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objection entirely vanish. Those who indulge doubts and difficulties upon this point, "give place to the Devil,” who wishes to keep them in ignorance and unbelief of his devices, that he may lead them captive at his will.
2. It appears from what has been said in this discourse, that the denial of the existence and operations of the Devil directly tends to total infidelity. There are many truths contained in the Bible, which men may disbelieve, without entertaining the least doubt of the plenary Inspiration of that sacred volume. But to deny the truth of what is so plainly and abundantly revealed concerning the existence and agency of Satan, strikes at the root of divine revelation. The history of the Devil is so interwoven with the facts which the scripture records and with the doctrines which it teaches, that whoever denies the existence and agency of that great Adversary, who is said to involve the world in sin and misery, must naturally and necessarily consider the gospel, or the whole scheme of redemption, as a cunningly devised fable. Accordingly we find that Deists, who are professed infidels, openly reject and ridicule the notion of the existence and temptations of Satan. And those who are leaning towards infidelity, such as Universalists and Socinians, call in question not only what the Bible teaches concerning the Devil's tempting the hearts and possessing the minds of men, but also what it declares concerning the existence of evil spirits in general. Reason, observation, and experience unitedly testify, that those, who deny the scriptural account of the Devil, are taking large strides towards complete infidelity. It is, therefore, very alarming, that such an anti-sçriptural sentiment is so openly avowed and propagated at the present day of error and delusion. There is just ground
to fear, that many unsanctified and unthinking persons will be entirely ruined, before they even suspect that they are in the path of the destroyer.
3. If the Bible gives a true description of the Devil; then he undoubtedly does all in his power to make men infidels. He knows the gospel has a direct tendency to defeat all his malignant designs, and, unless he can prevent men from believing it, he must inevitably fall before its powerful influence. Our Saviour says he felt this effect, when he sent forth his seventy apostles to preach the gospel in his name. “And the seventyreturned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” The Devil has, from the beginning of the world to this day, endeavoured to prevent mankind from believing the word of God. By this artifice he ruined our first parents. By this artifice he destroyed Ahab. By this artifice he attempted to deceive Christ himself, and defeat the design of his mediatorial work. As he is an acute and subtile reasoner, so he is capable of suggesting the most sophistical arguments against divine Revelation. His enmity to the gospel naturally prompts him to employ this method to subvert it, whenever he sees any prospect of success. How often does he suggest doubts to the minds of both saints and sinners, respecting the Inspiration of the Scriptures? How often does he help the promoters of infidelity to the most plausible and delusive arguments, to pervert the doctrines and subvert the first principles of Christianity? His agency is often very visible in the writings and reasonings of Infidels. At the present day, the enemies of the gospel appear to, be under a more than common influence of the great Deceiver. It seems to be his main object, to spread
infidelity through all the christian world, and his success is extremely great and alarming.
4. If the Devil has such power and inclination to tempt and deceive mankind, as the Scripture represents; then we may learn why they so often go beyond their intentions and expectations in sinning. When they commit a sin once, they have no thought of committing it again; or when they indulge themselves in one sinful practice, they have no thought of going into another. They intend and expect to set bounds to their sinning. This is always the case with young sinners, and not uncommonly the case with declining and backsliding professors. But Satan knows the natural connexion between the beginning and the continuance in sin, and between one course of sinning and another. When he has tempted them to begin iniquity, he knows he has them on his own ground and in his own power, and neglects no opportunity of leading them, step by step into that path, which he imagines will most infallibly prove their ruin. Though they may be, at certain times, alarmed at the progress they have made in sins of omission and commission; yet he can easily allay their fears, and push them on in their usual course of negligence and disobedience. How many has he led from lying to cheating, from cheating to stealing, and from stealing to murder? How many has he led from Arminianism to Arianism, from Arianism to Socinianism, from Socinianism to Deism, and from Deism to Atheism and total Skepticism? And how many has he led in a more insensible way to ruin, by first tempting them to neglect prayer, next reading the Bible, next hearing the gospel preached, and finally the whole concern of their souls? It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to account for the high-handed crimes, the absurd errors,
and the general security and stupidity of mankind upder the gospel, without the instrumentality of the Devil, who always lies in wait to destroy them. But it is easy to see how they are carried beyond their intentions, resolutions, and expectations in their sinful ways, through his subtile and powerful temptations. His seductive agency will account for the sins of Adam, Noah, and Lot, Moses, David, and Solomon, Ahitophel, Jeroboam, and Judas, the idolatry of the Heathens, and the degeneracy, delusion, and infidelity of millions in the Christian world.
Finally, this subject admonishes all persons of eve. ry age and character, to guard againt the fatal influ, ence of their common adversary the Devil. His invisibility, subtilty, and malignity, render him a most dangerous enemy. He has slain his thousands and ten thousands, and still walks about seeking whom he may devour. None, while they remain in this imperfect state, are beyond the reach of his fjery darts and evil suggestions. Though saints have been turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son; yet they are still exposed to the assaults of the Devil, who wishes to molest, disturb, and injure those, whom he knows he cannot finally destroy. It highly concerns them to use every proper method to resist the Devil, that he may flee from them.
In the first place, let them live in the habitual exercise of sobriety. "Be sober," is the divine direction to christians. While they maintain sobriety, the adversary knows they are guarded within against any temptation he can suggest. But when he sees them in a light and airy humour, he knows they lie open to his malignant influence, and will by no means fail to improve such a favourable opportunity of trying
the strength of their graces, by holding up a tempta. tion exactly suited to the present state of their minds. Whether the levity of christians arises from their natural disposition, or from the company they are called to keep, or from a particular and occasionul relaxation of their minds, it always exposes them to the assaults of Satan, who knows when, and where, and to whom to present temptations. He is so well acquainted with mankind in general
, and with particular persons, that he can pretty certainly determine, when they are in a state of gravity or levity; and, of consequence, when he can attack them to the best advantage. This ought to excite the children of God, to maintain a constant and habitual sobriety or self-possession, that they may escape or repel the fiery darts of the wicked one.
In the next place, it behoves them to live in the exercise of vigilance as well as sobriety. Hence says the apostle, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” A watchful enemy needs to be watched. Christians should realize, at all times and in all places, that they are continually attended by a subtile and invisible foe, who is incessantly bent upon drawing them into his snares. Here they are extremely apt to fail, and give Satan an advantage of doing them a great deal of mischief. It is for want of caution and vigilance against his influence, that they often suffer so much from him, without knowing from whence the evil comes. They ascribe to other causes, what is the effect of his malignant suggestions. How many doubts, and fears, and anxieties, and follies, and sins, might they escape, by watching over their own hearts, and properly avoiding every thing, whiclı