Page images
PDF
EPUB

of our Thoughts. So far the Ancients ventured to proceed in this Discourse.

Mofis.

III, Who lookt upon thein not only as Witnesses and Obfervets of our Actions, but as Asli ftants to us in our Combates; joining their Forcés with us then, above all other times, to strengthen us against all Assaults of our Spiritual Enemies. As they prompt a Man to that which is good, so they stand by him, and are aiding to him, when he meets with Relistance in well, doing. There is none can doubt, as Gregory Nylen speaks, but there is Lib. de Vita συμμαχία εκ Θεέ, an auxiliary Force fent us from God, and bestowed upon our Na. turė, when we are devoted to Vertue. It at. tends upon us, very early, but then appears most manifestly, when, being advanced in the Course of Christian Life, we encounter with greater and inore powerful Opposition. And if you would know how this Help is afforded us, I will unfold, faith he, this Secret to you. There is hóza tis en waterniñs; borews, a certain Discourse defcended to us from the Tradition of our Fathers, à msové zoon, which carries in it Credibility, that speaks on this Manner; That our Nature, lapsing into Sin, God did not pass us by, and overlook us with Neglect in this

Condition, leaving us utterly unprovided of Help for our Recovery ; but assigned a certain Angel, one of those Creatures that have no bodied Nature, to join himself to every Man's Life for his Allistance. And on the contrary, the Corrupter

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of

of Mankind did evtunzavãatoy, counterwork this gracious Design, and oppose his Endeavours on the other side, by sending one of his Evil and naughty Dæmons, to lead Men into Vice, and destroy thein. So that Man being er udogo weten do, in the middle between two, who are directly bent one against the other, it is in his Power which shall be victorious. The Good fhews him the Blessedness of Vertue, in regard of the Hope that is set before them who do worthily. The other entertains him with material Pleasures, from whence no Hope at all springs, but only a present, short, and visible Delight enslaves the Senses of foolish Men. Now if he eftrange himself from these Allurements, and turn with his Thoughts to the better; if leaving, as it were, the Evil behind his Back, he fet his Soul directly Face to Face over against that blefsed Hope, as before a clear Glass, so that the Iinage of Divine Vertue be clearly reflected and formed in his Heart : τότε αυτό και τα αδελφά συμpogáz ouverlê ouvisaroy, Iminediately the Help and Assistance of his Brother comes to him, and manifestly fuccours ' him against his Enemy. Aderpos y8 Tetor tiva, &c. For an Angel is after a sort (as to the Rational and Intelle&ual Part) the Brother of the Soul of Man; who then appears and joins himself to him for his Relief, when he approaches to a Conflict with Pbaraob, his great and deadly Enemies. Thus he, who hath followed in great part the Sense of some greit Philosophers; for Plutarch rejects the Opi

[ocr errors]

ry

nion, I remember, of Menander, who said, eve

Man had an Assistant-Genius given him when he was born, who was L. zreei Eva

θυμίας. usay wz's rõ Bis, the Director of his Life, and faith, that Empedocles was nearer the Truth, who said there was sit lay Tives, a double Fate and Genius under whose Government Men were, whom they found struggling one with another.

And thus much seems to be declared to us in the Story of our Saviour's Paffion, that the good are earnestly concerned for our feasonable Relief; for when he was in his terrible Agony in the Garden, an Angel we read Luke 22. 43 appeared to bim from Heaven, strengthning bim.

[ocr errors]

IV. But they go further, I obferve, and add, that the Angels carry our Prayers to the Throne of Grace, as well as bring us Gods Blessings; they look upon them as the vectores hinc precum, indè donorum, Carriers of Prayers from hence, and Gifts from thence; which was the Doctrine of the Platonists expressed in those few Words by Apuleius. And so in that Place of Tobit before named, 12. 15. where Raphael faith, I am one of the seven Angels that stand and minifter be

fore the holy blessed one, i.e. God; the Greek reads, oi wegozvapépsor tis negotuza's, &c. wbo present the Prayers of the Saints, and go in and out before the glory of the holy One. Origen faith the same, who was a Follower of the Platonical Opinions, that they do avaßaiver go up with Mens Prayers and Supplications, and rata

βαίνεις

Cajverv ExãGEN come down from thence to con-
veigh those Benefits which God thinks us wor-
thy of. A great many other of the Greek Chri-
ftians deliver their Sense to the same Purpose,
whom I shall not trouble you withal, but only
mention St. Augustine among the Latines, who
explains it thus. That they do not minister in
this Affair, as if they went to tell God any
Thing which he knew not before ; but they con-
fult his Will about those Things which we pray
for, and that which he commands either evident-
ly or secretly, they conveigh to us. But to speak
more clearly to every one's Satisfaction, that
which I suppose they meant hereby was, that
the Angels being present in Christian Assemblies,
made their Petitions likewise to God for thofe
Things which they heard pious Men
This we may think is one of the Helps which
they afford us, to assist us with their Prayers;
which carries indeed a great probability in it,
though we have no express word of Scripture
for it, and fo must leave it only as a pious Opi-
nion: But I find the first Protestants well enough
satisfied with it; for they are the express Words
of Melanethon in one of his Books, and he

inakes it the Sense of my Text : Orant Tom. 3. P. pro Ecclefia, juxta illud, Angeli eorum

vident faciem patris mei; They pray for The Church according to that, their Àngels bebold the Face of my Father, and fo. I find a good Writer of our own explaining these Words to this purpose. Take heed how you offend these little Ones, for their Angels may at any

pray for.

242.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

time (come before God, and present their Requests to him on their behalf. They have liberty always to represent their Grievances, and prefer their Petitions to him for his Help and Succour, to be sent to those whom they watch over : Prayer you know in the holy Language, is called the seeking of Gods Face, and looking up to him. Upon which Account, the beholding of his Face here in my Text, may without wresting the Words, be expounded concerning their praying for us, and desiring good Things to be granted to ús.

But I have nothing for certain to affirm of this Matter; let me only desire you to observe a Thing which it is seasonable here to add : That should we grant they pray for us, yet it doth not follow that it is lawful for us to pray to them, and beseech them to pray for us, we may not address our Devotions to them, that they would be our Mediators and Intercessors with God, as the Romish Church now doth. It is very probable, that from what the Scripture faith concerning the Angels being present in Christian Affemblies, and from this pious Opinion that they are so charitable as to second our Prayers with their own; some indiscreet and forward People took occasion to invocate them, and pray

to them to be their Intercessors with the Divine Majesty; which rash, and ungrounded piece of Devotion, seems to have sprung up very early among fome Professors of Christianity , for St. Paul warns the Colossians that they should - use due Care, least any Man beguiled them of

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »