1. He is the beginning, as to his divine nature. He is here called the image of the invisible God; not an imperfect representation, as angels and saints may be; but as it is said in another place, he "is the express image of his person." He is personally distinct from the Father, but essentially the same; not only manifesting, but participating all his glories.
1. The pre-eminence that is here ascribed to Christ, implies his eternity and self-existence. He is not God by derivation, or by commission; but is really and properly so. He is before all things, and by him all things consist; he is therefore the beginning, and the fountain of all created existence. What he is as a divine person, that he ever was, and will never cease to be. He who is the first beginning and last end of all things, must himself be without beginning or end; and is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. The same in the perfections of his nature, and consequently in his claim to our regard.
2. The pre-eminence ascribed to him, implies that he is the fountain of life and existence to all creatures. He who received life from none, communicates life to all. ... He is the great origin of our being, and of all existence; universal nature owns him its sovereign and its head. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Let us enter his courts with thanksgiving, and his gates with praise.
2. Christ is the beginning, considered as Mediator. He is the origin of the church of God; it is he that raises it out of the ruins of the fall. Had it not been for him, it would have had no existence. Is it a temple? He builds it, and is the foundation on which it rests. Is it a garden? He plants it, encloses and separates it from the wilderness, and makes it the object of his delight and care. He is also the beginning to individual saints. Our life is from his death, and all the streams of blessedness flow from his inexhaustible fullness. More particularly,
2. Christ is the beginning, in reference to the change wrought in us by regenerating grace.
1. The honour that is due to Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. It was foretold that he should be great, and he is so. In all things he has the pre-eminence, and to him alone is the glory due. Oh how excellent is his name in all the earth; his glory is above the heavens! When God raised .him from the dead, he set him at his own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come ; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
2. As Christ is the foundation and the beginning of all spiritual blessings, so these blessings can belong to none but such as are in him. Not one word of comfort is spoken in the scriptures, nor any blessing promised to unbelievers; they possess nothing that is worth possessing, and have a right to nothing that is worth enjoying. Those who are without Christ, are without holiness, and without hope. Salvation never comes to any house, or to any heart, till Christ is first received; and those who have him, shall inherit all things.
3. He who is the beginning is also the end ; and this secures the happiness of all the saints. He who has begun the good work, will complete it ; and he who is the author, will also be the finisher of faith. He has put his hand to the plow, and will not look back. He has loved his own which are in the world, and he will love them to the end. His hand has laid the foundation, and he will bring forth the top-stone with shoutings, - grace, grace unto it. "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, oh Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the work of thine own hands - now unto him. who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ; to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."