ON MICHAELMAS DAY
Consider first, that on this day the church of God celebrates the festival of St. Michael, and all the heavenly host of angels and Archangels, cherubim and seraphim, and the rest of the orders of blessed spirits. Wherefore the devotion of this day is, first to join with all these heavenly choirs in giving praise, glory, and thanksgiving to God, who created these angelic spirits, to glorify him and who has inspired them all with an unspeakable love for us, and has sent them to minister for us, in order to our receiving the inheritance of salvation, Heb. i. 14. 2ndly, we ought on this day to congratulate with these heavenly citizens and their great leader, St. Michael; these friends of God and of ours; and to rejoice in their eternal happiness. 3rdly, we ought to associate ourselves with them, in order jointly to promote the common cause of our common master; that is, the greater glory of God, and the advancement of his divine service and love; and with them to fight his battles against the devil and his rebel angels. O Christians, how happy, how glorious is this cause, in which both we and they are engaged! And how advantageous is it for us to have such auxiliaries in this great warfare.
Consider 2ndly, what lessons we have to learn, from the behaviour of these blessed spirits, from the first moment of their creation, and what we are to imitate in them. They no sooner received their being, but they turned to their creator, by adoration and love, and dedicated themselves eternally to him. We are made for the same end as they were; that is, to glorify God, and like them we are strictly obliged to turn to our creator as soon as we are capable of knowing him, and to dedicate our whole being to his love and service. But have we done so? Have we not rather, like Lucifer and his associates, turned away from God at our first coming to the use of reason, and preferred every empty toy before him? The good angels are perpetually attentive to God - wheresoever they are, or whatever they are about, their eye and their heart is always upon him; they are perpetually jealous of his honour, and ever labouring to procure, not their own glory, but the glory of their great king. Do we imitate them? Is the eye of our soul turned towards God in all our employments? Are we always seeking his greater glory? If so, like the angels, wheresoever we are and whatsoever we are doing, we shall in some measure have heaven with us, even here upon earth.
Consider 3rdly, form the gospel of this day, St. Matt. xvii., what kind of exercises of virtue are to bring us effectually to the eternal society of the angels. We must be converted from the corruption of pride, which cast the devil out of heaven, and become as little children, by innocence and humility, or we shall have no share with the good angels in the kingdom of heaven. There is no room for pride in that blessed society - 'the devil is the king over all the children of pride,' Job xli. 25. There is no room there for any that wilfully associate themselves with the rebels, that have been cast out from thence, by corrupting others, or suffering themselves to be corrupted and drawn away from their allegiance, by giving or taking scandal against their own souls. The true way to arrive at the happy company of the angels is by humility, innocence, and purity. If we would come amongst them, we must 'cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh, and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,' 2 Cor. vii. 1. 'For nothing that is defiled shall enter into that blessed city, where they dwell for ever,' Rev. xxi. 27.
Conclude so to honour St. Michael and all the good angels as to imitate their fidelity to their God, their constant attention to promote his glory, and their constant opposition to all the enterprises of his enemy. The name of Michael signifies, who is like God. Let this be your motto in all your spiritual warfare - at all times keep close to God, and he will keep close to you; prefer his honour before all other considerations, and he will speedily crush Satan under your feet; yea, he will enable you to 'walk upon the asp, and upon the basilisk, and to tread upon the lion and the dragon,' Ps. xc., and nothing shall have power to hurt you.