AngelsMiscellanies by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
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176. Angels’ Influence on Matter. I cannot see why it should be thought more disagreeable to reason to suppose that angels may have influence on matter so as to cause those alterations in it, which are beyond the established laws of matter, more than to suppose that our spirits should have such an influence. And I do not see why other spirits should not have influence on matter according to other laws, or why if we suppose spirits have an influence on matter, that it must necessarily be according to the same established rules as our spirits. We find that from such motions of mind there follows such an alteration in such and such matter, according to established rules, and those rules are entirely at the pleasure of him that establishes them. And why we should not think that God establishes other rules for other spirits, I cannot imagine. And if we should suggest that according to established laws, angels do make alterations in the secret springs of bodies, and so of minds, that otherwise would not be, I cannot see why it should be accounted more of a miracle than that our souls can make alterations in the matter of our hands and feet, which otherwise would not be.
442. Angels Confirmed. The angels that stood are doubtless confirmed in holiness and their allegiance to God, so that they never will sin, and they are out of every danger of it. But yet I believe God makes use of means to confirm them. They were confirmed by the sight of the terrible destruction that God brought upon the angels that fell. They see what a dreadful thing it is to rebel. They were further confirmed by the manifestation God had made of his displeasure against sin, by the eternal damnation of reprobates amongst men, and by the amazing discovery of his holy jealousy and justice in the sufferings of Christ. They are confirmed by finding, by experience, their own happiness in standing and finding the mistake of the angels that fell, with respect to that which was their temptation, and by new and greater manifestations of the glory of God, which have been successively made in heaven, and by his dispensations towards the church. And above all, by the work of redemption by Jesus Christ. Eph. 3:10; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:12. Vide M 515.
Corollary. Hence we learn that the angels were not concerned in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ.
So I believe the saints in heaven are made perfectly holy and impeccable, by means, viz.: by the beatific vision of God in Christ in glory, by experiencing so much the happiness of holiness, its happy nature and issue, and by seeing the wrath of God on wicked men, etc.
681. Angels: Hierarchy, Honor and Humility. The angels of heaven, though a superior order of being, and of a more exalted nature and faculties by far than men, are yet all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that shall be the heirs of salvation, and so in some respect are made inferior to the saints in honor. So likewise the angels of the churches (the ministers of the gospel) are of a higher order and office than other saints, yet they are, by Christ’s appointment, ministers and servants to others and are least of all, as Mat. 20:25-27, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Mat. 23:8-12, “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” And Mark 9:35, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” It is as it is in the body natural, those parts that we account more noble and honorable are, as it were, ministers to the more inferior, to guard them and serve them, as the apostle observes, 1 Cor. 12:23-24, “And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.” God’s ways are all analogous, and his dispensations harmonize one with another. As it is between the saints that are of an inferior order of beings, and the angels which are of more exalted natures and degrees, and also between those Christians on earth that are of inferior order, and those who are of superior, being ministers of Christ, so without doubt it also is in some respects in heaven, between those that are of lower and those that are of higher degrees of glory. There, those that are most exalted in honor and happiness, though they are above the least, yet in some respects they are the least, being ministers to others and employed by God to minister to their good and happiness. These sayings of Christ, in Mat. 20:25, etc., and Mark 9:35, were spoken on occasion of the disciples manifesting an ambition to be greater in his kingdom, by which they meant his state of exaltation and glory. So it is in some sort, even with respect to the man Christ Jesus himself, who is the very highest and most exalted of all creatures, and the head of all. He, to prepare himself for it, descended lowest of all, was most abased of any, and in some respects became least of all. Therefore, when Christ in these places directs that those that would be greatest among his disciples, should be the servants of the rest, and so, in some respects, least, he enforces it with his own example. Mat. 20:26-28, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even so the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” And Luke 22:26-27, “He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief as he that doth serve, for whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth.” None in the kingdom of heaven ever descended so low as Christ did, who descended as it were into the depths of hell. He suffered shame and wrath, and was made a curse. He went lower in these things than ever any other did, and this he did as a servant not only to God, but to men, in that he undertook to serve us, and minister to us in such dreadful drudgery, while we sit at meat in quietness and rest, and partake of those dainties which he provides for us. Christ took upon him to minister to use in the lowest service, which he represented and typified by that action of washing the disciples’ feet, which he did chiefly for that end. Thus Christ is he that seems to be intended in Mat. 11:11, by him “that is least in the kingdom of heaven” and who is there said to be greater than John the Baptist.
The design of God in thus ordering things, is to teach and show that he is all and the creature nothing, and that all exaltation and dignity belong to him. Therefore those creatures that are most exalted shall in other respects be least and lowest. Thus, though the angels excel in wisdom and strength, and are advanced to glorious dignity, and are principalities and powers, and kings of the earth, yet God makes them all ministers to them who are much less than they, or inferior nature and degree. Thus, also, the saints who are most exalted in dignity are servants to others. The angelic nature is the highest and most exalted created nature, yet God is pleased to put greater honor upon our inferior nature, viz., the human, by causing that the Head and King of all creatures should be in the human nature, and that the saints in that nature in Christ should be in many respects exalted above the angels, that the angelic nature may not magnify itself against the human. The man Christ Jesus, that creature who is above all, owes his superiority and dignity, not at all to himself, but to God; viz., to his union with a divine person. Though he be above all, yet in some respects he is inferior. For he is not in the highest created nature, but in a nature that is inferior to the angelic. To prepare him for his exaltation above all, he was first brought lowest of all in suffering and humiliation, and in some respects in office, or in those parts of the office that were executed by him in his state of humiliation. Though the saints are exalted to glorious dignity, even to union and fellowship with God himself, to be in some respects divine in glory and happiness, and in many respects to be exalted above the angels, yet care is taken that it should not be in themselves, but in a person who is God, and they must be as it were emptied of themselves in order to it. And though the angels are exalted in themselves, yet they are ministers to them who are not exalted in themselves, but only in communion with a divine person as of free grace partaking with them. Thus wisely has God ordered all things for his own glory, that however great and marvelous the exercises of his grace and love and condescension are to the creature, yet he alone may be exalted: that he may be all in all. And though the creature be unspeakably and wonderfully advanced in honor by God’s grace and love, yet it is in such a way and manner, that even in its exaltation it might be humbled, and so as that its nothingness before God, and its absolute dependence on God and subjection to him, might be manifested. Yet this humiliation or abasement, which is joined with the creatures’ exaltation, is such as not to detract from the privilege and happiness of the exaltation. So far as exaltation is suitable for a creature, and is indeed a privilege and happiness to the creature, it is given to the creature and nothing taken from it. That only is removed that should carry any shadow of what belongs only to the Creator, and which might make the difference between the Creator and creature, and its absolute, infinite dependence on the Creator, less manifest. That humiliation only is brought with the exaltation that is suitable to that great humility that becomes the creature before the Creator. This humiliation does not detract anything from the happiness of elect holy creatures, but adds to it, for it gratifies that humble disposition that they are of. It is exceedingly sweet and delightful to them to be humbled and abased before God, to cast down their crowns at his feet as the four and twenty elders do in Rev. 4:10. — And to abase themselves, and appear nothing, and ascribe all power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing to him. They will delight more in seeing God exalted than themselves, and they will not look on themselves the less honored because that God appears to be all, even in their exaltation, but the more. These creatures that are most exalted will delight most in being abased before God, for they will excel in humility as much as in dignity and glory, as has been elsewhere observed. The man Christ Jesus, who is the head of all creatures, is the most humble of all creatures. That in Mat. 18:4, “Whosoever therefore humbleth himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” is true, with respect to the humility that they exercise, both in this and in another world. They that have most humility in this world will continue to excel in humility in heaven, and the proposition is reciprocal. They that have the greatest humility shall be most exalted, and shall be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and they that are greatest in the kingdom of heaven, are most humble.
Corollary 1. What has been said above confirms the conclusion that some in heaven will be a kind of ministers in that society: teachers, ministers to their knowledge and love, and helpers of their joy, as ministers of the gospel are here.
Corollary 2. Hence we may learn the sweet and perfect harmony that will reign throughout that glorious society, and how far those that are lowest will be from envying those that are highest, or the highest from despising the lowest for the highest shall be made ministers to the happiness of the lowest, and shall be even below them in humility. And the lowest shall have the greatest love to the highest for their superior excellency, and for the greater benefit which they shall receive from their ministration, as it is the disposition of the saints to love and honor their faithful ministers here in this world.
838. Angels: Rule and Authority. As the angels are made to be employed as the ministers of God’s providence of the government of the world, and as they are beings of a limited understanding, not equally capable of understanding and managing the affairs of the whole universe, or of the whole extent and compass of divine providence, or of any part indifferently (as they may be of affairs of some particular kind, or system, or series of events, or of some particular part of the universe: for it must needs be so with all that are of limited understanding, that they must be more capable of the care and management of things in a certain particular sphere than of anything indifferently without any fixed limits): — so it is very reasonable to suppose from hence that the different angels are appointed to different kinds of work, and that their ministry more especially respects some certain limited parts of the universality of things which God has in some respect committed to their care. So that over these things they have a ministerial dominion: some of larger and others of lesser extent, while some in a more exalted and others a less humble station. So they are a kind of princes under God, over such and such parts of the creation, or within such a certain sphere. Though their dominion be only ministerial (as the dominion of ministers of the gospel, or angels of the churches is), yet it is very honorable and exalted. It is a very honorable work in which they are employed, an image of the work of the Son of God, as God-man, who has the vicegerency of the whole universe, and so they as well as the princes of Israel are called gods, Elohim, Psa. 97:7, “Worship him, all ye gods,” which is rendered by the apostle, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” And they are called “The sons of God,” as they are, Job 38, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” They may, on this account also, be fitly compared to stars (as they are here, and also in the song of Deborah, “The stars in their courses fought against Sisera,”) not only for their brightness in wisdom and holiness, and for their being the native inhabitants of heaven, and obeying the commands of God, as the stars do, but because they have their particular dominion set them in the lower universe, as the stars have, Job 38:33, “Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” And also because they have their certain sphere and course to which they are limited in heaven. These seem in part to be signified by the kings of the earth, that shall bring their honor and glory into the church. They are made chiefly for a ministerial dominion over, and management of, the world of mankind on the earth, as ministering spirits unto Christ. On the account of their honorable place and trust in heaven, they may be called ministers of the new earth, there spoken of in that chapter. God has concealed the particular spheres of the angels’ dominion and ministry, that we might not be tempted to idolatry. They, therefore, that worship angels under a notion of such and such angels having a superintendency over such particular persons or affairs, intrude into those things that they have not seen.
It is not reasonable to suppose that the angels are called thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, merely for the honor they have in their great abilities and excellent qualifications, for the words do properly denote rule and authority. Earthly rulers are called principalities and powers. Tit. 3:1, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, and to obey magistrates.”
937. Elect Angels’ Dependence on Christ. Two questions may be raised with respect to the elect angels.
Question I. How far the elect angels are dependent on Christ for eternal life?
Answer I. Probably the service appointed them as the great trial of their obedience, was serving Christ, or ministering to him in his great work that he had undertaken with respect to mankind.
II. When Lucifer rebelled and set up himself as a head in opposition to God and Christ, and drew away a great number of the angels after him, Christ, the Son of God, manifested himself as an opposite head, and appeared graciously to dissuade and restrain by his grace the elect angels from hearkening to Lucifer’s temptation, so that they were upheld and preserved from eternal destruction at this time of great danger by the free and sovereign distinguishing grace of Christ. Herein Christ was the Savior of the elect angels. For though he did not save them as he did elect men from the ruin they had already deserved, and were condemned to, and the miserable state they were already in, yet he saved them from eternal destruction they were in great danger of, and otherwise would have fallen into with the other angels. The elect angels joined with him, the glorious Michael, as their captain, while the other angels hearkened to Lucifer and joined with him, and then was that literally true that was fulfilled afterwards figuratively. Rev. 12, “When there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was there place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
III. They were dependent on the sovereign grace of Christ to uphold them and assist them in this service, and to keep them from ruining themselves, as the fallen angels had done. By the fall of the angels, especially of Lucifer, the greatest, brightest, and most intelligent of all creatures, they were taught their own emptiness and insufficiency for themselves, and were led humbly in a self-diffidence to look to Christ: to seek to him and depend on him, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell to preserve them. So that they all along hung upon him. Through 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. He also made known to them the infinite riches of the grace of his Son and its sufficiency for them: given the experience of it in preserving them when the other angels fell. 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 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 through him.
VI. They have their happiness 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.
Question. 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?
Answer. 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 his power by his powerful works, his holiness and justice by his 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.
938. Heaven: How 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 innocence and holiness does not prove it. God may suffer innocent creatures to be in trouble for their greater happiness. The nature and end of that place of glory does not prove it, for if that did not hinder sin from entering, neither will it necessarily hinder 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. 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 have 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.
940. Elect Angels’ Dependence on 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 and 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 knowledge 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.
941. Elect Angels’ Dependence on Christ. 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 vastly lower than was required of him. It tends to humble the angels, and to set them forever at an immense distance from any thought that anything that God can require of them can be too great an abasement for them. And then it tended 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 God-man.
1098. Angels’ Knowledge of the Redemption Plan. 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, Isa. 64:4, “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 him 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. 2:7-9. 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. 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 any 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 heard 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 argued from Eph. 3:9-11, compared with Rom. 16:25-26, and Col. 1:26. Not only are the words of Eph. 3:10, 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 to imply that it was a secret which God kept within himself, which was hid 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, and which as yet no other being had ever been made acquainted with. So the words imply as much as those in the forementioned place in Isaiah, that none had perceived 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 Mat. 18:10. 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 has 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. Dr. 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 favorites, it lay hid in God, Eph. 3:9, even hid from them, Eph. 3:10. 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 volume, 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. 1 part 3. p. 64. on Col. 1:26-27.)
FALL OF THE ANGELS
320. 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 favorite, and should be united to his eternal Son: that he should be their Head and King, that they should be given to him and should worship him and be his servants, attendants, and ministers. 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 rebellion against the Almighty, and drew away a vast company of the heavenly hosts with him. But he was cast down from the highest pitch of glory to the lowest hell for it, and himself was made an occasion of bringing that to pass which his spirit so rose against, yea, his spite and malice was made an occasion of it. That same act of his by which he thought he had entirely overthrown the design, and that same person in human nature which they could not bear should rule over them in glory, and should be their King and Head to communicate happiness to them, by this means proves their King in spite of them, and becomes their Judge. Though they would not be his willing subjects, they shall be his unwilling captives. He shall be their sovereign to make them miserable and pour out his wrath upon them. And mankind whom they so envied and so scorned, are by occasion of them advanced to higher glory and honor, and greater happiness, and more nearly united to God. Though they disdained to be ministering spirits to them, yet now they shall be judged by them as assessors with Jesus Christ.
438. Reason’s for Angels’ Fall. 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 endeavor to be independent of God’s government and ordering. Having an appetite to their own honor, it overcame holy dispositions, which when once overcome, immediately wholly left them to the full and unrestrained rage of the principles that overcome. 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.
833. Occasion of the Fall of the Angels. Christ had his delegated dominion over the world committed to him as soon as the creation of the world was finished. For though Christ did not actually begin the work and business of a Mediator till man had fallen, yet the world, even in its very creation, was designed to be for the use of Christ in the great affair of redemption. His purpose in that work was the end of the creation and of all God’s providences in it from the beginning. Therefore the government of the world was committed into his hands from the very beginning, for even the very creation was committed into his hands for that reason, as the apostle intimates, Eph. 3:9-10. Much more have we reason to think that the disposal of it was committed into his hands when it was made, because it was created for his disposal and use. It was therefore most fit that it should be committed to him, not only in the actual accomplishment of that great work of his, the work of redemption, but also in those antecedent dispensations that were preparatory to it during that short space of time that was taken up in the preparation before the work of redemption actually began. It was most meet that Christ should have the disposal of those things that were to prepare the way for his own work. Otherwise, the work would not wholly be in his hands. For the accomplishing of the work itself, so as best to suit his own purpose and pleasure, depends in a great measure on the preparation that was made for it, and so there is the same reason that the preparation should be in his hands as the work itself. There is the same reason that those things that are without the limits of the work itself, as to time, should be in the hands of Christ, because of the relation they have to that work, as that those things that are without the limits of the work itself (as to place, and nature, and order of being), should be in his hands as the angels in heaven, and indeed all the works of God that were before the fall of man, were parts of the work of preparation for the work of redemption. The creation itself was so, and for this reason the creation of the world was committed into his hands. There is no reason to suppose that one part of this work of preparation was committed into Christ’s hands, because it was a preparation for his work, and not other parts of the preparation for the same work. All things are for Christ, for his use, and therefore God left it with him to prepare all things for his own use, that in everything he might have the preeminence, and that in him might all fullness dwell: a perfect sufficiency every way for the design that he had to accomplish. Therefore by the will and disposition of the Father, all things were made by him, and all things consist by him, and he was made Head over all things to the church, and for the purposes of the work of redemption that he was to accomplish for the church. Col. 1:16-19, “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things are created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” Eph. 1:22, “And hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church.” It is manifest by these things that not only the creation of the world, but the upholding and government of the world, were committed into the hands of Christ, and doubtless it was so from the beginning. As Christ’s delegated dominion over the world will not be at an end till his use of it is finished, and he has completed that work in which its great use consists, and has fully obtained his end of it, which will be at the end of the world, when he will deliver up THAT kingdom to the Father. So doubtless the delegated dominion over the world began when his use of it began, which was at the beginning of the world, or as soon as the world was finished, and then the kingdom was committed to him of the Father.
936. Fall of the Angels. — Satan, the Prince of the Devils. It seems manifest by the Scripture that there is one of the devils that is vastly superior to all the rest. His vast superiority appears in his being so very often spoken of singly, as the grand enemy of God and mankind, the grand adversary, the accuser of the brethren, and the great destroyer. He is more frequently spoken of singly, in Scripture, than devils are spoken of in the plural number, as though he were more than all the rest. He seems commonly in Scripture to be spoken of instar omnium. It seems to be from his great superiority above all the rest, that he is so often spoken of under so many peculiar names that are never found in the plural number, as Satan, Diabolos, Beelzebub, Lucifer, The Dragon, The Old Serpent, The Wicked One, The God of this world, The Prince of this world (John 12:31), The Prince of the power of the air, The Accuser of the brethren, The Tempter, The Adversary, Abaddon, Apollyon, The Enemy, and The Avenger. His strength and subtlety are very great indeed: so much superior to the rest that he maintains a dominion over them and is able to govern and manage them, that they durst not raise rebellion against him, agreeable to Job 41:25, “When he raiseth up himself the mighty are afraid.” But he is king in hell, the prince of the devils, as leviathan is said, Job 41:34, to be “king over all the children of pride.” See Rev. 9:11. All the rest of the devils are his servants, his wretched slaves. They are spoken of as his possession, Mat. 25:41, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and has angels.” They are his attendants and possession, as the good angels are Christ’s attendants and possession, Rev. 12:7, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels.”
This angel, before his fall, was the chief of all the angels, of greatest natural capacity, strength, and wisdom, and highest in honor and dignity, the brightest of all those stars of heaven, as is signified by what is said of him, under that type of him, the king of Babylon, Isa. 14:12, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” This signifies his outshining all the other stars, as the morning star outshines the rest. It is yet more manifest from what is said of the king of Tyrus, as a type of the devil, in Eze. 28:12-19. Here I would observe several things. (See note on the place.)
I. It is exceeding manifest that the king of Tyrus is here spoken of as a type of the devil, or the prince of the angels or cherubim that fell.
1. Because he is here expressly called an angel or cherub, once and again, Eze. 28:14, 16. And is spoken of as a fallen cherub.
2. He is spoken of as having been in heaven under three different names, by which names heaven is often called in Scripture, viz., Eden, The Garden of God, or the Paradise of God (Eze. 28:13). The Holy Mountain of God (Eze. 28:14, 16), and The Sanctuary (Eze. 28:18).
3. He is spoken of as having been in a most happy state in the paradise of God, and holy mountain of God, in great honor, and beauty, and pleasure.
4. He is spoken of as in his first estate, or the state wherein he was created, to be perfectly free from sin, but afterwards falling by sin. Eze. 28:15, “Thou was perfect in thy ways, from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”
5. The iniquity by which he fell was pride, or his being lifted up by reason of his superlative beauty and brightness. Eze. 28:17, “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty. Thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.”
6. He is represented as being cast out of heaven, and cast down to the earth for his sin. Eze. 28:16, “Therefore I will cast thee, as profane, out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the flames of fire.” Eze. 28:17, “I will cast thee to the ground.”
7. He is represented as being destroyed by fire here, in this earthly world. Eze. 28:18, “I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee: it shall devour thee; and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the midst of all that behold thee.”
8. His great wisdom is spoken of as being corrupted by sin, i.e. turned into a wicked craftiness. Eze. 28:17, “Thou hast corrupted thy wisdom because of thy brightness.” If the king of Tyrus were not here expressly called “a cherub,” “in the paradise of God,” and “in God’s holy mountain;” by which it is most evident that he is spoken of as a type of a cherub in the paradise of God. Yet I say if it had not been so, the matter would have been very plain, for the things here spoken of cannot be applied to the king of Tyrus with any beauty, nor without the utmost shining, any other way than as a type of the devil that was once a glorious angel in paradise. For how could it be said of the king of Tyrus, in any other sense but as a type of the anointed angel, that he had been in God’s holy mountain and in Eden, the garden of God, and in God’s sanctuary, and there been first perfect in his ways? (For the original word is a kind of expression that is ever used in Scripture to signify holiness, or moral perfection.) And how in any other sense was he afterwards cast, as profane, out of the mountain of God?
II. It is evident that this cherub or angel is spoken of as the highest of all the angels. This is evident by several things.
1. He is called the anointed cherub. This expression alone shows him to have sat higher than any other cherub, for his being anointed, must signify his being distinguished from all others. Anointing of old was used as a note of distinction, to show that that person was marked out and distinguished from all the rest for a higher dignity. The Lord’s anointed, in Israel, was he that God of his mere good pleasure had appointed to the chief dignity in Israel. So the Lord’s anointed among the cherubim, is the cherub that God had appointed to the highest dignity of all. It is said, Eze. 28:14, “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so;” i.e. plainly, “It has been my pleasure to set thee, by my anointing, in the highest dignity of all.”
2. He is called, “The cherub that covereth, on God’s holy mountain,” Eze. 28:14, and “The covering cherub, in the midst of the flames of fire,” Eze. 28:16. In which there seems to be a reference to the cherubim in the temple in the holy of holies, next to the throne of God that covered the throne with their wings. Exo. 25:19, 20, and Exo. 37:9. From this it appears that by the covering cherub is meant the cherub next to the throne of God himself, having a place in the very holy of holies. There were represented two cherubim that covered the mercy-seat in the temple, that are called by the apostle, “cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat,” Heb. 9:5, which represent the great dignity and honor of the cherubim that are next to God’s throne, and are covering cherubim. But before the fall of this cherub he is spoken of as being alone entitled to this great honor and nearness to God’s throne in heaven, that he was anointed to be above his fellows. (See note on Mat. 18:10.)
3. This covering cherub is here spoken of as the top of all the creation, or the summit and height of all creature perfection in wisdom and beauty. Eze. 28:12, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect beauty.” he is spoken of not only as being in the midst of many things that are very bright and beautiful, Eze. 28:13-14, and as walking up and down among them, but as having the sum of all their beauty completed, perfected, and sealed up in himself. (It seems implied that no being is stronger than Beelzebub, and able to bind him, but God himself. Mat. 12:29, with the context.)
Corollary 1. Hence learn that Satan before his fall was the Messiah or Christ, as he was the anointed. The word anointed is radically the same in Hebrew as the word Messiah: so that in this respect our Jesus is exalted into his place in heaven.
Corollary 2. These things show another thing, wherein Jesus is exalted into the place of Lucifer: that whereas he had the honor to dwell in the holy of holies continually, so Jesus is there entered (not as the high priests of old, but to be there continually, but in this respect is exalted higher than Lucifer ever was), that whereas Lucifer was only near the throne, or kneeling on the mercy-seat in humble posture, covering it with his wings, Jesus is admitted to sit down forever with God on the throne.
Corollary 3. From what is said in this passage of Scripture, we may learn that the angels were created in time. Though we have no particular account of their creation in the story of Moses, we read here, once and again, of the day wherein this anointed cherub was created, Eze. 28:13-15. This is also implied in Gen. 2:1, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them.” The angels are often in Scripture spoken of as the host of heaven, and the angels are expressly spoken of as created by Christ, in Col. 1:16, “For by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him.” So Psa. 104:4, “Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire;” which is meant of proper angels, as appears by Heb. 1:7. It appears also further, because they are called the sons of God in Job 38, which cannot be meant by eternal generation, for so Christ is God’s only begotten Son. See Psa. 148:2-5.
Corollary 4. In another respect also Jesus succeeds Lucifer, viz., in being the covering cherub. The word translated cover, often and commonly signifies to protect. It was committed to this archangel especially, to have the care of protecting the beloved race, elect man, that was God’s jewel: his first-fruits, his precious treasure laid up in God’s ark, or cabinet, hid in the secret of his presence. That was the great business the angels were made for, and therefore was especially committed to the head of the angels. But he fell from his innocence and dignity, and Jesus in his stead becomes the Cherub that covers, the great Protector and Savior of elect man, that gathers them as a hen her chickens under his wings.
Corollary 5. Lucifer, while a holy angel, in having the excellency of all those glorious things that were about him, all summed up in him, was a type of Christ, in whom all the glory and excellency of all elect creatures is more properly summed, as the head and foundation of all, just as the brightness of all, that reflects the light of the sun, is summed up in the sun.
And as the devil was the highest of all the angels, so he was the very highest of all God’s creatures. He was the top and crown of the whole creation, and he was the brightest part of the heaven of heavens, that brightest part of all the creation. He was the head of the angels, that most noble rank of all created beings. Therefore, when spoken of under that type of him, the Behemoth, he is said to be “the chief of the ways of God,” Job 40:19. And since it is revealed that there is a certain order and government among the angels, the superior angels having some kind of authority over others that are of lower rank, and since Lucifer was the chief of them all, we may suppose that he was the head of the whole society, the captain of the whole host. He was the archangel, the prince of the angels, and all did obeisance unto him. And as the angels, as the ministers of God’s providence, have a certain superintendency and rule over the world, or at least over some parts of it that God has committed to their care, hence they are called thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. Therefore, seeing Lucifer was the head, and captain, and prince of all, and the highest creature in the whole universe, we may suppose that he had, as God’s chief servant, and the grand minister of his providence, and the top of the creation, in some respect committed to him power, dominion, and principality over the whole creation, and all the kingdom of providence. And as all the angels are called the sons of God, Lucifer was his firstborn, and was the firstborn of every creature. But when it was revealed to him, high and glorious as he was, that he must be a ministering spirit to the race of mankind which he had seen newly created, which appeared so feeble, mean, and despicable, so vastly inferior, not only to him, the prince of the angels and head of the created universe, but also to the inferior angels, and that he must be subject to one of that race that should hereafter be born, he could not bear it. This occasioned his fall, and now he, with the other angels whom he drew away with him, are fallen, and elect men are translated to supply their places, and are exalted vastly higher in heaven than they. And the Man Jesus Christ, the Chief, and Prince, and Captain of all elect men, is translated and set in the throne that Lucifer, the chief and prince of the angels, left, to be the head of the angels in his stead, the head of principality and power, that all the angels might do obeisance to him. For God said, “Let all the angels of God worship him;” and God made him his firstborn instead of Lucifer, higher than all those thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, and made him, yea, made him in his stead the firstborn of every creature, or of the whole creation, and made him also in his stead the bright and morning star, and head and prince of the universe. Yea, God gave this honor, dignity, and power unto him, in an unspeakably higher and more glorious manner than ever he had done to Lucifer, and appointed him to conquer, subdue, and execute vengeance upon that great rebel. Lucifer aspired to be “like the Most High,” but God exalted one of mankind, the race that he envied, and from envy to whom he rebelled against God, to be indeed like the Most High, to a personal union with the eternal Son of God, and exalted him in this union to proper divine honor and dignity, set him at his own right hand on his own throne, and committed to him proper divine power and authority, constituting him as God-man: the supreme, absolute, and universal Lord of the universe, and Judge of every creature, the darling of the whole creation, the brightness of God’s glory, and express image of his person. As in his divine nature, he is the NATURAL IMAGE of God. God, in his providence, was pleased thus to show the emptiness and vanity of the creature, by suffering the insufficiency of the highest and most glorious of all creatures, the head and crown of the whole creation, to appear by his sudden fall from his glorious height into the lowest depth of hatefulness, deformity, and misery. God’s design was first to show the creature’s emptiness in itself, and then to fill it with himself in eternal, unalterable fullness and glory. To show the emptiness of the creature, the old creation, or the old heavens and earth, were to go to ruin and perish, in some sense, or at least all was to be emptied. Great part of the old creation was actually to sink into total and eternal perdition, as fallen angels and some of fallen men (all mankind was in a sense to be totally, though some of them were to be restored after they had sensibly been emptied of themselves). And though the highest heaven never was to be destroyed, yet before it should have its consummate and immutable glory, the highest and most glorious part of it was to perish (and a considerable part of the glorious heavenly inhabitants), and the rest were hereby to be brought to see their own emptiness and utter insufficiency, and so as it were to perish or die as to self-dependence and all self-fullness, and to be brought to an entire dependence on the sovereign grace and all-sufficiency of God, to be communicated to them by his Son as their head. And thus the whole old creation, both heaven and earth, as to all its natural glory and creature fullness, was to be pulled down. And thus way was to be made for the creation of the new heavens and new earth, or the setting forth of the whole elect universe in its consummate, everlasting, immutable glory in the fullness of God, in a great, most conspicuous, immediate, and universal dependence on his power and sovereign grace, and also on the glorious and infinitely excellent nature and essence of God, as the infinite fountain of glory and love: the beholding and enjoying of which, and union with which, being the elect creature’s all in all, all its strength, all its beauty, all its life, its fruit, its honor, its blessedness.
Corollary 1. From the last paragraph. This may show us the necessity of a work of humiliation in men as the necessity of man’s being emptied of himself in order to a partaking of the benefits of the new creation, and the redemption of Jesus Christ.
Corollary 2. This shows that even the elect angels have their eternal life in a way of humiliation, and also dependence on sovereign grace, as well as elect men, though not the same sort of humiliation and dependence in all respects.
To show the emptiness of all creatures in themselves, the ruin of the creation began in heaven, in the very best and highest part of the creation, and in the highest creature in it (the crown and glory of the whole creation), because it was the will of God that a mere creature should not be the head of the creation, but a divine person, and that he should be the crown and glory of the creation. Heaven was the first of the creation that was subject to ruin, and it shall be the last part that shall be renewed or amended by a new creation. There are two parts of the creation connected with the work of redemption. One is the world of man, and that is this visible world, and the other is the world of angels, and that is heaven. The whole is to be changed: the former shall be destroyed, because all men fell, and only an elect number are saved out of it. The other shall not be destroyed, because all the angels did not fall. Those that stood supported it, a blessing was left in it, and therefore God said, “Destroy it not,” and therefore the change that is to be made in that is to be of a contrary nature to destruction. It is to be made infinitely more glorious by a new creation. And therefore God’s dealings with respect to the world of angels are contrary to his dealings with the world of men. The world of men is to be destroyed, and therefore, elect men are taken out of it and carried into the world of angels, and reprobate men left in it to perish and sink with it. The world of angels is not to be destroyed, but renewed and glorified. Therefore, reprobate angels are taken out of it and cast into the world of men, and elect angels are kept in it, to be renewed and glorified with it.
Because God’s design was to show the emptiness of the creature, and its exceeding insufficiency, therefore God suffered both angels and men quickly to fall, and the old creation quickly to go to ruin.
Some may be ready to think it to be incredible, and what the wisdom of the Creator would not suffer, that the most glorious of all his creatures should fall and be eternally ruined, or that it should be so that the elect angels (those that are beloved of God), should none of them be of equal strength and largeness of capacity with the devil. To this I would say,
1. That the man Christ Jesus that is exalted into the place of Lucifer in heaven, though he be of a rank of creatures of a nature far inferior in capacity to that of the angels, and especially far below the highest of all the angels, yet God can and has exalted that little worm of littleness and weakness to an immensely greater capacity, dignity, and glory, than Lucifer ever had.
2. God can reward the elect angels that originally are inferior to Lucifer and can increase their capacity and strength, and there is no reason to think but that he has rewarded, or will reward, elect angels (as well as elect men), with a great exaltation of their nature. And probably Christ did, at his ascension, exalt the natures of some of them at least, so as to exceed all that ever Lucifer had. It seems probable by Rev. 20, at the beginning, and probably at the day of judgment, the natures of all the angels will be so exalted as to be above the devil in capacity.
Seeing that this was the case with the devil, that before his fall he was the head of the creation, the captain and prince of the angels, and had some kind of superintendency over the whole universe, and seeing his sin was his pride and affecting to be like the Most High, no wonder that he seeks to reign as god of this world and affects to be worshipped as God.
That the devil so restlessly endeavors to set up himself in this world, and maintain his dominion here, and to oppose God, and fight against him to the procuring his own continual disappointment and vexation, and to work out his own misery, and at last to bring on his own head his own greatest torment (his everlasting and consummate misery), is the fruit of a curse that God has laid him under for his first ambition, and envy, and opposition to God in heaven. He is therefore made a perfect slave to those lusts that reign over him, and torment him, and will pull down on him eternal destruction.
939. Occasion of the Fall of the Angels. We cannot but suppose that it was made known to the angels at their first creation, that they were to be ministering spirits to men and to serve the Son of God in that way, by ministering to them as those that were peculiarly beloved of him, because this was their proper business for which they were made. This was the end of their creation. It is not to be supposed that seeing they were intelligent creatures that were to answer the end of their beings as voluntary agents, or as willingly falling in with the design of their Creator, that God would make them and not make known to them what they were made for, when he entered into covenant with them and established the conditions of their eternal happiness, especially when they were admiring spectators of the creation of this beloved creature for whose good they were made, and this visible world that God made for his habitation. Seeing God made the angels for a special service, it is reasonable to suppose that the faithfulness of the angels in that special service must be the condition of their reward or wages. If this was the great condition of their reward, then we may infer that it was their violating this law, and refusing and failing of this condition, which was that by which they fell. Hence we may infer that the occasion of their fall was God’s revealing this their end and special service to them, and their not complying with it. That must be the occasion of their fall.
Corollary. Confirmation of the angels at Christ’s ascension.
Hence it is rendered exceedingly probably that the angels were not confirmed till Christ’s ascension. For by what has been now said, it appears that the proper condition of their reward or wages must be their faithfulness in that special service for which God made them, or which was the end of their being, i.e. to be ministering spirits to Christ in the great work of his exalting and glorifying beloved mankind. But the angels had not any great opportunity to do this business till this work of Christ’s glorifying mankind had been carried on considerably in the world. Nor had they the proper and chief trial whether they would submit to that service of being subservient to Christ in the work of redemption of fallen men, till that work of redemption was wrought, and Christ had gone through his humiliation, and it was seen whether they would submit to serve, obey, and adore their appointed Head and King in his abject meanness, and when set at nought and abased to hell for beloved, though sinful, vile men.
1057. Occasion of the Fall of the Angels. How it is agreeable to the opinions of many divines, that their refusing to be ministering spirits to beings of inferior rank, and to be subject to Jesus Christ in our nature, when the design of his incarnation was first revealed in heaven, and how that as man he was to be the head of the angels. See Mr. Charles Owen’s Wonders of Redeeming Love, p. 74, etc. in our young people’s library. See also Mr. Glass’s Notes on Scripture Texts, Num. 3. p. 1-7.
1261. Occasion of the Fall of the Angels. It is supposed by some and very rationally and probably by Zanchius, whom I account the best of Protestant writers in his judgment, and likewise by Suarez, the best of the school-men, that upon the very setting up, or at least upon the first notice that the angels had of the setting up, of a kingdom for the man Christ Jesus predestinated for to come (and this, whether it was without the fall predestinated as some suppose, or upon supposition of the fall, as others, yet so much might be revealed to them), and of the divine purpose that the human nature was to be assumed by, and united to, the second person of the Trinity, and that he was to be the head of all principality and power, and that angels and men should have their grace from him. It is supposed, I say, that on this being declared to be the will of God, that the rejection of this kingdom on the part of many of the angels and their refusing to be subject unto Christ, as man thus assumed, was their first sin. And now in opposition hereunto they did set up another kingdom against him. Thus those writers whom I have mentioned do think, and they allege that place in the epistle of Jude, verse 6, where, the sin of the angels being described, it is said they kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation (which, say they, is not there brought in as their punishment). They left the station God had set them in, and they left their dwelling in heaven to set up a kingdom here below in opposition to Christ, and so to have an independent kingdom of themselves, for which God has condemned them into eternal torments and to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment, 2 Pet. 2:4. And to set up this great kingdom is their business, and therefore they do now associate themselves together, not out of love, but as becomes rational creatures that would drive on a project and design. These writers not only go upon this place in Jude, but on that in John 8:44, where Christ lays open both the devil’s sin and the sin of the Jews. The sin of the Jews was this, they would not receive that truth which Christ had delivered to them, as he tells them, John 8:45, “Because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not;” and not receiving it, they sought to kill him. Now, if you ask what that truth was which Christ had so much inculcated upon them, you shall see, John 8:25, what it is. They asked him there, Who he was; “Even the same,” says he, “that I have told you from the beginning, THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD. If the Son make you free, you shall be free indeed,” John 8:36. This was the great truth that these Jews would not receive. Now he tells them likewise, John 8:44, that Satan, their father, the devil, abode not in the truth. He was the first, says he, that opposed and contradicted this great truth, and would not be subject to God who revealed this, nor would he accept, or embrace, or continue, or stand. He would quit heaven first, and so from hence come to be a murderer, a hater of this man Christ Jesus, and of this kingdom, and of mankind. For he that hates God, or he that hates Christ, he is, in what in him lies, a murderer of him, and he showed it in falling upon man. And they backed it with this reason, why it should be so meant, because otherwise the devil’s sin which he compares them to, had not been so great as theirs. There had not been a likeness between the sin of the one and that of the other. His sin would have been only telling a lie, a lie merely in speech, and theirs had been a refusing that great truth, JESUS CHRIST IS THE MESSIAH AND THE HEAD, and so the devil’s sin would have been less than theirs. Whereas he is made the great father of this great lie, of this great stubbornness to receive Christ, and to contradict this truth. And this, says he, he has opposed from the beginning with all his might, and he sets your hearts at work to kill me. But I say I will not stand upon this, because I only deliver it as that which is the opinion of some, and has some probability. However, this is certain, whatsoever his sin was, he has now, being fallen, set up his kingdom in a special manner against Christ. And so Christ has been the great stumbling-stone, and angels fall upon it, and men fall upon it. So that indeed the first quarrel was laid in this. God himself proclaimed it at the very beginning. “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head;” which, though spoken to the serpent, comes in by way of curse, as striking at the very spirit of the devil’s sin. “he shall break thy head,” says he, “Thou wouldest have lifted up thyself. He shall crush thee.” God, I say, proclaimed the war, and the quarrel has continued from the beginning of the world to this day, and will do, till Satan be put out of the air, for so long he is to have his kingdom, though Christ beats him out of it every day in the world, and so will continue to do till he has won the world from him, and then he will chain him up in the bottomless pit. This from Dr. Goodwin, vol. 1. of his Works, part 2. p. 32, 33.
1266b. Fall of the Angels. The same Dr. Goodwin, in the 2d vol. of his Works, in his Discourse on the Knowledge of God the Father, and of his Son Jesus Christ, speaking of the pride of some, has these words: “A lower degree of accursed pride fell into the heart of the devil himself, whose sin in his first apostatizing from God, is conceived to be a stomaching that man should be one day advanced unto the hypostatical union, and be one person with the Son of God, whose proud angelical nature (then in actual existence, the highest of creatures) could not brook.”
CONFIRMATION OF THE ANGELS
515. Confirmation of the Angels. (See also M 442.) The fall of the angels that fell was a great establishment and confirmation to the angels that stood. They resisted a great temptation by which the rest fell, whatever that temptation was, and they resisted the entreaties of the ringleaders which drew away multitudes: and the resisting and overcoming great temptation naturally tends greatly to confirm in righteousness. And probably they had been engaged on God’s side in resisting those that fell when there was war and rebellion raised in heaven against God. All the hosts of heaven soon divided, some on one side, and some on the other, and standing for God in opposition and war against those that are his enemies, naturally tended to confirm their friendship to God. And then they saw the dreadful issue of the fallen angels’ rebellion, how much it was to their loss. They saw how dreadful the wrath of God was, which tended to make them dread rebellion, and sufficiently careful to avoid it. They now learned more highly to prize God’s favor by seeing the dreadfulness of his displeasure. They now saw more of the beauty of holiness, and now they had the deformity of sin to compare it with. But when their time of probation was at an end, and they had the reward of certain confirmation by having eternal life absolutely made certain to them, is in some degree uncertain. However, there are many things that make it look exceedingly probable to me, that whenever this was done, it was through the Son of God, that he was the immediate dispenser of this reward, and that they received it of the Father through him.
1. We have shown before, in M 320, that it was in contempt of the Son of God that those of them that fell, rebelled. It was because they would not have one in the human nature to rule over them. How congruous, therefore, is it, that those that stood should be dependent on him for their reward of confirmation in contempt of whom the others had rebelled. It was congruous that Christ, who was despised and rejected by a great number of the angels, should become the foundation upon which the rest should be built for eternal life, Psa. 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”
That God should thus honor his Son in the sight of the angels, who had been thus condemned by the angels that fell in their sight: — this makes it seem probable to me that the time of their confirmation was when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. For:
First. It was Jesus Christ in the human nature that was despised and rejected by the rebelling angels. It was congruous therefore, that it should be Jesus Christ in the human nature that should confirm them that stood.
Second. It was also congruous that their confirmation should be deferred till that time, that before they were confirmed they might have a thorough trial of their obedience in that particular, wherein the rebelling angels were guilty, viz., in their submission to Jesus Christ in the human nature. It was congruous therefore that their confirmation should be deferred till they had actually submitted to Christ in man’s nature as their King, as they had opportunity to do when Christ in man’s nature ascended into heaven.
Third. It seems very congruous that this should be reserved to be part of Christ’s exaltation. We often read of Christ’s being set over the angels when he ascended, and set at the right hand of God, and of his being then made head of all principality and power, that then all things were put under his feet, that then God the Father said, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” It was very congruous that Christ should have this honor immediately after such great humiliation and sufferings.
Fourth. It was fit that the angels should be confirmed after they had seen Christ in the flesh, for this was the greatest trial of the angels’ obedience that ever was. If the other angels rebelled only at its being foretold that such an one in man’s nature should rule over them, and if that was so great a trial that so many mighty angels fell in it, then how great a trial was it when they actually saw a poor, obscure, despised, afflicted man, one whom they had just seen so mocked, and spit upon, and crucified, and put to death like a vile malefactor! This was a great trial to those thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, those mighty, glorious, and exalted spirits, whether or no they would submit to such an one for their sovereign Lord and King.
It was also very fit that God should honor the day of the ascension and glorious exaltation of his Son, which was a day of such joy to Christ, with joining with it such an occasion of joy to the angels as the reception of their reward of eternal life: that when Christ rejoiced, who had lately endured so much sorrow, the heavenly hosts might rejoice with him.
Object. I. It may be objected that it was a long time for the angels to be kept in a state of trial from the beginning of the world till the ascension of Christ, but there might very fitly be a longer time of trial for those mighty spirits than for others.
Object. II. That the angels could not enjoy quiet and undisturbed happiness for all that while, if they were all the time unconfirmed, and did not certainly know that they should not fall.
I answer that there was no occasion for any distressing fears, for they never could be guilty of rebellion without knowing (when they were going to commit it), that it was rebellion, and that thereby they should forfeit eternal life and expose themselves to wrath by the terror of God’s covenant. And they could not fall, but it must be their voluntary act, and they had perfect freedom of mind from any lust. And they had been sufficiently warned and greatly confirmed when the angels fell, so that there was a great probability that they should not fall, though God had not yet declared and promised absolutely that they should not: they were not absolutely certain of it. This was an occasion of joy reserved for the joyful and glorious day of Christ’s ascension.
Fifth. The angels are now confirmed and have been since Christ’s ascension.
I. For Christ, since he appeared in the flesh, gathered together, and united into one society, one family, one body, all the angels and spirits in heaven, and the church on earth. Now it is not to be supposed that part of this body are in a confirmed state, and part still in a state of probation. But,
II. The second argument that the angels are confirmed by Christ is that we learn by Scripture that Christ is the head of the angels, and that the angels are united to him as part of his body, which holds forth that he is not only their head of government, but their head of communication too. Christ is therefore the head, from whence the angels receive communication of good. But how well does this agree with their receiving their reward of obedience from him? God in making Christ head of angels and men, has made him his dispenser of his benefits to all universally. It is therefore most probable that he, who now dispenses the blessings of the angels’ reward to them, is he from whom they first received that reward, and that God bestowed it upon them at first through his hands. And this also confirms that the time of the angels’ confirmation was at Christ’s ascension, for then was he made the head of the angels: then were all things put under his feet.
III. It is most congruous that that person who is to judge the angels, who shall publicly declare the unalterable condemnation of those that fell, and also shall publicly declare the unalterable confirmation of those that stood, should be the same person who acted the part of a Judge before, when they were first confirmed. He that is the Judge of the angels at the last day, publicly before heaven, earth, and hell, to confirm them, is probably the same person who was their Judge when they were first confirmed in heaven. The Father has committed all judgment to the Son, and this he did to Christ God-man. For the committing all judgment to him was done at Christ’s first exaltation, and the first fruits of it was probably his confirming the angels, as their Judge.
IV. Christ’s being called “the tree of life, that groweth in the midst of the paradise of God,” Rev. 2:7. If we consider the use of the tree of life that grew in the midst of the earthly paradise, it was to confirm man in life in case of obedience. If he had stood, he was to have received the reward in that way, by eating the fruit of that tree. Christ, being the tree of life in the heavenly paradise, is so to all the inhabitants of that paradise.
570. Confirmation of the Angels. We learn by Col. 1:16-20, that it was the design of the Father that his Son should have the preeminence in all things, not only with respect to men, but with respect to angels — thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. And there are some things there mentioned, wherein he has the preeminence, viz., that they were created by him and for him, and that they consist by him, and that every creature has all fullness in him. Why then has not Christ the preeminence with respect to the angels, as he is the dispenser of God’s benefits to them, so that they should have all fullness in him, and particularly that the gift of eternal life should be from his hands? One thing mentioned, wherein God’s will that his Son in all things should have the preeminence, and that all fullness should dwell in him, is that by him, he reconciles all things to him, whether they be things in heaven or things on earth. If this be understood only to extend to men, yet if it be one thing wherein God wills that his Son should in all things have the pre-eminence, and that all fullness should dwell in him, that it is by him that men are brought to an union with God. Why would it not be another, that by him the angels also are brought to their confirmed union with him, when it is plainly implied in what the apostle says, that it is the Father’s design that Christ should in all things have the pre-eminence with respect to the angels as well as with respect to men, and that both angels and men should have all their fullness in him? If they have their fullness in him, I do not see how it can be otherwise than that they should have their reward and eternal life and blessedness in him.
Again, it is said, 1 Cor. 8:6, that all things are of God the Father, and all things by Jesus Christ. God gave the angels their being by Jesus Christ. And I do not see why this would not be another instance of all things being by him that he gives them their eternal life by Jesus Christ. This very thing giving eternal life is one instance of men’s being by him, and is intended in those words that follow, “and we by him.”
591. Confirmation of the Angels by Jesus Christ. It is an argument that it was Christ that confirmed the angels and adjudged to them their reward, and that this was an act of judgment and was the proper act of a judge, whereby judgment was passed, whether they had fulfilled the law or not, and were worthy of the reward of it by the tenor of it. But Christ is constituted Universal Judge of all, both angels and men. John 5:22, “For the Father judgeth none, but hath committed all judgment to the Son;” and Christ is not only constituted the judge of men, but of angels. 1 Cor. 6:3, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” If this be meant only of the evil angels, yet that shows that Christ’s power of judging is extended beyond mankind to the angelic nature. And if he be constituted the Judge of the evil angels, that will confirm me that he is of the good too, as he is the Judge of both good and bad of mankind, and Christ tells us that all power is given him in heaven and in earth, Mat. 28:18. And we are often particularly told as to the good angels, that he is made their Lord and Sovereign, and that they are put under him. The apostle, in Rom. 14:10-12, speaking of Christ’s being universal Judge, before whose judgment seat all must stand, and to whom all must give an account, speaks of it as meant by those words in the Old Testament, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God;” which place of the Old Testament the apostle refers to in Phil. 2:9-11, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, — That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And these things are spoken of Christ, as God man. For in this last-mentioned place, it is mentioned as the reward of his being found in fashion as a man, and humbling himself. And in that other place and in the place in Romans, his being universal Judge, and every knee bowing to him, and every tongue confessing to him, is spoken of him as God-man. For it is said that he “died, rose, and revived,” that he might have this honor and authority. So in John 5:27, it is said that the Father has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of God: so that if he has acted the part of a Judge, towards the elect angels, it must be since his incarnation. And we know that he is to judge angels at the last day as God-man.
Corollary 1. Hence Christ is the tree of life in the heavenly paradise, to all the inhabitants of it. If our first parents had stood in their obedience and were found meet for their reward of eternal life, then they were to be brought to the tree of life and were to receive it from that tree, by eating the fruit of it, as the eternal life was the fruit of that tree. Thus it is in the earthly paradise, the dwelling-place of men. And there was also a tree of life in the heavenly paradise, the dwelling-place of angels. When they had stood in their obedience and were looked upon of God meet for the reward of eternal life, they were brought to Jesus to receive the reward at his hands, which they in God’s account especially become worthy of by their being willing to be subject to him as God man, and being willing to depend on him as their absolute Lord and supreme Judge.
Corollary 2. Here we may observe the wonderful analogy there is in God’s dispensations towards angels and men.
Corollary 3. Here we may take notice of the manifold wisdom of God. What glorious and wonderful ends are accomplished by the same events in heaven, earth, and hell, as particularly by those dispensations of Providence in Christ’s incarnation, death, and exaltation. How manifold are the wise designs that are carried on in different worlds by the turning of one wheel!
Corollary 4. Here we may observe how the affairs of the church on earth, and of the blessed assembly of heaven, are linked together. When the joyful times of the gospel began on earth, which began with Christ’s exaltation, then joyful times began also in heaven among the angels there, and by the same means. When we have such a glorious occasion given us to rejoice, they have an occasion given them. So long as the church continued under a legal dispensation, so long the angels continued under law. For since their confirmation, the angels are not under law, as is evident by what I have said in my Notes on Gal. 5:18. So doubtless at the same time there was a great addition to the happiness of the separate spirits of the saints, of which the resurrection of many of them at Christ’s resurrection is an argument. And in the general, when God gradually carries on the designs of grace in this world, by accomplishing glorious things in the church below, there is a new occasion of joy and glory to the church in heaven. Thus the matter is represented in John’s Revelations, and it is fit that it should be thus, seeing they are one family.
744. Confirmation of the Angels by Jesus Christ. That Christ in his ascension into heaven, gave to the angels the reward of eternal life, or of confirmed immutable happiness, may be argued from Eph. 4:10, “he that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things,” i.e. all things not only on the face of earth, but all things in the world where he dwelt before he descended into the lower parts of the earth, as in the foregoing verse: all things in the lower parts of the earth whither he descended, and all things in heaven. By “all things,” agreeably to the apostle’s way of using such an expression, is meant all persons or intelligent beings, as in Phil. 2:9-10, “Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” As there, so here the apostle is speaking of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, as appears by comparing this with the foregoing verse. And the apostle there in Philippians mentions these three, as therein enumerating all things whatsoever, for certainly, whatever things there are, they must be either in heaven, or in the earth, or under the earth. And doubtless by all things there that are spoken of as being included in these three, is intended the same with all things spoken of here, as included in the same three divisions of the universe. But it is evident that by things there is meant persons, or intelligent creatures. It is certainly they who shall bow the knee to him, and whose tongues shall confess to him. And as there, God is said highly to have exalted Christ, and to have given him a name above every name, i.e. above the highest angels in heaven, as well as above the highest prince upon earth, so here he is said to have ascended up far above all heavens, or above the highest part of heaven, and therefore, above the seat of the highest angel, that he might fill all universally, the highest as well as the lowest, that all might depend on him and receive their fullness from him. By things in heaven, in that place in Philippians and so doubtless here, is meant the angels; and by things in earth is meant elect men living on earth; and by things under the earth or in the lower parts of the earth is meant the souls of departed saints, whose bodies are gone under the earth, and especially the saints that were dead and buried before Christ came, or before Christ descended into the lower parts of the earth. Christ died and was buried that he might fill those that were dead and buried. Rom. 14:9, “For to this end Christ doth died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” That by things or creatures under the earth is meant souls of buried saints, and not devils and damned souls in hell, is manifest from Rev. 5:13, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” This would not be said of devils and wicked, damned souls, who are far from thus praising and extolling God and Christ with such exultation: instead of that they are continually blaspheming them.
And again, by all things, is meant all elect intelligent creatures: Eph. 1:10, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” And if he means all intelligent elect creatures there, by all things in heaven and earth, doubtless he also does, when he speaks of all things in heaven and on the earth, and the lower parts of the earth, in this 4th chap. of the same epistle, where he is treating of the same thing, viz., the glory of Christ’s exaltation. So again, Col. 1:20, “And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” In these two places last referred to, are mentioned only things in heaven and things in earth. Those, which in those other places are called things under the earth, being here ranked among things in heaven, because their souls are in heaven, though their bodies are in the lower parts of the earth.
Christ is said to have descended and ascended that he might fill all things not only in earth and under the earth, but in the highest heavens. Now by his filling all things, or all elect creatures, according to the apostle’s common use of such an expression, must be understood filling them with life, and the enjoyment of their proper good — giving them blessedness and perfecting their blessedness — making them complete in a happy state, as in the 3d chap. of this epistle, 19th verse, “And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Col. 2:10, “Ye are complete in him.” Rom. 11:12, “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness!” So that when we are put in mind that Christ, who dwelt once on the earth descended into the lower parts of the earth, and then ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, the meaning is: that Christ came down from heaven and dwelt among us on the earth. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, that we might partake of his fullness, and might be made happy by him and in him, agreeably to John 1:14-16, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth: and of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” And then Christ descended into the lower parts of the earth in a state of death, that he might bless those that were in a state of death, agreeably to Rom. 14:9, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” So we read that when he died, the graves of many saints were opened, and that many bodies of saints that slept arose and came out of their graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many. And then Christ ascended into heaven and filled them, bestowing eternal life and blessedness upon them, that the angels in heaven might all receive the reward of confirmed and eternal glory from him and in him.
That Christ, at his ascension into heaven, thus filled the angels of heaven, is also plainly taught in the last verse of the first chapter of this epistle, “Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” The apostle here has a special respect to his filling the angels, and particularly to their being subjected to him to receive their fullness from him as their head and as their Lord, at his ascension. For he in those foregoing verses is speaking of Christ’s being made the Lord and head of the angels at his ascension, “Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but that which is to come, and has put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church.” By all things, is here meant, as in the verse we are upon, especially all intelligent creatures, men and angels, as in that verse in the 4th chapter that we are upon. God has given him to be head over the angels to the church; agreeably to Heb. 1:14, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be the heirs of salvation?” The same all things that Christ is here said to be made head over, he is said in the next verse to fill. By this it appears that the angels at Christ’s ascension received their fullness, i.e. their whole reward, all their confirmed life and eternal blessedness, from Christ, as their Judge, because they received it from him as their Lord, or head of government. For they are said to be put under his feet, and also that they received it in him as the fountain of communication. He did not only adjudge it to them, but he gives it to them, and they possess it as united to him in a constant dependence on him, and have that more full enjoyment of God than they before had, as beholding God’s glory in his face, and as enjoying God in him. For he is here spoken of not only as their Lord, but their Head, as a natural head to a body, as appears by comparing the two last verses together.
This is confirmed again by the 10th verse, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him.” The apostle adds, even in him, at the end of the verse, because it might seem wonderful that not only things on earth, but even things in heaven, or the angels, should be gathered together in him, who was one that existed in the human nature. By gathering together in one, is meant making happy together in one head, or uniting all in one fountain of life and happiness; as appears by John 17:20-23.
The same thing is taught again in Col. 2:9-10, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power.” What is rendered complete in him, in the original properly signifies filled up, or filled full, in him. He is he in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells, and in whom the creature receives that fullness; and he is the head of communication whence ye receive fullness, or in whom ye are filled full, who is the same person, who is also the head, in whom the angels receive their fullness, as it is added, “who is the head of all principality and power.”
That the angels have their fullness, or their eternal good and happiness, not only from the hands of Christ, but also in him as the head and fountain of it, and as enjoying God in him, and that they have their confirmation in and by him, is confirmed in Christ’s being called angels’ food. The Psalmist, speaking of manna, says, Psa. 78:25-26, “Man did eat angels’ food;” which can be understood no otherwise than that that of which manna was the type, was angels’ food, but this Christ tells us is himself in John 6:31-32. There Christ tells us that that bread from heaven spoken of in this very place in Psalm 78, is himself, for the Jews quote the beginning of this passage, that is, the verse immediately preceding in the psalm, verse 31, “Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat.” And then we have Christ’s answer in the two next verses, “Moses gave you not that bread from heaven (i.e. that bread from heaven spoken of in that place that you cite) but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven; for the bread of God is he which cometh down, and giveth life unto the world.” Christ is called the tree of life that grows in the midst of the paradise of God. But we know that the use of the tree of life in paradise was that they that ate of that fruit might have confirmed life, and never die, but live forever. And the same is signified by Christ’s being called, in the 6th chap. of John, the bread of life, viz., that he that eats of this bread should have confirmed life, and not die, but live forever, as Christ himself there teaches, John 6:48, etc. “I am the bread of life; your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die; I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one (for so the original signifies) eat of this bread he shall live for ever.” But we are taught from the forementioned place that it is the angels’ bread of life as well as ours, and therefore it is that bread by which they have eternal life, or which they eat of and live forever, and is a tree of life to them as well as to us, a tree, the fruit whereof they eat and live forever as well as we.
Corollary 1. Here we may take occasion to observe the sweet harmony that there is between God’s dispensations, and particularly the analogy and agreement there is between his dealings with the angels and his dealings with mankind. That though one is innocent and the other guilty, the one having eternal life by a covenant of grace, the other by a covenant of works, yet both have eternal life by his Son Jesus Christ God-man, and both, though different ways, by the humiliation and sufferings of Christ. The one as the price of life, the other as the greatest and last trial of their steadfast and persevering obedience. Both have eternal life through different ways, by their adherence, and voluntary submission, and self-dedication to Christ crucified. And he is made the Lord and King of both, and head of communication, influence, and enjoyment to both, and a head of confirmation to both, for as the angels have confirmed life in and by Christ, so have the saints. All that are united in this head have in him a security of perseverance. Thus Christ is the tree of life that grows in the paradise of God to all that belong to that paradise, and to all that ever eat of the fruit of that tree. As Adam, if he had persevered through his trial, would have eat of the fruit of the tree of life, and after that would have had confirmation and been secure of perseverance, so are all that taste of the fruit of this tree: this branch that grows out of the stem of Jesse, this tender plant and root out of a dry ground, this branch of the Lord and fruit of the earth, this bush that God dwells in, this low tree which God exalts. Seeing the saints and angels are formed to be one society dwelling together as one company to all eternity, it was fit that they should be thus united in one common head, and that their greatest interests, and those things that concern their everlasting happiness, should be so linked together, and that they should have such communion, or common concern in the same great events in which God chiefly manifests himself to them, and by which they come to the possession of the eternal reward.
Corollary 2. Here also we may observe that God’s work from the beginning of the universe to the end, and in all parts of the universe, appears to be but one. It is all one design carried on, one affair managed, in all God’s dispensations towards all intelligent beings, viz., the glorifying and communicating himself in and through his Son Jesus Christ as God-man, and by the work of redemption of fallen man. Those of the angels that fell are destroyed for their opposition to God in this affair, and are overthrown, and condemned, and destroyed by the Redeemer. Those of them that stood are confirmed for their submission and adherence to God in this great affair. So the work of God is one, if we view it in all its parts: what was done in heaven, and what was done on earth and in hell, in the beginning, and since that through all ages, and what will be done at the end of the world.
Corollary 3. From this we may see that the angels are interested in Jesus Christ God man, as well as elect men, and that the incarnation of Christ was not only for our sakes (though chiefly for ours), but also for the sake of the angels. For God having from eternity, from his infinite goodness, designed to communicate himself to creatures, the way in which he designed to communicate himself to elect beloved creatures, all of them, was to unite himself to a created nature, and to become one of the creatures, and to gather together in one all elect creatures in that creature, whom he assumed into a personal union with himself, and to manifest to them, and maintain intercourse with them through him. All creatures having this benefit by Christ’s incarnation, that God thereby is, as it were, come down to them from his infinite height above them, and is become a fellow-creature, and all elect creatures hereby have opportunity for a more free and intimate converse with God, and full enjoyment of him, than otherwise could be. And though Christ is not the Mediator of the angels in the same sense that he is of men, yet he is a middle person between God and them, through whom is all their intercourse with God, and derivations from him.
Corollary 4. That the person who is the head of all elect creatures, in whom all are gathered together in one, by whom they all have their eternal fullness and glory, and who is the common fountain of all their good, and the common medium through whom God communicates himself to all, is so much nearer to men than to the angels, confirms it, that the saints are higher in glory than the angels.
Corollary 5. This confirms it that the church, or blessed assembly in heaven, is in like progressive state with the church on earth. For at the same time that the church in this world was advanced to a state of new light and glory by the dawning of the gospel-day, the angels in heaven were advanced to a new state of glory and happiness, and not only so, but the souls of the saints that died under the Old Testament were advanced much higher in glory, at Christ’s resurrection and ascension. For the test in Eph. 4:10 teaches that at that time of the manifestation of Christ God man in this universe, each of those three were advanced to a state of new blessedness, viz., the church on earth, and departed souls of saints whose bodies were in the lower parts of the earth, and also the angels in heaven. He came and dwelt upon earth among us, and we beheld his glory, and received of his fullness. When he rose from the dead he begat the church again to a living hope, as it were, raised the church from the dead with him, and the church here was advanced to so much higher glory, that her former glory was no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excels. And then he descended into the lower parts of the earth, and filled those that were there — advanced the souls of departed saints in glory, in becoming Lord of the dead, and in token of it and one instance of it then, was his granting a resurrection to many of them, whereby the future glory of the resurrection was in a measure anticipated. Doubtless those saints, that rose with Christ, ascended triumphing with him into heaven, into new glory and blessedness. These things confirm that the assembly in heaven has all along been in a like progressive state with the church on earth, and is in a preparatory state. And that things there, from the beginning of the world hitherto, have been working towards a great end, and glorious issue, and consummation at the end of the world, as it is here.
The church of angels and saints there at first was in a state of infancy to what it is now, as it was with the church on earth, and have been brought forward to greater fullness and perfection by great events of providence, as it has been with the church here. And things there will arrive at a consummation at the same time, and in the same great event at the end of the world, that they will here. The church in heaven was greatly advanced in happiness at Christ’s exaltation, whence commenced the gospel-day to the church in this world. And so again the church in heaven will receive another still much higher advancement in glory at the time of the fall of antichrist, as appears by several passages in the book of Revelation, as abundantly appears, Rev. 18:20, and Rev. 19:1-9, and Rev. 20:4. And both that part of the church that is on earth, and that which is in heaven, shall at the same time receive their highest advancement in glory, together with the consummation of Christ’s exaltation at the day of judgment. See M 777.
935. Confirmation of the Angels at Christ’s Ascension — Progress of the Work of Redemption. The service of the angels of heaven was altered after Christ’s ascension from what it had been before, in some analogy to the alteration that was made in the service of the church on earth. The service of the church on earth before Christ’s ascension, and that establishment of the evangelical dispensation consequent thereupon, was more legal and mercenary, more from a spirit of bondage, not so free and ingenuous. But afterwards, when faith as the great condition was more fully revealed, and God here more clearly revealed the saints’ infallible perseverance, the service of the church is more the service of those that are not under the law, but under grace, from a free spirit, a spirit of adoption, which is a spirit of love. So the angels, till they were confirmed at Christ’s ascension, served God more from a spirit of fear, being yet in probation, and their eternal happiness or eternal damnation being yet suspended on their perfect obedience not yet completed, their service was more mercenary. But when Christ ascended, and they were confirmed, thenceforward their service became more disinterested, and merely the service of love: being now no longer in a state of probation, but sure of eternal life by the infallible promise of God.
942. Confirmation of the Angels. Before that the angels were confirmed in holiness judicially, so that they were sure of never falling away, they were first greatly prepared for it by having their hearts greatly confirmed in holiness, naturally in some respect so: i.e. holiness was greatly confirmed by the tendency and influence of the means God used with them to that end. They were first greatly confirmed by what they saw of evil, the knowledge they gained of the evil of sin and its punishment in the fall of the angels, the dreadful ruin that sin brought, and also by what they saw of their own weakness, and mutability, and insufficiency for themselves, and also the distinguishing grace of Christ to them in preserving them when others fell; and afterwards by what they saw in that fall of man, and its consequences, and the grace of God to man, and what they saw in God’s dispensations of providence, in behalf of his church, and against his enemies from age to age, and by the many trials they had of their obedience through the age of the Old Testament. But their natural confirmation, and so their preparation for a judicial confirmation, had its finishing stroke by what they saw and did in the time of Christ’s humiliation, and above all at the time of his last sufferings. What came to pass then, did above all other things confirm their hearts in holiness and ripen their preparation for a judicial confirmation, which then was completed, and crowned their preparation. Their hearts were then confirmed by what they saw then of God’s glory, which had its chief manifestation then, and what they then saw of the evil and dreadful nature of sin, which had a much greater manifestation in what Christ did and suffered for sin and sinners, than in the sin and punishment of fallen angels; and in the honor that they saw one so infinitely great and glorious as Jesus Christ, put upon God’s authority and law, and the hatred he manifested of sin, and his willingly abasing himself so infinitely to honor God, and promote the happiness of his little unworthy sinful creatures, and by their own steadfast, universal, and perfect obedience to God, and thorough subjection to Christ under such a trial, and in seeing Christ’s exaltation, and the success of such humiliation and obedience as Christ performed, and the infinite benefit of thorough obedience to God, in great humiliation, and self-denial in what they saw in Christ.
This confirmation of the hearts of the elect angels, that prepared them for a judicial confirmation, consisted in the following things:
1. In the warning they had, or what they saw, to make them sensible of the evil nature and dreadful consequences of sin, and so to cause them to fear God.
2. In their humiliation, by what they saw to make them sensible of their own emptiness, and insufficiency for themselves, and dependence on the grace of Christ.
3. In what they saw more of God in the manifestations of his glorious excellency, and goodness, and grace to them, to increase their love to God and Christ.
4. In the example they had set them of obedience by Christ, whose obedience was performed by a person infinitely greater than they, and was performed with such infinite abasement, and an abasement of a like kind with what was required of them (only infinitely greater), viz., abasement in ministering to so mean and despicable a creature as man; and in the infinite love to God, and regard to his authority, that was manifested by that obedience.
5. They had their hearts confirmed in obedience by habit and custom, having long persevered in perfect obedience, and having often overcome under trials which they had. And then besides the natural tendency and influence to confirm their hearts in holiness that those things had, which came to pass while they were yet in a state of preparation for their judicial confirmation. That judicial confirmation itself had also a great natural tendency to confirm them, as the bestowment of this infinite reward upon them made manifest God’s eternal, electing, distinguishing love, and sovereign and infinite grace to them. And as they hereby receive the sweet and infinitely precious fruit of that grace and love, which tendency forever must strongly engage their hearts to God in love, and to move them with great devotedness now to make an everlasting dedication of themselves to God and Christ.
947. Confirmation of the Angels. The service of the angels will not be at an end till the end of the world, when the work of redemption shall be finished. And Christ, whose servants they are, shall have finished his work as Mediator, having fully brought home and glorified all his elect, to whom the angels are ministering spirits, and therefore their most solemn judgment and reward shall be then. But God is pleased to confirm them before the last judgment, and grants them an anticipation of their reward, and deals with them in this respect as he deals with mankind. Man is confirmed when he first believes in Christ, but his work is not done till death, and the reward not bestowed till then. And therefore let the saint be never so fully confirmed and assured before, yet it is proper that judgment should succeed the finishing of his work. The bestowment of reward for a work done is by an act of judgment.
994. Confirmation of the Angels. One trial of the obedience of the angels before Christ’s exaltation was that till then they were in a great measure kept in the dark as to God’s drift and aim in those great works of God in which they were employed as his ministers from age to age. The grand design and scheme of infinite wisdom in the successive operations of his hands and dispensations of his providence from one age to another, was not opened to them till Christ’s exaltation, as appears by Eph. 3:9-10. So the obedience of God’s church, which in its minority was tried by prescribing to them a manifold and burdensome ceremonial service, of which they did not know the meaning or design.
1329. Confirmation of the Angels. It is an argument that the angels were not confirmed till Christ ascended into heaven, that Jesus Christ God-man is risen and ascended, is appointed the head of the new creation, which only is that which cannot be shaken. As to the old creation, it is all that which is liable to pass away. Christ himself, while in the flesh, did in some respects belong to the old creation that passed away, but in his rising again to a glorious immortal life, and so being the firstborn from the dead, he is the beginning of the creation of God, the firstborn of every creature: the Beginning and Head of the new creation.
Consider the following two works by Edwards that have been updated and republished for easy reading:
Ripe for Damnation: Sermons on the Book of Revelation – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Are you hungry for more of Edwards’ sermons? On the book of Revelation? These new works are not found anywhere on A Puritan’s Mind, and there are new ones not found in his large 2 volume works. 4 deal with the plight of the wicked, and 2 deal with the bliss of saints in heaven. These sermons are powerful, practical, and biblical, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and contain 2 never before published sermons.
Justification by Faith Alone – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). In this classic work, Edwards covers the intricacies of how believers are made righteous only through Christ’s merits, and that this justifying righteousness is equally imputed to all elect believers. This is accomplished by the condition of faith as an instrument.