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(1.) Whether he was visible, under his accustoined human form, in the midst of the fire and the vapour, we are unable positively to determine : but, since Moses actually beheld him in the burning bush, the probability is, that glimpses of his awful figure would from time to time be caught through the occasional openings of the flame and the cloud. At all events, we inay be sure, that this Angel of Jehovah, who was present in the column, is the being, who, from that very circumstance, is styled the presence of Jehovah or more fully by Isaiah the Angel of Jehovah's presence."
Very remarkable is the language, used by the prophet respecting that divine personage : for he asserts, that he attended the Israelites during the whole of their pilgrimage ; and he intimately associates him with Jehovah and with another being denominated the Holy Spirit of Jehovah.
I will mention the loving kindnesses of Jehovah and the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them, according to his mercies and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lye. So he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them : and he bare them, and carried them, all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vered
Exod. xxxiii. 14, 15, Isaiah lxiii. 9.
his Holy Spirit : therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them."
(2.) Tuis Angel of Jehovah's presence, under the very appellation of Jehovah, spake, we are told, unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend ;* language, than which stronger cannot be used to poiot out the same visible figure as that which was manifested to the early patriarchs : and, though no man hath seen God the Father at any time; yet such was the special grace shewn to the Hebrew lawgiver, that, so far as his glory could be visibly displayed to mortal man, to him it was displayed.
Thou canst not see my face, said the Lord to his favoured servant; for there shall no man see me, and lide. And Jehovah said, Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock : and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock ; and will cover thee with my hand, while I pass by and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.
Here, if I mistake not, the speaker is God the Father : and I argue the point in the following manner. He declares, that his face shall not be seen, and that no man shall see him and live; using language strictly analogical to that of St. John, No man hath seen God at any time. But the face of his Angel has repeatedly been seen by
Isaiah lxiii. 7-10.
man, and yet death has not been the consequence. Therefore the speaker in the present passage cannot be that divine person, who has frequently manifested himself under a human figure, and who is denominated the Word or Angel of Jehovah.
(3.) I apprehend, that the Father is the speaker also in the following passages, and that the promised Angel is the Divine Word who is alike the special covenant God of all the three dispensations.
Behold, I send the Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice ; provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions : for my Name is in him. But, if thou shalt indeed obey his voice and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in.'
Go now, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee : behold, mine Angel shall go before thee.
Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it. And I will send the Angel before thee : for. I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people ; lest I consume thee in the way.'
I Exod. xxiii. 20—23.
2 Exod. xxxii, 34. Exod. xxxiii. 1-3.
In these several passages Jehovah declares, that he will send his Angel with the Israelites; and in one of them he speaks of that Angel contradistinctively to himself, intimating that the Angel should go and that he would not go before them : yet, in the whole sequel of the history, Jehovah is described as the peculiar God of the nation, directing their marches, laying down their institutes, and from time to time issuing forth his commands to Moses. Hence the great prophet, immediately before his death, states it to be a well known characteristic of Israel, then on the point of crossing Jordan after having abode forty years in the wilderness, that JEHOVAH ALONE did lead him, and there was no strange god with him."
Now in what manner are we to reconcile this apparent contradiction? Jehovah declares, that he will not go up with the people, but that he will send his Angel before them: yet, notwithstanding such a declaration, we find, that Jehovah does go up with the people, and that he acts throughout both as their guide and as their legislative sovereign. I see not how the difficulty can be solved, except by admitting that the Angel spoken of is himself Jehovah, though contradistinguished from another person also denominated Jehovah ; agreeably to the joint assertion of Jacob and Hosea, that the Angel, who took so active a part under the first dispensation, was at once both Jehovah and the God of Abraham and of Isaac.
Deut. xxxii. 12.
With such a solution the cliaracter, which is given of this mighty Angel, will excellently accord. My Name is in him, says Jehovalı respecting his extraordinary messenger : beware of him, and obey his rooice ; provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions. Surely this language must be inapplicable to any creature, however exalted. When our Lord said to the paralytic, Thy sins are forgiven thee ; it was justly reasoned by the Pharisees, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but GOD ALONE? The conclusiveness of the argument Christ did not deny: but he urged a present miracle as an incontrovert ible proof, that the Son of man enjoyed this power." Now the Pharisees, on their own principles, inust have supposed, that the Angel, in whom was the Name of Jehovah, was the true God : for it is positively asserted by the Deity himself, that he had the power of withholding pardon from transgressions in case his voice should be disobeyed.
S. After Joshua had succeeded Moses in his office, and when he now lay before Jericho, the same divine being appeared also to him, still in his accustomed form of a mani.
The character, which he then claimed to himself, was that of the supreme Archangel or the captain of Jehovah's angelic host; and he bore a drawn sword in his hand, as when he was manifested to Balaam. His language is precisely the same, as that used by the Angel of Jehovah when he ap
i Luke v. 20-24.