« PreviousContinue »
ON God's ULTIMATE REVEALED PURPOSE IN CREATION
AND NEW CREATION.
(Communicated by Robert BAXTER, Esq.)
Preliminary Remarks. It was not the intention of the writer of the following pages to publish them in a separate state: they were written as the first of a series of dissertations, planned as introductory to the study of Prophecy. The establishment of this Journal, and the slow progress of the other dissertations (arising from the writer's numerous occupations), have induced him to cast them as his mite into the treasury of the church. These circumstances will account for the form in which they are penned, and render a short introductory detail necessary.
The ultimate revealed purpose of God in creation and new creation is the subject; and it naturally suggests some brief view of the importance of such an inquiry. There is nothing more general and unavoidable in the exercise of reflection, than to inquire into the design, comprising the origin and the end, of all that is made subject to it. It is the question which the child will ask upon every new object presented to it : What is it? what is it for? And from childhood to the most manly intellect the same principle of interrogation is perceived and acted
upon. Such is the force of habit, and such the variety and copiousness of subjects, that a little world of inquiry may be created in every mind, and almost engross the faculties, so as to shut them from the wide and discursive examination which is the proper province of man. But, where habit has led to proper sources, and the truths of revelation have been laid open in any measure, it is an inevitable consequence that the questions, Why were we made ? and what will be our end ? will present themselves. To every one removed from an incessant labour and toil for subsistence these questions will occur; and, according to the degree of interest felt by the inquirer in his own destiny, will be the intenseness with which it is pursued. The man of the world will agitate it as a recreation ; the philosopher, as a matter of philosophy; the infidel, as a proof of his ease of conscience; and the Christian, as his very being : but all alike enter on it, and all form to themselves an answer which shall accord with their habits of thinking. It is not to infuse method and profit into all these inquiries that the present dissertation is penned : it is intended for the humble-minded inquirer, who, loving the truth for His sake who is the TRUTH, desires to see and acknowledge his glory, and to understand the mysteries of his wisdom. "Not offered to him as a matter of speculative inquiry, but as a practical support to him in the seasons
of his trial, and as a defence against the attacks of gainsayers and infidels.
The single subject so termed the inquiry into God's ultimate revealed purpose in creation and new creation, will be found to present itself to the spiritual mind in the simple form of an opening of the glory of God. None such ever doubt the fact that all things are working together to the glory of their Maker and God; none ever deny, that whatsoever we do should be done to the glory of God: but many there are, it may be feared, who have never attempted to attain a correct understanding of the expression, “glory of God;" and more, perhaps, who have never inquired how all things glorify God. It is truly a deep subject ; and yet, to the spiritually minded, there is a simplicity and plainness, which is as far from the metaphysical efforts of the intellectualist, as the clear broad view of a Newton may be seen to surpass the brain-racking doubts of a St. Pierre. It is the peculiar province of the believer, to pass on the wings of wisdom to the haven of truth ; whilst the infidel, proud in his own stumbling way, gropes along the rocky and rugged path, which ever and anon gives him only a dim perspective of that which his happier brother has already attained. The glory of God, which is alike the desire and the strength of the believer, is defined in the following treatise to be the manifesting God's essential excellency. He who is all-perfect, when seen to be such as he is, must be truly glorified. Glory cannot add to him: he is unchangeable : glory cannot be taken from him. But God is the Father of glory. He is in his very nature allglorious. To glorify him, therefore, is to shew that he is glorious. This is the depth of wisdom, and the simplicity of truth. “ Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God," is a simple and comprehensive command, acted upon by the simple minded, and in the world's affairs the ignorant; yet, when examined by the most learned and able minded, found to embody a depth and fulness of wisdom, and a comprehensiveness, which mocks at our puny understandings : a comprehensiveness which shews God himself will not be mocked; for, whilst he gives this as the rule of action to his people, he will be seen to overrule all things to the same end ; and, whilst they who with willing hearts labour unto that end enter into the joy of their Lord, the rebellious and gainsayers are seen to be made subservient to the same end, and yet to meet the punishment which their rebellion merits. This is indeed an end worthy of its Author, and a completion worthy of the perfection of the all-perfect Jehovah.
As it is never doubted that all things work together to the glory of God, so is it universally admitted that this glory is shewn and perfected in and through the Lord Jesus, "the Brightness of (the Father's) glory, and the express Image of his person
(Heb. i. 3): and these two universally acknowledged truths constitute the foundation and basis of this treatise : nay, not merely the foundation, but the whole building. The end of all creation is the fulness of Christ; and the manifestation of God's glory as the purpose of this, is but another form of expressing the same thing, and is the whole subject embodied. It may, indeed, be asked, Why then all this labour and travail ? why all this length and intricacy of argument and formality of preparation ? Alas! the answer is too obvious: When truth becomes important, it begins to be doubted. Let him who wavers, mark the
progress of his own mind, from certainty to hesitation, from hesitation to denial, as the truth he first acknowledged is found to fight against his preconceived opinion and habits of thinking.
It is matter of simple deduction, even without reference to Scripture authority, that all things work together to the glory of God, and that glory is the manifestation of God. must have been created for this purpose. And if this glory is shewn and perfected in the Lord Jesus, it is an unavoidable inference that all things were created to perfect in the Lord Jesus the manifestation of God. This will naturally lead us to examine the relation which subsists between the Lord Jesus and created things. These relations, clearly discerned and laid down, constitute the great practical effect flowing from the inquiry.
It was intended to follow up this treatise by one upon the figurative language of Scripture, in the hope of laying open some of the uses and advantages of this line of study, and the practical tendency of it to strengthen the faith and lead forth the praises and thanksgivings of the believer. The method would be, the unfolding those relations which are borne by all created things to Christ Jesus, as the head and perfection of all creation. In this it is obvious the church which (after the significancy of the word “ Head,” is called the “body” of Christ) bears a prominent part. The Jewish church, as marked out with such care and particularity in the sacred records, must give the basis of these relations; and it has been the office of the Christian church, as it regards this proof, to shew these relations have a spiritual import, and that the Jewish church is indeed the great fount of types by which, as impressed upon the page of the Christian church, are set forth the beauty, order, and proportions of that great whole, which is “ the fulness of Him wbo filleth all in all.” It is, however, a subject so various, and so deeply important, and withal so novel to the present generation-although familiar to the fathers of the Christian church, and the fathers of the Reformation-that it must be gravely and maturely dwelt upon. It may be stated to be a line of inquiry, which, whilst it occupies itself in the deepest depths of truth, delights not the less in the familiar and every-day occupations of life, and lays open the testimony to God which is borne, not by the church only, but by civil government, the various relations of life, and the innumerable forms of the customs and habits of society. It is a vast pyramid, whose summit is in the heavens, and in which every descending step is not merely seen to bear its place in raising the top-stone to the summit, but has impressed upon it in brief an outline of the whole pyramid ; so that no part shall be taken for the whole, because the whole is by every part pointed to. As an instance : Do we see Christ as the head; the church, as his body, the first descending step; and the various societies of men, bound together by civil government, as a third ? The third is not simply found to be a step to the second ; but, if with diligence we examine its constitution, we shall find it has throughout a dim outline of the constitution of the church ; with this peculiarity, that its perfection is found only in the church. Do we descend into the various relations of life? the same testimony is found : there too is the outline of the civil government, in father, family, household. The customs and habits of society, as moulded by these unyielding relations of life and government, have also an expression of their origin. And if we pass on to inanimate creation, and mark the great lines of testimony here drawn, we have the celestial bodies, the earth, the sea, and the fountains and rivers of water; which towards each other have a mutual action and attraction, too plain and marked to be misunderstood ; and, moreover, in holy writ the doubtful are referred to the concurrent testimony which they bear to the same single whole.—But it is dangerous to enter on a course which may not at once be pursued ; and even what is here written may possibly lead to misapprehension. It should, however, be understood, that the testimony thus derived from all parts of creation has not merely a relative testimony through other parts of a higher grade, but a simple direct testimony to Christ. If we look to the relation of father and son, and are led in spirit to our heavenly Father's adoption of us as children, we need not derive this through the Head and Origin of all rule and power in civil government, and the Father of glory and God manifest in the flesh of the church; but may, if we are so led, mark these as concurrent testimonies to the same point; and, whilst considering the relation of father and son in civil society we are by such a line of inquiry led to glorify God for our own adoption, we may, in the concurrent testimonies, see the same God, Lord over all, and Father of all glory. With regard to another branch of this testimony, which at the first glance seems furthest removed from practical application, one instance will suffice. If, in the customs and habits of society, it is seen brother becomes bound for brother, or friend for friend, and, when the principal is imprisoned for the debt, he as surely pays it and releases him ; this, to the spiritually minded, will bring the remembrance of their great Surety and Redeemer, who laid down his life in death to release them from the power of death. And thousands are the instances which with equal propriety will lead to such an application.
With the thoughtless, these testimonies are called analogies and coincidences; and if any practical inference is drawn from them, it is more of the nature of undirected curiosity, occupying the mind for a moment with perhaps an involuntary impression of the beauty and order of God's works, than any clear or connected view of the great testimony which they bear to the ultimate purpose of God. The analogical reasoners are in this respect as far from the proper application, as are the accidentalists in their reasonings upon Providence. They who view all providential dealings in the light of accidents, wilfully shut their mouths against the acknowledgment of God's goodness; and they who, in the relation which all creation manifests towards the Lord Jesus, will acknowledge nothing more than an analogy or coincidence, as wilfully and perversely deny God's testimony to him, as the One by whom and in whom all things were created and now consist. By such a mode, the brilliant record of God's sovereignty and mercy and glory, which, as written in creation, is interpreted and brought home to every believer in revelation, is blotted out; and that which truly teems with light and truth is regarded as an heterogeneous mass, as much ® without form and void” as before the “ Spirit of God moved
the face of the waters.” But, ye thoughtless and indifferent, can ye not conceive the Maker of all things to have so made them for a purpose, and to have given them the form and fashion they assume to mark and to accomplish that purpose? And can ye not read the Scriptures, in remembrance that whatever is used to bring to your apprehension the meekness and the glory of the Lord Jesus was specially created for that end? It is an inexcusable obstinacy, whilst as a theoretical principle you acknowledge all things were created for the glory of God, to practically adopt a different principle, by reading as if whatever God uses to unfold the mysteries of spiritual things he takes up as he finds them ready to his hand. What must be their understanding of God's prescience, who cannot allow that in the moment of the creation God knew all the uses and purposes which things created would subserve? And what must be the idea of God's wisdom, which allows his prescience, and yet denies that he made them with a view to answer those uses to which they would be put ? Time will not allow a further allusion to these objections, nor
VOL. 1, --NO. II.