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was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” 0! what a warfare was that warfare! How terrible the combatants ! Spirits of light and spirits of darkness! The principalities and powers of heaven and hell! And what a battle.field—the region of the atmospheric heavens! Here they met; here was the arena where they fought the dreadful fight! A bloodless fight, for spirits warred! Here was the dragon vanquished—here were his hosts subdued—here did the powers of heaven prove victorious over all the hosts of hell—and here was a great deliverance wrought for the people of God!
And are not these holy angels continually employed in counterworking the powers of darkness? How frequently do they frustrate their schemes of malice-overcome their strength—and circumscribe their range? The holy Daniel knew their power to save when, in the lions' den, he exclaimed, “ My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me!" Dan. vi, 22. This Peter knew-for, when thrust into prison by his enemies, bound with chains, and watched by soldiers, a light shone into his dungeon, and he beheld a celestial visitant, who, in spite of soldiers, and chains, and bars, and gates, delivered the apostle out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. (Acts xii.)
And although the agency of angels, in this particular, be not now so ostensible as formerly, yet we may rest assured it is not less real, and not less effectual. For, were it not for this, or a similar defence, this earth would not be tenable, except to those who are lying in the wicked one, and them he would torment before the time!
But may not angels be also employed in administering consolations to the afflicted, and in enabling them to bear up under the ills of life? True; they cannot properly sympathize with us in our sorrows, for they themselves never tasted the cup of wo.
But they can mark our distress—they can trace it to its source—and by God's per. mission, and at his command, they may whisper consolation to our hearts. They may apply the precious promises to our souls, and enable us to taste more fully the powers of the world to come. They may quicken our love, and increase our courage, by reminding us of that vast cloud of witnesses which have preceded us in passing through this vale of tears. Let none say this is airy speculation.
If we are tempted in all points like our Master, may we not expect to be comforted with the same consolations wherewith he himself was comforted of God? And was not he comforted by the ministry of angels? See him in the wilderness, after his long fasting and protracted temptation. As a man, his spiritual and physical energies are near prostration ; but, “ behold, angels came and ministered unto him,” Matt. iv. And when he was called upon to drink the cup of wo—when the ponderous load of a world's iniquity was about to be laid upon him—when his feeble flesh shrunk back from the trial, and « abhorred to bear the wrath of an offended God”—when he was heard to pray,
“ Father, if thou be willing, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done”—then - there appeared unto him an angel from heaven strengthening him," Luke xxii, 43. One of those celestial beings that thousands of years before he had called into existence, and that shouted for joy when by his power the world was created-probably Gabriel himself, who was so interested
at his incarnation now appears to assist him in his passion! Yes ; to assist him-not, indeed, to tread with him the wine-press—for of the people, whether angelic or human, there was none with him in this work—but to strengthen his humanity, by revealing to him the joy that was set before him, in prospect of which he was enabled to "endure cross, despising the shame."
We said that angels cannot sympathize with us in affliction, because they never suffered themselves. This remark will hold good with respect alone to those eldest sons of Deity that have ever been resi. dents of the world of bliss. But the Scripture calls others angels besides them. Disembodied spirits, because they are made like unto the angels of God in heaven, are therefore termed angels. And how far these may sympathize with us in affliction we cannot tell. Many of them went up through great tribulation, and they cannot but remember their own trials; and, as they are benevolent beings, they cannot be regardless of ours. They consider us the junior members of that great family which is divided between earth and heaven. They are not ashamed to call us brethren. It must have been very gratifying to the apostle, when banished to a dreary island in the Egean sea, to receive the visits of a glorified saint, and to hear him say, “ I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book.”
Indeed, they are not only with us servants of the heavenly King; but, whether earth-born or heaven-born,
“ Angels our servants are,
And keep in all our ways." “ For he hath given his angels charge concerning us ; and in their hands they shall bear us up, lest at any time we dash our foot against a stone,” Matt. iv, 6 : and no doubt our departed friends, who are made like unto the angels, obtain
“ The grace to angels given
To serve the royal heirs of heaven!” While we are passing through this vale of tears, and following them who through faith and patience now inherit the promises, they are not unmoved at our afflictions--they do not fail to obtain permis. sion of God to sympathize with us in our sufferings. If the lost sinner was concerned for his five brethren yet upon earth, and was desirous that they should escape from that place of torment to which he was doomed; surely our friends in paradise are not regardless of the afflictions of " their fellow-servants and brethren" upon the earth.
And it may not be amiss to remark, that they not only administer to us in affliction and trial, but also in seasons of comfort and prospe. rity. They rejoice with them that do rejoice. As they tune their harps, and sound their joyful notes, when one sinner repenteth ; so, by analogy, we conclude that they delight to swell the note of holy rapture which breaks forth from the Christian's heart when he is riding upon his high places, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. It is im. possible to determine how much they may advance our happiness, by their secret, mysterious operations upon the soul.
From what has been already said, we may discover the objects which angels have in view in their visits to this earth. But Jacob saw them ascending as well as descending on that mystic ladder which he beheld in his vision. Now we may readily conceive that these winged intelligences are employed to bear the news of earth to heaven, as well as the news of heaven to earth. The angels are celes. tial couriers—their name imports as much. They fly over the earthbehold its inhabitants—their variegated circumstances—return to the celestial world, and there make known the result of their mission : and as they are not omniscient nor omnipresent beings, this is the only way by which they can arrive at a knowledge of what passes upon earth.
It is certain that every sinner's repentance is a cause of joy in the presence of the angels of God in heaven. Now they must be ac. quainted with the fact before they can rejoice at its occurrence. And as these facts are constantly occurring in different parts of the world, therefore there is constant need of these celestial spies ascend. ing the ladder in order to convey the pleasing news to heaven ; and this they can do with telegraphic despatch—for God hath made“ his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire."
Natural philosophy informs us, that a ray of light can travel at the astonishing rate of 194,188 miles in one second of time—and that it comes to us from the sun, a distance of 95,513,794 miles, in the short space of 8 1133". And we have reason to believe that ministering spirits move with equal, or indeed greater celerity. Did not one of the seraphim fly almost as quick as thought from the temple of God in heaven to the prophet on earth, to consecrate him to the prophetic office. There is a remarkable account in the history of Bel and the Dragon, in the Apocrypha, which, although it may not be true in fact, will nevertheless show the opinion of the ancient Jews on this subject. Here the angel of the Lord is represented as taking the Prophet Habakkuk by the hair of his head, and, in “the vehemence of his spirit,” transferring him in a moment from Jewry to Babylon : and then “ the angel of the Lord set Habakkuk in his own place again immediately!" And, doubtless, in their upward flight, from earth to heaven, they move with equal swiftness for the King's business requireth haste. Besides, they are anxious to make their reports to their sister spirits in glory; and we may well imagine how full of interest these reports must be, especially to the spirits of just men made perfect in paradise. But we must clip the wings of our imagination. We must not lift too high the veil which separates us from the most holy place.
There is another reason why angels are found ascending, as well as descending, the ladder Jacob saw. They minister to the heirs of salvation, by conveying their ransomed spirits to the world of bliss. No sooner has the soul cast off her mortal coil than angels spread their golden pinions to bear their “ sister spirit” far away from earth to“ mingle with the blaze of day!" They go in bands to the chamber where the good man meets his fate;" they hover around his dying couch : they wait to hear pronounced, “ A man is dead !" then they are ready to respond, “ A child is born!” They seize the prize, and bear it through the trackless ether, and place it at the Saviour's feet !
Behold that poor, despised, afflicted man, reduced to the extreme of life by complicated ills, Heaven signs, and death executes his release VOL. X. - July, 1839.
from earth. The beggar dies—and, lo! he is carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. The infantile spirit, like the nestling eaglet, hav. ing not yet tried her pinions, mounts on those of angels, which bear her aloft, as the eaglet is borne upon the eagle's wings !
But there is yet another object of the ministry of angels. They are to be sent forth, on the last day, to “gather together God's elect from the four winds of heaven." By the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, the “ dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed ;” and angels are to be our escort when we are “caught up to meet our Lord in the air, to be for ever with the Lord.”
Our conquering Head was thus conducted to the skies. When he ascended up on high he was accompanied by the chariots of God, which are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands of angels. Psa. lxviii, 17, 18. They sung, “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in ?" Psa. xxxiv, 7. And in like manner will they convey his ransomed people home. They will then exclaim, “ Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation, which keepeth the truth, may enter in," Isa. xxvi, 2.
This will be their last and most glorious ascension. The people of Christ, being all redeemed from earth, will be angels' companions in heaven. Yes! and, in return for their services, they will communi. cate to angels a knowledge of those Christian mysteries which they now have a “ desire to look into :" and thus “ unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places shall be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” Eph. iii, 10.
From what we have said on this subject, we may learn, 1. The feelings which we ought to entertain toward these exalted intelligences. We should respect them, and esteem them very highly in love for their works' sake. But we must not worship them. No ; nor must we trust in them as mediators. These are errors of pagan ori. gin, into which many, both ancient and modern, have unfortunately fallen. The Romans considered their genii, and the Greeks their demons, subaltern deities and mediators; and accordingly Plato himself enjoined his disciples to honor and worship them. And the ancient Jews were also infected with this dangerous superstition. This appears from Tobit xii, 12, 15, where his ethereal companion is made to address Tobias' father in the following language :-“ I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints. When thou didst pray, and Sara thy daughter-in-law, I did bring the remembrance of your prayers before the Holy One."
Philo, the Jew, has also this remarkable passage. Speaking of these celestial beings, he says : -" They are the presidents of the princes of the Almighty, like the eyes and ears of some great king, beholding and hearing all things. These the philosophers call demons; but the holy Scriptures call them angels, and that most properly—for they carry the Father's commands to the children, and the childrens' wants to the Father; and therefore the Scripture represents them as ascending and descending. Not that he needs such intelligence, who beforehand knows all things; but because it is more expedient for us mortals to make use of such mediators, that we may the more admire and reve. rence the Supreme Governor and the great power of his government. From a sense hereof we desired a mediator: Speak thou to us, but ket not God speak to us lest we die.'”. This is a beautiful passage, but it contains a dangerous heresy.
To this heresy the Christians at Colosse were exposed, as appears from the apostle's caution:-“ Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels,” Col. ii, 18. And it is well known how egregiously the Latin and Greek Churches have erred on this point. They have many gods, and many mediators. It is true, they tell us that they do not allow supreme adoration to any but God, and offer only inferior adoration to all besides. Hence they divide their worship into λατρεια and δουλια ; the former of which they render to God, and the latter to saints and angels. But, as Mr. Saurin well remarks, “ The Scripture does not distinguish, as some divines with so little reason do, many sorts of religious adoration. We do not find there the distinction of the worship of Latria from the worship of Dulia ; but religious adoration is distinguished from civil adoration.” And we might add, that as this is the only distinction which obtains in the Scripture, and as it would be folly to offer angels civil adoration unless they were visibly present with us; so it would be idolatry to offer them religious worship, for this belongs to God alone. We must never forget, that “there is but one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Tim. ii, 5. Angels are but ministering spirits servants of God, and servants of men. They are not the objects of religious trust, as though they were mediators-nor of religious worship, as though they were deities. We must remember that the Lord stood above the ladder, while the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!" If God has chosen to make them his agents, we must not make them his rivals !
2. From the ministry of angels, let us learn, secondly, a lesson of humility and active benevolence. When they are not directly em. ployed in striking their harps of praise before the throne of God in heaven, they are engaged in errands of mercy to the sons of men on earth. And their visits are not, as they have been represented, fero and far between. But, like the Saviour of the world, they go about doing good. And this earth is the grand theatre of their benevolent operations. They make no invidious distinctions between the rich and the poor. They do not forsake the hovels of the wretched, and, “ like the world, their ready visit pay where fortune smiles.” No! but while they visit Abraham the patriarch at Mamre, they visit Lazarus also at the rich man's gate. They are not above discharging the most menial offices toward the children of men. Let this teach us that true dignity is not incompatible with the performance of the meanest services of good will toward our fellow-creatures.
Would we resemble angels? Let us visit the haunts of povertythe hovels of distress—" the fatherless and the widow in their affliction—and keep ourselves unspotted from the world !" Nothing can lower our dignity but sin. Nothing can exalt our character so much as pure benevolence and heaven-born humility. And for the present, laying aside every other motive, let us seek to be filled with the former, and clothed with the latter," because of the angels," 1 Cor. xi, 10.
3. From the ministry of angels, let us learn, thirdly, the security of the people of God. “What can harm us if we be followers of that