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will not eat of thy bread : and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the Lord. And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour ?" It is impossible to pass over this grateful, and doubtless patriotic sentiment, for Manoah would have proclaimed that there was a prophet in Israel, and have sent his oppressed, afflicted, guilty countrymen to inquire of the Lord at his mouth. There is a nobleness in the language of this Israelitish pair the more striking from the simplicity and humili. ty that accompany it. His request was not granted. “ The angel of the Lord said unto him, Why asketh thou thus after m name, seeing it is secret ?” The margin reads, Wonderful: and because “ Wonderful ” is one of the names by which our blessed Lord is called, some have assured themselves that it was Christ himself who spake. We see nò ground whatever for the assumption ; the angel Gabriel announced to Zacharias the promised birth of a son in his old age; one far greater than Samson ; and he too was sent to Ma. ry with tidings infinitely more important than either: it is surely, therefore, too much to catch at a single, doubtful word, to introduce the Lord of angels on such an occasion as this. Considering how prone the Is. raelites at that time were to idolatry, the very reason of Manoah's question was sufficient to prevent his obtaining an answer. The holy angel would not give his name to be enrolled among the new gods of Israel. “So Manoah took a kid with a meat-offering, and of
fered it upon the rock unto the Lord; and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord.. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” The greatness of the miracle, and his surprise at discovering the celestial character of the Being with whom he had so familiarly conversed, were such that he went beyond the mark, as he had before fallen short of it, and imagined that he had, instead of a mere prophet, seen Him whom none can look upon and live. His wife's encouraging reply is admirable: “If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-offering and a meatoffering at our hands, neither would he have shown us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.” Verse 23. They would not have received instructions as to the bringing up of a child yet unborn, if their own lives were about to terminate ; nor could it be in wrath that the Lord had made known to them purposes so gracious towards themselves, and towards the whole nation who were to have a deliverer in their offspring, whose birth and destiny were probably thus intimated in order to impress men's minds more deeply with the assurance that the promised deliverance was wholly of the Lord.
UNDER this head may properly be classed those peculiar ministrations that had reference to the prophets of Israel, from Elijah onward ; and, following the order in which they stand in the Bible, in preference to the chronological dates, we will briefly note them all. It will be remembered that the angel who showed the Apostle John the glorious things by him recorded, de. clared," I am thy fellow-servant and of thy brethren the prophets; and of them which keep the sayings of this book :” (Rev. xxii. 9 :) from which we may at least gather, that the interest taken by that heavenly guide in these wondrous revelations, was intense. When, therefore, an angel is deputed to communicate with an inspired prophet, we feel that there is somewhat more than a general ministration in it; the divine knowledge which the celestial being is commissioned to impart to his earth-born brother fills his own mind, and he appreciates the high distinction conferred on
himself, as the vessel chosen to contain and to convey a treasure of which all the excellency is of God. The glory of its Master is concerned in what he commu. nicates ; its prospective fulfilment interests him deeply, as tending to show forth the Lord's faithfulness; and arrayed as he perpetually is against the dark, subtle enemies of man, he rejoices in every accession of strength, wisdom and knowledge gained by his poor, feeble ally. To one who is accustomed to dwell upon those beautiful portions of Scripture, the tenderness that bespeaks perfect sympathy is constantly apparent on the angel's part; together with an alacrity that shows how much heart the divine creature puts into his work.
First among those we have now to notice, stands the touching picture of Elijah, weary, exhausted and wellnigh despairing, in the wilderness. He had been very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts, even to the braving of Ahab's power and Jezebel's hate. He had openly defied, most signally disgraced, and with determined justice had slain the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal in the sight of all Israel; whom he believed to be, with the single exception of himself, forsakers of God's covenant, destroyers of his worship, and murderers of his prophets. Throughout this transcendent work of faith and zeal he had not flinched; but now pursued by the sanguinary menaces of Jezebel, and believing that every man sought his life, the solitary outcast stretched himself under a juniper-tree, and, ask. ing for death, became overpowered by sleep. With what pitying tenderness must the angel's heart have yearned over the unconscious slumberer, while employed in
the humble office of baking a cake on the coals, and filling a cruse with water to place beside him! What a spectacle of want, and sorrow, and destitution, did the prophet present, immediately after that glorious display of triumphant faith and power on the sides of Mount Carmel ! When all was prepared, “ the angel touched him, and said, Arise and eat." 1 Kings xix. 5. Having done so, the prophet again laid down, and slept: “And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” He not only sets before him the nourishment provided, but graciously and tenderly urges on him the necessity of strengthening himself for the unusual exertion. Often have the afflicted children of God found comfort in this sweet record of his watchful care, and of the willing service that the holy angels render, when no human hand can help. When, under the pressure of bodily privation or mental anxiety they are hearkening to the suggestions of Satan, and murmuring to, if not against the Lord, some ministering angel is on the wing, bear. ing the succour they need, the comfort they pine for; and putting to shame the language of their unbelieving minds.
Elijah, we are told, « went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb, the Mount of God." 1 Kings xix. 8. Whether that day's repast was made sufficient for the whole period, or whether his strength was daily renewed by a miraculous supply of bread and water, like that of his fathers in the wilderness, is not made plain: in either