The Universality of Christ’s Mediatorial Rule
The topic on which we are now to descant is of great importance, yet it is one on which much misconception exists. There are some who deny the fact altogether; and there are others, who, though compelled to admit the fact, have most inadequate ideas of the place which it is entitled to hold in estimating the offices of the Mediator. There is one short clause, in the writings of the Apostle Paul, which both these classes would do well to consider. It is that in which, speaking of Christ’s exaltation by the Father, he uses the expression, “AND GAVE HIM TO BE READ OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH” (Eph. 1:22) language which asserts at once the unlimited extent of the mediatorial power, and the high and glorious end for which such power has been conferred.
1. The connection of Christ’s universal power with the honor awarded him by the Father for the work of man’s redemption, is sufficient to attest its IMPORTANCE. That which entered into the stipulations of the eternal covenant, and which occupied the mind of the Savior throughout the whole period of his sufferings, his last mysterious agony not even excepted, cannot be deemed a matter of inferior moment. Now, we are assured, that “for the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2); and that this joy included that of which we are speaking, the language of the same inspired writer clearly imports, “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:8, 10). Besides, the doctrine of his universal supremacy was one of the last things which Christ taught his disciples. Just before his ascension, in the concluding interview he held with his apostles on earth, in which surely nothing but what is of the highest importance could find a place, he said, “ALL power is given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18).
Moreover, the possession of universal power must, on a moment’s reflection, appear to be intimately connected with the interests of the church. Power beyond the church, is essential to the existence, increase, and welfare of the church itself. That the members of his mystical body may be complete in him, he must have dominion over all principalities and powers. The overthrow of the church’s foes, the fulfillment of the church’s prospects, and the final victory of every member over death and the grave, suppose him to rule with uncontrollable sway in the midst of his enemies. “For he must reign till all enemies be put under his feet” (). These things may be sufficient to convince the unprejudiced mind, of the vast importance of the feature of the Mediator’s kingly office of which we are now to treat. But, should there still remain a single skeptical doubt on the reader’s mind, it cannot fail to be removed when he is reminded that the fact of Christ’s universal reign enters into the praises of heaven, and is echoed from the arches of the celestial temple. “And I heard,” says John, “the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the elders, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto the Lamb for ever and ever” ( ). “Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” ( ).
2. No doctrine in Scripture is supported by clearer or more abundant EVIDENCE than the universality of Christ’s mediatorial supremacy. Before exhibiting the passages in which it is expressly affirmed, it may be proper to state, that what determines that the passages in question refer to the mediatorial, and not to the essential kingdom, of the Son of God, is the circumstance that the power spoken of in these passages is said to be given him. His essential authority can in no sense be said to be given. That which is delegated, conferred by gift, bestowed by another, can belong to him only as Mediator. Nor is it necessary that the territory over which the sovereignty is exercised by inherent right, and that over which it is exercised by delegated authority, should be actually different in matter or extent. They may in reality be the same in substance, and of course equal in extent; the difference consisting in this, that the kingdom over which he, as the Son of God, rules by inherent and original right, he, as Mediator, is authorized to manage and direct for a new end, namely, the salvation of men, and the best interests of the church. His investiture with mediatonal authority, thus means his having had conferred on him a right to employ the power, which he always possessed as God, for the specific objects of his mediatorial work. The essential and the mediatorial kingdoms of Christ may, therefore, be coextensive; and we need not wonder to find the inspired writers ascribing the gift of universal power to Him whose essential dominion is absolute and unlimited. These things premised, we are prepared to look at the Scripture proof for the universality of the mediatorial dominion.
“All things are delivered unto me of my Father” (Matt. 11:27). These are the words of Christ to his disciples. The connection shows that it is of his mediatorial power he is speaking, as it is in this character that he is said to know and to be known by the Father, and to reveal the Father to others. The very word “delivered” carries in it the same idea, as his power as God is not delivered to him, but essentially and intrinsically possessed. Now, the affirmation respects universal power”all things,”no exception being so much as hinted at.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). This is, if possible, still more decided. Here, as in the former instance, both the context, which relates to the apostolical commission, and the language itself, “given,” show that the mediatorial character is meant. And, as to the extent of what he attributes to himself in this character, the words are, “All power in heaven and in earth”expressive of universality in the largest sense.
To the same purpose are the words of Peter in his discourse at Cesarea. Speaking of Jesus Christ in connection with the peace which is preached through him, and of course as Mediator, he says, in an emphatic parenthesis, “He is Lord of all,”(Acts 10:36). The term “Lord” denotes authoritative power, and the “all” may be either persons, or things, or both.
“And hath put ALL things () under his feet, and gave him to be head over ALL things () to the church” (Eph. 1:22). The terms “put” and “gave” mark, with sufficient precision, the character in which Christ is here spoken of by the apostle, while the extent of grant is abundantly explicit.
Not less decisive is the language of the same inspired writer in another epistle: “And ye are complete in him which is the head of ALL principality and power,” (Col. 2:10).
“For he hath put ALL things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him; it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him” (1 Cor. 15:27). This is the only instance in which an exception is stated to the universality of the mediatorial dominion; and the exception strengthens greatly our position. The only exception stated is the Father, who confers on him the mediatorial dominion; and the specifying of this shows that there is not another, proves that the mediatorial dominion embraces everything in the universe but God.
One more direct Scripture proof may suffice. And it is of such a character, that, had there not been another in the Bible, it were itself sufficient. Its phraseology seems purposely framed, to place it beyond the power of any one to find a plausible pretext for setting the slightest limit to the official dominion of the Son of God. “But one, in a certain place, testified saying, What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the Son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put ALL things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, HE LEFT NOTHING THAT IS NOT PUT UNDER HIM” (Heb. 2:6-8). The reference is to the eighth Psalm. The purpose for which the words of the Psalm are quoted by the apostle, shows that it is the Messiah who is spoken of. The universality of dominion ascribed, cannot be affirmed of man in the ordinary sense of the term; other worlds and angels not being made subject to him. Besides, a part of the Psalm is applied elsewhere to the Redeemer (Matt. 21:15-16).
Here, then, we have ample proof in support of our position, to which every believer in the Scriptures must pay respect. We can conceive of nothing more decisive or complete. Nothing but the blinding influence of prejudice, interest, or error, can account for such plain testimony being resisted. Whatever some may find it convenient to maintain, it is clear that neither Christ nor his apostles entertained the most distant thought of the mediatorial power being limited, but that they rejoiced in the truth that “his kingdom ruleth over all.”
3. It might be added, that every thing which renders the mediatonal dominion necessary to all, requires it to be of universal extent. It could easily be shown that, to the fulfillment of the purposes of the divine will respecting the elect, to the completion of Christ’s character as a Savior, to his being fitly rewarded for his obedience unto the death, as well to his successful overthrow of his enemies, nothing less than universal power could suffice. But these things are so palpable, that to dwell upon them at length would be only to weaken their force. It will serve a better purpose to CLASSIFY and particularize some of the “all things” that are put under Christ’s feet.
Inanimate and irrational creation is placed under the Mediator. “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things under his feet; all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea” (Ps. 8:6-8). This passage is, as we have seen, quoted in the epistle to the Hebrews with express application to Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:69). The objects specified are the inferior parts of creation, but of these there is no exception. The language comprehends matter in every form, organized and unorganized: the planetary bodies in general, the earth with its water and dry land in particular, the mineral kingdom, and the vegetable world, are all included in “the works of God’s hands:” while inferior animals of every tribe are expressly enumerated, “the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea.” Nor was it unnecessary that the mediatorial grant should embrace such particulars as these. Far from it. The material world owes its preservation to this circumstance. It is the Mediator who “upholds all things by the word of his power.” But for the dispensation of divine mercy of which this earth is the theater, we have no reason to believe that it would have survived the fall. This is the grand conservative element by which it is enabled to withstand the destructive tendency of the dreadful penalty denounced on man’s disobedience. “When the guilty pair put forth their hands, plucked the forbidden fruit, and ate,
- Earth felt the wound; and Nature from her seat,
- Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
- That all was lost.
- Earth trembled from her entrails, as again
- In pangs; and Nature gave a second groan;
- Sky lowered, and muttering thunder, some sad drops
- Wept at completing of the mortal sin
- Original. (Paradise Lost, book 9)
But, while clouds obscure the horizon, and thunders roll in tremendous peals alongst the sky, while the earth quakes to its very center, and everything portends immediate and inevitable destruction; when the earth, and the inhabitants thereof, are about to be dissolved, the divine Mediator steps forth, grasps it with his almighty hand, and “bears up the pillars of it” (Ps. 75:3). Without this interposition, the interests of the church at large could not have been subserved, either in the way of protection or of propagation; nor could her members individually have been fed, clothed, and preserved, or their bodies have been raised up at the last day.
With regard to the inferior animals, the right of dominion over them, given to man at his creation, was forfeited by sin. They are no longer his willing subjects; the service he receives from them he has to extort by constraint. They flock not now around him, as in innocence, but flee from his presence. They dread him as their enemy, instead of loving and revering him as their lord. Many of them, assuming superiority in their turn, cast upon him a glance of hostile defiance, and compel him to betake to flight, that he may escape falling a victim to their merciless ferocity. And to what but to the mediatorial interposition is it owing, that man retains any control over the lower animals, and that the members of the church have secured to them, among other privileges, “a covenant with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground?” (Hos. 2:18). No other satisfactory account can be given of this, than that which is supplied by the fact of God’s having put under the feet of his Son “all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea.”
Scripture history amply and beautifully illustrates this department of mediatorial rule. It is no dream that the sun, moon, and stars, do obeisance to our New Testament Joseph. At what but his command was it, that the sun stood still for a time on the dial of Ahaz? To what but to his power can it be ascribed that the strange order was exactly obeyed: “Sun, stand still upon Gibeon, and thou moon, in the valley of Ajalon?” Or to what but to this was it due that “the stars in their courses fought against Sisera?” The winds and the waves, too, acknowledge his power. He it was who made the waters of the Red Sea to stand up on a heap till his people passed through, and then to collapse for the destruction of their enemies. At his command it was, that Jordan was dried up, to make a way for the ransomed of the Lord to enter into their promised inheritance. His power over the element of fire, appears in his preserving unhurt the three children whom the incensed monarch of Babylon caused to be thrown into the burning fiery furnace, heated seven times more than it was want to be heated. And his power over the opposite element, appears in his casting down upon the Canaanitish kings, at Bethhoron, great stones from heaven, so that there were more who died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
The beasts of the field, whether domestic or untamed, obeyed his command. When he wanted a colt, on which, in fulfillment of prophecy, to ride into Jerusalem, he had only to send his disciples to a particular spot, where they found one standing ready for his use, which they appropriated unchallenged, because “the Lord had need of him.” When his servant Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, he sent his angel to shut their mouths, and when he was taken up out of the den, no manner of hurt was found upon him. The fowls of the air are no less subject to his control. When the inhabitants of the ark were becoming anxious for the abating of the waters, he it was who commissioned the dove with an olive leaf in its mouth to intimate that they had begun to be assuaged. When the prophet by the brook Cherith was hungry, and had no means of obtaining food, ravens, under the same infallible and resistless guidance, brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; their own natural appetites being restrained to prevent their consuming these supplies themselves. Nor are we without examples of his power over the fish of the sea. He ordered his disciples to let down the net on the right side of the ship, and immediately there was inclosed a great draught of fishes. When he was in want of money to meet the demand of temple tribute, he instructed one of his attendants to go to the sea and cast a hook, and the fish which first came up had in its mouth the coin required. That even reptiles and insects felt his authority, appears from some of the plagues sent on the Egyptians, from the fiery serpents by which the rebellious Israelites were so severely chastised, and from the viper fixing on the hand of an apostle without doing him harm. How true is it that the mediatorial dominion extends over the inanimate and irrational parts of creation; and how filly do the facts of the church’s history illustrate this extent of power!
2. If from the lower parts of creation we ascend to the highest, we shall still find traces of the mediatorial dominion. Christ exercises rule over angels. These constitute the highest order of intelligent and moral creatures with which we are acquainted. Of their character, rank, attributes, and employments, we know but little. But this we know that, in all their orders and degrees, they are without exception put in subjection to the Messiah. It is only necessary here to view them in their two grand divisions, of good and bad, or fallen and unfallen.
(1). Christ’s mediatorial dominion extends to holy angels—those who, when their fellow—spirits rebelled, kept their first estate. Paul, in writing to the Ephesians, represents him as seated “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion” (Eph. 1:21), terms which are understood to denote the different orders of angelic creatures. Peter also speaks of him as He “who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; ANGELS, and authorities, and powers, being made subject unto him” (1 Pet. 3:22). As God he has an undoubted essential right of dominion over such: but that something different from this is meant in these passages is plain from the context, and also from the phraseology employed, especially in the latter case. Angels could be made subject to Christ, only in his mediatonal capacity. The account given in Scripture of the services of these bright and happy beings, both to the Head of the church, and to the members of his mystical body, throws the clearest light on the general statements to which we have just referred. Holy angels surround the throne of the mediatorial King: “In the year that king Uzziah died,” sings the son of Amos, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims” (Isa. 6:12). They offer him the tribute of their lofty adoration at the command, “Let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6), for they cry with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:1, 12). They attended him at Sinai, when the law was “ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator” (Gal. 3:19). When, in the fulness of time, he
“Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay,”
an “angel choir” descended on the plains of Bethlehem, and sung the hymn of his nativity: “And suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:1314). Angels ministered to him in his state of humiliation: when the devil left him in the wilderness, “Behold angels came and ministered unto him” (Matt. 4:11). And, during his mysterious agony in the garden, “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43). On the first day of the week when he rose from the dead, “Behold, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulcher” (Matt. 28:2); and, taking his station there, was the first to announce the tidings of his resurrection to the disciples who visited his tomb. Angels accompanied him at his ascension to the Father’s right hand: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels” (Ps. 68:17). And when, at the last day, he shall come again to judgment, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:78).
Holy angels are commissioned by the Mediator to perform a variety of important services to the members of the church. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). The “heirs of salvation” are, of course, those on whom God has chosen to bestow deliverance from all evil, and the possession of all good, as a rich, manifold. extensive, and imperishable inheritance, freely bequeathed to them as children. To such the holy angels minister in holy things, in a variety of ways. Setting aside the learned fancies of certain ancient philosophers, regarding the peculiar occupations of these celestial beings; discarding, as without foundation in the Word of God, the Socratic notion of one guardian spirit being assigned to each saint; the following ideas respecting the ministry of angels may be gathered from the Scriptures of truth.
Holy angels, under the Mediator, exercise a certain inspection over the people of God. “Suffer not,” says Solomon, “thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands?” (Eccl. 5:6). If the angel in this passage means, as is supposed by some, one of the celestial hierarchy, such are plainly to be considered as taking cognizance of the sayings and doings of men. The most plausible interpretation of an obscure passage in the writings of Paul, proceeds on the same supposition: “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels” (1 Cor. 11:10). Angelic inspection being here urged as an inducement to female decorum in the matter of dress, especially in the public congregation. The same consideration gives point and emphasis to a clause in Paul’s solemn appeal to Timothy: “I charge thee, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21). It would thus seem to be one of the functions of angelic ministry, to exercise an inspection over the worship, and sufferings, and obedience of the saints, that they may be ready to yield them assistance when required, be prepared to carry tidings respecting them to the company of interested fellowspirits on high, and be qualified to bear witness in their behalf at the last day.
Holy angels, under the Mediator, are employed in making suggestions to the people of God. The following passage may perhaps warrant the idea that they performed an important part in communicating to the sacred writers the matter of the Scriptures: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass, and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John” (Rev. 1:1). But, however this may be, now that suggestion of this extraordinary kind is at an end, it is interesting to think that they may still be employed in directing the mind to duty and to comfort, and in calling up thoughts of a spiritual and improving character. The thing is at least possible. It is rendered even probable by what we know of the power of bad spirits in suggesting evil thoughts, imaginations, and desires. But the experiences of the people of God, respecting the sudden occurrence of ideas and states of feeling, whose origin cannot possibly be referred to the mind itself on any known laws of mental operation, would seem to give it a character of certainty. This cannot be understood as interfering with the work of the Divine Spirit, whose prerogative it is to guide into all truth; it only supposes him to work by means, the means in such case being created spirits, while the sole efficient agency is reserved exclusively to himself. It may be difficult, or impossible, to discriminate between the suggestions of the mind itself and those of angelic ministers; but the difficulty is not greater, here, than in the case of the workings of evil spirits; and, in neither case, does the difficulty in question militate in the least against the fact.
Protection is afforded to the saints by holy angels. “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Ps. 91:1012). Agreeably to this general statement, we find them employed in delivering Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom: “And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife and thy two daughters which are here, lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city” (Gen. 19:15). Daniel’s safety from the lions is another instance: “My God,” says the prophet, “hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths that they have not hurt me” (Dan. 6:22). If we may judge from what occurred in the case of the Savior himself, at the time of his being tempted by Satan, when angels came and ministered unto him, we may conclude that the protection they afford extends to spiritual as well as outward dangers. Nor is it irrelevant, here, to observe the services they discharge in the way of counteracting the plots of the church’s enemies, and inflicting upon them the judgments of the Lord, inasmuch as these are connected with the safety of his people. Thus, with respect to Sennacherib’s army, it is said: “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, they were all dead corpses” (2 Kings 19:35; See also Zech. 1:811; Dan. 10:13; 11:1).
Holy angels, under the Messiah, exercise a salutary vigilance over the people of God. They are employed in frequent embassies of mercy to them while they live. When they die, they carry their disembodied spirits to the regions of bliss: “The beggar died, and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom.” And have we not reason to think that even their bodies will be taken in charge by the same powerful servants at the period of the resurrection? “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Luke 16:22; Matt. 24:31).
Such are some of the services performed by the angelic tribes to the members of the church of Christ. The wide space between heaven and earth is not, as we are apt to imagine, an unoccupied void, but crowded with a busy throng of active beings employed in ministering to them who are to be heirs of salvation. And who is the master of these servants? By whom are they “sent forth”? From whom do they derive their commission? From Him whose mediatorial kingdom ruleth over all; who has removed the moral barrier which sin interposed to obstruct the intercourse of men and angels; who hath “gathered together in one all things, both which are in heaven and which are in earth,” and thus opened the way for our being introduced to “an innumerable company of angels.” Had he not assumed the character and discharged the functions of Mediator, none of the benefits conveyed through the medium of angels could ever have been enjoyed by the people of God; nor could men ever have undergone that transformation and elevation of moral character which are necessary to fit them for intercourse with such pure and dignified creatures.
Important purposes are served by the subjection of angels to the Messiah. Foundation is thus laid for the restoration of a useful, happy, honorable, and lasting friendship between men and these celestial spirits. The whole honor and glory of man’s salvation are thus secured to Christ, no service being performed to the saints, or benefit received by them, but emanates, be the instruments who they may, from the sacred fountain of his authority and love. Had the angels not been put under his feet, the services they perform, supposing them to have taken place, must have been independent of him, and consequently believers should have had a class of precious benefits for which they were under no obligation to Christ, and the glory of which they could never have ascribed to him. In this way, also, provision is made for a high example of obedient subjection to Messiah being set before saints; as well as for the overthrow of evil spirits by beings of their own order, which cannot fail to contribute to the completeness of their defeat by increasing their torment and mortification.
(2). And this leads us to remark, that fallen angels, as well as those who kept their first estate, are placed under the Messiah. He possesses power over infernal spirits, not only as God, but as Mediator. The very object of his mediatorial character requires this; for as the elect of God are, by nature, exposed to the assaults of Satan and of his emissaries, it is important that He, who is to act as their Savior, should be invested with power to rescue them from their spiritual adversaries. That he may bind the “strong man,” and spoil him of his goods, by delivering those whom he has led captive at his will, he must have a right to enter his house and place him in fetters. The god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, worketh in the children of disobedience; and He who is to restore them to the love and practice of holiness, must have power to cast out the prince of this world.
Even after the children of God are rescued from the yoke of Satan’s dominion, they are still liable to be assailed and subjected to partial and temporary bondage. Either on the one hand to protect his people from such assaults, or on the other to render them subservient to good, it is necessary that the devil and his angels be placed under the control of the Mediator. It is here not a little interesting to observe, that the very first announcement given of the Savior exhibits him as the conqueror of the prince of the bottomless pitthe seed of the woman bruising the SERPENT’S head. Such was the object contemplated in his advent: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). When the saints are exhorted to “be sober, be vigilant, because their adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8), to whom but to their divine Mediator can they look for wisdom and strength to resist his attacks and continue steadfast in the faith? When the devil is permitted to cast them into prison that they may be tried, He only can enable them to “be faithful unto death, that they may receive a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
Nor is it for the individual members of his mystical body alone, that this extent of mediatorial power is necessary, but also for his church in her collective character. As for those systems of iniquity, religious and civil with which she has to contend, we are assured that “the dragon gave them their power and their authority;” and, of course, without some such control as we are supposing, things could never be so ordered as to bring about the issue which is predicted. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before God day and night” (Rev. 12:910). Nay, these infernal agents, it would seem, are employed by the Mediator as instruments of inflicting merited punishment on the enemies of the church; but this they could not be, unless under his dominion. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet: for they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:1314). Thus the church’s salvation, safety, peace, and prosperity, require that her Head be possessed of a rightful dominion over fallen spirits of every order.
This branch of his official rule is not less fully illustrated in the history of the Redeemer’s life, and death, and mediatorial government, than is his dominion over holy angels. His miracles filled the infernal spirits with dread, and extorted from them a deprecation of the exercise of his power: “Art thou come to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:28). By his personal conflict with Satan in the wilderness, the archfiend of hell was subjected to the mortifications of a threefold defeat. Such was the influence exerted by his ministers’ that “even the devils were subject to them through his name;” and, as they proceeded in their work of mercy and benevolence, “Satan was beheld as falling as lightening from heaven” (Luke 10:17, 18). But his death, his vicarious and meritorious death, was what shook the foundations of Satan’s kingdom, and gave the fatal blow to the reign of the god of this world: “Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in his cross” (Col. 2:15). Let me illustrate this a little, as it involves a point of some nicety which is not always well understood.
The power possessed by the devil and his angels over the human race, may be regarded in two lightseither as an unrighteous usurpation, or as a judicial calamity. As regards Satan himself, the former is the view we are to take of it: as regards the overruling providence of God, the latter is the light in which it is to be contemplated. Satan is a usurper; he possesses no lawful authority; as far as he himself is concerned, he can point to no authority from God for the exercise of his wicked and malicious control over man. Yet, notwithstanding this, it is obvious that without the permission of God, he could have no such control for a single moment, as that which he actually exercises. He could have no power unless, in this sense, it were given him from above (John 19:11). Nor can we suppose, that a righteous God would even permit him to have such power, unless for the punishment of those who have violated his law, and exposed themselves to his judicial displeasure. Satan, in himself, has, indeed, no regal right to inflict torment on men; he has no direct moral authority from the Supreme Governor, to execute the threatening of his holy law against transgressors; he holds no such place as even that of authorized executioner of the divine vengeance: yet his wrath and malice are, as in the case of wicked men, made to praise God, by being overruled for the punishment of the guilty violators of his law. In this view it is the guilt of men which gives Satan power. His dominion, usurped though it be on his part, springs from human transgression. But for this, the righteous Lord who doeth righteousness, would never have tolerated for an instant the unrighteous usurpation of the prince of this world.
This being understood, it must be obvious that the overthrow of Satan’s power required, first of all, that legal satisfaction should be given to the claims of the divine law for the sins of men. When this is done, his throne is underminedhis scepter brokenhis arm of might paralyzed; and any efforts he can ever afterwards make, are but the feeble attempts of a vanquished foe to recover his lost influence, or the spiteful manifestations of unsubdued but impotent malice. Now this is just what was effected by the death of Christ; and we have here an illustrious display of the inseparable connection subsisting between his regal and sacerdotal offices. It was on his cross that he triumphed over the principalities and powers of darkness. It was on his Cross that he bruised the serpent’s head. All legal ground for permitting Satan to continue to exercise his lawless usurpation being at an end, the triumphant Savior could forthwith exert his power in destroying his influence over the chosen of God. From this point, then, does the victorious Mediator go forth on his glorious undertaking of destroying the works of the devil. The death of the Cross effected, he is prepared to enter the territories of the prince of darkness; to overthrow his dominion in the hearts of men, and in the institutions of society; to rescue his own children from the fangs of the destroyer; to bind and loose Satan at his pleasure; and to order everything so as best to bring about the period, when “the devil shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10), and when “he who has the keys of hell and of death, who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth” (Rev. 1:18), shall so hold him in eternal durance, that he shall not torment his people any more.
3. A middle place, between inanimate creation and angelic intelligences, is occupied by men; and they also are under the government of the mediatorial King. “The Father has given him power over ALL FLESH” (John 17:2)a phrase which in this, as in other parts of Scripture (Luke 3:6, etc.), signifies the whole of mankind, the human race at large. That he possesses authority over the righteous, the elect, those whom the Father has given to him, cannot be doubted. But that his power, as Mediator, should extend to the nonelect, the ungodly, the world lying in wickedness, may not seem so obvious. A little reflection, however, is all that is required to produce conviction on this point also. Those who are given to him, are mingled up for a time with the rest of the human family; they are themselves, at first, ungodly and unrighteous; and, that they may be changed, as well as gathered out from a sinful and apostate race, he, whose work it is to accomplish these objects, must have power over the wicked as such. Nay, the ungodly may often be rendered instrumental in contributing to the interests of the church and people of God. The earth helps the woman, as Egypt supplied the children of Israel with support during the years of famine, and as Cyrus assisted the Jews in their return to their own land and the rebuilding of their temple. The very enmity of the wicked may be overruled for the good of the righteous. Now, it is Christ who, in virtue of his mediatonal power, thus establishes the wicked for correction, and makes the wrath of men to praise him. Even to restrain and keep back what would not be for the good of his chosen, the Redeemer must be possessed of such power. And, in addition to these, his power must be thus extensive, for the purpose of inflicting on the ungodly the punishment due to their sins. As the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son, it is his to “make his enemies his footstool,” and to put into the hand of them that afflict his people “the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of his fury” (Isa. 51: 22, 23). On all these accounts, there can be no greater mistake than to limit the Mediator’s power to the members of the church, or to exclude any class of men whatever from his authority.
Enemies as well as friends are put under his feet: “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Ps. 110:2). Heathens as well as Christians are subject to his authority: “The heathen are given to him for his inheritance” (Ps. 2:8); “He is head of the heathen” (Ps. 28:43). Persons, in their civil not less than in their ecclesiastical capacity, are required to acknowledge his power: “Be wise, 0 ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way” (Ps. 2:1012). The dead, not less than the living, are under his control: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). The wretched inhabitants of the pit, as much as those who are in heaven, feel his sway: “He has the keys of hell and of death; he openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth” (Rev. 1:18; 3:7). Among the human family, not one is exempted from the government of Messiah; none so high as to be beyond his reach, none so low as to be beneath his notice. He has power over all flesh.
4. Nor is it over men as individuals merely that Christ possesses power. His authority extends to associations of every description, domestic, civil, and ecclesiastical. The social principle is deeply lodged in the constitution of man, and makes its appearance in a thousand varied forms. Individuals, by forming themselves into societies, may make themselves powerful for good or evil, for purposes of aggression or defense. Societies, like persons, are under the government of God, and subject to the divine law. Bodiespolitic or corporations are to be regarded as large moral subjects. To suppose that men, as individuals, are under the moral government of the Almighty, and bound to regulate their conduct by his law, but that, as societies, they are exempted from all such control, is to maintain what involves the most absurd and pernicious consequences. According to this, those who wish to free themselves from the restraints of moral obligation, have only to enter into alliance with one another; they have only to band themselves together to have their proud wish of independence fully gratified. This conclusion is too glaringly impious, not to shock every reflective mind. But if associations are under the moral government of God, and God has committed all government to the Son, it follows that associations are as much under the mediatorial sovereignty as individuals. Indeed it would not be difficult to show, that no species of society can exist whose proceedings do not bear more or less directly on the interests of the Redeemer, so that, without having such under his control, he could not fully accomplish the ends for which he is invested with the mediatorial character. While this is true of all associations, there are two, the church and the state, over which the mediatorial authority in a very particular manner extends. These are so important, both in themselves and in their relation to the subject now under discussion, that we must give to each a separate consideration afterwards.
5. But before leaving the present department, it is proper to remark that all the dispensations of providence, as well as the various departments of creation, are under the dominion of the Mediator. This is proved, not only by the universal language employed by the inspired writers when speaking of Christ’s rule in general, but by the express terms of Scripture with reference to this particular subject, and also by the necessity of the thing itself. The vision of the wheels in the first chapter of Ezekiel’s prophecy, is generally understood to refer to the dispensations of divine providence in their nature, aspects, intricacy, and perfect consistency and wisdom. These dispensations were represented to the prophet as under the direction of one who sat upon a throne, and whose likeness was as “the appearance of A MAN above upon it” (Ez. 1:26). We are not left to doubt that “the man Christ Jesus” is here meant, for it is afterwards said, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of THE LORD.” We have here, then, an explicit proof from Scripture that the affairs of providence are managed by the Mediator: managed, too, with perfect wisdom, as indicated by the rings of the wheels being “full of eyes round about;” and with special reference to the covenant of grace, as indicated by the appearance of the brightness being “as the day of rain.”
Indeed, the necessity of the thing requires that the Mediator’s power be of such extent as to embrace all the affairs of providence. How, else, could he remove those obstacles which prevent the success of his gospel, and make way for the advancement of his spiritual kingdom? How, but for this, in a world in which “there are many adversaries,” could “a great door and effectual be opened up” to his servants in furthering his cause? How, without this, would it be possible to render the train of events in operation at any time, subservient to the interests of the church? How could things merely secular, such as learning, and wealth, and the common relations of life, be ever ultimately Christianized, and have inscribed on them the motto Holiness to the Lord? Or how could the whole scheme of providential concerns be brought to that glorious consummation at the final judgment, to which it is his prerogative to bring it, seeing “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22)? It is his, in short, to open the sevensealed book, to blow the seven trumpets, and to pour out the seven vials, in which all the events of divine providence toward the church and her enemies are comprehended. The measures of providence are best studied in the light of Calvary; and there is no surer key to the interpretation of the apocalyptic symbols than the Cross.
Such is the varied proof, to which we invite attention, on the subject of the universal extent of the mediatorial rule. It embraces every thing animate and inanimate, rational and irrational, moral and immoral, individual and socialevery thing, in short, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. All things are put under his feet. He only is excepted who did put all things under him. To such an extent of mediatorial power, however, several OBJECTIONS have been stated.
1. One of these objections, founded on the spirituality of Christ’s kingdom, has already been obviated. But, it may be said that such an extent of dominion as we have supposed to belong to the Son as Mediator, tends to exclude the Father and the Holy Spirit from the government of all things. By no means. However mysterious in itself and difficult to be explained, the fact is not to be denied that the work of one person of the Godhead, in any department of operation, does not preclude that of the others; creation, providence, and grace being alike ascribed in Scripture to each. The inspired writers represent the Father and the Son, accordingly, as occupying the same throne: “Even as I am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev. 3:31); “the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it” (Rev. 22:3). Nor can it fail to strike an intelligent person that the very same mode of reasoning might be directed against the Savior’s dominion over the church. If the circumstance of the government of the world at large being vested in the Son goes to exclude the Father and the Spirit from the dominion of all things, it will follow that the circumstance of the dominion of the church being vested in the Son, must, on the same principle, go to exclude the Father and the Spirit from all control over the church. And, if the management of the church may be delegated to the Son without interfering with the essential right of dominion belonging to the other persons of the Trinity, why not also the management of all things besides? If a part may be delegated without annulling the right of other persons to dominion over that part, why may not the whole, without annulling their right of dominion over the whole?
2. It has also been supposed to confound the essential and the
mediatorial rule of Christ. In confirmation of, and in addition to, what was formerly observed on this point, it may here be remarked that there may be a formal distinction where there is a material identity. The same thing may be viewed in different aspects. Things, the same in themselves, may be viewed as under the dominion of Christ both essentially as God and officially as Mediator. In the latter case, they are invested with a new power, and directed to a new end. He is not only “head over all things,” but “head over all things to the church which is his body.” In the order of God’s creatures, the lower are subordinate to the higher, and the highest include all that are under them. Things natural are subordinate to things moral, and things moral to things gracious; but the interests of those things which are gracious necessarily suppose the subordination both of those that are natural and of those that are moral. Thus the two latter classes, which are under the Son essentially considered, must, for the sake of the former class, which is under him officially, be placed under him officially too. The result of the whole, then, is that the essential and the mediatorial dominions of Christ, so far from being subversive the one of the other, are absolutely commensurate and perfectly harmonious; yet not so blended as to destroy the distinctive character of either.
3. It has been thought an objection to our doctrine that, if Christ be possessed of such an extent of official power, it must lay foundation for the ascription of divine honors to him as Mediator. He who rules over all is certainly entitled to the homage of all. But, so far from believing that divine honor should not be paid to Christ as Mediator, we are at a loss to see to what evil it can possibly give rise, or how, indeed, it can be avoided. His divine and his mediatorial characters are, it is true, distinct. That is to say, we can suppose the former without the latter. But it is carefully to be observed that we cannot suppose the latter without the former. His divinity is essential to his mediatorship. He could not have been Mediator unless he had been God. He is a Divine Mediator. Apart from his divinity, his mediatorial character is not only without validity, but without beinga mere figment of imagination. Where, then, lies the danger of ascribing divine honors to the Mediator? Was it not as Mediator that the disciples, in the days of his flesh, fell down and worshipped him? Is it not the Lamb slain, that every creature in heaven is represented as ascribing to him blessing, and honor, and glory, and power? And might not the payment of divine honors to the Father, viewed as Creator or Preserver, be as reasonably objected to, as the ascription of divine glory to the Son as Mediator? The former characters are not more essential to the being of God than the latter; or rather they are all alike nonessential. God might have existed without assuming the character of Creator or Preserver, as well as the Son without taking to himself that of Mediator. This last is not more the result of an act of divine will than the others; and if these, as is admitted, do not preclude but call for divine homage, why should not this?
4. It is equally inconclusive to maintain, that such an extent of
mediatorial dominion must suppose the wicked to be somehow interested in the work of Christ, and partakers of the benefits of his death.
We appeal, in reply, to what is matter of fact; we have already shown, that there are many things under the power of Christ besides those which are the immediate objects of his purchase. Angels, devils, reprobate men, and things irrational and inanimate, are all put under the feet of the Mediator: yet not one of these can be said to have been redeemed by his blood. There are some benefits enjoyed by the wicked of the world, which, as they result from the mediatorial economy, may be said to be, indirectly at least, the fruits of Christ’s death. Such is the case with the divine forbearance, with temporal favors, and with the outward dispensation of gospel ordinances, of which the wicked partake, but which, but for the scheme of salvation, they could never have enjoyed.
It is, however, not more difficult to account for such things, than to understand how a general reprieve, and temporary support, may be conferred by an earthly prince on a whole body of traitors, for the sake of some whom it is his design to rescue from the danger that impends them all. “And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes” (Gen. 18:23). “Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all” (Isa. 65:8). Nor is it irrelevant, here, to advert to the distinction between things viewed simply in themselves, and viewed as blessed by God. The things themselves may be enjoyed when the blessing of heaven is withheld. In the case of temporal benefits, it is, properly speaking, the blessing that springs directly from the mediation of Christ; the things themselves spring from it only indirectly. Things which flow from the natural goodness of God, it will be allowed, were forfeited by sin; and, if so, they can be restored only through the Mediator. It is commanded, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:25, 33). We are instructed to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). It is said of the believer, “Bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure” (Isa. 33:16). We are also assured that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).
Now, it may be asked, to which covenant, the covenant of works or that of grace, do these promises and assurances respecting temporal mercies belong? Not surely to the covenant of works, for through this medium, no good can come to fallen man; the curse is all that he can receive from this source. But if they belong to the covenant of grace, they must have some connection with the death of Christ, by which this covenant is ratified. The things, viewed in themselves, flow, we admit, from the natural goodness of God, and so may be participated in by more than the saints; yet, viewed as blessed by God, that is, as real blessings, they are to be regarded as flowing from the blood of Christ, by which they are secured, redeemed, and sanctified, for the use of his own people. Nor can it be any more a valid objection to Christ’s headship over all things, that the wicked are thus supposed to enjoy temporal benefits, than it is to his headship over the church, that the wicked as well as others enjoy access to the ordinances of the gospel and the means of grace.
5. After all, it may be thought that the doctrine of Christ’s universal mediatorial supremacy is at variance with fact. “We see not yet all thing put under him.” Devils and wicked men do not acknowledge his authority, or respond to his claims. But his right and title are unaffected by this circumstance. In the kingdom of a rightful sovereign, there may be rebels. If this objection were of weight against Christ’s dominion over all things, it would bear with equal force against his power over the church, inasmuch as, unquestionably, many of those who are included in this department are yet unsubdued and in arms against his authority. Nay, it would go to exclude the Almighty himself from the rule of the universe; for many there are who refuse to acknowledge or respect his moral government. The reign of the Mediator, however, is not yet ended; in the exercise of the undoubted right he possesses, he is carrying forward the purposes for which it has been conferred. We have only to wait with patience, till he has put down all rule, and all authority and power, and then shall it appear that the Father hath put all things in subjection under his feet, having left nothing which is not put under him.
How delightful the principle thus established and vindicated! It reflects the glory of Christ, on whose head are many crowns. He appears, wearing, not only the crown of dominion over the church, but that of dominion over the kingdoms of nature, providence, and graceover things physical and moral, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate. Things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, are thus seen to be put under his feet. His kingdom ruleth over all. Ye saints of the Most High! ascribe to him the glory that is due.
Be not afraid or ashamed to affirm his universal sovereignty. Who would wish to rob him of any one of his crowns, or to see him excluded from any part of his dominions? If some have seemed to do so theoretically, let us hope that it has arisen more from mistaken conception or party prejudice than from real opposition to his honor. This is not a mere speculative matter; it affects the perfection of the Redeemer’s character. So much so, that without such extent of power as is supposed, he could not be our Redeemer at all. To the salvation of men, he must be invested with power, not only over such as are saved, but over such as are to be saved; he must possess a right to bring them under the influence of means, as well as to render the means efficacious; a right to subordinate every thing in nature and providence to the accomplishment of this high and glorious undertaking. To limit or restrict the mediatorial rule is thus clearly subversive of the Savior’s glory.
This view of things is fraught with comfort to saints. To such it cannot but afford strong consolation, to know that their Mediator has power over angels, and can employ these celestial beings in watching over them, communicating to them ideas, affording them protection, and transporting them when they die to the land of bliss. When assailed by satanic temptations, it must be matter of joyful reflection to the people of God, to know that Christ has dominion over infernal spirits, and can limit and restrain, and overrule for good, all their operations; that they can have no power over these except as it is given them by him; that the power they possess is entirely under his control; and that he possesses the right and the ability, as he stands pledged, to destroy in the end all the works of the devil. As the disciple of Christ looks abroad upon the field of nature, how pleasing the reflection, that it is his Savior who upholds all things by the word of his power, causing the sun to shine, the stars to twinkle, the rain to fall, the earth to vegetate, and food to spring from it for man and beast! Every thing in nature is thus invested with a new beauty, and reflects a brighter splendor to the eye of the Christian, from being placed under the management of his Lord and Savior. As the wheels of providence revolve, however high their bearing and intricate their movements, he can behold them with perfect calmness and security, knowing, as he does, that they are all under the infallible guidance of the Godman Mediator, who occupies the throne which is above the firmament. In short, in whatever situation he may be placed, or whatever view of things he may be led to take, nothing can afford to the believer greater consolation and joy, than the reflection that all are under the power of him who is the Savior of his soul.
Not less calculated is the subject we are considering, to appall the hearts of the enemies of Christ. In virtue of his universal dominion, he can break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. His Father has said to him, “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” To such as are in a state of rebellion against him, it may well be said, “Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” He has at his command infinite resources of torture, dismay, and ruin. You who are his enemies! think how he can send out your fellowrebels against you; can scourge you with providential calamities; or let loose legions of infernal spirits to torment and devoir you. Think how he swept away the Antediluvians with the flood; how he drowned the Egyptians in the waters of the Red Sea; how he overthrew in succession the heathen monarchies; and how he poured destruction on the guilty inhabitants of Judea. As Lord of all, he can make all things the instruments of his vengeance. He must reign till all his enemies be made his footstool. How much better, by timely submission, to be elevated to his throne, than, by obstinate hostility, to be trodden for ever under his feet! You have before you the alternative. Choose ye that which is good. He extends to sinners the golden scepter of his grace. Let them tremble at the thought of being exposed eternally to “the wrath of the Lamb” for refusing to touch it.