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Such is the state of indifference to the world, and alienation of heart from it, to which every true disciple aspires, and for the attainment of which he prays. Now it is a self-evident axiom, that nothing but almighty power can enable us to “ forsake all covetous desires and the inordinate “ love of riches." For the exertion of this power, therefore, on our behalf we are taught earnestly to pray; that hearing the effectual call of the sinner's Friend, we may, like St. Matthew, forsake all and follow Him.
What is implied in following Christ we have explained in a former essay. We shall therefore only observe here, that Christ must be known before He can be followed with cordiality of affection. For what man in his senses would follow an unknown guide? Were a stranger to propose to us a long, difficult and dangerous journey to some distant country-were he to promise us as an inducement an immense treasure for the reward of our labour,--we should immediately ask, Who is this person? Is his veracity to be depended on? Is he really our friend? Has he power to fulfil his promises? All these inquiries would wisdom dictate; for, were they neglected, we might quit a present certainty for a future uncertainty, incur toil and labour for nothing, or perish in the attempt. Let the character of Christ, His grace, His ability to bless us, His faithfulness to His word, be investigated, and the scrutiny will issue in the complete satisfaction of the mind which makes it. It will be found that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, and to keep that which we commit to Him against the great day. Every sacrifice which we are required to make on His account, will be richly compensated by the present consolations of His Spirit, and more abundantly by the final enjoyment of His glory. We may rest assured that we shall meet with no disappointment in forsaking all for Him, since He is faithful who hath promised, and since He “ liveth and reigneth with the Father and the
ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS.
O Everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of angels 'and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully Grant that; as thy holy angels always do thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
N this day the church expresses her thank
fulness to God for the many benefits she derives from the ministry of holy angels, and implores a continuance of their important ministrations on her behalf. And ás St. Michael is mentioned in Scripture as an angel of great power and dignity, and as especially engaged in watching over the interests of the church, he is particularized in her grateful memorial of Divine goodness. *
From the title of our collect it is evident that our church supposes the personage who in Scriptüre bears the name of Michael to be a created angel, though one of the highest order. There are however many learned men, who rather sup
, pose that Michael is a name of the uncreated Angel of the covenant, to whose gracious office towards His church they think the actions attributed to Michael may well be assigned; and that the interpretation of the name, who is as God,
** See Wheatly, p. 235. Oxford edition,
strengthens this opinion. (Comp. Dan. X. 13. Jude 9. Rev. xii. 7.*)
Concerning the nature and office of those incorporeal intelligences whom we denominate angels, we can have no information but what is derived from Scripture; beyond which if we venture, we plunge into a boundless ocean of vain conjecture. On this subject both Jews and Christians have indulged in speculations which are wholly futile and unprofitable.
The term angel is a name of office, and signifies no more than a messenger, whether embodied or unembodied; and it is applied to the agents of material nature, to men, to created intelligent spirits, and to the second person of Jehovah, the incarnate Son of God. To distinguish accurately whether the one or the other of these is intended by the word, as used in some passages of Scripture, is by no means an easy task.
That there are unembodied spirits, distinct from the souls of men, and from the ever-blessed God, is clear from many parts of the inspired volume which need not to be cited here, since every reader will recollect them. A part of these are fallen from holiness and happiness, having lost their first estate, and “left their own habitation,' and are “ reserved in chains of darkness unto the
judgment of the great day.” There is, however, “an inni an innumerable
ble company of angels,” who have persevered in their duty to God, and are the subjects of our present act of prayer and praise.
These blessed spirits excel in knowledge and in strength; (see 2 Sam. xiv. 20. Ps. ciii. 20. 2 Th. i. 7) and their number is past calculation.
* See Poli Syn. in Dan. X. 13. See also Bp. Horseley's Sermon on Dan. iv. 17, vol, ii. sermon 29.
That they are " constituted and appointed in a “ wonderful order," (by which it may be supposed, that the collect refers to a diversity of intellect, rank, and ministration) may be inferred from what the Apostle says, Col. i. 16, where he distributes them into “ thrones, dominions, prin“ cipalities, and powers.” Any attempt further to investigate this mysterious subject would incur the guilt of “intruding into those things which “ we have not seen, vainly puffed up by our • fleshly mind."*
We know, however, that among men the providence of God has ordained and constituted a wonderful order, which is highly conducive to the promotion of the Divine glory and to the happiness of mankind. All anarchy is inconsistent with His plan, and destructive of human happiness. Liberty and equality, whether in church or state, are terms which imply rebellion against Him and the overthrow of His constitution. Subordination and dependence are essential to human welfare; nor can we enough admire the wisdom of God in linking us together in society, and in the appointment of civil and ecclesiastical government. From the harmony which prevails throughout creation, and from the titles given in Scripture to celestial beings, we infer, that something similar to what we observe among men prevails also in heaven, under the
dominion of the King of kings.
There is also a mutual connection between angels and men. For angels derive their happiness
* Quid inter se distent hæc vocabula, dicant qui possunt. Si tamen possunt probare quod dicunt, ego me ista ignorare confiteor. August. Et alibi: differre inter se aliquid credo; sed quid inter se differant, nescio.