Imatges de pÓgina

But, while we contend for the exercise of an enlarged benevolence towards all Christians, we maintain that the Gospel does not reduce the different ranks and orders of society to a level, nay, rather it requires those distinctions to be observed. Onesimus might posibly resume his post in Philemon's houshold, and yet be trea:ed on a spiritual account, " not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved.” This fpiritual regard we may pay to our picus labourers and meanest dependents, as the children of God and the heirs of glory, while we continue to insist on their subjetion and obedience. We lament the forwardness of some, who seem to think they are exempted from subordination, in consequence of their religious knowledge and attainments. They obtrude themselves with a degree of infolence on the notice of their superiors, as if in a civil sense there must be a perfect equality among those, who are one in Christ. Surely this betrays gross misconceptions of our religion, or much haughtiness of temper. « Let as many servants, as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour; that the name of God and his doctrine be not blafphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them,” (as if they were all on a level) “ because they are brethren ; but rather do them service*."

Persons of higher rank should also learn to correct their proud and disdainful behaviour towards their inferiors. They have a right to use their labours; yet they should treat them with all gentleness of manners. These worldly distinctions will soon cease, and only that grand discrimination of characters, which the grace of God produces, will last for ever. If, therefore, we discover the image of the Saviour in them, who are subject to our authority, they should be particularly dear to us for his fake, and we should

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* I Tim. vi. 1, 2.


rejoice over them from the delightful expectation, that we shall meet them in heaven There Onefimus and Philemon, with their beloved Paul, are worshipping in the same company. There may we also, and our respective families, make up the hou hold of faith, and join in the same acclamations of praise before the throne of God and of the Lamb !

The example before us may encourage the most atrocious sinners to return to God with the hope of obtaining mercy; but the subject is shamefully perverted, if it imbolden any to persist in their evil courses. Shall you dare to say, For the present I will

I give a loose to my heart's desires, but on some future day I will repent, and doubt not of obtaining forgiveness, even as Onesimus ? Does the work of conversion lie within your own power? Or can you claim the grace, which alone is able to effect it? Are the instances of such a change, in persons rejecting the Gospel, so numerous, as to warrant your conclusion, that you shall certainly be recovered? On the cons trary, do you not see many suddenly taken away in their iniquities, and others, who are spared a longer time, become more and more obdurate, till, as we fear, they fill up their measure, and perish with aggravated ruin for their contempt of salvation ? Prelume not, then, on diftant opportunities, which may never be granted : resist not your present convictions, left they should return no more.

You have trifled too much already : O give the remainder of your short life to Him, for whose service you were made : thankfully accept his offered mercy, and endeavour to improve every succeeding day for his glory!




Angels, their nature, character, and situation-are

God's ministers, and perform his purposes-study and admire the plan of redemption--announced the birth of Jesus-worshipped him-attended him~-declared his resurrection--rejoice in the conversion of finners -watch over believers--will accompany Jesus to the last judgment --summon the world-approve and execute the different sentences--will be for ever employed in praising God-confirmed in their holy and happy flate and united with redeemed saints.


N contemplating the various characters of men, we perceive much cause to mourn for the sad effects, which sin has produced upon the earth. Some of these characters exhibit nothing but evil. Others discover a real excellency of disposition and conduct: but such are their defects, so interrupted their obedience, that even in them the purposes of Heaven seem, as yet, to be imperfe&ly answered. Our species evidently appears in a fallen state; extreme depravity univers : fally prevails, which is offenfive to God, obscures his glory, and spreads confusion and misery through the whole system of human affairs.

Posibly, there may be other worlds, where no such apostary has taken place, and where Jehovah, the great Lord of all, is continually receiving the full tribute of honour, love, and service from thousands of intelligent and holy creatures. We have certain information, that there is one blessed society of this kind, the Angels of God in heaven, who will furnish


us with matter of useful and delightful meditation, when we are distressed by a view of our own unhappy circumstances.

These exalted beings are, as much as ourselves, the workmanship of God, and as entirely dependent upon kim. It should seem, that they were brought into existence before the human species; but both they and we were made for the fole purpose of doing the will and thewing forth the prailes of God. “ Thou

" art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, i and power : for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created *.

They are spirits, possessed of large intellectual powers; and though they have not flesh and bones t, nor any corporeal form, like our's, they can become visible to us when commiffioned for special purposes. They are also endued with vigour of a superior sort; and accordingly they have produced effects, to which no human exertions would be equal. They are there. fore called "mighty Angels," and are said to “excel in strength 1. Their chief residence is in heaven,

where the ever-blessed God displays the splendour of | his Majesty ; and there they are admitted to behold

the beauty of the Lord :" but while they appear in his immediate presence, they bow at his footstool. The fociety is extremely numerous. When Daniel faw " the Antient of days” fitting on his throne, he thus describes his attendants ; “ Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” Our Lord declared, that he could have procured for his alliitance "more than twelve legions of Angels $ ;” and it is further afferted, that their company is “ innumerable t." They are distinguished into different orders, and polsess different degrees of glory and perfection: this

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* Rev. iv. 11. + Luke xxiv. 39. 1 2 Theff. i. 7. Pfal. ciii. 20. I Dan. vii. 9, 10. § Matt. xxvi. 53. '+ Heb. xii. 22.



feems to be implied, where they are represented as “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers *.” Two of the celestial Hierarchy are mentioned by name, Michael and Gabriel, as obtaining a preference, and exalted to peculiar eminence t.

But, however they may be discriminated by various measures of excellence, they are all adorned with a {plendour, which human eyes, in our present state, could not bear. Some of the most advanced saints on earth have been confounded by their appearance. There is no defect in any of them. They are completely holy, and completely happy: being in all respects conformed to the will of God, they enjoy the conftant assurances of his love. They can therefore teil, from their own experience, that “in his prefence is fulness of joy, at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore 1." In them let us admire

I. the great Creator, from whom they have derived whatever they poffels, and who alone is the perfection of beauty." To Him let us look in fervent prayer for the communications of his grace, if we with to resemble these blessed fpirits.

Let us enquire 1. What is their employment in the present administration of the divine government. The Lord himself, by his continual and sovereign agency, upholds and regulates every part of the universe, which he hath made. He wants no aslistance; yet he is pleased to accomplish his purposes by various inftruments, which he uses, not through weakness as earthly monarchs do, but for the display of his power and the glory of his majesty. The holy Angels are called his « chariots;" and the Lord' is among them," riding, as it were, in great state and triumphil. They surround his throne with unceasing songs of

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* Col. i. 16. † Jude 9. Lu.i. 19. Psal. xvi. 11. Bosviii. 17. xviii. 10.

Il Pfal.


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