Chapter 8 - Of AngelsThe Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)
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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”
The Angels each of them being created in the beginning, were sealed in an upright estate. In whom these things are to be noted; First, their nature. Angels are spiritual and incorporeal essences. Heb. 2:16, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Heb. 1:7, “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
Secondly, their qualities. First, they are wise, 2 Sam. 14:17, “Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee.” 2 Thess. 1:7, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” 2 Sam. 24:17, “And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.” 2 Kings 19:35, “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” They are swift and of great agility, Isa. 6:6, “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar.” Dan. 9:21, “Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” This is the reason why the Cherubims in the tabernacle were painted with wings.
Thirdly, they are innumerable. Gen. 32:1, “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.” Dan. 7:10, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Matt. 26:53, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Heb. 12:22, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.”
Fourthly, they are in the highest heaven, where they ever attend upon God, and have society with Him. Matt. 18:10, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Psalm 68:17, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” Mark 12:25, “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.”
Fifthly, their degree. That there are degrees of Angels, it is most plain. 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.” Rom. 8:38, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come.” 1 Thess. 4:16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” But it is not for us to search who, or how many be of each order, neither ought we curiously to inquire how they are distinguished, whether in essence, gifts, or offices. Col. 2:18, “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”
Sixthly, their office. Their office is partly to magnify God, and partly to perform His commandments. Psalm 103:20-21, “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.”
Seventhly, the establishing of some angels in that integrity, in which they were created.