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Scripture notion of the Devil, and the works of the Devil : namely, Malice against Godenmity to righteousness—perversion of the ways of the Lord.*
The Devil, then, is the Enemy of God, and therefore of the works and creatures of God, because those works and creatures are dear to Him that made them. This Enmity the Devil displayed when he stole into the fair field of this world, and marred its peace and beauty, and frustrated, for a time, the blessedness which God had intended for mankind, and brought sin into the world, and therewith death and all our woe. This Enmity he has exercised unweariedly, from that moment onward, against fallen and miserable man, working in the children of disobedience, leading them captive at his will, and triumphing with malicious exultation in the groans of universal nature under the bondage of corruption -- all that he may thereby spite the holy and the good One-God! God's voice he opposes, when it whispers through our conscience. God's authority he opposes in the world. God's love he opposes as it is displayed in Christ. And therefore, to renounce this hating and hateful one,
* Compare the following passages of Scripture, in which the Devil is represented as, 1. The Opponent of God, and therefore of God's creatures, Gen. iii.—and of God's people, 1 Chron. xxi. 1; Job i.; Zech. iii. 1; Rev. xii. 9, 10. And, 2. The Opponent, specially of God's Son; Matt. iv. ; 2 Cor. vi. 15; and therefore of His Church, - its truths, Luke viii. 12 — its purity, Matth. xiii. 39—its peace, Eph. vi. 11—its extension, 1 Thess. ii. 18.
- to turn against him, to put him away, thrust him and his malice from us, even as we would a deadly serpent, -is to be aware of, and watch against, and check, the first incipient movements which would stir
up in us opposition to any one of those three manifestations of God.
Do you know what the voice of Conscience is ? Do you know what it is to find
desires and your judgment at variance ? to be torn by conflicting thoughts ? to feel yourself, as it were, disputed for, by contrary claimants, each of which desires the exclusive mastery over you ? Have pride, passion, sensuality, ill-will, ever hurried you in one direction, while still you could not but hear the gentle, earnest pleadings of a better feeling entreating you to pause ; interposing between you and your evil
purpose even as some startled, timid, and yet loving woman -a mother, a sister, a wife — might throw herself between you and
self-destruction, and arrest your uplifted hand? And have you ever, in this inward struggle, been maddened by the feeling of it? Have you raged against the thought which seemed to hinder you? Have you flung aside the tender arm that would have stayed you, and brutally shaken off the gentle check ?There was the work of Satan. There, did the Devil triumph. For there, was opposition against God—resistance to His voice — rejection of his counsel —a throwing from you of his interposition ! Yes, dear brethren, all trifling with our conscience ; all rising up with murderous rage, like Cain against his holier brother, against our better feelings, all stout-heartedness and contempt of God's word and commandment; all determination not to blush at our own selves — not to care about our self-reproach — not to be come over by womanish weakness ;- but to brave our feelings, to stand out against our misgivings, to laugh off our fears, to overbear and crush the struggling good within us,--all this is the Devil's instigation and the Devil's work. And this too, from the lowest to the highest exercises of it. From the obstinacy of the child, who sullenly resists his consciousness of wrong, and with convulsive effort cries “ I don't care !"— onward to the youth, who champs impatiently the bit of conscience, -even to the mockery, the impudence, the bitter scorn, of him, who has contrived, at last, to snap that bit, and, like the wild horse of the desert, to “swallow the ground with fierceness and rage.” O, my dear young friends, start now, while you may, from such a consummation !
Renounce now that busy Devil who would goad you on to ruin. Resist him in his first approaches. Dash him from you when the very first breathings of his malice
come near enough to taint your soul! This, you are called to by your solemn vow,—this, you are bound to even as you value your immortal soul to renounce every thought that would sear the conscience and harden the heart. I warn you, because I know that it may seem to you but a trifling thing, at first, to slight the voice within. You may even think it manly to rise above childish scruples. You may admire, till you imitate, the seeming strength and vigour of mind — the freedom from creeping superstition - the boastful nineteenth-century liberality, of the bold bad man. But what is it that you are dazzled by? What is it you are bowing down to worship? This form so gigantic and erect, so supercilious and sarcastic, so coolly towering above the pettiness of human shame and fear-it is the Devil himself, enthroned upon the ruins of the soul, and trampling out the last faint spark of goodness, that was lingering there !
And, therefore, renounce and turn from, I entreat you, not only his inward suggestions when they come, but all occasions and instruments which may excite them. Put from you, with a holy indignation, all books, pamphlets, newspapers, which would insinuate that piety is but a dream, and virtue but a name.
Shrink from the company of those who venture even a passing sneer at holi
Turn from every attempt to unsettle (with
whatever parade of candour and of cool investigation) the foundations of your discrimination between right and wrong, and to represent evil, natural or moral, as a necessary thing. Tamper not with any suggestions that would relieve you from the sense of shame, and weaken your abhorrence of sin, by making its universality an argument for its toleration, and by crying, “all men are as bad,” and “all men do the same things that you are so fearful of.” Above all, fly from every association of levity with persons, and things, and thoughts, which by their blackness should produce unmixed and shrinking indignation. “They are fools," says Solomon, “who make a mock at sin.” They are madmen who can trifle with the name, the machinations, and the punishment of the Prince of Evil, _" that old serpent the Devil and Satan.” They are touching pitch, and they must be defiled. They are playing with corruption, and they must be tainted with the poisonous exhalation. They are dallying with a wily serpent, who will coil himself into their bosom, and insinuate his venom into their heart, till they become impregnated with the essential spirit of Diabolism—“Evil, be thou my good !”
But, there are other modes of opposition to God and goodness; and we are in danger from them all. Not only the Voice of God in the con