« PreviousContinue »
heart did not blind it, he must also perceive that God is good; giving us rain and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness, clothing the earth with refreshing verdure; decking it with myriads of glowing flowers; bestowing on the birds their soft and graceful plumage, bright in lovely dyes, and teaching them to breathe forth music from their cheerful throats: causing the moon to walk in brightness, the stars to spangle heaven, and peopling even the little brooks that run among the hills with unnumbered forms of beauty that sport in the pure element. So far, man may recognise God, may love, fear, and praise him.
But beyond this we have no means of penetrating ; our bodily organs appear to be the sole medium of communication with what exists. What we can see, hear, feel, smell, or taste, is matter of observance, affording evidence on which the mind may rely, and from it we may reason or conjecture to any extent, but can know nothing to bring us acquainted with what lies beyond the range of our senses, we need a special revelation from Him who governs all, and this revelation we pos
Between the two covers of a book that a child may grasp, we find all that is needful or profitable for us to know of the nature, attribute, and works of the Almighty, of his power in creation, his love in redemption, his past dealings with the world, and his future purposes respecting it. By the comparatively dim twi. light of his works we may feel after, and haply find him, as the all-presiding governor of the world which he has made : in the bright blaze of his word we behold him distinctly; and not only Him, but a race of
intermediate beings, different from ourselves in that they are not burdened with flesh, possessed of facul. ties and powers that give them a vast advantage over us, and deeply interested, busily employed about us who are naturally wholly regardless, even when not wholly ignorant concerning them.
Of these mysterious beings we know the number is immensely great; and that they are divided into two classes: the “elect angels, “ holy angels,” who are God's obedient ministers and do his pleasure; and “the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation,” (Jude 6,) who are rebels against God, and implacable enemies to man. These last are marshalled under one superior chief, who directs their operations, and maintains, with their assistance, a kingdom upon earth, directly opposed to the government of Christ the rightful King. To support by every possible means, to extend and to strengthen this usurped dominion, to seduce all whom he can, to terrify others, and to thwart, harass, and distress every child of God while sojourning here, is the object of the adversary. His very name, Satan, expresses it; and the superior power which as a spirit he possesses, becomes effectual in carrying out his most malevolent designs, whenever the omnipotence of God does not interpose to restrain it.
But assertion, on a subject of such tremendous moment to every individual of the human race, will not suffice: we must have proof-such proof as God alone can afford us means of obtaining; and which where it exists he must also enable us to perceive, for the policy
of Satan is wholly opposed to the inquiry. There is nothing he dreads so much as our being “not ignorant of his devices,” because he knows that where it is revealed to us, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places.” Eph. vi. 12. In the preceding verse we are also told of a sure defence, and exhorted “ Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil.” And despite the express declarations of God's word, despite its reiterated warnings, despite even our own sore personal experience of his craft and subtlety, we are prone to overlook not only such testimony to his continual ac. tivity and abundant means of warning against us, but the
very fact of his existence, so far as it concerns the daily experience, collectively and individually, of the Church of Christ.
Strange as this may sound, it is undeniable: we cannot marvel that where Satan," the god of this world, hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” (2 Cor. iv. 4,) he should ave taken care also to blind them to his own devices; that he should have stealthily thrown the bandage across their eyes from behind, so that they know not the hand which performed the operation, not even that such operation is performed; but it is wonderful that he can prevail upon Christian people to banish his name, as they generally do, from their daily converse, and Christian pastors to make only, now and
then, a slight incidental reference to it in the pulpit; and in these days, too, while in every department of our households, in every street of our cities, in Church and State, in cottage and palace, at home and abroad, he is incessantly manifesting his hateful presence, perplexing, seducing, embroiling, dismaying, uprooting, and disorganizing, till the whole framework of society is loosened, and ready upon the first shock to crumble about us. It cannot be unseaso
sonable, at any period, far less at this juncture, to draw the attention of Christians to a point which God has seen fit to represent as of the most stirring, vital importance to them. The warning needs to be often sounded, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter v. 8. But in treating of a matter so exceedingly solemn and awful, care must be taken not to run into the opposite danger of saying too much. We must “not go beyond the word of the Lord to speak more nor less." Great mischief has been done, and by great men too, by in. dulging imagination and building unreal fabrics on the solid foundation of the revealed fact. Scripture alone must speak, in declaring the existence, personality, characters, offices, and positive actings of those spiritual creatures, which constantly surround us, beginning with Satan and his angels. May HE, who by death destroyed him that had the power of death; He, the seed of the woman, who came to bruise the serpent's head; He, who led captivity captive, and who will bruise Satan under our feet shortly: may He, even the
Lord Jesus Christ, bless this humble attempt, preserving both the writer and the reader from all presumptuous sin!
Before proceeding to examine the truth concerning Satan, we must notice the false impressions current both as to his person and employment. We are taught from the nursery to regard him as a hideous, disgusting, and almost ludicrously contemptible object. A black, mis-shapen, half-human body, with limbs and other appendages belonging to various classes of ani. mals, an excessively frightful, grinning face; and, in short, a preposterous compound of all that is ugly and incongruous, supply the general idea of the “ Prince of this world.” This fabulous image bears the marks of his own creation, for it is calculated to throw us off our guard by masking his real importance, so that we grow up ashamed of having once been frightened by these pictures of the devil, and count it a mark of matured reason to laugh at the hobgoblin of our childhood. His name, too, is linked with mean and ridiculous as. sociations ; it is denounced as a vulgarism, and when plainly uttered in conversation with reference to his works, a smile of levity, if not a grave reproof, usually awaits the offender. A variety of nicknames have been applied to him, the substitution of which, for his scriptural title, is considered as showing greater respect for the auditors, and greater refinement in the speaker; and he has been so identified with the most flippant, most trifling or profane forms of speech, even among polished gentlemen, that one of the hardest tasks the awakened Christian has to encounter is, to disconnect