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exactly resembling those which naturally arise in our own minds. Sometimes, indeed, we may distinguish one from the other by this circumstance: the thoughts which naturally arise in our minds, are generally, if not always, occasioned by, or at least connected with, some inward or outward circumstance that went before. But those that are preternaturally suggested, have frequently no relation to, or connection (at least none that we are able to discern) with any thing which preceded. On the contrary, they shoot in, as it were, across; and thereby show that they are of a different growth.
8. He likewise labours to awaken evil passions or tempers in our souls. He endeavours to inspire those passions and tempers, which are directly opposite to the "fruit of the Spirit." He strives to instil unbelief, atheism, il will, bitterness, hatred, malice, envy; opposite to faith and love fear, sorrow, anxiety, worldly care; opposite to peace and joy: impatience, ill nature, anger, resentment; opposite to long suffering, gentleness, meekness: fraud, guile, dissimulation; contrary to fidelity: love of the world, inordinate affection, foolish desires; opposite to the love of God. One sort of evil desires he may probably raise or inflame, by touching the springs of this animal machine. Endeavouring thus, by means of the body, to disturb or sully the soul.
9. And, in general, we may observe, that as no good is done, or spoken, or thought, by any man, without the assistance of God, working together in and with those that believe in him; so there is no evil done, or spoke, or thought, without the assistance of the devil, "who worketh with energy," with strong, though secret power, "in the children of disobedience." Thus he "entered into Judas," and confirmed him in the design of betraying his Master; thus he "put into the heart" of Ananias and Sapphira, "to lie unto the Holy Ghost;" and, in like manner, he has a share in all the actions, and words, and designs of evil men. As the children of God are "workers together with God," in every good thought, or word, or action; so the children of the devil are workers together with him, in every evil thought, or word, or work. So that, as all good tempers, and, remotely, all good words and actions, are the fruit of the good Spirit; in like manner, all evil tempers, with all the words and works which spring from them, are the fruit of the evil spirit: insomuch that all the "works of the flesh," of our evil nature, are likewise the "work of the devil."
10. On this account, because he is continually inciting men to evil, he is emphatically called, "the tempter." Nor is it only with regard to his own children, that he is thus employed: he is continually tempting the children of God also, and those that are labouring so to be.
"A constant watch he keeps ;
He eyes them night and day;
Indeed the holiest of men, as long as they remain upon earth, are not exempt from his temptations. They cannot expect it; seeing "it is enough for the disciple to be as his Master:" and we know he was tempted to evil, till he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
11. For such is the malice of the wicked one, that he will torment whom he cannot destroy. If he cannot entice men to sin, he will, so
far as he is permitted, put them to pain. There is no doubt but he is the occasion, directly or indirectly, of many of the pains of mankind, which those who can no otherwise account for them, lightly pass over And innumerable accidents, as they are called, are, undoubtedly, owing to his agency: such as the unaccountable fright or falling of horses; the overturning of carriages; the breaking or dislocating of bones; the hurt done by the falling or burning of houses; by storms of wind, snow, rain, or hail; by lightning or earthquakes. But to all these, and a thousand more, this subtle spirit can give the appearance of accidents; for fear the sufferers, if they knew the real agents, should call for help on one that is stronger than him.
12. There is little reason to doubt, but many diseases likewise, both of the acute and chronical kind, are either occasioned or increased by diabolical agency: particularly those that begin in an instant, without any discernible cause, as well as those that continue, and perhaps gradually increase in spite of all the power of medicine. Here, indeed, "vain men" that "would be wise," again call in the nerves to their assistance. But is not this explaining ignotum per ignotius? A thing unknown by what is more unknown? For what do we know of the nerves themselves? Not even whether they are solid or hollow!
13. Many years ago, I was asking an experienced physician, and one particularly eminent for curing lunacy; "Sir, have you not seen reason to believe, that some lunatics are really demoniacs ?" He answered, "Sir, I have been often inclined to think, that most lunatics are demoniacs. Nor is there any weight in that objection, that they are frequently cured by medicine: for so might any other disease, occasioned by an evil spirit, if God did not suffer him to repeat the stroke, by which that disease is occasioned."
14. This thought opens to a wider scene. Who can tell how many of those diseases, which we impute altogether to natural causes, may be really preternatural? What disorder is there in the human frame which an evil angel may not inflict? Cannot he smite us as he did Job, and that in a moment, with boils from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot? Cannot he, with equal ease, inflict any other, either external or internal malady? Could not he, in a moment, by divine permission, cast the strongest man down to the ground, and make him "wallow, foaming," with all the symptoms either of an epilepsy, or apoplexy? In like manner, it is easy for him to smite any one man, or every one in a city or nation, with a malignant fever, or with the plague itself, so that vain would be the help of man.
15. But that malice blinds the eyes of the wise, one would imagine so intelligent a being would not stoop so low, as it seems the devil sometimes does, to torment the poor children of men! For to him we may reasonably impute many little inconveniences which we suffer. "I believe (said that excellent man, the Marquis de Renty, when the bench on which he sat snapped in sunder without any visible cause) that Satan had a hand in it; making me to fall untowardly.' I know not whether he may not have a hand in that unaccountable horror, with which many have been seized in the dead of night, even to such a degree, that all their bones have shock. Perhaps he has a hand also in those terrifying dreams which many have, even while they are in perfect health.
It may be observed, in all these instances, we usually say, "the devil;" as if there was one only; because these spirits, innumerable as they are, do all act in concert; and because we know not, whether one or more are concerned in this or that work of darkness.
It remains only to draw a few plain inferences from the doctrine which has been delivered.
1. And first, as a general preservative against all the rage, the power, and subtlety, of your great adversary, put on the panoply, "the whole armour of God;" universal holiness. See that "the mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus ;" and that ye "walk as Christ also walked ;" that ye have a "conscience void of offence, towards God and towards men. So shall ye be "able to withstand" all the force and all the stratagems of the enemy: so shall ye be able to "withstand in the evil day," in the day of sore temptation; and " having done all, to stand;" to remain in the posture of victory and triumph.
2. To his "fiery darts,"-his evil suggestions of every kind, blasphemous or unclean, though numberless as the stars of heaven, oppose "the shield of faith." A consciousness of the love of Christ Jesus will effectually quench them all.
"Jesus hath died for you!
What can your faith withstand?
Believe, hold fast your shield! and who
Shall pluck you from his hand ?"
3. If he inject doubts, whether you are a child of God; or fears, lest you should not endure to the end; "take to you for a helmet the hope of salvation." Hold fast that glad word, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a living hope of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." You will never be overthrown, you will never be staggered by your adversary, if you "hold fast the beginning of [this] confidence steadfast unto the end."
4. Whenever the "roaring lion, walking about and seeking whom he may devour" assaults you with all his malice, and rage, and strength; "resist [him] steadfast in the faith." Then is the time, having cried to the strong for strength, to "stir up the gift of God that is in you;" to summon all your faith, and hope, and love; to turn the attack in the name of the Lord, and in the power of his might; and "he will [soon] flee from you.'
5. But "there is no temptation," says one," greater than the being without temptation." When, therefore, this is the case; when Satan seems to be withdrawn; then beware, lest he hurt you more as a crooked serpent, than he could do as a roaring lion. Then take care you are not lulled into a pleasing slumber; lest he should beguile you as he did Eve, even in innocence; and insensibly draw you from your simplicity towards Christ; from seeking all your happiness in him.
6. Lastly, if he "transform himself into an angel of light," then are you in the greatest danger of all. Then have you need to beware, lest you also fall, where many mightier have been slain; then have you the greatest need to "watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.' And if you continue so to do, the God whom you love and serve will deliver you. "The anointing of the Holy One shall abide with you, and teach you of all things." Your eye will pierce through snares;
you shall "know what that holy and acceptable and perfect will of God is," and shall hold on your way, till you "grow up in all things into him that is our head, even Christ Jesus."
SERMON LXXVIII.-Of Hell.
"Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” Mark ix, 48.
1. EVERY truth which is revealed in the oracles of God, is undoubtelly of great importance. Yet it may be allowed, that some of those which are revealed therein, are of greater importance than others; as being more immediately conducive to the grand end of all, the eternal salvation of men. And we may judge of their importance, even from this circumstance: that they are not mentioned once only in the sacred writings, but are repeated over and over. A remarkable instance of this we have, with regard to the awful truth which is now before us. Our blessed Lord, who uses no superfluous words, who makes no "vain repetitions," repeats it over and over in the same chapter, and, as it were, in the same breath. So, verses 43, 44, "If thy hand offend thee;" if a thing or person as useful as a hand, be an occasion of sin, and there is no other way to shun that sin; 'cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.' So again, verses 45, 46,"If thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." And yet again, verses 47, 48, "If thine eye;” a person or thing as dear as thine eye; "offend thee;" hinder thy running the race which is set before thee; "pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
2. And let it not be thought, that the consideration of these terrible truths is proper only for enormous sinners. How is this supposition consistent with what our Lord speaks to those who were then, doubtless, the holiest men upon earth? When innumerable multitudes were gathered together, he said to his disciples, [the apostles,]"First of all, I say unto you, my friends, fear not them that can kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I say unto you, Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him!" Luke xii, 1-5. Yea, fear him under this very notion, of having power to cast into hell: that is, in effect, fear, lest he should cast you into the place of torment. And this very fear, even in the children of God, is one excellent means of preserving them from it. 3. It behoves, therefore, not only the outcasts of men, but even you, his friends; you that fear and love God; deeply to consider what is revealed in the oracles of God concerning the future state of punishment. How widely distant is this from the most elaborate accounts which are given by the heathen authors! Their accounts are (in many particulars at least) childish, fanciful, and self inconsistent. So that
it is no wonder they did not believe themselves, but only related the tales of the vulgar. So Virgil strongly intimates, when, after the laboured account he had given of the shades beneath, he sends him that had related it out at the ivory gate, through which (as he tells us) only dreams pass: thereby giving us to know, that all the preceding account is no more than a dream. This he only insinuates; but his brother poet, Juvenal, speaks out flat and plain:
Esse aliquos manes, et subterranea regna,
Nec pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum ære lavantur. "Even our children do not believe a word of the tales concerning another world."
4. Here, on the contrary, all is worthy of God, the Creator, the Governor of mankind: All is awful and solemn; suitable to his wisdom, and justice, by whom "Tophet was ordained of old:" although originally prepared, not for the children of men, but "for the devil and his angels."
The punishment of those who, in spite of all the warnings of God, resolve to have their portion with the devil and his angels, will, according to the ancient, and not improper division, be either, pœna damni, what they lose; or pæna sensus, what they feel. After considering these separately, I shall touch on a few additional circumstances, and conclude with two or three inferences.
I. 1. And, first, let us consider, the pœna damni; the punishment of loss. This commences in that very moment, wherein the soul is separated from the body; in that instant, the soul loses all those pleasures, the enjoyment of which depends on the outward senses. The smell, the taste, the touch, delight no more: the organs that ministered to them are spoiled, and the objects that used to gratify them, are removed far away. In the dreary regions of the dead, all these things are forgotten; or, if remembered, are only remembered with pain; seeing they are gone for ever. All the pleasures of the imagination are at an end. There is no grandeur in the infernal regions; there is nothing beautiful in those dark abodes; no light but that of livid flames. And nothing new, but one unvaried scene of horror upon horror! There is no music but that of groans and shrieks; of weeping wailing, and gnashing of teeth; of curses and blasphemies against God, or cutting reproaches of one another. Nor is there any thing to gratify the sense of honour: no; they are the heirs of shame and everlasting contempt.
2. Thus are they totally separated from all the things they were fond of in the present world. At the same instant will commence another loss; that of alb the persons whom they loved. They are torn away from their nearest and dearest relations; their wives, husbands, parents, children; and (what to some will be worse than all this) the friend which was as their own soul. All the pleasure they ever enjoyed in these, is lost, gone, vanished away: for there is no friendship in hell. Even the poet who affirms, (though I know not on what authority,)
"Devil with devil damn'd Firm concord holds ;"
does not affirm that there is any concord among the human fiends, that inhabit the great abyss.