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those bold strivings against the inward law of man's conscience, that refused to acknowledge the glorious Creator in his visible works; and, turning his truth into a lie, gave that honour to stocks and stones, to beasts, reptiles, and their own vilest passions, embodi. ed and deified, which was due alone to him who gave them rain and sunshine, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness. The only work that we can suppose the angels to have been engaged in among
the heathen nations is that which we believe they are continually performing throughout the whole world—the bearing away from earth those rescued souls whose clay tenements are dissolved in infancy; and who, not having sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression—that is to say, knowingly and wilfully, are yet laid under the sentence of bodily death, while the all-atoning blood of the Lamb is applied to them, canceling the original debt, and they are eternally saved. This we firmly believe to be the case with every human being who dies in infancy; not that their quitting the body before they have wil. fully sinned gives them any title to heaven ; but that God, who will surround his throne with a great multitude whom no man can number, out of every kindred, and people, and nation, and tongue, sets the seal of his electing love on a certain number, and takes them away; such early departure not being the cause but. the effect of their salvation. Over these, we may well believe the angels have an especial charge, tenderly watching them during their tránsitory sojourn in the flesh, perhaps communing with their spirits, which
though yet unable to act by the bodily functions, may be free to hold high and glorious intercourse with the unseen world—to us unseen-and then rejoicingly taking charge of their liberated souls, as our Lord informs us they did that of Lazarus, who “died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." Luke xvi.
But with this exception, we repeat, one family of the human race monopolized the favouring care of the heavenly hosts during many successive generations. The angels cannot move a step, save as commissioned by their King; and he says to the people of Israel, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” Amos iii. 2. They alone were the recognised objects of his love ; to them only were committed the revelation of his will: they were chosen, called, preserved, led, and by a succession of miraculous mer. cies, forgiven their transgressions, because of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ was to come; and because to them the gift and calling of God which are without repentance, insured a pre-eminence of national privilege forever.
And what a pre-eminence of privilege do they now, through the long period of the Gentile dispensation and their own dreadful depression, enjoy? Gigantic empires have arisen, and towered on high, and crumbled into dust: Babylon, the queen and the hammer of the whole earth, is broken, and become heaps of burnt rub. bish, and pools of stagnant mud. Of Nineveh no trace remains, by which to identify its very site; Greece,
Persia, survive in name, but what now are the men whose fathers ruled the world ? Rome indeed continues, and rules, but how? the battle axe and weapons of war have been superseded by the monk's cowl and the harlot's cup; and she is reserved to light up with the blaze of her burning the scene of Israel's predicted jubilee. In the midst of all these changes, the Jew abides the same; in every particular the same as when God led him up out of Egypt, with one creed, one language, one liturgy, one sorrow, and one hope, he is found in every corner of the globe, a severed fragment of that exquisite design which the Lord shall again arrange as of old, to be the beauty and the glory of earth. Other people have changed their gods, which be no gods, and assimilated themselves to the abomina. tions of neighbouring or invading unbelievers; and even Christianity, apart from the Papal apostasy which wholly unchristianizes itself, has separated into so many varying sects and denominations, that, to a superficial or ignorant observer, it appears to consist of a multitude of religions, each contradicting the rest ; but in the midst of this stands Judaism, à blighted, but still a stately tree, unaltered in form and undiminished in size by the visitation that has bound up its sap, and shriv. eled the once verdant leaf into dryness and corruption. Upon this noble ruin is fixed the eyes of the angelic squadron, the Maranaim who once met Jacob on his mysterious way; who surrounded the march of his de. scendants when traversing the depths of the sea, and the paths of the wilderness that so long shut them in; who heralded the presence of the Most High, when in clouds and darkness, with mighty thunderings and bursting flames of fire he descended on Sinai to commune with a man of that unspeakably favoured and privileged race, and to establish a covenant with the
whole people of Israel. Those angels well knew that * the covenant is as immutable as the ordinances of day
and night; and that though their offences be visited with the rod, and their iniquities with scourges, yet the Lord will not utterly withdraw his loving kindness, nor suffer his truth to fail. Blighted and dishonoured as the leafless tree may appear in the sight of man, they know that the Lord hath said it shall again strike root downward, and bear fruit upward; and that the glory of the coming deliverance and final honour shall so exceed whatever the people of Israel have aforetime enjoyed, as to cause even the stupendous miracles of their wonderful beginning to be comparatively forgotten. “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, the Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them, and they shall dwell in their own land.” Jer. xxiii. 7, 8. These declarations are disbelieved or explained away by men, and the hope of poor Israel is esteemed a vain thing, while yet walking in darkness and having no spiritual light, he stays himself upon this word of the God of his fathers; but the angels, well knowing that word is not yea and nay, look for. ward with earnest expectation to the triumphant proof of his faithfulness with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning.
We have no reason to suppose that the angels knew beforehand how our Lord would be rejected of his own when he came into the midst of them. Many among the Jews, like Hannah and Simeon, were waiting for the consolation of Israel: and when the aged believer held the child Jesus in his arms, and proclaimed him a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of his people Israel, it is probable that, like the disciples after our Lord's resurrection, and even after he had opened their understanding to understand the Scriptures, he expected the kingdom to be at that time re. stored to their nation. Such would be the impression on the minds of the angels, so far as we can judge ; and the joy with which the messages were borne successively of the approach of his forerunner, of his own conception, and of his birth, was undoubtedly a joy in which the chosen people of God, the Jews, were a very principal object. When Gabriel appeared to Zacha. rias in the temple, and announced the honour about to be put on the house of the aged priest, he said of the promised child, “ And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.” Luke i. 16. It was in the Jewish temple, in the midst of the Aaronic rites, and standing beside the altar of incense, that this bright angel was revealed to the officiating priest ; and surely the heart of Gabriel must have glowed with