Sermon 3 - Colossians 1:16Christ's Eternal Existence and the Dignity of His Person Asserted and Proved by Thomas Manton (1620-1677) (Volume 1)
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Sermon 3 – Colossians 1:16
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Col. 1. 16.
The apostle had told us in the former verse that Jesus Christ is the first-born of every creature. The Arians thence concluded that he himself was created out of nothing in order of time before the world. But it is not ‘the first created of any creature,’ but ‘the first-born,’ which noteth a precedency, not only in point of antiquity, but dignity; and is as much as to say, Lord of every creature. For the first-born was the lord of the rest, and the title may be given either relatively or comparatively.
1. Relatively; when the rest are of the same stock, or have the relation of brethren to him that hath the pre-eminence. So it is given to Christ with respect to new creatures: Rom. viii. 29, ‘That he might be the first-born among many brethren.’
2. Comparatively only; when several persons or things be compared, though there be no relation between them. So David is called the first-born of the kings of the earth,’ Ps. lxxxix. 27 – that is, superior in dignity and honour. So here it is taken not relatively, for so Christ is primogenitus the first-born, that he is also unigenitus the only-begotten. None went before or come after him, that are so begotten of God. What he asserteth in that verse, he now proveth by the creation of all things, in ver. 16, and the conservation of all things, ver. 17. We are now upon the first proof. Surely he that created all things is supreme lord of all things, or hath the right of the first-born over them. Two ways is Christ said to have a right to the creatures: as God, and as mediator. His right as God is natural and perpetual; his right as mediator is by grant and donation. It is a power acquired and obtained. His natural right is antecedent to his actual susception of the office of mediator; for it comes to him by creation. He made all, and it is fit that he should be sovereign and lord of all. But the other power and sovereignty is granted to him as a part of his reward and recompense for the sorrows of his humiliation: Phil. ii. 9, 10, ‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.’ The apostle speaks not of this latter now, but of the former – his right as the only-begotten Son of God: he is the first-born, that is, Lord of the whole creation. And good reason, ‘for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth,’ etc. In the words, the creation of the world is ascribed to Christ. Take notice –
1. Of the object of this creation.
2. Christ’s efficiency about it.
1. The object of creation is spoken collectively and distributively.
[1.] Collectively: ‘By him were all things created.’
[2.] Distributively: They are many ways distinguished.
(1.) By their place: ‘Things in heaven, and things in earth.’
(2.) By their nature: ‘Things visible and invisible.’
(3.) By their dignity and office: ‘Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers ‘ – words often used in scripture to signify the angels, whether good or bad. The good angels: Eph. i. 21,’ Far above all principality and power, and might and dominion;’ Eph. iii. 10, ‘That unto principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.’ Sometimes this term is given to the bad angels: ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers,’ Eph. vi. 12; and Rom. viii. 38, ‘Nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers.’ So that the meaning is, the angelical creatures, together with their degree and dignity, as well among themselves as over the lower world; of what rank and degree soever they are, they are all created by him. He insisteth more on them than on the other branches, because some cried up the dignity of the angels, to the lessening of the honour and office of Christ, and because they were the noblest and most powerful creatures. And if the most glorious creatures were created by him, surely all others had their being and life from him. Well, then, there is a gradation notable in setting forth the object of the creation. Christ made not only things in earth but things in heaven; not only the visible things of heaven, the sun, moon, and stars, but the invisible, the angels – not the lower sort of angels only, but the most noble and the most potent – thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.
2. Christ’s efficiency about them; in these words, they were ‘created by him, and for him.’
[1.] By him,- as an equal co-operating cause, or co-worker with God the Father: John v. 19, ‘Whatsoever things the Father doeth, those doeth the Son likewise.’ To bring a thing out of nothing belongeth unto God. The distance of the terms is infinite; so must the agent be. Creation is an act of divine power.
[2.] They are for him: they are by him as their first cause; they are for him as their last end. God is often represented in scripture as first and last: Isa. xli. 4, ‘I the Lord, the first and the last, I am he;’ Isa. xliv. 6, ‘I am the first and the last; there is no God besides me;’ so Isa. xlviii. 2, ‘I am the first; I am also the last.’ Now all this is repeated and applied to Christ: Rev. i. 17, ‘He said unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I have the keys of death and hell;’ Rev. ii. 8,’ These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;’ Rev. xxii. 13, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, the first and the last.’ Now these expressions do imply his eternal power and Godhead. He hath been before all things were made, and shall be when all things in the world are ended. He is the first being from whom all things are, and the last end to whom all things are to be referred. He is the efficient and final cause of all the creatures.
Doct. That all creatures, angels not excepted, owe their very being to Christ, the Son of God, our blessed and glorious Redeemer.
I shall take the method offered in the text, and show you:-
First, That all things were created by him.
Secondly, Why the creation of angels is so particularly mentioned and insisted upon.
Thirdly, That all things were created for him.
First, For creation by him. This is often asserted in scripture: John i. 3, ‘All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.’ John begins his Gospel with the dignity of Christ’s person; and how doth he set it forth? By the creation of the world by the eternal Word. And what he saith is an answer to these questions – When was the Word? ‘In the beginning;’ Where was the Word? ‘With God;’ What was the Word? He ‘was God;’ What did he then do? ‘All things were made by him;’ What! all without exception? Yes, ‘Without him nothing was made that was made,’ be it never so small, never so great. From the highest angel to the smallest worm, they had all their being from him. Two things are to be explained: –
1. How he made all things.
2. When he made the angels.
1. How he made all things. Freely, and of his own will: Rev iv. 11, ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive honour, and glory, and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’ They use three words to set forth the honour that is due to Christ for creating the world: glory, because of his excellencies discovered; honour, which is the ascription or acknowledgment of those excellencies; and power, because ‘the invisible things of his Godhead and power are seen by the things that are made,’ Rom. i. 20. For in the creating of the world he exercised his omnipotency. And this they do, not to express their affection, but his own due desert: ‘Thou art worthy, 0 Lord.’ The reason they give is, because he hath created all things for his own pleasure, or according to his own will – not out of necessity. There was no tie upon him to make them, but only he of his good pleasure thought fit to do so. He might have done it in another manner, or at another time, or in another order. There is nothing in the world that hath a necessary connexion with the divine essence, so as, if God be, that must be; nothing external cometh from God by necessity of nature, but all is done according to the counsel of his own will. Some thought all created things did come forth from the Creator by way of emanation, as rivers flow out of their fountain; but there is no stream floweth out of any fountain but it was before a part of that fountain while it was in it. But that cannot be said of any creature in respect of God, that it was any part of God before it came out from him. Others say the creatures came out from God by way of representation, as an image in the glass from him that passeth by or looketh on it; but before the world was made there was no such glass to represent God. Others would express it thus – that the world cometh out from God as a shadow from the body. But yet this will not fit the turn neither: for the shadow doth not come out from the body, but follows it, because of the deprivation of light from the interposition of another body. Others say – all cometh from God as a footprint, or track in clay or sand, from one that passeth over it; hut there was nothing on which God, by passing, might make such an impression. Whatever good intention they might have by setting forth the creation by these expressions, yet you see they are not proper and accurate. These expressions may have their use to raise man’s understanding to contemplate the excellency and majesty of the Creator; for they all show his incomparable excellency and perfection, together with the vanity, nothingness, or smallness of the creature if compared with him, as great a bulk as it beareth in our eye. They are but as a ray from the sun, a stream from the fountain, or a drop to the ocean; an image in the glass, or a shadow to the substance; or like a footprint of a man in the clay or sand; and so are but certain signs leading up to the thing signified, or letters and syllables out of which we may spell God – as the streams lead us to the fountain, the image to the man, the shadow to the body, or the track to the foot that made it. But the scripture, leaving those comparisons, showeth us that the world came out from the Creator as the workmanship from the artificer, the building from the architect, Heb. xi. 10. Now every artificer and builder worketh merely out of the counsel of his own will. And herein they resemble God; but only what they do with great labour, God doth with the beck of his own will and word: Ps. xxxiii. 6,’ By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.’ A bare word of his immediately created all the world, the heavens and earth, and all that is in them.
2. When did he make the angels? for in the history of Moses there seemeth to be a great silence of it. I answer – We read, Gen. i. 1, that in the beginning – that is, when God did first set himself to create – that then he created the heaven and the earth; but we read again in the 20th verse, ‘That in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.’ I argue, that if within that compass of time, the Lord made heaven and earth, and all things that are in them, angels are included in that number, being the inhabitants of heaven, as men and beasts are of the earth, and fishes of the sea; as here, by things in heaven, the apostle principally understands the angels, and by things on earth, men. Therefore, as things on earth were not made but after the earth, so things in heaven were not created but after the heavens were created. The heavens were not created till the second day, nor perfected and fitted till the fourth. Therefore, as God did furnish the earth with plants and beasts before men, so did he adorn the heaven with stars before he filled it with angels; for he first framed the house and adorned it before he brought in the inhabitants. Therefore, probably they were made the fourth day. If this seemeth too short a time before the fall of the apostate angels, you must remember how soon man degenerated. Some think he did not sleep in innocency, quoting that Ps. xlix. 12, ‘Man being in honour abides not, but is like the beasts that perish.’ The word signifies a night’s lodging in an inn – shall not lodge or stay a night. Others make his fall on the next day, the Sabbath, for at the end of the sixth day all was good, very good. The angels fell from their first state as soon as they were created – so short and uncertain is all created glory.
Secondly, All things were created for him – that is, for the honour of the Son, as well as for the honour of the Father and the Holy Ghost. Now this is necessary to he thought of by us, because there is a justice in the case that we should return and employ all in his service from whom we have received all, even though it be with the denial of our nearest and dearest interest. He is worthy of this glory and honour from us, and that we should trust upon him as a faithful Creator in the midst of all dangers.
1. I will prove that the greatest glory the creature is capable of is to serve the will and set forth the praise of its Creator, for everything that attaineth not its end is vain. What matter is it whether I be a dog, or a man, a beast, or an angel, if I serve not the end for which I was made? And that is not the personal and particular benefit of any creature, but the glory of the Creator, for God made all things for himself Prov. xvi. 4; whether he made beasts, or man, or angels, it was still with a respect to his own glory and service. God is independent and self-sufficient of himself and for himself. Self-seeking in the creature is monstrous and incongruous. It is as absurd and unbeseeming to seek its own glory as to attribute to itself its own being: Rom. xi. 36, ‘Of him, and through him, and to him are all things.’ God’s glory is the end of our being and doing, for being and doing are both from him, and therefore for him alone. Above all, it concerneth man to consider this: who can glorify God not only objectively by the impressions of God upon him, and passively, as God will overrule all his actions to his own glory, but actively, as he is the mouth of the creation – not only to honour God himself, but to give him the praise which resulteth from all his works. It was well said of a heathen, Si essem luscinia – if I were a nightingale I would sing as a nightingale; Si alauda – if I were a lark I would pere as a lark. When I am a man what should I do but know, love, and praise God without ceasing, and glorify my Creator? Things are unprofitable or misplaced when they do not seek or serve their end; therefore for what use are we meet, who are so unmeet for our proper end? Like the wood of the vine that is good for nothing, not so much as to make a pin whereon to hang anything, Ezek. xv. 2 – good for nothing but to be cast into the fire unless it be fruitful. What are we good for if we be not serviceable to the ends for which we were created?
2. The design of God was that the whole creation should be put in subjection to the Word incarnate – not only this lower world, wherein man is concerned, but the upper world also. Our Redeemer, who hath bought us, hath an interest in all things that may concern us, that they may be disposed of to his own glory and our good and advantage. All are at the making and at the disposal of our Lord Jesus Christ Therefore it is said, Heb. ii. 10, ‘For whom are all things, and by whom are all things.’ God that frameth all things ordereth all things their proper end. His works are many, and some are more excellent and glorious than others; and one of the chief of them is the salvation of man by Jesus Christ. Therefore all things are subordinated thereunto, to the glory of the Mediator by whom this is accomplished: 1 Cor. viii. 6, ‘But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.’
Secondly, Why the creation of angels is so particularly and expressly mentioned? I answer – For four reasons:-
1. To show the glory and majesty of the Redeemer. The angels are said to ‘excel in strength,’ Ps. ciii. 20, and elsewhere they are called ‘mighty angels.’ This potency they have from their Creator, who giveth power and strength to all his creatures as it pleases him. Their strength may be conceived by that instance, that one angel in a night slew one hundred and eighty-five thousand in Sennacherib’s camp. Now these potent creatures are infinitely inferior to our Redeemer, by whom and for whom they were made. Though they are the most excellent of all the creatures, yet they are his subjects and ministers, at his beck and command, both by the law of their creation, as Christ is God, and also by the Father’s donation, as he is Mediator and God incarnate: 1 Pet. iii. 25, ‘He is set down on the right hand of God; angels, authorities, and powers being made subject to him.’ And again, Eph. i. 21, ‘He hath set him far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come.’ They have a great name, but Christ hath ‘a more excellent name than they,’ Heb. i. 4, for they are all bound to worship him, ver. 6, and serve him, for he employeth them for the defence and comfort of the meanest of his people. They are subject not only to God, but to Christ or God incarnate. Look, as it is the glory of earthly kings to command mighty and powerful subjects – ‘Are not my princes altogether kings?’ Isa. x. 8, that so many princes held under him as their sovereign and served him as their commander; and when God speaks of the Assyrian he calleth him ‘a king of princes,’ Hosea viii. 10, namely, as he had many kings subject and tributary to him – so is this the majesty of our Redeemer, that he hath these powerful creatures, the mighty angels, in his train and retinue. These heavenly hosts make up a part of that army which is commanded by the Captain of our salvation.
2. This is mentioned to obviate the errors of that age. Both the Jews and the Gentiles had a high opinion of spirits and angels, as God’s ministers and messengers; for he doth not always immediately administer the affairs of mankind. Now, as they were right in the main as to their service, so they added much of curiosity and superstition to the doctrine of angels, and by their vain speculations infected the minds of many in the Christian church, who were but newly come out from among them, insomuch that they fell to the worshipping of angels as mediators to God; as the apostle intimateth, Col. ii. 18. Now, because this was to the disparagement of Christ, the apostles did set themselves to check this curiosity of dogmatising about angels, and the superstition or idolatry of angel-worship thence growing apace, Now this they did by asserting the dignity of Christ’s person and office. As Paul, Col. ii., and the author to the Hebrews, chapters 1., ii., iii., ‘Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.’ It is true, Christ was sent from heaven as the angels are, and he came in a despicable way of appearance to promote our salvation and recovery, as they assumed bodies suitable to their message; yet his superiority and pre-eminence above the angels is clear and manifest. He was not only equal to them, but far above them, Heb. i. 3. Seven things are observable in that verse:-
(1.) Christ came as the eternal Son of God: ‘He hath spoken unto us by his Son.’ When he cometh to the angels, he saith, they are servants and ministering spirits. For a short while he ministered in the form of a servant in the clays of his flesh – they continue to be so from the beginning to the end of the world.
(2.) He was heir of all things – that is, Lord of the whole creation – they only principalities and powers, for certain ends, to such persons and places, over which Christ sets them.
(3.) He was the Creator of the world. ‘By whom also he made the worlds,’ saith the apostle. They are noble and divine creatures indeed, but the work of Christ’s hands.
(4.) He is ‘the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person ‘ – that is, the essential image of God; they only have some strictures of the divine majesty.
(5.) The ‘upholding all things by the word of his power ‘ – that is, the conserving cause of all that life and being that is in the creature. The angels live in a continual dependence upon Christ as their creator, and without his supporting influence, would be soon annihilated.
(6.) By himself he ‘purged our sins.’ He was sent into the world for that great and glorious work of mediation, which none of them was worthy to undertake, none able to go through withal, but himself alone. They are sent about the ordinary concernments of the saints, or the particular affairs of the world: he is the author of the whole work of redemption and salvation, and they but subordinate assistants in the particular promotion of it.
(7.) He ‘sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; they are spirits near the throne of God, ever in his presence, attending on him like princes. God never made any of them universal and eternal king, for he set Christ at his right hand, not the angels. To sit at God’s right hand, is not only to be blessed and happy in enjoying those pleasures which are there for evermore, not only to be advanced to the highest place of dignity and honour next to God, but to he invested with a supreme and universal power above all men and angels. Take these, or any one of these, and he is above the angels, though they be the most noble and excellent creatures that ever God made.
3. Because Christ hath a ministry and service to do by them. He makes use of them partly to exercise their obedience, without which they forsake the law of their creation and swerve from the end for which they were made: Ps. ciii. 20, ‘They do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.’ They do whatsoever he commandeth them, with all readiness and speed imaginable, and therein they are an example to us: Mat. vi. 10, ‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’ They are our fellow-servants now in the work, hereafter in the recompense, when we are admitted into one society, under one common head and Lord, Heb. xii. 27, who shall for ever rejoice in the contemplation of God’s infinite excellencies. Well then, if these excellent creatures, so great in power, be always so ready and watchful to do the will of God, and count it their honour to assist in so glorious a work as the saving of souls, or do any other business he sendeth them about, how should we, that hope to be like the angels in happiness, be like them in obedience also!
4. Because the church’s safety dependeth upon it. We stand in need of this ministry of angels. The service of the angels is protection to the people of God – vengeance on their enemies.
(1.) For protection. Christ hath the heavenly host at his command, and sendeth them forth for the good of his people: Ps. lxviii. 17, ‘The chariots of the Lord are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them in Sinai in the holy place.’ Mark, that thousands of angels are his chariots, conveying him from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven; and mark, the Lord is among them – that is, God incarnate – for he presently speaketh of his ascending up on high. ‘Thou hast ascended up on high, and led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men,’ ver. 18. Among them in his holy place – that is, in heaven. It is added, as in Mount Sinai – . that is, as at the giving of the law. They were then there, and still attend on the propagation of the gospel. For more particular cases, see Heb. i. 14, ‘Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?’ So Ps. xxxiv. 7, ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.’ All that obediently serve and wait on God have the promise of this protection.
(2.) The other part of this ministry and service is to restrain and destroy the devil and his instruments. The scripture often speaks of God’s executing judgments by the angels. Their influence doth not always personally appear, yet it is great and powerful. Though the powers and authorities on earth, and their messengers and forces, be often employed against the saints, yet the Captain of our salvation is in heaven, and all the mighty angels are subject to him, and at his disposal. By this means the prophet Elisha confirmed himself and his servant, when the king of Syria sent chariots and horses, a great host, to attack him in Dothan: 2 King vi. 14, 15, ‘And when his servant saw it early in the morning, he said, Alas, my master ! what shall we do?’ The prophet answered, ver. 16, ‘They that be with us are more than they that be against us.’ And then, ver. 17, he prayed, ‘Lord, open his eyes that he may see; and the Lord opened his eyes, and behold the mountain was full of chariots and horses of fire, round about Elisha.’ These fiery horses and chariots were nothing else but the angels of God. Here is force against force, chariots against chariots, horse against horse, if we could open the eye of faith and shut that of sense. We read, Acts xii. 23, that an angel smote Herod in the midst of his pride and persecution the angel of the Lord smote him.
Use. 1. Let us more deeply be possessed with the majesty of our Redeemer. He is the Creator of all things, of angels as well as men, and so more excellent than all the men in the world, whether they excel in power or holiness, which the psalmist expresseth thus: ‘Fairer than the children of men,’ Ps. xlv. 29. But also, then, the most excellent and glorious angels; he is their creator as well as ours, head of principalities and powers, as well as of poor worms here upon earth. Surely the representing and apprehending of Christ in his glorious majesty is a point of great consequence.
1. Partly to give us matter for praise and admiration, that we may not have mean thoughts of his person and office. He is a most glorious Lord and King, that holdeth the most powerful creatures in subjection to himself. If Christians did know and consider how much of true religion consists in admiring and praising their Redeemer, they would more busy their minds in this work.
2. Partly to strengthen our trust, and to fortify us against all fears and discouragements in our service. When we think of the great Creator of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible, angels, men, principalities, etc., surely the brightness of all creature glory should wax dim in our eyes: ‘Our God is able to deliver us,’ Dan. iii. 18, and will, as he did by his angel. This was that which fortified Stephen: Acts v. 55, 56, ‘He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.’ It is easy for him who made all things out of nothing to help us. See Ps. cxxi. 2, ‘My help standeth in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’ The Almighty Creator, ruler, and governor of the world, what cannot he do? As long as I see those glorious monuments of his power standing, I will not distrust he can afford me seasonable help by his holy angels, through the intercession of his Son, who hath assumed my nature.
3. Partly to bind our duty. All creatures were made by him and for him; therefore we should give up ourselves to him, and say with Paul, Acts xxvii. 23, ‘His I am, and him I serve.’ His by creation and redemption, therefore everything we have and do ought to have a respect to his glory and service. There is a variety of creatures in the world, of different kinds and different excellencies. In the whole and every kind there is somewhat of the glory of God and Christ set forth. Now this should strike our hearts – Shall we only, who are the persons most obliged, be a disgrace to our Lord, both Creator and Redeemer, when the good angels are so ready to attend him at his beck and command, and that in the meanest services and ministries? Shall poor worms make bold with his laws, slight his doctrine, despise his benefits? Heb. ii. 2, 3, ‘If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?’
4. And lastly, to make us more reverent in our approaches to him for he sits in the assembly of the gods, the holy angels are round about him: Ps. cxxxviii. 1,’ Before the gods will I sing praise to thee ‘ – that is, in the presence of the holy angels: 1 Cor. x. 10; Eccles. v. 6,’ Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin, neither say thou before the angel that it was an error.’ The angels in heaven observe our behaviour in God’s worship – what vows we make to God, what promises of obedience. But, above all, there is our glorious Redeemer himself: Heb. xii. 28, 29, with what reverence and godly fear should we approach his holy presence!
Use 2. Is to quicken us to thankfulness for our redemption; that our creator is our Redeemer. None of the angels did humble himself as Christ did do, to do so great a piece of service, and yet he is far above them. There is a congruity in it, that we should be restored by him by whom we were made; but he made the angels as well as men, but he did not restore them. No; they were not so much as in a condition of forbearance and respite; he assumed not their nature, he created all things, but he redeemed mankind. His delights were with the sons of men; he assumed our nature, and for a while ‘ was made a little lower than the angels,’ Heb. ii. 9. We cannot sufficiently bless God for the honour done to our nature in the person of Christ, for it is God incarnate that is made head of angels, principalities, and powers – God in our nature, whom all the angels are called upon to adore and worship. The devil sought to dishonour God, as if he were envious of man’s happiness: Gen. iii. 5,’ God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof ye shall be as gods.’ And he sought to depress the nature of man, which in innocency stood so near to God. Now, that his human nature should be set so far above the angelical, in the person of Christ, and be admitted to dwell with God in a personal union, this calleth for our highest love and thankfulness.
Use 3. Is an encouragement to come to Christ for sanctifying and renewing grace. I have three arguments:-
1. The person to whom we come. To whom should we come but to our Creator, God infinitely good, wise, and powerful? The creation showeth him good, and whatever is good in the creatures is wholly derived from his goodness. It is but like the odour of the sweet ointments, or the perfume that he leaveth behind him where he hath been, James i. 19. He is infinitely wise. When he created and settled the world, he did not jumble things in a chaos and confusion, but settled them in a most perfect order and proportion, which may be seen, not only in the fabric of the world, but in the disposition of the parts of man’s body, yea, or in any gnat or fly. Now cannot he put our disordered souls in frame again? If the fear of God be true wisdom, to whom should we seek for it but from the wise God? His infinite power is seen also in the creation, in raising all things out of nothing. And if a divine power be necessary to our conversion, to whom should we go but to him who calleth the things that are not as though they were? Rom. iv. 17; ‘According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,’ 2 Pet. i. 7.
2. From the work itself, which is a new creation, which carrieth much resemblance with the old: Eph. ii. 10, ‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works;’ 2 Cor. iv. 6, ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ It is such an effect as comes from a being of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, that man may be in a capacity to love, please, and serve God. What was lost in Adam can only he recovered by Christ.
3. From the relation of the party that seeketh it: Ps. cxix. 73, ‘Thine hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.’ We go to him as his own creatures. This plea hath great force because of God’s goodness to all his creatures.
(1.) Not only the angels, but every worm and fly had their being from Christ; there is a great variety of living things in the world, but they are all fed from the common fountain; therefore we may comfortably come to him for life and quickening, John i. 4. We need not be discouraged by our baseness and vileness, for the basest worm had what it hath from him.
(2.) That Christ, as Creator, beareth such affection to man as the work of his hands: ‘Is it good unto thee that thou shouldst despise the work of thy hands?’ Job x. 3. Artificers, when they have made an excellent work, are very chary of it, and will not destroy it and break it in pieces: Job xiv. 15, ‘Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.’ As creatures beg relief and help; if you cannot plead the covenant of Abraham, plead the covenant of Noah.
(3.) God forsakes none of the fallen creatures but those that forsake him first: 2 Chron. xv. 2, ‘The Lord is with you while you be with him, and if ye seek him he will be found of you, but if ye forsake him he will forsake you;’ 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, ‘If thou seek him he will be found of thee, but if thou forsake him he will cast thee off for ever.’ (
4.) Especially will Christ be good to man seeking after him for grace, that we may serve and obey him. For he is no Pharaoh, to require brick and give no straw. Creating grace laid the debt upon us, and his redeeming grace provideth the power and help, that we may discharge it.
Now, when we acknowledge the debt and confess our impotency to pay it, and our willingness to return to our duty, will Christ fail us? A conscience of our duty is a great matter, but a desire of grace to perform it is more. Therefore, come as creatures earnestly desiring to do their Creator’s will, and to promote his glory. God will not refuse the soul that lieth so submissively at his feet.