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ter for us, whom He has called to be heirs of salvation. For us, weak and fallen and sinful men, have the holy angels been sent from the highest heaven, to minister. And not only has God been pleased to send His holy angels to minister for us men, but they would seem to execute their work and ministry of love with all joy. We know, from the express words of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, how much they feel with us and for us, how keen is their sympathy with all of good or evil that befalls us. Only think, how much is contained in the words, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." What charity, what tenderness, what sympathy with us, even in our fallen estate, that there should be joy in the highest heaven, joy among the holy and blessed spirits, over one sinner that repenteth. How should this teach us to feel one for another. If the holy angels can so feel for us, can so joy over our repentance, how ought not we, much more, to feel one for another, to sorrow for one another's sins, to joy over one another's repentance, forasmuch as we are partakers of one common nature; nay more, have been all baptized into the One Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, have been all made members of
Him, and so, all members one of another, "that the members should have the same care one of another; and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." So may we learn a lesson of mutual love and charity one towards another, from the keen and tender sympathy of the blessed angels with us men in our trials.
Now it has always been the belief of the Church, that all baptized persons, even the youngest, are set each under the care of some one good angel, whose special work and office it is to watch over the baptized, and to keep him from sin and danger. "He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee in their hands, that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone." And it would seem, from our Lord's words in St. Matthew, that even the very highest angels, they who habitually see God, and live in His presence, are yet set in charge of the souls even of the youngest. Thus our Lord speaks: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven." Great and unspeakable mercy, that
we, our children, our newly-born and newly-baptized children, have the help of the high, and holy, and blessed spirits, who live for ever in the presence of God! Surely this is an ever-present help against Satan and his evil spirits, to have the good spirits of God by our side, around our bed, around our path; well may we bless and magnify God's holy name for these unseen, but ever-present guardians.
And here it may help us to realize what we are told of the work of the holy angels, to consider what part they hold in the history of the gospel. It was the angel Gabriel who appeared unto Zacharias, and foretold unto him the birth of St. John Baptist. It was the angel Gabriel who was sent unto the blessed Virgin Mary, to announce unto her, that of her should be born, by the power of the Holy Ghost, her divine Son and Saviour Jesus Christ. It was the angel of the Lord who appeared unto Joseph in a dream, and assured him when he was in doubt: "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." It was the angel of the Lord who appeared unto the shepherds, as they were keeping watch over their flocks by night: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,' and not one angel only, but many, full of joy, full of love to man, full of zeal for God's glory. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men." And so, again, it was the angel of God, in a dream, who warned Joseph, at the first, to flee into Egypt; and, again, after the death of Herod, to return into the land of Israel. So that we read of the holy angels, and of their ministry, no less than six times in the history of our Lord's birth.
Then, again, the angels are twice spoken of during His ministry. Once, at the very beginning; a second time, at the very end of His ministry. Thus, after His forty days' fast and temptation, we read, "And, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him." And again, in His agony in the garden, when He had prayed again and again unto His Father, and "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood," we read, "and there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him." All which may be as a pattern of what takes place in our case,—that it is
chiefly in times of severe trial and temptation, or when we are weighed down by sorrow, or when we have prayed again and again, that God visits us with the ministry of His holy angels, and cheers, comforts, and upholds us. Thus the pattern of our Lord would teach us not to expect that help at once; but to be patient; to resist temptation, so far as we can; and to wait God's time to set us free; to continue instant in prayer, until He be pleased to hear us, and, should He see good, to answer our prayer.
Then, again, we read of the angels as present at, and after, the Resurrection of our Lord: “And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men." And again, another angel within the sepulchre : " And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him." And in St.