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he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteous. ness, and of judgment.” “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." The devil has always been roaming through this world, and as the prince of the power of the air, produced winds, and storms, and other natural evils, to aflict mankind and carry on his malignant opposition to Christ and the interests of his kingdom. He has already spread misery and destruction far and wide ; and he means, if possible, 10 ruin the human race. Nor does he act alone, but causes all his subjects to coöperate in all his malevolent purposes. Were all these apostale spirits only visible, they would appear more terrible than so many ravening wolves. For,
5. The scripture represents the devil, and consequently his subjects, as perfectly malevolent. This is the character given of him in the text. “ Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” He is called an evil spirit, a soul spirit, an unclean spirit, a liar, a murderer, a tormentor, a destroyer. Yea, he is represented as the perfection of malignity. When Christ would describe sinners in the blackest colors, he compares them with this impure spirit. “ Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." And when the apostle would represent the bitterest passions of hurnan nature in the most odious light, he calls them “earthly, sensual, devilish.” God's conduct towards Satan, and towards all other beings, has imbittered his mind, and filled his selfish heart with the highest degree of envy, malice and revenge.
6. The scripture represents this enemy of all righteousness, as having access to the minds of men, and as possessing a power of tempting their hearts and leading them into all inanner of moral evil. We are told that he tempted our first parents to eat of the forbidden fruit; that he led ihe posterity of Noah to forget and forsake God; that he provoked David to number Israel ; that he seduced many of the people of God into idolatry; that he tempted Christ in the wilderness; that he put it into the heart of Judas to betray him; that he filled the heart of Ananias to lie unto the Holy Ghost. He is called “the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience.” He is said "to blind the minds of them that believe not." And it is predicted that he shall, in time to come, “ go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth.” Hence God repeatedly and solemnly warns men to guard themselves against his wiles and temptations. Timothy is divinely directed to instruct such as oppose the gospel, “ that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." Paul exhorts himself and his christian brethren to exercise mutual forgiveness : “ Lest,” says he,“ Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” To the Ephesians he says, “ Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “ Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." The apostle James also warns christians against the assaults of Satan. “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will fee from you.” The duty and importance of such caution and resistance, ihe apostle Peter solemnly urges in the text. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." All these warnings and admonitions necessarily suppose that the devil has access to the minds of men, and continually employs all his power and subtilty to seduce and destroy them. I proceed to show,
II. That we ought to believe this account of the devil. It is a just and scriptural account. Nothing fabulous or fictitious has been mentioned. It appears from the whole current of scripture that the devil was originally an angel of light; that he retains his angelic nature and high rank among the apostate spirits; and that he is invisibly present in this world, where he has access to the minds of men, and employs every artifice to destroy them. That this scriptural account of the devil is worthy of belief, will appear from the following considerations :
1. It is God's account, whose knowledge and veracity are unquestionable. He was as able to give us the history of the devil, as the history of Adam, or Noah, or Abraham, or any other person whom he has recorded in his word. He knew Satan from the beginning of his existence, and was able to give a true account of his primitive state, of his first apostacy, and of his conduct towards Adam and all his posterity to the end of time. He has not, indeed, revealed all that he might have revealed concerning this first apostate; but what he has revealed must be infallibly true, and demands universal belief.
2. There is the same ground to believe the scriptural account of the devil, as there is to believe the scriptural account of the angels who kept their first estate. His history and theirs come from the same author, and are extremely similar. Are they represented as spirits ? so is he. Are they represented as superior to men ? so is he. Are they represented as invisible ? so is he. Are they represented as having intercourse with this
world ? so is he. Are they represented as promoting the cause of Christ? he is represented as opposing it. But here it is worthy of remark, that God has given a more full and particular history of the devil and his angels, than he has of the principalities and powers above. In some respects, therefore, his bistory is worthy of more attention and regard than theirs. But many profess to believe their existence and agency, who doubt the existence and agency of Satan. This is highly absurd. If we ought to believe what God says concerning the angels of light, we ought, by no means, to call in question what he says concerning our adversary the devil.
3. The history of this destroyer is altogether credible, because it is completely interwoven with the history of the Saviour. The first account of the devil stands immediately connected with the first account of Christ. The sacred historian first relates the agency of the devil in the seduction and ruin of man, and then introduces the Mediator, who should destroy the works of the devil by restoring man to the divine favor. At the same time, it is foretold that there should be a constant contest between Satan and Christ, until the latter should finish the work of redemption. And according to the history of the devil, he has been continually opposing Christ and his cause in the world ; and he will persist in his opposition until the work of redemption is completed, and the final sentence is passed upon the impenitent at the last day : “ Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Thus the bistory of the devil is interwoven with the scriptural account of all the most important events which have taken place from the beginning of time, and which shall take place till time is no more. Indeed his history is inseparably connected with the whole history of the Bible, and cannot be rejected without destroying the credibility of all sacred history. If we must believe any thing recorded in the Bible, we certainly must believe the history of the devil, which stands upon the broad foundation of divine revelation in general; especially if we consider once more,
4. That there is nothing absurd in the scriptural account of the devil. We can form clear and distinct ideas of such a being as the devil is represented to be. We can conceive of God as an invisible spirit; we can conceive of angels as invisible spirits; and we can conceive of our own souls as invisible spirits. We can therefore as easily conceive of the spirituality and invisibility of Satan. Nor is it less easy to conceive of his perfect malignity. This is the very disposition of our world which lies in wickedness. But it is often said that there is something absurd and incredible in the account of the devil's
tempting mankind to sin. This part of his history, however, corroborates and establishes the whole. Why should the devil be once mentioned in the Bible, if he were only an idle spectator of human affairs? Or why should so many warnings and admonitions be given to mankind to avoid and resist his influence, if he had no power to lead them into temptation ? But if, on the other hand, he is their grand adversary, who is continually seeking to seduce and destroy them, then there is a great propriety in their being so repeatedly and solemnly cautioned to resist his dangerous assaults.
But to come more directly to the point, I would observe that we often experience something as difficult to explain as the temptations of Satan. While our external senses are completely locked up in a dream, we can see persons, and converse with them, and distinguish their features and dress. This is something more than barely thinking of such persons at a distance while we are awake, and something extremely hard to account for. It is perhaps quite as easy to conceive how Satan should suggest thoughts to our minds without the aid of our external senses while we are awake, as to conceive how any agent should be able to make us see, and hear, and converse in our sleep. Whoever can give a clear, and rational account of dreaming, we doubt not can give as, clear and rational an account of the power of Satan to suggest temptations to the human mind. But however mysterious it may be that Satan should have access to our minds, yet it seems to be confirmed by daily experience. Why is the chain of our thoughts so often and so suddenly broken? Why do new, unconnected, and unexpected thoughts so frequently rush into our minds ? Why do thoughts which the mind abhors, and endeavors to banish for ever, so repeatedly and repeatedly recur? These things favor the account which the scripture gives of Satan's tempting power over us. And they afford all the evidence of it that we could expect to have from actual experience. We cannot suppose that the operations of an invisible agent should be sensibly perceived, but only the effects of his operations; and these are, perhaps, very generally and sensibly perceived. But whether we perceive the effects of Satan's agency upon our minds or not, or whether we can account for his producing such effects or not, there is nothing absurd or contrary to reason and experience, in the plain account which God has given us of his seducing influence. God is perfectly acquainted with all the powers of our malicious adversary, and all the avenues to our minds. If Satan can suggest thoughts to us, or paint objects on our imagination, God knows it; and we must believe that he never would have warned us to resist the devil, if he had no power to tempt us to evil. In a word, we have no reason to doubt, but every reason to believe, the account which God has given us of the existence, character, and conduct of Satan, who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1. What has been said in this discourse, may serve to expose some false notions which have been entertained and advanced, concerning the origin and operations of the devil. Some have supposed that he is not a created, but an uncreated and self existent spirit, who has always been opposing the designs and operations of the Creator and Governor of the world. They cannot account for the numerous natural and moral evils which so generally prevail, without the supposition of an eternal malevolent being, who is the first author of all the sin and misery in the universe. And they refer to several passages of scripture in support of this opinion. It is true, we read in the eighth of John, “He was a murderer from the beginning." And in the first epistle of the same apostle, “ He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” Again we are told that the devil is the god of this world, and that he sowed tares among the wheat, by which are meant wicked men. But none of these texts necessarily imply that the devil has an underived existence, or omnipotent power. His being a murderer, and sinning from the begin. ning, irnplies nothing more than his being the first sinner and the first tempter to sin. And his sowing tares among the wheat is to be understood figuratively, as denoting his agency in tempting men to wickedness in general, and to a false profession of religion in particular. This appears to be the true construction of the passages of scripture under consideration; and according to this construction, they serve to illustrate and confirm the scriptural account of the devil which has been given in this discourse.
Some who acknowledge the existence of Satan, seem to think he has little or no concern in leading men into moral evil. They say the native corruption of the human heart will account for all, or nearly all the sins which are committed, without any temptations of the devil. But it ought to be considered that a general propensity to sin will not lead any person to any particular sin, without a particular motive or temptation to that particular sin. There must always be some objective motive presented to the view of the mind, in order to excite or draw forth the native depravity of the heart. The