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Q. Wherein consists the Ministry of good AnA. In declaring upon Occasion, the Mind and Will of Christ to his Church; for thus most of the divine Messages were conveyed to the Prom
phets; and there are frequent Initances of it in Lake i. the New Testament; as in the Case of St. John 13, 3!: Baptist's Birth, the blessed Virgin's Conception, Luke 2.
our Saviour's Birth and Resurrection. In guardPfal. 91. ing and defending us from ourward Dangers,
and from the Fury of evil Spirits, either by 3.4.7: removing such evil Accidents from us as in the
Course of necessary Causes must have befallen us; or by diverting the evil Intention of our Enemies against us ; and sometimes by fore-warning us of approaching Danger, by fome external Sign or unaccountable Impression upon our Fancies. And when we are beset by evil Spirits, they either assist us in our Conflicts with them, or chase them away from us when we are no longer able to withstand them.
8. What hath been the general Opinion of Mankind about Guardian Angels ?
A. There was a common Opinion among the Heathens, and a contant Tradition among the Jews, that every Man, at least every good Man, had a Guardian Angel appointed him by God, to take a special Care of him and his Concerns, both Spiritual and Temporal; and we find the beft Men among the Yews did at least believe
the common Ministry of good Angels about good Gen. 24. Men, and their niore especial Care of particular
Persons, upon particular and great Occasions, as Pfal.74.7. is plain in Abraham and David. And this Tra91.11,12. dition of the Jews feem to be confirmed and approved by our Saviour, in that Caution he
gives us, Not to despise one of these little ones, be Mat. 18,
Q. How are the good Angels farther employed
A. Being peculiarly present in the publick 1 Cor. 11. Assemblies of God's Worship, they aslist good 10. Men in the Discharge of their religious Offices : And at the Hour of Death they stand by them in that great Conflict, and convey their separated Spirits into the Mansions of the Blessed ; which is confirmed by our Saviour, when he tells us upon Lazarus's Death, that he was carried by Luke 16. Angels into Abraham's Bofom. Besides, at the 22. Day of Judgment they shall be great Instruments of the Resurrection of their Bodies, and the Re-Mat. 13. union of them to their Souls; as our blessed Sa-39, 49. viour declares in St. Mattbew.
Q. Wherein doth the Ministry of bad Angels confijt?
A. In trying and exercising the Righteous, as was the Cale of Job, and the Church
of Smyrna ; in punishing the Wicked, as was the Case of Saul Jobs and and Abab, and in executing Vengeance on them
Rev.2.10. in another World. They let themselves in oppo-1 Sam.16. sition to the Glory of God, and the Salvation of 14. Mankind; though they are restrained in the Ex-1 Kings
ercise of the Power; beyond which they cannot exit it without divine Permission.
0. If good Angels are cppointed by God to be 42 -1,ts, and are so ready to help us, ought
wüthip them? .:.. We may reasonably conclude, from the uture of their Employment, that we ought not to worship them, since they minister to us; and in this frems to lie the Force of the Angel's Reasoning in the Revelations, where he forbids
St. John to worship him, because he was his FelleroRev.22.9. Servant. Besides, it is severely reproved by Col.2. 18. St. Paul; Let no Men deceive you in a voluntary
Humility, and worshipping of Angels, not bolding the Head. The Scripture directing us to the Mediation only of one Mediator between God and Man, viz. the Man Christ Jesus.
Q. Why do we celebrate this Festival?
A. To express our Thankfulness to God for those many eminent Advantages that the ChriRian Church hath obtained, by the Ministry of the Holy Angels, over the Power and Malice of the Devil, and those mischievous Initrurnents he hath employed to destroy it.
Q. Ibai Inftruétions deth the Fidelity and Zeal of St. Michael offer to the Governors of the Church, who are as Angels of God?
A. That it is not enough to discharge their Duty by living well themselves, but that, besides the Care of their own Conduct, they are obliged to watch over the Conduct of other; and with Boldness and Courage to oppose all profane Contemners of Religion, those Rebels, that are at Deliance with God, be their Quality and Power never so great and terrible.
Q. What may we learn from the Observation of this Festival ?
A. To adore the Wisdom and Goodness of God, in appointing such excellent and glorious Beings to minister to our Salvation; and to be thankful to him for the invisible Aid and Protection we receive from them. To comfort ourselves against the Vigilancy and Power of the Devil, with the assured Assistance of good Angels, who are as powerful and forward to do us good, as the others are malicious and busy to do us mifchief. To behave ourselves with great Gravity and Reverence in the publick Worship of God; because those excellent Beings attend to obferve our outward Carriage and Deportment. To imitate their Example in serving God, with the Same Readiness and Diligence, with the same Chearfulness and Zeal, that they do in Heaveri. To condescend to the meanest Services for the good of others: especially with all our Might to help forward the Salvation of our Neighbour. Never to despise any good Man, be his Circumftances never so mean, because he is dear to God, and under the peculiar Care of the holy Angels
. To secure their Ministry to ourselves, by continuing sound and holy Members of the Catholick Church, who are the declared Hejrs of Salvation.
Q. What may all Christians learn from the Behaviour of St. Michael ?
A. To avoid the scandalous and unchristian Practice of Evil-Speaking, the Seed of all Evil, and the Pest of Civil Society, which we are so apt to fall into, and yet find it so hard to repent of, by Reason of the Difficulty of making luch Reparations as are necessary upon such Occasions..
Whercin consists the Nature of Evil-speak
A. In devulging any Il we hear or know.concerning our Neighbour, whether true or falfe, whereby his Good-name is impaired by our Words or Actions. For a Motion of the Head or Hand, a Smile or Cast of the Eye, is capable of tarnishing the brightest Reputation ; nay, even Silence itself, if it appears affected and mysterious, shall be as effectual to that Purpose as the most envenomed Satire. If the Matters we object against him are false, or doubtful and uncertain, it is Caluiny or Slander; if the Evidence we proceed upon be not sufficient, it is rab Judgment, and a Proneness to blame and condemn others is Cenforiousness.
Q. But may we not speak that Evil of our Neigbbour which we know certainly to be true ?
A. I think, except fome Instance of Justice or Charity require it, we ought not to expose our Neighbour's real Faults, because we are not willing that all that is true of ourselves should be exposed to publick View; and it is contrary to that Love we owe our Neighbour, which should make us ready to cover and conceal ail Things that are defective in him, and which, if known, may tend to lessen that good Name and Reputation he hath in the World.
Q. How is this Vice condemned in Scripture ?
A. The Scriptures place it in the Company of Mat. 15. the worst of wicked Actions : Out of the Heari, 19. says our Saviour, proceed evil Thoughts, MurRom. 1. ders, Adulteries
, falfe Witness, Evil-Speakings. 29, 30, St. Paul ranks Backbiters with the black Crimes
of those who are given up to a reprobate Mind, And which in the Judgment of God are wortky