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though holy angels cannot sing of redemption by blood, or by any other means, as they never fell by transgression, theys nevertheless, feel a deep interest in the song of the church, and therefore cannot remain silent when she lifts up her voice, and sings the praise of her Redeemer. So far as is competent for them, they also join in loud and harmonious accents of praise to the Saviour of men.
The second class of worshippers are holy angels : I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne. They are spoken of as distinct from those mentioned in the preceding context; and as angels and men are the only intelligent creatures referred to in Scripture, the term angel here must be understood in its strict and proper acceptation. When Messiah appeared upon earth, they announced his birth in a song of praise, Luke ii. 13, 14; and now that he has ascended into heaven, they are no less cordial in celebrating the great work that he has done upon the earth.
According to the impression upon the mind of the prophet, the throne of the Majesty in the heavens was in the midst of this august scene, and the angels composing the outer circle of worshippers were round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders. All of them are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for the heirs of salvation; they have a charge respecting the saints, to bear them up in their hands, lest at any time they dash their foot against a stone; they are ready to interpose by their friendly exertions, wherever they get a commission, for the protection or deliverance, either of the church at large, or any individual member of the body. But the saints never need the protection of these blessed spirits more than when they are engaged in the celebration of the public ordinances of religion. Whenever the sons of God meet together, Satan and his legions are sure to thrust themselves in among them, that they may disturb and distract their exercises. And but for the ministry and interference of holy angels, these sons of mischief would be much more successful than they generally
The inner circles of worshippers, whom John saw about
this throne, had a strong guard of angels posted around them.
Their number was so remarkable, that they are said to have been ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; or myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. We read of an innumerable company of angels, Heb. xii. 22. But though a definite number is here mentioned, we are utterly incapable of forming any suitable conceptions of it. Myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, are numbers beyond the grasp of human thought. The friends of the church are not less numerous than her adversaries. When the eyes of the prophet's servant were opened to see the protection that was afforded to his master, he saw the mountains full of horses, and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 2 Kings, vi. 17. And if armies so numerous and powerful were employed for the protection of a single believer, of what innumerable squadrons must the hosts of holy angels be composed !
But these blessed spirits are introduced upon this scene, not merely as the body-guards of those whom they surround and defend, but likewise as their fellow-worshippers; for in verse-12. they are represented as saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. They cannot say with the living creatures and elders, · Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood ;' for he took not upon him the nature of angels, neither did he lay down his precious life for them : but when you consider the happy results and consequences of the death of Christ, with respect to angels, you will not be surprised, that it constitutes the principal matter of their song. No event has given greater satisfaction to them, as' none has given greater torment to devils. It has unfolded the character and perfections of God, beyond any thing they had formerly seen. In the stupendous frame of heaven and earth, they saw the wisdom, goodness, and power of the Creator ; in the terrible judgments which were executed upon kindred but rebellious spirits, they saw the glory of his holiness, justice, and other moral excellencies, manifested in awful splendour; and in those great physical, intellectual, and moral endowments, with which they themselves were favoured, they also saw much of God. But redemption, through the blood of Christ, brings glory to God in the highest. Here those scattered rays of excellence, which appear in the different parts of the system of things, are collected, and shine with united splendour. “Mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have embraced each other.' By the mystery of redemption, the stock of angelic knowledge, and the measure of their felicity, are greatly increased. Every day they receive some augmentation to the stock of their attainments, by the development of the plans of Providence respecting the church ; and their joy becomes more and more abundant, as they see the success of Messiah's soul-travail in those sons that are daily entering their Father's house above. These generous spirits cannot but wish well to fellow-creatures : 'there is joy in heaven over a sinner that repenteth. And as the whole success of the plan of glorifying God, and peopling the regions of immortality with inhabitants from this earth, depended upon the obediential sufferings and death of Christ, they cannot but put forth all the energy of their powers, in the loudest acclamations of praise to the Lamb that was slain.-In this song, they ascribe different attributes and excellencies to the Redeemer, which may be considered in the order in which they are mentioned.
First, They ascribe Power to him that was slain. The word signifies either physical strength or legal authority. It is in the last of these acceptations that it must be understood here; for otherwise there would not be any difference between this part of the ascription, and another that follows which is translated by the word strength. It is a weighty, special, and extensive authority, which they ascribe to him. The article prefixed to the word gives a peculiar emphasis to the expression ; and the insertion of it here is the more noticeable, as it is not prefixed to any of the rest. These spirits are not only willing that he be invested with absolute, sovereign, and universal rule, but they rejoice that such unlimited powers are given him : they acknowledge him for their Lord, and worship him.
Secondly, They ascribe Riches to the Lamb. "Riches and honour belong to him; yea, durable riches and righteousness :' the treasures both of grace and glory are in his hand; they therefore ascribe to him only what is his due when they celebrate the praises of his wealth.—Though this word has no article, like the preceding, it is nevertheless peculiarly fitted to give us the most exalted ideas of the wealth of the Redeemer. The Greeks had different terms, in their copious language, for wealth ; but none of them was better fitted to impress the mind with the idea of large and inexhaustible treasures, than the name which was usually given to the god of riches. Such is the word here used. Him whom the blinded nations ignorantly worshipped, these holy intelligences celebrate as the true God of wealth. The abundance of which he is possessed is so great, that giving, even with all the liberality of a God, doth not impoverish him. The merit of his sacrifice being infinite can never be exhausted ; neither can the fulness of the Spirit which rests on him be diminished.
Thirdly, They ascribe Wisdom to him. He is the only wise God; and in his mediatorial character, he is endowed without measure with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might. He is never at a loss to know what is fittest and best to be done, or by what means the objects which he has in view may be best secured. The wisdom of angels is proverbially great ; but, when they compare the stock of which they are possessed with his, it appears to be no better than foolishness. In their estimation, His wisdom only - is worthy to be praised.
Fourthly, They ascribe to him Strength. He is both the wisdom and the power of God to salvation, to every one that believeth ; and in the work of redemption this excellency appears to equal advantage with his wisdom. The weight of the curse was a burden which no creature could sustain. Without this excellency, the work of salvation could not have been finished, with respect to purchase, nor could any of its blessings have been applied. But as he is clothed with the most extensive authority, so he is possessed of all that ability which is necessary either to enforce his requirements, or to fulfil his designs.
Fifthly, They ascribe Honour to him. • He was despised and rejected of men;' they not only hanged him upon a tree, but they added every species of insult to cruelty and injustice, that he might be rendered as base as possible in the estimation of the people. But angels know his worth ; and, in opposition to all the insults and reproaches of men, they loudly proclaim that he is worthy of the very highest honours.
Glory is the next thing which they ascribe to him. This word denotes the shining brightness, the lustre or excellency of any thing: it is excellence manifested. Created minds cannot comprehend the excellencies of the Lamb; but though they cannot be comprehended, they are not wholly concealed from the notice of his people. "Irregenerate men see every thing through a cloud of prejudice and mistake. To such persons the Saviour is a root sprung out of a dry ground, having no form or comeliness wherewith he may be desired. But to the saints-the men whose eyes are opened, and who see him through the clear medium of his own word, he is the chief among ten thousand, yea altogether lovely. We beheld his glory,' says the apostle, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, John i. 14. Holy angels, whose powers of discernment are far superior to those even of the most intelligent of the saints, cannot but conceive and admire the loveliness and excellency of the Redeemer. It is with a peculiar glow of satisfaction, that they admire and adore his excellencies when they ascribe to him glory.
Finally, They ascribe to him Blessing. This part of their ascription may be viewed as expressive of what he is in him