« AnteriorContinua »
iii, 12. Is any man ignorant of the gospel which has been preached to him?—" the god of this world hath blinded his mind,” 2 Cor. iv, 4. Does any man live in the commission of sin ?" he is of the devil,” 1 John iii, 8. “Ye are of your father, the devil, (said our Lord to his wicked countrymen,) and the lust of your father ye will do,” John viii, 44.
To conclude this part of the argument: the Scriptures speak of the judgment, the condemnation, and the punish. ment of the devil,
1. Of the judgment of the devil. “Know ye not,” says St. Paul, “ that we shall judge angels?” By angels, we here understand fallen angels : for the holy angels will be ministers in the judgment of men. 66 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him,” Matt. xxv, 31. “ The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire,” Matt. xiii, 41, 42. Now the apostle's argument would lose all its weight, unless he meant to distinguish between fallen men and fallen angels.
2. Of the condemnation and punishment of the devil. When our Lord alludes to the final punishment of wicked
he says, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matt. xxv, 41. Thus has he marked the antecedent sin of the devil and his angels, and the punishment prepared for them, as distinguished from the wicked men who are doomed to share it with them.
Thus we find that there is a wicked devil, the tempter of mankind, who is distinguished from men on the one hand, and from mere abstract principles on the other. We must now proceed to answer Mr. G.'s incidental ob. jections.
1. When it is so plain a fact that there is an infernal devil, and spiritual Satan, it can answer no purpose for Mr. G. to quote a hundred texts of Scripture to prove that men or women are sometimes called devils, (i. e., calumniators,) or satans, (i. e., adversaries.) The exist. ence of ten thousand human devils, and earthly satans, brings no evidence that there is no chief of demons, no spiritual devil or hellish Satan.
II. It will not answer Mr. G.'s purpose to show that “ nearly every office which is usually ascribed to the de. vil, is in some part of the Scriptures ascribed either to God or to angels." (Vol. i, p. 108.) This assertion, as far as it relates to angels, he has not attempted to prove, and therefore that part of it goes for nothing. If he mean to impute the same things to God, in the same sense as to the devil, then, 1. He must exculpate Judas, who betray. ed, and the chief priests, who crucified, our Lord; " for being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, they by wicked hands crucified and slew him," Acts ii, 23. 2. He makes God the author of sin. Nothing can be more obvious than this; for if what is wickedness in Satan be ascribed, in the same sense, to God, it is wickedness still. Nor is this the only argument by which Mr. G., in support of his system, certainly with no other design, makes God the author of all sin, and lays on him the blame of all the mischief in the universe. the Almighty," says he, “can retain this infernal being in fetters whenever he pleases, and suffer him to roam at large only when he wills,--this permission of the Almighty is the same as if it were his own act and deed. mit what you can prevent is the same as to perform. Now cannot God equally prevent all the wickedness of mankind? But does he prevent it? No. In the sense of Mr. G. he permits it: that is, though he forbids it, he does not not absolutely prevent it. Is, then, all the sin of mankind to be charged on the Almighty, as his own act and deed? 3. He rather proves, than disproves, the ex. istence of the devil; for if the works which are attributed to God are in the same sense attributed to the devil, the latter must have a real existence as well as the former. If, on the other hand, he impute similar works to the best and to the worst of beings, but not to each in the same sense, his argument proves only that two beings, with different designs, and therefore both intelligent, are employed among mankind.
But to prevent the mischief which his observation may in another way effect, it will be necessay to show, 1. That Satan tempts men, by soliciting them to sin; but that God, in this sense, “ tempteth no man.”
.God tempts them as he tempted Abraham, by putting their faith to a
For to per
severe trial, that “ the trial of their faith might be found unto praise and honour and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 2. Bodily disorders may have been in. flicted on men by the devil, as in the case of Job, with intent that those men may curse God and die.” But God inflicts them often as a salutary chastisement ; that, like Job, those men may bless God and live. 3. The wick. ed dispositions and conduct of men are imputed to the devil, because he delights in wickedness; but God is said to har. den their hearts; that is, to give them up to judicial hard. ness, because their wickedness is incorrigible. 4. God is said to send on some “ a strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned,” and thus, not “to promote the deceit of Satan," but to give up to him as incurable those “ who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
For what purpose any man, calling himself a Christian minister, could make such a comparison between God and the devil, without any explanation, is left to the Searcher of hearts to determine. It could not possibly serve his hypothesis ; while it tends to undermine the credit of divine revelation. Thus do some men “sport themselves with their own deceivings."
III. Mankind have undoubtedly other sources of temptation. “ Our animal passions and bodily appetites expose us to innumerable temptations.” (Vol. i, p. 71.) But Mr. Gi's appeal to the mercy or to the justice of God is by no means a proof that these are the only means of our proba. tion. In the present case such an appeal is, in fact, only an appeal from sacred Scripture to the passions of mankind. If Mr. G. grant that, in the dispensations of divine Pro. vidence, we meet with many trials, and that, unless it be our own fault, those trials are salutary, he will find it difficult to prove that temptations from Satan may not be in general equally beneficial. The effects which the Scriptures attribute to diabolical agency he attributes to other causes. What then has he gained ? If the effects, viz., the number and weight of our trials, be the same, what difference will it make in our views of either the justice or the mercy of God that the causes are many or few, that they are great or diminutive? Where is the injustice of calling a moral agent to a combat, in which he
may be “ more than conqueror ?" And where is the unmercifulness of calling him to endure temptations, in the conquest of which he is supereminently “ blessed," and after which he shall “ receive the crown of life ?”
IV. There is as much danger from the breech as from the mouth of Mr. G.'s cannon: its recoil is as destructive as its shot. He has just been complaining of the injustice and cruelty of the divine dispensations in exposing us to the temptations of the devil; and yet, if you do not grant omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence to the devil, Satan falls beneath his contempt. Then “ all his superhuman powers are futile. A malicious human agent would answer every purpose. (Vol. i, p. 21.) This argument may serve for an answer to the preceding. They destroy each other. In the meantime, Mr. G. and his readers are requested once more to consider, whether, with finite creatures, every thing be matter of indiffer. ence which is not absolutely infinite.
Should the impossibility of a finite being tempting many persons, in different places, at one time, leave an apparent difficulty on this subject; it must be noticed, 1. That the devil has many demons under his direction. 2. That we do not precisely know what relation a spirit has to place. 3. That though the power of Satan is not infinite, it may be very great. 4. That we are not sure that evil spirits may not produce effects which often remain when those spirits are no longer immediately present. We know that a moral principle, once imbibed, often produces effects for a long period after the departure of the person from whom it has been imbibed.
V. Mr. G. thinks, however, that the doctrine of the existence of the devil cannot be “ a fundamental article in the Christian religion.” (Vol. i, p. 96.) What is meant by “ a fundamental article” has not yet been agreed. It is enough that this doctrine enters so far into the essence of Christianity, that all who deny the existence of the devil must (as they actually do) deny all the peculiar and prominent doctrines of the New Testament. No man is properly acquainted with the condition of human nature until he know that “the whole world lieth in (tw trovnpw) the wicked one,” 1 John v, 19. Only the existence, operations, and success of the devil, can properly account
for the incarnation and death of the Son of God, who came to bruise the serpent's head. “ For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil,” i John iii, 8. “ When the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Heb. ii, 14. We cannot pray as we ought, unless we make it one of our petitions, “ Deliver us from (tov rovnpou) the wicked, or evil one,” Matt. vi, 13. The preachers of the gos. pel do not execute their commission unless they turn men “ from the power of Satan to God,” Acts xxvi, 18. The encouraging promise of the gospel is, that “ the God of peace shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly,” Rom.. xvi, 20. And it is the glory of a Christian to “have overcome (Tov Tovnpov) the wicked one,” 1 John ii, 14.
VI. “ What! does virtue depend upon the belief of a devil ?" (Vol. i, p. 101.) Not Socinian virtue; but Chris. tian virtue depends much upon
it. Christian virtue in. cludes the duties of “ believing" the truths and warnings. of God; of “watchfulness and prayer, that we enter not into temptation;" of "resisting the devil, that he may flee from us ;” and of “overcoming the wicked one.” Be. cause of the wiles of the devil ; because we are opposed, not merely by “flesh and blood,” but also by “principalities and powers, and by the rulers of the darkness of this world, by spiritual wickedness in high places.” Christian virtue consists much in being “strong in the Lord and in the
power of his might,” in “ withstanding in the evil day," in having our loins girt about with truth, in having on the breastplate of righteousness, in having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, in taking the shield of faith, wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts (Tov Tovupov) of the wicked one, in taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God; and in praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, Eph. vi, 10–18.
VII. Nor does this doctrine, which teaches many Christian duties unknown to those who deny it, take off from man his responsibility. We, as well as Mr. G.