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one more; ch. viii. 17. Where an angel says to Daniel himself: " Where an angel says to Daniel himself: "Understand, O son of man. For at the time of the end shall be the vision."
Though therefore in the other place of Daniel those words, "there came one like the Son of man," intend Jesus, the Messiah; it does not follow, that it is equivalent to Messiah, and is used by our Lord in that sense.
Another difficulty there is, which must be reckoned of some moment. Our Lord very often speaks of himself in the character of the Son of man. But yet he declined to own himself publicly, and ordinarily, to be the Messiah. There is a text in Matt. xvi. 13-16, which is observable." When Jesus came into the coast of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say, that I the Son of man am?" After they had mentioned the opinions of others concerning him, he asks their own. Whereupon "Peter answered: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." It seems therefore, that the Son of man, and the Christ, are not equivalent, and that the phrase is not so used by our Lord.
Moreover, if it had, it is likely, that the disciples and others would have often spoken of our Lord in that character, and would sometimes have made their profession of him in such words, saying, that they believed him to be the Son of man: whereas there is not one such instance in the gopels, and but one in the Acts of the apostles; ch. vii. 56, where St. Stephen says: "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." This phrase is also found in Rev. i. 13, and ch. xiv. 14.
It should be here observed by us, that man, and Son of man, with the Hebrews, often denote a man of low condition. "Hear this, all ye people,-both low and high, rich and poor toge ther," Ps. xlix. 1, 2. The original Hebrew word rendered by us low is sons of Adam: evidently meaning men of obscure birth and low rank, or mean condition. "Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him? or the son of man, that thou takest account of him?" Ps. cxliv. 3. Where the Psalmist intends to represent the human meanness and wretchedness.
Farther, it is observed by learned commentators, that this denomination is given to some prophets, with this view, and in this sense, particularly to Daniel and Ezekiel. However, I think, it is but once applied to Daniel, and in the place before mentioned. But to Ezekiel very. frequently. "And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious house,” Ezek. ii. 3. And in like manner, very often in that book, almost in every chapter of it, and in some chapters several times. And it is said by those commentators, that this expression is there used with a design to admonish those prophets of their meanness and frailty, as men. Our Lord therefore by this phrase or character represents that humbling of himself, which is spoken of by the apostle in the second chapter to the Philippians, and is the same with what is said in Is. liii. 3, he is despised, and rejected of men,' or is one of the lowest and meanest of men.
Our Lord adopts this character in speaking of himself, in order to undeceive the Jews, and correct their false opinion concerning the kingdom of the Messiah, and to intimate, that he was not to arrive at glory, and the full possession of his kingdom, but through sufferings and humiliations.
Thus argue those interpreters, and, as seems to me, very cogently. And therefore, if Son of man be equivalent to Messiah, it is not used to denote his dignity, as the first and greatest of men, but rather to signify his humble form and low condition, in which he then lived: and is expressive of the scorn and contempt which was cast upon him, and in which he acquiesced.
Moreover, possibly, our Lord frequently makes use of this expression, to denote his real humanity, and also that he was not made and created as Adam, but was a man born even of a woman.
Once more, it seems to me, that our Lord takes this character as a modest way of speaking. Eminent and distinguished persons, who have many occasions to speak of themselves, especially if it be to their advantage, decline the too frequent use of the phrases I and me, and choose to speak in the third person, as of another, distinct from themselves.
Having mentioned all these several observations concerning this title and character, let us now take notice of some of the places of the evangelists where it is used.
Matt. xx. 17, 18. "And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and scribes, and they shall deliver him unto the Gentiles." Here, and in
other places our Lord may be supposed to make use of this expression, as a modest way of speaking. So also in John i. 51. "Thou shalt see greater things than these.Hereafter shall ye see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." Which must be reckoned more agreeable to decorum, than to say upon me. John xii. 23. And "Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come that the Son of man shall be glorified." Which likewise must be allowed by all to be more agreeable than to say: "When I am to be glorified."
And in the text. "The days are coming, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man." Our Lord might have said, "one of my days." We actually have that expression in John viii. 5, 6. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. And he saw it, and was glad." But he might choose, generally, to speak in the other way, especially as the title, Son of man, carried in it no ambitious aspiring meaning, but rather denoted a mean condition, as was before shewn.
Therefore let us observe a few more passages of the evangelists, where this character occurs. It seems to be used in the same manner in the text above cited. "Whom do men say, that I the Son of man," who appear in so mean a form, "am?" So likewise John v. 27. "And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man :" that is, as seems to me, because of his present willing humiliation and abasement. So St. Paul, Philip. ii. 8, 9, having spoken of our Lord's "humbling himself unto death," adds: "wherefore God also has exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.'
Matt. xxvi. 63, 64. "The high priest answered, and said unto him: I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us, whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said unto him: Thou hast said. Nevertheless I say unto you: Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man," that is, him, who now is in so low a condition, so humbled and abased," sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
And when St. Stephen says, Acts vii. 56, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God:" it is likely that he refers to our Lord's mean condition in this world, and the base treatment which he had received from the Jewish people. But though once he had been so low, he was now exalted.
And some judicious expositors think, that the title is to be understood as used with this view in that noted place of Daniel: "I beheld and one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven." He had a humble appearance, but he was greatly honoured and exalted. "He came on the clouds of heaven," and an extensive and everlasting dominion was given to him.
This title, then, being expressive of humility and abasement, is very fitly adopted by our Lord, in representing the glory conferred on him by the Father, of which he was obliged to speak, and to inform his disciples about it. Matt. xiii. 41. "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend." Matt. xvi. 28. Verily I say unto you: There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." Matt. xxv. 31. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory."
These are the observations which have been mentioned for illustrating this title and character, so often made use of by our Lord when speaking of himself.
It sometimes denotes in scripture man in general, or any man. It is also used for a man of low condition. And for that reason, probably, is frequently used by our Lord in speaking of himself, as expressive of the low estate, in which he, the Messiah then was, and in which he willingly acquiesced. It was a modest way of speaking, and was suited to admonish the Jewish people, and correct their mistaken apprehensions concerning the worldly nature of his kingdom : and to intimate, that, as Messiah, he must suffer before he was advanced to glory. Moreover, such being his condition in this world, his followers also should expect the like, and be willing to submit to afflictions and trials here, that they may be thereby farther prepared and qualified for heavenly glory and happiness.
II. The second thing to be considered by us is, who are the persons to whom our Lord here speaks.
"And he said unto the disciples." Possibly, we need not thereby understand the twelve apostles. The word is sometimes used concerning the followers of Jesus in general, and of some who were not sincere, or well instructed, who attended on him for a while only, and with worldly
views. So John vi. 66. "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."
If our Lord speaks to his disciples, others also are instructed in what he says, and designed to be so. I find this text paraphrased by a judicious expositor after this manner. "And he *said unto his disciples, "or followers:" "the day will come, when ye," of this nation," shall ⚫ desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it."
III. Which brings us to the last inquiry: how we are to understand this warning and prediction. "The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it."
If this relate chiefly to the Jewish nation and people, or a large part of them, who now were, and still continued unbelieving: our Lord may be supposed, affectionately, and earnestly, to warn them of the sad circumstances which they were falling into. As if he had said: ⚫ time would be, when all the gracious means, afforded them by the Divine Being, having proved 'to be in vain, their ruin would be near, and their condition very calamitous. They would ' eagerly look for deliverance, and pretended leaders would offer themselves to their assistance in order to draw followers after them. But they would not be able to perform any thing to ⚫ their advantage. The blessings offered by me in this mean form are despised. I set before you heavenly blessings, things of the greatest value. And I am able to perform what I promise. But they are not relished. The time will come, when with the utmost impatience you will wish for the appearance of the Messiah, to work out the temporal salvation which you desire. But the days will then be more calamitous and afflictive than those of the present season, under which you are now so uneasy. And they who will then offer themselves to you in that charac⚫ter, as they will not bring with them a doctrine like mine, so will they absolutely fail in every attempt for your advancement, and your earnest expectations of deliverance will be utterly disappointed.'
And I cannot see, but that this may be reckoned the more direct design of our Lord, that is, to set before his disciples, in the hearing of others, the sad and deplorable circumstances of the Jewish people, if they did not improve the means afforded them by himself, and his apostles after him.
But if it be supposed, that our Lord here speaks to his own disciples chiefly, and to such others as sincerely believed in him: I apprehend, he must have had a respect to some prejudices, which still had too great an influence upon them. And what he says is to this purpose.
• That whereas they looked for great things in this world, and, with too many others, waited for a
temporal salvation for the Jewish people, together with spiritual privileges, they would be disap
pointed. The time would come, when they would esteem these happy days. Such would
⚫ soon be the calamitous state of things in the land of Judea, that they would be glad to see a time
⚫ of so much ease and quiet as the present. You will wish to see again one of these days of mine.
But you will not. No! Your profession of my name, if your are faithful to me, will cost you
' dear. At that time At that time you will mourn. The circumstances of things will call you to weeping and
fasting, and every instance of self-denial. Improve then the present time: content yourselves with it: be thankful for it, and rejoice therein. For a better state of things is not to be expected in this land, and among those who dwell in it.'
IV. Having now in some measure explained this text, I would add a thought or two by way of reflection.
1. We perceive that every method was taken for saving the Jewish people, that could be used in the way of moral persuasion.
For our Lord, and his forerunner, and his apostles after him, preached among them the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven. They confined their preaching to them entirely, or chiefly, for a good while and many miraculous works were done among them. They were called to repentance, and the joys and glories of a future life were set before them. Beside this, they were again and again informed of the judgments hanging over their heads: and with earnest concern and affectionate tenderness they were warned to take heed to themselves. They were assured, for their good, that this was the day of their visitation: if this opportunity should be let slip if they did not now attend to the things of their peace, it would be afterwards too late. And moreover all expectations of another Messiah, and of temporal salvation by him, would
• Whitby upon the place. See also Doddridge's Family Expositor, vol. ii. p. 188.
prove vain and delusive, and the disappointment would be most grievous and vexatious. The only way of saving themselves was to hearken to those who now, in the name of God, and with evident tokens of divine authority, invited them to repentance, with the great and sure promises of forgiveness and eternal life.
2. We also may hence learn our own duty, and consider this warning as delivered to us. If what is here said did more especially relate to others, yet the disciples were not altogether unconcerned therein, and our Lord thought best to say it to them. "And he said to the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it." If we are not in any immediate danger of losing our temporal, or our spiritual privileges; yet, certainly, the best way to secure them is to value and improve them: to be thankful for them, and rejoice in them; and not to be uneasy and discontented for want of some greater things. The time may come when we shall wish, in vain wish, for such days as these: for a liberty of thought and inquiry, profession and practice: for freedom to unite together in the worship of God, though a few only, and those of low condition and mean appearance: to hear the Old and New Testament read and explained, and the truths of religion recommended and enforced by rational arguments, though without the ornaments of eloquence, in a plain manner and to be exhorted to virtue by the consideration of its real excellence, the Divine command, and the consequences of it in a future state, though no worldly honours and preferments are now annexed to it.
Is there nothing agreeable, nothing satisfying in such entertainments as these? If such an advantage be despised and neglected, for want of worldly splendour and greatness, may there not be danger of an alteration for the worse? And if it should happen, a recovery of lost privileges may be very difficult. When once our portion is come to be unintelligible mystery, with numerous and showy, but empty rites and ceremonies, imposed by mighty and awful authority: we may desire to see one of these despised, unimproved days of reason and liberty, scriptural worship, and pure ordinances, but not be able to see it.
JESUS THE SON OF GOD.
Go to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God. John xx. 17.
In discoursing on these words I shall first endeavour to show, in what respects God is peculiarly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And secondly, the design of this message of Christ to his disciples, and in what sense God is also their and our God and Father.
1. That God is in an especial and peculiar manner "the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," may be inferred from the frequent use of that title and character in the epistles of the apostles. In this text our Lord's style is remarkable. He does not say: "Go to my brethren, and say: I ascend to my Father and God:" but "I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God." In the gospels our Lord is often styled "the only begotten Son of God," and "the well-beloved Son of God." And the apostle to the Hebrews begins that epistle thus: "God who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Though therefore others also are called "sons of God," the Lord Jesus is "the Son of God" in a sense peculiar to himself, transcendent and superior to all others.
Father and son are relative. If I show in what respects and on what accounts Jesus is the Son of God, it is at the same time shown, in what sense God is his Father. And I shall now mention these several respects, which, I think, are plainly expressed in scripture.
Rom. xv. 6; 2 Cor. i. 3; xi. 31; Eph..i. 3. 17; iii. 14; Col. i. 3; 1 Pet. i. 3.
1. Jesus is the son of God upon account of his miraculous conception and birth.
Luke i. 31–35. An angel appeared to Mary, and said to her: "Fear not. For, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." When Mary asked, "how that could be: the angel answered, and said unto her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore that holy thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." Here our Lord is expressly said to be the Son of God on account of his miraculous conception and birth. A like history of our Saviour's nativity may be seen in the first chapter of St Matthew's gospel. St. Luke, who carries up our Lord's genealogy to the first man, concludes it saying: "Who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God." Adam, as seems to me, is here said to be the Son of God, as he was immediately formed by God out of the earth. So Jesus was formed of the substance of the virgin Mary by the power of God, or the special operation of the Holy Ghost.
2. Jesus is the Son of God, or the well-beloved Son of God, upon account of the most plentiful measure of the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred and bestowed upon him.
St. John having spoken of the "word" as "with God," and "God," and that "all things were made by him," says, ver. 14, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." It was not the word, which John and others beheld, but Jesus, in whom the word dwelled. Him they beheld, and his greatness, or glory was conspicuous: so that he appeared, and they knew him to be, "the only begotten of the Father," or the Messiah.
In other places of St. John's gospel this is expressed in other words. Ch. iii. 34. John the Baptist bears this testimony to Jesus: "He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God. For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."
John x. 36. Our Lord himself argues with the cavilling Jews: "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" That is as a learned expositor paraphrases that verse: 'Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified (by the Holy Ghost essentially dwelling in, or without measure imparted to him. John iii. 34.) and sent into the world, thou blasphemest because I (after this unction, ⚫ and commission to make known his will to you) said, I am the Son of God ?" Or, as another Expositor: "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified," that is, consecrated, designed, separated from the rest of men by a supernatural birth, and by a communication of the Spirit without measure, and by a special commission and authority to declare his will, "that he blasphemeth," because he has thus spoken?'
John xiv. 10. "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself. But the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works." Which in other gospels is expressed by doing miracles by the finger, or spirit, or power of God. Luke xi. 20. "If I by the finger of God cast out dæmons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you." Matt. xii. 28. "But if I cast out dæmons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." Which should be compared with John x. 38. "If ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him."
Matt. i. 22, 23, in the history of our Lord's nativity. "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us."
Col. ii. 9. St Paul: "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:" that is, really. In the temple of Jerusalem there was a glory, which was a symbol of the divine presence. But in Jesus Christ God dwelled really. Or, as St. John's expression is: "The word was made flesh, and dwelled amongst us."
By virtue of this indwelling of the Father, or this most plentiful and extraordinary communication of the Spirit, without measure, Jesus knew the whole will of God concerning the salvation
b Sanctifie.] C'est à dire, consacré, destiné, separé, du commun des hommes par une naissance surnaturelle, par une com
munication d'esprit sans mesure, et par un pouvoir tout divin