For by him were all things created, etc - These two verses contain parts of the same subject. I shall endeavor to distinguish the statements of the apostle, and reason from them in such a way as the premises shall appear to justify, without appealing to any other scripture in proof of the doctrine which I suppose these verses to vindicate.
Four things are here asserted: That Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe; of all things visible and invisible; of all things that had a beginning, whether they exist in time or in eternity.
That whatsoever was created was created For himself; that he was the sole end of his own work.
That he was prior to all creation, to all beings, whether in the visible or invisible world.
That he is the preserver and governor of all things; for by him all things consist.
Now, allowing St. Paul to have understood the terms which he used, he must have considered Jesus Christ as being truly and properly God. I. Creation is the proper work of an infinite, unlimited, and unoriginated Being; possessed of all perfections in their highest degrees; capable of knowing, willing, and working infinitely, unlimitedly, and without control: and as creation signifies the production of being where all was absolute nonentity, so it necessarily implies that the Creator acted of and from himself; for as, previously to this creation, there was no being, consequently he could not be actuated by any motive, reason, or impulse, without himself; which would argue there was some being to produce the motive or impulse, or to give the reason. Creation, therefore, is the work of him who is unoriginated, infinite, unlimited, and eternal. But Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things, therefore Jesus Christ must be, according to the plain construction of the apostle's words, truly and properly God.
II. As, previously to creation, there was no being but God, consequently the great First Cause must, in the exertion of his creative energy, have respect to himself alone; for he could no more have respect to that which had no existence, than he could be moved by nonexistence, to produce existence or creation. The Creator, therefore, must make every thing For himself.
Should it be objected that Christ created officially or by delegation, I answer: This is impossible; for, as creation requires absolute and unlimited power, or omnipotence, there can be but one Creator; because it is impossible that there can be two or more Omnipotents, Infinites, or Eternals. It is therefore evident that creation cannot be effected officially, or by delegation, for this would imply a Being conferring the office, and delegating such power; and that the Being to whom it was delegated was a dependent Being; consequently not unoriginated and eternal; but this the nature of creation proves to be absurd.
The thing being impossible in itself, because no limited being could produce a work that necessarily requires omnipotence.
It is impossible, because, if omnipotence be delegated, he to whom it is delegated had it not before, and he who delegates it ceases to have it, and consequently ceases to be God; and the other to whom it was delegated becomes God, because such attributes as those with which he is supposed to be invested are essential to the nature of God. On this supposition God ceases to exist, though infinite and eternal, and another not naturally infinite and eternal becomes such; and thus an infinite and eternal Being ceases to exist, and another infinite and eternal Being is produced in time, and has a beginning, which is absurd. Therefore, as Christ is the Creator, he did not create by delegation, or in any official way.
Again, if he had created by delegation or officially, it would have been for that Being who gave him that office, and delegated to him the requisite power; but the text says that all things were made By him and For him, which is a demonstration that the apostle understood Jesus Christ to be truly and essentially God.
III. As all creation necessarily exists in time, and had a commencement, and there was an infinite duration in which it did not exist, whatever was before or prior to that must be no part of creation; and the Being who existed prior to creation, and before all things - all existence of every kind, must be the unoriginated and eternal God: but St. Paul says, Jesus Christ was before all things; ergo, the apostle conceived Jesus Christ to be truly and essentially God. IV. As every effect depends upon its cause, and cannot exist without it; so creation, which is an effect of the power and skill of the Creator, can only exist and be preserved by a continuance of that energy that first gave it being. Hence, God, as the Preserver, is as necessary to the continuance of all things, as God the Creator was to their original production. But this preserving or continuing power is here ascribed to Christ, for the apostle says, And by him do all things consist; for as all being was derived from him as its cause, so all being must subsist by him, as the effect subsists by and through its cause. This is another proof that the apostle considered Jesus Christ to be truly and properly God, as he attributes to him the preservation of all created things, which property of preservation belongs to God alone; ergo, Jesus Christ is, according to the plain obvious meaning of every expression in this text, truly, properly, independently, and essentially God.
Such are the reasonings to which the simple letter of these two verses necessarily leads me. I own it is possible that I may have misapprehended this awful subject, for humanum est errare et nescire; but I am not conscious of the slightest intentional flaw in the argument. Taking, therefore, the apostle as an uninspired man, giving his own view of the Author of the Christian religion, it appears, beyond all controversy, that himself believed Christ Jesus to be God; but considering him as writing under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, then we have, from the plain grammatical meaning of the words which he has used, the fullest demonstration (for the Spirit of God cannot lie) that he who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, and in whose blood we have redemption, was God over all. And as God alone can give salvation to men, and God only can remit sin; hence with the strictest propriety we are commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus, with the assurance that we shall be saved. Glory be to God for this unspeakable gift! See my discourse on this subject.