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merely in theories, books, or speech, but in actual human life, is the grand condition of the world's salvation. But inasmuch as sin, by this hereditary principle, is transmitted through physical relationship and social influences, it seems necessary that He who would destroy it, should become a link in the great chain of humanity, identify Himself with the race, and originate the counteracting influences of truth and righteousness. Hence the world's Great Deliverer became the SON OF MAN. He was born of a woman; He grew up with His generation ; He mingled with the multitude ; He impregnated the social atmosphere of His age with new ideas of a new spirit; He became a second Adam, the head of a new, vast, numerous, and influential family. By His regenerating ideas and creative spirit He was to raise up a class of holy men, that would work and multiply from age to age, until the influences of the first Adam should be felt no more. “As in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Christ, like the leaven, which the woman put into the meal, enters the race, sends his nature through every particle, and will one day assimilate the whole to himself.
Since 'tis decreed, that all the good or ill,
The Genius of the Gospel.
ABLE expositions of the Gospel, describing the manners, customs, and localities alluded to by the inspired writers; also interpreting their words, and harmonizing their formal discrepancies, are, happily, not wanting amongst us. But the eduction of its WIDEST truths and highest suggestions is still a felt desideratum. To some attempt at the work we devote these pages. We gratefully avail ourselves of all exegetical helps within our reach; but to occupy our limited space with any lengthened archæological, geographic, or philological, remarks, would be to miss our aim ;which is not to make bare the mechanical process of scriptural study, but to reveal its spiritual results.
SECTION SIXTY-FIRST :- Matt. xviii. 10-14.
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones ; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye ? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray ? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”—Matt. xviii. 10-14.
SUBJECT :-Guardian Angels.
THERE are two things which at once strike us in this passage.
First : That there is a tendency in the world to despise the humble Christian. The caution which Christ here enforces against it, implies its prevalence. The first Christians, being poor, in a worldly sense, destitute for the most part of the graces of intellectual culture and social refinement, and known as the pledged followers of One who was despised and rejected by the age, were regarded with no small measure of contempt by their thoughtless contemporaries. They were everywhere spoken against. Nor is the tendency on the part of worldly men to despise the humble Christian, peculiar to the Jew in the first ages of Christianity; it has always been prevalent, and still is. Even in nominally Christian England, a poor Christian is despised. It is true, that you may see the world bow
ing down and rendering homage to Christian men who may be possessors of large fortunes, or occupiers of eminent civil positions, or great patrons of public institutions ; but it is not the Christian man in them that is thus honored,—it is the wealthy, the influential, the grand man. The Christian element seldom awakens real respect in worldly souls, even when associated with worldly grandeur;—it is often despised, and sometimes ridiculed, when associated with poverty.
The other thing that strikes us in this passage is :
Secondly : That there is, notwithstanding this tendency to despise, a strong reason for honoring the humblest Christian. Christ here assigns cogent reasons why “the little ones" -the most obscure, and the most feeble-should not be despised. “For I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven," &c.
There are two reasons in this passage why the humblest disciples should be honored :- They engage the services of the heavenly angels, and they are precious to the Everlasting Father.
I. THEY ENGAGE THE SERVICES OF THE HEAVENLY ANGELS. “In heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father.” There are some who suppose that by the word “angels" used here, we are to understand human souls in the heavenly state. It is true that the term “angel" is used at least once to designate a human spirit. Some of those who dwelt in the house of Mary, the mother of John, when Rhoda told them that Peter was at the door, exclaimed with astonishment, “ It is his angel!” (Acts xii. 15.) But I do not see sufficient reason to regard Christ, in this passage, as speaking of the spirits of these little ones as their angels;—though in a. sense their spirits, as redeemed do now behold the face of God. I accept here the generally received idea, namely, that Christ refers to the guardianship of angels.
Adopting this view there are two thoughts to be observed, in order duly to appreciate the force of this reason for honoring poor disciples.
First: They have their own guardian angels. “Their angels,” ( ayyedo attw.) That angels minister to the good is abundantly taught in other parts of Scripture. Thus, for example, we read, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” We read, “ He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways." We read, that they are “all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” We read also of various services which angels have rendered to certain good men both in the Old Testament and the New. But I am not aware of any other place, besides the passage before us, where the idea is given, that the good have their own angels; that each true disciple has some angel or angels specially devoted to his service.
The idea (1) Is reasonable. If angels minister to men at all, must they not have some method of action ?- something like a division of labor amongst them? Great as they may be, they are still finite, and can finite beings attend to all alike? Impossible. They must have their own spheres. Moreover, judging from analogy, may we not suppose that as amongst men there is a mental sympathy which gives different men a special interest in certain individuals, and thus qualifies them to render special service, so there may be mental sympathy between some angelic spirits and certain men which does not exist between others, and which induces and enables them to render service to them which they render not to others? In the Church here below, the man that can teach and edify one class of mind is often utterly incompetent to render any service to another class. Hence a great preacher in one Church would scarcely be tolerated in the pulpit of another. There is nothing therefore unreasonable in the idea suggested by the passage ; on the contrary the idea beautifully harmonizes with the natural conclusions of our own judgment. The idea is not only reasonable, but (2) Delightful. How energizing and uplifting the thought that if we are the true disciples of Christ, however weak in mind, frail in body, poor in circumstances, we have still an angel guard! Whilst the great ones of the world have honorable men for their retinue and guards, the “little ones” of the Church are attended by glorious angels.
“How oft do they their silvery bowers leave,
And come to succour us who succour want;
The fitting skies like flying pursuivant.
They fight, they watch and duly guard,
And all for love,-and nothing for reward." Secondly: Their own guardian angels are in high favor with the Sovereign of the universe. They “ do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” In Eastern countries, kings were wont to live in pavilions concealed from public notice. The few who occasionally were admitted to their presence, were regarded as most signally honored. Christ, perhaps, here hints at this circumstance, in order to express the dignity of those spiritual intelligences who are the guardians of the good. They are admitted into the immediate presence, of the Supreme Sovereign, they behold His face-nay, they do always behold His face. It is not on set occasions, nor at distant intervals, but “always.” One of their number said, “I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God.” They stand shining in the beams of his countenance, glowing with adoring love, and awaiting his behests.
Here, then, is a forceful reason why you should not despise these “little ones.” Each has his guardian angel, and each guardian angel is ever in the conscious presence of the Everlasting Father. Ye empty worldlings, who speak in language of scorn and contempt of these “ little ones!” take heed, “for in heaven their guardian angels do always behold the face of the Everlasting Father!”
II. THEY ARE
THE EVERLASTING FATHER. First : Their salvation was the object of His Son's mission to the world. “For the Son of man is come to save that which