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or succession. Priority before the creation was no birthright: but all the sons of God conceived, purposed or decreed before that period, whether to be born thereafter in flesh or in spirit, would find their birthright in his Purpose, as much as their natural birth; the senior being he for whom the others are born, and to whom they all administer in succession—THE FATHER'S FIRST INTENT; the Word of the Subject, which was with God before birth; as that of Abel was with Adam, or his with Joseph; “THE LAMB SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD” (Rev. xiii. 8); the Word in being long before; the Son before all others in the Father's choice, and for whose sake alone, v. g. “that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. viii. 29), all others are chosen, being consequently all conceived in purpose at once, or, as we may say, all of one piece in the divine Purpose-in the purpose of grace and truth ; of enjoyment and thanks ; of worth, rank, and dignity. He is the Image, the Fulness, the Express image of God, the Eternal Fountain, a Living Stream of salvation, a Well of worth, and World of wealth; of whose fulness all we have received in our several modes (aoyous) or prescriptions: whereby we are made sons likewise, and put over the heads of our progenitors, as our heavenly Master was put over the head of his immediate precursor, according to the Baptist's own confession. For the priority or precedence of John was natal only, of Jesus antenatal; of John temporal only, of Jesus eternal. And “ John bare witness of him and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me” (John i. 15); namely in the order of authority, precedence, and proximity originally determined and regularly effected by God. In the same manner he is also both before and after David (Matt. xxii. 44, 45), before and after Abraham (John viii. 58), before and after the fathers generally, as the spiritual Rock of which they all drank (Cor. I. x. 4); before and after Adam himself, as the Tree of life, the Blessing of Heaven enjoyed, and lost by Adam, but restored in him (Gen. ii. 9, 16; iii. 24; Rev. xxii. 2); before all the creatures, in short, that were ever created, and yet after all that were created up to his time (Col. i. 15, &c.); being begotten of the Father without any reference to time-not merely after the likeness of God, with Adam and other sons; but, as it pleased, in the fulness of his image (Ib. ii. 9); not a germ, an embryo merely, nor like a folded leaf; but always and at once the full sized image of the infinite and eternal God, the exceeding Glorious, clothed with majesty and honour, decking himself with light as it were a garment, and walking upon the wings of the wind (Ps. civ. 1, &c.).
But to describe, or rather to indicate, the mode of the Subjects infinite preexistence, as every existence and every part thereof must have its mode of some sort; it will be necessary to weigh well another property which chiefly marks that state, being his divine impersonality before alluded to. And if there be any case in which the opposition of the two natures here united is at once more certain and at the same time more difficult to comprehend, than in another, it must be in relation to this property, or rather to the negation of its antithesis, such negations being more proper to divinity as before observed. There lies the difficulty; as it will seem impossible, to conceive in Divinity the limitation necessary to constitute a person ; at the same time, that it would seem equally impossible to conceive a divine person in the complexity of the present without such limitation, the same being as indispensable to humanity as its absence, or infinity, is to Divinity : whence this property or condition must needs be understood of the Subject, though not, or not in the same light however, of his divinity.
In the divinity of the Subject, we can imagine no substantial or corporeal personality ; nor so much as the intellectual or incorporeal limitation of an angel ; nor any sort of presence, but what occurs in the Word of God; which is neither personal nor material; but infinite and
eternal as himself. And it is not to say in the preexisting state only of which we are considering ; but in every state it will be the same. The impersonality of the Second Mediate being an inseparable attribute of divinity will always accompany his existence like the other divine attributes; whether purely, as in the past; or together with personality, as in the present and future states : though it is here mentioned only with the first of the three, as more proper to that in which the person was only incipient and not fully developed as in the other two. For it is a mistake, to identify the preexistence of the Subject with his divinity ; seeing that these two conditions, though united in him, are perfectly distinct in themselves. Divinity is not preexistence, nor preexistence divinity; any more than humanity is personality, or impersonality divinity; both being equally inseparable. Neither would it be ne. cessary to distinguish here, if it were possible, between the human and divine preexistence of the Subject, or that which was before creation and that which was after,-between that which was born and that which was only created, that which was in the beginning with God, and that which was afterward in the world when there was one and made by the former existence. Neither would it be possible, nor consequently to be expected of mortal man, to trace the way of the Word more than that of the Spirit in any imaginable period; not even in the best known which was the present, much less in the preexistent of which we are thinking, and of which such a mere subject of the present or only of the present and future, can have no conception for want of an affinity. The general nature of divinity may truly be imputed to the Subject through that period or preexisting state without hesitation, and an impersonal presence, of which such a particular view is here taken, likewise, as a condition of divinity: but further than this it can only be thought or understood, that the continual mode of such presence is found to depend on its progress in eternity ; being at first only impersonal, but from
that point more and more personal likewise ; until “ the fulness of the time was come, and God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. iv. 4,5). And from this period he is still IMPERSONAL AS GOD, BUT PERSONAL AS MAN: both personal and impersonal as God-man and as he may be passible and impassible, weak and omnipotent, ignorant and omniscient, in one mode or person. It may be thought, that the subject of two natures or births would also be one of two modes : but that is not probable ; for such as the Subject is such will his mode be, the mode of two natures, births or relations so united.
Farther than this, as to describe the particular way of the Word, or the manner in which the Word of God may ever grow to its effect, is more than mortal man can discover, or comprehend, and more than any who was not particularly conceited, would ever pretend to inquire. Let one man account, if he is able, for the progress of another man's purpose from the commencement to its completion in the effect intended; or let him account, if he can, only for the workings and resources of his own imagination. Farther than this, it may be enough to know of our Maker that every word that he utters, or every atom of the general Word is sure to take effect, if it be not recalled; the effect, however great or minute, a new planet or a new insect: “Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken and shall he not make it good ?" (Num. xxiii. 19). If we were to consider the way of the Word or its course in the different periods according to our necessary notions of succession, and in the first or antemundane part especially,-consider as we would, we should be able to know or conceive nothing more than the short intimation of the evangelist, that he was in the beginning with God, that all things were made by HIM—him that was afterwards, THE WORD then; and that he was then, as afterwards, God himself in short (John i. 1, &c.).
· Neither in the second or mundane part of the Subject's preexistence and his natural progress as well in the chosen line of the church, as in the broad way of the world, or in the Jewish and gentile parts perhaps, can we perceive much more of the same than is perceived in its effect: but only by this faint light and with our feeble apprehension it would be interesting to trace the progress of the Word in both directions, that is in both the gentile and Jewish, or common and peculiar, or foreign and indigenous as above named; or if we could only trace it more precisely in the former, as our better information enables us to trace it in the latter, it would be somewhat. But even the genuine fathers and prophets of Israel, to say nothing of inspired heathens, like Job and others,-- by whom the Word was particularly desired, had no idea that what they desired so particularly was in the midst of them, in their very hearts, and in their mouths, and often before their eyes in various shapes : insomuch that Moses himself, the Prince of prophets (Exod. iv. 16), might not think perhaps of looking so very homeward even at the time that he told the people, “ It is not hidden from thee; neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? But the Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deut. xxx. 11-14). And he went no farther: but an apostle could tell us that “in Him we live and move and have our being"; conceiving likewise, that the ancestors of the heathens aforesaid might also have had more knowledge this way than ever came to the ears of their degenerate posterity (Acts xvii. 28).
Chronologically considered the way of the Word in the world may be distinguished into two grand periods chiefly; that is before and after the presence of the same in the flesh;-one beginning with the word of creation and ex