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salvation for both. But in his manifold wisdom he saw that he could not promote his own glory and the highest good of the universe so much by saving fallen angels as by saving fallen men, or as by saving falling men, and not fallen angels. “ Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh," for the salvation of fallen men, and not for fallen angels. The wisdom and grace of God in the work of man's redemption through the death and sufferings of the Son of God, surpass the comprehension of all created beings. Angels have been looking into it, are looking into it, and will for ever be looking into it, and gradually learning more and more of the manifold wisdom and grace of God displayed in it, and yet never be able fully to comprehend all the wisdom and grace which it displays. But mankind have the most reason to look into and admire the riches of divine wisdom and discriminating grace in providing salvation for them, rather than for fallen angels. And those who shall eventually be saved from everlasting sin and misery, and restored to everlasting holiness and happiness, will more sensibly and gratefully admire the astonishing wisdom and discriminating grace of God in providing salvation for them instead of fallen angels, than any other created beings in the universe. They will sing a song of praise that none of the angels of heaven can ever learn.
2. Since all the angels are employed in promoting the work of redemption, it must be an immensely grcat and important work. We may judge of the greatness and value of any work, by the means which are wisely used in carrying it on. No wise being will undertake a work which will not more than compensate for all the means to be employed for the accomplishment of it. God knew if he undertook the work of redemption, he must employ all the holy angels to complete it. Accordingly he has employed, and will continue to employ them in this great work, until he has finished it. They are the highest order of intelligent beings; they excel in power, wisdom, and goodness. They are industrious and faithful, and employ their mighty powers to the best advantage. They mispend no time and mistake no duty. They are extremely numerous. David says, “ The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels." Daniel says, speaking of the Ancient of days, “ Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” And the apostle speaks of “ an innumerable company of angels." All these are employed in the work of redemption. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?” What a vast idea must this give us of the work of redemption, which requires so many great and
mighty agents to carry it on! Though the scripture gives us an account of the length and breadth and height of Solomon's temple, yet this account does not give us such a clear and striking idea of its great magnitude, as does the account we have of the many thousands of men that were seven years employed in preparing materials for that great building. So if we consider that God has employed ten thousand times ten thousand angels for nearly six thousand years, and may employ them more than a thousand years longer, in carrying on the work of redemption, it must give us vastly extensive and astonishing conceptions of the magnitude of that work, and of the immense good which will flow from it, not only to men, but to God, and to the intelligent creation.
3. Since God employs all the angels to minister for the benefit of saints, we may justly conclude that they are very precious in his sight. They are his children, his heirs, his jewels, and the richest treasure he has on earth. Notwithstanding all their moral imperfections, he sees a peculiar beauty, excellence, worth and importance in their character, which render them the objects of his peculiar complacency and delight. He sees his own moral image in every one of his children, and views them as growing in grace, and rising to the full stature of such perfect men as Noah, Job, and Daniel; as Moses and the prophets; as Peter, James and John; as the best men that have ever yet lived, and died, and joined the general assembly and church of the first born in heaven. If they were not greatly beloved of God, he never would have done so much as he has done, is doing, and has promised to do, for their good, both in this world and in the world to come. He has been employing from the beginning of the world, and will continue to employ to the end of time, all his angels, all his intelligent and unintelligent creatures, in every part of the universe, to prepare for them an exceeding and eternal weight of glory and blessedness. This, the apostle tells christians, is their future and eternal portion. “ All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.” This is a higher testimony of God's love to all saints, than that which he gave to Daniel, when he sent an angel from heaven to tell him he was “greatly beloved." Though saints have always been lightly esteemed by the men of the world, and counted as the off-scouring of all things, and put to the most cruel tortures and death, yet they have always been, in God's view, the excellent of the earth, whom he has distinguished among all his intelligent creatures, and for whom he has done more than he ever has done, or ever will do, for Gabriel, or the highest angels in heaven. VOL. IV.
4. Since God employs all his angels to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation, there is no good ground to believe that the departed spirits of good men are ever present in this world, to take care of the pious friends whom they have left behind. Some are very fond of believing that the spirits of good men who are gone to heaven, visit this world and know the state and circumstances of their friends and relatives whom they have left behind, and are disposed and able to aid and comfort them under their trials, sufferings and sorrows. The only passage of scripture that seems to favor this opinion is the first verse in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, where the apostle says, “ Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." By this great cloud of witnesses, we are to understand the examples rather than the spirits of the departed patriarchs. It is the appropriate business of angels, rather than that of departed spirits, to be with and take care of those who shall be heirs of salvation, while they live here on earth. Christians in general, perhaps, would be more pleased to be compassed about with the spirits of their departed friends, than with angelic spirits; and this probably led them to construe the text which has been mentioned, in favor of an agreeable opinion. But this is rather a popish opinion, which has led many, who call themselves christians, to pray to departed saints. They must suppose that their departed saints are somehow present in this world, and acquainted with their situation, or it would be extremely stupid and absurd to pray to them for any aid, comfort, sympathy, or support. Christians ought to be satisfied that God has appointed angels to watch over, guard and assist them in their perilous journey through life and through death, until they reach the kingdom of heaven, where all dangers and all sorrows shall cease.
5. Since angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation, we may justly conclude that there is a great change in the circumstances of sinners, as well as in their character, when they become saints. Before their conversion, they walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience. Only evil angels attend, guide and deceive them, while they continue in the state of nature under the influence of a carnal mind, and are willing servants of the great enemy of God and man. But when they turn from sin to holiness, from darkness to light, and become the children of God, they are delivered from the
power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of Christ, and committed to the care of holy angels. Though saints are not entirely out of the reach of all danger from the world, the man of the world and the god of the world, yet they are out of the reach of the fatal influence of any created objects. Satan may molest them, as he did Job and Peter, but he cannot destroy them. God has told them for their comfort, He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. Satan iş, undoubtedly very loath that any of his subjects should be taken out of his kingdom and translated into the kingdom of Christ. · This may account for the trials which young converts often experience. After they have received light and comfort and hope, they are often thrown into darkness, distress and despondency. The great deceiver can suggest doubts and fears, to break their peace, obstruct their religious course, and prevent them for a time, and even a long time, from doing honor to God and to religion, by a public profession of their faith and obedience. It deeply concerns them to beware of his devices, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, and to put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, and quench all his fiery darts. This is the duty of not only young converts, but of old converts, who have long been led captive by the delusions of the arch deceiver.' Are there not some such dilatory converts, who are injuring God, injuring religion, and injuring their own souls and the souls of others, by their negligence ?
6. Since angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who are heirs of salvation, they must be fully acquainted with this world, and with the circumstances, characters and conduct of mankind in general. The greatest travellers and navigators, for the time being, are not half so well acquainted with the world and the inhabitants of the world, as the angels are, who are very numerous, very intelligent, and very attentive observers of all that they see and hear while traversing Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Though every individual angel may not take the circuit of the whole world, yet some or other of them are continually making their excursions through all the nations and regions of the earth. When the prophet Zechariah inquired of his conductor who those were that he had seen in vision, the angel that talked with him said he would inform him. “ These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of the Lord that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.” What great discoveries must the angels make, while they are ministering to the heirs of salvation! They must be acquainted with every good man on earth, and with every bad man. It is as necessary that they should be acquainted with the wicked as with the righteous, in order to guard the righteous against the wicked. They must visit all the cities, all the courts, all the armies and all the navies in the four quarters of the globe, and all other places and persons. And what discoveries must such intelligent and invisible spirits make, respecting the characters and conduct of this corrupt and degenerate world! They know God, they know heaven, they know hell, they know what God and Christ have done to save sinners, they know how sinners feel and conduct while upon trial for eternity, and while saints are ripening for future and endless felicity. How then must they feel, while they see the earth sitting still and at rest! No wonder there is more joy among the angels over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance. As there are multitudes of them constantly here, they always know whenever a sinner repenteth, and is committed to their charge. It seems as though the ministering angels could not endure to discharge their office in this world, where they are constrained to witness so many dreadful scenes and objects; but they have eyes to see God in all, which fills them with raptures of admiration and joy, and causes them to cry, “ Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory."
7. Are all the angels ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Then christians have no ground to fear in appearing on the Lord's side, and in performing every duty he has enjoined upon them. Though they are surrounded by enemies, they are equally surrounded by friends. Seeing they are compassed about with so great a cloud of angelic guards and witnesses, they may run with patience and courage the race set before them, amidst a frowning world. By an eye of faith they may see that they are as safe as Elisha was, when surrounded by the Syrian army in the city of Dothan. When Elisha's servant saw that the city was surrounded by a large army of horses and chariots, he cried out, “Alas! my master, how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” If christians would believe and realize what God has told us, that he has sent forth his angels to be ministering spirits to them, to guard and guide them through their dreary and perilous pilgrimage, it would afford them great animation, courage and support, when they