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MEN who “live and breathe in the lighter literature of our age,” are very apt to imbibe a disrelish for the more weighty truths of God’s word. In the series of thoughts which we are called on to present, there must be truths from which the human mind naturally revolts; because there are truths humbling to the pride of man. If in exhibiting some of these, we find fewer enchanting scenes to look upon, and fewer stimulants to an excited imagination, we shall find God's truth, and find it in its own heavenly dress.
Those great events by which the more weighty truths of God's word are enforced, lose none of their importance in their ascending series; rather is the importance of them increased as they remount even beyond the history of our own race. In the present condition of the universe, its inhabitants, so far as they are known to us, consist of angels, men, and devils; there was a time when there were no devils. It is not permitted us to know how early the angelic race came into existence. This much has been revealed, that there was such a race prior to the race of man, whom the all-wise and sovereign Creator was pleased to regard, in some respects, with distinguishing favor. They were the elder family of the universal Father, the first-born sons of light, the first expressions of his infinite power and love. When this material universe was created, they were there; and when the Eternal and Omnipotent One “stretched out the ‘line” upon this earth, and fastened its foundations, and raised the dome of this wondrous temple, they were probably the spectators of this wondrous work. They were a superior order of beings; not formed from dust like the first man, but spiritual in their nature and advanced to glorious dignity. They are styled “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers,” because they are the ministers of God's providence in the government of this lower world, princes under him, ranged in different orders, and each class acting within its appropriate sphere. It was no infected parentage from which they sprang. They were streams from a pure fountain; rays from the “Father of lights;” stars that reflected the purity and brightness of the uncreated sun. And because they were thus exalted and holy, they were happy. Their inheritance was rich and unfading; it was the heaven where they dwelt; the love and fellowship of their Creator, and unrestrained access to this fountain of joy. Em. ployed in services that elevated them in knowledge, holiness, and enjoyment, as high as their created natures would admit, they lived only to love and serve God, “swift to do his will, hearkening to the voice of his word.” They were more than servants; they were sons. More were they even than sons; they were princes and courtiers of heaven—illustrious and immortal spirits—attendants in God's own chamber of presence. We have no knowledge of their numbers, except that “thousands” ministered unto the Ancient of Days, and “ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;” and that “they are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation.” In proportion to the magnitude of God's plan, it was important to make an early disclosure of the great principles of his moral government. The angelic race were created under liabilities inseparable from their nature. They were to pass through a process similar to that through which all intelligent creatures pass, and stand or fall, as they sustain this appointed ordeal. They held their existence under law, and were subjected to a probationary course, on a larger scale than that subsequently appointed to man; and their startingpoint was “the high and holy place.” Exalted as they were, it was the prerogative of the sovereign Lawgiver to give law to them as his subjects; and, in the event of their disobedience, to punish them according to their desert. The divine government is, and must be impartial, and impose its obligations on every class of intelligent beings. Could we “make the tour of the universe,” we should not find a race of beings who are not bound to love God with all their hearts, and their fellow-existences as themselves; and who, in default thereof, are not subjected to penalty. It does not appear that the angelic race mingled with any other portion of the population of the universe; nor that they were freighted with any other hopes than their own ; nor that in making shipwreck of their own, they involved any others beside themselves. Multitudes of them were obedient to the law, and retained their integrity; others, and great multitudes, sinned and fell.
It is a fact of some interest, that sin was not introduced into the universe by man. Fearful was the responsibility of the first sin. Man, in the progress of time, was induced to join in this foul revolt; but it was not first concocted in the human bosom. Man did not exist when the order, beauty, and blessedness which reigned throughout the divine empire, were first disturbed, and the arm of
rebellion was first raised against the government
of the Most High. This primeval revolt was the beginning of sorrows, and aimed at a radical revolution in the empire of the rightful Sovereign; but it was the work of another race. Says the Apostle Peter, “God spared not the angels that sinned.” The Apostle Jude also speaks of the angels, who “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” The particular act of sin by which they fell, is not revealed. Very many are the conjectures in relation to it; but the most we know is contained in that representation of the Apostle in which he speaks of the danger of being “lifted up with pride, and falling into the condemnation of the devil.” But whatever may have been the particular act, it was disobedience to the will of their sovereign Creator, and a transgression of his law. - . There were several things that greatly aggravated their crime. They “could not sin at a lower rate,” than of set purpose and wilfully. They were angels, and there was no weakness or ignorance in their nature. They were too intelligent to have been imposed upon and deceived. They were their own tempters; for there was none to tempt them, as they afterwards tempted our first parents. There was no stumbling-block in heaven; God had made them exalted, holy, and happy; nor was the service required of them hard and unreasonable; nor could they ever do too