Page images
PDF
EPUB

purpofe in all the Earth. Which Phrafe tells us, that this is performed by the Ministry of the fúblimest Angels, as I have often faid, who are of the greatest Perfpicacity, Wisdom, and Forefight, and have a Power and Authority above all others, being the nearest in Place and Dignity to the Divine Majesty. For these Expressions of St. Jokin are borrowed from the Visions of Zachariab, who faw (as you read Chap. 4. 2, 3.) a Golden Candlestick and feven Lamps in it (which were atways, you know, burning in the Temple at Jerufalem ) but knew not what they meint. And therefore the Angel, who made thefe Representations to him, tells him, ver. 10. that these Seven mere the Eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole Earth; "that'ís, his Prime Ministers, that watchfully at"tend the Affairs of his whole Kingdom, as the chief Overseers of it. From whence you may note, for the illustrating all that hath been faid, First, That the Hebrews have a Tradition, that there are Séveri Principal Minifters in the Heavenly Court, before the Throne of God:; 'some of whosé Names are recorded in the holy Book, asMichael, the Prince of all, and Gabriel, another that stands in the Divine Presence. This Tradition is expressly mentioned in the Book of Tobit, 12. 15. where Raphael (another of them according to the Hebreres) says, I am one of the feven Angels wbicb ftand and minister before the boly blessed one. And those Words, Gen. 11. 7. Let us go down and confound their Language, are thus paraphrased by the Chaldee Interpreter;

Tbe

[ocr errors]

The Lord Spake to the seven Angels which.stand before him, Go to now, let us go down, &c. Now the Temple of Jerusalem you may observe (Secondly) being God's House, where his Glory dwelt among them, the seven Lamps (which burnt continually in the golden Candlestick that had juft so many Branches, before the Veil over against the Mercy-seat, which was God's Throne) were intended, in all Probability, to represent these seven Angelical Ministers, who are always in the Divine Presence, and wait upon himn in the Heavenly Place to receive his Commands, being as quick as Fire or Lightning to execute his Will. And (Thirdly) that the Office of these principal Ministers is to serve as general Inspeators of this Universe of ours, whereas the lower Angels are assigned and limited only to certain Places; for he faith, these Seven run to and fro thro’the wböle Earth. And ( Fourthly ) that these great Angels, during God's Presence among the Jews, had a peculiar Care of that Church, Michael the Prince of the Hoft being their Chieftain, and particularly concerned for their Defence: The seven Lainps did not more constantly burn in the Holy Place, than these with all Expedition served the Will of God for their Good. And (laftly) that the Affairs of the Christian Church are now under the fame mighty Power and Protection. Whilst other Kingdoms, Governments, and Provinces are committed to the Charge of subordinate Angels, the Body of Christ is peculiarly under the Care of the most glorious, who supervise all, but intend with a special

[ocr errors]

Watchful

li 3

Watchfulness the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus. This is clear from what hath been said, and may

be further illustrated from another Passage in the Revelation, 4. 5. where St. John faw in the Christian Church, as Zacbary had heretofore seen in the Jewish, Seven Lamps of Fire burning before the Throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And again, Cbap. 8. 2. he saw these seven Angels which stood before God, sounding to Battle against all the Enemies of the Church. That is, as Clemens of Alexandria fpeaks, έλα ωρωταγόνες αγγέλες, the feven first-born Angels, or the eldest Sons of Glory, who have the greatest Power; and are represented in the following Parts of that Book, as executing the Anger of God upon all Oppofers of Christianity, till they had pulled them down to the Ground; and the Multitude of Christian People thundered out Hallelujah's, saying, The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, 19, 6.

Thus I have told you all that I can find at present concerning the first Particular, which is the principal ; their helping us in the Knowledge of the Truth, and in our doing Good: The lecond is consequent to this ; for,

II. The Ancient Christians look'd upon the Angels of God as Witnesses of their Actions; in Consideration whereof they were excited to do well, and to behave themselves with all due Caution and Circumspection before God. It's true, God is every where, and so we are to walk as in his Presence, and under his Eye and Ob

servance,

fervance. But to make us more fensible of this, and to bring things down to the ineanest Capacity, the Divine Presence, according to the conftant Style of the Holy Scripture, is signified to us by the Presence of Angels, who are his Attendants and Ministers; and therefore in the Place now mentioned, they are called the Eyes. of God. Hence it is, that holy Men lookt upon themselves as under the Inspection of Angels, to whose Presence, as God's Ministers and Signifiers of his Presence, they ought to have a great Regard. This is the Sense of that Place, Eccles: 5.6. where the wife Man cautions the Israelites, that when they had made a Vow they should not retract it, nor say before the Angel, that it was an Error. The Angel he look'd upon as the Overseer of their Words and Actions, and, if they did Evil, as the Avenger and Punisher of them. And thus the Heathens also speak, Hic eft prorfus Custos, fingularis Præfe&tus, domesticus Speculator, duc. He is thy Keeper, a singular Guide and Governour, a Domestick Observer, an individual and constant Disposer, an inseparable Witness, an Approver of good Actions, and a Disallower of all that are bad, And this is the Style of the New Testament also, as you read in those Words cited before, 1 Tim. 5. 21. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the ele&t Angels, that thou observe these things, &c. As if he had said, the elect (i.e. the choice, and most eminent, and principal) Angels are Witnesses of what I say, and of all the Charge that is imposed on thee and undertaken by thee; they will observe thy Behaviour and Demeanour in

will

li 4

the Church of God, being as fo Lib. de Spirit. many wudzgaged in woudovóud, &c. philoch. c. 13. (to use St. Basil's Words) Tutors

and Governours fet over Men by the Father of all; and accordingly they will accuse or acquit thee at that great Day of Reckoning. This feeins also to be the Meaning of the fame Apostle in another Place, 1 Cor. 11. 10. where he would have them to think, that Angels are present in their Sacred Assemblies; and fo, out of Reverence to such great Ministers of his appoipted to attend there, and by whom he was present, to be careful how they admitted of any thing undecent or immodeft at those Meetings. And thus some have expounded those Words of our Saviour, ver. 20. of this eighteenth of St. Matthew, Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. The Angels, say they, are there by his Order, as Signs of his presence, and the Witnesfes of our A&ions, and the Helpers of our Devotion at such Seasons. But as there is no need to interpret that Place in such Manner, so there is no need of it to justify this Truth (which is attested by others that I have named) how that they are present to obferve, as well as aslift us: Nemini confpicui femper adfunt, omnium non modo aétorum teftes, verum etiam cogitatorum : "For though they are confpicuous to none, they are ever near to all,' the Witnesses not only of our Adions, but even

of

« PreviousContinue »