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a way as plainly to denote a distinct person in the Deity.*
The Jews discern that "walking" in this place relates immediately to the voice, and not to the Lord God, and therefore endeavor to evade the force of it, but to no tolerable purpose.
It is therefore most probable that in the great alteration which was now coming upon the whole creation of God, mankind being to be cast out of covenant, the serpent and the earth being to be cursed, and a way of recovery for the elect of God to be revealed, that he, "by whom all things were made;" and by whom all to be brought again to God were to be renewed, did, in an especial and glorious manner, appear to our first parents, as he in whom this whole dispensation centered, and to whom it was committed. And as after the promise given he appeared (εν μορφη ανθρωπινη) in an human shape, to instruct the church in the mystery of his future incarnation, and under the name of angel, to shadow out his office as sent unto it, and employed in it by the father; so here, before the promise, he discovered his distinct glorious person, as the eternal voice or word of the Father.
*Vid. Philon. De Confusione Linguarum. That place Hos. i, 7; among others, is express to this purpose, where the words of the prophet are thus rendered by the Targumist; "I will save "(or redeem) them () by the word of the Lord their "God." And it is not unworthy consideration, that the wisest and most contemplative of the philosophers of old had many notions about (o ayos aidios) the eternal word, which was with them, (δυναμις της όλης κλίσεως ποιητικη) the creative power of the universe; to which purpose many sayings might be observed out of Plato, Chalcidius, Proclus, Plotinus, and others, whose expressions are imitated by our own writers, Justin Martyr, Clemens, Anthanagoras, Tatianus, and many more. And indeed the same may be observed of the Mahometans themselves; for this is the name they give to Jesus in their Alcoran (↳ 3) the Word of God. So prevalent hath this notion of the Son world.
of God been in the
§3. Again, Gen. xviii, 1-3; the reason why Abraham sat "in the door of the tent," given in the text, is, because it was about the heat of the day, or as the day grew hot; in opposition to the time of God's appearance to Adam, which was in the cool air of the day. For as, when God comes to curse, nothing shall refresh the creature, however suitable for the purpose in its own nature; it shall wither in the cool of the day; so, when he comes to bless, nothing shall hinder the influence of it upon his creatures, however any thing in itself may, like the heat of the day, be troublesome and perplexing.
He lift up his eyes and looked, and, "lo, three men "stood by him." It seems to be a sudden appearance that was made to him; he looked up and saw them; and this satisfied him that it was an heavenly apparition.
The business of God with Abraham at this time was to renew unto him the promise of the blessed seed, and to confine it to his posterity by Sarah; even now when he was utterly hopeless of it, and began to desire that Ishmael might be the heir. To this signal work of mercy was adjoined the intimation of an eminent effect of vindictive justice, wherein God would set forth an example of it to all ensuing generations, in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha. And both these were the proper works of him; on whom the care of the church was in an especial manner incumbent, all whose blessedness depended on that promise; and to whom the rule of the world, the present and future judgment of it, is committed; that is, the person of the Son. And hence in the overthrow of these cities, HE who is to be their future judge, is said to set forth an ensample of his future dealings with ungodly men, 2 Pet. ii, 6.
A distinction of persons in the Deity, although not a precise number of them, is hence demonstrable: For
it is evident that HE of the three who appeared unto Abraham, and to whom he made his supplication for the sparing of Sodom, was Jehovah, the judge of all the world, Gen. xix, 22–25. And yet all the three were set upon the work, that one being the prince or head of the embassy; as he who is Jehovah, is said to be sent by Jehovah, Zech. ii, 8, 9. In the story itself it is manifest that they were all employed in the same work; one as Lord and prince, the other two as his ministering servants. And this is further cleared in that expression of Moses, Gen. xix, 24; "The Lord "rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and "fire from the Lord, out of heaven." There is, therefore, in this place, an appearance of God in an human shape; and of one distinct person in the Godhead; who now represented himself to Abraham in the form in which he would dwell amongst men, when of his seed he would be made flesh. This was one signal means whereby Abraham "saw his day and rejoiced," which himself ascribes to his pre-existence, and not the promise of his coming; John viii, 56–58. A solemn prelude it was to his taking flesh, a revelation of his Divine nature and person, and a pledge of his coming in human nature, to converse with men.
§4. Gen. xxxii, 24, 26, 30; "And Jacob was left "alone," &c. This story is twice noticed in the scripture afterwards; once by Jacob himself, Gen. xlviii, 15, 16; and once by the prophet Hosea, chap. xii, 3, 4. In the first place he is called a man; "there "appeared a man" in the second, Jacob calls him an angel, "the angel that redeemed me;" and in the third. he is expressly said to be God, "the Lord of hosts."
Jacob was now passing with his whole family into the land of Canaan, to take seisure of it by virtue of the promise, on the behalf of his posterity. At the
very entrance of it, he is met by his greatest adversary, with whom he had a severe contest about the promise and inheritance itself. This was his brother Esau, who, coming against him with a power, which he was in no way able to withstand, he feared, would utterly destroy both his person and posterity, ver. 11. In the promise about which their contest was, the blessed seed, with the whole church state and worship of the Old Testament, was included; so that it was the greatest controversy, and had the greatest weight depending on it, of any that ever was amongst the sons of men. Wherefore to settle Jacob's right, and to preserve him with his title and interest, he who was principally concerned in the whole matter, appeared to him.
This man in appearance, this angel in office, was in name and nature "God over all, blessed for ever." For, in the first place, Jacob prays solemnly unto him for his blessing, Gen. xxxii, 26; and refuses to let him go, or to cease making his earnest supplications until he had blessed him. Accordingly he blesseth him, and giveth him a double token of it, the touch of his thigh, and the change of his name, giving him a name to denote his prevalency with God; that is, with himself. From hence Jacob concludes that he had seen God; and calls the name of the place, the face of God. In the second place, Gen. xlviii, 16; besides that he invocates the angel for his presence with, and blessing on the children of Joseph; which cannot regard any but God himself, without gross idolatry, it is evident that the angel who redeemed him, ver. 16, is the same with the God who fed him; that is, the God of his fathers.
And this is yet more evident in the prophet; for with regard to this story of his power over the angels, he says, "he had power with God;" and proves it because he had "power over the Angel, and prevailed.”
And he shews whereby he thus prevailed; it was by "weeping and making supplications unto "him,” which he neither did, nor lawfully might do to a created angel. Again, this angel was he whom, he found, or "who found him in Bethel," Gen. xxviii, 20, 22, and xxxv, 1; which was no other than He to whom Jacob made his vow, and with whom he entered into solemn covenant, that he should be "his God." And therefore the prophet adds expressly in the last place, Hos. xii, 5; that it was the Lord God of hosts whom he intended.
From what has been spoken, it is evident, that he who appeared to Jacob, with whom he earnestly wrestled, by tears and supplications, was God; and because he was sent as the angel of God, it must be some distinct person in the Deity, condescending to that office; and appearing in the form of a man, he represented his future assumption of human nature. And by all this, did God instruct the church in the mystery of the "person of the Messiah," and who it was that they were to look for in the blessing of the promised seed.
$5. Exod. iii, 2-6; "And Moses came to the "mountain, &c." He who is here revealed, affirms of himself, that he is "the God of Abraham," ver. 16, and also describes himself by the glorious name, I am that I am, ver. 14, in whose name and authority, Moses dealt with Pharaoh in the deliverance of the people, and whom they were to serve on that mountain, upon their coming out of Egypt. He, whose () merciful good-will Moses prays for, Deut. xxxiii, 16. And yet he is expressly called an angel, ver. 2, namely, the angel of the covenant, the great angel of the presence of God, in whom was the name and nature of God; and he thus appeared, that the church might know and consider who it was that