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are but the servants of Almighty God. No worship, therefore, must be given unto them; no prayer must be put up to them; no trust must be placed in their friendly aid, save that which leads to the express remembrance of their service as the instrument only, and through the especial Providence of God. We are expressly warned against these errors in the reproof given by the Angel of God to St. John, then in the act of yielding worship due only unto the Most High: "See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus; worship God."*
The other evil into which the scripture doctrine of the nature and ministry of the angels, when perverted and misunderstood, may lead mankind, is superstition; presumptuous hope and expectation, or groundless fear.
The belief of this or that particular aid or deliverance, spiritual or temporal, being an especial act of angelic commissioned power, is dangerous and deceitful. We are to receive our helps, and profit by our deliverances as from God; and believing in the assurance of His word, that He oftentimes uses means for the accomplishment of His purposes for our good, we must ascribe the good to
*Rev. xix. 20.
Him, and rest satisfied in our general ignorance of the ways by which He works. Unless we be thus minded, we may very easily pass from belief of Angelic Ministry, to vain and unjustifiable expectation thereof, and limit the means and occasions which God only appoints and guides, for our present and future well-doing.
An undue and perverted application of this doctrine concerning the angels may also lead, and, it is to be feared, very frequently does lead, to these false notions and superstitious fears. The angels, whether the good or the evil ones, have no power over us, save that which is given or permitted by Almighty God; and the belief, too common still in this. enlightened country, that angelic agency is even made matter to be understood by our outward senses, can arise only from ignorance, weakness, or from its more general cause, an evil conscience.
If our minds be ignorant, we must seek wisdom and knowledge of Him from whom they come, and use the right means of obtaining them. If we be weak, we must pray for spiritual strength, and the light and consolations of the gospel of peace will, in God's good time, be administered to us.
But in regard to the more general cause of superstitious fears, the evil consists in our hay
ing made an evil conscience an inward tormentor. No wonder that "the wicked" and thoughtless Christians" are in fear where no fear is."*"The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."+ "The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days—a dreadful sound is in his ears. He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, where is it? her knoweth not that the day of darkness is ready at his hand. Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him." Sin has destroyed his hope and trust in God, and he sees, or imagines sights and phantoms plotting for his ruin. His very shadow alarms him; and wherever he goes, by day or by night, the inward pangs of unforsaken sin oftentimes present an evil which he would gladly conceal even from himself. But it terrifies him ever to know that he forfeits the hope of the Christian; and he has nothing else which can give him real and lasting peace.
And now, let us conclude the subject which our Church has brought before us, the nature and ministry of the holy Angels, with this consideration; that every thing revealed by God is intended for individual application + Isaiah, lvii. 20, 21, Job, xv. 20, &c.
* Psalm liii. 5.
and spiritual profit. The doctrine before us is especially so intended. If it hath pleased Almighty God to shew us, to the eye of faith, that his Holy Angels minister around us, by His command, while we remain in our weaknesses and dangers here on earth, we know from the same holy word, that they will be the companions and visible fellow-servants of the redeemed, in the Kingdom of Glory above. Unless, therefore, by prayer, selfdenial, penitence, and holy faith, we become, through the power of the Holy Ghost, renewed from our natural corruption, and conformed to the image of God in a good and holy life, the soul will be ill prepared for the enjoyment of the company or the employments of glorified spirits: if the affections be fixed upon, and anxiously exercised about the trifling things, the cares and the pleasures of this world, it is quite impossible that it can be qualified for the next, or can have any real desire to partake of the joys and pleasures, which "are at God's right hand for evermore." Let this consideration be received and acted upon; and it will shew us, by an inference which nothing can deny, that if we are unfit for the society of the saints in light, we know where our place must be. From a state of eternal ruin so fearful, let the promises and the threats, the mercies and
the terrors of the Gospel secure our souls, in the immediate and consistent application of them all to our own individual case. will Christ own us as His faithful servants in His Church Militant on earth, and in His own good time commission His angels to convey us to those "many mansions" which He Himself prepares for His redeemed, in His Church triumphant in Heaven.