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believing hearer need fear for a moment to be led into error by conceding to the subject of these imperfect pages that prominence to which it is entitled, as occupying a very important place in the revelations of God.
We sometimes have the counsel gravely given to leave these things to learned men as being too high for simple minds. The seventy disciples whom our Lord sent forth, we are told, returned to him with joy, because even the very devils were subject unto them through his name. They were simple, unlearned people, who, fully believing all that he had said, instead of setting down to hold a learned disquisition on the nature of evil spirits, went and acted upon what he told them, commanding the devils in his name. He answers their glad communication by telling them that he beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven; he invested them with unlimited control over "all the power of the enemy," and, after cautioning them not to rejoice so much in this supernatural gift as in the knowledge that their own names were written in heaven, "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and pru. dent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." Luke x. 21. With this encouragement before us, with a perfect consciousness of being a mere babe in worldly wisdom and worldly prudence, and simply believing that every word spoken of God is true, we have fulfilled our task; may it be' as profitable to the soul of the reader,
"DELIVER US from the evil one," is the prayer which our Lord has instructed us to put up; and it is much to be regretted, that we are accustomed to use a different form of expression, calculated to withdraw our attention from the great personal adversary, and to present to our minds a vague notion of evil in general. Whatever isolates man, separating between him and the rest of God's creation, is inimical to his best interests. He looks on the inferior animals, and forgetting in how many respects their natural sensibilities resemble his own, he becomes their cruel oppressor. He dooms them to protracted hunger and thirst; he overworks them, until every sinew of their exhausted frames is wrung by the anguish of intolerable fatigue ; he breaks the endearing ties by which the Lord of all has seen good to sweeten their humble existence; and standing on a haughty eminence of superior intellect and conscious immortality, he degrades some of the most marvelous of God's works, using them as mere tools for the supply of his artificial wants, the gratification of his avaricious propensities; until the whole
creation, groaning and travailing in pain together, sends up a fearful cry into the ears of Him who from the glorious high throne of his eternal Majesty stoops to feed the young ravens that call upon him. Man was placed in dominion over the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, that he might exercise a becoming vicegerency, brethren as they all are of the dust out of which his own body is so curiously formed; but Satan filis his mind with pride and hardens his heart against the pleadings of natural feeling on behalf of those who have no voice to utter in their own cause; and so, man, standing superciliously aloof from the creatures that his sin has subjected to vanity, works the work of devils in conniving at, if not wantonly inflicting, needless torments upon them.
Again, as below, so above his own scale of being there are races with which he is nearly affianced: not corporeally as here, but spiritually. These he cannot see, therefore he resolves to banish their existence from his thoughts. He is aware that of such superior creatures one class is ever about him for good, the other for evil; but what little he may have incidentally gathered on that subject he heeds not: and as to inquiry, he considers it a worthier employment to explode the depths of the earth for the fossil remains of some extinct species of animals, which had he met with it alive he would probably have hunted to death for his barbarous sport, than to seek a clearer knowledge of those beings among whom he must, assuredly and inevitably, dwell to eternity. Such insolation, we repeat, is most injurious to man: God never intended it for him. The
record of creation, the repeated injunctions to mercy, and the beautiful provision made for its exercise under the glorious code of Israel's law, all declare on the one hand, as do on the other the many revelations given of angelic ministry and of Satanic malice, that man is not authorized to lose sight of his actual position as a link in the chain of created being.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation,” said our blessed Lord. Against what were they to watch? He had apprized them long before, when he had taught them to pray, "Lead us not into tempta. tion, but deliver us from the evil one," and had also put into their mouths a plea for being thus guarded, thus delivered: "FOR thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever." The evil one seeks to usurp God's kingdom within us, to stir us up in resistance to His power, and by our rebellion, our ungrateful, unblushing scorn of His pure law, to tarnish the glory that rests upon His Church. We pray that Satan may not succeed in so seducing us into the robbery of God; we pray to be delivered from his wiles; and our prayer is accepted, if it be offered up in sincerity, the heart accompanying the lips, and with a willingness on our part to watch against the approach of that from which we have prayed to be preserved.
When the Christian, in pursuit of his lawful calling, finds himself entering those ways where the ungodly take council, and sinners walk, and scorners fix their seat, he knows that he must watch, and feels that he must pray. Temptation will surely then assail him; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride