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And the host of heaven worshipeth Thee.
NEHEMIAH 1X. 6.
If the visible heavens “ declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy-work,” we may readily conceive that in the heaven of heavens,” his glory is more sublime, and his worship more unceasing. Now there is a world beyond the stars, brighter and holier than the one in which we dwell. To see it would be to love it and to delight in its society. We are taught to regard it as the more immediate dwelling-place of the Lord of Hosts. It is far removed from pollution, and nothing that defileth can possibly enter it. The glory of that place is a glory, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard sufficiently; neither hath it entered into the profoundest imagination to conceive of its sublimities. The swiftest wing of the loftiest eagle never soared so far above the ethereal blue ;-neither is the light of the natural sun needed there to lighten and to gladden its inhabitants. Before its own native brightness every inferior star is darker than our twilight ; and every thing, which in the present world we are in the habit of calling beautiful, is infinitely surpassed by the grandeur of God's own paradise. Himself, as seated on the throne of his glory, is the object of attraction; whilst around that throne, countless myriads on myriads offer him their homage, and exult in his presence. Applying the language of our text to the host, who dwell in the upper heaven, it may then be regarded as intimating to us the worship of that host, and how unanimous they are in ascribing to the Deity the honours, to which he holds an indisputable claim. It is short but significant—the host of heaven worshipeth Thee.” The chapter out of which the text is taken, informs us of a solemn fast having been observed by the Levites and the people of Israel, in the days of Nehemiah, with a view to humble themselves in the presence of God for their past transgressions, and to thank him for his past forbearance and goodness up to that time, now that they were' restored to their own land after the captivity of Babylon. The Levites it appears were the leaders in this solemn fast, and by them, as the mouth of the people, Jehovah was magnified and adored. Certain of these Levites, here numbered by name, in commencing their adorations said, “Stand up and bless the Lord
God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. Thou, even thou, art Lord alone ; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipeth Thee.” The difference between the temple of heaven and the earthly sanctuary is, that God is unveiled in the one, whilst in the other we see as through a glass and darkly, in comparison ; so the difference again between the society of heaven, and the fellowship of the saints on earth, is that in the one place their joys are unceasing-here they are liable to interruption. Much that is pleasant soon passes away; but in the temple where there is no night-in the presence of God, where there can be nothing to diminish, but every thing to augment our happiness, every pleasure is a part of the place, and as pure and eternal as its Author. Could we be permitted, for one moment only, to see that heaven of which the text speaks could we feel ourselves transported from a world of care and sin to the happy abode of angels, I need not to say how great the transport would be ; and were it but for a inoment, or so long as to permit us to gaze upon the ranks of unsinning spirits, and on those of “just men made perfect,” and to hear but one hallelujah, struck by the leader of their anthems, and responded to by the millions of the surrounding choir,-oh! would not every feeling of our own heart be carried away with the sight and the rapture ? and only to be the more deeply lamented after by the suddenness of our return to this world ; where that which we hear is not the song of heaven, or that which we see, the glory and the grandeur of its God. Happy they, then, who have for ever left the present state, to mingle with the triumphs of the heavenly host, and in the worship which never ends. Let us here notice
I. Who are spoken of_" the host of heaven.”
II. Their employment there the host of heaven worshipeth Thee.” And
III. What the subject may be supposed to suggest for our instruction on earth.
1. Who are spoken of. Perhaps the language may primarily refer us to the different orders of angels who never sinned, and who, from the first of their creation, have constituted the pure inhabitants of the upper temple. It is true that throughout the verse, a reference is made to the great diversity of God's creatures, whether existing in heaven, or on earth, or in the sea,--at the same time it would seem, that the particular expression of the textis the host of heaven worshipeth thee,” is designed to lead us away to those happy beings who see God, and who offer him their worship in his immediate presence. These, like all other natural and intelligent beings, owe their existence, and the state of their existence to the goodness of the universal Creator. Hence it is said, in another part of the same verse ; “ Thou, even thou art Lord alone ; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host.” It is because the Creator has done
that he is Lord alone-Lord of the heavens-of the earth, and of the sea.
His word spake all this diversity into existence. But whilst we have given us a distinct account of the origin of man, and of the manner of his creation, we know not how soon before this the angels were created. They appear however to have been prior in time and in order to ourselves. After all, the knowledge which we have of angels may properly be said to be rather of a negative kind.-We know rather what they are not than what they are. They are neither corporeal nor natural; but in contradistinction from every thing of this kind, they are spiritual. “He maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flame of fire.” The scriptural account of these beings is calculated to impress on our minds the conviction, that they are spirits of a high and superior order in creation ; possessing extensive knowledge-perfect in purity and holiness ; and all actively engaged in the Divine service, which to them is a delight, and one of the highest delights of the heavenly sanctuary. We find them to be designated “holy angels "_" angels of light”_" angels that excel in strength," and "angels who behold the face of God in heaven.” Thus the characters spoken of in the text are represented as a 66 host”-and as 66 the host of heaven,” who worship God. Perhaps this may imply that taken in the mass, they are different kinds of intelligences, and
different and distinct orders. This seems to be almost directly intimated in the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Colossians. Speaking of Christ as the image of the invisible God, and the first-born of every creature, he then
6 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers : all things were created by him, and for him.” We meet moreover with the word “ archangel” in the scriptures ; and according to the opinion of some, this title means an angel, occupying the eighth rank in the celestial hierarchy; whilst others again consider it a title applicable only to the Saviour. If the expression “Michael the archangel,” as used in the epistle of Jude, is to be interpreted by the same expression in the twelfth chapter of the book of Daniel, it would then appear to be strictly applicable to none but Christ, who is spoken of in that prophecy as the Deliverer of Israel. Again, if this be admitted as a correct liinitation of this dignified title, it will follow, that we express ourselves unguardedly when,