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human life to a certain term, which in the progress of ages, from Adam to David, gradually became more and more contracted; so that whether this term be one and the same to all, or appointed differently to each individual, it is in the power of no one to prolong or exceed its limits. This is the province of God alone, as is proved beyond all doubt by the promise of long life made by him to his people, and by his addition of fifteen years to the life of Hezekiah when at the point of death. The power of shortening or anticipating the term in question, on the other hand, is not the exclusive privilege of God, though this also is exercised by him, both for purposes of reward and punishment; the same effect may be, and in fact frequently is, produced by the crimes or vices of mortals themselves. Prov. x. 27. "the fear of Jehovah prolongeth days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened." Exod. xx. 12. "honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land," &c. See also numerous passages to the same purpose, during the time of the law. Psal. lv. 23. bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days,' that is, they shall not live to the end of that term, to which by the constitution of their bodies they might otherwise have arrived; in which class are to be placed all those who lay violent hands on themselves, or who accelerate death by intemperate living.
The providence of God is either ordinary or extraordinary." His ordinary providence is that whereby he upholds and preserves the immutable order of causes appointed by him in the beginning. This is commonly, and indeed too frequently, described by the name of nature; for nature cannot possibly mean anything but the mysterious power and efficacy of that
time may come, when men
Here, or in heav'nly Paradises dwell. Paradise Lost, V. 493. 7 Qualitas providentiæ in duobus præcipue spectatur. 1. Quod alia sit ordinaria, alia vero extraordinaria... Providentia ordinaria est, qua Deus in hominum regimine ordinem a se ab initio institutum observat, et omnia convenienter naturæ, quam ipsis indidit, gubernat.' Curcell. Institutio, III. 12. 10.
divine voice which went forth in the beginning, and to which, as to a perpetual command, all things have since paid obediJob xxxviii. 12. "hast thou commanded the morning since thy days?" v. 33. "knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?" Psal. cxlviii. 8. "fire and hail, snow and vapours, stormy wind fulfilling his word." Isai. xlv. 12. "I have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." Jer. xxxi. 36. "if those ordinances depart from before me." xxxiii. 20. "my covenant of the day and my covenant of the night."
The extraordinary providence of God is that whereby God produces some effect out of the usual order of nature, or gives the power of producing the same effect to whomsoever he may appoint. This is what we call a miracle. Hence God alone is the primary author of miracles, as he only is able to invert that order of things which he has himself appointed. Psal. lxxii. 18. "who only doeth wondrous things.' John x. 21.
can a devil open the eyes of the blind?" 2 Thess. ii. 9. "whose coming is after the power of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders."
The use of miracles is to manifest the divine power, and confirm our faith. Exod. vi. 6, 7. "I will redeem you.... with great judgements.... and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God." viii. 22. "I will sever in that day the land of Goshen . . . . to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah." 1 Kings xvii. 24. "now by this I know that thou art a man of God." Mark xvi. 20. " the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." ii. 4. "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will."
Miracles are also designed to increase the condemnation of unbelievers, by taking away all excuse for unbelief. Matt. xi. 21. woe unto thee, Chorazin.. for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago." John xv. 24. " if I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin."
CHAP. IX.-OF THE SPECIAL GOVERNMENT OF ANGels. THE GENERAL Government of PROVIDENCE has been hitherto the subject of consideration. THE SPECIAL GOVERNMENT is that which embraces with peculiar regard angels and men, as beings far superior to the rest of the creation.
Angels are either good or evil, Luke ix. 26. viii. 2. for it appears that many of them revolted from God of their own accord before the fall of man. John viii. 44. "he abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him: when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it." 2 Peter ii. 4. "God spared not the angels that sinned." Jude 6. "the angels which kept not their first estate." 1 John iii. 8. " the devil sinneth from the beginning." Psal. cvi. 37. "they sacrificed unto devils."
Some are of opinion that the good angels are now upheld, not so much by their own strength, as by the grace of God." 1 Tim. v. 21. the elect angels," that is, who have not revolted." Eph. i. 10. "that he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth." Job iv. 18. "his angels he charged with folly." See also xv. 15. Hence arises, in their opinion, the delighted interest which the angels take in the mystery of man's salvation;' Pet. i. 12. "which things the angels desire to look into." Eph. iii. 10. "that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." Luke ii. 13, 14. “a multitude of heavenly host praising God," namely, on account of the birth of Christ. "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." They assign the same reason for their wor
8 See this whole question discussed in Thomas Aquinas, 1. Qu. 62. Art. 3-6.
9 Milton employs the word elect in opposition to the apostate angels, in the description of the first battle in heaven:
but those elect
Angels, contented with their fame in Heav'n,
In might though wond'rous-, &e. Paradise Lost, VI. 374.
Nor less think we in heav'n of thee on earth
shipping Christ. Heb. i. 6. " let all the angels of God worship him." Matt. iv. 11. "angels came and ministered unto him.” Philipp. ii. 10. "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven"— 2 Thess. i. 7. "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels." 1 Pet. iii. 22. "angels.being made subject unto him." Rev. v. 11, 12. "worthy is the Lamb that was slain." It seems, however, more agreeable to reason, to suppose that the good angels are upheld by their own strength no less than man himself was before his fall;-that they are called elect, in the sense of beloved, or excellent ;—that it is not from any interest of their own, but from their love to mankind, that they desire to look into the mystery of our salvation;-that they are not comprehended in the covenant of reconciliation;-that, finally, they are included under Christ as their head, not as their Redeemer.2
For the rest, they are represented as standing dispersed around the throne of God in the capacity of ministering agents. Deut. xxxiii. 2. "he came with ten thousands of saints." 1 Kings xxii. 19. "I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left." Job i. 6. "there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah." See also ii. 1. Dan. vii. 10." ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." Matt. xviii. 10. "their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." Luke i. 19. “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God."
Praising God. Job xxxviii. 7. "all the sons of God shouted for joy." Psal. cxlviii. 2. "praise ye him, all his angels." Neh. ix. 6. "the host of heaven worshippeth thee." Isai. vi. 3.
one cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, holy." See also Rev. iv. 8. vii. 11. " the angels fall before the throne on their faces."
They are obedient to God in all respects. Gen. xxviii. 12. "behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."
2 When the great ensign of Messiah blaz'd,
His army, circumfus'd on either wing,
Under their head embodied all in one. Paradise Lost, VI. 775.
Psal. ciii. 10. “his angels. . . . . . that do his commandments." Zech. i. 10. "these are they whom Jehovah hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.”
Their ministry relates especially to believers.
Heb. i. 14.
are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Psal. xxxiv. 7. "the angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them that fear him." xci. 11. " he shall give his angels charge over thee." Isa. lxiii. 9. "the angel of his presence saved them." Matt. xviii. 10. "their angels do always behold the face of my Father." xiii. 41. "the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend." xxiv. 31. "they shall gather together his elect from the four winds." Acts xii. 15. "it is his angel." 1 Cor. xi. 13. "for this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels," namely, as some think, (and numerous examples in confirmation of their opinion are not wanting) those angels whose office it was to be present at the religious assemblies of believers.5
Seven of these, in particular, are described as traversing the earth in the execution of their ministry. Zech. iv. 10. "those
4 The tutelary care of angels is incidentally alluded to in Paradise Lost: .except whom
God and good angels guarded by special grace. II. 1032.
Subjected to his service angel wings
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
Their earthly charge.
Send me the angel of thy birth, to stand
Fast by thy side. Samson Agonistes, 1431.
A shield before us.
5 This is the interpretation of Grotius, Hammond, (who quotes from the Fathers in support of his opinion,) Wolf, Doddridge, Pearce, &c. But Milton probably alluded to Tremellius, whose version he principally used, and whose note is as follows: 'Hujus autem rei testes sunt et observatores angeli in ecclesia Dei, ab externo ordine internam Dei gratiam et pietatem membrorum optime recognoscentes. Psal. xxxiv. 8. et xci. 11. Matt. xviii. 10. John i. 52. Eph. iii. 10. 1 Tim. v. 21. Heb. i. 14. 1 Pet. i. 12. These seem to have been the numerous examples' referred to above.
Th' Arch-Angel Uriel, one of the sev'n
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes
That run through all the heav'ns, or down to th' earth