« PreviousContinue »
walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house, whence I came out: and when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits, 'more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Luke xi. 24–26. We
may be assured that attempts at such re-entrance, under aggravated forms, into every person who may appear to have been delivered from the power of Satan, will be made as the time shortens, and the enemy's rage increases; and hence the cruel treachery that Christ's people must look for at the hands of their nearest connexions and dearest companions. Many an Ahithopel will be found; many a Judas to revolt from his friend, and to betray his master; and many an unsuspecting Christian will have to take up the prophetic complaint, “ It was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance; we took sweet counsel to. gether, and walked unto the house of God in company. Psalm ly. 13, 14.
It is of the first importance that we should be prepared not only for an outburst of Satanic malignity and cruelty, such as, was never before permitted to devastate our world, but also for a manifestation of Sa. tanic potency, such as men are fast losing all belief in. We do not give the enemy credit for possessing such powers as the word of God distinctly ascribes to him ; we are apt to fancy that the blow miraculously inflicted on him during the early years of the New Testament church, has crippled him forever; and we there
fore look for nothing more, in the things that are coming on the earth, than a peculiar readiness on the part of bad men, to act upon his cunning suggestions. The consequence of this unguarded state of mind will be, that when leaders appear, assuming new ground, and confirming their assumptions by doing real marvels in our sight, we shall be tempted to receive them as Si. mon Magus was received of old by the people whom he bewitched with his sorceries : “ To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.” Acts viii, 10. Not a few of those who held out against the Irvingite heresy in the days of its success, did so, as they acknowledged, only because its apostles failed in performing any really miraculous work. Attempts were made to raise up the dying, and to revive the dead; and their open failure cooled the zeal of some very anxious inquirers: should a similar delusion be brought forward, and such things actually effected, are we prepared to resist the evidence of sense, and to cling to the word of God alone? We shall be better armed for such a trial, by giving serious heed to what the Bible testifies in the passages here cited, and receiving the predictions in their simple, literal acceptation.
Popery is now heaping up its stately piles of architecture throughout the land, fitted, no doubt, in their secret recesses, with a vast machinery for the exhibi. tion of “lying wonders" on a grand scale, by which many will be snared and taken: but though a principal, still Popery is not likely to be the sole manifestation of Satan in these coming horrors. Forms of error
less openly revolting than the gross idolatry of that system, but not less fatal to the soul if persisted in, will be supplied, for those who would hurl the anathema at an angel from heaven, if he dared to preach up the
Some will be led astray, but not finally; for it is plainly said,"Some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end.” Dan. xi. 35.
And to this the apostle seems to refer, where he says of the sins and judgments of Israel, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor. x. 11, 12. No vain speculation should mix itself up with this solemn subject: It is one where each believer must seek in. struction how to arm himself for the great battle, in which he may expect ere long to be engaged: the word of God alone, prayerfully studied and practically applied, will show to each of us the might, the wrath, and the purpose of our adversary. It will also show us how that adversary is to be met and conquered; even by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony
THE DOOM OF SATAN AND HIS ANGELS.
In the sentence pronounced upon declared that the seed of the woman should bruise his head. A blow inflicted on the vital part indicates final destruction; and in accordance with this, the apostle tells us that our Lord Jesus became partaker of flesh and blood, “ that through death he might DESTROY him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” Heb. ii. 14. We find the great enemy, first an angel, not keeping his holy estate, but becoming rebellious, transformed into a liar and a murderer, composing the ruin of this beautiful creation, and drawing a creature, made in the image of God, into deadly transgression against his merciful and glorious Maker. Still having occasional access to heavenly places, we find him availing himself of it to accuse before God those whom he had tempted into sin, and to resist the work of mercy towards man. Then, cast wholly out of heaven, we learn that he vents his great wrath upon the inhabitants of earth, and for a limited time plunges them
in fearful woes. Lastly, the doom for which he knows himself to be reserved is inflicted; and he, with all his legions of accursed spirits, are cast into a pit of sul. phurous flames, there to abide forever and ever.
The intimations given of this final judgment are many and explicit. Jude, with whose words we com. menced our proofs, in those words declared the end : “The angels that kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 6. They are, themselves, perfectly well aware of what is coming upon them; as St. James implies when speaking of a faith that works not by love, an acknowledgment of God's being, power, and justice, without any sense of redeeming mercy, any conformity to his will. “ Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well :: the devils also believe and tremble.” James ii. 29. They made the same admission them. selves, when terrified by the sudden appearance of their dreaded Judge. The “legion” saw him coming :-" And behold they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God ? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time ?” Matt. vüi. 29. And again the unclean spirit in the synagogue,“Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth ? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” Mark i. 24. On another occasion one of the devils “besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country;" (Mark v. 10;) or as St. Luke expresses it, “They besought him that he would not