Imatges de pÓgina
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wrought out a stupendous scheme of redemption for fallen man, and by an act of his sovereignty adopts all as his children who believe on his name, the angels are only “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation.” They are all inferior and dependent agencies, looking to Christ for their offices, their rewards, and their very being. So that whilst Jesus in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and spread abroad the heavens, they could do nothing but sing together and shout for joy, as they saw the worlds with their multiform inhabitants rolling from his creating hand.

4th. Christ is superior to the angels in perfections. To make this appear, the apostle refers again to the Psalms, where omnipotence is ascribed to the Son. This supreme power is implied in several particulars. It is implied in creation. “And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands." Such a work required the exertion of almighty power. And if it required omnipotence to create, it also requires the same power to change. Yet it is said to Christ of the heavens and the earth, “as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed.” But never has such a perfection been ascribed to the angels, nor have they ever claimed it. And though they may have great power, it is a mere delegated and inferior power, and not omnipotence.

The heavens and the earth as the work of Christ, also show his wisdom and skill. The works of creation display an intelligent contrivance which to man is unsearchable, and which the angels themselves find ample and delightful employment to search out. For though they have great capacities for knowledge, and take in more at a single glance than the most laborious student can acquire by years of painful application; yet their wisdom is finite and limited. In reference to that of Christ, however, Paul in one place exclaims, “O the depths of the riches, both of the knowledge and wisdom of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

Immutability we find here also ascribed to Christ as a perfection not belonging to the angels. Of the things of creation it is said“they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not

same.

fail.” Every thing created is subject to mutability and decay. The hardest and firmest materials of our present system are constantly evincing signs of change. The mountains are ever wasting away their rocky' heights. The winds scatter their dust through the valleys and the plains, and the rains wash away their sediment to the filling up of the ocean. Islands in the sea are continually appearing and disappearing. Man himself is a subject of mutation. His feelings—his views—his circumstances—his very nature is subject to change. Nor will the high heavens always remain the

Even the angels change from perfection to perfection, and from one employment to another. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. With him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning. From everlasting to everlasting he is the same, and his years shall not fail. And what a happy thought is this to the tempted and sin-wearied of earth? How consoling the truth, that Jesus is always the same immutable Savior—that the love which brought him down to die for sinners-still glows with the same warmth as when he first undertook our case—that his atonement is always the same sufficient and acceptable sacrifice that his promises are never to fail—and that his willingness to receive the returning prodigal, and to save and glorify all who put their trust in him cannot change! How blessed the reflection that “he keepeth covenant and mercy to a thousand generations ;” and that amid all the new scenes and changes we may be called to pass,

he will ever be our Almighty, faithful Savior!

5th. Christ is also superior to the angels in exaltation. It is said of Christ, that “ being the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power; after he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” He has been exalted to the highest dignity of heaven. But the apostle asks, “ To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool ?” Such language had been addressed to the Messiah, but never unto them. The highest exallation of the angels is, to stand around the throne in his holy presence, praising his name, and waiting to do his pleasure. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?” The super-angelic dignity of Christ then, is a matter very con

clusively made out. And if the Jews could refer to the agency of angels in delivering the Law, Christians can point to one “made so much better than the angels,” who has given us the Gospel.—A few remarks now upon the angelic ministry. “ Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?"

The ministry of angels in the Gospel dispensation, is a matter very imperfectly developed in the Scriptures, and still more imperfectly understood. And as our redemption would have been just as effectually accomplished if never a syllable had been uttered concerning it, it is of but little moment whether we trouble ourselves with its investigation or not. But as the subject here properly comes before us, it will not be amiss to devote the remaining portion of this lecture to a few remarks which may be of general interest, and not without some comfort to the pious. In considering this matter, we must guard against attributing to the angels anything that will interfere with the province of the Holy Spirit. The whole work of the sinner's salvation, from incipient conviction to the last stages of sanctification, is accomplished exclusively by the agency of the Spirit. The ministry of angels then, consists in, and must be confined to the following particulars :

1st. Angels minister to our instruction in times of perplexity.When Hagar fled into the wilderness from the severity of her mistress, and was so sorely perplexed as to be ready to give up for death, the angel of the Lord appeared for her direction. When a jealous Herod cruelly plotted the destruction of the infant Savior, the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph and Mary, and directed them in their perplexity to flee with the young child into Egypt. It was an angel directed the devout Cornelius to send to Joppa for Peter, who should relieve his mind from the perplexity which distressed him. And thus we may suppose that they minister now to the heirs of salvation. It may be imperceptibly to us, but none the less really, that they are engaged in directing our providential way, relieving us of many a perplexity which may lie in the way of our destined progress.

2nd. The angels minister to our deliverance in times of danger. It is said in the Scriptures, that “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” The promise is “he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in

all thy ways.” And we have instances on record in which these promises were verified, and that literally. “When Paul was tossing in a storm, on the billows of the Adriatic, a forlorn exile from his native land, and a poor despised prisoner, on whom the grandees of this world looked down with contempt,-one of these angelic beings stood by him' during the darkness of the night and the war of the elements, and consoled his mind with the assurances of his safety.” Righteous Lot was delivered from the destruction of Sod. om and Gomorrah by this very instrumentality. It was thus that Elisha was delivered from the Syrian army at Dothan. It was an angel that closed the jaws of the hungry lions to spare the life of persecuted Daniel. It was an angel that entered the dungeon of Peter, knocked off his fetters, and delivered him from the hands of his exasperated enemies. Nor has this promise of deliverance from danger by angelic instrumentality ever been abrogated. The same agency is now at work in the world-keeping and protecting the people of God-warding off disease, accident and death-limiting the rage and power of their enemies--and delivering them from the temptations of Satan.

3d. The angels minister to our comfort in times of distress. It is their province to console and strengthen the afflicted and sorrowful. When Christ was tormented in the wilderness by a tempting devil, they came and“ ministered unto him." And during the dark moments of his deepest agony, “there appeared unto him an angel strengthening him.” These communications with the Savior con . sisted probably in the suggestion of consolatory thoughts-in directing his attention to the infinite glory which should result from his faithfulness, &c. And in the same way no doubt the angels are now employed comforting the distressed and afflicted christian. In times of despondency they direct our minds to the faithfulness of God, or bring to our recollection some joyful promise. In times of suffering and pain they remind us of the rest that remains for the people of God, and dispose us to patience by the consideration, that soon tribulation and suffering shall reach a perpetual end. Their agency may even extend to the actual removal of pain from our bodies, and of grief from our minds.

4th. The angels minister to our release from the body and our admittance into heaven. This is very clearly taught in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. It is said, that the beggar died,

and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom.” What are the precise offices which the angels perform for the dying saint, we have no means of knowing. Yet, such is the fact, the death-chamber of the righteous is lit up with the presence of heavenly orders; whose plastic hands support the sinking head-buoy up the departing spirit, and smooth the dark declivity to the tomb. With his latest breath he sings :

Bright angels are from glory come !
They're round my bed, and in my room !
They wait to waft my spirit home!

All is well. All is well!

And when the ransomed soul drops its clay tenement, it is borne amid the rustling of seraphic wings to its final resting place! This has ever been a delightful thought for the christian. Says the poet,

« 'Tis sweet to rest in lively hope,

That when my change shall come,
Angels will hover round my bed,

And waft my spirit home!”

In view of these remarks then, how entirely complete do we find the provisions for our salvation. There is nothing wanting. Ample arrangements have been made to meet every possible emergency. Independent of Christ's great atonement—the gift of the Spirit-and the means of grace, there has been instituted an additional ministry, which surrounds believers with the guardianship of angels. How paternal is the Almighty's care for the good of his people, and how great is our encouragement to venture our whole interest into his hands! How comforting too for those who are struggling through gloom, perplexity and pain for an inheritance in heaven, that the angels of the Lord are round about us to help us on our way! Cold indeed must be the heart that is not warmed at the thought, that there are ties of sympathy which bind it to angelic excellence and celestial orders. Dead indeed must be the sensibilities and deep the apathy that are not stirred with the reflection, that all beaven is in anxiety for our welfare. Pitiable indeed is the deluded skeptic, whose soul has never been refreshed with the entrancing melody which rolls in endless numbers from the harps of seraphim, and who has nothing to cheer him in his last moments but the cold and comfortless idea of an eternal sleep. Tell me not

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