THAT Creation, at some period, had a beginning, is necessarily believed; but where to fix this period, is a matter of some doubt. Some astronomers seem confident, that many of the fixed stars, must have existed long before the creation which Moses relates, and therefore confine the genesian history to the solar system. Others are equally confident, that angels were formed at some period far anterior to the formation of the first pair of the human family. With the first of these I am not competent to dispute; with the last I am not disposed. I have never yet been convinced, however, that creation began at an earlier date than the time which Moses narrates.
That angels were in existence on the third day, appears pretty evident; for on that day the Almighty formed the cavern – fixed the boundaries of the sea, and caused the dry land to appear: at sight of which, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” It is most likely that angels were created on the first day. “In the beginning God created the heavens,” (and their inhabitants.) Let this supplement be admitted, and the sense is complete. In six days the Lord made the heavens and earth, and all that is in them: Angels, being in the heavens, were certainly made within the six days, (if the history of Moses includes all creation,) and as they were songsters on the third day, where is a better place to fix their creation, than on the first day? In creation, two orders of intelligent beings were made, angels and men. The race of men were all to proceed from one complex parent by procreation; but angels were more independent in nature; all of them were created, none are procreated: the whole family of them were created at one time. Whether we call them spiritual matter, or spirit distinct from matter; in either case, they are not subject to natural decay, but are immortal: age, sickness and death never prey upon them. That they were subject to moral decay, is certain, for many of them have left their first estate, and turned themselves into devils. How long the angels, which are now fallen, retained their obedience in their first estate, is not certain.
The Almighty spake all creation into existence on the first day; and on that day, and the five days following, he formed creatures and things out of the mass, (tohu and bohu,) which he made on the first day. Angels stood wondering to see what their God could do. On the sixth day man was formed, with a body so erect, and a soul so capacious, as to raise the highest admiration among the angels; but, said God to the angels, “Do ye wonder at what ye see! know ye that my first begotten shall assume the nature and appear in the form of Adam; and I command you all to worship him as God incarnate.” This was the first time that the Messiah was named; and when God brought his first begotten into the world, (by naming him,) he said, “let all the angels of God worship him.” This was the test of angelic obedience: and the trial was, whether they ought to worship God in a nature inferior to their own, in obedience to the command; or whether they ought not rather to withhold their adoration. “What,” said angels, “shall we worship a nature inferior to our own – why not worship a beast as well? We cannot understand the union of an incarnate God; and it would be idolatry to worship a creature: our reason tells us, therefore, all things considered, that it is best not to obey.” If these suggestions are well founded, the first sin in the universe, arose from the limited wisdom and inadvertent conduct of sinless creatures. And further, if this is truly descriptive of the entrance of moral evil into the angelic department, then angels did not transgress before man was made, for angels to see.
At the close of the sixth day, God pronounced all very good, and on the seventh day he rested, which expressions seem to carry an idea, that no disturbance, as yet, had fallen out among his creatures, to “grieve him to the heart,” and make him “repent that he had created man upon the earth.” But, soon after this, perhaps on the eighth day, the rebellion broke out.
It is highly probable that some high angel, (likely the tallest which God had made,) took the lead in this rebellion, who, after be had become self-fallen, used his infernal address to deceive and ruin others, and who, to this day, has a kind of supremacy (under God) over those angels who followed his pernicious ways. When they are called devils, he is called Belzebub, their prince; and when he himself is called devil, they are called his angels.
An innumerable multitude of the angels nave kept their first estate, and retain their innocency until this day. These are not sent by God to be preachers of the gospel among men, but are, all of them, ministering spirits, to minister unto the saints in the kingdom of Providence.
From the days of Abraham down, about two thousand years, the angels of God frequently appeared among men, to bring intelligence from heaven – feed and rescue the saints, and destroy the wicked: but from the close of the apostolic age down until the present time, the appearance of angels – the spirit of prophecy – and the working of miracles, have been more rare. That angels, however, still exist – guard the saints unseen – smite the wicked – escort the souls of the saints to Abraham’s bosom, when they die – and will come in awful pomp with Christ at the last judgment – gather the elect from the four quarters of the earth – sever the righteous from the wicked, and dwell forever with the saints in heaven, we have abundance of evidence to believe. Of this innumerable company of the heavenly host, there are not more than the names of two handed down to us, if any name at all. Michael, (who is as God,) seems to intend Christ, the angel of the covenant, who has often appeared in angelic form: – with him Jacob wrestled, and to him Abraham prayed, etc. Whether the name, Gabriel (strength of God,) is peculiar to any one angel, or whether the name is given to any of the angels, when they are sent of God to accomplish grand events, is not certain; besides these two, no angelic names are found in our translation of the Bible.
The seraphim of lsaiah – the living creatures and cherubim of Ezekiel, and the four beasts of John, seem to be the same. Abundance of expositors, by them understand the angels, but in Revelations, v., 9, they are said to sing unto the Lamb, “thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood,” which is not a song for angels to sing.
The Mahomedans hold to genii, a race of beings between angels and men – that they bear higher offices than men, but are mortal and die: from this opinion, we should think, that aristocrats got their notion, that to rule over others is a right which some families are born to inherit.
All those creatures which are more exalted in nature than men, who are (dependently) possessed of immortality, I call angels. Let there be ever so many grades or orders, they form but one race.
I have said that angels were not sent to preach the Gospel. It is to be understood, however, that an angel first preached to the shepherds, the birth of the Saviour, who is the essence of the Gospel, but the doctrine of the gospel among men, which consists of law and grace – repentance towards God, and faith towards the Lord Jesus, contains essential articles which angels cannot well explain. The guilt of sin – repentance for sin – pardon from sin, and striving against the law of sin, are articles which the apostles preached, and are essential parts of the Gospel: but should angels undertake to preach, they must either omit these articles, or preach what they never experience.
Miscellaneous Essays, In Prose and Verse.
Elder John Leland
Published sometime since 1810 (precise year unknown)
The Writings Of The Late Elder John Leland
Pages 436 – 439