« AnteriorContinuar »
and, by St. Paul, the God of this World *. He is represented as being at the head of a numerous and formidable host of wicked spirits ; to whom St. Paul gives the title of principalities, and powers, and rulers of this world . And in another place they are said to be his angels t. To this malignant and insidious Being was owing the fall of our first parents, and all the tragical consequences of that fatal event, the introduction of death and sin, and every kind of natural and moral evil, into the world. On these ruins of human nature did this tremendous Spirit erect his infernal throne, and established an astonishing dominion over the minds of men, leading them into such acts of folly, stupidity, and wickedness, as are on no other principle to be accounted for ; into the groffest superstitions, into the most brutal and senseless idolatry, into the most unnatural and abominable crimes, into the most execrable rites and inhuman facrifices I. Nay, what is still more • 2 Cor. iv. 4. § Ephef. vi. 12. + Matth. xxv. 41.
| Nothing less than diabolical influence can account for the almost universal custom of human facrifices, and the atrocious outrages on all decency perpetrated in some of the sacred rites of Ægypt, Greece, and Hindoftan. See Maurice's Indian Ara tiquities, vol. 1. p. 256, 274.
deplorable, deplorable, he gave the finishing stroke to the disgrace and humiliation of mankind, by setting up himself as the object of their adoration, and that too (to compleat the insult) under that very form which he had assumed to betray and to destroy them; I mean that of the serpent: the worship of which disgusting and odious animal, it is well known, prevailed to an incredible degree in almost every part of the Pagan world, and is still to be found in some parts of Africa * In this manner did Satan lord it over the human race, till our blefied Saviour appeared on earth. At that time his tyranny seems to have arrived at its utmost height, and to have extended to the bodies as well as to the souls of men, of both which he sometimes took absolute poffeffion ; as we see in the history of those unhappy persons mentioned in Scripture, whom we call Demoniacs, and who were truly said to be poffefsed by the devil. It was therefore necef
* See Bryant's Antient Mythology, vol. i. de opbiolatria.--A serpent was adored in Ægypt as an emblem of the divine nature; and in Cashmere there were no less than 700 places where carved figures of snakes were worshipped. Maurice's Indian Antiquities, vol. i. p. 291.- At Whydah, on the Gold Coaft, a shake is the principal object of worship. See Evidence on the Slave Trade.
sary, in order to accomplish the complete Reo demption of mankind, to subdue in the first place this their most formidable and determined enemy, to destroy his power, to overthrow his kingdom, and to rescue all the sons of men from that horrible and disgraceful state of slavery, in which he had long held them enthralled. Now to execute a work of such magnitude and such difficulty, 'some agent of extraordinary rank, and extraordinary authority and power, was plainly necessary. Such a personage was our blessed Lord; who therefore spontaneously undertook, and successfully accomplished, this most arduous enterprize. The very first preparatory step he took before he entered on his ministry was, to establish his superiority over this great enemy of the human race, which he did in that memorable scene of the temptation in the wilderness. And throughout the whole of his future life, there appears to have been a constant and open enmity and warfare between Christ and Beelzebub, between the Prince of this world and the Saviour of it, between the Powers of Darkness and the Spiritual Light of the world, between the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of Jesus.
When all this is taken into consideration, itwill no longer be a matter of surprize, that the eternal Son of God himself should condescend to come among us, unworthy as we are of such a distinction. For nothing less than his almighty power could probably have vanquished that dreadful adversary we had to deal with, and whose defeat and humiliation appear to have been essentially necessary to our salvation *..
There is still another consideration which merits some regard in this question. .
It is, I believe, generally taken for granted, that it was for the human race alone that Christ. suffered and died; and we are then asked, with an air of triumph, whether it be conceivable, or in any degree credible, that the eternal Son of God should submit to fo much indignity and fo much misery for the fallen, the wicked, the wretched inhabitants of this small globe of earth; which is as a grain of sand to a mountain, a mere fpeck in the universe, when compared with that immensity of worlds, and systems of worlds,
• See John xii. 31; xiv. 30; xvi. 11. 2 Cor. iv. 4. Éphet. fi. 2; vi. 12. Col. i. 15.2 Through death, he destroyed “ him that had the power of death; that is, the devil.” Heb.
which the fagacity of a great modern astronomer has discovered in the boundless regions of space *. " But on what ground is it concluded, that the benefits of Christ's death 'extend no further than to ourselves ? As well might we suppose, that the fun was placed in the firmament merely to illuminate and to warm this earth that we inhabit. To the vulgar and the illiterate, this actually appears to be the case. But Philosophy teaches us better things. It enlarges our contracted views of divine beneficence, and brings us acquainted with other planets and other worlds, which share with us the chearing influence and the vivifying warmth of that glorious luminary. Is it not then a fair analogy to conclude, that the great Spiritual Light of the world, the Fountain of life, and health, and joy to the soul, does not scatter his bleflings over the creation with a more sparing hand, and that the Sun of Righteousness rises with healing in his wings to other orders of beings besides ourselves ? Nor does this conclusion rest on analogy alone. It is evident from Scripture itself, that we are by no means the only creatures in the universe • Dr. Berschell.