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agxoes, for sy agxn, that is, nwn), ' in the beginning,' or as the word is here, ona, of old,' before they were or existed. They had their being and beginning from thee; of old they were not, but in thy season thou gavest existence or being unto them. Ver. 10.—Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the
heavens are the works of thy hands. Two things are observable in this expression of the creation of all things: 1. The distribution made of them into heaven and earth, being distinctly mentioned. In the consideration of the works of God, to admire his greatness, power, and wisdom in them, or to set forth his praise for them, it is usual in the Scripture to distribute them into parts, the more to fix the contemplation of the mind upon them, and to excite it unto faith, admiration and praise. So dealeth the Psalmist with the works of God's providence, in bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, Psal. cxxxvi. He takes, as it were, that whole curious work into its several pieces, and subjoins that inference of praise to every one of them, “ for his mercy endureth for ever.” And so he dealeth with the works of creation, Psal. xix. and in sundry other places. 2. What is peculiar in the expressions with respect unto each of them. Of the earth, it is said, " he founded it," because of its stability and unmoveableness, which is the language of the Scripture; “ he set it fast," he established it, that it should not be moved for ever. It may be also the whole fabric of heaven and earth is compared to an edifice or building, whereof the earth, as the lowest and most depressed part, is looked on as the foundation of the whole; but the stability, unmoveableness, and firmness of it, is that which the word expresseth, and which is most properly intended. 3. Of the heavens, that they are the works of his hands; alluding to the curious frame and garnishing of them with all their host or glorious lights wherewith they are adorned. The 1770w, Job xxvi. 13. the beautifulness, adorning, or garnishing of the heavens, in the curious glorious forming and fashioning of them, is that which in a way of distinction the Psalmist aims to express in these words, 6 the heavens are the works of thy hands;" that which thy hands, thy power with infinite wisdom hath framed, so as to set off, and give lustre and beauty to the whole fabric; as a master workman doth the upper and more noble parts of his building. This is the first thing assigned to the Lord in this testimony of his glory.
The second is in the change or abolition of them. Most suppose that the heavens and the earth at the last day shall only be changed, altered, or renewed, as to their quality and beauty; some that they shall be utterly destroyed, consumed and aba. lished. The discussing of that doubt belongs not directly to the interpretation or exposition of this place ; neither sense of the words conducing particularly to the apostle's purpose and design in reciting this testimony. It is enough to his argument, that the work which was of old in the creation of the world, and that which shall be in the mutation or abolition of it, which is no less an effect of infinite power than the former, is ascribed unto the Lord Christ. Whatever the work be, he compares them to a garment no more to be used, or at least not to be used in the same kind wherein it was before; and the work itself to the folding up, or rolling up of such a garment, intimating the greatness of him by whom this work shall be performed, and the facility of the work unto him. The whole creation is as a garment, wherein he shews his power clothed unto men; whence in particular he is said to clothe himself with light as with a garment. And in it, is the hiding of his power; hid it is, as a man is hid with a garment; not that he should not be seen at all, but that he should not be seen perfectly, and as he is. It shews the man, and he is known by it; but also it hides him, that he is not perfectly or fully seen. So are the works of creation unto God: he so far makes them bis garment or clothing, as in them to give out some instances of his power and wisdom; but he is also hid in them, in that by them no creatures can come to the full and perfect knowledge of him. Now when this work shall cease, and God shall unclothe or unveil all his glory to his saints, and they shall know him perfectly, see him as he is, so far as a created nature is capable of that com- i prehension, then will he lay them aside, and fold them up, at least as to that use, as easily as a man lays aside a garment that he will wear or use no more. This lies in the metaphor.
On this assertion, he insinuates a comparison between this glorious fabric of heaven and earth, and him that made them, as to durableness and stability, which is the thing he treats about, complaining of his own misery or mortality. For the heavens and the earth, he declares that they are in themselves of a flux and perishing nature; non, notai, isti, they shall perish.' The word immediately relates to the heavens, but by the figure Zeugma, comprehends and takes in the earth also: 5* The earth and the heavens shall perish." This fading nature of the fabric of heaven and earth, with all things contained in them, he sets forth, first, by their future end, “ they shall perish :" secondly, their tendency unto that end, “ they wax old as a garment.” By their perishing, the most understand their perishing to their present condition and use, in that alteration or change that shall be made of them ; others, their utter abolition. And to say the truth, it were very hard to suppose that an alteration only, and that to the better, a change into a more
glorious condition, should be thus expressed, 1728"; that word, as the Greek urodovita. also, being always used in the worst sense, for a perishing by a total destruction. Their tendency unto this condition, is their waxing old as a garment. Two things may be denoted in this expression: 1. The gradual decay of the heavens and earth waxing old, worse, and decaying in their worth and use. 2. A near approximation, or drawing nigh to their end and period. In this sense, the apostle in this Epistle affirms, that the dispensation of the covenant which es. tablished the Judaical worship and ceremonies, did wax old and decay, ch. viii. 13. Not that it had lost any thing of its first vigour, power and efficacy, before its abolition. The strict observance of all the institutions of it by our Saviour himself, manifests its power and obligation to have continued in its full force. And this was typified by the continuance of Moses in his full strength and vigour, until the very day of his death. But he says, it was old and decayed, when it was eyyus apaviour,
near to a disappearance,' to its end, period, and to an utter uselessness, as then it was ; even as all things that naturally tend to an end, do it by age and decays. And in this, not the former sense, are the heavens and earth said to wax old, because of their tendency to that period, which either in themselves, or as to their use, they shall receive; which is sufficient to manifest them to be of a changeable perishing nature. And it may be, that it shall be with these heavens and earth at the last day, as it was with the heavens and earth of Judaical institutions, (for so are they frequently called, especially when their dissolution or abolition is spoken of), in the day of God's creating the new heavens and the earth in the gospel according to his promise. For though the use of them and their power of obliging to their observance was taken away and abolished, yet are they kept in the world, as abiding monuments of the goodness and wisdom of God in teaching his church of old. So may it be with the heavens and earth of the old creation, though they shall be laid aside at the last day from their use as a garment, to clothe and teach the power and wisdom of God to men, yet may they be preserved as eternal monuments of them.
In opposition hereunto, it is said of Christ that he abideth, he is the same, and his years fail not. One and the same thing is intended in all these expressions; even his eternal and absolutely immutable existence. ' Eternity is not amiss called a nunc stans, a present existence, wherein or whereunto nothing is past or future; it being always wholly present in and to itself. This is expressed in that pyn nnx, thou standest, abidest, endurest, alterest not, changest not. The same is also expressed in the next words: 8977 inx, å autos !, 'thou art he,' or art the same, or, as the Syriac hath it, the same that thou art.' There is an allusion in these words unto, if not an expression of that name of God, I am; that is, who is of himself, in himself, always absolutely and unchangeably the same. And this, 717 onx, tu ipse, the Hebrews reckon as a distinct name of God. Indeed, 7777', 07177 onx, ów, AUTOS 6, are all the same name of God, expressing his eternal and immutable self-subsistence.
The last expression also, though metaphorical, is of the same import : “ Thy years fail not." He who is the same eternally, properly hath no years, which are a measure of transient time, denoting its duration, beginning and ending. This is the measure of the world, and all things contained therein. Their continuance is reckoned by years. To shew the eternal subsistence of God in opposition to the frailty of the world, and all things created therein, it is said, “ bis years fail not;" that is, theirs do, and come to an end: of his being and existence there is none.
How the apostle proves what he intended by this testimony, hath been declared in the opening of the words, and the force of it unto his purpose lies open to all. We may now divert to those doctrinal observations which the words offer unto us. As,
I. All the properties of God, considered in the person of the Son the head of the church, are suited to give relief, consolation and support to believers in all their distresses. This truth presents itself to us from the use of the words in the Psalm, and their connection in the design of the Psalmist. Under the consideration of his own mortality and frailty, he relieves himself with thoughts of the omnipotence and eternity of Christ; and takes arguments from thence to plead for relief
And this may a little further be unfolded for our use in the ensuing observations.
1. The properties of God are those whereby God makes himself known to us, and declares both what he is, and what we shall find him to be in all that we have to deal with him. He . is infinitely holy, just, wise, good, powerful, &c. And by our apprehension of these things, are we led to that acquaintance with the nature of God, which in this life we may attain, Exod. xxxiv. 5—7.
2. God oftentimes declares and proposeth these properties of his nature unto us for our support, consolation and relief in our troubles, distresses, and endeavours after peace and rest to our souls, Isa. xl. 27-31.
3. That since the entrance of sin, these properties of God absolutely considered, will not yield that relief and satisfaction unto the souls of men, which they would have done and did, while man continued obedient unto God, according to the law of his creation. Hence Adam upon his sin knew nothing that should encourage him to expect any help, pity or relief from
him, and therefore fled from his presence and hid himself. The righteousness, holiness, purity and power of God, all infinite, eternal, unchangeable, considered absolutely, are no way suited to the advantage of sinners in any condition, Rom. i. 32. Heb. i. 12.
4. These properties of the divine nature are in every person of the Trinity entirely; so that each person is so infinitely holy, just, wise, good and powerful, because each person is equally partaker of the whole divine nature and being.
5. The person of the Word, or the eternal Son of God, may be considered either absolutely as such, or as designed in the counsel, wisdom and will of the Father, by and with his own will and consent, unto the work of mediation between God and man, Prov. vii. 22. 27-31. And in him, as such, it is that the properties of the nature of God are suited to yield relief to believers in every condition. For,
Ist, It was the design of God in the appointment of his Son to be Mediator, to retrieve the communion between himself and his creature that was lost by sin. Now man was so created at first, as that every thing in God was suited to be a reward unto him, and in all things to give him satisfaction. This being wholly lost by sin, and the whole representation of God to man having become full of dread and terror, all gracious intercourse in a way of special love on the part of God, and spiritual willing obedience on the part of man, was intercepted and cut off. God designing again to take sinners into a communion of love and obedience with himself, it must be by representing unto them his blessed properties, as suited to their encouragement, satisfaction and reward. And this he doth in the person of his Son, as designed to be our Mediator, Heb. i. 2, 3. For,
2d, The Son is designed to be our Mediator, and the Head of his church, in a way of covenant, wherein there is an engagement for the exerting of all the divine properties of the nature, of God, for the good and advantage of them for whom he hath undertaken, and whom he designed to bring again into favour and communion with God. Hence believers do no more consider the properties of God in the person of the Son abso. lutely, but as engaged in a way of covenant for their good, and as proposed unto them for an everlasting satisfactory reward. This is the ground of his calling upon them so often to behold, see and consider him, and thereby to be refreshed. They consider his power, as he is mighty to save; his eternity, as he is an everlasting reward; his righteousness, as faithful to justify them; all bis properties, as engaged in covenant for their good and advantage. Whatever he is in himself, that he will be to them in a way of mercy. Thus do the holy properties of the