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James, and Jude-those homely, yet luminous, didactic, writers, who, as well as our blessed Lord himself, have all made mention of the devil -not as an allegorical figure, but as a powerful, insidious, malicious being.
To imagine that he who reasoned with Eve, and persuaded her to sin; who appeared with the sons of God before the throne of heaven, after walking to 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 Jies; 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 testimo nies of Scripture, and to involve ourselves in a heartless, hope less, 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 by remarked, that this doctrine of Scripture is not more clear than it is important. It must, surely, be one of the favourite 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.
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 preserva
tion of those who love and follow their Redeemer. He will k scatter all their enemies. He will bestow upon them the happy a 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 religi
. ous 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 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 natu
ral 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 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.* “ 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 E 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 liable to mortality; and, after
their sin had been committed, their mortality was determined
and ascertained. “ In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat n bread," said Jehovah to bis fallen child, “ till thou return un
to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken : for dust thou Hart, and unto dust shalt thou return :" Gen. iji, 19. There
is, indeed, no volume in the world, which abounds with so - many vivid descriptions of the shortness of human life, and of
the certainty of that death to which we are all hastening, as the volume of Scripture. “Behold, thou hast made my days as an hand-breadth,” said David, “and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity :” Ps. xxxix, 5; comp. xc, 9, 10.
66 All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field : the grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass :" Isa. xl, 6, 7.
“ Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a sharlow, and continueth not:” Job xiv, 1, 2. And as the life of a man is but as
a vapour, that ap*
peareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," James iv, 14; so also those outward objects, which here occasion him pleasure and pain, which occupy so much of his attention, and excite so much of his sensibility, are all invariably marked with the same character of brevity and change.
5 But this I say,
brethren, the time is short : it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not ; and they that use this world, as not abus. ing it : for the fashion of this world passeih away:" 1 Cor. vii, 29–31. “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity :" Eccl. i, 2.
Section II. On the Inmortality of the Soul. In the history of the creation, the distinction between man and the inferior animals is marked, not by his receiving from the Lord the breath of life, not by his becoming (to adopt the words of our translators) a living soul-but by his being formed in the image and after the likeness, of the Most High God. That he was so formed in a moral point of view that he was created after God in righteousness and true holiness”—we shall presently find occasion to observe. . But these comprehensive expressions probably include the notion of all those characteristics of humanity which elevate us far above all the lower animals, and from which we derive a faint resemblance to the Author of our being. Among these characteristics are obviously to be reckoned our faculties of thought, reflection, and reason, by which we are enabled to enjoy communion with our Creator, and, in pursuance of his ownedict, to exercise dominion over all inferior living creatures : see Gen. i, 26 ; comp. Ps. viii
, 6. Yet the declaration, that man was formed in the image of God, has, in all probability, a yet more especial reference to an eter nity of existence—to the doctrine that we are endowed with a spiritual substance, which survives the dissolution of its earthly tenement, and lives for ever. “ for God created man to be immortal,” says the ancient, though probably uninspired, author of the Book of Wisdom, “and made him to be an image of his own eternity :" ch. ii, 23.*
This higher part of man, which perishes not with his outward frame, and of which his intellectual faculties (though exercised through the instrumentality of bodily organs) may be regard
. ed as an essential property, appears to be very distinctly alluded to in several passages of Scripture, and is by the sacred writers denominated sometimes the spirit
, and sometimes the soul.
It is generally supposed, that Solomon was speaking of the
* Such is the explanation given of the image of God in man by Tertullian. “ Habent illas ubique lineas Dei, quà immortalis anima, quâ libera et sui arbitrii, quâ præscia plerumque, quâ rationalis, capa. tellectus et scientiæ.” Contra Marcion. lib. II, cap. 9.