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of the throne, and round about the throne of God,* yet when lost in the immensity of Deity, in a comparative point of view, their attainments and perfections may bear no nearer degree of resemblance than that of rivers to the sea. It would be too lamentable to imagine that those unhappy angels who revolted from their God, had ever filled stations of such transcendent honour as those to which we have been just alluding, “and which some persons conjecture to have been assigned
* And the first beast (so denominated, we presume, by our translators for the purpose of adhering to the hieroglyphical representation which follows, or else they would much more properly be styled living creatures,) was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast was like a flying eagle. (Rev. iv. 7.) “And the head of the first animal in this wonderful composition was like a lion, to signify the courage and vigour with which those celestial beings execute the commands of God, and the irresistible strength with which they encounter and vanquish all opposition; and the head of the second animal was like a calf, or young bullock, to signify the firmness, patience, and perseverance with which they go through the labours which God hath appointed them; and the third animal had a face like a man, to express, by the image of the only rational creature on this earth, the clearness of intelligence and the strength of reason with which, in a vastly superior degree, they are endowed; and the fourth animal was like a swift-flying eagle, with its wings displayed, and with quickness in its eye and motion, to signify the sprightliness, and activity, and incomparable velocity with which those celestial spirits fly from world to world to execute the commands they receive from their Sovereign. And though the heads of these four wonderful living creatures were different, yet they had, in the rest of their body, one form, and they had each six wings round about, and within they were all full of eyes, to signify their quick discernment of every object around them.”—Doddridge's Exposition, pp. 468, 469.
unto spirits of an order even superior to angels, unto beings wholly taken up in contemplation.”* That their head and chieftain, Son of the Morning, had however been primarily placed in a very supereminent one, has already been noticed, and is still further illustrated by an archangel having been the agent employed to oppose him in heaven, (Jude 9; Rev. xii. 7,) and a being, announcing himself the Son of God, having been appointed to oppose him on earth. For though both he and his compeers have entirely perverted the original intention of their extraordinary powers, there is no reason whatever to suppose that they have been dispossessed of them. Those writers who alone have been authorized to resolve this question, assure us that they have not been left in a state of ignorance on so important a point; that they are well acquainted with the devices of the evil one, the complete retention of his wonderful faculties, that he still possesses the wisdom of an angel of God to know all things that are in the earth, and that he can, when bent upon the accomplishment of any special mischief, transform himself into the semblance of an angel of light. (2 Cor. ii. 11; 2 Sam, xiv. 20; 2 Cor. xi. 14.)
Very far from our intention is it to undervalue the noble endowments bestowed on the human race; but as we are distinctly informed that every order of the angelic tribes are superior to us, (Matt. xi. 11,) and when we reflect on the powers
* See Reynolds on Angels, p. 6.
with which these heavenly messengers* (all of whom are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto the heirs of salvation, Heb. i. 14,) must necessarily be gifted to fit them for the execution of their high and momentous embassies—what a knowledge of, and influence over the passions, pursuits, views, and ends which actuate the movements of various orders of probationaries it must be essentially requisite for them to possess; it does not appear an unreasonable inference to conclude that the faculties with which those rulers over principalities and powers had been primarily invested, and which they still so perfectly retain, may also, in a comparative point of view, as much exceed ours, as does the most widely expanded river, in its highest state of enlargement, in magnitude surpass the smallest rill. Admeasured by this rule, if we can most skilfully physiognomize the faces of our fellows, discern the sentiments and emotions which they frequently most faithfully depict and betray, and find ourselves thereby enabled to pry into and pronounce upon their very thoughts, what an insight into character must the so infinitely more wonderful penetration and extraordinary powers of those illustrious orders of intelligents give unto them! If we, through verbal communication, can influence the conduct and inflame the minds of our associates; if even the libations that are extracted from the vegetable tribes can powerfully operate on, and exasperate the passions of man
* The word angel, in the Hebrew language, signifies messenger; thereby clearly explaining the nature of their destination.
kind, how potent must be the assaults, how fraught with mischief the suggestions, which that infernal chieftain can infuse into probationary hearts! If our very limited faculties can foresee the probable termination of future events, and make such arrangements as may conduce to their accomplishment, how practised in deceit must be the father of lies, how versed in artifice-how extensive must be his views, how comprehensive his plans! (John viii. 44.) And how deeply can this shrewd and piercing serpent (Isa. xxvii. 1) dive into the inclinations and designs of beings passing through their appointed trials, and be thereby enabled, with the keenest subtlety, to tempt, ensnare, and effect the ruin of those immortal spirits of which he, ever since the commencement of his apostacy, has sought to become the cruel murderer! (John viii. 44.)
There can be no axiom more self-evident than the following one; namely, that all things are working out the glory of the great Creator, who makes even the wrath of man to praise him : (Psalm lxxvi. 10 :) from which we may most certainly conclude, that he will make the wrath of devils productive of the same most important purpose. We have already found reason suspecting, and the Gospel asserting, that our appointed trials are dispensed through the medium of an invisible evil agent; and the observations just stated would, even independent of New Testament information, point out the most rational grounds for supposing that the infernal potentate may derive an invidious gratification from endea.
vouring to diminish the glorious crop of intellectual harvests, by sowing seeds of wickedness in seminaries appointed for the cultivation of virtue; and also that the Supreme Being may, by permitting him to follow the suggestions of his selfnurtured, malign dispositions, now administer those evils which serve to constitute probationary states—there not appearing any essential necessity that all moral agents should undergo their primeval state of existence, and enter the trial of their virtue, exactly under similar circumstan
The lamentable fall we have just been contemplating, and the daily experience of our own lives, prove the justness of this remark; for we find an infinite diversity of moral and intellectual endowments distributed among the human race: to some persons only one talent is delivered, though others are gifted with five, and ten. (Matt. xxv. 15.) And the absolute requisition for probationary states being indispensable, renders it perfectly indifferent through what channel those evils are dispensed which merely serve to constitute them; therefore, no intelligents can have the smallest ground for complaint as to the mode by which infinite goodness allows their virtue to be tested; neither could Omniscience, having foreseen all events that would even come to pass throughout the annals of eternal ages, have proved in the smallest degree influentiary on the wills or conduct of any order of probationaries. Milton, in his “ Paradise Lost,” finely supposes the Supreme Being vindicating his honour both on the fall of man and angels.