Page images

tion during many ages of the frightful depravity into which a being, originally created after the image of God, might easily be led, it becomes less inconceivable that Satan should have availed himself of the permission given to assault the man, Christ Jesus; for be it always remembered, that only by permission could he approach the Saviour. We are distinctly told, that after the baptism and public recognition from heaven of our blessed Lord, preparatory to his ministerial, or prophetical work upon earth, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil." Matt. iv. 1. However high, however powerful, however privileged the great adversary may be, during the time of his yet remaining unbound, still, in the sight of God, he is equally helpless and contempt. ible, as he is hateful. He durst not even utter an extenuating word when his doom was pronounced, together with that of his wretched victims: he cannot hurt a hair on the head of one of Christ's meanest followers, without a special leave so to do; and then he cannot overpass the precise boundary of his permitted machinations. "Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days." Rev. ii. 10. Some, not all, he should have leave to cast into prison, and they only that they might be tried, not destroyed; and their trial should continue ten days, not a minute longer. His commission, no doubt, is much larger with respect to those who are still in "the snare of the devil; who are taken captive by him at his will,” (2 Tim. ii. 26,) and who will ultimately share his burning abode for

ever, if they turn not to Christ for deliverance; but the blessed work of the Gospel preached unto man is "to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith which is in Christ;" Acts xxvi. 18; and when this is once accomplished, the devil is compelled to recognise the indwelling power and presence of his conqueror in them; and without a special leave, granted for some wise purpose, "That wicked one toucheth them not."



BOLD as he is, and potent as he is, Satan rarely goes to work in a straightforward manner. He is still the old serpent, accomplishing by craft his insiduous purposes, gliding stealthily on the path of his intended victim, and concealing himself beneath the innocent flowers with which the Creator has bountifully clad that path. In some parts of the world he does indeed enforce upon his bond-slaves the horrible service of worshipping him openly and by name, in order to deprecate the temporal mischief that they know he is able and willing to do them; but, generally, he veils himself under fictitious names and forms, so obtaining to himself and his angels the honour and service that are due to God alone. St. Paul tells us this: "What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is of fered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; ye cannot

be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." 1 Cor. x. 19, 20, 21. Satan persuades the poor heathen that some divine power resides in a beast, a reptile, a stone, or the stock of a tree; and having induced him to worship it, takes to himself and to his gang of devils the honours paid to the senseless idol. Well may he be termed the god of this world! To all its successive empires, crumbling into dust as they have done, he has been the object of supreme homage. The Babylonian might fall prostrate before his gigantic idol of gold; the Persian breathe his devout aspirations to the fiery orb of day; the Greek rejoice in his sculptured forms of exquisite beauty, and in the endless mysteries of an impure worship; the stern Roman might crowd his pantheon with the captured idols of every nation, and enlarge his unholy creed for the reception of each foreign fable; but in all, and over all, Satan ruled. Wherever idolatry is found, there is Satan the god of the worshippers. His voice was heard in the lowing of the Egyptian abomination, in the decree that prostrated the glory of the Chaldeans on the plain of Dura, and in every incentive to creature-worship under whatsoever form observed, and by whatsoever sanctions confirmed. The voice that from the Minaret proclaims the true prophetic character of Mahomet, is his; the bell that tinkles forth a signal for the adoration of a wafer-god, is sounded by him: yea, the secret whisper from within that withholds the hand about to extend the gift of charity, is the voice of his power too, for "covetousness is idolatry." Col. iii. 5. By fraudful cunning, under a thousand manifestations,

he upholds his unseen, acknowledged dominion; never to be overthrown till the Stone, cut out without hands, shall smite the huge image of universal idolatry, and gathering to itself the little, faithful band of protesters against this multifarious devil-worship, so fill the earth as to thrust out of it whatsoever resists the extension of that Stone's triumphant kingdom.

To adduce instances of all the devices of Satan's cunning recorded by or to be clearly inferred from the Holy Scriptures would be little less than to transcribe the Bible itself: we may however mention some few, where diabolical interference is expressly spoken of. The Scriptures do not often explain the part that the tempter and his hosts took in the toils, the struggles, the sins of the Old Testament church: but under the gospel dispensation, enough is revealed to enable us to trace his workings in former times, even where he was not specified by name. Who can fall


to see this in the touching history of Joseph the youth declared his dream, the meaning was evident to his father, and his brothers were compelled to see it in the same light, galling as it was to their pride. Their envious, angry dispositions gave occasion for the tempter to assail them, and to suggest the cruel expedient by which, as they hoped, the "dreamer" was finally put out of their way; and in the varied persecutions that followed the blameless young believer, the malice of an adversary, potent and crafty, like Satan, may be plainly discerned. When the children of Israel corrupted themselves and made a golden calf, and worshipped it in the name of the Lord,

« PreviousContinue »