« PreviousContinue »
tion of their respective guardianships) there is no question but there was an exact order and regiment, which cannot well be supposed, without supposing them particular officers subordinated to each other, under their respective princes or archangels; and this seems to be implied in that distinction which the apostle makes between these heavenly spirits, Col. i. 16. whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; where by thrones he seems to mean the respective princes or archangels of the several orders; by dominions, or lordships, the reguli, or chief dignitaries under the archangels; by principalities, their governors of such provinces or cities as were within their guardianship; by powers, their inferior magistrates or officers.
These archangels therefore, who were the tutelar or guardian angels of countries, together with their respective cohorts or armies of angels, seem not to have been subjected to the mediatorial dominion of our Saviour, till after his ascension into heaven; at which time, it seems, God totally dissolved those angelocracies, or angelical governments of countries and nations, and subjected both them and the archangels (together with their armies of angels) that governed them, to the mediatorial sceptre of our Lord and Saviour; upon which he, who before was King only of the Jews, (vide vol. ii. p. 449.) became universal Lord and Emperor of the world; for so, Heb. ii. 5. we are told, that to the angels God hath not put in subjection the world to come, or future age, as it is in the Greek : where by the future age it is evident he means the time of the gospel; for this is the very phrase used by the Septuagint to express the state of Christianity, Isaiah
ix. 6. where Christ is called Mathp périovtos aiūvus, the Father of this future age. This passage therefore, of God's not subjecting the future age to the angels, plainly implies that he had subjected the past age to them, by constituting them the guardians of nations; but that now in this age of the gospel he hath wholly dissolved that economy, by subjecting both the guardians and the nations they guarded to the dominion of our Lord and Saviour: so that now the whole world of angels is in the same subjection to Jesus Christ, as it seems Michael and his angels were before Christ's exaltation; that is, they are now no longer subject as deputy governors of provinces and nations, who as such were empowered to do good or hurt to those who were under their government, according to their own discretion; but as the immediate attendants of his person, to whom nothing is left arbitrary, but all they do is determined by the sovereign will of him who employs them; for thus the scripture declares, that upon his ascension into heaven he was vested with new dominion over the angelical world; so we are told, 1 Pet. iii. 22. that it was upon his going into heaven, and sitting down at the right hand of God, that angels, and authorities, and powers were made subject unto him; and in Eph. i. 21. that God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, i. e. above all angels, of what rank and quality soever, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come ; and accordingly, Col. ii. 10. he is said to be head of all principality and power, i. e. of all the heavenly hierarchy, as well as earthly do.
minions : thus also the apostle tells us, that upon his
, ascension into heaven God hath given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, i. e. that every being should acknowledge subjection, either of things in heaven, or of things on earth, or things under the earth; i. e. whether of angels, or men, or devils. And as all these angelical powers are now subjected to Christ, so do they all of them minister under him in his kingdom; for so Heb. i. 14. they are said to be all of them ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ; and in so doing they must necessarily minister under him who is the Captain of our salvation; and accordingly, in Rev. v. 6. those seven angels which in Zech. iv. 10. are said to be the seven eyes of the Lord which run to and fro the whole earth, and therefore styled the watchers, Dan. iv. 13. as being the chief instruments of the divine Providence, are called the seven eyes of the Lamb, by whose ministry and agency he inspects and governs his kingdom, which plainly implies, that they now minister to the exalted Mediator, in the same capacity that they heretofore ministered to God Almighty himself.
2. And then, secondly, as the good angels are subject to Christ by the ordination and appointment of God, so the bad are subjected to him by just and lawful conquest; for so the scripture assures us, that our blessed Saviour subdued them to his mediatorial empire, by pure dint of just force and violence: for so we find in his lifetime he frequently contested with these evil spirits, and, in despite of all their power and malice, continually vanquished and repelled them. Thus in his temptation in the wilderness, with only that powerful command, Get thee hence, Satan, he put the Devil to flight, Matth. iv. 10, 11. So also upon his approach towards the two possessed Gergesenes, the devils that possessed them made a hideous outcry, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? and were forced to depart immediately upon his command, Matth. viii. 29. Nor did he only vanquish them himself in all the personal conflicts he had with them, but he also gave his disciples authority over all devils, Luke ix. 1. insomuch that, Luke x. 17. his disciples acquaint him, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. But these were only so many successful skirmishes with those powers of darkness, in which they fought against him, sometimes in single combat, and sometimes in smaller parties : but the main battle, in which they engaged him with all their power and might, and by winning of which he completed his conquest, and finally subdued them to his empire, seems to have been that which he fought in his last agony; wherein, after they had reduced him to the utmost distress, he struck them with the spiritual thunderbolts of inward horror and confusion, and in a panic dread forced them to turn their backs and flee from him. For first, it is evident that before he entered the garden, where his agony seized him, he expected some terrible assault from these infernal powers : so he tells his disciples, just before he went thither, Hereafter I will not talk much with you ; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me: i. e. Give me leave now to discourse freely with you, be
cause within a very little while I shall be so engaged, that I shall not be at leisure to discharge my mind to you; for the prince of devils is just now mustering up all his legions against me, and is coming to make his last effort upon me: but this is my comfort, he will find nothing in me, no sinful inclination to take part with him, no guilty reflection to expose me to his tyranny, John xiv. 30. And accordingly, Luke xxii. 53. when the Jews had apprehended him, he expostulates the case with them, why they did not lay hands on him before, when he was daily with them in the temple ; and then answers himself, But now is your hour, and the power of darkness. As much as if he should have said, I need not wonder you did not seize me sooner; for this, alas! is the appointed time wherein my Father had decreed to let loose the devils and you upon me.
Which plainly shews that in that dismal hour he was assaulted by the devils as well as by the Jews; for in all probability those crafty and sagacious spirits had smelt out the merciful design of his approaching death, viz. that it was to be a ransom for the sins of the world : and therefore, though they were desirous enough of his death, as is apparent by their animating Judas and the Jews against him, yet, dreading the end and intention of it, they resolve to employ all their art and power to tempt and deter him from undergoing it, and either to prevail with him to avoid it by a shameful recantation, or at least not to consent to it; that so being forced and involuntary it might be void and ineffectual. In which black design of theirs God himself thought meet so far to favour them, as to give them his free permission to try him to the utmost; that so having experienced in him