Sermon 3 on Hebrews
by Thomas Goodwin
"God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."
Whom He hath appointed heir of all things. Having mentioned Christ, he falls into a large encomium of him: first, that which was first, as mediator, to wit, his Father's appointing him to be heir of all things; for it is not spoken of him as the second person in the trinity, but as he is mediator, because he is said to be appointed an heir, but not as God. He needed no appointing, he had it; and as the natural Son of God, he could not properly be called an heir, for an heir is to succeed another in a right transmitted to him; but so Christ did not as the Son, therefore it is spoken of him as mediator, and so he is appointed heir of all things, himself coming within the decree of predestination.
First; One is said to be an heir in regard of some good to possess. A poor man may be said to have many sons, but not an heir, because he hath nothing to leave them; for possessions and an heir are relations, and the greater the possessions the greater heir.
Secondly; An heir hath relation to succession, therefore we use to say, ‘unto him and his heirs.' Another hath the primary right, but the heir hath it derived to him; thus Christ may be said to be heir, not as God, for so he hath equal right with his Father, but as mediator, and so he may be said to succeed his Father.
In the state of innocency, God the Father did govern the world immediately, and the covenant made with Adam was made immediately, by the hands of no mediator; and though Christ was Lord of all then, yet the Father exercised jurisdiction; but man falling, Christ comes to be an heir, the Father lays down the government, and Christ undertakes the shattered condition of the world; and therefore in John v. 22, ‘The Father judgeth no man,' Before, the Father judged and ruled immediately, came and preached to Adam himself, and judged him, till he had made the promise of this heir; and then Christ came to govern the world, of which we have a type, Exod. xxxiii., compared with the 23d chapter and 3d verse, ‘I will not,' saith God, ‘go up in the middle of them, for I shall destroy them;' that is, if I go according to my rules which I observed in my government in the state of man's innocency, having given them a law, viz., if they transgressed it, I must of necessity destroy them; but chap. xxiii. 20, saith the Lord, ‘I will send mne angel before you, but beware of him, and obey his voice, for my name is in him,' that is, mine attributes; according to the rule of his government be may shew mercy, but I cannot. Thus Christ is an heir, because he governs by succession.
Thirdly; He is said to be an heir, to shew that he is Lord of all things, for heirs and dominons are all one in the civil law; the heir is said to be heir of all, Gal. iii. 1, 2, which is all one with the phrase, ‘Him hath God made Lord and Christ,' Acts ii. 86.
Fourthly; To shew that he is the first-born, he hath the primary title, and we are heirs in him, therefore called co-heirs; therefore it is said in the Psalms, ‘I will make my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth.' ‘His inheritance is founded upon this, that he was the first-born in the womb of God's predestination.
Fifthly; Because he shall never be put by it, for it is an inheritance, and that is for ever. Foolish men, that can give their goods but for a while, yet they write, ‘to him and to his heirs for ever; ‘ but Christ's inheritance is perpetual, he will be heir of two worlds when this is burned, and the writing of it will never be burned, for it is written within the record of God's decree in heaven. Why did God appoint him thus heir of all things? Was it for himself? No; for he had a natural right to all; but he was so appointed, that he might be able to overrule all things for your salvation, therefore life and death cannot separate between them and him, because he is ‘heir of all things,' John xvii. 2. What an infinite mercy is this, that he should not only possess all things, but that Christ should possess all for your sakes; therefore the kingdom of Chist is said to be a spiritual kingdom, because it is to possess and rule all things for spiritual ends, for the good of his elect; Eph. i. 22, he hath given him to be head of all, that he might be head to the church.
Christ differs from other heirs.
First; Because he is heir of all the other sons; other heirs, their brethren, are not put into their inheritance, but Christ doth inherit all things; his brethren are given unto him for his inheritance: ‘I will give thee the heathen for thy inheritance.'
Secondly; Other heirs do not make the land or build the houses they do inherit, but Christ hath built the house he is heir of. Heb. iii. 6,
Thirdly; He hath purchased it likewise. What a man hath by purchase, we say he hath it not by inheritance; but Christ he bought heaven and all the glory of the saints, and the saints themselves; therefore, Rev. v., it is said, ‘Thou art worthy of all honour and glory,' he. And yet, though he bought all so dear, yet He must ask for it before he can have it: ‘Ask of me, and I will give thee,' Ps. ii. So Isa. liii. speaking of his death, ‘He will appoint him his portion with the great.'
Fourthly; He doth inherit all things while his Father is alive. Other heirs may have something made over to them, and the rest after their death; but the Father, who ever lives, hath laid down his government, and committed all judgment to the Son.
Fifthly; He is such an heir, that all his brethren are heirs with him. In other places, the elder brother runs away with all, and the rest are beggars. But though our title come in by him, yet being co-heirs, he inheriting, we may inherit all things with him.
Use 1. Labour therefore to be one with Christ, for he is a great heir; he hath unchangeable riches laid up in him, Eph. i., he is heir of three kingdoms, heaven, earth, and hell; and to move you to it, consider you shall not only inherit, all things by him, but the heir himself shall be your inheritance, Deut. x. 9, you shall be heirs of him, who shall be lords of all things; not that we should be lords of Christ, yet he will serve us, not only here, as when he came in the form of a servant, but in heaven. It is said, ‘He will gird himself and serve us'
Use 2. Think thou what infinite love he shewed when he came down into the world, and dispossessed himself of all, had not a hole to lay his head in, by way of a temporal right; he did not only forbear the use of all, reserving the right, but he did abdicare jus, in respect of a temporal right; therefore the apostle saith,
‘He became poor, that we might become rich.'
Use 3. In that he, that was heir of all things, should come here, as a prince disguised, it should teach us humility. Here the heir was under tutors and governors, subject to his parents, to the government of the world, paid tribute to Caesar, he Though he possessed all things, and had an assurance immediately before, John xiii., yet he arose and took a towel, and washed his disciples' feet, saying, ‘If I your Lord and master,' that is, though he then actually considered that he was Lord of all, yet he would shew them an act of humility, that they might thereby learn to serve one another through love.
Use 4. If Christ be Lord of all, then he will certainly uphold a ministry to call his elect home; for he hath all power given him to that end, that he might give them eternal life, Mat. xxviii. 18, 19 ; therefore ministers also should teach boldly and plainly, because he is heir of all things.
Use 5. See then how our right comes in; that great charter that God hath given us is gone, because the seal is broken, which was the image of God; therefore now our right comes in by Christ, and no man hath right to anything, but either as a son or a servant. Wicked men serve him, therefore he gives them for their wages the good things of this life; yet all the right is in him. If therefore you would have the right of sons, get into Christ, ‘all things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's;' he hath the prime right, and hath appointed Christ to be heir of all things; and you being in Christ, all things come to be yours. Indeed, you may have the right of servants, and not be in him; neither will Christ call wicked men into question, simply for having the things of this life; but servants abide not in the house always; if therefore you would have an inheritance perpetual, immortal, and not be cast out in the end, labour to be one with Christ. It follows, to shew why he is said to be an heir appointed. All heirs are either born, or so appointed; so by will Christ is both: as the Son of God he is born an heir, and so he comes not under the decree of predestination, which is an act of God's will; but as mediator he is appointed heir; therefore when the apostle saith, ‘By him he made the world,' he speaks of him as the Son; but when he saith, ‘He was appointed heir of all things,' he speaks of him as mediator; therefore he speaks of it as a distinct thing, and saith also, ‘By whom he made the world.'
There is a twofold right Christ hath to all things.
First, By nature, or birth.
Secondly, By an economical dispensatory right; and so Christ is said to be predestinated, 1 Peter i. 20.
First, As the Son of God he is not predestinated, for generation is an act of God's nature, and he did it necessarily; but predestination is an act of his will.
Secondly, That this second person should subsist in a human nature, comes within the compass of his decree, by virtue of which he becomes heir of all things; therefore in Heb. x. 5 it is said, that Christ should have a body, was written in the volume of the book, that is, it comes under the decree of God, for he might have taken the nature of angels, as appears, Heb. ii., where it is said, ‘He took not the nature of angels;' it implies, he might have done it.
Thirdly, That he took that particular nature, this came within the compass of God's appointment, for it was only by grace, therefore Augustine saith, What could that nature deserve to be taken into fellowship more than any other? It was Nestorius his error, that Christ was first mere man, and merited to be united, not considering that all merit flows from the union, and doth not precede it.
Fourthly, All the offices of Christ come within the compass of God's decree.
First, His kingly office: Ps. ii., ‘I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.' Acts ii. 36, ‘Which God hath made Lord and King.'
Secondly, His priestly office: Heb. iii. 1, 2, it is said, ‘He was faithful in it unto him that appointed him.'
Thirdly, His prophetical office: Deut. xviii.18, ‘God will raise up a prophet of their brethren like unto me.'
Fourthly, Though his human nature be united, yet according to that he is not his adopted Son, but his natural Son, for it is persona that is not the divine and human nature; therefore it is said, ‘That which is born of thee shall be called the Son of God;' yet all the glory that he hath, though it be a consequent of his union, yet it is given him. John xvii. 5, he saith, ‘Glorify me,' claiming it as his due, yet he begs it, as given. So Phil. ii., though ‘he thought it no robbery to be equal with God,' yet it is said, ‘God gave him a name above every name.' Though it was his inheritance by nature, yet it was given him; and the reason is this, because, when he took upon him the office of a mediatorship, he laid down his glory, gave up the right he formerly had, and took it anew from his Father, as if a son, who is joint purchaser with ‘his father, should give up his right, and take it again of his will; and this he did,
(First.) That he might make over all things unto us. If he had been an heir born only, and possessed it by that title, he could never have made over that to us; but the right that we had by appointment, that he made over unto us, that we might be heirs with him. As an heir born, he is in the bosom of the Father; but he sits at the right hand of his Father, as an heir appointed.
(Secondly.) He will be an heir appointed, that God may be glorified in all the glory that he hath. It might be said, the Son holds of him, for as mediator he holds all by that great charter he hath of his Father; therefore Phil ii., ‘He gave him a name above every name, &c., to the glory of God the Father.'
Use 1. If Christ were appointed heir of all things, if his human nature could not merit to be assumed, but his predestination was merely of grace, then surely it is ours likewise.
Use 2. This sets forth the love of Christ to us, in that he would my down and take it by a new right. Why should not we then lay down all at his feet, seeing we shall have all in a better right, a spiritual, we shall be put into Christ's title, and be heirs as well as he. Neither is Christ heir only, but ‘heir of all things;' there's nothing but he hath a right to; he is an heir of the angels, therefore they are said to be our ‘fellow-servants,' Rev. xix. 10, and xxii. 9. The reason is only this, because Christ is the Lord of them also; therefore he sends them forth for the good of his elect, for which cause they are called ‘ministering spirits.' While we stood in innocency, it is a question whether they should have been ministering spirits to us, yea or no; but now being Christ's servants, they are ours also. He is heir also of the devils, to overrule them; they could not go into the swine without his leave: yea, all the wicked men in the world are his servants, therefore they are said to ‘deny the Lord' that bought them.' ‘The elder shall serve the younger,' was spoken of Esau, who being Christ's servant, was Jacob's likewise. Yea, ‘he is heir of all things;' the wind shall not blow on thee but with his leave; yea, all passages of things, both present and to come, all afflictions he is heir of, so of all the creatures; therefore he will new hang his house one day, and they shall be restored again to a glorious liberty; therefore, Ps. xcvi. 10, 11, it is said, ‘Let the earth rejoice, because Christ is king.' Yea, all godly men are heirs with him, yet he is heir of the heirs themselves.
For the opening of the point, consider,
First- Heir of all things is more than king of all things; for inheritance implies right to every parcel of goods in his dominions. He is not only a king to overrule all, but he is heir of more worlds than one, as appears, ver. 3, and he hath a right to every parcel therein.
Secondly, He is heir of all things, because he is the end of all things; ‘All things were made for him.' He was first appointed an heir, then God made worlds for him to inherit. God did not, as Abraham did, lay up goods, and not know who should enjoy them; but he designed them for Christ ; therefore it is said, ‘All things were made for him,' Col. i., they are all to set out Christ. The devils, to shew his power, for it was fit so great a king should have potent enemies; the angels, his pursuivants, and the reason is, because indeed he is all things himself, taking upon him our nature; man being an index of all the creatures, therefore it is said, ‘Preach the gospel to every creature.'
Thirdly, The right that Christ hath to all things, as heir, is not a worldly right, ‘My kingdom is not of this world;' therefore, though he be heir of all things, he will put you by nothing; but his title is spiritual, for spiritual ends. For look, what use men are to put things to, such is their title to them ; because men are to put the creature to worldly uses, therefore their right is worldly; but Christ being to overrule all things for the good of his elect, his title is spiritual: John xvii. 2, ‘All power was given him, that he might give eternal life to them that were given him.' That nothing might hinder their salvation, he hath made himself heir of all things.
Use 1. If Christ be heir of all things, then those that are his fellow-heirs need fear nothing, for all things are Christ's. He is the heir of all occurrences in the world, that he might give them eternal life; therefore all things shall work together for that end.
Use 2. If Christ be heir of all things, then learn to employ all for Christ. It is reason all should be employed for the good of the heir; administrators, while the heir is under age, are to give an account. All the gifts you have, you are but administrators of them, therefore labour to improve them for the good of the heir.
Use 3. Theref in the end you will find all things tend to the glory of Christ, when all accounts are cast up, and those his enemies, who would not give him glory, shall find that they have done it whether they would or no; for he is a good husband, and will improve his father's goods to the atmost. When God was like to lose all his glory, he undertook the shattered condition of things, and promised that all his glory should come in another way; and it will be found one day, that God had as much glory out of the sinful condition of man, and more, than if he had stood in the state of innocency.
Use 4. Though Christ be heir of all things, yet he acknowledges no worldly title. He paid it to Caesar; therefore let the saints content themselves with a spiritual right. Indeed, Christ might come as king, and challenge all things presently; but he lets here wicked men run away with all, and so should his people be content, as he was. By whom also he made the world. Here is a description of Christ in regard of his threefold office.
First, His prophetical office; it is said, ‘God spake by him.'
Secondly, His kingly office; for it isaid, ‘He is heir of all things, by whom he made the world.'
Thirdly, His priestly office; ‘When he had purged our sins,' &c. All that is said of him (as being the Son, as that he was heir of all things, that he created the world, &c.), tend only to this, to shew that he was able to take away our sins. He had said before that he was heir of all things; and that he might well be, for he made the worlds. The word is nowhere else to be found used in all the Scriptures, but is proper to this epistle, and signifies ages or generations; and because things are measured by time, therefore it signifies worlds, which are measured by time, for so it is plain in Heb. xi. 1, 8, numerus numerans being taken for numerato. Time, which is the measure of all things,, is put for the world itself; so Mat. xxiv., ‘This generation shall not pass,' is spoken of the Jews, who were then to enter into a great eclipse, so that men would have thought. they should have been all worn out; but, saith Christ, ‘This generation shall not pass,' that is, these men; there generation is put for men, as here time is put for worlds. Hence we see that there are worlds made by Christ, a higher and a lower world.. Accordingly he hath made two sorts of creatures: first, men, to be lords of the world below; and angels, chief in the world above; for God loves variety: therefore, when he made reasonable creatures, he would make two sorts, angels and men. For them he framed two worlds, one for Adam, which he brought him into, another for angels, made in the first day's creation, so as it is said, the morning stars did shine, Job xxxvi, it is meant, that the heavens were created the first day, and the angels with them. There is also an earthly world in which men live upon the creatures, and therefore are called worldly men. The state of grace also is called a world, they that are put into it are called new creatures ‘I make a new heaven and a new earth,' &c., which promise, though it shall be more fully accomplished when the Jews shall be called, yet it is in part fulfilled before; for whensoever God calleth a church, he maketh a new world; for which cause his church in many places is called ‘the world.' Therefore Christ making a new world, it is fitting he should have a new Sabbath to commemorate it, which was the reason of the translation of the day; because as the Father made a world, and rested upon that day, so Christ making a new world, rested upon this day; which is, and shall be kept to the end of the world. Again, there is also a ‘present world, and a world to come,' both made by Christ, Eph. 1. 21. The first day God made the angels, and the heavens that we shall one day live in; but as it is said of hell, it was ‘prepared for the devil and his angels,' that though the angels were first cast into it, yet men were to come after, so it may be said of heaven, though it was prepared for the angels first, yet God meant to bring men hither also; for there are names to be in the world to come as well as in this world.
Use 1. If there be worlds made by Christ, then you that be worldly- minded men, consider, if you will turn to Christ, you shall be possessors of worlds, whereas Adam was heir only of one world. We read of Alexander, that he wept when he heard there was but one world to conquer; but if you become the sons of God, open your mouths as wide as you can, and they shall be filled. If one world will not serve you, there are worlds for you; this present world, and all things in it, shall be yours, 1 Cor. iii. 22. Therefore Abraham is called the heir of the world, and so shall you be if you have the faith of Abraham; and when you enjoy another world after the latter day, yet this world shall still be yours, and serve for your estate that are heirs of glory. As noblemen use to have many houses to go unto, so it shall be your glory to have such a world as this of your own to stand empty: ‘Love not the world therefore, nor the things of it,' for there is a world to come, and this world is nothing in comparison of it. Care not therefore for a great name here, for there are names in the world to come which are lasting, Eph. 1. 21. All the evidences for this world will be burned one day, but heaven is a standing palace. This world is made but a stage for men to act their parts a while, and then to be taken down.
Secondly, All these worlds were made by Christ. The Father indeed is the principal agent, but he doth it by his Son; but not as an instrument by which he made it, as some heretics have affirmed, nor by him as a mediator, as some of the fathers have said, as if Christ were a mediator between him and nothing. But when it is said ‘he made the worlds by him,' the meaning is this: in the works of the three persons, what one is said to do the other is said to do, only with this difference, all things are said to be of the Father, but by the Son; for as he is the second person, so he is the second in working.
In men there are three principles which concur to every action:
First, Wisdom, to plot all things.
Secondly, Will, to have this or that done.
Thirdly, Power, by which all things are executed according to this resolution.
The works of the three persons answer to these three.
First, The Son is the wisdom of the Father, the idrxs of all things that were made; therefore it is said, Heb. xi. 3, ‘The things that are seen are made by the things that do appear.'
Secondly, There is will, which is the Father's part; for the motion to have all things done comes from him.
Thirdly, The power of the highest, viz., the Holy Ghost, which performs all things; therefore it is said, Gen. i., that in the creation he ‘moved, upon the waters.'
Use 1. To what end is this brought in here, that the worlds were made by Christ, but only to set forth his ability for the work of redemption, for he that made the world can remake it; so John i., it is said, ‘Without him was nothing made.' It was only to shew he was a fit person to undertake the work of redemption ; therefore it follows, ‘The Word was made flesh;' so Col. i., ‘B1 whom all things were made,' to shew he was a fit person, by whom God should reconcile all things to himself; so here only to shew he only was able to ‘purge our sins,' for these things could have been done by none others. Use 2. Therefore love the Lord Jesus more than a thousand worlds, for he is the maker of worlds; and if worlds could do thee good he would make thee many more.
Use 3. This shews the infinite love of Christ, that he that could make worlds would himself be made flesh; and it had been easier for him to make worlds than been made himself a creature; yet this he was himself for our sake.
Use 4. Is it not then pity that Christ, that made the world, should not be known nor loved in the world? This is John's complaint John i. 10, ‘The world was made by him, and the world knew him not' We scarce hear of his name, but only in these western parts; consider, he is your maker, therefore labour to know him. ‘The ass knoweth his owner;' therefore much more should we our Maker. He came into the world, but could not be owned by it; he comes into men's senses, and they will not entertain him, but cast him out again; as we do when we take him not upon his own terms.
Use 5. If he be good at making worlds, then if thou wouldst have thy heart mended, go to him, who is maker of worlds and hearts also.
Use 6. If the world be naught, and times bad, go to Christ, for he is able to make them anew, to alter things and turn the world upside-down; for he is able to make a new heayen and a new earth. When the Jews and Gentiles shall be called, there shall be a new world; though the same stage stand still, yet he will make many new scenes upon it. Who being the brightness of his Father's glory, &c. There are three expressions to set forth the divinity of Christ: he is called the ‘ Son,' the ‘brightness of his Father's glory,' and the ‘character of his person;' because the eternal generation of the Son cannot be expressed by one word, therefore the Holy Ghost useth divers terms. He is called a Son, to shew that he is begotten of him as a Father, and therefore he hath the same essence; for identity in essence the word Son implies; yet begotten not in a carnal manner, but as the beams are begotten by the sun; therefore he is called the ‘brightness of his glory,' to shew that he is co-eternal with his Father, as the beams are the same in time with the sun; but the beams are weaker than the sun itself, therefore it is said, ‘He is the engraven image of his person,' every way like him. A
All these expressions are to set forth the eternal generation of the Son. He is called the brightness of his glory, to shew that he begat him; necessarily it is not a voluntary action; ‘We are begotten according to the good pleasure of his will,' James i.; but he naturally, as the beams do naturally flow from the sun; and is said to be the character of his person; for as he is the first person, so he begets a second, but the essence is common to both. He only therefore is the brightness of his Father's glory; we all are but stars shining with a borrowed light. But as the beams of the sun, such is the glory of Christ, which cannot be said of any creature, he having the same glory with his Father; and so it is said, ‘They saw his glory,' John i.
Use 1. Is Christ so glorious? What will heaven be, but the seeing of the glory of Christ? If God had created worlds of glorious creatures, they could have never expressed his glory as his Son; therefore heaven is thus expressed, John xvii., ‘I will that they be with me, to behold my glory.' Wherein lies therefore that great communion of glory that shall be in heaven? It is in seeing the glory of Christ, who is the image of the invisible God that is worshipped. As God himself was invisible, he hath stamped his glory upon his Son, therefore we are said to ‘behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,' 2 Cor. iv. 5, 6. Wherein lies our glory? To be where Christ is. John i., it is said, they ‘saw his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten Son of God;' that is, they saw such glory as could be in no other. It is therefore the seeing of Christ that makes heaven; wherefore one said, If I were cast into any hole, if I could have but a cranny to see Christ always, it would be heaven enough. But is this all, to see himself? A beggar may look upon the glory of a king, and yet be never be better for it; but he that shall see the glory of Christ shall be changed! The same glory; when we se him we shall be like him; 1 John 2. He will change our vile bodies, and make them like to his glorious body.' As he sanctified himself that he might sanctif us, so he glorified Himself that he might glorify us. John xvii. 22, ‘The glory that thou gayest me, I have given unto them.' Whereby He makes you far more glorious than they could be under the first covenant; for this is the highest way by which creatures can be united unto God.
Use 2. If Christ be thus glorious, then labour to manifest his glory to the world, shine with his glory and grace, which is glory, 2 Cor. iii. 18. Would you see the brightness of Christ's glory, which wicked men and devils shall never see? Labour to get your hearts changed into the image of Christ; be humble as he was humble, &c.
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