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Ess. x.] before John, in the Days of Job, 219 witness of him, and cried, saying, This is he of whom I spake. He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for he was before me : "4 John i, 15, and again, ver. 30.
Job lived in days of very remote antiquity, yet he confessed Christ to be the Living One ; for it is of Christ alone that we can with any reason explain his declaration respecting that Redeemer, whose coming into the world, at the day of resurrection, he so plainly foresaw. “O that my words were now written!" said the afflicted patriarch, "O that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead, in the rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth, (or is the Living One)and that 220 Before Abraham, in the Beginning, (Ess. x. he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth :6 and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my
4 John 1, 15. 'ο οπίσω μου ερχόμενος, έμρποσθέν μου γέγονεν, ότι πρώτός μου ήν. Since the adjective agãtos is here followed by a genitive case, it is construed, in our common English version, and by the generality of commentators, as having the force of Tgóregos. The phrase in which it here occurs, may, however, denote that Jesus Christ was not merely before John, but FIRST before him ; comp. i, 1, Rev. ii, 8. It has been remarked, that the adjective agātos may express either priority in point of time, or superiority in point of dignity. That it has here the former signification, we may safely conclude, for two reasons; first, because the apostle John, who makes very frequent use of this adjective, as denoting priority in point of time, never employs it to express superiority in point of dignity, vide i, 42; v, 4; viii, 7; 1 John iv, 19; Rev. ii, 4, &c. ; secondly, because it is here construed with wv, " was,” a verb which cannot, with any degree of propriety, be rendered as denoting the present tense.
So the two Syr. and Arab, versions, Theophylact, Rosenmüller, 8c. fc.
Here it may be remarked that the preceding clause of the sentence fue a good év you yeyovey is hardly capable of the received version, " is preferred before me;" for ffertegooJev, which properly signifies coram, e conspectu, is very usually employed to denote a precedent date, but can scarcely be understood as implying mere supereminence. I apprehend that the former clause simply declares the existence of Jesus before John; and that the latter confirms this doctrine, by the further declaration, that he was first before him. So Whitby's Paraphrase: “This is he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is before me; and this I said because he indeed was before me, as being in the beginning with God.”
flesh shall I see God:” xix, 23—26. Abraham was born about two thousand
before the incarnation of Christ. Nevertheless Christ was in being before Abraham. “Your father Abraham,” said he to the Jews,“ rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM:"? John viji, 56-58.
The Bible opens with the statement, that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;" and this also was a time at which Christ existed, and existed with the Father. Such is the doctrine of the apostle John, who denominates Christ the Word, and who, in the exordium of his Gospel, (a passage marked by the most obvious allusions to the Mosaic account of the creation) emphatically declares, that "in the beginning was the Word,” and that “the Word was with God." John i, 1.
Shall stand in the latter day upon ° ואחרון על עפר יקום
the earth.” These words may rather be rendered, “ And he, the last, shall stand or rise up over the dust.” So Schultens, “Eumque novissimum super pulverem staturum.” According to either of these versions, the prophet's words appear to be applicable only to the Son of God, who, in the day of final retribution, will again make his appearance in the world, and will also stand over the dust, to raise the dead to life: vide John xiv, 3; Acts i, 11; John v, 29; Phil. iii, 20, 21.
1 John vii, 58. Πρίν 'Αβραάμ γενέσθαι, Εγώ είμι. Τhat these expressions are rightly understood, as proving the doctrine of the existence of Christ before Abraham, is evident, not only from the literal meaning ‘of the words, which is indeed exceedingly plain, but from the immediate context. The remark and inquiry of the Jews related to the period during which Jesus had existed. “ Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham ?" The answer of Jesus therefore must be interpreted as relating to the same subject : “Before Abraham was, I am."
Ess. x.] Before the World was,
221 That, during the ages which were antecedent to the creation of the world, Christ was with the Father, the partner of his glory, and the object of his love, we learn from the expressions used by our Lord in prayer, shortly before his crucifixion. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was :” and again, “For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world :" John xvii, 5, 24.
When we reflect on these passages in the prayer of Jesus, and on the declaration previously cited from the exordium of the Gospel of John, and when we call to mind that Christ, that eternal lover of our unworthy race, is declared by an apostle to be himself" the Wisdom of God," I Cor. i, 24, we can scarcely avoid deducing the inference, that it is our Saviour who, in the character of Wisdom, is introduced as speaking in the book of Proverbs: “The Lord 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 he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass on the face of the depth ........ when he appointed the foundation 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 parts of his earth ; and my delights were with the sons of men :" viii, 22—31. Nor can it be denied, that the probability of the correctness of this application of the passage is materially strengthened by the memorable words with which it closes : "Whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me, love DEATH:” v, 36 ; comp. John iii, 36; viii, 24; xi, 25, 26; xiv, 6: Col. iii, 4, &c.
Finally, the "goings forth" of Christ have been
[Ess. x. “from of old, from everlasting.” Such is the declaration of the Lord, through his prophet Micah, in a passage which Jews as well as Christians have long been accustomed without hesitation to interpret as relating to the Messiah of Israel. “ But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old from everlasting, (or more literally) from ever, from the days of eternity:"8 Mic. v, 2; comp. Matt. ii, 6; John iii, 42.
Such are some of the principal passages in Scripture on which Christians ground their belief, that their Redeemer preexisted in some higher condition than that which appertains to mortals; and which enable them to trace his preexistence backward, even to the “ days of eternity." What then was the nature in which Christ thus preexisted ? I venture to reply, on what I deem to be the clear authority of the sacred records, not the nature of men-not that of angels not that of any order of creatures, however eminent in the scale of being, but the nature of GOD HIMSELF. The scriptural evidences on which this assertion is grounded are as follows:
I. In the first place, it may be observed, that the doctrine of the Godhead or deity of Christ is a necessary deduction from that of his eternal preexistence: for while the being of every creature of God has necessarily commenced at some particular point of time, God alone has existed from eternity. Now, this latter doctrine I conceive to be true: first, be
. ( and DSw) frequently denote a real eternity : vide Deut. xxxiii
, 27; Ps. lv, 20; Hab. i, 12; Ps. xc, 2; xciii, 2; ciii, 17; &c. And, in this passage, the addition of the one term to the other, goes far to strengthen the notion of eternity, as in the very common expression Tun olmur.
קדם) Both the words here employed מקדם מימי עולם
Ess. x.] He is the Alpha and Omega,
223 cause the Scriptures, while they make clear mention of the preexistence of Christ before the creation of all things, John i, 1; xvii, 5, afford no hint whatever of the commencement of that preexistence at any definite time : secondly, because such is obviously the most natural interpretation of the passage now cited from the prophecies of Micah: thirdly, because the Lord Jesus, in the Revelation, expressly says of himself, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last;" i, 11; “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending; the first and the last:" Rev. xxii, 13. Let it be observed, that, in close connexion with these declarations, there are two other passages of the Revelation, in which the Supreme Being (styled in one of them," the Almighty," and in the other, “God,") describes himself in the very same terms: i, 8; xxi, 6, 7. If then, in the passages last alluded to, it is the Son who speaks, the deity of the Son is at once established. If, on the other hand, it is the Father who speaks in them, it is undeniable that these sublime expressions are descriptive of some divine attribute; and, in that case, how can they be reasonably explained otherwise than as signifying the original, independent, eternal, existence of the Great First Cause ? 9 “ Thus saith JEHOVAH, the king of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts, I am the FIRST, and I am the Last; and beside me there is no God :" Isa. xliv, 6; comp. xli, 4 ; xlviii, 12.
II. In the second place, Jesus Christ preexistent was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to
9 See Rosenmüller on Rev. i, 8. “ Ego sum ab æterno in æternum. Omnium primus sum, nec unquam finem sum habiturus , το Α και το Ω. . i.e. Ante me non fuit alius Deus, et post me non erit ullus. Est locutio a Rabbinis desumpta qui dicunt 80 in Tui (ab Aleph usque ad Tau). Johannes eam locutionem aptavit ad alphabeticam Græcam, quia ipse Græcè scribebat."