By James H. Snowden
erusalem and Rome knew nothing of this event. The High Priest offered the evening sacrifice unaware that it was rendered obsolete by the coming of the true Sacrifice, and Cæsar slept that night without a dream that a Rival had been born who would uproot his empire and erect a worldwide kingdom. Earth was unconscious of this birth, but heaven knew it. There was holy ecstacy in all the shining ranks above, and “angels seem, as birds new-come in spring, to have flown hither and thither, in songful mood, dipping their white wings into our atmosphere, just touching the earth or glancing along its surface, as sea birds skim the surface of the sea.”
Around all the events of the birth and ministry of Christ there are the flutter and flash of angel wings, and this story would lose much of its music and charm if it were stripped of its angel ministration. The Bible is full of angels. They appear to Zacharias the mother of John the Baptist, and they find Mary the virgin mother, as a beam of morning light finds a white-leafed flower, and reveal the mystery that has come upon her. No sooner is the infant Jesus laid in his manger than the door of heaven opens and there comes trooping forth a radiant throng, filling the midnight sky with splendor and proclaiming to earth the glad tidings. Angels ministered to Jesus in the wilderness and strengthened him in the garden. More than twelve legions of angels waited to do his bidding when he was arrested. Angels rolled away the stone from his tomb and sat by the empty grave, announcing his resurrection as they had announced his birth; and as they thronged the skies at his coming, so they hovered in the air at his going; and when he comes again he shall come in his glory with all the holy angels with him.
These angels are still in the world as the ministers of God, though invisible to mortal eyes. We see the firefly only through the little luminous section of its flight, but it still flies on after it ceases to be visible. So we see these angels only through that shining section of their path in which they waited on Jesus; but they are still flying through the world as invisible spirits. The angels of little ones are always before the face of their Father in heaven, and as they bore the spirit of Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom, so they still may bear departing spirits up the shining stairway of the stars to the eternal home. We know not in what wide ways they minister to us; how there is a rush of angel wings to the cradle of every new-born babe; how they constantly pitch their tents around us in the viewless fields of air; and how often they bear us up lest we dash our feet against a stone.
How little we know of the world in which we live! We weigh its rocks and grind them up and melt them in our crucibles; we fling our nets through all space and catch the stars; and when we can find nothing more to measure and analyze we think we have found and explained all. But the finest and best things cannot be grasped by these coarse processes. Sunbeams cannot be weighed on hay-scales, and gorgeously-colored bits of cloud cannot be caught in a crucible. We can weigh the new-born baby, but not the mother’s love for her child. A telescope cannot see an angel, though millions of them may be flying across its field of vision. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. In our blind materialism we need to have our eyes opened that we may know that this universe, which often seems so empty and dark to us, is a blazing sea of spiritual splendor in which burning suns float as black specks and which is thronged with troops of angels that do the will of God and wait on us.
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