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The eristence and attributes of angels.
From the volume of inspiration we learn, that in addition to man there exists (1) in the universe a vast multitude (2) of other rational creatures. These beings are elevated above the human family in point of intelligence, of power (3), of moral excellence (4), and of happiness (5). And the superiority (6) which they possess, is derived partly from the powers which were originally bestowed on them by the Creator, and partly from the high degree of improvement which a conscientious and long continued use of their faculties has enabled them to attain.
Illust. I. The existence of angels is taught in Matth. 22: 30, for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God. The force of this passage cannot be eluded by taking refuge in the hypothesis which was refuted in the previous volume (§ 13), that Christ mingled with his instructions the erroneous opinions of those to whom they were addressed. For he was speaking with Sadducees, who, according to Acts 23: 8, did not believe in the existence of angels. It is evident, on the contrary, that he rectifies their disbelief of angels, with the same sincerity which he manifested (v. 29) in purifying their notions relative to the state of the dead and the occupations in which thev are engaged.
II. That they are very numerous, is evident from Matth. 26: 53, more than twelve legions of angels; and Luke 2:13, multitude of the heavenly host or angels; and Heb. 12: 22,
in the passage,
23, myriads of angels. It is probable from the nature of the case, that among so great a multitude of angels there would be different grades or classes ; and the expression aqxayyɛhos (archangel or chief-angel) contains an explicit allusion to such a diversity. 2 Thess. 4: 16. Jude 9. III. That angels possess superhuman intelligence, is implied
“ But of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the angels in heaven." Great power is ascribed to them, “ μετ αγγελων δυναμεως αυτου with his mighty angels.” In the Dissertation on several passages of the minor epistles of Paul, it is maintained that these latter words cannot be translated “angelic host,” with Koppe and Schleusner; making duvquis (power) equivalent to otpatia [host or soldiery] and *** [host]; for in that case the word duvanews must necessarily be before αγγελων. The pronoun αυτου [his] belongs to αγγελων [angels], and not to duvanews (power] ; as in Heb. 1:3, in the words τω ρηματι της δυναμεως αυτου by his powerful word. . This point is illustrated from the usage of the Hebrew, in the Observv. ad anal. et syntax. Ebraicam, p. 234.
. :, ye his angels, powerful in strength; compare 2 Pet. 2:11, αγγελοι ισχυει και δυναμει μειζονες οντες angels who are greater in power and might.
IV. Their moral perfection.-" The holy angels ;»95 and “elect angels."6
V. Their felicity. The blessed in the future world are said to be ισαγγελοι και υλοι του θεου i. e. they are like unto the angels and are sons of God. And in Heb. 12: 23, Paul
,bless Jehovah בָרְכוּ יְהוָה מַלְאָכָיו גִבּרֵי כח ,20: 103
2 Mark 13: 32.
1 See Storr on Hebrews, p. 306 &c. 3 2 Thess. 1: 7.
4 Note 120.
5 Luke 9: 26.
6 1 Tim. 5: 21.
7 Luke 20: 36.
εκκλησια πρωτοτοκων, απογεγραμμένων εν ουρανους the congregation of the first-born who are recorded in heaven.
VI. Their superiority to men is a necessary consequence of the close and immediate connexion which they sustain to God.
“ The angels always behold the face of my Father."2
Angels are employed by God, as the ministers of his will.
It is evident, even from the name (1) by which these spirits are designated in Scripture, that God employs their agency in the dispensations of his providence (2). And it is further evident from certain actions which are ascribed wholly to them (3), and from the Scriptural narratives of other events in the accomplishment of which they acted a visible part (4), that their
that their agency is employed principally in the guidance of the destinies of man (5). In those cases, also, in which their agency is concealed from our view, we ought still to admit the possibility of its existence (6); because Scripture teaches us the general truth, that God sends them forth “ to minister unto them who shall be heirs of salvation” (7). This fact is sufficient to afford us consolation, and to determine the reciprocal duties to which we are obligated; neither is it necessary that we should be able to ascertain which are the individual blessings that flow to us through this channel. It is enough for us to know that God is not confined to the ordinary course of nature, but
1 See Storr's Comment, in loc. notes t and u.
2 Matth. 18: 10.
can also bestow his blessings to us in other ways. And it is important that we should view the ministry of angels, as one of the means which God can employ for the promotion of our welfare (8). But let it be remembered that the angels, when employed for our welfare, do not act independently, but as the instruments of God and by divine command (9). Not unto them, therefore, are our confidence and adoration due ; but only unto him (10) whom the angels reverently serve (Ps. 103 : 20), even whilst they are benefiting us, and to whom we are indebted for every blessing which we receive, whether it is communicated to us through the ministry of angels, or in any other manner.
1. The name angel.-In Ps. 104 : 4, the terms binnen and 695952, ayyɛkoi and hertougyou [angels and ministers], correspond to each other; and accordingly, in Heb. 1:14 angels are called πνευματα λειτουργικα ministering spirits.
II. Their agency.--Ps. 103:20, 1937 1937an his angels who do his commandment. Ps. 104:4, nina, zabranitis DI) WNnnnun he employs his angels like winds and his ministers like flaming fire. It is evident from grammatical considerations, that, in the latter of these passages, angels are meant. In the Commentary on the Hebrews, these words are rendered thus : “He employs his angels like winds, and his ministers like lightning.” But if the idea of the passage were intended to be this, “He employs the winds as his messengers,” the word nina[winds) must have been before a [his angels] ; just as in the third verse bas precedes, in the sentence biT 137570 he uses the clouds as his chariot. Moreover, it
i Chap. 1: 7, Note y.
ought to be in instead of royun, in the hemistich“ he makes the flaming fire his minister or servant.
With this interpretation the context fully accords. For it was not the object of the writer of this psalm, to give a general description of the visible works of creation, and to begin with a representation of heaven. On the contrary, this psalm rather contains a delineation of the providence of God in special relation to this earth, beginning with the 5th verse. To this description is prefixed a short song of praise in celebration of the greatness and gloryof our Lord and Benefactor ; just as in the 103d Psalm, an ode in commemoration of the greatness 3 of God is appended to the description of the divine goodness. But the mention of the angels is quite as appropriate in the celebration of the greatness of God, as are the contents of the 2d and 3d verses (compare Is. 40: 22. Ps. 68: 34). Thus also are the angels mentioned in the descriptions of the divine greatness, in Ps. 103: 20. 1 K. 22: 29. Dan. 7: 10.5
III. Their agency continued.—“Lazarus was borne by angels to Abraham's bosom." In the “Dissertation concerning the parables of Christ,” it is remarked that this supplement, which relates to the truth that angels attend the righteous, cannot be regarded as a necessary part of the external dress of the parable, inasmuch as it would be wholly superfluous, if it were not intended to convey some truth. In Matth. 13: 41, 49, the separation of the wicked from the righteous, is ascribed to the angels; and in like manner the collection of the elect, in ch. 24:
IV. Angelic agency continued.--An angel conducted the apostles out of prison. Acts 5: 19, 20.
1 v. 5, 24, 30.
2 v. 1-4.
3 v. 19.
4 v. 1 &c. 5 See, on this passage, Heinrich's Annot. on Heb. 1:7, in the continu. ation of Koppe's edition of the New Testament, Vol. VIII,
6 Luke 16: 22. 7 Opuscul. acad. Vol. I. p. 138 &c.