Page images

would have been confounded. Had God, in the first act of creation, formed the creature man in the fulness and eternity of glory to which he will by this consummation exalt him, how would God have been known as the alone source of all life, and the alone glory? Here would be a creature possessing in itself eternity of being and fulness of glory; where and how in this would the mercy, the love, the righteousness, the long-suffering, and riches of the grace of God, have been manifested ? It is evident none of these attributes of God could have been understood from such a creation in glory. But God created man a creature, good and perfect as a creature ; and created all things under and around man good also, and perfect in their kind. He ordained that this creature man should by his own wilful act destroy the goodness and perfection in which he was created, and bring in sin and death upon all creation. Thus it became manifest that there is no strength or stability in the creature, and that nothing can stand unless upheld by God. So is God manifested as the alone God, the author and alone source of all life and strength. After man had thus incurred the sentence of death, and was brought to a sense of his own nothingness, God revealed his Christ, coming to join himself unto fallen man, in order that through death he might destroy the power of death, and deliver creation from the curse and damnation which it had brought upon itself. This deliverance of creation, God works out by creating it anew in Christ. Here then is the manifestation of the love of God, in sending his own Son to redeem his creatures : of the mercy, long-suffering, and riches of the grace of God, in bearing with the provocation of sin; forbearing to execute the judgment of death; and out of sinful fallen creatures raising up sons to glory. Here too is manifested the righteousness of God, in that his own well-beloved Son must go down under death because of sin; and could not be exalted into God's presence until the fallen creation to which he had joined himself, was with and in him brought into a complete state of separation from God in death. Then when God had executed the judgment of death written against sin, he could consistently with his own righteousness raise his Christ, and all creation in him, to the glory of his presence. Now all creation, raised in Christ and glorified in him, and all God's people possessing the fulness of glory in Christ, are manifested as upheld by the power of God, and as receivers of all they have by the alone grace and mercy of God. They therefore, in the full inheritance of glory, give all the glory to God, and shew that it is all derived from him. God is thus glorified in them.

With regard to that part of creation which is ordained unto the second death, (for we must not be understood, as if from our eye being continually fixed upon the glorified church, we thought

[ocr errors]

that all men will be saved,) it will also be raised, and raised by virtue of the resurrection of Christ. Christ having joined himself unto all creation by taking man's nature, died for all ; and all creation went down under death with him. Here under death began the distinction of a resurrection unto glory, and a resurrection unto shame. All creation being under death, brought into a state of complete separation from God, the union with God, which there was by Christ's taking flesh, became dissolved ; and God could justly deal with it, not in judgment only, but in a way of election : giving to parts a newness of union with himself, by the spirit of the resurrection unto glory; and leaving other parts to be raised, indeed, as a part of the separated and condemned body of Christ; yet not to be quickened by the Spirit of the risen Christ, but to be adjudged unto the second death, in which they shall for all eternity continue. God's purpose of manifestation is answered by this state setting forth, as St. Paul says, “His wrath and the greatness of his power;" the wrath of God towards all sin; as in the church glorified is set forth his love unto all righteousness. Satan and his angels, with all the company of the wicked, are ordained as an everlasting testimony of what God is not : even as the Lord Christ, the Head over his glorified body the church, is ordained as the eternal manifestation of what God is. Thus the second death has a relation towards the mystical body of Christ, and indeed a place in the mystical body of Christ, which is the root of its eternity : this place, a place cast out; this relation, an union cast off : but still the root of its eternity, because it will exist as the cast out and the cast off of the mystical body of Christ;

and eternally exist, only because of the eternity of the glory of the body of Christ.

17. Now God's course of manifestation by creation, death, and new creation, consisting of successive events, requires as well a time or succession to unfold it, as the nature of the creation, bodily and material, requires a place or space in which it can be developed. The very bringing forth of a creation, causing something besides God to exist, requires also a difference of times and a distinction of places. We have therefore a time and an eternity, an earth and a heaven, revealed to us. God pursuing his purpose of manifestation, necessarily brings forth the whole in order, and carries it forward by wise and clear divisions and distinctions, according to the perfection of his own nature and of his

work. 18. As he created all things in six days, and rested on the seventh, hallowing it, so has be ordained in six successive ages to work out the work of all new creation, and added a seventh age as an eternal one, the age of rest and sanctified glory. These seven ages are,-1. the age before the Fall, or Adam age;


[ocr errors]

2. the age until the Flood, or Noah age; 3. the age until the deliverance of the church, or Patriarchal age; 4. the age of the Jewish church ; 5. the age of the Gentile church; 6. the age of the Millennial church; and 7. the age of the Resurrection church.

19. In the age before the Fall was shewn the perfection of all creation being ; every thing made perfect of its kind. Man was set in the midst bearing rule over all : man was made in the likeness of God; for God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness :” and God gave him dominion over all things. Thus, as without sin, and perfect of his kind, was man set in the midst of the creation, king over all things ; excepting that, to prove him, God said, “ Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Nevertheless he forgot God, and set light by his word; he ate of the forbidden tree, and fell. In this age God manifested the weakness of all creature being. Man was made, and received power and blessing, after the similitude of the Son of God. He possessed every thing which the creature could possess, but had not the indwelling of God with him. God only required of him that which the Son yields to the Father-a conformity to his will; yet this, man refused. Thus did God in this age manifest that man, although made as the son of God, yet was not worthy of his sonship.

20. After the Fall, the Lord revealed his promise of deliverance of the seed of the woman, and of judgment upon the serpent; and although now seen to be no longer worthy of the sonship, God sent the Holy Ghost to raise up again to his favour from among the children of men, sons of God-giving them, as we must believe, to know God's favour towards them, and making them in the spirit of their understanding that which Adam was without such understanding, for Adam knew not good and evil before he fell. Yet here again we find manifested the weakness of the creature in its second stage. As in the Adam age, man not knowing evil, but possessing all good, willingly turned from his obedience; so in the Noah age, man knowing good and evil, and knowing the pardon of God for sin, and that God would if they served him make them blessed, and did, even before the reality of the blessing was come, did even then call them his sons : yet they turned away from the favour of God, and from God's open acceptance of them as children, and went after their own lusts, which God had commanded them not to follow. For “ the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and took them wives of all which they chose.” Thus did the Noah age sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression, and they came under the just judgment of the Lord. For the Lord said, “ My Spirit shall not always strive with man,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


for that he also is flesh.” God gave continuance to this age of his long-suffering for yet a hundred and twenty years, and then brought the flood of waters upon the world of the ungodly. Thus did men, although informed of good and evil, and the merciful purposes of God in redemption and glory, and thus brought in the spirit of their minds into a fulness and complete state, as much after the similitude of the Spirit of God as Adam was made in the likeness of the Son of God; possessing in the knowledge of their minds the blessing and dominion which Adam possessed in his body, and even thus possessing more than this ; because they knew good and evil, and had the promise of the good and the rejection of the evil before them. Yet for all this they shewed themselves as unworthy of a conformity of their minds to the Spirit of God, as in the Adam age they had (in Adam) shewn their unworthiness of conformity to the Son of God. Thus did God in this age manifest that man, although conformed to the Spirit of God, yet was not worthy of his adoption.

21. In the Patriarchal age, God designed to prove the unworthiness of man to be conformed unto the Father of all; as in the Adam and Noah age he had proved his unworthiness of the sonship and of the spirit of adoption. After the Flood, God made his covenant with Noah, as the father of all flesh and ruler over all creation : giving him the blessing, “ Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it;” and giving him also the sign of the covenant for preservation of the earth in the rainbow. Yet, alas ! how soon did this covenant-father of all flesh manifest his unfitness! He sinned in drunkenness, and was put to shame by his own son : his son sinned, and was cursed of his father : in a little time the seed of the father conspired in a body against the sovereignty of God, and were scattered and confounded at Babel.

Thus had God ordained, and thus did man wittingly perfect, the proof of man's unfitness and incapacity in his own creature state to be compared in any thing to God, or to do any thing whatever after the manner of God; that so, although made after the likeness of God, and put under every form and arrangement of circumstance which could induce him to act as a God, or shew himself equal with God, yet should he shew himself not only incapable of acting in any thing like God, but also incapable of preserving himself even as a creature in the good state in which he was made, and incapable also after he had fallen of raising himself again : and not only this, but he also manifested that in his fallen state he could not stand still, but would fall from depth to depth ; from one degree of wickedness to a greater; until the very lowest pit of the fathomless deep opened its mouth to engulf him.

Yet after he had thus ordained man to fill up, by his own free

[ocr errors]

agency, the full measure of proof of his own entire unfitness and incapacity, did God in mercy begin to manifest the allsufficiency of God. In the same Patriarchal age, and although in this course also preserving the manifestation of creature nothingness, did God shew forth his own merciful and gracious character as the Father of his people, by Abraham; as the Son, and Head and Root of all sonship, by Isaac; and as the Holy Ghost, the bond of union of the many members into the one body, the church, proceeding from the Father and the Son, by Jacob. In them God gave blessing to the earth, and entered into covenanted mercy towards his people. The providence of God towards these patriarchs, into which we need not now enter, was a continued figure of that which he purposed to shew forth in the church dispensations. But in the midst of the rich and precious promises which the Lord gave for the inheritance of his people, he ultimately brought them down into bondage in Egypt, waiting for the fulfilment of his word ; that he might preserve at the close of the Patriarchal age the manifestation with which it was begun: that man was unworthy and incapable of the office of the Father; and, however often by God's mercy placed in the relations of a father, yet was not only incapable of making his children act according to his own will, but was unable to preserve himself in uprightness.

We would by the way remark how gloriously this view opens to us the reason of God calling himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, by which titles he so often addressed himself to his people. Not only because he had chosen in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give promises and enter into covenant with his people; but because he had in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, given a shadow and typical manifestation of himself, and of his purposes as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 22. In the first three

ages of God's great lines of new creation we see God wrought out by the hands of man a complete manifestation of the weakness and nothingness of all creature being, and its necessary tendency to death. These therefore are, as we may term them, the preparative acts, necessary to the introduction of what would follow, in order to preserve the following ages of the mercy and grace of God from the imputation of man's work, and to shew them to be altogether the work of God. God had thus shewn what man was when left to himself, although raised successively from the ruin of the first age to enter on the probation of the second; and again from the ruin of the second, to enter on the trial of the third. But henceforth God purposed to come down and make his dwelling with man, and to begin manifestly to gather together his people in the form of their new creation state. He had shewn in Abra. ham, Isaac, and Jacob, that all were derived from one head, and



« PreviousContinue »