The genus of the divine things, which are communicable through Predestination, is blessing, which the Apostle circumscribes within these modes; it is complete, not partial; spiritual, not carnal; |in heavenly places,| not natural, but surpassing all nature; finally, in Christ, that is, divine in its principle and foundation, that Christ may be the eternal head of the predestinate.
The expression, in which divine things are said to be communicable through predestination, does not seem to me to be in harmony with the nature of predestination. For predestination does not cause that those things should be communicable, but does in fact communicate them. They are made communicable by the blood and death and resurrection of Christ, by which those blessings were acquired and obtained from the Father. Since any thing is communicable before it is, in fact, communicated, it follows that predestination is posterior, in the prescience and preordination of God, to the death and resurrection of Christ. I leave the inference for the consideration of the intelligent.
Spiritual, not carnal]. spiritual is contrasted in the Scriptures not only with carnal, but, also, with natural; as in 1 Corinthians ii.14, also, in 1 Corinthians xv.44, 45, 46. Carnal, however, may sometimes also comprehend in itself the natural.
|In heavenly places,| not natural]. Heavenly things are, in the Scriptures, contrasted with mundane and earthly good, adapted to nature as such, and, thus, heavenly and natural are indirectly opposed.
Finally, in Christ]. Christ obtained those blessings by his death; he has received the same from his Father to be communicated to his followers; in him believers are predestinated to a participation in the same.
Divine in principle and foundation]. Blessing is divine in principle, for its principle is God, the Father, who confers it; but it is not said, in the same sense to be divine in its foundation. For Christ is the foundation of that blessing, not as he is God, but as he is God-man, Qeanqrwpov Mediator, saviour and Head of the church. This consideration of Christ is, everywhere in the Scriptures, distinguished from that, in which Christ is regarded as God, as in John xvii, 3; xiv, 1;
1 Tim. ii.5, 6; 1 Pet. i.18, 19, 20, 21; 1 Cor. v.19, &c.
That Christ might be the eternal head of the Predestinate]. Whether Christ was constituted the head of those who were to be predestinated, or of those who had been already predestinated, has been a point in dispute among Theologians. It is my opinion that, in the order of nature, the decree by which Christ was constituted the head of those to be saved, was prior to that decree by which some are ordained in Christ to a participation in salvation. For Christ, as our mediator before God and our High Priest, merited those blessings, which were to be communicated by predestination, and, at the same time, the dignity of head, and the power to communicate those blessings. Then he actually received those blessings from the Father, and obtained the titles of Head, King and Prince. |Having been made perfect, or consecrated, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.|
Finally, in him believers are predestinated, that they should be partakers of those blessings, by union with him. For God loves, in Christ, those whom He has determined to make partakers of eternal life, but this love is the cause of predestination. It was, indeed, in Christ born, dead, raised again, and constituted the head of the church. |But,| some will say, |God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.| -- I answer, that the love, referred to in this passage, differs in degree from that which is the cause of predestination, and is prior to it. For that love, which sent His Son, did not, with certainty, ordain eternal life to any one, and, indeed, it could not do so, for Christ had not merited it by his death. Indeed, by making Christ the foundation and Head of the predestinate, you seem to declare that Christ was made the Head of them who were to be predestinated in him unto life.