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THE FALLEN ANGELS.
Rev. xii, 7. AND THERE WAS WAR IN HEAVEN.
HOW LONG God existed before Angels were created; or how long Angels existed before man was created, are points which are not revealed, and which therefore human philosophy can never discover. Nor is it of consequence for us to know. It is reasonable to believe, however, that the Angels were created immediately after the Heaven of Heavens, which they were to inhabit. Thus they might witness the creation of this world, and all its beautiful garniture; and of man, who was destined to live in, and rule over it.
'Ecclesiastical writers make an Hierarchy of nine orders of Angels. Others have distributed Angels into nine orders, according to the names by which they are called in Scripture, and reduced these orders into three hierarchies; to the first of which belong Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; to the second, Dominions, Virtues, and Powers; and to the third, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The Jews reckon four orders or companies of Angels, each headed by an Archangel; the first order being that of Michael, the second of Gabriel, the third of Uriel, and the fourth of Raphael. But though the Jews believe them to be but four, yet it seems, from some intimations in Scripture, that there were seven.' It is proper to remark, that the names of the angels Uriel, and Raphael, are only mentioned in the Apocryphal books of Esdras, and Tobit.
But our subject this day is not of the Holy Angels, but of the Fallen Angels. And there was war in heaven.
And can it be, that in that holy, happy world, where the Creator, and the Redeemer, and the Saints reside, there was ever any war? Yes, my brethren, the Scriptures assure us of this mysterious, astonishing fact, that before there was ever any war upon earth, there was war in heaven.
'The fall of the apostate Angels,' says Bishop Lowth, 'is not directly recorded in the Old Testament: but it is implied in the distinction the holy writers make between good and evil spirits; and is sometimes alluded to by the prophets, when they threaten destruction to proud and insolent tyrants, who, in imitation of the pride of the devil, exalt themselves against God and his truth; and are the instruments of Satan in promoting idolatry and wickedness in the world.' But although we have no regular history of this great and wonderful event, a revolt in the heavenly world, and amongst the highest order of created beings; still we are abundantly assured in the New Testament, by various declarations, as well as allusions, that it actually took place. But as assertion, without proofs, is of little weight in so tremendous a proposition, I shall now adduce the testimony, both direct and allusive.
1. In the Old Testament, there is no direct testimony of the revolt of Angels. But there is, in Isaiah, a most striking allusion to this event, wherein the King of Babylon is compared to the Prince of the rebellion: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! . . . . . . For thou hast said in thine heart,. I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell.'
In the New Testament, the direct testimony of the fall of angels is ample and explicit. In St Luke we read, "And he, Jesus, said unto them, the seventy, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.' In St Peter we read, 'For if God spared not the Angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.' In St Jude we read, 'And the angels, which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting
chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.' And in the Apocalypse of St John we have an amplification of our text: 'And there was war in heaven. 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. And the great Dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.'
The indirect evidence of the fall of Angels is abundant. In St Matthew we read, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.' In Timothy, St Paul says a bishop must not be a new convert, 'lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the Devil.' Here the cause of the revolt is asserted, namely, pride. And in the Revelation of St John, we read of the final destiny of the fallen Angels. And I saw an Angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that, he must be loosed a little season.' After this little season, in the same chapter we are told, And the Devil, that deceived them, viz, the nations, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, . shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.' Such is the testimony in Scripture concerning the unnatural revolt, and tremendous doom, of the rebel Angels.
As to what time, and for what offence, these Angels incurred the displeasure of the Almighty, it is not known. The time in which this event took place is generally allowed to have preceded the creation of the world; and some have accounted for it by the supposition, that the angels, being informed of God's purpose to create man after his own image, and to dignify his nature by Christ's assuming it, and thinking their glory to be thus eclipsed, envied the happiness of man, and thus revolted.'
whatever was the occasion, or the mode by which it was manifested, pride seems to have been the leading sin of the Angels, and it ultimately terminated in rebellion and apostacy. Of these fallen angels there is supposed to have been a great number; and it is apprehended that there was some kind of gradation or subordination among them; one being considered as their prince, and called by several names.' This accords with the conception of this revolt given by the great Poet. Speaking of Satan, he says:
he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
3. It appears, that the revolt was but one, and at one time, in heaven. By the phrase, and the Angels, who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, it is generally admitted that heaven is intended; the place where the Angels were united around the throne of God. Some divines, however, have supposed that the word translated habitation means some other world, and that they left the station there assigned them, and refused to perform the duty allotted to them by their Creator. Be this as it may, we are informed that they were banished from the presence of God, and the company of the Angels who kept their integrity, and were cast into hell. How great was the number of the Fallen Angels, we know not with certainty. But if we may conjecture from the metaphorical vision of the great red Dragon, in the Apocalypse, whose tail drew the third part of the stars of
heaven, and did cast them to the earth; and this be allowed to have a primary allusion to the rebellion in heaven; then was one third of the whole hierarchy of Angels and Archangels seduced into this sacrilegious revolt.
Where the Hell is, into which the Fallen Angels were cast; or what is the peculiar nature of the punishment they endure; various have been the conjectures of the christian Fathers, and of modern Philosophers. But
as the one has not been revealed, and the other is revealed in symbolical language, it is not only useless, but perhaps presumptive in us to inquire. Suffice it to say, that there is somewhere in the Universe such a World of Despair; where is
No light; but rather darkness visible
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
That these torments are described by metaphors, which indicate the deepest intensity of suffering, of which the mind can conceive; and that its duration is tremendously asserted as, where Hope never enters; and that a great gulf is fixed to separate between Hell and Heaven.
5. What is to be the fulfilment of the destiny allotted to the Fallen Angels is amply declared in Scripture. It appears, that the punishment and degradation of these evil beings are not yet completed. That, since their fall, they have been acting out their vicious natures in tempting and deceiving this world, for many centuries. That their great Captain, the Arch-Apostate, is to be bound, during the Millennium, for a thousand years. That, after this, he is to be let loose for a little season, during which he will again deceive the nations, and rage with tenfold violence. And that, in the midst of this reign of the Man of Sin, the Judgment will commence. That during the Judgment, these Fallen Angels will be tried, and condemned, for all the evils, which they will have wrought, or attempted, during the continuance of this earthly system.' And that, at this Judgment of Angels and men, immediately after which this earth is to be burnt up, sen