Page images

on one side of him and the other on the other; or one whent before him, and the other behind him; wherefore he called the name of the place where they met him Mahanaim, which signifies two camps or armies, Gen. xxxii. 1, 2. and even all that fear the Lord have such a guard about them, for the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, Psal. xxxiv. 7.-5. Keeping from dangers, and helping out of them; when Lot and his family were in danger of bcing destroyed in Sodom, the angels laid hold on their hands and brought them forth, and set them without the city, and directed them to escape for their lives to an adjacent mountain, Gen. xix. 15–17. the preservation of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, in the furnace of fire, and of Daniel in the lions' den, is ascribed to angels, Dan. iii. 28, and vi. 22. the opening of the doors of the prison where the apostles were, and setting them free; and the deliverance of Peter from prison, whose chains fell from him, and the gate opened before him, were done by angels, Acts v. 19, 20. and xii. 7, 10.—With respect to things spiritual.-1. Angels have been employed in revealing the mind and will of God to men. They attended at mount Sinai, when the law was given; yea, it is said to be ordained by angels, and to be given by the disposition of angels, and even to be the word spoken by angels, Deut. xxxii. 2. Acts vii. 59. Gal. iii. 19. Heb. ii. 2. And an angel published the gospel, and brought the good news of the incarnation of Christ, and salvation by him, Luke ii. 10, 11. An angel made known to Daniel the time of the Messiah's coming; as well as many other things relating to the state of the church and people of God, Dan. viii. 16–19. and ix. 21–27. and xii. 5–13. And an angel was sent to signify to the apostle John, the things that should come pass in his time, and in all ages to the end of the world, Rev. i. 1. — 2. Though the work of conversion is the sole work of God, yet as he makes use of instruments in it, as ministers of the word, why may he not be thought to make use of angels? they may suggest that to the minds of men which may be awakening to them, and may improve a conviction, by a providence, which may issue in conversion. However this is certain, they are acquainted with the conversions of sinners; and there is joy in heaven, and in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance, Luke xv. 7, 10. – 3. They are useful in comforting the saints when in distress; as they strengthened and comforted Christ in his human nature, when in an agony, so they comfort his members, as Daniel, when in great terror, and the apostle Paul, in a tempest, Dan. ix. 23. and x. 11, 12. Acts xxvii. 23, 24. and as when in temporal, so when in spiritual distresses; for if evil angels are capable of suggesting terrible and uncomfortable things, and of filling the mind with blasphemous thoughts, and frightful apprehensions; good angels are surely capable of suggesting comfortable things, and what may relieve souls distressed with unbelief, doubts and fears, and the temptations of Satan; for, –4. They are greatly assisting in repelling the temptations of Satan; for if they oppose themselves to, and have conflicts with evil angels, with respect to things political and civil, the affairs of kingdoms and states, in which the interest

and church of Christ are concerned; see Dan. x. 13.20. Rev. xii, 7. they, no doubt, bestir themselves in opposition to evil spirits, when they tempt believers to sin, or to despair; so that they are better able to wrestle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickednesses in high places, Eph. vi. 12. see Zech. iii. 1, 2, 3, 4.5. They are exceeding useful to saints in their dying moments; they attend the saints on their dying beds, and whisper comfortable things to them against the fears of death; and keep off the fiends of hell from disturbing and distressing them; and they watch the moment when soul and body are parted, and carry their souls to heaven; as they carried the soul of Lazarus into Abraham's bosom, Luke xvi. 22. and thus Elijah was carried to heaven, soul and body, in a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which were no other than angels, which appeared in such a form, for the conveyance of him, 2 Kings ii. 1 1. —6. Angels, as they will attend Christ at his second coming, when the dead in Christ shall rise first; so they will be made use of by him, to gather the risen saints from the four quarters of the world, and bring them to him; to gather the wheat into his garner, and to take the tares, and even all things out of his kingdom that offend, and burn them, Matt. xiii. 40, 41. and xxiv. 31. From the whole it appears, that angels are creatures, and so not to be worshipped; which kind of idolatry was introduced in the apostle's time, but condemned, Col. ii. 18. the angels themselves refuse and forbid it, Rev. xix. so. and xxii. 8, 9.. yet, notwithstanding, they are to be loved, valued, and esteemed by the saints, partly on account of the excellency of their nature, and partly because of their kind and friendly offices; and care should be taken to give them no offence, in public or private; see 1 Cor. xi. 10. for the saints are highly honoured, by having such excellent spirits to wait upon them, and minister unto them, and be guards about them; and it is no small part of their gospel-privileges, for which they

should be thankful, that they are come to an innumerable company of anges, Heb. i. 14. and xii. 22. t


MAN was made last of all the creatures, being the chief and master-piece of the whole creation on earth, whom God had principally and first in view in making the world, and all things in it; according to that known rule, that what is first in intention, is last in execution; God proceeding in his works as artificers in theirs, from a less perfect, to a more perfect work, till they come to they have chiefly in view, a finished piece of work, in which they employ oil their skill; and which, coming after the rest, appears to greater advantage. Man is a compendium of the creation, and therefore is sometimes called a microcoson, a little world, the world in miniature; something of the vegetable, animal, and

rational world meet in him; spiritual and corporal substance, or spirit and ulatWOL. I. 3 E .

ter, are joined together in him; yea, heaven and earth centre in him, he is the bond that connects them both together; all creatures were made for his sake, to possess, enjoy, and have the dominion over, and therefore he was madelast of all: and herein appear the wisdom and goodness of God to him, that all accommodations were ready provided for him when made; the earth for his habitation, all creatures for his use; the fruits of the earth for his profit and pleasure; light, heat, and air for his delight, comfort, and refreshment, with every thing that could be wished for and desired to make his life happy. Man was made on the sixth and last day of the creation, and not before; nor were there any of the same species made before Adam, who is therefore called the first man Adam; there have been some who have gone by the name of Praeadamites, because they held there were men before Adam. So the Zabians held; and speak of one that was his master; and in the last century one Peirerius wrote a book in Latin, in favour of the same notion; which has been refuted by learned men over and over. It is certain, that sin entered into the world, and death by sin, by one man, even the first man Adam; from whom death first commenced, and from whom it has reigned ever since, Rom. v. 12, 14. Now if there were men before Adam, they must have been all alive at his formation; there had been no death among them, and if they had been of any long stand ing before him, as the notion supposes, the world in all probability, was as much peopled as it may be now; and if so, why should God say, Let us make man, when there must be a great number of men in being already? And what occasion was there for such an extraordinary production of men? Why was Adam formed out of the dust of the earth? and Eve out of one of his ribs? and these two coupled together, that a race of men might spring from them, if there were men before? But is certain that Adam was the first man, as he is called; not only with respect to Christ, the second Adam; but because he was the first of the human race, and the common parent of mankind; and Eve, the mother of * all living; that is, of all men living. The apostle Paul says, that God has made of one blood, that is, of the blood of one man, all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth, Acts xvii. 26. and this he said in the presence of the wise philosophers at Athens, who, though they objected to the new and strange deities, they supposed he introduced, yet said not one word against that account he gave of the original of mankind. But what puts this out of all question, with those that believe the divine revelation, is, that it is expressly said, that before Adam was formed, there was not a man to till the ground, Gen. ii. 5. Man was made after, and upon a consultation held concerning his creation: Let us make man, Gen. i. 26. which is an address, not to second causes, not to the elements, nor to the earth; for God could, if he would, have commanded the earth to have brought man forth at once, as he commanded it to bring forth grass, herbs, trees, and living creatures of all sorts, and not have consulted with it: nor is it an address to angels, who were never of God's privy council; nor was man made after their image, he being corporeal, they incorporeal. But the



address was made by Jehovah the Father to, and the consultation was held by him, with the other two divine Persons in the Deity, the Son and Spirit; a like phrase see in chap. iii. 22. and xi. 7. Isai. vi. 8, and such a consultation being held about the making of man, as was not at the making of any of the rest of the creatures, shews what an excellent and finished piece of work God meant to make. Concerning the creation of man, the following things may be observed. I. The author of his creation, God; So God created man, Gen. i. 27. Not man himself; a creature cannot create, and much less itself; nor angels, for then they would be entitled to worship from men, which they have refused, because their fellow-servants, and it might be added, their fellow-creatures. But God, who is the Creator of the ends of the earth, was the Creator of the first man, and of all since; for we are all his offspring, and therefore are exhorted to remember our Creator, Eccles, xii. 1. or Creators; for so it is in the original text; for as they were more concerned in the consultation about man's creation, so in the creation of him; and the same that were in the one, were in the other, even Father, Son, and Spirit; hence we read of God our Makers in various passages of scripture, Job xxxv. 10. Psal. cxlix. 2. Isai liv. 5; that God the Father, who made the heavens, earth, and sea, and all that in them are, made man among the rest, and particularly made him, will not be questioned; nor need there be any doubt about the Son of God; since without him, the eternal Word, was not any thing made that was made; then not man; and if all things were made and created by him, whether visible and invisible, then man was made by him, who must be reckoned among these all things, John i. 1–3. Col. i. 16. The character and relation of an husband to the church, more particularly belongs to Christ; and her husband is expressly said to be her maker, Isai. liv. 5. compare also Psal. xcv. 6–8, with Heb. iii. 6,7. Nor is the Holy Spirit to be excluded from the formation of man, who had a concern in the whole creation, Gen. i. 3. Job xxvi. 13. Psal. xxxii. 6. and to whom Elihu particularly ascribes his formation, Job xxxiii. 4. and why not the first man made by him also yea, the act of breathing into man the breath of life, when he became a living soul, seems most agreeable to him, the Spirit and Breath of God; and who has so great a concern in the re-creation, or renovation of man, even in his regeneration. Wherefore the three divine Persons should be remembered as Creators, and be feared, worshipped, and adored as such; and thanks be given them for creation, preservation, and for all the mercies of life, bountifully provided by them. It is Pretty remarkable that the word created should be used three times in one verse, where the creation of man is only spoken of, as it should seem to point out the three divine Persons concerned therein, Gen. i. 27. II. The constituent and essential parts of man, created by God, which are two, body and soul; these appear at his first formation; the one was made out of the dust, the other was breathed into him; and so at his dissolution, the One *urns to the dust from whence it was; and the other to God that give it; and,

indeed, death is no other than the dissolution, or dis union of these two parts; the body without the spirit is dead: the one dies, the other does not. 1. The body, which is a most wonderful structure, aud must appear so when it is considered, with what precision and exactness every part is formed for its proper use, even every muscle, vein, and attery, yea, the least fibre; and that every limb is set in its proper place, to answer its designed end; and all in just symmetry and proportion, and in a subserviency to the use of each other, and for the good of the whole: to enter into a detail of particulars, more properly belongs to anatomy; and that art is now brought to such a degree of perfection, that by it most amazing discoveries are made in the structure of the human body’; as the circulation of the blood, &c. so that it may well be said of our bodies, as David said of his, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Psal. cxxxix. 14. The erect posture of the body is not to be omitted, which so remarkably distinguishes man from the fourfooted animals, who look downward to the earth; and by which man is fitted and directed to look upward to the heavens, to contemplate them, and the glory of God displayed in them; and even to look up to God above them, to worship and adore him, to praise him for mercies received, and to pray to him for what are wanted: as well as instructs men to set their affections not on things on earth, but on things in heaven; and, indeed, it is natural for every man, whether in any great distress, or when favoured with an unexpected blessing, and when he receives tidings that surprise him, whether of good or bad things, to turn his face upwards. In the Greek language man has his name avoporos, from turning and looking upwards. The body of man is very fair and beautiful: for if the children of man, or of Adam, are fair, as is suggested, Psal. xlv. 2. then most certainly Adam himself was created fair and beautiful: and some think he had the name of Adam given

him from his beauty; the root of the word, in the Ethiopic" language, signifies .

to be fair and beautiful; and though external beauty is a vain thing to gaze at, and for men to pride themselves with, in this their fallen state, when God can easily by a disease cause their beauty to consume away as a moth; yet it is a property and quality in the composition of man at first not to be overlooked, since it greatly exceeds what may be observed of this kind in the rest of the CIeatureS. The body of man was also originally made immortal; not that it was so of itself, and in its own nature, being made of the elements of the earth, and so reducible to the same again; and was supported, even in the state of innocence, with corruptible food; but God, who only has immortality, conferred it on the body of man; so that if he had never sinned, his body would not have been mortal, or have died: nor is it any objection to it, that it was supported with food; for God could have supported it with or without food, as long as he pleased, or for ever; he could have supported it with food, not to take : notice of the tree of life, which some think was designed as the means of con

* See Nieuwenty's Religious Philosopher, Vol. 1. *Vide Ludolph. Hist. Ethiop. l. 1. c. 15.

« PreviousContinue »