« PreviousContinue »
tions no longer possible in the world',' and therefore CHAP. (such is the conclusion of philosophy) they must all of them be proved to have originated in some thoroughly pagan system. The abettors of this startling argument have had recourse especially to effects supposed to have been wrought upon the Hebrews by the 'Zend religion of the Persians2;' and they point triumphantly, in confirmation of their view, to the existence of the Sadducees3, a The Sadhigh and philosophic order, who are thought to have preserved the purer creed of earlier generations with remarkable fidelity,—in so far at least as they dissented from the superstitions of the Pharisees, in confessing neither angel nor spirit. Efforts have again been made in this particular instance to support the theory of extensive amalgamation between Hebrews and Babylonians by adverting to the fact that various forms of error and exaggeration in the sphere of angelology did spring up, as it would seem, spontaneously among both Jews and Christians of succeeding times.
The chief reliance has been placed, however, on Inference to
1 Dr Donaldson's Christ. Orthod. p. 349 (following Schleiermacher).
2 Here Dr Donaldson accepts the dictum of Strauss without the least qualification: Christ. Orthod. p. 137.
3 The author of Christian Orthodoxy, p. 372, affirms that 'their disbelief in angels and devils is passed over [by New Testament writers] in guarded silence, as far as any censure is concerned.' He then adds, 'In many respects our Lord seems to have approved and recommended their views;' and again (p. 373), 'It is difficult to resist the impression that Jesus [our blessed Lord] and
His brother James, being known by the characteristic title of this sect, openly allowed many of the fundamental doctrines of the Sadducees'! Such language has not unnaturally exposed its author to the animadversions of the last Bampton Lecturer (Mr Mansell), who, after pointing out the real origin and affinities of Dr Donaldson's hypothesis, declares that 'by this method of exposition,' according to which our Saviour lent His high authority to the dissemination of religious falsehood, Christian Orthodoxy may mean anything or nothing' (p. 419).
CHAP. one definite testimony of the Jerusalem Talmud. In that passage', it is written: 'R. Simeon Benbe drawn Lachish saith, The names of angels went up by binical tes- the hand of Israel out of Babylon. For before it
is said, “Then flew one of the seraphim unto me:" "The seraphim stood before Him,” Isai. vi.; but afterward, "the Man Gabriel" [Dan. ix. 21] and "Michael your prince" [Dan. x. 21].' Now whatever else may be implied in such assertions, we are doubtless pointed by them to a circumstance, which cannot fail to have arrested the attention of all Biblical scholars, viz. that after the great exile, personal appellations had begun to be assigned in some few cases (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel) to the ministering angels of the Hebrew Church. Character But equally apparent is the fact that these angelic designa designations are in no way borrowed from the titles of gods and genii which abound in writings of the Medo-Persians, as indeed of every other ancient people; they have no apparent relation, etymological or otherwise, with the element-worship of the East; in thought as well as grammar they are all of them the purest Hebrew; Michael, for example, signifying 'who is as God?' and so protesting in its very form against approaches to polytheism2.
Real points under discussion.
On looking, therefore, with a critical eye upon the question now before us, we discover that the chief external evidence in favour of supposing that
1 Lightfoot's Heb. and Talmud. Exerc. upon St Luke (ch. i. v. 26): Works, xii. 24, ed. Pitman.
2 See Dr Mill's examination of this very point in his Christ. Adv. Publ. for 1841, pp. 55, 57. Hengstenberg, Genuineness of Daniel, p. 138, remarks with justice that 'both
Gabriel and Michael [the two names peculiar to Daniel] occur only in such visions, as from their dramatic character demand the most exact description possible of the persons concerned, and the bringing of them out into stronger relief.'
the angelology of the Hebrews was of heathen CHAP. parentage, is totally unconnected with the point at issue; for I feel no obligation to analyse the many wild conceits, which, in the dotage of the Hebrew nation, urged men to 'intrude into the things not seen,' and build their visionary systems of 'celestial hierarchies.' The questions fairly brought into the present investigation will relate, (1) to a distinction between higher and lower angels, i. e. the existence of orders or gradations in the spirit-world; and (2) to the specific number of intelligences who occupy the loftiest rank in these angelic orders.
Now that some distinction of the sort existed Early traces of angelic long before the Babylonish exile can be satisfactorily orders. evinced from the magnificent passage in the sixth
1 I cannot, for example, be expected to discuss the general question, opened more than once by Dr Donaldson, as to whether angels, in the Christian sense, are ever mentioned in the old (or ante-Babylonic) Scriptures. Dr Donaldson seems to be persuaded (Christ. Orthod. p. 348) that the received doctrine of good angels is somehow incompatible with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He may well, on such hypothesis, be anxious to get rid of what he feels to be a horrible superstition; but surely the argument which he employs is equally fatal to belief in all intermediate agencies whatever; for example, in the institution of a Christian ministry, who, like the angels, act in God's behalf, and by authority derived from Him. All theories apart, I cannot help expressing my amazement how any person of average ability can study
the Old Testament without discover-
CHAP. chapter of Isaiah. There the prophet's eye is riveted upon the glory of the six-winged seraphim, who constitute the 'angel-princes' of that early period, and as such are stationed foremost in the ministry of heaven; while one of them by issuing forth (vi. 6, 7) upon a message to Isaiah, and so offering proof of independent personality, enables us to answer the absurd objection that the primitive angels were but passive vehicles or manifestations of God Himself. The vision of Micaiah, in like manner, brings before us in still older times ‘the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left' (1 Kings xxii. 19-22). Nay, traces of angelic orders, such as meet us in the New Testament and later writings of the Old, are pointed out as early as the age of Moses and of Joshua; for the 'prince,' or captain of the Lord's host (Josh. v. 13-15) who then comes forward to conduct the family of God into the land of promise, has been held to correspond1 with the created angel (Exod. xxxiii. 2, 3), who replaced the glorious Angel of the Presence (Exod. xxiii. 20—23) in administering the Sinaitic dispensation, after Israel had most grievously offended in the matter of the calf. But be this as it may, the close affinity that exists
1 This subject also is discussed at considerable length by Dr Mill, as above, pp. 92-99. The rival theory is, that the Angel in Josh. v. was none other than the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity,—identical, therefore, with the Angel of the Lord, in Exod. xxiii. 20-23, and other places: see Ode, Commentarius de Angelis, pp. 1032 sq. Traject,
between the language of
1739; who, with many modern critics, goes farther still, identifying Michael himself with the uncreated Word of God; while others add again to these supposed identifications by representing the Gabriel of the prophet Daniel as a reappearance of the created, or inferior, angel of Exod. xxxii. 34.
the book of Joshua and descriptions of the prince CHAP. of angels, who, as Michael, reappears for the protection of the Israelites in visions of the book of Daniel, may be fairly pleaded as a proof that the familiarity of the Hebrew Church with such conceptions is not due to her reputed intercourse with the Ormazd-religion.
It was easy to foresee that the amshaspands of Amshasthe Persian system' would be quoted as the nearest archangels. parallel to the archangels of the Holy Scriptures. Those beings, we have learned already, were six in number; or, including Ormazd himself, who also is invested on some rare occasions with the title of amshaspand, the whole number may be raised to seven3. We saw, moreover, that the probable origin of such specification must be sought in the primeval worship of the heavenly bodies, when the
e. g. the author of Christian Orthodoxy declares (p. 135) with reference to the Book of Daniel: 'In this book we find the celestial hierarchy of amshaspands fully recognised.' Other speculators of the same school have sought to bring the fervers of Persia into connexion with the 'guardian angels' both of Jews and Christians (see St Matth. xviii. 10; Acts xii. 72; and Dean Alford on the former passage); but the Persian ferver, where we are not forced to understand it of the spirit of the individual man, was rather the ideal prototype or archetype of some actual being: see above, p. 172, n. 3. With regard to the conception of angels, specially allotted to watch over the affairs of particular nations, Hengstenberg (Daniel, p. 140) affirms that no trace of it occurs in the Avesta, except that Bahman, the
first of the amshaspands, 'who stands
cf. Prof. Selwyn's Note Criticæ,
3 Rhode, p. 365; Mill, as before,