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Son : Why is it represented as so great a display of God’s love, to give such a Son to die for us? If there be any great display of Divine love on his theorv, must it not be found in this, that God accepted the obedience unto death, of one man, as an atonement for the sins of the whole world As much might, perhaps, be said, had Moses died for the sins of the world. But if Christ be called the SoN of God in respect to his “lowest capacity and character,” why did HE never speak of his having a higher character than that of the Son of God? How came the Jews to accuse Christ of blasphemy, for saying that he was the SoN of GoD : Would the Jews ever have thought of accusing him with blasphemy for saying that he was “created by an immediate act”; or for saying, In the same sense that Adam was, I am the Son of God 2 Christ received worship as the Son of God ; was it on the ground that he was “created by an immediate act”?
LETTER VI. The preceding Doctrines all implied in Philippians ii. 5–11.
NO portion of Scripture has, perhaps, been more abundantly quoted, nor more fully relied on, by Athanasian writers, than Philippians ii. 6. This text, therefore, with six other verses in connexion, I shall attempt to examine. And I flatter myself that you will be convinced that the Athanasian theorv can have no support from this passage; and that, in it, is fairly implied several of the propositions which I have aimed to establish. The verses to be considered are the following:— 5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ esus ; 6 Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In the preceding verses, the Apostle had, in the most affectionate manner, exhorted Christians to humility, condescension, and benevolence. To e. force his exhortation, he urged the example of Jesus Christ, who was rich, and yet for our sakes became poor; and the glorious reward which God bestowed on him for what he had done and suffered. To exhibit the example of Christ in a just and striking light, he distinctly brought into view his state of Godlike splendor and Majesty before his incarnation; who being in the ForM of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.
The Son’s being in the ForM of GoD, most probably refers to the glory he had with the Father before the world was, the glory that he had in God's creating all things by him, and the glory that he had as the Angel of God's presence.
But as this verse is so much relied on in support of the doctrine that the SoN is personally the self-existent God, it behoves me to be the more particular in the examination.
It is not, for me, easy to discern any thing in the sixth
verse, nor in the whole connexion, which has the least appearance of favoring that idea, unless it be found in the import of the word equal—“ thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” The argument is simply this, No Person but the self-existent God can be equal with the self-existent God; therefore the Son is the self-existent God.— And the utmost that can possibly be meant, in any case, by the word equal, is insisted on as the only possible meaning of the term ; and that too in the face of the natural import both of the text itself and the connexion. For it is urged that the Son is absolutely, essentially, and independently QUAL with God. And this construction of the term seems to be urged with as much confidence as though the word had never been, and never could be, used in a qualified sense.
But, Sir, is it a truth that the word equal always implies absolute equality in the persons or things which are said to be equal 2 Does it always imply equality in every respect 2—And do we not often use the term in respect to two Persons who are supposed to be unequal in several respects : When we say of a son, that he is equal with his Father, do we ever mean that he has existed as long as his Father ? or that he and his Father are but one Being 2 May not a son be as rich as his Father, and yet have derived all his riches from his Father ? Might not Solomon be equal to David in authority, though he derived all his authority from David 2 It is, Sir, no robbery for a King's son to think of himself accerding to the authority or dignity which his Father has given him.—David said, as it is supposed, respecting Ahithophel his councillor, “But it was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide, and my acquaintance.” Do you, Sir, suppose, that these words imply that Ahithophel was, in all respects, David's equal? If David had said, “a man my companion,” would not this term have expressed about the same idea as the word equal * Why then should you be so very positive, that the term equal, as used by the Apostle, must mean an absolute equality, even a co-eternity of God and his Son 2 Let us notice another text which evidently respects Jesus Christ: “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the Man that is my fellow.” May it not be reasonably supposed, that fellow in this text means the same as equal in the other ?" But the very text itself, in dispute, may perhaps be found to contain sufficient evidence that Christ is not the self-existent God; and that God and Christ are as distinctly two Beinge as any other father and son. “Who being in the form of God”—Is not Christ evidently spoken of in contradistinction to God 2 If he be a Person in contradistinction to the sebs-existent God, he is certainly not the self-existent God, unless there be more Gods than one. If the Apostle had been speaking of the Father, and had said of him, “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” would not such a representation of the Father have been a manifest impropriety? But if the Son be the self-existent God, such language with respect to the Father would be as proper as in respect to the Son. By the form of God, we may understand the same as the similitude or image of God---Christ is declared to be “ the image of the invisible God”—“the express image of his Person.” But does not every body know that a Person and the image of his Person are distinct objects 2 and that it is impossible that any Person should be the image of himself? Seth was the image of Adam ; but he was not Adam, mor was Adam and Seth the same Being.—It is, however, true, that an image often bears the name of the Person represented. So Christ, by the pleasure of God, often bears the Divine Names of his Father. If, by the term God, be intended three Persons, as Mr. Jones suggests, then for Christ to be in the form of God, he must be in the form of three Persons. The terms, also, equal with God, plainly import that Christ is a Person distinct from God. Two Persons are here compared together, one of them is GoD, the other is the SoN of God; and of the Son it is asserted, in some sense, that he is equal with God. If I were to say that Solomon thought it no robbery to be equal with David, would you suppose that I meant to assert that Solomon and David were but one and the same Being 2* Besides, in the connexion of the text, the Son is represented as a Being so distinct from God, that he could obey and die, and after that be exalted by God, and have a name given him, which is above every name. Now, Sir, if there be no more Gods than one, as you readily admit, and if Christ be personally the self-existent God, I wish to be informed by what GoD Christ was exalted 2 Or, on what ground it can be said that GoD exalted HIM May I not safely conclude, that this text is so far from supporting the Athanasian doctrine, that it fairly implies that GoD is only one Person, and that Christ is truly God's Son 2
* Since writing these remarks, 1 examined Dr. Doddridge's Family Expositor. The phrase “equal with God,” he does not admit as a correct translation. According to him, the text should be read, “ thought it not robbery to be as God.” The Greek phrase is isa Theo i and the Doctor says, “the proper Greek phrase for equal with God, is is on to Theo.” And these are the words used by John, in stating the accusation of the Jews against Christ---John v. 18. “making himself equal with God.”
My next business will be to show how the passage of Scripture, which has been quoted, supports the doctrine that the Son of God became Man, by becoming the soul of a human body.
The passage teaches us, that Jesus Christ, who was in the for M of God, made HIMs ELF of no reputation, and took on HIM the form of a servant, and was made in the dikeness of men, and was found in fashion as a man. Be pleased, Sir, to observe the correspondence between this representation and other passages of Scripture—“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”—“God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”—“In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren”— “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same.” Does not the natural import of all these passages, whether severally or collectively considered, convey the idea that the Son of God became Man by becoming the soul of a human body ? Can you perceive the least intimation in any of these passages, of any soul but that of the Son of God? Had it been recorded in the Bible, that satan, or the Angel Gabriel, for a number of years, was made in the likeness of men, and was found in fashion as a man, what idea would such a representation excite in your mind 2 If satan were the Person, should you imagine that he dwelt in a Man 2 or, that he merely assumed a human body ?
You will be pleased to observe, that the text does not say that the Son of God was united to a Man; but was “made in the likeness of men”—It does not say the Son of God was found in a man, but was “found in fashion as a Man.” And what can be intended by an unembodied spirit's being made in the likeness of men, but his becoming in an embodied state : And what is it to be found in fashion as a man, but to be found like a man with soul and body united? If it were common among men to have two intelligent'spirits united to one body, then might the Son of God be made in the likeness of men, by “taking to himself a true body and reasonable soul.” But if it has never been known among men that two intelligent spirits were united to one body, then for the Son of God to be made in the likeness of men, and to be found in fashion as a Man, he must become the soul of a human body. And I would propose it for your most serious consideration, whether the Athanasian