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in themselves to be of little or no moment, but which are followed by consequences of the greatest importance to them, and those with whom they are connected. We are ignorant, in a great measure, of the means by which God governs the world, and particularly the minds of men; and in this department there may be ample scope for the interference of invisible beings.
I shall devote the remainder of this lecture to the ministry of Angels to the saints. " Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?'**
First, They have been employed in revealing the will of God to his people. I might produce the instances of Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel; but, as I do not mean to enlarge upon this particular, I only observe, that the Revelation, that prophetic history of the Church to the consummation of all things, was dictated to the beloved disciple by an Angel. “ The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his Angel unto his servant John.”+
Secondly, It has been supposed that they suggest good thoughts to the saints. It is acknowledged that we can produce no positive proof from Scripture in favour of this hypothesis ; and some have objected to it as entrenching upon the work of the Holy Ghost, whose office it is to enlighten and sanctify the soul. But this is a very weak objection, as it would equally exclude all the assistance which men give to one another in religion, by suggesting topics of pious meditation, and endeavouring to excite holy affections. Reasoning from analogy, would lead us to adopt the affirmative; for, if the spirits of darkness stir up evil thoughts and passions in the minds of men, why should we not conceive that the spirits of light are equally active in exciting such as are good ?
Thirdly, It is more certain that Angels are appointed to watch over the saints, and to preserve them from dangers. In two passages of the Old Testament this office is expressly assigned to the Angels:—"There shall no evil befal thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling; for he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." Ñ In another place, the Psalmist says, “The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”'S The same doctrine is taught by our Saviour, when he urges the care of the Angels over those who belong to him, as a reason why the meanest of them should not be despised. or ill treated:—"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their Angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”'ll The design of their ministry is not to defend the saints from every evil or calamity, because it is the will of God that often they should suffer affliction, and trials are over-ruled for their good; but from such other calamities as would not be subservient to this end, they are preserved by their vigilant guardians. They are with them when they lie down and rise up, when they sit in the house and walk by the way. Their agency is not visible and miraculous, like that of the Angel who delivered Peter from prison; | it is secret, and is carried on without disturbing the order of nature.
Fourthly, They are employed, as we have seen, to execute divine judgments upon the enemies of the saints, and thus minister for them, by enfeebling, disarming, and destroying those by whom they would be injured.' I have already given an instance in the fate of the Assyrian army which had invaded Judea; and I may remind you of another, recorded in the Acts, the miserable end of Herod the persecutor, who was smitten by an Angel. ** In the Revelation of John, which is, indeed, highly figurative, but foretells real events and their causes, Angels are represented as the agents in the terrible revolutions by which the wicked will be punished, and the Church will be delivered. We are not permitted to see them, as David was, who beheld an Angel standing over Jerusalem, with a sword in his hand;* their operations are concealed from us by the veil of natural causes. But it is consoling to the saints to be assured, by testimony which is not to be disputed, that those who are for them are more in number and greater in power than those who are against them; and that not only is their cause, and that of truth and righteousness, patronized by the Supreme Ruler of the universe, but there are upon its side myriads of glorious spirits, one of whom could crush the combined potentates of the earth.
# Heb. i. 14. + Rev. i. 1. # Ps. xci. 10–12. f Ps. xxxiv. 7. | Matt. xviii, 10. | Acts xii,
** Ib. 23.
Fifthly, It is their office to convey the souls of the saints into the mansions of bliss. Having attended them during the journey of life, or at least from the moment of their conversion, they are present at the closing scene; and when their spirits have escaped from the earthly prison, they fly away with them, and deliver up their precious charge. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, it is said that the latter died, and was carried by Angels into Abraham's bosom.f Notwithstanding the figurative character of the composition, it may be presumed that our Lord intended this fact to be literally understood. Το our natural feelings, a death-bed scene is revolting and afflicting. We behold a helpless human being, emaciated by disease, panting for breath, and convulsed with pain; his countenance pale, his lips quivering, and his brow bedewed with a cold sweat; and, with his expiring groans, are mingled the lamentations of his disconsolate friends. But, were not the spiritual world hidden by a veil, we should see the glorious inhabitants of heaven surrounding his bed, and sympathising with the sufferer,--for even the Lord of Angels has a fellow-feeling of the infirmities of his people—yet rejoicing at his unmurmuring patience, and his stedfast hope, which looks at a brighter world; and when the struggle was over, bearing his spirit away to their own abode, where “ there is no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain."
Lastly, The Angels will minister for the saints at the second coming of Christ. We know, from Scripture, that they will be his attendants; and we learn also, that they will have important services to perform. By them the saints will be “ caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” † At the great harvest of the world, as our Lord has taught us, the angels will be the reapers; and as they will then pluck up the tares, and throw them into the fire, so they will gather the wheat into the garner. “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”'ll
When we are speaking of the ministry of angels, the question naturally occurs, whether there is any foundation for the opinion not only of the Jews, but of many Christians in ancient and modern times, that there are guardian angels; or in other words, that there is assigned to each individual a particular angel, who attends him during the whole course of his life. Some seem to consider this opinion as almost heretical, and reject it as dangerous; although where the danger lies, it is not easy to perceive. It appears to me to be a very harmless opinion, and to be by no means unnatural, as, according to our ideas, a multiplicity of affairs is best managed by a division of labour, and by allotting to each of those who are engaged in it, his particular department. The great objection is, that we have no evidence of its truth. The Scriptures do . not enter into details upon the subject, and only say, “He shall give his angels charge over thee,”'s representing the care of the saints as a general concern. There are, indeed, several instances in which a single angel was employed;
. i Chron. xxi, 16. | Luke xvi. 22. # 1 Thess. iv. 17. Matt, xiii. 39.
i Matt. xxiv. 31. 1 Psalm xci. 11,
but it does not hence follow that this was his exclusive province. Our Lord says concerning his disciples, that their angels beheld the face of his Father;* but nothing can be fairly inferred from this passage, except that the heavenly hosts are appointed to watch over them. The strongest argument is founded on the words of the disciples, who were praying for the deliverance of Peter on the night before his expected execution, and when the servant affirmed that it was he who was knocking at the gate, exclaimed, “It is his angel;"'t for they could not believe that it was Peter himself. Attempts have been made to evade this argument, by giving a different meaning to the words; but I think they are absurd. There is no doubt that these disciples, being Jews, did believe that there were guardian angels; but, we do not know that any of them were inspired men, and therefore we are not bound to adopt their sentiments, unless they be supported by higher authority.
Christians should be grateful for the care of God exercised towards them by the ministry of Angels, and should admire that wonderful economy which has united the iwo great families of heaven and earth, which sin had separated, and inspired with aversion and hostility. What a high honour is conferred upon them, in having such guardians! How safe are they under their protection! and with what caution and reverence should they act in the presence of witnesses so august and holy!
Fallen Angels–Remarks on their Fall-Its effects upon their Moral and Intellectual Qualities,
and upon their State or Condition—Their subordination to Satan—Their EmploymentTheir Power over the Bodies of Men-Demoniacs—Power of Fallen Angels over the Minds of Men, considered.
It appears from Scripture, that there are two classes of Angels, the same in nature, but distinguished by their moral qualities, their employments, and the usual place of their residence. Those of the one class are holy, are engaged in the service of God, and inhabit the regions of light. Those of the other class are depraved, are active in propagating sin and misery among the human race, and are doomed to dwell in the region of darkness and sorrow. Of these I purpose to speak in this Lecture.
I begin with observing, that the whole angelical order was created pure; and this position is not only countenanced by Scripture, but is necessary to vindicate the character of God. The question concerning the origin of evil, caused much perplexity to the speculative men of the heathen world; and in order to account for it, they had recourse to the hypothesis of the malignity of matter, or to that of the existence of an Evil Being, who was independent upon the Author of good. But as the latter supposition is repugnant to reason, as well as to revelation; so the former, which, by the bye, is unintelligible and absurd, is totally inapplicable to the case of spiritual beings, who have no connexion with maiter, and therefore could not be tainted by it. They must, therefore, have existed in a state of innocence; for, were we to admit the idea, that they were originally corrupt, we should charge their sin upon their Maker. But, as he is essentially holy, it was impossible that there should be the slightest stain of sin upon any intelligent creature, when it came • Matt. xviii, 10.
† Acts xii. 15.
from his hands; as only pure light can proceed from the sun. The angels of whom we are speaking, are said not to have kept their first estate ;* from which words it is plain, that they were once in every respect similar to the angels who stand in the presence of God.
How long they retained their integrity, we are not able to determine, as Scripture is silent; but, as we have no reason to think that angels were created before our world, we may say of them as well as of men, that “being in honour, they abode not.”. It was by the agency of one of them that our first parents were seduced; and although it is absurd to suppose that the fall of man took place in the same day on which he was made, yet there is good ground to suppose, that paradise was only for a short time the abode of purity and
peace. When we think of the mode in which sin could find admission into the mind of a creature perfectly holy, we perceive that much obscurity rests upon the subject. If, as is necessarily implied, the understanding were free from error, and clearly apprehended the nature and relation of things, how could it form a false judgment, or be imposed upon by the sophistry of others? If the heart was full of love to God, and under the uncontrolled influence of his authority, how could any representation excite a wayward affection, or a desire which it was improper to indulge? The difficulty is greater in the case of angels than in that of man; for, as he was connected with matter, and subject to the influence of the senses, his attention might be diverted, and his judgment biassed, by allurements addressed to them, while pure spirits were secured against any such temptations. But, it is vain to bring forward arguments to prove that a fact is impossible or improbable, if we have it in our power to shew that it has actually taken place. As men sinned in the earthly paradise, through the subtilty of a tempter, so angels sinned in the heavenly paradise, without a tempter; for although we do not possess a history of their apostasy, yet we know that they were not solicited, as man was, by some being of superior artifice, because they were the sole inhabitants of heaven.
There has been a diversity of opinion with respect to the sin of the angels. Some of the ancients imagined that it was lust, having given this sense to these words in Genesis, " The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”+ It is not possible to conceive a more ridiculous opinion, since, besides other absurdities, which are so obvious that it is not necessary to point them out, it makes the fall of angels long posterior to the fall of man, in direct contradiction to the Scripture, which affirms that he was seduced by the devil. A modern author, Cocceius, has maintained that, as we read of no prior sin of the angels, their first sin consisted in tempting our first parents ; not perceiving, that he mistakes the effect for the cause, as it is plain that they must have sinned, before the idea of seducing others could have entered into their minds. Others have thought that their sin was envy ; envy either of those angels who were superior to them in rank and dignity, or of man whom God had created in his own image, and invested with dominion over this lower world. Lastly, the most common opinion is, that their sin was pride, and it is founded on these words of an Apostle : “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”Ị But how pride arose, it is not so easy to tell. There was no being to solicit them to it, or to suggest it. But their own rank might be their temptation. Concentrating their thoughts upon their own excellences, and admiring them, they might gradually forget their relation to God as their Creator. They might lose the sense of their dependence upon him; and as soon as this feeling was suspended, humility was at an end, and a train of arrogant imaginations and claims would occupy its place. They would then see only themselves; their self-importance would be flattered by • Jude 6. † Gen. vi. 2.
# I Tim. iii. 6.
the view; and having erred in heart, they might proceed openly to renounce their allegiance to God. Milton has supposed that their pride was excited by a command to all the heavenly powers to do homage to the Son of God as their Lord; that Satan, who was higher than the rest,
“ could not bear Through pride that sight, and thought himself impaired :". and that the armies under his command listened to his counsel, and joined in his revolt:
“Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
Natives and sons of heaven." + His powerful imagination has wrought out a sublime description of the apos. tasy and overthrow of angels, from a single passage in the book of Revelation, which, however, relates to a different subject. “And there was war in heave en; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with hini."I Amidst this diversity of opinion, the most probable is that which makes pride the first sin of angels; but the means by which it was excited, and the mode in which it operated, are unknown.
Angels were not placed under a federal head, like the human race, which existed in the beginning solely in its progenitors, and was to be deduced from them in successive generations. As they were all created at once, each individual seems to have been committed to his own care, and was to stand or fall according to his personal conduct. The only effect which one could have upon another, was by example and counsel, and excitation to good or evil. Had there been a federal representation among angels as among men, the whole order would have shared alike in its consequences. The individuality of the moral agency of angels, if I may speak so, is manifest from the fact, that while some revolted, others maintained their allegiance. Hence arises a new subject of speculation. It does not appear that the apos. tasy of angels was successive, or that some apostatized at one time, and some at another; but we have some reason to believe that the revolt was simultaneous. How, then, was the concurrence of a multitude obtained? It is incredible that the same thought should, at the same moment, have suggested itself to myriads; or that, without any external cause, the same temptation should have affected so many independent minds. It is probable, therefore, that, as on earth, the woman being deceived enticed her husband, so in heaven one angel, or a few angels, having admitted sin into their thoughts and affections, exerted their influence with success upon others; and that, although the address to his followers, which our great poet has put into the mouth of Satan, is a mere creation of fancy, yet by some similar means a general conspiracy was formed. The Scriptures favour the conclusion, that there was one angel with whom it originated, by the pre-eminence which it assigns to him, and by speaking of “the devil and his angels."
It is impossible to tell how many angels were engaged in this revolt. They are represented as many; but nothing is said about their number. The idea that they amounted to a third part of the inhabitants of heaven, has arisen from a mistaken view of a passage which relates to a different subject. " And his tail,” that is, the tail of the dragon, “ drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth."'S
• Par. Lost, B. v. 664, † Ib. 787, • Rev, xii. 7-9. § Rev. xü. 4.