Page images
PDF
EPUB

!

in neighbourhood to another, and, except this fingle 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 should 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 paslage 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,

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 lost in our common 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 possessed of with respect to God; and Dr. Doddridge renders it, to be as God,

VII. Christ may be fuppofed to have pre-existed, or to have had a being before he was born of the vir'gin Mary, without supposing him to be the eternal God; but it appears to me that the apostles confidered Christ as being, with respect to his nature, truly and properly a man, confisting of the same constituent parts, and of the same rank with ourfelves, 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 different sense al

ready, ready, and I shall now endeavour to explain the reft.

John viii. 56, &c. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the jewus unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham. was I am. The meaning of this paffage 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 illustrated by what the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says concerning all the ancient worthies, 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 propriety, 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 glorified thee on. the earth, I have finished the work which thou

gavejt

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 Christ, v. 2. Thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee fall he corne forth unto me that is to be a ruler in Israel, whose going 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 1 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 occurs very often in the history of Christ, our translators themselves, in every place excepting this, render it by I am he, that is, I am the Chrift. 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, IVhen ye shall lift up the fon

of

of man, then shall ye know that I am he. That the words I am in this place do not mean the eternal God, is inanifest from the words which are imme. diately connected with these; then shall ye know that I am be, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

John xvi. 28. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father. In order to understand this text, it hould be observed, that by the world is not always meant the material world, and least of all in the discourses of our Saviour ; but the world considered as a fate of trial, exercise and difcipline, and especially the unbelieving and ungodly part of the world. The world mall hate you, John xv. 10. I pray not for the world, xvii. 9, &c. Our Saviour also speaks of sending his disciples into the world ; though, con. fidered as a part of the material fyftem, they had been in it long before. John xvii. 18. As thou haft Sent me into the world, even so also fend I them into the world. Since, therefore, the mission of Christ, and that of the apostles, are spoken of in the very fame words, and represented as commencing in the same manner, there can be no more reason to suppose that Christ had a being before he came int. the world, than there is to suppose that the apostles h . preexisted. Also when our Lord says, John xvii. II. Now I am na more in the world, he could not mean the material world : for, after his resurrection, he

was

« PreviousContinue »