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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From The Pulpit Cyclopedia, 1851
"The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels." Psalm 68:17
It does not appear that angels are included in the Mosaic account of the creation, for they were present on that occasion as adoring spectators. For then, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. The Scriptures do not furnish us with an extended regular history of these blessed intelligences, but a sufficiency of incidental reference is given to enable us to form a correct estimation of their holy and intellectual character, and the important position they occupy in the moral portion of God's universe.
The name itself is indicative rather of their office than their nature, signifying messenger or one sent. It is obvious from the Scripture revelation:
I. THAT THE ANGELS ARE SPIRITUAL INTELLIGENCES.
"Who maketh his angels spirits." (Ps. 104:4) It is not our present province to define what is meant by spirit. But, believing in the spirituality of the divine essence, and in the spiritual immateriality of the soul, we are not perplexed in conceiving of created beings, who are not formed of material substance, or clothed with corporeal bodies.
II. ANGELS ARE IMMORTAL, OR UNDYING INTELLIGENCES.
This is clearly intimated in that passage, "Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels." Luke 20:36. This involves the idea, that by the very constitution of their nature they are immortal and not liable to decay or dissolution.
III. ANGELS ARE HOLY INTELLIGENCES.
"Sons of God." Often described as the holy angels. Of necessity, such is their creation. The offspring of a holy Deity. Their obedience to the divine will is referred to by the psalmist, who speaks of them as "ministers of his, that do his pleasure." (Ps. 103:21) And the holy service of the angels is referred to by the Saviour who has taught us that the will of God should be done on earth, even as it is done in heaven. Their love of holiness is evident from their intense celebration of the divine purity.
They rest not day nor night, but ever wait to know the divine pleasure; and, covering their faces with their wings, cry, " Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts," &c. Isa. 6:3. It is also clear, that the holy angels resisted the temptations of the leader of those who kept not their first estate, but by reason of their rebellion were cast down from their high habitations.
IV. ANGELS ARE BENEVOLENT INTELLIGENCES.
It is clear that they delight in the benevolent works of God, especially in the great scheme of redemption. Benevolence is one of the essential attributes of holiness; for they cannot love and delight in God without also loving his creatures, especially those who resemble him in purity. How they exulted in the advent of the Saviour "Glory to God in the highest" &c. (Luke 2:14) How gladly they revealed his resurrection; how deeply they study the mysteries of the cross. (I Pet. 1:12)
V. THEY ARE ACTIVE AND POWERFUL INTELLIGENCES.
Hence they fly to do God's bidding. See an extraordinary instance in the history of Daniel, 9:20. See also Matt. 13:21. They also "excel in strength" (Ps. 103:20) and are called the "mighty angels." (II Thess. 1:7) Hence some of their stupendous doings are related in the Scriptures, when employed as the agents of God, and the instruments of his providence.
VI. ANGELS ARE INTELLIGENCES HIGHLY ENDOWED WITH KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM.
Their purely spiritual nature, their high rank, their exalted place of abode, their opportunities of observation, must all lead to their intellectual greatness. Doubtless they possess clearness of understanding, perfect soundness of judgment, and an expanded vigor of comprehension, belonging only to themselves.
VII. ANGELS ARE DISTINGUISHED INTO VARIOUS CLASSES, RANKS, AND ORDERS.
Hence their diversity of appellations, as seraphim and cherubim, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, and in number they are thousands of thousands.
VIII. ANGELS ARE THE SERVANTS OF GOD TO EXECUTE HIS PLEASURE.
1. In ministering to the children of God. Hence they counselled and instructed:
Hagar, Gen. 16:7
Abraham, Gen. 18:2
Joshua, Gideon, Elijah, II Kings 3:10-16
David, Daniel, Zacharias, Luke 1:11
Joseph, Matt. 120
Philip, Acts 8:16
Peter, Acts 10:3
2. They comforted—Jacob, Gen. 32:1; Daniel, 10:19; Paul, Acts 27:24. They delivered—Lot from Sodom; Daniel from the lion's den; and Peter and the apostles from prison.
3. They were the attendants of the Saviour at his birth—baptism—temptation—transfiguration—agony—death—resurrection—and ascension into heaven. They rejoice in the conversion of sinners, and bear the souls of the saints to the mansions of glory. They are destined also to attend Christ at his second coming, and witness the judgment of the world at the Great Day.
4. In being the instruments of the divine vengeance — as in the instances of the destruction of the Assyrian army, and in the death of the persecuting Herod, Acts 12.
1. The pious have the distinguished privilege of angelic ministration, Heb. 1:14.
2. They are worthy of our study and imitation.
3. They will be the companions of the redeemed in glory forever.