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In like manner, in his providential government, le hath raised up the Devil and all his angels, that he might make them the means of declaring his glory, his power, wisdom, justice, and goodness.
But notwithstanding the Devil is thus dependent' and under divine control, he may still be a great being, and have a great and powerful agency in the production of evil in this world.We know not how great a person Satan is. For aught we know, he may be as great a creature as the Arians make Christ to be. No bounds can be set to the power of God, as to the degree of essence and capacity he
may give to a created dependent being. We would I by no means ascribe to so malignant an agent, more
power than he really possesses. But certain I am, it is no mark of a deep understanding of the word of God, or of sound wisdom, to treat the idea of Satan's power to do evil with contempt. He has power to bring natural evil upon men, and is sometimes permitted to do it, to a great extent; as Job was given into his hand, and was dreadfully afflicted by his power and malice.
But it is the reality and extent of his power to produce moral evil, that we are here concerned to state. And here the Scriptures furnish us with the following conclusions.
1. The introduction of sin and wickedness into this world, is ascribed to his agency:--The Scriptures mention no other agent or cause, in this lamentable affair.-The woman herself said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” God himself charged the mischief upon the Devil, and cursed him for it
Upon what is said of the agency of the Serpent, or Devil, in the 3d chap. of Gen, effecting the fall of mari, we take the words of Christ and St. Paul to be the most proper comment. Matt. xiii, 38. "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one.
The enemy that sowed them is the
Devil.” 2 Cor. xi, 3. But I fear lest by any means, as the Serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."-But this account of the fall of man, does not satisfy the curious research of many. They seem to think there is a difficulty here, which ought to be solved, and which all that Moses, Christ, and Paul, have said about it, does not reach. They have not said enough. No agency 'is here brought into view, sufficient to account for the rise of siriful exercises in an heart previously perfectly pure and holy. I conceive, it is a conclusion warranted by the Scriptures, that means, motives, instruments, second causes, &c. without a positive, immediate, divine efficiency, are sufficient to the temptation and seduction of a creature perfectly holy, or bitherto sinless; although they are insufficient to restore again the image of God to one who has become an apostate, a rebel, a slave to sin. If I am not able to defend this thought on the ground of revelation, I apprehend no one can disprove it on that ground. When Christ says of the Devil, “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it." Does he mean no more by schis own and the father of it,” than, that such an exercise was his own exercise, and not that of another creature?-Does it not appear, that it was our Lord's design to caution his disciples against looking beyond the agency of second causes, to account for the existence of falsehood and wickedness? Is it possible any candid sober man on earth, can think that the Son of God would have us to believe, that, notwithstanding what he has here said, God works immediately in the heart of the Devil, every lie, and is the real father or author of it? Regardless of all that philosophy may suggest respecting the ab. surdity of a self-determining power, and the impossibility of motives being efficient causes, &c. lim. agine we are bound by what our Lord here says, not to go beyond the power of second causes, as swayed by the Infinite First Cause, to account for the apostasy of creatures once sinless, or perfectly holy.-But with some it seems a plain principle of philosophy, to which even the Scriptures must yield, that it requires as extraordinary and direct a power to make an holy being sinful, as to make a sinful being boly.-Many theories have been invented to explain this difficult subject,- difficult, because man will be meddling with what is absolutely above his comprehension, and what God has not thought fit to reveal. Most of these theories, have aimed to account for the origin of moral evil, without introducing a positive divine efficiency, or even admitting that it was comprehended in the eternal purposes of Jeho. vah. But have any of their different schemes afforded relief to the inquiring mind? If they have seemed to remove one difficulty, they have plunged us into many more still greater?-And after all, I would inquire, what right any man has to add any thing to the account of this matter given by the sacred writers? Was it not adding to the scripture account, for Milton and others to pretend, God could not have prevented the fall of Adam, without destroying his moral freedom? And is it not equally to add to the Scripture account, to say, as Dr. Emmons does, that Satan presented motives to the view of Adam to sin, which motives could indeed have no possible power to move his will, or to excite a wrong choice; that the agency that produced the effect, was God himself, directly moving the heart of Adam to choose evil. Do the Scriptures in accounting for this event, give us the least hint of this kind? Is this the plain obvious sense of what they say upon the subject? Because the philosopher can see no other way to account for the event, does this prove this solution to be correct? There may be another, though we be not able to perceive it.
This is the source of nuinberless errors among philosophers. There is no other way to account for the phenomena." The Manichean says, there is
no other way to account for the existence of moral evil, except upon the principle of the existence of a benevolent and an evil God. Because, we can. not account for the fall of Adam, or of the once sinless angels, without introducing a divine direct efficiency, to move their wills to sin, are we warranted to set up this principle as truth?—[ trow not. . 2. All sinners of mankind, since the apostasy, are in the Scriptures represented as under the power and influence of the Devil.--And such language is used, as cannot be reconciled to this modern notion of divine efficiency in the production of the evil exercises of men. “But if I cast out devils by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man." Matt. xii, 28. Here Satan is a strong man, holding possession of the heart as his residence. “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." 2 Tim. ii, 26. «Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Ep. ii, 2.
Now is this the obvious sense of these texts, that Satan cannot move the wills of sinners by motives, nor any other influence, to evil; but when it is said, he is the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, we are to understand, that God is that spirit, which directly moves and excites every sinner to impiety and mischief? The Bible is truly written in a strange style, if this is the obvious sense. . 3. Satan is represented as the agent, who moves sinners to outward gross crimes and abominations. An evil spirit from the Lord, i. e, the Devil by divine permission, instigated Saul to attempt the murder of David. Calvin says, it would be blasphemy to say this was the spirit of God. When David committed the great sin of numbering the people, the Devil is said to provoke him to it. As it was God's purpose to punish him and the people, he is also said to move David; but it was by suffering him in a degree to fall under the power and influence of the Devil. When Judas betrayed the Lord of life and glory, it is said, Satan entered into him. Peter says to Ananias, “Why hath Satan put it into thy heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" But is it the obvious meaning of this declaration of Peter, that God stood by Ananias, and moved him, by a direct operation on his heart, as Dr. Emmans says, in respect to God's hardening the heart of Pharaoh. When the Bible says, Satan puts it into the heart of a wicked man, are we always to understand, that God is meant instead of Satan?--For the doctrine we oppose, asserts, that neither Satan, nor any other second cause, can incline the heart of even the greatest sinner to do evil?
4. The Devil in the word of God, is represented as the grand agent in effecting the great apostasy from Christianity, under the man of sin, the Bishop of Rome. “Whose coming," says Paul, “is after the working of Satan, with all signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish." 2 Thess. ii, 9.
This apostasy was an engine of Hell to oppose Christ, and to destroy mankind. It is compared to a fierce and cruel wild beast, and the Devil was the Spirit who lived and acted in this beast. “Andi there appeared another wonder in heaven, and behold a great red dragon; having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and the great dragon, that old serpent the Devil, and Satan was cast out.” And this same dragon is said to give power unto the beast. He is also said to deceive the whole world.
5. The Devil is so eminently the cause of all wickedness that prevails in the world, that in order