as that they were successive lessons addressed to the eye and to the ear of ancient piety, in anticipation of a coming Incarnation of God?
(c) This preparatory service, if we may venture so to term it, which had been rendered to the doctrine of our Lord’s Divinity by the Theophanies in the world of sense, was seconded by the upgrowth and development of a belief respecting the Divine Kochmah or Wisdom in the region of inspired ideas.
1. The ‘Wisdom’ of the Jewish Scriptures is certainly more than a human endowment84, and even, as it would seem, more than an Attribute of God. It may naturally remind us of the Archetypal Ideas of Plato, but the resemblance is scarcely more than superficial. The ‘Wisdom’ is hinted at in the Book of Job. In a well-known passage of majestic beauty, Job replies to his own question, Where shall the Wisdom85 be found? He represents Wisdom as it exists in God, and as it is communicated in the highest form to man. In God ‘the Wisdom’ is that Eternal Thought, in which the Divine Architect ever beheld His future creation86. In man, Wisdom is seen in moral growth; it is ‘the fear of the Lord,’ and ‘to depart from evil87.’ The Wisdom is here only revealed as underlying, on the one side, the laws of the physical universe, on the other, those of man’s moral nature. Certainly as yet, ‘Wisdom’ is not in any way represented as personal; but we make a great step in passing to the Book of Proverbs. In the Book of Proverbs the Wisdom is co-eternal with Jehovah; Wisdom assists Him in the work of Creation; Wisdom reigns, as one specially honored, in the palace of the King of Heaven; Wisdom is the adequate object of the eternal joy of God; God possesses Wisdom, Wisdom delights in God.
‘Jehovah (says Wisdom) possessed Me in the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
I was set up from everlasting,
From the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth;
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills was I brought forth:
While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields,
Nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there:
When He set a compass upon the face of the depth:
When He established the clouds above:
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep:
When He gave to the sea His decree,
That the waters should not pass His commandment:
When He appointed the foundations of the earth:
Then I was by Him, as One brought up with Him:
And I was daily His Delight, rejoicing always before Him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth;
And My delights were with the sons of men88.’
Are we listening to the language of a real Person or only of a poetic personification? A group of critics defends each hypothesis; and those who maintain the latter, point to the picture of Folly in the succeeding chapters89. But may not a study of that picture lead to a very opposite conclusion? Folly is there no mere abstraction, she is a sinful woman of impure life, ‘whose guests are in the depths of hell.’ The work of Folly is the very work of the Evil One, the real antagonist of the Divine Kochmah. Folly is the principle of absolute Unwisdom, of consummate moral Evil. Folly, by the force of the antithesis, enhances our impression that ‘the Wisdom’ is personal. The Arians understood the word90 which is rendered ‘possessed’ in our English Bible, to mean ‘created,’ and they thus degraded the Wisdom to the level of a creature. But they did not doubt that this created Wisdom was a real being or person91. Modern critics know that if we are to be guided by the clear certain sense of the Hebrew root92, we shall read ‘possessed,’ and not ‘created,’ and they admit without difficulty that the Wisdom is uncreated by, and co-eternal with the Lord Jehovah. But they resolve Wisdom into an impersonal and abstract idea or quality. The true interpretation is probably related to these opposite mistakes, as was the Faith of the Church to the conflicting theories of the Arians and the Sabellians. Each error contributes something to the cause of truth; the more ancient may teach us that the Wisdom is personal; the more modern, that it is uncreated and co-eternal with God.
2. But even if it should be thought, that ‘the personified idea of the Mind of God in Creation,’ rather than the presence of ‘a distinct Hypostasis93,’ is all that can with certainty be discovered in the text of the Book of Proverbs; yet no one, looking to the contents of those sacred Sapiential Books, which lie outside the precincts of the Hebrew Canon, can well doubt that something more had been inferred by the most active religious thought in the Jewish Church. The Son of Sirach, for instance, opens his great treatise with a dissertation on the source of Wisdom. Wisdom is from all eternity with God; Wisdom proceeds from God before any finite thing, and is poured out upon all His Works94. But Wisdom, ‘thus created from the beginning before the world,’ and having an unfailing existence95, is bidden by God to make her ‘dwelling in Jacob, and her inheritance in Israel96.’ Wisdom is thus the prolific mother of all forms of moral beauty97; she is given to all of God’s true children98; but she is specially resident in the holy Law, ‘which Moses commanded for an heritage unto the congregations of Jacob99.’ In that beautiful chapter which contains this passage, Wisdom is conceived of as all-operative, yet as limited by nothing; as a physical yet also as a spiritual power; as eternal, and yet having definite relations to time; above all, as perpetually extending the range of her fruitful self-manifestation100. Not to dwell upon language to the same effect in Baruch101, we may observe that in the Book of Wisdom the Sophia is more distinctly personal102. If this Book is less prominently theocratic than Ecclesiasticus, it is even more explicit as to the supreme dignity of Wisdom, as seen in its unique relation to God. Wisdom is a pure stream flowing from the glory of the Almighty103; Wisdom is that spotless mirror which reflects the operations of God, and upon which He gazes as He works104; Wisdom is the Brightness of the Everlasting Light105; Wisdom is the very Image of the Goodness of God106. Material symbols are unequal to doing justice to so spiritual an essence: ‘Wisdom is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the stars; being compared with the light she is found before it107.’ ‘Wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness108.’ Her sphere is not merely Palestine, but the world, not this or that age, but the history of humanity. All that is good and true in human thought is due to her: ‘in all ages entering into holy souls she maketh them friends of God and prophets109.’ Is there not here, in an Alexandrian dress, a precious and vital truth sufficiently familiar to believing Christians? Do we not already seem to catch the accents of those weighty formulae by which Apostles will presently define the pre-existent glory of their Majestic Lord? Yet are we not steadily continuing, with no very considerable measure of expansion, in that very line of sacred thought, to which the patient servant of God in the desert, and the wisest of kings in Jerusalem, have already, and so authoritatively, introduced us?
3. The doctrine may be traced at a stage beyond, in the writings of Philo Judaeus. We at once observe that its form is altered; instead of the Wisdom or Sophia we have the Logos or Word. Philo indeed might have justified the change of phraseology by an appeal even to the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Hebrew Books, the Word of Jehovah manifests the energy of God: He creates the heavens110; He governs the world111. Accordingly, among the Palestinian Jews, the Chaldee paraphrasts almost always represent God as acting, not immediately, but through the mediation of the Memra112 or Word. In the Greek Sapiential Books, the Word is apparently identical with the Wisdom113; but the Wisdom is always prominent, the Word is rarely mentioned114. Yet the Logos of Ecclesiasticus is the organ of creation115, while in the Book of Wisdom the Logos is clearly personified, and is a minister of the Divine Judgment116. In Philo, however, the Sophia falls into the background117, and the Logos is the symbol of the general doctrine, for other reasons perhaps, but mainly as a natural result of Philo’s profound sympathy with Stoic and Platonic thought. If the Book of Wisdom adopts Platonic phraseology, its fundamental ideas are continuous with those of the Hebrew Scriptures118. Philo, on the contrary, is a hearty Platonist; his Platonism enters into the very marrow of his thought. It is true that in Philo Platonism and the Jewish Revelation are made to converge. But the process of their attempted assimilation is an awkward and violent one, and it involves the great Alexandrian in much involuntary self-contradiction. Philo indeed is in perpetual embarrassment between the pressure of his intellectual Hellenic instincts on the one side, and the dictates of his religious conscience as a Jewish believer on the other. He constantly abandons himself to the currents of Greek thought around him, and then he endeavors to set himself right with the Creed of Sinai, by throwing his Greek ideas into Jewish forms. If his Logos is apparently molded after the pattern of the 'nouj basilikoj en th tou Dioj fusei'—the Regal Principle of Intelligence in the Nature of Zeus—with which we meet in the Philebus of Plato119, Philo doubtless would fain be translating and explaining the 'dabar YHWH' of the Hebrew Canon, in perfect loyalty to the Faith of Israel. The Logos of Philo evidently presupposes the Platonic doctrine of Ideas; but then, with Philo, these Ideas are something more than the models after which creation is fashioned, or than the seals which are impressed upon concrete forms of existence120. The Ideas of Philo are energizing powers or causes whereby God carries out His plan of creation121. Of these energetic forces, the Logos, according to Philo, is the compendium, the concentration. Philo’s Logos is a necessary complement of his philosophical doctrine concerning God. Philo indeed, as the devout Jew, believes in God as a Personal Being Who has constant and certain dealings with mankind; Philo, in his Greek moods, conceives of God not merely as a single simple Essence, but as beyond Personality, beyond any definite form of existence, infinitely distant from all relations to created life, incapable of any contact even with a spiritual creation, subtilized into an abstraction altogether transcending the most abstract conceptions of impersonal being. It might even seem as if Philo had chosen for his master, not Plato the theologian of the Timaeus, but Plato the pure dialectician of the Republic. But how is such an abstract God as this to be also the Creator and the Providence of the Hebrew Bible? Certainly, according to Philo, matter existed before Creation122; but how did God mold matter into created forms of life? This, Philo will reply, was the work of the Logos, that is to say, of the ideas collectively. The Philonian Logos is the Idea of ideas123; he is the shadow of God by which as by an instrument He made the worlds124; he is himself the intelligible or Ideal World, the Archetypal Type of all creation125. The Logos of Philo is the most ancient and most general of created things126; he is the Eternal Image of God127; he is the band whereby all things are held together128; he fills all things, he sustains all things129. Through the Logos, God, the abstract, the intangible, the inaccessible God, deals with the world, with men. Thus the Logos is mediator as well as creator130; he is a high-priest and intercessor with God; he interprets God to man; he is an ambassador from heaven131. He is the god of imperfect men, who cannot ascend by an ecstatic intuition to a knowledge of the supreme God132; he is thus the nutriment of human souls, and a source of spiritual delights133. The Logos is the eldest angel or the archangel134; he is God’s Eldest, His Firstborn Son135; and we almost seem to touch upon the apprehension of that sublime, that very highest form of communicated life, which is exclusive of the ideas of inferiority and of time, and which was afterwards so happily and authoritatively expressed by the doctrinal formula of an eternal generation. But, as we listen, we ask ourselves one capital and inevitable question: Is Philo’s Logos a personal being, or is he after all a pure abstraction? Philo is silent; for on such a point as this the Greek and the Jew in him are hopelessly at issue. Philo’s whole system and drift of thought must have inclined him to personify the Logos; but was the personified Logos to be a second God, or was he to be nothing more than a created angel? If the latter, then he would lose all those lofty prerogatives and characteristics, which, platonically speaking, as well as for the purposes of mediation and creation, were so entirely essential to him. If the former, then Philo must break with the very first article of the Mosaic creed; he must renounce his Monotheism. Confronted with this difficulty, the Alexandrian wavers in piteous indecision; he really recoils before it. In one passage indeed he even goes so far as to call the Logos a ‘second God136,’ and he is accordingly ranked by Petavius among the forerunners of Arius. But on the whole he appears to fall back upon a position which, however fatal to the completeness of his system, yet has the recommendation of relieving him from an overwhelming difficulty. After all that he has said, his Logos is really resolved into a mere group of Divine ideas, into a purely impersonal quality included in the Divine Being137. That advance toward the recognition of a real Hypostasis,—so steady, as it seemed, so promising, so fruitful,—is but a play upon language, or an intellectual field-sport, or at best, the effort which precedes or the mask which covers a speculative failure. We were tempted perchance for a moment to believe that we were listening to the master from whom Apostles were presently to draw their inspirations; but, in truth, we have before us in Philo Judaeus only a thoughtful, not insincere, but half-heathenized believer in the Revelation of Sinai, groping in a twilight which he has made darker by his Hellenic tastes, after a truth which was only to be disclosed in its fullness by another Revelation, the Revelation of Pentecost.
This hesitation as to the capital question of the Personality of the Logos, would alone suffice to establish a fundamental difference between the vacillating, tentative speculation of the Alexandrian, and the clear, compact, majestic doctrine concerning our Lord’s Pre-existent Godhead, which meets us under a somewhat similar phraseological form138 in the pages of the New Testament. When it is assumed that the Logos of St. John is but a reproduction of the Logos of Philo the Jew, this assumption overlooks fundamental discrepancies of thought, and rests its case upon occasional coincidences of language139. For besides the contrast between the abstract ideal Logos of Philo, and the concrete Personal Logos of the fourth Evangelist, which has already been noticed, there are even deeper differences, which would have made it impossible that an Apostle should have sat in spirit as a pupil at the feet of the Alexandrian, or that he should have allowed himself to breathe the same general religious atmosphere. Philo is everywhere too little alive to the presence and to the consequences of moral evil140. The history of Israel, instead of displaying a long, earnest struggle between the Goodness of God and the wickedness of men, interests Philo only as a complex allegory, which, by a versatile exposition, may be made to illustrate various ontological problems. The priesthood, and the sacrificial system, instead of pointing to man’s profound need of pardon and expiation, are resolved by him into the symbols of certain cosmical facts or theosophic theories. Philo therefore scarcely hints at the Messiah, although he says much concerning Jewish expectations of a brighter future; he knows no means of reconciliation, of redemption; he sees not the need of them. According to Philo, salvation is to be worked out by a perpetual speculation upon the eternal order of things; and asceticism is of value in assisting man to ascend into an ecstatic philosophical reverie. The profound opposition between such a view of man’s moral state, and that stern appeal to the humbling realities of human life which is inseparable from the teaching of Christ and His Apostles, would alone have made it improbable that the writers of the New Testament are under serious intellectual obligations to Philo. Unless the preaching which could rouse the conscience to a keen agonizing sense of guilt is in harmony with a lassitude which ignores the moral misery that is in the world; unless the proclamation of an Atoning Victim crucified for the sins of men be reconcilable with an indifference to the existence of any true expiation for sin whatever; it will not be easy to believe that Philo is the real author of the creed of Christendom. And this moral discrepancy does but tally with a like doctrinal antagonism. According to Philo, the Divinity cannot touch that which is material: how can Philo then have been the teacher of an Apostle whose whole teaching expands the truth that the Word, Himself essentially Divine, was made flesh and dwelt among us? Philo’s real spiritual progeny must be sought elsewhere. Philo’s method of interpretation may have passed into the Church; he is quoted by Clement and by Origen, often and respectfully. Yet Philo’s doctrine, it has been well observed, if naturally developed, would have led to Docetism rather than to Christianity141; and we trace its influence in forms of theosophic Gnosticism, which only agree in substituting the wildest licence of the metaphysical fancy, for simple submission to that historical fact of the Incarnation of God, which is the basis of the Gospel.
But if Philo was not St. John’s master, it is probable that his writings, or rather the general theosophic movement of which they are the most representative sample, may have supplied some contemporary heresies with their stock of metaphysical material, and in this way may have determined, by an indirect antagonism, the providential form of St. John’s doctrine. Nor can the general positive value of Philo’s labors be mistaken, if he is viewed apart from the use that modern skepticism has attempted to make of particular speculations to which he gave such shape and impulse. In making a way for some leading currents of Greek thought into the heart of the Jewish Revelation, hitherto wellnigh altogether closed to it, Philo was not indeed teaching positive truth, but he was breaking down some intellectual barriers against its reception, in the most thoughtful portion of the human family. In Philo, Greek Philosophy almost stood at the door of the Catholic Church; but it was Greek Philosophy endeavoring to base itself, however precariously, upon the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Logos of Philo, though a shifting and incomplete speculation, may well have served as a guide to thoughtful minds from that region of unsettled enquiry that surrounds the Platonic doctrine of a Divine Reason, to the clear and strong faith which welcomes the full Gospel Revelation of the Word made Flesh. Philo’s Logos, while embodying elements foreign to the Hebrew Scriptures, is nevertheless in a direct line of descent from the Inspired doctrine of the Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs; and it thus illustrates the comprehensive vigor of the Jewish Revelation, which could countenance and direct, if it could not absolutely satisfy, those fitful guesses at and gropings after truth which were current in Heathendom. If Philo could never have created the Christian Doctrine which has been so freely ascribed to him, he could do much, however unconsciously, to prepare the soil of Alexandrian thought for its reception; and from this point of view, his Logos must appear of considerably higher importance than the parallel speculations as to the Memra, the Shekinah, the doctrine of the hidden and the revealed God, which in that and later ages belonged to the tradition of Palestinian Judaism142. ‘Providence,’ says the accurate Neander, ‘had so ordered it, that in the intellectual world in which Christianity made its first appearance, many ideas should be in circulation, which at least seemed to be closely related to it, and in which Christianity could find a point of connection with external thought, on which to base the doctrine of a God revealed in Christ143.’ Of these ideas we may well believe that the most generally diffused and the most instrumental was the Logos of Alexandria, if not the exact Logos of Philo.
It is possible that such considerations as some of the foregoing, when viewed relatively to the great and vital doctrine which is before us in these lectures, may be objected to on the score of being ‘fanciful.’ Nor am I insensible, my brethren, to the severity of such a condemnation when awarded by the practical intelligence of Englishmen. Still it is possible that such a criticism would betoken on the part of those who make it some lack of wise and generous thought. ‘Fanciful,’ after all, is a relative term; what is solid in one field of study may seem fanciful in another. Before we condemn a particular line of thought as ‘fanciful,’ we do well to enquire whether a penetration, a subtlety, a versatility, I might add, a spirituality of intelligence, greater than our own, might not convict the condemnation itself of an opposite demerit, which need not be more particularly described. Especially in sacred literature, the imputation of fancifulness is a rash one; since a sacred subject-matter is not likely, a priori, to be fairly amenable to the coarser tests and narrower views of a secular judgment. It may be that the review of those adumbrations of the doctrine of our Lord’s Divinity, in which we have been engaged, is rather calculated to reassure a believer than to convince a skeptic. Christ’s Divinity illuminates the Hebrew Scriptures, but to read them as a whole by this light we must already have recognized the truth from which it radiates. Yet it would be an error to suppose that the Old Testament has no relations of a more independent character to the doctrine of Christ’s Godhead. The Old Testament witnesses to the existence of a great national belief, the importance of which cannot be ignored by any man who would do justice to the history of human thought. And we proceed to ask whether that belief has any, and what, bearing upon the faith of Catholic Christendom as to the Person of her Lord.
II. There is then one element, or condition of national life, with which no nation can dispense. A nation must have its eye upon a future, more or less defined, but fairly within the apparent scope of its grasp. Hope is the soul of moral vitality; and any man, or society of men, who would live, in the moral sense of life, must be looking forward to something. You will scarcely suspect me, my brethren, of seeking to disparage the great principle of tradition;—that principle to which the Christian Church owes her sacred volume itself, no less than her treasure of formulated doctrine, and the structural conditions and sacramental sources of her life;—that principle to which each generation of human society is deeply and inevitably indebted for the accumulated social and political experiences of the generations before it. Precious indeed, to every wise man, to every association of true-hearted and generous men, must ever be the inheritance of the past. Yet what is the past without the future? What is memory when unaccompanied by hope? Look at the case of the single soul. Is it not certain that a life of high earnest purpose will die outright, if it is permitted to sink into the placid reverie of perpetual retrospect, if the man of action becomes the mere ‘laudator temporis acti’? How is the force of moral life developed and strengthened? Is it not by successive conscious efforts to act and to suffer at the call of duty? Must not any moral life dwindle and fade away if it be not reaching forward to a standard higher, truer, purer, stronger than its own? Will not the struggles, the sacrifices, the self-conquests even of a great character in bygone years, if they now occupy its whole field of vision, only serve to consummate its ruin? As it doatingly fondles them in memory, will it not be stiffened by conceit into a moral petrifaction, or consigned by sloth to the successive processes of moral decomposition? Has not the Author of our life so bound up its deepest instincts and yearnings with His own eternity, that no blessings in the past would be blessings to us, if they were utterly unconnected with the future? So it is also in the case of a society. The greatest of all societies among men at this moment is the Church of Jesus Christ. Is she sustained only by the deeds and writings of her saints and martyrs in a distant past, or only by her reverent trustful sense of the Divine Presence which blesses her in the actual present? Does she not resolutely pierce the gloom of the future, and confidently reckon upon new struggles and triumphs on earth, and, beyond these, upon a home in Heaven, wherein she will enjoy rest and victory,—a rest that no trouble can disturb, a victory that no reverse can forfeit? Is not the same law familiar to us in this place, as it affects the well-being of a great educational institution? Here in Oxford we feel that we cannot rest upon the varied efforts and the accumulated credit even of ten centuries. We too have hopes embarked in the years or in the centuries before us; we have duties towards them. We differ, it may be, even radically, among ourselves as to the direction in which to look for our academical future. The hopes of some of us are the fears of others. This project would fain banish from our system whatever proclaims that God had really spoken, and that it is man’s duty and happiness gladly and submissively to welcome His message; while that scheme would endeavor, if possible, to fashion each one of our intellectual workmen more and more strictly after the type of a believing and fervent Christian. The practical difference is indeed profound; but we are entirely agreed as to the general necessity for looking forward. On both sides it is understood that an institution which is not struggling upwards towards a higher future, must resign itself to the conviction that it is already in its decadence, and must expect to die.
Nor is it otherwise with that association of men which we call a nation, the product of race, or the product of circumstances, the product in any case of a Providential Will, Which welds into a common whole, for the purposes of united action and of reciprocal influence, a larger or smaller number of human beings. A nation must have a future before it; a future which can rebuke its despondency and can direct its enthusiasm; a future for which it will prepare itself; a future which it will aspire to create or to control. Unless it would barter away the vigorous nerve of true patriotism for the feeble pedantry of a soulless archaeology, a nation cannot fall back altogether upon the centuries which have flattered its ambition, or which have developed its material well-being. Something it must propose to itself as an object to be compassed in the coming time; something which is as yet beyond it. It will enlarge its frontier; or it will develope its commercial resources; or it will extend its schemes of colonization; or it will erect its overgrown colonies into independent and friendly states; or it will bind the severed sections of a divided race into one gigantic nationality that shall awe, if it do not subdue, the nations around. Or perchance its attention will be concentrated on the improvement of its social life, and on the details of its internal legislation. It will extend the range of civil privileges; it will broaden the basis of government; it will provide additional encouragements to and safeguards for public morality; it will steadily aim at bettering the condition of the classes who are forced, beyond others, to work and to suffer. Thankful it may well be to the Author of all goodness for the enjoyment of past blessings; but the spirit of a true thankfulness is ever and very nearly allied to the energy of hope. Self-complacent a nation cannot be, unless it would perish. Woe indeed to the country which dares to assume that it has reached its zenith, and that it can achieve or attempt no more!
Now Israel as a nation was not withdrawn from the operation of this law, which makes the anticipation of a better future of such vital importance to the common life of a people. Israel indeed had been cradled in an atmosphere of physical and political miracle. Her great lawgiver could point to the event which gave her national existence as to an event unique in human history144. No subsequent vicissitudes would obliterate the memory of the story which Israel treasured in her inmost memory, the story of the stern Egyptian bondage followed by the triumphant Exodus. How retrospective throughout is the sacred literature of Israel! It is not enough that the great deliverance should be accurately chronicled; it must be expanded, applied, insisted on in each of its many bearings and aspects by the lawgiver who directed and who described it; it must be echoed on from age to age, in the stern expostulations of Prophets and in the plaintive or jubilant songs of Psalmists. Certainly the greater portion of the Old Testament is history. Israel was guided by the contents of her sacred books to live in much grateful reflection upon the past. Certainly, it was often her sin and her condemnation that she practically lost sight of all that had been done for her. Yet if ever it were permissible to forget the future, Israel, it should seem, might have forgotten it., She might have closed her eyes against the dangers which threatened her from beyond the Lebanon, from beyond the Eastern and the Southern desert, from beyond the Western sea, from within her own borders, from the streets and the palaces of her capital. She might have abandoned herself in an ecstasy of perpetuated triumph to the voices of her poets and to the rolls of her historians. But there was One Who had loved Israel as a child, and had called His infant people out of Egypt, and had endowed it with His Name and His Law, and had so fenced its life around by protective institutions, that, as the ages passed, neither strange manners nor hostile thought should avail to corrupt what He had so bountifully given to it. Was He forgetful to provide for and to direct that instinct of expectation, without which as a nation it could not live? Had He indeed not thus provided, Israel might have struggled with vain energy after ideals such as were those of the nations around her. She might have spent herself, like the Tyrian or Sidonian merchant, for a large commerce; she might have watched eagerly, and fiercely, like the Cilician pirate or like the wild sons of the desert, for the spoils of adjacent civilizations; she might have essayed to combine, after the Greek pattern, a discreet measure of sensuality with a great activity of the speculative intellect; she might have fared as did the Babylonian, or the Persian, or the Roman; at least, she might have attempted the establishment of a world-wide tyranny around the throne of a Hebrew Belshazzar or of a Hebrew Nero. Nor is her history altogether free from the disturbing influence of such ideals as were these; we do not forget the brigandage of the days of the Judges, or the imperial state and prowess of Solomon, or the commercial enterprise of Jehoshaphat, or the union of much intellectual, activity with low moral effort which marked more than one of the Rabbinical schools. But the life and energy of the nation was not really embarked, at least in its best days, in the pursuit of these objects; their attractive influence was intermittent, transient, accidental. The expectation of Israel was steadily directed towards a future, the lustre of which would in some real sense more than eclipse her glorious past. That future was not sketched by the vain imaginings of popular aspirations; it was unveiled to the mind of the people by a long series of authoritative announcements. These announcements did not merely point to the introduction of a new state of things; they centered very remarkably upon a coming Person. God Himself vouchsafed to satisfy the instinct of hope which sustained the national life of His own chosen people; and Israel lived for the expected Messiah.
But Israel, besides being a civil polity, was a theocracy; she was not merely a nation, she was a Church. In Israel religion was not, as with the peoples of pagan antiquity, a mere attribute or function of the national life. Religion was the very soul and substance of the life of Israel; Israel was a Church encased, embodied in a political constitution. Hence it was that the most truly national aspirations in Israel were her religious aspirations. Even the modern naturalist critics cannot fail to observe, as they read the Hebrew Scriptures, that the mind of Israel was governed by two dominant convictions, the like of which were unknown to any other ancient people. God was the first thought in the mind of Israel. The existence, the presence of One Supreme, Living, Personal Being, Who alone exists necessarily, and of Himself, Who sustains the life of all besides Himself; before Whom, all that is not Himself is but a shadow and vanity; from Whose sanctity there streams forth upon the conscience of man that moral law which is the light of human life; and in Whose mercy all men, especially the afflicted, the suffering, the poor, may, if they will, find a gracious and long-suffering Patron,—this was the substance of the first great conviction of the people of Israel. Dependent on that conviction was another. The eye of Israel was not merely opened towards the heavens; it was alive to the facts of the moral human world. Israel was conscious of the presence and power of sin. The ‘healthy sensuality,’ as Strauss has admiringly termed it145, which pervaded the whole fabric of life among the Greeks, had closed up the eye of that gifted race to a perception which was so familiar to the Hebrews. We may trace indeed throughout the best Greek poetry a vein of deep suppressed melancholy146; but the secret of this subtle, of this inextinguishable sadness was unknown to the accomplished artists who gave to it an involuntary expression, and who lavished their choicest resources upon the oft-repeated effort to veil it beneath the bright and graceful drapery of a versatile light-heartedness peculiarly their own. But the Jew knew that sin was the secret of human sorrow. He could not forget sin if he would; for before his eyes, the importunate existence and the destructive force of sin were inexorably pictured in the ritual. He witnessed daily sacrifices for sin; he witnessed the sacrifice of sacrifices which was offered on the Day of Atonement, and by which the ‘nation of religion,’ impersonated in its High Priest, solemnly laid its sins upon the sacrificial victim, and bore the blood of atonement into the Presence-chamber of God. Then the moral law sounded in his ears; he knew that he had not obeyed it. If the Jew could not be sure that the blood of bulls and goats really effected his reconciliation with God; if his own prophets told him that moral obedience was more precious in God’s sight than sacrificial oblations; if the ritual, interpreted as it was by the Decalogue, created yearnings within him which it could not satisfy, and deepened a sense of pollution which of itself it could not relieve; yet at least the Jew could not ignore sin, or think lightly of it, or essay to gild it over with the levities of raillery. He could not screen from his sight its native blackness, and justify it to himself by a philosophical theory which should represent it as inevitable, or as being something else than what it is. The ritual forced sin in upon his daily thoughts; the ritual inflicted it upon his imagination as being a terrible and present fact; and so it entered into and colored his whole conception alike of national and of individual life. Thus was it that this sense of sin molded all true Jewish hopes, all earnest Jewish anticipations of the national future. A future which promised political victory or deliverance, but which offered no relief to the sense of sin, would have failed to meet the better aspirations, and to cheer the real heart of a people which, amid whatever unfaithfulness to its measure of light, yet had a true knowledge of God, and was keenly alive to the fact and to the effects of moral evil. And He Who, by His earlier revelations, had Himself made the moral needs of Israel so deep, and had bidden the hopes of Israel rise so high, vouchsafed to meet the one, and to offer a plenary satisfaction to the other, in the doctrine of an expected Messiah.
It is then a shallow misapprehension which represents the Messianic belief as a sort of outlying prejudice or superstition, incidental to the later thought of Israel, and to which Christianity has attributed an exaggerated importance, that it may the better find a basis in Jewish history for the Person of its Founder. The Messianic belief was in truth interwoven with the deepest life of the people. The promises which formed and fed this belief are distributed along nearly the whole range of the Jewish annals; while the belief rests originally upon sacred traditions, which carry us up to the very cradle of the human family, although they are preserved in the sacred Hebrew Books. It is of importance to inquire whether this general Messianic belief included any definite convictions respecting the personal rank of the Being Who was its object.
In the gradual unfolding of the Messianic doctrine, three stages of development may be noted within the limits of the Hebrew Canon, and a fourth beyond it. (a) Of these the first appears to end with Moses. The Protevangelium contains a broad indeterminate prediction of a victory of humanity147 over the Evil Principle that had seduced man to his fall. The ‘Seed of the woman’ is to bruise the serpent’s head148. With the lapse of years this blessing, at first so general and indefinite, is narrowed down to something in store for the posterity of Shem149, and subsequently for the descendants of Abraham150. In Abraham’s Seed all the families of the earth are to be blessed. Already within this bright but generally indefinite prospect of deliverance and blessing, we begin to discern the advent of a Personal Deliverer. St. Paul argues, in accordance with the Jewish interpretation, that ‘the Seed’ is here a personal Messiah151; the singular form of the word denoting His individuality, while its collective force suggests the representative character of His Human Nature. The characteristics of this personal Messiah emerge gradually in successive predictions. The dying Jacob looks forward to a Shiloh as One to Whom of the regal and legislative authority152, and to Whom the obedient nations will be gathered. Balaam sings of the Star That will come out of Jacob and the Sceptre That will rise out of Israel153. This is something more than an anticipation of the reign of David: it manifestly points to the glory and power of a Higher Royalty. Moses154 foretells a Prophet Who would in a later age be raised up from among the Israelites, like unto himself. This Prophet accordingly was to be the Lawgiver, the Teacher, the Ruler, the Deliverer of Israel. If the prophetic order at large is included in this prediction155, it is only as being personified in the Last and the Greatest of the Prophets, in the One Prophet Who was to reveal perfectly the mind of God, and Whose words were to be implicitly obeyed. During this primary period we do not find explicit assertions of the Divinity of Messiah. But in that predicted victory over the Evil One; in that blessing which is to be shed on all the families of the earth; in that rightful sway over the gathered peoples; in the absolute and perfect teaching of that Prophet Who is to be like the great Lawgiver while yet He transcends him,—must we not trace a predicted destiny which reaches higher than the known limits of the highest human energy? Is not this early prophetic language only redeemed from the imputation of exaggeration or vagueness, by the point and justification which are secured to it through the more explicit disclosures of a succeeding age?
(b) The second stage of the Messianic doctrine centers in the reigns of David and Solomon. The form of the prophecy here as elsewhere is suggested by the period at which it is uttered. When mankind was limited to a single family, the Hope of the future had lain in the seed of the woman: the Patriarchal age had looked forward to a descendant of Abraham; the Mosaic to a Prophet and a Legislator. In like manner the age of the Jewish monarchy in its bloom of youth and prowess, was bidden fix its eye upon an Ideal David Who was to be the King of the future of the world. Not that the coloring or form of the prophetic announcement lowered its scope to the level of a Jewish or of a human monarchy. The promise of a kingdom to David and to his house for ever156, a promise on which, we know, the great Psalmist rested at the hour of his death157, could not be fulfilled by any mere continuation of his dynasty on the throne of Jerusalem. It implied, as both David and Solomon saw, some Superhuman Royalty. Of this Royalty the Messianic Psalms present us with a series of pictures, each of which illustrates a distinct aspect of its dignity, while all either imply or assert the Divinity of the King. In the second Psalm, for instance, Messiah is associated with the Lord of Israel as His Anointed Son158, while against the authority of Both the heathen nations are rising in rebellion159. Messiah’s inheritance is to include all heathendom160; His Sonship is not merely theocratic or ethical, but Divine161. All who trust in Him are blessed; all who incur His wrath must perish with a sharp and swift destruction162. In the first recorded prayer of the Church of Christ163, in St. Paul’s sermon at Antioch of Pisidia164, in the argument which opens the Epistle to the Hebrews165, this Psalm is quoted in such senses, that if we had no Rabbinical textbooks at hand, we could not doubt the belief of the Jewish Church respecting it166. The forty-fifth Psalm is a picture of the peaceful and glorious union of the King Messiah with His mystical bride, the Church of redeemed humanity. Messiah is introduced as a Divine King reigning among men. His form is of more than human beauty; His lips overflow with grace; God has blessed Him for ever, and has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows. But Messiah is also directly addressed as God; He is seated upon an everlasting throne167. Neither of these Psalms can be adapted without exegetical violence to the circumstances of Solomon or of any other king of ancient Israel; and the New Testament interprets the picture of the Royal Epithalamium, no less than that of the Royal triumph over the insurgent heathen, of the one true King Messiah168. In another Psalm the character and extent of this Messianic Sovereignty are more distinctly pictured169. Solomon, when at the height of his power, sketches a Superhuman King, ruling an empire which in its character and in its compass altogether transcends his own. The extremest boundaries of the kingdom of Israel melt away before the gaze of the Psalmist. The new kingdom reaches ‘from sea to sea, and from the flood unto the world’s end170’ It reaches from each frontier of the Promised Land, to the remotest regions of the known world, in the opposite quarter. From the Mediterranean it extends to the ocean that washes the shores of Eastern Asia; from the Euphrates to the utmost West. At the feet of its mighty Monarch, all who are most inaccessible to the arms or to the influence of Israel hasten to tender their voluntary submission. The wild sons of the desert171, the merchants of Tarshish in the then distant Spain172, the islanders of the Mediterranean173, the Arab chiefs174, the wealthy Nubians175, are foremost in proffering their homage and fealty. But all kings are at last to fall down in submission before the Ruler of the new kingdom; all nations are to do Him service176. His empire is to be co-extensive with the world: it is also to be co-enduring with time177. His empire is to be spiritual; it is to confer peace on the world, but by righteousness178. The King will Himself secure righteous judgment179, salvation180, deliverance181, redemption182, to His subjects. The needy, the afflicted, the friendless, will be the especial objects of His tender care183. His appearance in the world will be like the descent of ‘the rain upon the mown grass184;’ the true life of man seems to have been killed out, but it is yet capable of being restored by Him. He Himself, it is hinted, will be out of sight; but His Name will endure for ever; His Name will ‘propagate185;’ and men shall be blessed in Him186, to the end of time. This King is immortal; He is also all-knowing and all-mighty. ‘Omniscience alone can hear the cry of every human heart; Omnipotence alone can bring deliverance to every human sufferer187.’ Look at one more representation of this Royalty, that to which our Lord Himself referred, in dealing with his Jewish adversaries188. David describes his Great Descendant Messiah as his ‘Lord189’.’ Messiah is sitting on the right hand of Jehovah, as the partner of His dignity. Messiah reigns upon a throne which impiety alone could assign to any human monarch; He is to reign until His enemies are made His footstool190; He is ruler now, even among His unsubdued opponents191. In the day of His power, His people offer themselves willingly to His service; they are clad not in earthly armor, but ‘in the beauties of holiness192.’ Messiah is Priest as well as King193; He is an everlasting Priest of that older order which had been honored by the father of the faithful. Who is this everlasting Priest, this resistless King, reigning thus amid His enemies and commanding the inmost hearts of His servants? He is David’s Descendant; the Pharisees knew that truth. But He is also David’s Lord. How could He be both, if He was merely human? The belief of Christendom can alone answer the question which our Lord addressed to the Pharisees. The Son of David is David’s Lord, because He is God; the Lord of David is David’s Son, because He is God Incarnate194.
(c) These are but samples of that rich store of Messianic prophecy which belongs to the second or Davidic period, and much more of which has an important bearing on our present subject. The third period extends from the reign of Uzziah to the close of the Hebrew Canon in Malachi. Here Messianic prophecy reaches its climax: it expands into the fullest particularity of detail respecting Messiah’s Human life; it mounts to the highest assertions of His Divinity. Isaiah is the richest mine of Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament195. Messiah, especially designated as ‘the Servant of God,’ is the central figure in the prophecies of Isaiah. Both in Isaiah and in Jeremiah, the titles of Messiah are often and pointedly expressive of His true Humanity. He is the Fruit of the earth196; He is the Rod out of the stem of Jesse197; He is the Branch or Sprout of David, the Zemach198. He is called by God from His mother’s womb199; God has put His Spirit upon Him200. He is anointed to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive201. He is a Prophet; His work is greater than that of any prophet of Israel. Not merely will He come as a Redeemer to them that turn from transgression in Jacob202, and to restore the preserved of Israel203; He is also given as a Light to the Gentiles, as the Salvation of God unto the end of the earth204. Such is His Spiritual Power as Prophet and Legislator that He will write the law of the Lord, not upon tables of stone, but on the heart and conscience of the true Israel205. In Zechariah as in David He is an enthroned Priest206, but it is the Kingly glory of Messiah which predominates throughout the prophetic representations of this period207, and in which His Superhuman Nature is most distinctly suggested. According to Jeremiah, the Branch of Righteousness, who is to be raised up among the posterity of David, is a King who will reign and prosper and execute judgment and justice in the earth208. According to Isaiah, this expected King, the Root of Jesse, ‘will stand for an ensign of the people;’ the Gentiles will seek Him; He will be the rallying-point of the world’s hopes, the true center of its government209. ‘Kings will, see and arise, princes also will worship210;’ in deep religious awe, ‘kings will shut their mouths at Him211.’ Righteousness, equity, swift justice, strict faithfulness, will mark His administration212; He will not be dependent like a human magistrate upon the evidence of His senses; He will not judge after the sight of His eyes, nor reprove after the hearing of His ears213; He will rely upon the infallibility of a perfect moral insight. Beneath the shadow of His throne, all that is by nature savage, proud, and cruel among the sons of men will learn the habits of tenderness, humility, and love214. ‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.’ The reign of moral light215, of spiritual graces, of innocence, of simplicity, will succeed to the reign of physical and brute force216. The old sources of moral danger will become harmless through His protecting presence and blessing; ‘the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den217;’ and in the end ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea218.’ Daniel is taught that at the ‘anointing of the Most Holy’—after a defined period—God will ‘finish the transgressions,’ and ‘make an end of sins,’ and ‘make reconciliation for iniquity,’ and ‘bring in everlasting righteousness219.’ Zechariah too especially points out the moral and spiritual characteristics of the reign of King Messiah. The founder of an eastern dynasty must ordinarily wade through blood and slaughter to the steps of his throne, and must maintain his authority by force. But the daughter of Jerusalem beholds her King coming to her, ‘Just and having salvation, lowly and riding upon an ass.’ ‘The chariots are cut off from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem;’ the King ‘speaks peace unto the heathen;’ the ‘battle-bow is broken;’ and yet His dominion extends ‘from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth220.’
In harsh and utter contrast, as it seems, to this representation of Messiah as a Jewish King, the moral conqueror and ruler of the world, there is another representation of Him which belongs to the Davidic period as well as to that of Isaiah. Messiah had been typified in David persecuted by Saul and humbled by Absalom, no less truly than He had been typified in Solomon surrounded by all the glory of his imperial court. If Messiah reigns in the forty-fifth or in the seventy-second Psalms, He suffers, nay He is pre-eminent among the suffering, in the twenty-second. We might suppose that the suffering Just One who is described by David, reaches the climax of anguish; but the portrait of an archetypal Sorrow has been even more minutely touched by the hand of Isaiah. In both writers, however, the deepest humiliations and woes are confidently treated as the prelude to an assured victory. The Psalmist passes, from what is little less than an elaborate programme of the historical circumstances of the Crucifixion, to an announcement that by these unexampled sufferings the heathen will be converted, and all the kindreds of the Gentiles will be brought to adore the true God221. The Prophet describes the Servant of God as ‘despised and rejected of men222;’ His sorrows are viewed with general satisfaction; they are accounted a just punishment for His own supposed crimes223. Yet in reality He bears our infirmities, and carries our sorrows224; His wounds are due to our transgressions; His stripes have a healing virtue for us225. His sufferings and death are a trespass-offering226; on Him is laid the iniquity of all227. If in Isaiah the inner meaning of the tragedy is more fully insisted on, the picture itself is not less vivid than that of the Psalter. The suffering Servant stands before His judges; ‘His Visage is so marred more than any man, and His Form more than the sons of men228;’ like a lamb229, innocent, defenseless, dumb, He is led forth to the slaughter; ‘He is cut off from the land of the living230.’ Yet the Prophet pauses at His grave to note that He ‘shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied231,’ that God ‘will divide Him a portion with the great,’ and that He will Himself ‘divide the spoil with the strong.’ And all this is to follow ‘because He hath poured out His soul unto death232.’ His death is to be the condition of His victory; His death is the destined instrument whereby He will achieve His mediatorial reign of glory.
Place yourselves, brethren, by an effort of intellectual sympathy in the position of the men who heard this language while its historical fulfillment, so familiar to us Christians, was as yet future. How self-contradictory must it have appeared to them, how inexplicable, how full of paradox! How strong must have been the temptation to anticipate that invention of a double Messiah, to which the later Jewish doctors had recourse, that they might escape the manifest cogency of the Christian argument233. That our Lord should actually have submitted Himself to the laws and agencies of disgrace and discomfiture, and should have turned His deepest humiliation into the very weapon of His victory, is not the least among the evidences of His Divine power and mission. And the prophecy which so paradoxically dared to say that He would in such fashion both suffer and reign, assuredly and implicitly contained within itself another and a higher truth. Such majestic control over the ordinary conditions of failure betokened something more than an extraordinary man, something not less than a distinctly Superhuman Personality. Taken in connection with the redemptive powers, the world-wide sway, the spiritual, heart-controlling teaching, so distinctly ascribed to Him, this prediction that the Christ would die, and would convert the whole world by death, prepares us for the most explicit statements of the prophets respecting His Person. It is no surprise to a mind which has dwelt steadily on the destiny which prophecy thus assigns to Messiah, that Isaiah and Zechariah should speak of Him as Divine. We will not lay stress upon the fact, that in Isaiah the Redeemer of Israel and of men is constantly asserted to be the Creator234, Who by Himself will save His people235. Significant as such language is as to the bent of the Divine Mind, it is not properly Messianic. But in that great prophecy236, the full and true sense of which is so happily suggested to us by its place in the Church services for Christmas Day, the ‘Son’ who is given to Israel receives a fourfold Name. He is a Wonder-Counsellor, or Wonderful, above all earthly beings; He possesses a Nature which man cannot fathom; and He thus shares and unfolds the Divine Mind237. He is the Father of the Everlasting Age or of Eternity238. He is the Prince of Peace. Above all, He is expressly named, the Mighty God239. Conformably with this Jeremiah calls Him Jehovah Tsidkenu240, as Isaiah had called Him Emmanuel241. Micah speaks of His eternal pre-existence242, as Isaiah had spoken of His endless reign243. Daniel predicts that His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away244. Zechariah terms Him the Fellow or Equal of the Lord of Hosts245; and refers to His Incarnation and still more clearly to His Passion as being that of Jehovah Himself246. Haggai implies His Divinity by foretelling that His presence will make the glory of the second temple greater than the glory of the first247. Malachi points to him as the Angel of the Covenant, as Jehovah, Whom Israel was seeking, and Who would suddenly come to His temple248, as the Sun of Righteousness249.
Read this language as a whole; read it by the light of the great doctrine which it attests, and which in turn illuminates it, the doctrine of a Messiah, Divine as well as Human;—all is natural, consistent, full of point and meaning. But divorce it from that doctrine in obedience to a foregone and arbitrary placitum of the negative criticism, to the effect that Jesus Christ shall be banished at any cost from the scroll of prophecy;—how full of difficulties does such language forthwith become, how overstrained and exaggerated, how insipid and disappointing! Doubtless it is possible to bid defiance alike to Jewish and to Christian interpreters, and to resolve upon seeing in the prophets only such a sense as may be consistent with the theoretical exigencies of Naturalism. It is possible to suggest that what looks like supernatural prediction is only a clever or chance farsightedness, and that expressions which literally anticipate a distant history are but the exuberance of poetry, which, from its very vagueness; happens to coincide with some feature, real or imagined, of the remote future. It is possible to avoid any frank acknowledgment of the imposing spectacle presented by converging and consentient lines of prophecy, and to refuse to consider the prophetic utterances, except in detail and one by one; as if forsooth Messianic prophecy were an intellectual enemy whose forces must be divided by the criticism that would conquer it. It is possible, alas! even for accomplished scholarship so fretfully to carp at each instance of pure prediction in the Bible, to nibble away the beauty and dim the lustre of each leading utterance with such persevering industry, as at length to persuade itself that the predictive element in Scripture is insignificantly small, or even that it does not exist at all. That modern criticism of this temper should refuse to accept the prophetic witness to the Divinity of the Messiah, is more to be regretted than to be wondered at. And yet, if it were seriously supposed that such criticism had succeeded in blotting out all reference to the Godhead of Christ from the pages of the Old Testament, we should still have to encounter and to explain that massive testimony to the Messianic belief250 which lives on in the Rabbinical literature; since that literature, whatever be the date of particular existing treatises, contains traditions, neither few nor indistinct, of indisputable antiquity. From that literature it is clear that the ancient Jews believed the expected Messiah to be a Divine Person251. It cannot be pretended that this belief came from without, from the schools of Alexandria, or from the teaching of Zoroaster. It was notoriously based upon the language of the Prophets and Psalmists. And we of today, even with our improved but strictly mechanical apparatus of grammar and dictionary, can scarcely undertake to correct the early unprejudiced interpretation of men who read the Old Testament with at least as much instinctive insight into the meaning of its archaic language, and of its older forms of thought and of feeling, as an Englishman in this generation can command when he applies himself to the study of Shakespeare or of Milton.
(d) The last stage of the Messianic doctrine begins only after the close of the Hebrew Canon. Among the Jews of Alexandria, the hope of a Messiah seems to have fallen into the background. This may have been due to the larger attractions which doctrines such as those of the Sophia and the Logos would have possessed for Hellenized populations, or to a somewhat diminished interest in the future of Jewish nationality caused by long absence from Palestine, or to a cowardly unwillingness to avow startling religious beliefs in the face of keen heathen critics252. The two latter motives may explain the partial or total absence of Messianic allusions from the writings of Philo and Josephus; the former will account for the significant silence of the Book of Wisdom. Among the peasantry, and in the schools of Palestine, the Messianic doctrine lived on. The literary or learned form of the doctrine, being based on and renewed by the letter of Scripture, was higher and purer than the impaired and debased belief which gradually established itself among the masses of the people. The popular degradation of the doctrine may be traced to the later political circumstances of the Jews, acting upon the secular and materialized element in the national character. The Messianic belief, as has been shown, had two aspects, corresponding respectively to the political and to the religious yearnings of the people of Israel. If such a faith was a relief to a personal or national sense of sin, it was also a relief to a sense of political disappointment or degradation. And keen consciousness of political favor became a dominant sentiment among the Jewish people during the centuries immediately preceding our Lord’s Incarnation. With some fitful glimpses of national life, as under the Asmoneans, the Jews of the Restoration passed from the yoke of one heathen tyranny to that of another. As in succession they served the Persian monarchs, the Syrian Greeks, the Idumaean king, and the Roman magistrate, the Jewish people cast an eye more and more wistfully to the political hopes which might be extracted from their ancient and accepted Messianic belief. They learned to pass more and more lightly over the prophetic pictures of a Messiah robed in moral majesty, of a Messiah relieving the woes of the whole human family, of a Messiah suffering torture and shame in the cause of truth. They dwelt more and more eagerly upon the pictures of His worldwide conquest and imperial sway, and they construed those promises of coming triumph in the most earthly and secular sense; they looked for a Jewish Alexander or for a Jewish Caesar. The New Testament exhibits the popular form of the Messianic doctrine, as it lay in the minds of Galileans, of Samaritans, of the men of Jerusalem. It is plain how deeply, when our Lord appeared, the hope of a Deliverer had sunk into the heart both of peasant and townsman; yet it is equally plain how earthly was the taint which had passed over the popular apprehension of this glorious hope, since its first full proclamation in the days of the Prophets. Doubtless there were saints like the aged Simeon, whose eyes longed sore for the Divine Christ foretold in the great age of Hebrew prophecy. But generally speaking, the piety of the enslaved Jew had become little else than a wrong-headed patriotism. His religious expectations had been taken possession of by his civic passions, and were liable at any moment to be placed at the service of a purely political agitation. Israel as a theocracy was sacrificed in his thought to Israel as a state; and he was willing to follow any adventurer into the wilderness or across the Jordan, if only there was a remote prospect of bringing the Messianic predictions to bear against the hated soldiery and police of Rome. A religious creed is always impoverished when it is degraded to serve political purposes; and belief in the Divinity of Messiah naturally waned and died away, when the highest functions attributed to Him were merely those of a successful general or of an able statesman. The Apostles themselves, at one time, looked mainly or only for a temporal prince; and the people who were willing to hail Jesus as King Messiah, and to conduct Him in royal pomp to the gates of the holy city, had so lost sight of the real eminence which Messiahship involved, that when He claimed to be God, they endeavored to stone Him for blasphemy, and this claim of His was in point of fact the crime for which their leaders persecuted Him to death253.
And yet when Jesus Christ presented Himself to the Jewish people, He did not condescend to sanction the misbelief of the time, or to swerve from the tenor of the ancient revelation. He claimed to satisfy the national hopes of Israel by a prospect which would identify the future of Israel with that of the world. He professed to answer to the full, unmutilated, spiritual expectations of prophets and of righteous men. They had desired to see and had not seen Him, to hear and had not heard Him. Long ages had passed, and the hope of Israel was still unfulfilled. Psalmists had turned back in accents wellnigh of despair to the great deliverance from the Egyptian bondage, when the Lord brake the heads of the dragons in the waters, and brought fountains out of the hard rock. Prophets had been assured that at last the vision of ages should ‘speak and not lie,’ and had been bidden ‘though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.’ Each victory, each deliverance, prefigured Messiah’s work; each saint, each hero, foreshadowed some separate ray of His personal glory; each disaster gave strength to the mighty cry for His intervention: He was the true soul of the history, as well as of the poetry and prophecy of Israel. And so much was demanded of Him, so superhuman were the proportions of His expected actions, that He would have disappointed the poetry and history no less than the prophecy of Israel had He been merely one of the sons of men. Yet when at last in the fullness of time He came, that He might satisfy the desire of the nations, He was rejected by a stiff-necked generation, because He was true to the highest and brightest anticipations of His Advent. A Christ who had contented himself with the debased Messianic idea of the Herodian period, might have precipitated an insurrection against the Roman rule, and might have antedated, after whatever intermediate struggles, the fall of Jerusalem. Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Divine Messiah of David and of Isaiah; and therefore He died upon the cross, to achieve, not the political enfranchisement of Palestine, but the spiritual redemption of humanity.
1. Permit me to repeat an observation which has already been hinted at. The several lines of teaching by which the Old Testament leads up to the doctrine of our Lord’s Divinity, are at first sight apparently at issue with that primary truth of which the Jewish people and the Jewish Scriptures were the appointed guardians. ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord254’ That was the fundamental law of the Jewish belief and polity. How copious are the warnings against the surrounding idolatries in the Jewish Scriptures255! With what varied, what delicate, what incisive irony do the sacred writers lash the pretensions of the most gorgeous idol-worships, while guarding the solitary Majesty and the unshared prerogatives of the God of Israel256! ‘The specific distinction of Judaism,’ says Baur, ‘marking it off from all forms of heathen religious belief whatever, is its purer, more refined, and monotheistic conception of God. From the earliest antiquity downwards, this was the essential basis of the Old Testament religion257.’ And yet this discriminating and fundamental truth does but throw out into sharper outline and relief those suggestions of personal distinctions in the Godhead; that personification of the Wisdom, if indeed the Wisdom be not a Person; those visions in which a Divine Being is so closely identified with the Angel who represents Him; those successive predictions of a Messiah personally distinct from Jehovah, yet also the Savior of men, the Lord and Ruler of all, the Judge of the nations, Almighty, Everlasting, nay, One Whom prophecy designates as God. How was the Old Testament consistent with itself, how was it loyal to its leading purpose, to its very central and animating idea, unless it was in truth entrusted with a double charge; unless, besides teaching explicitly the Creed of Sinai, it was designed to teach implicitly a fuller revelation, and to prepare men for the Creed of the day of Pentecost? If indeed the Old Testament had been a semi-polytheistic literature; if in Israel the Divine Unity had been only a philosophical speculation, shrouded from the popular eye by the various forms with which some imaginative antiquity had peopled its national heaven; if the line of demarcation between such angel ministers and guardians as we read of in Daniel and Zechariah, and the High and Holy One Who inhabiteth eternity, had been indistinct or uncertain; if the Most Holy Name had been really lavished upon created beings with an indiscriminate profusion that deprived it of its awful, of its incommunicable value258,—then these intimations which we have been reviewing would have been less startling than they are. As it is, they receive prominence from the sharp, unrelieved antagonism in which they seem to stand to the main scope of the books which contain them. And thus they are a perpetual witness that the Jewish Revelation is not to be final; they irresistibly suggest a deeper truth which is to break forth from the pregnant simplicity of God’s earlier message to mankind; they point, as we know, to the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel and to the Council chamber of Nicaea, in which the absolute Unity of the Supreme Being will be fully exhibited as harmonizing with the true Divinity of Him Who was thus announced in His distinct Personality to the Church of Israel.
2. It may be urged that the Old Testament might conceivably have set forth the doctrine of Christ’s Godhead in other and more energetic terms than those which it actually employs. Even if this should be granted, let us carefully bear in mind that the witness of the Old Testament to this truth is not confined to the texts which expressly assert that Messiah should be Divine. The Human Life of Messiah, His supernatural birth, His character, His death, His triumph, are predicted in the Old Testament with a minuteness which utterly defies the rationalistic insinuation, that the argument from prophecy in favor of Christ’s claims may after all be resolved into an adroit manipulation of sundry more or less irrelevant quotations. No amount of captious ingenuity will destroy the substantial fact that the leading features of our Lord’s Human manifestation were announced to the world some centuries before He actually came among us. Do I say that to be the subject of prophecy is of itself a proof of Divinity? Certainly not. But at least when prophecy is so copious and elaborate, and yet withal so true to the facts of history which it predicts, its higher utterances, which lie beyond the verification of the human senses, acquire corresponding significance and credit. If the circumstances of Christ’s Human Life were actually chronicled by prophecy, prophecy is entitled to submissive attention when she proceeds to assert, in whatever terms, that the Christ Whom she has described is more than Man.
It must be a robust and somewhat coarse skepticism which can treat those early glimpses into the laws of God’s inner being, those mysterious apparitions to Patriarchs and Lawgivers, those hypostatized representations of Divine Attributes, above all, that Divinity repeatedly and explicitly ascribed to the predicted Restorer of Israel, only as illustrations of the exuberance of Hebrew imagination, only as redundant tropes and moods of Eastern poetry. For when the destructive critics have done their worst, we are still confronted by the fact of a considerable literature, indisputably anterior to the age of Christianity, and foretelling in explicit terms the coming of a Divine and Human Savior. We cannot be insensible to the significance of this broad and patent fact. Those who in modern days have endeavored to establish an absolute power over the conduct and lives of their fellow-men have found it necessary to spare no pains in one department of political effort. They have endeavored to ‘inspire,’ if they could not suppress, that powerful agency, which both for good and for evil moulds and informs popular thought. The control of the press from day to day is held in our times to be among the highest exercises of despotic power over a civilized community; and yet the sternest despotism will in vain endeavor to recast in its own favor the verdict of history. History, as she points to the irrevocable and unchanging past, can be won neither by violence nor by blandishments to silence her condemnations, or to lavish her approvals, or in any degree to unsay the evidence of her chronicles, that she may subserve the purpose and establish the claim of some aspiring potentate. But He Who came to reign by love as by omnipotence, needed not to put force upon the thought and speech of His contemporaries, even could He have willed to do so259. For already the literature of fifteen centuries had been enlisted in His service; and the annals and the hopes of an entire people, to say nothing of the yearnings and guesses of the world, had been moulded into one long anticipation of Himself. Even He could not create or change the past; but He could point to its unchanging voice as the herald of His own claims and destiny. His language would have been folly on the lips of the greatest of the sons of men, but it does no more than simple justice to the true mind and constant drift of the Old Testament. With His Hand upon the Jewish Canon, Jesus Christ could look opponents or disciples in the face, and bid them ‘Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me.’
The word ‘Elohim’ is used in the Old Testament—
(1) Of the One True God, as in Deut. iv. 35, 1 Kings xviii. 2I, etc., where it has the article; and without the article, Gen. i. 2, xli. 38; Exod. xxxi. 3, xxxv. 3I; Numb. xxiv. 2, etc.
(2) Of false gods, as Exod. xii. 12; 2 Chron. xxviii. 23; Josh. xxiv. 15; Judg. vi. 10, etc.
(3) Of judges to whom a person or matter is brought, as representing the Divine Majesty in the theocracy, yet not in the singular, Exod. xxi. 6, xxii. 7, 8, (in Deut. xix. 17 it is said in the like case that the parties ‘shall stand before the Lord,’ YHWH; and in allusion to the passages in Exodus, Ps. lxxxii. 1, 6, ‘Recte Abarbenel observavit, judices et magistratus nusquam vocari 'elohim' nisi respectu loci judicii, quod ibi Dei judicia exerceant.’ (Ges.)
(4) There is no case in which the word appears from the context to be certainly applied, even collectively, to superhuman beings external to the Divine Essence. ‘Nullus exstat locus,’ says Gesenius, ‘in quo haec significatio vel necessaria vel prae caeteris apta sit.’ In Ps. lxxxii. 1, the word is explained by verses 2 and 6 of the ‘Sons of God,’ i.e. judges; cf. especially verse 8. Yet in Ps. xcvii. 7, the LXX, Vulg., Syr. translate ‘angels’; the Chaldee paraphrases ‘the worshippers of idols’; in Ps. cxxxviii. 1, the LXX and Vulg. render ‘angels,’ the Chald. ‘judges,’ the Syr. ‘kings’; in Ps. viii. 2, the Chald. too renders ‘angels,’ and is followed by Rashi, Kimchi, and Abenezra (who quotes Elahin, Dan. ii. 11), and others. It is possible that the earlier Jewish writers had a traditional knowledge that 'elohim' might be taken as 'bene elohim,' Job i. 6; ii. 1; xxxviii. 7, and 'bene elim.'
(5) But, however this may be, it remains certain that Elohim is nowhere used with the singular of any except Almighty God.
5. Novatian, de Trin. c. 26: ‘Gradatirn enim et per incrementa fragilitas hurnana nutriri debet, . . periculosa enirn sunt quae magna sunt, si repentina sunt. Narn etiam lux solis subita post tenebras splendore nimio insuetis oculis non ostendet diem, sed potius faciet caecitatem.’
14. ‘Non raro etiam veteres recentioresque interpretes, ut elohim de angelis intelligerent, theologicis potius quam exegeticis argumentis permoti esse videntur; cf. . . . Gen. i. 26, 27, ex quo Samaritani cum Abenezra hominem ad angelorum, non ad Dei, similitudinem creatum esse probant.’ Gesenius, Thesaur. in voc. elohim, 2.
20. ‘Nach der biblischen Anschauung und inbesondere des A. T. ist überhaupt der Zusammenhang zwischen Name und Sache ein sehr enger, und ein ganz anderer als im modernen Bewusstein, wo sich der Name meist zu einem bloss conventionellen Zeichen abgeschwacht hat; der Name ist die Sache selbst, sofern diese in die Erscheinung tritt und erkannt wird, der ins Wort gefasste Ausdruck des Wesens.’ Konig, Theologie der Psalmen, p. 266.
67. With St. Justin’s belief that the Son and two Angels appeared to Abraham, cf. Tertullian. adv. Marc. ii. 27, iii. 9; St. Hil. de Trin. iv. 27. That three created Angels appeared to Abraham was the opinion of St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, x. 8, xvi. 29). St. Ambrose sees in the ‘three men’ an adumbration of the Blessed Trinity: ‘Tres vidit et unum Dominum appellavit.’ De Abraham, i. c. 5; Prudent. Apotheosis, 28. This seems to be the sense of the English Church. See First Lesson for Evensong on Trinity Sunday.
70. This gloss of the LXX. in Is. ix. 6 was a main ground of the early Patristic application of the title of the Angel to God the Son. ‘Although Malachi foretells our Lord’s coming in the Flesh under the titles of “the Lord,” “the Angel,” or “Messenger of the Covenant,” (chap. iii. 1) there is no proof that He is anywhere spoken of absolutely as “the Angel,” or that His Divine Nature is so entitled.’ Dr. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet, p. 516, note 1.
72. Compare however St. Irenaeus adv. Haer. iv. 7. § 4; Clem. Alex. Paed. i. 7; Theophilus ad Autol. ii. 31; Constit. Apostol. v. 20; Tertullian. adv. Prax. cap. 13, 14, and 15; St. Cyprian. adv. Judaeos, ii. c. 5, 6; St. Cyr. Hieros. Catech. 10; St. Hil. de Trin. lib. 4 and 5; St. Chrysost. Hom. in Genes. 42, 48; Theodoret, Interr. v. in Exod. (Op. i. p. 121), on Exod. iii. 2. Cf. some additional authorities given by P. Vandenbroeck, De Theophaniis, sub Vet. Testamento, p. 17, sqq; Bull, Def. Fid. Nic. lib. i. c. 1.
76. ‘Ipsa enim natura vel substantia vel essentia, vel quolibet alio nomine appellandum est id ipsum, quod Deus est, quidquid illud est corporaliter videri non potest.’ De Trin. ii. c. 18, n. 35. The Scotists, who opposed the general Thomist doctrine to the effect that a created angel was the instrument of the Theophanies, carefully guarded against the ideas that the substance of God could be seen by man in the body, or that the bodily form which they believed to have been assumed was personally united to the Eternal Word, since this was peculiar to the Divine Incarnation. (Scotus in lib. ii. sent. dist. 8.) Scotus explains that the being who assumes a bodily form, need only be ‘intrinsecus motor corporis; nam tunc assumit, id est ad se sumit, quia ad operationes proprias sibi explendas utitur illo sicut instrumento.’ (Ibid. Scholion i.)
77. ‘Proinde illa omnia, quae Patribus visa sunt, cum Deus illis secundum suarn dispensationem temporibus congruam praesentaretur, per creaturam facta esse, manifestum est . . . Sed jam satis quantum existimo . . . demonstratum est, . . . quod antiquis patribus nostris ante Incarnationem Salvatoris, cum Deus apparere dicebatur, voces illae ac species corporales per angelos factae sunt, sive ipsis loquentibus vel agentibus aliquid ex persona Dei, sicut etiam prophetas solere ostendimus, sive assumentibus ex creatura quod ipsi non essent, ubi Deus figurate demonstraretur hominibus; quod genus significationum nec Prophetas omisisse, multis exemplis docet Scriptura.’ De Trin. iii. 11, n. 22, 27.
78. ‘Sed ait aliquis: cur ergo Scriptum est, Dixit Dominus ad Moysen; et non potius, Dixit angelus ad Moysen? Quia cum verba judicis praeco pronuntiat, non scribitur in Gestis, ille praeco dixit; sed ille judex; sic etiam loquente propheta sancto, etsi dicamus Propheta dixit, nihil aliud quam Dominum dixisse intelligi volumus. Et si dicamus, Dominus dixit; prophetam non subtrahimus, sed quis per eum dixerit admonemus.’ De Trin. iii. c. 11, n. 23.
79. ‘Nihil aliud, quantum existimo, divinorum sacramentorum modesta et cauta consideratio persuadet, nisi ut temere non dicamus, Qaenam ex Trinitate Persona cuilibet Patrum et Prophetarum in aliquo corpore vel similitudine corporis apparuerit, nisi cum continentia lectionis aliqua probabilia circumponit indicia. . . . Per subjectam creaturam non solum Filium vel Spiritum Sanctum, sed etiam Patrem corporali specie sive simulitudine mortalibus sensibus significationem Sui dare potuisse credendum est.’ De Trin. ii. c. 18, n. 35.
80. Compare St. Irenaeus adv. Haer. iv. 20, n. 7 and 24: ‘Verbum naturaliter quidem invisibile, palpabile in hominibus factum.’ Origen (Hom. xvi. in Jerem.) speaking of the vision in Exod. iii. says, ‘God was here beheld in the Angel.’
81. St. Jerome (ed. Vall.) in Galat. iii. 19: ‘Quod in omni Veteri Testamento ubi angelus primum visus refertur et postea quasi Deus loquens inducitur, angelus quidem vere ex ministris pluribus quicunque est visus, sed in illo Mediator loquatur, Qui dicit; Ego sum Deus Abraham, etc. Nec mirum si Deus loquatur in angelis, cum etiam per angelos, qui in hominibus sunt, loquatur Deus in prophetis, dicente Zaccharia: et ait angelus, qui loquebatur in me, ac deinceps inferente; haec dicit Deus Omnipotens.’ Cf. St. Greg. Magn. Mag. Moral. xxviii. 2; St. Athan. Or. iii. c. Arian. § 14.
82. The earlier interpretation has been more generally advocated by English divines. P. Vandenbroeck’s treatise already referred to shows that it still has adherents in other parts of the Western Church.
84. The word 'chokmah' is, of course, used in this lower sense. It is applied to an inspired skill in making priestly vestments (Exod. xxviii. 3), or sacred furniture generally (Ibid. xxxi. 6 and xxxvi. 1, 2); to fidelity to known truth (Deut. iv. 6; cf. xxxii. 6); to great intellectual accomplishments (Dan. i. 17). Solomon was typically 'chakam': his ‘Wisdom’ was exhibited in moral penetration and judgment (1 Kings iii. 28, x. 4, sqq.); in the knowledge of many subjects, specially of the works of God in the natural world (Ibid. iv. 33, 34); in the knowledge of various poems and maxims, which he had either composed or which he remembered (Ibid. iv. 32; Prov. i. 1). Wisdom, as communicated to men, included sometimes supernatural powers (Dan. v. 11), but specially moral virtue (Ps. xxxvii. 30, li. 6; Prov. x. 31); and piety to God (Ps. cxi. 10). In God 'chokmah' is higher than any of these; He alone originally possesses It (Job xii. 12, 13, xxviii. 12, sqq.).
90. The Arians appealed to the LXX. reading 'ektise' (not 'ekthsato'). On 'ktizein' as meaning any kind of production, see Bull, Def. Fid. Nic. lib. ii. c. 6, sec. 8. In a note on Athan. Treatises, ii. 342, Dr. Newman cites Aquila, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nyss. and St. Jerome, for the sense 'ekthsato'.
91. As Kuhn summarily observes: ‘Das war uberhaupt nicht die Frage in christlichen Alterthum, ob hier von einem Wesen die Rede sei, das war allgemein anerkannt, sondern von welcher Art, in welchem Verhaltniss zu Gott es gedacht sei.’ Dogmatik, ii. p. 29, note (2).
92. This both in Hebrew and (with one exception) in Arabic. Cf. Gesenius, Thesaurus, in 'qanah' and ***. So, too, the Syr. ***. Neither Gen. xiv. 19 nor Deut. xxxii. 6 require that 'qanah' should be translated ‘created,’ still less Ps. cxxxix. 13, where it means ‘to have rights over.’ Gesenius quotes no other examples. The current meaning of the word is ‘to acquire’ or ‘possess,’ as is proved by its certain sense in the great majority of cases where it is used.
102. Lucke, who holds that in the Book of Proverbs and in Ecclesiasticus there is merely a personification, sees a ‘dogmatic hypostatizing’ in Wisd. vii. 22, sqq. Cf. too Dahne, Alexandrinische Religionsphilosophie, ii. 134, &c.
113. Thus in Ecclus. xxiv. 3 the 'sofia Qeou' uses the language which might be expected of the 'logoj Qeou,' in saying that she came forth from the Mouth of the Most High. In chap. i. 5 'phgh sofiaj logoj Qeou' (om Tisch.) is probably spurious. In the Book of Wisdom 'sofia' is identified on the one side with the 'agion pneuma paideiaj' (chap. i. 4, 5), and the 'pneuma Kuriou' (ver. 7); 'pneuma' and 'sofia' are united in the expression 'pneuma sofiaj' (vii. 7; compare ix. 17). On the other side 'sophia' and the 'logos' are both instruments of creation (Wisd. ix. 1, 2; for the 'pneuma,' cf. Gen. i. 2, and Ps. xxxiii. 6), they both ‘come down from heaven’ (Ibid. ver. 10, and xviii. 15, and the 'pneuma,' ix. I 7), and achieve the deliverance of Israel from Egypt (cf. xviii. 15 with x. 15-20). The representation seems to suggest no mere ascription of identical functions to altogether distinct conceptions or Beings, but a real inner essential unity of the Spirit, the Word, and the Wisdom. ‘Es ist an sich eine und dieselbe gottliche Kraft, die nach aussen wirksam ist, aber es sind verschiedene Beziehungen und Arten dieser Wirksamkeit, wornach sie Wort, Geist, Weisheit Gottes gennant wird.’ Kuhn, p. 27. That the 'pneuma' really pointed to a distinct Hypostasis in God became plain only at a later time to the mind of His people. On the relations of the 'dabar YHWH', the 'chokmah', and the 'dabar YHWH' to each other, see Kuhn, p. 24.
114. Kuhn has stated the relation of the ‘Wisdom,’ ‘Word,’ and ‘Spirit’ to God and to each other, in the Sapiential Books, as follows: ‘Die Unterscheidung Gottes und Seiner Offenbarung in der Welt ist die Folie, auf der sich ein innerer Unterschied in Gott abspiegelt, der Unterschied Gottes nämlich von Seinem Worte, Seiner Weisheit. Diese, wiewohl sie zunachst blosse Eigenschaften und somit Sein an Sich seiendes Wesen, oder Kräfte und Wirksamkeiten Gottes nach aussen, somit dasselbe Wesen, sofern Es Sich in der Welt manifestirt, ausdrucken, erscheinen sofort tiefer gefasst als etwas für sich, unter dem Gesichtspunkt eines eigenen gottlichen Wesens, einer gottlichen Person. Unter einander verhalten sie sich aber so, dass einerseits Wort und Geist, desgleichen andrerseits Wort und Weisheit Gottes theils unterschieden, theils aber auch wieder wesentlich gleichbedeutend genommen sind, so dass ausser dem Hauptunterschiede Gottes von Seinem Andern noch ein weiterer, der Unterschied dieses Andern von einem Dritten hinzuzukommen, zugleich aber auch die Identitat des ihnen (unter Sich und mit Gott) gemeinsamen Wesens angedeutet zu sein scheint.’ Lehre von Gottl. Dreieinigkeit, p. 23.
117. Philo distinguishes between Wisdom and Philosophy: Philosophy or wise living is the slave of Wisdom or Science; 'sofia' is 'episthmh qeiwn kai anqrwpinwn kai twn toutwn aitiwn' (Cong. Qu. Erud. Grat. § 14, ed. Mangey, tom. i. p. 530). Philo explains Exod. xxiv. 6 allegorically, as the basis of a distinction between Wisdom as it exists in men and in God, 'to qeion genoj amigej kai akraton' (Quis Rer. Div. Haer. § 38, i. p. 498). Wisdom is the mother of the world (Quod Det. Potiori Insid. § 16, i. p. 202); her wealth is without limits, she is like a deep well, a perennial fountain, &c. But Philo does not in any case seem to personify Wisdom; his doctrine of Wisdom is eclipsed by that of the Logos.
118. Vacherot (Ecole d’Alexandrie, vol. i. p. 134, Introd.) says of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus: ‘Ces monumens renferment peu de traces des idees Grècques dont ils semblent avoir précédé l’invasion en Orient.’ Ecelesiasticus was written in Hebrew under the High-Priesthood of Simon I, B.C. 303-284, by Jesus the Son of Sirach, and translated into Greek by his grandson, who came to reside at Alexandria under Ptolemy Euergetes.
119. Plat. Philebus, p. 30. ‘There is not,’ says Professor Mansel, ‘the slightest evidence that the Divine Reason was represented by Plato as having a distinct personality, or as being anything more than an attribute of the Divine Mind.’ Cf. art. Philosophy, in Kitto’s Cycl. of Bibl. Literature, new ed.
121. De Monarchia, i. § 6, tom. ii. p. 219: 'onomazousi de autaj ouk apo skopou tinej twn par umin ideaj, epeidh ekaston twn ontwn idiopoiousi, ta atakta tattousai, kai ta apeira kai aorista kai asxhmatista peratousai kai periorizousai kai sxhmatizousai kai sunolwj to xeiron eij to ameinon meqarmozomenai.' Comp. the remarkable passage in De Vict. Offer. § 13, tom. ii. p. 261.
122. In one passage only does Philo appear to ascribe to God the creation of matter. De Somn. i. § 13, tom. i. 632. If so, for once his Jewish conscience is too strong for his Platonism. But even here his meaning is at best doubtful. Cf. Dollinger, Heid. und Judenth. bk. x. pt. 3, § 5.
125. De Mundi Opif. § 6, i. p. 5: 'h arxetupoj sfragij, on famen einai kosmon nohton, autoj an eih to arxetupon paradeigma . . . o Qeou logoj.' . The 'logos' is dissociated from the 'paradeigma' in De Conf. Ling. c. xiv. i. 414.
129. De Mundo, § 2, ii. p. 604: 'to oxurwtaton kai bebaiotaton ereisma twn olwn estin. Outoj apo twn meswn epi ta perata kai apo twn akrwn eij mesa taqeij dolixeuei ton thj fusewj dromon ahtthton, sunagwn panta ta merh kai sfiggwn.'
131. Ibid.: 'o d autoj ikethj men esti tou qnhtou khrainontoj aei proj to afqarton. presbuthj de tou hgemonoj proj to uphkoon.' Cf. De Somniis, § 37, i. 653; De Migr. Abraham. § 18, i. 452. De Gigant. § 11: 'o arxiereuj logoj.'
133. Legis Allegor. iii. § 59, i. 120: 'Oraj thj yuxhj trofhn oia esti; Logoj Qeou sunexhj, eoikwj drosw.' Cf. also § 62. De Somniis, § 37, i. 691: 'tw gar onti tou qeiou logou rumh sunexhj meq ormhj kai tacewj feromenh, panta dia pantwn anaxeitai kai eufrainei.'
134. De Conf. Ling. § 28, i. 427: 'kan mhdepw mentoi tugxanh tij acioxrewj wn uioj Qeou prosagoreuesqai, opoudazetw kosmeisqai kata ton prwtagonon autou Logon, ton aggelon presbutaton wj arxaggelon poluwnumon uparxonta.'
136. Fragment quoted from Euseb. Praep. Evang. lib. vii. c. 13 in Phil. Oper. ii. 625: 'qnhton gar ouden apeikonisqhnai proj ton anwtatw kai patera twn olwn edunato, alla proj ton deuteron qeon, oj estin ekeinou Logoj.' But the Logos is called 'qeoj' only 'en kataxrhsei.' Op. 1. 655.
137. That Philo’s Logos is not a distinct Person is maintained by Dorner, Person Christi, Einleitung, p. 23, note i. 44, sqq. note 40; by Dollinger, Heid. und Judenthum, bk. x. p. iii. § 5; and by Burton, Bampton Lectures, note 93. The opposite opinion is that of Gfrörer (see his Philo und die Judisch-Alexandrinische Theologie), and of Lucke (see Professor Mansel, in Kitto’s Encycl., art. Philosophy, p. 526, note). Professor Jowett, at one time, following Gfrörer, appears to find in Philo ‘the complete personification of the Logos,’ although he also admits that Philo’s idea of the Logos ‘leaves us in doubt at last whether it is not a quality only, or mode of operation in the Divine Being.’ (Ep. of St. Paul, i. p. 510, 2nd ed.) He hesitates indeed to decide the question, on the ground that ‘the word “person” has now a distinctness and unity which belongs not to that age.’ (p. 485.) Surely the idea (at any rate) of personality, whether distinctly analyzed or no, is a primary element of all human thought. It is due to Professor Jowett to call attention to the extent (would that it were wider and more radical!) to which he disavows Gfrörer’s conclusions. (Ibid. p. 454, note.) And I quote the following words with sincere pleasure: ‘The object of the Gospel is real, present, substantial,—an object such as men may see with their eyes and hold in their hands. . . . But in Philo the object is shadowy, distant, indistinct; whether an idea or a fact we scarcely know. . . . Were we to come nearer to it, it would vanish away.’ (Ibid. p. 413, 1st ed.; p. 509, 2nd ed., in which there are a few variations.) A study of the passages referred to in Mangey’s index will, it is believed, convince any unprejudiced reader that Philo did not know his own mind; that his Logos was sometimes impersonal and sometimes not, or that he sometimes thought of a personal Logos, and never believed in one.
138. On the general question of the phraseological coincidences between Philo and the writers in the New Testament, see the passages quoted in Professor Mansel’s article ‘Philosophy’ (Kitto’s Encycl.), already referred to. I could sincerely wish that I had had the advantage of reading that article before writing the text of these pages.
139. ‘Gfrörer,’ Professor .Jowett admits, ‘has exaggerated the resemblances between Philo and the New Testament, making them, I think, more real and less verbal than they are in fact.’ (Ep. of St. Paul, i. 454, note.) ‘II est douteux,’ says M. E. Vacherot, ‘que Saint Jean, qui n’a jamais visite Alexandrie, ait connu les livres du philosophe juif.’ Histoire Critique de l’ecole d’Alexandrie, i. p. 201. And the limited circulation of the writings of the theosophical Alexandrians would appear from the fact that Philo himself appears never to have read those of his master Aristobulus. Cf. Valkenaer, de Aristobulo, p. 95.
142. Compare Dorner, Person Christi, Einleit. p. 59, on the Adam Kadmon, and p. 60, on the Memra, Shekinah, and Metatron. ‘Zu der Idee einer Incarnation des wirklich Göttlichen aber haben es alle diese Theologumene ingessammt nie gebracht.’ They only involve a parastatic appearance of God, are symbols of His Presence, and are altogether impersonal; or if personal (as the Metatron), they are clearly conceived of as created personalities. This helps to explain the fact that during the first three centuries the main attacks on our Lord’s Godhead were of Jewish origin. Cf. Dorner, ubi sup. note 14. On the Rabbinical ascription of Divine attributes to the Metatron, as higher than all angels, see Drach, Harmonie, ii. p. 417.
145. See Luthardt, Apologetische Vortrage, vorl. vii. note 6. The expression occurs in Schubart’s Leben, ii. 461. Luthardt quotes a very characteristic passage from Goethe (vol. xxx. Winckelmann, Antikes Heidnisches, pp. 10-13) to the same effect: ‘If the modern, at almost every reflection, casts himself into the Infinite, to return at last, if he can, to a limited point; the ancients feel themselves at once, and without further wanderings, at ease only within the limits of this beautiful world. Here were they placed, to this were they called, here their activity has found scope, and their passions objects and nourishment.’ The ‘heathen mind,’ he says, produced ‘such a condition of human existence, a condition intended by nature,’ that ‘both the moment of highest enjoyment and in that of deepest sacrifice, nay, of absolute ruin, we recognize the indestructibly healthy tone of their thought.’ Similarly in Strauss’ Leben Marklin’s, 1851, p. 127, Märklin says, ‘I would with all my heart be a heathen, for here I find truth, nature, greatness.’
146. See the beautiful passage quoted from Lasaulx, Abhandlung uber den Sinn der Oedipus-sage, p. 10, by Luthardt, ubi supra, note 7. Cf. also Döllinger, Heid. und Jud. bk. v. pt. 1, § 2; Abp. Trench, Huls. Lectures, ed. 3, p. 305; also Comp. Il. xvii. 446; Od. xi. 489, xviii. 130; Eurip. Hippol. 190, Med. 1224, Fragm. No. 454, 808.
147. So two of the Targums, which nevertheless refer the fulfilment of the promise to the days of the King Messiah. The singular form of the collective noun would here, as in Gen. xxii. 18, have been intended to suggest an individual descendant.
152. Gen. xlix. 10. On the reading 'Shiyloh' see Pusey, Daniel the Prophet, p. 252. The sense given in the text is supported by Targum Onkelos, Jerusalem Targum, the Syr. and Arab. versions, possibly by those of Aquila and Symmachus (but see Field, Orig. Hexapl. tom. i. p. 70); while LXX. 'ewj an elqh ta apokeimena autw,' Vulg. ‘donec veniat Qui mittendus est.’
156. 2 Sam. vii. 16 (Ps. lxxxix. 36, 37; St. John xii. 34). ‘From David’s address to God, after receiving the message by Nathan, it is plain that David understood the Son promised to be the Messiah in Whom his house was to be established for ever. But the words which seem most expressive of this are in this verse now rendered very unintelligibly “and is this the manner of man?” whereas the words 'zo’th towrah adam' literally signify “and this is (or must be) the law of the man, or of the Adam,” i.e. this promise must relate to the law, or ordinance, made by God to Adam concerning the Seed of the woman, the Man, or the Second Adam, as the Messiah is expressly called by St. Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 45-47.’—Kennicott, Remarks on the Old Testament, p. 115. He confirms this interpretation by comparing 1 Chron. xvii. 17 with Rom. v. 14.
160. Ps. ii. 8, 9. Cf. St. Aug. cont. Faustum Man. xiii. 7: ‘Dabo Tibi gentes haereditatem Tuam . . Quod genti Judaeorum in qua regnavit David non esse concessum, Christi autem nomine longe lateque omnes gentes occupante, nemo dubitat esse completum.’
162. Ps. ii. 12. See Dr. Pusey’s note on St. Jerome’s rendering of 'nashaq bar' Daniel the Prophet, p. 478, note 2: ‘It seems to me that St. Jerome preferred the rendering “the Son,” since he adopted it where he could explain it [viz. in the brief commentary], but gave way to prejudice in rendering “adore purely.”’ Cf. also Replies to Essays and Reviews, p. 98. Also Delitzsch Psalmen, i. p. 15, note. ‘Dass 'bar' den Artikel nicht vertragt, dient auch im Hebr. öfter die Indetermination ad amplificandum (s. Fleischer zu Zamachschari’s Gold. Halsbändern Anm. 2. S. i. f.) indem sie durch die in ihr liegende Unbegrenztheit die Einbildungskraft zur Vergrosserung des so ausgedruckten Begriffs auffordert. Ein arab. Ausleger wurde an u. St. erklaren: “Kusset einen Sohn, und was für einen Sohn!”’ See J. H. Willemeri de Osculo Filii ad Ps. ii. Diss. in Thesaur. Theol.-Philolog., p. 582.
166. The Chaldee Targum refers this Psalm to the Messiah. So the Bereshith Rabba Aben-Ezra, D. Kimchi, Talm. Tr. Succah. fol. 52, &c. The interpretation was changed with a view to avoiding the pressure of the Christian arguments. ‘Our masters,’ says R. Solomon Jarchi, ‘have expounded [this Psalm] of King Messiah; but, according to the letter, and for furnishing answer to the Minim [i.e. the Christian “heretics”], it is better to interpret it of David himself.’ Quoted by Pearson on art. 2, notes; Chandler, Defense of Christianity, p. 212; Pocock, Porta Mosis, note, p. 307. See too Dr. Pye Smith, Messiah, vol. i. p. 197.
167. Dr. Pusey observes that of those who have endeavored to evade the literal sense of the words addressed to King Messiah (ver. 6), ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,’ ‘no one who thought he could so construct the sentence that the word Elohim need not designate the being addressed, doubted that Elohim signified God; and no one who thought that he could make out for the word Elohim any other meaning than that of “God,” doubted that it designated the being addressed. A right instinct prevented each class from doing more violence to grammar or to idiom than he needed, in order to escape the truth which he disliked. If people thought that they might paraphrase “Thy throne, O Judge” or “Prince,” or “image of God,” or “who art as a God to Pharaoh,” they hesitated not to render with us “Thy throne is for ever and ever.” If men think that they may assume such an idiom as “Thy throne of God” meaning “Thy Divine throne,” or “Thy throne is God” meaning “Thy throne is the throne of God,” they doubt not that Elohim means purely and simply God. . . . If people could persuade themselves that the words were a parenthetic address to God, no one would hesitate to own their meaning to be “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.”’ Daniel the Prophet, pp. 470, 471, and note 8. Rev. v. 13. Cf. Delitzsch in loc.
194. On Ps. cx. see Pusey on Daniel, p. 466, sqq. Delitzsch, Psalmen ii. p. 639. Martini, Pugio Fidei, p. iii. c. 3, sqq. For evidence of later Jewish attempts to parry the Christian argument by interpreting the psalm of Hezekiah, see St. Just. Mart. Dial. cum Tryph. 33, 83; Tertull. adv. Marcion, v. 9: of Zerubbabel, St. Chrysos. Expos. in Ps. cix.
195. With reference to the modern theory (Renan, Vie de Jesus, p. 37, &c. &c.) of a ‘later Isaiah,’ or ‘Great Unknown,’ living at the time of the Babylonish Captivity, and the assumed author of Is. xl.-lxvi., it may suffice to refer to Dean Payne Smith’s valuable volume of University Sermons on the subject. When it is taken for granted on a priori grounds that bona fide prediction of strictly future events is impossible, the Bible predictions must either be resolved into the far-sighted anticipations of genius, or, if their accuracy is too detailed to admit of this explanation, they must be treated as being only historical accounts of the events referred to, thrown with whatever design into the form of prophecy. The predictions respecting Cyrus in the latter part of Isaiah are too explicit to be reasonably regarded as the results of natural foresight; hence the modern assumption of a ‘later Isaiah’ as their real author. ‘Supposing this assumption,’ says Bishop Ollivant, ‘to be true, this later Isaiah was not only a deceiver, but also a witness to his own fraud; for he constantly appeals to prophetic power as a test of truth, making it, and specifically the prediction respecting the deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus, an evidence of the foreknowledge of Jehovah, as distinguished from the nothingness of heathen idols. And yet we are to suppose that when this fraud was first palmed upon the Jewish nation, they were so simple as not to have perceived that out of his own mouth this false prophet was condemned!’—Charge of Bishop of Llandaff, 1866, p. 99, note b. Comp. Delitzsch, Der Prophet Jesaia, p. 23, and his discussion of the question in the introduction to chapters xl-lxvi. Smith’s Dict. Bible, art. ‘Isaiah.’
221. Ps. xxii. 1-21, and 27. Phillips, on Ps. xxii., argues that the Messianic sense is ‘the true and only true’ sense of it. See J. Frischmuthi, De Messiae manuum et pedum perforatione ad Ps. xxii. 17, Diss. in Thesaur. Theol.-Philolog., p. 611.
233. See Hengstenberg’s account of the Jewish interpretations of Isaiah lii. 13-liii. 12, Christolog. vol. ii. pp. 310-319 (Clarke’s trans.), and ‘The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah according to the Jewish Interpreters: by Driver and Neubauer, with Introduction by E. B. Pusey, D.D. Oxford and Leipzig, 1876.’ Dr. Payne Smith on Isaiah, p. 172. The theory of a second Messiah was elaborated later than the second century, but before the fifth. Pusey, Univ. Serm. p. 144.
237. ‘pele ya‘ats’ These two words must clearly be connected, although they do not stand in the relation of the status constructus. Gen. xvi. 12. 'ya‘ats' designated the attribute here concerned, 'pele' the superhuman Possessor of it.
239. This is the plain literal sense of the words. The habit of construing 'el gibbor' as ‘strong hero,’ which was common to Gesenius and the older rationalists, has been abandoned by later writers, such as Hitzig and Knobel. Hitzig observes that to render 'el gibbor' by ‘strong hero’ is contrary to the usus loquendi. ‘El’ he argues, ‘is always, even in such passages as Gen. xxxi. 29, to be rendered “God.” In all the passages which are quoted to prove that it means “princeps,” “potens,” ‘the forms are,’ he says, ‘to be derived not from 'el', but from 'ayil' which properly means “ram,” then “leader,” or “prince” of the flock of men.’ (See the quot. in Hengst Christ. ii. p. 88, Clarke’s transl.). But while these later rationalists recognize the true meaning of the phrase, they endeavor to represent it as a mere name of Messiah, indicating nothing as to His possessing a Divine Nature. Hitzig contends that it is applied to Messiah ‘by way of exaggeration, in so far as He possesses divine qualities;’ and Knobel, that it belongs to Him as a hero, who in His wars with the Gentiles will show that He possesses divine strength. But does the word ‘El’ admit of being applied to a merely human hero? ‘El,’ says Dr. Pusey, ‘the name of God, is nowhere used absolutely of any but God. The word is used once relatively, in its first appellative sense, the mighty of the nations (Ezek. xxxi. 11), in regard to Nebuchadnezzar. Also once in the plural (Ezek. xxxii. 21). It occurs absolutely in Hebrew 225 times, and in every place is used of God.’ Daniel. p. 483. Can we then doubt its true force in the present passage, especially when we compare Isa. x. 21, where 'el gibbor' is applied indisputably to the Most High God? Cf. Delitzsch, Jesaia, p. 155. On the whole passage see J. Frischmuthi, De Prosopographia Messiae ad Esai. ix. 6, Diss. in Thesaur. Theol.-Philolog. p. 754.
240. Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. This title is also applied by Jeremiah to Jerusalem in the Messianic age, in other words, to the Christian Church. Jer. xxxiii. 15, 16. The reason is not merely to be found in the close fellowship of Christ with His Church as taught by St. Paul (Eph. v. 23, 30), who even calls the Church, Christ (1 Cor. xii. 12). Jehovah Tsidkenu expresses the great fact of which our Lord is the author, and Christendom the result. That fact is the actual gift of God’s justifying, sanctifying righteousness to our weak sinful humanity. As applied to the Church then, the title draws attention to the reality of the gift; as applied to Christ, to the Person of Him through Whom it is given. It cannot be paralleled with names given to inanimate objects such as Jehovah Nissi, nor even with such personal names as Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, and the like. In these cases there is no ground for identifying the kings in question with the Exalted Jehovah, or with Jehovah the Judge. The title before us, of itself, may not necessarily imply the Divinity of Christ; it was indeed given in another form to Zedekiah. Its real force, as applied to our Lord, is however shown by other prophetic statements about Him, just as He is called Jesus, in a fundamentally distinct sense from that which the word bore in its earlier applications. But cf. Pye Smith, Messiah, i. 271, sqq. Hengst. Christ. ii. 415, sqq. Reinke, Messianischen Weissagungen, iii. 510, sqq. Critici Sacri, vol. 4, p. 5638. J. Frischmuthi de Nomine Messiae glorioso ad Jer. xxiii. 6, Diss. in Thesaur. Theol.Philolog. p. 832. D. Kimchi in loc., Talm. in Tr. Baba Batra, fol. 79; Midrash. Thehillim in Ps. xxi. Pearson on Creed, ii. 181, ed. 1833.
241. Isa. vii. 14; St. Matt. i. 23. Like Jehovah Tsidkenu, Emmanuel does really suggest our Lord’s Divine Person, as Isa. ix. 6, would alone imply. That 'almah' means a literal virgin, that the fulfilment of this prophecy is to be sought for only in the birth of our Lord, and that this announcement of God’s mighty Salvation in the future, might well have satisfied Abaz that the lesser help against the two kings in the immediate present would not be wanting, are points well discussed by Hengstenberg, Christ. ii. 43-66. Reinke, Weissagung von der Jungfrau und von Immanuel, Munster, 1848. Even if it were certain that the Name Emmanuel was in the first instance given to a child born in the days of Ahaz, it would still be true that ‘then did God in the highest sense become with us, when He was seen upon earth.’ St. Chrys. in Isa. ch. vii. s. 6, quoted by Hengst. Christol. ubi supra. See too, Smith’s Dict. of Bible, art. ‘Isaiah,’ i. p. 879; Dr. Payne Smith, Proph. of Isaiah, pp. 21-27. C. Lochner, De loco classico ad Esai. vii. 14. Diss. in Thesaur. Theol.-Philolog., p. 691.
245. Zech. xiii. 7. 'amiyth' does not mean only an associate of any kind, or a neighbor. ‘The word rendered “My fellow” was revived by Zechariah from the language of the Pentateuch. It was used eleven times in Leviticus, and then was disused. There is no doubt then that the word, being revived out of Leviticus, is to be understood as in Leviticus; but in Leviticus it is used strictly of a fellow-man, one who is as himself. Lev. vi. 2, xviii. 20, xix. 11, 15, 17, xxiv. 19, xxv. 14, 15, 17. . . The name designates not one joined by friendship or covenant, or by any voluntary act, but one united indissolubly by common bonds of nature, which a man may violate, but cannot annihilate. . . . When then this title is applied to the relation of an individual to God, it is clear that That Individual can be no mere man, but must be one united with God by an Unity of Being. The “Fellow” of the Lord is no other than He who said in the Gospel, “I and My Father are One.”’ Pusey, Daniel, pp. 487, 488. Hengst. Christ. iv. pp. 108-112.
246. Zech. ii. 10-13; xi. 12. 13, xii. 10; St. John xix. 34, 37; Rev. i. 7. See Frischmuth’s Dissertations, ‘De vili et abjecto xxx argenteorum pretio quo Salvator noster Messias a Judaeis aestimatus fuit,’ and ‘De Messia Confixo,’ in Thesaur. Theol.-Philolog. p. 1031, 1042. Pusey, Univ. Serm. 1859-1872, p. 143.
250. If however the Book of Baruch was expanded into its present form at Alexandria from an earlier Hebrew document, written probably by Baruch himself, this statement must be partly qualified. Baruch iii. 35-37; cf. St. John i. 14.
251. For the Rabbinical conception of the Person of Messiah, see Martini, Pugio Fidei, Pars iii. Dist. 3, cap. I; 2. § 6 ad fin. § 8. With reference to some recent attacks upon the value of Martini’s citations from Jewish writers, consult ‘The Book of Tobit,’ ed. by A. Neubauer, Oxf. 1878, pp. xviii-xxiv. Compare also Schöttgen, Horae Hebraicae, tom ii. lib. i, c. 1, 2; lib. 3, Thesis 3; Drach, Harmonie, &c., pt. 2, c. I. tom. ii. 385, sqq.
252. Yet in Tobit xiv. 6, 7, the reference to the conversion of the heathen world belongs to the highest religious hopes of Messianic prophecy. Ps. xxii. 27. The book is placed by Ewald at B.C. 350, and may be earlier.