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this new creation ; God hath a book of life, and such as are in the book of life, will in time be savingly converted, called, sanctified, justified, and glorified. Thus runs the golden chain, Rom. viii. 29, 30. inany as were ordained to eternal life, believe.” All such as “the Father gives to Christ, shall come to him,” John vi. 37. “He hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,” Eph. i. 4. So then this new creation in time, is the result and effect of God's determination before all time. See 2 Thess. ii. 13.
7. The creation of the world was gradual, both as to time, and as to manner. In point of time, God made the world in six days, Gen. i. Not but that God could have despatched all in a moment, but for sundry weighty reasons he took every day a moment to do the work of that day in. Thus God is perfecting this new creation all the time of a Christian's life; and for his manner or method of working, God proceeded from imperfect to perfect : first, God made a confused chaos, then he formed the elements,* then what ariseth from them. First, he made things without life, then things having life. Man, that was the master-piece of the whole creation, he made the last. Even thus doth grace proceed in the new creation; he first forms a chaos, having some confusion of spirit from a legal work, at the commencement " comes a spirit of bondage,” to fear, “then a spirit of adoption,”first, some glimmering light in the mind, then the day star ariseth in the soul; and the “sun of righteousness comes with healing under his wings.” | The
The grace of God grows till the Christian comes unto a perfect man,
+ Rom. viii. 15.
* Orta ex elementis.
" unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. *
8. The first thing that God created was light, Gen. i. 3, 4, “ God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” In this he proceeds from total privation to habit; it is hard to describe this light, possibly it was a bright lucid body, like the fiery cloud in the wilderness, giving imperfect light, successively moving over the several parts of the earth, and afterwards condensed, increased, perfected, and gathered together in the sun; the apostle applies this to the workings of of God's Spirit in converting a sinner, 2 Cor. iv. 6, “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The first thing a limner draws in a picture is the eye; the first lineament of this gracious new man, is saving knowledge. God will not dwell
. in a dark house, and therefore first he breaks out windows in his habitation; “ without knowledge the heart is not good.”+ The devil's kingdom is a kingdom of darkness; Christ's of light; converting grace delivers us " from the power of darkness, and translates us into the kingdom of God's dear Son,” which is a state of “ marvellous light.” I
9. God created some things actually, other things potentially, or virtually, Gen. i. 11, 12, “ And God said, · Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the tree yielding fruit.” Some things were made in their first principles, as from bees came honey; from the vine, grapes, and thence wine; oil, from the olive, &c. Thus it is in the new creation, God plants a seed, a habit of spiritual life, which of its own nature inclines
Eph. iy. 13. † Prov. xix. 2. Col. i. 13. 1 Pet. ii. 9.
the Christian to acts of holiness. In every habit there is a propensity to act; so "faith worketh by love,” Gal. v. 6. Repentance brings forth “ fruits meet for such a principle,” Matt. iii. 8. Heavenly acts are the genuine fruits of saving grace, yea, inseparable companions.
10. The same hand that created doth uphold the creature; else it would crumble into its primitive nothing; so “God upholds all things by the word of his power,” Heb. i. 3; he doth not as an artificer, who makes a clock, a watch, a ship, or other machine, and leaves it to others to wind it up, or maintain it; but a divine maintenancy is vouchsafed to every creature, which God hath made; creatures are but shadows to the body; or as the reflection of the glass which vanisheth, when the face is turned away; Psal. civ 29, “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled; thou takest
; away their breath, they die, and return to the dust." In the chain of second causes, God stands at the commencement, and actuates every part thereof by his influence; “I will hear the heavens, said he, and they shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and wine, and oil, and they shall hear Jezreel.”* Thus it is with the new creature, assisting grace supplies and actuates received grace in every duty and exercise, " without Christ we can do nothing;" we must lean upon our beloved every step of the way, or we fall; nothing will go forward without a daily supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
11. God had glorious ends in the work of creation. “ The Lord made all things for himself,” Prov. xvi. 4; for his service and glory. This the four and twenty elders acknowledge, “ Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created
* Hos. ï. 21, 22. † John xv. 5. Cant. viii. 5. Phil. i. 19.
all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created,” Rev. iv. 10, 11. All creatures have a tendency towards their origin, and thereby declare that God is their supreme cause and ultimate end; as all rivers come from the sea, and run back into it, Eccl. i. 5–7; every creature leads man to God; “for,” Rom, xi. 36, “ of him," as the efficient cause, “through him, as the
preserving cause," and to him” as the final cause, “ are all things, to whom be glory for ever, Amen;" yea, further, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work,” Psal. xix. 1. Every creature hath a legible character of God's power, wisdom, and goodness engraven upon it, and hath a mouth to preach something of the magnificence of its Creator; the visible creature leads man to its invisible Maker; nay further, by that supply which the creature affords to man, it gives him abundant cause of glorifying God; hence saith the apostle, 1 Cor. x. 31, “ Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Much more doth the new creature work directly to the attaining of God's high and glorious purposes, as might be demonstrated, by its accomplishing God's pleasure, for holiness is according to his will, 1 Thess. iv. 3.—By working the soul God-wards, it places the affections on things above, Col. iii. 1, 2.-As it evidently displays all God's glorious attributes, being the lively picture of the Deity engraven on the soul.–And doth contribute much to the soul's advancing the glory of God; as we shewed before.
12. The whole creation shall be burnt, 2 Pet. iii. 10, 12, “ The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up.” Not that this glorious structure shall be annihilated, or turned into its original nothing, I cannot think so; but it shall be purified, refined, and freed from the filthy dregs with which sin hath stained it. So I find Amesius say,* that the elements shall not be quite taken away, but changed, and purified; that the substance shall remain, only the corrupt qualities introduced by sin, shall be purged away ;t for,
(1.) In Peter it is said, the heavens and the earth are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment. Now, fire turns combustible matter into its own nature, but doth not quite consume the matter it feeds on, but purifies things; all melting of metals, is not annihilating of them.
(2.) Scripture rather asserts a mutation or changing of these material heavens and earth, than a total abolition; Psal. cii. 25, 26, “ Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.” The seventy employ içerç, thou shalt fold them; and thus the apostle translates this text, Heb. i. 12, “ As a vesture shalt fold thou them up, and they shall be changed;" alluding to a garment, or a book, or scroll of parchment, when it is folded up, there are no letters or words visible; thus it passeth away by a notable change.
(3.) The whole creation lies under the curse and sad effects of sin, which by a kind of natural instinct, it longs to be delivered from; see Rom. viii. 20—23, “ The whole creation groaneth and travelleth in pain together until now,” &c. Calvin saith, there is no element, or part of the world, but is touched with the sense of the creature's misery, and longs for the ex
* Elementa non erunt sublata, sed mutata et purgata.
+ De mundi elementis hoc unum dicam, absumptum iri tantum, ut novam qualitatem induant, manente substantia.-Calv. 2 Peter iii. 10.