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we are perfectly sccure from the approach of evil spirits; and though the Lord himself is ever present with his people, and his presence is all-sufficient to protect and to sustain them, yet we have clear intimations, as has been shown in these pages, that against those who would harm us an adverse armament is ar. rayed, watchful, zealous, and filled with holy love and tender compassion for the feeble children of men. It is sweet to be able to say, by faith, what Paul said from actual right, on occasions of imminent danger and deliverance : “ There stood by me the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve." It does not derogate from the omnipotence or the omniscience of the Most High, while it exceedingly enhances his gracious care for both parties, that he should depute his bright angels to render loving service to his people. On their part, we may be assured, it forms a very endearing tie; and it is strange that we, who are the great gainers, should be so utterly indifferent to the revealed fact, as to pass weeks, months, and some perhaps years, without bestowing a thankful thought on the matter.
Our notions of an earthly monarch's greatness are enlarged by observing that his sway extends over a multitude of subjects; and that he has under his command an exceedingly numerous, formidable, obedient, and beautifully disciplined army, so ordered as to hold effectually at bay a no less numerous hostile force, perpetually menacing his dominions. Nebuchadnezzar, himself a great king and conqueror, understood this; and how striking is the reference he makes to that peculiar feature in the majesty of the divine government ! “ He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth : and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou ?” Our views on this subject are rarely so enlarged as those of the Chaldean king. To judge by the tenour of religious books, and ministerial discourses in general, very little praise is rendered to God for revealing to us this branch of the glory of his kingdom. We use in our public worship that exceedingly beautiful and most scriptural hymn, the Te Deum ; and fuently recite, “ To thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein; to thee, cherubim and seraphim continually do cry, Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth!” What a scene would open to our mental and spiritual view every time we utter these words, if we had habitually paid due attention to what the Lord God of Sabaoth, of hosts, or armies, has vouchsafed to show us in his word! If all the imagery which we are so slow to remark was deduced from the Psalms of David, we should scarcely recog. nise them, so altered, so impoverished would they be. come; and instead of thrusting this precious doctrine into the shade, we should do well to bring it very prominently forward, even at the expense of some topics which usually occupy a large share of attention, and which do but gender needless strife. We all, occasionally, are compelled to cry, Our soul cleaveth to the dust, and to ask for quickening grace, according to God's word; but we make too little use of some of the means which that word supplies for contemplations of a most elevating character. If God's angels took 20
more thought for us than we do for them, we should go stumbling about the world in a very uncomfortable
With some it is a favourite plan to place the angels in a position vastly subordinate, or at best inferior to that of the saints. Yet when our Lord took upon him our nature, even the sinless nature, wholly exempt from Adam's rebellious taint, he is said to have been made a little lower than the angels. Paul, reproving the Corinthians for going to law before the unjust, and not before the saints, reminds them that by the saints the world shall be judged; and adds, “ Know ye not that we shall judge angels ?" 1 Cor. vi. 3. This seems evidently to refer to the judgment of condemnation, the “judgment of the great day," mentioned by Jude, unto which the angels that kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, are reserved. It does not warrant the assumption that God will make over to his saints the government of his angels. Another ground for this supposed exaltation over the heavenly host is alleged by some to be the closer proxi. mity of the saints to the throne, as seen by John, where the angels are described as forming the outermost circle, (Rev. v. 11,) but surely this does not argue anything. The officials who guard the king's palace are often of much higher rank than those admitted to the presence-chamber. Our Lord has distinctly said of his glorified saints, « They are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke xx. 36. With the prospect of such glorious equality, well may the sinful worms of earth rest thankfully contented. The angels are ministering spirits; and their Master and ours came also si to minister.” It is well to note these things : men are apt to adopt, without sufficient consideration, the notions of those who have perhaps bor. rowed from preceding writers, and amongst them framed systems in which the plain word of Scripture is less prominent than are their own glosses upon it.
But whatever discoveries are reserved for the period when we shall know even as we are known, the present is a time to make use of what God has distinctly declared to us. We are in the world; in that field where the devil is now plentifully sowing, and carefully fostering his tares, for the twofold purpose of diminishing the Lord's harvest, and heaping up fuel for the unquenchable flames, in which the only solace of his own torments will be the sight of myriads suffering with him. His great seed-time is while men sleep: they will awake but to find the strong hands of God's angels binding the weeds for their final doom. This is a solemn thought for those who are appointed to watch the field; for kings, and persons in authority; for bishops, and ministers of religion ; for parents, and the heads of every household; for all, in fact, to whom is committed the oversight of any fellow-creature. When they slumber at their posts, the enemy steals along, and injures their master's property, for which they must give account to him.
Another point where Satan must be met and resista ed is chiefly personal; each individual must look to himself. The seed of the word being sown by the
great Husbandman, the devil is sure to come and endeavour to take it away, ere it can sink and be rooted in their hearts. He knows how needful is prayer, with meditation, to render effectual that precious seed; and by a multitude of devices, he will seek to divert the mind from such indispensable exercise. In this quarter the angels cannot oppose him ; they are not authorized to interfere, nor permitted to bear a part in the mighty work of man's regeneration, conversion, sanctification : there God alone operates. Jesus is the author and the finisher, and only on him can the soul lean for help against the mighty. The wisest and most faithful of God's servants cannot always discern a blade of wheat from a tare: they are told both must grow together until the harvest; lest in attempting to root out the weeds they pull up the good plants also ; the
with whom is discernment for the task, will come forth at the appointed time, and effect the separation, but though they can gather in the whole harvest without letting fall a single ripe grain, still they have nothing to do with the seed-time, or with the secret growth of the plant. They cannot hinder the choking of the word by worldly cares and pleasures; they cannot cause that to take root which falls where no depth of spiritual susceptibility exists; they cannot wrest from Satan's grasp what he has snatched away from the heedless hearer; nor can they impart fertility to the heart of man, that it should so receive and retain as to bring forth fruit. So wonderfully has our gracious Lord guarded this and every other doctrine from abuse, that no humble,