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CONFIRMATION OF THE ANGELS.

[442] SEE .

[515] 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 learnt more highly to prize God’s favour by seeing the dreadfulness of his displeasure; they now saw more of the beauty of holiness, 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 No. 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, Ps. cxviii. 22. “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”

That God should thus honour 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.

Secondly. 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.

Thirdly. 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. 526526    Heb. i. 6. ” It was very congruous that Christ should have this honour immediately after such great humiliation and sufferings.

Fourthly. 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, if that was so great a trial that so many mighty angels fell in it; 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 honour 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, 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 their613 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.

Fifthly. 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 doth this agree with their receiving their reward of obedience from him? God in making Christ head of angels and men, hath 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; 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 hath 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 Rev. ii. 7. “the tree of life, that groweth in the midst of the paradise of God,” 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 angels. We learn by the first chap. of Coloss. 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th verses., that it was the design of the Father, that his Son should have the pre-eminence 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 pre-eminence, viz. that they were created by him and for him, and that they consist by him, and that every creature has all fulness in him. Why then hath not Christ the pre-eminence with respect to the angels, as he is the dispenser of God’s benefits to them, so that they should have all fulness 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 pre-eminence, and that all fulness 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 fulness 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 fulness in him? If they have their fulness 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. viii. 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. It is an argument that it was Christ that confirmed the angels, and adjudged to them their reward; that this was an act of judgment; was the proper act of a judge, whereby judgment was passed, whether they had fulfilled the law or no, 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 v. 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. vi. 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. Matt. xxviii. 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 Romans xiv. ver. 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 Philip. ii. 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 honour and authority. So in John v. at the 27th verse,. it is said that the Father hath 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.

Corol. I. 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.

Corol. II. Here we may observe the wonderful analogy there is in God’s dispensations towards angels and men.

Corol. III. 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!614

Corol. IV. 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. v. 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. iv. 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 Philip. ii. 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 fulness 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. xiv. 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. v. 13. “And every creature which is in heaven, and un 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. i. 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, Colos. i. 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.” Colos. ii. 10. “Ye are complete in him.” Rom. xi. 12. “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” 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 fulness, and might be made happy by him and in him; agreeably to John i. 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. xiv. 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. 527527    Eph. i. 23. ” The apostle here has a special respect to his filling the angels, and particularly to their being subjected to him to receive their fulness 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 hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church. 528528    Eph. i. 20. ” By all things, is here meant, as in the verse we are upon, especially all intelligent creatures, men and angels, as in that 615 verse in the 4th chap. that we are upon. God has given him to be head over the angels to the church; agreeably to Heb. i. 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 Jill. By this it appears that the angels at Christ’s ascension received their fulness, 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 our head, or uniting all in one fountain of life and happiness; as appears by John xvii. 20, 21, 22, 23.

The same thing is taught again in Colos. ii. 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 fulness of the Godhead dwells, and in whom the creature receives that fullness; and he is the head of communication whence ye receive fulness, or in whom we are filled full, who is the same person, who is also the head, in whom the angels receive their fulness, as it is added, “who is the head of all principality and power.”

This is very agreeable to what the apostle says, Colos. i. 18, 19. “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 pre-eminence, for it pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell.” By this it appears that it was the design of God so to exalt and glorify his Son, that all his intelligent creatures should in every thing be after him, inferior to him, subject to him, and dependent on him, and should have all their fulness, all their supplies from him, and in him; especially if we compare this verse with the context, and with many other places in the New Testament.

That the angels have their fulness, 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, Ps. lxxviii. 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 vi. 31, 32. There Christ tells us that that bread from heaven spoken of in this very place in the 78th Psalm., is himself; for the Jews quote the beginning of this passage, that is, the verse immediately preceding in the psalm, Psal. lxxviii. 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. 529529    John vi. 32. ” 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 for ever. 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 for ever, as Christ himself there teaches,John vi. 48,. &c. “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 for ever, and is a tree of life to them as well as to us, a tree, the fruit whereof they eat and live for ever as well as we.

Corol. I. 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 stedfast 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 groweth 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.

Corol. II. 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.

Corol. III. 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 616 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.

Corol. IV. 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 fulness 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.

Corol. V. 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 text in Eph. iv. 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 fulness. 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 excelleth; and then 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 fulness 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. xviii. 20,. xix. 1-9,. xx. 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 No. 777, Corol. 3.

[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 honour 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 honour God, and promote the happiness of his little unworthy sinful creatures, and by their own stedfast, 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 for ever 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.

[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 617 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.

[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. iii. 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 first-born from the dead, he is the beginning of the creation of God, the first-born of every creature; the Beginning and Head of the new creation.


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