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is grossly absurd: inasmuch as divine worship can no more be tarefully given, than divine attributes can be possibly communicated, to a creature. The apostle deeply impressed with a sense of these things, presents the Philippians with a chain consisting as of three links, viz. the Godhead, the humiliation, and the exaltation of the Son. If we ask who, and what he was? The apostle answers that he was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God. If we ask what he became? The apostle tells us, that he took upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. If we still pursue our enquiries, asking what became of him, after he had finished the work which the Father gave him to do? The apostle gives a most satisfactory answer; God highly exalted him, and gave him a name above every name In the first of these we see what our Saviour always was, and could not but be: in the second, what he became; and in the third what he will be to eternity. As the words of my text have often suffered violence, being forced to speak the language of Socinians, I have chosen them for the subject matter of discourse. And, in speaking from them, I purpose, as the God of all grace shall be pleased to assist,
1. To offer a few observations to ascertain and establish their sense.
II. To illustrate and confirm some of the doctrines obviously contained in them.
After which I shall apply the subject. I return to the
First of these, viz. To offer a few observations, in order to ascertain the true sense of the words, “ Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
Here there are evidently two propositions, 1st. That Christ Jesus was in the form of God. 2dly. That he thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Order requires that we begin with the consideration of the first; and here two things claim our attention. What is meant by God? And what by being in the form of God? By God here, is meant, not God absolutely or essentially considered, but God the Father, in distinction from God the Son, and from God the Holy Ghost. This appears from the text itself, and from the following context. Christ Jesus was in the form of that God, with whom he was equal. Now he to whom he was equal was a distinct person from him. It would be absurd to say that he was equal with himself. When one thing, or one person is said to be equal to another, two are necessarily implied. In like manner, when it is said in our text, that Christ Jesus was in the form of God, and equal with God, it necessarily implies, that as Christ was a person, so was God. This is further evident from verse 9th, where it is said that God hath highly exalted Christ, and given him a name above every name. This was not done by God essentially considered, but by God the Father. It is the Father who hath given all things" into his hand, John iii. 35. who hath committed all judgment unto him, John v. 22. and hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world by him, Acts xvii. 31. of which he gave assurance unto all men, in that he rais. ed him from the dead, ibid. Rom. vi. 4. Gal. i. 1. It cannot be denied that the God who highly exalted Christ, is the God in whose form he subsisted, the God with whom he was equal. Therefore if it be the Father who exalted him, it follows that it was God the Father in whose form he existed, and with whom he was equal. This is incontrovertibly evident from verse 11th, where we read that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Here we see that the God whose servant he became, and who highly exalted him, is God the Father. And therefore it was he in whose form Christ subsisted, and with whom he was equal. If this needs any further proof, we are furnished with a most cogent one from the reasoning of the Jews, John v. 18. He said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Here God and F.. ther are synonymous terms. To be equal with God is to be equal with the Father, and thus is our text to be understood. As to what is meant by being in the form of God, I observe by way of negation,
1st. That it must not be understood of any visible form, shape, image, likeness, or representation. God is a most pure Spirit, and therefore infinitely distant from every bodily shape. Form, when applied to matter, is the fashion or figure which it assumes. And thus a body may be globular, cubical, or triangular, In this sense, matter is essential to a body, form accidental. But these things cannot be applied to the divine nature. We may as well attribute thickness to a thought, .and colour to a sound, as shape to a spirit. Now God is a spirit, John iv. 24.; invisible, Heb. xi. 27.; whom no man hath seen, nor can see, John i. 18. 1 Tim. vi, 16. True, he said unto Moses, I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts, Exod. xxxiii. ult. But by these may be justly understood something of a human appearance, as a prelude of his future incarnation. So in chap. xxiv. 9. Moses is said to have seen his feet, and in Numb. xii. 8. it is said of him, the similitude of the Lord shall he behold, i.e. as I understand it, the likeness of a man speaking unto him face to face. And by the way, a gradation is observable here. When the fiery law was given, Moses saw no manner of similitude, Deut. iv. 12. but afterwards he saw first Jehovah's feet, next his back parts, and at last his face. Meanwhile it is obvi. ous that what he saw, was properly the form of a man, and not at all the form of God. But,
2dly. Neither must this form of God in which Christ subsisted, be understood of that majesty in which he sometimes appeared to his disciples, nor of those miracles which he wrought. It is said of the disciples that they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, John i. 14. and that they were eye-witnesses of his majesty, when they were with him in the holy mount, 2 Pet. i. 16-18. What they saw
rof his glory by faith was invisible. For as the invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, Rom. i. 20.; so from our Saviour's miracles, the disciples beheld the glory of his goodness and his power; for in them he manifested forth his glory, John ii. 11. xi. 40. It is evident, however, that these miracles were not the form in which he existed. They were things wrought by him, proofs of his divinity, as he wrought them in his own name; but not his divinity itself. He did not subsist in them, but they existed by him. Were they the form meant in our text, it would follow, that had they never been, neither would He, who is said to be in that form, which would be open blasphemy. They might never have been. But as for him, his existence was necessary, and therefore eternal. He could say, “ Before Abraham was, I am,” John viii. 58. These miracles were in the days of his flesh, when he had taken upon him the form of a servant, and therefore behoved to be widely different from the form of God, in which he existed before he assumed that of a servant. As to the majesty of Christ, which his disciples beheld on the holy mount, it could not be the form meant in my text. That majesty was the object of their bodily eyes. His face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light, Matt. xvii. 2. That visible glory which they saw, even as the voice they heard from the overshadowing cloud, was an incontestible proof of his Deity, but not the form in which he existed before he was made flesh. All the glory beheld on the mount respected his body only, and therefore could not be that form in which he subsisted, before a body was prepared for him. As his appearances in a bodily shape under the Old Testament, were so many preludes of his future incarnation, so the glory in which he shone upon the mount, may justly be considered as a pledge or anticipation of that glory into which he was to enter after his sufferings. The great subject on which Moses and Elias talked with him, was his decease which
he was to accomplish at Jerusalem, Luke ix. 31. And by the glory with which he was at that time surrounded, he was encouraged to go on with his work, and to set his face as a Aint. After all, this was a glory vouchsafed him in the days of his flesh, and therefore totally different from that which he had with the Father before the world was, John xvii. 5. The one was eternal and unchangeable, the other like that of Moses, 2 Cor. iii. 7. temporary and transient: For soon his visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. Isa, liii. 14.
But I go on to observe, by way of affirmation, that to be in the form of God signifies two things, viz. unity with him, and likeness to him.
1st. When it is said that Jesus was in the form of God, it implies that he was in the full possession of the nature of God, being the same in substance with him: or as it is expressed, Col. ii. 9. that in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead. That this is certainly included in his being in the form of God, is evident from the apostle's own words in the following verse. For there he tells us, that he who was in the form of God, took upon
him the form of a servant. The apostle sets the two as in opposition, that from the obvious meaning of the one, we may learn that of the other. In taking upon him the form of a servant, he assumed the human nature; therefore being in the form of God, he possessed the divine. In taking the form of a servant, he became man; therefore being in the form of God, he was God. As he could not assume the form of a servant, without becoming truly man; neither could he be in the form of God, without being truly God. It is observable with respect to these two forms, that he is said to be in the one, and to ‘have taken the other: intimating that the one was natural, the other yoluntary; the one, before all time; the other, in the fulness of time. It cannot be denied, that though our Saviour has laid aside the form of a servant, being now highly exalted as Lord over all, Phil. ii. 9–11. yet he is still a man, and shall continue so for ever;