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tin Martyr and by others of the early fathers it is repeatedly maintained : nor was it unknown both to the ancient Targumists and to various other members of the congregation of Israel; for their doctrine was, that the Angel of Jehovah was the same person as the Word of God, and that the Word of God was the promised Messiah or Redeemer.' It may not however be useless to consider some of these extraordinary appearances, in special reference to the connection which subsists between the three dispensations; for, when that is done, we may urge with additional force that permanent manifestation of Christ in the flesh, which so eminently characterised the third and last. Per
See Justin. Mart. Dial. cum Tryph. p. 279. Apol. ii. p. 75. Chron. Pasch. p. 52. With respect to the sentiments of the Jews, Philo remarks on the passage, where the Angel of Jehovah is said to have found Hagar, that the person
appeared to her was the Word : and the Targums both of Jonathan and of Jerusalem assert, precisely in the same manner, that it was the Word who addressed her. The Angel therefore they plainly identified with the Word. In a similar manner, where Jacob exclaims (Gen. xlix. 18.) I have waited for thy salvation, the Targum of Jerusalem asserts, that he alluded to the redemption, which God through his Word promised to his people: while the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases the exclamation; I expect the redemption of the Messiah the Son of David, who shall come to gather to himself the children of Israel. Now it is evident, that the very person, whom the one Targum styles the Word, the other Targum styles the Messiah. The Word therefore and the Messiah, in the judgment of the ancient Hebrew doctors, are the same. But they further identify the Word with the Angel of Jebovah. Therefore they also identify the Angel of Jehovah with the Messiah. See Jamieson's Vindic. book i. c. 5.
haps also, in some respects, a new light may be thrown upon this curious and interesting subject.
I. The Patriarchal dispensation, as being the first in order of time, demands our first attention.
There is a most important assertion made by St. John, which we shall do well to bear in mind throughout the whole of the present discussion.
No man hath seen God at any time : the onlybegotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.'
Here we are taught, that no man has ever seen God the Father; but that the agent, by whom he has always been revealed to mankind, is the onlybegotten Son. Now, in various passages of the Old Testament, a being is declared to have manifested himself, not visibly alone, but even tangibly: and the substantial form, which he is said to have assumed, is represented as being the human. This being is styled the Angel of Jehovah : but, that he is no mere created angel, as we are wont familiarly to use the word, is abundantly plain from the remarkable circumstance, that he is positively and unequivocally pronounced to be the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. God the Father however, as we are assured by St. John, was never visibly manifested to any person. But the God of the Hebrew Patriarchs was often manifested, as the Angel of Jehovah, both visibly and tangibly. Therefore the family God of the
I John i. 18.
Comp. Gen. xxxii. 24–31. xlviii. 15, 16. Hos. Jis 2-5.
Hebrew patriarchs must be a person distinct from the always-invisible Paternal Deity. But St. John further asserts, that the always-invisible Paternal Deity was constantly declared to man through the intermediate agency of the only-begotten Son. Therefore the person, who appeared in a tangible human formi under the two first dispensations, who is styled the Angel of Jehovah, who is pronounced to be the God of the Hebrew patriarchs, and who constantly at his several descents received divine worship without declining it as an idolatrous impiety : this person, as the very circumstance of his visibility demonstrates that he cannot be he whom St. John denominates God the Father, must inevitably be that only-begotten Son, whose peculiar office it is to declare the unseen Father.
With this conclusion the sentiments of the ancient Hebrew doctors exactly accord. In their judgment, as we have just seen; the Angel of Jehovah is the same as the Word of God; and the Word of God is the same as the Messiah. But the Angel of Jehovah is expressly determined in Holy Writ to be the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob: and the God of those patriárchs is repeatedly pronounced to be Jehovah himself. Therefore the promised Messiah is at once Jehovah and the God of the Hebrew patriarchs.
But the Angel-God Messiah, as the very term Angel or Messenger necessarily imports, cannot but have been sent by some other person ; to whom he sustains the office of a visible organ of communication with mankind. This must have
been perceived and felt by the ancient Targumists; and it must equally be perceived and felt by the modern Jews in regard to the abstract character of the Messiah, though in the concrete they deny that character to Jesus of Nazareth.
Who then is the person, that could be the sender of that Jehovah whom Jacob reverently acknowledged to be the God of his fathers ? To deem him a creature, were alike impious and absurd : the sender of so august a messenger can only be very God. I see not how the Jews can avoid so plain a conclusion from their own premises ; which premises themselves are incontrovertible, because they rest upon the inspired testimony of their father Jacob. But of this conclusion St. John authoritatively gives us the very explanation, which common sense itself antecedently required. The invisible sender is God the Father : the visible messenger is the only-begotten Şon, whose office it is to declare the Paternal Deity to mankind. Hence we find, that the only-begotten Son is Jehovah the covenanted God of the Patriarchal and Levitical Churches : and, accordingly, St. John determines, adopting the very phraseology of the Hebrew Targumists so familiar to the Jews, that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'
Here then, by the consent both of the Targumists and of the Christian Church, we have an invisible Jehovah who sends and a visible Jehovah who is sent.
The latter, as we find from the his
! Johni i. 1.
torical narration, becomes visible by the assumption of a true and palpable human body: and, in regard to this his peculiar office, he is indifferently styled, the Word of God and the Angel or Messenger of Jehovah.
Yet no truth shines out more clearly throughout the whole Bible, than the strict unity of the God-, head. These two divine persons therefore, the sender and the sent, must, after some ineffable and inscrutable manner, be one Deity in respect to their essence, though distinct from each other in respect to their personality. As to the mode of such existence, and as to the union of the sender and the sent with yet a third divine hypostasis called the Spirit of Jehovah, we can pronounce nothing: sufficient it is for us to know, that three persons are clearly revealed in Scripture, each invested with the incommunicable attributes of Deity, and each receiving thạt worship which belongs only to God; while yet we are assured, in the strongest and most unequivocal terms, that there is but one Jehovah.
The use, which I propose to make of the preceding result, is sufficiently obvious. Whenever a being visibly manifests himself in a human form under the Patriarchal and Levitical dispensations, is pronounced to be God, and as such receives divine worship; that being, as he cannot be the always-invisible Father, must be the frequently and once permanently visible Son. This mysterious personage is the promised Seed of the woman : and, as he is the scope and object of all the three