Revelation 7:1
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back its four winds so that no wind would blow on land or sea or on any tree.
Sermons
A Sketch of an Impending JudgmentD. Thomas Revelation 7:1-3
A Sketch of an Impending JudgmentHomilistRevelation 7:1-8
All-Saints' DayJohn Donne, D. D.Revelation 7:1-8
God's Government of the WorldD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 7:1-8
Pent-Up JudgmentH. Bonar, D. D.Revelation 7:1-8
The Angel's SealE. Erskine, D. D.Revelation 7:1-8
The Best ServiceW. Birch.Revelation 7:1-8
The Church's Security AssuredR. Green Revelation 7:1-8
The Divine Management of the WorldD. Thomas Revelation 7:1-8
The Four WindsWm. Gregory.Revelation 7:1-8
The Sealing of the ElectArchdeacon Manning.Revelation 7:1-8
Although the vision of judgment has been granted to the seer, an arrest is put upon its execution, and an entirely new series of representations is given. It is illustrative of the entire character of the book. It is one long illustration of the going forth conquering and to conquer by him that sitteth on the white horse. But there is no chronology. The truth here illustrated is ever repeated. Not only in the final acts of judgment will the faithful people be secure, but when God sends his judgments upon the ungodly the Church has always his comforting assurance of protection. By this vision the heart of the Church is comforted. "Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked." Whatever judgments befall the earth, the righteous people are secure in the guardian love of their Lord. This is declared to the tried ones by the vision of the sealing. A vision which is -

I. A TOKEN OF THE DIVINE RECOGNITION OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER. Each is sealed on his forehead. "The Lord knoweth them that are his."

II. IT IS A PLEDGE OF PERSONAL SECURITY. In the general judgments many even of the faithful suffer. This is inevitable. But the anomalous words of our Lord shall be fulfilled, "Ye shall be delivered up by parents... put to death, hated of all men; and not a hair of your head shall perish." In all judgments the lowly believer may rest in the assurance of personal safety. All shall be well in the end if the Lord's seal is upon the forehead.

III. THE VISION IS A GRACIOUS REVELATION OF GOD. It is of his goodness that he has thus shown beforehand his careful defence of his own in times of judgment and fear. "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not."

IV. THE VISION AFFORDS GROUND FOR THE UTMOST ENCOURAGEMENT TO FAITH AND HOPE. It is a spring of pure consolation. The Divine warrant of safety each believer may ever carry with him. The cruelties of men may bring him suffering, but not the judgments of God. Ever may the disciples know that when the Lord proceeds to judgment he will first seal his own. - R.G.







Four angels... holding the four winds.
I. THE EVENTS FIGURATIVELY REPRESENTED BY THE FOUR WINDS. Different opinions have been expressed respecting these winds. Bishop Newton and other writers understand by them those Pagan persecutions which assailed the Christian Church prior to the time of Constantine, and which were removed when he took the Christian religion under his protection. The text evidently includes all winds that injure the Christian Church and impede true religion in the world; but Constantine only suspended one wind to let loose another, equally, if not more, injurious than the wind of persecution; I mean the winds of error, formality, earthly-mindedness, and general corruption. Mr. Jones, author of the history of the Waldenses, makes these winds to mean the influences of the Holy Spirit, which, he says, were with. held from the Church when she became the favourite of the state under Constantine. It is quite true that the influences of the Holy Spirit are frequently represented in Scripture by the figurative term "winds." Still this cannot be the true meaning of the term "winds" in this passage, for this reason, the four angels are commanded to restrain these winds till the servants of God are sealed; whereas this sealing cannot be effected without the influences of the Spirit. What, then, are we to understand by the winds mentioned? I answer, two things:

1. Divine judgments. Wars, famine, pestilence, the overthrow of kingdoms, and the universal wreck of all earthly things. The particular judgments to which these winds refer are, I think, those mentioned in the sixth seal, at the close of the sixth chapter, and whose fearful operations are represented by the seven trumpets in the eighth chapter.

2. All events and influences unfavourable to the cause of Christ. The wind of persecution; the wind of false doctrine; the wind of delusion and wild fanaticism; the wind of temptation; the wind of infidelity; the wind of open profanity and blasphemy; the winds of affliction, adversity, and distress; by all of which the Church is frequently assailed. These things are called "winds," because they produce agitation and commotion — breaking the branches, blasting the fruits, and uprooting the trees of God's spiritual vineyard. They are called "four" winds, to show their universality, their wide-spreading desolation. They are called winds of the "earth," because earth is the scene of their operation — they are for ever excluded from heaven; their coming from the four cardinal points at once shows their violence, rage, and fury.

II. THE AGENTS TO WHOM THEY ARE COMMITTED. This notion of angels ruling the winds is very ancient. Herodotus says it was held by the Persians; Eusebius says it was held by the Phoenicians; Pausanias says it was held by the Greeks; says it was held by the Romans; Seneca and Virgil say it was held by the Gauls; and most of these people worshipped these ruling spirits. Some understand by the four angels four monarchies, the Babylonian, the Grecian, the Persian, and the Roman; but this cannot be, for at the time to which this passage refers, the monarchies will have long been forgotten, while existing monarchies will be the objects of this vengeance, and not the executioners of it. Others understand by these four angels four emperors, Maximinus, Galerius, Maxenfius, and Licinius, or their praetorian prefects; but the same objections stand against them as against the monarchies. Others think that four persecuting powers are meant. Others think four evil angels, or demons, are meant, who hold back the winds of the Spirit from blowing upon this valley of death, that the dry bones might live; or who are charged with destructive powers, as the messengers of an angry God; but as their work is first to restrain all antagonistic influences to the gospel, while it effects the high purposes of God, and then to execute the Divine vengeance at the day of Christ; and as these employments are nowhere ascribed to wicked angels, this cannot be the real meaning. These are four good angels. This appears first, from the fact that they are here represented as taking a part with the fifth angel in sealing the servants of God; also from their being entrusted with such an important post — restraining wicked spirits, persecuting men, antagonist influences, and Divine judgments, till grace has worked out its wonders. Then their attitude — standing — signifies that they have no settled dominion; that they are the movable ministers of God; that they are ready to do His pleasure.

III. THE GREAT BEING WHO COMMANDS THEIR POSTPONEMENT OR SUSPENSION.

1. Bishop Newton, and several other writers both before and since his day, tell us that this angel was Constantine the Great, who, they say, brought light, protection, and deliverance to the Christian Church that had been greatly afflicted under the persecuting tyranny of the Pagan Roman emperors. As far as I can judge, there is not even the shadow of a reason for thinking that this angel was Constantine.(1) The language applied to this angel is too sublime to refer to a fallen creature like Constantine.(2) The events which this angel is said to control, and the magnificent work he is said to accomplish, are not the narrow and limited circumstances of one man's life, but they stretch through ages; spread over kingdoms, continents, sea, and land.(3) The character of Constantine differs widely from what we must believe was the real character of the angel referred to in this passage.(4) The influences on true religion, which followed Constantine's interference, were, in many respects, just the opposite to those which the angel in the text is said to produce. This angel not only suspends persecution and postpones judgments, but vital godliness greatly prospers, as is evident from the number that are said to be sealed. Besides, this prosperity of genuine religion is not for a brief period, but it appears to extend through centuries. Now, is there anything analogous to this, which may be regarded as the result of Constantine's interference? That some good resulted to the then existing and persecuted Church, from this interference, we do not deny. Persecution was suspended. Still we maintain that the evil accruing from this change preponderates; it brought her in contact with a secular power that tarnished her purity, beclouded her glory, enervated her native power.

2. Well, who is this Angel? Why, the Lord Jesus Christ, the uncreated Angel of the Covenant, to whom the figurative language of the text applies to the very letter. This Angel is described —(1) By the point of His ascension. "And I saw another Angel ascending from the east." This was literally true of Christ; He came from the east, and hence He is called the East, or, as it is commonly rendered, "the Day-spring from on high." But His ascending from the east shows the favourable nature of His mission and character. The east is the great fountain of light, life, fruitfulness, purity, and joy; so this Angel, Christ, is called the Sun of Righteousness, that visits our world with healing beneath His wings. He is that bright, shining Sun, that never sets, but whose heavenly radiance always beams upon His Church, giving salvation, light, beauty, and joy.(2) By credentials He bears. "Having the seal of the living God"; which refers, first, to His office as Mediator between God and man. This refers to a custom among the kings of the earth, who have their own confidential servants to whom they deliver certain seals of office. These seals of office are the influences of the Spirit without measure; authority to bestow them, procured by virtue of His atonement; energy, to carry all His plans into successful operation; and all power, both in heaven and in earth, to render all things, creatures, and events, subservient to His designs. But His having the seal of the living God goes further still. It refers to the dignity of His person, as the Son of God, as well as to the glory and credentials of His office, as the Saviour of the world. Having the seal of the living God — that is, having in His own nature the visible impress of deity, the authentic testimony, proof, and demonstration that He Himself was the living God, the brightness of His Father's glory, and the express image of His person.(3) By the supreme authority He assumes. "He cried with a loud voice," the emblem of supreme authority and power; He commands or forbids as He pleases, and whatsoever He wills is done.(4) By the command He gives. "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees." No devastating wars, no raging persecutions, no fearful and wide-spreading judgments, must be permitted to hinder the cause of Christ. The contrary winds must sleep at the feet of their presiding angels, till the ark of salvation is filled with the whole family of God and safely moored in the peaceful bay of heaven.

IV. THE REASON ASSIGNED FOR THEIR SUSPENSION. "Till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."

1. The nature of it. To seal a person or thing is to set a mark upon it for a specific purpose. The term is frequently employed in the Scriptures to express the operations of grace, by which believers are separated from the world and made meet for heaven.

2. The agents of it. "We." The work of salvation is of Christ from first to last.

3. The subjects of it. "Servants of God," that is, true believers, those who serve God by obeying His commands and seeking His glory. They are sealed to serve Him here and to enjoy Him hereafter.

4. Visibility of it. "In their foreheads."

5. The chief design of it. That believers should not be "hurt" by the fearful calamities that are predicted in the sixth seal, as speedily to fall upon the wicked. God marks them as His special property; and being thus sealed, they live under the special protection of His providence while here, and will meet with an effectual shelter in the great day of His wrath.

6. The extent of it. The question was once put to Christ, "Lord, are there few that shall be saved?" Here the question receives an answer which shows that there will be many, so that in this, as well as in all other things, Christ will have the pre-eminence.(1) We have a specific number. Twelve thousand out of each tribe were sealed, making one hundred and forty-four thousand in the whole, which in prophetic language signifies completion and perfection.(2) We have a general number. The whole assembly of the redeemed, including Jews and Gentiles, rises in splendid array to the apostle's view.

7. The ultimate glory of it. "They stand before the throne, and before the Lamb."

(Wm. Gregory.)

I. GOD EMPLOYS THE HIGHEST ORDER OF CELESTIAL INTELLIGENCES IN THE CONDUCT OF HIS GOVERNMENT. Nowhere throughout immensity does He appear to act directly on matter and mind at all (Hosea 2:21, 22). The mere scientist accounts for the various objects and phenomena of the material world by what he calls blind forces or natural laws; I prefer ascribing all under God to the "angels standing on the four corners," etc. A wonderful view of the universe, truly, we have here. True, a telescope opens to my vision world upon world and system upon system, until imagination reels at the prospect, and my spirit seems crushed with a sense of its own insignificance; but in these words I have a telescope by which I see the wide fields of air, the rolling planets, the minute and the vast, the proximate and the remote peopled and working, reaching in regular gradation from my little being up to the ineffable throne, and all under God.

II. GOD, IN EMPLOYING THESE AGENCIES, ENJOINS ON THEM A SPECIAL REGARD FOR THE INTERESTS OF REDEEMED MEN IN THE WORLD (vers. 2, 3).

1. There is some method by which angels can aid man.

2. Man's salvation is of paramount importance.

3. Service to the lowest is consonant with the highest greatness.

4. Man's obligation is to seek the spiritual good of his fellows.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. THE WORLD EXPOSED TO JUDGMENT. Winds are the symbols of judgment (Jeremiah 49:36, 37; Daniel 7:2). The four winds indicate the universality of the judgment. Conscience, Providence, and the Bible all point to this universal judgment.

II. THE JUDGMENT ENTRUSTED TO ANGELS. Angels are the ministers of God. He employs them to execute His judgments.

1. They appeared amidst the terrors of Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 33:2).

2. They appeared with our Saviour in the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:30, 31).

3. Angels have been frequently engaged in executing Divine judgment on this earth (Exodus 12:22; 2 Samuel 24:16, 17; 2 Kings 19:35).

4. Angels are represented as active in the final day of retribution (Matthew 13:39, 41; Matthew 25:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). The Eternal Judge then, as now, will work through others.

III. THE ANGELS RESTRAINED BY A MEDIATOR. Who is this angel? Who is represented in this particular case I know not. But I know that the Great Angel of the Covenant answers well this description. He came from the orient depths of glory with Divine credentials and with great earnestness, in order to stay the angels of retribution from executing their terrible commission. Our great Redeemer holds back the hand of the destroying angel, and the burden of His intercession is, "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea," etc. To Christ we owe the postponement of the judgment.

IV. THE MEDIATOR RESTRAINING BECAUSE HIS WORK IS UNFINISHED.

1. There are men who are yet to receive the seal of God.

2. That the judgment is delayed until the number of the sealed ones is completed.

(Homilist.)

The seal of the living God.
I. NOTICE SOME OF THOSE PERNICIOUS WINDS WHERE WITH THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS INFESTED WHILE HERE IN A MILITANT STATE.

1. There is the wind of open violence, persecution, and bloodshed.

2. Sometimes, and very frequently, the hurtful wind of error in doctrine is suffered to blow in the barn or field of the visible Church.

3. Another hurtful wind is the wind of strong delusions as to everlasting soul concerns; and this is consequential unto the former.

4. There is the wind of temptation that blows in the visible Church. This was a wind that blew hard on the glorious Head and Captain of our salvation (Matthew 4.).

5. Another hurtful wind is the wind of profanity and open ungodliness.

6. All these winds are commonly followed with the winds of desolating judgments, such as sword, famine, and pestilence, whereby the wicked are turned off the stage of time into a miserable eternity.

II. INQUIRE WHO ARE THOSE SERVANTS OF GOD FOR WHOSE SAKE THE HURTFUL WINDS ARE RESTRAINED, THAT PROVISION MAY BE MADE FOE THEIR SAFETY WHEN THEY DO ACTUALLY BLOW.

1. The servants of God are such as "keep the commandments of God," i.e. —(1) They are holy persons; the "sanctified and preserved in Christ Jesus." Or —(2) As Durham observes, they "keep the commandments of God," it is to be understood of a keeping the laws, ordinances, and institutions of Christ, in opposition to a set of men in the Antichristian Church, who, through their traditions, were making void the commandments of God.

2. The faithful servants of God are said to be such as "have the testimony of Jesus." By the testimony of Jesus we are to understand the gospel of Christ, or the doctrine of faith in its purity, which only is "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).

III. SPEAK A LITTLE OF THE SEAL THAT IS SET UPON THE SERVANTS OF GOD.

1. Who is He that seals them? It is Christ, the Great Angel that hath the seal of the living God.

2. What is implied in the sealing them?(1) That He is their great owner and proprietor; for a man seals his own goods, that it may be known they are his.(2) A seal is for distinction, to distinguish one man's goods from another.(3) A seal is for confirmation. The king's seal appended unto a charter establishes and confirms it.(4) A seal is sometimes for secrecy. We read of a book (Revelation 5:1) which was sealed with seven seals because of the great secrets and hid mysteries contained in it. And so it may import that God's people are His hidden ones, and that His secrets are imparted to them, and not to others.(5) A seal is a badge of honour, love, and esteem. And so it implies that His servants are honourable persons, precious in His sight (Isaiah 43:4).(6) A seal is for custody and preservation. So the saints and servants of God, they are "the preserved in Christ Jesus, kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."

3. When and how are they sealed?(1) From all eternity they were sealed with His electing and everlasting love.(2) In their conversion and effectual calling they are sealed in their own persons with the image of the second Adam.(3) They have a seal of blood set upon them in their redemption and justification; for, as you see (ver. 14 of this chapter), "they have their garments washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb."(4) They have the seal of the Spirit of promise set upon them (Ephesians 1:13).

4. But why are they said to be sealed in their foreheads? This may import two things.(1) Their visible profession of Christ and their open owning of the Lord, and His way and cause in the time of the greatest opposition, when error and delusion and persecution was most rampant in the visible Church.(2) Their being marked or sealed in the forehead implies that, in the time of common calamity, God will make such a visible difference between His own faithful servants and others, that he that runs may read, according to that (Malachi 3:18).

IV. INQUIRE INTO THE REASONS WHY CHRIST, THE ANGEL OF THE COVENANT, WILL HAVE HIS SERVANTS MARKED IN THEIR FOREHEADS WHEN THE WINDS ARE TO BE LET BLOW?

1. In so many words He will have them sealed, because they are His Father's gift, "Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me," and for the Father's sake that gave them, He will have them sealed.

2. Because He hath bought them at a dear rate, even with the price of His precious blood, not with silver, or gold, or such corruptible things, etc.

3. He seals them because they believe in Him (Ephesians 1:18). "After that ye believed, ye were sealed," etc.

4. He seals them because they love Him, so as to mourn for injury done Him (Ezekiel 9:4).

5. He seals them because they are His faithful witnesses, that confess Him when others deny Him.

6. He seals them that they may not suffer hurt by the destroying winds that blow in the visible Church. They keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus; and therefore He will keep them in the hour of temptation, according to the promise (Psalm 91:8, 7).

(E. Erskine, D. D.)

I. PENT-UP JUDGMENT. Righteousness produces judgment, and grace restrains it. Grace does not nullify or cancel judgment; it simply suspends it. The history of our earth is one of suspended judgment. Of this judgment, we may say that it is —

1. Slow. When it comes, it comes swiftly; but meanwhile it is not rash, nor precipitate. This slowness often deludes the sinner.

2. Silent. It makes no sign. The fermenting elements are noiseless. There are often no thunder-clouds, but a calm, blue sky.

3. Sure. It will not miss its mark, nor mistake its victim, nor forget its time. Its slowness and silence contribute to its certainty.

4. Terrible. The blow, when it comes, is overwhelming. The pent-up torrent, when it breaks its barrier, carries all before it. So God's vengeance is infinitely terrible. Who can stand before it?

II. THE SEALING. In the chapter before us it is a Jewish multitude that is specially named as sealed; but as in ver. 3 it is the "servants of God" that are said to be sealed, we may infer that by that expression both Gentile and Jew are meant. The sealing seems (as in Ezekiel 9.) to intimate exemption from the earthly judgments of a particular time. I do not dwell on this further than to point out God's care for His own in days of trouble — as in Noah's days, in Lot's days, in Ezekiel's days, in the time of Jerusalem's great siege. I would remind you of the ninety-first Psalm also, which is specially written for evil days.

III. THE INGATHERING. It is not simply for temporal protection that God stays His judgments, but for salvation. A time of pent-up judgment is a time of ingathering. A time of judgment may also be so, but a time of suspended judgment still more so. For at such a time God is in earnest — in earnest in His grace, in earnest in His righteousness. His long-suffering is salvation; His patience is life eternal. He pities to the last. Judgment is His strange work. At such a time the gospel comes with peculiar power.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

There is here revealed to us a Divine idea, and a Divine law of action, which is now advancing with perpetual energy, past, present, and to come.

I. GOD HAS A FOREKOWN NUMBER WHOM HE WILL GATHER OUT UNTO HIMSELF. The whole of the new creation sprung from, and surrounding, the second Adam in the kingdom of life eternal; the mystical Person of Christ, both the Head and the Body, all perfected by that which "every joint supplieth"; the true and eternal Vine, complete in all its symmetry from root to spray; the heavenly court, compassed about with ranks of angelic hosts; the order of patriarchs, and the multitude of saints, ascending to the Incarnate Son: all this Divine and glorious mystery of miraculous love and power stands in the foreknowledge of the Eternal, full, perfect, and accomplished.

II. THE COURSE OF THIS WORLD WILL RUN ON UNTIL THIS FOREKNOW NUMBER SHALL BE GATHERED IN. All things are for the elect's sake. What is the history of the world but a history of man's warfare against God? of our provocation, and of His patience?

III. EVEN NOW, WHILE JUDGMENT IS STAYED, THE CHURCH IN THE MIDST OF US IS SEALING GOD'S ELECT. The angel ascending from the east is a type of the ministry of angels and men knit together in one order of grace, to gather out the heirs of salvation. The visible polity of the Church, its stately ritual and public solemnities, its fasts and feasts, its chants and litanies, its missions and preachings, all the public order and movement which meets the eye and ear — all this is as the "net let down into the sea, which taketh of every kind, both good and bad." But this is not the sealing of the elect. It is an inner work of grace, a choosing from among the chosen, a preparation for that day, when, upon the eternal shore, the angels "shall gather the good into vessels, and cast the bad away."

1. The ultimate and true election of God is not collective but several, not of bodies but of persons. Born alone, alone we must live; alone repent, pray, fast, watch, persevere, and die; each one for himself "work out his own salvation," and make his "calling and election sure."

2. This mystery of election, as it is personal, so it is strictly consistent with our personal probation. God made man free, and elects him to and in the exercise of freedom, will, and power. And what is this seal of the living God, but the image of God renewed in the soul by the power of the Holy Ghost; the likeness and the mind of Christ stamped upon us by a perfect regeneration; the inward reality of a saintly spirit wrought in us, either by a life of steadfast obedience or by a true repentance, by a persevering grace or by a perfect conversion?

IV. LET US TRY OURSELVES BY SOME PLAIN QUESTIONS OF SELF-EXAMINATION.

1. What is our character? By this we mean the clear, conscious, and definite shape and direction which has been given to our whole spiritual nature. Surely it is no hard thing to find out whether we are living in any known sin or not; whether we are striving against temptation or not; whether we have mastery over our faults or our faults over us; whether we desire the love of God or not; whether sin is to us a sorrow, and the very thought of holiness a delight; whether we are living for this world or for the next.

2. If we have not this higher character, what are our tendencies? Is sin losing hold, and the spirit of sanctity gaining power over us? Are our temptations weaker, and we stronger; our faults fewer, and our repentance deeper?

3. What is our habitual intention? The true self of sincere minds is that which speaks and aspires in their better moments. The lower level on which they move at other times is the way of their infirmity. As the resistance of the atmosphere stays the keenest arrow's flight, and bends it to earth again, so the purest and directest intention is slackened by the gross thick airs of our daily life. Not to sink into a slower, earthlier motion is the portion of those who are lifted into a higher and heavenlier sphere, where the actings of the soul have nothing to resist them. In heaven "they rest not day nor night"; hut on earth the most unresting intention is overcome by weakness and weariness at last. It cannot always be conscious and actual; but that does not take away from its true and habitual reality. Let this, then, be your continual endeavour, to uphold and to prolong these higher intentions. Quicken and strengthen them by a life of prayer, by meditation, by habitual communion, by self-examination, by confession; by exercises of the heart, and by acts of faith, hope, and love.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

First, then, man being compassed with a cloud of witnesses of his own infirmities, and the manifold afflictions of this life, had need of some light to show him the right way, and some strength to enable him to walk safely in it. And this light and strength is here proposed in the assistance of an angel. Which being first understood of angels in general, affords a great measure of comfort to us, because the angels are faithful and diligent attendants upon all our steps. But our security of deliverance is in a safer and a stronger hand than this; not in these ministerial and missive angels only, but in His that sends them, yea, in His that made them. This angel, which does so much for God's saints, is by many expositors taken to be our Saviour Christ Himself. And will any man doubt of performance of conditions in Him? Will any man look for better security than Him who puts two, and two such, into the band, Christ and Jesus: an anointed King, able, an actual Saviour, willing to discharge not His, but our debt? This security, then, for our deliverance and protection, we have in this angel in our text, "I saw an angel," as this Angel is Christ; but yet we have also another security, more immediate and more appliable to us. Besides this all-sufficiency of the Angel of the Covenant, Christ Jesus, we have for our security, in this text, "I saw an angel," the servants of Christ too. This angel is indeed the whole frame and hierarchy of the Christian Church. So, then, to let go none of our assistants, our safety is in the Angel of the Covenant, Christ Jesus, radically, fundamentally, meritoriously. It is in the ministry of the angels of heaven invisibly; but it is in the Church of God, and in the power of His ministers there, manifestly, sensibly, discernibly. This addition is intended for a particular addition to our comfort; it is a particular endowment, or enlargement, of strength and power in this angel, that he comes from the east. Those angels which have had their sunset — their fall — they came from the east. "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning?" He had his begetting, his creation, in the east, in the light, and there might have stayed for any necessity of falling that God laid upon him. Take the angel of the text to be the Angel of the Covenant, Christ Jesus, and His name is The East. Every way the gospel is an angel of the east. But this is that which we take to be principally intended in it, that, as the east is the fountain of light, so all our illumination is to be taken from the gospel. If thou suffer thy soul to set in a dark cloud of ignorance of God's providence, or in a darker of diffidence of His performance towards thee, this is a turning to the west, and all these are perverse and awry. But turn to the east and to the angel that comes from thence, the ministry of the gospel of Christ Jesus in His Church. It is true thou mayest find some dark places in the Scriptures, yet fix thyself upon this angel of the east, the preaching of the Word, the ordinance of God, and thine understanding shall be enlightened, and thy belief established, and thy conscience unburthened. Our angel comes from the east, a denotation of splendour, an illustration of understanding and conscience, and there is more — he comes ascending. "I saw an angel ascend from the east," that is, still growing more clear and more powerful upon us (1 Samuel 28:13). Take the angel to be Christ, and then His ascension is intended. But as this angel is the ministry of the gospel, God gave it a glorious ascent in the primitive Church, when as this sun ascended quickly beyond the reach of heretics and persecutors. Now to give way to this ascent of this angel in thyself, make the way smooth, find thou a growth of the gospel in thy faith, and let us find it in thy life. If thou find it not ascending it descends. If thou live not by it nothing can redeem thee, thou diest by it. "Of the living God." The gods of the nations are all dead gods: either such gods as never had life — stones, and gold and silver — or such gods at best as were never gods until they were dead, for men that had benefited the world in any general invention, or otherwise, were made gods after their deaths, which was a miserable deification. If we seek this seal in the great Angel, the Angel of the Covenant, Christ Jesus: it is true He hath it, for "the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son." Christ, as the Son of Man, executes a judgment, and hath a power, which He hath not but by gift, by commission, by virtue of this seal, from His Father. The servants of God being sealed in their foreheads in the sacrament of baptism, when they are received into the care of the Church, all those means which God hath provided for His servants, in His Church, to resist afflictions and temptations, are intended to be conferred upon them in that seal. This sealing of them is a communicating to them all those assistances of the Christian Church. Then they have a way of prevention of sin, by hearing; a way to absolution, by confession; a way to reconciliation, by a worthy receiving the body and blood of Christ Jesus. And these helps of the Christian Church thus conferred in baptism, keep open still, if these be rightly used, that other seal, the seal of the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22).

(John Donne, D. D.)

The servants of our God
I. WE OUGHT TO BE THE ACTIVE SERVANTS OF OUR GOD. It is necessary for us to pray, and if we pray aright, it will make us active in going about doing good. Do not let us enter into the business of life solely an our own account; let us be servants in all we do on God's account. How earnestly most business men seek opportunities of doing anything and everything to increase their trade and make it prosperous. Why do not we as Christians be equally earnest in attracting people to our churches and chapels? We may be co-workers with God. Your holy, charitable life and manners may melt the opposition of men who hate goodness and truth.

II. Then let us further be CONSISTENT servants of our God. The world watches us, waiting to see whether we are true or not. Don't be pious in singing hymns, and impious in something else. Be consistent. If you have faults, don't rest until you get rid of them. Grow daily in grace, piety, and religion, like healthy plants, which grow in beauty day by day.

III. Be a FREE servant of our God. Don't let any bad habits make you their prisoner. It is said that habit is second nature; and man is a bundle of habits. You know that when you walk across a field for the first time you make scarcely any impression on the grass. But if you go several times a day for a year you will make a beaten path. So one sin may not do you much injury, but it is the beginning of many. One drop of water from yonder hill soon dries up, but if it be followed by fresh drops every moment, by and by it scoops out a way through the hardest rocks, and becomes a rapid, gurgling stream, which dashes from stone to stone until it reaches the broad river. So these bad habits grow upon us and enslave us. "Blessed is he that overcometh." The Lord God has promised that if any one ask Him, He will send His Holy Spirit into that man's heart, and deliver him from all his bad habits.

IV. Be God's servants, showing forth the BEAUTY OF HOLINESS. Young man, you may not possess a titled name, but you may make yourself the embodiment of honour. You may not possess great wealth, but you may be known as one of the upright of the earth. When a beautiful woman dies, nobody mourns her; but when a woman who is beautiful in soul passes away, angels welcome her to glory and good men weep for her. Be beautiful in life.

(W. Birch.)

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