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unto Ezekiel, ruling and disposing of all things, and the '70 the almighty, whose voice was heard amongst the wheels ; so it is most certain that the same thing is intended in both places. And this expression of upholding or disposing of all things “ by the word of his power," doth fully declare this glorious providence emblematically expressed in that vision. The Son being over all things made by himself, as on a throne over the cherubims and wheels, influenceth the whole creation with his power, communicating unto it respectively subsistence, life and motion, aeting, ruling and disposing of all, according to the counsel of his own will.
This then is that which the apostle assigns unto the Son, thereby to set out the dignity of his person, that the Hebrews might well consider all things, before they deserted his doctrine. He is one that is partaker essentially of the nature of God, being the brightness of glory, and the express image of his Father's person, who exerciseth and manifesteth his divine power, both in the creation of all things, as also in the support, rule and disposal of all, after they are made by him. And hence will follow, both his power and authority to change the Mosaic institutions, and also his truth and faithfulness in the revelation of the will of God by him made, which it was their duty to embrace and adhere unto.
The several passages of this verse are all of them conjoined by the apostle, and used unto the same general end and purpose; but they are of such distinct senses and importance, considered absolutely and apart, that we shall in our passage select the observations which they singly afford us.
And from these last words we may learn,
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, hath the weight of the whole creation upon his hand, and disposeth of it by his power and wisdom.
2. Such is the nature and condition of the universe, that it could not subsist a moment, nor could any thing in it act regularly unto its appointed end, without the continual support, guidance, influence and disposal of the Son of God.
We may briefly consider the sum of both these jointly, to manifest the power and care of Christ over us, as also the weak dependent condition of the whole creation in and by itself. The things of this creation can no more support, act and dispose themselves, than they could at first make themselves out of nothing. The greatest cannot conserve itself by its power or greatness, or order; nor the least by its distance from opposition. Were there not a mighty hand under every one of them, they would all sink into confusion and nothing ; did not an effectual power influence them, they would become a slothful beap. It is true, God hath in the creation of all things im
planted in every particle of the creation, a special natural inclination and disposition, according unto which it is ready to act, move, or work regularly; but he hath not placed this nature and power in them absolutely, and independently of his own power and operation. The sun is endued with a nature to produce all the glorious effects of light and heat, that we behold or conceive; the fire to burn, the wind to blow, and all creatures also in the like manner; yet veither could sun, or fire, or wind preserve themselves in their being, or retain the principles of their operations, did not the Son of God, by a continual emanation of his eternal power, uphold and preserve them; nor could they produce any one effect by all their actings, did not he work in them, and by them. And so is it with the sons of men, with all agents whatever, whether natural and necessary, or free, and proceeding in their operations by election and choice. Hence Paul tells us, that in God " live, and move, and have our being,” Acts xvii. 28. He had before asserted, that he had of “one blood made all nations," ver. 26.; that is, all men of one, whom he first created. And that we may know that he hath not left us to stand by ourselves on that first foundation, or that we have no power or ability, being made, to do or act any thing without him, he adds, that in him, that is in his power, care, providence, and by virtue of his effectual influence, our lives are supported and continued, that we are acted, moved, and enabled thereby to do all we do, be it never so small, wherein there is any
effect of life or motion. So Daniel tells Belshazzar, that “his breath and all his ways were in the hand of God,” Dan. v. 23. His breath in the support and continuance of his being; and his ways in his effectual guidance and disposal of them. Peter speaks to the same purpose in general, concerning the fabric of the heavens, sea and earth, 2 Pet. iii. 5.
Now what is thus spoken of God in general, is by Paul particularly applied unto the Son, Col. i. 16, 17. “All things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. He did not only make all things, as we have declared, and that for himself and his own glory, but also he continues the head of them; so that by him, and by his power, they consist, are preserved in their present state and condition, kept from dissolution, in their singular existence, and in a consistency among themselves.
And the reason hereof is taken, first, from the limited, finite, dependent condition of the creation, and the absolute necessity that it should be so. It is utterly impossible and repugnant to the very nature and being of God, that he should make, create, or produce any thing without himself, that should have either a self-subsistence, or a self-sufficiency, or be independent on VOL. III.
himself. All these are natural and essential properties of the divine nature; where they are, there is God, so that vo creature can be made partaker of them: where we name a creature, we name that which hath a derived and dependent being. And that which cannot subsist in and by itself, cannot thus act.
Secondly, The energetical efficacy of God's providence, joined with his infinite wisdom in caring for the works of his own hands, the product of his power, requires that it should be so. He worketh yet. He did not create the world, to leave it to an uncertain event; to stand by, and to see what would become of it, to see whether it would return to its primitive nothing, of which cask it always smells strongly; or how it would be tossed up and down by the adverse and contrary qualities, which were implanted in the several parts of it. But the same power and wisdom that produced it, doth still accompany it, powerfully piercing through every parcel and particle of it. To fancy a providence in God, without a continual energetical operation, or a wisdom without a constant care, inspection and oversight of the works of his hands, is not to have apprehensions of the living God, but to erect an idol in our own imaginations.
Thirdly, This work is peculiarly assigned unto the Son, not only as he is the eternal power and wisdom of God, but also because by his interposition, as undertaking the work of mediation, he reprieved the world from an immediate dissolution upon the first entrance of sin and disorder ; that it might continue, as it were, the great stage for the mighty works of God's grace, wisdom and love to be wrought in. Hence the care of the continuance of the creation and the disposal of it, is delegated unto him, as he that hath undertaken to bring forth and consummate the glory of God in it, notwithstanding the great breach made upon it by the sin of angels and men. This is the substance of the apostle's discourse, Col. i. 15—20. Having asserted him to be the image of God, in the sense before opened and declared, and to have made all things, he affirms, that all things have also their present consistency in him, and by his power; and must have so, until the work of reconciliation of all things unto God being accomplished, the glory. of God may be fully retrieved and established forever.
1. We may see from hence the vanity of expecting any thing from the creatures, but only what the Lord Christ is pleased to communicate unto us by them. They that cannot sustain, move or actuate themselves, by any power, virtue, or strength of their own, are very unlikely by and of themselves to afford any real assistance, relief, or help unto others. They all abide and exist severally, and consist together, in their order, and operation, by the word of the power of Christ; and what he will communicate by them, that they will yield and afford, and nothing else. In themselves they are broken cisterns that will hold no water; what he drops into them may be derived unto us, and no more. They who rest upon them, or rest in them, without the consideration of their constant dependance on Christ, will find at length all their hopes disappointed, and all their enjoyments vanish into nothing.
2. Learn hence also the full, absolute, plenary self-sufficiency and sovereignty of the Son, our Saviour. We shewed before the universality of his kingdom and moral rule over the whole creation; but this is not all. A king hath a moral rule over his subjects in his kingdom; but he doth not really and physically give them their being and existence; he doth not uphold and actuate them at his pleasure; but every one of them doth stand therein upon the same, or an equal bottom with himself. He can indeed by the permission of God, take away the lives of any of them, and so put an end to all their actings and operations in this world; but he cannot give them life, or continue their lives at his pleasure one moment, or make them so much as to move a finger. But with the Lord Christ it is otherwise ; he not only rules over the whole creation, disposing of it according to the rule and law of his own counsel and pleasure; but also they all have their beings, natures, inclinations and lives from him; by his power are they continued unto them, and all their actions are influenced thereby. And this, as it argues an all-sufficiency in himself, so an alısolute sovereignty over all other things. And this should teach us our constant dependance on him, and our universal subjection unto him.
3. And this abundantly discovers the vanity and folly of them, who make use of the creation in an opposition unto the Lord Christ, and his peculiar interest in this world. His own power is the very ground that they stand upon in their opposition unto him; and all things which they use against him, consist in him. They hold their lives absolutely at the pleasure of him whom they oppose ; and they act against him, without whose continual support and influence, they could neither live nor act one moment, which is the greatest madness, and most contemptible folly imaginable.
We now proceed with our apostle in his description of the person and offices of the Messiah.
This beginning of the epistle, as hath been declared, contains a summary proposition of those things, which the apostle intends severally to insist upon throughout the whole. And these all relate to the person and offices of the Messiah, the principal subject of this epistle. Having therefore first declared him to be the great prophet of the New Testament; and secondly, the Lord, ruler and governor of all things, as also manifested the equity of the grant of that universal sovereignty unto him, from the excellency of his person on the account of his divine - nature, and the operations thereof in the works of creation and providence; he proceeds to finish and close his general proposition of the argument of the epistle, by a brief intimation of his priestly office, with what he did therein, and what ensued thereon, in the remaining words of this verse.
And this order and method of the apostle, is required by the nature of the things themselves whereof he treats. For the work of purging sins, which as a priest he assigns unto him, cannot well be declared, without a previous manifestation of his divine nature. For it is opus Itardeixos, a work of him who is God and man. For as God takes it to be his property to blot out our sins, so he could not have done it by himself, had he not been man also: and this is asserted in the next words.
Δι' εαυτα καθαρισμου ποιησαμενος των αμαρτιων ημων. – Having by himself purged our sins." The vulgar Latin renders these words purgationem peccatorum faciens ; not without sundry mistakes. For, first, those words do savrs, by himself, and spee, our, are omitted ; and yet the emphasis and proper sense of the whole depends upon them. Secondly, teinsausvos, having made, is rendered in the present tense, making, which seems to direct the sense of the words to another thing and action of Christ, than what is here intended. And therefore the expositors of the Roman church, as Thomas, Lyranus, Cajetan, Estius, Ribera, A Lapide, all desert their own text, and expound the words according to the original. The ancients also, as Chrysostom, Theophilact and Oecumenius, lay the chief weight of their whole exposition of this place, on the words omitted in that translation.
The doctrine of purging our sins by Christ, is deep and large, extending itself unto many weighty heads of the gospel ; but we shall follow our apostle, and in this place pass it over briefly and in general, because the consideration of it will directly occur unto us in our progress.
Two things the apostle here expresseth concerning the Messiah; and one, which is the foundation of both the other, he implieth or supposeth. First, he expresseth what he did; he purged our sins. Secondly, how he did it, he did it by himself. That which he supposeth as the foundation of both these is, that he was the great high priest of the church; they with whom he dealt knowing full well, that this matter of purging sins, belonged only unto the priest.
Here then the apostle tacitly enters upon a comparison of Christ with Aaron, the high priest, as he had done before with