Imágenes de páginas

nate spirits, who are represented as assuming the character, and speaking and acting in the name of the Supreme Being, by whom they were sent.

There is reason also to think, that the Patri. archal and Mosaical dispensations, were both conducted by the same Being; and that the same person is designated by the titles, the Angel of the Presence, the Angel of the Lord, and the Angel of the Covenant, without, however, denying, that inferior agents may also have been employed, on particular occasions. This conclusion seems to result from the consistent tenor of all the Divine operations, and from the simplicity, which pervades the moral, as well as the material government of the Creator; for it is the character of wisdom and power, to employ no more instruments than are necessary to effect their designs. It is also deducible from the uniformity of the plan; which indicates the operation of a single Being; and it is confirmed by the attributes ascribed to this Divine agent.

From two passages in the history of Jacob it appears, that he considered the God of Abraham and Isaac, to be the Angel of the Lord, who appeared to him in a vision; and, in this vision, he declares himself the patron of his family and his descendants, throughout the Jewish economy.*

* Gen. xxviii. 13. xxxi. 11.


[ocr errors]

I am the Lord God of thy Father Abraham, and the God of Isaac. The land, whereon thou liest, will I give to thee and to thy seed: and behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest; and will bring thee again to this land: for I will not leave thee, till I have done that, which I have spoken to thee of: and in thee' and thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

That beautiful passage in Deutercnomy, is also understood to relate to the Angel of the Lord: "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance; when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the Children of Israel: for the Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, in the wasté, howling wilderness: he led him about: he instructed him: he kept him as the apple of his eye: as an eagle stirreth up her vest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead him: there was no strange God with him.” Indeed the whole conduct of the Old Testament shews, that there was but one heavenly person principally employed, and that this was either the Almighty himself, or some one of his servants, to whom the Mo. saical dispensation was entrusted. That it was not the Almighty himself, except through the me

dium of the Angel of his presence, will, I presume, appear at least probable, from what has been already advanced.

I suppose, there is hardly any person, who does not meet with stumbling-blocks, in his progress through the Old Testament; and though it becomes us to contemplate such subjects with diffidence and reverence, there are none, who do not wish to have their faith relieved from these obstacles. When we are once, convinced, that a supernatural order of events has taken place, we should be prepared to expect many incidents, very strange and astonishing. When we have once passed the bounds of human experience, we must acknowledge every thing to be equally incomprehensible to us, and equally easy to Almighty power. Still, it must give us pleasure, when we can reconcile those supernatural events to our pre-conceived opinions of the Divine character, founded in reason, and sanctioned by the word of God. This, I think, is the effect produced, by conceiving those inferior incidents, and familiar expressions, which so often occur in Scripture, to be the actions and language of subordinate agents. The example of our blessed Saviour shews, that there is nothing, however humble, to which they may not condescend with dignity, in the service of their Creator: and from the manner, in which the designs of Providence are accomplished, by the in

tervention of human creatures, we may be

prepared for the subservient operations of spiritual beings.

Every incident, which appears unworthy of the supreme God, must do violence, both to our feelings and our faith: and, it must give us pain to have the sublime tenor of our devout affections interrupted by any discordant emotion. That such would be the effect of conceiving every thing to be the immediate act of the Deity, which is ascribed to Jehovah in the Old Testament, can hardly be doubted: but many of those particulars, which would seem to degrade the Divine Majesty, might well accord with the office and character of ministring spirits.

Among these, our blessed Lord, the well beloved Son of the Most High, holds the highest rank; and it has been the opinion of many of the most pious and learned Divines, in every age of the Church, that to him, the conduct of the Di. vine dispensations here has been entrusted from the beginning; that he was the Angel of the Lord, and the Angel of the Covenant, and of the Presence; that he conducted the Patriarchal and Mosaical dispensations; and, finally, completed the plans of Divine wisdom, by revealing the ful-' ness of grace and truth in the Gospel; by exhi. biting an example of those virtues and graces, by which the favour of God is to be obtained; by sealing his doctrine and mission by his death and

resurrection; and, by the whole of his ministry, bringing life and immortality to light, and redeeming us from the power of sin, and the sentence of death.3

To conceive, that the same exalted spirit, who was employed by God in the creation of this world, has been its patron and superintendent ever since; that it was he, who walked so familiarly with the Patriarchs; who selected the posterity of Abraham by Isaac, as a chosen people, for the preservation of Divine truth; and who conducted the Mosaical economy, under the appellation of the Angel of the Covenant; that through him, as the Messiah, eternal life is bestowed on all, in every age and country, “who fear God, and work righteousness;" and that he will collect all those, in the kingdom of heaven, is a view of providence and grace, equally simple and grand.

These convictions have been entertained, both by those, who consider our Lord as a Ministring Spirit of the highest order, and by others who indentify him, in his spiritual nature, with the Supreme God. But, as these facts have not been expressly revealed, they should not be enforced, as forming an indubitable article of faith. Nor do I wish to be, or to be thought dogmatical on every circumstance connected with the process of redemption. There are many points, on which it is prudent and becoming, even at my

« AnteriorContinuar »