« VorigeDoorgaan »
OF ANGELS. No. II.
We shall add one passage of scripture more to show, that it is probable that angels have the superintendence of nations and empires. It is the following: "And I turned, and lift up mine eyes, and looked, and behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains: and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; and in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. Then I answered, and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these my lord? And the angel answered, and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. And the bay went forth, and sought to go, that they might walk to and fro through the earth; and he said, Get ye hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth." Zech. vi. 1-7. Grotius supposes, that the four chariots drawn by different coloured horses, in this highly figurative passage, denote the Babylonian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman empires, and that by "the four spirits of the heavens" we are to understand the four angels of God who presided over them. Other commentators think, that the whole passage is merely an emblematic representation of the agency of angels in the administration of Providence.
Families as well as nations are put under the protection of angels. Through their care, families remain in safety. This was "the hedge" which secured Job's children and substance, while they remained in prosperity. " The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." In various ways, unknown to us, they promote our welfare.
Angels frequent worshipping assemblies. The apostle Paul exhorts the Corinthians to be decent in their conduct, in public assemblies," because of the angels," whose presence ought to inspire respectful attention. Solomon recommends similar conduct from the same principle: "Keep thy feet, when thou goest to the house of God; neither say thou before the Angel that it was an error." Angels, it appears, take great notice of worshipping assemblies, and though" the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good," yet it may be the employment of angels to report in the court of heaven the behaviour, both good and bad, of those who compose the worshipping assemblies which they visit.
Individuals have been attended by these invisible guardians. "It is his Angel," exclaimed the apostles, when assured that Peter was at the door, whom they believed to be in close confinement. "The angel who redeemed me from all evil," said Jacob, with his hands placed on the heads of Joseph's sons, “bless the lads." When Elisha was exposed to his enemies, his servant became very uneasy, until, in answer to the prophet's prayer, his eyes were opened, and he discovered the mountain where they stood, filled with horses of fire, and chariots of fire. Angels, no doubt, assumed that appearance, for the protection of his master. "Despise not little children," was our Lord's command; "for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven." Infants and children are put under the charge of angels, who cheerfully execute that charge with the most vigilant attention.* Angels conveyed Lazarus at his death to Abraham's bosom. They are indeed " ministering spirits sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation." The only question is, whether each individual has a particular attendant angel. It is most likely that angels relieve one another, in this service, and at intervals return to heaven, to give an account of their respective charges. Socrates, heathen as he was, believed himself attended by a guardian spirit, to whose suggestions and care he expressed great obligations. The same belief, indeed, was common to many eminent persons among the pagan nations. The justice of this opinion will receive much confirmation, by a careful perusal of the Holy Scriptures.
Angels appear to be the principal agents whom God is pleased to employ in the administration of his providence. They drove Adam out of Paradise, as has already been hinted, and guarded the entrance to the tree of life; they destroyed the first-born in Egypt, and the numerous army of Sennacherib; they smote the Jews, in David's day, with pestilence, and Herod, in the apostles' days, with an incurable disease; they attended God when he gave his law to Israel, and probably produced the sounds and appearances, which impressed consternation and terror upon every mind; they protected Daniel in the den of lions, and opened the doors of the prison in which the apostles of our Lord were con
fined. Happy for us, that, in executing their office, they are generally invisible. The appearance is terrible to man invested with flesh and blood;* but their existence and services are expressly revealed, and the experience of the righteous confirms the consolatory truth.
Though the angels "excel in strength," and are the highest order of created intelligences, they cheerfully marshal themselves under Christ as their head.† At his command Gabriel flies, and Michael executes all his pleasure. The innumerable company execute his orders in every part of his vast dominion, and
* It is a strong proof of the depravity of man, and of his deep consciousness of guilt, that whenever any extraordinary appearance leads him to believe that a messenger is sent to him from the invisible world, he is filled with fear and not with joy, he expects vengeance, and not kindness. This appears not to have been the case before the fall, but it has been so ever since. When our Saviour walked on the sea to go to his disciples, they thought it was a spirit, and " cried out for fear." At the sepulchre of the risen Saviour, the angels had to sooth the apprehensions of the pious women with " fear not ye." A few years since, when Blanchard ascended in his balloon from Philadelphia, he caused great consternation among the ignorant people a few miles from the city, where he descended to the earth. They did not suppose he was a good angel, coming to them on "an errand of mercy." They fully believed that he was the devil come to do them mischief; and it was not till after many assurances to the contrary, vociferated to the astonished beholders at a distance, that the aronaut could prevail on any one to approach, and afford him the assistance which he needed.
† Religious worship is a service due to God alone. Hence angels, who are only the creatures of God, are not the proper objects of worship, and they are represented in scripture, as refusing it in the most peremtory manner, and as being filled with a kind of holy abhorrence at the thought that it should be offered to them." And I John saw these things, and heard them. And, when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God." Rev. xxii. 8, 9. In connexion with this, let it be remembered, that the Saviour, more than once, while on earth, received religious worship, and never disapproved nor forbad it; and is, moreover, represented as the object of worship, after his ascension, by the apostles, and by the first martyr Stephen. Nay, let it be remembered, that the angels themselves, and by the express command of God, are bound to worship him; for "when he bringeth his first begotten into the world he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him." Heb. i. 6. Let this be remembered, and then say if the conclusion is not absolutely unavoidable, that Christ is God.
shall attend him, in full assembly, at the great day, to carry into full effect his designs, with respect both to the righteous and to the wicked. Recognise, in this glorious person, Immanuel "God with us." Beware of his displeasure; obey his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon his irreclaimable enemies. The unbelieving, and disobedient, if they retain this character, are excluded from hope. They arm against themselves a power, which can raise up evil to torment them in their basket and in their store; in their bodies, and in their minds; in themselves, and in their families; in time, and in eternity. There is, therefore, a pressing necessity to comply with the psalmist's admontion: "Kiss the son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little; blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
Our Lord sends forth his angels to comfort, to direct, and to bless his people. It is not easy to ascertain the precise manner in which they perform their services. If thoughts suddenly arise, which determine our conduct at a critical moment, angels may suggest these thoughts; if unexpected deliverances come, when we had no hope, it may come by their instrumentality. Through their agency many may have been in a sort impelled to actions, whose effects have been universally useful; they have apprehended danger, when all was apparently calm; they have been urged to prepare for death, when external circumstances promised a continuance of life. We are intimately connected with the world of spirits. Had we the discernment of Elisha's servant, these celestials might often be seen hovering around us, observing our conduct, ready to execute the command of the King of heaven, in his designs either of judgment, or of mercy. What feelings ought this thought to inspire! Every opposing difficulty; every existing want; every threatening danger is known and observed. The christian may struggle with difficulty; may be oppressed with want; may be alarmed at the view of danger, but his friends are on his right hand, and on his left, with encouragement, assistance, and support. Alone, your circumstances are desperate; but the angels on your side, and the Saviour for your friend, those who are with you are more and stronger than they who are or can be against you. Acting in the presence of angels as well as of men, how holy and how dignified ought your actions to be! Why should trouble reach your hearts? Why so easily dismayed? Demean not yourselves before attending celestials. Let your worship be reverent, and your conduct heavenly. In patience possess your souls. Wisdom's ways are pleasantness, and her paths
peace. Go on your way rejoicing. "There shall no evil befal thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." God "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."
Do the most exalted angels minister to the meanest of the human race, performing, for their benefit, many kind offices? Nay, did the Lord of angels himself come into our world, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many? And can any be so dull as not to observe that doing good to one another is conduct heavenly and magnanimous? Men are never so well employed as when they lay themselves out to be useful, and to promote the welfare of each other. This is the employment of angels. This was the employment of the Lord of angels himself, when on earth. In such employment men are workers together with God. What conduct can give such satisfaction, or what conduct can render any so truly great? This is the character, in some measure, of all who are renewed in the spirit of their minds. They shall certainly reach the heavenly state, for, in disposition and conduct, they resemble celestials.
[To be continued.]
EXTRACT OF A LETTER.
THE sentiments contained in the following short extract, will afford consolation to the soul which labours under a sense of its unworthiness, and is truly desirous of turning unto God, through Christ, for relief and pardon. The letter is from a clergyman in the interior of the country to his friend in this city.
"YOUR Complaints of the state of your mind, your doubts and apprehensions of an interest in Christ, are by no means uncommon to God's people, and they should not, therefore, discourage you, as though a new thing had happened under the Sun. A sense of our unworthiness will always sink us in the dust, and it would into absolute despair, were not our hopes kept alive by the incomprehensible love of our Redeemer; for he is faithful, who hath called us, and who will also confirm us unto the end. The timidity of Christ's sheep is, perhaps, a characteristic of the whole flock, whilst the tenderness of the divine shepherd, who carries his lambs in his bosom, is sweetly exhibited by bidding them