« PreviousContinue »
that exhibits in a most cheering light the ever-watchful care of the Most High over his poor children. "There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. x. 13. Paul was not exempt from these fiery trials: we find him continually alluding to them in his epistles, and not unfrequently naming the source whence he knew that all proceeded. In authorizing the Corinthian Church to forgive and comfort the offending, but now penitent brother, who had, by his command, been delivered over for a time to Satan for needful correction, he assigns as a reason for thus again receiving him, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Cor. ii. 11. And in the view of dangers to which those devices constantly exposed them, he afterwards says, “I fear lest, by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ: " then he goes on to explain that it is by means of evil teachers the enemy is most likely to assail their faith, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ: and no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness." 2 Cor. xi. 3, 13-15.
Then, being constrained by the injustice done to his character by these lying preachers, the Apostle draws a picture of his sufferings, and the revelations vouchsafed to him; ending with the chastening dispensation, the "thorn in the flesh," with which Satan was permitted to afflict him permanently. The whole epistle to the Galatians, as it turns on the subject, of mischief wrought by these "false apostles," is an exposure of Satan's wiles, and a testimony of the grief and anxiety wherewith he perpetually disturbed the zealous Paul. In the beautiful epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle enforces all the doctrinal and practical instruction of the first five chapters, by that emphatic exhortation which cannot be too often recited. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might: put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (or wicked spirits) in high (or heavenly) places." Eph. vi. 10-12. He had comforted the Romans with the assurance that "neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers,”—and none but evil ones could attempt it,—“ should be able to separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus ;" Rom. viii. 38, 39. thus always bearing in mind the limit of satanic power. To the Colossians he speaks with joy of having been delivered "from the power of
darkness," Col. i. 13. and with holy exultation of the work of Christ, in that "having spoiled principalities, and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it;" (ii. 15.) and warns them of the devices that may be practised to beguile them into the worshipping of angels, and other unchristian practices. He tells the Thessalonians, "We would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again, but Satan hindered us; (1 Thess. ii. 18.) thus proving that even in designing a journey, the enemy met and thwarted him and in the second epistle he sets forth, chap. ii., the particulars of that fearful apostacy from the faith which has been well described as 'Satan's masterpiece,' the rise, progress, and final destruction of the Papal Antichrist. The same apostacy is again foretold to Timothy. 1 Tim. iv. 1-3. The Apostle also laments that Satan has already drawn some women aside after him, through idleness and tattling, chap. v. 13, 15, and urges Timothy to seek the recovery of such as still remained in the snare of the devil, (2 Tim. ii. 25, 26.) and after recapitulating the evil wrought against him by those whom the enemy had stirred up, among professed followers, he concludes with a triumphant assurance of his approaching final victory and rest. The more we refer to those early days of the Christian dispensation, the better shall we be armed against what now is, and prepared for what is to come. It is indeed impossible exactly to measure the full extent of satanic power;
but this we know, be it of whatever magnitude, the Lord hath set it bounds which it cannot pass : our most holy faith is the great appointed barrier; and in proportion as we diligently build ourselves up on that, we shall be safe.
SATANIC WRATH, AS THE END DRAWS NIGH.
HITHERTO, our principal concern has been with the history of the past: we now enter upon the no less certain history of the future. To suppose that God has vouchsafed to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass, yet has shewn them in such a way as to darken and perplex the honest enquirer, is to do Him great wrong. No, the word spoken is, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it: for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Hab. ii. 2, 3.
In various parts of scripture, but more particularly in the discourses of our Lord, shortly before his crucifixion, we are apprized of a period immediately preceding the commencement of Christ's glorious reign upon earth; when tribulation such as the world has never yet seen, shall prevail, if not universally, at least in those parts