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Ess. VIII.]

Afflicted Job, &c.


in all probability, no subordinate adversary, but the "Prince of the power of the air," who, under the name of Satan, is described, in the book of Job, as "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," i, 7; and as laying the hand of sore affliction upon that righteous man, in order that he might be induced to rebel against God and die. It was Satan who is declared to have provoked David, at a moment of self-exaltation, into the sin of numbering the people: 1 Chron. xxi, 1. It was Satan, who, in the book of the prophecies of Zechariah, is described as standing at the right hand of the angel, to resist Joshua, the faithful servant and high-priest of the Lord: Zech. iii, 1, 2; comp. Ps. cix, 6.

On that memorable occasion, when Jehovah pronounced the sentence of condemnation on Eve, her husband, and the serpent, it was predicted that this wily enemy of God and man should bruise the heel of the seed of the woman; that is, of him who was "made of a woman"-the Messiah of Israel; and, on a reference to the New Testament, we perceive at once in what manner the events, thus obscurely indicated, were accomplished. Satan was the spiritual and powerful agent who tempted, buffeted, and persecuted, even unto death, the holy and suffering Jesus. Of all the circumstances recorded in the Gospels, there is no one more extraordinary, and no one at the same time more positively described as having actually taken place, than the temptation of Jesus by the devil: see Matt. iv, 1-11: Mark i, 12, 13. It appears to have been necessary to the completion of that comprehensive scheme which was appointed for man's redemption, that the author and minister of our faith should be subjected, in various ways, to the baptism of suffering, and, though incapable of sin, should be "tempted like as we are." Accordingly, we find that, pre


Bruised the Heel of the Messiah. [Ess. vIII.

viously to the commencement of his ministry, he was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, where, during forty days of fasting, he was exposed to the insidious aggressions of his enemy; and, however mysterious this part of the history of Jesus may be in some points of view, one thing is indisputable-that the whole scene displays, in clear colours, the restlessness, artfulness, perseverance, and malignity of Satan.

After that scene had been brought to its close, we read that Satan "departed from Jesus," but only "for a season:" Luke iv, 13. All the circumstances of the case are such as lead us to the conclusion, that his attacks upon the Messiah were renewed from time to time; and that, probaby, in a rougher and more distressing form. When the Holy One of Israel was rejected, despised, spitted on, scourged, and insulted -when he endured the contradiction of sinnerswhen he wandered in desolate places, and had "not where to lay his head"— when, on the view of his approaching crucifixion, he passed through his agony in the garden of Gethsemane-we have every reason to believe, that the Serpent was bruising the heel of the Seed of the woman. Finally, that it was the same spiritual adversary who procured the consummation of the sufferings of Jesus-his shameful and cruel death -we may conclude from our Lord's address to his Jewish persecutors, "Ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in do that which ye have seen with your father"—that is with the devil: John viii, 37, 38: comp. 44. Again, it is expressly declared by the apostle John, that it was Satan who entered into Iscariot "after the sop," and who put it into the heart of the apostate to betray his Lord : John xiii, 2, 27.

That, during the whole course of the life and ministry of Jesus, there was a very extensive and pro

Ess. VIII.] The Adversary of God, Christ, and Man. 161 bably unusual manifestation of Satanic influence, we may indeed collect, not only from the passages which have now been cited, and which describe some of the operations of Beelzebub himself, but from the very numerous accounts, contained in the four Gospels, of persons who were possessed and tormented by his subordinate agents. These persons appear, in an especial manner, to have excited the compassion, and to have claimed the miraculous aid, of him who came to destroy all the works of the devil. Now, when we reflect on the exactness with which these circumstances are described-when we recollect the conversations which sometimes took place between Jesus and the evil spirits, and the manner in which they were compelled to confess that he was the Christ, the Son of God-when we call to mind, for example, the instance in which the legion of devils were expelled from the maniac, and permitted, on their earnest entreaty, to enter into the herd of swine-and when, moreover, we remember that the evangelists were no writers of figures and allegories, but plain, accurate, and inspired historians--it seems impossible to reject the literal interpretation of these narrations, or to refuse to allow that, at that most important period of the world's history, the spirits of darkness were permitted, in a very remarkable manner, to display their malignity, their activity, and their power.

The Hebrew word Satan signifies an adversary, and is, by way of eminence, applied as a name to the devil, because he is, of all adversaries, the principalthe most powerful, and the most malicious. He is the adversary of God, against whom he has rebelled, whose will he still resists, whose rule he endeavours to disturb. He is the adversary of Christ, whom he was at one time permitted to tempt, afflict, and persecute, and whose spiritual dominion over men it is still his

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Author of Physical Suffering; [Ess. VIII.

constant endeavour to interrupt and impede. Between the Messiah of God, and Belial, the prince of darkness, diametrically opposed to each other as they are, in all their attributes, in all their operations, and in all their ends, there can indeed be no " concord: "2 Cor. vi, 15. More especially, Satan is the adversary of man, whose loss, both physical and moral, he has so successfully compassed, and is still for ever labouring to aggravate and confirm.

With respect to the former point, our physical loss, we are to remember that sickness, and death, and all their sorrowful train, are the indirect consequences of the moral fall into which man was betrayed by Satan. On particular occasions, moreover, the sufferings of mortality, whether bodily or mental, are traced immediately, by the inspired writers, to the operation of the adversary. It was by his instrumentality that Job was afflicted in body, family, and estate. The woman who for eighteen years had been "bowed together and could in no wise lift herself," is declared by our Saviour to have been bound by Satan :" Luke xiii, 11. 16. The maimed, the halt, the withered, the blind, and the lunatic, who were the objects of the miraculous interposition of our Lord's compassion, are all described as persons "oppressed of the devil:" Acts x, 38. And when, in the primitive and apostolic church, the transgressor was to be punished by some temporal disease or other affliction, he was for this purpose delivered for a season to the power of the devil:" 1 Cor. v, 5; 1 Tim. i, 20.

The malice of our spiritual enemy, however, has, in this point of view, been often directed with especial force against the followers and disciples of the Lord Jesus; because, in hindering, buffeting, and persecuting them, he interrupts the progress of that word of truth, which it is their privilege to disseminate, and by

Ess. VIII.] of moral Evil; and of Ignorance.

which, in the end, his own kingdom must be subverted. "Simon, Simon," said Jesus to the apostle Peter, "behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: " Luke xxii, 31. When Paul would have visited some of his beloved disciples in the work of the Gospel of Christ, it was Satan who "hindered" him: 1 Thess. ii, 18. The thorn in his flesh, by which that apostle was impeded and distressed in the exercise of his ministry, was the "messenger of Satan to buffet him :" 2 Cor. xii, 7. It was the devil who cast the pious Christians of Smyrna into prison, Rev. ii, 10; and we read that Antipas became the faithful martyr of Jesus, in a place which the prevalence of a persecuting spirit proclaimed to be the seat of Satan: v, 13.


But the opposition of Satan to the true interest of men, as well as his enmity against God and Christ, is above all manifested in that main point, alluded to at the outset of the present discussion, that he is the immediate author of moral evil. To his artifice and influence, as we have already observed, the Scriptures attribute the commission of that first transgression by which Adam and Eve fell from their innocence, and in consequence of which, therefore, the whole family of their descendants have degenerated into a race of sinners. Equally clear is the doctrine of inspiration, that, while we continue in this degenerate, transgressing nature, we are under the dominion of our soul's enemy. "And you hath he quickened," says Paul to the Ephesian converts, "who were dead in trespasses and sins 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:" Ephesians ii, 1, 2. The sinful and idolatrous Gentiles, whom this apostle was sent to evangelize, are elsewhere represented as under "the power of Satan:" Acts xxvi, 18. It is

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