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If the word be even understood in the sense of first-fruits, as Lev. ii. 12, xxiii. 10; Deut. xviii. 4, xxvi. 10, xxiv. 40; Jer. ï. 3; Ezek. xx. 40, though it may be thought, in some degree, to favour the Arian tenets, yet it may equally refer to the filiation of the Son, who is the “ first-begotten,” (Heb. i. 6,) “ the first-born of every creature,” (Col. i. 15.). At least, the expression, in this sense, cannot be applied to an attribute; for the wisdom of God cannot, in any way, be the effect of his operations. The attributes of the Deity are coeternal with his essence; they cannot be separated from it; and, therefore, cannot be the result or produce of his operations. Hence, in whatever sense n'ws7 may be taken, it is to be referred to the second Person in the Trinity; though the first, namely, that of author, principle, cause, or efficient creator, appears to be its true meaning in this verse.
- of his way]--Some of the preceding observations rest upon the meaning here attributed to 777. This word is applied to the operations and proceedings of God Deut. xxxii. 4; 2 Sam. xxii. 31 ; Ps. xviii. 31, lxvii. 3, Heb.; Dan. iv. 37, &c. The Behemoth is called s 777 D'URT “ the chief of the operations of God," i. e. his most excellent work in the animal creation.—(Job, xl. 19, Heb.) In Ps. cü, 7, God's “ ways" are explained, in the second hemistich, by his “acts.” 1971 his way, then means the operation, working, or proceeding of God, not referring, I apprehend, to that eternal operation in which the Father communicated his essence to the Son by way of generation, but to his work of creation; and it is so understood by the Targumist, the Syriac translator, Cocceius, Dindorf, Parkhurst, and many commentators. Now God's attribute of wisdom cannot bave been the beginning or commencement, nor the first-fruits, nor the chief part of creation ; for this supposes it to have been produced at the creation, which is evidently absurd. Neither
was it the efficient cause of the creation; for his other attributes of mercy, beneficence, and omnipotence equally shared in the stupendous work of creation. The verse therefore means, THAT JEHOVAH POSSESSED, BY AN ETERNAL GENERATION, WISDOM, OR The Son, WHO IS THE ORIGIN OR EFFICIENT CAUSE OF ALL THE WORKS OF GOD.
Thus, in whatever way this passage can be grammatically rendered, it must be referred to the second Person in the blessed Trinity. I say grammatically rendered; for our authorized version, “ The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,” is wholly inadmissable; because, 1st. In every other place where n'ws7 signifies the beginning or commencement, the particle a is prefixed, namely, Gen. i. 1; Jer. xxvi. 1, xxvii. 1, xxviii. 1, xlix. 34; and had such been its meaning here, it would scarcely have been omitted. 2d. The English translation is opposed by the LXX, Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion ; though it must be acknowledged, that the Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Targum have “in the beginning;” hut n'waga in Gen. i. 1, was anciently understood to mean the divine Logos; (Suiceri Thesaur. apxn; Ainsworth on Gen. i. 1;) and accordingly the Jerusalem Targum renders it aina “by Wisdom,” meaning the Logos, or Christ, for in ver. 27 it is said, that the Logos, or Word of Jehovah, created man after his image, thereby identifying “Wisdom,” Chukma, with the Logos, Memra da Jehovah. It is, therefore, not altogether improbable, that the authors of the Latin, Syriac, and Chaldee translations understood it as referring to Christ, viz. Jehovah had Wisdom in the beginning of his work of creation, as the efficient cause. Without building much upon this, we have, at least, all the Greek versions in the opposite scale, and if the authority of the ancient translators cannot be pleaded in favour of the rendering above given, it is, undoubtedly, not against it. 3d. It is contrary to all the rules of just interpretation to consider any phrase as elliptical, when it yields a good and apposite meaning without supplying other words"; whereas the English translators have unnecessarily supplied the preposition “in,” while the version here given is literal and grammatical.
On the other hand, the reasons alleged in favour of the translation, “ The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,” are of little weight. Among the arguments produced by Gousset (Comment. ws7, L. 2) only one deserves any reply; wherein he remarks, “ dura est locutio n'ws7'3p possedit me primitias, (sine ns quod juxta Zachar. xii. 10, interponi debet post pronomen,) talem enim appositionem nominis nudi cum affixo nominis præcedentis non novimus.” To this it may be answered, 1st. That the passage in Zech. xii. 10, is not a case in point, as any one must be convinced by examining the original. 2d. Nouns are often put in apposition without the particle ns; and as pronouns are the substitutes of nouns substantive, they must, from their very nature, admit of the same syntax; and accordingly we find them put in apposition with nouns without the addition of ns, as ver. 4 and 12 of this chapter; Ps. lv. 14, Heb.; Isa. xliii. 15; Mich. iv. 8, &c. 3d. Instances of apposition similar to this in the verse before us not unfrequently occur; as 2 Sam. i. 26, 'ne gospis 78 “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan;" ibid. xviii. 33, “Would God I had died, 'da 'ya Dibuas yinnn, for thee, Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Kings, ix. 5, 907 70 5 727 “I have an errand to thee, captain.” See also Ps. xxv. 1, xlii. 1, lxii. 13, lxxxvi. 4, ci. 1; Jer. xv. 5; Hos. v. 8; Lam. ii. 13; by consulting which, in the original, it must be evident that a construction like n'est nap is not unexampled in the Hebrew volume. When to this are added the objections above mentioned to the version“ in the beginning,” we have as strong evidence for the translation here adopted as can generally be obtained in philological inquiries.
After all, should the correctness of the authorized version be maintained, I contend that it is alone applicable to the Son, who “ in the beginning was with God, and was God;" (John, i. 1;) who “in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of his bands," (Heb. i. 10.) To say of the attribute wisdom, that God possessed it in the beginning of his work of creation, is trifling; certainly is too futile an observation to fall from any sensible writer; how, then, can it be attributed to the wise monarch of Israel?
- Before his works of old]—That is, before the works of creation; before there were any creatures; consequently, Wisdom must have been with Jehovah from all eternity.—See Waterland's Sermons at Lady Moyer's, Serm. vii.
- of old]—, literally, “ ex tunc.” The observation of Vitringa is excellent : “ a tunc; A quo tempore? A nullo certo. ergo ab omni æternitate cogitabili.”—(Disput. Theol. de Generatione Filii, p. 18.) It is scarcely possible, in the whole compass of the Hebrew language, to select terms more expressive of the eternity of Wisdom than those which Solomon employs from this verse to the thirtieth.
23. I was anointed from everlasting]-Anointing was a ceremony used by the Jews in the inauguration of kings, priests, and prophets; and an unction is ascribed to our Lord in the Scriptures, because he was appointed and ordained to perform all these offices. He was anointed to the prophetical office, “because the Lord hath anointed him to preach good tidings unto the meek,” (Isaiah, lxi. 1.) He was anointed to the sacerdotal office, for he was “ a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedeck,” (Ps. cx. 4.) He was anointed to the regal office, for Jehovah declares, “I have anointed ('noda) my king upon my holy bill of Sion,” (Ps. ï. 6.) Now
the second Psalm is most certainly prophetical of Christ, as may be collected from Acts, iv. 25; Heb. i. 5, v. 5, and from verses 8 and 12 being applicable to no other than the Messiah. In Ps. xlv. 8, a Psalm likewise prophetical of our Lord, (see Heb. i. 9, and Bishop Horsley's admirable Sermons on this Psalm,) it is said, that God hath anointed him “ with the oil of gladness," not with the common anointing oil, but with the unction of the Spirit: and St. Peter teaches us that “ God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power,” (Acts, x. 38; see also iv. 27.) Hence Jesus was anointed to be Prophet, Priest, and King, by the effusion of the Holy Spirit; for which reason he is called Christ, or Messiah, appellations which signify anointed; and are applied to him by reason of his being anointed to the offices which he actually did and still does perform for the eternal welfare of the human race. It is obvious, then, that this part of Solomon's description is, in a very eminent manner, applicable to our Saviour, since the same expression, in other places, denotes his being set apart, and ordained to the offices he sustains. The grand scheme of redemption in Christ was laid before the world began; (Ephes. i. 4; Col. i. 26; Tit. i. 2; 1 Pet. i. 20;) and when the divine Word is declared to be “ anointed from everlasting,” the meaning is, that he was preordained, in the immutable decrees of God, to take our nature upon him, and to become a Prophet to instruct us, a Priest to atone for us, and a King to govern and protect us, in order to effectuate the salvation of mankind. For a full discussion of this triple office of our blessed Lord, I refer to Pearson on the Creed, Art. 2, p. 150 et seq.; Kidder's Demonst. of the Messias, part i. p. 11; Scott's Christian Life, part ii. § 2 et seq.; Suicer, Thesaur. tom. ii. p. 1550.
I am of opinion, however, that it has, moreover, a further reference, even to the Son's origination from the Father. As this anointing is said to have been “from everlasting,” it may,