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OF

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

PART II.

CHAP. VII. CONTINUED.

SECT. X.

Concerning the ministers of the kingdom of Christ. HAVING in the foregoing section treated at large concerning the nature and constitution of Christ's kingdom, I shall in the next place shew who the ministers are, by whom he rules and governs it. And these are all included under a fourfold rank and order.

First, The first and supreme minister by which Christ rules his kingdom is the Holy Ghost.

Secondly, The second and next to him are the angels of God.

Thirdly, The third are princes and civil governors.

Fourthly, The last are the bishops and pastors of the church.

I. The supreme minister by which Christ rules his kingdom is the Holy Ghost, or third person in the holy Trinity, of whose person and ministry, under our Saviour in his kingdom, I have treated at large in vol. ii. p. 279–328.

II. Therefore the next order of ministers by which Christ rules his kingdom are the angels of God, that is, the whole world of angels, whether they be

VOL. III.

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good or bad, angels of light or angels of darkness. In the prosecution of which argument, I shall endeavour first to prove the thing, viz.

That the angels, both good and bad, are the ministers of Christ in the government of his kingdom.

Secondly, To shew wherein their ministry doth consist. First, That the angels, both good and bad, are Christ's ministers in his kingdom: for as for the good angels, they are subjected to Christ by the order and appointment of God himself; who is the Father of spirits, and to whom they are inviolably obedient: and for the bad, they are subjected to him by just conquest, contrary to their own wills and inclinations. Of each of which I shall endeavour to give some brief account.

First, The good angels are subjected to Christ by the order and appointment of God, to whom they are always inviolably obedient. It seems at least very probable, that before our Saviour was exalted upon his triumphant ascension into heaven to the universal empire of the world under God the Father, angelical powers were not all of them subjected to his mediatorial royalty, but that some of them had their distinct regencies and presidentships, immediately under God the most high Father, over such and such nations and countries as he in his grace thought meet to allot to them; for so it is evident the Septuagint thought, when in Deut. xxxi. 8. instead of, He (i. e. God) set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the children of Israel, they render it, He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God : for as the ancient Jews distributed the Gentile world into seventy-two nations, so they also

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reckoned seventy-two angels that presided over them; and indeed, considering what follows, ver. 9. for the Lord's portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance, it seems very probable that this translation of the Septuagint was the true sense of the original, viz. That whereas God distributed the Gentile world into so many nations as there were president-angels to be their guardians and governors, he reserved Israel to himself, as his own lot and portion, over which he intended to preside immediately in his own person; and therefore, as a learned writer of our own hath observed, it is not at all improbable, but that instead of Serena 133, i. e. the sons of Israel, as it is now in our Hebrew copies, the ancient reading whence the Septuagint translated might be 58"], i. e. the sons of God, and that el might either be mistaken by the transcribers for a final abbreviation of Israel, or changed into il, which is the contraction of Israel; and if in the ancient Hebrew it was the sons of God, it is no wonder that the Septuagint rendered it the angels of God; the sons of God being in scripture a very common appellation of angels.

But whether this be so or not, it is evident, that when God threatened to withdraw his personal presence from Israel, upon their worshipping the golden calf, and to put them under the conduct of an angel, Exodus xxxiii. 2, 3. the meaning of it was, that he would no longer preside over them in his own person, but subject them to the government of a president-angel, and therefore, Exod. xxiii. 21. he bids them beware of this angel, and obey his voice, and not provoke him; for, saith he, he will not pardon your iniquities : 'which plainly shews, that this angel was to

have had a ruling power over them to pardon or punish them at his own pleasure; so that that which God here threatened was, that he would put them in the same condition with other Gentile nations, who were subjected to the government of particular guardian angels; and so change their theocracy into an angelocracy. And so, as it is evident, Moses understood him; for Exod. xxxiii. 15, 16. he thus prays: If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth. Where it is very plain, that that which distinguished Israel from all other nations was this, that God himself in his own person immediately presided over them; and that if this distinction were taken away by God's withdrawing from them, and subjecting them to the presidence of an angel, they would be left in the same condition with other Gentile nations, who must therefore be supposed to be under the immediate conduct of president angels. And this is most evident of the kingdom of Persia, and the kingdom of Greece in particular, Dan. x. 13. 20. where there is mention made of two angels under the character of the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece, and also of a third, viz. Michael, who is styled one of the chief princes, and Michael your prince, verse 21. and elsewhere the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people, Dan. xii. 1. And upon what other account can we suppose them to be styled the princes of those countries, but because they presided over them as their guardians and governors ? It is

true, as for the last of them, viz. Michael, he is supposed, by very learned expositors, to be no other than God the Son, who, as I have proved at large, was always the prince and guardian of Israel; but if he were not God the Son, but merely a created angel, it is certain he was not the president or guardian of Israel: since, as was shewn before, they had no other guardian but God himself: but, in all probability, he was the prince of those angels that ministered to God the Son in his guardianship and government of Israel; and consequently that angel of his to whom he intended to subject them, when he threatened to withdraw his personal conduct from them; upon which account he might be called their prince, because under Christ he had a principal share in the protection and government of them. Now these guardian angels seem to have been archangels, or the princes of the distinct orders of angels; for so Michael is not only styled an archangel, Jude 9. but he is also said to have an army of angels under his command and conduct, and with them to have fought with the dragon, or Satan, (who was also an archangel,) and his angels, Rev. xii. 7. Now though Michael (supposing him to be a created spirit) was not a guardian angel, yet the prophecy of Daniel, by styling him one of the chief princes, plainly assures us that he was an angel of the same rank and degree with the princes or guardian angels of Persia and Greece: from whence it follows, that those guardian angels were archangels, as well as he, and consequently that they also had their angels or appropriate armies of angels, under their conduct and command; in which armies of theirs (whose ministry, without doubt, they always used in the administra

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