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Cornelius received a message from Christ by an angel, requiring him to send to Joppa for St. Peter to instruct him in the Christian religion, in Acts x. 3, 4, 5. But since that Christ hath revealed his whole will to his church, and transmitted it down by a standing scripture, this ministration of the holy angels is in a great measure ceased, and to this written word of his we are entirely referred, as to the perpetual rule of our faith and manners; insomuch, that if thenceforth even an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel to us than what we have there received, he is pronounced accursed, Gal. i. 8. Not but that sometimes, and upon great emergencies, they may be still sent from heaven with new messages to us, to discover some useful secret, or to inspire our minds with the notice of some future contingencies, that are of great moment to us; though this very rarely, it being no part of their ordinary ministry. But since the revelation of the gospel was completed, to be sure they never reveal any new doctrine to us; they may be assisting geniuses to our understandings, to excite in them a true apprehension of what is already revealed, by impressing our imaginations with clear and distinct ideas and representations of things that are revealed more obscurely; but to suppose that they still reveal new doctrinal truths to us, is not only to deny the perfection of written revelation, but to open a wide door to all manner of enthusiasm.

II. Another instance of the ministry of angels in the kingdom of Christ is their guarding and defending his subjects against outward dangers : for thus the angels are said to encamp round about those that fear God, to deliver them, Psalm xxxiv. 7. And though I see not sufficient reason to be fully persuaded that every faithful subject of the kingdom of Christ has an appropriate guardian angel appointed to him, yet, from that caution of our Saviour, Matth. xviii. 10. it is evident, that he employs his angels to attend as an invisible lifeguard upon the persons of all good Christians; for, saith he, Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven; i.e. Those blessed spirits, which are appointed by God to be their guardians upon earth, have yet their continual returns and recourse to God's glorious presence in heaven; and, having always access to him, to offer up requests or complaints in their behalf, it must needs be a very dangerous thing for any to presume to despise or offend them, lest he thereby provoke those mighty spirits to sue out and execute some commission of vengeance upon him. From whence it is evident, that the blessed 'angels are greatly concerned in the vindication and protection of the faithful, and that that promise, Psalm xci. 10, 11, 12. is still in force, viz. There shall no evil befall thee-for he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. And this they do sometimes by removing such evil accidents from us, as in the course of necessary causes must have befallen us: for there is no doubt but these powerful spirits have a mighty influence upon necessary causes, (at least upon a great many of them,) and can retard, or precipitate, or vary, or divert their motions, as they see occasion, and thereby prevent a great many accidents which

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must otherwise have befallen, had tủey permitted them to proceed in their natural courses. Other times again they divert the mischievous intentions of our enemies, by injecting sudden fears into them, and brandishing horrid phantasms before their imaginations, (as the angel did the flaming sword before Balaam,) when they are just upon executing their malice. Sometimes again they warn us of dangers approaching, either by some external sign or unaccountable impression on our fancies, by which we are vehemently solicited, without any visible cause or reason, either to proceed very cautiously in the ways where our danger lies, or to stop and forbear a while, or steer some other course. Of all which there are innumerable instances to be found in history.

III. Another instance of the ministry of angels in the kingdom of Christ is their supporting and comforting his faithful subjects upon difficult undertakings, and under great and pressing calamities : for thus not only our Saviour himself was comforted in his last agony by an angel from heaven, Luke xxii. 43. but St. Paul'also tells us, that being in imminent danger of being shipwrecked in a storm in his

voyage to Rome, there stood by him in the night an angel of God, whose he was, and whom he served, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before sar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee, Acts xxvii. 23, 24. So also when the apostles by an order from the high priest were cast into the common prison, the text tells us, that an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life,

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Acts v. 19, 20. So also, in the ancient martyrologies of the church, we meet with sundry relations of the appearance of angels to the suffering martyrs, and of the wonderful comforts they administered to them to support their faith and patience under their agonies and torments. And although since the cessation of miracles they do not ordinarily perform this ministry to us in visible appearances, yet there is no doubt, but as they are spirits, they have spiritual and invisible ways of conversing with our spirits, and of administering comforts to us in our needs and extremities; for though they can have no immediate access to our mind, which is a dark, mysterious chamber, into which no other eye can penetrate but his who is the Searcher of all hearts, yet that they can vehemently impress our fancies with joyous representations, and thereby exhilarate our drooping spirits to that degree, as to transport us into raptures of bodily passion, is not to be doubted, there being so many sensible experiments of it in the ancient prophets, whose imaginations were sometimes so vehemently impressed with frightful ideas by the angels which conversed with them, as that they immediately fell into an agony, and were seized with unaccountable horrors and tremblings; and not only the prophets themselves, that saw the angel, were thus affected, but sometimes their companions too that saw him not, of which you have an instance in Dan. x. 7. where Daniel tells us, that he alone saw the vision of the angels, and that the men that were with him saw not the vision, but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves: which is a plain evidence of the great power which the angels have over our bodily passions, even when

they are invisible to us; so as to strike what note soever they please upon them, whether it be fear, or sorrow, or joy; and it being in their power to excite our passions to what degree they please, there is no doubt but that, being ministering spirits, they can and do minister joy and comfort to us, whenever our case and circumstances require it.

IV. Another instance of the ministry of angels in the kingdom of Christ, is their protecting his subjects against the rage and fury of evil spirits : for considering with what a fierce and indefatigable malice those malignant spirits, which in vast numbers rove about in the air, are animated against mankind, and especially against the subjects of Christ, their most dreaded and implacable enemy; and considering also the mighty power they have, as they are angels, to do mischief, it is not to be imagined but that, were they not opposed and restrained by a mightier power than their own, they would never be able to forbear exercising their direful rage and cruelty upon us, till they had converted this earth into hell, and made this school of our probation the place of our torments : and as for the kingdom of Christ, whose subjects have so solemnly renounced their yoke and dominion, to be sure they would never cease infesting it with the fiery darts of their malice, till they had utterly ruined and destroyed them; and therefore, to prevent their mischievous attempts, God in mercy hath thought meet to commit us to the guardianship of his holy angels, and to send them forth under the conduct of Jesus our Mediator, to fight against these hellish powers in the defence of his church and people : for so God promised Jerusalem, Zech. ii. 5, that he would be as a

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