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164 BRUISED THE HEEL OF THE MESSIAH.
even unto death, the holy and suffering Jesus. Of all the circumstances recorded in the Gospels, there is no one more extraordinary, and no one at the same time more positively described as having actually taken place, than the temptation of Jesus by the devil: see Matt. iv, 1—11; Mark i, 12,13. It appears to have been necessary to the completion of that comprehensive scheme which was appointed for man's redemption, that the author and minister of our faith should be subjected in various different ways to the baptism of suffering, and though incapable of sin, should be "tempted like as we are." Accordingly, we find that previously to the commencement of his ministry, he was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, where, during forty days of fasting, he was exposed to the insidious aggressions of his enemy; and however mysterious this part of the history of Jesus may be in some points of view, one thing is indisputable—that the whole scene displays, in clear colours, the restlessness, artfulness, perseverance, and malignity, of Satan.
After that scene had been brought to its close, we read that Satan " departed from Jesus,"—but only "for a season:" Luke iv, 13. All the circumstances of the case are such as lead us to the conclusion, that his attacks upon the Messiah were renewed from time to time; and that probably in a rougher and more distressing form. When the Holy One of Israel was rejected, despised, spitted on, scourged, and insulted—when he endured the contradiction of sinners—when he wandered in desolate places, and had " not where to lay his head"—when, on the view of his approaching crucifixion, he passed through his agony in the garden of Gethsemane-^we
INFLUENCE OF HIS AGENTS AT THE XTIAN ERA. 165
have every reason to believe, that the Serpent was bruising the heel of the Seed of the woman. Finally, that it was the same spiritual adversary who procured the consummation of the sufferings of Jesus—his shameful and cruel death—we may conclude from our Lord's address to his Jewish persecutors, "Ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in
you ye do that which ye have seen with your
father"—that is with the devil: John viii, 37, 38; comp. 44. Again, it is expressly declared by the apostle John, that it was Satan who entered into Iscariot "after the sop," and who put it into the heart of the apostate to betray his Lord: John xiii, 2. 27.
That during the whole course of the life and ministry of Jesus, there was a very extensive and probably unusual manifestation of Satanic influence, we may indeed collect not only from the passages which have now been cited, and which describe some of the operations of Beelzebub himself, but from the very numerous accounts, contained in the four Gospels, of persons who were possessed and tormented by his subordinate agents. These persons appear in an especial manner to have excited the compassion, and to have claimed the miraculous aid of him who came to destroy all the works of the devil. Now when we reflect on the exactness with which these circumstances are described—when we recollect the conversations which sometimes took place between Jesus and the evil spirits, and the manner in which they were compelled to confess that he was the Christ, the Son of God—when we call to mind, for example, the instance in which the legion of devils were expelled from the maniac, and permitted, on their earnest entreaty, to enter into the herd of swine—and when
166 THE ADVERSARY OF GOD, CHRIST, AND MAN.
moreover we remember that the evangelists were no writers of figures and allegories, but plain, accurate, and inspired historians—it seems impossible to reject the literal interpretation of these narrations, or to refuse to allow that, at that most important period of the world's history, the spirits of darkness were permitted, in a very remarkable manner, to display their malignity, their activity, and their power.
The Hebrew word Satan signifies an adversary, and is, by way of eminence, applied as a name to the devil, because he is of all adversaries the principal — the most powerful and the most malicious. He is the adversary of God, against whom he has rebelled, whose will he still resists, whose rule he endeavours to disturb. He is the adversary of Christ, whom he was at one time permitted to tempt, afflict, and persecute, and whose spiritual dominion over men it is still his constant endeavour to interrupt and impede. Between the Messiah of God and Belial, the prince of darkness, diametrically opposed to each other as they are, in all their attributes, in all their operations, and in all their ends, there can indeed be no " concord:" II Cor. vi, 15. More especially, Satan is the adversary of man, whose loss both physical and moral he has so successfully compassed, and is still for ever labouring to aggravate and confirm.
With respect to the former point, our physical loss, we are to remember that sickness, and death, and all their sorrowful train, are the indirect consequences of the moral fall into which man was betrayed by Satan. On particular occasions, moreover, the sufferings of mortality, whether bodily or mental, are traced immediately, by the inspired writers, to the operation of the adversary. It was by his instrumen
AUTHOR OF PHYSICAL SUFFERING; 167
tality, that Job was afflicted in body, family, and estate. The woman who for eighteen years had been "bowed together and could in no wise lift up herself," is declared by our Saviour to have been bound by Satan: Luke xiii, 11, 16. The maimed, the halt, the withered, the blind, and the lunatic, who were the objects of the miraculous interposition of our Lord's compassion, are all described as persons "oppressed of the devil:" Acts x, 38. And when, in the primitive and apostolic church, the transgressor was to be punished by some temporal disease or other affliction, he was for this purpose delivered for a season to the power of the devil:" I Cor. v, 5; I Tim. i, 20.
The malice of our spiritual enemy however has, in this point of view, been often directed with especial force against the followers and disciples of the Lord Jesus; because in hindering, buffeting, and persecuting them, he interrupts the progress of that word of truth, which it is their privilege to disseminate, and by which, in the end, his own kingdom must be subverted. "Simon, Simon," said Jesus to the apostle Peter, " behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as 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: I Thes. 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:" II 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.
168 OF MORAL EVIL; AND OF IGNORANCE.
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:" Eph. 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 sows "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" II Tim. ii, 26; comp. I Tim. 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 "synagogue of Satan:" Rev. ii, 9. It is by their sins that the children of the devil are made manifest. "He that com