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ther; and ye do that which ye have seen with
They answered and said unto him, Abraham is John viii. 39.
But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath John viii, 40.
Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said John viii, 41. they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Fa- John viii. 42. ther, ye would love me : for I proceeded forth, and came from God: neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
Why do ye not understand my speech? even John viii. 43.
because ye cannot hear my word. cl John iii, 8. cYe are of your father the devil, and the lusts John viii. 44.
of your father ye will do. He was a murderer
Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I John viii. 46.
say the truth, why do ye not believe me? di Johniv. 6. • He that is of God heareth God's words: ye John viii. 47.
therefore hear them not, because ye are not of
Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I ho- John viii. 49. nour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
And I seek not mine own glory : there is one John viii. 50. that seeketh and judgeth..
Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep John viii. 51. my saying, he shall never see death.
Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know John viii. 52. that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
Art thou greater than our father Abraham, John viii. 53. which is dead ? and the prophets are dead : whom inakest thou chy'self?
John viii. 54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour Jerusalem.
is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me;
of whom ye say, that he is your God:
and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a
and he saw it, and was glad. John viii. 57. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet
fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham ". John viii. 58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto
you, Before Abraham was, I am".
10 Had our Lord been younger than the age at which the priests assumed their office, the Jews would have charged him with presumption, ignorance, or vanity. His exalted love, his generous compassion, his fervent piety, would have been attributed to inexperience, to the sallies of imagination, or to the youthful ardour of the passions. His virtues would have been associated in their minds with extravagance or romance, with enthusiasm or superstition. His pity and forbearance would have been considered as the effect of mere feeling, or weakness; his austerity as unnatural, presumptuous, and morose.
Had our Lord, on the other hand, been an old man, it would have been said, He had lost all interest or concern in those objects and pursuits which kindle the most active and extensive desires; that he saw things with different views from human beings in general: that he had outlived the remembrance of the peculiar trials and temptations of early life, and made not proper allowances for the infirmities of others. Some might have reminded him, that the wisdom and experience of age were incompatible with the sprightliness and gaiety of youth ; others might have deemed his opposition to the vices and corruption of the times, as proceeding from the love of singularity, or desire of distinction. His patience and forbearance might have been attributed to a deficiency of energy and spirit ; and even his resignation in the hour of death, to the want of the power of enjoyment among the living; and, if he had delayed the work of his ministry to a later period, the question would have been asked, why he had deferred so long the reforination of a sinful and degenerate people ?-See on this subject, a Sermon by Mr. Hewlett, on the Duties of Middle Life, vol. iii. p. 278.
11 As the end of our Lord's ministry approaches, He proclaims, in still plainer language, that He possessed the attributes and characters of the Messiah. John, in the commencement of his Gospel, bad asserted the pre-existence of Christ; and our Lord in this passage declares the same truth.
It appears to me, that our Lord here alludes to his eternity, as well as to his pre-existence. The passage may mean, “ I not only exist at this moment; but before Abraham was I exist.” I am the self-existent; the same Being which in your Scriptures of the Old Testament is known as the “I am," of
Then took they up stones to cast at him: but John viii. 50.
your fathers. The schoolmen rightly represent the eternity of God as a punctum stans : or, as Cowley expresses the idea, in his description of heaven
Nothing is there to come, and nothing past,
But an eternal Now, does always last.
God fills his own eternal Now,
And sees our ages waste. And Archbishop King has well described the Deity, as having neither remembrance of the past, nor foreknowledge of the future, but as being ever existing in all places, and ever enduring throughout all time. Therefore whatever has, or is, or can, or will be, form but One present. Sir Isaac Newton, in his Scholium Generale, has expressed his notion of a Deity much in the same manner, but in the most sublime and expressive language. Alike conscious of the past, the present, and the future, our Lord asserts that such is his mode of existence, and claims the attributes of Deity to the same extent as they appertained to his heavenly Father.
The general body of Christians have understood this passage as a plain declaration on the part of our Lord, that He did not begin to exist at the time when he assumed a human body in the form of an infant, but that he existed before the time of Abraham.
It is the belief of the Christian Church, and it was the faith also of the ancient Jews, that the Word of God, their Messiah, existed before his permanent incarnation. He existed before the creation of the world, when he was one with the Father; He existed also after the creation of the world, as the Angel Jehovah.
It will not be possible, in these notes, to discuss the various misinterpretations to which the Socinian writers have resorted, to explain away the grammatical sense of this, and other passages of Scripture, which assert the divinity of Christ. The expression, however, “Before Abraham was, I am," or before Abraham existed, I exist, is so satisfactory and so decisive, that it might have been supposed to have set the question at rest for ever. But the supporters of the Socinian heresy have, at various times, employed all their ingenuity and learning to give another interpretation to these words—and have presented the world with such a selection of absurd and contradictory illustrations, as to draw upon them the undivided censure of their mildest opponent. Dr. Pye Smith, who seems to write every sentence of his reply to Mr. Belsham with a smile, an apology, or a bow, condemns the interpretation of this passage as trifling, and absolute folly. Archbishop Magee, in the higher tone of dignified rebuke, which becomes a champion of the truth, chastises the ignorance, or blasphemy of the Socinian heresy, with more unsparing severity.
II piv'Afpadj yevéodai, éyú eige, are the words in the original. This is translated by Socinus : “Before Abraham can be Abraham, that is, the Father of many nations, I must be, the Messiah, or Saviour of the world." Faustus Socinus, the nephew of the heresiarch, tells us, that his uncle obtained this mean
Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, Jerusalem.
SECTION VII 12.
The Seventy return with Joy's.
Luke x. 17--25. And the seventy returned again with joy, say- Uncertain. ing, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
Luke x. 17.
ing by divine inspiration-non sine multis precibus ipsius, Jesu nomine invocato, impetravit ipse. This interpretation, however, is relinquished by Socinians of a later age, who consider, with Grotius, that Christ meant only to assert, that he was before Abraham in the decree of God (a).
12 These sections, from seven to eighteen inclusive, with the exception of some few passages, which on various authorities are placed elsewhere, are inserted here, on the united testimony of the five harmonizers, by whom I am principally guided. They contain an account of the actions of our Lord from the feast of tabernacles to that of the dedication. Several chapters of St. Luke relate events which are not recorded by the other Evangelists, and these are generally referred to the period which elapsed between the mission of the Seventy and Christ's apprehension. This period included both the feast of tabernacles and the dedication, and it is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to ascertain precisely the exact order of the events here mentioned, and to decide at which of these feasts they took place. The difficulty is further increased by the question, whether St. John's Gospel is to be read with these chapters of St. Luke, continuously from chap. vii. 11. to the conclusion of chap. X. or the eighth be divided from the ninth and tenth: that is, whether the healing of the man who was born blind, was effected by our Lord at the feast of tabernacles, or at the feast of dedication ? I have principally observed the order proposed by Lightfoot, excepting that some passages are arbitrarily inserted elsewhere, on the authority of Newcome and others.
Archbishop Newcome places John ix. 10. before these chapters of St. Luke. He then proceeds with the interruptions before alluded to, from Luke x. 17. to Luke xviii. 14.
Doddridge inserts the cure of the blind man, John ix. 10. at the feast of the
(a) Cowley's Davideis, book i.- Watts's Hymns.--Archbishop King's Sermons, published at the end of his 8vo. edit. of the Origin of Evil.-Sir Isaac Newton's Scholium Generale, printed at the end of the Principia.—Allix, on the Judgment of the Jewish Church, against the Unitarians, chap. xv. Oxford edition, p. 187, &c.—Dr. Pye Smith, on the Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, vol. ii. p. 186.-Magee, on the Atonement, particularly the notes to vol. ii. part ii.-Socinus contra Eutrop. tom. ii. p. 678. ap Smith. -And for a further account of Wakefield's, Priestley's, and Belsham's criticisms, see Archbishop Magee, vol. i. p. 81-88,
13 See next page.
Uncertain. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as Luke x. 18.
lightning fall from heaven.
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on ser- Luke x. 19. pents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the Luke x. 20. spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, Luke x. 21. I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
* All things are delivered to me of my Father : Luke x. 22. add and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the FaAnd turning, ther; and who the Father is, but the Son, and
he to whom the Son will reveal him.
And he turned him unto his disciples, and said Luke x. 23. e Matt. xiii. 16. privately, e Blessed are the eyes which see the
things that ye see:
For I tell you that many prophets and kings Luke x. 24. have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
* All things are delivered
dedication, as Lightfoot has done, but continues the chapters of St. Luke to chap. xviii. 14. not perceiving sufficient reason to change the order.
Pilkington differs from Lightfoot, and arranges John vii. 11. to x. 22. before Luke x. 17. and continuing as far as chap. xiii. 23. he again proceeds to John x. 22. By this means he affixes the cure of the blind man to the feast of tabernacles.
Michaelis seems to have laid aside, in this part of his harmony, every attempt to reconcile difficulties. He inserts these chapters of St. John in one supplement, and those of St. Luke in another.
13 The Seventy receive their commission in Galilee, some time before the feast of tabernacles. The exact period of their going out, and of their return, is uncertain ; it is most probable, however, as the Jews were accustomed to go up to the feast, that they were proceeding to Jerusalem, and met our Lord returning from the feast, in consequence of the opposition of the Jewish rulers to his person and teaching,