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I Tim. iii. 16. And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. Sir Isaac Newton has fully demonstrated that, in the original, this text was not God manifest in the flesh, but who was manifest in the flesh, and a very small alteration in the manner of writing greek is sufficient for that purpose. The oldest manuscript in the world, which I have examined myself, has been manifestly altered from the one to the other, as appears by' the difference in the colour of the ink. Besides, it is even literally true, that God was manifest in the flesh of Christ; since he himself acknowledges, that the very words which he spake were not his own, but the Father's who sent him, and that the Father, who was in him, did the the works. It was therefore with the greatest propriety that our Lord faid, John viii. 19, If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also, the wisdom and power of God being conspicuous in him. They who will have this text to be a proof of the godhead of Christ, must suppose him to be the Father, or the first person in the trinity, and not the Son, or the second.
Zach. xiii. 7. Awake, O fuord, against my lhepherd and against the man that is my fellow, faith the Lord of hofts. So says our english version, but the word in the original figuifies a person that is near, or joined
in neighbourhood to another, and, except this single text, it is every where rendered neighbour by our translators. .
Philip. ii. 5. &c. 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 with God, but made himself of no reputation ;—Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him. That every tongue Mould confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The proper rendering of this text is, Who being in the form of God, did not think that being equal to God, or a state of equality with God, was a thing to be seized (i. e. by him) but made himself of no reputation. This makes the whole påstage. perfectly just and coherent, as a recommendation of humility; and also hints a fine contrast between the conduct of Christ, whom St. Paul elsewhere calls the second Adam, and the first, who is also said to have been made in the likeness of God, but aspiring to be as God fell, and was punished; whereas Chrift, who had more of the likeness or form of God, on account of his extraordinary powers, not grasping at any thing higher, but humbling himself, was exalted. It is in this sense, or a sense similar to it, in which this very text is quoted by those fathers of the christian church who wrote before the controversy about the divinity of Christ was started. In this manner, even some who maintain the divinity of Christ render the words. Thus, Father
Simon, who contends that being in the form of God is equivalent to being truly God, renders the latter part of the verse, did not imperiously assume to himself an equality with God. Indeed the word, but, which introduces the next verse, evidently leads us to expect some contrast between what goes before and after it, which is very striking in the manner in which I translate this text; but it is altogether loft in our comnion version. For he made himself equal to God, but humbled himself, is not even sense. Lastly, I would observe that the word, which is here rendered equal to, is also used to express a very high degree of resemblance, which it is very certain that Christ was possefled of with respect to God; and Dr. Doddridge renders it, to be as God.
VII. Christ may be supposed to have pre-existed, or to have had a being before he was born of the visgin Mary, without supposing him to be the eternal God; but it appears to me that the apostles confidered Chritt as being, with respect to his nature, truly and properly a man, confisting of the same constituent parts, and of the same rank with ourselves, in all things like unto his brethren; and the texts which are thought to speak of him as having existed before he came into this world, appear to me to bear other interpretations very well. Some of them have been explained in a diffcrent sense ab
ready, and I shall now endeavour to explain the rest.
John viii. 56, &c. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and bast thou feen Abraham ? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham. was I am. The meaning of this passage clearly is. that Abraham foresaw the day of Christ, and that Christ was the subject of prophecy before the times of Abraham. This saying of our Lord is also illuftrated by what the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says concerning all the ancient worthjes, viz. that they all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off. In this manner, therefore, Abraham also saw the day of Christ. Agreeably to this. it is easy to explain John xvii. 5. Giorify me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was, of the glory which was intended for him in the councils of God before all time.. Nay this must necessarily be our Lord's meaning in this place;. since in many other passages the powerand glory which were conferred upon Christ are exprefly said to be the reward of his obedience, and to be subsequent to his resurrection from the dead. It is with peculiar pro. priety, therefore, that this request of our Lord follows his declaration, that he had done the work for which he was to receive the reward; ver. 4. I have g?orified. thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou
gavest me to do ; and now, O Father, glorify thou me, &c. As the connection of this prayer shews that whatever it was that our Lord requested, it depended upon the part which he had to act in the world, it is plain that it could not be any thing which he had enjoyed antecedently to his coming into it.
In the same manner we may explain the following prophecy of Micah concerning Chrift, v. 2. Thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee Mall he corne forth unto me that is to be a ruler in Ifrael, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. For this may be understood concerning the promises of God, in which the coming of Christ was signified to mankind from the beginning of the world, The Chaldee paraphrafe renders it, whose name was foretold of old.
As to those who think that our Lord meant to intimate that he was truly and properly God because he uses that expression I am, by which the true God announced himself to Mofes, they will perhaps be sensible how little stress is to be laid upon it, when
they are informed, that, though the same phrase oc- curs very often in the history of Christ, our transla
tors themselves, in every place excepting this, render it by I am he, that is, I am the Christ. It is used in this fense in the 24th verse of this chapter, If ye believe not that I am he, je fall die in your fins. And again in the 28th verse, When ye mall lift up the fon