A WISE master Builder never begins to build without a design. This he drafts after a scale of so much to the foot. This is the extension, or time, so to speak, of the building to be erected.Having well considered the whole, he concludes, that it is the best possible plan that can be devised in harmony with the principles of architecture. It then becomes, his purpose, his foreordination, predetermination, or design. All subsequent arrangements are made to conform to this recorded purpose, because it is the very best his most deliberate wisdom and ingenuity could devise.
The next thing he does is to collect together all the necessary materials, whether of brick, stone, lime, sand, wood, or aught else that may be needed. If a spectator desired to know what all these crude matters were heaped up together in one place for -- the Architect would reveal to him his purpose by submitting the draft of his plan in all its lines, circles, angles, etc.; and he would describe to him such an arrangement of the materials as would impress the spectator's mind with an image of the edifice, though it would fall infinitely short of the reality when perfected.
If we suppose the mansion to be now finished, the Architect would then order the materials which were left, as unfit to work into the building, and therefore worthless -- such as broken bricks, split boards, sand, and so forth, to be cast out as rubbish to be trodden under foot, or to burn. Thus the edifice is built out of the accumulated materials, according to the outline of the draft, or purpose of the Builder; and the work is done.
Now, the Great Builder of the Heavens and the Earth is God. He either made all things at random, or He did not. Who will say that the Creator permitted chance to elaborate the terrestrial system? The scripture declares that every thing was measured, meted out, and weighed, and that the Spirit of the Lord executed His work without any to counsel or instruct Him. As it is written, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?" (Isa. 40:12).
God then, had in His own mind a pattern, or design, of all the work that was before Him, before He uttered a word or His spirit began to move. This design, or archetype, which placed the beginning and the end of all things before Him in one panoramic view, was constructed in harmony with the principles -- the eternal principles of His unbounded realm; which coincide with the immutable attributes of His character. The work He was about to execute was for His own pleasure; for, says the scripture: "Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created". But when the work is finished, which for His own pleasure God labours to elaborate, what will it consist in? This inquiry we make as spectators of the wonders of creation, providence, and redemption. We behold the materials of these departments of Eternal Wisdom, and we ask to what are they all tending? What temple, or edifice, is the Divine Architect raising for His own pleasure or glory? If we turn our thoughts within us, there is no voice there which unfolds the philosophy of His doings ; if we soar into the heavens, or descend into the sea; if we search through the high places of the earth -- we find no answer; for "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, who hath been his counsellor, or who hath instructed him?" No; if we would ascertain what God designs to elaborate out of the past, the present and the future, we must be content to assume the attitude of listeners, that He may reveal to us from His own lips what He intends to evolve in the consummation of His plans.
God has caused a Book to be written for our information upon His design-His ultimate purpose in the works of creation, providence, and redemption; which are the three grand divisions of His labour, and are all tending to the development of one great and glorious consummation. This book is termed THE BIBLE.
If we take up a book, how would we proceed to ascertain the end the author had in writing his book? We should read it through carefully, and thus having made ourselves acquainted with its contents we should be prepared to answer the question intelligently and accurately. Why do we not do so with the Bible? God is the Author; Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles are but the amanuenses of the whole. If then the question be put, what end had God in view in the six days' work of the creation; in His subsequent providential arrangements in relation to man and nations; and in the propitiatory sacrifice of the Lamb of God; we proceed in the same way with the Bible in which He tells His own story, and answer accordingly to the light we have acquired.
Now the Book of God is peculiar in this -- it narrates the past, the present, and the future all in one volume. We learn from the accuracy of its details in relation to the past and the present, to put unbounded confidence in its declarations concerning the future. In ascertaining, therefore, the ultimate design of Eternal Wisdom in the creation of all things, we turn to the end of the Bible to see what God has said shall be as the consummation of what has gone before; for what He has said shall be the permanent order of creation, must be the end He originally designed before ever the foundations of the earth were laid.
Turn we then, to the last two chapters of the Book of God. What do we learn from these? We learn that there is to be a great physical and moral renovation of the earth; that every curse is to cease from off the earth; and that it is to be peopled with men who will be deathless, and free from all evil; that they will then all be the sons of God, a community of glorious, honourable, and incorruptible beings, who will constitute the dwelling place of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, the glory of whose presence will give a brilliancy to the globe surpassing the splendour of the sun. The globe a glorious dwelling place, and its inhabitants an immortal and glorious people, with the presence of the Eternal Himself -- is the sum of the consummation which God reveals as the answer to the question concerning His ultimate design. The following testimonies will prove it.
"The inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. I:12); "An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" (1 Pet. 1:4); "I saw a new heaven and a new earth ... and there was no more sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and he himself will be with them, their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things (or "Heaven and Earth" in which they existed) are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (ApOC. 21:1-7). "And there shall be no more curse" (22:3).
Now the creating of all things new implies that the constitution of things that preceded the New Creation was an old system, which had answered the end for which it was arranged in the first instance. This old system, termed by John "the former Heaven and the former Earth", is manifestly the system of the World, based upon the six days' creation; for the former things", which had passed away in the vision, were the sea, death, sorrow, sin, the curse and all their correlatives. This Old Creation with its constitution of time, then, is but a grand system of means to a still grander and inconceivably more magnificent Creation, which will be of an unchangeable and eternal constitution. The old Mosaic Heavens and Earth are to the New Creation, as the accumulated materials of a building are to the edifice about to be built: and hold the same relation to the New Heavens, as the animal system does to the spiritual. We repeat, then, that the creation of the Six Days, which we have termed Mosaic, because Moses records their generations, was not the end but the beginning, when God commenced the execution of His purpose which He had arranged ; the ultimatum of which was, to elaborate by truth and judgment as His instrumentality, a world of intelligent beings, who should become the glorious and immortal population of the globe under an immutable and eternal constitution of things.
We come now to a very interesting, and indeed, immensely important inquiry, namely, upon what principle, or principles, did God propose to carry out this ultimate design in relation to the peopling of the Spiritual or Eternal World? Was it upon a purely intellectual, or purely moral, or purely physical principle, or was it upon all these three conjoined? For example, He peopled the present animal world by creating a human pair, and placing them under the natural, or physical laws; will He people the spiritual world by physical generation and physical regeneration, or upon some other principle revealed in His word? To these questions we shall endeavour to reply.
As the doings of the Almighty are all for His own glory, we would ask this question: Would it have been to the glory of God, if He had made man a mere machine? -- had He made inexorable necessity the law of His nature, which he must yield to, as the tides to the moon, or the earth to the sun? Who will affirm it? The principle laid down in the scripture is, that man honours God in obeying His laws; but this honour consists, not in a mechanical obedience, such as matter yields to the natural laws, but in a voluntary obedience, while the individual possesses the power not to obey, if he thinks best. There is no honour, or glory to God, in the fall of a stone to the centre of the earth; the stone obeys the law of gravitation involuntarily: the obedience of man would have been similar had God created and placed him under a physical law, which should have necessitated his motions, as gravitation doth of the stone.
Does a man feel honoured, or glorified, by the forced obedience of a slave? Certainly not; and for the simple reason, that it is involuntary, or compulsory. But let a man, by his excellencies, command the willing service of free men -- of men who can do their own will and pleasure, yet voluntarily obey him, and if he required it, are prepared to sacrifice their lives, fortunes, and estates, and all for the love they bear him; would not such a man esteem himself honoured and glorified to the highest degree by such signal conformity to his will? Unquestionably! and such is the honour and glory which God requires of men. Had He designed a mere physical obedience, He would have secured His purpose effectually by at once filling the earth with a population of immortal adults, so intellectually organized as to be incapable of a will adverse to His own -- who should have obeyed Him as the piston rod and wheels do the steam by which they are moved ...
The following testimonies will show the principle upon which God designs to people the Spiritual World. "I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely; and he that overcometh shall inherit all things"; (Rev.21:6,7) "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and that they may enter through the gates into the city" (Rev. 22:14) "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the Paradise, of God"; (Rev. 2:7) "He shall not be hurt by the second death "; (Rev. 2:11) " To him that overcometh, and keepeth my works to the end, I will give power over all nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron"; (Rev. 2:26, 27) "If thou doest well, 0 Cain, shalt thou not be accepted?" (Gen. 4:7) "These things are written that ye may believe, and that believing ye may have life through his name" (John 20:31) -- not a miracle; "As many as received him, to them gave he the power to become sons of God, to them that believe on his name; which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God " (John 1:12, 13) " He that believes the gospel and is baptized shall be saved; (Mark 16:16) "God will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honour, immortality -- eternal life"; (Rom. 2:5-7) -- but of testimonies there is no end. The law of the Lord is perfect and without a single exception, There are no "perhapses", or "maybes"; it is not "yea and nay, but amen -- so let it be -- in Christ Jesus". The only way to the Spiritual World is in the path of obedience to the law of God.
Now from these testimonies it is plain that to attain the rank of sons of God in the Eternal World -- where indeed all are sons without exception -- human beings without respect to age, sex or condition, must believe and obey the truth; for "without faith it is impossible to please God"; (Heb. 11:6) it does not except infants, idiots, and pagans; but it declares the principle without qualification. If faith then be required, it is manifest that God designed to move men by motive, not by necessity-- but by intellectual and moral considerations .
Behold, then, the conclusion of the matter. There are two Systems, or Worlds, in the purpose of God; the one, the Animal, the other, the Spiritual. Out of the animal, as the aggregate of buildings materials, God designs to elaborate the Spiritual World, as a new palace in His empire. This new dwelling place for the Divine Majesty is to consist of a sealess and luminous globe, and peopled with myriads of glorious, honourable, and incorruptible men, of equal rank and station with the angelic host. The means by which He proposed to consummate this magnificent conception were, first by His creative energy; secondly by His providential arrangements; thirdly, by the moral force of truth, argued and attested; and lastly, by judgment, and recreative energy in the destruction of the wicked and formation of the New Earth.
The principle upon which animal men might attain to the Angelic Order in the Spiritual World of which we speak, He has laid down as a voluntary obedience to His law under the several constitutions He has arranged. Hence, He created man "free to stand and free to fall" -- capable of doing, or not doing, as he preferred; but responsible for the consequences to the extent of the knowledge imparted to him. It is true, God could have ordered things otherwise, and have prevented much present suffering; but He did not, and the best reason that can be given is, that it was not His pleasure.