Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920)
Of the Mystical Dispensation of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the Christ of God.
As I have treated at sufficient length the topics connected with the Incarnation of our Saviour in the preceding Book, the third Book of the Proof of the Gospel, it is now the place to approach more recondite doctrine, I mean the more mystical theology of His Person.
Now common to all men is the doctrine of God, the First and the Eternal, Alone, Unbegotten and Supreme Cause of the Universe, Lord of lords, and King of kings. But the doctrine of Christ is peculiar and common to the Hebrews and ourselves, and, though following their own scriptures, they confess it equally with us. yet they fall far asunder from us, in not recognizing His Divinity, nor knowing the cause of His coming, nor grasping at what period of time it was predicted that He should come. For while they look forward to His Coming even now, we preach that He has come once already, and believing the predictions and teaching of the inspired prophets, pray that we may behold His second Coming in divine glory.
The account of our Lord is of two kinds: the one may be called the later, brought but recently before mankind, the other is older than all time and all eternity.
For since God, Who is alone good and the Source and Spring of everything good, had willed to make many partakers of His own treasures, He purposed to create the whole reasoning creation, (comprising) unembodied, intelligent and divine powers, angels and archangels, spirits immaterial and in all ways pure, and souls of men as well endued with undetermined liberty of Free-willed Choice between right and wrong, and to give them whatever bodily organs they were to possess, suitable to the variety of their lives, with countries and places natural to them all. (For to those who had remained good He gave the best places, and to those who did not He gave fit abodes, places of discipline for their perverse inclinations.)
He, foreseeing the future in His foreknowledge, as God must, and aware that as in a vast body all these things about to be would need a head, thought that He ought to subordinate them all to One Governor of the Whole Creation, ruler and king of the Universe, as also the holy oracles of the earliest Hebrew theologians and prophets mystically teach. From which it is to be learned, that there is one principle of the Universe, nay more, one even before the principle, and born before the first, and of earlier being than the Monad, and greater than every Name, Who cannot be named, nor explained, nor sought out, the good, the cause of all, the Creator, the Beneficent, the Prescient, the Saving, Himself the One and Only God, from Whom are all things, and for Whom are all things: "For in him we live and move, and have our being."
And the fact that He wills it, is the sole cause of all things that exist coming into being and continuing to be. For it comes of His will, and He wills it, because He happens to be good by nature. For nothing else is essential by nature to a good person except to will what is good. And what He wills, He can effect. Wherefore, having both the will and the power, He has ordained for Himself, without let or hindrance, everything beautiful and useful both in the visible and invisible world, making His own Will and Power as it were a kind of material and substratum of the genesis and constitution of the Universe, so that it is no longer reasonable to say that anything that exists must have come from the non-existent, for that which came from the non-existent would not be anything. For how could that which is non-existent cause something else to exist? Everything that has ever existed or now exists derives its being from the One, the only existent and pre-existent Being, Who also said: "I am the existent," because, you will see, as the Only Being, and the Eternal Being, He is Himself the cause of existence to all those to whom He has imparted existence from Himself by His Will and His Power, and gives existence to all things, and their powers and forms, richly and ungrudgingly from Himself.
That we hold that the Son of God was before the Whole Creation.
AND then He makes first of all existences next to Himself His child, the first-born Wisdom, altogether formed of Mind and Reason and Wisdom, or rather Mind itself, Reason itself, and Wisdom itself, and if it be right to conceive anything else among things that have come into being that is Beauty itself, and Good itself, taking it from Himself, He lays it Himself as the first foundation of what is to come into being afterwards, lie is the perfect creation of a perfect Creator, the wise edifice of a wise Builder, the good Child of a good Father, and assuredly to them that afterwards should receive existence through Him, friend and guardian, saviour and physician, and helmsman holding the rudder-lines of the creation of the universe. In agreement with which the oracles in theological phrase call Him, "God-begotten," as alone bearing in Himself the image of the Godhead, that cannot be explained in word, or conceived in thought, through which image (they say that) He is God, and that lie is called so, because of this primary likeness, and also for this reason, too, that He was appointed by the Father His good Minister, in order that as if by one all-wise and living instrument, and rule of art and knowledge, the universe might be guided by Him, bodies and things without body, things living and things lifeless, the reasoning with the irrational, mortal with immortal, and whatever else coexists and is woven in with them, and as if by one force running through the whole, all things might be harmonized together, by one living active law and reason existing in all and extending through all things, in one all-wise bond—yea, by the very Word of God and His law, united and bound in one.
That we rightly teach that there are not many sons of the Supreme God, but One only, God of God.
AND as the Father is One, it follows that there must be one Son and not many sons, and that there can be only one perfect God begotten of God, and not several. For in multiplicity will arise otherness and difference and the introduction of the worse. And so it must be that the One God is the Father of one perfect and only-begotten Son, and not of more Gods or sons. Even so, light being of one essence, we are absolutely obliged to regard the perfect thing that is begotten of light to be one also. For what other thing would it be possible to conceive of as begotten of light, but the ray only, which proceeds from it, and fills and enlightens all things? Everything surely that is foreign to this would be darkness and not light. And analogously to this there can be nothing like unto, nor a true copy of, the Supreme Father, Who is unspeakable light, except as regards this one thing only, Whom we are able to call the Son. For He is the radiance of the eternal light, and the unblurred mirror of the activity of God, and the image of His goodness. Wherefore it was said: " Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person." [Heb. i. 3.] Except that the radiance is inseparable from the light of sense, while the Son exists in Himself in His own essence apart from the Father. And the ray has its range of activity solely from the light, whereas the Son is something different from a channel of energy, having His Being in Himself. And, moreover, the ray is coexistent with the light, being a kind of complement thereof; (for there could be no light without a ray:) they exist together and simultaneously. But the Father precedes the Son, and has preceded Him in existence, inasmuch as He alone is unbegotten. The One, perfect in Himself and first in order as Father, and the cause of the Son's existence, receives nothing towards the completeness of His Godhead from the Son: the Other, as a Son begotten of Him that caused His being, came second to Him, Whose Son He is, receiving from the Father both His Being, and the character of His Being. And, moreover, the ray does not shine forth from the light by its deliberate choice, but because of something which is an inseparable accident of its essence: but the Son is the image of the Father by intention and deliberate choice. For God willed to beget a Son, and established a second light, in all things made like unto Himself. Since, then, the unbegotten and eternal light is one, how could there be any other image of it, except the ray, which itself is light, preserving in all respects its likeness to its prototype? And how could there be an image of the One itself, unless it were the same as it in being one? So that a likeness is implied not only of the essence of the first, but also one of numerical quantity, for one perfect Being comes of the one eternal light, and the first and only-begotten Issue was not different or many, and it is this very Being to Which, after that Being which had no origin or beginning, we give the names of God, the Perfect, the Good: for the Son of a Father who is One must be also One. For we should have to agree that from the one fragrance of any particular object that breathes it forth, the sweet odour shed forth on all is one and the same, not diverse and many. So it is right to suppose that from the first and only Good, Which is Almighty God, is supplied an odour divine and life-giving, perceptible by mind and understanding, which is one and not many. For what variation could there be from this complete likeness to the Father, except one that was a declension and an inferiority; a supposition that we must not admit into our theology of the Son: for He is a breath of the power of God, and a pure effluence of the glory of the Creator. For a fragrant breath is poured forth from any sweet-scented substance, say from myrrh or any of the flowers and odorous plants that spring from the earth, beyond the original substance into the surrounding atmosphere, and fills the air far and wide as it is shed forth, without any deprivation, or lessening, or scission, or division of the said substance. For it still remains in its own place, and preserves its own identity, and though begetting this fragrant force it is no worse than it was before, while the sweet odour that is begotten, possessing its own character, imitates in the highest degree possible the nature of that which produced it by its own [fragrance]. But these are all earthly images and touched with mortality, parts of this lower corrupt and earthly constitution, whereas the scope of the theology we are considering far transcends all illustrations, and is not connected with anything physical, but imagines with the acutest thought a Son Begotten, not at one time non-existent, and existent at another afterwards, but existent before eternal time, and pre-existent, and ever with the Father as His Son, and yet not Unbegotten, but begotten from the Father Unbegotten, being the Only-begotten, the Word, and God of God, Who teaches that He was not cast forth from the being of the Father by separation, or scission, or division, but unspeakably and unthinkably to us brought into being from all time, nay rather before all times, by the Father's transcendent and inconceivable Will and Power. "For who shall describe his generation?" he says, and "As no one knoweth the Father save the Son, so no one knoweth the Son save the Father that begat Him."
That the Only-begotten Son of God must be considered necessarily Anterior to the Whole Universe.
BUT it seemed good to the Father, source of all goodness, that (His) One only-begotten and beloved Son should be the Head of the Creation cf all things begotten, when He was about to create One Universe, like a body one and vast consisting of many limbs and parts. . . .
And that He should not govern it from above, as merely depending on the greater Headship of the Divinity of the Father (for the Head of Christ is the Father), but as leader of and antecedent to all things after Him, being verily all the while the lasting agent of His Father's commands, and of the creation that was yet to be.
And therefore it is we say that He first before all things was made by the Father, as something one in form, the instrument of every existence and nature, alive and living, nay divine, lifegiving and all-wise, begetting good, Choregus of Light, Creator of the Heaven, Architect of the Universe, Maker of Angels, Ruler of Spirits, Instrument of the Salvation of Souls, Source of Growth to bodies, all things foreseeing, guiding, healing, ruling, judging, proclaiming the religion of the Father.
That we hold that there are Numberless Divine Created Powers but One Alone of the Son, whereby We describe Him as the Image of God the Father.
WHEREFORE we must recognize with awe throughout the whole of the sphere of creation generally one divine Power, and not suppose there to be many. For the general creative Power is One, and One is the Word, Creator of the Universe, in the beginning with God: Whom it truly behoves us not to ignore, but to worship and honour worthily, because not only at the beginning of the Creation did all things exist through Him, but since then for ever and now as well, and without Him nothing was made. For if there is life in things that exist, that life was what was begotten in Him. (For from Him and through Him is the life-power and the soul-power of all things.) Be it rhythm, beauty, harmony, order, blending of qualities, substance, quality, quantity, the one Word of the Universe holds all in union and order, and One Creative power of God is at the Head of all. And as in our own bodies there are great and various differences in the parts, but one creative power in the whole (for the nature of the head is not dependent on one power of God, that of the eyes on another, and that of ears and feet on other distinct powers), so also there is one general identical divine power governing the whole Universe, creative of the heaven and the stars, the living things in earth and air and sea, the elements generally and individually, and all kinds of natural things in their genera and species. So there is not one force productive of fire, another of water, another again of earth and of air. But one and the same wisdom is craftsman of the whole, I mean this very creative Word of God of our theology, Who is the Maker of the Universe. The friendship of the elements for one another bears witness to this, proving the constitution of the Universe to be kindred and related and as it were the work of one Architect by the mixing of blended qualities. Earth, for instance, the heavy element, floats on water, and is not drawn down below by its natural solidity, but always remaining on the surface and not immersed, bears witness to the Word of God and the Will and Power of God. The union of wet with dry, again, without producing corruption, and without completely swamping everything, being hindered by the awful will of God, shews the power of the Word of God, Who is One and the same.
And what of fire? Although its nature is burning and destructive, it lurks in logs, and is mingled in all living bodies; it is combined elementarily with earth and air and water, and thus supplying by proportion and measure to all things what they need in so far as it can aid each sister element, and forgetting its own proper power, does it not seem another instance of subservience to the Word of God and His Power?
When you behold the regular succession of day and night, the waxing and waning of hours and seasons, the circles of the years and the cycles of time, the wheelings of the stars, the courses of the sun and the changes of the moon, the sympathy and antipathy of all things, and the one Cosmos formed of all, would you think it right to say that Unreason, and Chance, and random forces were the cause of all, or rather the Word which is truly God's Word and God's Wisdom and God's Power, and would you not hymn Its praise as one and not many? Then, again, in a man one soul and one power of reason may be creative of many things, since one and the same faculty by concentration can be applied to agriculture, to ship-building, to steering and to house-building. And the one mind and reasoning faculty in a man can acquaint him with many different spheres of knowledge, for the same man will know geometry and astronomy, and will lecture on grammar and medicine, and will excel in intellectual pursuits and handicraft as well. And yet no one has ever yet supposed that there are more souls than one in one body, or has thought it strange that man should have many faculties, through his interest in many studies.
And again, if one should find a shapeless piece of clay, and then softening it in his hands give it the shape of an animal, moulding with plastic art the head into one form, the hands and feet differently, the eyes again otherwise, and the cheeks as well, ears and mouth, nose, chest and shoulders, would you say, when many forms and limbs and parts have been framed in the one body, that one must reckon there to have been the same number of makers, or rather praise the craftsman of the whole complete figure, who worked out the whole thing with one reasoning faculty and one power? Why, then, in the case of the Universe, which consists of a unity in many parts, must we suppose many creative powers, and name many gods, and not confess that that which is truly "the power of God and the wisdom of God" in one power and goodness supports and gives life to all things at the same time, and gives to all from itself their various supplies? So also the light of the sun is one, and the same rays at one and the same time irradiate the air, enlighten the eyes, warm the touch, enrich the earth, cause plants to grow, are the foundation of time, the guide of the stars, the patrol of the heavens, the joy of the Cosmos, shew the clear power of God in the whole Universe, and fulfil all those effects with one pulse of their being.
Fire, again, by its nature purifies gold, and melts lead: wax it dissolves, clay it hardens, wood it dries, by one burning force accomplishing so many changes. And thus, too, the heavenly Word of God, the Creator of sun and heaven and of the whole Cosmos, present in all things with effective power, and reaching through all things, showers light on sun and moon and stars from Its own eternal force, and having first formed the heaven to be the meetest likeness of Its own greatness rules over it for ever, and fills the powers of angels and spirits beyond the heaven and the Cosmos, and the beings who have mind and reason, at once with life, and light, and wisdom, and all virtue, and every good thing from Its own treasures, with one and the same creative art. And It never ceases to bestow their special being to the elements, their mixings, combinations, forms, shapes and fashions, and their many qualities, in the animal and vegetable world, and in souls, and in bodies rational and irrational, varying Its gifts now in one way now in another, and supplying all things to all together at the same time, and dowering all mankind with self-conscious mind able to contemplate Its wisdom, standing close by all and shewing beyond all doubt that the one Cosmos is the work of the one Cosmos-making Word.
Such, then, was the Son, sole-begotten of His will, Master of fair crafts and Creator of all tilings, Whom the Highest God, God and Father of the Creator Himself first before all begat, setting in Him and through Him the creative proportions of things about to be, and casting in Him the seeds of the constitution and the government of the Universe. Do you not see with your eyes the whole Cosmos, which one heaven encircles, and the myriad dances and circlings of the stars around it? One sun again, and not many suns, veils the flashings of all things with excess of light. So, then, since the Father is one, the Son must be one also. And if one should find fault because there are not many, let such an one see that he find not fault because He made not more suns than one, or moons, or universes, or anything else, like a maniac attempting to turn what is right and good in nature out of its course.
That from the First Constitution of the Universe the Christ of God has been the Invisible Guardian of Godly Souls.
THUS, then, as the one sun among things visible lights the whole Cosmos of sense, so also among the things of thought the one perfect Word of God gives light to the immortal and unembodied powers, the myriad existences of mind and reason, like stars and founts of light. And since it behoved that the law over all through the Universe, and the Word of God in all and reaching through all, should be one, so that in Him the likeness to the Father even in all respects might be preserved, in virtue, in power, in essence, in the number of the Monad and the Unit, since the essence of things about to be begotten would be of many forms and many kinds, subject through weakness of nature to many changes and variations, one at one time, another at another, and would fail of the highest power of the Father through the exceeding greatness of His nature inexpressible and infinitely vast to all, and fated for ever being itself but a begotten thing to be unable to mingle with the unbegotten and incomprehensible Godhead, or to look up and gaze upon the unspeakable flashings pouring out from the eternal light, it was above all necessary that the Father all-good and the Saviour of the Universe, that the nature of things soon to be might not in exile from His fellowship be deprived of the greatest good, should interpose the divine, all-strong, and all-virtuous power of His only-begotten and first-born Son. For though He was in the most certain and the closest association with the Father, and equally with Him rejoiced in that which is unspeakable, yet He could descend with all gentleness, and conform Himself in such ways as were possible, to those who were far distant from His own height, and through their weakness crave amelioration and aid from a secondary Being, that they might behold the flashings of the sun falling quietly and gently on them, though they are not able to delight in the fierce might of the sun because of their bodily weakness.
Suppose, as the hypothesis of an argument, that the sun all-glowing came down from heaven and lived among men, it would be impossible for anything on earth to remain undestroyed, for everything alive and dead would be destroyed together by the rushing stroke of light, swiftly enough would he make blind the eyes of those that see, being far more the source of harm and destruction than of usefulness to all, not that it is his nature so to be, but that he would become such to those who would be unable from their own weakness to support his surpassing glare.
Why, then, are you surprised to learn the like about God (Whose work is the sun, and the whole heaven, and the Cosmos)? That it is impossible for any that exist to have fellowship in His unspeakable and inexplicable Power and Essence save for One alone, Whom the Father Himself in His Foreknowledge of the Universe established before all things, so that the nature of begotten things might not altogether through their own lack of energy and strength fall away, being severed from the Father's unbegotten and incomprehensible Essence, but might endure and increase and be nourished, enjoying that mediated supply, which the Only-begotten Word of God ceases not to provide to all, and passing everywhere and through all provides for the salvation of all equally, whether they have reason or not, whether they be mortal or immortal, of heaven or of earth, both divine and invisible powers, and, in a word, of all things whatsoever that shared in being through His agency, and far more peculiarly still of those who possess reason and thought, for which things' sake He does not at all despise the human race, but rather honours and cares for it, for the sake of the kinship and connection of their reason with Himself, inasmuch as it was said in the holy oracles that they were formed after His likeness. Yea, He, as being the Word of God, made His own image, all that is of thought and reason, the foundation of His own creation from the beginning, and set man, therefore, in a kingly and ruling relation to all living things on earth, and sent him forth free and with the power of undetermined choice between his good and evil inclinations. But man using his free-will badly, turning from the right road, went wrong, caring neither for God nor Lord, nor distinguished between holy and unholy, with all manner of rude and dissolute actions, living the life of the irrational beasts. Then surely the All-Good, the King of kings, the Supreme, God Almighty, that the men on earth might not be like brute beasts without rulers and guardians, set over them the holy angels to be their leaders and governors like herdsmen and shepherds, and set over all, and made the head of all His Only-begotten and Firstborn Word. He gave Him for His own portion the angels and archangels, and the divine powers, and the immaterial and transcendent spirits, yea, verily, of things on earth as well the souls among men beloved by God, called by the names of the Hebrews, Jacob and Israel.
That to the Hebrews alone of Old was the Knowledge of the True God revealed, being known by the Manifestation of the Christ.
INTO this truth Moses, the first mystic theologian, initiated the Hebrews of old, saying:
"7. Ask thy father, and he shall announce to thee, thine elders, and they shall tell thee. 8. When the Most High divided the nations, when he distributed the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. 9. His people Israel became the portion of the Lord: Israel was the line of his inheritance."
In these words surely he names first the Most High God, the Supreme God of the Universe, and then as Lord His Word, Whom we call Lord in the second degree after the God of the Universe. And their import is that all the nations and the sons of men, here called sons of Adam, were distributed among the invisible guardians of the nations, that is the angels, by the decision of the Most High God, and His secret counsel unknown to us. Whereas to One beyond comparison with them, the Head and King of the Universe, I mean to Christ Himself, as being the Only-begotten Son, was handed over that part of humanity denominated Jacob and Israel, that is to say, the whole division which has vision and piety.
For the one engaged in the contest of the practice of virtue, even now struggling and contending in the gymnasium of holiness, was called in Hebrew nomenclature Jacob: while he that has won victory and the prize of God is called Israel, one like that actual famed forefather of the whole race of the Hebrews, and his true sons and their descendants, and their forefathers, all prophets and men of God. Do not suppose, I beg you, that the multitude of the Jews are thus referred to, but only those of the distant past, who were made perfect in virtue and piety.
These, then, it was, whom the Word of God, the Head and Leader of all, called to the worship of the Father alone, Who is the Most High, far above all things that are seen, beyond the heaven and the whole begotten essence, calling them quietly and gently, and delivering to them the worship of God Most High alone, the Unbegotten and the Creator of the Universe.
That the Other Nations, assigned to Certain Angels, worshipped only the Stars of Heaven.
BUT the angel-guardians and shepherds of the other races allowed them, inasmuch as they were not able with their mind to see the invisible, nor to ascend so high through their own weakness, to worship tilings seen in the heavens, the sun and moon and stars. For these, indeed, being the most wonderful of the things of the phenomenal world, invited upwards the eyes of those who see, and as near as possible to heaven, being as it were in the precincts of the King's court, manifesting the glory of Him that is the Source of all by the analogy of the vastness and beauty of created visible things. "For his invisible things," as the divine Apostle says, "from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." And this again the great Moses mystically says. For in exhorting the portion of the Lord to grasp with clear mind and pure soul that which is known to the mind only and unembodied, he prohibits all terror of the things seen in heaven, adding that "The Lord thy God has divided them for all the nations." And it is worth realizing why he says that they were divided. Since unseen by us they that bear the earthy and daemonic nature are everywhere wanderers, flying through the air around the earth unknown and undistinguished by men, and the good spirits and powers and, indeed, the divine angels themselves are ever at variance with the worse, there was but one way for those who failed of the highest religion of the Almighty to prosper, namely to choose the best of things visible in heaven. For there was no slight danger, lest seeking after God, and busy with the unseen world, they should turn towards the opposing daemonic powers amid the stress of things obscure and dark. So all the most beautiful visible created things were delivered to them who yearned for nothing better, since to some extent the vision of the unseen shone in them, reflected as in a mirror.
Of the Hostile Power opposed to God, and of its Ruler, and how the Whole Race of Mankind was in Subjection thereto.
SUCH was their position. While those on the side of the opposing rebel power were either daemons, or vile spirits immersed more or less in wickedness, with the cunning ruler of them all the mighty daemon, who first failed of their reverence of the Divinity and fell from their own portion, when envy of man's salvation drew them the contrary way, plotting with all sorts of evil devices against all the nations, and even against the Lord's portion in their jealousy of the good. It is this godless and unholy scheme of the great Daemon, which the prophetic spirit in Isaiah reproves in this way, saying:
"13. I will act in strength, and in the wisdom of understanding I will take away the boundaries of the nations, and will diminish their strength, 14. and I will shake inhabited cities. And the whole inhabited world I will take in my hand as a nest, and I will take them even as eggs that have been left; and none shall escape me or say me nay."
These are the words of God's antagonist, boasting in the strength of his wickedness, as he threatens to steal and obliterate the divisions of the nations delivered by the Most High to the angels, and loudly cries that he will spoil the earth, and shake the whole race of men, and change them from their former good order. But hear the same prophecy speak about him again, how he thought about himself and how he bragged:
"How has Lucifer that rose at morn fallen from heaven: He is crushed to earth that sent to all the nations. But thou saidst in thy heart, 'I will go up to heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven. ... I will ascend above the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' But now thou shalt go down to hell, and to the foundations of the earth."
Truly Scripture shews many things at once in this, the madness of the said spirit, his fall from the better to the worse, and the end of his fall. And having uttered terrible threats against all mankind, he discovered that men could be caught otherwise by his weapons, since they possessed in their power of free choice the ever-ready possibility of falling into evil from their own thoughts. Then he turned the conditions of states from the better to the worse, and drew away the souls of the multitude by the bait of pleasure to every form of wickedness, and left no sort of device untried, and with base myths of the gods and impure stories he tempted his victims with what they loved and with what gave them pleasure, using the artful deceit of the daemons. And in this way he took the whole world and held it captive, and obliterated the boundaries of the nations, as he had threatened to do when he said: "I will remove the boundaries of the nations, and I will diminish their strength, and I will take the whole world in my hand as a nest." And from that day forward he ruled all men with deceit, and the evil demons were arrayed under their king in every place and city and land. And thus the whole of human life was enslaved by earthly powers and evil spirits instead of the earlier ministers of God, and all gave themselves over in throngs and swiftly to the snares of pleasure; so that they soon overleapt the bounds even of nature, in unnatural offences of one kind or another, and they not only did things of which it is wrong even to think, but connected them with their conceptions of their own gods, and worked their lust with all the more freedom as a thing supposed to please the gods. Hence soon, according to the holy Apostle, they took no heed of the works of God still bright in heaven.
" They became vain in their reasonings: and their senseless heart was darkened. 22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. 23. And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and of birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things." [Rom. i. 21.]
And that in the earliest age those upon earth worshipped only the lights of heaven, and knew no image, nor were concerned with the error of the daemons, there is satisfactory proof to be found in the evidence of those, who are strangers to my argument, which I drew upon in the first book of the Preparatio (which I wrote) before the present treatise; they clearly prove that the earliest men did not serve idols fashioned by hand from lifeless matter, nor even invisible daemons, but only those beings, which are said in Holy Scripture to have been distributed among the nations. It is time for the Greeks themselves, therefore, whose statements I have arranged in the work mentioned, to agree that the superstition connected with idols was something more recent and novel, being introduced subsequently to the worship of the ancients, as well as the devotion to unseen spirits. All this was the work of the said antagonist of God, who plotted against all those on earth. And all the tribe of unclean spirits co-operated with him. Yea, he surely, the prince of evil himself, worked this result, fulfilling in very deed, in the madness of strange pride, the threats he had uttered against all men, raising the godless cry, "I will be like the Most High," and with the aid of impure and evil daemons offering oracles and cures and such like in response to human sorcery.
That the Only-begotten Son of God made His Entry among Mankind of Necessity.
THEY that were their guardian angels before were unable to defend in any way the subject nations now involved in such a flood of evil. They took care of the rest of the created world. They guarded the other parts of the Cosmos, and served according to their wont the will of God the Creator of all. But they did not realize the fall of mortal men through the undetermined human choice of evil. Wherefore a sickness great and hard to heal overcame all on the face of the earth, the nations being driven now one way now another by the evil spirits, and falling into a depthless abyss of evil. Yea, now some thought it good to feast on the bodies of their dearest, like wild beasts that devour the raw flesh of men, and to lie shamelessly with mothers, sisters and daughters, to strangle their old men, and cast their bodies to the dogs and birds. Why should I recall the cruel and terrible human sacrifices of the "gods," I mean the evil daemons, into which they maddened the human race? I have dealt sufficiently with them previously in the Prolegomena to the present treatise. But it was when evils of such magnitude had fallen on the (d) whole world from the wicked and vile spirits and their king, and none of the guardian angels was able to defend them from the evils, that He, God the Word, the Saviour of the Universe, by the good will of His Father's love to man, that the human race so dear to Him might not be seethed in the gulf of sin, sent forth at last some few and watery rays of His own light to shine through the prophet Moses and the godly men before and after him, providing a cure for the evil in man by the holy Law. It is exactly this that the Word says to the race of the Hebrews when giving the law by Moses:
"Ye shall not do according to the devices of Egypt, in which ye dwelt, and according to the devices of the land of Canaan, into which I bring you shall ye not do, and ye shall not walk in their ordinances, ye shall observe my judgments, and ye shall keep my ordinances. I am the Lord your God." [Lev. xviii. 2.]
Then, having forbidden all unlawful marriage, and all unseemly practice, and the union of women with women and men with men, he adds:
"Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for in all these things the nations were defiled, which I will drive out before you. And the land was polluted, and I have recompensed (their) iniquity upon it, and the land is aggrieved with them that dwell upon it."
And again, he says:
"And when thou shalt have entered into the land which the Lord thy God gives thee, thou shalt by no means learn to do according to the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found in thee one who purges his son or his daughter in the fire, one who uses divination, and who deals in the omens, a sorcerer using incantations, a divining spirit, an observer of auguries, a questioner of the dead. For every one that doeth these things is an abomination to the Lord thy God. For because of these abominations the Lord will destroy them from before thy face. Thou shalt be perfect before the Lord thy God."
These and many other holy teachings and commands God the Word gave to them of old by Moses, as delivering the elementary truths at the entry of the life of holiness, by means of symbols, and worship of a shadowy and external character, in bodily circumcision, and other things of that kind, which were completed on the earth. But since as time went on none of the prophets who succeeded Moses had the power to cure the evils of life owing to excess of wickedness, and the activity of the daemons daily waxed greater, so that even the Hebrew race was hurried along in the destruction of the godless, at last the Saviour and Physician of the Universe comes down Himself to men, bringing reinforcement to His angels for the salvation of men, since the Father had promised Him that He would give Him this boon, as He therefore teaches in the Psalms, when He says:
"7. The Lord said to me, Thou art my Son, This day have I begotten thee, 8. Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, And utmost parts of the earth for thy possession."
And thus He no longer claimed as under His own authority just and clear-sighted Israel, nor His own proper portion only, but all the nations on the earth, which before were allotted to many angels, and were involved in all sorts of wickedness, and He came announcing to all the knowledge and love of His Father, and promising the remission and forgiveness of their former ignorance and sins, which He also announced clearly when He said: "The strong have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." And He came, too, as overseer of His own angels, who were first set over the nations: and they at once very distinctly recognized their helper and Lord, and came gladly and ministered to Him, as the Holy Scripture teaches, saying: "And angels came and ministered to him," and when, too, "a multitude of the heavenly host praising God said, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among men.'" These, then, as being His own angels He thus received, since they were in need of His help, but those that of old had flown around the pursuits of men, the malicious daemons who both visibly and invisibly had tyrannized over those on earth, and the tribes of wild and merciless spirits, with their leader in all evil, that cunning and baneful one He put to flight and subdued with mighty and divine power, as certain of them that recognized Him said: "What have we to do with thee, Son of God? Hast thou come to torment us before the time?"
And these by His deeds and words He mightily plagued, while He healed and cured the whole human race with the gentle and kind medicines of His words, and with the tonic of His teaching. He freed them from all sorts of sicknesses and suffering of body as well as soul, He set all that came to Him free from age-long superstition, and the fears of polytheistic error, and from a low and dissolute life. He converted and changed those who listened to Him from lust to purity, from impiety to piety, from injustice to justice, yea, verily from the power of the malicious daemons to the divine acceptance of true holiness. In addition to all this He threw open the gates of heavenly life and of His holy teaching to all the nations of the world, and so greatly condescended, as not only to extend His saving hand to the sick and grievously afflicted, but also to save the half-dead from the very gates of death, and to loose from the bonds of death those who had been a long time dead and buried. And for this reason especially there was need for Him to be active, even as far as the resting-places of the dead, that He might be Lord not only of the living but of the dead as well.
So long, then, as He is with the Father, and steers the Providence of the Universe with divine power, the Divine Word and Wisdom and Power oversees and protects the heaven itself and the earth likewise, and the things by nature included in them, as well as the divine and unembodied essences beyond the heaven. He is their Ruler and Head and King, and is already hymned as God and Lord in the sacred oracles, and He gives light to the unembodied and purely rational natures. And He is called Sun of Righteousness, and the True Light, carrying out and co-operating in His leather's commands, wherefore He is also styled minister of the Father and Creator, but since He alone in His ordained rank knows how to serve God, and stands midway between the unbegotten God and the things after Him begotten, and has received the care of the Universe, and is Priest to the Father on behalf of all who are obedient, and alone shews Himself favourable and merciful to all, He is called as well Eternal High Priest, and also the Anointed (Christ) of the Father, for so among the Hebrews they were called Christs, who long ago symbolically presented a copy of the first (Christ). And when as Captain of the Angels He heads them, He is called: "The Angel of Great Counsel," and as Leader of the Armies of Heaven: "Captain of the Host of the Lord."
But now descending to our world, receiving our rational nature, for the sake of His own likeness to it by the goodwill of the Father, as He is like to rule over infants and as it were over the flocks, He is named Shepherd of the Sheep, while as promising to care for sick souls, He would rightly be called Saviour and Physician. And this of course is the meaning of the name "Jesus" in Hebrew.
And since He needed a human organism, so that He could show Himself to men, and give true teaching of the knowledge of the Father and of holiness, He did not even refuse the way of the Incarnation; but assuming our nature in a moment He came among men, shewing the great Miracle to all of God in Man. So that He did not take command imperceptibly and obscurely as a being without flesh or body, but seen by the very eyes of flesh, and allowing the eyes of men to see miracles even beyond the power of man, and moreover giving His teaching by tongue and articulate sound to the bodily ears, He manifested Himself—and truly it was a divine and miraculous thing, such as never before or since is recorded to have happened—the Saviour and the Benefactor, too, of all. So, then, God the Word was called the Son of Man, and was named Jesus, because He made His approach to us to cure and to heal the souls of men. And therefore in Hebrew the name Jesus is interpreted Saviour. And He led the life which we lead, in no way forsaking the being that He had before, and ever in the Manhood retaining the Divinity.
Immediately, therefore, at the first moment of His descent among men, He mingles with God the divine glory of our human birth, for while He is born like us, and arrayed like men with mortality, yet as One Who is not man, but God, He is born into the phenomenal world from an undefiled and unwedded maiden, and not of sexual union and corruption.
That He passed through the Life of Men.
AND He lived His whole life through in the same manner, now revealing His nature as like our own, and now that of God the Word, doing great works and miracles as God, and announcing beforehand predictions of the future, and shewing clearly by His deeds God the Word Who was not seen by the multitude, and He made the end of His life, when He departed from men, in tune with and similar to its beginning.
That the Laws of Loving-kindness called Him even to them that had been long dead.
Now the laws of love summoned Him even as far as Death and the dead themselves, so that He might summon the souls of those who were long time dead. And so because He cared for the salvation of all for ages past, and that "He might bring to naught him that hath the power of death," as Scripture teaches, here again he underwent the dispensation in His mingled Natures: as Man, he left His Body to the usual burial, while as God He departed from it. For He cried with a loud cry, and said to the Father: "I commend my spirit," and departed from the body free, in no wise waiting for death, who was lagging as it were in fear to come to Him; nay, rather, He pursued him from behind and drove him on, trodden under His feet and fleeing, and He burst the eternal gates of his dark realms, and made a road of return back again to life for the dead there bound with the bonds of death. Thus, too, His own body was raised up, and many bodies of the sleeping saints arose, and came together with Him into the holy and real City of Heaven, as rightly is said by the holy words: "Death has prevailed and swallowed men up"; and again: "The Lord God has taken away every tear from every face."
And the Saviour of the Universe, our Lord, the Christ of God, called Victor, is represented in the prophetic predictions as reviling death, and releasing the souls that are bound there, by whom He raises the hymn of victory, and He says these words:
"From the hand of Hades I will save them, and from death I will ransom their souls. O Death, where is thy victory? O Death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law."
Such was the dispensation that brought Him even unto death, of which one that wishes to seek for the cause, can find not one reason but many. For firstly, the Word teaches by His death that He is Lord both of dead and living; and secondly, that He will wash away our sins, being slain, and becoming a curse for us; thirdly, that a victim of God and a great sacrifice for the whole world might be offered to Almighty God; fourthly, that thus He might work out the destruction of the deceitful powers of the daemons by unspeakable words; and fifthly also, that shewing the hope of life with God after death to His friends and disciples not by words only by deeds as well, and affording ocular proof of His message, He might make them of good courage and more eager to preach both to Greeks and Barbarians the holy polity which He had established. And so at once He filled with His own divine power those very friends and followers, whom He had selected for Himself on account of their surpassing all, and had chosen as His apostles and disciples, that they might teach all races of men His message of the knowledge of God, and lay down one way of religion for all the Greeks and Barbarians; a way which announced the defeat and rout of the daemons, and the check of polytheistic error, and the true knowledge of the one Almighty God, and which promised forgiveness of sins before committed, if men no longer continued therein, and one hope of salvation to all by the all-wise and all-good polity that He had instituted.
That even when He was made Man, He remained in the Nature that cannot suffer, or be harmed, or embodied.
AND since this is so, there is no need to be disturbed in mind on hearing of the Birth, human Body, Sufferings and Death of the immaterial and unembodied Word of God. For just as the rays of the sun's light undergo no suffering, though they fill all things, and touch dead and unclean bodies, much less could the unembodied Power of God suffer in its essence, or be harmed, or ever become worse than itself, when it touches a body without being really embodied. For what of this? Did He not ever and everywhere reach through the matter of the elements and of bodies themselves, as being the creative Word of God, and imprint the words of His own wisdom upon them, impressing life on the lifeless, form on that which is formless and shapeless by nature, stamping His own beauty and unembodied ideas on the qualities of matter, moving things by their own nature lifeless and immovable, earth, air, fire, in a wise and harmonious motion, ordering all things out of disorder, increasing and perfecting them, pervading all things with the divine power of reason, extending through all places and touching all, but yet receiving hurt from naught, nor defiled in His own nature. And the same is true of His relation to men (as well as nature). Of old He appeared to a few easily numbered, only the prophets who are recorded and the just men, now to one, now to another, but finally to us all, to the evil and unholy, to the Greeks as well as the Hebrews, He has offered Himself as Benefactor and Saviour through the surpassing goodness and love of the Father, Who is all-good, distinctly announcing it thus: "They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Yea, the Saviour of all cried unto all, saying: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you." He called and healed ungrudgingly through the human organism which He had assumed, like a musician showing his skill by means of a lyre, and exhibited Himself as an example of a life wholly wise, virtuous, and good, unto the souls diseased in human bodies, just as the most clever physicians heal men with remedies akin to and resembling them. For, now, He taught them truths not shared by others, but laid down as laws by Him or by the Father in far distant periods of time for the ancient and pre-Mosaic Hebrew men of God. And now He cared as kindly for their bodies as for their souls, allowing them to see with eyes of physical sight the things done by Him in the flesh, and giving His teaching to their physical ears again with a tongue of flesh. He fulfilled all things by the Humanity that He had taken, for those who only in that way were able to appreciate His Divinity. In all this, then, for the advantage and profit of us all the all-loving Word of God ministered to His Father's Counsels, remaining Himself immaterial and unembodied, as He was before with the Father, not changing His essence, not dissolved from His own nature, not bound with the bonds of the flesh, not falling from divinity, and neither losing the characteristic power of the Word, nor hindered from being in the other parts of the Universe, while He passed His life where His earthly vessel was. For it is the fact that during the time in which He lived as a man, He continued to fill all things, and was with the Father, and was in Him too, and had care of all things collectively even then, of things in heaven and on earth, not being like ourselves debarred from ubiquity, nor hindered from divine action by His human nature. But He shared His own gifts with man, and received nothing from mortality in return . He supplied something of His divine power to mortals, not taking anything in return for His association with mortals. He was, therefore, not defiled by being born of a human body, being apart from body, neither did He suffer in His essence from the mortal, being untouched by suffering. As when a lyre is struck, or its strings torn asunder, if so it chance, it is unlikely that he who played it suffers, so we could not say truly that, when some wise man is punished in his body, that the wisdom in him, or the soul in his body, is struck or burned. Much less is it reasonable to say that the nature or power of the Word received any hurt from the sufferings of the body. For it was granted in our illustration of light that the rays of the sun sent down to earth from heaven are not defiled by touching all the mud and filth and garbage. We are not even debarred from saying that these things are illuminated by the rays of light. Whereas it is impossible to say that the sun is defiled or rendered muddy by contact with these materials. And these things could not be said to be foreign to one another. Whereas the immaterial and unembodied Word of God, having His life and reason and everything we have said in Himself, if He touch aught with divine and unembodied power, the thing touched must necessarily live and exist with the light of reason. Thus therefore, also, whatever body He touches, that body is made holy and illuminated at once, and all disease and weakness and all such things depart. Its emptiness is exchanged for the fullness of the Word. And this was why a dead body, though but a small part of it came in contact with the power of the Word, was raised up to life, and death fled from life, and darkness was dissolved by light, the corruptible put on incorruption, and the mortal immortality.
That renewing Humanity He afforded to us all the Hope of Eternal Good.
Now it was actually the case that the whole Humanity was absorbed by the Divinity, and moreover the Word of God was God as He had previously been man, and He deified humanity with Himself, being the firstfruits of our hope, since He thought actual manhood worthy of eternal life with Him, and of fellowship in the blessed Godhead, and afforded to us all equally this mighty proof of an immortality and kingdom with Him.
What the Advent of Christ is meant to shew forth, and that He is called God and Lord and High Priest of the God of the Universe by the Hebrew Prophets.
THIS then was the object of His coming to men, to bring back that which had of old wandered away from the knowledge of the Father to its own way, and to crown that which was thought worthy of being made in His own image as a relation and a friend with the joy of His own life, and to show that the humanity was beloved by and belonged to the Father, since for its sake the Word of God Himself consented to become man. And now to speak briefly, the doctrine connected with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in its wonderful dispensation, shall be supported from the Hebrew prophecies, as presently their evidence will shew; the new Scriptures shall prove the old, and the Gospels set their seal on the prophetic evidence.
But if this is so, it is now time to discuss His Name, why He is called Jesus and Christ, and saluted beforehand by name by so many prophecies. And first, let us inquire the meaning of the name Christ, before we begin a detailed collection of the prophetic passages connected with the present question I think it convenient to consider first the name "Christ," and to distinguish the conception it conveys, so that we may be well acquainted with all the questions usually associated with the subject.
Another writer, you will remember, whose ideas spring from modern times and our own day, has said that Moses was the first of all lawgivers to appoint that those who were to act as priests to God must be anointed with prepared myrrh, since he thought that their bodies ought to smell sweet and have a good odour: for as everything ill-smelling is dear to vile and impure powers, so contrariwise the sweet-smelling is dear to the powers that love good. And he therefore made the law as well that the priests should use every day in the Temple prepared incense, that sweet smells might abound. So that while the air was mingled with it, and dispersed evil smells, a kind of divine effluence might mingle with those who prayed. And that for the same reason flagrant anointing oil was made by the perfumer's art, for all to use who were going to take the leading place in the State on public occasions, and that Moses first gave the name of "Christ'' to those thus anointed. And that this chrism was not only conferred on chief priests, but afterwards on prophets and kings, who alone were allowed to be anointed with the sacred unguent.
This account seems, no doubt, very obvious, but it is far removed from the actual intention of the divine and sublime prophet. For we may be sure that that wonderful man, and truly great Hierophant, knowing that the whole of earthy and material being was distinguished in its qualities alone, in no sense honoured one form above another, for he knew that all things were the product of one matter, never stable, having no firmness in its nature, which is ever in flux, and hastening to its own destruction. He, therefore, made no choice of bodies for their sweetness, nor preferred the pleasure of the senses for its own sake. For this would be the condition of a soul fallen to the ground and under the power of bodily pleasure. There are, we know, many men effeminate in body, and in other ways vicious and lustful, who make use of superfluous unguents and a variety of things, but carry souls full of every horrible and offensive stench, while on the other hand the men of God, breathing out virtue, send forth a fragrance that comes from purity, justice, and all holiness far better than the scents of earth, and hold the smell of material bodies of no account.
And the prophet, well understanding this, had none of these ideas that have been suggested about unguents or incense, but presented the images of greater and divine things, so far as he could, in an outward way to those who could learn the divine in that way only and no other. And that is exactly what the divine oracle is reported to have expressed, when it said: "See thou make (all) things according to the type shewn in the Mount.": Therefore, when completing the symbols of the other things, which it is usual to call types, it appointed the anointing with the unguent. The account of it loftily and mysteriously expressed as it is, so far as I can explain it, had this meaning, that the only good and only truly sweet and noble, the cause of all life, and the gift bestowed on all in their being and their well-being, that this One Being was believed by the Hebrew reason to be the first cause of all, and Itself the highest and the All-Ruling and the All-Creating God.
It is thus the power of this Being, the all strong, the all-good, the source of all beauty in the highest unbegotten Godhead, the Divine Spirit (which by the use of a proper and natural analogy) it culls the (Oil of God), and therefore it calls one who partakes of it Christ and Anointed. Do not think of oil as. pity in this connection, nor as sympathy for the unfortunate, but as that which the fruit of the tree affords, something unmixed with any damp matter, nourisher of light, healer of toilers, disperser of weariness, that which makes those who use it of a cheerful countenance, streaming with rays like light, making bright and shining the face of him who uses it, as holy Scripture says: "That he may rejoice my face with oil."
Therefore the prophetic word by this analogy referring to the highest power of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, calls Him the Christ and the Anointed, Who is the first and only one to be anointed with this oil in its fullness, and is the sharer of the Father's divine fragrance communicable to none other, and is God the Word sole-begotten of Him, and is declared to be God of God by His communion with the Unbegotten that begat Him, both the First and the Greater. Wherefore in the Psalms the oracle says thus to this same Being anointed of the Father:
"7. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:
A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom:
8. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated injustice:
Wherefore God, thy God,
Hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."[Ps. xliv. 7.]
But the nature of the oil of olive is one, whereas the nature of the unguent shews a union of many in one. And so the original and unbegotten power of Almighty God, insofar as it is conceived of as simple, uncompounded, and unmingled with any other essence, is metaphorically compared with the simple essence of the olive oil. But insofar as it is inclusive of many ideas in the same, i. e. the creative or kingly, the conceptions of providence, judgment, and countless others, such power as inclusive of many good qualities is more suitably likened to the unguent, which the holy Scriptures teach us that the true and only High Priest of God uses. And Moses himself having first been thought worthy to view the divine (realities) in secret, and the mysteries concerning the first and only Anointed High Priest of God, which were celebrated before him in His Theophanies, is ordered to establish figures and symbols on earth of what he had seen with his mind in visions, so that they who were worthy might have the symbols to occupy them, previously to the full vision of the truth.
And when afterwards he set apart from all men on earth one man who was fit to act as priest to God Himself, he from the first called him Christ, transferring the name from its spiritual meaning, and shewed that He was greater than (c) the rest of mankind by the sweet-smelling unction, clearly and emphatically proclaiming that the whole nature of the begotten, much more human nature, lacks the power of the Unbegotten, and craves the fragrance of the better. But it is allowed to no man to reach the Highest and the First; this prize is given to the Only-begotten and the Firstborn only. For those after Him there is only one way of grasping good, through the mediation of a second principle. So the symbol of Moses was of the Holy Spirit. "And there are diversities of gifts, hut the same spirit": of which Spirit he thought that prophets and kings before all others ought to be ambitious to partake, as being consecrated to God not for themselves only, but for all the people.
But now let us inquire somewhat more exactly about the symbols of Moses being symbols of the more divine (realities), and about the possibility of those who were endued with the Holy Spirit without the unction of earth being called Christs.
David in Ps. civ. when touching the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the very men who were his godly ancestors, who lived before Moses' day, calls them Christs, for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in which they shared, and for that alone. And when he tells how they were hospitably received by foreigners, and bow they found God was their Saviour when plots were laid against them, following Moses' account, he names them prophets also and Christs, although Moses had then not yet appeared among men, nor was his law about the prepared unguent laid down. Hear what the Psalm says:
"5. Remember the wonderful works, that he hath done,
His wonders and the judgments of his mouth
6. Ye seed of Abraham, his servants,
Ye children of Jacob, his chosen,
7. The Lord himself is your God,
His wonders are in all the world.
8. He remembered his covenant for ever
The law which he gave to a thousand generations,
9. Which he commanded to Abraham,
And the oath which he sware unto Isaac,
10. And established it to Jacob for a law,
And to Israel for an everlasting covenant.
11. Saying ' To you I will give the land of Canaan,
The lot of your inheritance.'—
13. And they went from one nation to another,
From one kingdom to another people.
14. He suffered no man to do them wrong,
And reproved kings for their sake:
15. 'Touch not my Christs,
And do my prophets no harm.' "
So David wrote. And Moses informs us what kings He reproved, saying:
"And God afflicted Pharaoh with great plagues because of Sarra, Abraham's wife."
And again he writes about the King of Gerar:
"And God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said, Behold thou diest for the woman thou hast taken; for she is the wife of Abraham."
Of whom he says further on:
"And now give back the woman to her husband, for he is a prophet, and will pray for you."
You see from these instances how David, or rather the Holy Spirit Who spoke through him, called the godly men of old and the prophets Christs, though they were not anointed with the earthly unguent. For how could they have been, since it was in after years that Moses commanded the unction of the High Priest?
Now listen to Isaiah prophesying in the clearest words thus about Christ, as one to be sent by God to men as their Redeemer and Saviour, and coming to preach forgiveness to those in bondage of spirit, and recovery of sight to the blind. For here again the prophet teaches that the Christ has been anointed not with a prepared unguent, but with the spiritual and divine anointing of His Father's Divinity, conferred not by man but by the Father. He says then in the person of Christ:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. He has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to heal the broken in heart, and recovery of sight to the blind."
Let this point then be regarded as certain, that Isaiah, equally with David, prophesies that He that should come to mankind to preach liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind would not be anointed with a prepared unguent, but with an anointing of the power of His Father Unbegotten and Perfect. And according to the manner of prophecy the prophet speaks of the future as past, and as one predicting about himself.
So far, then, we have learned that they who are called "Christs" in the highest sense of the term are anointed by God, not by men, and with the Holy Spirit, not with a prepared unguent.
It is now time to see how the teaching of the Hebrews shews that the true Christ of God possesses a divine nature higher than humanity. Hear, therefore, David again, where he says that he knows an Eternal Priest of God, and calls Him his own Lord, and confesses that He shares the throne of God Most High in the 109th Psalm, in which he says as follows—
"The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, | till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. | 2. The Lord shall send the rod of power for thee out of Zion, | and thou shalt rule in the midst of thine enemies. | 3. With thee is dominion in the day of thy power, | in the brightness of thy saints. | I begat thee from my womb before the Morning Star. 4. The Lord sware and will not repent, | Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek." | [Ps. cix. i.]
And note that David in this passage, being king of the whole Hebrew race, and in addition to his kingdom adorned with the Holy Spirit, recognized that the Being of Whom he speaks Who was revealed to him in the spirit, was so great and surpassingly glorious, that he called Him his own Lord. For he said "The Lord said to my Lord." Yea: for he knows Him as eternal High Priest, and Priest of the Most High God, and throned beside Almighty God, and His Offspring. Now it was impossible for Jewish priests to be consecrated to the service of God without anointing, wherefore it was usual to call them Christs. The Christ, then, mentioned in the Psalm will also be a priest. For how could He have been witnessed to as priest unless He had previously been anointed? And it is also said that He is made a priest forever. Now this would transcend human nature. For it is not in man to last for ever, since our race is mortal and frail. Therefore the Priest of God, spoken of in this passage, Who by the confirmation of an oath received a perpetual and limitless priesthood from God, was greater than man. "For the Lord sware," he said, "and will not repent, Thou art a priest after the order of Melchizedek." For as Moses relates that this Melchizedek was priest of the Most High God, not anointed with a prepared unguent, since he was priest of the Most High God long before the Institution of the Law, and far above the famous Abraham in virtue—for he says, "And Melchizedek, King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God, blessed Abraham." "And without any contradiction," says the apostle, "the less is blessed by the greater." As therefore, Melchizedek, whoever he was, is introduced as one who acts as priest to the Most High God, without having been anointed with a prepared unguent, He that is prophesied of by David as of the order of Melchizedek. is also spoken of as a great Being surpassing everyone in nature, as being Priest of the supreme God, and sharing the throne of His unbegotten power, and as the Lord of the prophet; and He is not simply "priest," but "eternal priest of the Father." And the divine apostle also says, examining the implications of these passages:
"17. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18. That of two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation."
"21. For those priests were made without an oath: but this with an oath by him that said unto him: 'The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.'"
"23. They truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death. 24. But this man because he continueth ever hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
In this a divine Power is represented as being in existing things, and underlying things that are only grasped by the mind, Which according to the Hebrew oracles is Priest to the God of the Universe, and is established in the office of priesthood to the Most High, not by earthy and human unguent, but by holy and divine virtue and power. The Object of the Psalmist's prophecy therefore is presented distinctly as an eternal Priest, and Son of the Most High God, as begotten by the Most High God, and sharing the throne of His Kingdom. And the Christ foretold by Isaiah has been shewn not to have been begotten by man but by the Father, and to have been anointed by the Divine Spirit, and to have been sent to deliver men from captivity. This Being, then, it was that Moses had seen by the help of the Divine Spirit, when he established figures and symbols of Him, as suitable for men, anointing and hallowing the priest selected from among men with prepared unguents as yet, and not with the Holy Spirit, and calling him Christ and anointed, as a representation of the true. And who could give better evidence of this than Moses himself? In his own writings he distinctly says that the God and Lord Who answered him bade him establish a more material worship on earth according to the spiritual and heavenly vision that had been shewn him, which should form an image of the spiritual and immaterial worship. And so he is said to have sketched a kind of copy of the order of the angels of heaven and the powers divine, since the oracle said to him, "Thou shalt make all things according to the pattern shewed thee in the Mount." So then he introduces the High Priest, as he did all the other elements, and anointed him with earth-born unguents, working out a Christ and a High Priest of shadow and symbol, a copy of the Heavenly Christ and High Priest.
Thus I think I have clearly proved that the essential Christ was not man, but Son of God, honoured with a scat on the right hand of His Father's Godhead, far greater not only than human and mortal nature, but greater also than every spiritual existence among things begotten.
But moreover, according to what was previously said, the same David in Ps. xliv., using as inscription the words "Concerning the beloved, and those to be changed," speaks of one and the same Being as God and King and Christ, writing thus:
" 1. My heart has uttered a good matter: I declare my works to the King: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer, 2. Thou art more beautiful than the sons of men."
To which he adds:
" 6. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom: 7. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, wherefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
Now look a little more carefully, and see how in the inscription of the Psalm he prefaces that the subject is " concerning the beloved," adding the words "for instruction" to prepare the hearers for what he is about to say. He shews also the reason of the Incarnation of the Word, with the words:
" For the end, for the changed, with a view to understanding, for the beloved."
And whom could you better regard as "those to be changed," for whom the Psalm is spoken, than those who are going to be changed from their former life and conversation, to be transformed and altered by Him Whom the prophecy concerns? And this was the beloved of God, on whose behalf the Psalm's preface advises us to have understanding with regard to the prophecy. And if you were at a loss about the Person of this Beloved One, with whom the prophecy in the Psalm is concerned, the word that faces you at the very beginning will inform you, which says: "My heart hath produced a good word." It may surely be said that by this is meant the Word that was in the beginning with God, Whom the great Evangelist John shewed forth as God, saying: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And the words, "My heart hath produced a good word," if it be spoken in the person of the Supreme God and Father, would suggest the Only-begotten Word of God, as being the Son of the Father, not by projection, nor by division, or scission, or diminution, or any conceivable mode of bodily birth; for such ideas are blasphemous, and very remote from the ineffable generation. And we must understand this according to our previous interpretation; as when it was said that He was born from the womb of God before the Morning Star, and we understood it figuratively, so we must understand this similar statement only in a spiritual sense. For in the words "My heart has produced a good word," the Holy Spirit inspires this saying also as purely spiritual. To which it seems right for me to add what I am accustomed to quote in every question that is debated about His Godhead, that reverent saying: "Who shall declare his generation?" even if the holy Scriptures are wont in our human and earthly language to speak of His Birth, and use the word "womb."
For such expressions are connected with mental imagery alone, and are accordingly subject to the laws of metaphor. And so the words, "My heart hast produced a good word," may be explained as referring to the constitution and coming into being of the primal Word, since it would not be right to suppose any heart, save one that we can understand to be spiritual, to exist in the case of the Supreme God.
One might also say that the Psalmist referred to "the Word that was in the beginning with God, "a Word rightly named "good" as being the offspring of a Father All-Good. And if we read a little further on in the Psalm we shall find that the subject of the prophecy, this very "beloved of God," is anointed, once more not as by Moses, nor as by any human being, but by the Most High and Supreme God and Father Himself. As he says further on, "Wherefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." And by what name else could one call Him that is here acknowledged to have been anointed by the Supreme God Himself, but Christ? So we have here in this passage two names of the subject of the prophecy, Christ and the Beloved, the author of this anointing being one and the same: and it shews the reason why He is said to be anointed with the oil of gladness, which will be plain to you, when we proceed a little further, and still more if you take into account the whole intention of the passage. For the Psalm addresses the subject of the prophecy, Christ the Beloved of God, in the words quoted a little before, in which it was said: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy Kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated injustice: therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." See, then, if these words are not addressed directly to God: He says,
"For thou, ὁ Θεός," instead of ὦ Θεέ. "Thy throne is for ever and ever, and a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy Kingdom." And then, "Thou, O God, hast loved righteousness and hated injustice; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed thee," and established Thee as Christ above all. The Hebrew shews it even more clearly, which Aquila most accurately translating has rendered thus: "Thy throne, God, is for ever and still, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy Kingdom. Thou hast loved justice and hated impiety: wherefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness apart from thy fellows." Instead therefore of "God, thy God" the actual Hebrew is, "O God, thy God." So that the whole verse runs: "Thou hast, O God, loved justice and hated impiety: therefore in return, O God, the highest and greater God, Who is also thy God"—so that the Anointer, being the Supreme God, is far above the Anointed, He being God in a different sense. And this would be clear to any one who knew Hebrew. For in the place of the first name, where Aquila has "Thy throne, O God," clearly replacing ὁ Θεός by Θεέ, the Hebrew has Elohim. And also for "Therefore, O God, he has anointed thee" the Hebrew has Elohim, which Aquila shewed by the vocative ὦ Θεέ.
Instead of the nominative case of the noun, which would be "Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee—" the Hebrew with extreme accuracy has Eloach, which is the vocative case of Elohim, meaning "O God," whereas the nominative Elohim means "God." So that the interpretation which says "Therefore, O God, thy God hath anointed," is accurate.
And so the oracle in this passage is clearly addressing God, and says that He has been anointed with the oil of gladness beyond any of those who have ever borne the same name as He. Therefore in these words you have it clearly stated that God was anointed and became the Christ, not with prepared unguent nor at the hands of man, but in a way different from other men. And this is He Who was the Beloved of the Father, and His Offspring, and the eternal Priest, and the Being called the Sharer of the Father's Throne. And Who else could He be but the Firstborn Word of God, He that in the beginning was God with God, reckoned as God through all the inspired Scriptures, as my argument as it proceeds further will abundantly prove?
Now after this preliminary study of the coming into being and the appellation of the Christ, it remains for us to take up our previous subject, and consider in what a number of prophetic predictions the Christ was foretold by name.
From Psalm ii.
In which Scriptures the Christ is foretold by Name as plotted against by Kings and Rulers, Nations and Peoples, being begotten of God Himself, and called the Son of Man, receiving the Inheritance of the Nations and of the Ends of the Earth from His Father.
[Passages quoted, Ps. ii. 1, 2, 7, 8 ]
IN these words the Holy Spirit very clearly addresses Christ, and calls Him the Son of God, as has been said before, and at the same time indicates that there will be a plot against Him, and foretells the calling of the Gentiles as brought about through Him. And all this the course of events has shewn to be exactly fulfilled by the actual facts in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For even now nations, rulers, peoples and kings have not yet ceased their combined attack on Him and His teaching. And if the Jews prefer to refer these predictions to some time yet to come, they ought to agree that their expected Christ will again be plotted against, according to the present oracle: "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ." Which they would never grant, inasmuch as they expect the coming Christ to be a great Ruler, and an eternal King, and their Ransomer. But supposing their Christ should indeed come and suffer the same as He Who has already come, why ought we to believe or disbelieve in theirs rather than ours?
And if they cannot give an answer to this, but proceed to refer the oracle to David or some one of the Jewish kings of his stock, even then we can shew, that neither David nor any other celebrated Hebrew is recorded to have been proclaimed as Son of God by the oracle, nor as begotten of God, as was the subject of the prophecy in the Psalm, nor to have ruled over nations, kings, rulers and people while involved in plots. Wherefore if none of them is found so to have done, whereas all this agrees in actual fact in His case, both in His patience long ago, and in the attack made on Him to-day as the Christ of God by kings and rulers, nations and peoples, what hinders Him from being the subject of the prophecy in the words which said, "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ"?
And what follows in the Psalm would agree with Him alone, where it says: "The Lord said to me, Thou art my Son. To-day have I begotten thee. Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession." For surely only in Him has this part of the prophecy received an indubitable fulfilment, since the voice of His disciples has gone forth into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. And the passage distinctly names Christ, saying as in His own person, that He is the Son of God, when it says: "The Lord said unto me, Thou art my Son. To-day I have begotten thee." With which you may compare the words in the Proverbs, also spoken in His own Person: "Before the mountains were established, before all the hills he brings me forth." And also the address by the Father to Him in Psalm cix.: "I begat thee from my womb before the Morning Star." Understand then how the holy Scriptures prophesy that one and the same Being, Christ by name, Who is also Son of God, is to be plotted against by men, to receive the nations for His inheritance, and to rule over the ends of the earth, shewing His dispensation among men by two proofs: the one being the attacks upon Him, and the other the subjection of the nations to Him.
Christ named, receiving all His Requests from His Father.
"5. The Lord fulfil all thy requests. | 6. Now I know (b) that the Lord has saved His Christ, | and will hear him from his holy heaven. | "
Since it is now my object to shew in how many places the Christ is mentioned by name in the prophecies, I naturally set before you those which plainly foretell the Christ. And all this Psalm voices a prayer as spoken by holy men to the Person of Christ. For since for our sakes (c) and on our behalf He received insult when He had become man, we are taught to join our prayers with His as He prays and supplicates the Father on our behalf, as one who repels attacks against us both visible and invisible. And so we speak to Him as such in the Psalm.
"1. The Lord hear thee in the day of affliction |, the name of the God of Jacob shield thee. 2. May he send thee help from his holy (place) |, and strengthen thee from Zion. |"
And then, since it is fitting for Him, as being our great High Priest, to offer the spiritual sacrifices of praise and words to God on our behalf, and since as a priest He offered both Himself, and the Humanity which He assumed on earth as a whole burnt-offering for us, to God and the Father, we therefore say to Him:
"4. May he remember all thy sacrifice, | and fatten thy burnt sacrifice. | "
And since all that He plans is saving and useful to the world, we rightly call on Him:
"5. The Lord give thee thy heart's desire,"
"And fulfil all thy mind."
And afterwards remembering His Resurrection from the dead, we say:
"6. We will exult in thy salvation."
For what else could the salvation of Christ be, but His Resurrection from the dead, by which also He raises all the fallen? Next we say:
"8b. And we will triumph in the name of our God: and the Lord fulfil all thy requests."
And to crown all we are taught to say:
"7. Now I know that the Lord has saved his Christ."
As if we had not known it before, we understand His Salvation in perceiving the power of His Resurrection.
Christ named as having the Father as His Lord and Shield.
"8. The Lord is the strength of his people, | and is the shield of salvation of his Christ."
The Psalm we are considering also is referred to Christ, including the prayer of Christ which He prayed at the time of His Passion, and therefore in the opening of the Psalm He says:
"1. To thee, O Lord, have I cried: My God, | be not silent before me, | Lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. |"
And at the end He prophesies His Resurrection, saying:
"6. Blessed be the Lord, for He hath hearkened to the voice of my prayer. | 7. The Lord is my helper and my defender; | my heart hoped in him, and I was helped: | and my flesh has revived, | and I will gladly give him praise: |"
To which the divine and prophetic Spirit adds:
"8. The Lord is the strength of his people, and the shield | of his Christ."
Teaching us that all the wonders of Christ written in the holy Scriptures, done for man's salvation, whether teachings or writings, or the mysteries of His Resurrection now referred to, were all done by the will and power of the Father defending His own Christ as with a shield in all His marvellous and saving words and works.
Christ described by Name as God the Overseer, and the One Day of His Resurrection, and the One House of God, His Church.
"9. Behold, O God, our defender, | and look upon the face of thy Christ. | 10. For one day in thy courts is better than a thousand. | I have chosen to abase myself in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners | ."
They who know the Christ of God to be the Word, the Wisdom, the True Light and the Life, and then realize that He became man, are struck by the miracle of His Will, so that they exclaim:
"And we saw him, | and he had no form nor beauty. [Isa. liii. 2.] 3. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the sons of men. He was a man in suffering, and knowing the bearing of affliction, because he turned away his face, he was dishonoured."
They rightly call on God to look upon the Face of the Christ, dishonoured and insulted for our sake, and to be merciful to us for His sake. "For He bore our sins, and on our behalf is pained." Thus they beseech, altogether desiring and expressing in their prayer the desire to see the face of the glory of Christ, and to behold the day of His light. And this was the day of His Resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly Holy Day and the Lord's Day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic Law for Feasts, New Moons and Sabbaths, which the Apostle teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality. And this Lord's Day of our Saviour is alone said to shew its light not in every place but only in the courts of the Lord. And these must mean the Churches of Christ throughout the world, which are courts of the one House of God, in which he who knows these things loves and chooses to be abased, prizing far more the time spent in them than that spent in the tabernacles of sinners. Unless we are to understand that everyone who chooses the synagogues of the Jews, which deny the Christ of God, or those of godless sectaries and other unbelieving heathen, professes them to be better than the Churches of Christ.
Christ named as made of None Account, and suffering shamefully, and His People reviled by the Enemy in Exchange for Him.
"39. But thou hast cast off and made of no account, | thou hast rejected thy Christ, | 40. and overthrown the covenant of thy servant, | Thou hast desecrated his sanctuary even to the ground. | "
And the context. To which he adds:
"51. Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants, | which I have borne in my bosom, even (the reproach) of many nations, | 52. wherewith thine enemies, O Lord, have reviled, | wherewith they have reviled those who suffer in exchange for thy Christ."
Christ is here clearly mentioned by name, and the circumstances attending His Passion predicted. If I had time I could shew by examining the whole Psalm that what is expressed can only apply to our Lord and Saviour, and no one else. But when Christ is named the second time here it refers to some one else than Him, in exchange for whom He is the one taken, and the Church is plainly meant, and indeed those who are called Christ's enemies have reviled it, and even now revile it. Yea, every one opposed to Christ's teaching is wont to revile us about the Sufferings of our Saviour, which He underwent for us, and especially about His Cross and Passion.
Christ named as rising from the Seed of David, called the Horn of David, bringing to Shame the Jews His Enemies, restoring the Sanctuary of the Father.
"11. The Lord sware to David the truth, and he will never set him at naught, | of the fruit of thy body I will set upon thy seat."
And lower down,
"17. There will I lift up the horn of David, | I have prepared a lantern for my Christ: | 18. As for his enemies I will clothe them with shame, but upon himself shall blossom my holiness. | "
Now here the Lord swears about one of the seed of David, Whom He calls His seed and horn. And again addressing Christ by name, He says that He has prepared a lantern for Him, which seems to refer to the prophetic word, which shewed the coming of Christ before, Who alone, like the light of the sun, has now risen on all men through the whole world. And David Himself was prepared as a lantern for the Christ, taking the place of a lantern in comparison with the perfect light of the sun. And then He says: "I will lift up the horn," shewing the place where He means Christ to be born. For when David is praying that he may behold before in spirit the place of Christ's birth, and saying:
"3. I will not go into the tabernacle of my house, | I will not climb to the couch of my bed. | 4. I will not give sleep to my eyes, nor slumber to my eyelids, | nor rest to my temples, | 5. until I find a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. |"
—the Holy Spirit reveals the place as Bethlehem. Therefore he proceeds:
"6. Behold we heard of it in Ephralha | (that is, Bethlehem), and we found it in the fields of the wood. | 7. We will go into his tabernacle, we will worship in the place, where his feet stood. | "
And suitably after this revelation He adds:
"There will I lift up the horn of David, I have prepared a lantern for my Christ."
Maybe also the Body assumed by Christ at Bethlehem may be meant, since the Divine Power inhabiting it through His body as through an earthen vessel, like a lamp, shot forth to all men the rays of the Divine Light of the Word.
Christ announced by Name by God, and made known to All Men as liberating the Jewish Race.
[Passage quoted, Amos. iv. 12—v. 2.]
God now proclaiming the Christ by name the seventh time is said to "strengthen the thunder" and "to create the wind," the proclamation of the Gospel being called thunder from its being heard by all men, and similarly the spirit that Christ breathed on His apostles is meant; and also the Saviour's sojourn among men has clearly fulfilled the prophecy in which God is said to make "morning" and "mist" together, morning for those that receive salvation, but for the Jews that disbelieve in Him the contrary. On whom also Scripture foretells an extreme curse, adding a lamentation for the Jewish race, which actually overtook them immediately after their impiety against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For of a truth from that day to this the House of Israel has fallen, and the vision once shewn by God and the rejection have been brought to pass, concerning the falling of their house in Jerusalem, and against their whole state, that it should not be possible for any one to lift them up, who will never more be lifted up. "There is," he says, "therefore no one to lift her up." For since they did not accept the Christ of God when He came, perforce He left them and turned to all the Gentiles, telling the cause of his turning, when He said with tears, as if almost apologizing:
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto her, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a bird gathereth her nestlings under her wings, and ye would not: behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
Christ is named as preserved by His Father and saving His Own Christs.
"Thou wentest forth for the safety of thy people to save thy Christs: Thou hast brought death on the heads of transgressors."
Aquila: "Thou wentest forth for the safety of thy people, for the safety of thy people with thy Christ." As Aquila renders by the singular instead of the plural, saying that the Supreme God has made salvation for the people "with Christ," I have rightly set down the passage, which clearly supports my position. But there would be according to the Septuagint version more persons who are called Christs from Him and for the sake of Whom it is said: "Touch not my Christs, and do my prophets no harm," who believed on Him, and were thought worthy of the holy anointing of regeneration in Christ, and who were able to pay with the holy apostle: "We are become partakers of Christ."
From the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Christ is named as plotted against by the Jews, and made known to the Gentiles.
"20. The breath of our countenance, the Lord Christ was taken in their destructions, of whom we said, In his shadow we shall live among the Gentiles."
The inspired prophets of God, knowing the future by the Holy Spirit, foretold that they themselves would live, and that their words would work among the Gentiles as the words of living men, but not in Israel. They said again that the Christ (Whom they named) as being He from Whom the prophetic spirit was supplied to them, would be taken in their snares. The snares of whom? Plainly of the Jews who plotted against Him. And notice here that the prophecy says that the Christ will be taken, which would not correspond with the second Coming of Christ, which the prophecies predict will be glorious and bring in the Divine Kingdom. Wherefore it seems that the Jews are wrong in taking the sayings about His second Appearance, as if they were about His first Coming, which the sense will in no way allow. Since it is impossible to regard Him as at one and the same time glorious and without glory, honoured and kingly, and then without form or beauty, but dishonoured more than the sons of men; and again, as the Saviour and Redeemer of Israel, while plotted against by them, and led as a sheep to the slaughter, delivered to death by their sins. The prophecies about the Christ should be divided, as our investigation of the facts shews, into two classes: the first which are the more human and gloomy will be agreed to have been fulfilled at His first Coming, the second the more glorious and divine even now await His second Coming for their fulfilment. And a clear proof of the former is the actual progress of the knowledge of God through Him in all nations, which many prophetic voices foretell in various strains, like the one before us, in which it is said: "Of whom we said, In his shadow we will live among the Gentiles."
From the 1st Book of Kings [1 Samuel].
Christ is named as exalted by the Lord and Father.
"The Lord has ascended to the heavens and has thundered: he will judge the extremities of the earth, and he gives strength to our kings, and will exalt the horn of his Christ."
The words mean the return of Christ (Who is named) or of God to heaven, and His Teaching heard like thunder by all, and Holy Scripture foretells His future Judgment of all afterwards. And after this it is said that the Lord will give strength to our kings. And these would be the apostles of Christ, of Whom it is written in Ps. lxvii.: "The Lord will give a word to the preachers of the Gospel with much power." Here, also, he mentions Christ by name, humanly known as our Saviour, Whose horn he says shall be exalted, meaning His invisible Power and Kingdom. For it is usual for Scripture to call a kingdom a "horn," It is found also in Ps. lxxxviii.: "And in my Name shall his horn be exalted."
From the 1st Book of Kings [1 Samuel].
Christ is named as receiving a faithful House from His Father, that is the Church, and as a Faithful High Priest for All Time leading His Church.
"Behold, the days come when I will destroy thy seed, and the seed of thy father's house. And thou shalt not have an old man in thy house for ever."
The oracle speaks these words to Eli, but adds these others:
"And I will raise up to myself a faithful priest, who shall do all that is in my heart and in my soul; and I will build him a sure house, and he shall dwell before my Christ for ever" (v. 35).
The divine Word after threatening doom and rejection on those who do not worship in the right way, promises that He will raise up another priest of another tribe, who He also says will come before His Christ, or "will walk in the person of my anointed," as Aquila has translated it, or as Symmachus, "will continue before his Christ." And who could this be? Surely every one who is enrolled in holiness in the priesthood of the Christ of God, to Whom the Supreme God promises that He will build the House of His Church, as a wise Architect and Builder, not meaning any house but the Church established in Christ's Name throughout the whole world, wherein every one who is consecrated priest of the Christ of God is said in the spiritual worship to offer things acceptable and well-pleasing to God: the sacrifices of the blood of bulls and goats offered in the old religion of types, being admitted by the prophecy of Isaiah to be hateful to God.
Such are the many instances of the prediction of the Christ by name; but, as in most cases, the Sufferings of Christ are conjoined to His Name, we must return to what was said before about His Divinity, which I have showed previously to be touched on in the 45th Psalm, entitled FOR THE BELOVED, where Scripture, after first describing Him as King, proceeds to say other things about the Divinity of Christ:
"Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom: Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated injustice: therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
For, as I have already shewn, these words clearly imply that the God referred to is one and the same Being, Who loved righteousness and hated iniquity; and that because of this He was anointed by another greater God, His Father, with a better and more excellent unction than that foreshadowed by the types, which is called "the oil of gladness." And what else could He be properly named but Christ, Who is anointed with this oil, not by man but by God Most High? The same Person, therefore, is shewn to be called God, as indeed I have already shewn in the proper places. And we should here again remember Isaiah, who said:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for whose sake he hath anointed me. He has sent me to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and sight to the blind."
And we have already shewn that the priests from among men, who in long distant times were consecrated to the service of God, were anointed with a prepared unguent. But he that is spoken of in the prophecy is said to have been anointed with the Divine Spirit. And this passage in its entirety was referred to Jesus the only true Christ of God, Who one day took the prophecy in the Jewish synagogue, and after reading the selected portion, said that what He had read was fulfilled in Himself. For it is written, that having read it:
"And closing the book, and giving it to the minister, he sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened upon him, 21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears."
With all this we should again compare the records of Moses, who when he established his own brother as High Priest, according to the pattern that had been shewn to him, agreeably to the oracle which said to him: "Thou |215 shalt make all things according to the pattern shewn to thee in the Mount," plainly shews that he had perceived with the eyes of the mind and by the Divine Spirit the great High Priest of the Universe, the true Christ of God, Whose image he represented together with the rest of the material and figurative worship, and honoured the person named with the name of the real Christ.
And this has the support of the inspired apostle, who says when treating of the law of Moses: "Who serve under the example and shadow of heavenly things." And again: "For the law having a shadow of good things to come." And again: "16. Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, 17. which are a shadow of things to come." For if the enactments relating to the difference of foods, and the holy days and the Sabbath, like shadowy things, preserved a copy of other things, that were mystically true, you will say not without reason that the High Priest also represented the symbol of another High Priest, and that he was called Christ, as the pattern of that other, the only real Christ: and so far was he from being the real one, that the real Christ hears from the Supreme God: "Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet." And: "Be thou ruler in the midst of thine enemies." And: "The Lord sware, and will not repent. Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." By which He was revealed clearly as eternal Priest, existing as Offspring and Son of God before the Morning Star and before the whole creation. And the Christ of Moses, like one who has acted the character in a drama for a short time, retires as one reckoned among mortals, and hands on the reality to the only true and real. While the real Christ needing not the Mosaic unction, nor prepared oil, nor earthly material, yet has filled the world with His goodness and His name, establishing the race of Christians, named after Him, among all nations. But Moses' Christ, not that he was ever plainly so called among men, except through the writings of Moses—he, I say, some time long after the Exodus from Egypt purified with certain lustrations and sacrifices of blood was anointed with prepared oil, Moses anointing him. But the Christ, archetypal, and real from the beginning, and for infinite ages whole through the whole, and Himself ever like Himself in all ways, and changing not at all, was ever anointed by the Supreme God, with His unbegotten Divinity, both before His sojourn among men, and after it likewise, not by man or by any material substance existing among men.
And as we are examining His Name, the seal of all we have said may be found in the oracle of Solomon the wisest of the wise, where he says in the Song of Songs: "Thy name is as ointment poured forth." Yea, he being supplied with divine wisdom, and thought worthy of more mystic revelations about Christ and His Church, and speaking of Him as Heavenly Bridegroom, and her as Bride, speaks as if to Him, and says, "Thy name, O Bridegroom, is ointment," and not simply ointment, but "ointment poured forth.'' And what name could be more suggestive of. ointment poured forth than the Name of Christ? For there could be no Christ, and no Name of Christ, unless ointment had been poured forth. And in what has gone before I have shewn of what nature the ointment was with which Christ was anointed. So now that we have completed our examination of the Name Christ, let us proceed to consider the Name of Jesus.
That the Name of Jesus was also honoured among the Ancient Friends of God.
MOSES was also the first to use the Name Jesus, when he changed the name of his successor and altered it to Jesus. For it is written: "These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, and Moses called Nauses, the son of Nave, Jesus, and sent them." And notice how the prophet, who was deeply versed in the significance of names, and had gone to the roots of the philosophy of the changed names of the inspired men in his record, and the reasons why their names were changed, introduces Abraham as receiving as a reward of virtue from God a complete change of name from that of his father, the meaning of which it is now the time to explain at length. And so, also, in naming Sara Sarra, and Isaac called before his birth "the laugh," and Jacob given as a reward of his struggle the name of Israel, and in exhibiting in many other cases connected with the power and significance of names superhuman insight in his inspired wisdom and knowledge, when no one of those before him had ever used the name Jesus, he first of all, impelled by the Holy Spirit, gives the name of Jesus to him whom he is about to constitute the successor of his rule over the people, changing the other name he had used before. He did not consider the name of his forefather given him when he was born sufficient (for his parents called him Nauses). But being the prophet of God he changed the name received by birth, and called the man Jesus at the bidding of the Holy Spirit; that he might lead the whole people after his own death, (with the knowledge that) when the law laid down by Moses some day should be changed and have an end, and should pass away like Moses himself, that no one else but Jesus the Christ of God would lead that other polity, which would be better than the former. And so Moses, the most wonderful of all the prophets, understanding by the Holy Spirit both the names of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, honoured the choicest of all his rulers by bestowing them as kingly crowns, naming worthily the two leaders and rulers of the people the high priest and his own successor, Christ and Jesus, calling Aaron Christ, and Nauses Jesus, as his successor after his death. In this manner, then, the writings of Moses himself are adorned with the names of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
How Jesus, the Successor of Moses, called the Angel, and about to be the Leader of the People, is said to bear the Name of Christ.
"20. And behold, I send my angel before thy face, that he may keep thee in the way, that he may bring thee into the land which I have prepared for thee. Take heed to thyself and hearken unto him and disobey him not; for he will not give way to thee, for my name is upon him."
"With my Name, who teach you these things," says the Lord Himself, is he inscribed, who is to lead the people into the land of promise. And if He was Jesus and none other, it is plain how He says that His name is set on Him. Nor is it strange that he calls him Angel, since it is said of John also, who was but a man: "Behold, I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee."
That Jesus, the Son of Josedek the High Priest, was a Figure and Type of Our Saviour. Who turned to God the Slavery that of Old ruled the Souls of Men
[Passages quoted, Zech. iii. i—6, 9; vi. 9-13.]
In this passage too the prophet-high-priest called Jesus presents, I think, a very clear picture and plain symbol of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, being honoured by bearing His Name, and made the leader of the return of the people from the Babylonian captivity. Since, also, our Saviour Jesus Christ is said by the Prophet Isaiah to have been sent to preach liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to comfort all that mourn, and to give to all that mourn in Zion glory for dust, the ointment of gladness. You have, therefore, her two great High Priests, first the Christ in Moses, and second the Jesus of whom I am speaking, both bearing in themselves the signs of the truth concerning our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
But Aaron, the "Christ" in Moses' writings, having freed the people from slavery in Egypt, and led them in freedom and with all carefulness in their journey from Egypt, seems to present a picture of the real Lord, Who has redeemed us, who are of all nations, from Egyptian idolatry; while the Jesus in the prophet, the High Priest who was at the head of the return from Babylon to Jerusalem, also presents a figure of Jesus our Saviour, Whom we have as a great High Priest, that has passed through the heavens, through Whom also we ourselves, redeemed as it were in this present life from Babylon, that is from confusion and slavery, are taught to hasten to the heavenly city, the true Jerusalem.
Jesus too, since he bore in himself the image of the true, was naturally clad in filthy garments, and the devil is said to stand at his right hand and to oppose him, since also Jesus, truly our Saviour and Lord, descending into our state of slavery took away our sins, and washed away the stains of humanity, and underwent the shame of the Passion, through His love for us. Wherefore, Isaiah says:
"He bears our sins, and is pained for us, and we thought him to be in labour, and smitten, and afflicted: He was wounded for our sins, and weakened for our iniquities."
And John the Baptist also, seeing the Lord, said: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins, of the world." Paul also, writing in the same way about Him, says: "Him that knew no sin made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him," and "Christ has ransomed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." All these things the inspired prophet referred to when he said, "And Jesus was clad in filthy garments." But He put them from Him by His Ascension into the heavens, and the return from our condition of slavery to His own glory, and He is crowned with the diadem of His Father's Divinity, and is girt with the bright robe of His Father's light, and is glorified with the divine Mitre, and the other high priestly adornments. Nor is it difficult to explain the part about the devil, who even now is opposed to the teaching of Christ, and to His Church established throughout the whole world, and has ever been opposed to our Saviour, and marched against Him before, when He came to save us from our slavery to himself. He tempted Him also the first time, and the second time again, when by the Passion he arranged a plot against Him. But in all battles He triumphed over the devil, and all the unseen enemies and foes led by him, and made us who were slaves His own people, and built of us, as of living stones, the house of God, and the state of holiness, so that He exactly agrees with the oracle, which says:
"Behold a man, whose name is the Branch. And he shall spring up from below, and shall build the house of the Lord. And he shall receive virtue, and shall sit and rule upon his throne."
Note, therefore, with care, in what manner in speaking mystically of the Jesus of days of old, who bears the image of the true, he says: "Behold a man, whose name is the Branch." And a little later, it is said to Jesus himself then present, as if concerning some one else who was the Branch: "Hear, Jesus, the High Priest, thou and thy neighbour, for the men are diviners. Behold, I bring my servant the Branch."
If, then, the speech related to some one yet to come, who was more truly called the Branch than he that bore the name then, he must have been only an image of him that was yet to come, as he is not only called Jesus in figure, but the Branch as well, if this was said to him when present: "Behold a man, whose name is the Branch." He was, therefore, naturally because he was the image thought worthy of the name of the Saviour, as well as of the Branch: for the name of Jesus translated into Greek means "Salvation of God." For in Hebrew "Isoua" is "salvation," and the son of Nave is called by the Hebrews Joshua, Joshua being "Salvation of Jab," that is, Salvation of God. It follows that wherever the Salvation of God is named in the Greek versions, you are to understand that nothing but Jesus is meant. Having now brought to this point what I had to say concerning the Name of our Saviour, I will take up the argument from another starting-point, and pass on to the more important prophetic proofs about Him.
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Books 1-10 of the Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel) can be read online here. (Scroll down the page to "Eusebius Pamphili of Caesarea")