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ANGELIC MINISTRATIONS IN THE LAST
For many hundreds of years our earth has been unvisited by angels, so far as the testimony of man's bodily senses is concerned; but the same faith by which we know that the worlds were made, that faith which is the evidence of things not seen, assures us that with unremitting care and tenderness, the ministering spirits of heaven minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation; and our daily experience bears testimony that on many an occasion where dangers the most menacing have beset our path, or difficulties the most bewildering have perplexed it, we have had reason to confess with gladness of heart that “the angel of the Lord encampeth about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” In how many instances this occurs where we never are conscious of having escaped a perilous, or struck into a safe path in time of danger, through the watchfulness of our unseen friends, we shall perhaps learn when admitted into their happy fellowship forever.
But the time approaches when a great multitude of the heavenly host is again openly to visit earth, attend. ants on the triumphant state of Him whose lowly birth in a stable once brought to men's ears their hymns of thanksgiving to God. As the end of this dispensation draws nigh, we are taught to expect that the angels
will take an exceedingly active part in what is going s forward ; and, first, we may refer to our Lord's dis.
courses on this subject. In explaining the parable of the tares and the wheat, he says, “ The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire ; so shall it be in the end of this world: the Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. xiii. 39—42. On another occasion, when speaking not in parables, but in a strain of prophetic description, our Lord also showed the office reserved for the angels in reference to his own people. " And there shall
appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory : 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.” Matt. xxiv. 30, 31. This “ great sound of a trumpet” is also mentioned by St. Paul, 1 Thess. iv. 16. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of
the archangel and the trump of God." The two-fold office of gathering together the elect, and of gathering out all that do iniquity, is likewise set forth very strongly in the Revelation: “ And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the liv. ing God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." Rev. vii. 2, 3. But a more re markable parallel appears in another part, where the time referred to is evidently the same with that spoken of by our Lord, namely, the end of the present dispensation. We have there a harvest, first of the Lord's elect, then of his enemies. “And I looked, and be. hold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” Rev. xiv. 14–16. This is clearly the gathering in of the wheat—the elect; the Lord's harvest of his redeemed people. What immediately fol. lows corresponds with the destruction of the tares. “ And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle: and another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire, and cried with a loud cry to him that had the
sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his -sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God.”, Verse 17-19.
Again, while three unclean spirits go forth from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty, we find it is an angel who loudly summons all the fowls of heaven to gather themselves together to eat the flesh of these rebellious kings, their captains, and their hosts.” Rev. xvi. 13, 14; and xix. 17, 18.
From all this we may certainly infer that in every event connected with the final triumph of the church, and discomfiture of her foes, angelic agency will be employed to a very great extent. Even if it were ;admitted that we must view symbolically what is said of the angels in the mysterious book last quoted, (which we do not admit,) we cannot suppose that our Lord also spoke in a figure. So far from it, the “wheat” and the "tares” and the
reapers were figurative, but the “children of the kingdom,” the children of the wicked one, and the “angels" were the actual beings referred to under those similitudes. We may quite as reasonably deprive the two former classes of their personal identity as the latter : just as properly take saints and sinners for imaginary beings as angels, as well doubt that the elect shall be finally admitted to glory, and the condemned sent into punishment, as
that angels shall be the real instruments employed in conveying both to their respective destinations. If we had nothing else to point to, those few words would settle the question. “ The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked the
enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels."*
That the closing scene then, of the present dispensa. tion will be accompanied by a visible display of the hosts in heaven in great numbers, we can hardly doubt; those whom our Lord, then seated on the throne of his glory, shall confess or deny “ before the holy angels," will certainly see those witnesses of their doom ; and during the tremendous events that usher in this judg. ment; while Satan and his legions are using every posşible device to stimulate the rebellious bearing of hardened sinners, to confirm the doubtful in their unbelief,
* It is worthy of note, too, as connecting this period of universal activity on the part of the angels with other Scriptures, that no two words can be more different in their signification, than those which our translators have all rendered by the same term 6 world.” In the first instance, “ The field is the world;" the Greek word expresses distinctly this terraqueous globe, the material, visible earth in which we live ; but in the latter clause where we find it translated “ The harvest is the end of the world," in the original it is “the completion of the age," cosmos, the world, has no affinity whatever with aion, the age: and not only here, but in all parallel passages we find the same event, i. e., the great harvest of the Lord, the day of his coming, spoken of by the term aion, proving that a great crisis in the order of things, not the destruction of the earth, is pointed at.