« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
but there is reason to believe, that the number was great. When our Lord asked an unclean spirit his name, he replied, “My name is legion: for we are many.” This account agrees with what the apostle says concerning the various ranks of fallen angels. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Among these various orders of apostate spirits, he, who is emphatically called the devil, holds the highest. This is frequently intimated in scripture. When our Saviour cast a devil out of a dumb man, the pharisees said, “He casteth out devils through the prince of devils.” And they said on another occasion, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils.” A similar remark was made by those, who saw Christ cast out a devil that was dumb. They said, “He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of devils.” But he knowing their thoughts said unto them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?” Here Christ seems to confirm the common opinion among the Jews, that the Devil is a chief or a prince, who reigns supreme in his own kingdom.
4. The scripture represents the Devil, as being conversant in this world, and exerting his power and influence here. The author of the book of Job says, “When the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them.” And when the Lord asked him whence he came, he answered, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." The apostle gives the same representation of him in the text. “Be sober,
be vigilant: because your adversary 'the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” When Christ saw him coming to tempt him, he said, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” He also predicted the descent of the Holy Ghost, who should restrain and condemn Satan. “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of judgment, because the prince of this world, is judged.” The Devil has always been roaming through this world, and as the prince of the power of the air, produced winds, and storms, and other natural evils, to afflict mankind, and carry on his malignant opposition to Christ and the interests of his kingdom. He has already spread misery and destruction far and wide; and he means, if possible, to ruin the human race. Nor does he act alone, but causes all his subjects to co-operate in all his malevolent purposes. Were all these apostate spirits only visible, they would appear more terrible, than so many ravening wolves. For,
5. The scripture represents the Devil, and consequently his subjects, as perfectly malevolent. This is the character given of him in the text. “Your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” He is called an evil spirit, a foul spirit, an unclean spirit, a liar, a murderer, a tormentor, a destroyer. Yea, he is represented as the perfection of malignity. When Christ would paint sinners in the blackest colour, he compares them with this impure spirit. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” And when the apostle would represent the bitterest passions of human nature in the most odious light, he calls them “earthly, sensual, devilish.” God's conduct towards Satan, and towards all other beings, has imbit
tered his mind, and filled his selfish heart with the highest degree of envy, malice, and revenge.
6. The scripture represents this Enemy of all righteousness, as having access to the minds of men, and possessing a power of tempting their hearts, and leading them into all manner of moral evil. We are told that he tempted our first parents to eat of the forbidden fruit; that he led the posterity of Noah to forget and forsake God; that he provoked David to number Israel; that he seduced many of the people of God into idolatry; that he tempted Christ in the wilderness; that he put it into the heart of Ju. das to betray him; that he filled the heart of Ananias to lie unto the Holy Ghost. He is called the spirit, that worketh in the children of disobedience. He is said to blind the minds of them that believe not. And it is predicted, that he shall in time to come, go out to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters of the earth. Hence God repeatedly and solemnly warns men to guard themselves against his wiles and temptations. Timothy is divinely directed to instruct such as oppose the gospel, “that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Paul exhorts himself and his christian brethren to exercise mu, tual forgiveness, “Lest, says he, Satan should get an advantage against us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” To the Ephesians he says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God." The apostle James also warns christians against the assaults of Satan. “Suba mit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The duty and importance of such caution and resistance, the apostle Peter solemnly urges in the text. "Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” All these warnings and admonitions necessarily suppose that the Devil has access to the minds of men, and continually employs all his power and subtilty to seduce and destroy them. I proceed to show, : II. That we ought to believe this account of the Devil. It is a just and scriptural account. Nothing fabulous or fictitious has been mentioned. It appears from the whole current of Scripture that the Devil was originally an angel of light; that he retains his angelick nature and high rank among the apostate spirits; and that he is invisibly present in this world, where he has access to the minds of men, and employs every artifice to destroy them. That this scriptural account of the devil is worthy of belief, will appear from the following considerations.
1. It is God's account, whose knowledge and veracity are unquestionable. He was as able to give us the history of the Devil, as the history of Adam, or Noab, or Abraham, or any other person, whom he has recorded in his word. He knew Satan from the beginning of his existence, and was able to give a true account of his primitive state, of his first apostacy, and of his conduct towards Adam and all his posterity to the end of time. He has not, indeed, revealed all that he might have revealed concerning this first apostate but what he has revealed must be infallibly true, and demand universal belief,
2. There is the same ground to believe the scriptural account of the Devil, as there is to believe the scriptural account of the Angels, who kept their first estate. His history and theirs come from the same Author, and are extremely similar. Are they represented as spirits? so is he. Are they represented as superior to men? so is he. Are they represented as invisible? so is he. Are they represented as having intercourse with this world? so is he, Are they represented as promoting the cause of Christ? he is represented as opposing it. But here it is worthy of remark, that God has given a more full and particular history of the Devil and his angels, than he has of the principalities and powers above. In some respects, therefore, his history is worthy of more attention and regard than theirs. But many profess to believe their existence and agency, who doubt the existence and agency of Satan. This is highly absurd. If we ought to believe what God says concerning the Angels of light, we ought, by no means, to call in question what he says concerning our adversary the Devil.
3. The history of this destroyer is altogether credible, because it is completely interwoven with the history of the Saviour. The first account of the Devil stands immediately connected with the first account of Christ. The sacred historian first relates the agency of the Devil in the seduction and ruin of man; and then introduces the Mediator, who should destroy the works of the Devil, by restoring man to the divine fa. vour. At the same time, it is foretold, that there should be a constant contest between Satan and Christ, until the latter should finish the work of redemption. And according to the history of the Devil, he has been continually opposing Christ and his cause in the world; and he will persist in his opposition until the work of