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bodies shall be mingled with dust, and scattered to the winds of heaven. On all these questions, the great counsellor will give more satisfaction than all the mighty masters of philosophy in ancient or modern times.
The passage we are considering, according to the common translation, goes on to declare that the child that was to be born, should be called, The mighty God. If this translation be correct, the meaning is, that Jesus, in regal character, as son of God, should display such mighty power in the performance of miracles, and such superior wisdom in his doctrine, that he should be called, as it were, a god upon earth. It was not uncommon, it is well known, in ancient times to give the name of God to persons distinguished by the dignity of their station, or the greatness of their actions. Thus Moses, on account of the miracles, which he was instrumental in performing, is said to have been a god unto Pharaoh. So kings and princes are called gods; as, 'I have said ye are gods, and all of you the children of the Most High.' So angels are called gods, where it is said in the Psalms, 'worship him, all ye gods.'* In the same way Jesus might be called, mighty god, on account of his miraculous powers, and marvellous wisdom, by which he was the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; although he himself declared that all power was given him, and that he could do nothing of himself.
* So in Psalm viii, 5, where the English version translates correctly, in my opinion, Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,' the expression in the original is, than the elohim or gods.
The inspired prophet is not the author of a proposition so contradictory as that the child to be born was to be the Supreme Being; i. e. an eternal uncaused being. All that he says, is, that he should be called mighty god, just as angels, kings, and magistrates were called gods, allowing that the word, god, is a proper translation of the original Hebrew. For the article the, there is not the slightest foundation in the original.
Our readers, however, are probably aware that some of the most eminent Hebrew scholars, in ancient and modern times, have translated the word, rendered,God, in the common version,differently. The true meaning,we think, was caught by Martin Luther, who cannot be suspected of a sectarian bias. In his celebrated German version of the Bible, he translates the term, hero or potentate. * The same Hebrew word translated, God, by king James' translators, and, hero or potentate, by Martin Luther, is applied to Nebuchadnezzar, in Exekiel xxxi, 11, where he is styled, mighty one of the nations; and in Ezek. xxxii, 21, the same word in the plural is translated, strong; the strong among the mighty. In these passages from Ezekiel, the translation might be, 'god of the nations,' and 'Gods among the mighty,' with the same propriety as the term is rendered, God, in Isaiah ix, 6. Instead, therefore, of reading the verse, with the common version, Wonderful, Counsellor, mighty God, I would
*The word is translated in the same way in the version of De Wette, one of the very first Hebraists of the day, and also by Gesenius, whose Hebrew lexicon is deservedly extolled by scholars of every denomination.
read it, wonderful, counsellor, mighty potentate; and would refer the expression to the power that was imparted to Jesus by the Father for the instruction, salvation, and judgement of the world.
At the same time, if any prefer the common translation, it may be explained in the manner above mentioned, in perfect consistency with the derived power, and entire dependence of Jesus upon his Father and our Father, his God and our God.
The next epithet, applied to our Saviour in the text, is that of Everlasting Father, by which is meant that he will be the perpetual father, or friend, of his people; just as a good prince or ruler, who has conferred great benefits upon the land of his birth, is said to be the father of his country. The term, everlasting, has no reference to the past, but only to the future. It means, ever-enduring, or perpetual, as in the phrases, everlasting happiness, everlasting mercy. Jesus, then, according to the promise, will be the perpetual father of his people. He will watch over the interests of the church, as a father over the interests of his children. He will strengthen their weakness; he will console their sorrows; he will animate their fainting spirits, and he will even make intercession for them at the right hand of God. This prophecy, that he will be the everlasting or perpetual father of his people, appears to mean nearly the same thing as the promise of Christ, when he says, 'Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' Whether he is personally employed as the invisible agent of the Most High for
the benefit of the church, or only by means of the instructions, hopes, and consolations of his religion, is a question which it is not important to determine. In either case we regard him with affection and interest, as the everlasting or perpetual father of his people.
The last epithet bestowed upon Jesus is, Prince of peace. And a prince of peace he was in three different senses. First, he came to make us at peace with God, to reconcile us to his Father, to purify us from the sins that have separated us from God. Thus it is said by the apostle, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, he is the prince of peace, as he came to promote peace between man and man; to subdue those passions, whence come wars and fightings; and to establish in the souls of men those feelings of justice, kindness, forgiveness and humility, which are calculated to maintain perpetual peace. Only let nations and individuals be deeply imbued with the principles of the prince of peace, and the sword will be beaten into the ploughshare, and the spear into the pruning hook, and men will learn war no more.
Lastly, he is the prince of peace, as he is the author of inward peace, or tranquillity of heart. It is only by coming to him, and imbibing his piety, his benevolence, his meekness and lowliness of heart, that we can find rest unto our souls. Thus alone can we find peace; the peace which the world can neither give nor take away. It is pride, selfishness, irreligion, envy, malice, and revenge, that are the sources of most of the miseries
of the human heart. When these demons have been expelled from the soul through the aid of christian precepts, hopes and promises, and when faith, hope and charity have taken their place, then at length we shall be at peace with God, at peace with man, and at peace with our own souls. This glorious effect Jesus came to produce; and he has produced it in the hearts of thousands. Well then may he be styled, the prince of peace.
Such is the character of him, upon whose shoulder the government of the church is laid. He is wonderful in all his attributes. He is a counsellor, who resolves all our doubts, who alone can show us the way to eternal happiness; he is a mighty potentate, who is endowed with all the powers necessary for the establishment and security of his kingdom; he is the everlasting or perpetual father of those, who put themselves under his government; and he is the prince of peace to all his obedient followers.
What reason have we, therefore, as Christians,to rejoice that such a child was born, that such a son was given; one that can dissipate our darkness, and illumine our minds; can calm the conscience and make us at peace with God, with man, and our own souls; can free us from the misery of tyrannical passions; can encourage, with paternal tenderness, our feeble steps; can deliver us from the sting of death, and the terrors of the grave, and discover to us immortal happiness. With what alacrity should we embrace the privilege of being subjects of his kingdom! With what fidelity should we