RPM, Volume 17, Number 17, April 19 to April 25, 2015

A Practical Exposition of The Lord's Prayer

VOL. r. Part 15

By Thomas Manton

Note: some of the "words" in the original text in unintelligible. We have left the original "words" just as they are presently found in the text.

1. We all of us once needed it; for we are not only criminal per sons liable to condemnation, but actually condemned in the sentence of God's law: John iii. 18, 'He that believeth not is condemned already.' Now, should not a condemned man make means to be pardoned? and should not we accept of God's terms, especially when there is but the slender thread of a frail life between us and execution? He that securely continues in his sins, despiseth both the curse of the law and the grace of the gospel. Oh, consider! nothing but a pardon will serve the turn not forbearance on God's part, nor forgetfulness on yours.

[1.] Not forbearance of the punishment on God's part. God may be angry with us while he doth not actually strike, as the psalmist saith: Ps. vii. 11-13, 'God is angry with the wicked every day; if he turn not he will whet his sword. He hath bent his bow and will make it ready.' God, who is a righteous judge, will not dispense with the offences of wicked men, by which he is continually affronted and provoked. Though in the day of his patience he doth for a while spare, yet he is ready to deal with them comminus, hand to hand, for he is sharpening his sword; emimts, at a distance, for he is bending his bow. The arrow is upon the string, and how soon he may let it fly we can not tell. We are never safe till we turn to him, and enter into his peace, and so the obligation to punishment be dissolved.

[2.] On our part, our senseless forgetfulness will do us no good. Carnal men mind not things which relate to God, or the happiness of their immortal souls; but they are not happy that feel least troubles, but they that have least cause. A benumbed conscience cannot challenge this blessedness. They put off the thoughts of that which God hath neither forgiven nor covered; and so do but skin the wound till it festers and rankles into a dangerous sore. Our best course is to see we be justified and pardoned.

2. The best of us still need it: partly because though we be justified, and our state be changed, yet renewed sins need a new pardon. We are still sinning against God either we are omitting good, or committing evil. What will we do if we be not forgiven? Renewed sins call for renewed repentance. We do not need another Redeemer, or another covenant, or another conversion; yet we do need renewed pardon, partly because our final sentence of pardon is not yet passed, nor shall be passed till the last judgment: Acts iii. 19, 'Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.' We are now pardoned and justified constitutively by the tenor of the new covenant, and there by description. The sincerity of our faith and repentance is not presently evident; it is possible, but difficult, to know that we are sincere penitent believers; but at last, when our pardon is actually pronounced by our judge's mouth, sitting on the throne, then all is clear, evident, plain, and open. And partly because daily infirmities call for daily repentance. We do not carry ourselves with that gravity and watchfulness, but that we need to cry for pardon every day.


Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. COL. I. 15.

THE apostle having mentioned our redemption, doth now fall upon a description of the Redeemer. He is set forth by two things:

First, His internal relation to God.

Secondly, By his external relation to the creature.

Doct. It is a great part of a believer's work to have a deep sense of the Redeemer's excellency imprinted upon his mind and heart.

Here I shall show: I. How it is set forth in this verse.

II. Why this should be much upon our minds and hearts.

I. How it is set forth in this scripture:

1. That he is 'the image of the invisible God.'

2. 'The first-born of every creature.'

For the first expression there I shall consider:

1. What belongs to an image.

2. In what respects Christ is the image of God.

3. How he differeth from other persons.

1. What belongeth to an image, and that all this is in Christ. In an image there are two things impression and representation. Both are in Christ. There is a divine impression upon him, and he doth represent God to us.

[1.] For impression, there is:

(1.) Likeness; for an image must be like him whom it representeth. An artificial image of God, or such as may be made by us, is forbidden upon this account: Isa. xl. 18, 'To whom, then, will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?' What is there among all the creatures that can be like such an infinite and almighty essence? or by what visible shape or figure would they represent or resemble God?

(2.) Deduction and derivation. The image is taken from him whom it is intended to represent. It is not some casual similitude between two men that have no reference or dependence one upon another; hut such as is between a father and his only-begotten son; as it is said of Adam, Gen. v. 1, 'He begat a son in his own image;' and so it is verified in Christ because of his eternal generation. Like him, because begotten of him.

(3.) There is not a likeness in a few things, but a complete and ex act likeness; so Christ, as the second person, is called, Heb. i. 3, 'The express image of his person.' There is not only likeness, but equality. God cannot make a creature equal to himself, nor beget a son unequal to himself.

[2.] Representation; for an image it serveth to make known and declare that thing whose image it is. If light produce light, the light produced doth represent the light and glory producing; and the more perfect and immediate the production is, the more perfect is the re semblance; a lively expression of the pattern and exemplar. And this is the reason why the word invisible is added, because God, who in his own nature is invisible, and incomprehensible to man, revealeth himself so far as is necessary to salvation to us by Christ. Visible things are known by their visible images, with more delight, but not with more accuracy. The image is not necessary to know the thing; but here it is otherwise. We cannot know God but by Christ: John i. 18, 'No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him' God is invisible, and incomprehensible by any but Jesus Christ, who being his only Son, and one in essence with the Father, he doth perfectly know him, and reveal unto mankind all that they know of him. Thus you see what belongs to an image.

2. In what respects Christ is the image of God.

[1.] In respect of his eternal generation. So Christ is 'the express image of his person' not substance, but subsistence. We do not say that milk is like milk, nor one egg like another, because they are of the same substance; so Christ is not said to be of the same substance, but of the same subsistence. He is, indeed, of the same substance with him whom he doth resemble, but the image is with respect to the subsistence; so he resembleth the Father fully and perfectly. There is no perfection in the Father but the same is in the Son also. He is eternal, omnipotent, infinite in wisdom, goodness, and power.

[2.] As God incarnate, or manifested in our flesh; so the perfections of the Godhead shine forth in the man Christ Jesus, in his person, word, and works.

(1.) In his person. They that had a discerning eye might see something divine in Christ: John i. 14, 'We beheld his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father.' There is the as of similitude, and the as of corigruity; as if a mean man taketh state upon him, we say he behaveth himself as a king, but if we say -the same of a king indeed, we mean he behaveth himself king-like, that is, becoming the majesty of his high calling. So we beheld his glory as, &c., that is, such a glory as was suitable and becoming God's only Son. So Christ was angry with his disciples because they were too importunate to see the Father, though they saw him ordinarily, conversing with him: John xiv. 7, 'If ye had known me ye should have known my Father also, and from henceforth ye know him and have seen him.' The Father is no otherwise to be known but as he hath revealed himself in Christ; and having seen and known Christ, who was his image, they might both see and know him; and when Philip saith 'Show us the Father arid it suflficeth us' this will convince us all without further argument Christ answereth, ver. 9, 'He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.' They might see the Father's infinite power acting in him, his wisdom teaching by him, his goodness in the whole strain of his life; so that in Christ becoming man, God doth in and by him represent all his own attributes and properties, his wisdom, goodness, and power.

(2.) In his word; where God is revealed to us savingly, so as we may be brought into communion with him, so it is said, 'lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,' 2 Cor. iv. 4. As God shineth forth in Christ, so doth Christ shine forth in the gospel. There we have the record of his doctrine, miracles, and the end for which he came into the world; and this is the great instrument by which the virtue and power of God is conveyed to us, for the changing of our hearts and lives: 2 Cor. iii. 18, 'Beholding the glory of the Lord as in a glass, we are changed into his -image and likeness, from glory to glory.' Some sight of God we must have, or else we cannot be like him: the knowledge or sight of God with mortal or bodily eyes is impossible; the external manifestations and representations in the creature is imperfect, and sufficeth rather for conviction than conversion, or to leave us without excuse, than to save the soul, Rom. xii. 1 (they have not the excuse of fault less ignorance). To know him in the law, or covenant of works, doth but work wrath, Rom. iv. 15, or revive in us a stinging sense of our hopeless condition. To know him in person, or to see his glorious works, or hear his glorious words, was a privilege vouchsafed but to few, and to many that made no good use of it; therefore there is only reserved his word to bring us into communion with God, or the glass of the gospel to represent the glory of the Lord, that we may be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; there the knowledge of God is held out powerfully in order to our salvation.

(3.) His works all which in their whole tenure and contexture showed him to be God-man. If at any time there appeared any evidence of human weakness, lest the world should be offended and stumble thereat, he did at the same time give out some notable demonstrations of his divine power. When he lay in a manger at his birth, a star appeared, and angels proclaimed his birth to the shepherds; when he was swaddled as an infant, the wise men came and worshipped him; when he was in danger of suffering shipwreck, he commanded the winds and the waves, and they obeyed him; when he was tempted by Satan, he was ministered unto by the angels, Mat. iv. 11; when they demanded tribute for the temple, a fish brought it to him, Mat. xvii. 26; when he was deceived in the fig-tree (which, was an infirmity of human ignorance), he suddenly blasted it, discovering the glory of a divine power; when he hung dying on the cross, the rocks were rent, the graves opened, the sun darkened, and all nature put into a rout. Though he humbled himself to purchase our mercies, yet he assured our faith by some emissions and breakings forth of his divine power. Well, then, though it be our duty to seek and find out God's track and foot-print in the whole creation, and to observe the impressions of his wisdom, goodness, and power, in all the saints; especially this is our duty to admire his image in Jesus Christ, for in his humanity the perfections of the Godhead shine forth in the highest lustre. Whatever perfection we conceive to be in his person, word, or works, the same may we conclude to be in the Father also. Did the winds and seas obey Christ? the whole creation is at the beck of God. Did Christ show himself to be the wisdom, goodness and power of God? surely God is infinitely wise. Was Christ holy and undefiled? surely so is God light in whom is no darkness at all. Was Christ loving, pitiful, and compassionate, not abhorring the most vile and miserable, whether in soul or body, that came to him for relief? surely God is love, and he will not be strange to those that seek him in Christ.

3. How he differeth from other persons; for the saints also are made after the image of God: Col. iii. 10, 'And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him;' Eph. iv. 24, 'And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.' I answer, There is a great difference between the image of God in man and the image of God in Christ.

[1.] Man resembleth God hut imperfectly. Man was made, and is now made, after the image of God, but with much abatement of this high perfection which is in Christ, for he hath all the substantial perfection which his Father hath. In other creatures there is some resemblance, but no equality: other creatures are made like God, but he is begotten like God.

[2.] It is derivative from Christ. God would recover man out of his lapsed estate by setting up a pattern of holiness in our nature: Rom. viii. 29, 'Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.' None was fit to restore this image of God that was lost, but God incarnate, for thereby the glory of God was again visible in our nature. God is a pure spirit, and we are creatures, that have indeed an immortal soul, but it dwelleth in flesh; therefore to make us like God, 'the Word was made flesh,' that he might represent the perfections of God to us, and commend holiness by his own example.

Secondly, The next thing ascribed to Christ is that he is 'the first born of every creature:' that is, born of God before any creature had a being, or begotten of the Father of his own proper essence, and equal with him before anything was created and brought forth out of nothing. But here the adversaries of the eternal Godhead of Christ triumph, and say, The first-born of the creatures is a creature, one of the same kind. I answer If we grant this that they allege, they gain nothing, 'for Christ had two natures he was God-man. As God, he is the Creator, and not a creature; for the apostle proveth that 'by him all things were made:' but as man, so he is indeed a creature. This double consideration must not be forgotten: Rom. i. 3, 4. Our Lord Jesus Christ was 'made of the seed of David according to the flesh, but declared to be the Son of God, with power according to the Spirit;' therefore we must distinguish between Christ and Christ, what he is according to the Spirit, and what he is according to the flesh.

2. I answer That metaphors must be taken in the sense in which they are intended. Now what is the apostle's intention in giving Christ the appellation of the first-born?

Four things are implied by this metaphor: Identity of nature. Likeness of original. Antiquity. Dignity.

Nothing else can be insinuated into the mind of man by such a form of speech but identity and sameness of nature between the brethren, which is true as to Christ's humanity: Heb. ii. 14, 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same;' or else sameness of stock, which is true also, for the same reason: Heb. ii. 11, 'For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren;' or priority of time, for the first-born is before all the rest; or else dignity, authority, and pre-eminence. Now, which of these doth the apostle intend? The two last the pre-existence of Christ before anything was made, as appeareth by this reason, ver. 16, 'For by him all things were made, whether they be in heaven or in earth;' and also his dignity and authority above them, as appeareth by the frequent use of the word. For the first-born in families had authority over the rest. When Jacob had got the birthright, this was a part of Isaac's blessing: Gen. xxvii. 29, 'Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee.' Sovereignty was implied in the birthright, so David is called 'the first-born of the kings of the earth,' Ps. Ixxxix. 27, as the most glorious amongst them. So here nothing else is intended but that Christ is in time and dignity before all creatures.

Thirdly, Though Christ be called the first-born of every creature, it doth not imply that he is to be reckoned as one of them, or accounted a creature. It is true, when it is said, Horn. viii. 29, that 'he is the first-born among many brethren,' it implieth that he is head of the renewed estate, that he and all new creatures are of the same kind allowing him the dignity of his rank and degree; for God is his God, and their God his Father and their Father. But here it is not the first-born amongst the creatures, but the first-born of every creature. And for further confirmation, here is not identity of nature, for he is not at all of the same nature with the angels those principalities and thrones, dominions and powers, spoken of in the next verse nor issued of the same stock with any of them. Mark, he is called the first-born, not first created, which must be understood of his divine nature and eternal generation of the Father before all creatures. The creatures are not begotten and born of God, but made by him. So Christ is primogenitus that is, unigenitus, the first-born, that only-begotten. In the following verse he is brought in, not as a creature, but the creator of all things. The first-born is not the cause of the rest of the children. Peter was the first-born, yet may be a brother to James and John, but not a father to them. Now all the rest of the creatures are created and produced by him; he is not reckoned among them as one of them he is the image of the invisible God.

II. Why this excellency of our Redeemer should be so deeply impressed upon our minds and hearts? For many reasons.

1. This is needful to show his sufficiency to redeem the world. The party offended is God, who is of infinite majesty; the favour to be purchased is the everlasting fruition of God; and the sentence to be reversed is the sentence of everlasting punishment. Therefore there needed some valuable satisfaction to be given to reconcile these things to our thoughts; that we may be confident that we shall have redemption by his blood, even the remission of sins. There are three things that commend the value of Christ's sacrifice the dignity of his person, the greatness of his sufferings, and the merit of his obedience. But the two latter without the former will little quiet the heart of scrupulous men. His sufferings were great, but temporary and finite the merit of his obedience much; but how shall the virtue of it reach all the world? And if he be but a mere creature, he hath done what he ought to do. I confess a fourth thing may be added God's institution, which availeth to the end for which God hath appointed it; but the scripture insists most on the first the dignity of his person which putteth a value on his sacrifice: Acts xx. 18; Heb. ix. 13, 14; at least there is an intrinsic worth. This answers all objections. His sufferings were temporary and finite; but it is the blood of God, he hath offered up himself through the eternal Spirit.

2. To work upon our love, that Christ may have the chief room in our hearts. There is no such argument to work upon our love as that God over all, blessed for ever, should come to relieve man in such a condescending way: 1 John iii. 16, 'Hereby we perceive the love which God hath to us, in that he laid down his life for us:' that very person that died for us was God. There was power discovered in the creation, when God made us like himself out of the dust of the ground; but love in our redemption, when he made himself like us. The per son that was to work out our deliverance was the eternal Son of God. That God that owes nothing to man, and was so much offended by man, and that stood in no need of man, having infinite happiness and contentment in himself, that he should come and die for us! Hereby perceive we the love of God. When we consider what Christ is, we shall most admire what he hath done for us.

Thirdly, That we may give Christ his due honour; for God will have all men to honour the Son as they honour the Father, John v. 23, he being equal in power and glory. The setting forth of his glory is a rent due to him from all creatures. We are to praise him both in word and deed, in mind, and heart, and practice, which we can never do unless we understand the dignity of his person. We are apt to have low thoughts of Christ, therefore we should often revive the considerations that may represent his worth and excellency.

Fourthly, That we may place all hope of salvation in him, and may make use of him to the ends which he came to accomplish. We can hardly consider the work of redemption but some base thoughts arise in our minds, nor entertain this mystery, with due respect to the truth, and greatness, and admirableness of it, without raising our thoughts to the consideration of the dignity of the person who is to accomplish it: Heb. iii. 1, 'Therefore, brethren, consider the Lord Jesus, the great high priest and apostle of our profession.'

Fifthly, That we may the better understand two things:

1. The humiliation of the Son of God.

2. The way how we may recover the lost image of God.

1. The humiliation of the Son of God. Certainly, he that came to redeem us was the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his person. Now, how did he humble himself? Was he not still the image of God in our nature? Yes, but the divine glory and majesty was hidden under the veil of our flesh: little of it did appear, and that only to those who narrowly did observe him; the brightness of his glory did not conspicuously shine forth. Was this all? No; his dignity was lessened; there was capitis diminution, the lessening of a man's estate or condition, as of a man degraded from the senatorian order to the degree of knight, thence to the plebeian. Thus was the eternal Son of God lessened, less than God, as mediator: John xiv. 28, 'My Father is greater than I.' As God incarnate he took an office designed to him by God, and obeyed him in all things. They were one in essence, John x. 30; yet with respect to his office to save souls, he was lessened. Nay, not only less than God, but lesser than the angels: Heb. ii. 7, 'He was made a little lower than the angels.' Not born so, but made so. Man is inferior to an angel as a man in the rank and order of beings; the angels die not: therefore his incarnation and liableness to death is a great lessening of his dignity; so not in respect of office only, but human nature assumed.

2. It showeth us how the image of God may be recovered; if we be changed into the likeness of Christ, for he is the image of God. His merit should not only be precious to us, but his example. It is a great advantage not only to have a rule but an example; because man is so prone to imitate, that an example in our nature maketh it the more operative. His excuse is ready at hand: we are flesh and blood what would you have us do? Therefore Christ came incarnate to be an example of holiness. He had the interests of flesh and blood to mind as well as we; and so would show that a holy life is possible to those that are renewed by his grace. He obeyed God in our nature; therefore in the same nature we may obey, please, and glorify God, though still in a self-denying manner. The foundation of it is laid in the new birth. The Spirit that formed Christ out of the substance of the Virgin, the same Spirit is ready to form Christ in you. He maketh new creatures; so that there is not only Christ's example, but Christ's power.

Use 1. Then let the excellency and dignity of Christ's person be more upon your minds and hearts; think often of those two notions in the text that he is the image of the invisible God, that therein you may be like him. You cannot be the image of God so as he was, but you must be in your measure. 'The fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily,' but you must be 'partakers of the divine nature' He showed himself to be the Son of God by his works, when the Jews said he blasphemed when he said he was the Son of God: John x. 27, c If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.' He allowed them to doubt of them, if he did not those works which were proper to one sent from God. Certainly this is the glory of man, to be the image of God; there is no greater perfection than to live in the nearest resemblance to his Creator. Christ is more excellent, because he hath more of the image of God upon him.

2. Consider, again, that he is Lord of the whole creation, and there fore called 'the first-born of every creature.' Well, then, we should be subject to him, and with greater diligence apply ourselves to the obedience of his holy laws, and use the means appointed by him to obtain the blessedness offered to us. There is in us a natural sentiment of the authority of God, and we have a dread upon our hearts if we do what he hath forbidden; but we have not so deep a sense of the authority of Christ, and play fast and loose with religion, as fancy and humour and interest lead us. Now, from this argument, you see we should honour the Son as we honour the Father, and be as tender of his institutions as we are of the commandments evident by natural light; for he is not only the messenger of God, but his express image, and the first-born of every creature. Not to believe him, and obey him, and love him, is to sin, not only against our duty, but our remedy and the law of our recovery.


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. I. 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 com pared, though there be no relation between them. So David is called 'the first-born of the kings of the earth' Ps. Ixxxix. 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,' &c. 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 c 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, the 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, 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, 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; but 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 sub stance; 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. There fore, 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 1 of the Son, as well as for the honour of the Father and the Holy Ghost. Now this is necessary to be 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 over rule 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 to their proper end. His works are many, and some are more excel lent 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 three 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 i., 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 days 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 be 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 G-od'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!

2. 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. Ixviii. 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, &c., 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 be 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. There fore, 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.

Subscribe to RPM
RPM subscribers receive an email notification each time a new issue is published. Notifications include the title, author, and description of each article in the issue, as well as links directly to the articles. Like RPM itself, subscriptions are free. Click here to subscribe.