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crime of even ignorantly attributing to evil powers what may be the gracious intimations of the Holy One: we merely notice some illustrations of the Scripture assertion, that intercourse may be held with “ familiar spirits,” and witchcraft practised, and supernatural knowledge acquired by diabolical aid.
Three score years render a clever man shrewdly experienced and worldly wise, if he have passed them in carefully looking about him with a view to his own interests. What then must be the advantage to Satan of nearly six thousand years' observation of all that concerns our race? The stupendous intellect of an angel, faculties of which we can form no conception except from their mighty effects; enough of daring to brave, and enough of malignity to persecute “the Mighty Father, the Everlasting God, the Prince of Peace,” and to aid all of these, an ally already en-gaged on his side within the bosom of every child of
Such is our adversary the devil: such is that roaring lion who goeth about seeking whom he may devour; and shall we be lulled into security, despite the awful admonitions which the Holy Ghost hath given, because it has become fashionable to despise his power, disbelieve his interference, and make light of his name?
But, apart from supernatural knowledge, there is a wisdom which Satan imparts, by means of those suggestions that every one among us can testify he has power to insinuate into our minds. The apostle was speaking of that external worldly religion which is consistent with “bitter envying and strife” in the
heart. Where these are allowed, he bids us “glory not, and lie not against the truth,” for the wisdom in which such persons boast themselves “descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” Some have erringly compared the mind of an infant to a clean sheet of paper, on which good or bad may
be written at will; this is wrong ; for the paper is impure, and blotted from the very first, and scribbled over with all evil ; but, so far as wisdom and knowledge are concerned, the sheet is certainly blank, until reason begins to unfold itself; and Satan is eagerly on the alert with his subordinate fiends, to impart that which cometh from beneath. It is a solemn consider. ation that every idea conveyed to a child's mind must be from one of these sources: man can originate nothing: he may imbibe the notions of others, but they too must be sought for under one of the heads named by the apostle : the wisdom that cometh from above, which is pure and peaceable, or the wisdom that cometh from beneath, which is Satanic. Of the latter class was Ahithophel's wisdom; in a good cause, his plan of carrying on the war would have been sound counsel; but being brought to aid the cause of treason, rebellion, parricide, it was devilish. gested it, and God turned it into foolishness. 2 Sam. xvii. 14.
The wisdom taught by our adversary is always opposed to the truth; it is a knowledge that puffeth up, and makes those who possess it fools — “For my people is foolish, they have not known me: they are sottish children, they have none understanding : they are
wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jer. iv. 22. And this must be unlearned : “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written, “He taketh the wise in their own crafti. ness;" and again, “ The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” 1 Cor. iii. 18, 19, 20. The Egyptians were fully replenished with this infernal wisdom, when planning to diminish the people of Israel by destroying the male children, they said, “Come on ; let us deal wisely with them.” Exod. i. 10. These, and similar passages, clearly showing that the wisdom of this world emanates from the god of this world, are calculated to prove to us the danger that besets the path of such as are bent on acquiring knowledge apart from godliness. They have a master at hand, ready and able to teach them as much as human understanding may grasp, and sure to clothe with every attraction the bait which he has found to be so efficacious in bringing souls into his net ; but the price of his lessons is such, that the man who strikes that bargain is bankrupt forever.
SECTION I.-THEIR EXISTENCE AND CHARACTER.
OF EVIL SPIRITS.
THE LIMIT OF SATANIC POWER.
WHENCE comes it that, in proportion as men obviously under the influence of an unrenewed heart they seem disposed to make light of the solemn reality which we are considering? Why do they most question or despise the enemy's power, when giving the plainest proofs of his unresisted dominion over them. selves? Our Lord has furnished us with a clue to unravel the mystery : he says, in direct reference to it, “ When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” Luke xi. 21, 22. Man is born in a state of rebellion against the supreme authority of his sovereign king; and likewise in such a condition of mental and spiritual darkness, that he cannot be brought to see himself as he is, until divinely illuminated. He cannot comprehend the plain meaning of assertions repeated again and again in the volume to which, as a whole, he perhaps yields his assent, but which, in its details and its per
sonal applications, is probably still a sealed book to him. St. Paul describes man as being “carnal, sold under sin ;" Rom. vii. 14; and again he says, “ the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Rom. viii. 7. This characteristic of disobedience belongs to the whole human race, however reluctant they may be to acknowledge it. Indeed, the scheme of redemp. tion necessarily hinges upon the fact, that man had offended God, and could not deliver himself. We also know in what way he was originally brought into this condemnation : “By one man's disobedience many were made sinners;" Rom. v. 19; and Satan is ex. pressly set forth as the ruler of the disobedient, in that important passage which should never be out of our minds;
you, who were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in times past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of DISOBEDIENCE ; among whom also we ALL had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Eph. ii. 1-3. Here we have it laid down as an axiom that those who are in their natural state of disobedience, those who still walk according to the course of this world, are under the dominion of Satan, possessed by him, since he works in them until the finger of God casts him out. When, therefore, we find men of unrenewed spirits making light of the power, and even hinting doubts of the existence of