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Saints have their guardian angels

Johann Gerhard

(Translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler, A.M.)

CONSIDER, O devout soul, the grace of thy God in giving His angels charge concerning thee! Our heavenly Father sent His Son into the world to deliver us from our sins; the Son of God Himself became incarnate for our salvation; the Holy Spirit is sent to sanctify us; angels are dispatched from heaven to protect us; thus the whole assembly of heaven is employed to serve us, and to make their blessings ours. I no longer wonder that all the inferior creatures of earth are formed for man, since even the angels of heaven, so much more exalted than we, deny us not their gentle ministries. What wonder that the heavens give us light by day that we may labor, and darkness by night that we may rest, since the dwellers in that heavenly kingdom are busy in holy services to us? What wonder is it that the air furnishes us with the breath of life, and all sorts of fowls for our indulgence, when those heavenly spirits watch over us to preserve our lives from harm? What wonder that the water should quench our thirst, cleanse away filth, refresh the arid land, and teem with various kinds of fish for us, when the holy angels themselves stand by us to refresh and comfort us when we are wearied with the hot breath of troubles and temptation? What wonder that the earth gives thee an abode, and for thy nourishment furnishes thy table with all kinds of creature comforts, when He giveth His angels charge over thee “to keep thee in all thy ways, to bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm xci. 11, 12)?

The angels were deeply interested in the early life of Christ; an angel announced His conception (Luke i. 31); an angel joyfully heralds His birth (Luke ii. 9-11); an angel gives command for the flight into Egypt (Matt. ii. 13); angels minister to Him in the wilderness (Matt. iv. 11); angels wait upon Him during all His earthly ministry; an angel is present with Him in the awful agony of death (Luke xxii. 46); an angel appears at His resurrection (Matt. xxviii. 25); angels were present at His glorious ascension (Acts i. 10), and angels will accompany Him when He returns to judgment (Matt. xxv. 31). As therefore angels ministered to Christ in the days of His flesh, so likewise are they deeply interested in all those who through faith are incorporated into Christ; as they ministered to the glorious Head, in the same manner shall they minister to the members of the body of Christ. They joyfully serve upon the earth those whom they shall have by and by as companions in heaven; nor refuse their holy ministries to those whose delightful fellowship they hope to enjoy after awhile.

As Jacob went on his way to his native land, the angels of God met him (Gen. xxxii. 1); so angelic guards attend the righteous in this life, which is the pathway to their heavenly fatherland. Angels appear to protect Daniel among the lions (Dan. vi. 22); so they ever stand ready to protect the godly from the snares of the lion of hell. Angels hasten the patriarch Lot from the destruction that was to overtake Sodom (Gen. xix. 15, 16); so by their holy inspirations, and their protecting influences against the temptations of the devil, they frequently snatch us, as from the very flames of the pit. Angels carry Lazarus into the bosom of Abraham (Luke xvi. 22); so do they bear the souls of all God’s chosen ones to the glorious palace of the heavenly King. It was an angel that led the apostle Peter out of prison; and so our angel often delivers us from most distressing perils. Great indeed is the power of our adversary, the devil, but it cheers us to reflect that angel-guards attend us. Doubt not that in all thy dangers these heavenly helpers are near thee; for the Scriptures, under the figure of Cherubim and Seraphim, represent them as winged, to assure us that in every time of peril they will with incredible swiftness bring us the needed aid. Doubt not that the guardian angels are present with thee in all places, for they are the purest spirits, unencumbered with material bodies; all visible things yield to them, and hither and thither at will they go unhindered. Nor needest thou doubt that these spirits know thy perils and afflictions, for they always behold the face of the heavenly Father (Matt. xviii. 10), and stand always ready most promptly to do His will.

Consider, O devout soul, that these angels are holy; strive then after holiness if thou wouldest enjoy their blessed fellowship. Similarity of character is especially favorable to friendship; accustom thyself to holy deeds if thou wouldst have their guardianship. Everywhere show due reverence to thine angel, and never do anything in his presence thou wouldst blush to do in the sight of men. These angelic spirits are chaste and pure, and therefore are driven away by impurity in thought and deed. As foul smoke drives away bees, so these angelic guardians of our lives are put to flight by foul and grievous sin; and having once lost their protecting power, how wilt thou be safe from the snares of the devil, or the various perils that may beset thee? If thy soul is left without this strong wall of angelic defence, then the devil will easily storm it by his artful devices. These holy angels are sent forth as ministering spirits by God Himself (Heb. i. 14); hence thou must be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, if thou wouldst enjoy their guardianship. If thou hast not the grace of God in thine heart, thou needest not expect angels to guard thee. Let us look upon these angels as, in a sense, the serviceable hands of God, which move themselves to no purpose unless He direct them. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke xv. 10); the tears of truly penitent sinners are as wine to the angels, while the hard and impenitent heart drives away these heavenly guardians. Let us then manifest penitence for our sins, that we may excite joy among the angels of God. Angels are of a heavenly and spiritual nature; therefore let us fix our thoughts upon those things that are heavenly and spiritual, that they may delight to dwell with us. The angels are marked by their humility, and pride is exceedingly hateful to those who disdain not to serve little children (Matt. xviii. 10); why then should we, who are but as dust and ashes, exhibit such pride, when a heavenly spirit humbles itself so greatly?

The cunning of the evil one is most to be feared in the hour of death, for it is written that the serpent shall bruise the heel (Gen. iii. 15); the last part of the body is the heel, the last part of life is death. In the last agony of death will we stand most in need of the guardianship of angels, who shall deliver us from the fiery darts of the devil, and shall transport our souls, as they depart from the home of the body, to the heavenly paradise. When Zacharias was executing the priest’s office in the sacred courts of the temple, the angel of the Lord came to him (Luke i. 11); so if thou dost rejoice in the use of God’s word, and in the exercise of thy devotions, thou, too, shall rejoice in the blessed ministry of angels.

O most merciful God, who by the holy angels hast led us through this wilderness, grant that through them also we may be led into the glory of Thy heavenly kingdom.

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