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extraordinary, eminent saints: otherwise all that go to heaven must have festivals kept in remembrance of them ; and so we might have a million for a day. 3. That it be not made equal with the Lord's day, but kept in such a subordination to that day, as the life or death of saints is of inferior and subordinate respect, to the work of Christ in man's redemption. 4. And if it be kept in a spiritual manner, to invite men to imitate the holiness of the saints, and the constancy of the martyrs, and not to encourage sensuality and sloth.
Directions about our Communion with the Holy Angels.
Direct. 1. "Be satisfied in knowing so much of angels as God in nature and Scripture hath revealed; but presume not to inquire further, much less to determine of unrevealed things.' "That there are angels, and that they are holy spirits, is past dispute ; but what number they are, and of how many worlds, and of what orders and different dignities and degrees, and when they were created, and what locality belongeth to them, and how far they excel or differ from the souls of men, these and many other such unnecessary questions, neither nature or Scripture will teach us how infallibly to resolve. Almost all the heretics in the first ages of the church, did make their doctrines of angels the first and chief part of their heresies; arrogantly intruding into unrevealed things, and boasting of their acquaintance with the orders and inhabitants of the higher worlds. These being risen in the apostles' days, occasioned Paul to say, " Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind a .”
Direct. 11. “Understand so much of the ministry of angels as God hath revealed, and so far take notice of your communion with them ; but affect not any other sort of communion b.
a Col, ii. 18.
I shall here shew how much of the ministry of angels is revealed to us in Scripture.
1. It is part of the appointed work of angels, to be ministering spirits for the heirs of salvation. Not ministers or servants of the godly, but ministers of God for the godly : as the shepherd is not a servant of the sheep, but for the sheep. It is not an accidental or occasional work which they do extraordinarily; but it is their undertaken office to which they are sent forth. And this their ministry is about the ordinary concernments of our lives, and not only about some great or unusual cases or exigents d.
2. It is not some, but all the angels that are appointed by God to this ministration, “ Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth.” Mark here, that if you inquire whether God have any higher spirits, that are not employed in so low an office, but govern these angels, or if you inquire whether only this world be the angels' charge, or whether they have many other worlds also (of viators) to take care of; neither nature nor Scripture doth give you the determination of any of these questions; and therefore you must leave them as unrevealed things : (with abundance more with which the old heretics and the Popish schoolmen, have diverted men's minds from plain and necessary things). But that all the angels minister for us, are the express words of Scripture.
3. The work of this office is not left promiscuously among them, but several angels have their several works and charge; therefore Scripture telleth us of some sent of one message, and some on another; and tells us that the meanest of Christ's members on earth have their angels before God in heaven, " I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven f.” Whether each true believer hath one or more angels? and whether one angel look to more than one believer? are questions which God hath not resolved us of, either in nature or Scripture ; but that each true Christian hath his angel, is here asserted by our Lord.
b Angelorum vocabulum nomen est officii, non naturæ : nam sancti illi cælestis patriæ spiritus, semper sunt spiritus, sed semper vocari angeli non possunt. Gregor. c Heb. i. 14.
d Psal. xxxiv. 6,7. xci. 11, 12. e Heb. i. 1. 4.
f Matt. xviii, 10.
4. In this office of ministration they are servants of Christ as the Head of the church, and the Mediator between God and man, to promote the ends of his superior office in man's redemption; “ All power is given to me in heaven and earth e.” “ And set him at his right hand in the celestials, 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, and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church f.” “ I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches &.” Whether the angels were appointed about the service of Adam in innocency; or only began their office with Christ the Mediator as his ministers, is a thing that God hath not revealed ; but that they serve under Christ for his church is plain.
5. This care of the angels for us is exercised throughout our lives, for the saving of us from all our dangers, and delivering us out of all our troubles. “ This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles : the angel of the Lord encampeth about them that fear him, and delivereth them. “ For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways: they shall bear thee up in their hand, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone i.” In all our ways (that are good) and in every step we tread, we have the care and ministry of tutelar. angels. They are our ordinary defence and guard.
6. In all this ministry they perfectly obey the will of God, and do nothing but by his command k, being his messengers to man.
7. Much of their work is to oppose the malice of evil spirits that seek our hurt, and to defend us from them : against whom they are engaged under Christ in daily war or conflict.
8. In this their ministration they are ordered into different degrees of superiority and inferiority, and are not equal among themselves m.
e Matt. xxviii. 18. John xiii. 3. Ephes. i. 20—22. & Rev. xxiii. 16. h Psal. xxxiv. 6,7. .
i Psal. xci. 11, 12. * Psal. ciii. 10. Zech. i. 8. 10. Matt. xvii. 10. | Rev. xii. 7.9. Psal. Ixviii. 17. Ixxviii. 49. Matt. iv. 11.
m 1 Thess. iv. 16. Jude 9. Dan. X. 13. 20, 21. Eph. i. 21. Col. jj, 10. Eph. iii. 10. vi. 12. Col. j. 16. Zech. iv. 10. Rev. iv. 5. v. 6.
9. Angels are employed not only about our bodies, but our souls, by furthering the means of our salvation ; they preached the Gospel themselves, (as they delivered the law"). Especially they deliver particular messages, which suppose the sufficiency of the laws of Christ, and only help to the obedience of it.
10. They are sometimes God's instruments to confirm, and warn, and comfort, and excite the soul, and to work upon the mind, and will, and affections ; that they do this persuasively, and have as much access and power to do us good, as satan hath to do us evil, is very clear: good angels have as much power and access to the soul, to move to duty, as devils have to tempt to sin. As God hath sent them oft upon monitory and consolatory messages to his servants in visible shapes, so doth he send them on the like messages invisiblyo. An angel from heaven is sent to strengthen Christ himself in his agony.
11. They persecute and chase the enemies of the church, and sometimes destroy them P: and hinder them from doing hurt 9.
12. They are a convoy for the departing souls of the godly, to bring them to the place of their felicity', though how they do it we cannot understand.
13. They are the attendants of Christ at his coming to judgment, and his ministers to gather his elect, and sever the wicked from the just, in order to their endless punishment or joy. - The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up s,” &c. “ The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all offences or scandals, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire. At the end of the world, the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire t,” &c.
n Lake ii. 9, 10. i. 11, &c. Heb. ii. 2. Gal. iii. 19. Acts x. 4. Dan. vii. 16. viii. 15–17. ix. 21, 22. Luke i. 29. ii. 19.
• Judges v. 23. Matt. i. 20. Psal. civ. 4. Luke xxii. 43.
r Luke xvi. 22. 8 1 Thess. iv, 16.
* Matt. xii. 41. 49.
Direct. 111. “Understand our near affinity or relation to . the angels, and how they and we are concerned in each others condition and affairs. As to our nature our immortal souls are kin or like unto the angels, though our bodies are but like the brutes. Those souls that are created after the image of God, in their very natural essence (as rational and free agents) besides his moral image of sanctity“, may well be said to be like the angels: “He made us little lower than the angels *.” And God hath made us their charge and care; and therefore no doubt hath given them a special love unto us, to fit them to the due performance of their trust. As ministers have a special paternal love to their flocks, and as Christians are to have a special love to one · another to enable and engage them to the duties appointed them by God towards each other; so these excellent spirits have no doubt a far purer and greater love, to the image of God upon the saints, and to the saints for the image and sake of God, than the dearest friends and holiest persons on earth can have. For they are more holy, and they are more perfectly conformed to the mind of God, and they love God himself more perfectly than we, and therefore for his sake do love his people much more perfectly than we. And therefore they are more to be loved by us than any mortals are; both because they are more excellent, pure and amiable, and because they have more love to us. Moreover the angels are servants of the same God, and members of the same society which we belong to. They are the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem, of which we are heirs : they have possession, and we have title, and shall in time possess it. We are called to much of the same employment with them; we must love the same God, and glorify him by obedience, thanks and praise, and so do they: therefore they are ministers for our good, and rejoice in the success of their labours, as the ministers of Christ on earth doy. There is not a sinner converted, but it is the angels' joy’, which sheweth how much they attend that work. “We are come to Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels a,” &c. They are especially present and attendant on u Gen. ix. 6. * Psal. viii. 5.
y Heb. i. 14. 2 Luke xv. 10.
a Heb. xii. 22–24.