« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
bright and loving creatures, whose holy nature must often be deeply grieved at the iniquity of man ; know. ing, as they do, the unspeakable immensity of the stake which he so daringly trifles with, and the infinite love of God, against which he so basely and insolently sins.
There is a knowledge too, which, no doubt, is re. vealed to the angels--that of the Lord's peculiar fa. vour to certain individuals. Gabriel expresses this to Daniel, when about to communicate to him what the Lord had informed him of. “O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. . At the beginning of thy supplications the commandments came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved.” Dan. ix. 22, 23. And again, on another occasion, “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved' -Dan. x. 11; and “O man, greatly beloved, fear hot !” v. 19. In addition to this, they are unques. tionably endowed with very high degrees of discern. ing and discriminating knowledge. In that beautiful passage, where the woman of Tekoah with such sin. gular eloquence and effect, pleads with David, covertly purposing to soften him towards his banished son, these expressions occur :-“The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad;" and again, “My lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.” 2 Sam. xiv, 17-20. This wise woman of Tekoah, whose wisdom appears to have been of a worldly description, and who was prompted by Joab, certainly flattered the king; but there is no reason to suppose she flattered the angels, concerning whom we are led, on much better authority, to form a very high estimate. How exquisitely beautiful are her words, in relation to the Lord's reconciling mercies! “Wherefore hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one , which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished. For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up'again: neither doth God respect any person, yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him ;” verses 13, 14. The justness of this sublime picture of man's helplessness and God's rescuing power, gives weight to what this singular woman also said of angelic wisdom and knowledge. Paul, too, refers to them, when he says, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Gal. i. 8: and again: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and as a tink. ling cymbal.”. 1 Cor. xiii. 1.
But whatever difficulty we may find in ascertaining the extent of angelic knowledge, of the power of the angels we are taught to form most stupendous conceptions; or rather it is a power the greatness of which we cannot conceive. The terrible slaughter of the firstborn in Egypt, was the work of one angel, and ac, complished within so short a space of time, that the cry rose simultaneously throughout the land. Another dis. play of this awful power took place, when the army of Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem. 6. Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians, an hundred and fourscore and five thousand : and when they arose early in the morning, behold they were all dead corpses.” Isaiah xxxvii. 36. A hundred and eighty-five thousand warriors slain with a stroke, as they lay stretched securely slumbering in • their tents, was a mighty achievement; and in like manner the visitation provoked by David's sin in numbering the people, though it is called a pestilence, was effected by an angelic hand. “The Lord sent pestilence upon Israel, and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it; and as he was destroying it, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough; stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem: then David and the elders of Israel who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be num. bered? even I it is that have sinned, and done evil in. deed; but as for these sheep, what have they done ? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father's house ; but not on thy people that they should be plagued. The angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David shoàld go up,
and set up an altar unto the Lord, in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord. And Ornan turned back and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt-offering. And the Lord commanded the angel, and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof. At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there. But David could not go before it to inquire of God; for he was afraid, because of the sword of the angel of the Lord.” i Chron. xxi. 14-30. What a splendid vision is here revealed to us! A creature of surpassing strength, glorious brightness, and probably of great magnitude, standing in mid-air, with a glittering weapon, the stroke of which was instantly mortal, stretched over the holy city, which lay in beautiful repose beneath an evening sky. In the act of smiting, the an. gel's hand was arrested, and he stood in suspense, the weapon still flashing in his grasp, to know what farther he should do: David had offended the Lord too deeply by listening to the suggestion of Satan, to be honoured with any direct communication ; neither was the angel permitted to address him, but through Gad the seer, who had announced the coming judgment on the land. The angel directed a sacrifice, and continued fully visible in that menacing position, so that the sons of Ornan hid themselves from his terrible appearance. It was not until the smoke of the burnt-offering had ascended before the Lord, at once rendered and pronounced acceptable by the kindling of heavenly fire, that the dreaded sword was sheathed. Yet even so, its ter. rors remained so powerfully impressed on the mind of the king, that he dare not approach his temporary altar, from fear of the glorious being who still watched his proceedings. This is one of the glimpses afforded us of what is perpetually passing around, but which our eyes are holden from seeing. We talk of casualties, of epidemics, of contagious disorders; but we see not the hand that with unerring fidelity deals forth each mysterious dispensation, according to the Lord's appointment. The same presumptuous folly that has clothed evil spirits with fantastically frightful grimace, has invested the holy angels with a puerile silliness of appearance, wholly at variance with every scriptural representation. Baby faces between a pair of bird's wings, destitute of bodies; slim girls with long, flowing ringlets, and pinions well feathered—these are the imaginary likenesses of things in heaven, which we are warned not to represent to ourselves; and the terrible. ness with which the Lord, for his own glory, has in. vested these ministers of his, is wholly lost sight of..
The angel who met Balaam in the way, was of a formidable aspect. The poor beast, who showed a bet. ter feeling than the mercenary wicked prophet, saw him and turned aside each time, until the narrowness of the way preventing this, she fell down, and was cruelly chastised for it by her senseless rider, whom she