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glory according to them, our Lord voluntarily resigned or emptied himself of, upon his incarnation. Our Lord is here affirmed say they, to have been in the form of God, and to be like God, because he was the first, the most il. lustrious and dignified, of all the creation; the image and representative of his God and Father. This glory he freely and generously resigned, for the good of mankind; assum. ed a human body, and appeared in the world in the form of a servant and the fashion of a man, and humbled himself yet farther, by submitting to the painful and ignominious death of the cross. On account of this disinterested bene. volence, and amazing condescension, God (UTEPUwce) exalted him higher than before, as the Greek word signi. fies,) and was pleased to add to his orignal dignity, by subjecting the whole celestial and terrestrial world to his dominion, and to confer upon him the title of Lord, or Ru. ler over all, which office he holds, andititle he bears, as the free gift and to the glory of God the Father.
The Socinians (who do not admit the pre existence of Christ) are of opinion, that the form of God, and likeness to God, mentioned by St. Paul, respects the person and cha. racter of Jesus Christ on earth, and consisted in those great and wonderful powers with which he was endowed, viz. the fulness of the Father, or the communication of the Spirit without measure, which resided in bim and was the source of his divine wisdom and knowledge, and the cause of those miraculous works, by the performance of which he appeared more like a God than a man. That he is said to empty himself of these high powers, because he did not exercise them for his own emolument, or make any ostentatious display of them, in order to procure praise, esteem, or authority to himself; but only exercised them for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. And took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. The Socinians observe, that these words are more properly rendered from the Greek, taking upon him the form of a servant or slave, and was (or being) in the likeness of men ;' and denote the lowness of his condition in this world; Matth. vii. 20. "The son of man hath not where to lay his head;' Matth. xx. 28. “The son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Our Lord Jesus Christ acted the part of a servant here below,
ministering to the wants and necessities of others, assuming nothing to himself, but conducting himself with the greatest humility and condescension, in all respects. So that thèse words they think, are not intended to signify what God made Christ, but how Christ acted and behaved during his residence on earth. • And being found in fashion as a man,' or (as eupnSedis may be rendered,) and being in the .hashion. of a man,' that is, being in the situation and circumstances of other men. • He humbled himself and became obedient unto death,'&c.i. e. He'made no use of his extraordinary miraculous powers and qualifications, to hinder or retard his sufferings and death, and to prevent the malice of his enemies from taking effect: but on this occasion as well as others emptied himself of these powers, appearing as it were divested of them, and calmly submit. ted to the cruel and painful death of the cross. Where. fore God. also hath highly exalted him,' &c. On account of the humility of Jesus, and his eminent labours and sufferings for the glory of God, and the good of mankind, God hath been pleased to advance him to a state of the highest dignity in heaven, and to confer upon him a sovereign power, authority, and dominion, &c. *
Col. i. 15. Who (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. For by him were all 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 ihings, and by him all things consist. 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.'
This passage although interpreted in the strictest and most literal manner, will prove nothing more, hut what both ancient and modern Arians have maintained, viz. That Jesus Christ existed with the Father in a state of glory before the creation, and was employed by him as an instru
* The above is a brief representation of the Socinian explication of Phil. ii. 6, dec. But to those who would wish to see this method of interpretation unfolded more at large, I would recommend a perusal of Mr. Lindsey's Sequel to his Apology, from p. 272 to 278, and the Thcological Repository, Vol. 2, from p. 141. to 154, 219, to 230.
ment, or a subordinate operator, in the formation and creation of all things. For it is not said, that Jesus Christ created all things by his own power and agency, but that (EY Autw) in him, all things were created, which (being syno. nimous to do auto, through him, used afterwards,) denotes not the first, or efficient cause, but the second or ministering
See Dis. IX. p. 161, 162. It is also added, that, all things were created for him and he is before all things, and by him all things consist,' the plain meaning of which is, (if a proper creation is here intended,) that all things were created with respect to Christ, and in the sequel to be subjected to him, as they actually were at his resur. rection from the dead : that he existed before any other created being; and that he is employed by God, as an in. strument in the preservation and government of the world. That Jesus Christ is not God, may be proved from this very passage by four decisive arguments. 1. He is here styled the image of the invisible God. Now the image of the invisible God, must be a different being from that invi-, sible God whose image he is: for no being can be the image of itself. See Dis. V. p. 61. 2. He is styled, 'the first born of every creature, which clearly proves that he is not eter. pal, but that he was produced or brought into being, at some period or other; and to explain these words otherwise, as some have done, is only doing unnatural violence to an obvious expression. See Dis. V. p. 62, 63. 3. He is called, the first born from the dead, which implies, that however great and excellent he was, he actually died: Now if there be any truth that is clear or certain, it is this, that God who is the life and soul of the creation, cannot die. As sure therefore as our Lord Jesus Christ died, and was raised from the dead by the Father, so sure is it, that be is not the most high God. 4. It is added, " for it pleased the Father that in him all fulness sbould dwell,' or as some render it,' by him to inhabit all fulness. The word Father is not in the Greek, but it is necessary to understand it: and therefore our translators have done very well to supply it. If therefore the Father's fulness dwelt in Christ, or the Father inhabited by him all fulness, it clearly fol. lows, that all the power and excellence that Christ pos. sesses, or ever possessed, was solely derived from the good pleasure of the Father; and that if he acted a subordinate
part in the original creation, he only exercised the Father's power, and not any inherent or independent power of his own,
But several learned persons, and able scriptural critics, besides the professed Socinians, have been of opinion, that this whole passage respects the new creation, or moral renovation of the world by Jesus Christ. In particular Grotius observes upon this place. 66 It is certain that all things were created by the word. But what goes before shews, that the discourse here turns upon Christ, which is the name of a man, in which manner Chrysostom also understood this place. But he conceived that the world' was created for Christ, a sense of the place which is not bad: but from the foregoing parts of the discourse, it is more proper to interpret the word extion here as signifying, constituted, or modelled, or that a new state of things was intro. duced." *
In like manner, Wetstein observes upon this place. ( If with the most skilful interpreters, we explain what is here said, by the parallel epistle to the Ephesians, we must understand these words, as speaking of the new creation and constitution of the world, by the coming of Christ, and preaching of the gospel."
The Socinians have always contended that this passage relates to the new creation : and their reasons for applying it in this manner, are as follows. f. The one true God, is always in scripture declared to have made the heavens and the earth, nor is there the smallest intimation given of any inferior agent being employed by him in the work of creation, excepting in this, or perhaps one or two passages more; which are capable of being otherwise explained, thus, Gen. i. 1. In the beginning God created the hea. ven and the earth.' Gen. i. 2. The Spirit (i. e. the breath, power, or energy) of God moved upon the face of
* « Certum est per verbum creata omnia. Sed quæ præcedunt ostendunt hic de Christo agi, quod hominis est nomen, quomodo etiam Chrysostomus hunc accepit locum. Sed ille intelligit mundum creatum propter Christum, sensu non malo; sed propter id quod præcessit, rectius est extie&n hic interpretari, ordinati sunt, nopum quendam statum sunt consecuta." Grotius in loco.
$ " Si ex epistola ad Ephesios interpretari debemus, quæ hic habencur, ut præstantissimi interpretes consentiunt, intelligenda hæc sunt de nova creatione, sive constitutione mundi per adventum Christi, et prædicationcm Evangelii. Eph. i. IQ, ü, 10, 15. ül. 9, iv, 24." Wetstein in loco,
the waters.' Isa. xxxvii. -:16. "O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the Cherubims! Thou art God, even Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth : Thou hast made heaven and earth.' Isa. xliv. 24. I am the Lord that maketh all ihings, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth BY MYSELF.' Isa. xlv. 11, 12. Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his maker.- I have made the earth, and created man upon it; I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens. ' See also Psal. xxxii: 6, 9. and various other places in the Old Testament. In the New Testament also, God, or the Father of Jesus, is declared to have been the maker of heaven and of earth. Acts iv. 24, 27. ' And when they heard that, they lift up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is : For of a 'truth against Thy holy child (or servant) Jesus," &c. Acts xvii. 24. God that made the world and all things therein,' &c. And this place is certainly to be un. derstood of the Father; for in ver. 31, Christ is distinguished from God, as a man whom he hath ordained.'
2. Our Lord himself in all his discourses to his disci. ples, never in the least hinted that he acted any part in the original creation. - On the contrary, speaking of our first parents, he observes, Mark x. 6.. That from the begin. ning of the creation, God made them male and female, and he affirms the same still more strongly, Matth. xix. 4.
3. It is the manner of the Hebrews to represent changes in the moral world, by images drawn from the natural world; and the gospel itself is prophesied of in the Old Testament, as a new creation, or renovation of things, Isa. li. 16. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundation of the earth, and say unto Zion, thou art my people.' Isa. Ixv. 17, 18. For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth ; and the former ones shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; (or as Bishop Lowth renders it, ye shall rejoice and exult in the age to come, which I create) for behold, I create Jeru. salem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.' And Isaiah ix.