In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:…
(text in conjunction with Ephesians 1:9-10; Ephesians 3:9-11.)
1. The creation looked forward to the Christ from the beginning. Without Him for its goal it were purposeless. Not that he was latent in nature to be evolved, but it was the plan of creation that it should reach its consummation in Him.
2. In Him the universe subsists, is banded together because it completes itself in Him. Without Him it would disintegrate and be a chaos instead of a cosmos.
3. Although sin has disturbed the scheme of things and would wreck all, the original plan holds in Christ. The injury will be repaired and the universe attain its end.
II. PLAN OF CREATION.
1. Matter is brought into being (Genesis 1:1), and is rudimental (Genesis 1:2). The Holy Ghost whoso province is evolution and organization broods over the elemental abyss. At length light becomes with, doubtless, its kindred agents, heat, electricity. Processes go on, and the atmosphere is constituted. The new agents become additional forces, and there results the mineral kingdom (Genesis 1:3-10).
2. This is a preparation for higher planes of being. The floral world has a becoming, assimilating all that has gone before, and transforming them into the living organisms of root, trunk, bough, fruit, dec.
3. The vegetable world is a prophecy of something higher. In due time the animal world gathers up the elements of all below it, and exalts them into more complex and nobler organisms.
4. There is a pause. The eternal Three-in-One sit in council (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:7).
(1) The creation has been in travail with man as to his bodily nature in all the preceding formations. Man is the compendium, the apex of physical nature.
(2) In his creation another department of the spiritual world comes in view. It seeks to ally itself with the physical. It also would complete itself in man. By the inbreathing of the Almighty man becomes a living soul. The two realms thus meet in him, and invest him with unique dignity and prerogative. He is the microcosm of the universe.
(3) Of what man is this ideal true? Of the first Adam? He is man inchoate, in germ and possibilities only, not in the fulness of perfection. Can he raise himself and put all nature under him as its head? The tree of life blossoms with promise, but he cannot bridge the chasm between the Infinite and the finite. There must be a higher sphere than nature or man to bring out their meaning. If the Eternal Word will become man the problem is solved — the mighty void between God and man will be filled up.
5. The Son of God did become man. He passed through every ordeal triumphantly, and was glorified at the right hand of God. The universe is glorified in Him. Thus did He sum up in Himself the creation. It tended towards Him from the first, and finds its last, deepest sense and full satisfaction in Him the true, archetypal Man.
1. The creation is a unity, not a granulated mass of things having no other relation but mechanical juxtaposition; but an organic whole, having one Head who fills all things from Himself, and sends energy and direction through the whole. Each several part has its due relation to the others, and the whole to Christ.
2. The Incarnation belongs to creation. It is its crown, and is essential to its order and perfection. It is not an intrusion. It is sin that is the innovation in the order of the universe. And the Incarnation carries in it plenary resources for the overmastering of sin. By His obedience unto death the Head of the universe rendered satisfaction for human guilt; and by the powers of the Incarnation He will cast out sin. Somewhere, in the outer darkness, some cesspool shall receive all the filth of the universe and hide it for ever.
3. There is suggested a solution of the problem of miracles. They are no violations of the plan of creation. Each succeeding system bore in itself higher forces and methods than the preceding, but without disturbance. So humanity imported into the world methods and powers supreme over all beneath it, but in entire harmony therewith. That such ascendency should show itself in our Lord's miracles there is nothing contranatural. Sin being foreign has brought an unnatural condition of things, and our Lord's hushing of the storm, expulsion of demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, were but foretokenings of the coming restitution of all things to their natural state of purity, health, and life. To put creation back again into its regular condition is not to do violence to nature. As says, "A miracle is not a contradiction of nature, but of nature as man knows it."
4. Here is the solution of the astronomical objection to Christianity. Astronomy is supposed to demonstrate man's extreme littleness, and to show that his actions good or bad are beneath the notice of God. But man in Christ is the end of the universe. In Him man stands in closest union with the Infinite centre of all being. "All things are His" (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). It is quality, not quantity, that counts in the trancendental calculus. Man must be intrinsically of greater value than all that went to prepare the way for him. This will serve to explain the interest of angels in him. The Incarnation signifies that man has an inherent dignity no hugeness of the physical world and no grandeur of angels can equal. He has no superior but God, and to Him alone his knee should bow.
5. If the all is one organic unity, the lower joined to the higher, and looking forward to it, then there must be a correspondence between the lower and the higher. The natural will be a parable of the supernatural, and all types must sum themselves up in Christ their prototype. Science will yet see the harmony of reason and faith.
6. Christ being the Firstborn and Head of the creation, He is the Priest of the universe (Hebrews 5:7). All other priesthood must be derived from Him. All worship must be offered through Him. All blessing will return from God through Him.
7. Christ is the end of history. The movement of our race is a process towards manhood in Christ. Sin has distracted the current, but has not arrested it. The religions, philosophies, and governments of the old world prepared the way for the first advent. A mighty impulse was thrilled through the nation from that day directing all movements towards the second advent.
8. Seeing that Christ is head over all, all things must become subject to Him. We see not yet all things put under Him. Sin has disnaturalized man, but it shall be overruled and made to serve the very ends it sought to frustrate (1 Corinthians 15:24-28; 2 Timothy 2:19). Evil does not inhere in matter. Matter will be transformed (Romans 8:19-22).
9. The Incarnation must needs be perpetual. Were the Son of God to lay aside His humanity, the creation would fail of its end and complement. It confers upon the creation supreme blessing; to relinquish it would entail a deep curse.
10. Men must needs come into full and permanent union with Christ. Severed from Him they can do nothing. Sin, the discord in the everlasting order, must be renounced. Christ must abide in men and they in Him, in order that sin may be eliminated. Only thus can they attain the Divine Ideal transformation into true manhood in the image of God.
(C. P. Jennings.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: