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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 I 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 meekly, 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 the 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 becoming 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 inen 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. 18. And says St. Peter, soon after our Lord's ascension, Acts ii. 31, "This Jesus hath God raised up. Whereof we are all 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 come. 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 so 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. 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.