« Prev Chapter XI. Of the work of creation assigned to… Next »

Chapter XI.

Of the work of creation assigned to Jesus Christ, etc. — The confirmation of his eternal deity from thence.

The scriptures which assign the creating of all things to Jesus Christ they propose as the next testimony of his deity whereunto they desire to give in their exceptions. To these they annex them wherein it is affirmed that he brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, and that he was with them in the wilderness; with one particular out of Isaiah, compared with the account given of it in the gospel, about the prophet’s seeing the glory of Christ. Of those which are of the first sort they instance in John i. 3, 10; Col. i. 16, 17; Heb. i. 2, 10–12.

The first and second of these I have already vindicated, in the consideration of them as they lay in their conjuncture with them going before in verse 1; proceed we therefore to the third, which is Col. i. 16, 17, “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: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

1. That these words are spoken of Jesus Christ is acknowledged. The verses foregoing prevent all question thereof: “He hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature: for by him were all things,” etc.

2. In what sense Christ is the “image of the invisible God,” even the “express image of his Father’s person,” shall be afterward declared. The other part of the description of him belongs to that which we 266have in hand. He is πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, — “the first-born of every creature;” that is, before them all, above them all, heir of them all, and so none of them. It is not said he is πρωτόκτιστος, first created, but πρωτότοκος, the first-born. Now, the term “first” in the Scripture represents either what follows, and so denotes an order in the things spoken of, he that is the first being one of them, as Adam was the first man; or it respects things going before, in which sense it denies all order or series of things in the same kind. So God is said to be the “first,” Isa. xli. 4, because before him there was none, Isa. xliii. 10. And in this sense is Christ the “first-born,” — so the first-born as to be the “only-begotten Son of God,” John iii. 18. This the apostle proves and gives an account of in the following verses; for the clearing of his intendment wherein a few things may be premised:—

1. Though he speaks of him who is Mediator, and describes him, yet he speaks not of him as Mediator; for that he enters upon verse 18, “And he is the head of the body, the church,” etc.

2. That the things whose creation is here assigned unto Jesus Christ are evidently contradistinguished to the things of the church, or new creation, which are mentioned verse 18. Here he is said to be the “first-born of every creature;” there, the “first-born from the dead;” — here, to make all things; there, to be “the head of the body, the church.”

3. The creation of all things simply and absolutely is most emphatically expressed:— (1.) In general: “By him all things were created.” (2.) A distribution is made of those “all things” into “all things that are in heaven and that are in earth;” which is the common expression of all things that were made at the beginning, Exod. xx. 11, Acts iv. 24. (3.) A description is given of the things so created according to two adjuncts which divide all creatures whatever, — whether they are “visible or invisible.” (4.) An enumeration is in particular made of one sort, of things invisible; which being of greatest eminency and dignity, might seem, if any, to be exempted from the state and condition of being created by Jesus Christ: “Whether they be thrones,” etc. (5.) This distribution and enumeration being closed, the general assumption is again repeated, as having received confirmation from what was said before: “All things were created by him,” of what sort soever, whether expressed in the enumeration foregoing or no; all things were created by him. They were created for him εἰς αὐτόν, as it is said of the Father, Rom. xi. 36; which, Rev. iv. 11, is said to be for his will and “pleasure.” (6.) For a farther description of him, verse 17, his pre-existence before all things, and his providence in supporting them and continuing that being to them which he gave them by creation, are asserted: “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

267Let us consider, then, what is excepted hereunto by them with whom we have to do. Thus they, —

Q. What dost thou answer to this place?

A. Besides this, that this testimony speaks of Christ as of the mediate and second cause, it is manifest the words “were created” are used in Scripture, not only concerning the old, but also the new creation; of which you have an example, Eph. ii. 10, 15, James i. 18. Moreover, that these words, “All things in heaven and in earth,” are not used for all things altogether, appeareth, not only from the words subjoined a little after, verse 20, where the apostle saith, that “by him are all things reconciled in heaven and in earth,” but also from those words themselves, wherein the apostle said not that the heavens and earth were created, but “all things that are in heaven and in earth.”

Q. But how dost thou understand that testimony?

A. On that manner wherein all things that are in heaven and in earth were reformed by Christ, after God raised him from the dead, and by him translated into another state and condition; and this whereas God gave Christ to be head to angels and men, who before acknowledged God only for their lord.334334   “Quid ad tertium? — Præter id, quod et hoc testimonium loquatur de Christo tanquam media et secunda causa, verbum creata sunt, non solum de vetere, verum etiam de nova creatione in Scriptura usurpari constat; cujus rei exempla habes, Eph. ii. 10, 15, Jac. i. 18. Præterea ea verbs, Omnia in cœlis et in terra, non usurpari pro omnibus prorsus, apparet non solum ex verbis paulo inferius subjectis, ver. 20, ubi apostolus ait, quod per eum reconciliata sint omnia in cœlis et in terra, verum etiam ex iis ipsis verbis, in quibus apostolus non ait, cœlum et terram creata esse, verum ea omnia quæ in cœlis et in terra sunt.
   “Qui vero istud testimonium intelligis? — Ad eum modum quo per Christum omnia quæ sunt in cœlis et in terra postquam eum Deus a mortuis excitavit, reformata sunt, et in alium statum et conditionem translata; id vero cum Deus et angelis et hominibus Christum caput dederit, qui antea tantum Deum solum pro domino agnoverunt.

What there is either in their exceptions or exposition of weight to take off this evident testimony shall briefly be considered.

1. The first exception, of the kind of causality which is here ascribed to Christ, hath already been considered and removed, by manifesting the very same kind of expression, about the same things, to be used concerning God the Father. 2. Though the word creation be used concerning the new creation, yet it is in places where it is evidently and distinctly spoken of in opposition to the former state wherein they were who were so created. But here, as was above demonstrated, the old creation is spoken of in direct distinction from the new, which the apostle describes and expresses in other terms, verse 20; if that may be called the new creation which lays a foundation of it, as the death of Christ doth of regeneration; and unless it be in that cause, the work of the new creation is not spoken of at all in this place. 3. Where Christ is said “to reconcile all things unto himself, whether things in earth, or things in heaven,” he speaks plainly and evidently of another work, distinct from that which he had described in these verses; and whereas reconciliation supposes a past enmity, the “all things” mentioned in the 20th verse can be none but those which were sometime at enmity with God. Now, none but men 268that ever had any enmity against God, or were at enmity with him, were ever reconciled to God. It is, then, men in heaven and earth, to whose reconciliation, in their several generations, the efficacy of the blood of Christ did extend, that are there intended. 4. Not [only] heaven and earth are named, but “all things in them,” as being most immediately expressive of the apostle’s purpose, who, naming all things in general, chose to instance in angels and men, as also insisting on the expression which is used concerning the creation of all things in sundry places, as hath been showed, though he mentions not all the words in them used.

[As] for the exposition they give of these words, it is most ridiculous; for, — 1. The apostle doth not speak of Christ as he is exalted after his resurrection, but describes him in his divine nature and being. 2. To translate out of one condition into another is not to create the thing so translated, though another new thing it may be. When a man is made a magistrate, we do not say he is made a man but he is made a magistrate. 3. The new creation, which they here affirm to be spoken of, is by no means to be accommodated unto angels. In both the places mentioned by themselves, and in all places where it is spoken of, it is expressive of a change from bad to good, from evil actions to grace, and is the same with regeneration or conversion, which cannot be ascribed to angels, who never sinned nor lost their first habitation. 4. The dominion of Christ over angels and men is nowhere called a new creation, nor is there any colour or pretence why it should be so expressed.335335   “Ea quæ in cœlis sunt personæ (quæ subjecæ sunt Christo), sunt angeli, iique tam boni quam mali: quæ in cœlis sunt, et personæ non sunt, omnia ilia continent quæcunque extra angelos vel sunt, vel etiam esse possunt.” — Smalc. de Divin. Christi, cap. xvi. de regno Christi super angelos. 5. The new creation is “in Christ,” 2 Cor. v. 17; but to be “in Christ” is to be implanted into him by the Holy Spirit by believing, which by no means can be accommodated to angels. 6. If only the dominion of Christ be intended, then, whereas Christ’s dominion is, according to our adversaries (Smalc. de Divin. Christi, cap. xvi.), extended over all creatures, men, angels, devils, and all other things in the world, men, angels, devils, and all things, are new creatures! 7. Socinus says that by “principalities and powers” devils are intended. And what advancement may they be supposed to have obtained by the new creation? The devils were created, that is, delivered! There is no end of the folly and absurdities of this interpretation: I shall spend no more words about it. Our argument from this place stands firm and unshaken.

Grotius abides by his friends in the interpretation of this place, wresting it to the new creature and the dominion of Christ over all, against all the reasons formerly insisted on, and with no other argument 269than what he was from the Socinians supplied withal. His words on the place are:— “It is certain that all things were created by the Word; but those things that go before show that Christ is here treated of, which is the name of a man, as Chrysostom also understood this place. But he would have it that the world was made for Christ, in a sense not corrupt; but on the account of that which went before, ἐκτίσθη is better interpreted ‘were ordained,’ or ‘obtained a certain new state.’ ”336336   “Certum est per Verbum creata omnia; sed quæ præcedunt, ostendunt hic de Christo agi, quod hominis est nomen; quomodo etiam Chrysostomus hunc accepit locum. Sed hle intelligit mundum creatum propter Christum, sensu non malo: sed propter id quod præcessit, rectius est ἐκτίσθη hic interpretari, ordinata sunt, — novum quendam statum sunt consecuta.” — Grotius in Col. i. 16. So he, in almost the very words of Socinus. But, —

1. In what sense “all things were created by the Word,” and what Grotius intends by the “Word,” I shall speak elsewhere. 2. Is Christ the name of a man only? or of him who is only a man? Or is he a man only as he is Christ? If he would have spoken out to this, we might have had some light into his meaning in many other places of his Annotations. The apostle tells us that Christ is “over all, God blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5; and that Jesus Christ was “declared to be the Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead,” chap. i. 4. If “Christ” denote the person of our mediator, Christ is God, and what is spoken of Christ is spoken of him who is God. But this is that which is aimed at: The Word, or Wisdom of God, bears eminent favour towards that man Jesus Christ; but that he was any more than a man, that is, the union of the natures of God and man in one person, is denied. 3. The words before are so spoken of Christ as that they call him the Son of God, and the image of the invisible God, and the first-born of the creation; which though he was who was a man, yet he was not as he was a man. 4. All the arguments we have insisted on, and farther shall insist on (by God’s assistance), to prove the deity of Christ, with all the texts of Scripture wherein it is plainly affirmed, do evince the vanity of this exception, “Christ is the name of a man; therefore the things spoken of him are not proper and peculiar to God.” 5. Into Chrysostom’s exposition of this place I shall not at present inquire, though I am not without reason to think he is wronged; but that the word here translated “created” may not, cannot be rendered ordained, or placed in a new state and condition, I have before sufficiently evinced, neither doth Grotius add any thing to evince his interpretation of the place, or to remove what is objected against it.

1. He tells us that of that sense of the word κτίζειν, he hath spoken in his Prolegomena to the Gospels; and urges Eph. ii. 10, 13, iii. 9, iv. 24, to prove the sense proposed. (1.) It is confessed that God doth sometimes express the exceeding greatness of his power and efficacy of his 270grace in the regeneration of a sinner, and enabling him to live to God, by the word “create,” — whence such a person is sometimes called the “new creature,” — according to the many promises of the Old Testament, of creating a new heart in the elect, whom he would take into covenant with himself, — a truth which wraps that in its bowels whereunto Grotius was no friend; but that this new creation can be accommodated to the things here spoken of is such a figment as so learned a man might have been ashamed of. The constant use of the word in the New Testament is that which is proper, and that which in this place we insist on: as Rom. i. 25; 1 Tim. iv. 3; Rev. iv. 11. (2.) Eph. ii. 10 speaks of the “new creature” in the sense declared; which is not illustrated by verse 13, which is quite of another import. Chap. iv. 24 is to the same purpose. Chap. iii. 9, the creation of all things, simply and absolutely, is ascribed to God; which to wrest to a new creation there is no reason, but what arises from opposition to Jesus Christ, because it is ascribed also to him.

2. The latter part of the verse he thus illustrates, or rather obscures: Τὰ πάντα δἰ αὐτοῦ, intellige omnia quæ ad novam creationem pertinent.” How causelessly, how without ground, how contrary to the words and scope of the place, hath been showed. Καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται, propter ipsum, ut ipse omnibus illis præesset, Rev. v. 13, Heb. ii. 8. This is to go forward in an ill way. (1.) What one instance can he give of this sense of the expression opened? The words, as hath been showed, are used of God the Father, Rom. xi. 36, and are expressive of absolute sovereignty, as Rev. iv. 11. (2.) The texts cited by him to exemplify the sense of this place (for they are not instanced in to explain the phrase, which is not used in them) do quite evert his whole gloss. In both places the dominion of Christ is asserted over the whole creation; and particularly, in Rev. v. 13, things in heaven, earth, under the earth, and in the sea, are recounted. I desire to know whether all these are made new creatures or no. If not, it is not the dominion of Christ over them that is here spoken of; for he speaks only of them that he created.

Of the 17th verse he gives the same exposition: Καὶ αὐτός ἐστι πρὸ πάντων, id est, Α et Ω, ut ait Apoc. i. 8, πρὸ πάντων, intellige ut jam diximus.” Not contented to pervert this place, he draws another into society with it, wherein he is more highly engaged than our catechists, who confess that place robe spoken of the eternity of God: “Καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκε Et hæc vox de veteri creatione ad novam traducitur. Vid. 2 Pet. iii. 5.” Prove it by any one instance; or, if that may not be done, beg no more in a matter of this importance. In Peter it is used of the existence of all things by the power of God, in and upon their creation; and so also here, but spoken with reference to Jesus Christ, who is “God over all, blessed for ever.” And so much for the vindication of this testimony.

271Heb. i. 2 is nextly mentioned, “By whom also he made the worlds.”

That these words are spoken of Christ is not denied. They are too express to bear any exception on that account. That God is said to make the world by Christ doth not at all prejudice what we intend from this place. God could no way make the world by Christ but as he was his own eternal Wisdom; which exempts him from the condition of a creature. Besides, as it is said that God made the world by him, denoting the subordination of the Son to the Father and his being his Wisdom, as he is described Prov. viii.; so also the Word is said to make the world, as a principal efficient cause himself, John i. 3 and Heb. i. 10. The word here used is αἰῶνας. That αἰών is of various acceptations in the New Testament is known. A duration of time, an age, eternity, are sometimes expressed thereby; the world, the beginning of it, or its creation, as John ix. 32. In this place it signifies not “time” simply and solely, but the things created in the “beginning of time” and “in all times;” and so expressly the word is used, Heb. xi. 3. The framing αἰώνων, is the creation of the world; which by faith we come to know. “The worlds,” that is, the world and all in it, were made by Christ.

Let us now hear our catechists:—

Q. How dost thou answer to this testimony?

A. On this manner, that it is here openly written, not that Christ made, but that God by Christ made the worlds. It is also confessed that the word “secula” may signify not only the ages past and present, but also to come. But that here it signifies things future is demonstrated from hence, that the same author affirmeth that by him whom God appointed heir of all things he made the worlds: for Jesus of Nazareth was not made heir of all things before he raised him from the dead; which appears from hence, because then all power in heaven and in earth was given him of God the Father; in which grant of power, and not in any other thing, that inheritance of all things is contained.337337   “Qui respondes ad quartum testimonium? — Eo pacto, quod hic palam scripture sit, non Christum fecisse, sed Deum per Christum fecisse secula Vocem vero secula non solum præsentia et præterita, verum etiam futura significare posse, in confesso est. Hic vero de futuris agi id demonstrat, quod idem autor affirmet per eum quem hæredem universorum constituerit Deus, etiam secula eese condita; nam Jesus Nazarenus non prius constitutus hæres universorum fuit, quam eum Deus a mortuis excitavit, quod hinc patet, quod tum demum omnis potestas in cœlo et in terra eidem data a Deo Patre fuerit, cujus potestatis donatione, et non alia re, ista universorum hæreditas continetur.

1. For the first exception, it hath been sufficiently spoken to already; and if nothing else but the pre-existence of Christ unto the whole creation be hence proved, yet the cause of our adversaries is by it destroyed for ever. This exception might do some service to the Arians; to Socinians it will do none at all. 2. The word “secula” signifies not things future anywhere. This is gratis dictum, and cannot be proved by any instance. “The world to come” may do so, but “the world” simply doth not. That it doth not so signify in this 272place is evident from these considerations:— (1.) These words, “By whom he made the worlds,” are given as a reason why God made him “heir of all things,” — even because by him he made all things; which is no reason at all, if you understand only heavenly things by “the worlds” here: which also removes the last exception of our catechists, that Christ was appointed heir of all things antecedently to his making of the world; which is most false, this being given as a reason of that, — his making of the world of his being made heir of all things. Besides, this answer, that Christ made not the world until his resurrection, is directly opposite to that formerly given by them to Col. i. 16, where they would have him to be said to make all things because of the reconciliation he made by his death, verse 20. (2.) The same word or expression in the same epistle is used for the world in its creation, as was before observed, chap. xi. 3; which makes it evident that the apostle in both places intends the same. (3.) Αἰών is nowhere used absolutely for “the world to come;” which being spoken of in this epistle, is once called οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν, chap. ii. 5, and ἀιῶνα μέλλοντα, chap. vi. 5, but nowhere absolutely ἀιῶνα or ἀιῶνας. (4.) “The world to come” is nowhere said to be made, nor is this expression used of it. It is said, chap. ii. 5, to be put into subjection to Christ, not to be made by him; and chap. vi. 5, the “powers” of it are mentioned, not its creation. (5.) That is said to be made by Christ which he upholds with the word of his power; but this is said simply to be all things: “He upholdeth all things by the word of his power,” chap. i. 3. (6.) This plainly answers the former expressions insisted on, “He made the world,” “He made all things,” etc. So that this text also lies as a two-edged sword at the very heart of the Socinian cause.

Grotius seeing that this interpretation could not be made good, yet being no way willing to grant that making of the world is ascribed to Christ, relieves his friends with one evasion more than they were aware of. It is, that δι’ οὗ, “by whom,” is put for δι’ ὂ, “for whom,” or for whose sake; and ἐποίησε is to be rendered by the preterpluperfect tense, “he had made.” And so the sense is, “God made the world for Christ;” which answereth an old saying of the Hebrews, “That the world was made for the Messiah.”

But what will not great wits give a colour to! 1. Grotius is not able to give me one instance in the whole New Testament where δι’ οὗ is taken for δι’ ὂ: and if it should be so anywhere, himself would confess that it must have some cogent circumstance to enforce that construction, as all places must have where we go off from the propriety of the word. 2. If δι’ οὗ be put for δι’ ὂ διὰ must be put for εἰς, as, in the opinion of Beza, it is once in the place quoted by Grotius, and so signify the final cause, as he makes δι’ ὅν, to do. Now, the Holy Ghost doth expressly distinguish between these two in 273this business of making the world, Rom. xi. 36, Δἰ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα: so that, doubtless, in the same matter, one of these is not put for the other. 3. Why must ἐποίησε be “condiderat?” and what example can be given of so rendering that aoristus? If men may say what they please, without taking care to give the least probability to what they say, these things may pass. 4. If the apostle must be supposed to allude to any opinion or saying of the Jews, it is much more probable that he alluded, in the word αἰῶνας, which he uses, to the threefold world they mention in their liturgy, — the lower, middle, and higher world, or [residence of the] souls of the blessed, — or the fourfold, mentioned by Rab. Alschech: “Messias prosperabitur, vocabulum est quod quatuor mundos complectitur; qui sunt mundus inferior, mundus angelorum, mundus sphærarum, et mundus supremus,” etc. But of this enough.

Though this last testimony be sufficient to confound all gainsayers, and to stop the mouths of men of common ingenuity, yet it is evident that our catechists are more perplexed with that which follows in the same chapter; which, therefore, they insist longer upon than on any one single testimony besides, — with what success comes now to be considered.

The words are, Heb. i. 10–12, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” That these words of the psalmist are spoken concerning Christ we have the testimony of the apostle applying them to him; wherein we are to acquiesce. The thing also is clear in itself, for they are added in his discourse of the deliverance of the church; which work is peculiar to the Son of God, and where that is mentioned, it is he who eminently is intended. Now, very many of the arguments wherewith the deity of Christ is confirmed are wrapped up in these words:— 1. His name, Jehovah, is asserted: “Thou, Lord;” for of him the psalmist speaks, though he repeats not that word. 2. His eternity and pre-existence to his incarnation: “Thou, Lord, in the beginning,” — that is, before the world was made. 3. His omnipotence and divine power in the creation of all things: “Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.” 4. His immutability: “Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail;” as Mal. iii. 6. 5. His sovereignty and dominion over all: “As a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed.” Let us now see what darkness they are able to pour forth upon this sun shining in its strength.

Q. What dost thou answer to this testimony?

A. To this testimony I answer, that it is not to be understood of Christ, but of 274God. But because this writer refers it to the Son of God, it is to be considered that the discourse in this testimony is expressly about not one, but two things chiefly. The one is the creation of heaven and earth; the other, the abolishing of created things. Now, that that author doth not refer the first unto Christ is hence evident, because in that chapter he proposeth to himself to demonstrate the excellency of Christ above the angels; not that which he hath of himself, but that which he had by inheritance, and whereby he is made better than the angels, as is plain to any one, verse 4; of which kind of excellence seeing that the creation of heaven and earth is not, nor can be, it appeareth manifestly that this testimony is not urged by this writer to prove that Christ created heaven and earth. Seeing, therefore, the first part cannot be referred to Christ, it appeareth that the latter only is to be referred to him, and that because by him God will abolish heaven and earth, when by him he shall execute the last judgment, whereby the excellency of Christ above angels shall be so conspicuous that the angels themselves shall in that very thing serve him. And seeing this last speech could not be understood without those former words, wherein mention is made of heaven and earth, being joined to them by this word “they,” therefore the author had a necessity to make mention of them also; for if other holy writers do after that manner cite the testimonies of Scripture, compelled by no necessity, much more was this man to do it, being compelled thereunto.

Q. But where have the divine writers done this?

A. Amongst many other testimonies take Matt. xii. 18–21, where it is most manifest that only verse 19 belongeth to the purpose of the evangelist, when he would prove why Christ forbade that he should be made known. So Acts ii. 17–21, where also verses 17, 18, only do make to the apostle’s purpose, which is to prove that the Holy Ghost was poured forth on the disciples; and there also, verses 25–28, where verse 27 only is to the purpose, the apostle proving only that it was impossible that Christ should be detained of death. Lastly, in this very chapter, verse 9, where these words, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity,” are used, it is evident that they belong not to the thing which the apostle proveth, which is that Christ was made more excellent than the angels.338338   “Ad quintum quid respondes? — Ad id testimonium id respondeo, quod non de Christo, verum de Deo accipiendum sit. Quia vero idem scriptor illud ad Filium Dei referat, expendcndum est sermonem in testimonio, non de una re sed de duabus, potissimum haberi expresse. Una est cœli et terræ creatio: altera rerum creatarum abolitio. Quod vero is autor priorem ad Christum non referat, hinc perspicuum est, quod in eo capite præstantiam Christi demonstrare sibi proposuerit; non cam quam a seipso habeat, verum eam quam hæreditavit, et qua præstantior angelis effectus sit, ut e ver. 4, cuivis planum est; cujus generis præstantia, cum creatio cœli et terræ non sit, nec esse possit, apparet manifeste non in eum finem testimonium ab co scriptore allatum, ut Christum creasse cœlum et terram probaret. Cum igitur prior ad Christum referri nequeat, apparet posteriorcm tantum ad eum referendam esse, id veto propterea quod Dcus cœlum et terram per cum aboliturus sit, tum cum judicium extremum per ipsum est executurus, quo quidem tantopere præstantia Christi præ angelis conspicua futura est, ut ipsi angeli sint ei ca ipsa in re ministraturi. Quæ posterior orstio, cum sine verbis superioribus, in quibus fit cœli terræque mentio, intelligi non potuerit, cum sit cum iis per vocem ipsi conjuncta, et eadem illa verba priora idem autor commemorare necesse habuit. Nam si alii scriptores sacri ad eum modum citant testimonia Scripture, nulla adacti necessitate, multo magis huic, necessitate compulso, id faciendum fuit.
   “Ubi vero scriptores sacri id fecerunt? — Inter alia multa testimonia, habes Matt. xii. 18–21, ubi nimis apertum est versiculum 19, tantum ad propositum evangelistæ Matthæi pertinere, cum id voluerit probare cur Christus, ne palam fieret, interdiceret. Deinde, Acts ii. 17–21, ubi etiam tantum, ver. 17, 18, ad propesitum Petri apostoli faciunt, quod quidem est, ut Spiritum Sanctum ease effusum supra discipulos doceat; et ibidem ver. 25–28, ubi palam est, versum tantum 27, ad propesitum facere, quandoquidem id approbet apostolus, Christum a morte detinere fuisse impessibile. Deniquo, in hoc ipso capite, ver. 9, ubi verba hæc, Dilexisti justitiam, et odio habuisti iniquitatem, apparet, nihil pertinere ad rem quam probat apostolus, quæ est, Christum præstantiorem factum angelis.

That in all this discourse there is not any thing considerable but the horrible boldness of these men, in corrupting and perverting the word of God, will easily to the plainest capacity be demonstrated; for which end I offer the ensuing animadversions:—

1. To say these things are not spoken of Christ, because they are spoken of God, is a shameless begging of the thing in question. We prove Christ to be God because those things are spoken of him that are proper to God only.

2752. It is one thing in general that is spoken of, namely, the deity of Christ; which is proved by one testimony, from Ps. cii., concerning one property of Christ, namely, his almighty power, manifested in the making of all thins, and disposing them in his sovereign will, himself abiding unchangeable.

3. It is shameless impudence in these gentlemen, to take upon them to say that this part of the apostle’s testimony which he produceth is to his purpose, that not; as if they were wiser than the Holy Ghost, and knew Paul’s design better than himself.

4. The foundation of their whole evasion is most false, — namely, that all the proofs of the excellency of Christ above angels, insisted on by the apostle, belong peculiarly to what he is said to receive by inheritance. The design of the apostle is to prove the excellency of Christ in himself, and then in comparison of angels: and therefore, before the mention of what he received by inheritance, he affirms directly that by him “God made the worlds;” and to this end it is most evident that this testimony, that he created heaven and earth, is most directly subservient.

5. Christ also hath his divine nature by inheritance, — that is, he was eternally begotten of the essence of his Father, and is thence by right of inheritance his Son, as the apostle proves from Ps. ii. 7.

6. Our catechists speak not according to their own principles when they make a difference between what Christ had from himself and what he had from inheritance, for they suppose he had nothing but by divine grant and voluntary concession, which they make the inheritance here spoken of; nor according to ours, who say not that the Son, as the Son, is a seipso, or hath any thing a seipso; and so know not what they say.

7. There is not, then, the least colour or pretence of denying this first part of the testimony to belong to Christ. The whole is spoken of to the same purpose, to the same person, and belongs to the same matter in general; and that first expression is, if not only, yet mainly and chiefly, effectual to confirm the intendment of the apostle, proving directly that Christ is better and more excellent 276than the angels, in that he is Jehovah, that made heaven and earth, they are but his creatures, — as God often compares himself with others. In the psalm, the words respect chiefly the making of heaven and earth; and these words are applied to our Saviour. That the two works of making and abolishing the world should be assigned distinctly unto two persons there is no pretence to affirm. This boldness, indeed, is intolerable.

8. To abolish the world is no less a work of almighty power than to make it, nor can it be done by any but him that made it, and this confessedly is ascribed to Christ; and both alike belong to the asserting of the excellency of God above all creatures, which is here aimed to be done.

9. The reason given why the first words, which are nothing to the purpose, are cited with the latter, is a miserable begging of the thing in question; yea, the first words are chiefly and eminently to the apostle’s purpose, as hath been showed. We dare not say only; for the Holy Ghost knew better than we what was to his purpose, though our catechists be wiser in their own conceits than he. Neither is there any reason imaginable why the apostle should rehearse more words here out of the psalm than were directly to the business he had in hand, seeing how many testimonies he cites, and some of them very briefly, leaving them to be supplied from the places whence they are taken.

10. That others of the holy writers do urge testimonies not to their purpose, or beyond what they need, is false in itself, and a bold imputation of weakness to the penmen of the Holy Ghost. The instances hereof given by our adversaries are not at all to the purpose which they are pursuing; for, —

(1.) In no one of them is there a testimony cited whereof one part should concern one person, and another another, as is here pretended; — and without farther process this is sufficient to evince this evasion of impertinency; for nothing will amount to the interpretation they enforce on this place but the producing of some place of the New Testament where a testimony is cited out of the Old, speaking throughout of the same person, whereof the one part belongs to him and the other not, although that which they say doth not belong to him be most proper for the confirmation of what is affirmed of him, and what the whole is brought in proof of.

(2.) There is not any of the places instanced in by them wherein the whole of the words is not directly to the purpose in hand, although some of them are more immediately suited to the occasion on which the whole testimony is produced, as it were easy to manifest by the consideration of the several places.

(3.) These words, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity,” are not mentioned to prove immediately the excellency of 277Christ above angels, but his administration of his kingdom, on which account, among others, he is so excellent; and thereunto they are most proper.

And this is the issue of their attempt against this testimony; which, being thus briefly vindicated, is sufficient alone of itself to consume with its brightness all the opposition which, from the darkness of hell or men, is made against the deity of Christ.

And yet we have one more to consider before this text be dismissed. Grotius is nibbling at this testimony also. His words are: “Again, that which is spoken of God he applies to the Messiah; because it was confessed among the Hebrews that this world was created for the Messiah’s sake (whence I should think that ἐθεμελίωσας is rightly to be understood, ‘Thou wast the cause why it was founded;’ — and, ‘The heavens are the works of thy hands;’ that is, ‘They were made for thee’), and that a new and better world should be made by him.”339339   “Rursum, quod de Deo dictum fuerat Messiæ aptat; quia constabat inter Hebræos, et Mundum hunc Messiæ causa conditum (unde ἐθεμελίωσας recte intelligi putem, Causa fuisti cur fundaretur, et opus manuum tuarum; id est, propter to factum: עַל יָדHebræis et Chaldæis etiam propter significat), et fore, ut novus meliorquo Mundus condatur per ipsum. So he.

This is not the first time we have met with this conceit, and I wish that it had sufficed this learned man to have framed his Old Testament annotations to rabbinical traditions, that the New might have escaped. But jacta est alea. 1. I say, then, that the apostle doth not apply that to one person which was spoken of another, but asserts the words in the psalm to be spoken of him concerning whom he treats, and thence proves his excellency, which is the business he hath in hand. It is not to adorn Christ with titles which were not due to him (which to do were robbery), but to prove by testimonies that were given of him that he is no less than he affirmed him to be, even “God, blessed for ever.” 2. Let any man in his right wits consider this interpretation, and try whether he can persuade himself to receive it: Ἐθεμελίωσας σὺ Κύριε, — “For thee, O Lord, were the foundations of the earth laid, and the heavens are the works of thy hands;” that is, “They were made for thee.” Any man may thus make quidlibet ex quolibet; but whether with due reverence to the word of God I question. 3. It is not about the sense of the Hebrew particles that we treat (and yet the learned man cannot give one clear instance of what he affirms), but of the design of the Holy Ghost in the psalm and in this place of the Hebrews, applying these words to Christ. 4. I marvel he saw not that this interpretation doth most desperately cut its own throat, the parts of it being at an irreconcilable difference among themselves: for, in the first place, he says the words are spoken of God, 278and applied to the Messiah, and then proves the sense of them to be such that they cannot be spoken of God at all, but merely of the Messiah; for to that sense doth he labour to wrest both the Hebrew and Greek texts. Methinks the words being spoken of God, and not of the Messiah, but only fitted to him by the apostle, there is no need to say that “Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth,” is, “It was laid for thy sake;” and, “The heavens are the works of thy hands,” that is, “They were made for thee,” seeing they are properly spoken of God. This one rabbinical figment of the world’s being made for the Messiah is the engine whereby the learned man turns about and perverts the sense of this whole chapter. In brief, if either the plain sense of the words or the intendment of the Holy Ghost in this place be of any account, yea, if the apostle deals honestly and sincerely, and speaks to what he doth propose, and urges that which is to his purpose, and doth not falsely apply that to Christ which was never spoken of him, this learned gloss is directly contrary to the text.

And these are the testimonies given to the creation of all things by Christ, which our catechists thought good to produce to examination.

« Prev Chapter XI. Of the work of creation assigned to… Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection