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spoke, is not discovered to us in the Scripture. Some are of opinion, that even those angels appeared in the shape of men, and clothed as men; as the angel that met Balaam with a flaming sword in his hand; the angels which Jacob saw ascending and descending on the ladder; the angels that spoke to Zacharias in the temple, to the Virgin Mary in the chamber, and that sat in the sepulchre after Christ was risen, and asked the disciples, why seek ye the living among the dead? and so in several cases : All that can be answered is, that the text called them angels, and so far we are not to doubt it; but I must also allow, that they seem to me to have been in the figure of men; as for those in the sepulchre, St. Luke says expressly, they saw two men in shining garments, Luke xxiv. 4. and in the same chapter, ver. 23. it is said they had seen a vision of angels.
Thus far it relates to good angels, such as have been seen on earth in apparition, but have made such an appearance by virtue of the superior mission, as the angel Gabriel, who tells Zacharias, I am sent to speak unto thee.
That these have upon many occasions been seen in human shape is evident; and though much more time might be spent upon the proof, I think it is needless ; indeed the evidence is sufficient.
There is a question still remaining, relating to this part, viz., How comes it to pass that all this is ceased, and that the angels have done coming, or are no more sent of such errands ? but that all the angels we have any account of in these days, are of a worse kind, and generally come upon worse errands ? and which particular observation is the very reason of our doubts, whether the appearance of the other is real or not.
This question might be answered many ways, but it is too grave for the times; and as we are not writing divinity, I shall not load you with serious points: the short account of it is this : We have now a more sure word of prophesy; that is, that since the preaching of the Gospel, and the revelation of God by a written word, there is no more need of what the text calls a ministration of angels. The Scripture is a daily revelation, and the Spirit of God, who is promised to lead us, is a daily inspiration, there is no more need of vision and apparition; and this is that glorious difference between the revelations of those days, and these of ours, and the reason of the difference between the apparitions of these times and of those.
When I am speaking things serious, I am to speak very short, that I may not shock your reading; the taste of the times happening at this juncture to lie another way: but my next article perhaps may make you amends, I mean the appearance of the grand archangel of all, and, as I suppose, the only archangel out of heaven, namely, the Devil.
Of the appearance of the Devil in human shape. PRAY observe, when I am speaking of the appearance of the Devil, it is not to tell you that he can and does appear among us at this time ; so you need not look over your shoulders to see for him, or at the candles, to see if they burn blue, at least not yet; it is time enough for that by and by.
But I am examining now the matter of fact only, as, 1. Whether the Devil can appear here, yea or no; whether he is allowed to come, that his chain reaches so far, and that his tether is long enough? also, 2. Whether he is ever sent or directed to come, or that he comes of his own accord, and about his own business? And as all these will lead me to inquire what has been, from whence we may best judge what is, or may be.
That he has upon special occasions appeared in former times is certain, as well from Scripture as ancient history, and a small retrospect will satisfy you in that point. If it appears that he has been here, then it is very probable his chain is long enough, and that he is allowed the liberty to come so far from home. For we have no authority to say, or to believe, that his tether is shortened, or that he is more restrained now than ever he was before.
His entering the garden of God in the beginning of time, and the havoc he made there, the turning Adam and Eve out, and even turning the whole frame of nature upside down by his vile doings there; all this I have mentioned: but we have more yet to say of him ; for he is still in being, and still the same malicious Devil, the same destroyer and accuser, that ever he was; the flame of fire set to guard the garden, did not burn him; the deluge did not drown him; nor has justice thought fit yet to take him into its iron hands, though it will certainly do it at last; and, as the Scripture says in another case, his damnation slumbereth not; for justice is truly represented,
With leaden feet and iron hands, to show,
It will be certain, though it may be slow, The first time we meet with the Devil's personal appearance upon earth, I mean after the flood, is in the story of Job; nor by all the calculations of times, which the learned chronologers of those days have made, could that be long after it; for Eliphaz the Temanite could not be further off than the grandson of Esau, or thereabouts ; Gen. xxxvi. 11.
In Job's time, the text says that the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. So that it seems the angel of light was dressed up like the sons of God, even in those ancient days; and it is not likely that this was the first time neither : again, it seems by the text, that though God himself might know Satan in that disguise, yet the people, among whom he came, did not know him.
The answer likewise which he makes to the question, implies strongly, that Satan had been wont to walk among those sons of God in disguise long before that ; for when God says to him, Whence comest thou? his answer seems to be a kind of general, I come from following my known business, my old trade; dost thou know I am a roaring lion, and dost thou ask me whence I come? Why, I come from seeking who I may devour, ranging the world, going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in this disguise, as thou now seest me, that I
do all the mischief I can. God's return again to Satan confirms it, as if the Lord had said, Well, Satan, then thou must have seen my servant Job ? Hast thou considered him, that there is none like him in the earth ?
The Devil makes an answer that implies he knew Job very well. Do I know him to be a good man! yes : but then I know him to be a rich man too: it is an easy thing for a man to be honest, that is so rich; he can have no room for asking more: what should he steal for, or be a knave for, that is the richest man in the world ? what should he covet, that has no room for desire? But if thou hast a mind to try his honesty, and his piety, his fear of thee, and his hatred of evil, blast his wealth, and take his prodigious flocks and herds of cattle away ; level him, bring him to be like other men in riches, and reduce him to beggary, and then see if he won't be like other men in crime; nay, he'll be raging and furious, and curse thee to thy face.
This, though it may seem remote, is to my purpose thus: it shows that the Devil was no stranger among the people. He had walked up and down in disguise, so as to know them all, and their circumstances ; he had been dressed up like one of the rest, in human shape, so that he could not be known from the very best of men, no, not from the sons of God.
Some are of opinion, by the sons of God there, is meant the patriarchal heads of families, who had, in right of primogeniture, the priesthood in course, and were the only sacrificers at that time, as Abraham and as Job were ; so that in short, Satan has long ago dressed himself in the habit of the clergy. Bless us all! we hope he does not do so still ; for if the Devil should put on the gown and cassock, or the black cloak, or the coat and the cord, and be