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Isaiah was admitted by the Holy Spirit to witness in the fulness of its glory the court and the throne of heaven; and he heard the voices of the seraphim proclaiming their Maker's praise ; he experienced also personally the effect of their ministration, when one of them said, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged ?." Still, though Isaiah must have regarded this angel as his benefactor under God, yet neither to this seraph, nor to any of the host of heaven, does he offer one prayer for their good offices, even by their intercession. He ever ascribes all to God alone; and never joins any other name with His either in supplication or in praise. Let us also take the case of Daniel. He acknowledges not only that the Lord's omnipotent hand had rescued him from the jaws of the lions, but that the deliverance was brought about by the ministration of an angel. “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me?" Yet when we look through Daniel's prayers, we find no allusion to any of the highest angels. He had seen Gabriel before his prayer; he had heard the voice, and felt the hand of that heavenly messenger who was commissioned to reveal to him what should be done in the latter end; and immediately after the offering of this prayer, the same Gabriel announces himself as one who was come forth to give the prophet skill and understanding. And yet neither towards Gabriel, nor any other of the angels of God, does one word of invocation fall from the lips of Daniel. In the supplications of that holy, intrepid, and blessed servant and child of God, we search in vain for any thing approaching in spirit to the invocation, “Sancte Gabriel, ora pro nobis.”. Isaiah vi. 7.
? Dan. vi. 22.
EVIDENCE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT (continued.)
We must now briefly refer to those passages, by which Roman Catholic writers have endeavoured to maintain that religious adoration was paid to angels by the faithful sons of God. The two principal instances cited are, first, the case of Abraham bowing down before three men, whom he recognizes as messengers from heaven; and, secondly, the words of Jacob when he gave his benediction to his grandsons.
With regard to the first instance, how very far the prostration of Abraham was in itself from implying an act of religious worship, being as it was the ordinary mode of paying respect to a fellow mortal, is evident from the very words of Scripture. The Hebrew word, which we translate by “ bowed himself,” and which the Vulgate unhappily renders “ adoravit" (“adored”), is, letter for letter, the same in the case of Abraham saluting his three heavenly visitors, and in the case of Jacob saluting his brother Esau. The parallelism of the two passages is very striking.
Gen. xxxiii. 1 & 3. And he [Abraham] lift up And Jacob lifted up his eyes, his eyes, and lo! three men stood and looked, and behold ! Esau by him ; and when he saw them, came. . . And he passed over, and he ran to meet them from the bowed himself to the ground seven tent door ; and bowed himself times until he came near to his toward the ground.
Gen. xviii. 2.
By rendering the Hebrew word ', which means to “bow or bend oneself,” by the word “adoravit,” which is literally“ to pray to," the Latin Vulgate has laid the foundation for much unsound and misleading criticism. But suppose the word had meant, what it does not mean, an act of solemn religious worship; and let it be granted (as I am not only ready to grant, but prepared to maintain) that Abraham paid religious adoration at that time, what inference can fairly and honestly be drawn from that circumstance in favour of the invocation of angels ? The ancient writers of the Christian Church, and those whom the Church of Rome habitually holds in great respect, are full and clear in maintaining that the person whom Abraham then addressed, was no created being, neither angel nor seraph; but the Angel of the Covenant; the Word, the eternal Son of God, himself God?. Before the visible and miraculous presence of the God of heaven, who for his own glory and in carrying on the work of man's salvation, sometimes deigned so to reveal Himself, the patriarchs of old bowed themselves to the earth. Can this, with any shadow of
? Not only is the Hebrew word precisely the same, letter for letter and point for point, NW, but the Septuagint in each case employs the same, apooekúvnoɛv; and the Vulgate in each case renders it by the same word, “adoravit." The Roman Catholic commentator De Sacy renders it in each case, “se prosternavit,” which corresponds exactly with our English version. The Douay Bible in each case renders it “ adored."
? Many early Christian writers may be cited to the same purpose : it is enough, however, to refer to Justin Martyr and to Athanasius ; who are very full and elaborate in maintaining, that the angel here mentioned was no created being, but was the Angel of the Covenant, God, in the fulness of time manifested in the flesh. The passage from Athanasius will be quoted at some length, when we come to examine that father's testimony. For Justin Martyr, see Dial. cum Tryph. ch. 56, &c. p. 150, &c. (Paris, 1742.)
reason, be employed to sanction the invocation of Michael and all the myriads of angels who fill the court of heaven?
The only other instance to which it will be necessary to call your attention, occurs in the forty-eighth chapter of Genesis. The passage, however, is so palpably and on the very face of it inapplicable, that its examination needs not detain us long. “And he [Jacob] blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who fed me all my life long unto this day, the ANGEL which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads ?.” Here the patriarch speaks of God as the Angel, and the Angel as God : being the Angel or Messenger of the Covenant-God manifested to man. He speaks not of Michael or Gabriel, or archangel or seraph, or any created being; but of the Lord Himself, who appeared to him, agreeably to the revelation of God himself recorded in a previous chapter, and thus communicated by the patriarch to Rachel and Leah ?. “And the ANGEL of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob; and I said, Here am I. And he said ... I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and vowedst a vow unto me.” The Angel whose blessing he desired for the lads was the God , to whom he had vowed a vow in Bethel, the Lord himself.
Independently, however, of this conclusive consideration, if the latter member of this sentence had merely expressed a wish, that an angel might be employed as
Gen. xlviii. 15.
2 Gen. xxxi. 11. 3 It may not be superfluous to add, that this is the interpretation of the passage adopted by primitive writers. Among others see Eusebius Demonstr. Evan. lib. v. ch. 10 : who declares that the Angel spoken of by Jacob was God the Son.
an instrument of good in behalf of Ephraim and Manasseh, I could readily offer such a prayer for a blessing on my own children. My prayer would be addressed to the angel neither immediately nor transitively, but exclusively to God alone, supplicating him graciously to employ the service of those ministering spirits for our good. Such a prayer every Catholic in communion with the Church of England is taught and directed to offer. Such a prayer is primitive and scriptural; and such is offered in the Church on the anniversary of Saint Michael and all angels.
“O Everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of angels and men in a wonderful order, mercifully grant that as thy holy angels alway do Thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
Such is the prayer of the Church Catholic, whether of the Roman or the Anglican branch; it is in spirit and in truth a Christian prayer, fit for faithful mortals to offer on earth to the Lord of men and of angels in heaven. Would that the Church of Rome, preserving, as she has preserved, this prayer in all its original purity, had never been successfully tempted to mingle in the same service, supplications, which appear to rob the one only God of his exclusive honour and glory, as the God " who heareth prayer;" and to rob Christ of his exclusive honour and glory, as our only Mediator and Advocate!
Here, though unwilling, by departing from the order of our argument, to anticipate our examination in its place of the Roman ritual, I cannot refrain from contrasting this prayer, the genuine offspring of Christian faith, with some forms of invocation contained in