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The superiority of this wisdom to that of the angels.

The wisdom of this contrivance appears to have been above the wisdom of the angels by the following things.

1. It appears that the angels did not fully comprehend the contrivance, till they saw it accomplished. They knew that man was to be redeemed, long before Christ came into the world: but yet they did not fully comprehend it until they saw it. This is evident by the expression in the text. That now might be known unto the principalities—the manifold wisdom of God. i. e. Now the work is actually accomplished by Jesus Christ. Which implies that it was now new to them.—If they understood no more of it now, than they had all along, the apostle would never have expressed himself so; for he is speaking of it as a mystery, in a measure kept hid until now.

Now it is to be considered, that the angels had four thousand years to contemplate this affair; and they did not want inclination and desire to understand and look into it, as the Scripture teaches us. They had also a great deal to put them upon an attentive contemplation of it. For when it was made known that God had such a design, it must appear a new and wonderful thing to them. They had seen their fellow-angels destroyed without mercy; and this redeeming of the fallen sinful creature, was quite a new thing. It must needs be astonishing to them, when God had revealed this design of mercy to them presently after the fall; and had given an intimation of it, in saying, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” They knew that God had such a design; for they were, from the beginning, ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those that were the heirs of salvation.—They were present at the institution of the typical dispensation, that was so full of shadows of gospel-truth. Psal. lxix. 17.

The angels contemplating the contrivance of our redemption was typified by the posture of the cherubims over the mercy-seat, which was the lid of the ark. These emblems were made bending down towards the ark and mercy-seat.—This is what the apostle Peter is thought to have some reference to, 1 Peter i. 12. Yet the angels, though for four thousand years they had been studying this contrivance, did not fully comprehend it till they saw it accomplished. This shows that the wisdom of it was far above theirs; for if they could not fully comprehend it after it had been revealed that there was such a design—and after much of it had already been made known in the Old Testament—how much less could they have found it out of themselves.

Consider for what end this wisdom of God was made known unto the angels, viz. that they might admire and prize it. It was made known to them, that they might see how manifold, how great and glorious, it is; that they might see the unspeakable “depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” as the apostle expresses it, Rom. xi. 33.—It was manifested to them that they might see the glory of God in it, and how great and wonderful the mystery was. 1 Tim. iii. 16. “Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels.” Now if the wisdom of it were not far above their own understandings, this would not be shown them for the express purpose that they might admire and praise God for it.

3. It appears to be above the wisdom of the angels because they are still contemplating it; and endeavouring to see more and more of it. Indeed there is room for their faculties to employ themselves to all eternity. It is evident from 1 Pet. i. 12. that they are still employing themselves in endeavouring to see more and more of God’s wisdom appearing in the work of redemption, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 154154    1 Pet. i. 12 ” They still desire to look into it, after they have seen it accomplished. They do not so perfectly comprehend all the wisdom that is to be seen in it; but they are contemplating, looking into it, that they may see more and more; but there will still be room enough in this work to employ the angelical understandings.

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