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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 head 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
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.
13. It is true, that he acts distinctly and variously towards the two parts of the recollected family of angels and men, according as their different states and conditions do require. For, 1. We had need of a reparation by redemption and grace, which the angels had not. 2. Angels were capable of immediate confirmation in glory, which we are not, until we come to heaven. Therefore, 1. He assumed our nature that it might be repaired; which he did not the nature of the angels. 2. He gives us union unto himself, by his Spirit, which exalts us into a dignity and honour, meet for fellowship with them in the same family.
This is a brief account of the mysterious work of divine wisdom in the recapitulation of all things in Jesus Christ; and herein is he transcendently glorious; or his glory herein is far above our comprehension: yet some things may be observed to direct us in the view and contemplation of it. As,
1. He alone was a meet and capable subject of it. He alone could bear the weight of this glory. No mere creature in heaven or earth was meet to be thus made the head of the whole new creation of God. In none of them could all things consist. None of them was meet to be thus in the place of God, to have all things depend upon him, and be put in subjection unto him, so as that there should be no communication between God and the creation, but by and through him alone. Wherefore, when the Holy Ghost assigns this glory unto him, he so describes him, as that we may discern his singular meetness for it; as that he is 'the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, upholding all things by the word of his power;' Heb. i. 3. That he is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature, by whom all things were created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist ;' Col. i. 15-19. Such a one alone and no other was meet to bear and uphold this glory. And the glory of his person is such as that it is the blessedness of all creatures to centre in this glory of his office.
2. This is that glory which God designed unto his only Son incarnate; and it gives us a little view into the glory of
that mystery, the wonderful eternal design of God to glorify himself in the incarnation of Christ. God would have his eternal, his only-begotten Son to be incarnate, to take our nature on him, to be made man. What is his design in this incomprehensible work of his wisdom, love, and power? Indeed, in the first place, it was for the redemption of the church, by the sacrifice of himself and other acts of his mediation. But there is that which is more general and comprehensive, and wherein all the concerns of the glory of God do centre. And this was that he might 'gather all things into one' in him; that the whole creation, especially that which was to be eternally blessed, should have a new head given unto it for its sustentation, preservation, order, honour, and safety. All springs are in him, and all streams are unto him, and in and by him unto God. Who can express the divine beauty, order, and harmony of all things that are in this their recapitulation in Christ? The union and communion between angels and men, the order of the whole family in heaven and earth, the communication of life, grace, power, mercy, and consolation to the church, the rule and disposal of all things unto the glory of God, do all depend hereon. This glory God designed unto his Son incarnate, and it was the greatest, the highest that could be communicated unto him. For, as the apostle observes, All things are put in subjection unto him, he only excepted who doth so make them subject, that is, God the Father; 1 Cor. xv. 27.
There is no contemplation of the glory of Christ that ought more to affect the hearts of them that do believe, with delight and joy, than this of the recapitulation of all things in him. One view by faith of him in the place of God as the supreme head of the whole creation, moving, acting, guiding, and disposing of it, will bring in spiritual refreshment unto a believing soul.
And it will do so the more, in that it gives a glorious representation of his divine nature also. For that any mere creature should thus be a head of life, motion, and power, as also of sovereign rule, and disposal of the whole new creation, with all things reduced into order thereby, is not only an impious but a foolish imagination.
Did we live more in the contemplation of this glory of Christ, and of the wisdom of God in this recapitulation of all
things in him, there is not any thing of our duty which it would not mind us of, nor any thing of privilege which it would not give us a sense of, as might easily be demonstrated.
3. In particular, the Lord Christ is glorious herein, in that the whole breach made on the glory of God in the creation by the entrance of sin, is hereby repaired and made up. The beauty and order of the whole creation consisted in its dependance on God by the obedience of the rational part of it, angels and men. Thereby were the being, the goodness, the wisdom, and power of God made manifest. But the beauty of this order was defaced, and the manifestation of the divine perfections unto the glory of God eclipsed by the entrance of sin. But all is restored, repaired, and made up, in this recapitulation of all things in one new head Christ Jesus; yea, the whole curious frame of the divine creation is rendered more beautiful than it was before. Hence the whole of it groaneth for the interest of each part in this restoration of all things. Whatever there is of order, of beauty, of glory in heaven above, or in earth beneath, it all ariseth from this new relation of the creation unto the Son of God. Whatever is not gathered into one, even in him, in its place, and according to its measure, is under darkness, disorder, and the curse. Hence the Jews have a saying, that ‘in the days of the Messiah all things shall be healed but the serpent,' that is, the devil, and wicked men, which are as his seed.
4. He is glorious herein, in that he is appointed as the only means of exerting, and expressing all the treasures of the infinite wisdom of God towards his creatures. The wisdom of God is absolutely, always, and in all things infinite. God doth not, God cannot act with more wisdom in one thing than in another; as in the creation of man, than in that of any inanimate creatures. In the first creation infinite wisdom was the inseparable companion of infinite power. How marvellous are thy works, O Lord! in wisdom hast thou made them all.' But when the effects of this divine wisdom in their principal beauty and glory were defaced, greater treasures of wisdom were required unto their reparation. And in this recollection of all things in Christ did God lay them forth unto the utmost of whatever he will do