« PreviousContinue »
mained uninjured for three days and nights in a place when in much less time, according to those laws of nature, not only would his life have departed, but the framework of his body become decomposed and utterly changed into corruption. Jonah i. 17. The scepticism of the human mind renders us willing rather to explain away the most unequivocal language into shadowy figures, than to submit our vain reason to the omnis. cience of God; our shallow philosophy to his omnipotence; and though the most delicate petal of a tiny flower, or the tinted particle that our rude touch brushes from the butterfly's wing, cannot subsist without nutri. ment, conveyed by divinely-formed mechanism for its support, we are unwilling to think that when the Holy Ghost, in reference to the manna, says,
« Man did eat angel's food,” (Psalm lxxviii. 25,) there is any ground given for supposing thắt angels are actually nourished by substantial aliment. We would start no new theory upon this subject; neither will we receive
how. soever firmly established on human authority, that will not stand the test of Scripture. We believe that the unseen world is of a much more tangible quality than is commonly supposed; that angelic forms are not made of vapour, neither are they, when rendered visible to man, optical illusions. We know that “all flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, and another of fishes, and another of birds: there are also celestial BODIES, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is an. other." 1 Cor. xv. 39, 40. That the celestial body is
nourished, we have many indications in Scripture. Our blessed Lord, speaking of the future state, says to his disciples, “ I appoint anto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke xxii. 29, 30. When we consider into what surpassing fragrance and beauty the coarsest elements of earth and water are transformed by their mysterious circulation through the delicate frame-work of a plant, we may readily divest our minds of all that pertains to the grosser act of eating and drinking, and the common properties of such nutriment as man is accustomed to take, and be. lieve that in heaven as on earth, the brightest, most perfect of the Lord's works is hourly dependent on his sustaining mercy, formed by his power, upheld by his grace, and nourished by the rich provision of his boun. tiful care.
THERE is not, in the whole Bible, an instance where an angel appears to act independently of the divine command. Perfect submission is the unvaried character of the heavenly host. Our Lord expresses this, in the prayer that he has taught us to use : “ Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When John would have worshiped the angel who showed him the wonder. ful things that he has recorded for us, he was prohibited in these words: “See thou do it not: for I am thy fel. low-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book.” Rev. xxii. 9.
We cannot doubt that the Holy Spirit has so framed the word of truth as to be a perpetual antidote to every form of error that should creep into the world : and the “worshiping of angels," which constitutes a prominent mark of the Romish apostasy, is provided against by continually setting forth their entire dependence and subordination. They never appear but as messengers:
“God sent an angel into Jerusalem to destroy it." Chron. xxi. 15. “My God hath sent his ạngel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Dan. vi. 22. “The man Gabriel whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” Dan. ix. 21. “At the beginning of thy suppli. cation the commandment came forth, and I am come. (v. 23.) 5 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth.” Luke i. 26. 6 Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews,” Acts xii. 11: and in the last instance that is recorded by inspiration of an angelic mission, we read, “ I Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the Church.” Rev. xxii. 16. However willingly performed to men, it is still a service appointed of God, and by him especially directed; they are “ministering spirits,” sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation,” Heb. i. 14; and it is on this principle of holy obedience that we find them zealously executing God's righteous displeasure against the rebellious.
When the way to the tree of life was to be closed against fallen man, cherubim were set to guard the entrance, and with their flaming sword rendered it un. approachable: when that way was again to be thrown open, and the twelve manner of fruits yielded in their season, and the leaves to be applied for the healing of the nations, twelve angels are represented as standing
at the gates that are never to be shut, day or night, not armed to bar the passage, but as guards of honour welcoming the happy comers to that scene of everlasting felicity. The variety of commissions which we know the angels to have executed among men, suffi. ciently attest their prompt obedience to every command of their glorious King, whom to serve is their privilege and joy: for “he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven.” Dan. iv. 35. “Thinkest thou,” said our Lord to the disciple who smote the high priest's servant, “thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than ten legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be ?” Matt. xxvi. 53, 54.
We now proceed to review the instances of angelic interference, not already exhibited in these pages, as they occur in the Holy Scriptures : and as the work of vengeance is in no way consonant to the character of a holy angel, except when executed in loyal obedience to the command of his righteous King, who will punish evil-doers, we may class under the present head all the destructive operations of the heavenly host. In the song of Deborah, we have a curse sternly denounced, in language highly expressive of this feeling. “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” Judges v. 23. The Lord needs no help of men or of angels; yet the armies of heaven stand around, eager to be employed against the enemies of his name and of his people; and to withhold the hand