On this page
- Text (2)
Note: This text has been automatically extracted via Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. The text has not been manually corrected and should not be relied on to be an accurate representation of the item.
Additionally, when viewing full transcripts, extracted text may not be in the same order as the original document.
represented their gods under material images , and the object of the writer is to set aside that superstitious prac"tice . His words are to this effect : God is not in the least visible in form ; it is , therefore , most absurd to represent him under forms that are
visible . " This is not saying that God has any form , or that form and nature have here the same meaning , but that Jt is improper to assign to God any form at all . In this confusion , gross and palpable as it is , is founded the interpretation put upon this passage by the orthodox divines . God can doubtless assume to
himself any form , and again empty himself of it . But it is not irreverent to say of him that he cannot empty himself of his own nature . The Almighty can effect every thing which is not in itself impossible . It is within the compass of Omnipotence to arrest the planets in their orbits , and
instantly extinguish the light of the sun ; but he cannot for one moment extinguish the light of his own countenance ; he cannot lay aside his own infinite perfections , or suspend that energy which pervades and sustains the fabric of nature . Equally impossible is it that Jehovah should die :
superiority to death being , by the concurrence of all men , Jew 3 and Gentiles , an attribute essential to the character of the Deity . When the apostle , then , asserts that Christ did empty himself of his divine form , he asserts that , however distinguished by the
favour and power of God , he did not possess the nature and essence of God . By holding forth our blessed Lord , not only as subject to death , but as having actually died , Paul holds him forth as not the same with that eternal Being who cannot die , and whose death , if possible , would be followed by the instant dissolution of the universe .
The apostle in making these assertions alludes to the Gnostics , one of whose fundamental principles was , that Christ is a God and could not possibly suffer . It is of the utmost importance to establish the reference
Ayhich the apostle makes to the Gnostic teachers , as the ftfrde and propriety of his Words will theii be mo £ t appar ent , and his direct notice of them leaves no room to doubt oii this head ; ™ r he call ! them , in this Epistle , enemies of the cross of Christ , "
chap . lii . ver . 18 . The substance of their tenets consisted in this saying " , and in the further declaration that they did not make €€ us for an ensample . " In other words , they denied that
Christ , as being of a divine nature , was really crucified , and that there was any necessity on the part of the converts to change , on receiving the gospel , their former opinions and practices . Their doctrine was , " Christ was not a man , biit in the likeness of
a man , or as a man . " Paul uses their very terms , te being in the likeness of a man ; " and lest , by the use of their words , he should appear to countenance them , he adds , " And in frame
found as a man "—found to be a man on examination and evidence—proved to be what he appeared to be , by the circumstance of his trial and his expiration on the cross . Irenaeus is express in asserting that , however they might extol Christ as a God , they rejected him as Lord , i . e . they denied
any obligation on their part to obey his moral precepts , and follow his virtuous example as a divine Master . This made Paul say , " Brethren , be you together with me followers of him , and watchfully observe those who thus irregularly behave themselves , so that you may retain us for your model : " and this moral obedience , this
conformity to the doctrine and example of Jesus Christ , is the object of the apostle , when he says , " That every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ to be Lord . " When converts were made to
Christianity among the Greeks , it is erroneous to suppose that they all alike resigned the prepossession for their former tenets . On the contrary , such of them as had any pretensions to learning , naturally carried with them
into the churches planted by the apostles , a strong predilection for the Greek theology , and this circumstance might often nave led Paul , while he staid in any particular place , to peruse and discuss with the learned believers
such portions of Greek literature , as more immediately supported the Pagan system . And it was natural for him to allude to these discussions in the Epistles which he afterwards addressed tb the several churches , though we havte now little means of disboyefing the pieces to which such allusions are made . One piece , however , I have
Dr . J . Jones on Dr . J . P . Smith ' s Critique on Philipp . ii . 5 . ( & > 7
VOL . XVI . 4 Q
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Nov. 2, 1821, page 657, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2506/page/25/