Humiliation of Christ

Humiliation of Christ (in the language of the older Reformed theologians, the status humiliations sive exinanitionis), the "humbling of himself" (Philippians ii, 8) to which the son of God submitted in accomplishing the redemption of mankind. As to the question whether the Logos, at the incarnation, voluntarily divested himself of his divine self-consciousness in order to develop himself in purely human form, SEE KENOSIS. On the question of his descent into Hades, SEE HELL, DESCENT INTO. For monographs on this subject, see Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 34; Hase, Leben Jesu, p. 113.

The humiliation of Christ is generally set forth by theologians as shown in his birth, his circumstances, temptation, sufferings, and death.

1. In his birth: he was born of a woman — a sinful woman; though he was without sin (Ga 4:4); of a poor woman (Lu 2:7,24); in a poor country village (Joh 1:46); in a stable-an abject place; of a nature subject to infirmities (Heb 2:9), hunger, thirst, weariness, pain, etc.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

2. In his circumstances: laid in a manger when he was born, lived in obscurity for a long time, probably worked at the trade of a carpenter, had not a place where to lay his head, and was oppressed with poverty while he went about preaching the Gospel.

3. It appeared in his reputation: he was loaded with the most abusive railing and calumny (Isaiah 53), the most false accusations (Mt 26:59,67), and the most ignominious ridicule (Ps 22:6; Mt 22:46; Joh 7:35).

4. In his soul: he was often tempted (Mt 4:1, etc.; Heb 2:17-18; Heb 4:15); grieved with the reproaches cast on himself, and with the sins and miseries of others (Heb 12:3; Mt 11:19; Joh 11:35); was burdened with the hidings of his Father's face, and the fears and impressions of his wrath (Ps 21:1; Lu 22:43; Heb 5:7).

5. In his death: scourged, crowned with thorns, received gall and vinegar to drink, and was crucified between two thieves (Lu 23; Joh 19;

Mr 15:24-25). 6. In his burial: not only was he born in another man's house, but he was buried in another man's tomb; for he had no tomb of his own, or family vault to be interred in (Isa 53:10, etc.; Mt 13:46).

The humiliation of Christ was necessary,

1. To execute the purpose of God, and covenant engagements 'of Christ (Ac 2:23-24; Ps 40:6-8);

2. To fulfill the manifold types and predictions of the Old Testament;

3. To satisfy the broken law of God, and procure eternal redemption for us (Isa 53; Heb 9:12,15);

4. To leave us an unspotted pattern of holiness and patience under suffering. Buck, Theol. Dict. s.v. For a summary of the views of the Reformed theologians on the humiliation of Christ, see Heppe, Dogmatik deri Evang. — Reform. Kirche (Elberfeld, 1861), Locus 19. See also Hase, Evane. Prot. Dogmatik, § 155, 156; Gill, Body of Divinity, vol. 2; Robert Hall, Works, vol. 3; Knapp, Theology, § 9597. SEE JESUS CHRIST.

Humility (Lat. humilitas; from humus, the ground), as a Christian grace, is the opposite of "highmindedness." It was unknown to the ancient heathen moralists; the word humilis, with them, indicated baseness of mind.

1. The believer is indeed "exalted" to a higher stage of manhood by his union with Christ, and becomes moreover, a "king and priest unto God." But he never "exalts" himself. Whatever he has, he owes (and feels that he owes) not to himself, but to the love of God, his creator; to the grace of Christ, his redeemer; and to the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, his sanctifier. He perceives all his blessings only in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If he looks upon himself, he finds that- all he is or has is but what has been mercifully vouchsafed to him; if he looks upon his individual ego, apart from these privileges, he finds only a weak, impotent personality, corrupted by sin and error, and unworthy of such great privileges. If he rejoices in the possession of Christian graces, he rejoices in them as having been given him (1Co 4:7), and considers at the same time the merits of others (Ro 12:3: "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith"). Conscious of the gifts he has received, he yet praises the grace which has given them to him (Ro 15:17-18: "I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ, in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me." Php 4:11-13: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." 2Co 3:5: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." 1Co 3:5-7: "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase"). The best Christians are but unprofitable servants, and unworthy instruments of the grace of God (Lu 17:10: "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do"). The feeling of obligation for all one is or has, and of shortcoming in the use of those gifts, which we cannot even praise ourselves for having well employed, is a mark of humility.

2. "To consider this grace a little more particularly, it may be observed,

1. That humility does not oblige a man to wrong the truth or himself by entertaining a meaner or worse opinion of himself than he deserves.

2. Nor does it oblige a man, right or wrong, to give everybody else the preference to himself. A wise man cannot believe himself inferior to the ignorant multitude, nor the virtuous man that he is not so good as those whose lives are vicious.

3. Nor does it oblige a man to treat himself with contempt in his words or actions: it looks more like affectation than humility when a man says such things in his own dispraise as others know, or he himself believes, to be false; and it is plain also that this is often done merely as a bait to catch the praises of others.

Humility consists,

1. In not attributing to ourselves any excellence or good which we have not.

2. In not overrating anything we do.

3. In not taking an immoderate delight in ourselves.

4. In not assuming more of the praise of a quality or action than belongs to us.

5. In an inward sense of our many imperfections and sins.

6. In ascribing all we have and are to the grace of God. True humility will express itself,

1. By the modesty of our appearance; the humble man will consider his age, abilities, character, function, etc., and act accordingly;

2. By the modesty of our pursuits: we shall not aim at anything above our strength, but prefer a good to a great name.

3. It will express itself by the modesty of our conversation and behavior: we shall not be loquacious, obstinate, forward, envious, discontented, or ambitious.

The advantages of humility are numerous:

1. It is well pleasing to God (1Pe 3:4).

2. It has great influence on us in the performance of all other duties, praying, hearing, converse, etc.

3. It indicates that more grace shall be given (Jas 4:6; Ps 25:9)

4. It preserves the soul in great tranquility and contentment (Ps 69:32-33).

5. It makes us patient and resigned under afflictions (Job 1:22).

6. It enables us to exercise moderation in everything. To obtain this excellent spirit, we should remember, 1. The example of Christ (Php 2:6-8);

2. That heaven is a place of humility (Re 5:8);

3. That our sins are numerous, and deserve the greatest punishment (La 3:39);

4. That humility is the way to honor (Pr 16:18);

5. That the greatest promises of good are made to the humble (Isa 57:15; Isa 56:2; 1Pe 5:5; Ps 147:6; Mt 5:5)" (Buck, Theo. Dict. s.v.).

"It has been deemed a great paradox in Christianity that it makes humility the avenue to glory. Yet what other avenue is there to wisdom, or even to knowledge? Would you pick up precious truths, you must bend down and look for them. Everywhere the pearl of great price lies bedded in a shell, which has no form or comeliness. It is so in physical science. Bacon has declared it, Natura non nisi parendo vincitfu; and the triumphs of science since his days have proved how willing Nature is to be conquered by those who will obey her. It is so in moral speculation. Wordsworth has told us the law of his own mind, the fulfillment of which has enabled him to reveal a new world of poetry: Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar. That it is so likewise in religion we are assured by those most comfortable words, Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Moreover, the whole intercourse between man and man may be seen, if we look at it closely, to be guided and regulated by the same pervading principle; and that it ought to be so is generally recognized, instinctively, at least, if not consciously. As I have often heard said by him, who, among all the persons I have conversed with to the edification of my understanding, had the keenest practical insight into human nature, and best knew the art of controlling and governing men, and winning them over to their good the moment anybody is satisfied with himself, everybody else becomes dissatisfied with him; whenever a person thinks much of himself, all other people give over thinking about him. Thus it is not alone in the parable that he who takes the highest room is turned down with shame to the lowest, while he who sits down in the lowest room is bid to go up higher." See Hare, Guesses at Truth, 1, 242; Krehl, Handwörterbuch des 7. Test., s.v. Demuth; Grove, Moral Philosophy, 2, 286; Whately, Dangers to Christian Faith, p. 38; Conybeare, Sermons, p. 141.

 
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