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Christ himself. And here give me leave to observe, that there is a beautiful resemblance between the nature and works of angels and of Christ; there is also something in the very name Michael, and the additional character, "your prince,” which may point out the Lord Jesus Christ as the
(1.) Consider the resemblance between the nature of angels and of Christ. The angels are spiritual beings. “He hath made his angels spirits," wise and intelligent beings. Hence, it is an encomium passed upon David, that he was “wise according to the wisdom of an angel of God.” They are pure and holy beings, who never lost their innocence or forfeited their happiness; hence called, “
called, “holy ones," and, " the holy angels.” They are strong and powerful beings; hence, they are said to “ excel in strength,” to be "mighty to save, and mighty to destroy.” It is easy to see how applicable all this is to Christ, the head of angels. With respect to his divine nature, he is a pure, immaterial, self-existent, immortal spirit, and the Father of all other spirits. In wisdom, holiness, and power, he excels all the angels in heaven. Are angels kind and benevolent, active and expeditious, glorious and happy beings ? So is Christ; and he is frequently called an angel in Scripture ; “ the Angel of the covenant,” “the Angel of God's presence," and " in whom is the name of the Lord.”
(2.) There is a considerable analogy between the work of angels and that of Christ. Angels are messengers, and their very name implies it; so is Christ.
“ Behold, I send my messenger, even the messenger of the covenant,”-sent by virtue of that covenant,-sent to open and publish, to attest and ratify it, to purchase and convey the blessings of it. The whole business of it was transacted by him; all the conditions of it were fulfilled by him; he came from heaven to earth to redeem lost sinners; he went from earth to heaven to intercede for them: he is God's messenger to us, and he should be our messenger to God. Do angels always do those things that are pleasing to God? This is the very
thing that Christ claims to himself. “ He came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him," Are angels never weary of their work? Then Christ fainted not, even under the heaviest burdens, nor did he decline the hardest service, whereby he might bring honour to his Father, or contribute to the comfort and happiness of his saints. Do angels rejoice in the conversion of a sininer? So does Christ. " The day of his espousals is the day of the gladness of his heart.”
(3.) The word Michael is strikingly expressive of the person and character of Christ.
Some suppose it to signify “one like unto God;" thus, Christ was " the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person;" possessed of all the sinless frailties of the creature, and of all the spotless excellencies of the Creator; the man God's fellow, not only like him, but equal to him, partaking of the same nature and essence, the same infinite and adorable perfections. Some translate it," the lowliness” or “ poverty of God;" which interpretation admirably suits that humble state in which Christ appeared upon earth. “ He who was rich, for our sakes became poor;" he whose dominion extended over all worlds, became a servant of servants'; the possessor of heaven and earth had not wherewithal to pay tribute to Cæsar; he emptied himself, that we might be filled; and impoverished himself, that he might enrich us with all the blessings of grace here, and glory hereafter. Others, again, render it “ smitten of God,” which is expressly said of the blessed Jesus. “It pleased the Father to bruise him," and “we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” In his whole life he was a man of sorrows, His death was violent, cruel, and ignominious. The desert of sin, and the sufferings of Christ, are alike incomprehensible. Men and devils exerted all their rage and malice against him, but his most bitter agony arose from the impressions of Divine wrath upon his soul: "God spared not his own Son."
your Prince." Now, of no angel could this be affirmed with so much propriety, as it can of the Lord Jesus Christ. “ He is the Prince of Peace;" who preached it, and purchased it, enjoins it among men, and speaks it to his people. “He is the Prince of Life;" who has life in himself, and power over the lives of others; alike the spring of natural, spiritual, and eternal life. " He is a Prince and a Saviour," or, as it is elsewhere expressed, " a Priest upon his throne;" though he will execute vengeance upon his enemies, yet the most delightful exercise of his kingly authority consists in consulting and promoting the happiness of his people. He is also “the Prince of the kings of the earth." Their dominion is derived from him, and they are accountable to him for the use or abuse of their power. But the angel, speaking to Daniel, says, “ your Prince;" intimating the relation in which he stood to the Jewish church, and to all those in every nation who feared God. This is a relation which he owns, and in which they glory. He is the Lord of all places, persons, and dispensations; but he is in a peculiar sense the Lord of saints. He has a claim to their highest affection, and a right to their best services; he rules them with a sceptre of grace, and they are under bonds of obedience to him, to which others are strangers. " My Lord, and my God!” says Thomas, when cured of his incredulity; and we find that it was laid to the charge of the primitive Christians, that “they acknowledged another king, one Jesus." Upon the whole, I think that Christ is the Michael here spoken of; which leads me,
II. To consider what is spoken concerning him. “ There is none that holdeth with me,” says Gabriel, or some other created angel, “ in these things, but Michael, your prince.” From whence we may observe
1. That Christ and the angels are of one mind. They hold with him, and he holds with them; they discern the propriety of his councils, and he approves of their proceedings. Their zeal for his honour, good-will to his church, and readiness to execute all his commands, must needs be
very pleasing to him; they are embarked in the same cause, prosecute the same designs, and have the same end in view, and therefore there cannot but be a mutual agreement between them. Though he does not need them, yet he employs them; though he is not beholden to them, yet he takes a delight and complacency in them: and this delight is reciprocal; for, as it is said that whatsoever David did pleased the people, so whatsoever Christ does is pleasing to the angelic host.
2. Christ and his angels cooperate in the defence of the church and the destruction of its enemies. They follow the direction of his Spirit; for it is said, that “whither the Spirit was to go, the living creatures went.” There was no retrograde motion; they pursued their course till they had completed their design; hence they are said to be “ his angels.” They are subject to his authority, as the centurion's soldiers were to his; they convey and execute his orders; they learn obedience of him who put himself into a state of voluntary subjection, and they set a pattern of it to others. Hence, we are taught to pray that God's will might be done on earth, as humbly, cheerfully, and constantly, as it is done in heaven. Give me leave to add, that there are instances of Christ accompanying his angels in their work. Thus it was when they went to destroy Sodom; for one of the three that appeared to Abraham at his tent door evidently appears, from the name given and the deference paid to him, to be superior to the rest, and could be no other than the Son of God; and, therefore, the overthrow of those cities of the plain is expressly spoken of as a divine act—"I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah."
3. Christ's interposition and assistance overcome all opposition. The judicious Mr. Jenkyn, in his excellent Comment upon Jude, seems to view the matter in a wrong light when he supposes that the expression in my text“ None holdeth with me but Michael,"-cannot fitly be applied to Christ, because there can be no greater strength named than that of Christ, whose power is infinite: but it appears otherwise to me; and the words, instead of degrading, seem to add dignity to the Son of God :-" There is none that holdeth with me but Michael,” and that is enough, for he is above all. Without him the mightiest angels can do nothing, and with him they can do all things; they are cowards without his presence as commander; through him alone they are valiant; their enemies, as well as ours, are many and powerful, but through him they obtain the victory. It is his cooperation with the good angels that puts an awe and restraint upon evil angels, and baffles them in their malicious designs. All the angels in heaven could not secure us from the power and rage of that adversary who goes about like a roaring lion, without the agency and interposition of Christ. They once ministered to him; he always ministers to them. Their preservation, and our preservation by them, may be traced to the same original source. As long as Christ holds with them, there is no danger either to themselves, or to those who are under their protection. Perhaps David may have a respect to this, when he says, “ The Lord taketh my part with them that help me;" and again, “ The Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” Hence, we may learn the following things :
1. That how glorious soever angels are, Christ is exalted above them. He has a name above every name that is named in heaven, as well as upon earth. He does not stand in need of the service of angels, but they stand in need of his assistance.
2. Though angels are to be reverenced and loved, yet they are not to be trusted in or adored : “ See thou do it not,” says the angel to John, when he fell down to worship before his feet.
3. It is an angelic and therefore honourable thing to be serviceable. The more we have of a public spirit, the more we partake of the temper of angels. “ Whoever will be great among you," says Christ,“ let him be your minister.”