Sermon 1820. Fallen Angels a Lesson To Fallen Men
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
"God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reservedunto judgment."Â— 2 Peter 2:4.
THESE ARE ANCIENT THINGS." Most men hunger after the latest news; let us on this occasion go back upon the earliest records,and think of the hoar past, before man was made. It does us good to look back upon the past of God's dealings with his creatures;herein lies the value of history. We should not confine our attention to God's dealings with men, but we should observe howhe acts towards another order of beingsÂ—how he dealt with angels before man had become the second sinner. If angels transgress,what is his conduct towards them? This study will enlarge our minds, and show us great principles in their wider sweep. Weshall inevitably make mistakes in our judgment as to God's conduct towards men if we do not remember sufficiently how he hasdealt with beings who are in certain respects much superior to the human race. By seeing how God treated the rebellions angels,light may be cast upon his dealings with us, and thereby misapprehensions may be removed.
We shall go to our subject at once, asking aid from the Spirit of all grace. We will first view the mysterious fact of thefall of the angels, and their casting away, for our warning. Then, secondly, we shall regard the fact of the hopeless doom of the angels that sinned as it stands in contrast to the amazingmercy of the Lord towards men. Thus our second head will lead us to view the text for our admiration: I hope for the increase of our grateful love and reverent wonder.
I. First, then, let us consider our text FOR OUR WARNING. "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell."Behold here a wonder of wickedness, angels sin; a wonder of justice, God spared them not; a wonder of punishment, he castthem down to hell; a wonder of future vengeance, for they are reserved unto judgment! Here are deep themes, and terrible.Black as tempest are the facts, and flashes of terrible lightning flame forth therefrom.
Let us receive a warning, first, against the deceivableness of sin, for whoever we may be, we may never reckon that, on account of our position or condition, we shall be free from the assaults of sin, or even certain of not being overcome by it. Notice that these who sinned were angels in heaven, so that there is no necessarysecurity in the most holy position. We know that they were in heavenly places, for it was from that high abode that they werecast down to hell, by the terrible right hand of the Eternal King. These angels, that kept not their first estate, but sinnedagainst God, dwelt with their brethren in the courts of the Most High; they seemed to be, as it were, walled round with fireto keep out all evil from them. Their communications were only with perfect spirits like themselves; but yet, as they wereundergoing a probation, they were made capable of choosing evil if they willed so to do, or of cleaving to good if their heartswere steadfast with their God. There were none about them to tempt them to evil; they were, on the contrary, surrounded withevery good and holy influence: they saw God, and abode in his courts, they conversed with seraphim and cherubim. Their dailyengagements were all of a holy order; worship and service were their duty and delight. Their company was select; there wereno lapsed classes among them to render the moral atmosphere impure. They were not only in a paradise, but in the central abodeof God himself. Yet evil entered into the breasts of angelsÂ—even envy, ambition, pride, rebellion; and they fell, fell neverto rise again,
"High in the bright and happy throng, Satan, a tall archangel sat; Amongst the morning stars he sung, Till sin destroy'd his heavenly state. "'Twas sin that hurled him from his throne. Grovelling in fire the rebel lies: 'How art thou sunk in darkness down, Son of the morning, from the skies!'"
Beloved hearer, this should teach us not to presume upon anything connected with our position here below. You may be the childof godly parents who watch over you with sedulous care, and yet you may grow up to be a man of Belial. You may never entera haunt of iniquity, your journeys may be only to and from the house of God, and yet you may be a bond-slave of iniquity.The house in which you live may be none other than the house of God and the very gate of heaven through your father's prayers,and yet you may yourself live to blaspheme. Your reading may be bound up with the Bible; your companions may be of the choicest;your talk may concern holy things; you may be as if you were in the garden of the Lord, shut in to everything that is good,and every evil shut out from you; and yet you may have no part nor lot with the people of God. As there were a Ham and anungodly Canaan even in Noah's Ark, so may it turn out that you may be such in the very midst of all that should make you graciousand sanctified. It is unhappy indeed to read the annals of human life, and to meet with men that have gone from their mother'ssideÂ—have gone from where their father knelt in prayerÂ—have gone out from brothers and sisters whose piety was not only unquestionable,but even remarkable,Â—and they have gone to be leaders in every form of wickedness. Many of the enemies of the cross of Christhave been so trained in godliness that we find it hard to believe that they can indeed be so vile; an apostle must declareit with tears ere he is believed. The sons of God they seemed to be, but they turned out to be sons of perdition after all.Let no man, therefore, arise and shake himself, as though no sins could ever bind him, because he feels himself to be a verySamson through his connections and surroundings. Yes, sir, it may be that you shall fallÂ—fall foully, fall desperately, unlessthe grace of God be in youÂ—fall so as never to come to God, and Christ, and find eternal life. It was so with these angels.The best natural thing that creation can work is not sufficient to preserve the fickle creature from sin: regeneration mustcome inÂ—the work of the Holy Ghost, a yet higher work than the material creating power of God, or else you may put the creaturewhere you please, and that creature may be perfect, and yet sin will reach and destroy him. You and I are far from perfect.We are not angels unfallen: we are not angels at all; but we have evil hearts within us; therefore let us not imagine fora moment that the most select position can screen us from the worst of sin.
The next thought is that the greatest possible ability, apparently consecrated, is still nothing to rely upon as a reason why we should not yet fall so low as to prostitute it all to the service of the worst of evils. Angels are beingsof remarkable power. We know that they have amazing intelligence and beauty. We read of one whose face was like that of anangel of God. When a thing is spoken of as being exceedingly good, it is often connected with angels: "men did eat angels'food." It is supposed that everything with regard to them is of superior order and of refined quality. I suppose that a spiritthat is not cumbered with flesh and blood, as we are, must be delivered from much that hampers and beclouds. Oftentimes aclear judgment is dimmed by a headache, or an attack of indigestion. Anything that affects the body drags down the mind; butthese angelic beings are delivered from such weakness, and they are clothed with a glory of strength, and beauty, and power.
Hear then and observe! However great Lucifer was, he degenerated into Satan: the Son of the Morning became Apollyon the Destroyer.However excellent the fallen angels may once have been, they have now become potent only for mischief; their wisdom has curdledinto cunning, and their strength has soured into a vicious force; so that no man may say within himself, "I am a clear thinker,therefore I shall never become a blaspheming infidel;" or, "I am gifted in prayer, therefore I shall never become a blasphemer."You know not what you may become. There is a great difference between gift in prayer and grace in prayer: gift will breedpride, and pride will ensure destruction; it is only grace that can preserve unto eternal glory. There is also a great differencebetween office and person; therefore, a man may not say, "I am a minister: I shall be kept faithful in the church of God."Ah me! But we have seen leaders turn aside, and we need not marvel; for if angels fall, what man may think that he can stand?To trust our office as a security is to rest upon a broken reed. The grace of God can keep the least and weakest of us; butapart from that heavenly power how dare any man hope to be preserved to the end? Self-confidence is the beginning of declension.He that reckons that he is past temptation, is already entangled in its net. We must never presume. Angels fell: why shouldnot men? An angel occupies a high position near the throne of God: "Are they not all ministering spirits?" We have evidencein Scripture that they are called on grand occasions to discharge high commissions for the King of kings. And yet these courtiers,these household messengers of the palace of heaven, these domestics of glory, even these went astray, and fell, and turnedto devils. Let no man dream that because he occupies an office in the church his salvation is therefore secure: an apostlefell. The arrows of the prince of darkness can reach the highest seats of the synagogue. The high places of the field of serviceare not free from danger; nay, they are the more perilous as they are the more notable. The powers of darkness make theirdirest onset upon the foremost soldiers of the cross, hoping to overthrow the standard-bearers, and create confusion throughoutthe camp.
Neither, dear friendsÂ—to continue my warningÂ—must any of us suppose that we shall be kept by the mere fact that we are engaged in the sublimest possible office. Apart from the perpetual miracle of God's grace, nothing can keep us from declension, apostacy, and spiritual death. "Oh,but I spend my time," one may sayÂ—"I spend my time wholly in the service of God! I go from door to door seeking the lost soulsof men, as a city missionary"; or "I conduct a large class in the school, and I have brought many to the Savior." All thisis good; but if thou trustest in it for thy standing before God it will certainly fail thee. If any one of us were to say,"But I am a minister, called to offer prayer, and to preach the precious word: my engagements are so sanctified, they bringme into such hallowed fellowship with holy things, that it is not possible that I should fall,"Â—this would be the height offolly. We need not go beyond the pale of professed ministers of Christ to find specimens of every infamy of which man is capable.After having preached to others there is grave cause for trembling lest we be castaways ourselves. No, there is nothing inthe most sacred office in the church to preserve us or our characters. Office, if we trust in it, may even become, as in thecase of Judas, a Tarpeian rock, from which we may be cast down to our destruction; for the angelic office in heaven did notkeep the angels from being hurled over the battlements of glory when once they dared to sin. Let not the angels of the churcheshope to be kept from falling unless he that beareth the seven stars in his right hand shall keep them even to the end.
I want you to notice, as a great warning, that this sin of the angels was not prevented! even by the fullest happiness. Oh, what a change, dear friends, from the joy they once knew, when they were the servants of God, to being cast down to hellin chains of darkness, as they now are! The devils go about the world tempting men, but they are never released from theirdarkness. They cannot escape from the prison which they make for themselvesÂ—the blackness and horror of God's judgment whichalways shuts them in, be they where they may. What a difference between that and the throne of God, and the vision thereof,which was once their joy! The service of God was once theirs, but now the slavery of evil holds them in iron bonds. Once theytook delight in the high praises of their Creator, and now they curse him in their heart of hearts. Once, on high days, whenthe servants of God came together, they sang for joy as they beheld new worlds created by their great Lord and King; now,everything he does is as gall and wormwood to them. They curse him and themselves, and they are busily occupied always inseeking to pull down his kingdom, and to quench his light among the sons of men. Oh, the misery of these old offenders! Theyonce were supremely happyÂ—but this happiness of theirs did not suffice to preserve their fidelity. The most golden wages willnot keep a servant loyal to the kindest of masters. The most blessed experience will not preserve a soul from sinning. Youmay come here and be greatly blessed under a sermon, and sweetly sing, and pray with intense fervor, and seem carried up tothe gates of heaven by itÂ—but do remember that no feelings of joy or happiness can be relied upon as sufficient holdfaststo keep us near the Lord. We have seen men drink of the cup of the Lord till they appeared to be full of love to him; andyet they have gone back to be drunken with the cup of devils. We have known men preach the gospel, and yet afterwards blasphemeevery truth of revelation, and deny the inspiration of the Book of God. We have known them appear to be among the holiestand the best, and yet they have come at last to be common frequenters of the most evil haunts of the city, and to be ringleadersin folly. Is not this a dreadful thing, and should it not be a warning to every one of us? "Let him that thinketh he standethtake heed lest he fall." There is one who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before his presencewith exceeding great joy; but if we do not trust in him, and abide in him, we shall perish. If we dare to confide in our position,our ability, our office, our service, or our experience, we shall, sooner or later, discover that we are prone to sin, andthat when we sin God will not spare us any more than he spared the angels that sinned.
This warning, be it noted, applies itself to the very foulest of sin. The angels did not merely sin and lose heaven, but they passed beyond all other beings in sin, and made themselves fit denizensfor hell. When Christ was describing the most wicked of men, he said that he was a devil. "One of you is a devil," was hisexpression; for the devil is the wickedest form of existence. Now, is it not singular that after being in heaven it remainedpossible for an angel to become so dreadful a being as a devil in hell now is? If any of us come very near to the kingdom,and yet the life of God is not in us; if we are joined with the church of God, and perform holy duties, and yet we dependupon ourselves, and so fall into sin, we may fall into the foulest of sins. I do not think that Judas could have been whathe was if he had not been an apostle. The best of that which looks like goodness must be used as the raw material with whichto make a traitor who will sell his Master. The devils have gone into open war with God: the same beings that once bowed beforehis awful majesty are now openly and defiantly at war with the God that made them. They once could sing their chorales withdelight, and day without night circle the throne of God rejoicingly, but now they blaspheme, and rage, and rave against allthat is good in earth or heaven. They go about like roaring lions seeking whom they may devour,Â—even they who once would havebeen ministering spirits, eager to save and bless. They were once loyal subjects, but now they are traitors, rebels, seducers.They try to lead the people of God astray; they do their utmost to stir up sin in every human bosom. So bad have they becomethat their leader actually met the Son of God himself, and tempted him to fall down and worship him. Was ever such infamous,such infernal impudence as for the devil himself to ask the eternal Son of God to do him homage? O base proposal, that thepurity of the Most High should bow itself before the impiety of a fallen spirit! Yet, so far have devils proceeded that inthem evil has reached its ripeness and maturity. Let this be a lesson to us. I must not for a moment think that apart fromthe keeping of God's Spirit I am incapable even of the foulest sin. Recall the story of Hazael. When the prophet told himwhat he would do, he exclaimed in amazement, "Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?" He was not only dog enoughto seek the Syrian throne, but he was devil enough to suffocate his master with a wet cloth, and then to carry out with eagernessall those terrible deeds of barbarity which the prophet had foretold. We may yet do horrible deeds which we think ourselvesincapable of doing. How much of devil there lies within the unregenerate heart no man can tell. O my unrenewed hearer, I wouldnot slander thee, but I must warn thee: there are all the makings of a hell within thy heart! It only needs that the restraininghand of God should be removed, and thou wouldst come out in thy true colors, and those are the colors of iniquity. If it werenot for the restraints of society and providence, there would be eruptions of evil, even in the most moral, sufficient toshake society to its foundations. An officer in India had tamed a leopard. From the time when it was quite a kitten he hadbrought it up, till it went about the house like a cat, and everybody played with it; but he was sitting in his chair oneday asleep, and the leopard licked his handÂ—licked it in all innocence; but as he licked, the skin was broken, and the tasteof blood came to the leopard, and from that moment it was not content to dwell with men. It rushed forth to kill, and wasno more at ease till it reached the jungle. That leopard, though tamed, was a leopard still. So a man, sobered by moral motives,but unchanged in heart, is a fallen man still, and the taste of blood, I mean the taste of sin, will soon reveal the tigerin him. Wash a Russian, and you find a Tartar; tempt a moralist, and you discover a sinner! The thin crust of goodness, whichis formed by education, soon disappears under temptation. You may be everything that looks like good, but except you havebeen born again you are still capable of the direst evil. It does seem a horrible thing to me that there should stream froma man's lips the foulest blasphemy, and yet he that utters it was once accustomed to sing in the house of God, and bow hisknee with the saints. O God, that ever a creature bidding fair to serve his Maker, should sink to such a depth! Yet such horrorsabound! The vessel which adorned the lordly festival is broken and thrown on the dunghill, and even so the excellent and honorableare defiled and cast away. I know what some are whispering, "I never should become an open reprobate I" How know you that?You already question the warnings of Scripture, you may go further before long. He that is the most sure is the most insecure;but he that cries, "Hold thou me up," shall be made to stand. Be this our confession, "O Lord, I know that I shall becomeutterly vile except thy sovereign grace prevent! "In humility let us cast ourselves upon the mighty grace of God, and we shallbe kept. In fervent earnestness let us cry to the strong for strength, and we shall not be overcome of evil. He that presumesshall fall; he that confides shall stand.
The text may lead us a little farther before we leave it, by giving us a warning against the punishment of sin as well as against the sin itself. Read this,Â—"God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell." They werevery great; they were very powerful; but God did not spare them for that. If sinners are kings, princes, magistrates, millionaires,God will cast them into hell. If they were commanders of all the forces of the world, he that is a just and righteous judgewould not spare them because of their dignities and powers. "God spared not the angels," why should he spare you, ye greatones of the earth? They were very numerous, too. I do not know how many there were, but we read of legions of devils on oneoccasion. But God did not spare angelic sinners because there were so many of them: he made room in hell for them all; andset them in darkness and in bonds, every one of them. God will not spare sinful men because of their millions: "the wickedshall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Be they few or many, sinners must be punished, and God willnot turn away his wrath from those who do iniquity. God did not spare the rebel angels because of their unity. I never heardof devils quarrelling: it is very wonderful in Scripture to notice their unanimityÂ—their concord with one another; but "thoughhand join in hand, yet shall not the wicked go unpunished." You unbelievers may combine together to hate and oppose the gospel,but it matters not, God will deal with your confederacies and break up your unities, and make you companions in hell evenas you have been comrades in sin. "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell."
Neither did he spare them because of their craft. There were never such subtle creatures as these areÂ—so wise, so deep, socrafty; but these serpents and all the brood of them had to feel the power of God's vengeance, notwithstanding their cunning.Men often escape at the bar of their country because of their long-headed ways of evading the law; they keep within legalbounds, and yet are great villains; or if they go over the line they hire a clever tongue to plead for them, be they as guiltyas they may, and through crafty pleading they escape from a righteous sentence. Thus is it with men, but no counsellors canpervert judgment with the Most High. He will deal out justice even to a hair's breadth, and he will by no means spare theguilty. "God spared not the angels that sinned:" why should he spare any guilty son of Adam? Be sure that he will not spareany one of us, if we live in sin. Unless we accept the way of salvation by Jesus Christ our sin will find us out, and Godwill find our sin out, and he will cast us also down to the place prepared for the devil and his angels. Let the flatterersof to-day preach what they may, the Lord will punish men who live and die in their sins. He spared not the angels that sinned;certainly he will not spare men if they sin. Let this stand as a warning to us.
II. But now I want to carry you on and ask all your attention to this second point for OUR ADMIRATION.
I want you to admire, dear friends, the fact that though angels fell the saints of God are made to stand. The angels sinned fatally; but the saints of God "cannot sin, for they are born of God." You know the sense in which theapostle means that; not that we do not all sin, but that we do not so sin as to depart from the living God, give up our allegianceto him, and cease to be his loving children. No. "He keepeth himself," says the Scripture, "and that wicked one toucheth himnot." But what a wonder it is! I tell you, when the tales of God's people shall be written, and the records of the saintsshall be read by the light of glory, we shall be miracles of grace to ourselves and to one another. "Oh," we shall say, "Ihad almost gone, but the hand of grace interposed, and snatched me from slipping over the awful precipice. My mind almostconsented to that sin, and yet I was able to cry out, 'How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?' There wasgreat stress of weather, and my poor barque was almost on the rocks; but still, though I grazed the bottom, yet I did notmake shipwreck." "Oh, if I had been left at that moment," one will say, "what would have become of me? Though I had tastedof the heavenly gift, and the powers of the world to come, yet, had I been left to myself at that hour, I should have so fallenthat I could never again have been brought to repentance. But I was kept; preserved by as great a miracle as if a spark shouldfall into the sea and yet burn on, or a straw should be blown into a heated furnace and should not be consumed, or a mothshould be trodden on by a giant and yet remain uncrushed.
"Kept alive with death so near, I to God the glory give."
To think that men should stand where angels fall! We are by sovereign grace called to be as near to God as the angels everwere, and in some respects we are nearer still. We are the body-guard of Christ, his chosen ones with whom he communes. Weare the table companions of our LordÂ—we eat of his bread, and drink of his cup, and are made partakers with him. We are liftedup to be one with him, and are made to be "members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones;" yet God's eternal unboundedpower keeps us in the day of temptation, and leads us so that if we go through the rivers we are not drowned, and when wepass through the fires we are not burned. O, the splendor of triumphant grace! Neither the glory of our calling, nor the unworthinessof our original, shall cause us to be traitors; we shall neither perish through pride nor lust; but the new nature withinus shall overcome all sin, and abide faithful to the end.
"Now, unto him that is able to keep us from falling, unto him be honor and glory, and dominion and power for ever and ever."I cannot look back on my past life without feeling the tears rush into my eyes at the remembrance of how I have been preservedin the trial-hour. We could not possibly tell, nor would we wish to tell in public, of those hours of weakness, those timesof strong delusion, those moments of foot-slipping and of heart-fainting, which have happened to us. We grieve as we rememberour worse than childish weaknesses. And yet we have not stained our garments; we have not dishonored the holy name by whichwe are named; we have not been suffered to turn aside from the straightness of our path so as to bring grief to the Holy Ghostand dishonor to the Church of God. Verily this is a wonder. Mr. Bunyan tells us that Christian by the light of day lookedback on the Valley of the Shadow of Death which he had passed through in the nighttime, and saw what a narrow path he hadkept, and what a quay there was on one side, and what a miry place on the other, and where the hobgoblins were, and all thefiends of hell. When he looked back on it he was lost in admiration and gratitude. So it must be, and will be with you ifthrough a dangerous way you have yet held on in your plain course, and have not turned from your integrity. We shall be brimfull of gratitude and love. Grace shall reign unto eternal life. Redeemed men shall stand where angels fall, for God shallkeep them. He is able to hold them up, and he will do it even to the end.
Now, let us learn another lesson full of admiration, and that is that God should deal in grace with men and not with angels.
"From heaven the sinning angels fell, And wrath and darkness chained them down; But man, vile man, forsook his bliss, And mercy lifts him to a crown. "Amazing work of sovereign grace That could distinguish rebels so! Our guilty treasons called aloud For everlasting fetters too."
Now, you that do not believe in the doctrine of election, but kick at it, and bite your lips at the mention of it, listento this! God gave fallen angels no Savior, no gospel, no space for repentance, yet he gives these to men: why is this? Whatreason was there? Can you conceive one? Why did God pass the fallen angels by, and yet look in love upon the sons of men?"Oh," says one, "perhaps fallen angels were the greater offenders of the two." I do not think it; certainly many men go farto rival devils in rebellion.
"Perhaps men were tempted and angels were not." Stop, let us be clear on this point. Very likely Satan, the first angel thatfell, was not tempted; but just as likely all the others were. Their leader tempted them as much as Eve tempted Adam, or theserpent tempted Eve. The mass of fallen angelhood may have been seduced by the example of Satan, the Prince of devils. I donot therefore see any great difference as to that matter. This I do know, that some men are greater sinners than devils. "No,"say you, "how is that?" I answer that the devil never yet rejected free grace and dying love; the devil never yet struggledagainst the Holy Spirit in his own conscience; the devil never yet refused the mercy of God. These supreme pinnacles of wickednessare only reached by you who are hearers of the gospel, and yet cast its precious message behind your backs. Singular it isthat God should deal in mercy with men who act so wickedly, while yet he never discoursed of mercy to the fallen angels, norset before them terms of peace. They were given over there and then to be bound in chains of darkness until the judgment ofthe last great day.
Notice that God gave the angels no respite. He did not wait for them to continue in sin for years; but when they sinned, theyfell. The punishment followed hard on the crime. They cast God out of their hearts, and he cast them out of heaven. How differentis his conduct to some of you! You have sinned through a series of years. How old are you? Twenty years? Thirty? Forty? Fifty?Sixty? Seventy? Is it eighty years that you have lived in rebellion against God? And yet he has not cut you down! Wonderfulpatience! The angels he banished from his presence at once. He spared not the angels, but he has spared you. Why is this?
The Lord never entered into any parley with the angelsÂ—never invited them to repentance or to mercy. Oh, but what parleysGod has had with some of you! I am not the only one who has entreated and persuaded you, but yet with some of you I have pleadedvery earnestly that you would turn from the error of your ways and liveÂ—that you would believe in Christ and find eternallife. But why should the Lord treat concerning peace with men and not with fallen angels?
For the angels God never made a covenant of grace, "ordered in all things and sure." They broke their covenant of works, andthey fell never to rise again. For the angels there was never a sacrifice: no dying Son of God for them: no bloody sweat andwounded hands and feet for them! And yet a great atonement is prepared for men. What sovereignty of God's grace is here displayed!He opens the golden gates of love for us, and shuts the iron gate on beings nobler than we are. The Spirit of God striveswith us, but he never strives with fallen angels. Devils are left to themselves; but concerning man the Lord cries "how canI give thee up?" How justly might God have left us alone, for we have been given unto idols, and yet he follows us with theadmonitions of his mercy.
For the devils there is no pardon, no hope, no gate of heaven; and yet there is all this for men. Oh, dear hearers, do not,I pray you, reject these choice gifts of Almighty love. If God is so specially gracious to the race of men, let not man becomesingularly ungrateful to his God, presumptuously wanton in his sin. Let us turn unto the Lord with full purpose of heart,seeing that he turns to us with such speciality of favor.
I am sure that it is a great wonder and a thing for admiration that God should look upon us and not on fallen angels; because,as I have already said, angels certainly are not worse sinners than some men have been. Angels are not more wilful than wehave been, for we have sinned against light and knowledge with deliberate intent and purpose.
Angels are certainly more valuable: if God had wanted one of the two races to be employed as his servants, the best wouldhave been chosen, and these are not men, but angels. Angels can do more for God than we can: yet he has chosen us. Angelsmust, surely, be more missed than men: their downfall made a great gap in heaven. We go there to fill the space, and to repairthe breach which was made when they were cast down from glory. But, surely, it were easier to restore the angels who camefrom heaven than to take up inferior creatures who had never been there. If we make a distinction between men in the distributionof our charity, we very properly say, "Let us do good to those first who would be the most miserable without it." Now, menhave never known heaven, and consequently cannot so much feel the loss of it as those who have been there and have fallenfrom it. We are like people that have always been poor; but the angels have been in heaven, and are therefore like wealthypersons who have come down to poverty. What a hell to them to be out of heaven! What misery to those spirits to miss the eternalglories which they once enjoyed! One would have thought, therefore, that God would have restored the angels before he upraisedthe human race. But he has not: he has redeemed us, and left the elder race of rebels unrestored. No man knoweth why, andin our amazement we cry,Â—How is this? Whence this election of grace?
Tell me, ye who would leave God no choice, but would deify the will of man, what all this means? Where is your proud theorythat God is bound to treat all alike, as if we had a claim on God? I point you to the fallen angels, and what can you say?
Sometimes princes, when they mean to give pardon according to their will, say to themselves, "We will pardon the man who willbe most dangerous if we leave him to be our enemy." Now, bad as men are, and great enemies of God as they become, yet thedevil has more power to harm God than a man can haveÂ—and yet God does not pardon the devil. He lets Satan go on with all hisdreadful power and do his worst in reviling his Lord; and yet the Lord's mercy comes to us whose powers are within so narrowa range, compared with the fallen angels; he makes choice of puny man to receive his grace.
One would think that to restore an angel was more easy and more agreeable to the plan of the universe than to exalt fallenman. There is nothing to do but to put an angel back in his place; but men must be taken into a new existence. Christ himselfmust come and be a man; and, to wash away the sin of man, Christ must die; nothing more could have been needed had devilsbeen saved. I cannot conceive the salvation of angels to be more difficult than the salvation of men. I rather conceive itto have been the easier thing of the two if the Lord had so willed it. And yet, involving as it did the incarnation of theSon of God and his death to make atonement, the infinitely gracious Father condescended to ordain that he would take up men,and would not take up the fallen angels. It is a marvel: it is a mystery. I put it before you for your admiration. Oh, sirs,do not despise it! Let not such amazing sovereignty of grace be treated with contempt by any one of us. Talk no more aboutthe injustice of the election of certain men, for if you do the devils will bear witness that you are cavilling at the royalprerogative of the great Lord who saith, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomI will have compassion."
Now, I think that I see in this a great argument with God's people. Has the Lord given up angels and chosen you? It reminds me of that famous text, "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thouhast been honorable, and I have loved thee. Therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. I gave Egypt forthy ransom; Ethiopia and Seba for thee." See, he has passed angels by, and he has made choice of us; what a height of grace!Behold how he loves us! What shall we do in return? Let us do angels' work. Come, brothers and sisters, let us glow with sucha fire of devotion as might have burned in an auger's heart. Let us be as intensely zealous as a redeemed angel might havebeen. Let us glorify God as angels would have done had they been restored and made again to taste divine favor and infinitelove. What manner of people ought we to be? What manner of lives ought we to live? What manner of consecration ought to beupon us? Should not our whole being live unto God?
I have given you this somewhat in the rough, for time flies; but think it over, and profit by it. Think it over, you ungodlyones, and not cast away mercy like this. When you read, "He took not up angels, but he took up the seed of Abraham," be fullof surprise, and fly at once to Jesus. And, O ye saints, as ye read it, say to yourselvesÂ—
"For more love than seraphs know We will like seraphs burn."
God bless you, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMONÂ—John 17.
HYMNS FROM OUR OWN HYMN BOOKÂ—261, 668, 869.
TO MY CONGREGATION OF HEARERS AND READERS.
By the great mercy of God I was permitted to leave my house on Tuesday and commence my journey to the South of France. Itseemed impossible for me to recover while in our trying climate, and so, in great weakness, I have ventured to make a move.I beg your prayers for my recovery, and especially for the sanctification of my grievous pains, so that they may turn outto be for God's glory. Week by week I shall carefully prepare these Sermons, and I hope they will be attended with the divineblessing. In them I hope to keep up my communion with thousands of dear friends, though we are divided by many a league.
Friends at the Tabernacle, I have heard of one enthusiastic friend who so misses my ministry that he wished he could fall asleep till I return. That is exactly what I hope you will not do. Be doubly alive. Seek for a revival of religion: labor for it. Everything passesthrough the fire while the Builder is absent; let it be seen that our building is not wood, hay, and stubble, which will disappear,but precious metal that will remain to the glory of God. KEEP UP THE PRAYER-MEETINGS. Sustain every holy work. Live near toGod. Continue in concord. Devote yourselves wholly unto the Lord.
With Christian love to my dear hearers and readers,
I am yours, for I am Christ's,C. H. SPURGEON.