Page images

man by some strong instinct be warned to change that lodging, which he constantly held for some years; and finds his wonted sleeping place that night crushed, with the unexpected fall of an unsuspected contignation : if a man, distressed with care for the missing of an important evidence, (such a one have I known *,) shall be informed in his dream, in what hole of his dove-cote he shall find it hid: if a man, without all observation of physical criticisms, shall receive and give intelligence, many days before, what hour shall be his last: to what cause can we attribute these, but to our attending angels? If a man shall in his dream, as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 7 professes, receive the prescript of the remedy of his disease, which the physicians, it seems, could not cure; whence can this be, but by the suggestion of spirits?

And, surely, since I am convinced, that their unfelt hands are in many occurrences of my life; I have learned so much wit and grace, as rather to yield them too much than too little stroke, in ordering all my concernments, O ye Blessed Spirits, many things I know ye do for me, which I discern not while yet you do them; but after they are done: and many things ye may do more, which I know not. I bless my God and yours, as the Author of all ye do: Į bless you, as the means of all that is done by you for me.


THE DEGREES AND ORDERS OF ANGELS, HEAVEN hath nothing in it, but perfection : but even perfection itself hath degrees. As the glorified souls, so the blessed angels, have their Heights of Excellency and Glory. He, who will be known for the God of Order, observeth, no doubt, a most exact order in his court of heaven, nearest to the residence of his Majesty. Equality hath no place, either in earth or in hell: we have no reason to seek it in heaven. He, that was rapt into the third heaven, can tell us of Thrones, Doniinions, Principalities, Angels, and Archangels, in that region of blessedness.

We cannot be so simple, as to think these to be but one class of spirits; doubtless, they are distinctions of divers orders: but what their several ranks, offices, employments are, he were not more wise that could tell, than he is bold that dare speak.

What modest indignation can forbear stamping at the presumption of those men, who, as if upen Domingo Gonsales his engine, they had been mounted by his Gansaes from the moon to the empyreal heaven, and admitted to be the heralds or masters of ceremonies in that higher world, have taken upon them to marshal these angelical spirits into their several rooms; proportioning their stations, dignities, services, according to the model of earthly courts ; disposing them into ternions of three general hierarchies, the first relating to

* Mr. William Cook, senior, of Waltham Holy Cross.

+ Marc. Aurel. Antoninus his Meditat, concerning himself. I. i. cap. 17. The like he reports of Chryses, ibid,

the immediate attendance of the Almighty, the other two to the government of the creature, both general and particular ?

In the first, of assistants, placing the Seraphim as lords of the chamber; Cherubim, as lords of the cabinet-council ; Thrones, the entire favourites, in whom the Almighty placeth his rest *.

In the second, of universal regency, finding Dominions to be the great officers of state, who, as counsellors, marshals, treasurers, govern the affairs of the world; Mights, to be generals of the heavenly militia ; Powers, as the judges itinerant, that serve for general retributions of good and evil.

In the third, of special government, placing Principalities as rulers of several kingdoms and provinces ; Archangels, as guardians to several cities and countries; and, lastly, Angels, as guardians of several persons.

And, withal, presuming to define the differences of degrees, in each order above other, in respect of the goodness and excellency of their nature t: making the Archangels no less than ten times to surpass the beauty of Angels; Principalities, twenty tiines above the Archangels; Powers, forty times more than Principalities; Mights, fifty more than Powers; Dominions, sixty above Mights; Thrones, seventy above Dominions; Cherubim, eighty above Thrones; Seraphim, ninety times exceeding the Cherubim.

For me, I must crave leave to wonder at this boldness; and profess myself as far to seek, whence this learning should come, as how to believe it. I do verily believe, there are divers orders of celes. tial spirits : I believe, they are not to be believed, that dare to de. termine them; especially when I see him, that was rapt into the third heaven, varying the order of their places in the several mentions of them I.

Neither can I trust to the revelation of that sainted prophetess & who hath ranged the degrees of the beatitude of glorified souls, into the several choirs of these heavenly hierarchies, according to their dispositions and demeanors here on earth ; admitting those, who have been charitably helpful to the poor, sick, strangers, into the orb of Angels; those, who have given themselves to meditation and prayer, to the rank of Archangels; those, who have vanquished all offensive lusts in themselves, to the order of Principalities; to the height of Powers, those, whose care and vigilance hath restrained from evil and induced to good, such as have been committed to their oversight and governance; to the place of Mights, those, who, for the honour of God, have undauntedly and valiantly suffered, and whose patience bath triumphed over evils; to the company of Dominions, those, who prefer poverty to riches, and devoutly conform their wills in all things to their Maker's; to the soeiety of Thrones, those, who do so inure themselves to the conti,

* Ut Commensales Deo: Forner, Ser, iv. de Cust. Ang. or, as Cassaneus, Cubicularii et servitutes throni : Glor. mund. 4. part. + Forner, de Custod. Ang. Serm. v. I Compare Eph. i. 21. with Col. i. 16. I S. Matild. d. Revel. c. 54. citat, etiam a Forner.

nual contemplation of heavenly things, as that they have disposed their hearts to be a fit resting-place for the Almighty; to the honour of Cherubim, those, who convey the benefit of their heavenly meditations unto the souls of others; lastly, to the highest eminence of Seraphim, those, who love God with their whole heart, and their neighbour for God, and their enemies in God, and feel no wrongs but those which are done to their Maker.

I know not whether this soaring conceit be more seemingly pious, than really presumptuous, since it is evident enough, that these graces do incur into each other, and are not possible to be severed. He, that loves God, cannot chuse but be earnestly desirous to communicate his graces unto others, cannot but have his heart talen up with divine contemplation: the same man cannot but overlook earthly things, and courageously suffer for the honour of his God: shortly, he cannot but be vigilant over his own ways, and helpful unto others. Why should I presume to divide those virtues or rewards, which God will have inseparably conjoined? And what a strange confusion were this, instead of a heavenly order of remuneration ! Sure I am, that the least degree, both of saints and angels, is blessedness. But, for those stairs of glory, it were too ambitous in me to desire either to climb or know them: it is enough for me, to rest in the hope, that I shall once see them : in the mean while, let me be learnedly ignorant, and incuriously devout; silently ble s. ing the power and wisdom of my Infinite Creator, who knows how to honour himself by all these glorious and unrevealed subordina



THE APPARITIONS OF ANGELS. WERE these celestial spirits, though never so many, never so powerful, never so knowing, never so excellently glorious, mere strangers to us, what were their Number, Power, Knowledge, Glory unto us? I hear of the great riches, state, and magniticence of some remote eastern monarchs: what am I the better, whie, in this distance, their port and affairs are not capable of any relation to me? To me it is all one, not to be, and not to be concerned. Let us, therefore, diligently enquire, what Mutual Communion there is or may be, betwixt these blessed spirits and us.

And, first, nothing is more plain, than that the Argels of God have not always been kept from mortal eyes, under an invisible concealment; but sometimes have condescended so low, as to manifest their presence to men in visible forms, not natural, but assumed.

I confess I have not faith enough to believe many of those apparitions, that are pretended. I could never yet know what other to think of Socrates * his Genius; which, as bimself reports, was wont to check him, when he went about any unmeet enterprise ;

* Ad nutum et arbitrium sibi assistentis Demonis, vel declinabat negotia, vel petebat. Minut. Fælicis Octay.

and to forward him in good. For the modern times, it is too hard to credit the report of Doway Letters * concerning our busy neighbour Pere Cotton, that he had ordinary conterence and conversation with angels, both us own tutelar and those general of provinces : if so, what need was there for him to have propounded fifty questions, partly of divinity, partly of policy, to the resolution of a demoniac? Who can be so fondly credulous, as to believe that Jo. Carera t, a young father of the Society, had a daily companion of his angel, in so familiar a fashion, as to propound his doubts to that secret friend ; to receive his answers; to take his advice, upon all occasions; to be raised by him every morning from his bed, to his early devotions, till once delaying caused, for a time, an intermission ? Or, that the aged Capuchin Franciscus de Bergamo, noted for the eleven precious stones which were found in his gall, had, for eight years together before his death, the assistance of an angel in human shape, for the performing of his canonical hours ? Or, that the angels helped their St. Gudwal, and St. Oswald Bishop of Worcester, to say his mass? Or, that Isidore, the late Spanish peasant, newly sainted amongst good company by Gregory the fifteenth, serving a hard master, had an angel to make up his daily task at his plough, while the good soul was at his public devotions; like as another angel supplied Felix, the lay Capuchin, in tending his catile I? Or, that Francisca Romana, lately canonized, had two celestial spirits, visibly attending her, the one of the order of archangels, which never left her; the other, of the fourth order of angels, who frequently presented himself to her view; their attire sometimes white, sometimes blue, .. purple more rarely; their tresses of hair, long and golden, as the over-credulous Bishop of Wirtzburg reports from Gulielmus Baldesanus, not without many improbable circumstances.

These, and a thousand more of the same brain, find no more belief with me, than that story, which Franciscus Albertinus relates out of Baronius, as done here at home; that in the year 1601, in England, there was an angel seen upon one of our altars, (and therefore more likely to be known in our own island, than beyond the Alps) in a visible form, with a naked sword in his hand, which he glitteringly brandished up and down ; foyning sometimes, and sometimes striking; thereby threatening, so long ago, an instant destruction to this kingdom. And, indeed, why should we yield more credit to these pretenders of apparitions, than to Adelbertus the German heresiarch, condemned in a council of Rome, by Pope Zachary, who gave no less confidently out, that his angel-guardian appeared daily to him, and imparted to him many divine revelations and directions? or, if there be a difference pleaded in the relations, where or how shall we find it?

This we know, that so sure as we see men, so sure we are that holy men have seen angels. Abraham saw angels, in his tent-door:

* Duac. 18. Feb. 1627. ex literis Pet. Rav. + Forn. Ser. v. # Ignat. Loiol. Xavier. Theresia. Isidor. Philippus. Nerius. 4. Id. Martii. anno 1602.

Lot saw angels, in the gate of Sodom; Hagar, in the wilderness of Beersheba; Jacob, in the way; Moses, in the bush of Horeb; Manoah and his wife, in the field; Gideon, in his threshing-floor; David, by the threshing-floor of Araunah. What should I mention the Prophets Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, Ezekiel, and the rest? In the New Testament, Joseph, Mary, Zachariah the father of John Baptist, the Shepherds, Mary Magdalen, the gazing Disciples at the Mount of Olives, Peter, Philip, Cornelius, Paul, John the Evangelist, were all blessed with the sight of angels.

In the succeeding times of the Church Primitive, I dare believe, that good angels were no whit more sparing of their presence, for the comfort of holy Martyrs and Confessors, under the pressure of tyranny for the dear Name of their Saviour. I doubt not, but constant Theodorus saw and felt the refreshing hand of the angel, no less than he reported to Julian his persecutor*. I doubt not, but the holy virgins, Theophila, Agnes, Lucia, Cecilia, and others, saw the good angels protectors of their chastity. As one, that hath learned in these cases to take the mid way betwixt distrust and credulity, I can easily yield, that those retired Saints of the prime ages of the Church had sometimes such heavenly companions, for the consolation of their forced solitude.

But, withal, I must have leave to hold, that the older the Church grew, the more rare was the use of these apparitions, as of other miraculous actions and events : not that the arm of our God is shortened, or his care and love to his beloved ones any whit abated; but, for that his Church is now, in this long process of time, settled, through his gracious providence, in an ordinary way. Like as it was with the Israelites, who, while they were in their longsome passage, were miraculously preserved and protected; but, when they came once to be fixed in the land of promise, their angelical sustenance ceased: they then must purvey for their own food; and either till, or famish.

Now ther, in these latter ages of the Church, to have the visible apparition of a good angel, it is a thing so geason and uncouth, that it is enough for all the world to wonder at.

Some few instances our times have been known to yield. Amongst others, that is memorable, which Phil. Melanchton, as an eye-witness, reports. Simon Grynæus, a learned and holy man, coming from Heidelburg to Spire, was desirous to hear a certain preacher in that city; who in his sermon, it seems, did then let fall some erroneous propositions of popish doctrine, much derogatory from the majesty and truth of the Son of God: wherewith Grynæus, being not a little offended, craved speedy conference with the preacher; and, laying before him the falsehood and danger of his doctrines, exhorted him to an abandoning and retraction of those misopinions. The preacher gave good words and a fair semblance to Grynæus; desirous of further and more particular conference with him; each imparting to other their names and lodgings: yet inwardly, as being stung with that just reproof, he resolved a re

* Theod. I. ii. c. 11.

« PreviousContinue »