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and to contain the order of worship observed in the eastern churches before the times of Constantine, there is not one prayer to be found, from the beginning to the end of it, made either to angel or saint; (no not so much as any such prayer as this, O Michael, O Gabriel, or O Peter, O Paul, pray for us;) but all the prayers are directed to God in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, as they are (God be praised) in our Liturgy.
So that if the plain doctrine of the holy Scriptures, and the declared sense of the primitive purest churches of Christ, are to be regarded, we are cer-. tain, both that we ourselves are safe in not worshipping the angels of God, and that they of the church of Rome sin and err greatly in their practice of such worship.
And so much of the second particular contained in the predicate of the proposition in my text, viz. The state and condition of the holy angels with reference to God. They are ministering spirits, servants with us to the supreme God, and therefore not to be worshipped by us with religious worship; no not with that lower sort of religious worship, which consists in praying unto them to recommend our prayers to Almighty God.
And if we must not make any such religious addresses to the holy angels, then certainly not to the saints departed. For besides that there is no warrant either in Scripture or the practice of the primitive church, for the invocation of saints, any more than of angels, as hath been already intimated; we may also, from what hath been said against the worship of angels, farther argue with advantage against the invocation of saints, thus: The saints departed
are not yet equal to angels, nor shall be till the resurrection, and then they shall, as our Saviour teacheth us, Luke xx. 36; if therefore we must not make any religious application by way of prayer to the angels, as excellent creatures as they are, then much less to the saints departed. Again, we are sure from Scripture, that the angels are ex officio by their office ordinarily to be present with, and to attend upon, the faithful here on earth, as shall be more fully shewn in the sequel of this subject; and yet if we regard either the holy Scriptures, or the sense of the primitive church, we may not, we must not pray unto them; what reason can there be then for the invocation of the saints deceased, of whom the holy Scriptures give us not the least assurance, that they are ordinarily present with us, nay in divers places seem not obscurely to teach the directly contrary?
I shall now proceed to the third and last thing affirmed of the angels, concerning their office with relation to us that they are sent forth to minister for them, who shall be heirs of salvation; but that subject I shall leave to another opportunity.
Now to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour and glory, adoration and worship, both now and for ever. Amen.
THE OFFICE OF THE HOLY ANGELS IN REFERENCE TO GOOD MEN; BEING APPOINTED BY GOD AS THE MINISTERS OF HIS SPECIAL PROVIDENCE TOWARDS THE FAITHFUL; AND WHEREIN THE ANGELICAL MINISTRY DOTH MORE ESPECIALLY CONSIST.
HEB. i. 14.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
IN the entrance of my former discourse on this text I observed, that the negative interrogation or question therein propounded is equivalent to this strong affirmative proposition, That the holy angels of God are questionless all of them ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.
In which proposition I considered, first, the subject, or persons spoken of, the holy angels. Where I proved, even by cogent reasons, that there are such noble beings as we call angels; and that they are very certainly creatures of God, most probably created sometime within those six days of the creation described by Moses in the beginning of Genesis, though on which of those six days the holy Scriptures nowhere plainly inform us.
In considering the predicate of the proposition, or what is therein affirmed of the holy angels, I have
first discoursed of their nature, that they are spirits; and then of their state and condition with reference to God, that they are ministering or serving spirits, doing homage with us to the supreme God and Lord of all things, and therefore by no means religiously to be worshipped by us.
It remains that I now proceed to the third and last particular in the second part of my text, concerning the office of the holy angels in relation to us, viz. That they are sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.
This is to us the most useful part of the text, and therefore the more accurately and carefully to be considered by us.
The holy angels are spirits, ἀποστελλόμενα, sent from heaven above into this earth; what to do? Chiefly to minister to, or to do all good offices, both corporal and spiritual, for them who shall be heirs of salvation, i. e. all truly faithful persons continuing such.
The providence of God in the government of this lower world, and therein more especially of the children of men, and most especially of those who love and fear him, is in great part administered by the holy angels: these, as Philo terms them, are "the "ears and eyes of the universal Kinga." The expression alludes to the government of earthly monarchs, who have their deputies or lieutenants in all parts of their dominion, who are, as it were, the eyes by which they see, and the hands by which they act. Not as if God needed the help of angels to oversee and act those things which his own knowledge and
- Ωτα καὶ ὀφθαλμοὶ Παμβασιλέως.
power cannot reach to, for he is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent; but this is spoken of God, άvoршπопαlãs, after the manner of men, and must be understood, fεоπρежŵя, in a sense becoming the majesty of God. The rulers of this world have their deputies out of necessity, because they cannot govern without them: but the universal King hath his ministers out of choice, because he is pleased for very good reasons to make use of them.
But as to Philo's expression, it seems to be borrowed from the holy Scriptures, wherein the angels of God are expressly termed the eyes of the Lord. So 2 Chron. xvi. 9. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew themselves strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him. Indeed our translators here read himself; but there is no such word in the Hebrew, and the supply might as well have been made by the word themselves; yea, so it ought to be made, if we will make sense of the words, with reference to the eyes of the Lord in the plural number preceding. However, that by the eyes of the Lord in that text are meant angels of God, is otherwise plain enough from the words themselves, which clearly express the every employment constantly attributed to the holy angels in Scripture, of being sent, and running to and fro through the earth, to exercise their power in the protection and security of good and upright men. And the same is farther evident from other parallel texts of Scripture. In the fourth chapter of the prophecy of Zechariah, verse 2, we have a vision of seven lamps in a golden candlestick. The interb [Part of this and the following page is repeated nearly word for word in Sermon XIX.]