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Let us now examine our Saviour's title to the appellation of everlasting Father. It is evident at once that there is an inconsistency in ascribing the attribute of everlasting Father to the Son of God; but, if we render these words with thc Alexandrian MS. of the Sept. the Vulg. and Ar. by the Father of the age to come, or, with the Geneva version, the Father of eternity, we can be at no loss how to adapt this discriminating mark of the Messiah to the Christian Saviour. For, can his right be disputed to the name of Father of eternity, when we are expressly told in holy writ that he is the author of eternal salvation ?* Can there be the least shadow of doubt of his being the person foretold by the prophet, when he has so positively declared himself, that, “ whosoever believeth in him bath everlasting life?" But, again, the Jews distinguished the Mosaical dispensation by the present age, and the Advent of the Messiah by the age to come, and this distinction was probably founded on this and similar
passages of Scripture; nay, St Paul, in conformity to this opinion, describes the Gospel-state by these remarkable words, Ephes. ii. 7, " that in the ages, or age, to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his
grace, in his kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus." There is likewise another passage in the Hebrews, c. vi. 5, which, rightly translated, plainly alludes to this title of Christ, the Father of the age to
The words at present run thus : “ It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come ;" which last words (readoutos áowvos) the Geneva version, and many learned commentators, render, the powers of the age to come. For, as the apostle was very evidently addressing himself to those who had lately embraced Christianity and were yet living, these words, considered as referring to a future state,
eagle in the air, &c. which leaves no trace behind.” Vol. 3, p. 144. Now, though the following part of the context does not countenance this interpretation, yet it shews the sentiments of these learned men, whose authority in Biblical criticism has great weight.
* “ Dicitur Christus Pater æternitatis, quia est autor vitæ æternæ. - Pater, more Hebræo, dici. tur autor cujuscunque rei. Vide Joh. viii. 44.” Vatablus, &c.
could not have been applied to them with any great propriety.* Sufficient, then, may have been said to justify the appropriation of this characteristic of the Messiah to the author and finisher of our faith.
And now let us, in the last place, consider how the deportment of the humble Jesus is suitable to the dignity of the Prince of Peuce, under which most amiable and adorable character Christ is frequently foretold. Immediately after the fall of Adam, through the diabolical persuasion of the Serpent, the kingdom of the Prince of Darkness commenced, and introduced disorder, confusion, and every evil work. Presently we see the hands of one brother imbrued in the blood of another; and, in a very short time, we hear of nothing but wars and rumours of wars, nation rising up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. As, therefore, it was foretold, in consequence of the sin of our first parents, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and thereby destroy these and all the other works of the Devil, this eminent personage was particularly stiled by the prophet the Prince of Peace, in opposition to the prince of this world, whom he completely subdued by bis victory on the cross.
The blessed effects of his appearance in the world are most strikingly illustrated in this beautiful allusion of the prophet: “ The wolf 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 Icad tliein ;f” and, again, in a preceding chapter, “ He shall judge among the people and shall rebuke many nations, and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares and their spears into pruning-hooks; na
* There is a similar passage, c. ii. 5, which must be taken in the same sense, “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come.” “ Intelligit h. I. regnum Messiæ, inchoatum in primo ejus adventu, complendum in statu glorioso. Suadet hunc sensum antithesis, quæ in tota hac dissertatione est, inter statuni ecclesiæ Judaicum, et evangelicum, qui et cæli nomine semper hic designatur.” Lightfoot, &c.
+ “ Describit hic miros effectus regiminis Christi in animis subditorum suorum, quippe qui novæ quodammodo fient creaturæ. Promittit hîc beatam mundi reparationem. Ordinem describit qualis fuit ante lapsum hominis, qui per Christum instauratur, abolitâ maledictione,” &c. Calvin, &c.
tion shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war
And, in the 720 psalm, David, speaking of Solomon in a typical sense and of Christ in the true and proper sense, expresses himself thus : “ In his days shall the rightcous flourish, and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.”*
But, it may be asked, how does this comport with the positive declaration of Jesus himself, “ I came not to send peace upon earth, but a sword ?" The answer to which is this, that these words are to be understood as declaring not the intentional effect of his coming, but the accidental only. Which is incontrovertibly clear from the purport of that angelical hymn, which was sung at his birth, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.”
And the last bequest he made to his disciples was, “ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you; let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And, would the subjects and followers of this King of Salem, which is King of Peace, carefully follow his precepts and punctually obey his laws, they would reap the fruits of righteousness, which is love, joy, and peace. Nay, so far is the practice of genuine Christianity from having the least tendency to disturb the tranquillity and good order of society, as has been artfully and maliciously insinuated by a modern and much esteemed historian, that nothing is so essential to the public weal; and it is much to be lamented that the fine parts of this and many other writers, Bolingbroke, Shaftsbury, &c. should be prostituted to the vile purpose of depreciating the religion of Jesus, when it may be asserted, with the strictest justice, that the real sincere Christian will always be the best and truest subject. “ An admirable thing indeed!” says
• " Psalmus hic est Davidis votum, quo Salomoni imperium, justum, felix, &c. precatur. Mystice tamen exponi potest et debet de Christi regno, cujus regni quædam imago illud erat. Christus enim est verus Salomon, h. e. pacificus.” Muis, Lowth, &c. And, for the double interpretation of prophecies amongst many other authors, see Spanhemius, on Matt. ii. 5, in Poole. and Bishop Lowth.
“ Hæc dissidia excitat Fvangelium, non ex sua natura, sed aliorum vitio." Brugensis, &c. See Gibbon's History, vol. 5, p. 482, 526, 570, &c. C
that the Christian religion, which seems to have the felicity of another life for its object, should also be instrumental to the happiness of this.” For it is evident, from the preceding title, that the kingdom of Christ, as the blessed Jesus asserts of his, was not to be of a temporal but a spiritual nature, and the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. And, by a mode of conquest peculiar to him. self, having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, and triumphed over Sin and Satan on the cross,* so making peace between heaven and earth; and, by thus slaying the enmity that subsisted, he hath reconciled the world unto God. How justly then did the multitude recognise this Prince of Peace in that sublime strain, * Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”
Thus we see how exactly this portraiture of the prophet corresponds with the person of Jesus, the son or Joseph. And nothing less than obstinacy and perverseness can prevent the conviction of the unbeliever, Let then the infidel deride a crucified Saviour, and the Jew boast of bis pretended Messiah, but sve will triumph in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, a man mighty in words and in deeds; or, in the language of the prophet, wonderful and counsellar. Let the Scribes and Pharisees wait with a fruitless expectation for the son of David, but let us, with the wise men, adore the blessed Babe lying in the manger, whose name is Immanuel, or, as the prophet stiles him, the mighty God, or God-man. Let the worldly-minded Jew and the sensual Mahometan pride themselves in their earthly glory and brutal paradise, but let the followers of the holy Jesus shew that they have here no continuing city, but expect one to come, whose builder and maker is God, being heirs of eternal salvation through him, who is emphatically stiled the
* “ Satanam cum angelis suis, et omnibus quæ illis militabant contra humanam salutem, veterę Adamo, mundo, et peecatis nostris; quomodo, imperatore devicto, exercitus illius simul'fugatus intelligitur. ev auta, in eâ scilicet cruce, quæ fuit instar triumphalis currus, aut circumvecti trophæi. Vicit dæmonias non pugnando, sed patiendo, quod vere divinum victoriæ genus." Dayenantius, &c.
Father of Eternity. Let us distinguish ourselves as the disciples and subjects of the Prince of Peace, whose express
Peace, whose express charge it was, "Fhive salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."* And let it be our study and endeavour to increase and enlarge the kingdom of Christ, by promoting, to the utmost of our power, peace on earth, good will towards men. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, says the prophet, in the words following my text; and this prediction would be literally accomplished, were that precept of our Saviour put in full practice; " I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them which curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” Follow, therefore, as the disciples of the blessed Jesus, the things which make for peace; and
the God of Peace sanctify you wholly, that, at Christ's second coming, you may be translated into his kingdom of glory, and dwell with him. in everlasting peace.
* “Pacis symbolum sal, ac vitæ ; et inter præcipuas salis facultates est, quod unit, densat, et quasi coagulat. Unde et in fæderibus, tanquam unionis Tessera, Hebræis usitatum. Vide Num. xvii. 19. Heinsius, &c.