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And when the great Day of Judgment shall come, and Christ shall again descend to judge the quick and the dead; the Archangel will come before him, blowing the last trump, to break open the graves, and to summon both the living and the dead to meet their Lord in the air.
2. Angels are employed in studying the works of God. The stupendous exhibitions of the perfections of God are the things, which the angels desire to look into. For this purpose, these glorious beings are eminently fitted, by their wonderful attributes, and exalted station. As Messengers of God, they visit, not only our world, but the innumerable regions of the Heavens; to trace out, and examine, and admire the transcendent displays of the wisdom and goodness of God, in the complicated, and seemingly contradictory operations of Providence and Grace. 'Angels visit distant worlds probably with more ease and expedition than men the towns in their neighbourhood; and compare systems with more perfect comprehension and accuracy, than we, states and kingdoms.' Again. 'Man, by the limited nature of his powers, is almost of course obliged, whenever he studies, to confine himself to study; and whenever he acts, to action. Angels, by their superior energy, seem fitted to pursue both courses at once; and to be able to study and act, without hinderance, confusion, or any other disadvantage.
3. Angels are sent to execute judgments upon this world. When Adam and Eve were driven out of the delightful bowers of Paradise, Angels, of the order of the Cherubim, were placed at the east of the garden of Eden, to prevent their return to eat of the tree of life. Angels were sent by God to inflict judgments upon the Israelites ; on the army of Sennacherib; on Nebuchadnezzar; and on Herod. In the Apocalypse, Angels are represented by St John as pouring out the vials of divine wrath upon this guilty world. Thus are they sometimes the ministers of God's justice, that his judgments against sin should be made manifest.
4. Angels are sent to encourage and bless the children of God in this world. They are called by St Paul ministering spirits to those who shall be heirs of salvation. They descend from heaven, and ascend from the earth,
for this benevolent purpose. 'Thus,' says a great divine, Angels delivered Lot from Sodom; Jacob from Esau; Daniel from the lions; his three companions from the fiery furnace; Peter from Herod, and the Jewish Sanhedrim; and the nation of the Israelites, successively, from the Egyptians, Canaanites, and Assyrians. Thus they conducted Lot, Abraham, and the Israelites, in seasons of great difficulty and danger, to places and circumstances of safety and peace. Thus they conducted Gideon to the destruction of the Midianites, Joseph and Mary to Egypt, Philip to the Eunuch, and Cornelius to Peter, to the knowledge of the Gospel through him, and to the salvation of himself, his family, and his friends. Thus Angels instructed Abraham, Joshua, Gideon, David, Elijah, Daniel, Zechariah the prophet, Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles, and their fellow-disciples. Thus they comforted Jacob at the approach of Esau; Daniel in his peculiar sorrows and dangers; Zachariah in the sufferings of his nation; Joseph and Mary in their perplexities; Christ in his agony; the Apostles and their companions after his resurrection; Paul immediately before his shipwreck; and the Church, universally, by the testimony and instruction given in the Revelation of St John.' Finally, the holy Angels are now the blessed agents in convoying the souls of the just to the Paradise of God; and they will be the tremendous agents in severing the wicked from the good, at the day of Judgment. Thus are the Holy Angels the most sublime, the most pure, the most benevolent, the most happy part of all Created Intelligences.
How different are these holy Angels from unholy How will a comparison between the two exalt them, and humble us. The Angels are pure spirit, pure intellect, pure affection, pure devotion. Man is kindred to animals, liable to error, impure in desire, and undevout in worship. The Angels, although clothed with immortality, and living in the heavens, are neither proud nor
vain. Man, although fashioned from the dust, and crawling upon the earth, is both proud and vain. The Angels delight to do the will of their Father in heaven. Man chooses rather to obey his own inclinations on earth. The Angels have no sin, no sorrow, no poverty, no broken hearts, no sickness, no funerals. Man is polluted with sin, bowed down with sorrow, pinched with poverty, crossed in his affections, made pale by sickness, and laid in cold obstruction in the grave. Surely, men are far different from Angels, in this world.
2. How improved would this world be, if men would endeavour to imitate the Angels. Happy, thrice happy, would be the change over the moral face of this earth. Then should we hear no more of sloth, envy, or malice; of oppression, hypocrisy, or impiety. The neighbour would never slander the neighbour; the son would never despise the wholesome counsel of the father, nor the daughter the tender warnings of the mother. Nations would no longer war against nations. There would be no more robbers upon the road sides, assassins in the secret chambers, nor pirates on the high seas. There would be no more cozening in bargains, nor perjury in courts; no more wasting of the week day, nor profanation of the Sabbath. All would become peace, and love, and harmony; all activity, and humanity, and generosity; all obedience, and resignation, and devotion. Praise would be upon every lip, and incense rise from every altar. The whole world would become one vast and glorious Temple, filled with uplifted worshippers of the true God, and of his glorified Son, our Redeemer. Such would this world become, if men would imitate the holy Angels.
3. We should learn humility from the humility of Angels. Although the Angels are thus dignified and splendid beings, yet do they not disdain to minister to the relief and comfort of us, children of the dust. They bring no railing accusations to excuse themselves from serving such ungrateful, ungracious sinners as we are. They exhibit no haughtiness of character, in selecting the powerful, the wealthy, or the talented, for their approbation, or their favours. We are apt to pay homage to men, who have the brightest intellects, however they may pervert
the use of them; or to men, who live in the largest houses, have the most shares in the banks, or the most ships on the seas, little regarding how they may have acquired them. But the holy Angels do not so. They love the humble and contrite spirit, that doeth justly, and regardeth the cry of the poor. In this world, when a virtuous poor man dies, how few of the rich and the noble are found at his funeral. But when even a vicious rich man dies, how is the house thronged, and how long is the sable train of mourners. How different is this, from the humility of the Angels. They look not to what is great, but to what is good. Dives, the worldly great man, died, and was buried. We hear of no angels attending at his burial. Lazarus, the worldly poor man, died, and received the most glorious funeral ever left upon record. He was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. How then does it become us, to learn humility from angels.
4. How should we strive so to live in this world, that hereafter we may go to live with the Angels. How humbling the thought, that man, who was originally created but a little lower than the angels, soon became so debased by sin, as more to resemble the Fallen, than the Holy Angels. Again, how animating the thought, that man, by a continued life of christian faith, christian trust, and christian obedience, may yet aspire to dwell hereafter with these holy, happy Beings. In the resurrection, says our Saviour, the children of God shall be like to the angels. If we delight in this world to live among our im perfect and departing friends, how transporting the idea, of going to live forever with such pure, such brilliant, such intellectual, such fervent friends, as the blessed Angels of God. To see them in their ranks, circle above circle, from the lowest Cherub to the highest Seraph; ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; clothed in robes white and clean, their breasts girded with golden girdles, and their hands waving incense from their golden censers. Now they veil their faces, and cast their crowns at the feet of Him, that sitteth on the throne. Now they listen in adoration to the harpers harping on their harps, and to the four Living Ones, which rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Al
mighty! while the heavenly hosts respond, and the crystal walls resound, Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain! Who would not, to witness such scenes, renounce the pleasures of sin? Who would not cheerfully bid adieu to all that wealth, or ambition, or sensuality, or the united powers of earth, can offer? But if we would be admitted to this glorious company; if we would share in their immortal blessings; we must esteem the things which Angels esteem, love the things which they love, and do the things which they do.
5. From the inspired vision of the heavenly ladder, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it from heaven to earth; and from some other intimations in Scripture; how know we, but that the voice of conscience is the voice of some of these benevolent spirits? but that every person on earth is attended by his guardian angel, wherever he goes; to warn him of danger, of temptation, and of sin; to watch over his slumbers, to make soft his pillow in sickness, and to bear his soul at death to the invisible world? Let us then regard each admonition of conscience as the voice of one of these guardian spirits, who is ever near us, although unseen by mortal eyes. How know we, my brethren, but that this church is now filled with these blessed spirits, hovering down from the world of glory, watching the movements of our hearts, and waiting to bear a report to their Father in heaven? Let then each one of us ask his own heart, with fear and trembling, what report he is willing they should bear?
Finally. If the Angels are thus dignified, thus happy, thus pure, and yet comparatively unclean, and chargeable with folly; how exalted, how blessed, how holy, how overwhelmingly glorious, must He be, who created the Angels!