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scend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Be not overcome of evil, but overeome evil with good. This is the counsel of the great preacher Paul. In another place, he says of sin, that we must not only touch not, taste not, handle not ; but that we must even abstain from all appearance of evil. And above all these things, that we must put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And what says another great preacher, the forerunner of the Messiah? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. And again, What says the Lord from heaven himself ? Do unto others, as you would that others, in like circumstances, 'should do unto you. This is the golden rule, worthy to be worn, as the Jews wore their phylacteries, upon the forehead of every one. Finally, the sum of all is, 'Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
This you can all understand. I can tell you no plainer rule than this. An angel from heaven could tell you no plainer rule than this : Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.' If we thus manifest our christian faith by our christian virtue, we shall give a practical answer to that great, that increasingly momentous question, What must I do to be saved ?
THE HOLY ANGELS.
SERMON X X X IX.
Gen. xxviii, 12. - AND HE DREAMED, AND BEHOLD A LAD
DER SET UP ON THE EARTH, AND THE TOP OF IT REACHED TO HEAVEN ; AND BEHOLD, THE ANGELS OF GOD AS
CENDING AND DESCENDING ON IT.
If we believe the Bible, we must believe that there is somewhere - where we know not, nor is it material for us to know, else it had been revealed — but somewhere beyond the bounds of this visible sphere, a Heaven of Heavens, wherein the everlasting God and Christ reside, and where good spirits will go after death ; and that in this Heaven, are different orders of celestial beings, called Angels. As the nature of Angels is a subject not often introduced into the pulpit, yet altogether worthy of a rational curiosity, and full of the most sublime instruction, I propose to discuss, with reverence, in the following discourse, the Ranks, Attributes, and Employments of those Holy Beings, such as the patriarch Jacob saw in his vision, ascending and descending on the heavenly ladder.
I. The Ranks of the Angels. That there are in Heaven different orders of angels is sufficiently intimated by the variety of names given to them in Scripture. Beside the general appellation of Angel, or Messenger, derived from their peculiar office ; they are called Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers, and Authorities ; also Chief Princes, and Elohim, or gods. Sometimes, they are styled Living Ones ; sometimes, Cherubim, or Knowing Ones ; sometimes, Seraphim, or
Burning Ones ; sometimes, Watchers, and Holy Ones ; and one is denominated the Archangel. We likewise read of some, who are called by name ; as the man Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; Michael, the archangel, who disputed about the body of Moses ; and Lucifer, one of the many names given to the Chief Leader of the fallen angels, who were cast out of heaven for sin. The Holy Angels are moreover called Morning Stars, to denote their peculiar beauty and splendour of character ; and not improbably as harbingers of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness: and Sons of God, to teach us that they are nearly connected with the Creator, dwell in his house as children, and enjoy his parental presence, care and love.' From a consideration of the above names, it will be manifest that Angels are the highest order of intelligent creatures. This truth is also evident from their being assigned to heaven as their birthplace and residence. The Living Ones, mentioned by John in the Apocalypse, are described as being full of eyes before and behind ;
that is, to have been all sense, all intellect, all consciousness ; turning their attention every way ; beholding at once all things within the reach of their understanding ; and discerning them with a clearness of perception, which is the most perfect created semblance of the intuitive and boundless views of the Omniscient Mind.' The exalted rank of Angels is also indicated from the glorious splendour in which these beings have usually appeared in this present world. When the Angel descended to roll away the stone from the sepulchre of the Saviour, his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow ; and for fear of him, the keepers became as dead men. And St John saw a mighty Angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud ; and a rainbow was upon
his head ; and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. Surely beings thus splendid must be of the most elevated rank in the scale of created intelligences.
II. The Attributes of Angels. These are of the noblest kind. First, they are endowed with wonderful powThis is evident from the fact that the appellative
Power is frequently given to them in the Gospel. David exclaims, Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength. St John also speaks of a strong angel, and a mighty angel. The Scriptures furnish proofs of the power of Angels. In three days, an angel destroyed three score and ten thousand persons out of Judah and Israel, when David sinned in numbering the people. In one night, an angel destroyed an hundred and eighty-five thousand men of the army of Sennacherib. St John represents the angels as holding the four winds of heaven ; and as pouring out the vials of God's wrath upon this wicked world. An angel is also exhibited as binding that outrageous and deadly spirit, the Prince of the power of the air, and casting him into the bottomless pit, and as sealing him there, until the thousand years should be fulfilled. Surely then Angels are endowed with almost inconceivable power.
Secondly, Angels are possessed of wonderful activity. King David says, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flaming fire. Here they are represented as moving with the velocity of winds or spirits, and acting with the resistless energy of an excited flame. The same attribute is taught by the symbol of the many wings upon the visioned Cherubim and Seraphim. But the activity of angels is most emphatically illustrated in the case of the prophet Daniel ; where an angel, called the man Gabriel, came down from the supreme Heaven to explain to Daniel the vision and the prophecy, before Daniel had finished his evening prayer. That an angel should thus come from Heaven to earth during the uttering of a prayer exceeds the rapidity of light, and equals the incomprehensible celerity of thought.
Thirdly, Angels are always young. They are endued with unfading and immortal youth. This is taught in many parts of Scripture, and forcibly exhibited in the name Living Ones given them by St John in the Apocalypse, and by Ezekiel in his prophecies. The same doctrine is also beautifully exemplified in the Angels, who appeared to Mary, in the tomb of our Saviour. These illustrious persons were then, at the least, four thousand years old. Still they appeared as young men ; and in all
that long succession of ages had undergone no decay. Their youth, a bright and beautiful blossom, still shone with all its lustre, and fragrance ; and directly indicated, that it was superior both to accident and time ; and would, after many such flights of years, survive in all its vigour; being destined, as well as fitted, for immortality.'
Fourthly, Angels have the most superior intellectual faculties. The first name given to Angels, as we read in Genesis, was Cherub, that is, fulness of knowledge. Their faculties were at first such as became the sons of God, created to circle, rank above rank, around the throne of Jehovah, and there to minister in all the hallowed and sublime offices of adoration, and dominion ; to sit in the high seats of power, to wear the diadems of distinction, and to bathe in the effulgence of glory, in the eternal kingdom. · With the nature and extent of their faculties, has the place of their residence in this respect exactly accorded. They have ever dwelt in the world, where truth reigns without opposition ; where knowledge is the universal state and character ; where all mysteries are continually disclosed ; and where the nature and propriety of both the means, and the ends, of providence are, more than in any part of the universe, unfolded. There, day and night, for six thousand years, they have been unceasingly employed in studying the works of God. Weariness and decay they know not. Strength of understanding in them is incapable of being impaired. Every object of investigation is to them delightful; and every faculty, by its nature, susceptible of improvement. What then must be the extent of their attainments at the present time ?
Fifthly, Angels are perfectly holy. This truth is so abundantly evident from the Scriptures, that it needs no particular illustration. Who was it, that rejoiced at the Creation, and sang in transport at the nativity of the Redeemer ? And who rejoice over one sinner that repenteth?
The name Seraphim, or burning ones, is also an indication that the mind of an angel is burning with one intense and unquenchable flame of divine love ; such a love, as is suited to those, who stand before a holy God, in his own habitation, enjoy his favour, and fulfil the glorious offices of his kingdom.