Studies on the Old Testament

By Frédéric Louis Godet

Chapter 1



The subject which is now to occupy us has its attractions, but also its dangers. The veil of mystery which enshrouds it constitutes its attraction. The danger to which we are exposed in treating it, is that of putting our trust, while upon ground which belongs to things divine, in a guide not adequately qualified, imagination.

In order as much as possible to avoid this danger, we shall endeavour to draw from Nature any inductions, and from History any analogies which they may offer; then, putting these results into connection with those contained in the book of Divine Revelation, we shall seek to throw light upon these several sources of knowledge by comparing each with the other. Might I but succeed in rescuing this interesting subject out of the obscurity in which it is lost in so many minds! It is no doubt a secondary, but still an important part, which these beings, who are to be the subject of our study, play in the grand drama of the work of God upon earth. Four points will require our attention:—

1. The existence and nature of the angels.

2. The manner of their development.

3. The relations in which they stand to each other.

4. Their relation to us.


The existence of angels cannot be questioned by any one who holds fast to the contents of the Bible revelation. But for any one who rejects these revelations, or who hesitates to accept all that they teach, may we not find some reasons fitted to induce him to admit the real existence of an order of beings in some respects superior to man?

We see before us on earth three orders of living things—plants, animals, men. If we once arrive at the perception that these three classes of creatures are the first steps of the ladder in a system of beings, of which the fourth and final step, though missing in fact here on earth, is none the less imperatively demanded as necessary in theory; would it not follow from this, with great probability, that this superior order which is thus indispensable to the harmony of the whole, does really exist in some domain of creation inaccessible to our present faculties? This is precisely the conclusion for which we are about to plead.

Let us notice the relation in which the individual stands to the species in the three orders of living things which are before us in Nature, and we shall see whether this relation does not lead us naturally to suppose that that superior order which we have imagined must exist.

In the vegetable world, species only has any proper existence; the individual specimen is but its representative, nothing more, nothing less. If we put a rose into the element proper for its growth, it will there become that only which any other rose would have become if placed under the same conditions. Language applies to individuals in the plant world the term specimens. This is because they are to the species what the several impressions of a photograph are to the negative, which they reproduce precisely. Thus properly speaking, there is but one rose,—the species rose, which lives on, and is continually re-born in the transitory apparitions by which it becomes visible to us. A plant may be compared to some single and indivisible property, where each part-owner lives upon the whole and for the whole. In the plant world the individual as such has no existence, but the species only.

In the animal world the species is still the essential thing, but the individual has already now become an independent reality by the side of, and above it. Individuality begins to shew itself above ground; but, nevertheless, the animal is governed by instinct. Now what is instinct but the power of the species manifested in the individual? Subjected to this blind and irresistible law, the individual is incapable of drawing from its own being an act of free-will, or of making a resolution which shall be properly its own. Hence the absence of responsibility, and hence also the want of progress in the animal world. The lion of our day does exactly what his ancestors did, and what his descendants will do in the remotest future. If man does not hold out a helping hand to him by training, the animal will tread over and over again the circle marked out for him by instinct. The individual lives. it is true, but as the slave of species. His gaoler does, indeed, allow him to take a few steps in his prison-yard, but never to leap its walls.

The transition from the animal to the man is marked by a complete reversal in the relations of the individual to the species. The latter does still exist in man. "We speak, not without reason, of human kind. Each man owes his existence to his parents, and it is that which constitutes species. With men, as well as with animals, species is that primordial, obscure, mysterious material, out of which each individual being shapes itself. But—and herein consists the reversal of the relation—the law of instinct, even while exerting its power in man, does not govern him absolutely. Instinct is his first master, but by no means his eternal tyrant. Man can struggle against his natural appetites; he can even, with the help of conscience and reflection, overcome the solicitations of his lusts, and sacrifice them on the altar of moral obligation. The prisoner can force the doors of his cell, and escape out of his prison. And because he can, he ought to do so. The individual only becomes properly a man, in proportion as he exercises this glorious prerogative. If he neglects to do so, he remains on the level of the lower animals, and ends by even surpassing them in brutality. He is punished by becoming a victim to those instincts over which he was intended to rule. Prom this faculty of self-government springs the power of progress in mankind. Instinct—the cradle and temporary guardian of the individual—gives but the starting-point to his development. Once he has broken down this barrier by an act of reflective will, man sees opening before him a pathway of progress towards perfection, both for the individual and for the race.

We see, then, that species is not extinct in man, but the individual has power to free himself from its bondage, and it is his noble mission to reach the dignity of personality by subjecting the promptings of a blind and natural instinct to the higher claims of morality. Man is no longer a mere specimen of a class, he is a person.

On comparing these three forms of existence which we perceive in nature around us, there would appear to be evidently a law by which the preponderance of individuality bears an ever-increasing proportion to that of a species. In the first stage, individuality has no existence; in the second it does exist, but is still in bondage; in the third it comes forth free, and able to effect its entire deliverance from species. May there not be a fourth state, superior even to this last, and rendering the whole system complete?

In the science of mathematics, if three terms are given, we can make out the fourth with perfect certainty. The two middle terms, being known, enable us to argue from the first to the last which is unknown. May we not then say in like manner that, among living creatures, animals and men are the two middle terms by the help of which we can rise from the first term of the series, the plant, to another and still unknown one, the very opposite and complement of the first, that is, the angel?

Haying established the fact of these three forms of being: species without individuality; individuality under bondage to species; species overpowered by individuality— ^what have we remaining for the fourth form? Evidently, individuality without species. This formula, which seems at first sight strange to us, yet, on reflection, points to and describes a method of existence much more simple than our own: an order of beings, amongst whom, species having ceased to exist, each individual owes his existence no longer to parents like himself, but immediately to the creative will. Should we not then have exactly the angel?

This method of existence is precisely that which is attributed to these mysterious beings in Holy Scripture. In speaking of us, the term son of man is frequently used, but the angels are called sons of God, never sons of angels. Why should this be, except for this reason, that they owe their existence to a direct act of creation, and not to the ordinary means of descent? In the most explicit revelation which we have in Holy Scripture on the nature of angels, our Lord makes a remarkable comparison between the angels and the saints in glory. "The children of this world," He says, "marry, and are given in marriage; but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection1." This declaration of our Lord gives us four very remarkable data upon the nature of angels: 1st. They have bodies, since the resurrection bodies are to be like theirs. 2nd. These bodies do not owe their existence to the ordinary process of filiation, but to an immediate act of creation; for they are compared to the bodies with which the souls of the faithful will be re-clothed at the time of the resurrection. It is in virtue of this resemblance that both alike are to bear the name "sons of God" in the life to come; "they are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." 3rd. The conjugal elation will no longer exist for glorified men, any more than it exists for angels. 4th. This enfranchisement from the conjugal relation corresponds in both cases to the exemption from death. Do not, then, the exact contents of this declaration of our Lord agree, as closely as possible, with the conclusions at which we have arrived in our observations on the living creatures known to us in Nature?

So far, then, as our inductions are well grounded, and that we believe our Lord was speaking of a subject on which He could pronounce with authority, we may now consider the question of the reality and of the nature of angels as settled, and pass on to the second step, that of trying to discover what is the manner of development of these beings.


"We see, then, a ladder or scale before us: on the bottom step of it we have species without individuality; next above that, individuality in species; one step higher, the individual detaching himself from species; and at the top of the scale, the individual without species, that is, the angel. Below this scale of living creation, and as it were the ground upon which it rests, we have inanimate matter without either collective or individual life; and at an infinite and immeasurable height above, the Being from whose Hand it is suspended, and in whom both individual and species are but one, that is, God. The angel, then, has his place marked out and distinctly definable in the system of Nature. Can we find out something of his history? And first, with reference to the body.

The imagination of painters has clothed angels in graceful bodily forms. Do not let us materialise too much on the one hand by giving literal wings and feet to these beings, but neither let us reject the idea too contemptuously, for, as we have just seen, they have really a bodily organism, though different from our own.

If, then, they have a body, they must have a habitation. Where is it? Can it be that the angels form the population of the star-lit sky? In this way one might explain the double sense of the expression so often used in Scripture, ''the Lord of Hosts," which would appear to mean both the Lord of the stars, and the Lord of angels. This interpretation, too, gives a meaning to the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," It may be, however, that there are superior spheres of existence distinguished from those in which we live, less by distance in space, than by a difference in nature and quality. When Jesus said of those whom He called "these little ones," that their angels do always behold the face of God, that is to say, that they are the beings nearest to His throne, we must not, therefore, imagine to ourselves these angels as living half-way to the nebulae above our heads. They are at once higher and lower; higher, since they are said to be so near the throne; lower, in that they are in some ways connected with those weak creatures who are the most in need of protection on this earth. The heaven which they inhabit is not then topographically distant from our own sphere. It may be that it is diffused throughout it in the same manner as the impalpable ether pervades tangible nature.

As to the moral development of the angels, we know, in the first place, that they are free beings. This follows from the high place which they occupy in the scale of living creatures. Unfettered by the laws of species, and consequently not under the dominion of blind instinct, the angel must be even more free than man, who has to drag after him the heavy chain of collective existence, and of the involuntary solidarity of his species. Now one characteristic of all free existence is temptation. No sooner was man placed in the scene of his future activity than he was made subject to this law. The power to obey or to resist is the first gift of God to a free being, as soon as He has made Himself known as the giver of his existence, and of all the benefits which accompany it. And what is human life but a series of trials, out of each of which we emerge either more freely dependent, or more obstinately rebellious?

To surrender ourselves or to refuse to do so, to confirm from the motive of love our state of dependence, or proudly to deny it, it is in this that that progress in good or evil consists, to which the perilous prerogative of free-will forces us. If the angels are free as we are free, or even more completely so, they cannot escape from the state of probation.

"We know in what the trial of man consisted. It was adapted to the initial stage of his existence, to his then infantine condition, and to his instinct of enjoyment. Shall we now endeavour to lift the veil which conceals the trial, doubtless of a very different kind, to which the angels were subjected? No, we have but to call to mind that for man himself there exist more subtle and dangerous temptations than those of the flesh; temptations of a kind purely spiritual, such as proceed from self-love, self-will, the love of praise, the abuse of intellectual superiority, the substitution of self for God in the interior worship of the soul. Now temptations of this kind are more conceivable in any being, in proportion as he is endowed with a more spiritual nature, and with more of liberty and of personal independence.

"We know that the trial of the angels has taken place. Holy Scripture makes known to us the result of it, though without telling us in what it consisted. This result differs in one very material point from that in our own case. "With us the race altogether is fallen, just because we are a race, and in that method of existence, the fate of all the individuals is bound together, at least according to the order of nature. Humanity is like a single tree with many branches; cut the trunk, and each branch is as completely severed from the root by that one blow, as if it had itself been struck. The case must be quite different where there is no race, no filiation, no species. The angelic host, instead of resembling a tree bearing a multitude of branches, may rather be compared to a forest, composed of a number of trees, each independent of the others. "With the angels, then, trial may have had different or opposite results in different cases. And, according to Scripture, we find that this possibility became a reality. It tells us of certain angels, that they "kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation2;" that they "abode not in the truth3;" while to others is given the title of "holy angels4,'' and "elect angels5." The former, then, have abjured the law of their existence, the will of their Creator; that is to say, they have made their own will the principle of their actions. They have thus fallen from the sphere of truth, which is only in God, into that of falsehood; their existence has become factitious, they oscillate unceasingly between illusion and imposture, alternately deceived and deceiving, For there exists no support outside of their own being to which they can attach themselves. They no longer possess God, from whom they have separated themselves, and with whom the faithful angels are still in communion; neither can they enjoy the world, with which the nature of their organs does not allow them to communicate directly6,—that world which forms a temporary compensation for sinful men who have lost God. They live and act in the void of their own subjectivity, a void which they ever seek to people with their own lying creations. The only consolation they have for the loss of God consists in fighting against all that is good and true, and in seducing other free beings, whom they seek to drag with them into their own feverish activity, purely negative, and constantly powerless.

The holy angels, on the contrary, in conforming to the will of God, have become sharers in His power and in His truth; they are happy instruments in His hand, in that particular sphere of the universe over which each of them is set. Accordingly, the extraordinary operations of Divine power in the region of external things are attributed to them, and the Son of man speaks of His miracles as of "angels which ascend and descend7." The reward of their willing submission is to be really what they were destined to be, and what their name expresses,—angels, or messengers from heaven, the agents of God. In God they possess at once both the guarantee of the reality of their existence, and that of their activity.


In what relation do these beings stand to one another? Do they form a hierarchy? Are they united by any kind of organization?

Nowhere upon earth do we find complete equality; and the higher we ascend in the scale of being, the more marked do we find the superiority of some, and the subordination of others. Three forms of inequality are very distinctly marked among men, which are scarcely to be found among inferior beings: in family life, the natural superiority which belongs to parents; in the State, that which belongs to rank; in society in general, that of influence.

The first of these three forms of superiority can have no existence among the angels. As regards the second, St. Paul speaks of thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, all which terms seem to point to different degrees of a hierarchy. And as regards the superiority which results from personal influence, we can affirm that, even without the testimony of Scripture. For do we not find everywhere among men some who are subject to influence, and others who exert it? Human society may be compared to a pyramid, on the lowest steps of which stand the multitude, which have, strictly speaking, neither thought nor will. Next above them are those whose function it is to reproduce and publish, while themselves possessed of a certain amount of power, the word of command given to them from above. At the summit, in a narrow space reserved for a small number of elect souls, are arranged the real geniuses, those who open out new horizons to the minds of men, and new paths for their activity. These are the true potentates of humanity, burning and shining lights like Luther, or consuming fires like Voltaire. If this is the case among men, how much more must it be so among the angels, who are superior to us in intelligence and liberty. First, at the base of the pyramid are the angels properly so called, or messengers; these are, perhaps, those whom Holy Scripture calls powers; above them the principalities; then the dominions, which unite under their sceptre different groups of angels, of ascending degrees of importance; and, at the summit, there are the thrones, or, as Scripture also calls them, archangels, or chief among the angels.

Three among these latter. Scripture designates by name, two among the elect| one among the fallen angels. The two first are called Michael and Gabriel, names which express in human language the offices which they fulfil in the creation of God. The meaning of the word Michael is: Who is like unto God? In him we behold the being who is placed at the very summit of the scale of living creatures. One thought and feeling alone absorbs him, and makes the sum of his being—that of the immeasurable distance which separates him from the Creator. Himself at the very summit of all, he feels more than all others his own nothingness. Zeal for the glory of God, whom he adores whilst veiling himself, is the spring of his activity, the very principle of his existence. From this feeling arises the nature of the work he has to do, which is to overthrow everything that dares to make itself equal with God, or to oppose itself to Him, Paganism in particular, under all its various forms. In the Old as in the New Testament, Michael appears as the protector of Israel, and the champion of Monotheism, (of which this people was the depositary,) and as the vanquisher of Satan, and the destroyer of his works. This archangel thus fitly preludes the final work of the Messiah as the Judge of the world.

The meaning of the name Gabriel, the second archangel of light, is the strong man, or God's hero. In him we see the active executor of God's designs for the salvation of men. Whilst Michael is occupied in overthrowing all that opposes God, Gabriel hastens the realization of His plans. It is he who appears to Daniel to announce to him the return from the captivity, and to fix the time for the still distant advent of the Messiah; it is he who, in the New Testament, announces to Mary the birth of the Saviour of the world8. Gabriel is the heavenly evangelist; he preludes the work of the Messiah as the Saviour of the world.

If, then, there are chiefs among the elect angels, it is but natural that there should also be such among the rebel or fallen angels.

The only being of this kind whom Scripture specifies by name, is he who is called Satan—this name, which means the adversary, is drawn from his relation to God,—and the devil, which means calumniator, or accuser, and is drawn from his relation to men. The power which Holy Scripture attributes to this being in his fallen state, is a testimony to the greatness of his position, and the excellence of his faculties before his rebellion. Besides, there is one fact which proves this; he dared to measure himself, as it were, in single combat with the Son of God. When he says to Him, while shewing Him all the kingdoms of the world, "All this is delivered to me," there is no authority for thinking that he was not speaking the truth. Moreover, Jesus has elsewhere confirmed this assertion in calling him more than once, the prince of this world. Did our earth, then, once make part of the domain originally assigned to this monarch? Was it his fief? Did he legitimately exercise authority over it until the day when he tried to make himself lord instead of vassal? However that may be, he still inhabits a sphere superior to ours, but not far removed from it, which St. Paul speaks of as heavenly places9 It is from thence that, with a multitude of other beings like himself and swayed by his influence, he exercises up to this present time an unlimited power over that portion of mankind to whom Christ's beneficent influence has not yet extended.

It has been sometimes maintained that the mention of these superior beings, both good and bad, in Holy Scripture, has been borrowed from the Babylonish and Persian religions, with which the Israelites came into contact during their captivity in the countries of the Euphrates and the Tigris. But in these religions the number of the archangels is always seven, not three. This number seven, which bears a relation to the number of the ministers of the Persian kings, we find, doubtless, in the Jewish documents subsequent to the Babylonish captivity. But Holy Scripture shews itself independent of these fables. Moreover, the two principal angels of light whom it brings before us, already appear as the companions of Jehovah at the time of His visit to Abraham, in the book of Genesis, written a long time before the Babylonish captivity. And as regards the archangel whom it reveals to us as the Prince of the kingdom of darkness, it does not make him a god, as do all the religions of the East, but a poor created being, trembling in the presence of God10, and so much the more miserable as he had, in his former state, been richly dowered.

Here then, as elsewhere, the Bible maintains that independent character, which guarantees to us the originality of its sources.


"We now arrive at the question which most concerns us, that of the relation which angels bear to human beings. Perhaps an analogy drawn from history may throw some light upon this delicate question. Until the advent of Jesus Christ the Israelites seemed separated by an iron wall from all other nations. The Greeks and Romans occupied the foreground of the scene, but Israel, in its retired and isolated position, appeared to bear no relation to those great actors in history. Nevertheless, a deeper study makes it apparent that on many points the progress of these nations was parallel with that of the people of God. History has progressed simultaneously with the ever-increasing influence of this unique people, until at last the moment arrived when, the barrier having fallen, the two streams, Jewish and Pagan, were re-united. It was in the Church that this confluence, which constitutes the close of ancient history, was effected. It had always been intended and predicted. From the very beginning, God's purpose was the realisation of the unity of the human race by means of the Gospel.

There is a unity even vaster than that of the human race, and not less positively decreed by God, that of all the beings who make up the moral universe, the kingdom of heaven in its fullest extent. Just as in the old world, God was preparing that first fusion which dates from the advent of Jesus Christ; so is He now in this present economy, ever working to prepare for that far greater and richer unity, which will be consummated at the glorious re-appearing of the same Jesus Christ.

It needs but to open one's eyes, to perceive the relations which unite the development of our race with that of those beings of whom we are now treating, relations which fit our human history into a grander whole, that of the great universal history. The temptation and the fall of the first man, and up to a certain point, the creation even of humanity, are the first events which attest the relation existing between the two spheres. If Satan was really, in his original state, the monarch to whom was entrusted the government of this Earth, and if the condition of man was that which is implied in the Divine command: Have dominion over the earth and over all that moveth upon it,—there is but one conclusion to be drawn from these facts, that is, that from that time God substituted man for Satan as the lord of the world; and that the place He intended for man in creating him, was that of a successor and a rival to Satan.

Satan was a revolted vassal, and God gave his domain to another. Man received the mission to conquer it by superiority, not of strength, but of obedience. From this point of view we understand the eagerness with which Satan has from the first laboured to draw men away from submission, and into complicity with his rebellion. "What could be more attractive to a rebel than the hope of causing the army sent to overcome him to turn, and to make himself its leader against that very power who had raised it against him?

But what avail the stratagems, and even the victories of Satan against the designs of supreme Wisdom? The defection of humanity, the chef-d'œuvre of diabolic cleverness, has only served to exhibit in a more striking manner the grandeur of the Divine plan.

Through the sin of man, it is true, Satan has become provisionally the master of this earth; he has even gained one more subject. He who was to have taken away his empire is become his ally and his slave; and what degradation has he not ever since inflicted upon his unhappy captive! With what heavy chains has he not loaded him! Idolatry with its shameful practices, war with its bloody horrors, death with its inexpressible anguish, sin, above all, with its baseness and remorse; behold in all these the monuments of Satan's power over humanity, the trophies of his victory over our Earth.

And what does God do? Does He at once crush in His fury His adversary and ours? That would not be to conquer him. In a combat such as this, it is necessary to confound in order to conquer; and to confound is to shew oneself not the stronger but the better.

Do you see that little Child lying in a manger? Here is the new Champion whom God has chosen, and whom He will from henceforth oppose to the Prince of this world. Satan, himself a creature, had aspired to the independence and to the glory of a god. God detaches from Himself a mysterious Being, another self, Who willingly despoils Himself of His condition as God, and reduces Himself to the dependence and nothingness of a created Being. The archangel made himself God; the Son of God makes Himself man; the Word becomes flesh. "Under the humblest form of human life, He acts out that absolute submission to God, which had been refused both by the archangel and by the first man. Satan feels now a principle in humanity which resists him; he hastens to the spot, for he perceives that his power is being threatened.

As once before he had triumphed in the garden of plenty, so now he hopes to do in the desert of privation. But this time he has met with his vanquisher. Jesus remains firm in spite of all his suggestions and his offers; He persists in referring all to God; the preservation of His bodily existence, the means of establishing His kingdom on earth, the time when He should perform His miracles, all are referred to God. The whole of His subsequent ministry is only a confirmation of this unreserved submission, to which He devoted Himself in the wilderness. And after He has consummated His expiatory and redeeming work, He is at last crowned and enthroned as the new Sovereign of the earth. It is a change of dynasty11; the world passes into the hands of another master. Satan is deposed, and his rights of sovereignty are transferred to Jesus Christ, who in His turn transfers them to mankind, His family, in whose name, and as the representative of whom, He has fought, obeyed, conquered.

Such a transference is possible, in virtue of the solidarity of the species which is the characteristic of humanity, and which distinguishes it from angels. Inasmuch as it forms one species, humanity can be saved altogether by One. Such a method of salvation would not be applicable to the fallen angels, who have only an individual and no collective existence. Accordingly it is said that "Christ took not on Him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham12."

Prom that moment Satan and his followers have maintained a desperate fight against this new power, which was to be substituted for theirs. From the heavenly places, those superior regions where they still live, and from whence they exert their influence, they endeavour to hinder the Gospel and its progress throughout the world. But has not Christ so arranged as to make His cause one and the same with that of God? Therein is the sure guarantee of his final victory. The throne of the adversary is abased in proportion as His is exalted. It is easy to see what must be the effect of this double movement.

What part do the holy angels take in this work which God is effecting in the heart of humanity? A part both contemplative and active. They had once hailed with joyful acclamations the creation of man; as Job says, "the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy" when man first made his appearance on the earth. Later on they were the assistants and servants of those prophets whose ministry and whose visions prepared for the coming of the Saviour. As soon as Jesus Himself appeared, they surrounded Him like a band of devoted messengers, ascending and descending at His orders, instruments of the Divine intervention in the physical world, as the Holy Spirit is of the work of salvation in the inner sphere. At the moment of the consummation of the Eternal Sacrifice, they looked down into this depth of mystery, and sought in vain to fathom it. Finally, they were the first to make known the Resurrection, as they had been the first to announce the Nativity.

Ever since the foundation of the Church, their attention has been fixed upon this masterpiece of Divine Love. They contemplate it with adoration, as a work greater than nature, a creation more glorious and enduring than that of the six days. As St. Paul says: "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers, in heavenly places, might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God13." Upon this spiritual stage, the angels contemplate with an ever-renewed rapture, the manifold means by which the Father brings to the Son the hearts of sinners, and saves that which had been lost. And there is joy amongst them each time that an ineffable smile, passing over the face of the Father, makes known to them that one of His children who had been dead is now restored to life.

"While thus contemplating, they learn, they grow, they rejoice, sometimes also they weep, and always they adore. But they do more than this. Once they were agents in the history of the Master; now they are so in that of His Church. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation14?" The greatest among them do not disdain to keep specially close to the weak, and to the lowest amongst the faithful15. Jesus Himself declares this to us, without, however, giving us any right to infer from these words that each human being has an angel personally attached to himself.

But of what use, you will ask, is this intervention of angels? Cannot God help us by His providence and by His omnipotence, without having recourse to these created ministers? Assuredly He could do so; but to be consistent, you must also ask, Why does the new-born infant, on its entrance into life, find loving hands ready to care for and to tend it? Could not God clothe and nourish it Himself by His power? Or, again, do you ask, Why, in the danger through which you have just passed, God saved your life by means of one of your fellow-men, instead of doing so by His own Hand p The reason is, that it is not God's will that that bond, so full of sweetness, which for ever unites the benefited to his benefactor, should exist only between Him and ourselves. The love of God is great enough to make Him wish not to love, or to be loved alone. He values love, which is the very essence of His being, too highly, not to labour by every means to multiply it between all the beings He has created, as well as between Himself and them. This is the aim and end of all His dispensations, negative and positive. His love for all, that of all for Him, and of all for one another, makes the glory of His kingdom. And this is why it is His will that we should all help one another, and that this relation of mutual assistance should exist even between angels and men. Thus He prepares for the time when these two races, more widely differing than Jews and Gentiles, shall be closely united in His kingdom, and shall form but one body.

Finally, in the end of time, this relation between men and angels, first contracted at the creation, and made more intimate during their development, will be sealed by a supreme event. On the one hand. S. Paul says that men "will judge angels16," i.e. holy men will judge the rebel angels; on the other hand, the angels will sift the tares from the wheat among mankind, garnering up the former, and burning the latter; such is the declaration of Jesus17.

And after each of these two classes of beings shall have thus rendered homage to the Divine holiness in the presence of the other, the end of God's dispensations to both will be realized. He who has determined to "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth18," will join both men and angels in one under this single Head.

As, then, the two great streams in the old world, Jews and Gentiles, after successive approaches, were at last united in the Church, so the two great classes of beings of whom the moral universe is composed, men and angels, after being brought into a series of beneficent relations with each other, will submit in concert to the sceptre of Jesus Christ, the Creator and Lord of angels, the Creator, Saviour, and Lord of men, the Judge of all.

It seems, then, impossible for us to set aside the belief in the existence and agency of angels as a point of no importance. We are led up to this belief by the inductions of Nature, by the analogies of History, and by the teachings of Scripture. And who does not feel how much, from this point of view, the domain of the Divine work is extended before us, and the sphere of light enlarged? In the same way that the sight of the star-lit heavens enlarges infinitely our conception of the physical universe, so does the belief in the existence of angels give the character of infinity to the idea we form to ourselves of the kingdom of God. And how can we avoid perceiving at the same time how much this belief is fitted to give vividness to our terror, and to deepen our horror of evil? Does it not make us see in every temptation a trap laid for us by a mortal enemy, and in every sin we commit a complicity, not only criminal but senseless, with a hateful and malevolent being? Finally, do we not feel how much this belief tends to exalt the Person of our Redeemer, and to enhance His work? He is not only the Head of mankind, whom He has saved by His sufferings, but also of the angels, to whom He gave existence, and whom, from the midst of His glory. He leads to perfection.

That was a magnificent duet which resounded in the Church when, for the first time, the believers from amongst the Jews, and the converts from among the Gentiles, united their voices to sing the new song, the hymn of salvation. They both celebrated the marvellous works of God, but each in his own manner; the former praising Him above all things for His faithfulness in the fulfilment of the promises made to their fathers; the latter publishing His mercy towards the people to whom He had promised nothing, but who whatever might be their unworthiness, had notwithstanding received all19. It will be a hymn set for two voices, even more rich and sublime, with which the elect angels and glorified men will celebrate, together, the work of God, but in differing tones; the former with that rich and sonorous voice, of which nothing has ever marred the purity, announcing the faithfulness of the Most High which so magnificently rewards their own faithfulness; the latter, in a graver tone and more restrained accent, as becomes beings whose song is born amidst tears, glorifying the grace of Him who can blot out even unfaithfulness; those, setting before us men, by their example, that ladder of light upon which it is possible to ascend to God without once departing from the truth, to attain to perfection, not without trial but without falling, to realize progress in pure good— thus glorifying the holiness and the truth of that God who does not permit that sin should ever appear to be necessary, or even in itself useful; and, on the other side, we men responding to them, and pointing in deep humility to the dark abysses of sin into which we had thrown ourselves, but from which the Hand of God has drawn us by unparalleled marvels—thus glorifying in their eyes that grace which "where sin abounded did much more abound20," and which, in thus transforming even evil into good, has accomplished the greatest of all miracles. From the midst of the two races, henceforth to form but one, there will then rise, in varying tones, that united hymn (last word of the history of free beings), of which the song of the angels and of the shepherds on Christmas-eve was the prelude: '' Praise be to God and to the Lamb who sitteth upon the throne! Alleluia! "



1) St. Luke xx. 84-36.

2) Jude 6.

3) John viii. 44.

4) 1 Tim. v. 21.

5) St. Matt. xxv. 31.

6) All the more do they seek to do so indirectly, through the medium of the human beings by whom they contrive to gain access to it. Hence what are called possessions.

7) St. John i 51.

8) Dan. viii. 16, ix. 21; St. Luke i. 19, 26.

9) Eph. vi. 12.

10) Zech. iii. 2; S. James ii 19.

11) S. John xii 81.

12) Heb. 11. 16.

13) Eph. iii. 10.

14) Heb. i. 14.

15) Matt, xviii. 10

16) 1 Cor. vi. 8.

17). Matt, xiii 89.

18) Eph. i.10; Col. i. 20.

19) Rom. xv. 8, 9.

20) Rom. v. 20.