« AnteriorContinuar »
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.-Philip. ii. 5-9. And what follows.
HAVE proposed to consider this text distinctly. In so doing I have represented the different opinions of Christians concerning the Deity, and the person of Jesus Christ.
The opinion last represented was that called Unitarian and Nazarean. I am now to apply that doctrine to this text, or interpret this text, according to the sentiments of those who believe Jesus to be a man, with a human soul, and human body: but “a man with whom God was,” in a most peculiar and extraordinary manner.
" Let this mind bé in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God.”
They who are in the scheme, which we are now explaining, suppose, that here in this world, Jesus was in the form of God. What the apostle intends thereby is the wonderful knowledge which the Lord Jesus showed, even of things at a distance, things past, and the thoughts and reasonings and surmises of men: of all which we have in the gospels a most beautiful and affecting history. When at his word and command, the most infirm and diseased persons were immediately healed: when those who had the palsy, or the dropsy, or were lunatic, were healed of their diseases : when the blind received their sight, the lame walked, the deaf were made to hear, and the dumb to speak: when he took upon him some special appearance of authority, and to such as had the leprosy, and petitioned for a cure he said : “ I will, Be thou clean.” When he fed and refreshed several thousands at once in desert places: when he directed Peter to cast a hook into the sea, assuring of a supply for himself and him of the tribute money for the temple: when he raised the dead, and walked on the sea, and with a word composed the winds and the waves: when he conveyed to his disciples, upon his sending them from him, spiritual gifts, so far as was requisite at that season. And though that was not yet accomplished, it was plainly declared, by his forerunner, that this was he who should baptize men with the Holy Ghost: or bestow on a sudden, in a plentiful measure, wisdom and understanding, and miraculous powers upon his followers in general, according to their several stations. This may be well meant by “ the form of God.”
“ the form of God.” These things explain the apostle's expression in the text. And this wonderful power and knowledge seem to be what the same apostle means when he says that Christ was rich, in 2 Cor. viii. 9. Which place may be reckoned parallel with that which we are now considering. “ For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye by his poverty might be rich."
“ Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God," that is, did not earnestly covet divine honour from men, or seek to be equal, or like to God: “but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being in the likeness of ordinary men.” That is, very probably, the apostle's design. There begins the account of Christ's condescending and selfdenying conduct. Whatever 5 scheme men embrace concerning the Deity, and the person of Christ, I think they must allow of this interpretation : either that Jesus did not make a show of his divinity, but veiled it, and hid it: or that he did not earnestly seek to be, or appear equal or like to Gode
By not earnestly coveting divine honour, or seeking to be equal or like to God, St. Paul may refer to and intend many things in the course of our Lord's ministry, which are recorded in the gospels. Our Lord did not act as if he was independent. He declared that he came from God, and that the Father had sent him. He professed to teach and act as he had received from the Father. When some would have persuaded him to assume kingly power and authority; not doubting but he was able to set up a government, to which all might be compelled to submit:
a Mopon in nostris libris non significat internum & occultum Christo potestas sanandi mortos omnes, ejiciendi dæmonas, aliquid, sed id quod in oculos incurrit, qualis erat eximia in excitandi mortuos, mutandi rerum naturas. B See Vol. i p. 572, and Vol. ii. p. 21.
Grot. ad Philip. Cap. i. v. 6.
he absolutely declined the proposal. He first defeated the measures whicla tliey had taken to bring him into their design. And afterwards he sharply reproved that worldly-mindedness by which they had been actuated.
For a like reason he enjoined silence upon some, on whom he had wrought great cures.
Mark x. 17, 18. “ When he was gone, forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him: Good Master, what shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him : Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one. That is God.” The outward respect shewn by that person being so extraordinary, both as to action and expression, he could not accept it, without an intimation of the supreme respect due to God alone.
John v. 30. “ I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge. And my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father, which hath sent me.”
John x. 30—38.“ Our Lord having in some strong expressions represented the high authority given to him, the “ Jews took up stones to stone him. And said: For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because that thou being a man, makest thyself God.” Whereupon our Lord modestly answers, agreeably to what he had before said : that the near relation to God, spoken of by him, was claimed on no other account, than the high honour which God had conferred upon him, and which they might discern from the works which they had seen him do. “ If ye called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world: Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works.”
And many other particulars must occur to the thoughts of all. Wherein our Lord did not choose his own will, nor affect independence, but referred all to God the Father.
“ But made himself of no reputation.” Literally, according to the original, emptied himself. That is, he did not exert the divine power residing in him, for securing to himself plentiful accommodations, honourable respects, and humble lowly obeisance: but he lived in mean circumstances, and was exposed to the remarks, reproaches, and ill-usage of many.
" And took upon him the form of a servant.” But, according to the original, it is more literally “ taking the form of a servant. He emptied himself,” or “ made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant.” This farther illustrates the foregoing particular. Jesus did not place himself in servitude to any. But, as he says to the disciples : " Whether is greater, He that sitteth at meat ? or he that serveth? But 1 am among you, as one that serveth,” Luke xxii. 17. Instead of assuming state and grandeur, or a continued appearance of greatness, he was like a man of mean condition. He conversed freely with all sorts of men, and admitted all to free access: and allowed of questions and cavils. Himself went about doing good, travelling over the cities and villages of the land of Israel, teaching the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven : not inviting men by the pomp of numerous attendance, or by gifts, or promises of worldly advantages: but receiving usually needful supplies for himself and his disciples from a few grateful followers who ministered to him of their substance.
In the whole of his ministry he usually acted as one that serves. But there were some remarkable instances of humility and condescension, particularly when he washed the disciples' feet, and gave them the refreshment, ordinarily received from servants only.
Some think, that when our Lord emptied himself, or made himself of no reputation, he was no longer in the form of God. But it seems to me, that he was at the same time in the form of God, and in the form of a servant. He had the form of God in this world, as he wrought miracles: of all kinds, whenever he pleased, and likewise had all knowledge of all things. At the same time he acted very humbly and meckly, and was destitute of external pomp and grandeur.
And I think our Lord's discourse with his disciples presently after the forementioned remarkable condescension, shows, that the form of God, and the form of a servant were united. John xiii. 12–14. “ So then after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them: Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord. And so I am. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you.” He was their Lord and Master at the same time that he acted in divers , respects as one that serves.
A nobleman, or other person of great distinction for wisdom and capacity, with a high commission under his prince, may upon some occasion, and for important reasons, condescend greatly, or empty himself, by performing offices more generally done by men of low and mean condition. Still he has the authority belonging to his commission, and the dignity that is inherent in his character, as a man of honour, veracity, and experience.
“ And was made in the likeness of men,” or, more literally and properly, according to the original, “ and being made in the likeness of men:” or, being in the likeness of men ; that is, being like an ordinary man, when he was not such. For he was innocent and perfect, and the fulness of the Deity dwelled in him. St. Paul does not intend to intimate that our Saviour was not really a man, but that he appeared like an ordinary man when he was really more. So Rom. viii
. 3. “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” He was really a man, but had only the likeness of sinful men: for he was innocent and perfect, and was not liable to the sentence of death, or the common law of mortality, binding other men.
Ver. 8. “ And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” And being found in his outward appearance as another ordinary man, he humbled himself so far, as to yield up himself to death. Beside all the condescensions of his life, it being the will of God, for great ends and purposes, that he should do so, he yielded up himself to death. He made no resistance. He exerted not any of that extraordinary power, or knowledge, with which he was endowed, to defeat the
malicious designs of his unreasonable enemies, but quietly resigned himself, in obedience to God, to death, the death of the cross. He could stoop no lower. So far he submitted and acquiesced, as all know from our Lord's history in the gospels; where are candidly related at large the reproachful, disgraceful, aggravating circumstances of the painful death which Jesus underwent.
Ver. 9, 10, 11. “ Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.” On account of that excellent and useful service, that cheerful condescension, and willing obedience, in patiently enduring so painful and ignominious a death, for promoting the great ends, designed by the divine wisdom, God has highly exalted him, far beyond whatever any one else has obtained.
Christ's exaltation began with his resurrection from the dead on the third day, without seeing corruption. After which he ascended to heaven, and was seated in the divine presence, next to God the Father.
“ And given him a name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow :” that is, that all intelligent beings may show respect to Jesus, " of things in heaven,” angels, “and things on earth,” men, “and things under the earth,” evil spirits, or men departed, when they shall by him be raised up: “and that every tongue should confess :" particularly that men of all nations and languages on this earth should acknowledge " that Jesus Christ is Lord,” and honour and serve him “ to the glory of God the Father.”
Christ's exaltation is “ to the glory of God.” God has exalted and appointed him to be Lord, for his own glory. For the exaltation of Jesus is indeed a great display of the wisdom, equity, and justice of the Divine Being. It shows his regard for distinguished and eminent virtue. So extraordinary services and sufferings, and such patience under them, were entitled to special notice. God has conferred on Jesus a reward, greater than could have been devised by man, and highly becoining his Majesty to confer upon him, to whom he had given so important a commission, for the benefit of the human race, and who had executed it with unparalleled faithfulness, zeal, and alacrity, though exceeding painful and difficult.
The glory of Jesus is in another respect to the glory of the Father, inasmuch as that exaltation is a great confirmation of the truth of his doctrine, and must contribute mightily to animate his apostles and others in spreading his doctrine, notwithstanding many difficulties: and it would contribute to bring men to faith in Jesus, as the Christ, and to repentance toward God, and every branch of true holiness, and to eminence therein, and to the practice of meekness, resignation, zeal, courage, and the virtues of every condition, whether prosperous or adverse.
That is what the apostle says of Christ's exaltation. Which is often spoken of in the New Testament, and differently described, but with constant harmony upon the whole. I shall recite some places.
Our Lord himself said to his disciples, before he finally departed from them: “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” Matt. xxviii. 13. And says St. Peter, soon after our Lord's ascension, Acts ii. 31. “ This Jesus hath God raised up. Whereof we all are witnesses.”
Ver. 36. “ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” See also ch. v. 30–32. And at the house of Cornelius at Cesarea, ch. x. 40–42. “Him God raised up the third day- And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify, that it is he, which is ordained of God to be the judge of the quick and the dead.” Compare this with St. Paul's discourse at Athens, Acts xvii. 30, 31. And says the same apostle, Eph. i. 18—22. “That ye may know the exceeding greatness of his power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to
And put all things under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all things to the church.”
Having explained this text according to the last mentioned scheme, I shall now conclude with some remarks and observations.
1. Christians ought to show moderation, and carefully maintain love and friendship with one another, notwithstanding difference of opinion about divers matters.
They should not be willing to unchristianize and anathematize any man, who professes to believe Jesus to be the Christ, and to hold him for the head of the church, and Lord and Master of it.
They should not be unwilling to hold communion one with another. If they cannot do that, they should not deny to others the character of integrity; much less admit a thought of incommoding them in their worldly interests upon account of some difference of opinion. For that is doing as they would not be done unto. And by the practice of force and compulsion when they are in power, they encourage others of different sentiments from them, when in power, to act in like manner.
And according to this way of thinking, and acting, oppression and tyranny must prevail every where, and Christian people must be always at variance, devouring one another.
There always has been difference of opinion among men. There were divers sects of philosophy, before the rise of Christianity. Where there is but one opinion, there is absolute tyranny without liberty: or there is total indifference about the things of religion, without thought and inquiry.
Where Christianity is professed, if there is any freedom, the importance of the doctrine will excite thought and consideration. Thence will proceed variety of opinion, unless men's minds were quite alike: which they are not. Nor have all men the like helps and advantages. For which reasons it is not to be expected, that all should see things in the same light.
Though Christians are divided in their sentiments about a Trinity, and the person of Christ, and some other points, yet there are many things in which they agree. They all profess to receive the scriptures as the word of God, and the rule of their faith. And there are divers things, which may be easily learned from scripture, in which therefore they ought to agree.
We are there taught to think of God, as one. “ Thou shalt have no other gods before me, was proclaimed by God to the Jewish people in the most solemn manner. Indeed all Christians in general agree in this, that there is but one God: however, they may seem to each other at times to multiply deities. Certainly the unity of God is a principle, which we ought to maintain whole and uncorrupted in all its simplicity.
We are likewise to conceive of this one God as eternal, all-perfect, the creator of the heavens and the earth, and the governor of the worlds, which he has made.
We should think of God as great and powerful. Else we shall not fear before him at all times : nor trust in him, in the various trials and occurrences of this life, nor seek to him, and pray to him as we ought, to approve ourselves to him: that is, unless we believe him able to hear those who seek to him, and to reward such as diligently serve him.
It is highly expedient, that we trace out by reason and scripture the evidences of the divine goodness and mercy, that we may not shun and flee from him as inexorable: that we may not be discouraged in doing our utmost to please him, though we cannot attain to an absolute and sinless perfection.
When Moses desired to see the " glory of God,” and his request was not rejected, God " made all his goodness to pass before him," and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” See Exod. xxxiii. and xxxiv.
The inspired scriptures continually represent God to us, as great and amiable.
He is “of purer eyes than to behold iniquity” in any with approbation. Hab. i. 13. Yet he accepts the humble and penitent. And is as ready to forgive and accept those who return from their wanderings, as they who relent, and are pierced with a sense of guilt, can wish or desire. Is. lvii. 15. “For thus saith the high and lofty one, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy,” that is, sacred, great and august, “I dwell in the high and holy place: with him also, who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and the heart of the contrite."
The value and importance of right conceptions concerning these perfections of God may be seen farther shown in Jer. ix. 23, 24.
These are things in which all men of every rank, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, are more concerned, than in any points of a speculative nature, that are very abstruse, and almost unintelligible. The plainest truths are the most important: not the most abstruse and mysterious, as some would persuade men to think. For religion is the concern of all, and the most momentous things ought to be obvious, that none who are not extremely negligent, or wilfully blind, may be unacquainted with them.
And herein is wisdom: to consider God as great, good, and excellent, and to act accordingly, standing in awe of his judgments, studious to gain and keep his favour, by a sincere regard to his holy laws, and doing the things that are well-pleasing in his sight.
We are also to believe, that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world: that he acted by a special commission under God the Father, and that the doctrine taught by him may be relied upon, as containing the true way to life.
Christians must believe, that Jesus had the innocent infirmities of the human nature; that he really had grief, that he really suffered and died, and rose again, and is ascended up to heaven. Otherwise they lose all the benefit of his example.
We must remember, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. For certainly every thing, concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, was designed for the glory of God, and is actually conducive to it. By his life, doctrine, death, exaltation, and arguments taken thence, men have been turned from idols to the living and true God.
Jesus, in his person, and example, in his life, and in his death, and in his exaltation, is unspeakably amiable. And we ought to give glory and honour to him, who died for us, and rose again, and is at the right hand of God. And though we have not seen hi/ ), we cannot but love him. Still it is not to be forgotten, that “ Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
There has been in all times occasion for such hints as these. And those Christians are not to be justified, who instead of praying to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, address almost all their prayers and praises to Christ, without any warrant from the New Testament, and contrary to express and repeated instructions concerning the object and manner of worship.
One of the reasons, why we ought ever to love and honour the Lord Jesus, is, that through him we have been brought unto God, and to the knowledge of his glorious perfections, and overruling providence. As St. Peter writes, 1 Ep. i. 18—21. “ Forasmuch as ye know that ye were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot. Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world; but was manifest in these last times for you: who by him do believe in God that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God.”
2. The scheme, which has been last considered, appears to be the plainest and most simple of all. This was taken notice of formerly, and I do not intend to enlarge farther upon
it now. 3. According to this scheme, the condescension and meekness, and other virtues of the Lord Jesus, are the most exemplary, and his exaltation is the most encouraging.
For he is truly 4 of kin to us, and a fit example of faith and patience, and rightly the “captain a Heb. ii. 11. “ For both he that sanctifieth, and they who put him in a condition, whereby he was able to offer up are sanctified, are all of one. For which cause he is not s himself a sacrifice for them.' See v. 14, 17, 18. aod ch. v. ashamed to call them brethren. All of one.' EĘ EYOS WANTES. • 2. x. 5. 'Of one Father Abraham.' Says Peirce. Who
Of one father, that is God.' says Grotius. of one original also adds in his notes: “This interpretation is confirmed by ' and nature.' Whitby. Of one stock and nature.' S. Clarke. ver. 16, 17. For he laid not bold of angels, but of the seed • Have all the same origin.' Beausobre. Who goes on : "all of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be • are of one, meaning of Adam. In order to be high priest 'made like unto his brethren : meaning the seed of Abraham." ' for men, it was necessary, that Jesus Christ should be man. Which makes little difference in the present argument. See * This is what renders bim sensible to the sufferings of men : before, at p. 321. Note, that which disposes him to love and belp them, and which