Fallen Angels

Sacramental Meditation II

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 245-6

“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Pet 2:4).

How admirable, free, and distinguishing is the love of God to sinners, in pitying them in their low and lost estate? O how different is the case of fallen men upon the earth, from the case of fallen angels in hell, and that of damned souls there! Manna is rained down upon us, while an eternal shower of fire and brimstone falls upon them. They are bound in chains of darkness, whilst thou, Lord, art drawing us with cords of love. Thou didst not spare angels, nor take their nature; but thou hast spared us, married our nature, and exalted it to the heavens. They continue without hope under the deluge of God’s wrath, while the pleasant rainbow of the sacrament appears to us, as a token of God’s covenant of grace, and of his willingness to secure us from that overflowing flood, by the interposition of his dear Son in our nature. O how welcome should we make that gospel rainbow!

Lord, thy wrath soon broke out against the angels that fell; thou didst punish them immediately upon their sinning against thee. Thou didst not wait for their repentance, nor make an offer of mercy to them; but, presently upon their first offence, didst condemn them to everlasting chains of darkness. O how far different is thy manner of dealing with us! Long hast thou waited upon us after we have sinned; yea, thou hast followed us with thy mercy after many refusals of it, and even after our trampling the precious blood of Christ under our feet! Marvellous and peculiar is thy mercy to fallen men in respect of fallen angels! Glory to sovereign free mercy, that thou didst not cast us off for ever without a parley, as thou didst them; but waitest to be gracious to us, long stretching out thy hand, and calling us to repentance, saying, Turn ye, turn ye; why will you die?

Against the sinning angels God was so provoked, that he resolved within himself, and hath kept his resolution ever since the’ beginning of the world, and will keep it to all eternity, that he will not so much as enter into a parley with them, however glorious they once were, nor be reconciled to them upon any terms; yea, that he will hear of no terms, but will revenge himself upon them to all eternity. May not, then, the hearing of this cause us to quake and tremble? For why might not the Lord have dealt with us in the same manner, who were far more wretched and miserable creatures than angels? Surely if a king be so angry with an offending nobleman, that was once his special favourite, as to banish him from court, and afterwards hear of no terms of reconciliation with him; would not a footman, or mean servant, that had offended, when hearing of this, begin to dread, and say, oh what will become of me a poor man, when the king treats his peers so severely? I may surely despair of remission or reconciliation with him. So, in like manner, we poor clay worms, upon hearing of God’s severity to fallen angels, might have been overwhelmed with fear, if the Bible had not told us, that the delights of the Son of God “were with the sons of men; that verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Heb 2:16), and that he gave himself to be a sin-offering and sacrifice for men! Astonishing news! Glory to God for these glad tidings of great joy!

Oh admirable love to Adam’s rebellious offspring! Hast thou, Lord, passed by angels, and remembered us in our low estate! and in thy infinite compassion become our surety, to appease divine justice for our heinous sins, when no other sacrifice could do it! Oh what shall we render to thee for this distinguishing love! Surely our condition in Adam was no better than that of the angels who left their first estate. By nature we were in a most dreadful case, lying, like Isaac, bound on the altar, to be a sacrifice to the justice of God, and the sword of justice lift up to give the killing blow, until the Son of God discovered himself as the ram caught in the thickets, and calling to justice, hold thy hand, loose them, and bind me in their room; I will be the sacrifice for them. In choosing fallen men, and not angels, God gave an amazing instance of the sovereignty of his grace, that he would be merciful to whom he would be merciful; would pass by the superior nature, and choose the inferior; prefer vessels of clay to vessels of gold! What can we say? Nothing, but wonder at God’s free grace! Unspeakable love! Lord, it had been much if thou hadst provided an angel to mitigate our sufferings in hell, by giving us drops of water to cool our tongue; but that thou shouldst have condescended to come and change rooms with us, and suffer the very pains and agonies due to us, is love that passeth knowledge.

Lord, when I consider thy distinguishing pity, and low stoop, to purchase and recover such clods of earth and sin with thy blood and agonies, I am amazed at thy love, confounded at my own ingratitude, and ashamed at the coldness and hardness of my heart! Oh! was Christ willing to change rooms with the like of me, and shall not I be willing to change rooms with him, and at his demand to part with the filthy rags of my sins, and take on me the robe of his righteousness? Oh shall not this amazing love of Christ constrain me to love him again, and live to him that died for me? Shall it not constrain me to close with and trust in him? Constrain me to commend him? Constrain me to hate and avoid his enemy, sin? Constrain me to adhere to his truths and ways? to persevere in prayer, praise, and holy walking?

Are fallen angels left, and fallen men pitched upon to be monuments of free grace, to fill up the vacant rooms which angels fell from? What shall I say to this, but, “even so, Father, for so it pleased thee;” let thy sovereign grace be the eternal song of both men and angels. “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be the glory.” Blessed be God, that I hear this joyful sound of reconciliation with fallen men, and of a treaty of peace carried on with them. The devils never heard, and never shall hear such news. But oh, if I come not in, and accept of the terms and offers made to me in the gospel, I shall put myself in a worse case than the devils! For it cannot be charged upon fallen angels, as on fallen men, that God was willing to be reconciled to them, and they would not. Now, then, when the gospel treaty is proclaimed, God forbid I be found guilty of refusing his terms, scorning his offers, and defying his threatenings. “Oh how shall I escape, if I neglect so great” and wonderful “salvation” as is tendered to me? Neglect it, Lord, I dare not, I will not. Lo, I come, I accept, I embrace, I take hold of thy covenant, and the seal of it tendered to me. I renounce the old covenant, I break league this day with all thy enemies, I proclaim war against them. I close with Christ Jesus, both as my righteousness and strength. I make a full and free surrender of myself unto the Lord, to be his and his only, in all I am, and in all I enjoy, to be ordered and disposed of for his glory and service. Lord, I am thine; I will not be my own, I will not be the world’s, but I will be thine, thine only, and thine wholly; thine to love thee, serve and obey thee without reserve; since thou wouldst have no nature but mine, I will have no will but thine. I renounce my own will, and take thine for my rule. Lord, I am thine. O save thou me; and I will trumpet forth the praises of free grace and redeeming love forever. Amen. W