EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED
SERIES OF SERMONS;
TIMOTHY DWIGHT, S. T. D. LL. D.
LATE PRESIDENT OF YALE COLLEGE.
THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
IN FOUR VOLUMES
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY S.CONVERSE,
STEREOTYPED BY A. CHANDLER.
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DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT, ss.
BE it remembered, that on the fifth day of January, in the forty second year of the Independence of the United States of America, Timothy Dwight, and William T. Dwight, both of said District; Administrators of the Rev. Timothy Dwight, now deceased, and late of the said District, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as Administrators as aforesaid, and Proprietors, in the words following, to wit:
Theology; explained and defended, in a Series of Sermons; by Timothy Dwight, T. D., LL. D. late President of Yale college. With a Memoir of the Life the Author,. in five Volumes. Vol 1.’’
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, " An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors arid proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned."
Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
A true copy of Record, examined and sealed by me.
Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
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COLOSSIANS 1. 16.—For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers: all things were created by him and for him.
IN my last discourse, I began the examination of the works of God, with some considerations on the Heavens. I shall now pursue the same subject, in several observations concerning those beings, who were originally inhabitants of the highest heavens.
As all our knowledge concerning this subject is derived from the Scriptures, I shall confine myself in this discussion to the information, which they communicate; reserving such views, as Reason has been able to form of it, to the discourse, which I propose to devote to a consideration of the existence and character of Fallen Angels.
In the text it is asserted, that Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers; names, which are fairly supposed to denote different orders of the Angelic host, and to indicate, in the words of St. Paul, things in heaven; were created by Jesus Christ, for his own use and purposes. Among other things, conveyed to us by this assertion, the following Doctrine is evidently one:
That the Angels are a part of the Creation of God.
It is a fact worthy of observation, that the Scriptures teach us scarcely any thing concerning any of the worlds, included under the general name of heavens, except the supreme Heaven. The reason is, I think, not difficult to be divined. With other heavenly worlds, we have no direct concern. Whatever knowledge, therefore, we might be supposed to attain about them, or their inhabitants, would be a mere gratification of curiosity, and incapable of being directed to any valuable end. Under the influence of this powerful principle, we should in all probability have been led away by such communications, if they had been made, from those things, which we need, and ought, to know. Few affections of the human mind have more influence over its conduct, than curiosity. Well-directed, and carefully kept within proper bounds, it is eminently profitable to man, by prompting him unceasingly to useful inquiries, and improvements in knowledge; but, when suffered to wander without restraint, it conducts to mere gratification, and demands the soul of real good.
But with the Heaven of Heavens, we have a continual and most important concern. This glorious and delightful world is the place, to which all our ultimate views are directed by our Maker;
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the home, to which he invites us to look, as our final rest from every trouble; and the final seat of alt the enjoyment, which we are capable of attaining. With its inhabitants, we shall, if we are wise, become familiarly acquainted, and intimately united; and shall live in the midst of them, through ages which cannot end. Of this world, therefore, and those who dwell in it, we need information, various and extensive. Accordingly, God has in the Scriptures, to a considerable extent, opened heaven to our view; and furnished us, in many particulars, with an account of the happy-beings, who inhabit it; of the Rank, or Station, which they hold in his great kingdom; the Attributes, of which they are possessed; and the Employments, to which they are devoted. Under these three heads, I propose to consider them, at the present time. To an audience, possessed of so many advantages for estimating the comparative importance of subjects of contemplation, and particularly the comparative worth of Intelligent beings, it is reasonably hoped, that a subject of such inherent dignity cannot be indifferent. Especially, as this subject is scarcely at all introduced into the Desk, and is but too unfrequently, a topic of private contemplation; and, as it will of course have in some degree the advantage of novelty, as well as of nobleness; it ought to be expected to gain, at. least, the transient attention, which such a discussion demands.
That Angels are the beings, intended by the phraseology of the text, will not be questioned. The four titles, by which they are here denoted, probably indicate four different orders of these heavenly beings; or, perhaps, may he used as a general representation of all the orders, into which they are divided. Beside the general name of Angels, or Messengers, derived from their peculiar employment, they are called in the Scriptures by the following: Thrones; Dominions; Principalities, or Governments; Powers; Authorities;, Living Ones; Cherubim, Knowing Ones, or those in whom is fulness of knowledge; Seraphim, or burning ones; Elohim, Gods; beside the name of Princes, used by the Angel in Dan. x. 13, and probably equivalent to one of the five first appellations. All these names, as will be evident to the slightest attention, are plainly, and strongly, significant of their great importance. With the greatest probability, however, they are names, very imperfectly descriptive of their natures; although, without a doubt, they are the most suitable which human language contains. As words are, of necessity, expressive of such ideas as those who use them possess; and as men, from a want of correspondence with Angels, have no direct, or original, ideas, concerning them; it is plain, that all words, chosen from human language, to describe the nature of these celestial beings, must exhibit them very inadequately and imperfectly. Still, these names are very forcible declarations of their supreme distinction among created Intelligences, and the important character, which they hold in the universe.
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It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the names given to Angels in the text, are used metonymically: the adjunct being all along chosen to denote the subject; or the thing possessed, the possessor. Thus Thrones are substituted for those who sit on them; Dominions and Principalities, for those who hold them; and Powers and Authorities, for those by whom they are exercised.
It ought to be observed, that Angels are also called Morning Stars, to denote their peculiar beauty and splendour of character; and not improbably as harbingers of Christ, the SUN of Righteousness: and Sons of God, to teach us, that they are nearly connected with the Creator, dwell in his house as children, and enjoy his parental presence, care, and love.
From all these observations, united, it is evident, that Angels are possessed of pre-eminent dignity, importance, and distinction, in the divine kingdom: since all these names are given to them by God himself; and are used, therefore, to indicate their true and proper character. This character I shall now attempt summarily to exhibit, as it is presented to us by the Scriptures; and according to the scheme of discourse, which has been already mentioned.
I. Angels are the highest order of Intelligent creatures.
The truth of this assertion is manifest, from a consideration of the several names given to them in the text, and in other parts of the Scriptures. As these names respect the kingdom of God at large, without a limitation to any particular part of that kingdom so they are to be understood, as being Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers, in the immense and eternal empire of JEHOVAH. Angels, therefore, who are called by these names, are the beings who, under GOD, the supreme Ruler, hold, throughout his dominion, authority and power. All other finite beings are, therefore, beneath them in dignity, and subordinate to them in station.
The same truth is also completely evident from the place assigned them for their residence. I am Gabriel, said the Angel, who appeared to Zechariah in the temple; I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God. And before the throne, says St. John, there was a sea of glass, like unto chrystal ; and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four Living Ones, full of eyes before and behind. And they rest not, day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Allmighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come! Rev. iv. 6, 8. And again, Rev. vii. 11, All the Angels stood round about the throne, and worshipped God, saying, amen. In the year that King Uzziah died, says the Prophet Isaiah, 1 saw also JEHOVAH sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the Seraphim; each one had six wings; and one cried to another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is JEHOVAH of Hosts! the whole earth is full of his glory. In the same manner, is the same subject exhibited to us, and with a sublimity not inferior, by the Prophet Ezekiel, concerning the
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Cherubim; and by the Prophet Daniel, concerning the myriads of the heavenly host. Angels, then, surround the throne of God, stand in his immediate and awful presence, and worship continually at his feet. What beings, let me ask, can we rationally suppose would be admitted to a communion so intimate with their Creator, an access to him so near, a distinction so wonderful ? To this there can be but one answer. Every man will without hesitation say, "None, but those who sustain the first character, and the highest station among created beings."
Nor is the same truth much less evident from the glory and splendour, with which these celestial beings have customarily appeared in the present world. When the Angel came to roll away the stone from the sepulchre of Christ, his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow; and for fear of him, the keepers became as dead men. And I saw, says St. John, another mighty Angel come down from Heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the Sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. All these circumstances of splendour, greatness, and awfulness, surrounded these illustrious beings, while employed as the Ministers of God in executing his commands. They were, therefore, the proper emblems of their character, and the proper accompaniments of their station. But we cannot he at a loss concerning the suitableness of these circumstances to beings of a character and station, superior to every created thing, which we are able to conceive. Beings, of whom this is the ordinary dress, and characteristical splendour, must undoubtedly be exalted above all others, hitherto supposed by the mind of man.
II. Angels are endowed with the noblest created Attributes.
They are endowed,
1st. With wonderful Power.
This perfection of Angels is forcibly indicated by the fact, that the name Power, or Might, is in several places given to them in the Gospel. No stronger testimony of their high possession of this attribute can be conveyed by a single word; for it is a direct declaration that their nature is power itself. In Psalm ciii. 20, David exclaims, Bless the Lord, ye his Angels, who excel in strength. A strong Angel, and a mighty Angel, are also phrases in the Apocalypse, expressive of the same character.
Proofs of the Power, with which these exalted beings are endowed, and of the amplest kind, are in several instances recorded in the Scriptures. An Angel destroyed, in three days, threescore and ten thousand persons out of Judah and Israel, in consequence of the sin of David in numbering the people. An Angel destroyed, in one night, of the army of Sennacherib, an hundred fourscore and five thousand men. Angels also are exhibited in the Revelation of St. John, as holding the our winds of Heaven; and as executing in a long succession, the judgments of God upon this evil world, with a series of efforts, demanding power utterly incomprehensible by
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us. In the twentieth chapter of this book, particularly, one of them is exhibited as binding that fierce and strong Spirit, the Prince of the power of the air, who has so extensively and dreadfully distressed this unhappy world; as casting him into the bottomless pit; and as setting a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no snore, until the thousand years should be fulfilled. In all these instances, Angels are exhibited as endowed with might, to which other Intelligent creatures can make no pretensions, and of which men cannot even form any adequate conception.
2dly. Angels are also possessed of Activity equally wonderful.
In Psalm civ. 4, quoted Hebrews i. 7, their nature, in this particular, is summarily described in this remarkable declaration: Who maketh his Angels spirits, and his Ministers a flaming fire. The word here rendered spirts most usually signifies winds. In either sense, the phraseology forcibly declares the eminent activity of the beings described by it, who are thus represented as moving with the swiftness of winds, or spirits, and operating with the astonishing energy of flaming fire.
The same doctrine is also emphatically taught in the frequent attribution of many wings to the Cherubim, Seraphim, and other orders of Angels. This, we know, is a representation merely symbolical; and the language of the symbol cannot be misconstrued.
But the following story, in the Prophet Daniel, exhibits this doctrine with unrivalled force; and will preclude the necessity of any further illustration. Chapter ix. verse 3, and 20—23. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, 0 Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications, the commandment came forth; and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
From this remarkable story, we learn, that some time in the day, Daniel set himself to seek the Lord in fasting and prayer; that, after his prayer was begun, the commandment was given to Gabriel to explain to him the vision and the prophecy. In verses 20 and 21, we are told, that Gabriel came to him, while he was speaking; that this was his evening prayer; and that during the time, in which he was employed in uttering his prayer, Gabriel came from the supreme Heaven to this world. This is a rapidity exceeding all the comprehension of the most active Imagination; surpassing, beyond any comparison, the amazing swiftness of light. Light, we know, is several years in coming from such fixed stars, as are
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visible to the eye of man. But there is the best reason to believe, that the heaven of heavens is at a much greater distance than those stars; so as, not improbably, to be a Heaven to them, as the starry firmament is to us. The Poet, therefore, is justified by this wonderful fact in that forcible expression,
"The speed of Gods, (Angels) time counts not."
No stronger exhibition can be asked, or given, of the activity of these celestial beings.
3dly. Angels are endued with unfading and immortal Youth.
Of this doctrine, we have, many most decisive testimonies in the Scriptures. Particularly, it is beautifully exhibited in the name, Living Ones, given them by St. John in the Apocalypse, and by Ezekiel in the first Chapter, and several other parts of his prophecy. By this name, we are taught, that life is the proper nature, a pre-eminent and glorious characteristic, of Angels; life in a peculiar and distinguishing degree; the most perfect manifestation of that quickening energy, which Christ attributes to the Father, and challenges to himself, as an exclusive, appropriate, and wonderful, attribute of the Godhead.
The same doctrine is also beautifully exemplified in the Angels, who appeared to Mary, in the tomb of our Saviour. These illustrious persons were then, at the least, four thousand years old. Still they appeared as young men; and in all that long succession of ages had undergone no decay. Their youth, a bright and beautiful blossom, still shone with all its lustre, and fragrance; and directly indicated, that it was superior both to accident and time; and would, after many such flights of years, survive in all its vigour; being destined, as well as fitted, for immortality. Even this is probably an imperfect representation of this glorious subject. The youth of Angels is, like their other attributes, formed to refine, improve, and brighten for ever.
4thly. Angels are endowed with the greatest Intellectual Faculties, and are of course possessed of Knowledge, superior to that of any other created beings.
This character of these heavenly inhabitants is presented to us in the Scriptures in many forms. The Living Ones, mentioned by the Apostle John, in the book of Revelation, are declared to have been full of eyes within; that is, to have been all sense, all intellect, all consciousness; turning their attention every way; beholding at once all things within the reach of their understanding; and discerning them with a clearness of perception, which is the most perfect created semblance of the intuitive, and boundless, views of the Omniscient Mind.
The face, also, of a Man, attributed to one of these ilhi4trious beings by St. John, and to all those, who appeared to Ezekiel that, prophet, is another ascription of this character to Angels, The face of Man was, among the Jews and other eastern nations
the standing symbol of Intelligence; and denotes, here, the superior possession of this attribute by those, to whom it is ascribed.
Angels were originally formed with an entire freedom from sin, the only source of prejudice, and the chief source of error. Their faculties were, at first, such as become the Morning stars of the highest Heavens; the Sons of God, intended to surround the throne of JEHOVAH, and to hold the chief places of power, distinction, and glory, in his eternal kingdom. They were such, as to become those, to whom, in the beginning,* was given by God himself the name Cherub, or fulness of knowledge. They were such, in a word, as to become their other transcendent attributesof power, youth, and activity; and the exalted stations, which they were destined to fill for ever.
With the nature, and extent, of their faculties, has the place of their residence in this respect exactly accorded. They have ever dwelt in the world, where truth reigns without opposition; where knowledge is the universal state and character; where all mysteries are continually disclosed; and where nature and propriety of both the means, and the ends, of providence are, more than in any part of the universe, unfolded. There, day and night for six thousand years, they have been unceasingly employed in studying the works of God. Weariness and decay they know not. Strength of understanding in them is incapable of being impaired. Every object of investigation is to them delightful; and every faculty, by its nature, susceptible of improvement. What, then, must be the extent of their attainments at the present time?
Beyond this, the favour of God is extended to them in a degree, incomprehensible by such minds as ours. To communicate just, and extensive, views of his works to these glorious beings, is declared to be his especial intent in the creation of all things by Jesus Christ; † and peculiarly his manifold wisdom in his dispensations to the Church. No communication on his part, and no attainment on theirs, can be imagined too great for this divine purpose, or the goodness by which it was formed.
In Matthew xxiv. 36, our Saviour declares, that of that day, viz. the day of his coming to the destruction of Jerusalem, knoweth no one, not even the Angels of heaven. This appeal, if we understand the passage in the common acceptation, can have force, and pertinence only on the supposition, that nothing, which is known, of the ways of God, is hidden from Angels; and is therefore, a complete proof of the entire superiority of their intellectual nature, and attainments, to those of any other created being.
5thly. Angels are possessed of consummate Holiness.
The evidence of this truth is so multiform, and so abundant, in the Scriptures, that no particular proof, or illustration, seems to be necessary. Their joy and praise at the Creation, their divine rans-
*See Gen. iii. 24. † See Eph. iii. 9, 10.
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transport at the birth of the Redeemer and the union of glory to God in the highest, and goon will towards men, disclosed by that wonderful event, and their noble and disinterested exultation in the repentance of ruined sinners, are all sublime manifestations of the unalloyed holiness, of the pre-eminent beauty of mind, possessed by this dignified order of beings. The name Seraphim, or burning ones, is also, a most forcible representation of this exalted character. In this name, the mind of an angel is exhibited as enkindled with one intense and eternal flame of divine love, burning with a clear, unceasing, perpetual ardency and splendour. Such a love, we cannot but see, is entirely suited to the character of those, who stand before God, dwell in his house, enjoy his favour, and exercise the glorious offices of his kingdom. In accordance with this character, the four Living Ones, who are exhibited as Representatives of the Angelic host in the heavens, manifest their exalted love to the great Author of their blessings, by celebrating, with an unceasing voice, his infinite holiness and excellency, throughout the never ending progress of the being. In this glorious employment, also, all the innumerable company of Angels are declared to unite with them, to be animated by the same perfect character, and to harmonize with them in their hearts, as well as in their songs.
1st. How delightful an object of contemplation is this glorious Order of beings!
All things, pertaining to this illustrious subject, are cheering, luminous, animating, and sublime. The very names, assigned to Angels by their Creator, convey to us ideas pre-eminently pleasing,
fitted to captivate the heart, and exalt the imagination; ideas only cheerful, refined, and noble; ideas, which dispel gloom, banish despondency, enliven hope, and awaken sincere and unmingled joy. They are Living Ones; beings, in whom life is inherent and instinctive; who sprang up under the quickening influence of the Sun of Righteousness, beneath the morning of everlasting day; who rose, expanded, and blossomed, in the uncreated beam, on the banks of the river, of life, and were nourished by the waters of immortality. They are Spirits; winged with activity, and informed with power, which no labour wearies, and no duration impairs: their faculties always fresh and young; their exertions unceasing and wonderful; and their destination noble and delightful, without example, and without end. They are Burning Ones, glowing with a pure and serene, an intense and immortal, flame of divine love; returning, without ceasing, the light and warmth, which they have received from the great central Sun of the Universe; reflecting with supreme beauty the image of that divine Luminary; and universally glorious, although differing from each other in glory.
The place, in which they dwell is perfectly suited to their Illustrious character. It is no other than the Heaven of Heavens:
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the first and best world, that will ever be created; the place, where God himself delights peculiarly to dwell; the house, where virtue, peace, and joy, dwelt in the beginning, and will dwell forever; the throne of boundless dominion; the parent city of the great empire of JEHOVAH; the happy region, where all things are verdant with life, and blossom with immortality.
The Station, which they hold, is of the same cheerful and elevated nature. It is the first station, allotted to created existence. These sublime Intelligences, are the immediate attendants of JEHOVAH; the nobles and princes of the Universe. All their employments, all their allotments, are honourable and happy; all their destiny, dignified and divine.
Angels, then, present us with an object of contemplation, replenished with inherent light, beauty, and greatness, with nothing to tarnish, nothing to impair, its lustre; nothing to alloy the pleasure of the beholder: a vivid landscape, formed of all the fine vanities of novelty and greatness, without one misshapen, decayed, or lifeless object, to lessen its perfection: a morning of the spring, without a cloud to overcast it: a sun, with a spot, shining only with the various colours of unmingled light.
When we cast our eyes on this charming and transporting scene, we instinctively ask, What is the source of this unrivalled assemblage, this unmixed group of objects so delightful? The answer is at hand. Holiness is the well-spring, whence all these streams of beauty and pleasure are derived. If a single doubt arises in our minds concerning this truth, it may be removed in a moment. Fallen Angels were once possessed of all these illustrious attributes, and held the exalted station, which is now exclusively enjoyed by their fellows. Fallen Angels are still possessed in an eminent degree of power, life, activity, and knowledge ; but they yielded up their holiness, when they revolted from their Maker; and changed for ever their character, and their destiny, by sinning against God. Sin converted them into Fiends, and made Hell their habitation. From Sin, that dark and dreadful word derives all its gloom, sorrow, and despair. Sin ushered it into being; raised its prison walls; barred its iron gates; shrouded its desolate regions in the blackness of darkness; kindled the fires, by which it is gloomily enlightened, and awakened all the cries, and groans, and curses, and blasphemies, which echo through its regions of sorrow. Sin changed Angels, once surrounding the throne, and harmonizing in the praise of God, into liars, accusers, calumniators, adversaries, and destroyers. How amazing and dreadful the change! How loathsome, how detestable, the spirit, by which it was accomplished!
2dly. How different from these glorious and unspotted beings are MEN !
Numerous are the ways, in which we may, if we please, derive instruction, improvement, and delight, from the contemplation of
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this illustrious race of beings. A comparison of ourselves with them, and of our circumstances with theirs, will particularly teach us our own littleness and depravity; and happily, as well as naturally, prepare us for humility and reformation.
Man is of the lowest order of Intelligent beings; kindred to animals ; often raised very little above their level; possessed in the humblest degree of rational attributes the subject of extreme weakness, sluggishness, and ignorance; hastening with a rapid tendency to decay, old age, and death; without love to God, or his fellow-men; depraved throughout with sin; and voluntarily yielded by himself to final perdition.
What an affecting contrast is here presented to our view! Angels so great, virtuous, and happy: Man so little, sinful, and miserable. How deeply humbled ought we to be by the sight of this picture, presenting so just, as well as forcible, a delineation of our real character! How ashamed ought we to be of our impiety, deceit, injustice, unkindness, pride, and vanity! For in this humble state, we are vain : possessed of this guilty character, we are proud. Of what are we proud ? Of what are we vain? Of our sin, our disgrace, our folly, our frailty, our diseases, or our death? What beside these things can we find to excite our pride?
Yet we are proud and vain: wonderfully proud; deplorably vain. We are proud of a body fattening for worms, and pampered for corruption and the grave; of clothes, which we borrow from the sheep and the silk-worm; of endowments, given us by God; of wealth, amassed by fraud and avarice; and of stations, conferred by base favouritism, and popular frenzy. Nay, we are proud of profaneness, cursing, and blasphemy. We boast of bargains, made only by the cunning of fraud, or the violence of oppression. We glory in the infernal arts and infamous success of seduction. We murder our fellow-creatures in duels, and wreathe our temples with garlands dyed in blood. We slaughter thousands and millions in war; plant laurels amid the bones, and nourish them with the blood, of those, whom we have destroyed. We raise our thrones on the cemetery of buried nations; and mistake the groans and shrieks of surviving parents, widows, and orphans, for the trumpet of Fame. In word, all that ought to humble, us in the dust, all that ought to clothe us in sackcloth, and cover us with ashes; all that blackens us with disgrace and guilt, all that makes us deformed and loathsome in the sight of God, is converted by us into the means of pride and exultation!
Angels, although so greatly exalted above men, are neither proud , nor vain. The plain reason is, they are not sinful. Pride and Vanity are derived from sin only; or rather sin is the root and stem, of bitterness, of which they are the branches. To be proud, or vain, then, is not to resemble the holy Angels, but the fallen ones. Can this resemblance flatter any man ? a resemblance to the worst and most odious of all the creatures of God? Who would
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not eagerly drop this wretched likeness, the tattered garb of guilt and shame, assume a resemblance to the glorious beings, whom we have been contemplating, and adorn himself with the unspotted, spiritual, and never-fading robe of humility and righteousness? The faith, repentance, and love, of the Gospel, are the fine linen of the saints, wrought, and made white, in the heavens; and with this best robe, in his house, every repenting and returning prodigal will be clothed.
3dIy. What a happy change would be accomplished in this world, if men would assume the spirit and conduct of Angels!
Angels never indulge sloth, deceit, wrath, malice, envy, or impiety. Angels never cheat, corrupt, betray, nor oppress. Angels never profane the name of God, perjure themselves, ridicule sacred things, insult the Redeemer, resist the Holy Ghost, nor deny the being, the perfections, the word, or the government, of God. Angels never consume their time in idle amusements, or guilty pleasures; never slander each other, never quarrel; never make wars; and never desire, nor plunder each others blessings. How miserable have men, by all this conduct, rendered this unhappy world! With what a prodigal hand do we waste the blessings, given to us by God; pervert our talents, and frustrate the end of our being. With what rapacity and violence do we plunder the blessings, and destroy the lives, of our fellow-creatures? In an existence, naturally accompanied by many evils, we are impatient to create and multiply sufferings; to lessen the good, which God has given; to shorten the period of life, already so little; and to surround it with miseries of our own creation. In this manner, and by ourselves, the evils which we suffer have been immensely multiplied; and the world, destined for our habitation, which, if we were pious, just, sincere, and kind, would be a comfortable residence, has been converted into a region of sorrow and mourning. Private dwellings, the proper mansions of peace and love, have been disturbed by domestic broils: the father contending against his son, and the son against his father; the mother with parental unkindness provoking her daughter to wrath, and the daughter, with filial impiety, revolting from her mother: Brethren have become strangers to each other; and for such a length of time, and with such violence of passion, that they have been harder to be won than the bars of a castle. Neighbourhoods have been distracted with divisions and contentions; and nations rent asunder by faction and discord. Empires have become fields of war and slaughter; and the earth has been changed into a vast receptacle of misery and ruin. All this wretchedness is the consequence of sin; its immediate product; its genuine offspring. Should we, then, drop this character; would not our consciences be more serene, our lives more pleasant, our families more harmonious, and the world more quiet and happy?
The mighty difference between Heaven and earth, angels and then, lies in holiness and sin. Angels are holy; we are sinful:
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their residence is happy; ours in many respects wretched. This world was originally formed to be a delightful habitation; and at the close of the creation, was by God himself pronounced to be very good. Man was once immortal and happy; because he was just, kind, sincere, humble, and pious. What has the world, what has man, gained by the change? The afflicting answer may be summed up in a word. God made the earth a beautiful image of Heaven; Man, by his apostacy, has changed it into no obscure resemblance of Hell. God made man a little lower than the Angels, and crowned him with glory and honour: Man, being in honour, abode not, but became like the beasts which perish.