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wheat:" Luke xxii, 31. When Paul would have visited some of his beloved disciples in the work of the Gospel of Christ, it was Satan who “ hindered” him : 1 Thess. ii, 18. The thorn in his flesh, by which that apostle was impeded and distressed in the exercise of his ministry, was the “messenger of Satan to buffet him :" 2 Cor. xii, 7. It was the devil who cast the pious Christians of Smyrna into prison, Rev. ii, 10; and we read that Antipas became the faithful martyr of Jesus, in a place which the prevalence of a persecuting spirit proclaimed to be the seat of Satan: v, 13.
But the opposition of Satan to the true interest of men, as well as his enmity against God and Christ, is above all manifested in that main point, alluded to at the outset of the present discussion, that he is the immediate author of moral evil. To his artifice and influence, as we have already observed, the Scriptures attribute the commission of that first transgression by which Adam and Eve fell from their innocence, and in consequence of which, therefore, the whole family of their descendants have degenerated into a race of sinners. Equally clear is the doctrine of inspiration, that, while we continue in this degenerate, transgressing nature, we are under the dominion of our soul's enemy. “ And you hath he quickened," says Paul to the Ephesian converts, “ who were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time 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:" Ephesians ii, 1, 2. The sinful and idolatrous Gentiles, whom this apostle was sent to evangelize, are elsewhere represented as under " the power of Satan :" Acts xxvi, 18. It is Satan, according to the doctrine of Jesus himself, who sowe " the tares” in the field of the world--and “the tares are the children of the wicked one : Matt. xiii, 38, 39. The vicious and contentious members of the church are described as persons “ taken captive by the devil at his will :" 2 Timothy ii, 26; comp. 1 Timothy v, 15. It was Satan who filled the heart of Ananias to lie : Acts v, 3. The sorcerer Elymas was " the child of the devil :" Acts xiii, 10. Wicked and persecuting Jews constituted the 66 synagogue of Satan :" Rev. ii, 9. It is by their sins that the children of the devil are made manifest. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning :" 1 John iii, 8. 10. Nor ought we to forget, that in order to promote and aggravate that moral evil, of which he is thus declared to be the author, he spreads over the fallen children of Adam the vail of gross and perilous ignorance. With all his “ principalities and pow
ers," he stands opposed to the progress of divine light. The dominion of Satan is the “ power of darkness :" Col. i, 13. Evil spirits are the "rulers of the darkness of this world :" Eph. vi, 12. Their chief is “ the God of this world,” who “ 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.
As Satan is ever represented as the tempter of man, the being who invites, allures, entices, him into transgressions, so, in order to this end, he is full of wiles and devices : Eph. vi, 11. 2 Cor. ii, 11. While he rejoices in the ignorance of men, it is his policy to involve them more and more deeply in the mazes of error; and, prince as he is of darkness, he knows how to transform himself even “ into an angel of light,” for the seduction of those who are the objects of his malice: 2 Cor. xi, 14. It is his province to pervert and misapply our reasoning faculties; to raise in us the pride of a false philosophy, and to cheat us with a lie; to impart to virtue the aspect of dreariness and difficulty, and to array vice in a garment of loveliness. “ Ye are of your father, the devil,” said Jesus to some of the wicked unbelievers, by whom he was surrounded “ and the lusts of your father ye 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.
The same powerful being, who thus deceives, degrades, and enslaves, mankind, and who often betrays into transgression even those who are justly numbered among the Lord's servants, is also described as our accuser before God. Such is the principal meaning of that Greek term, applied to the great adversary in so many passages, both of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, from which our own word devil is derived.* It was as an accuser that Satan (in conformity with the forensic customs of the Jews) is represented as standing at the right hand of the angel, (who is acting as the Judge) in order to resist Joshua the Priest, Zech. iii, 1 ; and in the book of Revelation this malevolent power is expressly described in the same particular character. " And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before God day and night :" Rev. xii, 10.
Finally, in his temptations—in his wiles in his accusations -the adversary of mankind has still the same object in view; namely, the destruction of our immortal souls. It is in this respect, above all others, that Satan is to be regarded as a " murderer.” The apostle declares that he has " the power of death”—not only, we may presume, of the death of the body, but of that spiritual death, by which man may be for ever separated from the light of God's countenance, and from the joys of the kingdom of heaven: Heb. ii, 14. Whether he assumes the aspect of the winding serpent, or of the roaring lion-whether it is by fraud or by violence that he oppresses our fallen race, and tempts and sifts the children of the Lord-. Satan is still seeking whom he may devour, (1 Pet. v, 8.)-whom he may destroy-whom he may plunge into the fathomless ruin which he knows to be his own portion.
And now, in order to complete this scriptural view of the personal operations and history of the spirits of evil, and especially of that powerful being who is chief amongst them in opposing the cause of truth, piety and virtue, it only remains for us to open the prophetic page, which declares that “ everlasting fire” is “prepared for the devil and his angels :" Matt. xxv, 41. “And I saw an angel,” says the apostle John, in describing one of the concluding scenes of his wonderful vision, " come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that, he must be loosed a little season.... And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to battle : the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever :" Rev. xx, 1-10.
In reverting, then, to the statements cited in the present essay, we are to recollect that the principalities and powers, whose character and history we have now been considering, were created holy and happy—that they abode not in the truth, and fell from their high estate, and thus became the rulers of the kingdom of evil-that their chief or leader, the devil, was the being who procured the fall of our first parents; who afflicted Job; who provoked David to sin against the Lord; and whoʻresisted the righteous Joshua—that, in tempting, buffeting, and persecuting, the Messiah, even unto death, the devil bruised the heel of the Seed of the womanthat, at the same period, his subordinate agents displayed, in a remarkable manner, their activity and malignity—that he is denominated Satan, because he is the adversary of God, of Christ, and more especially of mankind--that he is sometimes described as the instrument of the temporal afflictions of men, and especially of those impediments and sufferings by which the servants of God are tried and sifted that he is ever represented as the author of moral evil, as the ruler of the wicked, as the prince of darkness, as our tempter, deceiver, accuser, and destroyer-lastly that, although the devil and his angels may rage and prevail for a season, the end which assuredly awaits them is absolute defeat and everlasting punishment.
And now I may venture, in conclusion, to offer to the reader's candid attention a few plain observations on the subject of the present essay.
When, in the first place, we reflect, with any degree of care, on those scriptural declarations to which we have now adverted, we can scarcely fail to be astonished that any persons who regard the Scriptures as divine, and who pretend to the character of fair interpreters of the Sacred Volume, should deny to the great adversary of souls a personal existence; or should venture to insinuate, that the Satan of the Old and New Testaments is nothing more than a personification of evil--the vain and unsubstantial creature of poetry, allegory, and fiction. It ought ever to be remembered, that the Holy Spirit can neither err nor feign ; and although there is to be found in the Bible much of poetry, and something perhaps of allegory, yet, as à guide to practice and to doctrine, it can be regarded only as a code of principles, and a record of realities. Besides, the descriptions of Satan are to be found principally in those parts of Scripture which are not poetical, but either historical or simply didactic. Never were there plainer or more unsophisticated historians--historians less disposed to indulge in fanciful imagery, or oriental exaggeration-than Moses and the four evangelists, who have severally, in the course of their histories, presented to our attention the personal character and operations of Satan. To these are to be added Paul, Peter, James, and Jude-those homely, yet luminous, didactic, writers, who, as well as our blessed Lord himself, have all made mention of the devil-not as an allegorical figure, but as a powerful, insidious, malicious being.
To imagine that he who reasoned with Eve, and persuaded her to sin; who appeared with the sons of God before the throne of heaven, after walking to and fro on the earth, and obtained permission to try the faith of Job; who tempted Jesus, assailed him with subtle arguments, and said to him, “ All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship ME;" who taught Judas to betray his master; who sent the thorn in the flesh, to buffet the apostle Paul ; who transforms himself into an angel of light; who is expressedly declared by our Lord to be a murderer, a liar, and the father of lies; who accuses the brethren day and night before the throne of God;—to imagine that such a one is not a person, and has never existed at all, is to set at nought the plainest testimonies of Scripture, and to involve ourselves in a heartless, hope. less, nugatory, pyrrhonism. If we would maintain the faith once delivered to the saints, we must uplold the doctrines of Scripture in their genuine simplicity and purity ; and among those doctrines, none, I would submit, can be more explicit than that which proclaims the personal character, and powerful operations, of Satan.
In the second place, it may by remarked, that this doctrine of Scripture is not more clear than it is important. It must, surely, be one of the favourite devices of the prince of darkness, to persuade us that he has no existence; for, if he has no existence, there can be no occasion to “resist” him ; no need for us to stand on our guard, that we may not fall into the snares which he lays around us. On the other hand, a due sense of the existence and character of our enemy must ever be the means of stimulating the believer to watch, and strive, and pray, against him. On this point, indeed, the voice of Scripture is again decisive. Are we commanded to be sober and vigilant ? it is not only because the flesh is weak, but because our “ adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour :" 1 Pet. v, 8. Are we exhorted to put on the whole armour of God, to take unto us the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit ? it is that we may be able to “ stand against the wiles of the devil ;" it is because “ we wrestle not against flesh and blood (alone,) but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places :" Eph. vi, 11, 12.