« PreviousContinue »
All things were created for Him.—Colossians i. 16.
When Ulysses returned with fond anticipations to his home in Ithaca, his family did not recognize him. Even the wife of his bosom denied her husband—so changed was he by an absence of twenty years, and the hardships of a long-protracted war. It was thus true of the vexed and astonished Greek as of a nobler King, that he came unto his own, and his own received him not. In this painful position of affairs he called for a bow which he had left at home, when, embarking for the seige of Troy, he bade farewell to the orangegroves and vine-clad hills of Ithaca. With characteristic sagacity, he saw how a bow, so stout and tough that none but himself could draw it, might be made to bear witness on his behalf. He seized it. To their surprise and joy, like a green wand lopped from a willow tree, it yields to his arms; it bends till the bowstring touches his ear. His wife, now sure that he is her long lost and long lamented husband, throws herself into his fond embraces, and his household confess him the true Ulysses.
If I may compare small things with great, our Lord gave such proofs of his divinity when he too stood a stranger in his own house, despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He bent the stubborn laws of nature to his will. He proved himself Creator by his mastery over creation. The winds that sweep the deep, and the free wild sea they sweep alike controlled, leprosy and shaking palsy healed, the rolling eye of madness calmed, the shrouded corpse and the buried dead restored to life by a word, calmly spoken after the manner and with the power of a master—these things leave one to wonder that the spectators did not fall down to worship; and, recognizing God in the guise of man, say, the voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. If nothing could be more sublime than that scene on the Lake of Galilee, when, tranquil in aspect, Jesus stood on the bow of the reeling boat, and while the storm played around, and the spray flew in white sheets over his naked head, calmly eyed the war of elements, and raising his hand, said, "Peace, be still!" could anything be more conclusive than the evidence which these waves and winds afforded, that the Master himself was come home? No clearer shone the stars that night, mirrored in the placid waters. There, the winds lulled and the wild waves at rest, deep silence spake. By that sudden hush, nature proclaimed him God, Lord, Creator of all. Declared to be so by inspired tongues, and by such strange witnesses as winds and waves, devils, disease, death, and the grave— heaven concurs in their testimony; by the voices of its saints and angels, of its worship, hymns, harps, and hallelujahs, proclaiming him Creator and Lord of all.
Let us in imagination pass the angel guardians of those gates where no error enters, and, entering that upper sanctuary which no discord divides, no heresy disturbs, let us find out who worship, and who is worshipped there. The law, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve, extends to heaven as well as to earth; so that if our Lord is only the highest of all creatures, we shall find him on his knees—not the worshipped, but a worshipper; and from his lofty, and lonely, and to other creatures unapproachable pinnacle, looking up to God, as does the highest of the snow-crowned Alps to the sun, that, shining far above it, bathes its head in light. We have sought him, I shall suppose, in that group where his mother sits with the other Marys, sought him among the twelve apostles, or where the chief of apostles reasons with angels on things profound, or where David, royal leader of the heavenly choir, strikes his harp, or where the beggar, enjoying the repose of Abraham's bosom, forgets his wrongs, or where martyrs and confessors, and they which have come out of great tribulation, with robes of purest white, and crowns of brightest glory, swell the song of salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. He is not there. Rising upwards, we seek him where angels hover on wings of light, or, with feet and faces veiled, bend before a throne of dazzling glory. Nor is he there. He does not belong to their company. Verily, he took not on him the nature of angels.
Eighteen hundred years ago Mary is rushing through the streets of Jerusalem, speed in her steps, wild anxiety in her look, one question to all on her eager lips, "Have you seen my son?" Eighteen hundred years ago, on these same streets, some Greeks accost a Galilean fisherman, saying, "Sir, we would see Jesus." Now, were we, bent like his mother on finding, like these Greeks on seeing him, to stay a passing angel, and accost him in the words, " Sir, we would see Jesus," what would he do? How would his arm rise, and his finger point us upward to the throne as he fell down to worship, and worshipping, to swell the flood of song which in this one full stream mingles the names of the Father, and of the Son—Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Such a glorious vision, such worship, the voices that sounded on John's ear as the voice of many waters, the distant roar of ocean, are in perfect harmony with the exalted honor and divine offices which Paul assigns to our Lord in the words, All things were created for him.
In directing your attention now to the purpose for which Christ created all things, I remark—
I. That my text furnishes another proof of our Lord's divinity.
He is in the position of a servant who works for others; he of a master, who by other hands, or his own, works for himself. Applying that remark to the case before us, look to the condition of man. Whatever office man fills in providence, he is a servant; and on crowned monarchs, who are, and should consider themselves, but upper servants, as well as on the lowest menials, Paul lays this duty, Whether, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. God being our end, as well as our beginning, we are to do nothing for ourselves; but everything for him. Nor do angels, though holding a much higher rank in creation, differ much from us in this respect. Far from it. Even as we see that law which rolls every drop of water to the ocean, and rounds the tear on our cheek, illustrated on its grandest scale in those skies where suns roll, and stars rise, and wandering comets travel, so, if we would see the law of love producing perfect service, and perfect servants, we must look to heaven. Nor wing flies, nor harp sounds, nor heart beats yonder, but in divine harmony with the great law of God's moral kingdom, Do all to the glory of God. They are all and ever engaged in God's service. Hear what is said of them, "He shall give his angels charge over thee," " I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify," "See thou do it not," said the angel, " for I am thy fellowservant," "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Thus, whether they descend on our world to open the bars of a prison, or to roll back the gates of the sea, to predict the birth of a Samson, or celebrate the advent of a Saviour, to blow the coal that dresses Elijah's meal, or kindle the fire that lays Sodom in ashes, to sing "peace" over the rude cradle of a newborn babe, or sound the trump that rends the tomb and wakes the dead, they do nothing for themselves. Not ashamed of their service, but glorying in it, they respond to the call, Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his that do his pleasure.
Now, whose pleasure does my text represent our Lord as doing? For whom, in the work of creation, does it represent him as acting? All things were created not only by him, but for him. For him! What a depth of meaning, what a manifest divinity, in that plain, little word!" For him!" You might pile one lofty expression on another up to heaven, but you could say nothing more of God. Nay, it is said of God, as his own peculiar and divine prerogative, " The Lord hath made all things for himself."
Some have attempted to evade the argument for