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that all things were made by the Son, supposeth him before his incarnation to have had only, or chiefly, the care and government of the Jewish people allotted to him: whilst other angels were appointed presidents or princes of other nations and countries.
One thing ought to be added here. They who are of this sentiment do generally suppose, that this great being, the Word, the Son of God, upon our Saviour's conception and birth, animated the body prepared for him. So that our Saviour had not, properly, a human soul. But the Word, the Son of God, supplied the place of a soul.
The Spirit, or Holy Ghost, the learned men of this sentiment, I presume, take to be a being, or intelligent agent, inferior in power and perfection, not only to God the Father, but likewise to the Son of God.
According to these therefore the Father is the one supreme God over all, absolutely eternal, underived, unchangeable, independent.
The Son is the first derived being from the Father, and under him employed in creating, and also preserving and upholding the world, with, as some say, an especial allotment of the presidentship over the people of Israel.
The Spirit is a third person, also derived from the Father, and of power and perfection inferior to the Son.
I have endeavoured to give here, as well as elsewhere, a true representation. If I have mistaken, it is not done willingly and designedly. And I shall be ready to be better informed.
Let us now apply this scheme to the text: or see, how it is explained by the favourers of this sentiment. And I hope to have here again the assistance of the same learned divine and commentator, who has been quoted already several times.
Ver. 5, 6. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal wiih God." Ye ought to be of such a kind and beneficent, of such a humble and condescending disposition, as Christ Jesus himself was: who being in the form or likeness of God, was not eager in retaining that likeness to God.'
The "form of God" is farther explained in this manner, p. 26. He was in the form or likeness of God, upon account of that authority, dominion, and power, with which he was intrusted, and which he exercised antecedently to his coming into the world.-Our Saviour ante'cedently to his incarnation, having the Jews committed to him of God, and being prince of that 'people, or the King of Israel, was in the form and likeness of God.
Who being in the form or likeness of God, was not eager in retaining that likeness to God; 'but on the contrary he emptied himself of that form of God, taking upon him a very different • form or likeness, even that of a servant, when he was made in the likeness of men.'
And for explaining this last particular it is added by the same interpreter in his notes: If it be here inquired, why does St. Paul say, "he was in the likeness of men ?” ?" Was he not truly and properly a man? The answer is easy, that "men" signifies such animated bodies as 'ours are, inhabited each by a rational soul. And so, as to his body, he was in all respects a • man, just as we are, he having taken part with us in flesh and blood, and having a body prepared for him. The "likeness" therefore belongs not to that, but to the other part of man, the r
nyeμovinov, the rational spirit: wherein he was vastly more than man, the Word, or Logos, that was in the form of God, being so transcendently superior to the most noble soul that ever inha'bited any other human flesh.
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death,' ' even the death of the cross." And though his becoming man was a great instance of humility and condescension, yet he did not stop at that: but when he was [actually] in the same con'dition and state with men, he humbled himself yet farther by becoming obedient to God unto ' death, and that too the death of the cross, which was attended with the greatest reproach as ⚫ well as torment.'
Ver. 9, 10, 11. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus 'Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.". And upon this account God has advanced him higher than before, and freely bestowed on him an authority that is superior to what he ever granted to any other: that by virtue of the authority of Jesus all should be constrained to 'submit to God: whether they are heavenly or earthly [beings], or such as are under the earth:
and that every tongue should acknowledge that Jesus Christ is, by this gift of God, Lord of all, 'to the glory of God the Father.'
This exaltation, or superior exaltation of Christ above what he had before, is illustrated by the same learned expositor in his notes after this manner: When our Lord came into the world, 'he laid aside that form of God he was in before, and was made for a little time, that is, till his resurrection, lower than the angels, they still continuing their dominion, while he parted with ⚫his. At our Lord's resurrection an entire change was made in this state of things, and an end 'was put to this rule of angels: they themselves, together with all nations, were put under one head, even Christ, whose authority and power was then so highly advanced above what it was before; he being intrusted with an universal dominion, and all that were rulers and governors ⚫ before being made his subjects and ministers.'
I have been the longer in representing this scheme, that I might shew it to as much advantage as possible. And now I shall propose some objections to it.
One observation, which I mention in the first place, relates to a particular article in this
It is not reasonable that the Word, the Son of God, the first derived being who had been employed under God the Father in making all things, should, some time after the world was made, have so limited dominion and authority, as to be the president and governor of the Jewish people only: whilst other angels had like power and dominion over other people and countries.
What reason can be assigned, why the being, who under God the Father had been creator of all things, visible and invisible, should be put quite, or well nigh, upon a level with his creatures? There is no ground, from reason or scripture,, to believe any voluntary or imposed humiliation of the Son of God before his incarnation.
I might likewise ask what reason can be assigned, why any good angels should, after our Lord's resurrection and ascension, be deprived of any advantages which they before enjoyed? For it may be well supposed, that if they were acquainted with our Lord's transactions here on earth, by the will of the Father, for the good of mankind, they approved, admired, and applauded them. And some of the angels may have been, yea, were employed in attending upon, and ministering to Jesus, whilst he dwelt on this earth..
However this may be reckoned by some to be an exception only to the scheme of the learned commentator before cited: I therefore place these observations here by themselves.
But for the present, setting that aside, all, I think, who are in this scheme, that the Word, the Son of God,. is a distinct being, inferior to God the Father, suppose, that he was employed under God the Father, in creating the heavens and the earth, and all things that are therein: that afterwards he was incarnate,, humbled himself, suffered and died, and was exalted.
Against this scheme then, as distinguished from the foregoing particular (though that has been introduced as a plausible supposition) I object as follows.
1. The Lord Jesus, in the New Testament, is often spoken of as "a man;" which means a being with a reasonable soul and human body.. But, if the Word, a transcendently great and excellent spirit,. far superior to human souls, animated the body of Jesus, as a soul, then our Lord was not, properly speaking,. a man: though this be often said in seripture, and spoken of as a thing of importance. I do not now alledge any texts by way of proof. There may be occasion to produce them. distinctly in another place..
2. It appears to be an impropriety, and incongruity, that any spirit, except a human soul, should animate a human body. It would, I apprehend, be an incongruity not parallelled in any of the works of God, of which we have any knowledge.
3. Jesus Christ, as we evidently know from his history in the gospels, had all the innocent,. sinless infirmities of the human nature. He was weary with journeyings, he hungred, and had thirst, he needed the refreshment of food, and of rest, or sleep and he endured pain, and at some times piercing affliction and grief, and at last died..
But this could not have been, supposing the body of Jesus to have been animated by so transcendently powerful and active a spirit as the Word, or the Son of God, in this scheme is supposed to be. He could not have been diminished or weakened thereby. Supposing such an union of so great a spirit with a human body, it would swallow it up. I mean, that spirit would not be straitened and confined, or diminished by the body, but would infuse vigour and activity into the body: so that it would be no longer liable to the weaknesses to which human bodies actuated
only by human souls, are incident. How can a spirit, creator of all things under God the Father, be straitened and incommoded by so small a portion of matter, which was originally created by him? Will the residence of so great a spirit in a human body make no alteration? Shall that body be still as feeble, as liable to wants, and as sensible to pain, as an ordinary body, which has only a human soul?
4. We do not perceive the Lord Jesus to insist upon his pre-existent greatness and glory, as an argument of obedience to his doctrine. He does not represent himself to those who were his hearers, as their creator under God. But he says, that "the Father had sent him," that he acted by commission under God, and that the Father had sealed him, by the miraculous works which he had enabled him to do, and that he had authority from him to do and teach as he did.
5. If so glorious a being as the Word, or Son of God, is represented to be in this scheme, had taken upon himself a human body, and submitted to animate and act in it as a soul: that condescension would have been clearly and frequently shewn, and insisted on in the gospels and epistles. It would have been as much enlarged upon as our Lord's resurrection and ascension: but there are no clear texts asserting this: none but what are capable of another sense, and are better interpreted in a different manner.
6. In this way Jesus Christ is no example of imitation to us: for no such thing, as the condescension just represented, is required of us. We are not taught to be willing to descend into some inferior species of beings, and therein to be debilitated and incommoded, and lose all our rationality, for a while at least. But what we are taught is, that we should act modestly and meekly in the condition assigned us, and in which God has made us.
7. If the body of Jesus had been animated by so great a spirit as its soul, there would have been nothing at all extraordinary in his resurrection and ascension. And yet how does the apostle labour in describing this great instance of divine power? Eph. i. 19, 20. "That ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, who believe, according to the working of his mighty power: which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." But what is there extraordinary in it, that a being who under God had made the world, should be raised up, and ascend, and be seated in the heavenly places, where he had been long before?
8. Once more: this doctrine of the transcendent glory and power of Christ before his coming into the world, is inconsistent with the representations given throughout scripture of his exaltation after his death, as a reward of his humility and obedience upon earth. For the text, agreeably to many others, says: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him." But there is no exaltation, to which any being can be advanced, that would exceed what the Creator was entitled to, as such. Has he not, as Creator, under God, of all things visible and invisible, a natural right to dominion and authority over them, and to precedence before and above all others? How then could dominion and authority over all things be the reward of Christ's humility and patience, and other virtues here on earth?
What adds weight to this consideration is, that this doctrine weakens, and even destroys the argument set before us to humility and meekness, which is taken from the exaltation of Jesus. For according to it, he has no advancement, and indeed could have no advancement, after all he had done here, but what he was entitled to without it.
I must not stay to state and answer objections. But there is one text, so likely to occur to the thoughts of many, that it may be best to take notice of it. It is in the prayer recorded John xvii. where at ver. 5. is this petition of our Lord. "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glorify, which I had with thee before the world was." If any should urge this text, as an objection against some things just said, I would answer: the most likely meaning of these words is to this purpose. Our Lord was here approaching to the affecting scene of his last sufferings, and the conclusion of his life here on earth, in which he had acted with great zeal and faithfulness for the glory of God, and the good of men. And having so fulfilled the commission given him, he solemnly and humbly addresses God, saying, "I have glorified thee on earth. I have finished the work, which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was:" that is, which had been always, and from the beginning designed for me. So Rev. xiii. 8. "The lamb slain," that is designed to be slain, "before the foundation of the world." Eph. i. 4. "According as he has chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world." Col. iii. 3. “Your life is hid with Christ in God." See
also Eph. iii. 9, and Matt. xxv. 34; and other like places. So the glory, which was to be the reward of what Jesus should do on earth, was always with God. It was "with him," in his purpose:"hid with him, before the world was." To the like effect St. Augustin very largely. And if there is any reward annexed to our Lord's services and sufferings here on earth, (as certainly there is) very probably that is what is here intended.
These things I have now proposed to your consideration. I do not dictate. But let it be considered, whether this scheme be not attended with difficulties. Many pious and learned men may have taken it up, for avoiding difficulties in the commonly received doctrine. Nevertheless this also may be found to have difficulties that must weaken the persuasion of its truth and probability.
God willing, I intend to represent another opinion hereafter. For the present I shall conclude with the following remarks.
We may hence receive instruction. We should not be too much opinionated of ourselves, because we know more truths than others. Let us rather suppose that we may be mistaken sensible, that in many points of speculation there are difficulties which may be overlooked by us; and that our scheme may be liable to objections which we have not observed. Neither all wisdom, nor all truth is monopolized by any one man, or sect of men. He who has gained truth fairly, by impartial and laborious examination and inquiry, will be under little temptation to insult or despise others whom he thinks to be in error or ignorance, if they be but open to conviction. He knows that things appear in different lights to different persons, and to the same person at different times. He has, perhaps, been positive in some points, which he has afterwards seen to be mistaken opinions; though he was all the while sincere. He must therefore allow the innocence of error in some cases. Let us not be too desirous that others should agree with us in opinion. Let us love and honour them, if they are honest and virtuous; which many may be, who are not of the same sentiment with us, and see not things in the same light that we do. If we desire to experience moderation from others, let us show it ourselves, as there is occasion. Let not our faith, our knowledge, or opinion of it, produce arrogance and censoriousness. But as St. James directs; if we are wise men, and endued with knowledge, let us show out of a good conversation our works with meekness of wisdom, Jam. iii. 13. Or, let us show our wisdom by a truly pious and virtuous conversation, and by meekness of behaviour towards others,
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philip. ii. 5-11. And what follows.
I HAVE proposed to explain this text largely and distinctly. And though this design may lead me to be somewhat controversial, and to treat some points, which are, and long have been disputed among Christians; I have hoped that I should have no reason to decline freedom and plainness of expression. It is very common for men in public, as well as private discourses, to assert their own sentiment, and to refute, or do what lies in their power, to refute the schemes and sentiments of others. Nor is it uncommon for men of low rank and condition, to think themselves capable judges of what are reckoned the most sublime and mysterious doctrines, and to pass sentences, not very favourable, upon those who are of a different opinion from themselves. There cannot be then, I apprehend, any sufficient reason to condemn an attempt to represent in a fair and impartial manner divers sentiments concerning the Deity, and the person of Christ, together with the reasons and arguments by which they are supported.
Cum ergo videret illius prædestinatæ suæ clarificationis venisse jam tempus, ut et nunc fieret in redditione, quod fuerat in prædestinatione jam factum, oravit, dicens: "Et nunc clarifica me tu Pater apud teipsum claritate, quam habui priusquam mundus esset, apud te : tanquam diceret, claritatem
quam habui apud te, id est; illam claritatem, quam habui apud te in prædestinatione tua, tempus est, ut apud te habeam etiam vivens in dextera tua. In Joan. Evang. cap. xvii, tract. 105, p. 8, tom. III. Bened. p. 2.
I have already considered two schemes, concerning the Deity, and a Trinity, and the person of Christ: one, that which is reckoned the commonly received opinion, or orthodox: the other sometimes called Arianism. The third, to be now considered, is sometimes called the doctrine of the Unitarians or the Nazareans. These believe that there is one God alone, even the Father, eternal, almighty, possessed of all perfections, without any defects, or limits, unchangeable, the creator of all things visible and invisible, the supreme Lord and Governor of the world, whose providential care upholds all things, who spoke to the patriarchs in the early ages of the world, to the people of Israel by Moses, and other prophets, and in these latter ages of the world to all mankind by Jesus Christ, and by him will distribute equal recompenses to all according to their behaviour in this world.
For farther illustrating this point, it will be proper to show more distinctly the opinion of those persons concerning God the Father, or the Divine Unity, the person of Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
First, Concerning God the Father, or the Divine Unity; which appears to be the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, from the beginning to the end.
Moses, the Jewish lawgiver, and their greatest prophet, before the gospel dispensation, begins his five books with an account of the creation of the world.
The first of the ten commandments, delivered with so great solemnity to the Jewish people, soon after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and before they were put into possession of Canaan, as a distinct and independent nation and people, is, "I am the Lord thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me," Exod. xx. 1, 2; that is, before my face, in my sight, to which all things are open, from whom no deviation from this law can be hid, and will be overlooked and unresented. In the fourth of those ten laws or commandments it is said, said, "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy-For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day," ver. 10, 11.
After the rehearsal of those commandments, and other things in the book of Deuteronomy, it is said, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord," Deut. vi. 4.
Ps. lxxxiii. 18. "That men may know, that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth."
Is. xl. 28. "Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, nor is weary?"
Is. xliv. 6. "Thus saith the Lord, the king of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last-And beside me there is no God." Ver. 8. "Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God. I know not any." Ver. 24." Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb: I am the Lord that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself."
Such, then, is the doctrine of the Old Testament. There is one God, even Jehovah, eternal, unchangeable, the creator of the heavens and the earth, and all things therein, the Lord, God, and King of Israel.
Let us now observe the doctrine of the New Testament, which, if from heaven, cannot be different, but must be harmonious with that of the Old.
Matt. iv. 9, 10. When Satan tempted our Lord, and said, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Jesus said unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." See Deut. vi. 13, and x. 20.
Mark xii. 28-34. "And one of the scribes came, and asked him, which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him: The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment-And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is one God, and there is none other but heAnd when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." See Deut. vi. 4, 5.
Luke xviii. 18, 19. "And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good, save one, that is God."