Изображения страниц

casualty; but all things come to pass according to the counsel of His will, by His efficiency or His permission. The preceptive will of God is the rule of our duty. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." This is intended here; for it is to be performed in conformity to the obedience of the angels. But it is comprehensive of our resigned submission to the will and wisdom of God in the disposals of providence, as well as to our active subjection to His commands. We are equally obliged to acknowledge and honour His dominion in ordering all things, as to yield obedience to His sovereignty declared in His laws. The Psalmist addresses himself to the angels, as our pattern : "6 Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word." They are the eldest offspring of God's power; glorious, heavenly, and immortal spirits. The title of angels signifies their office; their nature we do not fully know. We can tell what they are not; not flesh and blood; but negatives do not afford knowledge. It is not knowledge to declare what things are not, but what they are. Their excellency is discovered in Scripture, in that the highest degree of our perfection is expressed by likeness to the angels. The perfection of beauty in Stephen is set forth: "They saw his face as the face of an angel." Excellent wisdom in David: "My lord the king is wise as an angel of God." Perfect eloquence: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels." And the apostle, in asserting the infinite dignity of the Mediator, proves it by the argument that He is above angels: "To which of the angels did he say, Thou art my Son?" that is, in a high and peculiar manner. Now, if they had not been in the highest order of creatures, the argument had not been conclusive; yet they are infinitely below God. The heavens are not clean in His sight, the stars are not pure before Him. The seraphim veil their faces and their feet in His glorious presence, and cry one to another, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory." His separate and transcendent attributes are the foundation of their humility and subjection. . . . . The matter wherein their obedi. ence is exercised is secret to us, the laws and admirable order in

heaven are not fully discovered: but we are assured, that they continually magnify and celebrate the perfections of God. In this lower world, they are "ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation," the adopted children of God. The highest angels are not exempted from this service, nor the lowest saints excluded from the benefit of it.

The angel told Zacharias, "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God." It implies his prepared disposition to receive and perform all his commands. It is said, "They hearken to the voice of His word:" the first signification of His will puts them in motion. They entirely obey Him; there is no alloy, no mixture of contraries, in their principles, nothing suspends or breaks the entireness of their activity in God's service. They obey Him with all their powers, and the utmost efficacy of them. It is said, "He maketh His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire," to signify their celerity and vigour in doing God's will. They fly like the wind, to rescue the saints from imminent destructive evils; and, like a flame of fire, are quick and terrible to consume the wicked. They fully perform His commands. The two angels that were sent to preserve Lot from the destruction of Sodom, while he lingered, took him by the hand, and brought him out of the city; and would not destroy it till he was safe. They freely and cheerfully obey God, esteeming His service their glory and felicity. They are styled "thrones and dominions, principalities and powers;" but they are more pleased in the title of His angels,that is, messengers, and in the relation of His servants. They esteem it their highest exaltation and happiness to obey God. They, with as much diligence and delight, watch over the meanest saints, though never so obscure and despicable in the world, as those who are in royal dignity; because they in it obey the orders of God. They are steady and uniform in their duty, above all temptations from hopes or fears that may slacken their endeavours and unstring the bent of their resolutions in His service. There is an eternal constancy in their obedience. kle o and ylimuse nd

It may be said, this example is above our level in the present state; our wings are broken, we flag, and cannot reach so high a flight. We sometimes conceive more clearly, sometimes more darkly, of our duty. We are sometimes declining, sometimes reviving and returning. We do not practise obedience with the diligence that is commanded. The weakness of the flesh controls the willingness of the spirit. How should it upbraid us, that we fall so short in the imitation of angelic obedience, who are under equal, nay, peculiar obligations to please God? The grace of God in our redemption is more illustriously visible than in their creation. The goodness of God was most free in making the angels; but it is infinite mercy in saving man from extreme misery, the desert of his disobedience. The Divine power made the angels, but men are redeemed by the dearest price, the blood of the Son of God. In this God commendeth His love to us, that when we were sinners He gave His Son to die for Now beneficence is magnified by the principle and motive of it. Gifts are endeared by the affection of the giver; and ingenuous thankfulness chiefly respects that. All the precious benefits and vital influences that we receive are from the dearest love of God. Supposing the angels receive as great favours from His bountiful hands; yet there is a clearer discovery of His heart, His tender and compassionate love, in our salvation. How should this consideration inspire our prayers with a holy fervour, that God would enlighten our minds, to know His holy, acceptable, and perfect will, incline us to choose it, and enable us to do it, as the angels, the most illuminate and zealous servants of God!


The Scripture has lighted up excellent examples of holiness in the lives of the saints upon earth, for our direction and imitation. There is a great advantage in looking on examples; they are more instructive than naked precepts, and more clearly convey the knowledge of our duty. A work done in our sight by another directs us better in the practice of it; it is more acceptable and of more powerful efficacy to reform us, than counsel and admoni tion by words. A reproof, if spoken with an imperious air wherein vanity has a visible ascendant, is heard with distaste, and often

with disdain; but an excellent example is a silent reproof, not directed immediately to irregular persons, but discovering what ought to be done, and leaving the application to themselves, so that the impression is more quick and penetrating than that of words. In difficult precepts, no argument is more effectual than examples; for the possibility of performance is confirmed by instances, and the pretence of infirmity is taken away. The command binds us to duty. Examples encourage us to performance. The pattern of the angels, who are pure spirits, is not so influential upon us, as the pattern of the saints, which is more correspondent and proportionate to our present state; as the light of the stars, which are so vastly distant, is not so useful in managing our affairs, as the light of a candle that is near us. The saints are verily allied to us; they were clothed with the same frail garment of flesh, they had like passions, and were in the same contagious world; yet they were holy and heavenly in their affections and actions. They lived in civil conversation with men, and spiritual communion with God. This takes away the pretence of infirmity; for we have the same word of grace, and Spirit of grace, to strengthen us.

Escape from the Bastille.


[IN the year 1749, De Latude, who was of a respectable family in Languedoc, and intended for the engineers, came to Paris, and being unsuccessful in obtaining an appointment, he formed a scheme to gain the good-will of Madame de Pompadour, the king's mistress, by disclosing to her a pretended plot for poisoning her. This artifice being detected, he was seized and confined in the castle of Vincennes, from which he escaped after nine months' confinement, but was retaken and imprisoned in the Bastille. He had for a fellow-prisoner a young man of the name of D'Alegre, who had been in confinement, at the instance of Madame de Pompadour, for three years. These two unfortunate men occupied the same chamber. The then governor of the Bastille, Monsieur Berryer, treated them with humanity, and used his best endeavours to procure their discharge by forwarding and backing their memorials and petitions. At

length, however, he was under the painful necessity of announcing to them, that, in consequence of Madame de Pompadour's positive orders never to be spoken to on their behalf, there was no prospect of their release, but with the death or disgrace of that implacable woman. D'Alegre was reduced to despair; but the courage of De Latude was raised by this intelligence, and he resolved to escape or perish in the attempt. We will now let him tell his own story :-]

"To any man who had the least notion of the situation of the Bastille, its extent, its towers, its discipline, and the incredible precautions which despotism had multiplied more surely to chain its victims, the mere idea of escaping from it would appear the effect of insanity, and would inspire nothing but pity for a wretch so devoid of sense as to dare to conceive it. A moment's reflection would suffice to show that it was hopeless to attempt an escape by the gates. Every physical impossibility was united to render this impracticable. We had no resource but by the outside. There was in our chamber a fireplace, the chimney of which came out in the extreme height of the tower-it was full of gratings and bars of iron, which in several parts of it scarcely left a free passage for the smoke. Should we be able to get to the top of the tower, we should have below us a precipice of great height, at the bottom of which was a fossé or broad ditch, surrounded by a very lofty wall, to be got over. We were without assistance, without tools, without materials, constantly watched night and day, and guarded besides by a great number of sentinels, who surrounded the outworks of the Bastille. So many obstacles, so many dangers did not deter me. I hinted my scheme to my comrade; he thought me a madman, and relapsed into despair. I was obliged alone to digest my plan, to anticipate the frightful host of difficulties which opposed its execution, and find the means of remedying them all. To accomplish our object, we had to clirab to the top of the chimney, notwithstanding the many iron gratings which were opposed to our ascent; and then, in order to descend from the top of the tower into the fossé, we required a ladder of eighty feet at least, and another ladder, necessarily of wood, to get out of the fossé. If I could get these

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »