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But this subject, difficult as it is in itself, has within itself a still greater difficulty. Of this order of intelligences a portion have sinned and fallen. Of this great and wonderful event, a revolt in the heavenly world, and among the highest order of created beings, we have no regular history in the Bible. The fact, however, is as distinctly revealed, as any other fact, and the summary of the whole is this. By various positive declarations and allusions, by indirect remarks and hints, we are taught that Satan, an angel once of pre-eminent distinction in heaven, under the influence of pride and ambition, rebelled against his Maker. In this deplorable enterprise we further learn, that multitudes of the heavenly host united with him, and with the same disposition violated the law of God, and revolted from his government. The revolt appears to have been one, to have existed at one time, and to have united those who shared in it in the same guilt and in the same condemnation. When we attempt to ask the why and the wherefore, we are painfully at a loss for an answer, though it involves no more real difficulty than the fall of man, about which we need have no argument, as it is a fact of painful experience. As a revelation of God through the Scriptures, this cannot be questioned, and indeed God in his mercy seems to have taken such pains to convince us of the origin and fall of these once celestial creatures, with their names, their numbers, and with their state and punishment, with their malicious designs and employments, that no one can doubt of their existence who believes these holy oracles to be true; nor can any one wish to dispossess his mind of this persuasion without tempting God to give him


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over to a strong delusion, that he may believe a lie. The existence and agency of evil spirits is assumed as a fact in Scripture. Thus: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it."-"For God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” The names which are given indicate the character which they bear and the dispositions which they entertain towards men. Satan is called an adversary in several places; in others, an accuser; in others, an enemy; in others, a calumniator. It would be tedious to mention all the places in Scripture in which they are spoken of in the most direct terms and their existence and employments assumed as undeniable. From a very close consideration of the whole series, it will appear, that their constant employment is not only doing evil themselves, but endeavouring, by all possible arts, to perusade and subvert mankind. The whole tenor of Scripture goes on the revealed fact, that though as all things under the governmentof God, they are also under his absolute control, and can go no further than his permission extends; that they are, in the mysterious plans of that government, permitted to act out the evil dispositions of their fallen nature, by trying the faith and patience of God's people, by hardening the wicked in their sins, even in this world, and by being the instruments of their punishment in the world to come. These are the Scripture statements on the subject, and I have laid them before you in all the solemnity of the subject, because I would not shrink from one single topic which gives its characteristics to the greatness of the work in which the individual who would be saved must be engaged. He has arrayed against him all the power and malice of the devil. In relation to those who are careless and unconcerned and impenitent, they have none of this agency in opposition to them, because they are of themselves walking in the path which the great enemy of man could best desire. While sinners are walking with careless, and heedless, and delighted steps, in the broad road which leadeth to destruction, they have the smiles, and the complacency, and the ten thousand assistances which this class of intelligences can afford. But the moment that an individual is, by some remarkable dispensation of Almighty mercy, either exhibited in the afflictions of the world, or in the application of the truth of the Gospel, brought to a stand in this downward course to ruin, and in some measure disposed to retrace his steps and seek the narrow path which leads to eternal life, than he has these smiles, and this complacency, and these assistances turned into hatred, obstacles, and deadly opposition. No sooner is there the smallest disposition to take hold of the great work of salvation, than all this supernatural agency is turned in all its force and combination against him. An impenitent sinner of any grade, who is, of course, if not theoretically, yet practically an opposer of the truth and righteousness of God, is spoken of as caught in the snare of the devil and led captive by him at his will. This work of salvation is spoken of as an escape from this captivity, and in the escape he has all the power and energy of his former master against him. When an individual is roused for a moment to a sense of this captivity, and in the awful view of the end to which he is hastening, has even one feeble desire to escape and regain some path of safety, then are the arts and efforts of the enemy put into activity; then is the man assailed with temptations, with evil thoughts and desires; then is the head filled with infidelity and error; then the heart assailed with all the enticements of sense and sin. The matter which causes our greatest amazement is, not that so many should be lost and perish in their sins, go down to their graves with consciences seared and hearts hardened in final and incurable impenitence; but that any should be saved, when there is in the order of God's mysterious government an opposition so terrible as this; opponents whom the awakened sinner sees not; opposition of which he has no sensible evidence, exerted with ceaseless and persevering malice. There is but one single point which relieves this subject from unmitigated horror, and it is a point which constitutes another characteristic by which we judge of the greatness of this work, I mean the aids which are afforded. This, however, comes in as my third general division, and can only now be hinted at. Were it not that there is supernatural aid, as well as supernatural opposition, the contest would be hopeless. Blessed be God, the one is more than a counterbalance to the other, because the victory of Christ, and the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, come into the consideration. These, however, I cannot touch at present. I am only endeavouring, in the statement of so solemn a truth as the opposition which there is and must be





to every desire and every wish to turn unto God, to show that the work of religion is a work of uncommon greatness. The sinner who is arrested in his course, and would take one step in his escape, has the wisdom, the malice, and the power of the devil against him.

But, my bretheren, when an individual has, by grace, attained so much of the victory as to have repented of his sins, and fled to Jesus Christ, when he is a Christian, then has he to experience the bitterest and most determined of this opposition. “Who can by searching find out God, or who can find out the Almighty to perfection ?" I frankly confess that among all the wonders of that mysterious dealing by which God sees fit to bring his people to himself, their ceaseless subjection to the opposition of the devil, is one of the most mysterious; and in humble submission, we are constrained to say—“As the heavens are high above the earth, so are God's ways aboveour ways, and his thoughts above our thoughts." There are several Scripture instances to prove the truth of the proposition, that of all the people living in a probationary state, the servants of God are most exposed, in their work of salvation, to the opposition of Satan. Of this Job is an illustrious instance, and the opposition had well nigh overcome him. The Apostle Peter is another, for our Saviour tells him that Satan had desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat. His request, to its extent, was not granted; but we see the potency of his temptation, when this Apostle, with curses, denied his Master. The look of Jesus broke the spell and destroyed the power of the tempter, and from the opposition Peter rose more faithful, yet more

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