Celestial Hierarchies - Chapter VII
Of the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, and their first Hierarchy.
...We are told by Hebrew scholars that the holy name Seraphim means 'those who kindle or make hot', and Cherubim denotes abundance of knowledge or an out-flowing of wisdom. Reasonably, therefore, is this first Celestial Hierarchy administered by the most transcendent Natures, since... being immediately present with God..., to it are brought the first revelations and perfections of God before the rest. Therefore they are named 'The Glowing Ones', 'Streams of Wisdom', 'Thrones', in illustration of their Divine Nature.
The name Seraphim clearly indicates their ceaseless and eternal revolution about Divine Principles, their heat and keenness, the exuberance of their intense, perpetual, tireless activity, and their elevative and energetic assimilation of those below, kindling them and firing them to their own heat, and wholly purifying them by a burning and all- consuming flame; and by the unhidden, unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power, dispelling and destroying the shadows of darkness.
The name Cherubim denotes their power of knowing and beholding God, their receptivity to the highest Gift of Light, their contemplation of the Beauty of the Godhead in Its First Manifestation, and that they are filled by participation in Divine Wisdom, and bounteously outpour to those below them from their own fount of wisdom.
The name of... Thrones denotes that which is exempt from and untainted by any base and earthly thing... For these have no part in that which is lowest, but dwell in fullest power, immovably and perfectly established in the Most High, and receive the Divine Immanence above all passion and matter, and manifest God, being attentively open to divine participations….
It is clear that the Hierarchy is similar in its nature and has close affinity with those First Beings who are established after the Godhead..., transcending all - created powers, both visible and invisible. Therefore we must recognize that they are pure, not as having been cleansed from stains and defilements, nor as not admitting material images, but as far higher than all baseness, and surpassing all that is holy. As befits the highest purity, they are established above the most Godlike Powers and eternally keep their own self-motive and self-same order through the Eternal Love of God, never weakening in power, abiding most purely in their own Godlike identity, ever unshaken and unchanging. Again, they are contemplative, not as beholding intellectual or sensible symbols, nor as being uplifted to the Divine by the all-various contemplations set forth in the Scriptures, but as filled with Light higher than all immaterial knowledge, and rapt, as is meet, in the contemplation of that Beauty which is the super-essential triune Origin and Creator of all beauty. In like manner they are thought worthy of fellowship with Jesus, not through sacred images which shadow forth the Divine Likeness, but as truly being close to Him in that first participation of the knowledge of His Deifying Illuminations....
In the same manner they are perfect... because they are wholly perfected through the highest and most perfect deification, possessing the highest knowledge that Angels can have of the works of God; being Hierarchs not through other holy beings, but from God Himself... Being placed nearest to God, they are instructed in the true understanding of the divine works, and receive their hierarchical order in the highest degree from Deity Itself, the First Principle of Perfection….
But to sum up... the participation in Divine Knowledge is a purification, an illumination and a perfection. For it purifies from ignorance by the knowledge of the perfect Mysteries granted in due measure; it illuminates through the Divine Knowledge Itself by which it purifies the mind which formerly did not behold that which is now shown to it by the higher illumination; and it perfects by the self-same light through the abiding knowledge of the most luminous initiations….