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What need we to fear, while we are under so omnipotent a commander? The waves of the deep rage horribly; yet the Lord is stronger than they. Let those principalities and powers do their worst: those mighty adversaries are under the command of him who loved us so well as to bleed for us.
What can we now doubt of his power, or his will ? how can we profess him a God, and doubt of his power? how can we profess him a Saviour, and doubt of his will ? he both can and will command those infernal powers. We are no less safe than they are malicious.
The devil saw Jesus by the eyes of the demoniac; for the same saw that spake: but it was the ill spirit that said, “I beseech thee, torment me not.” It was sore against his will that he saw so dreadful an object. The overruling power of Christ dragged the foul spirit into his presence. Guiltiness would fain keep out of sight. The limbs of so woful a head shall once call on the hills and rocks to hide them from the face of the Lamb: such lion-like terror is in that mild face when it looks upon wickedness. Neither shall it be one day the least part of the torment of the damned, to see the most lively spectacle that heaven can afford. He, from whom they fled in his offers of grace, shall be so much more terrible, as he was, and is more gracious. I marvel not, therefore, that the devil, when he saw Jesus, cried out ; I could marvel that he fell down, that he worshipped him. That which the proud spirit would have had Christ to have done to him in his great duel, the same he now doth unto Christ, fearfully, servilely, forcedly. Who shall henceforth brag of the external homage he performs to the Son of God, when he sees Satan himself fall down and worship? what comfort can there be in that which is common to us with devils, who, as they believe and tremble, so they tremble and worship? The outward bowing is the body of the action, the disposition of the soul is the soul of it; therein lies the difference from the counterfeit stoopings of wicked men and spirits. The religious heart “serves the Lord in fear, and rejoices in him with trembling;” what it doth is in way of service, in service to his Lord, whose sovereignty is his comfort and protection ; in the fear of a son, not of a slave; in fear tempered with joy ; in a joy, but allayed with trembling: whereas the prostration of wicked men and devils is only an act of form, or of force, as to their judge, as to their tormentor, not as to their Lord ; in more servility, not in reverence ; in an uncomfortable dulness, without all delight; in a perfect horror, without capacity of joy; these worship without thanks, because they fall down without the true affections of worship.
Whoso marvels to see the devil upon his knees, would much more marvel to hear what came from his mouth, “ Jesu, the Son of the most high God;" a confession, which, if we should hear without the name of the author, we should ask from what saint it came. Behold the same name given to Christ by the devil, which was formerly given him by the angel, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus.” That awful name, whereat every knee shall bow, in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, is called upon by his prostrate devil ; and lest that should not import enough, since others have been honoured by this name, in type, he adds for full distinction, “The Son of the most high God.” The good Syrophenician, and blind Bartimeus, could say, “The Son of David.” It was well to acknowledge the true descent •of his pedigree according to the flesh: but this infernal spirit looks aloft, and fetcheth his line out of the highest heavens, “The Son of the most high God." The famous confession of the prime Apostle, which honoured him with a new name to immortality, was no other than “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God:” and what other do I hear from the lips of a fiend ? None more divine words could fall from the highest saint. Nothing hinders but that the veriest miscreant on earth, yea the foulest devil in hell, may speak holily. It is no passing of judgment upon loose sentences. So Peter should have been cast for a Satan, in denying, forswearing, cursing; and the devil should have been set up for a saint, in confessing “ Jesus, the Son of the most high God.” Fond hypocrite, that pleasest thyself in talking well, hear this devil ; and, when thou canst speak better than he, look to fare better : but in the mean time know, that a smooth tongue and a foul heart carries away double judgments.
Let curious heads dispute whether the devil knew Christ to be God. In this I dare believe himself, though in nothing else, he knew what he believed ; what he believed, that he confessed, “ Jesus, the Son of the most high God;" to the confusion of those semi-Christians, that have either held doubtfully, or ignorantly misknown, or blasphemously denied what the very devils have professed. How little can a bare speculation avail us in these cases of divinity! So far this devil hath attained, to no ease, no comfort. Knowledge alone doth but puff up; it is our love that edifies. If there be not a sense of our sure interest in this Jesus, a power to apply his merits and obedience, we are no whit the safer, no whit the better: only we are so much the wiser to understand who shall condemn us.
This piece of the clause was spoken like a saint, “Jesus, the Son of the most high God :” the other piece like a devil, “What have I to do with thee ?” If the disclamation were universal, the latter words would impugn the former : for, while he confesses Jesus to be the Son of the most high God, he withal confesses his own inevitable subjection. Wherefore would he beseech, if he were not obnoxious? He cannot, he dare not say, What hast thou to do with me ? but, “What have I to do with thee?” Others indeed I have vexed, thee I fear. In respect then of any violence, of any personal provocation, "What have I to do with thee?" And dost thou ask, O thou evil spirit, what hast thou to do with Christ, while
thou vexest a servant of Christ ? Hast thou thy name from knowledge, and yet so mistakest him whom thou confessest, as if nothing could be done to him, but what immediately concerns his own person? Hear that great and just Judge sentencing upon his dreadful tribunal, “Inasmuch as thou didst it unto one of these little ones, thou didst it unto me.” It is an idle misprision, to sever the sense of an injury done to any of the members, from the head.
He that had humility enough to kneel to the Son of God, hath boldness enough to expostulate, “Art thou come to torment us before our time?" Whether it were that Satan, who useth to enjoy the torment of sinners, whose music it is to hear our shrieks and gnashings, held it no small piece of his torment to be restrained in the exercise of his tyranny ; or whether the very presence of Christ were his rack ; for the guilty spirit projecteth terrible things, and cannot behold the judge or the executioner without a renovation of horror ; or whether that, as himself
professeth, he were now in a fearful expectation of being commanded down into the deep, for a further degree of actual torment, which he thus deprecates.
There are tortures appointed to the very spiritual natures of evil angels. Men that are led by sense, have easily granted the body subject to torment, who yet have not so readily conceived this incident to a spiritual substance. The Holy Ghost hath not thought it fit to acquaint us with the particular manner of these invisible acts, rather willing that we should herein fear than inquire. But as all matters of faith, though they cannot be proved by reason, for that they are in a higher sphere, yet afford an answer able to stop the mouth of all reason that dares bark against them, since truth cannot be opposite to itself; so this of the sufferings of spirits. There is therefore both an intentional torment incident to spirits, and a real: for, as in blessedness the good spirits find themselves joined unto the chief good, and hereupon feel a perfect love of God, and unspeakable joy in him, and rest in themselves ; so, contrarily, the evil spirits perceive themselves eternally excluded from the presence of God, and see themselves settled in a woful darkness; and from the sense of this separation arises a horror not to be expressed, not to be conceived. How many men have we known to torment themselves with their own thoughts! There needs no other gibbet, than that which their troubled spirit hath erected in their own heart. And if some pains begin at the body, and from thence afflict the soul in a co-partnership of grief; yet others arise immediately from the soul, and draw the body into a participation of misery. Why may we not therefore conceive mere and separate spirits capable of such an inward excruciation ?
Besides which, I hear the Judge of men and angels say, “Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” I hear the prophet say, "Tophet is prepared of old.” If with fear, and without curiosity, we may look upon those flames, why may we not attribute a spiritual nature to that more than natural fire ? In the end of the world the elements shall be dissolved by fire: and if the pure quint-essential matter of the sky, and the element of fire itself shall be dissolved by fire, then that last fire shall be of another nature than that which it consumeth. What hinders then, but that the omnipotent God hath from eternity created a fire of another nature, proportionable even to spiritual essences ? or why may we not distinguish of fire, as it is itself a bodily creature, and as it is an instrument of God's justice, so working not by any material virtue or power of its own, but by a certain height of supernatural efficacy, to which it is exalted by the omnipotence of that supreme and righteous Judge ? Or, lastly, why may we not conceive, that though spirits have nothing material in their nature, which that fire should work upon, yet, by the judgment of the Al