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conspicuous in his works, but most invisible to us in his form. This is said in reference to the Greeks, who represented their gods under material images; and the object of the writer is to set aside that superstitious practice. His words are to this effect, “God is not in the least visible in form; it is therefore most absurd to represent him under forms that are visible.” This is not saying that God has any form, or that form and nature have here the same meaning ; but that it is improper to assign to God any form at all. In this confusion, gross and palpable as it is, is founded the interpretation put upon this passage by the orthodox divines.

God can doubtless assume to himself any form, and again empty himself of it. But it is not irreverend to say of him, that he cannot empty himself of his own nature. The Almighty can effect every thing which is not in itself impossible. It is within the compass of Omnipotence to arrest the planets in their orbits, and instantly extinguish the light of the sun; but he cannot for one moment extinguish the light of his own countenance; he cannot lay aside his own infinite perfections, or suspend that energy which pervades and sustains the frame of nature. Equally impossible is it that Jehovah should die; superiority to death being by the concurrence of all men, Jews and Gentiles, an attribute essential to the character of the Deity. When the apostle, then, asserts that Christ did empty himself of his divine form, he asserts that, however distinguished by the favour and power of God, he did not possess the nature and essence of God. By holding forth our blessed Lord not only as subject to death, but as having actually died, Paul holds him forth as not the same with that eternal Being who cannot die, and whose death, if possible, would be followed by the instant dissolution of the universe.

But the reference which Paul has to the antichristian teachers, must for ever settle this question. They asserted that Christ was only a man in the form of men, and that being a God he could not die. The apostle takes up their words, and says, that he was not only a man in the likeness of men, but that he was found, or that he proved himself to be so, having submitted to death, even the death of the cross.

The language of this passage is very peculiar, and we must trace it to its source. The phrase form of God is a Hebraism, meaning a divine or splendid form; and itfstands opposed to the form of a slave, or a mean form, in the subsequent clause. Is there any period then in the course of his ministry, at which Jesus assumed a splendid form? A few days, we are told, after he had assured his disciples that it was necessary for him to suffer, “Jesus took Peter, and James, and John his brother, and led them to a high mountain alone; and his form was changed before them : his face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white like snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias speaking with him. Peter answered and said to Jesus, Sir, it is good for us to be here: if thou wishest, we will make here three tents, one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias.” Matt. xvii. 1-5. Peter was deeply impressed with the assurance that his divine master was soon to undergo an ignominious death; and he availed himself of this magnificent scene, as a likely means of averting it. His meaning was to this effect, “ Lord, let us stay here, and not go to Jerusalem, the fame of thy splendour will go abroad, and bring all men to witness it. Even thy enemies, on seeing thy glory and hearing the testimony of Moses and Elias in thy favour, will submit to thy claims, and the dreadful catastrophe which thou anticipatest will be superseded.” This is the very incident to which Paul alludes. Peter seeing the splendid form in which his divine master appeared, caught at it as the means of averting his death. “But,” says the apostle of the Gentiles, “Christ being in a form of God, did not think his resemblance to God a thing to be caught at in order to avoid death ; but divested himself of it, and putting on the form of a slave, submitted to crucifixion, the usual death of a slave."

The main object, which the impostors had in view, was to destroy the purifying influence of the Gospel. With this view they taught the converts, that they were under no obligation to obey the precepts or follow the example of Christ and his apostles. A doctrine of this kind, so much in unison with the former depraved habits of the believers, and coming from men of superior character for wisdom and learning, could not fail to shed the most baleful influence over the church of Christ; and it was with a view to check it, that the apostle repeatedly calls on the members of it to become imitators of him, as he was of Christ. 1 Cor. xi. 1: “ Brethren, be ye, together with me, imitators of him; and mark those as unworthy of your imitation, who thus conduct themselves; as you have us for your model.” “The things which ye have learned and received from my lipsthe things which you have heard of me when absent, and which you have seen in me when present —these are the things which ye should do; and the God of peace will be with you.” Phil. iv. 9.

The impostors taught the divinity of Christ, and classed him with the deified Pagan heroes, for no other end than to set aside the purity of his example and the salutary effect of his Gospel. These heroes, though impure and atrocious, were raised to the rank of gods, and lauded by the poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome. Having such models to admire and imitate, it is no wonder that the wisest and most exemplary among the Pagans were guilty of deeds no longer to be named. The Gnostic leaders were devoted to the same foul practices; and, justified by the example of the Pagan sages, they gloried in their shame. A hymn of Aristotle in praise of virtue was known over the world. The chief object of this hymn was to celebrate Hermias, who, from a slave rose, it seems, by his wisdom and valour, to be a petty sovereign. His hospitality and magnificence as a prince won the applause of the Greek philosopher; and, as he was an eunuch, he submitted to become the instrument of his eulogist's base passions. For his condescension in these respects, the Grecian sage extols him in a language which justly brought upon him, even from his corrupt countrymen, the charge of impiety. The false teachers, probably to sanction their own vices, and to spread the same contagion among the converts, introduced this piece into the Church at Philippi. Of this the apostle, who held all possible communication with the societies formed by him, could not long remain ignorant; and he did not fail in this epistle to contrast the conduct and the virtues of Jesus with those whom Aristotle eulogizes, and whom the deceivers wished to substitute as models for imitation. That the English reader may feel the truth and justice of what I am now disclosing, I shall give a close version of the Greek Ode in praise of virtue :

“O virtue, conversant in many toils, the fairest object in life to be hunted by our mortal race. For thy form, O virgin, to endure toils glowing and unwearied, and even to die, is in Greece deemed an envied fate : with such immortal fruit thou clothest the mind, dearer than gold, than parents, and sleep's eye-beaming softness. For thee Hercules, offspring of Jove, and the sons of Leda have endured many toils, hoping by their deeds to captivate thy majesty. From love* of thee Achilles and Ajax entered the abode of Pluto : enamoured of thy lovely form, the ward of Aternius widowed himself of the beams of the sun, and is thus celebrated for his exploits; and for this reason the Muses, daughters of Memory,

will advance him to immortality, while celebrating the sacred majesty of Jove and the reward of lasting friendship.”

* See Brunck's Analect. vol. i. 177, or Jacob's Anthol, vol. i. 110.

Now mark the contrast between these two passages, which is not confined to one idea, but extends through a series of ideas, and those of a peculiar nature. The words of Aristotle imply that Hermias, his favourite, was invested with a form splendid as the sun. Paul places the character of Jesus in a similar light, saying in express terms, that he was in a divine form; the same term, pogon, expressive of external figure and beauty, being used by both writers. Aristotle calls this form xanAlotov Ingauc, the fairest object to be hunted : Paul calls that of Jesus ágtaypos, a thing to be eagerly seized. The former says, that Hermias widowed himself of the beams of the sun (nobly exposed himself to death in battle), αελιου χηρωσεν αυγας, scil. εαυτον: Paul, that his divine master, in order to meet death, emptied himself of his divine form. The philosopher of Greece intimates, that for his noble deeds Hermias will be advanced by the Muses to immortality; the apostle of the Gentiles directly asserts that God highly exalted Jesus for his obedience and submission to death, giving him a name above every other name. According to Aristotle, Hercules, Castor, and Pollux were glorified among the stars, while Achilles and Ajax attained immortality in hades. This unfolds the meaning of a language which might otherwise be deemed the rant of a mystagogue.“ Therefore God has highly exalted him, and given him a name above every other name, of those in heaven-such as Hercules, the sons of Leda, Bacchus, Romulus, and Augustus (see Horace, lib.iii. od. 3):-of those on earth, such as Jupiter, Apollo, Venus, &c. who were worshipped on earth under material images:--of those under the earth, such as the host of Grecian heroes who occupied the Elysian fields."

Aristotle, under the name of virtue, praises qualities the most debasing to the human heart, the most destruc

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