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deeply mysterious and glorious in it. I might mention also the continuation of his discharge of all his offices towards us, whereon all our receptions from him, or all the benefits of his mediation, whereof we are made partakers, do depend. But the few instances that have been given of the glory of Christ in this mysterious communication of himself unto his church, may suffice to give us such a view of it, as to fill our hearts with holy admiration and thanksgiving.
The glory of Christ in the recapitulation of all things in him.
In the last place, the Lord Christ is peculiarly and eminently glorious in the recapitulation of all things in him, after they had been scattered and disordered by sin. This the apostle proposeth as the most signal effect of divine wisdom, and the sovereign pleasure of God.
• He hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will according unto his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself. That in the dispensation of the fulness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in the heavens, and which are on earth, even in him ;' Eph. i. 8–10.
For the discovery of the mind of the Holy Ghost in these words, so far as I am at present concerned, namely, as unto the representation of the glory of Christ in them, sundry brief observations must be premised ; and in them it will be necessary that we briefly declare the original of all these things in heaven and earth, their primitive order, the confusion that ensued thereon, with their restitution in Christ, and his glory thereby.
God alone hath all being in him. Hence he gives himself that name, 'I AM,' Exod. iii. 14. He was eternally all; when all things else that ever were, or now are, or shall be, were nothing. And when they are, they are no otherwise, but as they are of him, and from him, and to him;' Rom. xi. 36.
Moreover his being and goodness are the same. The goodness of God is the meetness of the Divine Being to be communicative of itself in its effects. Hence this is the first notion of the divine nature, infinite being and goodness, in a nature intelligent and self-subsistent. So the apostle declares it, 'He that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder ;'Heb. xi. 6.
2. In this state of infinite, eternal being and goodness antecedent unto any act of wisdom or power without himself, to give existence unto other things, God was, and is, eternally in himself all that he will be, all that he can be, unto eternity. For where there is infinite being and infinite goodness, there is infinite blessedness and happiness, whereunto nothing can be added. God is always the same. That is his name in nos Psal. cii. 27. “Thou art he,' always the
All things that are, make no addition unto God, no change in his state. His blessedness, happiness, self-satisfaction, as well as all other his infinite perfections, were absolutely the same before the creation of any thing, whilst there was nothing but himself, as they are since he hath made all things : for the blessedness of God consists in the ineffable mutual inbeing of the three holy persons in the same nature, with the immanent reciprocal actings of the Father and the Son in the eternal love and complacency of the Spirit. Hereunto nothing can be added, herein no change can be made by any external work or effect of power. Herein doth God act in the perfect knowledge, and perfect love of his own perfections, unto an infinite acquiescency therein, which is the divine blessedness. This gives us the true notion of the divine nature antecedent unto the manifestation of it made by any outward effects. Infinite being and goodness eternally blessed in the knowledge and enjoyment of itself by inconceivable, ineffable, internal actings, answering the manner of its subsistence, which is in three distinct persons.
3. This being and goodness of God by his own will and pleasure acting themselves in infinite wisdom and power, produced the creation of all things. Herein he communicated a finite, limited, dependent being and goodness unto other things without himself. For all being and goodness being, as was said, in him alone, it was necessary that the
first outward work and effect of the divine nature must be the communication of being and goodness into other things. Wherefore as when he had given unto every thing its being out of nothing by the word of his power, saying, Let them be, and they were ; so it is said, that he looked on all that he had made, and behold they were exceeding good;' Gen. i. 31. Being and goodness must be the first outward effects of the divine nature, which being wrought by infinite power and wisdom, do represent unto us the glory of God in the creation of all things. Infinite being in self-subsistence, which is necessary in the first cause and spring of all things ; infinite goodness to communicate the effect of this being unto that which was not, and infinite wisdom and power in that communication, are gloriously manifested therein.
4. In this state, all things that were made, depended immediately on God himself, without the interposition of any other head of influence or rule. They had the continuance of their being and its preservation, from the immediate actings of these properties of the divine nature whereby they were made; and their dependance on God was by virtue of that law, which was implanted on the principles and powers of their several natures by God himself.
5. Thus • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' He provided himself of two distinct, rational families, that should depend on him according to a law of moral obedience, and thereby give glory to him; with two distinct habitations for them cognate unto their nature and use; heaven above, and the earth beneath. The earth he appointed for the habitation of man, which was every way suited unto the constitution of his nature, the preservation of his being, and the end of his creation in giving glory to God. Heaven he prepared for the habitation of the angels, which was suited unto the constitution of their nature, the preservation of their being, and the end of their creation in giving glory to God. Wherefore, as man had power and dominion over all things here below, and was to use them all unto the glory of God, by which means God received glory from them also, though in themselves brute and inanimate; so the angels had the like dominion over the celestial and etherial bodies, wherewith God had fitted the place of their habitation, that through the contemplation and use of them,
God might have a revenue of glory and praise from them also. To suppose any other race of intellectual creatures, besides angels in heaven, and men on earth, is not only without all countenance from any divine testimony, but it disturbs and disorders the whole representation of the glory of God made unto us in the Scripture, and the whole design of his wisdom and grace as declared therein. Intellectual creatures not comprehended in that government of God, and mystery of his wisdom in Christ which the Scripture reveals, are a chimera framed in the imaginations of some men, scarce duly sensible of what it is to be wise unto sobriety.
6. This order of things was beautiful and comely. Hence were they all said to be exceeding good.' For each of these families had their own immediate, distinct, dependance on God. He was the immediate head of them. There was no other common bead interposed between God and them. They were not a head unto one another. There were no communications unto them, but what were immediate from God himself. And their union among themselves was in this alone, that all their obedience did meet and centre in God. So God made the heavens and the earth and two distinct families in them for himself.
7. This beautiful order in itself, this union between the two families of God, was disturbed, broken, dissolved by the entrance of sin : for hereby part of the family above, and the whole family below, fell off from their dependance on God, and ceasing to centre in him as their head, they fell into variance and enmity among themselves. For the centre of this union and order being removed and lost, nothing but enmity and confusion remained among them. Hereon to shew that its goodness was lost, God cursed the earth and all that was in it; for it was put in subjection unto man, who was now fallen from him. Howbeit he cursed not the heavens which were in subjection unto the angels, because some of them only left their habitation; and the habitation of the residue was not to be cursed for their sakes. But mankind was wholly gone off from God.
8. The angels that sinned, God utterly rejected for ever as an example of his severity; the whole race of mankind he would not utterly cast off, but determined to recover and save a remnant according to the election of grace; which how he did it in a way of condecency unto all his divine perfections, I have elsewhere declared.
9. Howbeit he would not restore them into their former state, so as to have again two distinct families each in an immediate dependance on himself, though he left them in different and distinct habitations ; Eph. iii. 15. But he would gather them both into one, and that under a new head, in whom the one part should be preserved from sinning, and the other delivered from sin committed.
10. This then is that which the apostle declares in these words, “To gather together in one all things which are in heaven, and which are in earth; even in him. And so he again expresseth it, Col. i. 20. To reconcile all things unto himself in him, whether they are things in heaven, or things in earth;' all things were fallen into disorder and confusion by sin; they were fallen off from God into variance among themselves. God would not restore them into their first order in an immediate dependance on his divine perfections. He would no longer keep them in two distinct families; but he would in his infinite wisdom and goodness gather them up into one common head, on whom they should have their immediate dependance, and be reconciled again among themselves.
11. This new head, wherein God hath gathered up all things in heaven and earth into one; one body, one family, on whom is all their dependance, in whom they all now consist, is Jesus Christ the Son of God incarnate. See 1 Cor. xi. 3. Eph. i. 21–23. This glory was reserved for him; none other could be meet for it, or worthy of it. See Col. i. 17-20.
12. To answer all the ends of this new head of God's recollected family, all power in heaven and earth, all fulness of grace and glory, is committed unto him. There is no communication from God, no act of rule towards this family, no supply of virtue, power, grace, or goodness unto angels or men, but what is immediately from this new head whereinto they are gathered. In him they all consist, on him do they depend, unto him are they subject; in their relation unto him doth their peace, union, and a greement among themselves consist. This is the recapitulation of all things intended by the apostle.