« AnteriorContinuar »
the probability is, that this was done for the purpose of sacrifice only. Abel too, we learn, offered an acceptable sacrifice long before this time; and this was the sacrifice of a firstling of his flock, which we are told was accepted, because it was offered in faith. We will now only say, that these are certainly religious observances, and that they look like Divine appointments.
If we proceed downwards to the times of Abraham, we shall, in addition to the promise made to Eve and the covenant given to Noah, find a promise also made, that in this Patriarch's seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. What this blessing was, St. Paul has informed us; and, that Abraham saw the day of Christ, and was glad, we have the testimony of still higher authority. † If we descend to the times of Jacob, we shall find this blessing limited in its channel to the tribe of Judah. In the days of David, it is confined to his house. § In the times of Isaiah, this deliverer is to be born of a virgin, thus verifying the particulars of the first promise: he is moreover to sustain the character of mighty God, everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace to whose kingdom there is to be no end. ¶ If we
*Gal. iii. 16.
† John, viii. 56.
t Gen. xlix. 10.
¶ Is. ix. 6. As objections have frequently been offered to this translation of the passage, and, as some of these have lately appeared from the pen of Dr. Nicholl, the late Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, in a volume of Sermons (Oxford, 1830), I must be excused if I here offer a few remarks on them. In the first place, Dr. Nicholl objects to the rendering of iza by mighty God, because he says the Divinity of Christ, to whom this epithet must finally refer, was not revealed during the times of the Old Testament; and he proposes, that mighty powerful one, be substituted for it (p. 64). I answer: To affirm that the Divinity of Christ was unknown under the Old Testament dispensation, is to take for granted the thing to be proved: which must suffice on this subject. In the second place, this term, used again by Isaiah himself in chap. x. 21, as allowed by Dr. Nicholl (p. 61), can mean none but God; and, as he also allows that this prophecy
proceed on to the times of Daniel, the period, the circumstances, the consequences, of this mysterious person's appearance, are all marked out and defined in such a manner as to leave no doubt that the hand of God was here concerned; and that it was the hand of power, of mercy, and of grace. In the commencement, progress, and issue, therefore, of the divine light, we contemplate the dawn, the outpouring, and the full splendour, of the perfect day; taking its rise in dark, but sure, intimations of its future glories, and then spreading its beams into the remote and darkest corners of the earth, which had been the habitations of ignorance and cruelty. The Sun of Righteousness, indeed, rose early with healing in his wings; but its final triumph,
relates to the Messiah, the obvious result must be, that the Prophet meant to inculcate that the Messiah would be Divine both in his nature and attributes; and confirmatory of this may be cited Matt. i. 23, μs μv ó esés : GOD is with us. But Dr. Nicholl finds other difficulties: one is, the want of the definite article (, the) here; and another, that the prophecy could not be understood until it had been fulfilled. With regard to the first, it requires but little experience to know, that the want of the article in any language, can necessarily exercise no real influence on the signification of the words used. If, for example, a means mighty God in one place, by what rule of interpretation is it, in another, to change into the sense of mighty powerful one, when in each case it is destitute of the article? Suppose now we had the article in the one place, but not in the other, Would this make it necessary thus to alter the signification? I think not: and so, we have Messiah, not the Messiah, in Dan. ix. 26, where it is impossible to doubt that the Messiah is meant (see also my Heb. Gram.p.310). With regard to the other objection, without attempting to ascertain to what precise extent this, or any other prophecy, was understood in the times of Isaiah, which would be absurd, we may perhaps conclude, that it was understood as far as the usage of words at that day could make it so. I think, therefore, that the terms mighty God, as found in our version, are quite justifiable, especially as the Evangelist has left us an explanation of the passage to the same effect. Dr. Nicholl's criticism on this passage is defective in other respects: he says (p. 62): "Agreeably to this explanation, we find, that in the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint, which is the only
the everlasting day, with which it was to bless intelligent creation, was suspended for a season; perhaps to assure all succeeding ages, that this was a work of mercy, and one which nothing but Divine power and goodness could have commenced, continued, and completed.
Let us now take a brief view of this question as discussed in the New Testament. Here, then, the whole system laid open by the Apostles, claims to be nothing more than the fulfilment of promises and covenants made long before; of which the more sure word of prophecy is, according to St. Peter, one of the safest and most authoritative vouchers.* The preaching of John commences with an appeal to the predictions of Isaiah; † and the venerable Simeon is permitted
one of the two primary texts we can refer to in this case, in consequence of the corruption of the whole passage in the Roman, these words are rendered by ioxugos, sžovciæorns, (although it will not be denied, that these words appear evidently to have been interpolated), &c." My remark is: It is strange that Dr. Nicholl should not have been aware of what Grabbe has said on this passage. His words are: "Eusebius, lib. vii. Demonstrat. Evangel. p. 336, hunc locum ampliorem allegat, insertis inter ista, μεγάλης βουλῆς ἄγγελος, et hac, ἄξω γὰρ εἰρήνην, sequentibus verbis : θαυμαστὸς, σύμβουλος, ΘΕΟΣ ΙΣΧΥΡΟΣ, ἐξουσιαστής, ἄρχων εἰρήνης, πατὴρ τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος...... Atqui additamenta ista non à Scribæ, sed ipsius Eusebii manu profecta, ac ab eo tanquam ipsorum Tyè juxta quædam exemplaria, non alterius interpretis, verba citata esse.... Irrefragabile verò hujus rei argumentum mihi suppeditant Irenæus et Clemens Alexandrinus, ambo Origene antiquiores, qui eadem vel plane gemina è suis Tavò, codicibus allegârunt," &c. (De Var. Vitiis LXX. p. 29–31). If, then, this reading is genuine, as Grabbe thinks, the authors of the Septuagint must have coincided much nearer in their opinions on this text with our translators, than with Dr. Nicholl. I must object, moreover, to Hezekiah's having any thing whatever to do with this prediction, as I also must to his being a type of Christ, and likewise to the double interpretation of prophecy, which Dr. Nicholl here advocates. I am sorry to differ from authority so respectable; but the love of truth must be my apology. My views on the interpretation of prophecy generally will be seen in the first part of the Second Dissertation, found in the sequel. + Luke, iii. 4, &c.
鸯 2 Pet. i. 19.
to depart in peace, when his eyes had seen the salvation which had been prepared before the face of all people, the light which had been promised to enlighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of God's people Israel.* St. Paul tells us of the Gospel preached to Abraham † as well as to the Israelites in the desert; to some of whom it afforded neither light nor consolation, because it was not mixed with faith in them who heard it; but which, nevertheless, the law could in no case disannul. † St. Peter and St. John, too, tell us of the Lamb foreordained, or slain from the foundation of the world, which can admit of no other interpretation than, that Christ suffering for the sins of many, had been taught under types and shadows before the Jewish polity had an existence. And what, it may be asked, has St. Paul declared was the scope and object of the types and shadows of the ceremonial law? Has he not distinctly affirmed, that the end of these was Christ? And if this is the case, that system must have had respect to him alone; it must have exhibited him as suffering, the just for the unjust, that he might bring many to God: and, accordingly, the declarations of the earliest prophecies respecting his mysterious birth and character, only afforded an united testimony with the rite of sacrifice and other symbolical representations, that salvation should be secured by the sufferings of a Redeemer. If Christ too was represented by the slaughter of a lamb without blemish, before the foundation of the world, as St. Peter has assured us, Where, I ask, are we to look for this, if the firstling which Abel offered in faith, preceded as it had been by the promise of Him who was to bruise the serpent's head, with similar occurrences, is to be totally disregarded? Or, How are we to account for the usage of clean animals for the purpose of sacrifice, in the
* Luke, ii. 29, &c.
+ Gal. iii. 8.
|| 1 Pet. i. 19. Rev. xiii. 8.
times of Noah, unless we have recourse to the doctrines of St. Paul and St. Peter on the subject of sacrifice, and directing us to the death of Christ? Conjecture, I know, has been had recourse to; and, because the Revelation has not positively declared that this is the fact, it has often been argued, that it therefore is not: and then, as if neither the Old Testament nor the New had afforded us any thing contributing to the true interpretation of these mysteries, reasons the most vague, unscriptural, and inapplicable, have been propounded, allowed, and often acquiesced in.
It may be asked, however, If the first promise of the Redeemer was made so very specific, and could, as we know from inspired authority, relate to none but Christ,* Where can be the impropriety of supposing, that this would be strengthened by other considerations, even in the very earliest times? And, if so, What considerations could have been more appropriate or striking than the custom of sacrifice, which both believer + and unbeliever may be cited to shew was, from a very high antiquity, held to be piacular? This point, as far as it regards the sacrifices offered under the Jewish polity, is systematically argued by St. Paul; and the conclusion drawn is, as already noticed, that the end or substance of these things was Christ. But, he also tells us that the Gospel was preached to Abraham: and in his day also we find the sacrificed lamb, || and earlier than his day, in the times of the very first pair, and nearly coeval with the first promise of the Redeemer. § Why we should have recourse to probabilities of another sort, and then proceed to affirm, that the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Kings of ancient times, and even under inspired teachers, had no knowledge whatever of these things, I am quite at a
* See the following exposition of Rev. xii. Col. ii. 17. Heb. ix. x. &c.
† Job, xxxiii. 24.
|| Gen. xxii. 7.
§ Ib. iv. 4. Of the firstlings, &c. So in the law of Moses. Exod. xiii. 12. Lev. xxvii. 26, &c.