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RESOURCES OF THE ADVERSARY, AND MEANS OF THEIR
DESTRUCTION. ISAIAH, XLIX. 24, 25.—Thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty
shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered. ISAIAH, LIII. 12.- Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and
he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his
soul unto death. LUKE, XI. 21, 22.—When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods
peace : But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and
divideth his spoils. Rev. xi. 15. -- And the seventh angel sounded ; and there were great voices
in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms
of our Lord, and of his Christ ; and he shall reign for over and ever. Rev. xix. 5, 6.—And a voice came out of the throne, saying. Praise our God,
all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I héard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia ; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
THE Scriptures teach, that sin commenced its reign on earth under the auspices of a mighty fallen spirit ; and that he, having seduced mankind from their allegiance to God, has been constantly employed to maintain his bad eminence over them. They also teach, that the Son of God has interposed to destroy the works of this spirit; and that he will accomplish the object : that the power of Satan shall be broken ; and the whole world be restored to loyalty and the favour of Heaven.
The passages which have just been recited, allude to the success with which the enemy of God has fortified his cause to its final overthrow-and to the exultation and joy with which the event will fill earth and heaven.
I am aware, that with some, the doctrine of fallen angels is but an eastern allegory; and the idea of a conflict, between the creature and Creator, ridiculous, and unworthy of the divine supremacy. I can only say, that if there be not an order of sinful intelligences above men, the Bible is one of the most deceptive books ever written. The entire history of the world
shows, that human depravity, though operating in accordance with the laws of mind, is yet methodised and wielded with a comprehension of plan, wholly inexplicable upon the principle of accidental coincidence among men. That there should have been a system of well-constructed opposition to the gospel, varying with circumstances, and comprehending the great amount of bad moral influence which has existed, without some presiding intellect, is as improbable, as that all the particles of matter which compose the universe, should have fallen into their existing method and order by mere accident, and without the presiding intellect of the Deity. And as to moral competition between the creature and the Creator, it exists, even if there be no fallen angels. It is a matter of fact before our eyes—a matter of experience too—thạt the carnal mind is enmity against God; and that God, in Christ, is reconciling the world to himself.
It should be remembered also, that when God has formed moral beings, oven he can govern them, as such, only by moral influence, and in accordance with the laws of mind : mere omnipotence being as irrelevant to the government of mind, as moral influence would be to the government of the material universe. Nor must it be forgotten, that an alienated world requires more moral power for its restoration than that of simple law, which proved insufficient to maintain its allegiance. It requires a new moral influence so introduced and applied, as to corroborate law, and strengthen the loyalty of all the good, while rebels are reconciled and pardoned.
The reconciliation, through Christ, of such a world as this, in opposition to the rooted aversion of every heart, the concentrated power of social wickedness, and the ceaseless counteraction of mighty intelligences, principalities, and powers, does not seem to us an achievement unworthy of that Being who numbers the hairs of our head. By prophets and apostles, it is represented as exhibiting the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the wisdom, and goodness, and power of God.
In this discourse, it is proposed to consider, THE DEFENCES AND RESOURCES OF THE ENEMY, AND THE MEANS OF THEIR OVERTHROW.
We shall suppose, as the language of the text does, that the Christianity which is to prevail on earth, is the Christianity of the heart, rising to high eminence, and extending its blessed influence through all the relations of society, until the kingdoms of this world shall become associations of holiness—the gospel become the predominant spring of action, and its morality the governing rule of all mankind. The array of opposition to such a glorious change on earth, now demands our attention,
1. At the head of opposition to the gospel, in numerical power, must be placed Idolatry. To banish from the earth all knowledge of God and his government, and substitute a worship composed of lust and blood, seems most desirable to the great adversary, where circumstances allow it to be done : and this he has achieved in respect to about six hundred millions of the human family. In all that world of mind, knowledge is in deep eclipse, intellect slumbers, conscience is paralysed, and all holy intercourse between earth and heaven is cut off; while passion and appetite, inflamed by sin, are suffered to prey uncontrolled.
2. The next form of opposition to the march of holiness is that of Imposture. This was introduced by Mahomed. It was a system accommodated to the condition of a mingled population, composed of Pagans, Jews, and nominal Christians, all in a state of great ignorance and deep moral debasement. By complimenting Abraham and Moses, he beguiled the Jew; by conceding to the Saviour the rank of a prophet, he seduced the degenerate Christian ; and by giving ample license to sensuality, in time and eternity, he secured the Pagan: and what persuasion failed to accomplish, was finished by the sword. Thus one hundred and forty millions have been grouped together under the most ferocious and horrid despotism that ever warred against Heaven, or tormented man. Over all these the smoke from the bottomless pit has ascended, intercepting the light of heaven, and dooming them for centuries to “ darkness visible."
3. Cotemporaneously with this system of imposture, and like it a subject of prophecy, arose the Papal superstition, in the form of a corrupted Christianity, and adapted to a state of intellectual improvement where the grossness of Mahomedan imposture might not be likely to prevail. This has been, and is still, the master-piece of that wisdom which is from beneath ; concentrating the bad influence of all past systems; satisfactory to the pagan, and not alarming to the degenerate Christian; dazzling through the medium of sense ; and giving such a license to sin, or such a cheap escape from its penalties; as allayed all fear, and gave a license to boundless indulgence. Until this horrid systein arose,
the resistance made to the church of God had been planted without her walls. Now the sacred citadel is assailed and entered. Her friends are driven out, subjected to obloquy and death. The perverted authority of Heaven, and the sacred name of Christianity herself, and all the glorious and fearful sanctions of eternity are arrayed against the pure gospel. Instead of the fold of Christ, the church became a ferocious beast, not sparing the flock : instead of a pure virgin, the mother of harlots, corrupting the nations. Instead of reflecting the light of the Sun of righteousness, every orb was eclipsed ; every candlestick removed out of its place ; while the night of ages settled down upon the earth. In this tremendous period, knowledge and virtue expired, and corruption and violence, as before the flood, filled the earth. The great merchandise was in the souls of men; the chief staples, indulgences to sin ; and nothing but holiness of heart and life was absolutely unpardonable.
Here, around the standard of Christ, the kings of the earth took counsel against the Lord and his Anointed, to break his bands and cast away bis cords. And here the atheist and the Jew, the infidel and the libertie, could wear the sacred vestments ; and make war upon the Saviour and his friends.
Popery is a system, where science and ignorance, refinement and barbarism, wisdom and stupidity, taste and animalism, mistaken zeal and malignant enmity, may sanctimoniously pour out their virulence against the gospel, and cry, Hosanna, while they go forth to shed the blood, and to wear out the patience of the saints. And though by revolutions it has been phaken, and compelled by motives of policy to cease a little from
blood, not a principle of this system has been abandoned. All the wiles of ages past are put in requisition now, to heal the fatal wounds which the beast has received ; and to render the system still more powerful and terrific. The leaven is in secret and in open operation, in this country; and the quick action of the beast to the touch of the spear, in Palestine, shows that he is neither dead nor asleep. And considering the civilization, and wealth, and science, which the system comprehends, it is from Popery, no doubt, that the gospel is destined to experience the last and most determined resistance.
4. Another form of resistance to the gospel is to be anticipated from the despotic governments of the earth-so inconsistent in their influence with that illumination of mind and melioration of heart, which, it is predicted, shall prevail, and which the blessed gospel never fails to produce. Hence it may be expected, that despots will take counsel against the Lord, as the march of intellect, and piety, and civil liberty, shall minister alarm.
To what extent forcible resistance will be made to the gospel, it is not our object now to inquire; or whether republican forms of government will supplant the ancient dynasties. It is enough to know, that all the governments who yield to the intimations of that Providence which sends out religion and civil liberty upon the earth, will be safe and happy; and that all who make resistance, will be agitated by revolutions, and destroyed by heavy judgments. Be wise now, therefore, Oye kings; and be instructed, ye judges of the earth: Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling : Kiss the Son, lest he be angry,
and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. 6. Another source of resistance to Christianity is that of crime in its varied forms. A vast amount of capital is embarked in enterprises which directly or indirectly war against morality. All this, when the spirit of Christianity shall prevail, will be contraband, and be withdrawn. The power of steam shall not needlessly violate holy time, nor the sail, without cause, whiten in the Sabbath sun, and spread itself to pervert the breath of heaven. Theatres, those “ schools of morality,” falsely so called, shall cease to beguile unstable souls, whose feet go down to death, whose steps take hold on hell. Christianity, as she prevails, will form a public sentiment that will make virtue blush at the thought of meeting within the same walls, and breathing the same polluted air, and applauding the same exhi. bitions, with the most debased and wretched portion of the community. All who thrive and grow rich amid the desolations of inebriation, and all who desire to do wickedly without loss of reputation, or annoyance of conscience, will feel instinctively the approach of religion : and as their craft shall be in danger, will raise a loud and bitter cry— Great is Diana, great is Diana.'
Nor are the maxims of more reputable trade in such nice accordance with the golden rule,” as to need no revision, or to present no resistance to the gospel, as she moyes on to make it the universal actual law of commercial intercourse : while the entire world of honour must be expected to stand against that gospel which forbids murder, and inculcates forgiveness, and arrays public sentiment against the guilty.
If the gospel would prohibit only acknowledged immoralities, and wink at Human weaknesses, the whole pleasure-loving world would consent to an
armistice, and permit her to move on without much complaint. But the in. exorable requisitions of parity of heart and self-denial, cannot fail to bring out against her a multitudinous and determined resistance. The haters of her uncharitableness, and the lovers of a more liberal way, and all classes of the openly wicked, will, it may be expected, as the light increases and enmity rises, be condensed into a firmer and firmer phalanx of opposition. And now will the alarm be sounded about popery and priest-craft, by just that class of men, who, in papal countries, love darkness, and most cheerfully purchase indulgences to sin ; and who, in this country, should the darkness of popery be permitted to come upon us, would be the first to hail it as a covert for their crimes and a quietus for their consciences. And yet panic-struck will many become about liberty of conscience, who long since have ceased to have any conscience; and suddenly will many fall in love with civil liberty, who, all their days and with all their might, have, by their pernicious influence, been employed in attempts to undermine her deep foundations.
6. To cover the nakedness of this forlorn hope of opposition to the gos, pel, a more liberal sort of religion must be introduced, which shall keep them in countenance, and enable them to wield the name and institutions of Christianity against Christianity—including so much truth as may serve to beguile, but so little as cannot avail to save-sustained by such as live in pleasure, and will not bow the knee to Christ. The time will have come, when the light of science and of Christianity will have rendered obsolete the grossness of idolatry, the imposture of Mahomed, the superstitions of popery, and the impurity of infidelity. A religion must rise, therefore, under the last touchings and finishings of art, where infidels may be received without conversion ; and where they may be converted with scarce a perceptible change in doctrine, heart, or life ; and where, as in papal countries, the thoughtless, and the gay, and the beautiful, and the dissipated, may float together down the stream, to the sounds of music, and drink the lethean cup, and wake not till their redemption has ceased for ever. All this abomination of desolation is predicted, as attending the last triumphs of pure Christianity. And he said, Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up, and sealed, till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried: but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
7. One other source of opposition to the progress of vital Christianity remains to be mentioned. There may be an attempt to wield the church against herself, by corrupting the purity of revivals of religion. Terrible, by the power of revivals, as an army with banners, her victory is secure, unless fanaticism can be substituted for pure religion, and her compact masses be broken and scattered by the commotion of unhallowed passions within. In this manner was the glory of the Reformation eclipsed, and vital religion, in the time of Cromwell, made a scoff and a by-word. The same attempt was made in New-England early in the days of our fathers. It was repeated in the time of Whitefield and the immortal Edwards, with lamentable, though with but partial success. As revivals shall become more extensive, and the Spirit of God shall awaken larger portions of the