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diabolical power; for before he entered into the garden, he had expressly told them that the hour was come, wherein he was to be taken from them by an untimely death : so that one would have thought the dear love which they bore him, together with the infinite concern they had in him, might have been sufficient to have kept them awake for a few hours; yet, notwithstanding he desired them to watch with him, (being loath, it seems, to be left alone, in the dark night, among a company of horrid and frightful spectres,) upon his return to them he found them fast asleep, and though he gently upbraided them with their unkindness, What, could ye not watch with me one hour ? yet he no sooner left them, but they fell asleep again; for, as the text tells us, their eyes were heavy; heavy indeed, that could not hold up for a few hours upon such an awakening occasion. It is true, indeed, St. Luke attributes this prodigious drowsiness of theirs to their sorrow, and so it is usual in scripture to put the apparent cause for the real, when the real cause is secret and invisible. But how can we imagine that mere sorrow should necessitate three men to fall asleep together under the most awakening circumstances, all things considered, that ever happened to mortals? Why did it not as well force them to fall asleep again afterwards, when their Lord was apprehended, condemned, and crucified ? at all which times they were doubtless rather more sorrowful than they were in the garden. And therefore it seems very probable, that there was a much more powerful cause than sorrow in the case, viz. a preternatural stupefaction of their senses, by some of those malignant spirits that were then conflicting with our Saviour; who, perhaps, to deprive him of the solace of his disciples' company, did, by their diabolical art, produce that extraordinary stupor that oppressed them; that so having him all alone, they might have the greater advantage to tempt and terrify him. Fourthly and lastly, if we consider the warning our Saviour gave his disciples, when they entered the garden with him, of the extraordinary danger they were in of falling into temptation, it seems very probable that he expected and found there an extraordinary concourse of tempters, or evil spirits : for as soon as they were entered with him into the garden, St. Luke tells us that he bade them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation, Luke xxii. 40. and when, notwithstanding this admonition, they fell asleep the first time, he bids them, Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation, Matth. xxvi. 41. which words plainly imply our Saviour's apprehension of some extraordinary danger they were in of being tempted in the very time and places of his agony. And what more probable account can be given of this apprehension of his than this, that he found vast numbers of evil spirits there, by whom he himself at that very time was furiously tempted and assaulted, and that therefore, having experienced their power and malice in himself, he thought meet to admonish his disciples (who were much less able to resist them than he) to stand upon their guard, lest they should tempt them, as they had tempted him.
a mighty struggle and conflict with the powers of darkness; who having, by God's permission, mustered up all their strength against him, intending once more to try their fortune against him, and if possible to tempt or deter him from prosecuting his design of redeeming the world, were in the end gloriously repulsed by his persevering resistance, and forced to flee before him: and of this his glorious victory over them he made an open show upon the cross, where, in despite of all those terrors and temptations they had exercised him with, if possible to divert him from laying down his life for the world, he freely and voluntarily poured out his blood as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. And hence the apostle tells us, Col. ii. 15. that on his cross he spoiled principalities and powers, viz. in that victorious act of laying down his life to ransom us from their power, in despite of their most exquisite temptations to the contrary, and made an open show of them, triumphing over them. And by this glorious victory he finished his conquest of those infernal powers, so that from thenceforth they never durst assault him more; but like vanquished slaves, were forced to yield their unwilling necks to the yoke of his empire, and (though with infinite reluctance) to obey his will, and execute his orders: and hence we are told, that by his death our Saviour has destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil, Heb. ii. 14. so that now at his powerful name every knee must bow, or every being yield obeisance, not only of things in heaven, and of things on earth, i. e. of angels and men, but of things under the earth too, i. e. of devils, who, notwithstanding they are incensed with an implacable animosity against him, and would gladly pull him down from his throne, if they had but power answerable to their malice ; yet having long since experienced the might of his victorious arms, even then when they had him at the greatest advantage, and being thereby driven into everlasting despair of prevailing against him, they have from thenceforth been forced, by the mere dread and terror of his power, to submit themselves to him, and to become his servants and ministers in his heavenly kingdom : so that now whatsoever they do, it is by his permission or order, who holds their mischievous power in chains, and lets it loose, or restrains it, as he pleases.
And thus having proved at large that both the good and bad angels are Christ's subjects and ministers; I proceed, in the second place, to shew wherein their ministry to Christ in his kingdom consists.
And, in the first place, I shall shew wherein the ministry of good angels consists.
And, secondly, wherein consists the ministry of bad angels. And because the philosophy of the nature and operations of angels is far above the ken of our shortsighted understanding, I shall not presume to inquire any farther into the ministry of either good or bad angels than the scripture gives me light; in which we find these seven following instances of the ministry of good angels under Christ.
First, They declare, upon occasion, his mind and will to his church. .
Secondly, They guard and defend his subjects against outward dangers.
Thirdly, They support and comfort them upon great undertakings, and under pressing calamities.
Fourthly, They protect them against the rage and fury of evil spirits.
Fifthly, They further and assist them in all their religious offices.
Sixthly, They conduct their separated spirits into the mansions of glory.
Seventhly, They are to attend and assist Christ in the great solemnity of the day of judgment.
I. One instance of the ministry of angels in the kingdom of Christ, is their declaring upon occasion his mind and will to his church and people : for thus most of those prophetic messages, which God from time to time sent to the world, were conveyed to the prophets by the ministry of angels : so Daniel, for instance, had all his visions from an angel of God, vide Dan. viii. 19. and chap. ix. 22, 23. as also chap. x. 11. so also the prophet Zechariah, vide chap. i. 9,14,19. and chap. ii. 3, 4. and sundry other instances there are of it in the New Testament, vide Matt. i. 20,21. as also chap.ü. 13, 20, 22. and Luke i. 13, 30, 31. and many other places: and it was an ancient and catholic doctrine among the Jews, that all prophecy was communicated by the mediation of angels; whence the pharisees, describing St. Paul as a prophet, thus pronounce concerning him: We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God, Acts xxiii. 9. And accordingly we find our Saviour sending forth his holy angels on prophetic messages to his church: for so St. John received his revelations from Christ by the hand of an angel, Rev. i. 1. and xxii. 16. And an angel is sent from Christ to Philip, to bid him go to the Ethiopian eunuch to expound to him the prophecy of Isaiah, Acts viii. 26. And