The Doctrine Respecting Angels -- By: Henry Boynton Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 002:5 (Feb 1845)
Article: The Doctrine Respecting Angels
Author: Henry Boynton Smith


The Doctrine Respecting Angels

Rev. Henry Boynton Smith

West Amesbury, Mass.

Translated from the Theological Lectures of Dr. A. D. C. Twesten, Professor of Theology in the Frederic William University at Berlin, [Concluded from Vol. I. No. 4. p. 793.]

§ 4. The employments of Angels.

In conformity, now, with their nature and their states, both classes of angels, the good and the evil, have certain spheres of action, which it is especially important for us to consider, since they thus come into connection with ourselves.

We will first treat of the employments of the holy angels. Without doubt, their efficiency is by no means confined to their operations in this world; but their other spheres of action are not definitely revealed to us. They are indeed said to look into the plan of redemption (1 Pet. 1:12); to wonder at the divine wisdom in the execution of this plan (Eph. 3:10); to rejoice at its success (Luke 15:7, 10); and to fight against the evil spirits, who are its enemies (Rev. 12:7); but such general statements hardly give us a clear insight into their precise mode of action in these respects. We may learn, however, from them as much as this, that the glory of God, which is the chief end of the world, and especially of free and rational beings, is likewise their aim; and a similar idea is expressed in the passages where they are described as praising and worshipping God, (e. g. Psalm 103:20. 148:2).

These last descriptions may suggest to us a distinction between the angelic employments and those of men; the former having for their object the direct expression or exhibition of inward emotions, the latter having more the character of what we call work or labor. The importance of this distinction is clearly brought out in Schleiermacher’s System of Christian Morals. By work or labor is to be understood a kind of action which is but a means to an end, which has its end not in itself but out of itself; when a man labors, his object is not the mere labor but something different from it; he operates upon foreign and heterogeneous materials for another purpose than that of merely working: hence, in itself considered, labor affords no enjoyment; one would willingly be exempted from it, if the end could be reached without

it. But that kind of action which has for its object the direct exhibition of inward emotions—whic...

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