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  • CHAPTER 5.


    Having considered the character, and given proofs both of the Deity and Personality of the Father, I shall now proceed to consider the character of the Logos, or Word; give some proofs of his Deity; enquire into his Sonship; and show his distinct personality. And shall begin, I. With his name, title, appellation, or character, the WORD; a name which John frequently makes use of in his Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation. He makes use of it in his gospel, Chap. <430101> 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”:

    Which words manifestly declare the Deity, and Eternity of the Word; his co-existence with God, i.e. the Father; as is manifest from 1 John 1:2. and his being a distinct person from him. And that we may not be at a loss which person in the Trinity he intends by the Word, he tells us, in ver. 14.

    That the “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”. John also makes mention of Christ, under this name, in his Epistles; as in 1 John 1:1. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon; and our hands have handled of the Word of life”: i.e. Christ, who was from eternity with the Father, but was now manifested in the flesh; which flesh was real, and not imaginary, as he proves by three of the natural senses, viz. hearing, seeing, and feeling, John, with the rest of the disciples, heard him speak, saw him walk, eat, drink, etc. and handled him; and hereby knew that he had a true and real body, consisting of flesh, blood, and bones, as their bodies did; and that it was not a mere phantom as Simon Magus, and after him Menander, Saturninus, and Basilides asserted. These denied the true and real humanity of Christ; and affirmed, That he had no more than the appearance of a man; that he assumed human nature, died, and suffered, and rose again in appearance only, and not in reality. Now John here calls Christ the Word of life; because he is the life it self; and the author and giver of it to others. Again, in Chap. 5:7. he says: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: And these three are one”.

    So likewise in his Revelation, he speaks of Christ more than once, under the character of the Word; as in Chap. 1:2. where he tells us, That he “bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ”; which may be justly explained by <430101>John 1:1. 2, 3, 14. Once more, in Revelation 19: 13. where having represented Christ as a mighty warrior, and triumphant conqueror, he says: “His name is called the Word of God”.

    And now, since he has so frequently spoken of the second person in the Trinity under this appellation, shall, First , Enquire from whence he may be supposed to receive it.

    Secondly, Whether any other inspired writer of the New Testament, makes use of it besides him.

    Thirdly, The reason, why Christ is called by this name.

    First, I shall enquire from whence John may be supposed to receive this name, Lo>gov , or the Word, which he so often applies to Christ. And, 1. It is thought by some, that he took it out of the writings of Plato, or his followers. Amelius f75 , a Platonic Philosopher, refers to the words of the evangelic, in <430101>John 1:1. whom he calls a Barbarian, as agreeing with their philosophy, concerning the Lo>gov , or Word. And ‘tis thought: by some f76 , that John, knowing that Ebion and Ce rinthus were acquainted with the Platonic philosophy, that he might the more easily gain upon them, makes use of this expression, The Word; when that of the Son of God would have been distasteful to them: But to me it is much more probable, that Plato had his notions of the Word out of the scriptures, than that John should borrow this phrase out of his writings, or any of his followers; since ‘tis certain that Plato traveled into Egypt, to get learning and knowledge; where, it is very probable, he met with the Jewish writings, out of which he collected his belt things. And Numenius f78 , a Pythagoric philosopher, accuses him of stealing what he wrote concerning God and the World, out of the books of Moses. Hence he used to say, “What is Plato, but Moses in a “Grecian dress” ? 2. It is much more likely that John took the expression out of the Jewish Targums, or paraphrases on the books of the Old Testament, where frequent use is made of it; as also in the works of Philo the Jew: But whether he did or no, ‘tis certain, that there is a very great agreement between what he and these ancient Jewish writings say of the Word. I’ll just give some few instances.

    The evangelist John ascribes Deity to the Word, and expressly affirms that he is God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. And the Tar. gums, in many places , render Jehovah by the Word of Jehovah; from whence it may well be concluded, that they supposed the Word of the Lord was Jehovah himself. And in other places they say, that he is God. Thus in Genesis 28:20, 21. it is said: “Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, (Onkelos, “If the Word “of the Lord will be with me) and will keep me in this way that I go, etc. Then shall the Lord”, (Onkelos, “the Word of the Lord) be my God”. Again, in Leviticus 26:12. it is said, “And I will walk among you, and will be your God”. The Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it thus: “I will cause the glory of my Shekinah to dwell among you, and my Word shall be your God, the Redeemer”. Once more, in Deuteronomy 26:17.

    Thou hast: avouched the Lord this day to be thy God”. The Jerusalem Targum renders it thus: “The Word of the Lord, ye have made “king over you, this day to be your God. Like wife Philo f80 , the Jew, calls the Word qei~ov Lo>gov , the divine Word; and Ku>rio>v mou~ , my Lord; and represents him as the object of faith; whose promises ought to be believed.

    Moreover John speaks of the Lo>gov , or Word, as a distinct person from God the Father: He says, “The Word was with God;” i.e. the Father, as we are taught to explain it, from 1 John 1:2. and therefore must be distinct from him, with whom he was. Agreeably hereunto, as the Targums some times express Jehovah by the Word of the Lord; so they likewise distinguish the Word from Jehovah: Thus, <199001>Psalm 90:1. “The Lord said unto my Lord”. Targum, “The Lord said to his Word.” Where he is manifestly distinguished from the Lord; at whose right hand he was to fit.

    Again, in Hosea 1:7. The Lord promises to” have mercy on the house of Judah, and save them by the Lord their God.” Targum, “By the Word of the Lord their God.” Where the Word of the Lord, by whom the people of Judah were to be fared, is also manifestly distinguished from the Lord, who promises to save them by him. This distinction of Jehovah, and his Word, may be observed in many places in the Targums, and in Philo’s writings.

    Likewise John ascribes eternity to the Lo>gov , or Word; and says that it was in the beginning, i.e. of the creation of all things; and therefore was before any creature was made. Philo calls him the most ancient Word, the most ancient Angel; and says, That he is more ancient than any thing that is made: Yea, he calls him the eternal Word.

    Again, The evangelist says of the Word, That “all things were made by him, and that without him was not any thing made that was made.” The Targumists ascribe the creation of man, in particular, to the Word. We read in Genesis 1:27. “So God created man in his own image:” Which the Jerusalem Targum reads, “And the Word of the Lord created man in his likeness.” And in Genesis 3:22. “And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us.”

    The same Targum paraphrases it,” And the Word of the Lord God said, Behold the man whom I have created, is the only one in the world.” also, in the same writings, the creation of all things in general, is ascribed to the Word. Those words in Deuteronomy 33:27. “The eternal God is thy refuge; and underneath are the everlasting arms ;” are by Onkelos paraphrased, “The eternal God is an habitation; by whose “Word the world was made.” And in Isaiah 48:13. “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth.” Targum, “Yea, by my Word I have founded the earth.” Just as the apostle Paul says, Hebrews 11:3. And Peter, 2 Peter 3:5,7. And the author of the apocryphal book of Wisdom, Chap. 9:10. With which entirely agree the sentiments of Philo; who not only speaks of the Word as an organ f85 , or instrument, which God used in the creation of all things; but as the archetype , paradigm, exemplar, and idea, according to which all things were made: Yea, he calls him du>namiv kosmopoihtikh , the power which made the world; and ascribes the creation of man to him; after whose image he says he was made: And also, the creation of the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them.

    Again, When John calls the Word the Light, he makes use of a word which was known among the Jews to be the name of the Messiah, of whom they understand Psalm 43:3. “O send out thy light and thy truth:” And Daniel 2:22. “And the Light dwelleth with him.” Philo speaks of an intelligible Light, which he makes to be the image of the divine Word; and thinks it may be properly called panaugei>a , the universal Light; which is pretty much like what John says of the Word, whom he calls “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

    Once more, John speaks of the incarnation of the Word; and says, That he “was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Philo calls the Word , The man of God; who, he says, being the Word of the Eternal, is himself necessarily immortal. And in the same book , he calls him the man after God’s image. And it is easy to observe an agreement between Jesus Christ, who ejskh>nwsen , tabernacled among us, and the Shekinah of the Jews. The words in Leviticus 26:11, 12. are thus paraphrased by Onkelos; “I will let my tabernacle among you, and my Word shall not reject you: And I will cause my Shekinah to dwell among you, etc. And the author of the apocryphal book of Baruch, speaks of wisdom or understanding, which is the same with the Word, as appearing on earth, and converting with men. Now these Jewish writers speak of the Word after this manner, either on the account of his appearances in an human form, under the Old Testament-dispensation, or on the account of his future incarnation, which John could speak of as past. And whereas John calls the Word the only begotten of the Father, Philo says, “That he is the Father’s most ancient Son, his first born; who being begotten by him, imitated his Father’s ways; and teeing his exemplars, did the same things he did.” From the whole it is manifest, that there is a great likeness between what the evangelist John, and these Jewish writers say of the Word. And whether he borrowed the phrase from them or no, yet it is plain that he expressed the traditional sense of his nation. Philo’s works were wrote before his time; as were also some of the Chaldee paraphrases. A Socinian writer, in order to show that John did not take Lo>gov from the Targums, endeavors to prove them to be of a later date than they are thought to be; about which, we need not be much concerned: And also, that by the Word they never intend a reasonable person, subsisting by himself; which the instances already produced, confute: To which more might be added, was it requisite. But there is no need to say that John borrowed this phrase from the Jewish Targums; but, 3. From the scriptures of the Old Testament. He manifestly refers to the history of the creation; where, no less than eight times, we read that God said, “Let it be so, and it was so:” Which phrase so often repeated, remains no longer a mystery to us; since John has told us, “That by the Word all things are made ;” in perfect agreement with what the Psalmist says, in Psalm 33:6. “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and. all the host of them, by the breath of his mouth.” Many instances may be given, where the Word intends a divine Person. See 2 Samuel 7:21. compared with 1 Chronicles 17:19. and Haggai 2:4, 5. <19A720>Psalm 107:20. From whence John might easily take this phrase, and apply it to a divine person, as he does. And some have thought that our Lord uses it himself in the same sense, John 5:38. So that John might take it immediately from him; whose words, in many instances, he takes a peculiar delight in making use of. But I hasten Secondly, To enquire whether any other inspired writer of the New Testament makes use of this phrase, besides the evangelist John. And upon enquiry, it will appear, that the evangelist Luke, the apostles Paul and Peter use it in the same sense. So that though the evangelist John uses it more frequently than they may, yet it is not peculiar to him. The evangelist Luke is thought to use it in Chap. 1:2. and by it, to intend Christ the Word; when he speaks of the disciples as eye-witnesses, and ministers, or servants of the Word; who, in much greater propriety of speech, may be said to be eyewitnesses of Christ, according to 2 Peter 1:16. and servants or followers of him, than of the gospel, or written word. And it seems very agreeable, that Luke, intending to write a history of the life and actions of Christ, should, in his preface to Theophilus, make mention of him under some name, or another, some title, or character; which he does not, if he is not intended by the Word.

    The apostle Paul uses the phrase in this sense, Acts 20:32. where, taking his farewell of the elders of the church at Ephesus, he commends them to God, and to the Word of his grace: Where, by the Word of his grace, I understand not the gospel, or written word, but Jesus Christ, who is full of grace and truth. My reasons for it are these: 1. Because the saints never commend themselves, or others, either in life or in death, to any but a divine Person. The word here used , signifies a committing a person, or thing, to the care, charge, and protection of another. Now none but a divine person is capable of taking the care and charge of the saints, and of making the same good: Neither wilt the saints trust any other, nor do they. In life they commit their souls to God as to a faithful Creator; and rest entirely satisfied herein, as the apostle Paul did; who could say: “I know whom I have believed ;” whom I have trusted with my immortal soul; into whose hands I have committed the salvation of it: “And I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him, against that day.” Now certainly to whom he committed himself, he also committed others; having had experience of Christ’s care, faithfulness, and ability, he could, and undoubtedly did, commend the saints unto him, with the utmost pleasure and satisfaction. And as in life, so likewise in death they commend themselves to none but a divine person, in imitation of Christ; who, in his last moments said: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” 2. To put the written word upon a level with the divine Being, does not appear very agreeable. A commendation of the saints equally to the written word, as to God himself, seems to me to be a lessening of the glory of the divine Being, and an ascribing too much to the written word; but suits well with Christ, the essential Word: “Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God.” To commend the saints equally to Christ, as to God the Father, is no diminution of the Father’s glory; nor is it giving Christ more than his due, or than what he is able to perform; but a commendation of them to the gospel seems to be so. 3. The saints are never laid to be committed or commended to the gospel; but that to them. The written word is committed to the care and keeping of the saints; but not the saints to the care and keeping of that. They are in the hands, and are made the care and charge of Christ. We frequently read of God’s committing the written word unto the saints, and especially to the ministers of it; and of their committing it unto others; as in Corinthians 5:19. 1 Timothy 1:11-18. and 6:20. and 2 Timothy 1:14. and 2:2. but never of the saints being committed to the written word. 4. What is here ascribed unto the Word, is more applicable to Christ than to the written word. Though the gospel is an instrument in the hands of the Spirit, in building up saints in their most holy faith; yet Christ is the great master builder; it is he that builds the temple, and must bear the glory.

    Though the gospel may be as a map, which shows us where our inheritance lies, and which is the way unto it; yet it is Christ who gives it us, and puts us into the possession of it: It is in, by, or through him, that we obtain the inheritance. For these reasons, I apprehend, that not the gospel or written word, but Christ, the essential Word, is intended: Nor am I alone in the sense of this text.

    Again, The apostle Paul is thought to use the phrase in this sense, Hebrews 4:12. “For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints, and of the thoughts and in-marrow; and is a discerner tents of the heart.” This is not so applicable to the written word as to Christ, who is zw~n oJ Lo>gov tou~ Qeou~ , the living Word of God, or the Word of God, which liveth, as the words may be rendered. He is that Word that was made flesh, suffered, and died; but is now alive and lives for evermore; and may truly be said to be ejnerghhand; and will e’er long appear to be sharper than any two-edged sword, at his coming to judge the world at the last day. Then he’ll pierce, to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints, and marrow, and will show himself to be kritikoheart; for he’ll then “bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart ;” and will let” all the churches,” yea, all the world, angels and men, know that he it is “which searcheth the reins and hearts ;” all which cannot be so well applied to the written word. besides, the following verse makes the sense still more plain, which is closely connected with this, by the copulative ki< “And there is not any creature which is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do “ Where the apostle manifestly speaks of a person, and not of a thing; and of such an one as is omniscient; and to whom we must give an account at the day of judgment. The words progov , in the last clause, may be rendered, “To whom we must give an account.” Now to whom must we give an account? not to the written word, but to a divine person, as the apostle says ( Romans 14:12): “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.”

    Ministers are accountable for preaching the word, and people for hearing it; but the account will be given, not to the written word, but to Christ, the living Word. Moreover, in ver. 14. this Word is said to be an high priest, who is passed into the heavens for us; which can be no other than Christ, who having assumed our nature, and offered himself a sacrifice for us, as an high-priest, is passed into the heavens; where he ever lives to make intercession for us: Which the apostle uses as an argument with believers, to hold fast their profession, and to come with boldness to the throne of grace. I cannot but observe, that many things which the apostle here says of the Word, are said of the Logos, by Philo the Jew; who, as he makes the cherubim in Genesis 3:24. symbols of God’s two powers, his goodness and power ; so likewise the flaming sword a symbol of his Logos, or Word; which he makes to be very swift and fervent. Elsewhere he says , That God, by his Logos, cuts and divides all things, even all things sensible; yea, atoms, and things indivisible. He represents him as very quick-sighted f104 , and as capable of seeing all things that are worthy to be seen. And he sometimes speaks of him as the Mediator between God and men; as one that makes atonement, and is an advocate with God. He says that he is the true High Priest, who is free from all sin voluntary and unvoluntary; which is just such an high priest as the apostle Paul s ays Jesus Christ is, Hebrews 7:26. But to go on.

    The apostle Paul uses this phrase just in the same sense, and ascribes the creation of the world to him, as the evangelist John does, when in Hebrews 11:3. He says: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God”, And also the apostle Peter, in <610301> Peter 3. 5. where he observes, that the scoffers were “willingly ignorant; that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water”. And adds, in ver. 7. That “by the same Word, the heavens and the earth, which are now, are kept in from reserved unto fire”.

    And in 1 Peter 1:23. the saints are sad to be “born, not of corruptible feed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever; which Word is distinguished from the gospel in ver. 25. From all these passages it may be concluded, that this phrase was not peculiar to the evangelist John but was used, though not with so much frequency, by the other apostles. I proceed, Thirdly. To enquire the reason, or reasons why the second Person is called the Word. He may be so called, because As the mental word, or the conception of the mind, which is Lo>gov ejndia>qetov , is the birth of the mind, begotten of it intellectually, and immaterially, without portion or motion; and is the very image and representation of the mind, and of the same nature with it, yet something distinct from it: So Christ is the begotten of the Father, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person; of the same nature with him, though a Person distinct from him.

    And he may also be called the Word, from some action or actions which are predicated of him, or ascribed to him. He spake in the ancient council, when the methods of man’s salvation were considered, consulted and agreed on; and declared, that he would be a surety for all the elect. He spoke for every blessing, and every promise in the covenant of grace. He assented to every proposal his Father made; and agreed to every article in the covenant between them. He spoke all things out of nothing in the first creation: He laid, Let it be so, and it was so; he spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast. He is the Word that was spoken of to all the Old Testament-saints, and prophesied of by all the prophets, which have been since the world began this is the sum and substance of all the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament. Moreover, he is the interpreter of his Father’s mind, even as our word or speech, which is Lo>gov profo>rikov , is the interpreter of our minds; for which reason he may be called the Word. “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten, which is in the bosom of the Father; he hath declared him.” Being privy to all his thoughts, purposes, and designs, he was capable of declaring his mind and will to his people; which he has done in all generations. It was he , the Word of the Lord God, whose voice Adam heard in the garden; and who laid unto him, Adam, where art thou? And it was the same Word of the Lord who continued his discourse with him, and his wife, and the serpent; and made the first discovery of grace to Some in Justin Martyr’s time called him the Word, for this reason: fallen man. It was the Word who appeared to the patriarchs and prophets in after-ages, and made yet greater discoveries of God’s mind and will; but never so fully and clearly as when he was made flesh, and dwelt among us; for then “God, who at sundry times, and divers manners, spake in times part unto the fathers, in these last days spoke unto us by his Son”.

    Besides, he, as the Word speaks for the elect in the court of heaven, where he appears in the presence of God for them; acts the part of a Mediator on their account; calls for, and demands the blessings of grace for them, as the fruit of his death; pleads their cause, and answers all charges and accusations exhibited against them. So that upon there considerations, he may be properly called the Word, and Word of God.


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