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And not only to deliver from prison, but also to make known to them His will, was God pleased to use the ministry of His holy angels. Thus, when it was His will that the eunuch of Ethiopia should hear the gospel by the preaching of Philip the deacon, we read, chap. viii., that it was by the message of an holy angel that Philip was sent to meet him on his journey: "And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south, unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza." And in chap. x., in the conversion of Cornelius, the first-fruits of the Gentile Church, the angel of the Lord appears to him to warn him to send for the apostle, from whom he was to hear God's message of grace and mercy to him. "Cornelius," we read, " a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway, saw in a vision, evidently about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius,
Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter. He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do." And again, in chap. xxvii., when St.
Paul and his company in the ship were in great danger of shipwreck, it was by His holy angel that God gave to him the assurance of safety:
Paul stood forth in the midst of them and said, there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar: and, lo, God hath given thee all those that sail with thee."
Such was the visible work and ministry of the holy angels in the early Church, and among the first disciples of our Lord, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. And that work and ministry still continues. Although unseen by the eye of man, the holy angels of God still do their work of love, still minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. Still the youngest baptized child has a power and presence with him of God's holy angels, to guard and keep him from sin and danger. Still, day by day, the promise is fulfilled to us and to our children: "He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee in their hands, that thou dash not thy foot against a stone."
Surely, then, to meditate on the holy angels, on their nature, on the dutiful service which they
render unto Almighty God in the ministry of love which they exercise for us, may well fill us with devout and awful thoughts of God's greatness, and with grateful thoughts of God's goodness; may well move us to imitate their obedience, that so God's holy and blessed will may be so done by us men on earth, as it is done, sincerely, truly, perfectly, by the holy angels in heaven. Nor is this all: to meditate on the holy angels may well stir up and move our hearts to love one another, may well kindle in us the pure and holy flame of Christian charity; for shall the blessed spirits of heaven feel for us and with us in all our joys and sorrows, and shall not we feel one for another? Shall not each member of Christ's body feel for and with each and every member of the body in weal or in woe? Then, again, to meditate on the holy angels, how may it not cheer and encourage us to resist sin, to be pure and holy in our lives, not to be cast down when we are in danger or trial, but to take courage from the thought that they that are with us are more and stronger than they that are against us; that the holy angels of God are with us to strengthen us against Satan and his evil angels. Surely, so to meditate upon the holy angels of God, whether as they "do God service in heaven," or as
by His appointment they succour and defend us on earth," is no vain or unpractical exercise of the soul, but has to do with Christian faith and duty, with love and charity, with trust in God, submission unto His will, and reliance upon His power to save and defend us.
Thus we read, that when a "most learned, most humble, holy man," whose memory is dear to the Church, Richard Hooker, was on his deathbed, he was found, a few hours before his death, deep in contemplation, which gave occasion to enquire his present thoughts, to which he replied, "That he was meditating the number and nature of angels, and their blessed obedience and order, without which peace could not be in heaven; and, oh! that it might be upon earth.'" He, in his last hours, was meditating upon " their blessed obedience and order;" and we may find other truths relating to the holy angels, other lessons suited to our several needs,-lessons of reverence for God, lessons of love and charity for our brethren, lessons of purity and holiness in our most secret recesses, lessons of devotion in God's house of prayer, lessons of trust in God, and in His power and will to save us in our greatest dangers and in our sorest trials.
JOHN HENRY PARKER, OXFORD AND LONDON.
Sermons for the Christian Seasons.
ST. LUKE'S DAY.
THE HISTORIAN OF THE EARLY CHURCH.
2 TIM. iv. 11. Only Luke is with me.
TO-DAY we keep holy in memory of the evangelist St. Luke. It will be my endeavour to put together such passages in holy Scripture and Church writers as set forth the life and labours' of St. Luke; and then to dwell upon the merciful and gracious providence of Almighty God, in that He hath provided for us and for His Church in all ages, by the means of St. Luke, a record, not only of the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ during His sojourn upon earth, but also of the acts and labours of His holy apostles; that so we may realize the many and great occasions we have on this day for devout thankfulness for the manifold treasures laid up for us in holy Scripture.
St. Luke is said to have been born at Antioch, in Syria, and to have been brought up as a