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prayity, and strange alienation from God, and we need, therefore, the hope built upon a' good foundation, that God hath not cast us away from Him for ever1.... val.15;
This hope is įupheld by all those weighty considerations of Providence and grace, which our own experience, and the plain and frequent assurances of Holy Scripture, perpetually enforce. Among the latter, few can be found more cheering in this dark wilderness of sin and evil, than that which tells to the fallen race of man, that the Supreme Being actually employs the ministering spirits who are about His throne, for the good of His creatures here. Spiritual intelligences, pure, sinleşs, and powerful, are continually performing God's work of mercy for weak and helpless man., A provision so far exceeding our deserts, cannot but be a conclusive, and an encouraging assurance, that the divine interest and love have never ceased in the Creator's mind towards those, who run their race, conscious of their own worthlessness; who believe, though with low yet increasing degrees of faith and hope, in the superintendence of His providence, and the redeeming efficacy of His gracious mercy in Christ.
Though, we know that God's omnipotent power is sufficient for our good without the aid of His own angeliç host, yet is the assu
rance of His love doubly sure, when we know that the armies of heaven are oftentimes made the willing instruments of His manifold mercies, and attend and befriend us in our dangerous pilgrimage through this mixed state of good and evil. It is a deed of mercy exactly counteracting an evil thing of an opposite kind, into which sin hath brought us all. We are beset with spiritual enemies, the angels who fell from their original glory; and they are ever acting in opposition to the work of grace carrying on in our behalf: our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”* of these things need alarm us with useless fear: the knowledge of the power and temptations of our spiritual enemies is given to make us watchful and depending upon God, in constant resistance to the evils, which, oftentimes in the shape of good of our own choosing, they set before us. Beyond the fear of falling under their evil temptations, no fear need rest in the souls of the faithful followers of Christ. The spirits of darkness have no prevailing power against the soul, save that only which wilful sin, or neglect of duty may give them
If we resist them, they will flee from us, and we may take comfort in knowing, that “they that be for us are greater than
* 1 Pet. v. 8.
they which are against us.” When, therefore, we are told in Holy Scripture, that the angels of God are graciously employed on our behalf, it may lessen our fears and animate our hopes, and strengthen our labours, ever to think, in the time of danger, bodily or spiritual, that “the angel of the Lord tarrieth round about them that fear Him;" that His love towards us is thus abundantly confirmed, in having made His own Angelic Hosts the assistant friends and guardians of mankind.
There is another and a very important spiritual good to be derived from the consideration of the nature and office, and the angels of God. Knowing, from the authority of Holy Scripture, that the angels are
ministering spirits” around us, we have one strong and proper motive before us, so to labour in the cause of their God and our God, as to do, think, and say nothing in which they cannot take part; in which, as servants of the Most High, they would not be permitted, nor would be willing to befriend and aid us.
There is, indeed, a far higher motive of the same character with this, more powerfully present to us all in the Omnipresence of God Himself. Unto Him“ all hearts are open; from Him“ no secrets are hid :" "He is about our path, and about our bed, and spieth out all our ways.” And unless we be influenced by this consideration far above all others, in vain will be any principle of duty which shall rest upon a weaker ground 'than this. But still, as even wicked men ever 'set a watch upon their lips, and narrowly guard "their conduct, when they are in the presence of those whom they respect' or fear, so, in the remembrance of the presence and ministry of the Angels of God, we may safely and profitably take an assisting motive for watchfulness and holy obedience to God. It is a motive which comes to us 'súpported by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When he warned every one of the danger of offending those whom, in age, or in meekness and simplicity, He considers as the lambs of His flock, He expressed Himself thus: “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."* And when His Holy Apostle taught the Corinthian Christians, and ourselves in them, to do all things in the House of God with peculiar reverence and respect, He added as a strong argument thereto, “because of the Angels ;”+ hereby plainly intimating that the Holy Angels are
in a most especial manner present, when their God and our God is publicly praised and glorified in His own House of Prayer.
Such appear to be the spiritual advantages to be derived from that belief of the nature and ministry of the Holy Angels, to the more especial remembrance of whose offices our Church hath seen fit to consecrate a certain portion of our public service. But, inasmuch as no good comes to man in his sad and fallen state, unaccompanied with the danger of perverting it from its intended end, this also has been abused, and may possibly still be rendered matter of error to some, in its application to themselves. Let us therefore, in the next place, consider a few cautions
the subject against some of these errors into which many have fallen and still fall, from an unscriptural consideration of the nature and ministry of the Holy Angels.
And first, no one must consider those Heavenly Spirits in any other light than as fellow-servants with man, under one common Lord and Master, the Lord and Creator of angels and men. We, indeed, áre fallen through sin, and consequently far lower than the angels; but, at his first creation, God made man almost equal to them. Sin has made the great and dreadful difference between us : but still they, as well as ourselves,