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THE LORD QF DAVID. 269
-Christ) who possesses the field of the world—who sows in it the good seed of righteousness—who regulates and directs all the. duties of his servants—who sends forth his angels as the messengers of his will— who consigns the wicked to their fiery punishment, and who bestows on the righteous their meed of eternal glory: Matt. xiii, 24—30. 38—42. And of whom can such things be predicated with any degree of truth and exactness, except of the Supreme Being? The account which, in these parables, our Lord has given of his own regal attributes, will be found to derive illustration and confirmation from various other passages of his discourses. Thus when he spake to the Jews of their Messiah, as of one who not only sprang from the stock of David, but was also the Lord of that most favoured and celebrated of the monarchs of Israel, he appears to have alluded to a doctrine, which his hearers were probably unwilling to avow, rather than unable to comprehend—namely, that their long-expected Deliverer, the descendant of David, according to the flesh, was in his divine nature that Word Of Jehovah, by whom the church of God in all ages, is possessed, protected, and governed: Matt. xxii, 41—46.3
3 " Jehovah said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, &c.:" Ps. ex. We are assured by Galatinus, (de Arcan. Cath. verit. lib. iii, 4) on the authority of a rabbinical writer, that in the Targum of Jonathan, (now lost) the words, " Jehovah said unto my Lord," are paraphrased by " God said to his Word." And as it is plain, from our Lord's conversation with the Jews, that Ps. ex was understood by that people to relate to their Messiah, such a paraphrase is to be regarded as an important Jewish testimony to the personality and Messiahship of the Word of God: comp. John i, I. 14. The first four verses of this remarkable psalm are evidently addressed by the Father Almighty to his Son, the Messiah. On the other hand, the three last verses are most easily explained, as containing the address of David to the Father, respecting the Son. When David says to Jehovah, (in ver. 5) " The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath," he has obviously the same picture in his mind, as when he says, "Jehovah said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool, &c." If this point be acceded to, it may further be remarked, that the title ^^i$ Adonai, THE Lord, by which David describes the Messiah, in verse 5, is one which uniformly represents the Deity, and the Deity alone. So all the ancient versions: see Walton's Polyglott, and comp. Ps. xlv, 6, 7.
270 HE FORGIVES SINS.
Since all sin is an infraction of the law of God, and is in its nature an offence against the Supreme Being, it is plain that God alone has power to forgive it. When, therefore, Jesus Christ "said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be (i. e. are) forgiven thee," he laid a virtual claim, not merely to a royal prerogative, but to a divine attribute. When the scribes, present on the occasion, murmured at this extraordinary usurpation (as they deemed it) of the authority of Jehovah, saying, "Why doth this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?" Jesus neither receded from this assumption, nor denied the inference, made from it by his hearers, that he spake in the character of Jehovah; on the contrary, he continued to assert his own power "on earth (or rather "over the earth"4) to forgive sins;" and immediately wrought one of the most signal of his miracles, in attestation that his assertion was true: Mark ii, 3—12; comp. Luke vii, 48.5
4 eiri rrjg y?ig, hirl thus used in connection with t^ouffiCt, (whether followed by an accusative, or by a dative) signifies not in but over: vide Luke ix, 1; I Cor. xi, 10; Apoc. ii, 26. xi, 6. xiii, 7. xiv, 18.
3 When Jesus Christ breathed on his disciples, and said "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," he added, ** Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained:" John xx, 22, 23. Matthew appears to be describing the same, or a similar delegation of authority, when he recites our Lord's words as follows: "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven:" Matt. xviii, 18. On an examination of the context in the Gospel of Matthew, the reader will perceive, that the whole passage relates to the internal regulation or discipline of the church, If the sinner should neglect "to hear the church," he was to be punished by exclusion from Gospel fellowship—he was to be counted "as an heathen man and a publican;" ver. 17. If, on the contrary, he should obey the warning voice of his brethren, his transgression (no doubt) was to be forgiven: he was not to be separated from the company of the faithful. Now, in their administration of church discipline, the apostles acted as inspired men. They judged according to the express dictates of the Holy Spirit; and hence it followed, that whatsoever sins they thus remitted or retained on earth, were remitted or retained in heaven. The actual remission or retaining of the sin was not in their power, nor placed in any degree under their authority: it was in heaven: vide WJiitby, Gill, Rosenmiiller in loc.
ALTERS THE DIVINE LAW. 271
Nor was it with any less degree of authority that our Lord altered, or superseded, some of the leading provisions of the Mosaic institution. "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:" Matt. v, 31; comp. Deut. xxiv, 1. Here was an edict of indulgence, which Moses had promulgated in the name, and by the command, of Jehovah; but which, nevertheless, Jesus did not hesitate to supersede in his own name. "But I say unto you,6 that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, &c." Again he says, "Ye have heard, that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, &c. (Exod. xx, 7) but I say unto you, Swear not at all:" Matt. v, 33, 34. There is perhaps no article in the Mosaic code, on which so frequent a stress is laid, both in the Pentateuch, and in the writings of the Prophets, as that which respected the punctual observance of the Sabbath, as a day of absolute rest. Yet, that our Saviour, in relation to this particular, not only reproved the unauthorized superstition of the Jews, but introduced a material relaxation of the strictness of the divine law, is indicated by a variety of passages in the New Testament, and is evidently confirmed by the history of the early Christian church: the express principle on which he thus taught and acted, being this—that "the Son of Man" was "Lord, even of the Sabbath-day:" Matt. xii, 8. And who could be Lord of the Sabbathday, so as to have power to relax and alter its provisions, but that Holy One of Israel, the author of both the law
6 'Eyu is yiyu \ifJM.
272 BESTOWS THE HOLY SPIRIT.
and the Gospel, by whom the Sabbath, with all its observances, was instituted and ordained? In immediate connection with this remarkable assertion of divine authority, our Lord appears to have described himself as "one greater than the temple." "But I say unto you, that in this place, is one greater than the temple:" ver. 6. Now I conceive, that according to the apprehension of the Jews, to whom these words were addressed, no one could be greater than the temple—that temple which was essentially connected with the whole course of their religious ordinances— that temple which was endeared to them by the practice and prescription of many centuries—but the Being in whose honour it was built, and who was still worshipped within its walls.
It is the Messiah, or king of Israel, who baptizes his people with "the Holy Ghost and with fire;" (Matt. iii, 11;) and never did our Lord more clearly indicate his own godhead, than when he spake of himself as the giver of the divine Spirit—as the dispenser of that celestial influence, by which the hard and corrupt heart of man is softened, renovated, and purified. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water... Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life:" John iv, 10—14. Some commentators imagine, that the living water which Jesus thus describes, first, as the gift of God, and afterwards as his own gift, signifies nothing more than Christian doctrine. But this interpretation appears to be precluded by the consideration that it is not the outward THE GREAT I AM. 273
doctrine, but the inward principle of religion, which springs up within us into everlasting life 5 nor can we reasonably doubt our Lord's meaning, when we remember the express declaration of the apostle John, that when on another occasion he employed precisely the same metaphor, he spake of the Spirit. "He that believeth on me," exclaimed Jesus on that last and great day of the feast of tabernacles, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." "But this," adds the apostle, " spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive:" vii, 38, 39. It is Jesus, therefore, who bestows that saving influence, which all men must acknowledge to be divine in its nature, proceeding immediately from God himself; and I conceive that he acted and spake in the character, not of a divinely-commissioned prophet, but of Jehovah himself, when after his resurrection he "breathed on his disciples, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:" John xx. 22. Nor was his divine character less plainly asserted, when he spoke of the Spirit as a Person, and promised to send him "from the Father"—When the Comforter is come, whom / will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:" John xv, 26; comp. xvi, 1—14; Acts ii, 33, &c.
3. When Jesus said to the Jews, " Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am," we read, that" they took up stones to cast at him;" that is, they proceeded, according to the provisions of the Jewish law, to punish him as a blasphemer; and the supposed blasphemy of Jesus obviously consisted in his having here assumed the divine character as his own: John viii, 58, 59; comp. x, 33. The powerful expressions