« AnteriorContinuar »
Hebrews meet with that Phrafe, they, not without Reason, understand it to fignifie fome great Angel nearer to God, and much excelling others in Dignity, Power, and Strength; for as in the Court of a great King, there are many Officers that attend upon several Charges; but yet all are not wont to be admitted into the Presence, where the chief and principal Persons only appear, who hold the highest Dignities and Employments : So in imitation of Things here below, when the Scripture would exprefs an Angel of high Degree, it calls him an Angel of his Prefence, Ifa. 63.9. or of his Face, which according to the Ufe in the Courts of Princes, cannot fignifie an ordinary Minister, but one of a nobler Quality; who (as we fay) is immediately about his Perfon, and fits in Council with him; and therefore when God faith to Mofes in Exod. 33. 14. My Prefence or Face fhall go with thee, the meaning is, that he would not fend a common Angel (as he had faid before, ver. 2.) but a very powerful Angel, one of the highest Minifters to affift them, and bring them unto Reft. Conformable to which, we find the Stile of the New Teftament (which was written by the Converts of the Hebrew Nation) as you may read in Luke 1. 19. where the Angel that appeared to Zacharias in the Temple, faith, I am Gabriel, that ftand in the Prefence of God, i. e. one of the higheft Order of Angels, and principal Minifter in the heavenly Court, who am employed on this Meffage to thee. The fame prime Minifter is fent afterward to the Mother of our
Lord, (ver. 26.) to give notice of his Birth; at which you find with this Angel (as I fuppofe) a multitude of an heavenly Hoft, 11. 13. i. e. all those under the Command of this Prince of the Hoft, praifing God, and faying, Glory be to God in the highest.
This therefore I conceive is intimated in the words of my Text, when it faith, the Angels of Christ's Difciples beheld Gods face, that we are under the Favour and Protection of the higheft Rank of Angels, God hath affigned us the ftrongeft Guard. Thofe Angels who have a multitude of the heavenly Hoft under them, take charge of the Body of Chrift, even of the meaneft and weakeft Member of it. The chief is Michael, but there are others, as you fhall fee before I have done with this Argument, who attend upon the Affairs of the Church, and are ready to do us Good, that are of the highest Dignity in the hea venly Quire.
We have reafon therefore to praise him, because he hath placed the lowest of us in the fame Degree with David, who faith, my help cometh from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth, Pfal. 121. 2. In the Hebrew it is, my help cometh from before the Lord, i. e. from his mighty Angels which ftand before him, and behold his Face, whereby he helps and delivers me. The high praises of God ought to be in our Mouths, who are fo efteemed by the King of Heaven. Inftead of our Complaints and Lamentations, this one fingle Meditation would adminifter abundant inatter of Praise and Thanksgiving, if
we laid it to Heart. We fhould never be able to find any time wherein we may not rejoice, becaufe, faith our Saviour, they always behold the. Face of my Father, and are continually watchful to bring in Bleffings to us: All that is within us: ought to bless his holy Name, and we fhould blefs the Lord (as the Pfalms fpeak elsewhere, 34. 1.) at all times; his praife fhould be continu ally in our Mouths, who hath appointed his most excellent Minifters to wait upon us, and secure our Happiness.
We know the Efteem that a great Man fets upon any Perfon, by the quality of the Meffenger that he fends upon any occafion to him; and fo hereby our Saviour would make us understand, how much his Father values and prizes those who believe on him, and are his faithful Difciples, in that thofe Angels are theirs which behold his face in Heaven, and are nearest to his glorious Majefty: But we are unworthy of this Efteem, and may well forfeit it, if we fet not a great Price upon this Loving kindness of God, and do not duly value it; which we should express by our conftant and hearty Praifes, and efpecially by a fincere Study of all Piety, which is the beft Expreffion of our Thankfulness, and will most especially endear us to him, and to his holy Angels,
MATTH. XVIII. 10.
--For Ifay unto you, that in Heaven their Angels do always behold the Face of my Fa・ther which is in Heaven,
N this Day, as I have already told you, the Church of Chrift hath been wont to commemorate the great Mercy of God in the Miniftry of Angels; the greatest of which he hath given a Charge unto, that they fhall take Care of us, and do us Offices of Love and Kindness. Therefore in the Rituals of the Eaftern Church, it is
called σύναξις της παμμεγίςων ταξιαρχῶν, &c. the Solemn Festival of the very greateft Leaders, or Commanders of the Hoft above, Michael and Gabriel, and all the Heavenly Powers; or, as others have it, the Solemnity of the Prince of the Heavenly Militia, Michael, and the reft of the incorporeal Powers.
Now according to the old Saying, that was 8 av pww, Man is double, there being an outward and an inward Man, the good Offices which they do us are of two forts, either relating to our Bodies or to our Souls. Of the first I have already difcourfed, and fhown how they are in the Nature of a Guard to us, especially to those that are good, according to that of the Pfalmift, 34. 7..
I come now to treat of the latter, concerning the Good they do to our Souls; which, as the principal part of Men, fo, one would think, fhould be the principal part of their Care. And thus St. Hierome, upon thefe Words, cries out, as I intimated in the Morning, Magna eft dignitas Animarum, &c. Great is the Dignity of Souls, who from their Nativity have an heavenly Minifter affigned to them for their Custody. It muft be confeffed, that this is more obfcurely spoken of than the other; yet fomething there is that they contribute to our Spiritual Welfare, as may be made manifeft by their Opposites, the Devil and all thofe Spiritual Wickednesses that follow him. Their great Enmity is to Mens Souls; they study nothing more than to carry them to Perdition: And therefore we may conclude,