« PreviousContinue »
was, being overflowed of water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the fame word are kept in flore, referved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
It is moft evident that the Apostle fpeaks here of fome one principle, called the word of God and promife, which must be known to men not willingly ignorant; which both conftituted and deftroyed the old world; which fame principle conftitutes this world, and keeps it, in flore, referved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungod ly men; and, according to which alfo, we look with certainty for a new world-new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteoufnefs.
This divine theory is contemplated in the fcripture expreffions of the heaven of heavens, and the third heavens; implying three ftates of the creation, as the firft or natural heavens -the middle or angelic heavens-and the glorified ftate, or heaven of Chrift.-The word heaven thus ufed, whether fingular or plural, means the fame thing, and evidently intends a whole world. The holy temple of the Lord being made according to the pattern. fhewed Mofes in the mount, exhibited the fame divine fcheme: First, the porch, or court of the people; fecondly, the fanctuary, or court of the priests; and, thirdly, the oracle, or holy of holies.-To these three ftates of Chrift
and the creation, diftinctly marked out in the xixth Pfalm, we have already alluded; and there can be no doubt of this being the true explanation of the three covenants, or covenant ftates of man; and that the whole respects one eternal truth, pattern, or principle of divine knowledge.
Moreover, according to the principle of the divine theory, we fhall behold Chrift exhibited in three perfonal forms, answerable to the nature of the whole exhibition, viz. the divine form, or form of God, the angelic form, or form of a servant, and the human form, or fashion of a man, in which form he is glorified. And thus in the day of judgment, when all his glory will be exhibited in one view, he will appear in the glory of the Father, and in the glory of the holy angels, and in his own glory.
And, in like manner, in this exhibition, Christ bears three most distinguishing names, viz. The Beginning-The Archangel, and The Son of God; which names properly diftinguish the three heads of the Divine Theory; and for this purpose we fhall use them.
THE DIVISIONS OF THE THEORY,
THE divifion of this all-comprehenfive fubject into three heads, diftinguished by the three names, as mentioned above, and the characters belonging to them, arifes clearly from the nature of the divine will; and this
is the ground of those three different exhibitions of Chrift, each forming a world, which, diftinctly, it will be the object of the three parts of this work to illuftrate.-But, before we proceed to the more full and conclufive illuftrations in the exhibitions themselves, fome particular examination of these names, in order to familiarize to the mind the characters belonging to the feveral glorious dif. plays under them, together with fome general illuftrations of the theory, may be found to be of advantage.
THE word Beginning is a name of Chrift, and one of the most remarkable of all the names given to him by the Holy Spirit. It begins and, excepting the atteftation and benediction, it ends the infpired volume. This word, used in the fcriptures as a name of Christ, fignifies at least, a head, chief, prince, or principal one.
With this word, Mofes introduced his account of the creation of God, and thereby fignified as infpired writers after him underftood, that Chrift was the beginning, the principal one, and glorious head of the creation. Solomon, in a view which evidently includes the work both of creation and redemption, ufes the word, and repeats it, fo as therein to place Chrift in one view, at the head of both words. It is placed in the
• Prov. viii. 22, 23,
introduction of three of the Evangelists, and firft epiftle of John. In this word, Chrift is alfo revealed to us as the head of the holy angels,* and the prince of the kings of the earth.+
Hence, writes the apoftle, Col. i. 15—18. Who is the image of the invifible God, the first born of every creature: For, by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, vifible 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 confift. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.
From the truth, or doctrine contained in this name, which is above every name, let us then take our departure, in launching out into the boundless myfteries of God, that we may shape a true courfe for the haven of light and bleffedness, and not concerning faith make shipwreck.
The word Angel, compounded of the words meffenger and God, and which fignifies a messenger-fervant-or one fent of God, is another moft remarkable name given to
Chrift. This name, and the name beginning, have a peculiar relation to each other;the one fignifying the fame thing in relation to the work of redemption, or the world of grace, that the other does in relation to the work of creation, or the natural world.
That the name beginning, given to Christ, has a special relation to the natural world, and fignifies that the whole creation is conftituted and confifts in him;-and the name angel, given to Chrift, has a fpecial relation to the work of redemption, and fignifies that the world of grace, particularly, is conftituted and confifts in him, will appear by examining how they ftand connected in the fcriptures, which will be found generally the fame as in the following paffages:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Gen. i, 1.-The Lord poffefsed me, the beginning, his way, before his works of old. Prob. viii, 22.—In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God; the fame was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him. John i. 1-3-And thou, Lord, in the beginning, haft laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thine hands. Heb. i. 10.
And the angel of the Lord called to him out of heaven, and faid Abraham, Abraham. Gen. xxii. 11.-The angel which redeemed me from all evil, blefs the lads. Gen. xlviii. 16.—Behold I fend an angel before thee. Exod. xxiii. 20.-.And the angel of his prefence faved them. Ifai. Ixi i. 9.-It may be obferved, that the