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jected. Men carelessly turn away from the great Deliverer, and consent to be led captive by the Destroyer at his will.
I remark farther, that as Satan accomplishes much by his instruments, so Christ, in opposing him, employs on a large scale the instrumentality of others. He employs all the countless myriads of the holy angels. Some of these are of equal power with Satan himself; and are as much skilled in doing good, as he is in the arts of wickedness. These legions of angels are all subject to the Mediatorial reign of Christ. They are all of them his devoted and delighted servants. They fly on his errands from world to world, and aid him in his mighty conflict against the Prince and the powers of darkness.
Associated with them in the same employment, are Christ's faithful people here on the earth. And I have often thought, my Christian friends, that we never, in this life, approach so near to the angels, and become so much like them, as when we co-operate with them in works of benevolence, and in promoting the cause and kingdom of Christ. The faithful pastor, as he stands on his watch-tower, and gives to the gospel trumpet a certain sound; or as he goes from house to house among the people of his charge, inculcating truth, administering consolation, warning and teaching every man ;-the self-denying missionary, plying his labor of love among the degraded heathen, endeavoring to open the long sealed eye, and pour the balm of heavenly comfort into the stupid, vacant heart;-the Sabbath-school teacher, diligently instructing and watching over his class;-the female tract distributor, flitting from house to house, bearing her little winged messenger of mercy-the pious mother, patiently toiling for her children, directing their infant minds, and endeavoring to train them up for God ;-the steadfast, devoted Christian, standing ever in his lot, exhibiting a holy, consistent example, letting his light shine, doing good to all men as he has opportunity, especially to those who are of the household of faith;— all these, and others like them, seem to me to be but little lower than the angels, and to be very like them in the character of their pursuits. They belong, with them, to the same host of the great Captain of Salvation, and are employed, as instruments, in advancing the same cause, and carrying forward to its termination the same spiritual conflict.
Christ carries on this conflict, in part, by his providential arrangements. But it is remarkable that, in these arrangements, he does not aim at immediately and totally crushing his adversary. This he might do, at any time, with the utmost ease. But for the trial of the successive generations of men, he permits Satan and his legions to live and to act, to form plans and to carry them into execution, until a fair experiment of wickedness has been made, and until some special interposition in Providence is needed, to secure the safety of his Church. Thus, in the antediluvian world, Christ lengthened out the chain of Satan, and permitted him to carry into effect his designs, till the Church of God was all but extinct; and then, by one dreadful stroke, he frustrated and destroyed the works of his adversary, and emptied the earth of those hardened rebels who had so long ravaged and corrupted it.
And so in Egypt, he suffered Satan to prosper, and wickedness to triumph, till both his people and their oppressors had been sufficiently tried; and then, by a succession of awful providences, he humbled his enemies, and delivered his Church. And so in the days of Mordecai, Christ bore with the enemies of his people, till their diabolical designs were all but accomplished, and his Church was brought to the brink of ruin; and then he interposed, in a most remarkable manner, and turned their weapons against themselves.
These instances illustrate the manner in which Christ often conflicts with his proud adversary, by means of providential arrangements. It need never discourage the people of God, to see wickedness prospering, and Satan triumphing for a season. Their Lord permits this, for their trial; and for the trial of all concerned. He designs, in this way, to try the faith of his people, to teach them their dependence, and excite them to more earnest prayer. In this way, also, he displays his grace and his power, and renders the interpositions of his hand more conspicuous and glorious.
I remark once more, Christ carries on the conflict in which he is engaged, by the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. But this influence is not exerted to the full extent, and with all the efficiency, of which it is capable. Christ might, by his Spirit, convert the hearts of all men, and perfectly sanctify them, and thus end the conflict at a stroke. But such an exercise of power would hardly consist with the probation of men. It would not consist with those designs which God is pursuing in reference to this world. But Christ is sending his Spirit to give energy and efficacy to the truths of his gospel, to that extent, and in all those instances, which will be, in the end, most glorious to himself. By his Spirit, Christ is continually defeating and weakening his adversary, and often in such ways as are peculiarly annoying to him. Thus when, by much pains-taking, and a long process of diabolical influence, Satan has trained up an individual, and fitted him to do him service; Christ often sends his Spirit, and converts that individual, and enlists all his powers for the promotion of his own kingdom. Thus it was with Saul of Tarsus, with Augustine of Hippo, with Luther the reformer, with John Bunyan, John Newton, and many others. Those individuals, from whom Satan had expected the most eminent service, have in numerous instances, by the power of the Spirit, been taken from him, and been made the most distinguished instruments of promoting the cause and kingdom of Christ.
Revivals of religion are generally so ordered-perhaps they always are-as to be not only most glorious to the Savior, but most perplexing to his great Adversary. When, by much contrivance and labor, Satan has brought about such a state of things in a church or a town, that error has become popular, and vice and wickedness seem likely to prevail--when the hearts of God's people are distressed, and they have no resource but to cast themselves directly on the power and mercy of their heavenly Father; it is then, in most instances, that the Holy Spi rit is sent; the ranks of the enemy are broken; his designs are frus
trated; and those on whom he had chiefly relied to perpetrate his works of mischief, are often brought into the kingdom of Christ. So commonly has this representation been verified, that it has come to be a maxim, in the spiritual world, as well as in the natural, that "the darkest time in the night is just before the dawn of day." In a word, by his alliance with the Holy Spirit, Christ has all the resources of heaven at his control. He wields a power, before which Satan and all his legions are but worms. He is able to take the prey from the mighty, and to deliver the captives of the terrible one, till infinite wisdom and goodness have said, It is enough.
Having thus pointed out the manner in which this great conflict, on both sides, is carried on, I proceed, lastly, to notice its issues and results. What is to be the end of it, and what the consequences, to either party.
The issue of the great conflict between light and darkness, good and evil, the Prince of peace and the powers of hell, cannot be doubtful. It is clearly disclosed to us in the Bible; and might be satisfactorily anticipated, even if the Bible had not revealed it. This conflict has now been carried on, with varied success and prospects, for thousands of years. It will still continue, for a little season. It will thicken, and wax more portentous and dreadful, as it verges to its termination. Satan will come out in unwonted wrath, when it comes to be evident that his time is short. But he will, at length, be utterly defeated and ruined.
He will first be defeated on his own chosen ground-the ground of earth. This earth shall be taken from him, and given, for a long period, to Christ and his people. "The kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." "I saw an angel 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 shall be fulfiled." This is the first defeat of Satan; his first effectual confinement and exclusion from wasting and desolating the earth. His final defeat and overthrow are deferred for a little season.
Having been loosed from his prison at the close of the Millenium, that another experiment might be made of the dreadful evil of sin, and of what the human heart is capable, and having gathered the wicked nations together, in number as the sand of the sea, against the camp of the saints and the beloved city; suddenly fire descends from God out of heaven, and devours them all.
The end of all things earthly is now come. The devil, that deceived the nations, is finally taken, and "cast into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." Rev. 20: 10.
Such is the termination of the great conflict between the Prince of light, and the powers of darkness, in reference to this world. It ends
in the utter defeat and overthrow of Satan, and all his host, and all those who have been leagued and confederated with him. They are sent away accursed to the prison of despair. They are placed in a situation where they can plot against God and his people, and disturb the order and happiness of holy beings, no more forever.
The results of the great conflict to Christ and his Church, will be most triumphant and glorious. Christ must reign on his Mediatorial throne, till he has put all enemies under his feet; and when this is done, he will stand forth before the created universe, in the height of his power, and in the brightness of his glory. He will be seen to be "exalted, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come."
Christ's triumph over the principalities and powers of darkness will be the more glorious, because it is a moral triumph, accomplished, not by physical omnipotence, but chiefly by spiritual influences and moral means. It will be the triumph of light over darkness, of truth over falsehood, of right and equity over treason and rebellion, of holiness over sin. It will display, in the brightest manner, the transcendent glories of the Savior; while it will rescue a great multitude which no man can number from the tyranny and slavery of sin and Satan, and make them the eternal trophies of his victorious grace. It will restore the disturbed, the broken order of the universe, and place things in a situation, both in the worlds below, and the worlds above, where they may move on without change, without interruption forever. Those that are holy will be holy still, and those that are filthy will be filthy still. The happiness of heaven will never be interrupted, and the fires of hell will never cease.
In short, the results of the great conflict, which we have considered, will be most honorable to the Savior, and satisfactory in the highest degree, to all his friends. On the other hand, these results will be most humiliating, mortifying, desolating, terrible, to the whole company of his final enemies. They will be involved in a defeat from which they can never rise; in an overthrow and ruin irretrievable and eternal.
1. It follows from what has been said, that those are in a great error, who deny the existence and agency of fallen spirits. The persons who make this denial do it under the impression, that the doctrine of fallen spirits of a literal devil and his angels, is unreasonable. But I can see nothing unreasonable in this doctrine. It certainly is not unreasonable that God should create spirits; for he is "the Father of our spirits." Neither is it unreasonable that he should create spirits of a higher order than ourselves, and not encumbered, as we are, with gross material bodies. Nor is it unreasonable that he should make these higher spirits free moral agents, and put them on trial, and
that, in the progress of their trial, some of them should be left to abuse their free agency, and fall into sin. And yet such an act would constitute them fallen spirits; just what we suppose the devil and his angels to be.
And as there is nothing unreasonable in the doctrine of fallen spirits, so (as every reader of the Bible knows) it is abundantly scriptural. I need not quote passages in proof of this declaration. It would be just as easy to prove, from the language of the Bible, that there is a devil, as that there is a God. The Scriptures speak as expressly, and well nigh as often, of fallen wicked angels, as they do of wicked
Nor is this all that requires to be said on the subject. The history of our world is a full and continual illustration of the reality and power of Satanic influence. Man being what he now is, there would have been wickedness on earth, much wickedness, if there was no devil. But we see something besides mere wickedness here. We see organized, systematized wickedness. We see far-reaching, wide-spreading schemes of wickedness, which tell of an authorship vastly superior to our own. We see a conflict carried on against God and his Christone of long standing, and of prodigious extent-which, though it engrosses millions of hearts, and employs millions of hands, is yet manifestly under the direction of some one mighty, malignant spirit, who skilfully plans what his numberless vassals execute, and controls the springs which move the whole machinery of human rebellion and sin. In short, the book of providence, not less than that of revelation, proclaims the existence and agency of fallen spirits. The doctrine can no more be eradicated or explained away from the one of these volumes, than from the other.
2. It may easily be accounted for, in view of what has been said, that this world should be an object of intense and absorbing interest to the higher orders of intelligent creatures. That it is so, the Scriptures positively assert; and that it should be so, is not at all unaccountable or wonderful. Here sin entered. Here the kindness and love of a Father were repaid by the unnatural rebellion of an entire family. And here the great Son of God appeared, to perform the most astonishing of all his works-the work of our redemption. Here he lived and labored, suffered, bled, and died. And now that he has risen from the dead, and ascended upon high, earth has become the theatre of a conflict between the powers of light, and the powers of darkness, which moves and interests the universe. Satan is here contending, with all his legions, for the maintenance of his usurped dominion; and the Lord Jesus Christ, with his legior s, is contending to dethrone him, and put an end to his dark and bloody empire over the world. While this conflict is going on-a conflict which moves all heaven and hell-no wonder that earth, the theatre of it, should be an object of intense interest to surrounding intelligences. No wonder that, with the utmost solicitude, their eyes should be turned downward upon this little world,