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How angels are benefited by the salvation of men.
So hath the wisdom of God contrived this affair, that the benefit of what he has done therein should be so extensive, as to reach the elect angels. It is for men that the work of redemption is wrought out; and yet the benefit of the things done in this work is not confined to them, though all that is properly called redemption, or included in it, is confined to men. The angels cannot partake in this, having never fallen; yet they have great indirect benefit by it.—God hath so wisely ordered, that what has been done in this directly and especially for men, should redound to the exceeding benefit of all intelligent creatures who are in favour with God. The benefit of it is so diffusive as to reach heaven itself. So great and manifold is the good attained in this work, that those glorious spirits who are so much above us, and were so highly exalted in happiness before, yet should receive great addition hereby.—I will show how in some particulars.
1. The angels hereby see great and wonderful manifestation of the glory of God. The happiness of angels as well as of men consists very much in beholding the glory of God. The excellency of the Divine Being is a most delightful subject of contemplation to the saints on earth; but much more to the angels in heaven. The more holy any being is, the more sweet and delightful will it be to him to behold the glory and beauty of the Supreme Being.—Therefore the beholding of the glory of God must be ravishing to the holy angels, who are perfect in holiness, and never had their minds leavened with sin. The manifestations of the glory of God, are as it were the food that satisfies the angels; they live thereon. It is their greatest happiness.
It is without doubt much of their employment to behold the glory of God appearing in his works. Therefore this work of redemption greatly contributes to their happiness and delight, as the glory of God is so exceedingly manifested by it. For what is done, is done in the sight of the angels, as is evident by many passages of Holy Scripture. And they behold the glory of God appearing herein with entertainment and delight, as it is manifest by 1 Pet. i. 12. “Which things the angels desire to look into.”
The angels have this advantage, that now they may behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, where it shines with a peculiar lustre and brightness. 1 Tim. iii. 5. “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels.” Perhaps all God’s attributes are more gloriously manifested in this work, than in any other that ever the angels saw. There is certainly a fuller manifestation of some of his attributes, than ever they saw before; as is evident by the text. And especially, it is so with respect to the mercy of God, that sweet and endearing attribute of the divine nature. The angels of heaven never saw so much grace manifested before, as in the work of redemption; nor in any measure equal to it. How full of joy doth it fill the hearts of the angels, to see such a boundless and bottomless ocean of love and grace in their God. And therefore with what rejoicing do all the angels praise Christ for his being slain! Rev. v. 11, 12. “And I beheld and heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
2. They have this benefit by it, that hereby Jesus Christ, God-man, is become their head. God, subsisting in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, was the king of angels, and would have been, if it had not been for our redemption. But it was owing to what is done in this work, that Jesus Christ, as God-man, becomes the head of the angels. Christ is now not only the head of angels simply as God, but as God-man. Col. ii. 10. “And ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Eph. i. 20-22. “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him on his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church.”
This is a part of the exaltation and glory of Christ which God confers on him as his reward. And not only so, but it is greatly to the angels’ benefit. It is God’s manner in his dealings with his elect creatures, in the same works wherein he glorifies himself, or his Son, greatly to benefit them. The same dealings of his that are most for 148his glory, shall be most for their good.—That Christ, God-man, should be made the head of the angels, is greatly to their benefit several ways.
(1.) Because they become hereby more nearly related to so glorious a person, the Son of God, than otherwise they would have. The angels esteem it a great honour done them to be related to such a person as Jesus Christ, God-man, who is an infinitely honourable person.
The angels, by Christ becoming their head, are with the saints gathered together in one in Christ, Eph. i. 10. They by virtue hereof, though Christ be not their Redeemer as he is ours, have a right and propriety in this glorious person, as well as we. He is theirs: though not their Saviour, yet he is their head of government, and head of influence.
(2.) Again, this is greatly to their benefit; as they are under advantages for a far more intimate converse with God. The divine nature is at an infinite distance from the nature of angels, as well as from the nature of man. This distance forbids a familiarity and intimacy of intercourse.—It is therefore a great advantage to the angels, that God is come down to them in a created nature; and in that nature is become their head; so that their intercourse and enjoyment may be more intimate. They are invited by the similar qualifications of the created nature, with which the Son of God is invested.
(3.) It is for the benefit of the angels, as hereby the elect of mankind are gathered into their society. Christ, by the work of redemption, gathers in the elect of mankind to join the angels of heaven. Eph. i. 10. “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” Men are brought in to join with the angels in their work of praising God; to partake with them of their enjoyments. The angels greatly rejoice at this. They rejoice when but one person is gathered in, as Christ teaches us, Luke xv. 10. “Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” The heavenly society is made more complete by this accession of the saints to it; they contribute to the happiness of each other. The angels rejoice that others are added to join them and assist them in praising God.—And thus the vacancy by the fall of angels is filled up.
(4.) It tends to make the angels to prize their happiness the more, when they see how much it cost to purchase the same happiness for man. Though they knew so much, yet they are not incapable of being taught more and more the worth of their own happiness. For when they saw how much it cost to purchase the same happiness for man; even the precious blood of the Son of God; this tended to give them a great sense of the infinite value of their happiness. They never saw such a testimony of the value of the eternal enjoyment of God before.
Thus we have shown, how the wisdom of God appears in the work of redemption in the good ends attained thereby, with respect to God, men, and good angels.
But are there any good ends obtained with respect to bad angels, God’s grand enemies? Undoubtedly there are, as may appear from the few following considerations. Satan and his angels rebelled against God in heaven, and proudly presumed to try their strength with his. And when God by his almighty power overcame the strength of Satan, and sent him like lightning from heaven to hell with all his army, Satan still hoped to get the victory by subtlety. Though he could not overcome by power, yet he hoped to succeed by craft; and so by his subtlety to disappoint God of his end in creating this lower world.—God therefore has shown his great wisdom in overthrowing Satan’s design. He has disappointed the devices of the crafty, so that they cannot perform their enterprise; he has carried their counsel headlong.
1. Satan thought to have disappointed God of his glory, which he designed in creating this lower world; and to make mankind be for his own glory, in setting up himself god over them. Now Christ, by what he has done in the work of redemption, has overthrown Satan; and utterly frustrated him as to this end. God is exceedingly glorified in the elect, to the surprise of angels and devils. God by redemption has all the glory that he intended, and more than either men, angels, or devils imagined that God intended. God might have glorified his justice in the destruction of all mankind. But it was God’s design in creating the world, to glorify his goodness and love; and not only to be glorified eventually, but to be served and glorified actually by men. Satan intended to frustrate God of this end; but, by the redemption of Jesus Christ, his design is confounded.
2. Another design of the devil, was to gratify his envy in the utter destruction of mankind. But, by the redemption of Jesus Christ, this malicious design of Satan is crossed: because all the elect are brought to their designed happiness; which is much greater than ever Satan thought it was in God’s heart to bestow on man. And though some of mankind are left to be miserable, yet that does not answer Satan’s end; for this also is ordered for God’s glory. No more are left miserable than God saw meet to glorify his justice upon.
One end why God suffered Satan to do what he did in procuring the fall of man, was that his Son might be glorified in conquering that strong, subtle, and proud spirit, and triumphing over him. How glorious doth Christ Jesus appear in baffling and triumphing over this proud king of darkness, and all the haughty confederate rulers of hell. How glorious a sight is it to see the meek and patient Lamb of God leading that proud, malicious, and mighty enemy in triumph! What songs doth this cause in heaven! It was a glorious sight in Israel to see David carrying the head of Goliah in triumph to Jerusalem. It appeared glorious to the daughters of Israel, who came out with timbrels and with dances, and sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. 149149 1 Sam. xxvii. 7. ” But how much more glorious to see the Son of David, the Son of God, carrying the head of the spiritual Goliah, the champion of the armies of hell, in triumph to the heavenly Jerusalem! It is with a principal view to this, that Christ is called, “the Lord of hosts, or armies, and a man of war,”Exod. xv. 3. And Psal. xxiv. 8. “Who is this king of glory! The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”
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