« EdellinenJatka »
OUR DECEIVER, 169
mitteth 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 veil of gross and perilous ignorance. With all his "principalities and powers," 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:" II 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; II 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: II 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
170 ACCUSER, AND DESTROYER.
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.4 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 our 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.
HIS END. 171
ii, 14. W hether 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, (I Pet. v, 8)—whom he may destroy—whom he may plunge into that 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 together 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 ofjire 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 who resisted the righteous Joshua— that in tempting, buffeting, and persecuting, the Messiah, even unto death, the devil bruised the heel of the seed of the woman—that 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.
PERSONALITY OF SATAN, 173
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 a 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