Изображения страниц

And it will be equally unavailable to say that the expression in Jude, quoted above, refers to different grades of honor conferred on them, or to different titles, or official stations, or degrees of happiness. The words "left their own habitation," can never be so interpreted without the most palpable perversion of language.

5th Proposition. These angels, thus situated, being either purely immaterial essences, or possessing a spiritual corporiety,—if this term may be used,—such as the translated bodies of Enoch and Elijah, or the glorified humanity of Jesus, or, if possible, even still more refined, had it in their power to leave the world on which they were placed at their own pleasure.

This follows from the very constitution of their being, and from the liberty of choice gr nted to them by their Creator. The bare fact that the angels of God can, and actually do, visit the world in which we live, and that fallen angels have also this power still, though their faculties have doubtless been greatly impaired through the commission of sin, is a sufficient proof of this position.

It is exceedingly probable that the human body of a believer after the resurrection, powerful and spiritual as it then will be, when the outward man shall have become the servant of the soul, as this is now the slave of the former, will be able to move with a greater rapidity than the light of the sun, though that travels at the rate of more than twelve millions of miles in a minute! Light is but a natural body; and if this is capable of moving with such astonishing velocity, how much more accelerated may be the movements of a spiritual body!

The Prophet Daniel bowed the knee in prayer before God. The length of his prayer is not recorded; but if he said no more than that which is found in the ninth chapter of his prophecy, he could have been engaged thus but a few minutes. Yet, at the commencement of his supplication, the Angel Gabriel was commissioned to "fly swiftly" to this servant of God, and give him "skill and understanding" and before the seer had concluded his petition, the heavenly messenger touched him "about the time of the evening oblation," Dan. ix, 20-23.

Here, then, is an instance of angelic speed. It is presumed the reader will not condemn, on this subject, a curious calculation. Allowing that the angel's place of residence was distant from our world but double the number of English miles between the earth and one of the satellites of Herschel,-which, at the greatest distance, is 1,919,659,079 miles, the length of his journey would have been 3,839,318,158; or three thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine millions, three hundred and eighteen thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight miles! And, allowing that he was engaged thirty minutes in his passage to the earth, he would have travelled at the rate of 127,977,271 miles in a minute! Compared with this, what are forty miles an hour in a steam-car? They are but as the tedious crawl of the snail, that

"Drags its slow length along,"

to the swiftness of the vivid lightning.

Let no one fancy the above to be an absurdity, or a mere speculation, without first reflecting on its reasonableness.

6th Proposition. They were commanded by their Creator to remain a certain length of time in this "habitation," as our first parents in Eden were to abstain from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; and this was the particular commandment given them to keep.

All intelligent beings, throughout the whole extent of creation, are under the spirit of the moral law. This law, though divided into different commandments, may be embraced, substantially, within the limits of two simple precepts. The first is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God supremely; and the second, Thou shalt love thy fellow-creature as thyself. This law of love was, no doubt, as deeply impressed on the minds of angels as it was written in the heart of our great progenitor; but as Adam had what is called a positive precept given to him, a precept that rested solely on the will of his Maker, having no reason assigned for its enactment but that will alone,-so likewise had Satan, before his overthrow, a commandment of the same kind laid down for his obedience.

In the one case it was said, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." And in the other, as may be supposed, for no inspired historian has given us the exact language, "Thy own habitation thou shalt not leave, for in the day thou leavest it thou shalt surely die." The one is as reasonable as the other.

And if the inhabitants of some distant planet had no more knowledge of the fall of man than we have of that of angels, they would perhaps think it as strange that he should have been punished for tasting the fruit of a certain tree, as some persons may think it absurd that Satan should have been punished for leaving the world on which he was placed. God had a sovereign right to his obedience; and

it is not important what that obedience required, provided he had power to meet the requirement.

7th Proposition. At the close of their probation they were to be taken to heaven, as the final reward of their faithfulness.

How long a time elapsed from their creation, or entrance on their trial state, until they were put in possession of heavenly felicity and glory, is not revealed to us in the Bible; nor is the knowledge of this essential to the truth of this proposition. The same difficulty is found in connection with the case of our first parents. No person can say, with unerring certainty, that they were ten days or ten months in the garden before they sinned, or how long they were prohibited from eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge; yet this ignorance of the length of their faithfulness, and of the duration of their probation, does not in the least affect the main question of their punishment in consequence of transgression, or of their reward in a happy immortality as the fruit of their perseverance in well doing.

It is worthy of observation, and it will materially strengthen this part of the subject, that as before their sin, whatever that was, the fallen angels are never spoken of in the Scriptures as having been in heaven at all; so the good angels are now everywhere represented in the Bible as actually in possession of heaven as their dwelling-place. Let the following passages suffice as evidence of this remark: "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him," Luke xxii, 43. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only," Matt. xxiv, 36. See also Matt. xviii, 10. The book of Revelation is full of this language.

Heaven may be considered as the centre of the universe, and the whole creation as performing the revolutions of its different systems around it. Whether Adam would have been taken to that place if he had not partaken of the forbidden fruit, or whether he would have been confined in immortality in the earthly Paradise, is an undetermined point. This, however, is certain, that all who have suitable qualifications, legal and moral, for the enjoyment of celestial society, and die in the possession of these qualifications, will inherit eternal life at the right hand of God. Heaven will be their reward; and that likewise, it is the opinion of the writer, was the recompense granted by the Lord to the " angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word."

8th Proposition. Some of them with a superior at their head, now called Satan, or the Devil, by way of eminence, wilfully left this "habitation," or world, in search of one more glorious, for one star differeth in glory, in splendor, in magnitude, from another star,-and thus transgressed the express commandment of the Lord.

This proposition introduces more particularly the cause of their fall, or the sin of which they were guilty; and for which they were punished with a loss of their former greatness, and an infliction of the most dreadful misery. The reader is probably aware that different opinions have been entertained of the first sin committed by the angels who fell. Two or three of these shall be mentioned.

Milton supposes the infinite Father thus to have addressed the angelic host when he brought forth his only begotten Son :—

[ocr errors]

Hear, all ye angels, progeny of light,

Thrones, dominions, princedoms, virtues, powers!

Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand.
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
At my right hand; your head I him appoint;
And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow
All knees in heaven, and shall confess him Lord;
Under his great vicegerent reign abide
United as one individual soul,
For ever happy. Him who disobeys,
Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day,
Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls
Into utter darkness, deep ingulph, his place
Ordain'd, without redemption, without end."

He then proceeds

"So spake th' Omnipotent, and with his words
All seem'd well pleased; all seem'd, but were not all.







Satan (so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in heaven;) he of the first,
If not the first archangel; great in power,
In favor and pre-eminence, yet fraught
With envy 'gainst the Son of God, that day


Honor'd by his great Father, and proclaim'd
Messiah, King anointed, could not bear,

Through pride, that sight, and thought himself impair'd."

Paradise Lost, Book V.

Satan is then introduced as stirring up the minds of his associates to instant rebellion against the new decree of God, in relation to his Son.

The above opinion, that Satan contemptuously refused submission to the authority of the well-beloved Son, given to him by the Father, and that this was the offence for which he lost his heavenly residence, is also favorably noticed by Mr. Wesley, in one of his sermons. It is enough to say, in refutation of this idea, 1. That Milton makes the angels to have had an existence before the second Person of the adorable Trinity, who is the everlasting Son of the Father. His view, therefore, is not only uncountenanced by the word of God, but it is extremely heterodox; and the many erroneous opinions contained in Paradise Lost, lessen, materially, the merits of that highly finished poem. And, 2. That the passage of Scripture which gave birth to this idea has no reference to the eternal filiation of Jesus Christ at all, but to his resurrection from the dead; which event took place long after the fall of evil spirits. In confirmation of this interpretation of the verse, see Clarke on Heb. i, 7.

Some contend that the sin of these spiritual offenders was illicit intercourse with the "daughters of men." Others think that the offspring of this unnatural connection became the evil spirits. This is based on the following passage in Gen. vi, 1, 2: " And it came to pass, that when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." To mention this opinion is to refute it; its own absurdity, if not profanity, is its overthrow. By the "sons of God" we may either understand men in general, as they were, perhaps, in those days sometimes called, or those, in particular, who had the righteousness of Abel."

A few years ago I met with a little volume of poetry with this title: "The Loves of the Angels." The poem was created out of the above scripture. The title-by which I understood that pure affection the inhabitants of heaven have for God, and for one another-and the name of the author, who was a gentleman of considerable celebrity as a poet, pleased me well; so it was immediately purchased, and soon after read, but with great disappointment. This circumstance, however, taught the writer a lesson by which he has profited ever since; that is, never to buy a book until you know something of its character. Dr. Clarke has well observed that "poets and painters are poor interpreters of Scripture."

It is thought by many that pride was the first sin of Satan; but how this passion was manifested they are unable to say. Some fancy it was by endeavoring to usurp the government of God: this inclines toward the theory of Milton. Hence they put this language, though it has no reference to the Devil, into the mouth of this adversary: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High," Isa. xiv, 13, 14. This opinion cannot be sustained by Scripture, nor by any thing else. See the third proposition.

But, though there is no direct, yet there is, as some suppose, inferential proof that pride was the sin for which he was punished. St. Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy, describing the requisite qualifications of a Christian bishop, says, "He must not be a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the Devil." From this, it may be inferred that pride was the cause of his fall. The passage, however, may be differently understood. If a man commits murder, or is guilty of any other sin, he falls into the condemnation of Satan; i. e., he is condemned to punishment.

But, if the above inference be strictly correct, it can do the present theory no injury whatever. If pride could induce them to leave their place, state, or office in heaven, it could also influence them in their departure from the world they inhabited. Yet it is more probable it was a sinful curiosity.

I am led to this opinion, not by a desire to have this scheme consistent with itself, for it may also have defects and difficulties as well as the common system; bat, among other things, by the reasoning of the old serpent in the first temptation, and the effect it had upon Eve: "Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he VOL. IX.-January, 1838.


did eat,” Gen. iii, 4, 5, 6. She was curious to examine the fruit more closely than she had yet done, and perhaps it was fairer than any other in the garden,—she was curious to see how fruit so pleasant to the eyes really tasted; and she was curious to become a little wiser.

Satan, at that time, could not have been very well acquainted with the complex character of man, or with human nature; by which is here meant all our physical, moral, and intellectual powers and faculties; yet he was, nevertheless, an excellent mental philosopher. He might not have known the weakest point of the woman,—if Adam and Eve had any weak points before the fall,-but he knew it was one of the great ruling principles of mind to be ever actively inquisitive. Indeed, he illustrates this remark in his very first attack on his fair victim: "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ?" He had been informed of this in some way, perhaps by overhearing a conversation between the happy pair, in which it was incidentally mentioned; but he wished to be assured of it—he was carious to know.

And this inquisitive disposition still exists in angelic, as well as in human minds; for, speaking of the mysteries of redemption, St. Peter declares that these “things the angels desire to look into." But, while this curiosity is sinful in some cases, where its indulgence is positively forbidden, it may not only be innocent, but commendable in others, where such a prohibition does not exist.

I conclude, then, that, anxious to increase their knowledge of planets, which, for reasons probably known only to God, they were not permitted to visit and go unpunished, and which were more glorious than their own; and desirous, perhaps, of enjoying that superior glory, they left their own habitation, and, in doing this, they lost their first estate.

9th Proposition. For this act of rebellion they were confined in everlasting chains, under darkness, until the judgment of the great day. Jude 6.

By this is meant that their faculties became impaired, their power limited, or their privileges restricted, and their doom became irreversible; and that, as darkness is emblematical of ignorance, wickedness, and misery, so they became ignorant, comparatively, desperately sinful, and irretrievably wretched.

If it be asked where they now have their dwelling-place, I answer, not in the air which surrounds us, as some people suppose, though they are permitted for wise ends to visit the earth, which will be more at length considered in the next proposition, but either in the world they were anxious to exchange for a better, which became to them a fearful hell when their faithful companions in trial had been removed, when natural evil had spread itself in every direction, when the angelic paradise had become a desert waste, when the basest passions that can dwell in the bosom of a lost spirit had inflamed every mind, and when_nothing good could be seen, or heard, or felt, or hoped for, because there was no Redeemer, or else in a different part of the universe, prepared expressly for their reception. It is enough for us to know that they have a local habitation somewhere; and that habitation is their place of punishment.

10th Proposition. They are still permitted to visit those worlds where sin abounds, as our earth at present, to accomplish the purposes of a righteous Judge; or where holy, intelligent creatures exist on trial, as our earth before the fall of man, to test their allegiance to God.

That evil spirits—not the souls of the wicked after death,but the spirits (by which we commonly mean the angels) that abode not in the truth-have now liberty to visit the earth, not merely as idle spectators of the wonderful work of human redemption, but as interested actors of the great tragedy in which God, angels, men, and devils are the parties concerned, is generally admitted; and the Bible is full of the doctrine. The book of Job, which is supposed by many eminent Biblical critics to be the oldest book in existence, contains a remarkable instance, in the affliction of that pious patriarch, of the power sometimes intrusted to the archenemy of man. If every thing really happened as it is related, after Satan went from the presence of the Lord, then he had power

1. Over the elements of fire and air; for the "fire of God," or a great fire, as this phraseology signifies, "fell upon the sheep and the servants, and consumed them;" and "a great wind from the wilderness smote the four corners of the house" in which "his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine;" "and it fell upon the young men," and they died.

2. Over the minds of men; for he influenced the Sabeans to take away the "oxen that were ploughing, and the sheep that were feeding beside them;" and the "Chaldeans, who made out three bands, and fell upon the camels and carried them away, and slew the servants likewise."

3. Over the physical part of man, for he smote the victim of his malice "with

sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown," so that "he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal, and sat down among the ashes."

And, 4. Over human life; for the servants and the sons and daughters of Job perished through his instrumentality.

The reader will remember, it is not here said that Satan possesses this power at all times; but that it was then, and is sometimes still, intrusted to him by his Maker and Judge.

It was well, as the Pentateuch and other books of the Old Testament are so brief, and, in some places, of such doubtful interpretation, on the great subject of Satanic influence, that the Jews were early favored with the instructive lesson on this point found in the book of Job, of which Moses is thought to have been the author. There is, perhaps, not another instance of equal clearness in the whole Bible; yet this has also its acknowledged difficulties.

It would be a work of supererogation to adduce in proof of the first part of the ninth proposition all the cases of temptation, all the demoniacal possessions in the gospels, all the examples of persons in evident fellowship with an evil invisible world, and all the clear passages of Scripture that so plainly teach the doctrine for which I am contending. This, then, will not be attempted. If any person has a single doubt remaining, let him read the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, Matt. iv, 1-16, and attend closely to the solicitations to evil he daily meets with from an invisible foe.

But, it may be asked, what can the writer mean by fallen angels accomplishing the purposes of a righteous Judge upon earth? I mean by it that the Lord either permits or employs them to tempt men,-in some cases to afflict them and put an end to their lives,-to produce natural evil, and to be the instruments of his judgments on nations and individuals.

As a case of temptation, take that of David, when he was induced to number the people, 1 Chron. xxi, 1.

As a case of affliction, take that of Job, Job ii, 7.

As a case of death, take that of the incestuous Corinthian, who, though perhaps he did not die, was at least adjudged to this punishment by St. Paul, 1 Cor. v, 5. So also were Hymenius and Alexander, 1 Tim. i, 20. And that of Herod, Acts xii, 23. For, while it is said "an angel of the Lord smote him," we may understand by that any messenger employed by him, whether good or bad. The character of the messenger may generally be inferred from the nature of the work in which he is engaged. An angel employed in a work of mercy, such as that of announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem, may always be considered as an angel of light; but one engaged in punishing the wicked, generally as an angel of darkness.

As a case of what may be denominated natural evil, take the example of dreaded shipwreck, Jonah i, 4: "But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest; so that the ship was like to be broken." Very true, it is said "the Lord" sent out a great wind; but he works by means and instruments in providence, as well as in grace.

As a case of judgment, besides the death of Herod, mentioned above, take the destruction of Sennacherib's army, 2 Kings xix, 35; and also that of the first-born of the Egyptians, Exod. xii, 29. That evil spirits were employed as the destroying angels of the Egyptians, we have the testimony of the psalmist, Psa. lxxviii, 49: "He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them." It was in this way that "He smote all the first-born of Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham," ver. 51. Another part of this proposition is, that evil spirits are permitted to visit those worlds in which moral agents exist on trial, and into which sin had had no previous entrance, to test their allegiance to God.'

In proof of this nothing is necessary-and, to confess the truth, I can produce nothing else but the tragic scene of Eden, Gen. iii. And even here I am at once met by two different objectors. One says, "That entire chapter is an allegory." But if it is, then, according to every rule of language, the whole affair is allegorical, from the creation to the deluge, and from this to the death of Joseph in the last chapter; for the entire book of Genesis is in the same inimitable style of simple narrative. If the temptation and fall of our first parents are an allegory, so likewise are the creation of the world out of nothing, the formation of man out of the dust of the earth, and of the woman out of a human rib; and it then follows that we have nothing but an allegorical existence up to this day! But this idea is refuted by the very consciousness of being which is implanted in every bosom.

The other objector insists on so literal an interpretation, that he will not admit Satan to have been concealed in the serpent, as his instrument, at all. If that

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »