« PreviousContinue »
the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Verse 6. It was in the midst of all these glorious sights and sounds that John fell down to worship the dazzling creature, who is represented as being one of the seven angels holding the seven last plagues and whose reply so remarkably harmonizes with the Lord's declaration that his risen saints shall be equal to the angels. “I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Verse 10.
There are two classes of persons to whom the foregoing passages of holy writ may convey a serious and salutary warning. One consists of those who denounce the study of unfulfilled prophecy as needless if not dangerous; thus indirectly charging God with placing a snare in our way, and of baiting it with the promise of a blessing to such as shall fall therein; they do not consider that what they set aside is called by inspiration " The testimony of Jesus.” Moses, Isaiah, David, and the rest of the Old Testament seers, are allowea to have testified of Jesus, foreshowing what should be the nature, what the object and effects of his first coming into the world; and why, when they and the New Testament writers also, set forth the signs, and judgments, the glories connected with his second coming, should we be told to avert our eyes, to close our ears, and to resolve that until we see we will not believe? Speculative, no doubt, such studies are ; for according to our great lexicographer, to speculate, means “to meditate ; to contemplate ; to take a view of any thing with the mind ;” and in this sense faith itself is a speculative thing : God has fitted our minds to behold, to embrace, to rest upon “ things hoped for .... things not seen;" and it is the highest privilege not only of nature but of grace so to do. Paul prays concerning his Ephesian Church, “ That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened ; that ye may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe.” Eph. i. 1719. Shall we then thrust from us one of the greatest means of acquiring this knowledge, and forget that “ the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy ?"
The other class comprises those who regard it as a breach of Christian charity to speak with confident gladness of the final, utter, eternal overthrow of Popery, as an event near at hand; or as a thing not to be anticipated at all. They do not consider, perhaps they do not believe, that while they are speaking smooth things of Popery and hoping good things concerning it, that foul apostasy perpetually replenishing hell with lost souls provokes the wrath of God, and fires with holy indignation the pure angels of heaven. The charity in which such well-meaning Christians boast themselves is not the charity of the Bible. Love to spuls is what the Lord inculcates, and proportioned to our love for the soul will be our unextinguishable hatred of that which betrays and destroys it. Babylon the great, the system that arrogates to itself the
title of the holy Catholic Church, that assumes to be the mother and mistress of all churches, and to anathe. matize all without its pale--this great Babylon delibe. rately sins against light and knowledge; holds the Bible and withholds it from her slaves; professes Christ, and blasphemes him ; raises an edifice seem. ingly on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and fills it with idols, thus committing and drawing all her votaries all over the world to commit what God declares to be spiritual adultery, most hateful, most in. sulting to him. The angels who are represented in the Revelation of St. John as loudly exulting over the violent fall of this antichristian power, have been ministering spirits to those who in the dungeon, on the rack, and amid the flames glutted her murderous cruelty with their life-blood, and glorified the Lord Jesus by rejecting, with abhorrence, her sacrilegious rites. We cannot. now enter into the depths of their feelings in the contemplation of her fearful doom : but we, if we belong to Christ, shall see what some of us now refuse to think of; and shall be constrained to glorify God by rejoicing over the fallen enemy of his kingdom and of his people; for “ in righteousness doth he judge, and make war.”
Babylon being thus doomed and destroyed, it remainş but that all the enemies of Christ should assem. ble for a final overthrow; and here we have another splendid image presented to us. “I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God, that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great." (xix. 17, 18.)
The last act of the militant angel, distinctly record. ed in Scripture, is one which we must all look forward to with joyful anticipation. “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand : and he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” (xx. 1, 2, 3.) What part the holy angels will take in the scenes that are to close earth's history, we are not told. The loosing of Satan from his prison will lead to an. other outbreak of human wickedness; but fire coming down from God out of heaven is named as the instru. ment of the rebel's destruction; and in the awful judg. ment that follows, no mention is made of angelic ministry in the execution of God's terrible decree on those
not found written in the book of life. Thenceforth nothing but harmony, joy, and the peace of heaven, will remain for the angels and those who are made equal to them. We have done with the dispensation of wrath, and now go back to the commencement to trace out the many instances in which Scripture reveals them in the sweet and gracious offices of love and protection to the people of the Most High.
WHEN treating of angelic ministry, we must bear in mind the sympathy which exists in their bosoms, for the angels know themselves to be by nature liable to fall, even as Adam was; and that the same electing love which raises the sinner, and sets him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, also preserves them from the guilt and condemnation of Satan and his crew. The rejoicing that takes place in heaven when a soul is brought to God in penitence and faith, is a proof of this; and we shall find, as we go on, many indications of tender sympathy on the part of the angelic minis. ters of God's mercy to man expressed by so much condescending gentleness and delicate consideration, as we may truly call it, for the weaknesses of our poor fallen race, that when we divest an angel of his fabulous characteristics, and picture him to ourselves the exceedingly majestic, formidable creature that Holy Scripture describes, we may well feel our hearts melted into grateful affection for these our glorious and