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answer, God has no equal, and therefore I think that this cannot be the true reading, nor what the Apostle intended to express. Besides, some learnéd men fay, that the words should be translated thus, viz. He did not greedily catch, or prey to be equal with God. And this is perfectly agreeable to the design of the Apostle, whofe words may be read thus, who being in the form of God, by be- . ing his minister and representative, he did not proudly and vainly assume to be equal with God; but on the contrary, he humbled himself, by taking upon him the form of a servant, and by becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore because be thus humbled bimself, God hath highly exalted him, &c.
Col. ii. 9. For in bim, dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily. From hence it is inferred, that our Lord Christ is co-ordinate with the Father. To which I answer, that the Apostle, in the preceding chapter, verse 15. declares Christ to be the image of the invisible God. And thereforė, tho’ an image represents a thing; yet the image cannot possibly be the thing which is represented by it. And as Christ is the image or representative of God, as God has invested him with all power or authority in heaven and in earth; fo the fulness of the godhead, or godship (that is, all dominion) may be faid to dwell or reside in him: and this, I think, is the most that can be inferred from the Apostle's words. For faith he, verse 8, Beware least any man spoil you, through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, And then he gives the reasons why they should not hearken to those false teachers, viz. first, because in him who was their king and head, dwelt all the fulness of the godbead bodily. That is, in him, and in him only, it pleased the Father, that save
reign dominion and authority over all should be lodged; and consequently to him, and to him only, they ought to fubinit themselves, and not to hearken to, nor follow any of those false teachers, who would impose any law. upon them, besides that of Christ. . Secondly, He tells them, that they were compleat in him. That is, by their submitting themselves to his government, they were compleat christians, and so were compleatly qualified for pardon of sin, God's favour, and eternal "life; and consequently, it was altogether needless for them to be concerned to believe, or practise any thing, besides what the christian religion did require from them. And then the Apostle adds, saying, which is the head of all principalities and powers. From which words it plainly appears, that it was the sovereign authority and power over all, which was given to Christ, by the Father, that the Apostle is here referring to.
1 John i. 1. 2. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled of the word of life: For the life was manifested, and we have seen it. and bear witness, and shew unto you ibat eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto,
Here the Son is declared to be an eternal Being, and from hence it is inferred, that he is coequal with the Father. To which I answer, that the life here spoken of, maỹ very properly iinply not the person, but that doétrine of life and salvation which Christ published to the world. And fupposing the person of Christ be here referred to; yet seeing he is sometimes called life, not with respect to what he is in himself, but what he is to otbers; (as in John xi. 25. Jesus said unto her, I am the refurre&tion and the life.) Therefore he may very fitly be called eternal life, not with respect to the duration of his own being; but with respect to that
eternal life. which he is the proclaimer and the difpenser of to mankind. And if the duration of his being should be intended; yet it will not follow, that he is eternal in the strictest sense of that term because the word eternal is sometimes used in a more limitted and restrained sense (as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, are said to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 7.) And therefore, seeing the Son was begotten or derived from the Father, it will follow, that he cannot be eternal, in the strictest and most absolute sense of that word.
1 John v. 7. There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. Here the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft, are said to be one; and from hence it is inferred, that they are three co-ordinate Beings.
In anfwer to which I observe, that the Apostle is here shewing, what evidences attended the chriftian religion for its confirmation. And he seems to allude to that law of the Jews (Deut. xvii. 16. and John viii. 17:) which did oblige them to receive that for truth, which was attested by two or three witnesses. And therefore the christian religion ought not to be rejected, because its authority was supported, not barely by the testimony of one but by the testimony of three witnesses. Thus, verse 6. "It is the spirit that beareth witness, because the spirit is truth. Verse 7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one, Which is as much as if St. Johir had said, the spirit is not the only evidence in the present case; for there are three that bear record, viz. the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these all join in their evidence, and are one in testifying to the same truth. And tho these are joined together in their evidence, yet that cannot make
them co-ordinate Beings; because three Beings, who are inferiour one to another, may join in teftifying to the fame thing; and three co-ordinate Beings may bear a different testimony to one another, and the truth remain unconfirmed. And whereas it is said, these three are one; this must fignify unity in testimony, because unity in any other sense, does not serve the Apostle's purpose. If they were one agent, or being, then there would be but one witness, whereas St. Folon declares there are three. And if they were of one species, or kind of effence, yet three such witnesses might disagree in their evidence, and the truth might remain unconfirmed. So that the three here referred to, must be three distinct agents, or witnesses; and they must agree or be one in their evidence, to render it pertinent to the Apostle's design: and this they might be, and yet not be three co-ordirate Beings.
1 John v. 1o. This is the true God, and eternal life. The Son is here supposed to be called the true God: and from hence it is inferred, that he is equal to the Father. I answer, fupposing these words are to be applied to Christ (tho' it may be as proper to apply them to the Father) yeç when they are thus applied, they cannot signify the same, as those other words, viz. the only true God; because Christ makes thofe laft mentioned words to be applicable to the Father only, John xvii. 3. This is" life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast fent. Seeing then, that the Father, considered in a separate and distinct capacity from the Son, is here declared to be the only or the alone true God; this cannot be faid of the Sen, in the same fenfe as it is faid of the Father. For if the Son is fo, in the fame fenfe as the Father is, then there are two, in the same fense, of whom it is said that there is
put one, which is a contradiction. And therefore, I conceive, if those words were applied by St. John to Christ, then he called him the true God, in opposition to those false Christs which had appeared in the world. This is the true God, or the true Meffiah, or Christ (which comes to the fame) and in him alone ye may have eternal life,
Rev. i, 11. 17. I am Alpha and Omega, the firft and the laft.I am the first and the last. From these and the like expressions in this book, it is inferred, thạç the Son is co-eternal to, and co-equal with the Father. To which I answer, that Christ's being the firft and the loft must be underftood exclufive of the Father; for otherwise the Son would be before the Father, and all things would end ultimately in the glory of the Son; whereas the contrary is most expressly declared in fcripture, in which Christ is faid to be the only begotten Son of God; as in John iii. 16. and all things are said to end ultimately in the glory of the Father.' 1 Cor. xv, 24. 28. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, and when all things shall be fubdued unto him, then fball the Son also bimself be fubjeft unto bim, that did put all things under bin, ibat God may be all in all. Philip. ii. 11. That every tongue should confefs that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So that all things, even the glory which is given and ascribed to Christ, are to end ultimately in the glory of God the Father. And consequently, the Father is the last end of all things. Seeing then that the Father was before the Son, and that all things end ultimately in the glory of the Father (as the above scriptures witness) and seeing Christ's being the first and the last must be understood not inclusive, but exclufive of the Father, it will follow, that the Son is a Being inferiour