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his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.'
This passage has been generally understood as predicting the birth of the Saviour, though some critics of considerable eminence, and among them the celebrated Grotius, have appropriated it to Hezekiah, the son of king Ahaz. It is not our intention, at present, to state the reasons on which this latter opinion is founded. We will suppose that the passage was originally intended to refer to the Saviour, and will proceed to offer an explanation of it in this view.
The language of the prophet is borrowed from the style of royalty, and represents the Saviour as a king, and the establishment of his religion as the setting up of a kingdom. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, that is, he shall bear the burden of government. And what are the characteristics of his reign? Truth, justice, meekness, forgiveness and peace. God has made him head over all things to the church. And he shall reign till he has subdued all enemies under his feet. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the interests of his kingdom.
The prophet declares that, his name shall be called Wonderful. By an idiom of the Hebrew language, the word, name, it may be observed, is here redundant. His name shall be called, is the same as, he shall be called. So to call upon the name of the Lord, is the same as to call upon the Lord. It is evident that the prophet did not intend to predict the
proper name of the Saviour, but only the qualities of his character, which should merit and receive the splendid epithets, employed by the prophet.
He shall be called wonderful. The propriety of this epithet is seen at once by every one, who remembers anything of the birth, the youth, the spirit and character, the good deeds and wise instructions, the dignity and the humiliation, the life and the death of Christ. He was wonderful in being welcomed into the world by the homage of sages and the songs of angels; in his increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man; in his conversation with the wise men of his nation, when only twelve years old; in receiving the holy spirit without measure at the age of manhood, and in being addressed by the voice from heaven, " This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased;' wonderful in all the words that he spake, and all the acts which he performed; in his superiority to his nation and age; in the vast extent of his conceptions, the sublimity of his doctrines, and the unrivalled excellence of his precepts; wonderful in piety to God and benevolence to man, and above all in the generous sacrifice of his life for the salvation of man; in the miraculous phenomena that accompanied his death; in his speedy return from the mansions of the dead, and in his glorious ascension to the right hand of God. Well then might the pen of inspiration predict that he would be called 'wonderful.'
The next epithet applied to him is that of Counsellor. And the propriety of this epithet will appear
evident, when it is considered what was the source of his wisdom, and what the character of the instructions he has given. He is a counsellor because the spirit of the Lord rested upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. He was in the bosom of the Father; he drank in wisdom from the pure fountain of eternal truth; in him were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. What question is there worthy of an immortal being to ask, which our great counsellor will not answer? He may not, indeed, throw light upon your schemes for laying up the treasures which the moth and rust may corrupt; but he will tell you how to use them, so that when they fail, ye shall be received into everlasting habitations. He may not gratify your curiosity in questions of doubtful disputation, or communicate that knowledge of the material world, which the faithful exertion of your own faculties is able to acquire. But ask of him the character of the God who hideth himself, or who is hidden from his creatures behind the veil of the material world ; ask of him the origin, the nature, the duty, the destination of man; ask of him the cause of those apparent disorders in the moral world which are mingled with such a profusion of order and beauty ; ask him whence the blessings come that we enjoy, and whence the calamities that afflict i us; ask him how you may attain the favor of Him whose hand moves the springs of all your happiness or misery; ask him what will become of you, when your 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 master's 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 English ver trar rectly, 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.