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careful how we measure ourselves or others, for God will measure us again; and not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
To conclude: having measured others, let us reprove, encourage, and pray for them, as their case requires; and having measured ourselves, let us not go beyond our measure by exercising ourselves in great matters, or in things too high for us.
THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST AND ANGELS
DANIEL X. 21.
There is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael
As “out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong sweetness,” so, perhaps, some useful hints of instruction may be collected from this seemingly obscure passage of Scripture. Let us, then, inquire whom we are to understand by Michael the prince, and then consider what is here predicated concerning him.
I. Whom are we to understand by Michael the prince ?
1. Some suppose an earthly prince or potentate to be here intended; one raised up, and inspired in an extraordinary manner by God, for the defence of his church and people. Such were Darius and Cyrus, founders of the Persian monarchy, and both friends to the Jewish nation, under whose auspicious government, and by whose special direction, the Jews were restored to their native land. Some would refer it to Constantine the Great, in whose reign Christianity became the established religion, and to whose victories over Maxentius, Licinius, and others, professed enemies to, and cruel persecutors of, the Christians, they refer that passage in the book of Revelation, “ Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.”
2. Others apply it to one of the seven archangels who “ stand before the throne," and who is called one, or as it might be translated, the first of the chief princes. That there are different ranks and orders in the celestial hierarchy, is evident from Scripture; for we read of seraphim and cherubim, principalities, authorities, and powers,—which terms imply superiority in some, and inferiority in others; but " they are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation." Nor is their ministry confined to the church, but extends to the great affairs of states and kingdoms; they are instruments of wrath and of mercy: great revolutions have been brought about by their means. Thus, the deposing Nebuchadnezzar from the royal authority, and the transferring of the empire from the Persians to the Grecians, are both ascribed to the ministry of angels. I will just add, the Michael spoken of, Jude, verse 9, seems to be a created angel, both from his contending with the devil about the body of Moses, and his not daring to bring a railing accusation against him; both which seem incompatible with the dignity of the Lord Jesus Christ, prior to his state of humiliation.
3. One particular author, the Lord Napier, supposes, that by Michael here, we are to understand the Holy Ghost. “The angel,” says he, “ speaking to Daniel, is Christ; and then who can be his helper but the Holy Spirit, who is equally concerned with him in executing the Divine decrees, and carrying on the purposes of the Divine glory?" But it is generally agreed, that this truly learned and ingenious writer has mistaken the scope of the chapter ; for though Christ was the glorious person that appeared to the prophet Daniel by the river Hiddekel, and the description given of him very much agrees with that in the book of Revelation; yet the angel that now talked with him, and who, by touching him, had set him upon his knees and the palms of his hands, seems to have been a created angel, even the angel Gabriel, who had appeared to him before.
up their places in the church with greater honour to themselves, and more to the advantage of others. With respect also to their graces—the reality and liveliness of them ; agreeable to that advice of the apostle, “Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works." In a word, with respect to their declension or advancement in the religious life. Give me leave to add, that we should measure our fellow-professors, not by our own experiences, or the attainments of others, both methods being equally uncertain, as God has different methods of dealing with his people ; but by that infallible rule, the divine word. Their convictions and comforts may be genuine and real, though the one are not so strong, or the other so abundant, as our
3. This may also be understood of those hypocrites and formal professors, who may be styled “outer-court” worshippers. We should esteem them for that in them which is laudable and praiseworthy, and condemn that in them which is otherwise. If they pretend to christian experience, we should examine whether their temper and deportment suit such pretensions. Thus, the apostle Peter measured Simon Magus, and found him to be “in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity;" and it is spoken to the honour of the church of Ephesus, that they tried those who said they were apostles, and found them to be liars." Great service is done to any church, by keeping those out of it who would be a discredit, if admitted. We should condemn none without trial, nor receive any who cannot stand the trial.
Let us, then, address ourselves to the work here recommended. O man! O woman! first measure thyself. Before thou go abroad, begin at home; and, being satisfied about thy own state, then measure others; but be sure to take the reed with thee, and let thy design be, not the gratification of a meddling, censorious disposition, but the glory of God, and the restoration of the church to its primitive simplicity and purity. In a word, let us be careful how we measure ourselves or others, for God will measure us again; and not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.