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residence; though wisdom, goodness, and justice, were certainly (in a manner unknown to us) the motives to its permission.

It becomes us, probably, on such an occasion as this, to repress the sallies of imagination, and to clip the wings of idle curiosity. It may be, that we cannot answer the question in better words, than in those of our Lord, Even so, Father! for so it seemed good in thy sight. We may, perhaps, venture to surmise, that, according to our present views and apprehensions of things, the divine perfections could not have been manifested in equal glory and to equal advantage, if nothing but absolute and uniform good had universally and immutably prevailed. I was greatly pleased, some days ago, with the remark of a pious and learned friend, who, in the course of our free conversation on this subject, observed, that, “ Had evil never been permitted, how could the justice of God have been glorified, in punishing it? How could the wisdom of God have been displayed, in overruling it? How could the goodness of God have been manifested, in pardoning and forgiving it? And how could the power of God have been exerted, in subduing it?” Here, probably, is our ne plus ultra, on this subject; until we ripen into that fulness of knowledge, which awaits us at God's right hand. Until our disimprisoned spirits rise into a superior state, it becomes us to confess our ignorance and incompetency, and to address the uncreated cause of all things, in those words of (I think) good bishop Hooper, a few moments before his martyrdom, “ Lord, I am darkness, but thou art light!”

Should it be enquired, What particular crime it was, which drew on the fallen angels that indignation and wrath, that tribulation and anguish, which, we read, will be their portion ? we are not, perhaps,


altogether in the dark as to that. For where St. Paul observes, that (a) a bishop should not be a novice; [veopulos, newly converted, or lately implanted into Christ], but a person of gravity, and wisdom, and long experience in the ways of God; the reason assigned, is, lest a raw, unfledged bishop, being lifted up with pride, should fall into the condemnation of the devil. From whence it seems, that pride and self-admiration were the immediate sins, which rendered satan and his angels obnoxious to the vengeance of the Almighty.

St. Jude likewise, in the 6th verse of his epistle, gives us some insight into the nature of the sin committed by those degenerate spirits. The angels, says he, who kept not their first estate, (onu s'av7w asxn, their own proper and original principality) but left their own habitation; who were not satisfied with that rank in the scale of being, and with that degree of knowledge, dignity, and bliss, assigned them by creating wisdom, but left their own station, and deserted the post in which their Maker placed them; he has reserved in everlasting chains, under dark. ness, to the judgment of the great day. Whence we may soberly conclude, that the original sin of the apostate angels was a compound of pride on one hand; and of murmuring on the other.

Discontent is the daughter of pride. Every discontented heart is a proud heart. Instead of being angry with providence, for not making us greater than we are; the meanest person of us all, if he rightly knew himself and God, would fall low at his footstool, and adore him, for condescending to bestow any thought upon us, or to take any care of us, whatever. As I once heard a valuable person remark, “ God is often better to us, than our fears; and always better to us than we deserve.” -We should be perfectly at ease, under every possible


(a) 1 Tim. iii. 6.

combination of circumstances, if we could but give credit, to infinite wisdom, for doing all things well (a).

Some there are in the world, who sagely laugh at the very mention of devils. These illuminated rationalists cannot bring themselves to believe, that there are any such beings. Let me, therefore, just drop a cursory hint, as to the scriptural evidences, and the philosophic reasonableness of the article now in question.

(1.) There is nothing unscriptural in that doctrine which asserts the real and literal existence of degraded and malevolent unembodied spirits, who retain, amidst all the losses and horrors inseparable from their fallen state, a very extensive portion of knowledge, subtilty, and power. The Bible is so far from denying this, that, from the first to the last of the inspired books, it gives us a large account both of these spirits themselves, and of their various operations. Yea, the Bible is the only source from whence any thing certain can be gathered, concerning their existence, their history, and their activity.

(2.) There is nothing unphilosophical in the scripture account of these nefarious agents. The whole universe consists of matter and spirits. The positive existence of matter (though it be incapable of absolute demonstration, strictly so called, yet) will not admit of a moment's reasonable doubt: and with regard to spirit, we must commence atheists at once, ere we can deny the real existence of that. God the Father is an unembodied spirit.

(a) “ Presumptuous man! the reason would'st thou find,
Why form’d so weak, so little, and so blind ?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less !
Ask, of thy mother earth, why oaks were made
Taller and stronger than the weeds they shade ?
Or ask, of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove ?"

God the Son, prior to his incarnation, was an unembodied spirit. God the Holy Ghost is an unembodied spirit. Angels are unembodied spirits. The glorified souls of the departed elect are disembodied spirits.

Moreover, by the same rule, that there are good unembodied spirits; why may there not be evil unembodied spirits ? Where is the absurdity of this belief? (I now consider it merely in a*rational point of view). If it be atheism, to deny the existence of good unembodied spirits; then is it not totally unreasonable, to deny the existence of bad unembodied spirits ?

We know that there are good embodied spirits, and bad embodied spirits upon earth, viz. good men and women, and bad men and women. Now, what is a man, or a woman? an immaterial ray, if I may so speak, united to a machine of dust ; a deathless spirit, implunged in a mass of dying matter. And why may not that spirit exist, when the matter is dropped ? That matter, which is so far from ennobling, that, at the best of times, it hangs as a dead weight upon the incarnated angel within!

I will go still further; and declare it as my stedfast and mature belief, not only that there are una embodied spirits ; but also that, upon some special occasions, unembodied spirits and disembodied spirits have been permitted, and may again, to render themselves visible and audible.

There is nothing absurd in the metaphysical theory of apparitions. I do not suppose, that one story, in an hundred of this kind, is true. But I am speaking, as to the naked possibility of such phænomena. And this I am satisfied of," that, if a spirit (like mine or yours for instance), even while shut up

in a prison of flesh, can render itself and its operation perceptible to other spirits, through the medium of the senses; and if the bodily powers, quick and acute as they are in some men, be at best but very incommodious engines of mental action, and (on the sum total) rather clog and impede and embarrass both the faculties and the exertions of the soul, which yet can do such great things, even while in connection with so feeble and depressing a vehicle as' now hangs about us; where is the unreasonableness of believing (yea, how great is the unreasonableness of not believing) that a soul, disimprisoned and disentangled from this burden of the flesh, is (so far from losing the powers it had) abundantly more at liberty to make itself perceived, than when it was connected into one compositum with a material habitation ?

As I have ventured, with that intentional humi. lity which becomes me, to set before you my judgment concerning the doctrine of apparitions; permit me, a moment longer, to digress from the immediate subjects of our text, while I remind you of two very remarkable scripture examples, quite in point to the case in hand.

(1.) Eliphaz, the Temanite, gave the following relation of a spectre, which he himself both saw and heard (a). In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face. The hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not (distinctly and perfectly) discern the form thereof: (I can only say in general terms, that) an image was before mine eyes. There was silence (deep and solemn, all around, while the spirit spake); and I heard a voice, saying, shall mortal man be more just than God ? shali a man be more pure than his Maker? Or, as others render it, shall mortal man

(a) Job iv. 13, &c.

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