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hellish hate,* should give the utmost possible publicity to his vast exploit, and expose the impotence of his infernal foes : and this we have the most ample testimony to assure us He immediately did. For having spoiled principalities and powers, (having utterly subverted the intentions of all their malign projects,) He made a show of them; and He did it openly; triumphing over them in it. (Col. ii. 15.) Now, if we reflect on the volume wherein this assertion is contained, perceive its declarations, like its author, to be vast, comprehensive, infinite, and observe the unqualified manner in which the word ' openly' is therein on this occasion used, it appears clearly intended to lead our speculations far beyond the limits of a globe, which was, at this amazing era, covered with darkness, and its inhabitants by gross darkness ; (Isa. lx. 2 ;) and who, notwithstanding the light that had sprung up on them, still lay in darkness, for the darkness comprehended it not. (John i. 4, 5.) That this was their gloomy state at this eventful period, the history continues distinctly to ascertain ; for we find the noble Sufferer's departing breath employed in pleading the ignorance of the cruel and deluded multitude, who were such principal actors in the doleful scene. (Luke xxiii. 34.) The princes of our world had also their conduct, on the same account, in some degree exculpated; for had they known, they would not have crucified the
Lord of glory. (1 Cor. ii. 8.) This wise and gracious Master did indeed, at a juncture when the minds of his most intimate associates were all in amazement at the mighty power of God, (having recently descended from the glorious mount of transfiguration, and beheld some further instances of miraculous operation,) endeavour to give them some insight into the nature and design of this wonderful event, prefaced by an admonition calculated to arouse their earnest and most anxious attention ; for while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your ears, for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men, and suffer many things : but they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not, and they feared to ask him of this saying. (Luke ix. 43, 44, 45.) That they continued in this unenlightened state at the awful crisis of his apprehension, their behaviour at that distressing moment fully evinced; for they forsook him, and fled. (Mark xiv. 50.) Nor do they seem to have conceived any just comprehension of this great transaction, even when some time had elapsed subsequent to its fulfilment; for it is then again recorded, that they understood not those very Scriptures by which it had been foretold. (Luke xxiv. 45.) Of whom, then, was the vast assemblage composed, who beheld that most wonderful of all spectacles, the death of Christ?
Reason has already suggested, and the gospel, with its accustomed condescension, ascertained
for when that stupendous detail of mysteries, comprised in the mystery of godliness, are particularized by St. Paul, the following remarkable assertion, “ seen of angels," is included in his enumeration ; and the concluding declaration, “received
up into glory,” pretty plainly explains this preceding one to have been the grand introductory of that great event. (1 Tim. iii. 16.) The interpretation of this passage is not, however, left to human intellect, for we find the highest possible degree of illumination reflected on it by the subsequent writings of St. Peter, who in plain terms announces the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, to have been that amazing spectacle into which the angels desired to look; (1 Pet. i. 11, 12;) and with which, according to our best and most learned paraphrast's explanation of the information just cited from St. Paul, * they had, beyond all doubt, been gratified. It must not here pass unremarked, that the word 'desire' does by no means convey the full sense of the original expression, which signifies desire to bend down, implying anxious, earnest desire ; and in this light has ever been considered by our ablest commentators. Orton mentions the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, as objects “ which the angels desired intensely to look into.”ť Doddridge, that they desired to “ bend down for the purpose of contemplating
* “He was seen of angels, and gazed at by them, in various circumstances of his life and death, as a most astonishing and instructive spectacle."-Doddridge's Exposition of 1 Tim. iii. 16.
† Sacramental Meditations, p. 252. .
and prying into.”* Blackwall, that “they inquired into with attentive curiosity.”+ It is therefore proved (we think beyond all controversy) to have been the angelic inhabitants of far distant regions, who were honoured by viewing the wonderful display,I who formed his glorious train when He ascended up on high, and led captive in triumph his infernal foes ; (Eph. iv. 8;) not any particular order of transcendent dignity; not a select and peculiarly favoured assemblage : for if this resplendent manifestation of the Creator's glory and consummate wisdom were objects which the unerring mind deemed requisite to most publicly evince unto the highest of his celestial ministers, it is not unreasonable to suppose that an equal necessity must have existed for this exemplification unto every individual intelligent
* Doddridge's Exposition, vol. vi. pp. 226. 228. + Blackwell's Sacred Classics, vol. i. p. 431.
| We did, in a preceding page, observe the unqualified manner in which it is asserted in the Colossians, that when Christ had spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly: and the passages just quoted, we conceive, fully establish the justness of this observation. It is indeed recorded in the Acts, that God raised him up the third day and showed him openly, (x. 40, 41;) but on this occasion the word openly' is clearly used in a very limited sense, and is so explained; for it is immediately added, “ Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God.” This partial information, therefore, relating to our world, does in no wise interfere with the unlimited declaration respecting the other, and which we have found so powerfully and incontrovertibly supported both by reason and Scripture, which evidently represent the death of Christ and the glory that should follow, as events most intimately connected with the invisible world.
throughout the boundless universe possessed of faculties including the observation of our world ; and that it was a vast and unlimited host of
spectators who viewed this amazing spectacle, the vast and unlimited declaration positively proclaims: seen of angels, seen openly by myriads of the heavenly hierarchies, by an innumerable company of celestial beholders, who formed and composed this most august assembly.
Now, we cannot possibly imagine that the Supreme Director condescended to gratify the ardent desire of his attendant legions merely for the purpose of satisfying an idle curiosity in them; or that beings of such illustrious virtue would have fostered such a desire from so unworthy a motive: we may, therefore, most certainly conclude, both from the gracious conduct of him who granted, and the superior goodness of those who wished, that the highest, noblest, and most important purposes were to be the result of this indulgence. These heavenly missionaries must indeed have possessed a just comprehension of this great and wise design, when delegated to impart its representative religion on our earth, (which was ordained by them in the hand of the typical mediator, Moses; (Gal. ii. 19;) he who was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in Mount Sinai, and with our fathers who received the lively oracles to give unto us; Acts vii. 38 ;) and again evinced their knowledge when ushered on our globe, when multitudes of angelic heralds pealed heaven with praise, commencing their prophetic chaunt by publishing its primary