« PreviousContinue »
opposed on two occasions, the first of which seems conclusive as to his being, however high and glorious, still a creature, humble and obedient : “ Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, the Lord rebuke thee." Jude 9. Peter applies the same argument, and seemingly alludes to the same event, when treating, as Jude does, of the presumptuous evil-speaking of ungodly men. “They are not afraid to speak evil of dignities: whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.” 2 Peter ii. 11. Here the same expressions are applied to Michael, and to angels generally. He is, however, of exalted rank, as the angel who talked with Daniel plainly declared, when alluding to the mysterious contest in which he had been engaged, together with other spiritual beings, and which has already been quoted. Michael is there designated “One of the chief princes;" and the angel addressing Daniel as a seer, calls him “ Michael your prince.” Dan. x. 13-21. Finally, when describing the consum. mation of all things, the angel says, “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.” Dan. xii. 1. From all this we gather that Michael is one among several angelic beings, whom the Lord has seen fit to elevate above their fellows, and that as regards the concerns of our planet, he is probably the chief. The word archangel occurs but once more in the Bible, and there we are told, “ The Lord himself shall descend from
heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” 1 Thess. iv. 16. But Michael is named again, as we have before seen, as heading the great battle against Satan, when there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels." Rev. xii. 7.
The most natural inference to be drawn from what the Lord has seen good to intimate to us, is that some special post is assigned to each one of the heavenly spirits; and collectively we know what their office is. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?” Heb. i. 14. One may, indeed, oversee the affairs of the kingdom, while another watches the slumbering baby in a cottage cradle, but be the office what it may, it is rendered arduous by the incessant opposition of the Satanic hosts, who are forever crossing the path and thwarting the work of those ministering spirits, to say nothing of the perverseness of those who, though by the free mercy of God they are “ heirs of salvation,” still inhabit a body of death, tainted by corruption, opposed to holiness, and presenting, no doubt, a painful and a perplexing spectacle in the eyes of their unseen friends, whose holy natures, full of love, zeal, thankfulness, and perfect obedience, must often shrink from the perverse iniquity of even the redeemed people of God.
Yet we know that these loving ministers take delight in our prosperity: their zeal for the glory of God must necessarily cause them to rejoice in the subversion of
Satan's empire among men; and the knowledge that they possess of his object, the continual sight of his atrocious devices to promote that cruel object, and above all, the daily, hourly spectacle of souls passing from this stage of existence into a hopeless eternity, all tend to keep alive in their minds that compassionate feeling towards us which makes the welfare of eve. ry soul a matter of deep interest to him. Our Lord assures us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth ;” (Luke xv. 10 ;) and there is no mistaking the affectionate tone of the angelic messenger who, with the glory of the Lord encircling him, greeted the shepherds, “ Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people ;” (Luke ii. 10;) nor that of the various angels who announced the Lord's resurrection to the women ; “Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him : lo, I have told you.” Matt. xxviii. 5-7. This is an exquisite picture of angelic power, glory, and tenderness combined. The angel who spoke was seated on the stone that he had rolled from the sepul. chre's mouth : such was the dazzling splendour of his countenance, that it shone like lightning; and the armed soldiers of Rome “did shake and became as dead men." Yet how kindly, with what condescending indulgence, and mild assurance he encourages the
ANGELIC KNOWLEDGE AND POWER.
OMNISCIENCE belongs to God alone : He only is the Hearer of prayer, the Searcher of hearts, the sovereign Ruler of, the affairs of man. To
that any created being may appropriate even the minutest portion of these high prerogatives of Jehovah, is nothing short of heresy, verging on blasphemy. Its dangerous tendency is plainly shown by the apostle, who says that the worshiping of angels beguiles the Christian of his reward. Col. ii. 15. Therefore we have need to be very sober and circumspect, lest in treating of this most interesting subject, we be led, through inadvertence, into ascribing to the holy angels, any properties on which the ignorant and profane might ground an excuse for rendering to them divine hon
God has not seen fit to reveal to us to what extent the spiritual creatures, good and evil, 'who constantly surround us, can penetrate our thoughts. They, of course, can form a very accurate conclusion
from what they see and hear, combined with their acquaintance with the past events of our lives; but be. yond this we have no warrant for supposing that they know more than the Lord, for special purposes, is pleased to reveal to them.
One knowledge the angels do certainly possess, and that the very chiefest of all knowledge—they know God : and as the depths of the riches of His knowledge and wisdom are unfathomable, they evermore seek fresh acquisitions in that divine science. The apostle Peter, speaking of the mysteries of redemption, “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" the preaching of the Gospel, “ with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,” adds, “ which things the angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter i. 11, 12. And that they do look with adoring joy upon the mighty work, is manifest from their joining in the heavenly song, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Rev. v. 12. How far they may be employed in overseeing the minute circumstances by which a sinner is often brought to the hearing of the Gospel, by entering some particular place of worship, taking up some particular book, or other similar occurrences, we do not know : but this we do know, that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one such repenting sinner. The expression, “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation,” would lead us to suppose
that the children of God even previous to their effectual calling, are placed under the care of these