« EdellinenJatka »
the whole course of their obedience during their time of trial, having no absolute promise, as believers in Christ have amongst men of perseverance in one act of faith, but only God the Father had revealed to them that if they were preserved, it must be by influence and help from his Son, and also made known to them the infinite riches of the grace of his Son, and its sufficiency for thein, and given them experience of it in preserving them when the other angels fell, and God directed them to seek to his Son for help. But this humble dependence was part of their duty or work by which they were to obtain eternal life, and it was not as it is with men, the fruit of the purchase of life already made, the first act of which entitles to all other fruits of this purchase through eternity. Thus the angels did depend on Christ, and they were supported by strength and grace from him freely communicated; it was sovereign grace that he was not obliged to afford them, for he was not obliged to afford them any more grace than he did the angels that fell, so that it can truly be said of the angels, that they have eternal life by sovereign grace through Christ in a way of self-emptiness, self-diffidence, and humble dependence on him. So far is the way of the elect angels' receiving eternal life like that of elect men's receiving of it.
IV. Christ is their Judge, and they actually receive their reward at his hands as their Judge, as I have elsewhere shown.
V. They not only have the reward of eternal life adjudged to them by Christ, but actually, continually, and eternally derive it from him as their head of life and divine influence, the Spirit is given them them through him.
VI. They have their bappiness in him in this brightness of God's glory and express image. It is that they behold the glory and love of God, and so have eternal life in the enjoyment of God. Thus Christ is the tree of life in paradise, on whose fruit all its inhabitants live to all eternity, and the Lamb is the light of that glorious city.
Ques. II. How far the angels are dependent on Christ as God man, and have benefit by his incarnation, sufferings, and exaltation, and the work of redemption that he wrought out for mankind?
Ans. I. The work of redemption is their end; they were created to be subservient to Christ in this affair.
II. Their work and service that was appointed them, that was the trial of their obedience, was to serve Christ and his elect people in this affair, and it was by obeying Christ as his servants in this affair, that they actually obtained eternal life.
III. Especially did the angels obtain life by attending on Christ, and being faithful to him during the time of his humiliation, which was the last, and most trying part of their obedience.
IV. The Lord Jesus Christ God man is the Judge of the angels that gives them the reward of eternal life. They did not enjoy perfect rest till he descended and confirmed them, so that the angels, as well as men, have rest in Christ God man. (See the next.)
V. They have this benefit by the incarnation of Christ, that thereby God is immediately united with a creature, and so is nearer to them, whereby they are under infinitely greater advantages to have the full enjoyment of God.
VI. Jesus Christ God man is he through whom, and in whom, they enjoy the blessedness of the reward of eternal life, both as the Head of influence through whom they have the Spirit, and also as in Christ God man they behold God's glory, and have the manifestations of his love.
VII. As the perfections of God are manifested to all creatures, both men and angels, by the fruits of those perfections, i. e. by God's works, (the wisdom of God appears by his wise works, and bis power by his powerful works; his holiness and justice by bis holy and just acts, and his grace and love by the acts and works of grace and love,) so the glorious angels have the greatest manifestations of the glory of God by what they see in the work of man's redemption, and especially in the death and sufferings of Christ.
 The elect angels have greatly increased both in holiness and happiness, since the fall of those angels that fell, and are immensely more holy than ever Lucifer and his angels were ; for perfection in holiness, i. e. a sinless perfection, is not such in those that are finite, but that it admits of infinite degrees. The fall of the angels laid a foundation for the greater holiness of the elect angels, as it increased their know ledge of God and themselves, gave them the knowledge of good and evil, and was a means of their being emptied of themselves and brought low in humility, and they increased in holiness by persevering in obedience. What they behold of the glory of God in the face of Christ as men's Redeemer, and especially in Christ's humiliation, greatly increased their holiness; and their obedience, through that last and greatest trial, contributed above all things to an increase of their holiness. This further shows how the elect angels are dependent on Christ God man.
 Christ's humiliation many ways laid a foundation for the humiliation of all elect creatures. By seeing one infinitely above them descending so low, and abasing himself so much, they are abundantly made sensible how no abasement is too great for them. Lucifer thought what God required of him too great an abasement for so high and worthy a creature as he; but in Christ Jesus they see one infinitely higher than he descending VOL. VIII.
vastly lower than was required of him. It tends to humble the angels, and to set them for ever at an immense distance from any thought that any thing that God can require of them can be too great an abasement for them; and then it tendeu to humble them, as this person that appeared in such meanness, and in so despicable a state, is appointed to be their Lord and their God, and as they were required humbly to minister to him in his greatest abasement. It tends to abase elect men two ways.
1. As here is the example of the voluntary humiliation of one infinitely more worthy than they; and,
2. As here is the greatest manifestation of the evil, dreadful nature of sin, and particularly as here is the effects of their sin. Here
appears the venomous nature of their corruption, as it aims at the life of God, and here appears the infinite greatness of its demerit in such sufferings of a person of infinite glory. So that all elect creatures are as it were humbled and abased in their head. This shows further how the elect angels are dependent on Christ
(938) Heaven-Hou the elect angels know good and evil. It is a thing supposed, without proof, that the glorious inhabitants of heaven never felt any such thing as trouble or uneasiness of any kind. Their present innocency and holiness does not prove it. God may
suffer innocent creatures to be in trouble for their greater happiness. The nature and end of tbat place of glory does not prove it, for if that did not hinder sin from entering, neither will it necessarily binder trouble from entering there.
The elect angels probably felt great fear at the time of the revolt of Lucifer and the angels that followed him. They were then probably the subjects of great surprise, and a great sense of their own danger of falling likewise, and when they saw the wrath of God executed on the fallen angels, which they had no certain promise that they should not suffer also by their own disobedience, being not yet confirmed, it probably struck them with fear. And the highest heavens was not a place of such happiness and rest before Christ's ascension as it was afterwards; for the angels were not till then confirmed. So that it was in Christ God man that the angels bave found rest. The angels, therefore, have this to sweeten their safety and rest, that they have it after they have known what it is to be in great danger, and to be distressed with fear.
 That the angels in the times of the Old Testament did not fully understand the counsels and designs of God with regard to men's redemption, may be argued from that text, Isai. Ixiv. 4. “ For since the beginning of the world they have not heard (men is not in the original,) nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God! beside thee, what he hath prepared for bim that
waiteth for him.” In the original, what he hath made or done for him that waiteth for him." It is rendered in the margin, “ hath seen a God besides thee which doth so for him that waiteth for him.” But our translation gives the sense more agreeable to the citation of the apostle, 1 Cor. ii. 7, 8, 9. It is manifest by this text, if we take it in a sense agreeable to the apostle's understanding of it, that none of old understood the mystery of man's redemption by Jesus Christ, it never entered into the hearts of any; and if this be the sense, it will follow from the words of the text, not only that it had not entered into the hearts of
of mankind, but also of the angels, for all are expressly excluded but God himself; none have heard, seen, or perceived, O God, beside thee. The meaning is not only that no works had been already done that ever any had seen or heard of parallel to this work; for if the meaning was, that no works that were past had been seen or beard of like this work, those words, O God, beside thee, would not be added; for if that were the sense, these words would signify, That, though others had not seen any past works parallel with this, yet God had, which would not have been true; for God himself had not seen any past works parallel with this. The same may also be argned from Eph. iii. 9, 10, 11, compared with Rom. xvi. 25, 26, and Colos. i. 26. Not only are the words of Eph. iii. 10 very manifestly to my present purpose, but those words in the verse preceding are here worthy of remark. The mystery, which, from the beginning of the world, hath been HID IN GOD; which seems plainly lo imply, that it was a secret wbich God kept within himsell, which was bid and sealed up in the divine understanding, and never had as yet been divulged to any other, which was hid in God's secret counsel, which as yet no other being had ever been made acquainted with ; and so the words imply as much as those in the forementioned place in Isaiah, that none had perceivell it beside God.
(1247] Angels. That they are as the nobles and barons of the court of heaven, as dignified servants in the palace of the King of kings, is manifest by Matt. xviii. 10. See my Notes. So in their being called thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.
[1276) Angels ignorant of the majesty of the gospel till Christ's coming
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest to his saints. To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you the hope of glory. Doctor Goodwin says, “ This doctrine of the gospel he kept hid and close in his own breast; not a creature knew it; no, not the angels, who were his nearest courtiers and dearest favourites, it lay hid in God, Eph. iii. 9, even hid from them, ver. 10. A mystery, which when it should be revealed, should amaze the world, put the angels to school again, as if they had known nothing in comparison of this, wherein they should know over again all those glorious riches which are in God, and that more perfectly and fully than ever yet. And so after they had a little studied the catechism and compendium, there should come out a large volạme, a new system of the riches of the glory of God, the mystery of Christ in the text, which is the last edition, also, now set out enlarged, perfected, wherein the large inventory of God's glorious perfections is more fully set down with additions.” (Dr. Goodwin's works, vol. i. part iii. p. 64, on Col. i. 26, 27.)
FALL OF THE ANGELS.
 So it was also with the angels, their judgment was likewise decreed. Probably they thought it would be degradation and misery to be ministers to a creature of an inferior nature, whom God was about to create, and subjects and servants to one in that nature, not knowing particularly how it was to be, God having only in general revealed it to them. They thought it would be best for themselves to resist, and endeavour to be independent of God's government and ordering; and, having an appetite to their own honour, it overcome holy dispositions, which when once overcome, immediately wholly left them to the full and unrestrained rage of the principles that overcome, and their holy inclination to subjection was greatly damped by their opinion of God, as though he intended to deal unbecomingly by them in subjecting them to one of such a nature, and so it was the more easily overcome.
 Devils. It seems to me probable that the temptation of the angels, which occasioned their rebellion, was, That when God was about to create man, or had first created him, God declared his decree to the angels that one of that human nature should be his Son, his best beloved, his greatest favourite, and should be united to his Eternal Son, and that he should be their Head and Kiny, that they should be given to him, and should worship him, and be his servants, attendants, and ministers : And God having thus declared his great love to the race of mankind, gave the angels the charge of them as ministering spirits to men. Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub, being the archangel, one of the highest of the angels, could not bear it, thought it below him, and a great debasing of him. So he conceived re