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6, styles the Messiah, The Father of the everlasting age, or the age to come.' In like manner, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, tells us, chap. ii. 5. "Unto the Angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
4. The Gospel dispensation itself is described by St. Paul as a new creation. 2 Cor. v. 17. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: (Gr. nairy XTIOIS, it is a new creation) old things are past away, behold all things are become new.' Eph. ii. 10. • For we are his workman. ship, created in Jesus Christ unto good works.'
5. The Greek word xtiğw, here used by the Apostle, as well as the word bara in Hebrew, may be rendered with the greatest propriety, to renew, repair, or restore, as well as to create : thus, Psal. li. 10. •Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.' Ezekiel, speaking of the city of Tyre, as a people or commonwealth, says, chap. xxviii. 15. “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 1 Pet. ii. 13. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man.' (Gr. XTITE! ;) every creation of man: and in several other places. *
6 The creation here mentioned is ascribed to a man, a person who had been lately dead, and had shed his blood for the sake of mankind. Ver. 14. In wbom se bave re, demption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.' It cannot, therefore, say the Socinians, respect the original creation which Moses records, but must be restricted to the subject in hand, and understood of the renovation of the world by Jesus Christ. And if we compare this part of the Epistle to the Colossians, with the corresponding passages in that to the Ephesians, referred to above, we shall find still more reason to be confirmed in this opinion. Eph. i. 7. 10. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace:
* The word xrisw has sometimes the same sense in classical writers. Herodotus speaking of the Isle of Platea says, xa1 EXTICHY Kupovanos, i. e. “the Cyrenians created it.” Eusebius in like manner affirms, that, u the Phenicians created Bithynia." The word condo has a similar mcaning in Latin, according to that well-known line of Virgil :
Tanta molis arat Aamanan condere Gentrm.
-That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in him.' What in the other Epistle is expressed by all things that are in heaven, and in earth, being created by Christ,' is explained here, by gathering together in one all things in Christ.' See also Eph. 17-to 23; where the glory and authority of Christ appears to have been posterior to his resurrection from the dead. Eph. ii. 10. 15. For we are his work. manship created in Christ Jesus,' &c. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances, for to make in bimself of twain one new man, so making peace.' Eph. ii. 9. quoted before. See p. 33, &c. Eph. iv. 24. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.'
Taking Col. i. 15, &c. therefore, as entirely relating to the new creation, or recovery of the world, the Socinians interpret it thus.' Who (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the first born (not in time, but dignity) the chief, or most excellent, of every creature; for by him, and in order to be subjected to him, all things were created again, or rea newed and restored, that are in heaven and in earth. Angels of different ranks and degrees, that were formerly hostile to mankind on account of their sins, are now in peace and friendship with them; and form a part of this new creation, or renovation, by being subjected to the dominion of Christ, and ministering to the heirs of salvation. And Christ is before all things in excellence and worth, and directs and superintends every part of this new system, being the 'first born from the dead,' ihe head of the Christian church, according to the good pleasure of the Father, who hath caused all fulness to dwell in him; or by him inhabits all fulness ; i. e. qualifies him with proper powers for managing this vast authority, and extensive government; or by bim exercises a spiritual do. minion over angels and men. It is in this manner, the Socinians 'defend their application of this passage to the new creation; and their arguments deserve to be seriously and attentively considered. But whether it respects the old or the new creation; it cannot avail our opponents in the least, for the reasons before assigned.
Col. ii. 3, 9. •In whom (i. e. in Christ) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.-For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him,' &c. There is no difficulty in explaining these passages, and they tend mutually to throw-light upon one another. The fulness that dwelt in Christ, was the fulness of the Father, besides whosc Godhead there is nor can be none. And that fulness consisted in those treasures of wis. dom and knowledge, which the Father imparted to Christ for the benefit of the church, and which rendered Christians complete ; so that they had no occasion for the instructions of philosophers in religious matters, or to form themselves after the rudiments of the world, which might have a ten. dency to mislead them, and corrupt the purity of the faith. They had in Christ and his gospel a far superior source of wisdom and knowledge. This observation might suffice to explain the meaning of the Apostle here. But as I have known some persous lay a stress upon the last passage, I shall here give the sentiments of an eminent commentator, who has explained it in a clear and satisfactory manner. "(TAY TO Tanpwua tns DeoryTOS. All the fulness of the Godhead.') This expression does not signify all the perfections that belong to the Godhead ; nor is that sense coun. tenanced by any the like expression, that I can remember, in the whole Bible. Indeed, the term fulness connotes some vessel wherein that fulness is contained, and that the fulness is somewhat different from the vessel which contains it; which may, for ought I know, be the reason why no such fulness is ever attributed to God; but always, when a fulness is ascribed to hiin, it is that fulness wherewith he fills other beings. The fulness, therefore, of the Godhead, I think, is not to be understood of any immanent fulness of the Godhead, but of that abundance of blessings wherewith the Godhead fills us. Just as we have a somewhat like phrase, ver. 19. increaseth with the increase of God;' surely not with any increase in the blessed God himself, but with that increase which he effects and produces in us. It is the same thing which he calls, 'all the fulness of God.' Eph. ii. 10. "That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God;' i.e. all such fulness as God is wont to bestow, a fulness not of one single gift, but of all the gifts which are needful for Christians. In like manner, Eph. i. 23. the church is call
ed the fulness of him that filleth all in all,' which I un. derstand, as I said before, of the Father; but supposing it meant of the Son, it is still such a fulness as I speak of, not an immanent, but a transient fulness, such a fulness where. with he fills the church: and thus the fulness of Christ. Eph. iv, 13. is to be explained in the same manner.
The fulness then of the Godhead, is that plenty of excellent gifts, which from the Godhead was communicated to Christ, by him to be imparted to us, in order to the filling us : it is, according to the Evangelists, a 'fulness of grace and truth, such grace and truth as came by Jesus Christ,' and are received by us, John i. 14, 16, 17. And thus this expression is much the same in sense with what he had used just before, ver. 3. “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.' I can't tell, but that some may regard the judgment of St. Jerom, and, therefore, I will here take notice, that he certainly had no apprehension that the "fulness of the Godhead ' necessarily implied any such sense as some have put upon it; nay, he must have allowed that sense in which I have explained it; for these are his words upon Gal. iii. 13. 66 Ille se de plenitudine et de forma Dei evacuavit, formam servi accipiens, ut in nobis habitaret plenitudo divinitatis, et domini fieremus e servis ; i. e. Christ emptied himself of the fulness and form of God, taking upon him the form of a servant, that the fulness of the Godhead' might dwell in us, and we of servants might become Lords. Most agreeably to the explication I have given of the fulness of the Godhead," that dwelt in Christ, does. St. Paul immediately add, xat ESE EY αυτω πεπληρωμενοι which we have rendered and complete in him ;' but it would have led the English reader much better into the Apostle's thought, had it been ren. dered, ' And ye are filled by him bodily (owuatixws,)' that is, really and substantially, and not after the manner of types and shadows, &c.***
1 Tim. iii. 16. “And without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness. God was manifest in the flesh, jus. tified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.' The gospel is here called a mystery of Godliness, or piety,
* Mr. Pieres of Excter in loco.
because its pure and genuine doctrines have a tendency to promote piety amongst men. It is not like the heatheni mysteries, which were often impure and impious, and contributed to promote vice and wickedness. Its effects are quite of an opposite kind; and its precepts are calculated to refine and ennoble the heart of man, and lead him to the practice of all that is good and praiseworthy. The gospel being called a mystery, does not imply, that its doctrines are inexplicable and contradictory, and incapable of being fathomed and understood. For in that case they would be of no service to mankind, and would rather tend to generate strife, contention, and endless, unprofitable controversy, than to advance piety and practical religion. The word mystery in scripture has never this meaning." It signifies only a thing once hidden, but capable of being revealed and manifested. Thus, Rom. xvi. 25, 26. the gospel is styled, the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but is now made manifest.”
The gospel is, therefore, a mystery or secret revealed, which implies that it is capable of being understood after it is revealed, and not that it is hidden or mysterious still. See also 1 Cor. ii. 7, 10, and iv. 1. Eph. i. 9, 10. iii. 3 to 10. Col. i. 26, 27. In which places the gospel, and particularly God's purpose of calling the Gentiles, is called a mystery; because it was a secret, a thing hidden and not known, until God thought proper to reveal it: but when once revealed and published to the world at large, it ceased to be a secret or mystery any longer, and became a plain and manifest truth: and is only called a mystery because it was formerly hidden, and could not have been known but by divine revelation.
As to the words, 'God was manifest in the flesh ;' if the word God was admitted to have been in this text originally, it would prove nothing more but that the perfections of the Deity were displayed and manifested by Jesus Christ; that the wisdom of God shone forth in him, and became as it were conspicuous to mankind. And so this place is under. stood by Monsieur Abauzit, who considers ittas a comment or explanation of the words of St. John. "The word, or wisdom, was made flesh and dwelt among us.' See Dis. IX. 173. It is, however, more than probable, yea, Imay venture to say it is absolutely certain, that the word 080s