Imatges de pÓgina

dency of fin. How aftonishing a change was this! Let us learn from it to revere the holiness of God, who "cannot look on iniquity," and the strictness of his government, which guards his law by fo tremendous a penalty as "the vengeance of eternal fire.” "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name?" Thou art, indeed, "a confuming fire" to all, who prefume to refift thy power. While we hear of thine awful difpenfations towards the rebellious angels, our fleth trembleth for fear of thee, and we are afraid of thy judgments *."

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In confidering the cafe of these apostate creatures, we must proceed to remark


II. Their prefent fituation and employment. It was not poffible that they should recover their former abode by any exertions, and we apprehend that they have never really wished it. They could not deliver themselves from torment, or return to their former allegiance. They retain an invariable, rooted enmity against God; and it should seem, that ever fince their fall they have been attempting to overturn or obstruct his government. Such, evidently, appeared to be their difpofition at the creation of our world. haps, the happiness of our first parents excited their envy. Certain it is, that upon them they fixed their malicious eyes, and confulted how to caft them down from their eminence, and draw them into the fame ftate of disobedience and mifery with themselves. They contrived a temptation, which, through the fubtle management of their grand leader, fucceeded. He took the opportunity of spreading the fnare before Eve, when the was alone. He folicited her compliance, by propofing a pleafant gratification of appetite, and a more exalted condition. She liftened to his lies, which were couched in fair fpeeches: the confented, and then prevailed upon her husband alfo to tranfgrefs.

* Pfal. cxix. 120.


Thus the ftandard of rebellion was erected upon the earth; its inhabitants were feduced, and joined in confederacy with the infernal hoft. Thofe wicked fpirits, probably, triumphed in that calamitous event, as if they had prevailed against Jehovah, and reprefented him as a weak and cruel tyrant, who could not fecure his own dominion, or preferve the affe&ion of his fubjects. The very end of our creation feemed to be defeated; and, had not God in fovereign mercy interpofed to repair the breach, the whole human race must have remained for ever alienated from him, and exposed to his fierce indignation.

We perceive, by what tempers thefe unholy beings are influenced. A proud oppofition to God, an hatred of all goodness, affiduity and zeal in promoting evil, falihood, and treachery, an envious difguft at the happiness or excellence of others, and a defire to spread fin and mifery to the greateft poffible extent,thefe are fome of the leading principles, which mark the character of Satan and his affociates. "He was

a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he fpeaketh a lie, he fpeaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it *." "The devil finneth from the beginning † :" He was the original tranfgreffor, and has ever fince been practifing iniquity with unceafing activity and vigour. This is "our adverfary," whom we are required to "refift, steadfast in the faith," "because as a roaring lion, he walketh about, feeking whom he may devourt." All his apoftate company are of like defcription. They are therefore called "fpiritual wickedness §," or wicked fpirits: they are themselves moft corrupt and abominable, and unwearied in their endeavours to render others equally depraved.

Their ftratagems, alas! have been fatally successful


John viii. 44. † 1 John iïï. 8. ‡ 1 Pet. v. 8, 9. § Eph. vi. 12. among

among the human race. For which reafon, it should feem, Satan is ftiled "the prince" and "the god of this world *." He cannot poffefs any rightful authority; but, though he be'a bafe ufurper, he meets with general fubmiffion. We fpeak of him as the reprefentative of all the fallen fpirits, and afcribe to him whatever they effect or attempt, fince he directs their movements. Let us examine, what influence he has exercifed, and what mifchief he has produced among the pofterity of Adam. The account may be offenfive to our pride; but, without withing to conceal or palliate the truth, we muit give a faithful reprefentation of the cafe.

In the old teftament Satan was "the lying fpirit," by whom the falfe prophets were inftigated +; and in the new, thofe preachers, who would pervert right doctrine, are faid to be his minifters 1. Nay, it is exprefsly declared, that all thofe, who like him are actuated by pride, envy, malice, or deceit, are his children, and "will do the lufts of their father §." He it was, who tempted Judas to fell and betray the Saviour, and, having taken full poffeffion of the perfidious wretch, deferted him not, till he had accomplifhed his utter deftruction of body and foul . The fame infernal agent" filled the heart of Ananias to lie to the Holy Ghoft +:" and wherever any perfons reject falvation, the effect is in fome measure to be afcribed to Satan's malignant interference. He " hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, left the light of the glorious Gofpel of Chrift, who is the image of God, fhould thine unto them **." He is. "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of difobedience ‡‡." Sinners are not aware, perhaps, whom they ferve, and under whofe inftigation they act.

* John xvi. 11. 2 Cor. iv. 4. + Kings xxii. 21. John viii. 44. John xiii..2, 27. As v. 3. Eph. ii. 2.

But from the

+2 Cor. xi. 15. **2 Cor. iv. 4.


fcriptures we learn, that Satan maintains dominion over them, and that, however they may feem to differ from each other, they all follow his guidance, and bear his image. He ftirs up Antichrift to oppofe or pervert the purity of the Gofpel; and "takes captive at his will" those who refift the truth +. We readily allow perhaps, that such atrocious offenders as Cain," who flew his brother," may be "of the wicked one;" but it is equally certain, that "he that committeth fin," though it be in a lefs fcandalous way, "is of the devil." Such declarations fhould excite us to enquire with real earneftnefs, "To whom do we yield ourselves fervants to obey ?"

Various are the devices, by which our fpiritual adverfary prevails. He tempts men to the practice of evil, by exhibiting to their view a flattering profpect of its pleafure, and concealing the danger. He fuggefts to them, as he did to our first parents, "Ye fhall not furely die §;" and it feems to be the master. piece of his fubtlety, to induce them to believe that there is no future punishment. Thus he endeavours to lull them afleep and ftupify their confciences, not from a benevolent defire of rendering them happy, but that he may more effectually fecure their obedi ence to himself, and accomplish their final deftruction. He is "the ftrong man," who gains poffeffion of the finner's heart, and there being "armed keepeth his palace; and his goods are in peace."

Yet his malignity has appeared in different ways. At the time of our Lord's incarnation, he was permitted for special reafons to exercife a peculiar power over the bodies of many perfons, who were, in confequence, miferably afflicted and tormented. In their diftrefsful cafes we perceive, that he ftudies to torture and deftroy by every poffible method. It has been

2 Theff. ii. 9. † 2 Tim. ii. 26.
Gen. iii. 4.

1 John iii. 8, 12.. Luke xi. 21.


thought, that thofe, who by Apoftolical cenfures were "delivered unto Satan," fuffered in the fame way; and that the evil fpirit, as the executioner of divine juftice, inflicted upon them certain difeafes, or excruciating pains. But, be that as it may, fuch is his malice, that, if he were left without restraint to gratify his own mifchievous difpofition, we fhould no longer experience a moment's eafe, or enjoy our faculties either of body or mind: the earth would be a refemblance of hell. O how great are our obliga. tions to our Almighty preferver great are our obliga.

It becomes us, in an especial manner, to adore the God of all grace, who propofes in the Gospel conplete and final deliverance from our infernal adverfary. The Lord Jefus Chrift has lifted up a ftandard against him, and undertakes for all believers to defeat his purposes. He has interpofed to ransom them by the might of his Spirit, and at the expenfe of his own precious blood. The merciful design was revealed to our firft parents, immediately after their revolt, when it was declared, that the Seed of the woman fhould bruife the ferpent's head +. Satan is unwilling to renounce the dominion, which he has ufurped, and with violence oppofes the intentions of the Redeemer. There are, therefore, two contending parties: a fharp conflict has been maintained from the beginning; and it is not poffible, that any reconciliation between them should be effected. This circumftance exhibits another feature in the character of the fiend: he refifts the Saviour, and labours with the utmoft vigour to prevent or obftruct the influence of his grace. O let us be afraid of bearing any the most diftant refemblance to fuch a horrid difpofition!

During our Lord's abode on earth, he endured extreme diftrefs from the violent affaults of this antagonift. Forty days he was haraffed by his temptations

1 Cor. v. 5. 1 Tim. i, 20.

† Gen. iii. 15.

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