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224 HE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN.

from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all T John iii, 30,31. The expressions in question, therefore, must be interpreted (as far as the nature of the subject will allow) according to their literal and apparent sense—namely, as importing that Jesus Christ, at a certain appointed period, came forth from that immediate presence of God, which the apostle emphatically describes as "the bosom of the Father," (John i, 18,) and from that high and holy place, where after a peculiar manner he dwelt in glory, and that he then descended into this lower world.

That this is a just view of the subject is moreover evident, because the Scriptures teach us to estimate the reality of our Lord's descent from heaven, by that of his ascent into heaven. It is a truth plainly declared in the New Testament, and universally allowed by Christians, that at the close of his abode upon earth, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, and went to his Father; and in certain passages of our Lord's discourses, his descent from heaven, and his ascent or return to heaven, are mentioned as parallel and corresponding circumstances. "This is that bread," said he

to the Jews, " which came down from heaven

Doth this offend you? What, and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before?" John vi, 58—62. Again, to his disciples he said, " I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father:" John xvi, 28.

If the inquiry be suggested, At what particular period did our Lord thus proceed forth from the Father, and descend from heaven? we may answer, on the

HE PREEXISTED WITH THE FATHER, 225

authority of the passage last cited, and on that of others of a similar import, When he came into the world; and if again the question be asked, When did he come into the world? we may reply, At his incarnation or birth; for to come into the world, and to be born, were, according to the customary phraseology of the Jews, synonymous terms.2 Such appears to have been the doctrine of the apostle Paul. "When the fulness of the time was come," said he, "God sent forth his Son, made (or born) of a woman:" Gal. iv, 4. It was when Jesus Christ was born of a woman, therefore, that God sent forth his Son; and in a very remarkable passage of the epistle to the Hebrews, the coming and incarnation of the Son of God are mentioned as identical, or at least as coincident. "Wherefore, when he (the Son of God) Cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo! / come, (in the volume of the Book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God:" Heb. x, 5—7.

Since, therefore, when Jesus was born—when a body was prepared for him—when he was made incarnate of a woman, and thus came into the world—he proceeded forth from God, and descended from heaven, it follows, that before his birth, before his incarnation, he was with God and in heaven.

As the doctrine, that Jesus Christ preexisted in glory with the Father, is thus plainly to be deduced from

2 Vide Lightfoot Hor. Heb. in John i, 9. So also Schleusner lex. in voc. Y.qe[i0g, No. 4. "Hue etiam pertinet formula 'igyjeQai tlf rto xofffiov, h. e. yiw&eGai,

nasci, John xi, 27. o s!g rh xoefjwv igxpfMvog, homo factus Ibid- vi, 14.

6 lPYofLlvog llf Tbv xotifAov, quern nasciturum propheta preedixerunt: Ibid. ix, 39

xii, 46. Rabbini etiam omnes homines vocant 271.1/ "'XQ <0-"

Q

226 BEFORE JOHN, IN THE DAYS OF JOB,

the declarations of Scripture, so are there other passages' of the Sacred Volume (perfectly accordant with these declarations) from which we may derive much information respecting the antecedent extent of his preexistence.

We learn from the Gospel of Luke, that John the Baptist was about six months older than the Son of Mary: (i, 26.36;) nevertheless, it is recorded in very explicit terms, that Jesus existed before John : "John bare 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:"3 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

» Johni, 15. 'O brridoi Fmv Igxpftivos, if/iwgoff&v fiov y'symii, on xguros Fmu »jv. Since the adjective Tgurog 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 irgorSP0£. 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 ffgSroj 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; I John iv, 19; Rev. ii, 4, &c. ;) secondly, because it is here construed with JJV, "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, Rosenmiiller, fyc. fyc. ,t

Here it may be remarked that the preceding clause of the sentence iffirgoeaiv ;tiou yiyom is hardly capable of the received version, "is preferred before me;" for l{j/!rpo&lv 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."

BEFORE ABRAHAM, IN THE BEGINNING, 227

written!" said the afflicted patriarch, "O that they were printed in a book! That they were engraven 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 he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth :5 and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:" xix, 23—26.

Abraham was born about two thousand, years 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 :"6 John viii, 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

l 4 ^n vivus.

5 DIP1 ")D# 1]1 ]nn^1. "Shall stand in the latter day upon 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.

6 John viii, 58. Tlgh, A/3f>a.a[J, yivig/Sai, 'Eyti Ii/ai. That 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."

228 BEFORE THE WORLD WAS,

account of the creation) emphatically declares, that "in the beginning was the Word" and that "the Word was with God" John i, 1.

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

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