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ever things there are, they must be either in heaven, or in the earth, or under the earth; and doubtless by all things there, that are spoken of as being included in these three, is intended the same with all things spoken of here, as included in the same three divisions of the universe. But it is evident, that by things there, is meant persons, or intelligent creatures: it is certainly they who shall bow the knee to him, and whose tongues shall confess to him. And as there, God is said highly to have exalted Christ, and to have given him a name above every name, i. e. above the highest angels in heaven, as well as above the highest prince upon earth; so here, he is said to have ascended up far above all heavens, or above the highest part of heaven, and therefore, above the seat of the highest angel, that he might fill all universally, the highest as well as the lowest, that all might depend on him and receive their fullness from him. By things in heaven, in that place in Philippians, and so doubtless here, is meant the angels ; and by things in earth, is meant elect men living on earth; and by things under the earth, or in the lower parts of the earth, is meant the souls of departed saints, whose bodies are gone under the earth, and especially the saints that were dead and buried before Christ came, or before Christ descended into the lower parts of the earth. Christ died and was buried, that he might fill those that were dead and buried. Rom. xiv. 9. "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." That by things or creatures under the earth, is meant souls of buried saints, and not devils and damned souls in hell, is manifest from Rev. v. 13. "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and houour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and, unto the Lamb for ever and ever.' This would not be said of devils and wicked, damned souls, who are far from thus praising and extolling God and Christ with such exultation: instead of that, they are continually blaspheming them.
And again; by all things, is meant all elect intelligent creatures: Eph. i. 10. That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him." And if he means all intelligent elect creatures there, by all things in heaven and earth, doubtless he also does, when he speaks of all things in heaven and on the earth, and the lower parts of the earth, in this iv. chap. of the same Epistle, where he is treating of the same thing, viz. the glory of Christ's exaltation. So again, Colos. i. 20,"And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. In these two places last
referred to, are mentioned only things in heaven and things in earth. Those, which in those other places are called things under the earth, being here ranked among things in heaven, because their souls are in heaven, though their bodies are in the lower parts of the earth.
Christ is said to have descended and ascended, that he might fill all things not only in earth and under the earth, but in the highest heavens. Now by his filling all things, or all elect creatures, according to the apostle's common use of such un expression, must be understood filling them with life, and the enjoyment of their proper good-giving them blessedness, and perfecting their blessedness-making them complete in a happy state; as in the iii. chap. of this Epistle, 19 verse, "And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Colos. ii. 10. "Ye are complete in him." Rom. xi. 12. "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!" So that when we are are put in mind that Christ, who dwelt once on the earth, descended into the lower parts of the earth, and then ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, the meaning is, that Christ came down from heaven and dwelt among us on the earth; the word was made flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth; that we might partake of his fullness, and might be made happy by him and in him, agreeably to John i. 14. 16. "And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace;" and then Christ descended into the lower parts of the earth in a state of death, that he might bless those that were in a state of death; agreeably to Rom. xiv. 9." For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." So we read, that when he died, the graves of many saints were opened, and that many bodies of saints that slept arose and came out of their graves after his resurrection, and went into the Holy City and appeared unto many; and then Christ ascended into heaven, and filled them, bestowing eternal life and blessedness upon them, that the angels in heaven might all receive the reward of confirmed and eternal glory from him and in him.
That Christ, at his ascension into heaven, thus filled the angels of heaven, is also plainly taught in the last verse of the first chapter of this Epistle, "Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." The apostle here has a special respect to his filling the angels, and particularly to their being subjected to him to receive their fullness from him as their head and as their Lord, at his ascension; for he in those foregoing verses is speaking of
Christ's being made the Lord and head of the angels at his ascension, "Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church." By all things, is here meant, as in the verse we are upon, especially all intelligent creatures, men and angels, as in that verse in the iv. chap. that we are upon. God has given him to be head over the angels to the church; agreeably to Heb. i. 14; "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be the heirs of salvation?" The same all things that Christ is here said to be made head over, he is said in the next verse to fill. By this it appears, that the angels at Christ's ascension received their fullness, i. e. their whole reward, all their confirmed life and eternal blessedness from Christ, as their Judge, because they received it from him as their Lord, or head of government; for they are said to be put under his feet, and also that they received it in him as the fountain of communication. He did not only adjudge it to them, but he gives it to them, and they possess it as united to him in a constant dependence on him, and have that more full enjoyment of God than they before had, as beholding God's glory in his face, and as enjoying God in him; for he is here spoken of not only as their Lord, but their Head, as a natural head to a body, as appears by comparing the two last verses together.
This is confirmed again by the 10th verse, "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him." The apostle adds, even in him, at the end of the verse, because it might seem wonderful that not only things on earth, but even things in heaven, or the angels, should be gathered together in him, who was one that existed in the human nature. By gathering together in one, is meant making happy together in one head, or uniting all in one fountain of life and happiness; as appears by John xvii. 20, 21, 22, 23.
The same thing is taught again in Colos. ii. 9, 10. "For in him dwelleth all the fulluess of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power." What is rendered complete in him, in the original properly signifies filled up, or filled full, in him. He is he in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells, and in whom the creature receives that fullness; and he is the head of communication whence ye receive fullness, or in whom ye are filled full, who is the same person, who is also the head, in whom the angels receive their fullness, as it is added, "who is the head of all principality and power."
This is very agreeable to what the apostle says, Colos. i. 18, 19,"And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, for it pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell." By this it appears that it was the design of God so to exalt and glorify his Son, that all his intelligent creatures should in every thing be after him, inferior to him, subject to him, and dependent on him, and should have all their fullness, all their supplies from him, and in him; especially if we compare this verse with the context, and with many other places in the New Testament.
That the angels have their fullness, or their eternal good and happiness, not only from the hands of Christ, but also in him as the head and fountain of it, and as enjoying God in him, and that they have their confirmation in and by him, is confirmed in Christ's being called angels' food. The Psalmist, speaking of manna, says, Ps. lxxviii. 26, "Man did eat angels' food;" which can be understood no otherwise than that that, of which manna was the type, was angels' food; but this Christ tells us is himself, in John vi. 31, 32. There Christ tells us that that bread from heaven spoken of in this very place in the lxxviii. Psalm, is himself; for the Jews quote the beginning of this passage, that is, the verse immediately preceding in the psalm, ver. 31. "Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat ;" and then we have Christ's answer in the two next verses. "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; (i. e. that bread from heaven spoken of in that place that you cite,) but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven; for the bread of God is he which cometh down, and giveth life unto the world.” Christ is called the tree of life that grows in the midst of the paradise of God, but we know that the use of the tree of life in paradise was that they that ate of that fruit might have confirmed life, and never die, but live for ever. And the same is signified by Christ's being called, in the vi. chap. of John, the bread of life, viz, that he that eats of this bread should have confirmed life, and not die, but live for ever, as Christ himself there teaches, ver. 48, &c. "I am the bread of life; your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die; I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one (for so the original signifies) eat of this bread, he shall live for ever." But we are taught from the forementioned place that it is the angels' bread of life as well as ours, and therefore it is that bread by which they have eternal life, or which they eat of and live for ever, and is a tree of life to them as well as to us, a tree, the fruit whereof they eat and live for ever as well as we.
Corol. I. Here we may take occasion to observe the sweet harmony that there is between God's dispensations, and particularly the analogy and agreement there is between his dealings with the angels and his dealings with mankind; that though one is innocent and the other guilty, the one having eternal life by a covenant of grace, the other by a covenant of works, yet both have eternal life by his Son Jesus Christ God man, and both, though different ways, by the humiliation and sufferings of Christ; the one as the price of life, the other as the greatest and last trial of their steadfast and persevering obedience. Both have eternal life through different ways by their adherence, and voluntary submission, and self-dedication to Christ crucified, and he is made the Lord and King of both, and head of communication, influence, and enjoyment to both, and a head of confirmation to both; for as the angels have confirmed life in and by Christ, so have the saints: all that are united in this head have in him a security of perseverance. Thus Christ is the tree of life that groweth in the paradise of God to all that belong to that paradise, and to all that ever eat of the fruit of that tree. As Adam, if he had persevered through his trial, would have eat of the fruit of the tree of life, and after that would have had confirmation and been secure of perseverance; so are all that taste of the fruit of this tree, this branch that grows out of the stem of Jesse, this tender plant and root out of a dry ground, this branch of the Lord and fruit of the earth, this bush that God dwells in, this low tree which God exalts. Seeing the saints and angels are formed to be one society dwelling together as one company to all eternity, it was fit that they should be thus united in one common head, and that their greatest interests, and those things that concern their everlasting happiness should be so linked together, and that they should have such communion, or common concern in the same great events in which God chiefly manifests himself to them, and by which they come to the possession of the eternal reward.
Corol. II. Here also we may observe that God's work from the beginning of the universe to the end, and in all parts of the universe. appears to be but one. It is all one design carried on, one affair managed, in all God's dispensations towards all intelligent beings, viz. the glorifying and communicating himself in and through his Son Jesus Christ as God man, and by the work of redemption of fallen man. Those of the angels that fell are destroyed for their opposition to God in this affair, and are overthrown, and condemned, and destroyed by the Redeemer; those of them that stood, are confirmed for their submission and adherence to God in this great affair. So the work of God is one, if we view it in all its parts; what was done in heaven, and what was done on earth, and in hell, in the beginning, and since that through all ages, and what will be done at the end of the world.