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sin must have been pride; which appears to be intimated in the apostle's words to Timothy. “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” It is certain, however, that Satan once belonged to the highest order of created beings, and was, perhaps, the highest of that order. But by pride or some other offence, he apostatized from God, and led others to apostatize from him; for which he was doomed, with his followers, to a state of everlasting darkness and despair. But notwithstanding his loss of holiness and happiness, he still retains that superior power and intelligence with which he was originally created.
2. The scripture represents the Devil, as an invisible agent in this world. He is said to be a Spirit, which denotes his invisibility. He is likewise represented as taking possession of the minds of men, and invisibly governing their thoughts and actions. But though he is naturally invisible to human eyes, yet he is capable, as well as the angels of light, of assuming a material vehicle, and of becoming visible to mankind. It seems, he appeared to Adam and Eve in a visible form. But we are not to suppose, that God ever permits him to assume a bodily shape, unless it be on some peculiar occasion, to answer some special purpose of providence. It is true, he is represented in the text as a roaring lion, but this is to be understood figuratively. As an angel he is a spirit, and as a spirit he is naturally invisible, and, in his common intercourse with mankind, acts in an invisible manner; though he may occasionally put on a human or some other visible appearance.
3. The scripture represents the Devil, as the head of all the apostate angels. We are not informed how many of the heavenly hosts apostatized from God; but there is reason to believe, that the number was great. When our Lord asked an unclean spirit his name, he replied, “My name is legion: for we are many.” This account agrees with what the apostle says concerning the various ranks of fallen angels. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Among these various orders of
apostate spirits, he, who is emphatically called the devil, holds the highest. This is frequently intimated in scripture. When our Saviour cast a devil out of a dumb man, the pharisees said, “He casteth out devils through the prince of devils.” And they said on another occasion, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils.” A similar remark was made by those, who saw Christ cast out a devil that was dumb. They said, “He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of devils." But he knowing their thoughts said unto them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?” Here Christ seems to confirm the common opinion among the Jews, that the Devil is a chief or a prince, who reigns supreme in his own kingdom.
4. The scripture represents the Devil, as being conversant in this world, and exerting his power and influence here. The author of the book of Job says, “When the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them.” And when the Lord asked him whence he came, he answered, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” The apostle gives the same representation of him in the text. “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary 'the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may
devour.” When Christ saw him coming to tempt him, he said, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." He also predicted the descent of the Holy Ghost, who should restrain and condemn Satan. “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of judgment,
, because the prince of this world, is judged.” The Devil has always been roaming through this world, and as the prince of the power of the air, produced winds, and storms, and other natural evils, to afflict mankind, and carry on his malignant opposition to Christ and the interests of his kingdom. He has already spread misery and destruction far and wide; and he means, if possible, to ruin the human race. Nor does he act alone, but causes all his subjects to co-operate in all his malevolent purposes. Were all these apostate spirits only visible, they would appear more terrible, than so many ravening wolves. For,
5. The scripture represents the Devil, and consequently his subjects, as perfectly malevolent. This is the character given of him in the text. “Your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” He is called an evil spirit, a foul spirit, an unclean spirit, a liar, a murderer, a tormentor, a destroyer. Yea, he is represented as the perfection of malignity. When Christ would paint sinners in the blackest colour, he compares them with this impure spirit. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” And when the apostle would represent the bitterest passions of human nature in the most odious light, he calls them "earthly, sensual, devilish.” God's conduct towards Satan, and towards all other beings, has imbit. v, 8
tered his mind, and filled his selfish heart with the highest degree of envy, malice, and revenge.
6. The scripture represents this Enemy of all righteousness, as having access to the minds of men, and possessing a power of tempting their hearts, and leading them into all manner of moral evil. We are told that he tempted our first parents to eat of the forbidden fruit; that he led the posterity of Noah to forget and forsake God; that he provoked David to number Israel; that he seduced many of the people of God into idolatry; that he tempted Christ in the wilderness; that he put it into the heart of Ju. das to betray him; that he filled the heart of Ananias to lie unto the Holy Ghost. He is called the spirit, that worketh in the children of disobedience. He is said to blind the minds of them that believe not. And it is predicted, that he shall in time to come, go out to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters of the earth. Hence God repeatedly and solemnly warns men to guard themselves against bis wiles and temptations. Timothy is divinely directed to instruct such as oppose the gospel, “that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." Paul exhorts himself and his christian brethren to exercise mu, tual forgiveness, “Lest, says he, Satan should get an advantage against us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” To the Ephesians he says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.” The apostle James also
1. It is God's account, whose knowledge and veracity are unquestionable. He was as able to give us the history of the Devil, as the history of Adam, or Noah, or Abraham, or any other person, whom he has recorded in his word. He knew Satan from the beginning of his existence, and was able to give a true account of his primitive state, of his first apostacy, and of his conduct towards Adam and all his posterity to the end of time. He has not, indeed, revealed all that he might have revealed concerning this first apostate but what he has revealed must be infallibly true, and demand universal belief.