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right, O Lord? attend unto my cry; give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips; let my sentence come forth from thy presence: let thine eyes behold the things that are equal. Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tricd me,” Psalm xvii. 1-3.
As soon as Prodigalis had ended his petitions the glorious Advocate answered his prayer in the joy of his heart; and applied the following words with such power, that the sham court grew too hot for the cunning accuser: “ No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn,” Isa. xliv. 17. Poor Prodigalis, recovering his spiritual might, and seeing his beclouded evidences appear, if possible, ten times brighter than ever, and finding the word of God flow in upon
his mind, he laid hold of the sword of the Spirit, and said to his accuser, “ It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,” Rom. viii. 33. The devil immediately vanished.
This sham trial served to teach Prodigalis the use of God's sword; and evidently fulfilled this scripture; “Submit yourselves therefore to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James iv. 7.
Ahimaaz. I dare say the poor man found his love warmer, his faith stronger, and saw the office, use, and faithfulness, of his Advocate in a clearer light than ever he had done before. None, but those who experience it, know how the immutable love of God, and the faithfulness of the Saviour (which appear in so many repeated deliverances) endear the Almighty to the poor helpless believer, who is perpetually buffeted by the common enemy of God and man.
Cushi. Indeed Prodigalis never had seen the
Saviour in his office as an Advocate but once before, and in this confusion he had lost sight of him: but by means of repeated trials we are led to feel our need of the Saviour in every character that he sustains, which we know nothing of until various trials make us sensible of our need of them, and the Saviour condescends to appear in and fulfil them.
And I apprehend the want of observing and considering these things is one reason of the dejection of too many precious souls in our days. Our kind Intercessor ought to be viewed in that office every time we pray. As our Mediator he is wanted when there appears a controversy between God and conscience. An Advocate and a Wonderful Counsellor must be felt for in temptations, or else the accuser's wisdom will be too much for us. And these characters our Lord sustains; and he will ever discharge his offices with divine rectitude, if the prayer of faith implores his aid.
Prodigalis was so confirmed in the faithfulness of his Lord, and in the power of faith, that he secretly wished the same trial to come over again, that he might shew his loyalty, his love, and his faithfulness, to his Lord, and not dishonour him by his unbelief, as he had done, in giving place to the devil; which he saw was a sin reflecting dishonour on every perfection of his Lord.
Ahimaaz. He had better have left his résolutions out of the conflict; for, if Satan were to be let loose upon him an hundred times, if the spirit of faith ceased to operate, he would feel the workings of unbelief more or less. I have been vain enough ere now, when I have found my heart fixed, and my consolations powerful, to defy a temptation; thinking that my mountain stood so strong that I should never be moved. But, ałas, what are the best of men against Satan's rage, if not panoplied and fortified by the great Jehovah? It was not without cause that Paul bid Timothy " be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus;" which strength consists in a firm persuasion of the immutable love, promised aid, and momentary support, of the Almighty God and Saviour Christ Jesus.
Cushi. What you say is true: but, as Satan desires to have us, that he may sift us as wheat for his own gratification, so the Lord sometimes enables his children to triumph over him in turn: " Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy! when I fall I shall arise; when I sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me,” Micah vii. 8. I do not say that the above text is a direct answer to the devil himself; but, as he is the chief agent of all the enmity that is displayed against the children of God, it is in the strictest 'sense applicable to him; agreeably to the Saviour's method. When Satan tempted Peter to stand in the Lord's
way, the Lord rebuked the agent of the action: “Get thee behind me, Satan.” When the Jews persecuted and blasphemed him he said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do.” When his enemies came to take him he said, hour, and the powers of darkness.” And, when Judas had yielded the bent of his mind to gender with the devil's influence, the Lord withdrew his own restraining power, opened his heart with a sop, that Judas might perpetrate the murder that his wicked and mercenary heart had conceived: “ And when he had received the sop Satan entered into him;" and immediately after the conception was brought forth, in his betraying the innocent Son of God.
6. This is your
Ahimaaz.. You are right in levelling your arrow at the devil; for I believe there is no wickedness practised by mortals, except he is the chief
in the scheme, and a joint executor of it. But I suppose that Satan did not attempt to bring poor Prodigalis a second time to his sham court of judicature-did he?
Cushi. Indeed Satan brought him to his sham court of judicature more than once, twice, or thrice: but not the next time; if he had, Prodigalis had been in a measure prepared for him. But the devil finds that we have various discipline to pass through, therefore he varies his snares' also: for, should he constantly waylay us in one continued path, the bird would soon get as cunning as the fowler: for, as the wise man says, “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird,” Prov, i. 17. No, no; Satan in this sense is no fool, though in another sense he is the greatest of fools, because he is the first transgressor; supreme in mischief, and supreme in misery; the furthest from God, and consequently the furthest from true wisdom.
Ahimaaz. Pray how did he entangle Prodigalis the third time? I long to hear, because some part of your relation so well agrees with my own experience, and that is refreshing and establishing to me. For my part, I am for what I can get; and you know that Paul tells us to “ covet earnestly the best gifts."
Cushi. Indeed you have spoken the truth; you are in reality for what you can get, and one of the best sucklings that ever I took to nourish: and would to God that I was as good a wet nurse as Paul was in his days, when he said, “ But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children," 1 Thess. ii.7.
The way that Satan made his next attempt on Prodigalis was as follows: The poor man expected that if ever Satan made another attempt it would be in the old way, in which he thought he would be able to meet him: this made him too secure. Therefore Satan laid by his violent assaults, and his cloven foot, and endeavoured to come in imitation of the workings of grace; or, as the apostle says, “ Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” Catching Prodigalis, therefore, off his watch-tower, and too secure, he insensibly led him to the court of equity; where he endeavoured to enthrone human reason as the only competent judge of right and wrong. This scheme took with Prodigalis: he had not the least suspicion of the devil being in all this; wherefore, instead of resisting him, he gave him all possible attention, and was determined to hear him out. Satan, having gained his ear and attention, proceeded to start every puzzling difficulty, and seeming contradiction, in form following; The plaintiff sheweth, first, That there are many mysteries in the Bible dark and obscure, and the best and wisest of men differ in judgment respecting them. Secondly, That the mystery of the Trinity is incomprehensible, and that thousands of wise and learned people deny that. Thirdly, That the path to heaven by regeneration is a path that excludes thousands of souls from salvation, and is a road therefore to the last degree perilous. Fourthly, That most of those who are venturing on that hazardous journey are poor, illiterate, and despicable people. Fifthly, That those