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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 manifest from the words which are immediately connected with these; then mall ye know that I am be, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father bath 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 should 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 state of trial, exercise and discipline, 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 system, they had been in it long before. John xvii. 18. As thou haft fent me into the world, even so allo 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 u preexisted. Also when our Lord says, John xvji. 11. Now I am na more in the world, he could not mean the material world : for, after his resurrection, he
was seen by many, and even after his ascension he was seen by Paul, if not by Stephen; and he is probably in this world at present, attending to the affairs of his church ; and therefore may even be literally with his disciples, upon important occafions, even to the end of the world; and the notion of a local heaven, above the clouds, is altogether fanciful.
John v. 13. No man hath afcended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the son of man, who is in heaven. This language is evidently figurative; but if Christ could be in heaven at the fame time that he was on earth, conversing with Nicodemus, it is plain that his being said to have come down from heaven cannot necessarily imply that he had ever been any where but on the earth. In fact, the phrases being in heaven, being with God, or in the boom of God, &c. express a state of very intimate communication with God, such as qualified Christ to speak of heavenly things, as he expresses himself to Nicodemus, and to make his Father known to us. John i. 8. No man hath seen God at any time : the only-begotten fon, which is in the bofom of the Father, he hath declared him.
The omnipresence, and consequently the proper divinity of Christ, could not be meant by his being said to be in heaven at the same time that he was visible on earth, because he is, on this occasion, called the son of man, which is always allowed to
denote denote his humanity, and which certainly could not be present in two places at the same time.
John vi. 51. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he pall live for ever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the fon of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. By these and other expressions of a fimilar nature, our Lord staggered not only those who followed him for the sake of the loaves with which he had fed them, but even many of his other disciples ; and perceiving this, he says unto them, ver. 61. Doth this offend you, what and if ye shall see the for of man ascend up where he was before? It is the fpirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. In this our Lord seems to be reproving the stupidity of his disciples, in not understanding that by himself, and his flesh and blood, he meant his doctrine, which came down from heaven. For if it was his body that was to be of such benefit to mankind, what would they say if they fhould see it taken from them, ascending into heaven, from whence he had spoken of its descending to be the life of the world? They must then be satisfied that his flesh could profit them nothing, and therefore must conclude that his doctrine must have been the spirit, and the life, of which he spake. Os we may, perhaps,
understand understand our Saviour, in this place, as referring to his ascension, which was an ocular proof of his having had that intimate communication with God, and having been sent of God concerning which he had been speaking. Besides, if this paffage be interpreted literally, it will imply that the body of Chrift came from heaven, which is not pretended.
Col. i. 15. Who is the image of the invisble God, the first-born of every creature. For by him were alt things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers ; all things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things confift: and he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead ; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.
In this passage we have a view given us of the great dignity and dominion to which Christ is exalted by his Father, and of the great and happy change that was made in this world by his gospel ; for by creation we are to underitand the new creation, or renovation, in which sense the same word is used by the apostle, when he says, We are his workmanfoip created in Chris Jesus unto good works. Eph. ii. 10. So great a change is produced in the world, in the tempers and conduct of men by the gospel, that both the terms creation and regeneration are made N
use use of to express it. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, John iii. 3. so that by regeneration, or new creation, we are to understand a new-modeling, or new-conftituting. We shall see less harshness in this figure, when we consider, that what is called the Mofaic creation was probably similar to this ; fince, for any thing we know, it was only the re-making or re-conftituting of the world, out of a former chaos.
There are several passages in which the words, which we generally render to create, or creation, signify only a renewal or restoration. Eph. ii. 10. To make in himself, of twain, one new man, fo making peace. 2 Cor. v. 17. If any man be in Christ he is a new ercature. In 1 Pet. ii. 13. the same word is rendered ordinance. Be ye subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake. The places in which the influence of the gospel is termed a new creation are illustrated by the following prophesy of Isaiah, in which it is described in the same language, If. Ixv. 17, &c. Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former Mall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad, and rejoice for ever in that which I create ; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
The word all must necessarily respect the subject concerning which the affirmation is made, and be limited by it. Thus when all the world is said to be taxed, Luke ii. 1. it is plain that nothing but the