enough). But when did a mere man and as the Scriptures affirm, that ever appear in the form of God, or these were appearances of Christ : think of thus appearing? How could then we have Christ in the form of a man thus presume, without the ut. God, his proper form, his natural most height of pride and blasphemy? form; for he is the Brightness of his And yet this conduct is introduced Father's glory, and the express Image in the passage, by the inspired of his person. And having been in Apostle, as a memorable instance this state from eternity, and having of condescension and humility! appeared in it to the fathers, we That is, that Christ had not eagerly understand what is meant by his done, that which would have been making himself of no reputation, the most monstrous act of im. his emptying himself, divesting himpiety and presumption to have even self of his glory: for he appeared thought of

as a mere man, he grew up as a And when was Christ in the form root out of a dry ground, he had of God, upon this hypothesis? The no form nor comeliness. Unitarians say, By his miracles. But But when did Christ empty limmiracles were performed by others, self of his miraculous gifts? He both before and after Christ; and never ceased, during his whole life, none ever dreamt of being there from working miracles, from per. by in the form of God: nay, they forming cures, from establishing his cautiously disclaimed all Divine ho- Divine mission by supernatural openours, and ascribed their miraculous rations. If being in the form of God powers to the hand of God.

mean only our Lord's possession of And this "

being in the form of miraculous powers, we have noGod” is represented in the text as thing of contrast, in the bistory of Christ's previous state. But Christ's his ministry, to it, and in opposition previous state, by the hypothesis I with it: where, then, is the proof am opposing, was merely that of an of condescension ? obscure peasant. His being in the But consider further. “He took form of God, must be subsequent to on him the form of a servant,” says this state, not antecedent. If he was the Apostle. This stands mani. in the form of God by the possession festly opposed to his being in the of miraculous powers, this was after form of God. He was in the form his estate of mean parentage and of God," but he took upon him the obscure infancy, in direct opposition form of a servant. Now, as all conto the language of the Apostle. But fess that he was truly in the form of on the orthodox hypothesis, all is a servant, why should we not connatural. Christ appeared in ancient fess that he was truly in the form of times to the fathers in the form of God? Why should we understand God. The appearance of the Lord on the one expression simply, and the Mount Sinai, to Joshua, to Isaiah other metaphorically ? in the temple, were transient antici- thing be more likely to perplex a pations of his incarnation. “These plain reader than this? Did Christ things spake Isaias," says the Evan- really possess the form of a servant? gelist John, “when he saw his we have the same evidence that he glory, and spake of him.” “ The had the form of God. If the ex. Similitude of the Lord shall he be- pression, the form of a servant, hold,” said God to the Israelites implies that he was truly man; the concerning Moses, with whom he expression, the form of God, proves spake mouth to mouth, even appa- that he was truly God. rently, and not by dark speeches. “A servant." The word is the And thus God often appeared to same as when the Apostle calls Israel under the similitude and form himself the servant of God. It of his peculiar majesty and glory. does not mean a slave; for Christ

Suppose then, as I have done, never appeared in a servile capacity,

Can any

but acted amongst nien as a master, But that the eternal Son of God; a lord, a rabbi: “Yc call me Master, he who was with God, and was God; and Lord; and so I am.” But he did he who created all things in heaven appear in the character of a servant and earth, visible and invisible, of God; "he was made of a woman, whether they be thrones, or domi. made under the law, that he might" nions, or principalities, or powers ; obey the law which man had broken. he who upholds all things by the And herein appears bis inconceive word of his power; that he should able condescension, that he should be made in the likeness of men, was come down from bis estate, the form a miracle of condescension ivdeed. of God, and take on him the form of The Apostle goes on, “And, being a servant; that he who made the law, found in fashion as a man.” But should stoop to be under the law. if Christ be only a man, what won

“Made in the likeness of men," der is it that he should be found in is a further part of our Lord's con- fashion as a man? What instance descension. But if Christ be a of condescension is it, that he was mere man, then this can only mean, found of that order of beings to made in the likeness of a common which he belonged, and out of man, a mean man. But why are which he had no existence at all? we to be allowed thus to add epi. “ He humbled himself,” is next thets contrary to the usual force of added. He was not satisfied with a sentence, to make out a sense ? being found in fashion as a man, . What is it which we may not make but he humbled himself, as to the of the Scriptures by insertions ? whole manner of his appearance in We have no right to suppose that our nature; and, having humbled any thing different was meant by himself, “became obedient unto the Apostle from what the words death, even the death of the cross.” imply, that our Lord's appearing in He might have appeared in the the likeness of men was an act of highest form of human nature ; he condescension. “ Because the chil- might have appeared leading capdren were partakers of flesh and tive prostrate nations; and putting blood, he also himself," says St. down all human dignity, authority, Paul, describing the incarnation, and power. But he humbled him. “took part of the same.” He delibe- self. The brightest glory of men rated upon it ; he had a motive in would have been mere darkness, doing it; because the children were compared with that inaccessible partakers of flesh and blood. It glory in which Christ dwelt from was a voluntary descent; a stoop- all eternity. It would have been ing to a nature below his own. the greatest condescension in him

Was ever such language held of to have received the homage of the any one but Christ? Of Moses? of world in the most prostrate form. Isaiah ? for example. They and But, having condescended to take many others performed very splen- our nature, he humbled himself in did miracles. Moses especially was every step of the descent; nor did distinguished, not only by the pos- he cease his humiliation, till he besession of miraculous powers, but came obedient unto death, even the by the formation of a new policy, death of the cross. and the founding of a new nation : “ He became obedient." There he was a legislator, a mediator, a was therefore no necessity to obey friend of God, who spake with him at all. But he assumed voluntarily face to face. But where is it said, a nature which made him capable as a proof of his bumility, that he of suffering : and he obeyed in that was made in the likeness of men; nature even unto death, the death when he never was, nor could be, of the cross; in order that he might any thing else than man?

make it becoming the character of

God, as a moral governor, to grant

We now proceed to notice pardon to a whole race of apostate briefly, and guilty, but believing and peni- II. The doctrine of our Lord's tent, creatures.

Deity and condescension in the And yet we are told that Christ practical view for which the Apois not to be called a Saviour exclu- stle introduced it. sively : we are told that Paul, and But here let us first offer a rePeter, and others, shared in the flection on the value of the soul glory of saving mankind. And we of man, and the immense blessings are told that all this argument of of redemption prepared for it. For the Apostle in the text, conclusive what can illustrate the value atas it is, both from the words and tached by the all-wise God to the phrases which are employed, and spiritual, accountable, immortal soal from the disposition in the mind of of his creature man, if these acts Christ which the whole of the rea- of our Lord's condescension do soning implies--we are told that all not ? Every view we can take of this argument, instead of proving Christ's original glory in the form the pre-existence and Divinity of of God, and of the depth of his Christ, proves nothing of the kind. condescension in emptying himself Nay, the leader of the Unitarians of all his glory, till he expired on in the present day declares that no the cross, teaches us the unutterwords can ever be clear enough to able value of the soul, the importprove to him that Christ is God; ance of its salvation, the misery of and that if he should find any such its lost state, the inconceivable mowords in the Scripture it would ment of redemption. only go to weaken the evidence of And do not the same considerathe truth of the Christian revela. tions shed a bright radiance on the tion, but would not convince him blessings of Redemption? Does not that the statement was true. With the immense and untold price which such men we can have no commu- was paid enhance our estimate of nion. Such a spirit shuts up all the the riches of the purchase made, avenues to truth and conviction; the certainty of the promises, the such a temper is the height of arro. magnitude of pardon and holiness, gance and practical infidelity in a the vastness of the future inhericreature like man. For it not only tance ? Can we doubt whether He, leads to error, and dangerous, fatal, who spared not his own Son but destructive error, but it goes the delivered him up for us all, will frightful length of setting itself with him also freely give us all above Revelation ; of limiting the things ? wisdom of the Infinite Mind ; of These remarks prepare the way declaring that such and such state- for the particular exhortation arising ments, concerning the incompre- from the Apostle's argument in the hensible God, cannot be true. Thus text. Let us imitate the example the whole foundation of faith is of humility and condescension exsubverted.

hibited by our Lord, and exhibited Whereas to the humble believer for our sakes. Let this mind be in the argument of the text is incon- us, in some faint measure, which trovertible. He cannot but avow, was also in Christ Jesus. Let us after calmly studying the drift of condescend to men of low estate. the Apostle's reasoning, that if any Let us be ready to deny ourselves. words can be found in human lana Let us humble ourselves, and deguage to express the exact idea of scend lower and lower, if called to the Divine pre-existing state of it. Let us, if needful, lay down our Christ, these words are those of the lives for the brethren. text.


sent directory of faith and practice, SERMON III.*

would only be an ancient record 1 John i. 3: And truly our fellow- of past sentiments, with which we

ship is with the Father, and with should have no concern as a matter his Son Jesus Christ.

of experience ourselves. But, on As John leaned on the bosom of the contrary, our religion is a counour Saviour, and there drank of that terpart of that recorded in the New fountain of love that flowed within, Testament. We find those sentiso his Epistle breathes the spirit of ments, feelings, and hopes, within love; love to mankind at large, and the breasts of Christians which especially to those who were par. are registered as the representations takers with him of the same pre

of Christianity in its first age. cious faith. In the verse preceding

Amongst the blessings included the text he breathes an ardent de- in these representations, fellowship sire that his brethren might have with the Father and with his Son fellowship with him in the Gospel, Jesus Christ occupies a prominent and all its privileges; and he then de- place. It comprehends all the inscribes in the text what this fellow. ternal blessings and immunities of ship is. He invites them hereby to Christianity. no common privilege, to no common

Fellowship, or communion, is the community; but to one the most participation of two or more persons elevated and most extraordinary,– in the same thing. If any number fellowship with God in Jesus Christ. of persons, two or more, enjoy cer.

No error is more serious than tain advantages or privileges in that which prevails so much in the common, they have fellowship with present day, of interpreting every

each other in them. All men are high and glorious description of the brethren, as partaking of one comprivilege of Christianity as confined mon nature : they have commuto the Apostles and the Apostolic nion with each other in all the age. To commit so fatal an error, emotions, duties, advantages of geis to exhibit a melancholy proof of neral benevolence, sympathy, love, the truth of another passage, “ The

as fellow-creatures and men. Those natural man receiveth not the things who are placed under the same goof the Spirit of God, for they are

vernment, and who share in comfoolishness unto him ; neither can

mon its benefits as fellow-countryhe know them.” For may we not men, are drawn yet closer : they justly fear that these interpreters, have fellowship with each other in finding nothing in their own expe

all the blessings of legitimate gorience that agrees to these high vernment. Those, again, who rerepresentations in Scripture, and

side in the same town, or form togenot knowing well how to deal with ther a neighbourhood, and interthem, have thus been led to set mingle in all the offices of social them down as referring to a state life, have participation with each of feeling and privilege peculiar to other, as fellow-citizens, in the bethe first Christians; and have at nefits of municipal regulations, and length come to condemn all claims the mutual charities and aids of to them as enthusiastical, and in- neighbours. Those who form the vading the miraculous powers of the

same family have also fellowship Spirit

given to the Apostles and first with each other in the affections converts ?

and relationships of a family. This Now, if we were to allow what is the closest of all fellowships; and those interpreters assert, to be true,

in this class are included the comthe Bible, instead of being a pre

munion of parents and children,

husbands and wives, masters and • Delivered at Bristol on Sunday,

servants. January 18, 1827.

The expression, therefore, in the

[ocr errors]

text, must be understood in this

glory to glory, even as by the Spirit sense: it is a participation of some of the Lord." All Christians have blessings in common with the Father fellowship with each other in this and with his Son Jesus Christ. It new nature or disposition; and this must be explained, indeed, in a springs from their fellowship with the manner suitable to the subject to Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, which it is applied ; but still the in a portion of their moral excellency. meaning must be the same : it is They walk in the same spirit, they still the partaking of something in follow the same steps. "Walking common. There is no meaning in in the light, as He is in the light, they the word but this. What, then, is have fellowship one with another; this fellowship? It is of true Chris- and the blood of Jesus Christ his tians that the words are spoken. Son cleanses them from all sin." Others are invited to seek the bless- This is a most exalted privilege: ing; but none but true Christians for we had lost the image of God, actually partake of this fellowship. and were in a state of alienation and

I. This fellowship consists in the ruin; but this restoration of the moral excellencies of the Divine Divine image makes us again lovely Reing; what the Apostle calls, “a in the eyes of God: it restores the divine nature.”

highest distinction of our nature. Fellowship with God implies a II. This fellowship includes an participation of the same disposi- intercommunity of preference and tion of heart, the same moral ten- delight. dency of mind. It is by Jesus When two or more persons are Christ, the way to the Father, that assimilated in disposition and moral this fellowship begins. We must feeling, they are prepared to apprecome back to God first through a ciate one another aright, and to Mediator, and be justified by faith cultivate friendship. All friendship in his blood, before we can be qua. between God and man is founded lified for this exalted communion. on this assimilation. All complacency We thus become united to Christ; of God in man, and all delight of and are by faith partakers of the man in God, is the effect of renoprivilege of being sons of God. In vating grace. Christians are capable this relation we stand : and as the of appreciating the beauty of the children of God we have a new Divine holiness. They see God to nature; we are partakers of a Di. be lovely, as well as great and awful. vine nature, as the Apostle speaks. They are attracted by a sense of This expression is not rhetorical ; it his benefits; but they also perceive is not merely synonymous with any his excellency in himself; and thus thing great; but it means that we they love bini, and delight in him, are partakers of that moral nature for his own moral attributes, for in which God exists: his moral ex. what he is in himself. They have a cellencies are impressed upon the perfect esteem for his infinitely holy heart of the Christian ; he_par- principles and character. They choose takes of God's holiness. Being God as their portion; and he con. adopted into his family, he has descends to choose them as his porthe spirit of adoption : he not only tion, and the lot of his inheritance. sees the excellency of God, but he They say of God, “Whom have I receives some reflection and impress in heaven but Thee? and there is of it. And this excellency of God none upon earth that I desire in he discerns in the person of Jesus comparison of Thee;" and God sees Christ: “We have fellowship with nothing under the whole heaven to the Father, and with his Son Jesus attract his complacency but them. Christ :” “ Beholding, as in a glass, He delights in them as he doth in the glory of the Lord, . we are his own Son : “ That the world may changed into the same image, from know that thou hast sent me, and

« VorigeDoorgaan »