GENESIS, xxviij. xij. xiij.
And behold, the Angels of God ascending and descending on it.
*I Clos'd the last Day with the former part of our Text, I shall give you one short Sermon, God assisting, concerning the holy Angels, whom Jacob in his Vision saw ascending and descending upon it; that is, Antitypically upon Jesus Christ. Our blessed Saviour alludes, as I told you,* to this Vision in the Gospel; And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, here∣after you shall see the Heavens open, and the Angels Page 91 of God ascending & descending upon the Son of Ma•.* Our Annotators assert, as their Opinions, That our Lord refers to Jacob's Vision, Gen. 28.12. which, doubtless puts a great glory on it; it being no trifle or small thing that was represented unto him, in that Dream and Vision, but what a sight Nathaniel had afterwards of the Angels ascending and descending upon Christ, the Son of Man, I know not: Some think it might be some further appearance of Angels 〈◊〉 their ministration to him, than the Scripture Re∣cords; yet, perhaps, no more is meant hereby, than that Nathaniel, and other Saints, shall see, or know, that the holy Angels are far inferiour to the Son of Man, and do administer to him: And also, that all that good, Believers do receive by the ministration of Angels, is alone in and through Jesus Christ, our Mediator. Moreover, that God doth not only make use of the ministration of Angels, in governing of the World, but also in the preservation, safety, and good of his Church. The way to Heaven is full of holy Angels, some going to Heaven for Intelligence, and •thers coming from Heaven, either to forward, pro∣•ect, or comfort the Saints.
1. Angels are but Christ's Messengers, he is the •ead, and Lord of all Principalities and Powers.
2. They own themselves to be our Fellow-Ser∣•ants; I am thy Fellow-Servant, & of thy Brethren.*
3. They move at his Command, and go and come 〈◊〉 his Pleasure.
4. And they move at his Word with all Alacrity, ••ey are speedy and swift in doing the Will of God.
5. Moreover, they are sent forth to minister unto •hem that are the Heirs of Salvation. Observe,*
DOCT. That in and thro Jesus Christ, the holy Angels minister to Believers, while in this World.
In speaking unto this Proposition, I shall take this method; viz.
Page 921. I shall speak a little to the nature of Angels.
2. Open their Work and Office.
3. Give you some Reasons, why Christ imploys them to minister to the Saints. And 4ly, Apply it.
First, They are Creatures, they were created by God, and within the six Days also: By him were all things Created, whether in Heaven or Earth, vi∣sible or invisible, whether Thrones or Dominions; or Principalities, or Powers, all things were created by him and for him. The Heavens, and all the Angels which dwell therein, were created by him; i.e. by the Son of God,* Jesus Christ; Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded, and they were Created: And this was in the Beginning; In the be∣ginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, &c. If therefore they had been Created before, there should have been a beginning of time, & work done before that,* or else Angels were from Eternity, and so not Creatures, but none is eternal, or without beginning but God. Besides, 'tis said, that God wrought all his Works in Six Dayes; but if it be demanded, what day they were created, I answer in all likelyhood on the First-day,*When the Morn∣ing Stars sang together,*and all the Sons of God ••ou∣ed for Joy. Even when God laid the foundation o• the Earth, when the highest Heavens and first ma•∣ter was created of Nothing, out of which other things were formed.
Secondly, These excellent Creatures are true Sub∣stances, and do really exist; contrary to the Opini∣on of the Sadduces,* who denyed Angels and Spirits that is that they thought by the name of Angels wa• meant nothing but good or ill Inspirations, or Mo∣tions, or else the Wonders and Apparitions which were wrought of God.
*1. They were, I say, created, therefore they are Substances, and not Accidents in another Subject.
2. They are endow'd with Understanding, and Will, by v•rtue of which they were capable of Sin∣ning, Page 93 and of departing from the Truth, of obeying or disobeying of God, until confirmed by an Immuta∣ble Head.
3. From their Office this is further evident: They appear before God, they serve him, and we are com∣manded to make them our Patterns; they come to us, admonish us, teach, protect, and comfort us.
4. Because th•y are said to appear to Men; as to Abraham, Jacob, and many others, tho not in their own spiritual Form. As so considered, no mor∣tal Creature, doubtless, could behold them; for that is to render the Invisible World to be Visible: Sometimes they have appeared in assumption of Bo∣dies, tho not for the doing of their Work, but to manifest themselves to be familiar with men. Aquinas adds, That they might manifest the intelligible So∣ciety and Converse, which men expect with them in another Life.
5. Because Christ is said, not to take unto him the nature of Angels, and hath a Name given him above them. And in the Resurrection we shall be like to them. As to their Nature, they are Spirits incorporate, and immaterial;*Who maketh his An∣gels Spirits: And again it is said,*Are they not all ministring Spirits? Tertullian, and some other an∣cient Fathers, asserted they have proper Bodies, tho invisible to us; but yet he seems to mean no more than a Substance: And as the same Author observes,
Thirdly, Let it be consider'd, (saith he) that as it is God only that is without beginning, so it belongs only to him to be without any possibility of change, or shadow of change; and that the Angels, as Crea∣tures, are reducable to nothing by the same hand that made them, tho not from their own Nature; nor shall they ever cease to be, no more than the Spirits of all men, yet they are in God's hand, tho the best pieces of Nature, and if he withdraw his hand, they all moulder to nothing.
Angels (saith my Author) may properly be called Incorruptible and Immortal, because they are so by Nature. I speak not, saith he, now of the changableness of their Wills, but of their Nature and Substance: The Reasons are;
First, Because the Angels are not produced out of the power of Matter, or corporal Substance; as the Souls of Beasts, but only by the word of God; and therefore as they have internal principles of Being, so they have none of Dissolution; for there is the same reason of Being, and not Being.
Secondly, Angelical Nature, as the Souls also of Men are not compounded of Matter and Form, but are simple Forms and Substances, subsisting by themselves: Now all Corruption, Mortality, and Death, is by the separation of the Form from the Matter; as when the Soul is separated from the Body, which is Corruption, or Death, or when the accidental Form is separated from the Subject, as White from the Wall, or Health from the Man: Now, whatever wants Matter is corruptible, be∣cause there is no Composition, and so no Separa∣tion. But the Scripture concludes this best in as∣simulating Page 95 the state of Immortality, in which we shall be like the Angels.
I shall speak no more now as to the first thing proposed, viz. of the Nature of Angels.
Secondly, I shall open a little of the Work and Office of the good Angels.
1. The Work and Office of the Angels of God, is to minister unto Christ, or attend upon his glorious Person, as Mediator; as indeed they did in the days of his Humiliation.* A Reverend Author saith upon the place, this ascending & descending of the Angels upon this Ladder,
Which is indeed very clear, from his very Con∣ception to his Ascension: Nay, the Angels fore-tells to Mary his very Conception; Behold thou shalt con∣•eive in thy Womb, &c. Also the Angel appeared to Joseph, and said, Joseph thou Son of David, fear not, to take unto thee Mary thy Wife, &c. More∣over, an Angel appeared to him again, to fore-warn him of that Herod who sought the Life of Jesus, and so commanded him to take Mary, and the Child, and to fly into Egypt: See how careful the Angels were of our Lord, that he might be preserved until his time was come to be offered up a Sacrifice for our Sins. The Angels appeared likewise to the Shep∣•erds, and published to them the birth of our Lord in a glorious Hymn of Praise;*Glory unto God on high, on Earth Peace, good will to Men:* When God brought his only begotten Son into the World, all the Angels of God worshipped him? The Angels, more∣over, were instruments in his Preservation, when his Page 96 Life was sought, and they also ministred to him in his bloody Agony,* and comforted him. My Brethren, Jesus Christ was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, therefore might need like Succour, Safety, and Comfort from the Angels, as we do. Also the An•els ministred to him in his Temptations in the Wilderness;* and at his Resurrection they rol'• away the S•one from the Sepulchre, and brought the tidings of his being risen to the Women: Like¦wise in his Ascension, the Angels attended, and assu∣red the Disciples of his second Coming; they also ascended with him,* and shall also descend with him, at his second Appearance:*He shall be revealed from Heaven with all his mighty Angels. If he be plea∣sed to descend in his Abasement, the Angels descend with him; if he be pleased to ascend in his state of Exaltation, then the Angels ascend with him: And thus they may be said to ascend and descend upon the Son of Man, personally considered, and this out of that great Affection and Love to him; but not only so, but also in point of Duty and special Obli∣gation to him, he being their Lord and Sovereign; He is the head of Principalities,*and Powers. As Christ is God,* they owe to him their very being: For by him were all things Created, that are in Heaven, and that are on Earth, visible and invisible; whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities or Powers, all things were created by him, and for him. And by him also the holy Angels are confirmed, and so abide in a happy and unchangable condition; and hence the more Obliged to adore and worship him.
*2. And as the Office and Work of the holy An∣gels is, to minister, to serve, and wait upon Christ; so also upon his Spouse,* and on every Member of his mystical Body. True, they are called Powers, Mights, Thrones, Dominions, &c. which shews their Glory, Dignity, and excellent Power, and Authority.
Page 97Some think that there are divers Orders of An∣gels, and some superiour to others; be•ause we read of Angels and Arch-Angels: there are seven Names given to them, viz. Sera••ims, Che•u•••s, Thrones, Powers, Mights, Domi••ons, Princ•p•l•ties, Angels and Arch-Angels: Some add more. But no more of this; we know but little of the invi•i••e World: But let their Dignity and Glory be what it will, as to their Office, they are all mi••string Spirits; none of them, no, not the mighty A•gel•, who excel in strength, do think it too much, or be∣low them, for to attend upon the meane•• Saint:*Are t•ey not all 〈◊〉 Spirits, sent forth to minist•r unto them th•t s•all be heirs of s•lvation? Which words [〈◊〉 be] denote that they are sent forth to protect, preserve, and keep such that are not yet ••eirs; or to the Elect not yet called and converted, but shall be Children begotten, and a∣dopted of God in due time,* and so be Heirs of Sal∣vation: Which shews God's great Love to, and Care of his Elect before Grace, or whilst in their Sins and Unbelief.
3. They all wait upon God, and behold his Face and Glory; they are round about his Thr•ne; they all worship, and fall down before their blessed Lord, and attend on him as Servants of their most glori∣ous and blessed Master, their most high and exalted Sovereign: I saw also the Lord sitting upon a 〈◊〉,* high, and lifted up, and his Train fi•••d the Templ•, verse 1. And above it stood the S•ra•hims: and one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Host•, &c. Called Scrap•ims, signifying fire, or burning: (1.) Denoting their Nature is bright and glorious, subtil and pure. (2.) Their Proper∣ty; full of zeal, and fervent. (3.) Their Once, which here was to execute God's vengeance upon the Jews, and to burn them up, and consume th•m as dross.
Page 98Some assert, that the highest Angels do not mini∣ster to the Saints, but only, and immediately wait upon God himself, and on our Lord Jesus Christ. But this cannot be true,* because the Angel Gabriel, who stands before the Presence of God, was sent to Daniel, and to Zacharias, and to Blessed Mary.
4. They declare the Glory of Almighty God, and also ascribe equal Glory to all the Three Per∣sons: which, as I conceive, is hinted in that Text, 〈◊〉. 6.1. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts:•oly is the Father, Holy is the Son, and Holy is the H•ly Spirit; and yet, as Moses saith, Hear, O 〈◊〉,*the Lord our God is but one Lord, i. e. one in Esse••e, &c. yet Three Persons.
5. They hearken to God's Commands, and do his Will with all imaginable chearfulness, love, delight, al•crity, and swiftness: Hence said to have the face of an Eagle, the swiftest of Fowls; and also to have Wings.*Tertullian saith every Spi∣rit is winged; they can fly in a moment into any part of the World, and that swiftly. And yet Mr. Greenhill saith, as Astronomers observe,
6. Angels are endowed with much Wisdom and Knowledg, as the Woman of Tekoah intimated to David, touching his great Wisdom:*For as an An∣gel of God, so is my Lord the King. My Lord is wise, according to the Wisdom of an Angel of God, To know all things that are in the Earth. They have, no doubt, great understanding. Hence said to have the face of a Man. The face of a Man,*
(1.) Signifieth, according to Greenhill, and divers others, that the Administration of the Angels is with Knowledg and Equity: The face of a Man (saith he) is put to shew the Excellency of Reason, which must have the introduction into,* and the management of all Actions, else they are not Hu∣mane, nor Angelical.
(2.) By the face of a Man, is noted their Humanity, and Love to Mankind: Angels are of a loving Na∣ture, and most careful of Men, especially of Be∣lievers, or such that are actually espoused to their great Master, Jesus Christ.
7. Angels are very strong and couragious; and hence said every one to have the face of a L•on, a Creature of great courage and strength:*What is stronger than a Lion?
8. They are also very faithful, and unwearied in their work, and mighty patient Creatures: hence said to have the face of an Ox•; a patient, faithful (and an unwearied) Servant to their Master.
Page 1009. And tho Angels are Creatures of great Glory and Dignity, yet are very humble; never thinking any thing to be too mean or t•o low for them to do, when commanded to do it; no, tho it be to wait upon a poor Beggar, as Lazarus, whil• he lived, and to carry his Soul to Heaven when he died.
10. And they always wait for their Commission, will not do any thing without God's Command: hence said to wait f•r his Word. These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the Earth:* Therefore are they set before us as our pattern, that the Will of God may be done on Earth by us, as it is done in heaven by them.
Quest. 〈◊〉 service are the holy Angels imployed in 〈…〉 Almig••y?
*1. God useth them in the Government of the World, as it may be seen in Ezek. 1.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, &c. The Jews thought that the Angels only governed Jerusalem; and that neither God nor his Angels did appear •r rule any-where else: But to take a∣way this conceit, God appears to Ezekiel in Baby∣l••, to convince him that he and his Angels do go∣vern there, and man quarters of the World, as well as in Sio•. And that tho God rules the World, is granted; yet the Angels under him are imployed in this Work, is evident. I argue thus: It is plain that God gives or admits the Evil Angels to rule as a Prince; the Devil is called the Prince of the Power of the A••,*that now wor•eth in the hearts of the Chil∣d••• of disobedience:
2. More particularly they are imployed to in∣form us of God's Will, nay, and God of our Ways; tho, it is true, he knows all things, and need not that they tell him, no more than he doth need that we acquaint him with our evil hearts, and many wants; yet he will hear how Matters are from them, and from us also.
They acquaint us with the Mind and Will of God:* Angels told Abraham and Lot what God would do with Sodom;* and Angels told Eli•ah what to say to the Messengers of the King of Sama∣ria; also an Angel told the Apostles,* that Christ should return in the same manner as they saw him go up to Heaven, and sent an Angel to testify those things in the Churches. Also an Angel told Daniel what things should come to pass in the World, even to the end thereof;* and also gave him Wisdom, Skill and Understanding.
And an Angel informed Joseph of the Mind of God touching Mary. Moreover, the Angels go up the Ladder, as well as down; in and by Christ they ascend to God, as well as descend to Men: they beheld all the Earth sat still, and was at rest: Thus God for his honour, not of necessity, imploy∣eth Angels.
3. They are imployed to withstand and oppose the Enemies of Christ and his Church:* And hence it appears they meddle with Kings and Kingdoms, and in the great Affairs thereof; and as their Power is great, so they sometimes exercise it in the de∣struction of wicked Men: Knowest thou whether I Page 102 come unto thee? and now will I return and fight with the King of Persia. And this Angel Gabriel oppo∣sed (as my Author notes) the cruel Edict of Cam∣byses King of Persia, who laboured to keep the Jews in Captivity longer, and to oppress them sorer than others had done.* Moreover it is said, that Michael and his Angels fought against the Dragon and his Angels.
4. To execute Judgment upon the Wicked: they destroyed Sodom;* and the First-born of Egypt is said to be done by a destroying Angel; the destroy∣ing Angel smote the People with the Pestilence in David's time:* Also an Angel smote of the Assyri∣ans in one night 185000; it was an An•el that smote Herod,* so that he was eaten of Worms.
5. The Angels are imployed to defend the godly Brethren; the Ladder goes through Satan's Terri∣tories; and tho they can't come upon it, yet they strive to throw us down, if possible: but know, the Good Angels have as great power to defend us, as the Evil Angels have to annoy us: The Angels are our guard to deliver us, to aid and assist us when assaulted by the Powers of Darkness, and from the hurt and mischief which those Millions of wicked Spirits that swarm about us would do us:*The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him; they are God's Hosts, as Jacob calls them, and a mighty Host they are; the King of A••••• sent a great Host with Chariots and Horse∣men, and t•ey came by night and encompassed the City about: And now Elisha•s Servant cries out,Alas, my Master 〈…〉 shall we do? 2 Kings 6.15. And he answered,* Fear not: for they that are with us, are more than 〈◊〉 that be a•ainst us, verse 1•. And E∣l•s•a prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that 〈…〉. And the Lord opened the eyes 〈◊〉 the young man, and he saw: and behold, the Moun∣t••n was 〈…〉 and Chario• of pre round 〈…〉.
Page 1036. They, no doubt, suggest good thoughts into the minds of God's People: Can any think that the evil Angels have more power to suggest evil thoughts into our minds, than the good Angel• ha•e to suggest good thoughts? We have not only the holy Spirit of God to do this, but the good Ang•l• also.
7. They are imploy'd to guide and lead us along on this Ladder, that so we may not fa••:*He will send his Angel before thee, and 〈…〉 hold (saith God) my Angel sh••〈…〉. Angel was to lead him all the way 〈…〉 they lead us all the way to ••aven, even 〈◊〉 we step the last step of the Ladder.
8. God, in governing the World, and his People in it, makes use of Angels; they lead s•metimes a poor Soul, perhaps, into a godly Family, or 〈◊〉 the Company of a gracious Person; and so he, by that means, is converted, and his Feet set up•n the Ladder, or brought to believe on Jesus Christ; or Persons are by their Ministration perhaps brought into a Meeting or an Assembly of God's People un∣expectedly, which proves their Conversion: Or may be an Angel may smite a notorious Sin•• with Sickness, at God's Command, to awaken others with sudden Death.
9. They are to keep the Godly in all their ways, or rather in God's ways, to keep our feet on the Ladder lest they Lip;*For he shall give his Angels tha••e over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, they shall bear thee up in their hands, or sustain thee and uphold thee in all thy goings; as we do a Child or weak person, especially in times of danger, as a Nurse bears the Child in her Arms. But take heed of going out of God's way, lest you fall, and the evil Angels have power over you, as he had over a godly Man's daughter, who going to a Play-house, was possessed by the Devil, and a godly Minister Page 104 pleading with God, said, Lord, why didst thou suf∣f•r Satan to possess such a man's Chil•? The Devil pre∣sently said in her (as I remember the passage) What did ••e then upon my ground? The good Angels, Brethren, have a charge only of us while in his way; a Saint may step out of it, tho not out of Christ, yet out of his ways O take heed of that.
10. Angels are imployed to comfort God's Peo∣ple:*Fear not, Mary: thou h•st sound favour with God. Angels know us by name: An Angel ap∣peared to Da•iel,* and said, O Daniel, a Man greatly beloved, understand the words I speak unto thee. Angels know who are most beloved of Jesus Christ: An Angel appeared to Cornel•us, and said, Thy Prayers and thy Alms are come up as a Memorial before God.*
11. They also (as Mr. Greenhill observes) are to look to the Souls of Believers, that they fall not in∣to the hands of Devils at death, (for they all go to Heaven through his Territories the Air:
Moreover,* they are the Reaper• of the Harvest of the World, and shall gather t•gether all the Elect▪ at the last day; they must blow the terrible Trum∣pet to raise the Dead at the last day.
12. The Angels have work in the Church; they attend the Assemblies of the Saints:*For th•s cause ought the Woman to have powe• o• her Head, because of the Angels;* or to have her Head, viz. her Fa•e covered: the thing signified is here put for the sign; she is under the power of her Husband, signi∣fied by covering her Head.
But why must she be covered, because of the Angels?
There are divers Opinions about this.
1. Some think the Apostle means the evil Angels, who watch to take advantage to tempt Men by the sight of some beautiful Object: But certainly, as our A••o••ors observe, the Apostle would not have spoken of D•vils under this n•tion▪
2. Others think he means the Ministers or O•••∣cers of the Church, who are called Angels:•ut, as Calvin observes, the word Angel is never appro∣priated to Ministers without some addition, as to the Angel of the Church of Ep••st••, &c.
3. Most understand by An•els here, the good An∣gels; they have a charge of our Churches, as Pe∣ter Martyr observes, as well as they had of the Jews:*Michael the Prince stood up for the Children of thy People. The Angels take good notice of every person's behaviour in our Assemblies, how they de∣mean themselves with piety, modesty, and sobriety: If any let their Eyes wander or rove ab•ut, they observe them. Hence 'tis thought the Women should cover their Faces, especially in Prayer, be∣cause of the Observation the Angels make of them and others, whilst in God's holy Worship in his Church: Brethren, like a• the Devils attend our Churches, to hinder us in our profiting under the Word; so the good Angels are there also to resist them, and to further our profiting. Satan (as one observes) is first and last at the meetings of God's People, and he hath many ways to obstruct the Souls of Men from hearing with attention; may be lu••s them asleep, or fills their minds with preju∣dice against the Preacher, or against the Word he preaches, or to confuse their thoughts, causing them to think of their worldly Business, perhaps Page 106 of their Debts, what they owe, or what is owing to them; or of Injuries sustained, and how to seek revenge; or else cause them to fix their Eyes upon one beautiful Object or another, thereby to divert them from what they should mind: But we may conclude the good Angels have as many ways to help us, as the evil have to hinder us. Observe my Text, An•els are upon the Ladder, or in our way to Heaven. Now Prayer and Hearing the Word, &c. are our way to Heaven, i. e. means of Grace to fit us for it.
Hath every Saint a particular Angel to attend him?
I Answer: This is asserted by some wor∣thy Writers,* and by others denied. My Lord Lawrence, a very pious and learned Man, saith, That the Doctrine of the Angel-Guardians hath been exceeding antient, and not among Christians only. That a multitude of Angels do guard the Saints,* is deny'd by none; but whether every Elect person hath a particular Angel deputed for him, or whether all indifferently do attend upon all the Saints. In his Judgment, probably, every Elect person hath his particular Angel; For in Heaven their Angels do always behold the face of my Father.
*Some also think the Angel-Guardian begins his Charge when the Child is born, others not until his Baptism; my Author rather thinks as soon as the Soul is infused. But I find Reverend Green∣••ll does question this, and thinks it is a mistake, that every Elect person hath a particular Angel, &c. and answers that Text about Peter's Angel. I see no advantage this could be to us to have but one Angel particularly to take the Charge of us more than a multitude: (1.) Because of their faithful∣ness Page 107 generally. (2.) Because it is far greater ho∣nour to a Prince to have mighty Hosts of honour∣able Persons to be his Retinue, than one noble Per∣son only. I shall therefore say no more to this, but proceed to the next general Head.
Thirdly,*Why doth Christ imploy the holy An∣gels to minister to his Saints?
1. Because of that great love Jesus Christ hath to his Saints, seeing they have such a multitude of evil Angels to annoy them; therefore he sends them Hosts of good Angels to defend them.
2. To greaten his own Glory; the greater and more glorious the Retinue of a Prince is, which he sends as a guard to his Favourites, the more it sets forth his own Greatness and Grandure; and since one Angel hath such mighty power, and is so glorious, that the Earth is said to be enlightned with it; (I know that is not a proper Angel, yet it shews the glory of an Angel is very great) What is the glory then of an innumerable Host of them? and yet they are all but Christ's Servants, and poor Nothings in comparison of him.
3. My Author saith,
4. It may be to shew what Honour he is pleased to confer upon his Saints, he will spare them his own Courtiers out of Heaven; they shall ride in his own Chariots. This he may do to honour his Page 108 People, to raise their Glory. Sirs, could the un∣godly but see what an Host of Angels does attend upon the poorest Saint as he passes along, they would say, Who is this? what noble and honour∣able Person is this that has such a Guard, such a Re∣tinue? The greatest Monarch in the World hath no such Attendance as the poorest and meanest Saint hath.
5. Another reason why God useth the Angels for the good of his People, or to attend on them and minister unto them, may be, because they are the Spouse of Christ, the Lamb's Bride: Certainly great Honour of right belongs to the Queen, con∣sidering her near relation to the King. And hence she has the like noble Retinue, her Life-guard as well as he; and so upon the same foot of account, An∣gels may be the Attendants of the Saints, their Guard and Retinue.* Believers are the Bride, they are the friends of the Bridegroom, and of his noble Consort the Church:* Certainly in this the honour of the Saints doth exceed the honour of the holy Angels; as Chris• took our Nature upon him, and not theirs; and in that his Church is his Spouse, his Wife, and not they, the glory conferr'd on us seems to excel, tho in respect to their Nature, Wis∣dom and •nowledg, they may excel the Saints.
6. God may do it f•r the safety of his Saints. Some obs•rve, t•at were it not for the good An∣gels, the Devils would even tear the very Bodies of the Saints into pieces: such is their ma•ice and rage against them.
THis reproves or reprehends those that think it is below them to stoop to obey some of the Commands of Christ. Sirs,* see what glorious Creatures the Angels are; and yet they stoop so low, as to minister to the poorest Saints on Earth. Michael despised David in her heart for dancing before the Ark of God. But did he value that? No,* no; if that he seemed vile, he would be more vile: I will (saith he) speak also of thy Statutes before Kings, and will not be ashamed.*
2. It reproves also such who are ashamed to own a poor Child of God; they can call a Rich man Brother; but O! 'tis hard to own, and to call a Poor man so, a man in a Leather-coat, or in a poor garb, before others. Alas, the Angels are not a∣shamed to take care of and own poor Lazarus, full of Sores, at the Rich Man's gate, tho he begg'd for the Crums that fell from his Table, and the Dogs came and licked his sores.* But let such look to it, lest Christ one day be ashamed of them.
1. That we do it in Love to God; Love is the great Principle from whence the Holy Angels do all their Service to God, so ought we to serve and worship God in Love to him, not for Self-profit, or Honour or Applause; If ye love me, keep my Com∣mandments.* Simon Son of Jona, lovest thou me▪ Yea,* Lord: feed my Sheep. I will leave this Charge with none else, (as if he should so say) but such that love me; they that love not Christ, will not love his Saints.
2. To hearken to Christ's Commands: the An∣gels wait to hear what Service God will put them upon; but many Professors make the Word to wait for them, they come not early to the Assem∣bly to wait for the Word.
4. To do it chearfully, and with utmost Zeal; the Angels are like a Flame of Fire, all fill'd with burning Zeal and Fervour.
5. Also to do the Will of God universally, to leave no Precept undone; and then we shall with David not be ashamed, even when we have respect to all God's Commandments.*
6. To do God's Will continually, never to faint nor be weary; for thus the Angels do God's Com∣mands,* they obey always; and thus did David, I have inclined mine Heart to perform thy Statutes always to the end.* Again he saith, So shall I keep thy Law continually for ever and ever.
*Thirdly, This may administer Terror to the Wicked; the holy Angels are against you. As they mark the Saints for Preservation, so they have Page 111 Commission oft-times to destroy the Ungodly: Slay utterly Old and Young,* &c. and begin at my Sanctuary.
Fourthly, It may be of use,* by way of Exhorta∣tion,
1. To walk so as Christians and Members of Churches, that the Angels may rejoyce and dis∣charge their Work with Joy, and not with Grief.
Walk reverently in respect of the Angels, even (as one observes) in your Bed-Chambers: the Thoughts of the Presence of the Angels should hinder us from doing that which is a shame or dis∣honour to us, but much more the Thoughts of God's Presence.
2. Bless God for the Ministration of Angels: O! see what Love he hath to his own People, and what Honour he hath conferred upon them.
3. Have a reverend Esteem and Respect for the Angels, and strive to converse with them, and be like to them.
But say some, What do you leave to Christ and the Holy Spirit to do, if Angels do •o much for us?
1. What will you leave to the Angels to do, (saith one) if they do not Teach, Guide,* Pro∣tect and Minister unto us?
2. What the Angels do, Christ doth; they are his Servants, he uses them as Instruments in his Hand.
3. We leave to Christ to do all by the Inspira∣tion of the Holy Ghost, yet he makes use of the Angels of the Churches, as well as the Angels of Heaven.
But you may say, Christ needs not the Ministration of Angels.
No more doth he need the Ministration of M•n, nor the Use of Ordinances, yet he is pleased to make use of both for the Good of his Church.
*Fifthly, This may administer much Comfort to Believers. Reprobates, tho Princes on Earth, have no such Guards to attend them as you have: Are they not all Ministring Spirits,*sent forth to min•ster to them that shall be Heirs of Salvation?
O! what a Glorious Retinue have you? Your Way is full of Angels, who go to and fro therein. The Wicked are left to the wide World, but Christ is pleased to give his Saints Tutors, Governours and Guardians to Preserve, Protect and Wait up∣on them; the Holy Angels wel• know their Charge who they are to keep and b•ar up in their Hands, and save from danger.
2. See how dear and precious you are to God; yea, how honourable in his Sight every Elect Per∣son is: He hath his Guard. Multitudes of Angels to attend him at all times; for your sakes they have r•ceived their Charge, their Commission; He hath given his Angels charge over thee. You are weak, but they are strong; you sleep sometimes, but they are always awake and sleep not: Sirs, God sends his own Guards to watch over you, to protect and keep you; he knows what a Multitude of Devils would gladly destroy you, and therefore (as you have heard) he has sent a Multitude of Angels to defend and save you; you have not only Ministers on Earth, the Angels of the Churches, but the An∣gels of Heaven to be your Servants.
And the End why God sends them and imploys them is expressed; not that we should worship Page 113 them, (no, no, they disclaim this utterly:*See thou do it not (saith the Angel) I am thy Fellow-Servant, and of thy Brethren the Prophets, that have the Te∣stimony of Jesus, Worship God;) it is to keep us in all his Ways, and they exactly and diligently ob∣serve their Charge:*They shall bear thee up in their Hands, lest at any time thou dash thy Foot against a Stone. These, O Child of God, accompany thee, minister unto thee, incamp round about thee, go before thee, and wait upon thee; but take heed you go not out of God's Ways, it is in all his Ways they are to keep thee, do not venture on the Devil's Ground; the Angels are always upon this Ladder that reacheth to Heaven, which goes through Satan's Territories, the Air, where there are Mul∣titudes of Devils, who strive to push thee down as thou climbest up; but these do boldly resist them, and defend thee continually against those Evil Spirits.
Admiration. Do Angels minister to us?* then ye Saints wonder! Behold the Angels of God ascend∣ing and descending: O what hath Christ done to procure such Guardians, such Helps, such Guides for us poor feeble Travellers? Never fear, tho the Ladder be high, Angels have Wings, they can soon be with us; they descend to bring them up that are given to Christ, and they ascend with such that are going up. You must fly by Faith and Prayer up with them from Step to Step, from Fa•th to Faith, from Strength to Strength, from Glory to Glory, until you come to the end of your Journey.
O ye Darlings of Heaven! Tho others regard you not, but reproach you, slight you, despise you, yet matter it not; the mighty Angels have you by the Hand; they love you, they know you are the Spouse of their Sovereign, his blessed Bride whom they serve, and therefore they honour you: O what a degree of Glory, ye Princely Ones, are you raised to!
Page 114Moreover, What Love is this? what Grandure is here conferr'd upon vile sinful Creatures as we are?* Have we such a Guard? Doth Christ's chief Courtiers above, wait upon us below? Must we ride in the King's own Chariot to Heaven? Do Angels wait on the Heirs of Salvation, Heirs of Glory?
Come then, ye Holy and High-born Nobles, and take state upon you, and say, We are not for dunghil Earth, not base slaves of Sin, nor of this World, nor of the Devil: We are Princes nobly descend∣ed, born from above, and have the Guard of the King of Kings to attend upon us: O! we must live as such who are so born, so honoured, and also as so guarded.
And now, O ye Earthly Muckworms, ye Dung∣hil-Rakers! what signifie your Silks and Sattins, your Golden Chains, your Bags of Money and great Possessions! What, alas! are Crowns and Scepters, or the Guards of haughty Monarchs! What's their Majesties, their Highnesses, their Ex∣cellencies! The meanest Saint is higher and greater than you all, and hath a more glorious Attendance. But to return to Believers;
* Prize your Privileges, ye Saints, ye the most ex∣cellent ones in all the Earth;* that are more honoura∣ble than your Brethren,*more excellent than your Neighbours. Angels administer to you at Christ's Command. Are you ignorant of your Honour and blessed Safety? or will you still hang down your heads and go drooping, because you are poor, af∣flicted and despised? O this grieves Christ, grieves the Spirit, and grieves the Holy Angels! Consider, you are not at home, you are a going into your own Country, to be crowned; you are not yet come to Age; but, as Heirs of Glory, God cares for you, succours you, defends and keeps you; you have a Host, a mighty Host to fight for you, Page 115 mighty and skilful Guides to lead you, a most no∣ble Guard to watch over you, and minister to you, and Chariots beyond those of beaten Gold to car∣ry you; the mighty God is your defence, and his Angels are a Wall of Fire round about you; no Devils can hurt you; no utter ruine can come up∣on you; get the World therefore under your Feet. Your Souls are justified; all your Sins pardoned, and you are sanctified, and shall for ever be saved▪ God is your Father, Christ is your Bridegroom, the Spirit is your Sanctifier, the Saints are your Companions, the Angels your Guard, and Heaven is your Inheritance. O be humble, and lie at Christ's feet: What hath he done for such unworthy Crea∣tures? Let us love God, honour Him, worship Him in and by Christ, and through the Holy Spi∣rit. To whom be Praise, and Honour, and Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.