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that of mercy rejoicing against judgment :* still, redemption by Jesus Christ is the object concerning which it was exercised : nothing less can be intimated than this, that the earth was the place marked out by Eternal Wisdom as the theatre of its joyful operations. Thirdly: The habitable part of the earth was more especially the object of Wisdom's joyful contemplation. The abodes of men, which through sin had become scenes of abomination, were, by the interposition of the Mediator, to become the abodes of righteousness. Here the serpent's head was to be bruised, his schemes confounded, and his works destroyed : and that by the woman's seed, the human nature, which he had despised and degraded. Here a trophy was to be raised in glory of sovereign grace, and millions of souls, delivered from everlasting destruction, were to present an offering of praise to Him that loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood. Here, in a word, the peculiar glory of the Godbead was to be displayed in such a manner as to afford a lesson of joyful amazement to the whole creation, throughout all aģes of time, yea, world without end !| Lastly: Not only were the abodes of man contemplated with rejoicing, but the sons of men themselves regarded with delight. The operations of Eternal Wisdom were directed to their salvation : and their salvation was appointed to become, in return, a mirror in which the whole creation should behold the operations of Eternal Wisdom. This expressive passage contains a fullness of meaning, let the extent of the intelligent creation be what it may: but if it be of that extent which modern philosophy supposes, it contains a greater fullness still. It perfectly accords with all those ideas suggested of this earth being the chosen theatre, upon which events should be brought to pass that sball fill creation with everlasting joy; and well they may, if the prospect of them rejoiced even the heart of God.
3. The mediation of Christ is represented, in scripture, as bringing the whole creation into union with the church or people of God. In the dispensation of the fullness of times, it is said that God would gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.* Again ; It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether things in heaven.1
* James ii. 13.
Ephes, iii. 21
The language here used, supposes that the introduction of sin has effected a disunion between men and the other parts of God's creation. It is natural to suppose it should be so. If a province of a great empire rise up in rebellion against the lawful government, all communication between the inhabitants of such provinces, and the faithful adherents to order and obedience, must be at an end. A line of separation would be immediateiy drawn by the sovereign, and all intercourse between the one and the other prohibited. Nor would it less accord with the inclination than with the duty of all the friends of righteousness to withdraw their counexion from those who were in rebellion against the supreme authority, and the general good. It must have been thus with regard to the holy angels, on man's apostacy. Those who at the creation of our world had sung together, and even shouted for joy, would now retire in disgust and holy indignation.
But, through the mediation of Christ, a re-union is effected. By the blood of the cross we have peace with God ; and, being reconciled to him, are united to all who love him throughout the whole extent of creation. If Paul could address the Corinthians, concerning one of their excluded members, who had been brought to repentance, To whom ye forgive any thing, I also; much more would the friends of righteousness say in their addresses to the great Supreme, concerning an excluded member from the moral system, To whom Thou forgivest any thing, we also! Hence angels acknowledge Christians as brethren, and become ministering spirits to them while inhabitants of the present world. I
There is another consideration which must tend to cement the holy part of God's creation to the church; which is, their being all united under one head. A central point of union has a great effect in cementing mankind. We see this every day in people who sit under the same ministry, or serve under the same commander, or are subjects of the same prince : whether minister, general, or prince, if they love him, they will be, more or less, united together under him.
* Ephes. i. 10.
i Col. i. 19, 20
| Rev. xix. 10. Heb. i. 14.
Now, it is a part of the reward of our Redeemer, for his great bumiliation, that he should be exalted as head over the whole creation of God. Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly erhalted him, and given him a name which is above every name : that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly beings, of earthly, and of those under the earth.-He is the head of all principality and power.-God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come : and put all things under his feet; and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.*
These passages, it is true, represent the dominion of Christ as extending over the whole creation, enemies as well as friends, and things as well as persons. But if the very enemies of God are caused to subserve the purposes of redemption, much more his friends ; what the others do by constraint, these do willingly; and the consideration of their having one head, must make them feel, as it were, nearer akin. And, as Christ is head over all things to the church, which is his body, it is hereby intimated, that the bappiness of the church is by these means abundantly enlarged.
To what extent creation reaches, I do not pretend to know: be that however what it may, the foregoing passages teach us to consider the influence of redemption as commensurate with it ; and in proportion to the magnitude of the one, such must be the influence of the other, as to the accomplishment of re-union and the restoration of happiness.
4. Through the mediation of Christ, not only is the rehole creation represented as augmenting the blessedness of the church; but the church as augmenting the blessedness of the whole creation. As one
* Phil. ij. 8–10. Col. ii. 10. Ephes. i. 20—22.
member, be it ever so small, cannot suffer without the whole body, in some degree, suffering with it; so if we consider our world as a member of the great body or system of being, it might paturally be supposed that the ill or well-being of the former would, in some measure, effect the happiness of the latter. The fall of a planet from its orbit in the solar system, would probably have a less effect upon the other planets, than that of man from the moral system upon the other parts of God's intelligent creation. And, when it is considered, that man is a member of the body, distinguished by sovereign favour, as possessing a nature which the Son of God delighted to honour, by taking it upon himhimself, the interest which the universe at large may have in his fall and recovery may be greatly augmented. The leprosy of Miriam was an event that affected the whole camp of Israel ; nor did they proceed on their jourueys till she was restored to her situation : and it is not unnatural to suppose, that something analogous to this would be the effect of the fall and recovery of man on the whole creation.
The happiness of the redeemed is not the ultimate end of redemption; nor the only happiness which will be produced by it. God is represented in the scriptures as conferring his favours in such a way as that no creature shall be blessed merely for his own sake, but that he might communicate bis blessedness to others. With whatever powers, talents, or advantages we are endued, it is not merely for our gratification, but that we may contribute to the general good. God gives discernment to the eye, speech to the tongue, strength to the arm, and agility to the feet; not for the gratification of these members, but for the accommodation of the body. It is the same in other things. God blessed Abraham ; and wherefore? That he might be a blessing. He blessed his posterity after him; and for what purpose ? That in them all the nations of the earth might be blessed.* Though Israel was a nation chosen and beloved of God; yet it was not for their righteousness, nor merely with a view to their happiness that they were thus distinguished : but that he might perform the oath which
* Gen. xii. 2. xxii. 18.
he smoare unto their fathers :* the substance of which was, that the true religion should prosper among them, and be communicated by them to all other nations. The ungodly part of the Jewish nation viewed things, it is true, in a different light : they valued themselves as the favourites of beaven, and looked down upon other nations with contemptuous dislike. But it was otherwise with the godly : they entered into the spirit of the promise made to their fathers. Hence they prayed that God would be merciful to them, and bless them, and cause his face to shine upon them; to the end THAT HIS WAY MIGHT BE KNOWN UPON EARTH, AND HIS SAVING HEALTH AMONG ALL NATIONS. · The same spirit was manifested by the apostles and primitive Christians. They perceived that all that rich measure of gifts and graces by which they were distinguished, was given them with the design of their communicating it to others; and this was their constant aim. Paul felt himself a debtor both to Jews and Greeks, and spent his life in diffusing the blessings of the gospel, though in return he was continually treated as an evil doer; and the same might be said of the otber apostles.
Nor is this social principle confined to the present life. According to scripture representations, the happiness of saints in glory will be conferred on them, not that it might stop there, but be communi. cated to the whole moral system. The redemption of the church has already added to the blessedness of other holy intelligences. It has furnished a new medium by which the glory of the divine perfections is beheld and admired. To explore the wisdom of God in his works is the constant employment of holy angels, and that in which consists a large proportion of their felicity. Prior to the accomplishment of the work of redemption they contemplated the dirine character through the medium of creation and providence; but now unto principalities and powers, in heavenly places, is known, BY THE CHURCH, the manifold wisdom of God. I And so much does this last display of divine glory exceed all that have gone before it, that those who have once obtained a view of it through this medium, will certainly prefer it to every other :
* Deut. ix. 5. vii, 7, 8.
† Psa. Ixvii,
| Ephes. iii. 10.