« AnteriorContinuar »
us in our holy assemblies and services of God; and therefore we are admonished to reverence their presence, and do nothing before them that is sinful or unseemlyb. The presence of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, must continually awe us into exact obedience. With the church they pry into the mystery of the dispensations of the Spirit to the churchd. And so “ by the church,” that is, by God's dealings with the church, is “made known the manifold wisdom of God,” even to these “heavenly principalities and powers ." In conclusion, Christ telleth us that in our state of blessedness we shall be “ equal to the angels,” and so shall live with them for ever.
Direct. iv. “When your thoughts of heaven are staggering or strange, and when you are tempted to doubt whether indeed there is such a life of glory for the saints, it may be a great help to your faith, to think of the world of angels that already do possess it.' That there are such excellent and happy inhabitants of the superior orbs, besides what Scripture saith, even reason will strongly persuade any rational man: 1. When we consider that sea, and land, and air, and all places of this lower, baser part of the world, are replenished with inhabitants suitable to their natures ; and therefore that the incomparably more great and excellent orbs and regions should all be uninhabited, is irrational to imagine. 2. And as we see the rational creatures are made to govern the brutes in this inferior world, so reason telleth us it is improbable that the higher reason of the inhabitants of the higher regions should have no hand in the government of man. And yet God hath further condescended to satisfy us herein, by some unquestionable apparitions of good angels, and many more of evil spirits, which puts the matter past all doubt, that there are inhabitants of the unseen world. And when we know that such there are, it maketh it the more easy to us to believe that such we may be, either numbered with the happy or unhappy spirits : considering the affinity which there is between the nature of our souls and them ; to conquer senseless Sadducism is a good step to the conquest of irreligiousness; he that is well persuaded that there are angels and spirits, is much betu i Cor. xi. 10. Eccles. v. 6.
c 1 Tim. v. 21. e Eph, iii. 10.
i Luke xx. 36.
d 1 Pet.i. 12.
ter prepared than a Sadducee to believe the immortality of the soul; and because the infinite distance between God and man, is apt to make the thoughts of our approaching his glory either dubious or very terrible, the remembrance of those myriads of blessed spirits that dwell now in the presence of that glory, doth much embolden and confirm our thoughts. . As he that would be afraid whether he should have access to and acceptance with the king, would be much encouraged if he saw a multitude as mean as himself, or not much unlike him, to be familiar attendants on him. I must confess such is my own weakness, that I find a frequent need of remembering the holy hosts of saints and angels, that are with God, to embolden my soul, and make the thoughts of heaven more familiar and sweet, by abating my strangeness, amazedness and fears; and thus far to make them the media (that I say not the mediators) of my thoughts, in their approaches to the Most High and Holy God: (though the remembrance of Christ the true Mediator is my chief encouragement). Especially when we consider how fervently those holy spirits do love every holy person upon earth, and so that all those that dwell with God, are dearer friends to us, than our fathers or mothers here on earth are, (as is briefly proved before,) this will embolden us yet much more.
Direct. v. 'Make use of the thoughts of the angelical hosts, when you would see the glory and majesty of Christ.' If you think it a small matter that he is the Head of the church on earth, a handful of people contemned by the satanical part of the world, yet think what it is to be “ Head over all things, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named; not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” (that is, gave him a power, dignity and name, greater than any power, dignity or name of men or angels) “ and hath put all things under his feet 8.” “ Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they:" of him it is said, “ Let all the angels of God worship him,” Heb. i 4. 6. Read the whole chapter. Our Head is the Lord of all these hosts. Direct. vi. “Make use of the remembrance of the glo.
8 Eph. i. 21, 22. VOL. y.
all wer; disim a pod, but and eve
rious angels, to acquaint you with the dignity of human nature, and the special dignity of the servants of God, and so to raise up your hearts in thankfulness to your Creator and Redeemer who hath thus advanced you h. 1. What a dignity is it that these holy angels should be all ministering spirits sent for our good! that they should love us, and concern themselves so much for us, as to rejoice in heaven at our conversion! “Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him ? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honouri.” 2. But yet it is a higher declaration of our dignity, that we should in heaven be equal with them, and so be numbered into their society, and join with them everlastingly in the praise of our Creator. 3. And it is yet a greater honour to us, that our natures are assumed into union of person with the Son of God, and so advanced above the angels. “For he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham :" nor hath he put the world to come in subjection to the angelsk. This is the Lord's doing, and it is wondrous in our eyes.
Direct. vii. · When you would admire the works of God and his government, look specially to the angels' part. If God would be glorified in his works, then especially in the most glorious parts : if he take delight to work by instruments, and to communicate such excellency and honour to them as may conduce to the honour of the principal cause, we must not overlook their excellency and honour, unless we will deny God the honour which is due to him. As he that will see the excellent workmanship of a watch or any other engine, must not overlook the chiefest parts, nor their operation on the rest : so he that will see the excellent order of the works and government of God, must not overlook the angels, nor their offices in the government, and preservation of the inferior creatures, so far as God hath revealed it unto us. We spoil the music if we leave out these strings. It is a great part of the glory of the works of God, that all the parts in heaven and earth are so admirably conjoined and jointed as they are ; and each in their places contribute to the beauty and harmony of the whole.
h Magna dignitas fidelium animarum ut unaquæque habeat ab ortu nativitatis in custodiam sui angelum deputatum : imo plures. Hieron. Luke xx. 36. i Psal. viii. 4,5.
k Heb. q. 5.16.
Direct. VIII. When you would be apprehensive of the excellency of love and humility, and exact obedience to the will of God, look up to the angels, and see the lustre of all these virtues as they shine in them. How perfectly do they love God and all his saints! Even the weakest and meanest of the members of Christ! With what humility do they condescend to minister for the heirs of salvation; how readily and perfectly do they obey their Maker! Though our chiefest pattern is Christ himself, who came nearer to us, and appeared in flesh, to give us the example of all such duties, yet under him the example of angels is also to be observed, and with pleasure to be imitated. And ask the enemies of holiness, who urge you with the examples of the great and learned, whether they are wiser than all the angels of God?
Direct. Ix. . When you are tempted to desire any inordinate communion with angels, as visibly appearing or affecting your senses, or to give them any part of the office or honour of Jesus Christ, then think how suitable that office is to your safety and benefit which God hath assigned them, and how much they themselves abhor aspiring to, or usurpation of, the office or honour of their Lord: and consider how much more suitable to your benefit this spiritual ministration of the angels is, than if they appeared to us in bodily shapes!' In this spiritual communion they act according to their spiritual nature, without deceit; and they serve us without any terrible appearances; and without any danger of drawing us to sensitive, gross apprehensions of them, or enticing us to an unmeet adhesion to them, or honouring of them : whereas if they appeared to us in visible shapes, we might easily be affrighted, confounded and left in doubt, whether they were good angels indeed or not. It is our communion with God himself that is our happiness; and communion with angels or saints is desirable but in order unto this: that kind of communion with angels therefore is the best, which most advanceth us to communion with God; and that reception of his mercy by instruments
1 Timet angelus adorari ab humana natura, quam videt in Deo sublimatam. Gregor.
is best, which least endangereth our inordinate adhesion to the instruments, and our neglect of God. We know not so well as God, what way is best and safest for us ; as it is dangerous desiring to mend his Word by any fancies of our own, which we suppose more fit; so it is dangerous to desire to amend his government, and providence, and order, and to think that another way than that which in nature he hath stated and appointed, is more to our benefit. It is dangerous wishing God to go out of his way, and to deal with us, and conduct us in by-ways of our own; in which we are ourselves unskilled, and of which we little know the issue.
Direct. x. "When you are apt to be terrified with the fear of devils, think then of the guard of angels, and how much greater strength is for you than against you.' Though God be our only fundamental security, and our chiefest confidence must be in him, yet experience telleth us how apt we are to look to instruments, and to be affected as second causes do appear to make for us or against us; therefore when appearing dangers terrify us, appearing or secondary helps should be observed to comfort and encourage us.
Direct. xi. ‘Labour to answer the great and holy love of angels with such great and holy love to them, as may help you against your unwillingness to die, and make you long for the company of them whom you so much love. And when death seemeth terrible to you because the world to come seems strange, remember that you are going to the society of those angels, that rejoiced in your conversion, and ministered for you here on earth, and are ready to convoy your souls to Christm. Though the thoughts of God and our blessed Mediator should be the only final object to attract our love, and make us long to be in heaven, yet under Christ, the love and company of saints and angels must be thought on to further our desires and delight: for even in heaven God will not so be all to us, as to use no creature
in Simus devoti, simus grati tantis custodibus: redamemus eos quantum possumus, quantum debemus effectuose, &c. Bernard. Væ nobis si quando provocati sancti angeli peccatis et negligentiis, indignos nos judicaverint præsentia et visitatione sua, &c. Cavenda est nobis eorum offensa, et in his maxime exercendum, quibus eos novinius obleclari: hæc autem placent eis quæ in nobis invenire delectat, ut est sobrietas, castitas, &c. In quovis angulo reverentiam exhibe angelo, ne audeas illo præsente, quod me vidente non auderes. Bernard.