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acquaintance with him. On this account he tells Philip, John xiv.
9, " He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;" the reason of
which assertion, taken from the mutual inbeing of Father and Son,
and his expression of his mind and glory, he asserts in the next
verses. He, then, is the only way and means of coming unto the
knowledge and enjoyment of God, because in and by him alone is
he fully and perfectly expressed unto us.

And therefore this, secondly, is om/' great guide and direction in
all our endeavours after an acceptable access unto Him. Would
we come to that acquaintance with the nature, properties, and ex-
cellencies of the Father, which poor, weak, finite creatures are capable
of attaining in this world, — which is sufficient that we may love him,
fear him, serve him, and come unto the enjoyment of him? would
we know his love and grace? would we admire his wisdom and holi-
ness? — let us labour to come to an intimate and near acquaintance
with his Son Jesus Christ, in Avhom all these things dwell in their
fulness, and by whom they are exhibited, revealed, unfolded unto
us; seek the Father in the Son, out of whom not one property of
the divine nature can be savingly apprehended or rightly under-
stood, and in whom they are all exposed to our faith and spiritual
contemplation. This is our wisdom, to abide in Christ, to abide with
him, to learn him; and in him we shall learn, see, and know the
Father also.

(tipwv T£ Tcc "Trdvra rui pruMari rrig dwd/Miug avrov. After the descrip-
tion of the person, the apostle returns unto an assertion of the power
of Christ, the Son of God, and therein makes his transition from the
kingly and prophetical unto his sacerdotal office; on all which he
intends afterwards to enlarge his discourse.

He showed before that by him the worlds were created; where-
unto, as a further evidence of his glorious power, and of his contin-
uance to act suitably unto that beginning of his exercise of it, he
adds that he also abides to uphold, or rule and dispose of all things
BO made by him.

For the explication of these words, two things are to be inquired
after ; — first. How, or in what sense, Christ is said to "uphold" or rule
"all things;" secondly. How he doth it by "the word of his power."
^spuv is taken by expositors in a double sense, and
accordingly variously rendered in translations. l.Some
render it by " upholding, supporting, bearing, carrying." And these
suppose it to express that infinite divine power which is exerted in
the conservation of the creation, keeping it from sinking into its ori-


ginal of confusion and nothing. Hereof our Saviour saitli, " JTy
Father worketh hitherto," ew; apri, (or " yet,") " and I work ;" tliat
is, in the providential sustentation of all things made at the begin-
ning. " And this," saith Chrysostom on this place, " is a greater
work than that of the creation." By the former all things were
brought forth from nothing; by the latter are they preserved from
that return unto nothing which their own nature, not capalde of
existence without dependence on their First Cause, and their perpe-
tual conflict by contrariety of qualities, would precipitate them into.

2. Some take the word to express his ruling, governing, and dis-
posing of all things by him made, and (which is supposed) sustained ;
and so it may denote the putting forth of that power over all things
which is given unto the Son as mediator; or else that providential
rule over all which he hath with his Father, which seems rather to
be intended, because of the way expressed whereby he exerciseth
this rule, namely, " by the word of his power."

The use of the word fipm is not so obvious in this latter sense as it
is in the former; as in the proverb, E/ hlvaiiai •n\'i alya <pspsiv, (ir'ikrs
/tio/ Toy /3oDv. But I see no reason why we should suppose an incon-
sistency in these senses, and not rather conclude that they are both of
them implied ; for as absolutely it is the same divine power and provi-
dence Avhich is exercised in the upholding and the ruling or di!^pos-
ing of all things, so all rule and government is a matter of weight
and burden. And he who rules or governs others is said to bear or
carry them. So Moses expresseth his rule of the people in the wil-
derness. Num. xi. 11, 12: "Thou hast put," saith he, ^t^'D^ " tlie
weight" (or "burden") " of this people upon me; and thou hast said,
li^^^, bear" (or "carry") "them in thy bosom." And hence from ^^^,
" to bear or carry," is ^''^J, " a prince or ruler;" that is, one that car-
ries and bears the burden of the people, that upholds and rules them.
To bear, then, or uphold, and to rule and dispose, may be both well
intended in this word; as they are both expressed in that proj^hecy
of Christ, Isa. ix. 6, " The rule" (or "government") " shall be upon
his shoulder," — that together with his power and rule he may sustain
and bear the weight of his people. Only, whereas this is done amongst
men with much labour and travail, he doth it by an inexpressible
facility, by the word of his power. And this is safe, to take the ex-
pression in its most comprehensive sense.

But whereas the phrase of speech itself is nowhere else used in
the New Testament, nor is (pipu applied unto any such purpose else-
where (though once ipipiii^ivog be taken for " actus" or " agitatus,"
2 Pet. i. 21), we may inquire what word it was among the Hebrews
that the apostle intended to express, whereby they had formerly been
instructed in the same matter.

1. It may be he intended ''5f?P, a participle from ''^3, " to sus-


tain, to bear, to endure," as Mai. iii. 2. It signifies also " to feed,
nourish, and cherish," 1 Kings iv. 7; Kuthiv. 15; Zech. xi. 16. ^ipcuv
Ts -Truvrcc, that is, ^^ ■'??-?') " sustinens, nutiiens omnia," — "sustaining
and cherishing all things." But this word hath no respect unto rule
or disposal. And in this sense, as the work of creation is eminently
ascribed unto the Father, who is said to make all things by the Son,
so that of the preservation and cherishing of all things is here pecu-
liarly assigned unto the Son. And this is not unsuitable unto the
analogy of faith : for it was the power of God that was eminently
exalted and is conspicuously seen in the work of creation, as the
apostle declares, i. 20, although that power was accompanied
also with infinite wisdom; and it is the wisdom of God that is most
eminently manifested in the preservation of all things, though that
wisdom be also exercised in power infinite. At least, in the con-
templation of the works of the creation, we are led, by the wonder
of the infinite power whereby they were wrought, to the considera-
tion of the wisdom that accompanied it; and that which in the works
of providence first presents itself unto our minds is the infinite wis-
dom whereby all things are disposed, which leads us also to the
admiration of the power expressed in them. Now, it is usual with
the Scripture to assign the things wherein power is most eminent
unto the Father, as those wherein wisdom is most conspicuously
exalted unto the Son, who is the eternal Wisdom of the Father. And
this sense is not unsuitable unto the text.

2. tib'J is another word that may be intended ; and this denotes a
bearing like a prince in government, as ^''^^. And in this sense the
word ought to be referred unto Christ as mediator, intrusted with
power and rule by the Father. But neither the words nor context
will well bear this sense: for, — (1.) It is mentioned before, where it
is said that he is " appointed heir of all;" and it is not likely that the
apostle, in this summary description of the person and offices of the
Messiah, would twice mention the same thing under different expres-
sions. (2.) The particle ts added unto f'epuv refers us to the begin-
ning of this verse, "Og wv, (p'lpuv ts, — " Who being the bright-
ness of glory, and bearing all things." So that these things

must necessarily be spoken of him in the same respect: and the
former, as we have showed, relateth unto his person in respect of his
divine nature; so therefore doth the latter, and his acting therein.

o. There is yet another word, which I suppose the apostle had a
principal aim to express, and this is 3D"), 3D"i is properly " to ride,
to be carried, to be carried over;" and it is frequently, though meta-
phorically, used concerning God himself: as Deut. xxxiii. 26, 3?"i
D;»^, "riding on the heavens;" "on the clouds," Isa. xix. 1; "on
the wings of the wind," Ps. xviii. 10, and Ps. Ixviii. 5; whereby his
majesty, authority, and government are shadowed out unto us. And


hence also the word signifies "to administer, dispose, govern or pre-
side in and over things/'

Thus in Ezekiel's vision of the glorious providence of God in
ruling the whole creation, it is represented by a chariot (i^??"!^) of
cherubim (D'^'ns). The D'3^13, " cherubim," with their wheels,
made that chariot, over wliich sat the God of Israel, in his disposing
and ruling of all things. And the words themselves have that
affinity in signification which is frequently seen among the Hebrew
roots, differing only in the transposition, of one letter. And the
description of Him who sat above the chariot of providence, Ezek.
i., is the same with that of John, Rev. iv. Now, God in that
vision is placed ^^T^ as governing, ruling, influencing all second
causes, as to the orderly production of their effects, by the commu-
nication of life, motion, and guidance unto' them. And though this
divine administration of all things be dreadful to consider, the rings
of the wheels being high and dreadful, chap. i. 18, and the living
creatures "ran as the appearance of a flash of lightning," verse 1-i;
as also full of entanglements, there being to appearance cross wheels,
or wheels within wheels, verse 16, which are all said to be rolling,
chap. X. lo ; yec it is carried on in au unspeakable order, without the
least confusion, chap. i. 1 7, and with a marvellous facility, — by a mere
intimation of the mind and will of Him who guides the whole; and
that because there was a living, powerful spirit passing through all,
both living creatures and wheels, tliat moved them speedily, regu-
larly, and effectually, as he pleased ; that is, the energetical power
of divine Providence, animating, guiding, and disposing the whole
as seemed good unto him.

Now, all this is excellently expressed by the apostle in these words.
For as that power which is in Him that sits over the chariot, influ-
encing and giving existence, life, motion, and guiilance unto all
things, is clearly expressed by ipspuv ra 'Trdvra, " upholding and
disposing of all things," — that is, ^^~^V ^?1; so is the exercise and
issuing of it forth by the spirit of life in all things, to guide them
certainly and regularly, by these words, rw p-^/xan rJjg dvm,a!Mg, " by
the word of his power:" both denoting the unspeakable facility of
omnipotent power in its operations. And Kimchi on the 6th of
Isaiah affirms that the vision which the prophet had was of " the
glory of God, that glory which Ezekiel saw in the likeness of a man;"
which we find applied unto the Lord Christ, John xii. 41.

I shall only add, that in Ezekiel's vision the voice of the quad-
riga, of the living creatures, in its motion, was as the voice ''Y-^,
"omnipotentis," "prsepotentis," "sibisufficientis," of "the Almighty,"
"the powerful," "the all-" or "self-sufficient;" which is also fully
expressed in this of the apostle, " bearmg, upholding, disposing of
all things."


Our next inquiry is after the manner whereby the Son thus up-
holdeth and disposeth of all things. He doth it " by the word of
his power/' — rw prj/xaTi rrig duvd/xiug. 'P^/^a in the New Testament
is used in the same latitude and extent with "1?"^ in the Old. Some-
times it denotes any matter or thing, be it good or evil, as Matt. v.
11, xii. 36, xviii. 16; Mark ix. 32; Luke i. 37, ii. 15, xviii, 34; — a
word of blessing by Providence, Matt. iv. 4 ; — any word spoken, Matt.
xxvi. 75, xxvii. 14; Luke ix. 45; — of promise, Luke i. 38; — and
pyiiMara l3xd(!<pr}/ji,a, " blasphemous words," Acts vi. 11; — the word of
God, the word of prophecy, Luke iii. 2; Eom. x. 17; Epb. v. 26,
vi. 17; 1 Pet. i. 25; — an authoritative command, Luke v. 5. In
this epistle it is used variously. In this only it differs from Xd^oj,
that it never denotes the eternal or essential Word of God. Th;it
which in this place is denoted by it, with its adjunct of rrji dvvd,u,sug, is
the Xoyog zvhtdkrog, or the divine power, executing the counsels of the
will and wisdom of God, or the efficacy of God's providence, whereby
he worketh and effecteth all things according to the counsel of his
will. See Gen. i. 3; Ps. cxlvii. 15, 18, cxlviii, 8; Isa. xxx. 31. And
this is indifferently expressed by /5'^/ia and \6yog. Hence the same
thing which Paul expresseth by the one of them, Heb. xi. 3, Ule-u
voov/jysv 7iarr,priadai rovg aJS)vu,g prifiart Qiou, " By faith we know that the
worlds were made by the word of God," Peter doth by the other,
2 Pet. iii. 5, "Zuneruaa rSi rou ©sou Xoyui.

Now, this efficacy of divine Providence is called the word of God,
to intimate that as rulers accomplish their will by a word of com-
mand, in and about things subject to their pleasure, Matt. viii. 9, so
doth God accomplish his whole mind and will in all things by his
power. And therefore rrig duvd/Mscjg, " of his power," is here added
by way of difference and distinction, to show what word it is that
the apostle intends. It is not Aoyog oveiuibrig, " the essential Word"
of God, who is the person spoken of; nor Xoyog vpoipopixog, the word
spoken by him in the revelation of himself, his mind and will; but
a word that is effectual and ope7-ative, — namely, the putting forth
of his divine power, with easiness and authority accomplishing his
will and purpose in and by all things.

This in the vision of Ezekiel is the communication of a spirit of
life to the cherubs and wheels, to act and move them as seems good
to Him by whom they are guided ; for as it is very probable that tlie
apostle in these words, setting forth the divine power of the Son in
ruling and governing the whole creation, did intend to mind the
Hebrews that the Lord Christ, the Son, is he who was represented in
the form of a man unto Ezekiel, ruling and disposing of all things,
and the ""Ti^, " the Almighty," whose voice was heard amongst the
wheels, so it is most certain that the same thing is intended in both
places. And this expression of "upholding" (or "disposing of")


**all things by the word of his power/' doth fully declare the gloii-
ous providence emblematically expressed in that vision. The Son
being over all things made by himself, as on a throne over the che-
rubim and wheels, influenceth the whole creation with his power,
communicating unto it respectively subsistence, life, and motion,
acting, ruling, and disposing of all according to the counsel of his
own will.

This, then, is that which the apostle assigns unto the Son, thereby
to set out the dignity of his person, that the Hebrews miglit well
consider all things before they deserted his doctrine. He is one that
is partaker essentially of the nature of God, "being the brightness of
glory and the express image of his Father's person," who exerciseth
and manifesteth his divine power both in the creation of all things,
as also in the supportment, rule, and disposal of all, after they are
made by him. And hence will follow, as his power and authority
to change the Mosaical institutions, so his truth and faithfulness in
the revelation of the will of God by him made; which it was their
duty to embrace and adhere unto.

The several passages of this verse are all of them conjoined by
the apostle, and used unto the same general end and purpose ; but
themselves are of such distinct senses and importance, considered
absolutely and apart, that we shall in our passage take out the ob-
servations which they singly afford unto us.

And from these last words we may learn: —

I. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, hath the weight of
the whole creation upon his hand, and disposeth of it by his power
and wisdom.

II. Such is the nature and condition of the universe, that it could
not subsist a moment, nor could any thing in it act regularly unto
its appointed end, without the continual supportment, guidance, in-
fluence, and disposal of the Son of God.

We may briefly consider the sum of both these jointly, to mani-
fest the power and care of Christ over us, as also the weak, depend-
ent condition of the whole creation in and by itself. The things of
this creation can no more support, act, and dispose thetnselves, than
they could at flrst make themselves out of nothing. The greatest
cannot conserve itself by its power, or greatness, or order; nor the
least by its distance from opposition. Were there not a mighty
hand under them all and every one, they would all sink into con-
fusion and nothing; did not an effectual power influence them, they
would become a slothful heap. It is true, God hath in the creation
of all things implanted in every particle of the creation a special
natural inclination and disposition, according unto which it is ready
to act, move, or work regularly; but he hath not placed this nature
and power absolutely in them, and independently of his own power


and operation. The sun is endued with a nature to produce all the
o-lorious effects of light and heat that we behold or conceive, the fire
to burn, the wind to blow, and all creatures also in the like manner;
but yet neither could sun, or fire, or wind preserve themselves in
their being, nor retain the principles of their operations, did not the
Son of God, by a constant, continual emanation of his eternal power,
uphold and preserve them; nor could they produce any one effect by
all their actings, did not he work in them and by them. And so is
it with the sons of men, with all agents whatever, whether natural
and necessary, or free and proceeding in their operations by elec-
tion and choice. *Hence Paul tells us that " in God we Hve, and
move, and have our being," Acts xvii. 28. He had before asserted
that he had " m.ade of one blood all nations," verse 26; that is, all
men of one, whom he first created. To which he adds, that we may
know that he hath not so left us to stand by ourselves on that first
foundation as that we have any power or ability, being made, to do
or act any thing without him, that in him, — that is, in his power,
care, providence, and by virtue of his effectual influence, — our lives
are supported and continued, that we are acted, moved, and enabled
thereby to do all we do, be it never so small, wherein there is any
effect of life or motion. So Daniel tells Belshazzar that his "breath"
and "all his ways" were in the hand of God, Dan. v. 23; — his breath,
in the supportment and continuance of his being; and his ways, in
his effectual guidance and disposal of them. Peter speaks to the
same purpose in general concerning the fabric of the heavens, earth,
and sea, 2 Pet. iii. 5.

Now, what is thus spoken of God in general is by Paul particu-
larly applied unto the Son: Col. i. 16, 17, " All things were created
by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all
things consist." He did not only make all things, as we have de-
clared, and that for himself and his own glor}^, but also he continues
at the head of them ; so that by him and by his power they consist, — are
preserved in their present state and condition, kept from dissolution,
in their singular existence, and in a consistency among themselves.

And the reason hereof is taken, first, from the limited, finite, de-
pendent condition of the creation, and the absolute necessity that it
should be so. It" is utterly impossible, and repugnant to the very
nature and being of God, that he should make, create, or produce
any thing without hnnself, that should have either a self-subsistence
or a self-sufficiency, or be independent on himself All these are
natural and essential properties of the divine nature. Where they
are, there is God ; so that no creature can be made partaker of them.
When we name a creature, we name that which hath a derived and
dependent being. And that which cannot subsist in and by itself
cannot act so neither.


Secondly, The energetical efficacy of God's providence, joined witli
his infinite wisdom in caring for the works of his own hands, the
products of his power, requires that it should be so. He luorkcth
yet. He did not create the world to leave it to an uncertain
event, — to stand by and to see what would become of it, to see
whether it would return to its primitive nothing (of which cask it
always smells strongly), or how it would be tossed up and down by
the adverse and contrary qualities which were implanted in the
severals of it; but the same power and wisdom that produced it
doth still accompany it, powerfully piercing through every parcel
and particle of it. To fancy a providence in God, without a con-
tinual energetical operation; or a wisdom without a constant care,
inspection, and oversight of the works of his hands; is not to have
apprehensions of the living God, but to erect an idol in our own

Thirdly, This work is peculiarly assigned unto the Son, not only
as lie is the eternal power and wisdom of God, but also becauae by
his interposition, as undertaking the work of mediation, he re-
prieved the world from an immediate dissolution upon the first
entrance of sin and disorder, that it might continue, as it were, the
great stage for the mighty works of God's grace, Avisdom, and love,
to be wrought on. Hence the care of the continuance of the crea-
tion and the disposal of it is delegated unto him, as he that hath
undertaken to bring forth and consummate the glory of God in it,
notwithstanding the great breach made upon it by the sin of angels
and men. This is the substance of the apostle's discourse. Col. i.
15-20. Having asserted him to be the image of God, in the sense
before opened and declared, and to have made all things, he affirms
that all things have also their present consistency in him and by
his power, and must have so, until the work of reconciliation of all
things unto God being accomplished, the glory of God may be fully
retrieved and established for ever.

1. We may see from hence the vanity of expecting any thing
from the creatures, but only what the Lord Christ is pleased to
communicate unto us by them. They that cannot sustain, move,
or act themselves, by any power, virtue, or strength of their
own, are very unlikely by and of themselves to afford any real
assistance, relief, or help unto others. They all abide and exist
severally, and consist together, in their order and operation, by the
word of the power of Christ; and what he will communicate by
them, that they will yield and afford, and nothing else. In them-
selves they are broken cisterns that will hold no water; what
he drops into them may be derived unto us, and no more. Tiiey
who rest upon them or rest in them, without the consideration
of their constant dependence on Christ, will find at length all


their hopes disappointed, and all their enjoyments vanish into

2. Learn hence also the full, absolute, plenary self-sufficiency and
sovereignty of the Son, our Saviour. We showed before the univer-
sality of his kingdom and moral rule over the whole creation; but
this is not all. A king hath a moral rule over his subjects in his
kingdom: but he doth not really and physically give them their
being and existence; he doth not uphold and act them at his
pleasure; but every one of them stands therein upon the same or an
equal bottom with himself. He can, indeed, by the permission of
God, take away the lives of any of them, and so put an end to all
their actings and operations in this world; but he cannot give them
life or continue their lives at his pleasure one moment, or make them
so much as to move a finger. But with the Lord Christ it is other-
wise. He not only rules over all the whole creation, disposing of it
according to the rule and law of his own counsel and pleasure, but
also they all have their beings, natures, inclinations, and lives from

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