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he exhibited a persuasive example to the rich to deny them, Belves for the benefit of the poor, which was very properly held up by the apostle to the Corinthians, as a motive to liberality, “That ye, through his poverty might be rich, rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” Sce 1 Tim. vi. 18,
II. Eph. iii. 9, “God who created all things by Jesus Christ.”
For my friend's information upon this subject, I will tell hin that the words, “ by Jesus Christ," are wanting in the Alexandrian, Vatican, Ephrem, Clermont, and other manuscripts of high repute: that they are not to be found in the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate and old Italic versions, and that they are omitted in the citations of Basil, Cyril, Tertullian, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and other ecclesiastical writers, that they are left out of the text by Griesbach in his second edition, and though retained by archbishop Newcome, they are marked by him as of doubtful authenticity. They are unquestionably spurious, they have no connexion with the context, and were probably a marginal gloss introduced into the text by come ignorant or officious scribe.
If however the words were genuine, they would prove nothing. My friend indeed alleges, p. 168," the advocates for the simple humanity of Christ say, that when the works of creation are ascribed to him, it means only the dispensations of things under the gospel." We do: but to shew that we are not singular in this interpretation of the text before us, I will transcribe archbishop Newcome's note upon it. This learned primate was not a Unitarian, nevertheless, he remarks, “the sense most suitable to the place is this, Who hath created all things, that is both Jews and Gentiles, anew to holiness of
“ But,” continues my friend, “ many of the expressions made use of in scripture, are too general and too extensive to be thus limited. It is said that all things were made by him," &c. The learned prelate however, who was an eminent scripfure-critic, in the note which I have just cited, interprets the expression, « all things," as meaning nothing more than Jews and Gentiles. A very remarkable and important concession In fact, these universal terms are often used by the sacred writers in a very limited sense. “ All things," says the apostle Paul, “are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient,” “ Ye have an unction from the holy one,” says St. John," and ye know all things." i John ii. 20.
11. Ileb. i. 2,“ by whom also he made the worlds."
My friend's remark upon this passage, is, (p. 169,) " if we tender it ages, and if by ages we understand dispensations even that is too extensive for the single dispensation of the gospel.” But the true interpretation of this text is probably that which was proposed by Grotius, and adopted by Dr. Lardner, Mr. Lindsey and others, viz. with a view to whom he constituted the ages, or dispensations, meaning that all former dispensations were intended to be introductory to the great and final dispensation of the Messiah. It is true that the preposition dire, when used with a genitive case commonly expresses the instrumental cause, but it sometimes, though rarely, expresses the final cause: of which some instances are to be found im Stockius and Schleusner.
iv. Col. i. 15, 16: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature, for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invi. sible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
My worthy friend leaves this text to speak for itself, without a comment. And our Arian brethren in general, regard it as a most palpable and unanswerable argument in favour of their hypothesis. It is indeed amusing to read the triumphant Janguage which they hold upon this subject. “Nothing," says Dr. Clarke, “ can be more forced or unnatural than the Socinian interpretation of this passage, who understand it figura tively of the new creation by the gospel.” “ The interpretation, says Mr. Pierce,“ which refers what is here said of our Saviour to the new creation, is so forced and violent, that it can hardly be thought that men would ever have espoused it, but for the sake of a hypothesis.” “To interpret this," says Dr. Doddridge, “as the Socinians do, of a new creation, is so unnatural, that one would hardly believe if the evidence were not so undeniably strong, that any set of learned commentators could fall into it.” Last, but not least, comes the learned Dr. Harwood. “ Words," says he, “ I think have no meaning, and are not the true signs of ideas, if these plain and clear passages do not contain and manifest this position, that Jesus Christ was the person, who by the direction of the Deity, originally formed all things.
Such are the opinions expressed by these eminent critics and theologians. But with all due deference to their learning and talents, I must beg leave to insist, that by the epitheto natural,
unnatural, and the like, in this connexion, they could mean nothing more than usual or unusual, such ideas as they had or had not been accustomed to annex to the terms in question, and that to persons who had been early habituated to understand this, and other similar passages of scripture, in the rational and consistent sense of the Polish reformers, the interpretation imposed upon the apostle's language by learned Arians, would appear as forced, as unnatural, and as violent, as the Unitarian interpretation appears to them. I am even perfectly convinced that nothing but a strong and riveted, though no doubt involuntary and unperceived, attachment to a favourite hypothesis, would have induced men of distinguished ability, learning and integrity, to have embraced an interpretation so remote from the apostle's meaning, and so little countenanc. ed by his expressions. Had the apostle intended to assert that Jesus Christ was the Creator of the natural world, and all things in it, he would surely, have used the plain, intelligible language, which the sacred writers invariably adopt upon this subject; he would have announced him as the maker of the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all things which are therein. Whereas, on the contrary, instead of saying that heaven and earth were made by him, he only says that all things in the heavens and in the earth, were created by him: and descending to particulars, instead of specifying celestial luminaries, and terrestrial substances, he only specifies states of things, and mere civil distinctions, such as thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers. What then can be more evident than that the creation of which the apostle speaks is not the formation of natural substances, but the renovation of the rational and moral world. Of one or other of these subjects it is universally allowed that the apostle is discoursing: but it is certain that he is not speaking of the former, he must therefore intend the latter.
It is curious to observe how Dr. Doddridge in his paraphrase helps out the apostle's text. “ His nature," says this learned expositor, “has
a transcendent excellency superior to any thing that is made. From him were derived the visible splendour of the celestial luminaries, the sun, the moon, and the stars, even all the hosts of these lower heavens, and from him the yet brighter glories of invisible and angelic beings," &c. So saith Dr. Doddridge, but so said not the apostle Paul, nor any thing like it. It was very natural for the ingenious and pious paraphrast to enumerate sensible objects when specifying in detail the works of Christ, for he believed Christ to be the creator of the material universe and its inhabitants. It would have been equally natural for the apostle to have given the same detail, had his creed coincided with that of his expositor. We may be assured, therefore, that his judgment was different. Paul knew of no proper Creator but the eternal God.
In the figurative language of scripture, the expressions, heaver and earth, sometimes denote civil distinctions, such as high and low, governors and governed : Joel ii. 10. Hag. ii. 6,7. Acts ii. 19. Rev. vi. 12-15. Sometimes they signify moral distinctions, such as Jew and Gentile, a state of privilege or the contrary, Matt. xi. 13. Eph. i. 2. ii. 14. To create, is to introduce a new state of being, and order of things into the civil or moral world, Isa. xliii. i. lxiii, 19. The state. into which Jews and heathens were introduced by the profe3sion of Christianity is called a new creation. Eph. ii. 10. Col. iii. 10, Christ the image, or representative of the invisible God, has been the instrument of divine goodness in accomplishing this new creation, and is himself the chief and the first born, being the first person who was raised from the dead to an immortal life.
The distinction of thrones, dominions, &c. implies nothing more than that the dipensation introduced by Christ should be productive of great changes among persons of every rank in life, and in every description of society. See upon this subject Dr. Priestley's answer to Dr. Price, p. 117, and Mr. Tyrwhiti's excellent Essay on the creation of all things by Jesus Christ,
v. Philip ii. 5-8. “ Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion like a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
This is the last passage which my friend produces in defence of his system, and indeed if the public version is to be taken as
Of a certain person, who now makes a very considerable figure in the world, it may be said with truth, so far as the civil state of the continent of Europe is concerned, that he is the creator of all these new distinctions, high and low, whether zhrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all these things are made by him, and for him, and'he is before them all, takes precedence both in time and digni. ty, and by him do all these things consist. Yet who would infer from such language as this, that the present ruier of France, is a being of superior order to mankind, much less that he is the maker of the world? The language which is true of Buonaparte in a civil sense, is applicable to Jesus Christ in a moral view but it no more implies pre-czistence, or proper creative power in one case, than in the other,
the standard of truth, there is an end of the controversy : Arians and Unitarians are both driven out of the field, for the humble prophet of Nazareth thinks it no robbery to be equal with God. Here then my worthy friend takes the liberty to correct the common translation, and renders the apostle's words, p. 170, « he did not aspire to be as God, he did not aim at any higher glory and power than what he possessed.” But he argues, that
his being made in the likeness of men is mentioned as a proof of his humility, which it could not be, if he never existed in any other form.''
Ít may be said of this, as of a former text, that if the preexistence of Christ had been already established upon clear and independent evidence, this passage might be fairly understood as alluding to that amazing event, but it will by no means of itself prove the Arian doctrine, because it admits of a very easy and satisfactory interpretation upon the supposition of the simple humanity of Jesus Christ,
Christ was “in the form of God," as being the messenger and ambassador of God to man, and invested with miraculous powers superior to any which had ever been conferred upon any other human being
“ He thought it no robbery to be as God," which is in fact, the literal translation of the words, (See Schleusner,) that is, he did not consider himself as acting improperly or unjustly, in exercising these divine powers according to his discretion. Or, if the other interpretation be preferred, he did not affect an osa tentatious display of his miraculous powers, as if they were a. prize, or a trophy gained in war.
“ He divested himself" of these powers, not by actually resigning them, but by making no use of them for his own personal advantage. The expression is analogous to that, 2 Cor. viii. 9, being rich he led a life of poverty. This is the sense in which both Arians and Trinitarians must understand the text; unless they will maintain that God, or the divine Logos, absolutely deprived himself of his essential attributes, when he became incarnate, which is absurd, and impossible.
“ He assumed the appearance of a servant;" his outward aspect was mean and servile: “ being in the likeness of men,” or, as Mr. Wakefield very properly supplies the text," of other men. Possessed of godlike powers he appeared like a being of superior order; but declining all ostentatious display of them, he appeare cd like a man, so that in his external form, in his habits and manners, you would not distinguish him from any other man, even of the humblest etation in life.