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son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom. For Moses had laid his bands upon him."
Zech. xii. 10, " And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication;" not pour out upon them a great and transcendent being or spirit; but give them the temper, the qualification, the disposition of grace and supplication.
And it is generally supposed, that the ancient Jewish people never had any notion of the distinct personality of the Spirit, or " the Spirit of God," or "the Spirit of the Lord," though such phrases occur very frequently in the scriptures of the Old Testament. But they understood these expressions after the manner just shown.
And it is observable, that in the New Testament, though there are many doxologies, or ascriptions of glory to God, and to Christ, there is not one to the Spirit. Nor is there at the beginning of the apostles any wish of peace from the Spirit distinctly, but only from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord says, Matt. xxviii. 19, " Go ye, therefore, and teach" or disciple "all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." These persons think it not likely, that our Lord should insert in a baptismal form a sublime mysterious doctrine, not clearly taught any where else. The genuine meaning they suppose to be, that men should be baptized into the profession of the belief, and an obligation of obedience to the doctrine taught by Christ, with authority from God the Father, confirmed by the Holy Ghost; by the Holy Ghost understanding the miracles of our Saviour's own ministry, and of his apostles, and the spiritual gifts bestowed upon the apostles, and other believers, after our Lord's resurrection, and all, the wonderful attestations to the truth and divine original of the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ.In a word, men were to be baptized into a profession of the christian religion, and an obligation to act according to it.
And that this is the meaning of this direction of our Lord, may be inferred from the Acts of the Apostles, where this form, in these very words, never appears. But men are required to "be baptized in the name of Christ," or are said
d Dr. S. Clarke's paraphrase is this:- baptizing them with water, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" that is, receiving them to a profession of the belief, and an obligation to the practice of that religion, which God the Father has revealed and taught by the Son, ⚫ and confirmed and established by the Holy Ghost."
to "have been baptized into Christ:" that is, as before observed, they made a profession of faith in Jesus, or owned their obligation to obey him in being baptized. Acts ii. 38, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ." Ch. viii. 16, "Only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." See ch. viii. 35-38. Rom. vi. 3, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death?" Gal. iii. 27," For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ."
Of those who are in this scheme it is to be observed, finally, that they admit not any real Trinity, or Trinity of Divine Persons, either equal or subordinate. But to them there is one God, even the Father, and one Lord, even Jesus Christ; who had, when on earth, the spirit without measure, and also poured out of the spirit, or spiritual and miraculous gifts, in abundance upon his apostles, and other his followers, and is exalted to dominion and power over all things, to the glory of God, and for the good of the church.
This is, in brief, that scheme which is called Unitarian. I should now apply it to the text before us. But that must be deferred to another opportunity. I shall now mention only an observation or two, partly doctrinal, partly practical.
1. The scheme now represented, seems to be the plainest and most simple scheme of all. And it is generally allowed to have been the belief of the Nazarean christians, or Jewish believers.
But whatever may be the simplicity of this scheme, even they who have seemed to receive it, in the main, have corrupted it, and suffered themselves to be entangled in philosophical schemes and speculations, about the pre-existence of the soul of Christ and other matters.
Indeed the christian religion has in it great simplicity, both as to doctrines and positive institutions. But men have not delighted to retain the simplicity of either.
Whatever speculative scheme of doctrine we receive as true, we are to see that we do not too much rely upon our sound faith, or right sentiment, but proceed to, and chiefly charge ourselves with, a suitable practice. James ii. 19, "Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well. The demons believe and tremble." James writes especially to Jewish, not Gentile believers. And it is likely that they, as well as other Jews at that time, prided themselves in their orthodoxy, or right faith, concerning the Deity. The Divine Unity was with them a favourite article. He therefore singles out that, and tells them, that they might hold that
right faith, and yet be never the better for it. If they should rely upon that faith without good works, that very faith would prove an aggravation of their misery.
Truth in things of religion is not a matter of indifference. Every virtuous mind must be desirous to know it. But no speculative belief, without practice, is saving, or will give a man real worth and excellence. The knowledge that puffeth up is vain and insignificant. To knowledge there should be added humility, gratitude to God, who has afforded us means and opportunities of knowledge; a modest sense of our remaining ignorance and imperfection; a diffidence and apprehensiveness, that though we see some things with great evidence, and are firmly persuaded of their truth, nevertheless many of our judgments of things may be false and erroneous.
We should likewise be cautious of judging others. Some who have less knowledge, may have more virtue. God alone knows the hearts of men, and all their circumstances; and is therefore the only judge what errors are criminal, and how far men fall short of improving the advantages afforded them, or act up to the light that has been given them.
Let us then inquire with care and impartiality. Let us profess the truth so far as we are acquainted with it, and candidly recommend it to others, with mildness, patience, and long-suffering and in all things act sincerely according to the light we have; that none of us may fail of that full reward, which God, the best of beings, offers to us, and invites us to contend for, and accept; and will, through Jesus Christ, certainly bestow upon all, who diligently improve the privileges, which they have been favoured with in their state of trial.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. And what follows. Philip. ii. 5—11.
I HAVE proposed to consider this text distinctly. In so doing I have represented the different opinions of christians concerning the Deity, and the person of Jesus Christ.
The opinion last represented was that called Unitarian and Nazarean. I am now to apply that doctrine to this text, or interpret this text, according to the sentiments of
those who believe Jesus to be a man, with a human soul, and human body; but "a man with whom God was," in a most peculiar and extraordinary manner.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God."
They who are in this scheme, which we are now explaining, suppose, that here in this world, Jesus was in the form of God. What the apostle intends thereby is the wonderful knowledge which the Lord Jesus showed, even of things at a distance, things past, and the thoughts, and reasonings, and surmises of men; of all which we have in the gospels a most beautiful and affecting history. When at his word and command, the most infirm and diseased persons were immediately healed; when those who had the palsy, or the dropsy, or were lunatic, were healed of their diseases; when the blind received their sight, the lame walked, the deaf were made to hear, and the dumb to speak; when he took upon him some special appearance of authority, and to such as had the leprosy, and petitioned for a cure, he said: "I will, Be thou clean." When he fed and refreshed several thousands at once in desert places; when he directed Peter to cast a hook into the sea, assuring of a supply for himself and him of the tribute-money for the temple; when he raised the dead, and walked on the sea, and with a word composed the winds and the waves; when he conveyed to his disci ples, upon his sending them from him, spiritual gifts, so far as was requisite at that season. And though that was not yet accomplished, it was plainly declared, by his forerunner, that this was he who should baptize men with the Holy Ghost; or bestow on a sudden, in a plentiful measure, wisdom and understanding, and miraculous powers upon his followers in general, according to their several stations.
This may be well meant by "the form of God." These things explain the apostle's expression in the text. And this wonderful power and knowledge seem to be what the same apostle means, when he says that Christ was rich, in 2 Cor. viii. 9. Which place may be reckoned parallel with that which we are now considering. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye by his poverty might be rich."
"Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery
Mopon, in nostris libris, non significat internum et occultum aliquid, sed id quod in oculos incurrit, qualis erat eximia in Christo potestas sanandi morbos omnes, ejiciendi dæmonas, excitandi mortuos, mutandi rerum naturas. Grot. ad Philip. cap. ii. v. 6.
to be equal with God," that is, did not earnestly covet divine honour from men, or seek to be equal, or like to God: but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being in the likeness of ordinary men." That is, very probably, the apostle's design. There begins the account of Christ's condescending and self-denying conduct. Whatever scheme men embrace concerning the deity and the person of Christ, I think they must allow of this interpretation; either that Jesus did not make a show of his divinity, but veiled it, and hid it or that he did not earnestly seek to be, or appear, equal or like to God.
By not earnestly coveting divine honour, or seeking to be equal or like to God, St. Paul may refer to and intend many things in the course of our Lord's ministry, which are recorded in the gospels. Our Lord did not act as if he was independent. He declared that he came from God, and that the Father had sent him. He professed to teach and act as he had received from the Father. When some would have persuaded him to assume kingly power and authority, not doubting but he was able to set up a government, to which all might be compelled to submit; he absolutely declined the proposal. He first defeated the measures which they had taken to bring him into their design. And afterwards he sharply reproved that worldly-mindedness by which they had been actuated.
For a like reason he enjoined silence upon some, on whom he had wrought great cures.
Mark x. 17, 18, " When he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him: Good Master, what shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him: Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one. That is God." The outward respect shown by that person being so extraordinary, both as to action and expression, he could not accept it, without an intimation of the supreme respect due to God alone.
John v. 30, "I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge. And my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father, which hath sent me.”
John x. 30-38, "Our Lord having in some strong expressions, represented the high authority given to him, the "Jews took up stones to stone him. And said: For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." Whereupon our Lord modestly answers, agreeably to what he had before said, that the near relation to God, spoken of by him, See Vol. ii. ch. xxxviii. num. xxviii. 12. and Vol. iii. ch. xliv. num. v. &