Et factum est prælium in Caelo: Michael & Angeli ejus præliati sunt cum Dracone, & Draco pugnabat & Angeli ejus: Sed non prævaluerunt, neque locus eorum amplius inventus est in Caelo.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon: and the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven.
As the Christian religion is not a Religion of Angels; for we doe not adore them with divine honour, Colossians the second chapter and the eighteenth verse; and though we offer to worship them, yet they will not admit of it, Apocalyps the twenty second chapter and the ninth verse; so on the other side, it is not a Religion of Sadducee, that hold there is no Angels nor spirit, Acts the twenty third chapter and the eighth verse; but it doth acknowledge that such blessed spirits there be, and that God hath erected a ladder that reacheth up to heaven, by which the Angels of God goe up and down to convey Gods blessings to men, Genesis the twenty eighth chapter: And therefore by all means it opposeth itself against the opinion of those that seek to remove this ladder, as if there were no duty to be performed by them towards us: For, in thankfulnesse to God for this benefit, that the Angels have a care of us, the Church have thought it good, weighing both the one extremity of superstition, which Moses compareth to drunkenesse, and the other extremity of prophaneness, which he likeneth to thirst, Deuteronomy the twenty ninth chapter and the nineteenth verse, to keep this feast.
And indeed if we consider, that those glorious spirits who gave the continual fruition of Gods presence, Matthew the eighteenth chapter and the tenth verse, In whose presence is the fulnesse of all joy, Psalm the sixteenth, can be content to abandon that place of this felicity, to come down and perform duties to the sonnes of men, namely, to take charge of us and keep us from danger, Psalm the ninetie first and the eleventh verse, to be as ministring spirits, for their sakes that shall be heirs of salvation, Hebrews the first chapter: This cannot but be reckoned a special favour.
Secondly, Especially if we goe a degree further, and consider that they leave their assistance in God's presence, where is all glorie and happinesse, to Minister to us that dwell in houses of clay, Job the fourth chapter, and that for our nobility, must derive our selves into corruptions and worms, Job the seventeenth chapter and the fourteenth verse, that such holy spirits should come down upon us such sinfull spirits, such glorious spirits should Minister to such vile bodies, this gives us further cause to remember this benefit.
Thirdly the manner of this Ministry may be a special motive to stir us up to thankfulnesse: This Ministry and service done to us is as farre as any can reach, that is, usque ad consilium fideli & auxilium.
[586/587] For counsel and wisdome, we see Jacob confesseth, an Angel of God gave him direction what to doe, Genesis the thirty first chapter and the eleventh verse. So an Angel came forth to teach Daniel, to give him knowledge and understanding, Daniel the ninth chapter and the twenty second verse: and this very book contains nothing else but that which Christ revealed to his servant John by an Angel, Apocalyps the first chapter and the first verse: that is for matter of counsel. And for matter of help there is between Angels and men bellum sociale, a holy league indeed; whereby they binde themselves, that for our defence they may wage warre, not only with men, but with wicked Angels. That they doe continually defend us the Prophet teacheth, Psalm the thirty fourth, The Angels of the Lord pitch their tents round about them that fear him; whereof we have a plain example, in the second of the Kings the sixt[h] chapter and the seventeenth verse. For the offensive part of help, which they perform to men, it is plain, that as they defend us from danger, so they shew themselves enemies not only to men that seek our hurt, but to evil Angels. That the Angels are enemies to men, that are an enemie to the Elect and Church of God, we see it plainly affirmed, Psalm the thirty fift[h] and the sixt[h] verse, The Angel of the Lord persecuteth them; whereof an example in the Egyptians that were enemies to Gods people, among whom God sent an Angel to destroy the first born in every house, Exodus the twelfth chapter; and Isaiah the thirty seventh chapter, where an Angel is sent in the behalf of Ezekiah to destroy the host of Senacherib who was an enemie to God's people. And in this place we see offensive warre in the behalf of Angels, against the wicked Angels, whereunto David had relation in those words, Psalm the ninty first and the thirteenth verse, Thou shalt walk upon the Lyon and Adder, the young Lyon and the Dragon thou shalt tread under foot. Wherefore that spirits of such excellencie, shall defend us against both wicked men and Angels, this is a benefit to be remembred with all thankfulnesse to God and likewise we are to congratulate them that are made by God of such power; as Melchizedeck did gratulate Abraham after he had conquered the five kings, Genesis the fourteenth chapter, and blessed God that delivered his enemies into his hands; and as the servants of Hadadezer did congratulate David, when he saw that the Army fled before Israel, the second book of Samuel the eighth chapter and the ninth verse.
So that these congratulations of these blessed spirits, above all our thankfulnesse to God that hath appointed us such helps, is the ground and cause of this solemnity.
The words divide themselves into two parts, First, the battail: Secondly, the Victory or Conquest.
Concerning the former, we are first to consider the parties Combatent, and then the fight. In the Conquest we are also to observe two degrees: For it is said not only That he had not the Mastery; for then he had been of an even hand, and might have begun again, but that the dragon and his Angels were so farre from prevailing and getting the Victory of Michael and his Angels, that they took 587/588 the foyl so that their place was not found in Heaven.
Touching the person that waged this battail, they are on the one side Michael and his Angels: On the other side the Dragon and his Angels.
Wherein the first thing is, what we must conceive concerning Michael. It is sure the Church of God, upon many and weighty reasons, doth not favour the opinion of those that make Christ to be Michael: Michael, Daniel the tenth chapter and the thirteenth verse, is said to be one of the first Princes or Rulers, which is to be understood of some principal Angel, and not of Christ, who is set up above all Princes, and is not to be reckoned among them, being the Prince of Princes, and Lord of Lords: And the Annotation of those that hold this opinion sheweth that there is an Angel under Christ, which takes charge for the defense of the Church on earth, which is Michael your Prince, Dan. 10.21.
Secondly, Out of Judes epistle verse the ninth, the ancient Fathers prove, that by Michael we are not to understand Christ; for that which he affirmeth, that Michael durst not check the Devill with cursed speaking cannot be ascribed to Christ, which not only dare, but hath trodden down Satan under his feet; much more dare he check him: which unlesse he could doe, it were a plaine signe that he is not Omnipotent. Therefore by Michael here we are to understand some other and not Christ.
Thirdly, Out of this place, Apocalyps the twelfth chapter and fift[h] verse, In as much as the Child that was born Christ, it is not like that this Child should suddenly be translated into an Archangel and fight with the Dragon. And therefore both Theoderet and others say, that Michael is a chief spirit among the created spirits that them took care of the Church in Jury, and still is carefull of Christs Church unto the end of world. And to this we may add the judgement of the Church, which on this holy-day doth thank God for the service of the Angels, but makes no mention of Christ, that it is he that in this place warreth with the Dragon and his Angels. For the Dragon there is a farre more easie passage; so as we may soon guesse what is meant by him; for in this chapter he is called the Devil and Satan, whereof their name signifieth a slanderer and he justly so called, for that he both slandereth God to man, as if God did envy mans prosperity, Genesis third chapter, and slanders man to God, as he did Job, whom albeit he were a blessed Saint, yet he accuseth before God as an Hypocrite, Job the first chapter. The other name Satan signifeth a great enemie, not only to the good, whom he hath most cause to hate, as being contrary to him, but also to the bad. That he is an enemy to the good, it appears by this, That he persecuted not only the child that was new born, but the woman also, and because he cannot shew his malice upon him, he makes warre with her seed, Apocalyps the twelfth chapter the thirteenth and seventeeenth verse. That he is also an enemie to the bad, appears verse the ninth, where he is called, The seducer of the [588/589] whole world, and the accuser of the brethren, for that he first brings them to commit grievous sinnes, and then pleads against them, that the plague of God may come upon them.
These are the Leaders: The Bands and Souldiers under their conduct are Angels on both sides.
The Angels that serve under Michael are they that excell in strength and doe the command of God in obeying the voice of his word, Psalm the hundred and third and twentieth verse, they that the Apostle calls elect Angels, the first to Timothy the fift[h] chapter and the twenty first verse.
The Angels that warre on the Dragons side are the evil Angels, Psalm the seventy eighth and the sixt[h] ninth verse, The Angels that sinned, the second epistle of Peter the second chapter, And they that keep not their original, as Jude saith: these fight for the dragon, and he is their Captain; as Christ saith, the Prince of the Devils is Belzebub, Matthew twelfth chapter as among the good Angels there is principatus & primus principatus; so it is among the wicked Angels, for there must be order in all companies.
Touching the Battail it self, we are first to remove some things of offence, not to think it strange that the Angels are here said to move battail. For albeit they be called Angeli pacis, Isaiah the thirty third chapter and the seventh verse, because they bring peace, yet in many places they are called Gods Hosts; as Jacob seeing the Angels of God, called the place where they were Nahanaim, Genesis the thirty second chapter and the second verse; and they magnifie God by that title, Isaiah the sixt[h] chapter, Lord God of Hosts: Luke the second chapter, the Angels are called Heavenly Souldiers: And where Christ saith, If I pray to the Father, he will give me more than twelve Legions of Angels, Matthew the twenty sixt[h] chapter. He compareth them to Troops and Bands of Souldiers, for that they are not only Angels to Gods friends and servants, but souldiers fighting against them that oppose themselves against God. Further, where their estate is in a continual motion, that must not offend us; for the Angels themselves are not yet in the perfection of their felicity; for we see they are imployed in doing service for us; they continually ascend and descend from Heaven to Earth, and from Earth to Heaven, for the good of the godly; for God saw it good, that as well they, as the Saints departed out of this life, should not be made perfect without us, Hebrews the eleventh chapter and the fourtieth verse; which is illustrated Matthew the thirteenth chapter, where the Angels are called Reapers, giving us to understand thereby, that as the Husbandman is not at rest till the Harvest be all in; so it with the Angels, they must continually be imployed in doing service for them that shall inherit Salvation, till the number of the elect be accomplished.
So neither needs that to offend any, that the Dragon is said to have fought in Heaven; for so he is said to have appeared among before God among the sonnes of God: And when Ahab was to be deceived, a lying spirit [589/590] stood before God, the first book of the Kings the twenty second chapter. All this was only by Gods permission, For all this doth not make the Devil blessed, no more than Adam was blessed being in Paradise: For having sinned, and being thereby out of Gods favour, he no more enjoyed that comfort of Paradise which he took before his fall, but quaked and hid himself from the presence of God for fear, Genesis the third chapter. The Dragon is no more blessed for being in Heaven, or appearing before God, than a prisoner, that for a time is brought out of prison into the court to be arraigned; for he takes no delight of the pomp and glorie of the court, knowing it is not for him, but he must return to the Dungeon, from whence he was taken: So it is with the Devil.
The offences being removed, we come now to the Fight itself, which was not in any bodily manner, for they are spirits, Psalm the hundred and fourth; and therefore their fight is a spiritual fight, Ephesians the sixt[h] chapter; And their weapons not carnal, but spiritual, the second epistle to the Corinthians the tenth chapter. That as the Angels fight by temptations on the one side and by resistances, on the other, they fight by agonies and inward conflicts, which is more truly called conflicts that any combat. The other fight with bodily enemies; for, as some note, Abraham would rather fight with five Kings than abide the conflict between faith and natural affection, which he felt when he was commanded to offer up his sonne Isaac, and those agonies which David felt in his own heart, Psalm the sixt[h] second, Why are thou so heavy O my soul, Psalm the seventy seventh and the eighty ninth verse. These Combats and spiritual Battails were more grievous to David than those which he fought with the Philstims, with Saul, or any other outward enemies whatsoever.
The Battails fought between these two parties are in Scripture four.
The first is that which in the beginning was fought between them, that when the one said, Isaiah the fourteenth chapter and the thirteenth verse, ascendam, the other went down; when one said, I will sit, they said he should stand, Daniel the seventh chapter; when the Dragon said, I will be like the most high, the other said Michael who is like God.
The second is that which Jude speaketh of, that there was a conflict between Michael the Archangel and the Devil, about the dead body of Moses, verse 9.
The third is mentioned in Daniel the tenth chapter, the thirteenth verse, where when the Church was in thraldom and captivity under the Persians and Chaldeans, the Dragon would have kept them still in bondage, but Michael fought for their deliverance.
The fourth battail is that which is here fought by Michael for a full deliverance of the Church; for we see the Dragon stood before the woman that was ready to be delivered, that he might devour the child, verse the seventh: And because he was taken up unto God, the Dragon persecuted the woman; And for that he could not prevail against her, he made [590/591] warre with her seed, Apocalyps the twelfth chapter and the thirteenth verse, that is, with them that keep the commandements of God. For if the Devil fought with Michael for Moses body, being dead, de Mose mortuo, Jude the ninth verse, much more will he fight for Christ being borne: If he warre against the Synagogue of the Jews, much more against the Church of Christ, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles. And as the Angels offer fight for the one, so will they for the other: For it is plain, that the Angels are first in arms when any injury is offered either to the Child, or the Woman, or to her seed.
What this Battail was between the Dragon and the Child the opinion of the Church is, That albeit the Devils by their creation were glorious Angels, yet they might be content not to presume so farre as to belike the most high, but after the manifold wisdome of God was made known by the Church unto principalities and powers, Ephesians the third chapter and the tenth verse; that is, when they saw it was Gods will, that the Child born of our flesh and taken out of the earth, was taken up into Heaven, to the throne of God: This was it that stirred them up to battail. For howsoever they be constrained to submit themselves to God, yet they cannot abide to honour a peece of clay: And albeit they could not be equal with God, yet they would retain a superiority above men: which thing being not granted them, they are incensed against Christ: They think it a great indignity, howsoever they have done service to men tanquam Domini, as things pertaining to the Lord, that now they should doe service to men tanquam Domino. But this they are enforced to perform to Christ who is exalted in his Humanity; and in as much as Christ hath taken our nature; they must adore our nature. This is that which the Dragon and his Angels would not yeeld unto: But they prevail not in this fight. Again, the consideration of this which the Apostle affirms, That God spared not the Angels that sinned, the second epistle of Peter the second chapter, Angelis peccantibus non pepercit, may greatly provoke the Angels to battail: That albeit he spared not the Angels that sinned, yet he will spare men when they sinne: this is a great assault. But that is more Nusquam Angelos assumpsit, sed semen Abrahæ assumpsit, Hebrews the second chapter and the sixteenth verse. That he will not grace the name of Angels, as to assume their nature but prefers the nature of man; and that they must adore that person that is become man, this might be a sore temptation. As also that which the Apostle affirms, the first epistle to the Corinthians the sixt[h] chapter and the third verse, That the nature of man shall judge Angels: this might greatly offend them, And the Dragon and his Angels will no doubt suggest these thoughts into Michael and his Angels; but yet they expell these suggestions. The more high and honourable any spirit is, the lesse can it brook any indignity. And seeing the Angels are such honourable spirits, they must needs take it very ill, that not only mans nature is exalted above theirs, but that they must doe service unto men; not as things pertaining to the Lord, but as to the Lord Himself. [591/592] This must needs offend them that when they sinne, they find no favour; but if man sinne, he is spared; That when the Sonne of God doth manifest himself to the world, he doth not vouchsafe the Angels so much honour as to assume their nature, but takes the seed of Abraham; and that he will in the last time make men judges of Angels. In this manner did the Dragon and his Angels oppose themselves against Michael and his Angels; but we see how he doth resist all these temptations and assaults: And therefore this battail is worthy to be kept in remembrance.
The Conquest followeth. Wherein we see, that in steed of perswading Michael and his Angels, that they should not look at the mysterie of Christ's incarnation, we see the Angels are content, papakufai the first epistle of Peter the first chapter, the eleventh and twelfth verses, to stoop down to look into those things that concern Christ. Whereas they were perswaded to turn their backs on Christ, we see they all fall down and worship him, Hebrews the first chapter and sixt[h] verse: they all acknowledge Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, riches, honour, and glory, and majesty: praise, and honor, and glorie to him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for evermore, Apocalyps the fift[h] chapter, the twelfth and thirteenth verses: And instead of exalting themselves, they are ready to offer battail to them that perswade them hereunto; as Davids heart was more inclined to Joab, than his wicked son Absolom; which made him make Joab a means for his restoring into his fathers favour: So God is more inclined to be mercifull to men that sinne, than to Angels; and that is it that makes the Angels submit themselves to the nature of men. So that they see Christ vouchsafeth to call Bretheren Matthew the twenty fift[h] chapter and the fourtieth verse; so they are glad to claim brotherhood of us, Apocalyps the twenty second chapter; as the Angel said to John, I am one of thy brethren. In as much as God exalts the male child and the woman to be in his Throne, the Angels are ready to fight for them.
In that it is said, The Dragon prevailed not, it may be gathered, that for all that he might begin again; but where it is added, And their place could be no more be found in heaven, thereby we learn that Michael and his Angels set upon the Dragon and his Angels, and drave them out of Heaven.
That which ariseth from hence on our parts, is of two sorts:
First, The thankfulnesse we are bound continually to render to God, that we are of such regard in his sight, that in Heaven they fight for us, the elect angels with the evil angels, Michael with the Dragon and his companie. It is that which Christ tells us, Luke the eleventh chapter, When the strong men keep the Palace, all things are in peace; but then comes a stronger, &c. Man is even in the estimation of the Devil a Palace, howsoever we by our sinnes make our selves a Hogstie: therefore both Christ and the Devil esteeming so highly of us, we may not esteem basely of ourselves. The Angels have charge, not only to keep us, Psalm the ninety first, but to wage battail about us: and therefore [592/593] it is plain, the soul of man is no mean thing. The Angels as we see, are ready to enter field with the Dragon and his Angels: Neither doth Heaven only take this care of us, but the Earth also is ready to help us, and openeth her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the Dragon casts out of his mouth, Apocalyps the twelfth chapter and the sixteenth verse. Therefore if they have such care of us, it is reason we should have care of ourselves; if they take such care for man, that is but earth, then ought we for heaven to be carefull: If no man be crowned, no not the Angels themselves, except they strive aright, the second epistle to Timothy the second chapter; no more shall we be crowned unlesse we be as a carefull of our selves as the Angels. If the the Angels were so busie to defend the earth, we must be more diligent to fight for Heaven. Again, here we see, that come to Heaven is a matter of fight and wrastling, Ephesians, the sixt[h] chapter: If we look upon Christ and the Apostles, we will say it is Lucta, a wrastling; but if upon common Christians it is but Ludus, a pastime and sport. And he that stirrs up this warre and conflict is not dead, howsoever he was put to the worst, but only driven out of heaven. That battail which was in Heaven among the Angels, is come down to men on earth, and now the Dragon fights with the womans seed; and therefore it imports the womans seed to fight with him: For the warre we have, is not only with flesh and blood, that is, with our own passions and affections, which is the philosophical warre, though we must fight with them also, because fleshly lusts fight against the spirit it, the first epistle of Peter the second chapter, and the eleventh verse: But our wrastling is chiefly with the spirits, with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, Ephesians the sixt[h] chapter. And what, is this enemy the Dragon foolish and weak after his conquest had over sinne? No, he is the old Serpent, therefore full of experience. These enemies, or [powers of darkness] Ephesians the sixt[h] chapter; therefore they want no power. But are they discouraged upon this overthrow? No, but he is the more fierce and his wrath kindled, knowing his time is but short, Apocalyps the twelfth chapter and the twelfth verse. Then seeing we have such an enemy, we must strive rightly if we will be crowned, si placeat Corona, placeat si audium we must take the more heed to our selves, because as Gregory saith, Magis est fortis nostrâ negligentiâ, quam suâ potentiâ.
Secondly, As we give God thanks, that he makes this account of us; so are we to thank him, that he hath created and commanded such excellent spirits to fight for us; and to pray that they which have thus fought for us in Heaven, may in earth fight with us to help us; that as they have cast him out of Heaven, so we may overcome him in earth: We are to thank God that we, which by our sinnes have made our selves like the beasts that perish, Psalm the sixt[y] ninth, shall be [equal to the angels] Luke the twentieth chapter, and to pray that we may drive the Dragon into the bottomlesse pit. Thirdly, we are to take heed that we provoke not the Angels with our misdeeds, Exodus the twenty third chapter and twenty first verse; nor alienate them from [593/594] us with the wicked words of our mouths, Ecclesiastes the fift[h] chapter and the fift[h] verse. If we suffer ourselves to sinne by filthy words and speeches, we make them turn their favour from us. When we come into Church, we must come with a due regard and reverence, propter Angelos, the first epistle to the Corinthians the eleventh chapter: for by rude and uncomely behaviour in the Congregation, and by suffering our mouths to utter offensive speeches, we offend the Angels and deprive ourselves of their favour, so as they will not care for our safeguard: But if as the Angel tells Daniel, Daniel the tenth chapter and the twelfth verse, We set our hearts to understand and to humble our selves by casting before God, that may draw their affection towards us; for repentance is that which doth minister joy to the Angels in Heaven, Luke the fifteenth chapter.
Lastly, By this means, though we obtain not such a perfect conquest over the Dragon as the Angels did; yet we shall attain to the first degree: thou we cannot drive him out of earth, as they did out of Heaven, yet we shall obtain thus much, That he shall not prevail against us, no more than he did against them. We see it in Paul, though he fought never so much, yet he could not avoid it, but sinne would dwell in him, Romans the seventh chapter: but this victory he obtained, that it did not reign in his natural body, Romans the sixt[h] chapter. Though, till our corruption be dissolved, we shall not drive him out, we shall so be armed, that he shall not prevail against us. We must indeavour our selves, that by thankfulnesse to him for vouchsafing to us this help, and by intercession to continue the same, we may still resist the Dragon, not suffering our selves to take the foyl, howsoever we cannot utterly drive him out. And in this respect, when we shall be like the Angels, then shall we tread Satan under our feet, then shall the Dragon be bound in chains and cast into the bottomlesse pit; so shall we have a final conquest over him. Now we must labour to attain to the first degree of the Angels victory and so shall we be crowned.