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First: the removal of them. For when the end is answered, the dispensation will cease. As soon as we are silent, and submit, the rod drops out of our heavenly Father's hand, and he cries, "Is Ephraim my dear son! is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord."
Or, Secondly: Indemnification for them; so that the continuance shall subserve our welfare more than the withdrawment. And this can easily be done by the internal supports of grace, and the future recompenses of glory.
Such are the arguments to enforce this duty. But I hear you say—
"Lord, can a feeble, helpless worm
Thy grace must all the work perform,
It must. And there are two things I wish you to learn with regard to this grace.
The one is, the necessity, the absolute necessity of it. Without this you can do nothing, suffer nothing as you ought.
The other is, the sufficiency of it for every purpose in the divine life. It is shameful to hear Christians talking as if their duties were impracticable, or their crosses intolerable. It is disgraceful to hear them excusing their improper carriage in affliction on the ground of weakness; O! who could help it; it was so trying! What do you mean by weakness? Your own strength separate from the succours of the Gospel? Of this you cannot have too deep a sense. But are you not a Christian? Are you not in union with one who says, "My grace is sufficient for thee?" Are you ever required to “be strong" in yourselves? No-but "in the grace there is in Christ Jesus." And "in him all fulness dwells." View, therefore, your difficulties in connexion with your supplies. View his commands in connexion with his promises, and courageously face all-saying with Paul; "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
I. WE ARE TO THEM AS FRIENDS, from whom we have been separated by the Fall.
Men and angels, in their original creation, formed but one family; and though they dif fered in nature and in residence, they had one father, and there would have been a free and pleasing intercourse between them. But sin destroyed the harmony of the world. Sin disunited heaven and earth. Sin separated not only between God and men, but between angels and men. When man revolted from his lawful Sovereign, they remained in their allegiance: and as sin rendered God our enemy, so it rendered angels our enemies too. Accordingly we read of their being the executioners of the Divine vengeance. As soon as Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise, an angel rushed to the gate with a flaming sword, to keep the way to the tree of life. An angel of the Lord smote all the first-born in Egypt. An angel of the Lord, to punish David for numbering the people, goes from Dan to Beer-sheba, and seven hundred thousand victims seal his angry commission. An angel of the Lord in one night enters the camp of Sennacherib, and destroys one hundred and eighty-five thousand men. An angel of the Lord smote Herod, that he died. We pretend not to understand the prophecies in the book of the Revelation, but it is cerangels are to pour out the vials of the wrath tain, that when the nations are angry, the of Almighty God upon the earth. And per
How numerous, how various are our obli-haps, says a judicious expositor, if an inspired gations to the Scriptures of truth! How they history of our own eventful times were writ
THE CONNEXION BETWEEN CHRIS-
rouse, how they extend, how they enlarge, how they refine our views and our sentiments! They lead us backward; and we behold the fair frame of nature springing out of chaos. They draw us forward; and we see the heavens passing away with a great noise, the elements melting with fervent heat, the earth also, and all the works that are therein burnt up. They tell us to look inward; and under this burden of flesh, this perishing clay, we discern a spirit in man, immaterial, immortal, and able to subsist independent of the body. They call us to look upward; and drawing back the vail, they show us an order of beings, far above human, and with which Christians have the honour to be already connected. It is the testimony of the Apostle in the words before us. "Ye are come to an innumerable company of angels."
We are come to them five ways. We are come to them as FRIENDS-as ATTENDANTSas WITNESSES-as PATTERNS as AssocTATES.-As friends, from whom we were separated by the Fall-as attendants, whose care is to follow us through life-as witnesses, whose observation we are to reverence—as patterns, whose example we are to imitateas associates, with whom we are to blend our future being, and from whom we shall derive no inconsiderable portion of our happiness.
We are come to an innumerable company of
ten, the defeat of many a haughty worm would be traced up to such an awful agency. -Hence, when they have appeared to man, they have been objects of terror.
But in consequence of the mediation of our Lord and Saviour, the breach is healed. We are reconciled not only to God, but to the angels. It is the meaning of the Apostle, when he says, "Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him." So that the angels now view us again with delight. They call themselves our fellow-servants, our fellow-worshippers, our brethren. Men and angels form again one family: they remained in their original state; we are restored to it; and such is the disposition of those celestial beings, that they do not repine, like the elder brother, at the return of the prodigal, but rejoice to welcome the younger branches of the family home; "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.'
II. WE ARE COME TO THEM AS ATTENDANTS, whose care is to follow us through life. The alarm that some religious people have taken at this doctrine, as if it interfered with the glory of God in their preservation, is absurd. God is the author of all good. He is the guide, the guard, the strength, the consolation of his people: but does this imply that he does not employ means in doing them good? And may we not in this case argue from analogy? He "spreads a table before us in the wilderness," but not immediately. He commands his sun to shine, and his rain to descend; yea, he requires our own exertions to prepare the supplies of nature for our use. He employs us to aid each other. We are at once the subjects and the instruments of his goodness; he gives, and we diffuse. Have you never been in sickness; never laid on a bed of languishing? And has no friend by sympathy, by kindness, by attention, reminded you of the promise "I will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: I will make all his bed in his sickness?" Thus too he makes use of ministers to "turn us from darkness to light;" to be "helpers of joy; to comfort us concering our faith." Why then should it be deemed a thing absurd, or incredible, that God should employ the ministrations of angels for the welfare of his people?
of her who bare him; and how long is it before he can estimate his obligations to a mother's vigilance! She can afterwards inform him how she denied, and exposed herself for his sake; how she watched over him by day and by night; fled with him to a purer air, or snatched him from a burning couch: but he was not sensible of it at the time. And should he happen to be blind, how much would be done for him all through life, which, though he would enjoy in the effects, he could never see. If we had organs of perception adapted to the spiritual world, what striking scenes should we constantly witness! But our incapacity does not render them less true. The king of Syria had sent an army to Dothan to secure Elisha. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and had gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city, both with horses and chariots. He therefore cried out, "Alas, my master, what shall we do?" He saw the danger; this was material. But Elisha knew the defence was as real as it was invisible. "Fear not," says he, "for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." Where? says the servant. "And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, open, I pray thee, 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."
Thus the believer is safe in the midst of danger, "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." And though he may be despised, and overlooked by his fellowmen because he is poor and needy, yet has he more glorious attendance than any wordly monarch. God's noblest creatures are his children's servants. "Such honour have all the saints."
Neither is it an argument against this doctrine, that the proofs of it fall under the observation of our senses. We walk by faith, and not by sight. How many things do we admit as real, that are not visible! How little is the babe aware of the fond attentions
The Scripture is express upon this subject. An angel fed Elijah under the juniper tree. An angel brought to Daniel an explanation of prophecy. An angel of the Lord released Peter from prison; and comforted Paul in the storm. Angels carried the soul of Lazarus into Abraham's bosom. angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 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. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
III. WE ARE COME TO THEM AS WITNESSES, whose observation we are to reverence.
It would be well for us to remember that we are always in sight. The eyes of our fellow-creatures are often upon us; and if
they were always upon us, they would restrain us from a thousand sins. But invisible beings always behold us. No consideration indeed is like the omniscience of God; "Thou God seest me!" We should, therefore, "set the Lord always before us." But motives do not always impress according to their real importance. We are like children, upon whom various motives operate, according to their age and disposition: the thought, therefore, that we are come to an innumerable company of angels, may strike us even more than a sublimer consideration. Now this is the fact.
would none of our counsel, they despised all
I see children brought forward as witnesses against their parents. Oh! how dreadful to hear them say, "You taught us to swear, but not to pray. You led us into the dissipations of the world, but you never fixed in our minds the principles of the Gospel. In your lives we saw nothing but instances of levity, inconsistency, irreligion. Unnatural monsters, to bring us into existence, and leave us exposed to eternal ruin!"-Thus children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
But angels will be some of the principal
We are a spectacle to angels as well as to men. The Apostle enforces a proper beha-witnesses, in that great and terrible day of the viour in religious assemblies, "because of the Lord. They have inspected you perfectly. angels." And charges Timothy not only They can distinguish between the circum"before God, but his elect angels." stances which confound us. There are cases in which two guilty individuals are implicated. They accuse each other; and no human being was privy to their wickedness. But angels saw Abel and Cain when they were alone together in the field. They can decide in an intrigue, who was the seducer, and who the seduced. What a world of private wickedness will they develope!
IV. WE ARE COME TO THEM AS PATTERNS, whose example we are to imitate. To these models our Saviour himself leads us in the form of devotion he gave to his disciples: in which he teaches us to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." And even now, this prayer is accomplished. Be tween believers and angels there is a resemblance, though not an equality. Wherein does it appear?
The angels are our observers, and what they witness they will be called upon hereafter to report. For the proceedings of the great day will be judicial; we must "give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be evil;" and we read that the books will be opened, and witnesses called to depose. You despise my teaching, said our Saviour to the Jews, but you shall hear of it again. "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." And thus will it be with others.
It appears in the nature of their obedience. We are told that the angels, however great, I see hearers brought forward as evidence find it their privilege to serve. Though they against their ministers-" You never warned "excel in strength, they do his commandus to flee from the wrath to come. You ments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." never convinced us of the depravity of our And their obedience is ready, without delay; nature, and our need of 'the washing of re-cheerful, without reluctance; constant, with generation, and the renewing of the Holy out intermission; and impartial, without Ghost.' You made lies our refuge, and lulled choice. The reason is, they love God, and it us to sleep on the brink of ruin. Cursed is his will alone they regard; whether, therewatchman, you gave us no warning till it fore, he calls them to come, or orders them to was too late. Cursed physician, you withheld go; whether he requires them to ascend, or the only remedy; you administered poison!" descend; they are equally satisfied, as they have equally an opportunity of showing their submission to him. And whatever low idea you may form of a Christian, such is, and such must be, his leading desire; and his prevailing endeavour.
I see ministers brought forward as evidence against their hearers. "Lord, I addressed them from sabbath to sabbath, with affection and fidelity. I thundered the terrors of the Law, and whispered the promises of the Gospel. I am clear from their blood. I warned and I wooed them, but they would not hear."
I see parents brought forward as witnesses against children. Ah, cruel, but necessary task! "Lord, we established thy worship in our family. We led them early to know the Scriptures. We often prayed for them, and with them. We bedewed them with our tears. We set forth the blessedness of thy ways, and rendered religion lovely. But they
It appears in their union. These beings have various degrees among them. We read of "angels and archangels; of thrones and dominions; principalities and powers. Yet these produce no contempt, no envy, no eager ness to dictate, no backwardness to co-operate. They perfectly harmonize. They have but one spirit, one wish. The Scripture represents them as uniting their voices, and answering to each other in their sacred songs.
"One cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, the incarnate Redeemer. When he bringeth holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is his first begotten into the world, he saith, full of his glory." Shall I say that Christians "Yea, and let all the angels of God worship do resemble all this? Alas! there is too lit- him." When he was born there was "sudtle of it in our churches and assemblies. We denly a multitude of the heavenly host, praismeet together, and apparently unite in the ing God, and saying, Glory to God in the same exercises; but if our voices accord, our highest, and on earth peace, good-will tohearts disagree. One hears with humility, wards men." John heard them saying with another with captiousness. One finds the a loud voice," Worthy is the Lamb that was word and eats it, another goes after his covet- slain to receive power, and riches, and wisousness. One "worships God in spirit and dom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and in truth," another in form and pretence. blessing." And is there a Christian upon What a scene of confusion must one of our earth that does not delight in the same praise congregations present to the eye of Him that that does not sing, searcheth the heart! Even among those who are Christians indeed, there is too little of this blessed harmony and concurrence. Yet there is a degree of it. God has given them "one heart and one way." They agree "touching the things they should ask of their heavenly Father." They "magnify his Name together;" and in a little time their mutual prejudices will be done away, and they shall see eye to eye; they "shall all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
V. WE ARE TO COME TO THEM AS ASSOCIATES, with whom we are to blend our future being, and from whom we shall derive no inconsiderable part of our happiness.
It is not good for man to be alone. He is formed for social enjoyment; and it is a great source of his present pleasure. The representation of heaven meets this propensity. We are assured that it is a state of society. And there are two classes of beings that will contribute much to our satisfaction and improvement.
The one is endearing.-It takes in those you loved in life, with whom you took sweet
It appears in the subject of their study. The angels are proverbial for knowledge: we rend of being "wise as an angel of God.", Had we heard only of such exalted beings, we should be anxious to know what things they deemed most worthy of their attention. But we are informed. They are "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow-which things the angels desire to look into." We never read of their being politicians, philosophers, naturalists, astronomers. Doubtless they contemplate the works of creation and providence, and trace the appearances of God in them. But as the redemp-counsel together, and went to the house of tion of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ is God in company, your pious friends and rethe greatest display of the divine perfections, lations, who now sleep in Jesus. With what their eyes seem taken off from every other reluctance you yielded them up!-Sorrowing object, and fixed upon this. And they are most of all that you should see their face, and not satisfied to take a transient, superficial hear their voice no more! Memory from view of it, but gaze and examine; and the month to month renews the anguish, and more they know, the more they wish to know. opens afresh the wounds which time was beAre you like-minded? Is this the most wel- ginning to heal. But wipe away your tears. come subject to your hearts? The most im- They are not lost. Their separation from portant to your minds? Or are you engrossed you is but temporary. You shall see and hear with trifles? Can you climb the skies, num- them again. You shall know them; and shall ber the stars, fathom the ocean, penetrate the together review all the way by which the bowels of the earth, and-"neglect this great Lord has led you in the wilderness. salvation?" In the eye of an angel you are a trifler. You disregard what they above all things esteem. You are no Christian-a Christian is like an angel. This constitutes his attraction; and he exclaims, "I determine to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified: God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
The other is dignifying.-It comprehends patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs-angels. You shall be introduced to company of the very first sort. Angels are the flower of the creation; and the poorest, meanest believer shall enjoy it; and be prepared for it. There are many now whose excellences you venerate, but their pre-eminence confounds and embarrasses you. You long to be in their presence, but shrink from the interview. You could wish to be with them without being
It appears in their worship. They adore
"Jesus is worthy to receive
Honour and power divine:
They are his most heavenly moments, in which he is fullest of this interesting theme, and can breathe out his very soul in saying, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.'
seen or heard, such a sense have you of their wisdom and your weakness; their goodness and your unworthiness. But nothing of this perplexity which now often robs us of half our social enjoyments, shall hereafter be known. Whatever sense we have of our inferiority, it will not be disagreeable; we shall feel no fear, no reluctance. These glorious beings are all generosity, tenderness, and love. They will receive us with joy. We shall find ourselves perfectly free and happy. With what pleasure will they communicate their knowledge! And with what ecstasy will you receive it! How instructive, how sublime will our intercourse be! How delightful to find ourselves translated from this bedlamworld, this Mesech,
THE CONNEXION BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND ANGELS.
"From these low grounds where sorrows grow And every pleasure dies-"
to that better, that heavenly country: and to exchange the society of men, vain men, vexing men, sinful men, for "an innumerable company of angels."
Let us conclude with two questions. First. How can it be said that "we are come to" this blessed assembly? Are Christians already in heaven? Is it possible to conceive how we are come to this innumerable company of angels, as friends who are reconciled to us, as attendants who care for
as witnesses to observe, and as examples to stimulate us? All this regards the present state; but to be with them as our eternal as
sociates, from whom we are to derive so much of our happiness-this regards a future state. How then are we said to be already come to this glorious community?-By the certainty of the event. By promise-and "the Scripture cannot be broken." By hope -and "hope maketh not ashamed." By anticipation, by earnests, by foretastes of this exalted felicity. A real Christian needs not to be informed that "he that believeth hath everlasting life." He is often reminded of the words of the Apostle, He "hath raised you up, and made you to sit together with him in heavenly places." In the closet, in the temple, in the communion of saints he knows that heaven is not entirely future; it is already commenced. And whatever the people of the world may think of religion, he can look them in the face, and say,
devil is the head-a society that is constantly labouring to multiply its victims, and bring them into the same place of torment. How many are hastening to mix with it! To how many will the Judge say, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" Will this be your destiny in the great day? What! instead of going with the righteous, will you "be led forth with the workers of iniquity?" Instead of joining God and his angels, will you have your "portion with the devil and his angels!"
There cannot be a more awful question. And one would naturally conclude that you could "not give sleep to your eyes, or slum ber to your eyelids," till you had endeavoured to answer it. But you ask, Is it possible to answer it? It is: and observe, I beseech you, the rule of judgment. It is not an arbitrary It It is founded in justice and reason. is not impulse, but character. It is not some unaccountable impression, but the principles that govern you, the dispositions of the heart, the habits of the life. By these you are to try yourselves. To know what you will be in another world, you must inquire what you are in this. To decide with whom you will have your portion in eternity, you must determine who are your companions in time. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: for he that soweth to the flesh shall of to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everthe flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth lasting."
Whom then do you most admire?-Are they "the saints, the excellent of the earth, in whom is all your delight?" Have you taken hold of "the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, I will go with you, for I have heard 99 Look forward and that God is with you.' rejoice. As sure as you can appeal to God when you come to die, and say, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth," you may with confidence and success plead"Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men." Being let go, you will repair to your own company.
But are you vain? Are you ambitious! Are you lifted up with pride?-You will "fall into the condemnation of the devil." Can you vilify and reproach the good? Can you rejoice in discovering their blemishes, and magnifying their infirmities?-Are you regardless of truth?-Do you indulge in false hood and hypocrisy ?-Do you hate your neighbour, and harbour in your bosom malice and revenge?-Do you endeavour, by your influence or example, to poison the principles, and sap the morals of those around you! There is already a connexion established, that death will only discover and complete; your resemblance points out your party and your doom-you are devils by anticipation,