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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.” i 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.

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SECTION 1. THEIR EXIST NCE AND CHARACTER.

OF EVIL SPIRITS.

VIII.

THE LIMIT OF SATANIC POWER.

WHENCE comes it that, in proportion as men are 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 themselves ? 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 redemption 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 expressly set forth as the ruler of the disobedient, in that important passage which should never be out of our minds ; “And 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 Satan, while they denounce as childish the declara. tions of others concerning him, who have felt within themselves that mighty conflict-the overcoming of the strong man, taking away the armour wherein he trust. ed and dividing the spoils, what does it prove but the necessity for increased earnestness on our part, in declaring the reality of what Satan, for his own sake, would represent as a fiction ? So long as the natural man remains ignorant or incredulous of the fact that he is himself a palace of Satan, he will not throw open the door of his heart to the Deliverer who stands and knocks at it: so long as the believer can be induced to forget the strong testimony of God to the enemy's restless designs and efforts, he will leave the door so unguarded as to endanger the re-entrance of its former master, to the clean-swept and garnished habitation. Surely, then, it is a point of great moment with the enemy to lull our minds, and banish as far as he can our salutary dread of him; and hence what some, smarting from the bitter conflict, have recorded for the warning and encouragement of others, is stigmatized as weakness or insanity. Assuredly he who dared to face, to taunt, and to tempt the Lord Jehovah himself, deserves a higher rank than that assigned to him by such deceived commentators—the rank of a nursery hob. goblin !

Another very important fact bears upon the same point : Satan has no compulsory power over man. Let him do his utmost, he cannot compel any human being to transgress; he can only suggest, stimulate, provide occasion, and work in the children of disobedience to accomplish their own ruin. If we were helpless ma. chines it would be different; but an act of volition on our part is necessary to constitute actual sin against God. Eve thought to cast the whole burden of guilt from herself upon the serpent; and if he had forced the fruit down her throat, contrary to her wil

no doubt she would have stood guiltless; but she was a consenting party, and so are we in every advantage that the devil obtains over us. Even the heathen Gentiles who never heard of a divine revelation, have a law written in their hearts; a conscience accusing or else excusing them ; (Rom. ii. 15;) and among us who is

n there able to plead actual compulsion or anything beyond a temptation so strong perhaps as to appear irresistible, because he did not at the moment lay hold of the promise annexed to a precept that none ever fol. lowed in vain. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James iv. 7. It is our resistance that Satan dreads; he knows we can put him to flight if we detect and face him : therefore his step is noiseless, his move. ment stealthy, and his battery masked.

It is evident that our Lord's incarnation shook the kingdom of Satan upon earth in a peculiar manner; but without leaving the direct testimony of Scripture, and hazarding conjectures where the least error may lead to very dangerous results, we cannot say much on that subject. This we know, that the evil spirits expressed great terror at his approach, deprecating his interference, and crying out against the exercise of a power which they with one voice acknowledged. The seventy disciples, also, having been sent forth, returned

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