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God has used the creation which he has made, for no other purpose but to subserve the designs of this affair. To answer this end, he hath created and disposed of mankind, to this the angels, to this the earth, to this the highest heavens. God created the world to provide a spouse and a king dom for his Son : And the setting up of the kingdom of Christ, and the spiritual marriage of the spouse to him, is what the whole creation labors and travails in pain to bring to pass. This work of redemption is so much the greatest of all the works of God, that all other works are to be looked upon either as parts of it, or appendages to it, or are some way reducible to it ; and so all the decrees of God do some way or other belong to that eternal covenant of redemption which was between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world. Every decree of God is some way or other reducible to that covenant.
And seeing this work of redemption is so great a work, hence we need not wonder that the angels desire to look into it. And we need not wonder that so much is made of it in scripture, and that it is so much insisted on in the histories, and prophecies, and songs of the Bible ; for the work of redemption is the great subject of the whole, of its doctrines, its promises, its types, its songs, its histories, and its prophecies.
II. Hence we may learn how God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending of all things. Such are the characters and titles we find osten ascribed to God in scripture, in those places where the scripture speaks of the course of things, and series of events in providence : Isa. xli. 4. “ Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last ; I am he.” And particularly does the scripture ascribe such titles to God, where it speaks of the providence of God, as it relates to, and is summed up in the great work of redemption : As Isa. xliv. 6,7, and xlviii. 12, with the context, beginning with the 9th
So God eminently appears as the first and the last, by considering the whole scheme of divine providence as we have considered it, viz. as all reducible to that one great work of redemption.
And therefore, when Christ reveals the future great events of providence relating to his church and people, and this affair of redemption to the end of the world, to his disciple John, he often reveals himself under this character. So Rev. i. 8. “ I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” So again, verse 10, 11. “ I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” Alpha and Omega, are the names of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, as A and Z are of ours ; and therefore it signifies the same as his being the first and the last, and the beginning and the ending
Thus God is called in the beginning of this book of Revelation, before the course of the prophecy begins ; and so again he is called at the end of it, after the course of events is gone through, and the final issue of things is seen : As Rev. xxi. 6. “ And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” And so chap. xxii. 12, 13. " And behold, I come quickly ; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
We have seen how this is true in the course of what I have laid before you upon this subject. We have seen how things were from God in the beginning; on what design God began the course of his providence in the beginning of the generations of men upon the earth ; and we have seen how it is God that has all along carried things on agreeable to the same designs without ever failing; and how at last the conclusion and final issue of things are to God; and so we have seen how all things are of him, and through him, and to him ; and therefore may well now cry out with the apostle, Rom. xi. 33. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !” And verse 36. “ For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things ; to whom be glory for ever, Amen."
We have seen how other things came to an end one after another ; how states, and kingdoms, and empires, one after another, fell and came to nothing, even the greatest and strongest of them ; we have seen how the world has been oft. en overturned, and will be more remarkably overturned than ever it has been yet; we have seen how the world comes to an end, how it was first destroyed by water, and how at last it shall be utterly destroyed by fire : But yet God remains the same through all ages. He was before the beginning of this 'course of things, and he will be after the end of them; agreeably to Psal. cii. 25, 26....... Thus God is he that is, and that was, and that is to come.
We have seen, in a variety of instances, how all other gods perish ; we have seen how the ancient gods of the Heathen, in the nations about Canaan, and throughout the Roman empire, are all destroyed, and their worship long since overthrown"; we have heard how Antichrist,, who has called himself a god on earth, and how Mahomet, who claims religious honors, and how all the gods of the Heathen through the world, will come to an end ; and how Satan, the great dragon, that old
1 serpent, who has set up himself as god of this world, will be cast into the lake of fire, there to suffer his complete punishment : But Jehovah remains, and his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of his dominion there is no end. We have seen what mighty changes there have been in the world; but God is unchangeable, “ the same yesterday, to day and for ever.”
We began at the head of the stream of divine providencé, and have followed and traced it through its various windings and turnings, till we are come to the end of it, and we see where it issues. As it began in God, so it ends in God..... God is the infinite ocean into which it empties itself....Providence is like a mighty wheel, whose circumference is so high that it is dreadful, with the glory of the God of Israel above upon it ; as it is represented in Ezekiel's vision. We have seen the revolution of this wheel, and how, as it was from God, so its return has been to God again. All the events of divine providence are like the links of a chain ; the first link is from God, and the last is to him.
III. We may see by what has been said, how Christ in all things has the preeminence. For this great work of redemption is all his work : He is the great Redeemer, and therefore the work of redemption, being as it were the sum of God's works of providence, this shews the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, as being above all, and through all, and in all. That God intended the world for his Son's use in the affair of redemption, is one reason that is to be given why he created the world by him, which seems to be intimated by the apos, tle in Eph. iji. 9....12. What has been said, shows how all the purposes of God are purposed in Christ, and how he is before all and above all, and all thing's consist by him, and are goverñed by 'him, and are for him, Colós. 'i. 15, 16, 17, 18. We see by what has been said, how God makes hin his first born, higher than the kings of the earth, and sets his throne above their thrones ; how God has always upheld his kingdom, when the kingdoms of others have come to an end; how that appears at last above all, however greatly opposed for so many ages; how finally all other kingdoms fell, and his kingdom is the last kingdom, and is a kingdom that never gives place to any other.
We see, that whatever changes there are, and however bighly Christ's enemies exalt themselves, that yet finally all His enemies become his footstool, and lie reigns in uncón, *tróled power and immense glory : In the end his people aro all perfectly saved and made happy, and his enemies all become his footstool. And thus God gives the world to his Son for his inheritance.
IV. Hence we may see what a consistent thing divine providence is. The consideration of what has been said, may greatly serve to shew us the consistency, order, and beauty, of God's works of providence. If we behold the events of providence in any other view than that in which it has been set before us, it will all look like confusion, like a number of jumbled events coming to pass without any order or method, like the tossing of the waves of the sea ; things will look as
though one confused revolution came to pass after another, merely by blind chance, without any regular or certain end. But if we consider
the events of providence in the light in which they have been set before us under this doctrine, in which the scriptures set them before us, they appear far from being jumbled and confused, an orderly series of events, all wisely ordered and directed in excellent harmony and consists ence, tending all to one end. The wheels of providence are not turned round by blind chance, but they are full of eyes round about, as Ezekiel represents, and they are guided by the Spirit of God: Where the Spirit goes, they go : And all God's works of providence through all ages meet in one at last, as so many lines meeting in one centre.
It is with God's work of providence, as it is with his work of creation ; it is but one work., The events of providence are not so many distinct, independent works of providence, but they are rather so many different parts of one work of providence: It is all one work, one regular scheme) God's works of providence are not disunited and jumbled, without connexion or dependence, but are all united, just as the several parts of one building : There are many stones, many pieces of timber, bụt all are so jained, and fitly framed together, that they make but one building : They have all bu foundation, and are united at last in one top stone.
God's providence may not unfitly be compared to a large and long river, having innumerable branches, beginning in different regions, and at a great distance one from another, and all conspiring to one compon issue.)
After their very diverse and contrary courses which they held for a while, yet they all gather more and more together, the nearer they come to their common end, and all at length discharge themselves at one mouth into the same ocean. The different streams of this river are apt to appear like mere jumble and confusion to us, because of the limitedness of our sight, whereby we cannot see from one branch to another, and cannot see the whole at once, so to as see how all are united in one. A man who sees but one or two streams at a time, cannot tell what their course tends to. Their course seems very crooked, and different.