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was enabled miraculously to reprove. “Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand.” Numb. xxii. 31. The angel's address was very severe, and his look so alarming, that all Balaam's thirst for gold could not tempt him to advance, until he received distinct permission to do so. We may be assured that the spectacle of a hypocrite like Balaam, making use of the Lord's name to forward his own selfish, unprincipled ends, and ready for filthy lucre's sake to call down a curse on God's people, or more effectually to destroy, by alluring them into sin, could not but be unsupportably odious to a holy angel, ever zealous to vindicate the honour of his glorious King; and to such a man, the face of a “ministering spirit” would be fearful indeed, if, like Ba. laam's, his eyes were opened to meet the indignant gaze of God's true servant.
Angelic power was put forth to shut the mouths of the hungry lions, among whom Daniel was cast to be devoured. The prophet tells us so. “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lion's mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Dan. vi. 22.
Daniel was indeed most peculiarly favoured by the ministry of angels, and by the intimate footing in which Gabriel appeared to place him; while the prophet's deportment toward his celestial interpreter was beautifully humble and respectful; and in his communications, which have more of a colloquial and confidential tone than any recorded in the Old Testament, the angel certainly shows i himself to be a powerful warrior and champion, contin
ually engaged in battle. “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia.” It is for man they fight; for rebel man, who is himself too generally fighting against God, or at least neglecting, with wanton disregard, those interests over which the angels of the Lord tenderly watch. Against us are arrayed principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and wicked spirits in high places : but in the unequal contest we have great and potent allies, whom the Lord Jesus has commissioned to serve us according to our need, in warding off, no doubt, many bodily dangers not less imminent than the jaws of the hungry lions were to Daniel, though often unseen and unsuspected by us.
A simple student of Scripture, unacquainted with the received notions of poets, painters and sculptors, who should undertake to portray an angel of God, would probably represent him under a very different aspect from any that we are accustomed to connect with the idea ; because we, the bond-slaves of custom ever ready to be misled by vain traditions received from our fathers, and incapable of independent thought, or rather indisposed to it, adopt the prevailing error that saves us the trouble of reflecting, and content ourselves with grotesque devils, and namby-pamby angels. Surely both are, to mortal gaze, most terrible! There are men upon earth, whose withering scowl of malignant ferocity, treachery, and reckless desolation of heart, máy convey to the shrinking observer a faint idea of what must emanate from the countenance of an evil spirit, "seeking rest and finding none,” “ going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," for the sole purpose of venting his cruelty on mankind : but where shall we look for the likeness of an angel ? Bountiful they must be, because all. God's unblemished works are so; and calm they must be, for holiness and happiness are always calm: but this earth, defiled by sin, and broken into helplessness, contains nothing to furnish us with a conception of the character that spotless purity and over-mastering power must impart to those who possess both. The expression of a very young and lovely infant's countenance is the nearest approach that earth can make to heaven: but, alas, the taint is there, though as yet comparatively undeveloped; and who could picture the feeble lamp of clay arrayed in the terrors of a warrior of heaven?
Let us but examine of what class of his works the Lord principally speaks; when answering Job out of the whirlwind, he sets before him a small part of the wonders that, even in this visible world, fling man into such a fearful distance of ignorance, obscurity, and contempt. The ocean with its proud waves, and secret springs, its garment of clouds, and swaddling band of thick darkness; the horse, with his neck clothed in thunder, pawing in the valley, rejoicing in his strength, mocking at fear, and swallowing the ground with fierceness and rage. Behemoth, taking in a river with his eyes, and trusting that he can draw
Jordan into his mouth; Leviathan, making the deep to boil like a pot, with eyes like the eye-lids of the morning, esteeming iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood; these are the works of the Almighty on which he chiefly dwells, when causing the patriarch to meditate on the greatness of his majesty and glory : and we cannot doubt that he has clothed in more than thunder the forms of his celestial hosts, engaged as they constantly are in battle with myriads of mighty opponents. The effect produced on Daniel by the appearance of an angel, and on the sons of Ornan; on Monoah and his wife, and on the apostle John, who even after the vision of the Lord himself, and all the glories of heaven, was twice so overcome by the greatness of his angelic companion, that he fell down at his feet to worship him, all, with many other instances, tend to impress us with the belief that an angel, 'however beautiful, is still exceedingly awful. He is the warrior's subject of a king, whose sovereignty is resisted, and his will opposed by the wretches wam he formed out of nothing : how can the servant's aspect be that of repose, so long as his adored Master is resisted, grieved, and wronged by the insolent rebels of earth and hell ? No! a victory has to be won, before the holy angels sheath their flaming swords, or lose the terrors of their stern and wrathful looks, now bent on every side to track the mazes of the insidious foe, and to repel him from the invisible boundary of the Lord's inviolable fold.
In speaking of angelic power, we must not exclude the property of actual, physical strength. The general opinion as to a celestial being, seems to exclude all that is material: but it is impossible to reconcile this with the facts recorded in Scripture. Shadowy beings could not have made themselves palpable to the touch of mortal hands, as when the angels forcibly drew Lot into the house, or when they led him and his wife and daughters from the city, or when Peter felt himself smitten on the side; or in other instances, to be enlarged on as we proceed. A body perfectly tangible may become invisible, as our Lord, whose body we know to have been truly a human body in every respect, repeatedly proved ; and that our insensibility to the presence of these ministering spirits, is the effect of blindness on our part,-probably the consequences of our sin,--we learn from the prayer of Elisha, who, desiring to pacify the young man's fears, did not ask that a heavenly guard might be sent to assure him, but only that his eyes might be opened to see what was actually present. Our Lord says, that in the resurrection his people shall be “equal unto the angels.” Luke xx. 36. Now, we know, to a certainty, that men will rise with their bodies: that this mortal shall put on, not immateriality, but immortality-1 Cor. xv. 53 ; and if angels are incorporeal spirits, certainly there must be either an inferiority or a superiority to those with whom it is expressly said they shall be equal. Bodies like those which we now inhabit, in substance, they probably have not, although we have sufficient proof that all which we call the laws of nature, may be suspended or reversed at the divine will, without working any change in our natural frames: as in the case of the three Jews, who walked unharmed in the midst of the fiery furnace of Babylon-Dan. iii. 27; and the prophet Ezekiel, who was lifted up and borne through the air-Ezek. iii. 14; and Jonah, who re