תמונות בעמוד

reserved them in everlasting chains [debarred of light] under darkness unto the judgment of the great day, Jude 6. While, on the other hand, he confirmed the elect angels by an irrevocable decree; took them from the basis of free-will, and fixed them in immutable love and almighty power; so as to render it impossible for them ever to fall, as the others had done. They are not left now to the freedom of their own will, but confirmed in their glorious Head Christ; who is therefore called “the Head of all principality and power,” Col. ii. 10. And, as the angels are confirmed by the Saviour in eternal friendship, so is their willingness to renounce their former standing in the freedom of their own will; and their ready acquiescence in, and thankful acceptance of, confirmation in Christ the elect Head, in whom God had predestinated their everlasting standing; for which reason they are called “elect angels;" and their acquiescence is called a “ reconciliation,” though they were never at enmity: “ And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven,” Col. i. 20.

This is one cause of the devil's enmity against election; and he has thousands in the world making a profession of religion, who are influenced by him, and boldly espouse and defend his cause against the sovereign will of the Almighty. The great and terrible day of the Lord will discover many wonderful and awful scenes of this sort, to the everlasting confusion of many who now triumph in it.

Secondly. It is a most galling and degrading consideration to a proud and lofty spirit, like the devil,


that fallen men, after they were seduced by Satan, were found under the condemnation and curse of God, as well as themselves; and when both natures appeared before God equally condemned and on a level, that the Saviour should reject the angelic nature, and assume the human: "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham,” Heb. ii, 16. This sovereign act, this discriminating grace of the Saviour, the devil hates.

Thirdly. By the Saviour's death on the cross the devil suffered loss in his kingdom; his dark dominion's were wonderfully discovered; the destroying power of sin (the main pillar of his empire) was taken away, insomuch that it shall never destroy one of God's elect.. The devil was cast down as an accuser, and cannot in one sense be called the god of this world, for the heir of all things overcame him.

Death, another inferior sovereign in Satan's dominions, was plagued, and shall surely be destroyed, Hosea xiji. 14. Satan, sin, and death, were triumphed over, and exposed openly on the cross, Col. ii. 15; the devil led captive by the Saviour, Eph. iv. 8; 'and a kingdom of grace set up in the world, that shall surely demolish his, Dan. vii. 14.

Another reason that may be assigned for the devil's malice is, that the Saviour, whom he so hates, will bring him and all his legions forth to judgment. Satan is reserved under darkness to judgment; and then the Lord will expose or reveal the whole

mystery of iniquity.” 2 Thess. ii: 7. Then shall the saints appear in the truth which the devil left, as Esther did in Vashti's palace, Esther ii. 17; for they shall be “ as the angels of God in heaven,” Matt. xxii. 30; while fallen angels shall be left on a level with fallen men; not at all superior, unless it be in misery: hence you read of sinners going in company with “ the devil and his angels,” Matt. xxv. 41. But the most tormenting thought to infernal pride is, that elected, redeemed, and restored men shall judge these infernal kings, princes, and potentates: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels ?” 1 Cor. vi. 3. In that day it will appear that those who died in free-will and self-righteousness will be found among the black brigade, as sure as there is a God that judgeth right.

These are some of the reasons that may be assigned for the devil's unlimited malice against the Saviour and his elect; therefore it is in vain for the elect to expect reconciliation, seeing God has declared the war; and we may say of Satan's envy as the learned Milton does:

“ Never can true reconcilement grow,

Where deadly hate has pierc'd so deep." Hence we may warrantably conclude that the devil will never raise the siege while God has a church in the world; nor will he ever drop the suit, as a plaintiff, so long as he can draw one believer to listen to his lies, yield to his temptations, or fret at his accusations.

Ahimaaz. Pray how did he begin with Prodigalis ? I suppose in a furious way, because he had formerly been a faithful servant to the devil; and, as he knew many of his wiles, he was the better able to expose them. It is often seen that such are the most valiant for truth, the most loyal to the Saviour, and the most fervent in prayer. They that are faithful to the unrighteous mammon will be so to the true riches, Luke xvi. 11. They that have much forgiven will love much, Luke vii. 47. And " to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,” Luke xii. 48.

Cushi. You must know that Prodigalis being so conspicuously delivered, he thought the devil was so rebuked as never to attack him again; nor did he in the least suspect that the evils of his heart would ever make a second appearance; nor that he should ever lose sight of the Saviour. In this secure frame he was altogether unprepared for trial; the devil knew this, and therefore caught the opportunity. A believer may often be charged with being off his guard; but no such charge can justly be brought against the devil: in this point he is “ wiser than the children of light.”

When the devil came to him he poured a shower of fiery darts into his mind; the corruption of his heart caught the flame," and the whole course of nature was set on fire of hell," James iii. 6. The smoke beclouded his understanding; or (as Paul says) “the god of this world blinded his eyes :" his judgement was confused, and every divine sensation seemed to be swallowed up with horror and dismay. Satan, having thus gained an advantage of hini, presented him afresh at the bar of judicature, and there accused him of the very blasphemous thoughts which himself injected into his mind: he tempted him to believe that he had fallen from grace, suggested hard thoughts of the Saviour to him, and then accused him of it. He insinuated to him that he had sinned against the Holy Ghost; that all the confusion and horror which Prodigalis felt were the effects of the just judgment of God for his unpardonable sin, and no less than an earnest of what he would suffer to eternity.

Prodigalis felt for his soul-comforting witness, but could not feel him; his faith seemed not to do her usual office; therefore the poor soul sunk into the real fears of death, and horrors of hell, as bad as ever. Destruction appeared on one side, and Satan on the other; and the devil brought many of Moses's old accusations against him, as if it were Moses that was accusing him as an unbeliever.

Poor Prodigalis never was more confounded than now: at his first trial he had no sensible hope of mercy; but to be arraigned, after justification, was a mystery too profound for him to make a judgment of. Therefore he

gave all over for lost; not doubting but he was given up as a reprobate into the hands of Satan; who would certainly prevail to make him vent the horror and rebellion of his burdened heart in blasphemous expressions.

While Prodigalis was sinking in despondency these words came with a divine power to his mind; “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are made partakers of Christ's sufferings,” i Pet. iv. 12, 13. These words gained the attention of the poor man, which Satan could not endure; for he can do nothing with us any longer than while he employs our mind, and we are attentive to his lies; which is his wisdom and our folly.

The devil, perceiving that poor Prodigalis was attentive to another voice, laid violently against him; but the other, having received a little encouragement from the above text, was persuaded that he should enjoy the sentence of justification again: nay, he was persuaded that it would come with power a second time; wherefore he put up these petitions: “ Hear the

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »