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quickened and inflamed by the Holy Ghost; which were hieroglyphical representations of gospel ministers, burning and shining lights. Read Rev. v. 11, 12. On the sides of the living creatures were wheels, prefiguring the churches of Christ, called Gilgal, or rolling, and because they were spiritually circumcised, and their guilt and the reproach of it were rolled away from them, Josh. v. 9; and so, being disburdened of their sins, and fired with love, they were like the chariots of Amminadib, the chariots of my willing people, Song vi. 12. These living creatures being inspired by the Spirit of life and love, the spirit of these living creatures was in the wheels; hence they move in concert; if one went, the other went; if one rose, the other rose; they rise and fall together, as all ministers and churches do, if they are of God's spiritual family; for, if the eye of the body mystical be single, the whole body will be full of light; and, if the preacher be a hypocrite, so will his followers; for "there shall be, like people, like priest." Above all these there is a throne exhibited, and upon the throne a man in a fiery appearance, which was the Son of God on a throne of glory, attending the church with his presence. And all this was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the heavens were opened by Christ's sacrifice and satisfaction, and by his mediation and intercession; when the Holy Ghost descended like a rushing wind and a cloven tongue, and abode upon all the apostles. Then was
the Lord seen over them; the arrows of his quiver went forth like lightning, and pierced the hearts of rebels. The great trumpet was then blown to call perishing sinners to the sacrifice; and he went forth with whirlwinds of the south, which heavenly gale is for the regeneration of his own elect, read Zech. ix. 14. Thus are the heavens opened, and a new and living way consecrated through the veil into the holiest of all; which way was not made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing, Heb. ix. 8.
2. By the heavens being opened is signified a glorious breaking forth of gospel light and power, after a long eclipse of darkness, deadness, errors, and heresies, which often obscure the church, and almost bring her into the smoke and smother of ignorance and confusion, and make her look like the chaff and stubble of carnal and outer-court worshippers. But when it pleases God to pour down his Holy Spirit, and to revive his cause, and raise up his poor oppressed family, he shines into their hearts, opens the heavens to them, and shows them afresh the mysteries of his covenant. "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings," &c.
3. The heavens are said to be opened to Peter, when in vision he saw a large vessel knit at the four corners, and filled with beasts, fowls, and reptiles, representing God's elect among the Gen
tiles; and he was bid to Arise, kill, and eat, Acts x. 11.
4. The same opening of the heavens appeared' to Stephen, when the sentence of death and the execution of it was coming upon him: "And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." This was to inform the martyr that the heavens, the holiest of all, were opened to him, and that his Lord was ready to receive him, and that he should commit his departing soul to him, as to a faithful Creator, his covenant God, and his Saviour. "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Something of this sort appears to every convicted sinner upon his conversion; for, while he is labouring under the legal bondage of the law, the heavens over him appear to be brass, and the earth that is under him iron; so that he can neither ascend to God in prayer, nor hide himself from his terrible majesty. And it is as sensibly felt and enjoyed by the poor sinner, when God rends the heavens, and comes down and makes the mountains to flow down at his gracious presence, Isaiah lxiv. 1. "Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together: I the Lord have created it."
But this opening the heavens, in my text, signifies the new and living way, which was
opened by our forerunner, when reconciliation was made, and he, from the tomb, trod the path to immortal life; when mercy and truth met together, when righteousness and peace kissed each other. Truth sprung out of the earth at the resurrection of Christ, and righteousness looked down from heaven propitious. Then the Lord gave that which was good, by sending his Holy Spirit, and the barren land yielded a spiritual increase; righteousness went before the Mediator, to procure his acceptance, and, when imputed, or placed to our account, it sets us in the of his steps,
Psalm 1xxxv. 10-13.
I now proceed to shew what these angels are; which I take to be not angels by nature, but angels by office, or spiritual messengers; for, if the four generals of the Turkish armies were called angels, as they are in Rev. ix. 14; and if the name of angel is given to such a messenger as Abraham's steward, when he went to espouse Rebekah to Isaac, 1 Cor. xi. 10; surely the name must be much more applicable to the saints of God, who are called spiritual men. The ministers of the churches of Asia are called the angels of the seven churches. And the apostles and evangelists which Christ sent forth to preach his gospel, being spiritual messengers, bear the same name. "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." This trumpet is our jubilee trump;
it proclaims a release to sensible debtors, and invites us to the feast of our passover, and is a fulfilment of that prophesy, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem." And, "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted." All God's elect are compared to angels: "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven," Matt. xxii. 30. These are the messengers that make use of the Mediator in all their approaches to God; and these are the angels for whom, and for whose sake, the heavens are opened; the way through the vail of Christ's flesh is consecrated for us; and these ascend and descend upon the Son of man; nor can they ascend any other way. "I am the door: by me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture." If it should be asked what this going in and out means, Paul tells us, that "through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father," Eph. ii. 18. Our Lord informs us, in his prayer, that God's residence is in heaven; "Our Father, which art in heaven." This is the holy habitation of God; and Paul says, that through the Mediator