« Prev Chapter IX. The pre-eternity of Christ farther… Next »

Chapter IX.

The pre-eternity of Christ farther evinced — Sundry texts of Scripture vindicated.

In the consideration of the ensuing testimonies, I shall content myself with more brief observations upon and discoveries of the corruptions of our adversaries, having given a large testimony thereof in the chapter foregoing. Thus, then, they proceed:—

Ques. What are the testimonies of Scripture wherein they think that this pre-eternity of Christ is not indeed expressed, but yet may thence be proved?

Ans. Those which seem to attribute to the Lord Jesus some things from eternity, and some things in a certain and determinate time.308308   “Quæ vero sunt testimonia Scripturæ in quibus putant non exprimi quidem præ-æternitatem Christi, ex iis tamen effici posse? — Ea quæ videntur Domino Jesu quasdam res attribuere ab æterno, quasdam vero tempore certo et definito.

Let the gentlemen take their own way and method; we shall meet with them at the first stile, or rather brazen wall, which they endeavour to climb over.

Q. What are the testimonies which seem to attribute some things to the Lord Jesus from eternity?

A. They are those from which they endeavour to confirm that Christ was begotten from eternity of the essence of his Father.309309   “Quænam sunt testimonia quæ Domino Jesu ab æterno res quasdam attribuere videntur? — Sunt ea ex quibus conantur exstruere Christum ab æterno ex essentia Patris genitum.

These are some of the places wherein this property of the Godhead, eternity, is ascribed to our Saviour, it is confessed.

Q. But from what places do they endeavour to prove that Christ was from eternity begotten of the essence of his Father?

A. From these chiefly, Mic. v. 2; Ps. ii. 7, Ps. cx. 3; Prov. viii. 23.310310   “Ex quibus vero locis exstruere conantur Christum ab æterno ex essentia Patris genitum? — Ex his potissimum, Mic. v. 2; Ps. ii. 7, cx. 3; Prov. viii. 23.”

1. These are only some of the testimonies that are used to this purpose. 2. It is enough to prove Christ eternal if we prove him begotten of his Father, for no such thing can be new in God. 3. That 237he is the only-begotten Son of the Father, which is of the same import with that here opposed by our catechists, hath been before declared and proved, chap. vii.

Q. But how must we answer these testimonies?

A. Before I answer to each testimony, it is to be known that this generation of the essence of the Father is impossible; for if Christ were begotten of the essence of his Father, either he took his whole essence or but part. Part of his essence he could not take, for the divine essence is impartible; nor the whole, for it being one in number is incommunicable.311311   “Qui vero ad hæc testimonia respondendum est? — Antequam ad singula testimonia respondeam, sciendum est, eam ex essentia Patris generationem esse impossibilem; nam si Christus ex essentia Patris genitus fuisset, aut partem essentiæ sumpsisset, aut totam. Essentiæ partem sumere non potuit, eo quod sit impartibilis divina essentia; neque totam, cum sit una numero, ac proinde incommunicabilis.

And this is the fruit of measuring spiritual things by carnal, infinite by finite, God by ourselves, the object of faith by corrupted rules of corrupted reason. But, — 1. That which God hath revealed to be so is not impossible to be so.312312   “Nisi Scriptura dixisset, non licuisset dicere, sed ex quo scriptum est dici potent.” — Rabb. Ruben. apud Galat. lib iii. Let God be true, and all men liars. That this is revealed hath been undeniably evinced. 2. What is impossible in finite, limited essences, may be possible and convenient to that which is infinite and unlimited, as is that whereof we speak. 3. It is not impossible, in the sense wherein that word must here be used, if any thing be signified by it. “It is not, it cannot be so in limited things, therefore not in things infinite;” — “We cannot comprehend it, therefore it cannot be so;” — “But the nature of the thing about which it is is inconsistent with it,” This is denied, for God hath revealed the contrary. 4. For the parting of the divine essence, or receiving a part of the divine essence, our catechists might have left it out, as having none to push at with it, none standing in the way of that horn of their dilemma. 5. We say, then, that in the eternal generation of the Son, the whole essence of the Father is communicated to the Son as to a personal existence in the same essence, without multiplication or division of it, the same essence continuing still one in number; and this without the least show of impossibility in an infinite essence, all the arguments that lie against it being taken from the properties and attendancies of that which is finite.

Come we to the particular testimonies. The first is Mic. v. 2, “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” or “the days of eternity.”

Q. How must this first testimony of the Scripture be answered?

A. This testimony hath nothing at all of his generation of the essence of his Father, and a pre-eternal generation it no way proves; for here is mention of beginning and days, which in eternity have no place. And those words, which in 238the Vulgar are “from the days of eternity,” in the Hebrew are “from the days of seculi,” — the days of an age; and “dies seculi” are the same with “dies antiqui,” as Isa. lxiii. 9, 11; Mal. iii. 4. The sense of this place is, that Christ should have the original of his nativity from the beginning, and from the ancient years; that is, from that time wherein God established a king among his people, which was done really in David, who was a Bethlehemite, and the author of the stock and family of Christ.313313   “Qui tamen ad primum Scripturæ testimonium respondendum est? — Id testimonium de generatione ex essentia Patris nihil prorsus habet; generationem vero præ-æternam nulla probat ratione: hic enim mentio fit initii et dierum, quæ in æternitate locum non habent. Et verba hæc, quæ in Vulgata leguntur, a diebus internitatis, in Hæbræo extant, a diebus seculi: dies vero seculi idem quod dies antiqui notant, ut Esa lxiii. 9, 11; Mal. iii. 4. Sententia vero loci hujus est, Christum originem nativitatis suæ ab ipso principio et annis antiquis ducturum; id est, ab eo tempore, quo Deus in populo suo regem stabilivit, quod reipsa in Davide factum est, qui et Bethlehemita fult, et autor stirpis et familiæ Christi.

Ans. 1. Who necessitated our catechists to urge this place to prove the generation of Christ, when it is used only to prove his generation to be eternal, the thing itself being proved by other testimonies in abundance? That he was begotten of the Father is confessed; that he was begotten of the essence of his Father was before proved. Yea, that which is here called מוֹצָאֹתָיו‎, his “goings forth,” is his generation of his Father, or somewhat else that our adversaries can assign; that it is not the latter shall immediately be evinced.

2. Here is no mention of the מִקֶּדֶם‎, “beginning;” and those who in the latter words reject the Vulgar edition cannot honestly insist on the former from thence because it serves their turn. Yet how that word is sometimes used, and in what sense it may be so, where “eternity” is intended, hath been declared in the last chapter.

3. That “days” are not used with and to express “eternity” in Scripture, though strictly there be no days or time in eternity, is absurd negligence and confidence to affirm: Job x. 5, “Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man’s days?” Hence God is called “The Ancient of days,” Dan. vii. 9. “Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail,” Heb. i. 12.

4. For the word gnolam [עוֹלָם‎], translated “seculi,” it hath in the Scripture various significations. It comes from a word signifying “to hide,”314314   עָלַם‎, latere, abscondere, occultare, 2 Chron. ix. 2, Lev. iv. 18; in niphal latuit, absconditus, occultatus fuit; in hiphil abscondit, celavit, occultavit: inde עַלְמָה‎, Virgo, quia viro occulta, Gen. xxiv. 43. and denotes an unknown, hidden duration. Principally “perpetuum, æternum, sempiternum,” — that which is pre-eternal and eternal. Sometimes a very long time, Gen. ix. 12, and verse 16, that is perpetual: so Gen. xvii. 13, and in other places, with a reference to the sovereignty of God. Gen. xxi. 33, it is ascribed to God as a property of his, and signifies “eternal,” Jehova gnolam [יְהוָה עוֹלָם‎]: so Ps. lxxxix. 2, as also Isa. xlv. 17. Let all places where 239the word in Scripture in this sense is used be reckoned up (which are above three hundred), and it will appear that in far the greatest number of them it signifies absolutely “eternity.” In the places of Isa. lxiii. 9, 11, and Mal. iii. 4, only a long time, indeed, is signified, but yet that which reaches to the utmost of the thing or matter treated of. And upon the same rule, where it is put absolutely it signifies “eternity.” So doth ἀιών in the New Testament, by which the LXX. often render gnolam [עוֹלָם‎]; whence πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων may be “from eternity,” 2 Tim. i. 9, Tit. i. 2; wherein, also, with a like expression to that under consideration, the “times of eternity” are mentioned, though perhaps with a peculiar respect to something at the beginning of the world. This, then, is here expressed: He that was in the fulness of time born at Bethlehem, had his goings forth from the Father from eternity.

5. The pretended sense of our adversaries is a bold corruption of the text; for, — (1.) It applies that to David and his being born at Bethlehem which the Holy Ghost expressly applies to Jesus Christ, Matt. ii. 5, 6, and John vii. 42. (2.) The goings forth of Christ in this sense are no more from everlasting than every other man’s who is from Adam, when yet this is peculiarly spoken of him, by way of incomparable eminency. (3.) They cannot give any one instance of the like expression, — that “his goings forth are from eternity” should signify he had his original from an ancient stock. (4.) If only Christ’s original of the tribe of Judah and of the house of David were intended, why was not that expressed in plain terms, as it is in other places, and as the place of his birth, namely, Bethlehem, is in this? So that we have already met our catechists and stopped them at this wall, their attempt at it being very faint and absurd. And yet this is the sum of what is pleaded by Socinus against Weik, cap. vii. p. 424; Smalcius against Smiglecius, cap. xxvi.; Ostorod. Instit. cap. vii., with the rest of them. He, then, who was born at Bethlehem in the fulness of time, of the house of David as concerning the flesh, Rom. i. 3, had also his “goings forth,” his birth or generation of the Father, “of old, from the days of eternity;” which is that which this testimony confirms.

Grotius on this place, according to his wont, outgoes his companions one step at least (as he was a bold man at conjectures), and applies this prophecy to Zerubbabel: “Natus ex Bethlehemo Zorobabel recte dicitur, quod ex Davidis familia esset, quæ orta Bethlehemo;” — “Zerubbabel is rightly said to be born at Bethlehem, being of the family of David, which had its original from Bethlehem.”

That Zerubbabel is here at all intended he doth not attempt to prove, either from the text, context, circumstances of the place, design of the prophecy, or any thing else that might give light into 240the intendment of the Holy Ghost. That it belongs properly to Christ we have a better interpreter to assure us than Grotius or any of his rabbins, Matt. ii. 4–6. I know that in his annotations on that place he allows the accommodation of the words to Christ; but we cannot allow them to be spoken of any other, the Holy Ghost expressly fitting them to him. And if Zerubbahel, who was born at Babylon, may be said to be born at Bethlehem because David, from whom he descended, was born there, what need all that labour and trouble that our Saviour might be born at Bethlehem? If it could not be said of Christ that he was born at Bethlehem, though he were of the lineage of David, unless he had actually been born there indeed, certainly Zerubbabel, who was born at Babylon, could not be said, on the account of his progenitor five hundred years before, to be born there.

For the second part of this text, or the words we insist on for the proof of our intention, he useth the same shift in the same words with our catechists, “Origo ipsi ab olim, a temporibus longis; id est, originem trahit a domo illustri antiquitus, et per quingentos annos regnatrice;” “His original is from of old, from a long time; that is, he hath his original from an ancient illustrious house that had reigned five hundred years.”

Of the sense of the words I have spoken before. I shall only add, that the use of this note is to confute the other; for if his being born at Bethlehem signify his being of the family of David, and nothing else, he being not indeed bern there, what need this addition, if these obscure words signify no more but what was spoken before? Yea, and herein the learned man forsaketh his masters, all generally concluding that it is the Messiah who is here alone intended. The Chaldee paraphrast expressly puts in the name of Messiah. His words are, “Out of thee shall the Messiah come forth before me.” And some of them do mystically interpret kedem [קֶדֶם‎] of the mind of God, from whence the word or wisdom of God is brought forth; because, as they say, the word denotes the first numeration of the crown, or of that name of God which signifies his essence.

The second is Ps. ii. 7, “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”

Q. To this second what is to be answered?

A. Neither in that is there any thing of generation of the essence of the Father, nor of a pre-eternal generation; for the word “to-day,” signifying a certain time, cannot denote pre-eternity. But that God begot him doth not evince that he was begotten of his essence; which appears from hence, 1. That the same words, “This day have I begotten thee,” are in the first sense used of David, who was begotten neither from eternity nor of the essence of the Father. 2. Because the apostle Paul brings these words to prove the resurrection of Christ, Acts xiii. 33. And the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews cites them for the glorifying of the Lord Jesus, Heb. i. 5, v. 5. And lastly, from hence, that it is manifest that God 241otherwise begets than by his essence, seeing the Scripture declares believers to be begotten of God, as is to be seen, John i. 13, 1 John iii. 9; James i. 18.315315   “Ad secundum vero quid? — Neque in ea de generatione ex essentia Patris, nec de generatione præ-æterna prorsus quicquam haberi; etenim vox hodie cum certum tempus designet, præ-æternitatem denotare non potest. Quod vero Deus eum genuerit, non evincit eum ex essentia ejus genitum; id quod patet ex eo, quod hæc eadem verba, Ego hodie genui te, primo sensu de Davide dicantur, quem constat neque ab æterno, nec ex essentia Dei genitum. Deinde, quod Paulus apostolus eadem verba ad approbandam Christi resurrectionem afferat, Acts xiii. 33, et autor ad Hebræos ad glorificationem Domini Jesu citer, Heb. i. 5, v. 5. Denique, ex ea re, quod constet Deum aliter quam ex essentia generare, dum a Deo genitos credentes Scriptura pronunciat, ut videre est, Johan. i. 13; 1 Johan. iii. 9; Jac. i. 18.”

1. There is mention in these words of Christ’s generation of his Father, of being “begotten” of him before his incarnation, this being spoken of him under the old testament; and to deny that there is any such thing in the text as that which, upon this consideration, we urge it to prove, is only to beg the thing in question.

2. “This day,” being spoken of God, of him who is eternal, to whom all time is so present as that nothing is properly yesterday nor today, does not denote necessarily such a proportion of time as is intimated, but is expressive of an act eternally present, nor past nor future.

3. It cannot be proved that these words are spoken at all of David so much as typically, nor any thing else in that psalm from verse? to the end: yea, the contrary is evident from every verse following, especially the 12th, where kings and rulers are called to worship him of whom he speaks, and threatened with destruction if they do not; and they are pronounced blessed who put their trust in him; which cannot be spoken of David, God declaring them to be cursed who put their trust in man, Jer. xvii. 5–8.

4. It is granted that the apostle makes use of these words when he mentions the resurrection and exaltation of Christ; not that Christ was then begotten, but that he was then declared to be the only-begotten Son of God, his resurrection and exaltation being manifestations of his sonship, not causes of his filiation, as hath been at large declared. So the sun is said to arise when it doth first to us appear.

5. True, “God hath other sons, and believers are said to be begotten of God;” but how? By regeneration, and turning from sin, as in the places quoted is evident That Christ is so begotten of God is blasphemous once to imagine. Besides, he is the only-begotten Son of the Father, so that no other is begotten with a generation of the same kind with him. It is evident, then, by this testimony, and from these words, that Christ is so the Son of God as no angels are his sons in the same kind: for that the apostle produceth these words to prove, Heb. i. 5, “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And 242again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” Now, the angels are the sons of God by creation, Job i. 6, xxxviii. 7. He is also such a Son and so begotten as believers are not; for they are begotten by regeneration from sin and adoption into the family of God. Therefore Christ, who is the Son of God in another kind than angels and men, who are so by creation, regeneration, and adoption, is the natural Son of God by eternal generation; which is also proved from this place.

In this whole psalm Grotius takes no notice of Jesus Christ: indeed, in the entrance he tells us that a mystical and abstruse sense of it may belong to Christ, and so the rabbins acknowledge, and so the apostle took it;316316   “Sensus primus et apertus ad Davidem pertinet; mysticus et abstrusior ad Messiam, ut hic agnoscit David Kimchi, et ad Danielem Saadius Gaon, quo modo sumsere apostoli.” — Annot. in ver. 1. but throughout the whole doth he not make the least application of it to Christ, but merely to David, although so many passages of it are urged in the New Testament to have had their accomplishment in Christ and the things which concerned him. These words, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” he says may be thus rendered, “O fili mi, hodie (id est, hoc tempore) ego to genui: novam vitam, scilicet regalem tibi contuli.” But, 1. That the words may not aptly be so translated, that they are not so rendered by the apostle, Heb. i. 5, he knew well enough, בְּנִי אַתָּה‎ is filius meus tu, not fili mi. Nor doth the rendering of it by the vocative any way answer the words going before, “ ‘I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son:’ that is the thing I will declare.” 2. That “hodie” should be “hoc tempore,” relating to any certain time of David’s reign, cannot be reconciled to the apostle’s application of that expression on sundry occasions, as hath been manifested. 3. “I have given thee a ‘new or a regal life,’“is somewhat an uncouth exposition of “genui re,” without warrant, without reason or argument; and it is inconsistent with the time of the psalm’s writing, according to Grotius himself. He refers it to 2 Sam. viii., when David had been king over Israel many years.

To serve his hypothesis, the last two verses are miserably wrested. The command of worshipping Christ, verse 12, is a command of doing homage to David! And the last verse is thus glossed, “Beati omnes qui confidunt in eo, i.e., qui fidei ejus regis (id est, meæ) se permittunt.” “They are blessed,” says David, “who commit themselves to my faith and care.” Doubtless the thought of any such thing was as remote from the heart of the holy man as this gloss is from the sense of the place. That they are blessed who trust in the Lord, that is, “commit themselves to his care,” he everywhere declareth, yea, this he makes always the property of a blessed man; but that they are so who trust in him, not the least word to that purpose did the 243holy person ever utter. He knew they are cursed of God who put their trust in man. The word here is חוֹסֵי‎, from חָסָה‎, “to repair to any one for protection;’ and it is used to express our trusting in God, Ps. xviii. 30, as also Ps. xxxi. 19, on which men are frequently pronounced blessed; but that it should be applied to David, and a blessing annexed thereunto, we were to learn.

The third testimony, of Ps. cx. 3, we pass over with our adversaries, as not to the purpose in hand, being a mistake of the Vulgar Latin.

The fourth is Prov. viii. 23, “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”

Q. What dost thou answer to this testimony?

A. That thou mayst understand the matter the better, know that from this place they thus dispute: “The Wisdom of God is begotten from eternity; Christ is the Wisdom of God: therefore he is begotten from eternity, 1 Cor. i. 24.” That this argument is not firm appears from hence, that, — 1. Solomon treats of wisdom simply and absolutely considered, without the addition of the word “God;” Paul not simply and absolutely, but with the addition of the word “God.” 2. Solomon treats of wisdom, which neither is a person nor can be, as appears from the diverse effects ascribed to this wisdom, chap. vii., viii., ix.; amongst which are these words, “By me kings rule, and princes decree righteousness;” and in the beginning of the 9th chapter, he brings in wisdom sending her maidens, and inviting all to her: but Paul treateth of that Wisdom which is a person. 3. The words which are rendered “from everlasting,” in the Hebrew are “a seculo;” but that “from everlasting” and “a seculo” are diverse, Isa. lxiv. 4, Jer. ii. 20, Luke i. 70, with many like places, do declare.317317   “Ad quartum veto quid? — Ut rem melius accipias, scito eos ex hoc loco ad eum modum argumentari: ‘Sapientia Dei ab æterno est genita; Christus est Dei Sapientia: ergo ab æterno est genitus, 1 Cor. i. 24.’ Id argamentum firmum non esse hinc patet; Primum, quod Solomon agat de sapientia simpliciter et absolute considerata, sine additione vocis Dei; Paulus vero non simpliciter et absolute, sed cum additione, nempe, Dei. Deinde, Solomon agit de sapientia, quæ neque est persona, nec esse potest, ut evariis effectis quæ huic sapientiæ attribuit, apparet, et hoc 7, 8, 9 cap., ex quibus sunt ea, Per me reges regnant, et principies justa decernunt; et initio cap. ix, introducit sapientiam omnes ad se invitantem, et mittentem virgines suæ Paulus vero agit de Sapientia quæ persona est. Tertio, verba hæc, quæ sunt reddita ab æterno, in Hebræo extant, a seculo: aliud vero ease ab æterno, aliud a seculo, indicant loci, Esa. lxiv. 4, Jer. ii. 20, Luc. i. 70, et alii permuiti similes.

1. Our argument hence is: “Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is spoken of, Prov. viii. 23, under the name of Wisdom; now, it is said expressly there of Wisdom that it was ‘begotten from everlasting:’ and therefore the eternal generation of Christ is hence confirmed.” Our reasons are:— (1.) Because the things here spoken of can be applied to no other. (2.) Because the very same things are affirmed of Christ, John i. 1. (3.) Because Christ is the Wisdom of God, and so called in the Scripture, not only in the expression of ὁ Λόγος, but ῥητῶς, 1 Cor. i. 30. (4.) That by Wisdom Solomon intended the Wisdom of God, and that that word may be supplied, is most evident from what is spoken of it. Let the place be read. (5.) Christ is called not only the “Wisdom of God,” but also Wisdom absolutely and simply; and that not only Prov. i. 20, but Matt. xi. 19. 244(6.) The Wisdom that Solomon treats of is evidently a person, and such things are ascribed thereunto as can be proper to none but a person. Such are these, chap. viii. 30, 31, “I was by him, one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth,” etc. That it is the same wisdom spoken of chap. vii. and here is not evident; yet is there not any thing in that attributed to it but what suits well unto a person, — much less in the beginning of the 9th chapter, the invitation there being such as may be made by a person only. It is a person who sends out messengers to invite to a banquet, as Christ doth in the gospel. “Kings rule and princes decree justice” by the authority of a person, and without him they can do nothing.

2. The word translated “from everlasting” is the same with that considered before, Mic. v. 2. The words following do so evidently confirm the meaning of the word to be as expressed that it is marvellous the gentlemen durst venture upon the exception in this place: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old;” that is, before the creation, as is at large expounded, verses 23–29.

And this is all, the whole sum of what any of our adversaries, or rather the adversaries of Jesus Christ, have to object in their cause against these testimonies; whence we thus argue:—

He who was begotten of God the Father with an eternal generation is eternal, and so, consequently, God; but so is Jesus Christ begotten of God the Father with an eternal generation: therefore he is eternal, and God blessed for ever.

To clear what hath been spoken, I shall close my considerations of this text of Scripture with a brief parallel between what is spoken in this place of Wisdom and what is asserted of Jesus Christ in the New Testament:—

1. It is Wisdom that is spoken of: so is Christ, Matt. xi. 19; 1 Cor. i. 24; Col. ii. 3. 2. “Wisdom was set up from everlasting,” chap. viii. 23: “Grace is given in Christ, πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, from everlasting,” 2 Tim. i. 9; “He is the beginning,” Col. i. 18; “The first and the last,” Rev. i. 17. 3. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,” says Wisdom, verse 22: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,” John i. 1. 4. “Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth,” verse 25: “He is the first-born of every creature,” Col. i. 15; “He is before all,” verse 17. 5. “I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him,” verse 30: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matt. iii. 17; “The only-begotten Son is in the bosom of the Father,” John i. 18. 6. “By me kings reign, and princes,” etc., verses 15, 16: He is “the Prince of the kings of the earth,” Rev. i. 5; the “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” Rev. xix. 16. 7. “Rejoicing 245in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men,” verse 31: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,” John i. 14. 8. Compare also verse 34 with John xiii. 17, Luke xi. 28, John x. 9; and verses 35, 36 with John vi. 44, 47. And many the like instances might be given.

Grotius takes no notice of Christ in this place, yea, he seems evidently to exclude him from being here intended. His first note on verse 1 is, “Hæc de ea sapientia quæ in Lege apparet exponunt Hebræi: et sane el, si non soli, at præcipue, hæc attributa conveniunt;” — “The Hebrews expound these things of that wisdom which appears in the law; and truly these attributes agree thereunto, if not only, yet chiefly.” Of this assertion he gives no reason. The contrary is evident from what is above said and proved. The authority of the modern rabbins, in the exposition of those places of Scripture which concern the Messiah, is of no value. They do not only, as their forefathers, err, not knowing the Scriptures, but maliciously corrupt them, out of hatred to Jesus Christ. In the meantime, one no less versed in the Hebrew authors than our annotator, expounding this place, from them concludes, “Nec dubito, hinc Johannem augustum illud et magnificum Evangelii sui initium sumpsisse, ‘In principio erat Verbum;’ nam Verbum et Sapientia idem sunt, et secundam Trinitatis personam indicant;” — “I doubt not but that John took that reverend and lofty entrance of his Gospel, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ from hence; for the Word and Wisdom are the same, and denote the second person of the Trinity.”318318   Mercer. in loc. ver. 22.

Before I proceed to those that follow, I shall add some of them which are produced and insisted on usually for the same end and purpose with those mentioned before, and which in other places are excepted against by the catechists with whom we have to do, but properly belong to this head.

Of those is John xvii. 5, “And now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” To this they put in their exceptions towards the end of the chapter under consideration, saying, —

Q. What answerest thou to this?

A. Neither is here a divine nature proved; for that one may have glory with the Father before the world was made and yet not be God appeareth from that of 2 Tim. i. 9, where the apostle says of believers that grace was given unto them before the world began. Besides, it is here written that Jesus asked this glory, which is repugnant to the divine nature. But the sense of the place is, that Christ asked God that he would really give him that glory which he had with God in his decree before the world was.319319   “Quid ad hoc respondes? — Neque hinc naturam divinam probari; posse enim aliquem gloriam habere antequam mundus fieret, apud Patrem, nec tamen hinc effici eum ease Deum, apparet, 2 Tim. i. 9, ubi ait apostolus de credentibus, illis datam fuisse gratiam ante tempora secularis. Præterea, hic scriptum est, Jesum rogare hanc gloriam, quod naturæ divinæ prorsus repugnat. Loci vero sententia est, Christum togare Deum, ut ei gloriam reipsa det, quam habuerit apud Deum in ipsius decreto antequam mundus fieret.

2461. A divine glory proves a divine nature. This Christ had from eternity, for he had it before the world began; therefore he had a divine nature also. It is the manifestation of his glory, which he had eclipsed and laid aside for a season, that here he desires of God, Phil. ii. 6–11. He glorified his Father by manifesting the glory of his deity, his name, to others; and he prays the Father to glorify him as he had glorified him on the earth. 2. There is not the same reason of what is here asserted of Christ and what is said of the elect, 2 Tim. i. 9. Christ here positively says he had εἷχον (γλορψ) ωιτη ηισ Φατηερ βεφορε τηε ωορλδ ωασ; nor is this anywhere, in any one tittle in the Scripture expounded to be any otherwise but in a real having of that glory. The grace that is given to believers is not said to be before the world was, but πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, which may denote the first promise, Gen. iii. 15, as it doth Tit. i. 2; and if it be intended of the purpose of God, which was from eternity (as the words will bear), it is so expounded in twenty places, 3. Though the divine nature prayed not, yet he who was in the form of God, and humbled himself to take upon him the form and employment of a servant, might and did pray. The Godhead prayed not, but he who was God prayed. 4. For the sense assigned, let them once show us, in the whole book of God, where this expression, “I had εἶχον,” may be possibly interpreted, “I had it in purpose,” or “I was predestinated to it,” and not “I had it really and indeed,” and they say something to the purpose. In the meantime, they do but corrupt the word of God (as many do) by this pretended interpretation of it. 5. If predestination only be intended, here is nothing singular spoken of Christ, but what is common to him with all believers, when evidently Christ speaks of something that belonged to him eminently. 6. The very express tenor of the words will not admit of this gloss (let what violence can be used): Καὶ νῦν δόξασόν με σὺ Πάτερ παρὰ σεαυτῷ τῇ δόξῃ ᾗ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί “The glory that I had with thee, let me have it manifested with thee, now my work is done.”

Grotius falls in with our catechists: Τῇ δόξῃ ᾗ εἶχον, Destinatione tua; ut 1 Pet. i. 20, Rev. xiii. 8, sic et Eph. i. 3, 4, et infra, ver. 24. Simile loquendi genus. Sic Legem fuisse ante mundum aiunt Hebræi.” Again, Παρὰ σοί, refer ad illud εἶχον, et intellige, ut diximus, in decreto tuo.

But what intends the learned man by those places of 1 Pet. i. 20, Rev. xiii. 8? Is it to expound the thing that he supposes to be expressed? or to intimate that the phrase here used is expounded by the use of it in those other places? If the first, he begs that to be 247the sense of this place which is the sense of them, though neither the scope of the places nor the sense of the words themselves will bear it. If the latter, it is most false. There is not one word, phrase, or expression, in any one of the places pointed unto, at all coincident with them here used. Besides, the two places mentioned are of very different senses, the one speaking of God’s purpose appointing Christ to be a mediator, the other of the promise given presently after the fall. 2. We grant that Christ, in respect of his human nature, was predestinated unto glory; but that he calls God’s purpose his “glory,” “the glory which he had,” “which he had with God,” wherewith he desires to be “glorified with him again,” is to be proved from the text, or context, or phrase of speech, or parallel place, or analogy of faith, or somewhat, and not nakedly to be imposed on us. Let Prov. viii. 22–31, Phil. ii. 6–11, be consulted, as parallel to this place. Eph. i. 3, 4, speaks indeed of our predestination in Christ, “that we should be holy,” and so come to glory, but of the glory that Christ had before the world was it speaks not; yea, verse 3, we are said to be actually “blessed,” or to have the heavenly blessings, when we do enjoy them, which we are elected to, verse 4. What the Jews say of the Law, and the like, we must allow learned men to tell us, that they may be known to be so, although the sense of the Scripture be insensibly darkened thereby.

To the same purpose is that of Peter, 1 Epist. i. 10, 11, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” To which add that more clear place, 1 Pet. iii. 18–20, “Quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient … in the days of Noah.” He who was in the days of the prophets of old, and in the days of Noah, so long before his being born according to the flesh, he was from everlasting, or had an existence antecedent to his incarnation; but this is expressly affirmed of our Saviour. It was his Spirit that spake in the prophets; which if he were not, could not be, for of him who is not nothing can be affirmed. He preached by his Spirit in the days of Noah to the spirits that are in prison.

Of this latter place our catechists take no notice; about the first they inquire, —

Q. What answerest thou to this?

A. Neither is a divine nature proved from hence: for the Spirit which was in the prophets may be said to be “the Spirit of Christ,” not that he was given of Christ, but because he fore-declared the things of Christ, as Peter there speaks; “he testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 248Which manner of speaking we have, 1 John iv. 6, “Hence know we the spirit; of truth, and the spirit of error;” where it is not called the spirit of truth and error because truth and error as persons do bestow the spirit, but because the spirit of truth speaks the things of truth, and the spirit of error the things of error.320320   “Quid ad hoc respondes? — Neque hine naturam in Christo divinam effici; nam hic Spiritus qui in prophetis erat, Christi dici potest, non quod a Christo datus fuerit, sed quod ea quæ Christi fuerunt prænunciarit, ut ibidem Petrus ait, prænuncians illas in Christum passiones, et post hæc glorias. Quem loquendi modum etiam, 1 John iv. 6, habes, Hinc cognoscimus spiritum veritatis, et spiritum erroris; ubi non propterea spiritus veritatis et erroris spiritus dicitur, quod veritas et error, tanquam personæ, eum spiritum conferant; verum eo, quod spiritus veritatis loquatur quæ veritatis sunt, et spiritus erroris quæ sunt erroris.

1. It is confessed that if the Spirit that was in the prophets was the Spirit of Christ, then he hath a divine nature; for the only evasion used is, that it is not, or may not (possibly) be, so meant in this place, not denying but that if it be so, then the conclusion intended follows. 2. That this place is to be interpreted by 1 John iv. 6 there is no colour nor pretence. Christ is a person; he was so when Peter wrote: truth and error are not, and the spirit of them is to be interpreted according to the subject-matter. 3. The Spirit in other places is called the Spirit of Christ in the same sense as he is called the Spirit of God, Rom. viii. 9, Gal. iv. 6. 4. The Spirit of Christ is said directly to take of his and show it to his apostles, John xvi. 15; and so he did to the prophets. They may as well, on the pretence of 1 John iv. 6, deny him to be the Spirit of God the Father as the Spirit of Christ, as being of him and sent by him.

And thus far of the testimonies proving the pre-existence of Christ unto his incarnation, and so, consequently, his eternity: whence it follows that he is God over all, blessed for ever, having this evidence of his eternal power and Godhead. Sundry others of the same tendency will fall under consideration in our progress.

« Prev Chapter IX. The pre-eternity of Christ farther… Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |