Through the mediation of Christ, not only is the whole creation represented as augmenting the blessedness of the church, but the church as augmenting the blessedness of the whole creation. As one member, be it ever so small, cannot suffer without the whole body, in some degree, suffering with it; so, if we consider our world as a member of the great body or system of being, it might naturally be supposed that the ill or well being of the former would, in some measure, affect the happiness of the latter. The fall of a planet from its orbit, in the solar system, would probably have a less effect upon the other planets, than that of man from the moral system upon the other parts of God’s intelligent creation. And when it is considered that man is a member of the body, distinguished by sovereign favour, as possessing a nature which the Son of God delighted to honour, by taking it upon himself, the interest which the universe at large may have in his fall and recovery may be greatly augmented. The leprosy of Miriam was an event that affected the whole camp of Israel; nor did they proceed on their journeys till she was restored to her situation; and it is not unnatural to suppose that something analogous to this would be the effect of the fall and recovery of man on the whole creation.
The happiness of the redeemed is not the ultimate end of redemption, nor the only happiness which will be produced by it. God is represented in the Scriptures as conferring his favours in such a way as that no creature shall be blessed merely for his own sake, but that he might communicate his blessedness to others. With whatever powers, talents, or advantages we are endued, it is not merely for our gratification, but that we may contribute to the general good. God gives discernment to the eye, speech to the tongue, strength to the arm, and agility to the feet, not for the gratification of these members, but for the accommodation of the body. It is the same in other things. God blessed Abraham; and wherefore? That he might be a blessing. He blessed his posterity after him; and for what purpose? That “in them all the nations of the earth might be blessed.”* Though Israel was a nation chosen and beloved of God, yet it was not for their righteousness, nor merely with a view to their happiness, that they were thus distinguished; but that he “might perform the oath which he sware unto their fathers;”† the substance of which was that the true religion should prosper among them, and be communicated by them to all other nations. The ungodly part of the Jewish nation viewed things, it is true, in a different light; they valued themselves as the favourites of Heaven, and looked down upon other nations with contemptuous dislike. But it was otherwise with the godly; they entered into the spirit of the promise made to their fathers. Hence they prayed that God would “be merciful to them, and bless them, and cause his face to shine upon them;” to the end, that his “way might be known upon earth and his saving health among all nations.”‡
The same spirit was manifested by the apostles and primitive Christians. They perceived that all that rich measure of gifts and graces by which they were distinguished was given them with the design of their communicating it to others; and this was their constant aim. Paul felt himself a debtor both to Jews and Greeks, and spent his life in diffusing the blessings of the gospel, though in return he was continually treated as an evil-doer; and the same might be said of the other apostles.
Nor is this social principle confined to the present life. According to Scripture representations, the happiness of saints in glory will be conferred on them, not that it might stop there, but be communicated to the whole moral system. The redemption of the church has already added to the blessedness of other holy intelligences. It has furnished a new medium by which the glory of the Divine perfections is beheld and admired. To explore the wisdom of God in his works is the constant employment of holy angels, and that in which consists a large proportion of their felicity. Prior to the accomplishment of the work of redemption they contemplated the Divine character through the medium of creation and providence; but “now unto principalities and powers, in heavenly places, is known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God.”* And so much does this last display of Divine glory exceed all that have gone before it, that those who have once obtained a view of it, through this medium, will certainly prefer it to every other; “which things the angels desire to look into.”† They do not, however, become indifferent to any of the Divine operations; creation and providence continue to attract their attention, and are abundantly more interesting; they now study them according to the order in which they exist in the Divine mind, that is, in subserviency to redemption.‡
But that which is already accomplished is but small in comparison of what is in reserve. At the final judgment, when all the faithful will be collected together, they will become a medium through which the Lord Jesus will be glorified and admired by the whole creation: “He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe—in that day.”§ It is a truth that the saints of God will themselves glorify and admire their great Deliverer, but not the truth of this passage; the design of which is to represent them as a medium through which he shall be glorified by all the friends of God in the universe. The great Physician will appear with his recovered millions, every one of whom will afford evidence of his disinterested love, and efficacious blood, to the whole admiring creation.
Much the same ideas are conveyed to us by those representations in which the whole creation are either called upon to rejoice on account of our redemption, or described as actually rejoicing and praising the Redeemer. Thus David, having spoken of God’s mercy which was from everlasting to everlasting towards the children of men, addresses all his works, in all places of his dominion, “to bless his name.”|| John also informs us, saying, “I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”¶
The phraseology of these passages is such that no one can reasonably doubt whether the writers intended to express the whole upright intelligent creation, be it of what extent it may; and if it be of that extent which philosophy supposes, the greater must be the influence and importance of the work of redemption.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). “The Consistency of the of the Scripture Doctrine of Redemption with the Modern Opinion of the Magnitude of Creation,” Chapter V, in The Gospel Its Own Witness. The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Controversial Publications (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 2, pp. 92–94). Sprinkle Publications.