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herd and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.” So says our English version; but the word in the original signifies 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, whó 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 longue 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 passage 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 Christ, 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 Siinon, 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 supposed to have pre-existed, or to have had a being before he was born of the virgin Mary, without supposing him to be the eternal God: but it appears to me that the apostles considered Christ as being, with respect to his nature, truly and properly a man, consistirg 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 10 bear other interpretations very well. Some of them have been explained in a different sense already, and I shall now endeavour to explain the rest. John yisi. 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 hast thou seen 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 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. “Glorify 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 power and glory which were conferred upon Christ are
expressly said to be the reward of his obedience, and · to be subsequent 10 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 gavest ne to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me,” &c. As the conneć. sion of this prayer shows 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 hail enjoyed antecedently to his coming into it..
In the same manner we may explain the following prophecy of Micah concerning Christ, v. 2. 6 Thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be a ruler in Israel, 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 paraphrase 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 Moses, ihey will perhaps be sensible how little stress is to be laid upon it, when they are informed, that, though the sanie phrase occurs very often in the history of Christ, our translators themselves, in every place excepting this, sender it by I am he, that is, I am the Christ. It is used in this sense in the 241h verse of this chapter, “ If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” And again in the 28th verse, “When ye shall lift up the son 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 shall ye know that I am
he, he, 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 coine 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 shall 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, considered as a part of the material system, they had been in it long before. John xvii. 18. 66 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so also send I them into the world.” Since, therefore, the mission of Christ, and that of the apostles, are spoken of in the very same 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 into the world, than there is to slippose that the apostles had pre-existed. Also when our Lord says, John xvii. 11. “Now I am no 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 occasions, even to the end of the world;