« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Ess. vIII.] a Motive to Watchfulness.
and fro on the earth, and obtained permission to try the faith of Job; who tempted Jesus, assailed him with subtle arguments, and said to him, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship ME;" who taught Judas to betray his master; who sent the thorn in the flesh, to buffet the apostle Paul; who transforms himself into an angel of light; who is expressedly declared by our Lord to be a murderer, a liar, and the father of lies; who accuses the brethren day and night before the throne of God;to imagine that such a one is not a person, and has never existed at all, is to set at nought the plainest testimonies of Scripture, and to involve ourselves in a heartless, hopeless, nugatory, pyrrhonism. If we would maintain the faith once delivered to the saints, we must uphold the doctrines of Scripture in their genuine simplicity and purity; and among those doctrines, none, I would submit, can be more explicit than that which proclaims the personal character, and powerful operations, of Satan.
In the second place, it may be remarked, that this doctrine of Scripture is not more clear than it is im portant. It must, surely, be one of the favorite devices of the prince of darkness, to persuade us that he has no existence; for, if he has no existence, there can be no occasion to "resist" him; no need for us to stand on our guard, that we may not fall into the snares which he lays around us. On the other hand, a due sense of the existence and character of our enemy must ever be the means of stimulating the believer to watch, and strive, and pray, against him. On this point, indeed, the voice of Scripture is again decisive. Are we commanded to be sober and vigilant? it is not only because the flesh is weak, but because our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" 1 Pet. v, 8.
His Power Limited.
[Ess. VIII. Are we exhorted to put on the whole armour of God, to take unto us the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit? it is that we may be able to "stand against the wiles of the devil:" it is because "we wrestle not against flesh and blood (alone), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places:" Eph. vi, 11, 12.
The denial of the personality and power of our spiritual adversary, I conceive to be very closely connected with a low and inadequate view of the malignity, the depth, and the danger of sin. Those persons who are weighed down under the burthen of their transgressions-who are well acquainted with the plague of their own hearts-who know what it is to tremble because of the power of temptation, and because of the secret influence of their besetting iniquity-will be little disposed to deny that they have a restless and powerful enemy, against whose aggressions it is absolutely necessary for them earnestly to strive. But, oppressed as the awakened children of God may sometimes find themselves to be, under a sense of the power of Satan, it can never become them to yield to unprofitable discouragement; for they are assured, that he who is on their side is infinitely wiser and greater than he who is against them. Their adversary, however powerful, is neither omnipresent, nor omniscient, nor omnipotent; but all these characteristics belong to their Saviour, and their God. Though the influence of Satan may be permitted to spread for a time to an alarming and deplorable extent, the Scriptures afford abundant evidence, that God will vindicate his own cause, and in due season will establish and complete the dominion of his Christ, over the souls of mankind. In the mean time, he will not fail to arise, in every needful hour, for the help
and preservation of those who love and follow their Redeemer. He will scatter all their enemies. He will bestow upon them the happy and glorious victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
ON THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF MAN.
IN attempting a discussion of the nature, history, and character, of Man, as they are unfolded in the Holy Scriptures, I am very sensible of the complicated nature of this comprehensive subject; and I shall therefore invite the reader's attention only to those features of it which appear to be most important, because most essentially connected with the system of religious truth. These are, first, the creation and mortality of man; secondly, the immortality of his soul; thirdly, his resurrection; fourthly, his moral agency and responsibility; fifthly, the eternity of his future happiness or misery; and lastly, his fall from original righteousness, and his actual depravity.
SECTION I. On the Creation and Mortality of Man. On the sixth and last day of the creation, after the world had been supplied with every description of inferior animal, we read that God spake as follows: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and
Creation of Man.
replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" Gen. i, 26-28. Again, we read, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul :" ii, 7.
The Hebrew word, here rendered "soul," is one of very extensive and sometimes uncertain meaning. Although it is frequently employed to denote the seat of the affections and thoughts-that part in man which loves, hates, fears, meditates, and worships-yet, at other times it signifies merely the natural life, or the creature by which that natural life is enjoyed. The last appears to be the meaning of the expression in the passage before us. A living soul is a living creature ; as we may learn from the fact that the same expressions (in the original text) are here employed to describe the bird of the air, the fish of the sea, and the beast and reptile of the earth: chap. i, 20, 21, 22, 24.7 "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground," and the Hebrew word Adam, which, though applied by way of eminence to the first man, is used in that language as the generic name of the race, simply denotes our earthly origin. Like the birds, the fishes, the beasts, and the reptiles, man was formed of tangible matter; like them, when Jehovah breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, he became a living creature; and, like them also, when God takes away his breath, he dies, and returns to the dust.
Although we may conclude, from some of the doctrinal parts of Scripture, that if Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would not have died (see Rom. v, 12), it is plain, from their history, that they were created.