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Simon, who contends that being in the form of God is equivalent to being truly God, renders the latter part of the verse, did not imperiousty ajsume to himself an equality with God. Indeed the wordr 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. Fir he made himself equal to God, but humbled himself, is not even seisse. 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 Mature, truly and properly a man, consisting of the fame constituent parts, and of the fame 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 to bear other interpretations very well. Some of them have been explained in a different sense already,. ready, and I shall now endeavour to explain the rest.
John viii. 56, &c. Your father Abraham rejoiced to fee my day, and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hasi thou seen Abraham? fesus 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 fays concerning all the ancient worthies, viz. that they all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them asar off. In this manner, therefore, Abraham aKosaw 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 conserred upon Christ are expresly said to be the reward of his obedience, and to be subsequent to his resurrection from the dead. It is with peculiar propriety, therefore, that this request of our Lord follows His declaration, that he hail done the work for which he was to receive the reward; ver. 4. I have glorified thee in the earth, I have finished the work which thou
gavesl me to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me, &c. As the connection of this prayer shews 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 had enjoyed antecedently to his coming into it.
In the same manner we may explain the following prophecy of Micah concerning Christ, v. 2.Thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee Jhall he come forth unto me that is to he- 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 theworfd. The Chaldee paraphrase renders it, xvhofe 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 / am, by which the true God announced himself to Moses, they will perhaps be sensible how little stress is to be laid upon it, when they are informed, that, though the same phrase occurs very often in the history of Christ, our translators themselves, in every place excepting this, render it by / am he, that is, I am the Christ. It is used in >this sense in the 24th verse of this chapter, If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your fins. And again in the 28th verse, When ye shall lift up the son
of »f man, then shall ye know that I am he. That the words / am in this place do not mean the eternal God, is manisest from the words which are immediately, connected with these; then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself , but as the Father hath taught me. , I speak these things.
John xvi. 28. I came f:rth 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 fate oftrial, exercise and discipline, and especially the unbelieving and ungodly part of the world. The world shall hate you, John xv. 10. I pray not fof 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. As thou hasi sent me into the world, even so also send I them into tht 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 fame 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 had preexisted. Also when our Lord fays, John xvii. n,. Now 1 am no more in the world, he could not mean the material worlds for, aster his resurrection, he
waswas seen by many, and even aster 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; and the notion of a local heaven, above the clouds, is altogether sancisul.
John ^13. No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the son os man who is in heaven. This language is evidently figurative; but if Christ could be in heaven at the same 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 sact, the phrases being in heaven, being with God, or in the bosom osGod, &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 son, which is in the bosom 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