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regenerating grace, are annoyed by Satan; who comes also amongst them, to distract their minds, and deprive them of the advantages of public worship.-Mat. xiii.

But it is more probable, that the holy angels are designed by the sons of God, those morning stars, who shouted and sang together on the creation of our world.-Job xxxviii., 7.

This title is expressive of their creation in the likeness of God: their filial and affectionate obedience to him, their happiness in his paternal favour, and their gratitude for such honourable distinction, induces them to present themselves before him, prepared for his service, and waiting for the instructions of his will.-Heb i., 14; Ps. ciii., 20-22.

The third agent is an evil being, called Satan, which signifies an adversary. This being is the same as, by the agency of a serpent, seduced Eve in Paradise; and is described as "that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan." To denote his powerful influence, he is called the prince of the devils, the prince of this world, the God of the world.

This evil one is represented as "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," to denote his activity and vigilance in every part of the earth, to seduce and accuse.

This Hebrew idiom is said to mean, the vigilant execution of an office, or a ministry.

He is also represented as coming into the assemblies of the sons of God, when they present themselves before him as his worshippers. This may intimate his activity in tempting and distressing the children of God, amongst the sons of Adam, in their solemn assemblies; or "transforming himself into an angel of light;" that is, endeavouring to appear one, may intrude into the presence of the holy angels on earth, to obtain some advantage against the saints, by opposing the ministry of these heavenly friends. We may derive important instruction from this representation.

1. That God governs the world by the instrumentality of second


2. That the evils of life are under his direction; and that the afflictions of good men are appointed by him, for the illustration and improvement of their characters, and for the advancing, by that means, the honour of real godliness.

Great grace is manifested and improved by great trials: the reality, the power, the progress of it, then become more visible, as the shades of Job's illustrious character become stronger, when we behold him in the depths of adversity.

The Lord permits Satan to try his people, by withdrawing his restraints; but he also limits the degree and the period of the trial, and directs it to a favourable termination.-Jam. v., 11.

This is illustrated by the instance before us. The Lord is represented as watching the motions and designs of fallen angels, di

rected against his people, calling Satan to account; and by the question, "Whence comest thou?" expresses at once his observance of his movements, and his disapprobation of his designs, as 1 Kings, xix., 9.

3. How much we are indebted to the grace and providence of God, Satan desires permission to afflict.—Job i., 11.

He does as much mischief as possible to good men.

To their property.-Job i., 13-20.

Their bodies.-Job ii., 7.

Their souls.-Job ii., 9.

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He desired to have" Peter to sift him as wheat." He desired to have Job in his power. He is therefore said to move God against him," by his accusations; "to destroy him." Not that he could do it, but he desired it.

Let us then admire that Providence which is as "a hedge about us, and about all that we have on every side, and which blesses the work of our hands;" and that grace, by which souls are shielded from the fiery darts of the wicked one.

We may consider the Lord speaking to Satan, and his answering the Lord, as what passed in effect rather than words. As the wicked speak by their actions, Ps. xii., 4; and do in effect say, what they do not speak in so many words.

So, when the Lord promises to dwell in his people, it is in effect saying, "they are the temples of the Holy Ghost."

And as Satan may be considered as speaking the language of envy, of enmity, of calumny, and cruelty, in his opposition to the saints, and to Job in particular; so the blessed God may be considered as in effect, speaking to Satan, by those actions of his providence and gracious operations of his spirit, in which he vindicates the character of his people, renders them victorious and steadfast in temptation, patient in affliction, persevering in duty; and proves the reality, strength, and progress of their grace, by those very trials which threatened to overwhelm them.



INSTABILITY of conduct implies an instability of principle, or the absence of it. This is manifest in those professors of religion, who are, first, avowed friends of the Established Church; then, if you believe them, they become Dissenters, and wonder any thinking man can be a member of the Established Church. In a few years they are again Dissenters, soon discover their error, and join Lady Hun

tingdon's connexion.

They then leave this society, and return again to the Church or some class of Dissenters.

So long as any of these communities will admit them, they join one or the other; but if their character becomes suspected by all parties, or they should lose their confidence in themselves, and suspect that they are known, they withdraw, and walk at liberty among the nondescripts of the day.

What are the causes which produce these changes? They cannot be the absence of the Gospel from the Established Church; for many leave the church where the Gospel is preached. Nor can it be the want of discipline among the Dissenters; for this fickleness. is apparent where the genuine Gospel is preached, and a strict at tention to discipline maintained.

To ascertain the causes of such conduct, I shall appeal to facts, which have come within my own knowledge in the course of forty years.

The first cause I shall name is, the love of some sin, under a profession of religion. I asked an old professor, who was sound in sentiment, a great admirer of the thirty-nine articles, why he left the Church? He answered-" Because I have heard a clergyman for two years, who so preached Christ, as to leave my conscience quiet whilst I lived in fornication! I attended a second clergyman, who disgusted me by preaching a system of morality without Christ as its foundation. I tried a third, who preached Christ in his atonement, his spirit and example, so as to make me miserable in my sin. Finding I must leave my sin or his ministry, I chose the latter !"

What course do you now follow? I inquired.

"For some time I went where I pleased; and at last joined a Dissenting Church where I was not known; assuring the minister I was weary of the cold formality of the Established Church. After I had settled among them for some time, I found their reproofs, censures, and watchfulness over me too strict, and I again returned to the Church. I was unhappy with the Dissenters, and they with me, and I left them." In this state he died.

A second cause of their "moveable ways" is the love of power. "The clergyman," said one of these ever varying professors, "has all the power, whether he be an Arminian, a Socinian, or a Calvinist. He is the only figure, I am a mere cypher." Leaving the Church, after a considerable time, he professed himself on principle, a Dis


After enjoying his vote among them for some time, he wished to become a deacon. The church being already supplied with three deacons, there was no room for him. This rendering him restless in himself, and troublesome to the church, he soon withdrew. Abhoring what he termed "the tyranny of the Church of England," and the discipline of the Dissenters, he determined to be free.

The love of power sometimes becomes "a root of bitterness" in a Dissenting Church. One pants for the deacon's office and a second thinks he ought to be sent out to preach, and wishes to exercise his gifts at the prayer-meetings. If these dispositions should not be encouraged, and especially if opposed by the church and the minister, offended pride excites swellings, cavelling at the sermons, censures of imaginary faults in the church and minister. Disaffection occasions distance and backbiting, and these frequently end in suspension, separation, or the withdrawment of the discontented.

Leaving the independent church, they endeavour to form a new party; and if this fails, they join another congregation in the neighbourhood, if there be one, where their consequence may be promoted.

A third cause of instability of conduct, is worldly interest."The love of money" leads many from one community of professing Christians to another, as may, in their own apprehension, best advance worldly prosperity. Thus one partner in trade misleads another; and a mercenary prospect of marriage will lead an unstable young man or woman from one society of Christians to another, in forming that important relation.

A fourth cause, is worldly prosperity. This often nourishes pride and bad passions, and prepares the mind to receive the attention and flattery of worldly minded professors, who draw off the heart from the ordinances of God, by expensive dinners, and parties of pleasure, which melt down the mind, and form it by the mould of "the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life." I have seen the gentleman, regular in his attendance at the dissenting meeting, deeply impressed with the Gospel of Salvation, which he constantly heard, and warmly attached to the preacher's character as a Christian minister, and to his principles as a dissenter. This gentleman, on rising into the notice of the world by office or title, has instantly left the dissenting meeting, and returned to the church-a distinguished bigot.

I have seen grandeur yield to the lower branch of the middle class of society; and from a coach and four, in fashionable parade in the world and in the church, reduced to comparative poverty, and attending with hearts of affectionate gratitude, the Word of God, as the only source of consolation.

Ah! exclaimed a lady, whose heart first became attached to the Dissenters in her neighbourhood, from the influence of the Gospel in relieving her distressed mind, what would the dead body of mere morals, which I have heard at church, do for me now? She preferred the simplicity of the dissenting discipline, as she termed it, to the lax discipline, or, as she said, the no discipline of the church, in which she had been "brought up."

But prosperity suddenly returned with its thousands a-year; the rich and the gay showed her great attention; she gradually with

drew from the society which was her asylnm in adversity, and returned to the Church, in the style of fashion.

A fifth cause of instability of conduct, particularly among the Dissenters, is an aversion to the discipline they exercise. If a member becomes immoral, they reprove him privately for private offences, and publicly for public ones. If reproof fails of its effect, they may suspend him from their communion. If he repents, they restore him to his privileges; but if he obstinately vindicates his sin, they separate him. This is apostolic order, "Put away from you that evil person."

This is, indeed, a trial of the faith of the Church, in exercising discipline "without partiality and without hypocrisy;" for they are called on by imperious duty to expel the rich and the liberal sinner. I do not confine this to the Independents; for the same cause will produce the same effect in other societies. A married man, in Lady Huntington's connection, was called before the society, for taking criminal liberties with a single woman. He refused to meet them, and went to Church. Removing to another place, he joined the Independents, and professed himself a Dissenter. The lust of the flesh again revealed him, and he was expelled. He left them, and again joined a society in her ladyship's connection, declaring his dislike to the discipline of the Dissenters, which he called “trammels.” A second was expelled from an independent society for lying; and a third was suspended for the most flagrant acts of injustice. They manifested their impenitence by continuing incorrigible, by the most scandalous slanders poured on the church and minister, and soon after libelled the independent dissenters, as arbitrary and severe. They soon joined a society where their lust of power was gratified, by being made members of a committee, which governed the society and its ministers. They readily voted in exercising discipline among the dissenters-in reproving and expelling other persons; but disapproved of its discipline, when it was justly directed against themselves. The society adapted to their criminal liberty is one where they can be in office, give out the hymns, control the ministers, and be above control themselves. Let them gratify their particular sins and the lust of power, and you ensure their liberality and activity in their society. One of them observed, that a frequent change of ministers prevented too minute an acquaintance with individuals: A second remarked, that the use of the forms of prayer skreened them from much persecution: A third intimated, that when the church was not controlled by any minister, one minister had no more power than another; and left the interest of the church to the committee, as managers of all its concerns. This may be illustrated by the following fact:-Three females applied to one of the ministers for a ticket of admission to the sacrament. He proposed a time to converse with them. The eldest answered, we are not come to be catechised; if the Rev. Mr. — was here, he would give us

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