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299 This point being settled, we may, in the next place, learn from the history of the New Testament, that the other person here pointed out--the Person whom John was to precede-was Jesus Christ: an inference which appears to be fully confirmed, first, by the title Messenger or Angel of the Covenant, a title wholly inapplicable to the Father, yet properly descriptive of the Son: and secondly, by the comparison, with this passage, of Matt. iii, 11, 12; Luke iïi, 16, 17; where we find John describing the cleansing, fiery, baptism of his successor, in terms which substantially and remarkably accord with the words of this prophecy.9
Lastly, while these prophecies plainly mark the distinction between the Father and the Son, they, nevertheless, represent the latter under the character of the Supreme Being; for, in Mal. iii, 1, 2, he is described as the LORD, and is represented, not only as coming to his own temple, but as exercising divine attributes in the spiritual purification and paternal chastisement of his people; and again, in the obviously corresponding passage of the following chapter, iv, 5, he appears to be denominated JEHOVAH.
These passages in the book of Malachi may be regarded as containing an explanatory republication of one of the prophecies of Isaiah, who has described Malachi, must, I presume, be attributed to some various reading in the text, either of the Hebrew original or of the Septuagint version, of which we have now no record.
9" I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner ; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire :'' Matt, iii, 11, 12.
1 The Lord 11787. The substantive 1778 Lord, when preceded by the article 17, as in this passage, uniformly denotes the Supreme Being : comp. Exod. xxxiii, 17; xxxiv, 23 ; Isa. i, 24; iii, 1; x, 16, 33; xix, 4. Vide Taylor's Conc. and Rosenmüller, Schol. in loc.
[Ess. x. John the Baptist as a person “ crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah-make straight in the dessert a highway for our God:"ch. xl, 3. Now it cannot, I think, with any truth be asserted that John was the forerunner of the Father, or that he prepared the Father's way; for the Father was the sender of both John and Jesus, and was equally the author of the Jewish the baptismal, and the Christian, dispensations. But John was the forerunner of Jesus Christ; and when he preached repentance, and declared the near approach of the kingdom of heaven-when he spoke, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”—when he baptized the people with water unto repentance-when he directed their attention to that Saviour who was to baptize them with the Holy Ghost-when he declared his own declension, and the increase of him who was come “from heaven,” and “was above all;"--then did he prepare
way of the SON OF GOD. If, therefore, we are to depend on the declarations of inspired prophecy, we are surely safe in concluding, that the incarnate Word, of whom John was the appointed and designated precursor, was no less a Being than JEHOVAH, the God of Israel.
This plain reasoning will be found to derive substantial confirmation, first, from the evangelical import of the context in Isa. xl: for this prophecy contains an especial reference to the forgiveness of sin, and to the eternal endurance of the truths of the Gospel ; * and it makes mention of Jehovah in his pastoral cha
2 “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniqnity is pardoned :" ver. 1, 2.
3 “ The grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; but the word of our God shall stand for ever :" ver. 8. The apostle Peter quotes this passage, and adds, and this the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you :" 1 Pet. i, 25.
the Highest ;
301 racter, and as actually appearing in the cities of Judah:"4 and, secondly, from the plain testimony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who have severally quoted this prediction as applicable to the Baptist; and for the very purpose of illustrating the fact, that he was the forerunner of Jesus Christ: Matt. ii, 1-17; Mark i, 1-8; Luke iii, 1–22.
On a due consideration of the scriptural evidences now adverted to, I know not on what principle we can refuse to allow that the angel of God declared the deity of the coming Messiah, when he thus spoke to Zacharias respecting his promised son: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the LORD THEIR GOD; and he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias..... to make ready a people prepared for the LORD," Luke i, 16, 17; and also, that the same doctrine flowed from the lips of Zacharias himself, when he thus addressed his new-born infant: “ And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the HIGHEST; for thou shalt go before the face of the LORD, to prepare his ways:" ver. 76.
In connexion with the period when our Lord was dwelling among the Israelites, his divinity appears to be again recognized in one of the prophecies of Zechariah. After describing his interview, in a wonderful vision, with that mysterious angel of Jehovah, who was Jehovah, vide ch. i, 12-20, the prophet, commissioned by his heavenly visitor, breaks forth in the following evangelical strain : “ Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, lo! I come, comp. Ps. xl, 7,
4 “ Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him : behold his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young:" ver. 9-11.
302 Jehovah dwelling among the Jews; [Ess. x. and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith JEHOVAH. And many nations shall be joined to Jehovah in that day, and shall be my people, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that JEHOVAH OF HOSTS hath sent me unto thee. And Jehovah shall inherit Judah, his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, О all flesh, before JEHOVAH; for he is raised up out of his holy habitation:" ii, 10-13. We can scarcely fail to trace in this divine effusion a delineation of the Messiah-that anointed Person, who was to inherit Judah as the governor of the Lord's people, and whose coming in the flesh was the appointed signal for the conversion of many nations to God and his truth. Who, then, was this Messiah? Jehovah raised up out of his holy habitation-Jehovah sent by Jehovah to dwell among his people Israel: comp. John i, 14.5
Before we close the page of prophecy, we may advert to Zech. xii, 10-a passage which appears to declare the deity of Christ in connexion with his sufferings and death. “And I (saith Jehovah) will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” This prophecy is applied to Jesus Christ, by his apostle John, indirectly in Rev. i, 7, and positively in John xix, 34–37. We may therefore receive it as affording an evidence that when the inhabitants of Jerusalem persecuted their Messiah, and when, in yet more literal accomplishment of the prophecy, they peirced his hands, his feet, and his side, they persecuted and pierced him who, although the subject of their cruelty only in his human
s Vide Calvin and Gill, in loc.
And they * והביטי אלי את אשר דקרו .10 ,Zech
303 nature, was nevertheless their divine Lord and Governor-Jehovah himself. Thus it was that they "crucified the LORD OF GLORY:” 1 Cor. ii, 8.
Here I can scarcely refrain from reminding the reader of the words of the apostle Paul, according to the commonly-received reading of 1 Tim. iii, 16– “ Great is the mystery of Godliness ; GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH," &c. Although, in substituting, for the word here rendered God, the pronoun signifying who or he who, Griesbach (whose useful labours have so largely contributed to the settlement of the sacred text) has always appeared to me to have formed an erroneous decision, yet I would not press into the
. , “ shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” For 1 me, in this passage, about fifty MSS, (a very small proportion of those which have been collated, and not of the better sort) read 1 him. This reading has been adopted by some commentators, under the notion of its being supported by the apostle John, who quotes it as follows: ő fovtar sig öv šŽErévonday,
they shall look on whom they have pierced” but, as the apostle has expressed no antecedent to his relative pronoun, he may be considered as merely neutral in the present question. Not so the ancient versions, that is the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate, with the Chaldee Targum, all of which, as well as Theodotian, and probably Aquila and Symmachus, read the pronoun in the first person, Me: vide De Rossi, Var. Lect. Vet. Test. tom. iii, p. 217.
The rapid change in this passage, from the first to the third person, is not inconsistent with the genius of Hebrew poetry. It is, however, well avoided in the excellent version of the passage proposed by the learned Dathe : “ Intuebuntur me quem transfixerunt, atque ea de re lugebunt, quemadmodum de filio unico lugetur: plangent de ea re amarissime, quemadmodum de filio primogenito.'
7 The various readings of this passage, which have been so largely the subject of discussion and controversy, are OC (J£ds) God—0C (85) who -0 (ö) which. () is the reading adopted, with little exception, by the whole Latin church, and this reading is supported by most of the ancient versions. “O, is a reading which recommends itself, chiefly as the most probable foundation of the more common reading 8; but, the direct and ascertained authority by which it is supported is extremely slender indeed; that is, two or three manuscripts, a very few, if any, fathers, and