[Manton provides a brief outline of what will be covered in this sermon]
I shall take the method offered in the text, and show you:—
First, That all things were created by him.
Secondly, Why the creation of angels is so particularly mentioned and insisted upon.
Thirdly, That all things were created for him.
I. First, For creation by him.
A. This is often asserted in scripture:
[Here, Manton picks apart the introductory verses of John 1 to demonstrate that work of creation is attributed to the one]
1. John 1:3, ‘All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.’
2. John begins his Gospel with the dignity of Christ’s person;
a. and how doth he set it forth? By the creation of the world by the eternal Word.
b. And what he saith is an answer to these questions—
i. When was the Word? ‘In the beginning;’
ii. Where was the Word? ‘With God;’ What was the Word? He ‘was God;’
iii. What did he then do? ‘All things were made by him;’
iv. What! all without exception? Yes, ‘Without him nothing was made that was made,’ be it never so small, never so great. From the highest angel to the smallest worm, they had all their being from him.
B. Two things are to be explained:—
1. How he made all things.
2. When he made the angels.
1. How he made all things.
a. Freely, and of his own will: Rev. 4:11, ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive honour, and glory, and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’
i. They use three words to set forth the honour that is due to Christ for creating the world:
ii. glory, because of his excellencies discovered [they are shown forth]
iii. honour, which is the ascription or acknowledgment of those excellencies; and power, because ‘the invisible things of his Godhead and power are seen by the things that are made,’ Rom. 1:20.
iv. For in the creating of the world he exercised his omni-potency. And this they do, not to express their affection, but his own due desert: ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord.’
b. [He did not create from compulsion] The reason they give is, because he hath created all things for his own pleasure, or according to his own will—not out of necessity.
i. There was no tie upon him to make them, but only he of his good pleasure thought fit to do so. He might have done it in another manner, or at another time, or in another order. There is nothing in the world that hath a necessary connexion with the divine essence, so as, if God be, that must be; nothing external cometh from God by necessity of nature, but all is done according to the counsel of his own will.
ii. [Not emanation]
[The discussion which follows might seem like overkill to a reader. I can imagine someone reading this and saying, Okay, God made the world because he wanted to. What’s the big deal? There is an extensive philosophical background to which Manton is responding.
For instance, in Neoplatonism, it was believed that creation was the result of an emanation from the One, “So from this, the One Intellectual Principle, and the Reason-Form emanating from it, our Universe rises and develops part, and inevitably are formed groups concordant and helpful in contrast with groups discordant and combative; sometimes of choice and sometimes incidentally, the parts maltreat each other; engendering proceeds by destruction.” (Plotinus. Plotinus: Psychic and Physical Treatises; Comprising the Second and Third Enneads. Translated by Stephen Mackenna, vol. II, Philip Lee Warner; The Medici Society, 1921, pp. 13–14.)
Many of these ideas found their way into Arabic philosophy, “From al-Farabi, Avicenna inherited the Neoplatonic emanationist scheme of existence. Contrary to the classical Muslim theologians, he rejected creation ex nihilo and argued that cosmos has no beginning but is a natural logical product of the divine One. The super-abundant, pure Good that is the One cannot fail to produce an ordered and good cosmos that does not succeed him in time. The cosmos succeeds God merely in logical order and in existence.” (https://iep.utm.edu/avicenna-ibn-sina/#H5) Which ideas then found their way into the Latin West.
Manton is denying all variations of this idea.]
iiA. Some thought all created things did come forth from the Creator by way of emanation, as rivers flow out of their fountain; but there is no stream floweth out of any fountain but it was before a part of that fountain while it was in it. But that cannot be said of any creature in respect of God, that it was any part of God before it came out from him.
iiB Others say the creatures came out from God by way of representation, as an image in the glass from him that passeth by or looketh on it; but before the world was made there was no such glass to represent God. [When Gaia theory was explained to me by a philosophy professor from UCB years ago, he said that human beings were the work of Gaia self-contemplating.]
iiC. Others would express it thus—that the world cometh out from God as a shadow from the body. But yet this will not fit the turn neither: for the shadow doth not come out from the body, but follows it, because of the deprivation of light from the interposition of another body.
iiD. Others say—all cometh from God as a footprint, or track in clay or sand, from one that passeth over it; but there was nothing on which God, by passing, might make such an impression.
iii. Whatever good intention they might have by setting forth the creation by these expressions, yet you see they are not proper and accurate. [It is interesting, in that Manton takes these explanations as defective metaphors at best.]
iv. [The various theories were attempts to reason one’s way to an understanding of how Creation came about. They are unprovable on the basis of reason; and Manton finds the ideas unworthy of God, himself. He does use this inability of reason to prove up both the limitation of reason and the greatness of God. But also notice that Manton does not deny the use of logic or reason in dismissing the concepts as inadequate. This is not an anti-philosophical tirade but rather a basis for glorifying God.]
These expressions may have their use to raise man’s understanding to contemplate the excellency and majesty of the Creator; for they all show his incomparable excellency and perfection, together with the vanity, nothingness, or smallness of the creature if compared with him, as great a bulk as it beareth in our eye. They are but as a ray from the sun, a stream from the fountain, or a drop to the ocean; an image in the glass, or a shadow to the substance; or like a footprint of a man in the clay or sand; and so are but certain signs leading up to the thing signified, or letters and syllables out of which we may spell God—as the streams lead us to the fountain, the image to the man, the shadow to the body, or the track to the foot that made it.
v. [The inadequacy of reason when comes to creation lies in part in the insufficiency of any upon which reason could work. What happened before human beings is a matter beyond our experience or our ability to reason out.] But the scripture, leaving those comparisons, showeth us that the world came out from the Creator as the workmanship from the artificer, the building from the architect, Heb. 11:10. Now every artificer and builder worketh merely out of the counsel of his own will. And herein they resemble God; but only what they do with great labour, God doth with the beck of his own will and word: Ps. 33:6, ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.’ A bare word of his immediately created all the world, the heavens and earth, and all that is in them.
2. When did he make the angels? for in the history of Moses there seemeth to be a great silence of it.
1. [He makes a deduction from the description of Genesis]
a. I answer—We read, Gen. 1:1, that in the beginning—that is, when God did first set himself to create—that then he created the heaven and the earth;
b. but we read again in the 20th verse, ‘That in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.’
c. I argue, that if within that compass of time, the Lord made heaven and earth, and all things that are in them, angels are included in that number, being the inhabitants of heaven, as men and beasts are of the earth, and fishes of the sea; as here, by things in heaven, the apostle principally understands the angels, and by things on earth, men.
d. Therefore, as things on earth were not made but after the earth, so things in heaven were not created but after the heavens were created. The heavens were not created till the second day, nor perfected and fitted till the fourth.
e. Therefore, as God did furnish the earth with plants and beasts before men, so did he adorn the heaven with stars before he filled it with angels; for he first framed the house and adorned it before he brought in the inhabitants. Therefore, probably they were made the fourth day.
f. [An objection answered] If this seemeth too short a time before the fall of the apostate angels,
i. you must remember how soon man degenerated. Some think he did not sleep in innocency, quoting that Ps. 49:12, ‘Man being in honour abides not, but is like the beasts that perish.’ The word signifies a night’s lodging in an inn—shall not lodge or stay a night. Others make his fall on the next day, the Sabbath, for at the end of the sixth day all was good, very good.
ii. The angels fell from their first state as soon as they were created—so short and uncertain is all created glory.