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Twenty Thousand, even Thousands of Angels, S ERM.
* See the Margin of Gen, xxxii, 2.
SERM. as covered a Mountain, encamping about
VIII. them, 2 Kings vi. 17. w
As to the several Orders of these Heavenly Hosts, though we pretend not to speak so knowingly, and so assuredly as the SchoolMen do; yet it is likely, that there are Orders and Distinctions amongst them. For God, who made them, is not a God of Confufion, but Order. And examine all the rest of his Creatures, and you will hardly find all, of any Nature whatever, to be equal and alike : You will observe different Ranks and Qualities amongst them, and different Functions proper to each Rank : Some Difference therefore of Order and Office, it is reasonable to conceive among the holy Angels. The counterfeit Dionysus, and they that boldly follow his Speculations, observe nine Titles or Names of them in Scripture, do therefore range them into three Hierarchies, make each Hierachy to consist of three several Orders. But as in Things above our Knowledge and Ken, it is not likely the Inquisitive should always, in every Circumstance, agree; so it is no Wonder, if in the many Lists of these Orders, we meet with among the curious, one or two of them should happen to change their Ranks:
But I shall recount them to you, as I find S ERM. them enumerated in the aforementioned Au- VIII. thor, whom the Church of Rome in her om Litanies follows. In the first Hierarchy are reckoned, the Seraphim, Isaiah vi. 2, 6. Cherubim, Gen. iii. 24. Ezek. chap.x. & alibi passim. And Thrones ; Col. i. 16. In the fecond, Dominions; Ephes. i. 21. Col. i. 16. Virtues, (which we translate Mights) Ephes. i. 21. And Powers; Ephef. i. 21. Col. i. 16.-ii. 10. In the third, Principalities *, Ephes. i. 21. Col. i. 16.-ï. 10. ArchAngels; i Thef. iv. 16. Jude 6. And Angels; Sparhm in Scripturis. Now these Names they suppose to be assigned to the several Orders, either upon Account of different Properties, for which they are eminent one above another; or else, upon Account of the
different Offices, in which God employs them. . And they that have a Mind to see how
luxuriant Mens Fancies can be, when they intrude into Things which they have not seen, may find enough amongst the School-Men, to
* N. B. That Gregory the Great, and Bernard, from Col. i. 16. place Principalities above Powers, and Virtues below them. Whereas the Dionysius so called from Ephef. i. 21. places them in the Order recounted above. Aquinas endeavours to reconcile them, by supposing that they mean the same Orders under different Names. Summ. Part I. Quæft. 108. Artic. 6. ad 14.
S E R M. satisfy their Curiosity. But I think it best to VIII. keep to Scripture, the only safe Foundation
we can proceed on, in Things about which it is impossible we should know any thing but what is revealed. And in Scripture we own all the above-mentioned Names are to be found : Tho' an Exception may be made to the Title of Archangels, which the Scripture no where mentions in the Plural, as we shall see hereafier. But all the other Names we admir: And that these Names may imply fome Distinction of Order, and Dignity in the Heavenly Hosts, we don't gainsay. We are very willing to suppose there may be a Difference amongst them : But what it is that Difference consists in, we are not ashamed frankly to confess, we do not know. And whether there be just these nine Orders of Angels, no less, nor no more ; whether one and the fame Angel, may always keep the same Title and Rank”; or whether some of them may not at Times be employed in different Services, and in Posts of different Honour, and Degree ; these are Queflions I had rather acknowledge myself ignorant in, than pretend to answer. I chuse sather, from the uncertain Numbers, Orders, and Hierarchies of these holy and glorious
Spirits Spirits, to lay before you what the Scripture SERM. more certainly reveals, concerning some of VIII. their Abilities and Powers.
And among these, I think, their Knowledge very deservedly claims the first Place: Which the Scripture represents to be great and wonderful ; so exceeding great, that the Knowledge of the wiseft Men on Earth, cannot come near it. For which Reason, when the Woman of Tekoab would speak to David hyperbolically, the compares him with an Angel : As an Angel of God (faith The) so is my Lord the King, to know Good and Evil; and again, My Lord is wife according to the Wisdom of an Angel of God, to know all Things that are in Earth, 2 Sam. xiv. 17, 20. For this Reason Angels are represented as full of Eyes, before and behind, and within, Rev. iv. 6, 8. And (as we shall have occasion perhaps to observe hereafter) they have Cognizance of Countries, and Kingdoms, and People; of their Manners, and most secret Projects and Councils : They are privy to all the Intrigues of State, and to what is transacted in their closest Councils : Insomuch that it is possible, it might be by their Information, that Elisha was enabled to tell the King of Israel the