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that God is pleased to use, employ, and send out these glorious spirits to take care of them, to do them good, to watch over them and round about them, to keep them from evil: this fills them with a holy admiration, both of the infinite love and condescension of God towards them, and also of the excellency of the mediation of the Lord Christ, who hath brought them into this condition of favour, from both which, much spiritual comfort and rejoicing in the Lord do arise. And for this end also doth God choose to do that mediately, by the ministry of angels, which otherwise by an inconceivable facility he could do by his own immediate power.
6. A blessed intercourse, society, communion and fellowship is hereby maintained and kept up between the several parts of the family of God; that of angels above, and this of believers below. Ít hath been formerly declared, how the angels in heaven, and all elect believers were reduced into one family, when God reconciled the things in heaven and earth unto himself, and brought them all into subjection unto, and dependance upon one common head, Christ Jesus, Eph. i. 10. From hence are angels and men reduced into one family ; the family in hea. ven and earth; the angels by transition, men by adoption. Now it is the will of God, for the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, the immediate head of this family, that there should be an intercourse and an helpful communion between the several parts of it; for to this end we are brought into the society of the innumerable company of angels, Heb. xii. 22. Now, because our goodness, our usefulness, our helpfulness is confined and limited unto the saints that are in the earth, Psal. xvi. S. not extending itself unto God, or to any of his holy ones above, we cannot help, assist, counsel nor advise the angels, nor do they in any thing stand in need of our aid or assistance. And since the communication of our minds unto them, by way of religious subjection, adoration, faith, trust, affiance, is absolutely forbidden unto us; it remaineth that this fellowship and son cięty must be maintained by the aid, help and assistance which they are able to afford unto us, and which we stand in need of. And on this account doth God employ them about the affairs and concernments of believers, that so, a becoming fellowship may be kept up in the family of Christ, and an usefulness between the several parts thereof.
7. God makes use of the ministry of angels in the service of the church, to reproach, awe, restrain and torment the devil, It is a continual reproach cast upon Satan, when he sees those unto whom he is like in nature, and with whom he was sometime a companion in glory, willingly, cheerfully, triumphantly obeying the will of God in the service of Christ, having by his wickedness cast out himself from the same honourable emplov.
ment, and mancipated himself to the vilest services that any part of the creation of God is cast down unto. The whole work of the angels is a continual reproach unto Satan for his sin and folly. It cries unto him, this might have been thy work, this might have been thy condition;' the gnawing of which consideration, is no small part of his torment and present restless vexation. They also put an awe upon him in all his attempts. He knows well their power, their authority, their commission, and that it is not for him to contend with them. With one word they can at any time defeat him: “ The Lord rebuke thee, Satan, the Lord rebuke thee.” And he knows not where he may meet with them in his attempts. And this keeps him in continual awe, and perpetual uncertainty of success in all that he undertakes or goes about. And hereby God also in many things frustrates his endeavours, restrains his power, and disappoints his malice. It is inconceivable what havock he would make of the lives and liberties and estates of the saints, did not these watchers from the Holy One disappoint him. And all these things add to his torment. Much of his present punishment consists in the endless workings of wrath, envy, malice, blood thirstiness and rage. Now, as these, whereever they are found but in the least degree, are tormenting passions, so where they are all in tlreir height, rage and fury, and are not by any considerable vent abated or slacked, what can be worse in hell itself, but only the immediate wrath of God? But thus is it with Satan from this. ministry of angels. He sees the church and every member of it, all of whom he seeks to devour, encamped about, protected and defended by this heavenly host, .so that he cannot in any measure have his will at them, nay, that he cannot touch the soul of any one of them, nor cause a hair of the head of any one of them to perish. This fills him with self-devouring rage, envy and wratlı. And thus doth God by this way accomplish his judgment upon him. And these are some of the reasons which the Scripture intimates unto us, why the Lord is pleased thus to make use of the ministry of angels; which may suffice for an answer to the first question before proposed.
II. The second is, unto what ends and purposes doth God make use of the ministry of angels, for the good of them that do believe. • The thing itself we suppose in both these questions, It is so directly asserted in the words of the apostle, and so many instances are given of it elsewhere in the Scripture, that it needs not any special confirmation. It will also be farther declared in our enumeration of the ends and purposes of it ensuing, As,
1. In general, God doth it to communicate by them the ef
fects of his care and love unto the church by Jesus Christ. This God represented unto Jacob in the vision that he gave him of the ladder which stood upon the earth, and whose top reached unto heaven, Gen. xxviii, 12, 13. For although the Jews say somewhat to the purpose, when they affirm this ladder to have denoted the dependance of all things here below on them above, under the rule of the providence of God, yet. they say not all that was signified thereby. Our Saviour tells us, John i. 52. “ That from thence his disciples should see heaven opened, and angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” Plainly alluding unto this vision of Jacob. For those words, ci tov vroy T8 avbqw7%, upon the Son of man,' cannot denote merely the object of angelical ministration, that they should be exercised in their work about his person, but also, that by him, by means of his mediation, the angels ascend and descend in the work of ministering unto the saints. It is true, the great instance of their ministry was given in and, about the person of Christ as head of the church. They des clared his conception and nativity, Matt. i. 20. Luke i. 35. Luke ii. 11, 12. They ministered unto him after his temptation, Matt. iv. 11. They strengthened him in his agony, Luke xxii. 43. They were witnesses of his resurrection and ascension, Luke xxiv. 4. Acts i. 10, 11. But by him, and on his: account, they perform the offices of their mission towards others also, even all the heirs of salvation ; but this still upon the account of Christ. They ascend and descend on his mediation, sent by his authority, aiming at his glory, doing his work, carrying on his interest, as in the following particulars will ap- í pear : For, : 1. They are sent in an extraordinary manner, to make revelations of the will of God, about things tending unto the obedience and spiritual advantage of them that do believe.) Hereof we have many instances in the Old Testament, espe-, cially in God's dealing with the patriarchs before the giving of the law. For although the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God himself, did often appear unto them, as to Abraham, Gen. xviii. 1, 2. xix. 24. and unto Jacob, chap. xxxii. 24. whom he calls 48am 2437277, Gen. xlviii. 16. yet God al., so made frequent use of created angels, in the revelation and discovery of his mind and will unto them, as is evident from. many passages in their story. That he used their ministration in the giving of the law, we have before abundantly shewed, the Holy Ghost declaring and affirming of it, Psal. Ixviii. 17, 18, Acts vii. 53. The like also he continued to do in the visions of them granted unto the prophets that ensued unto the end of that dispensation, especially unto Ezekiel and Zechariah. So also the same was done under the New Testament; as to onit
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velations and spiritual astances in the lis before the , the
others we have an especial instance, Rev. i. 1. How far God is pleased to continue this ministration of angels unto this day, is hard to determine. For as many have pretended unto revelations by angels, which have been mere delusions of Satan, or imaginations of their own brains : so to say, that God doth not, or may not send his angels unto any of his saints to communicate his mind unto them, as to some particulars of their own duty, according unto his word; or to fore-shew unto them somewhat of his own approaching work, seems, in my judgment, unwarrantably to limit the Holy One of Israel. Howbeit, such things in particular are to be duly weighed with sobriety and reverence.
2. God by them suggests good motions into the minds of his saints. As the devil sets himself on work to tempt them unto evil, by suggestions suited unto the principle of sin within them; so God employs his holy angels to provoke them to that which is good, by suggesting that unto them which is suitable unto the principle of spiritual life and grace which is in them. And as it is difficult to discover the suggestions of Satan in most cases, from the workings of our own minds, and our unbelief in them, partly because of their co-naturalness one to the other, and partly because his impressions are not sensible, nor produce any effects, but as they mix themselves with our own darkness and lusts ; so it is no less difficult, distinctly to take notice of these angelical motions, upon the like account, on the other hand. For, being suitable unto the inclinations of that principle of grace which is in the hearts of believers, and producing no effect but by them, they are hardly discerned. So that we may have the benefit of many angelical suggestions of good things, which we ourselves take no notice of. And if it be inquired, how these good motions from angels, are or may be distinguished from the motions of the Holy Ghost and his actings in believers, I answer, that they are differenced sundry ways; as, 1. These angelical are ab extra, from without; angels have no inbeing in us, no residence in our souls, but work upon us as an external principle, whereas the Holy Spirit abideth with us, and dwelleth in us, and works ab intra, from within the very principles of our souls and minds. Whence it follows, 2. That these angelical motions consist in occasional impressions on the mind, fancy and imagination, by advantages taken from outward objects and present disposition of the mind, rendering it meet to receive such impressions, and so disposing it to affect the heart, the will and the affections; whereas the Holy Ghost closeth in his operations with all the faculties of the soul, really and immediately exciting every one of them to gracious actings according to their nature and quality. Whence also it appears, 3. That angelical motions communi.
es from whom ook to be an effect of caps we are of we are
cate no strength, power or ability unto men to act, do or perform the good which they guide or direct unto. Only they provoke and stir up men to act and exert the strength which they have, in the duties that they are minded of. But the Holy Ghost in his motions doth really communicate spiritual grace, strength and power unto the faculties of the soul, enabling them unto a right performance of the duties proposed un. to them. And 4. Whereas-angelical impressions are transient, and abide not at all in themselves, but only in the effects which the mind warned and excited by them doth produce, there is a constant, abiding, effectual work of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers, enabling them to will and to do, according unto his good pleasure. And this is a second part of the mi. nistry of angels in particular, the benefit whereof we are oftener made partakers of, than perhaps we are aware. And these motions, which are an effect of their ministry, the Sadducees of old took to be angels, denying all spiritual subsistences from whom they should proceed.
3. God sends forth his angels unto this ministry, for the good of believers, to preserve them from many dangers, and ruinous casualties, that would otherwise befal them. Much of the design of Psal. xci. is to acquaint us therewithal; for though the charge of angels is expressed only in ver. 11. & 12. yet as the expression there, of keeping us in all our ways, that we stumble not, is comprehensive of all the dangers which we are or may be exposed to, so the same work of theirs respects all the evils and casualties enumerated in the beginning of the Psalm. And to this purpose also is it said, that the angel of the Lord encampeth about them that fear him, as they did about Elisha of old; namely, to preserve them from the dangers that they are exposed to. Nor is this impeached by the observations of the evils, troubles, calamities and miseries, that befal the people of God; for God hath not given his angels a commission to act ad ultimum virium, to the utmost of their strength, viis et modis, for the preservation of his, but only to act according to his especial good pleasure ; and this they always do. Now, it is the will of God, that his saints should be exercised with various troubles and calamities, for the trial of their faith and obedience. But yet in the ordering and management of these calamitous accidents or troubles, they have no less benefit by the ministry of angels, than they have in respect of those from which they are preserved by them. For in as much as they also are designed and ordered for their good, their being exposed to them in their seasons, their support under them during their continuance, and their deliverance from them in the appointed time thereof, are all signal mercies which they receive by the ministry of angels.