MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA.TREATISE III. 7. THE WILL AND LOVE IN THE ANGELS.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA.
7. THE WILL AND LOVE IN THE ANGELS.
I. The angels, having intelligence or knowledge of truth and goodness, have necessarily the correlative power of the will by which they choose and adhere to that which is good. There are four ways in which things gravitate towards that which suits their nature and their wants.
1. Dead matter is moved by external compulsion with out having any source of motion in itself. The stone is drawn downwards by the force of the earth s attraction.
2. Organized beings without consciousness are moved by certain molecular changes in their substance. So the flower opens to the sun, and the roots of a tree travel underground towards water.
3. Animals perceive what they want by their senses, and blind instinct makes them seek the gratification.
4. Intelligent beings perceive by the senses and the mind, they reason and deliberate, choose or reject, take measures to carry out their determination, adhere to it and delight in it. The angels possess this power of free-will, as do men, but in a more perfect manner. Their intelligence is not obscured, partially enlightened and partially blinded like ours ; their will, in proportion, is deliberate in its motions and firm in its determination. They know clearly, resolve firmly, and abide for ever by their decision. You too have this great power ; it is not perfect in you ; it needs to be carefully cultivated. You can in crease its force and its propension to good. You can neglect it till it becomes impotent. You then fall under the dominion of the primary bodily appetites : you reject the restraining influence of grace : reason alone does not suffice as a check : you have not the restraint of instinct like the animals : and your perverted will carries you head long to destruction.
II. The angelic will has an innate propension towards God. God is the supreme good, and is supremely desirable and lovable when He is known, as He was known and recognized by the angelic intelligence. As was Lucifer at the first, so each angel was " full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." The prophet might have said of each, " Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day of thy creation, until iniquity was found in thee " (Ez. xxviii. 12, 15). The angelic nature, unlike ours, had not received any perversion or inherited tendency towards depravity : it was in each one apt and fitted for its destiny, union with God by intelligence and love. The angels could fully appreciate the delights and the sweetness that are in God, and the enormity of the sin committed by transferring their love to self or creatures. Therefore the sin of the angels was more deliberate and less excusable than ours. Therefore God gives us peculiar opportunities of renewing ourselves by penance. So we have good compensation for all our sad inheritance of ignorance and sinfulness.
III. The love of God involves the love of creatures made by Him in His image; and the second precept of charity follows close on the first. So the angels have a natural tendency to love and communicate good, one to another. Their intercourse is marked by perfect peace and harmony, by perfect love for all others, by delight in their advantages, by happiness in their company. It is believed that there are offices of charity amongst them, consisting in the communication of illumination and enjoyment from the higher to the lower choirs ; God making use of all the angels, as He does men on earth, to be His instruments, and the channels of truth and grace, and representations of His perfections towards others. So amongst them there is love of superiors without jealousy, of equals without a spirit of rivalry, of inferiors without contempt or condescension. You will not be fit for the kingdom of love unless you have practised it here. If your neighbour does not deserve love for himself, love him for the sake of God.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D