Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,…
I. MEN ARE CAPABLE OF BEING MADE EQUAL TO THE ANGELS. That man is capable of equalling the angels in the duration of their existence, may be very easily shown. Originally he was, like them, immortal. But what man once possessed, he must still be capable of possessing. Equally easy is it to show that man is capable of being made equal to the angels in moral excellence. The moral excellence of creatures, whether human or angelic, consists in their conformity to the law of God. Originally he was perfectly holy; for God made man upright, in His own image, and this image consisted, as inspiration informs us, in righteousness and true holiness. Man is then capable of being made equal to the angels in mural excellence. Man is also capable of being raised to an intellectual equality with the angels, or being made equal to them in wisdom and knowledge. The image of God in whack he was created, included knowledge, as well as righteousness and true holiness. He was, as inspiration informs us, but little lower than the angels. But this small intellectual inferiority, on the part of man, may be satisfactorily accounted for, without supposing that his intellectual faculties are essentially inferior to those of angels, or that his mind is incapable of expanding to the full dimensions of angelic intelligence. It may be accounted for by difference of situation, and of advantages for intellectual improvement. Man was placed on the earth, which is God's footstool. But angels were placed in heaven, which is His throne, His palace, and the peculiar habitation of His holiness and glory. They were thus enabled approach much nearer, than could earth-born man, to the great Father of lights; and their minds were, in consequence, illuminated with far more than a double portion of that Divine, all-disclosing radiance which diffuses itself around Him. If the mind of an infant can expand, during the lapse of a few years, to the dimensions of a Newton's mind, notwithstanding all the unfavourable circumstances in which it is here placed, why may it not, during an eternal residence in heaven, with the omniscient, all-wise God for its teacher, expand so far as to embrace any finite circle whatever? Little, if any, less reason have we to believe that he is capable of being made equal to them in power. It has been often remarked that knowledge is power; and observation must convince every one that it is so. Man's advances in knowledge have ever been accompanied by a proportionate increase of power. A knowledge of metals gave him power to subdue the earth. But we have already seen that man is capable of being made equal to the angels in knowledge. Again, man is capable of being raised to an equality with the angels in glory, honour, and felicity. The glory of a creature must consist principally in the intellectual and moral excellences with which he is endued; and we have already seen that in these respects man is capable of being made equal to the angels.
II. THAT IN THE FUTURE WORLD, GOOD MEN SHALL BE MADE EQUAL TO THEM IN EACH OF THESE PARTICULARS. The fact that men are capable of being made equal to the angels, goes far to prove the truth of this proposition. From the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration, it seems evident that they possessed power of various kinds, of which we are destitute. They had power to descend from the mansions of the blessed, and to return, and also, as it should seem, to render themselves visible or invisible, at their pleasure. Indeed it is certain, that in some respects at least, the powers of the righteous must be greatly increased, or they would be unable to sustain that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and honour, and felicity, which is reserved for them in the future world. There is a dreadful counterpart to this truth, which, though not mentioned in our text, must be briefly noticed. Every argument, which proves that good men are capable of being made equal to the holy angels, may justly be considered as proving, with equal clearness, that wicked men are capable of equalling the fallen angels, who kept not their first estate.
(E. Payson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,