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Lord Jesus Christ, bless this humble attempt, preserv. ing 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, disgust. ing, 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 associations; 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
the name of the devil from such associations, and to dissuade others so offending.
As regards his works, a still more dangerous mistake seems to prevail : he is looked on by the professing world in general as little more than a chimerical per. sonage; one who, when our Lord was on earth, proved busy, and troublesome to him, but who is mostly in hell, tormenting such as he has got into his power, and rarely, if ever, interfering with the course of this world. Sometimes the most petty annoyances and vexatious little mistakes are referred to his mischiev. ous arrangements, but more through momentary petu. lance than any sober conviction; at other times he is represented as presiding where very extensive injury is done, perhaps directing the campaigns of a Napo. leon, or baffling some scheme of universal philanthropy. But to regard him as systematically busying himself in the concerns of individuals, more particularly as in. fluencing, by his artful suggestion, their words and deeds, is looked on as most childishly superstitious. Nay, even among spiritual persons there is a lurking unbelief on this subject, which gives the enemy many an advantage over them. They are loth to believe that when engaged in promoting a good work, Satan is at their right hand resisting them: that, by his whis. pered suggestions, their humility is often depressed in. to cowardice, their zeal quickened to rashness, their confidence urged on to presumption, and their prudence chilled with unbelief. In whatsoever quality the Lord has enabled them to excel, that very excel. lence Satan will weave a snare for their feet; and the
snare once laid, he has abundant agencies at work to draw, or drive them into it. Theoretically, perhaps,
, this is not denied, but point out a living instance of such delusion, and you are presently reproved or frowned into silence.
The following direct testimonies from the scriptures to the existence and character of evil spirits, of whom one distinct chief or leader controls a number of subordinate devils, will establish our first point
“ And the great dragon was cast out, that old ser. pent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Rev. xii. 9. “ Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of
will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John viii. 44.
“ But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chiefof the devils.” Luke xi. 15.
“If Satan be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand ? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub." v. 18.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble.” James ii. 19.
“He said unto him, come out of the man, thou unclean spirit; and he asked him, what is thy name; and he answered, saying, my name is Legion ; for we are many." Mark v. 8, 9.
“ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matt. xxv. 41.
“God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell.” 2 Peter ii. 4.
These form but a small portion of the inspired decla. rations which might be adduced under this head, yet they suffice to place the fact beyond a cavil, and our next step is to ascertain the extent of power possessed by Satan; and the habitual employment of the infer. nal hosts.
SECTION II.-THE POWER AND EMPLOYMENT OP
Always bearing in mind that our discoveries of things unseen must be limited by the plain declarations of God's word, we shall find it very difficult to fix the precise bounds of Satan's power and authority. That he possesses vast influence over man in his fallen state is very plain. Our Lord repeatedly calls him “the prince of this world.” “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” John xii. 31. « The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”xiv. 30. “The prince of this world is judged." xvi. 11. St. Paul speaks of him as “the god of this world.” 2 Cor. iv. 4; and as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Eph. ii. 2. Considering how deliberately our first parents cast off their allegiance to God at the bidding of Satan, and by so doing, virtually transferred it to him, we may suppose his acquired dominion to be exceedingly great: insomuch that when earth's rightful Lord first came, in great humility, to make reconciliation for that iniquity of his creature, man, Satan, exhibiting all the kingdoms of the world, could utter that fearful boast, “ All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it.” Luke iv. 6. His triumphant vaunt indeed was of short duration ; for He, whom he dared to tempt, speedily cast him out of his earthly possessions,