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still perhaps all is in peace; such sinners little suspect to whom they are enslaved, and feel less fear than the humble and meek, who desire to glorify God in their lives.
It may happen that “ the grace of God which bringeth salvation,” touches the heart of one thus living. The words are carried home to him, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” The annals of the Christian faith abound with instances of this sort, when the power of Satan has been remarkably overcome, and the Spirit of Christ has prevailed in its room. The stronger king enters the heart, dispossesses Satan, and takes from him all the armour in which he trusted, and divideth the spoils. When a man has conquered his enemy, he deprives him of the weapons by which the fight might otherwise be renewed: and this is added in proof of Christ's power over Satan, that he takes away all the armour in which he trusted. UNBELIEF is one such weapon of defence ; Satan
: uses it to keep men in bondage and encourage them in sin. They disbelieve God speaking to them through his Son: “Tush, say they, God
. careth not "—the threatenings of Scripture will never be fulfilled :—"all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” The Spirit of Christ removes the veil from the heart, and convinces men“ of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment;" He shows the truth of God's word, the purity of his law, the certainty of His
judgments, the terror of His wrath : and thus he disarms Satan of one of his chief weapons.
Another weapon in which Satan greatly trusts is ANY SINFUL HABIT. He uses sin, which makes men his subjects, to keep them so for ever. Whilst any habitual sin is allowed, the gospel can have no saving power over the heart; Herod's adultery, Judas's dishonesty, were a complete barrier against the power of faith, Satan, therefore, entrenches himself behind those sinful habits. Leave me, he suggests, and you must leave them ; leave me, and repent, and you must leave your favourite delights, and abandon your profitable gains. Such are the arms in which he trusts, and which Christ takes away ; showing that “ for the sake of these things the wrath of God cometh upon the disobedient;" showing, also, that there is another and a better way to live than by following Satan and neglecting God: i. e. in truth, changing the heart, with all its thoughts, affections, and desires.
When Satan is driven from his two strongholds, unbelief, and sinful practice, he is no longer the strong man he was; the armour in which he trusted is demolished, and he must needs surrender the palace to the conqueror : and now his goods are taken away,
into better hands. When a conqueror has overcome his enemy, he divides his spoils: and when the spirit of Christ has ejected Satan from the heart, he will use its powers for his own purposes. Perhaps the man whom He has brought over to
Himself has authority to command or persuade others : whilst Satan ruled him, the influence was used against religion ; it is now used to promote religion. Perhaps he has wealth : that was used for selfish, or even sinful objects; it is now used prudently, considerately, and charitably. His abilities are employed too in the same cause ; to convince, advise, persuade. Very mean abilities can often corrupt others ; very humble abilities may also instruct or amend others : and whatever the spoils are, great or little, they will now be used in the service of God.
The conclusion of the parable gives an awful warning. It acquaints us, that as Satan never quits a heart without a struggle, so he will always watch for an opportunity of returning to it.
23. “ He that is not with me, is against me; and he that
gathereth not with me scattereth." 24. “ When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he
walketh through dry places, seeking rest ; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I
came out. 25. “And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and gar
nished. 26. “ Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits
more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
There may be a relinquishment of gross and
See Matt, xii. 30.
open sins ; there may be a partial repentance, or an appearance of repentance, as when “Ahab humbled himself, and went softly;" as when Herod “did many things” at the warning of John the Baptist; but still the heart may be unsubdued, and not surrendered to its rightful Lord. If so, Satan will come, and find it ready for him; swept and garnished to receive him again ; and he will not fail to regain possession, and make the last state of that man worse than the first; as when covetousness still predominated in the heart of Ananias, who had outwardly embraced the faith of Jesus." Ananias having “counted the blood of the covenant, by which he was sanctified, an unholy thing,” 6 was left without defence, and the fortress remained open to the enemy.
Watch, therefore, and pray always, that your hearts may retain Him who is stronger than Satan ; the only guardian who can secure them. Satan retires from the hearts which he finds thus furnished and fortified ; they are then become the palace of One against whom the powers of hell shall not prevail.
5 See Acts v. 2. 6 See Hebrews x. 26-29.
JESUS REPROVES THE UNBELIEF OF THE PEOPLE.
LUKE xi. 33–36.
(Matt. v. 16.) 33. “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it
in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a
candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34. “ The light of the body is the eye ; therefore when
thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of dark
35. “ Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee
be not darkness. 36. “If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having
no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when
the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.” It was a natural and laudable question, when asked in a proper spirit, “Master, what sign showest thou, seeing that thou doest these things ?” What evidence dost thou give that God is with thee? Jesus does not condemn the Pharisees for seeking a sign, but for being obstinately blind to the signs which they were daily beholding, because they were generation. God would not send His Son into the world without giving the world sufficient proof that He had thus visited men, and called them to repentance. This would be acting like á man who should light a candle, and then hide