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suppose, that they could predict future events, of which the causes were not then in existence, and which depended upon the volitions of free agents; for, of such future things they are as ignorant as man, and it is the prerogative of God to declare the end from the beginning. Some future things, however, men may foretell, because they are in a train to be accomplished, and the sagacity of spirits is greatly superior to ours. If it could be proved that the heathen oracles ever revealed any thing secret, any thing which was done at a distance, any thing which the priests could not have known by natural means, we should be under the necessity of admitting supernatural agency. But their responses were commonly obscure, ambiguous, clogged with conditions, on the failure of any of which the credit of the oracle was saved, although the event did not take place; and in general, there is reason to believe, that they were managed by the dexterity of the priests. In whatever manner we decide this question, there can be no doubt that the monstrous fabric of paganism was upheld by the artifice of Satan and his ministers. Its overthrow is described in the Revelation by a war between Michael and his angels, and the dragon and his angels, and the expulsion of the latter from heaven.
There is the same authority for affirming that he was active in the great apostasy from the truth, which prevailed over Europe in the dark ages, and still subsists in many of its kingdoms. When the devil is cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years, it is with a design that he should no more deceive the nations ;* from which it appears that it was he who formerly deceived them. It is the old dragon, the old serpent, who gives to the beast “his power, and his seat, and great authority;"+ and the coming of the man of sin is said to be “ after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;" ļ that is, the man of sin came in the same manner as Satan came when he seduced the nations into heathen idolatry; and he acts in concurrence with him, and by his assistance. If heathenism was his offspring, he may justly be considered as the father of popery, which is paganism revived, and, with the change of some of its tenets, and the substitution of new names for the old, retains its idolatry and its ritual observances. The signs, and powers, and lying wonders by which it is supported, are not real miracles, (for if evil spirits could perform these, they would be no criterion of a divine commission, but appearances of miracles effected by superior knowledge of nature, by sleight of hand, and by other contrivances; which, however, may be said to be after the working of Satan, because, by such arts, he had deceived men in former ages, and they are arts which no man could use but by his instigation. Whether evil spirits ever interposed any farther for the maintenance of the antichristian system, I pretend not to say; but, if all the stories in their legends are true, it cannot be doubted that they have. One thing, however, is certain, that such of the miracles as have been subjected to examination, have been discovered to be tricks of worthless monks and saints, to impose upon an ignorant credulous people.
In ancient times, the heathens were addicted to magic, and the profane science obtained credit among the Jews, who pretended that they had been taught it by Solomon. It was founded on a supposed intercourse with demons, by whose aid men were enabled to perform many wonderful works. But there is every reason to think, that there was nothing real in it, and that the whole was a system of delusion and imposture. In more modern times, a similiar art has been known by the name of witchcraft, which avowedly eonsists in a correspondence with wicked spirits. The dealers in this art were supposed to have entered into a compact with the devil, by which they engaged to be his servants, on condition that he should invest them with preternatural power, of • Rev. xx. 7, 8.
† Ib. xiii. 2. # 2 Thess. ii. 9, 10.
the effects of which marvellous stories are current among the vulgar. Their ideas seem to receive countenance from the Scripture, which makes mention, at least in our translation, of wizards and witches, and dealers in familiar spirits. But, besides that it is difficult to ascertain the precise import of the original terms, it is uncertain whether the persons were really possessed of the art which they professed, or were only pretenders to it. The story of the Witch of Endor favours the former supposition ; but there are some circumstances, which will lead an attentive reader to suspect, that she exceeded her art on the occasion referred to, and that the effect was beyond her expectation. Whatever may be determined with respect to those of former times, the more recent tales of wizards and witches are rendered improbable by this circumstance, that, in proportion as knowledge has advanced, such characters have disappeared, and that their existence is now credited only by the most illiterate. There is therefore ground of suspicion, that their whole history may be traced to the ignorance of the ages in which they flourished.
Nothing is more plainly taught in the Scriptures, than that evil spirits are employed in templing men to sin. The devil is called “the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience;'
;"* the wicked are said to be “ of their father the devil,"'t and to do his works; and it is affirmed that “ he who committeth sin is of the devil."! It was Satan who tempted Judas to betray his Master, and put it into the heart of Ananias and Sapphira to agree together to lie to the Holy Ghost.|| His efforts are, in a particular manner, directed against the saints, who are the objects of his envy and hatred, because they have been restored to the favour of God, and are engaged in his service. Our Lord told his disciples, that Satan had desired to have them, that he might sift them as wheat;and an Apostle says in the name of all his brethren, “We are not ignorant of his devices."** With respect to both saints and sinners, he is represented as "a roaring lion, going about, and seeking whom he may devour.''
These, and many other passages, fully prove that fallen angels are employed in endeavouring to draw men into sin, and justify us in believing their agency, although we cannot explain it. It would be endless to attempt to give a particular account of their temptations, which are greatly diversified, and adapted, we may presume, with consummate art, to the varieties in the tempers and circumstances of individuals. They solicit men to pride, to profaneness, to avarice, to sensuality, to malignity; to every evil, in a word, which will dishonour God, and bring ruin upon their souls.
There are two extremes, which, when speaking upon this subject, we should be cautious to avoid. Some seem to ascribe so much influence to Satan, as to represent the human heart as a mere passive instrument in his hand, and trace to him all its wickedness, as if, without his instigation, it would have adopted no errors, and committed no crimes. To him the blame of all its vices and extravagancies is transferred by a sweeping sentence. Others exclude him from having any concern in the depravity of human nature, and find, in man himself, the origin of all the corruptions in principle and practice, which have prevailed on the earth. The Scriptures adopt a middle course; and while they speak, in the strongest terms, of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the heart, they affirm, that its appetites and passions are exci. ted, and drawn forth into action, by an invisible Tempter. Whe the ince of this world came to our Saviour, he failed in his design, because he found nothing in him, who was perfectly pure; but, when he comes to us, he finds materials upon which he operates with success. Hence it appears, that men are in continual danger, and that it assails them • Eph. ii. 2. † John viii. 44.
1 John iii. 4. $ John xii. 2. | Acts v. 3. | Luke xxi. 31. ** 2 Cor. ii. 11. H 1 Pet. v. 8.
from a quarter of which many entertain no suspicion. Christians alone are apprised of it by divine admonitions, and feel the necessity of vigilance, and prayer, and exertion. They are not left to struggle with their active and powerful adversaries; but, while heavenly grace is ready to assist them, they are amply provided with the means of defence, and earnestly exhorted to use them. "Pui on,” therefore, “ the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, havi'g your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
MAN IN HIS STATE OF INNOCENCE.
Mosaic Account of the Creation of Man-Pattern after which he was made; the image of
God-His resemblance to it in the Spirituality of his Soul; the Authority with which he was invested; his Knowledge; and his original Righteousness-Happiness of Man's Primeval State-Its Duration.
When the earth was prepared by the hand of the Almighty, adorned with its sublime and beautiful scenery, and enriched by his liberality, man was introduced into it as his dwelling, and placed at the head of its other inhabitants. In vain, as we have already remarked, should God have displayed the wonders of his power and wisdom, if no being had been raised up to contemplate them, and to offer up the just tribute of praise. All his works glorify him; but they do so, by manifesting his excellencies to intelligent creatures, who are capable of perceiving the tokens of his presence, and of feeling the devout impressions which these are fitted to make. A world which was a mere solitude, or was inhabited only by animals possessed of no higher powers than instincts and the external senses, would have existed to no purpose worthy of its Maker; and the art displayed in the arrangement of its parts would have seemed to be a waste of skill. But it appears to be a work worthy of its Author, when we find it peopled by a race of a higher order, who see him in the objects which surround them, and are led by the gifts of his bounty to love and adore the Giver. Heaven is his throne; “but the earth hath he given to the children of men." +
The creation of man took place on the sixth day, and was delayed till that time, that the earth might te prepared for his reception. Having made “ the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth, after his kind,” God said, “ 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, • Eph. vi. 11-18.
† Psalm cxv. 16.
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." It is thus that Moses relates the origin of the human race.
There are two things in these words which deserve particular attention. There is an unusual solemnity observed at the creation of man. While, on the other days, nothing is heard but the simple and majestic command, which is instantly obeyed, “Let there be light,” “Let the waters under heaven be gathered together unto one place," "Let the earth bring forth grass;" on this occasion there is something like what we call deliberation and consultation; a sort of preparation for the work, as if it were of superior importance. This surely may be inferred from the peculiarity of the form, that the creature about to be made, was of a nobler species than the other inhabitants of the earth, and destined to a higher purpose. God was now to crown his lower works, by bringing forward the last and the best of them. The earth being fashioned and furnished, only one thing remained to complete his design; and he therefore said, Let us now make man.—The other thing remarkable, is the use of the plural instead of the singular pronoun. God said not, “ Let me make man,” but “ Let us make man after our image.” Different methods have been adopted to account for this unusual mode of expression. He spoke, say the Jews, to the earth, to the heavens, to the elements. I presume that these are words without meaning; and simply to state this opinion, is to refute it. When we are informed what is meant by God's speaking to the elements, or summoning them to join with him in the creation of man, and how man was made after their image, that is, when nonsense is proved to be sense, the opinion will deserve to be considered. Others say that he spoke to the angels; but, as he said, “Let us make man,” it follows, upon this supposition, that he called upon them to co-operate with him in the production of his noblest work. Is not this opinion as unintelligible as the former? Did God need the assistance of angels? And what assistance could they give him? The Scripture declares that we have all one Father, and that one God created us; † but now it seems that this information is not correct, and that we have many Creators, the angels having been concerned as well as he, to whom alone we supposed ourselves to be indebted for existence. This fancy being evidently absurd, others have maintained, that God spake in the style which is used by kings; who, although individuals, employ the plural number for greater dignity, or because they are the representatives of the people over whom they reign. But it ought to be considered that this style was altogether unknown in ancient times, and is of modern date; and, consequently, that there would have been an obvious impropriety in using it more than five thousand years prior to its introduction. It would have been misunderstood; it would have been supposed to import that there were more beings, more gods than one, concerned in the creation; and thus, merely for the sake of anticipating a mode of expression which had nothing to recommend it, an occasion would have been presented of leading mankind into the fundamental error of polytheism. The mode of expression, I say, had nothing to recommend it. When strictly examined, it is inaccurate, and cannot be excused on the plea of dignity or majesty, because the singular form is evidently more dignified, as it represents the authority of a sovereign, as concentrated in his single person, and not shared by any other individual upon earth. The most natural and satisfactory account of the use of a plural word, on this occasion, is to suppose a reference to a plurality of persons in the Godhead; which some conceive to be implied in the plural name of God, Elohim, and which is manifestly signified in several other passages of the Old Testament, that were quoted when I was illustrating the doctrine of the Trinity. With this doctrine the people of • Gen. i. 26, 27.
† Mal. ii. 10.
God, under the ancient economy, were acquainted; and the language under consideration was not calculated to mislead them. They knew that God, on this occasion, consulted with himself; and inferred from his words, that all the Divine Persons were concerned in the creation of man.
The body of man was made of the dust, or of the earth, and hence the name Adam seems to be derived. The reason for forming it of such mean materials, seems to have been to teach him humility, when, amidst the honours which were to be conferred upon him, as Lord of the inferior creatures, he should reflect that, in one respect, he had the same origin with the beasis of the field. It was calculated also to awaken sentiments of devotion, while he contemplated in his own body an admirable proof of the wisdom and goodness of God, who had constructed a frame of such curious workmanship, out of the dust which our first parent was daily treading under his feet. “I will praise thee,” says the Psalmist, "for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."'* No des. cription can do full justice to its wonderful mechanism ; and whether we consider the form and articulation of the bones, or the muscles by which they are moved, or the nerves which convey feeling and activity to every part, or the circulation of the blood, or the various organs of secretion and digestion, or the action of the lungs, or the senses by which it communicates with the external world, or its external symmetry and features, we must pronounce it to be, in every respect, worthy of its divine Author, and fitted to serve the various purposes of the sentient and intelligent being to whom it belongs. I remark, in passing, that it is only in a secondary sense that the body of man is said to have been created. It was not made of nothing, but pre-existing matter; but equal power was necessary to produce, out of that matter, flesh, and blood, and bones.
When the body of man was fashioned, “ The Lord God," says the sacred historian, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life ; and man became a living soul.”+ The language is figurative ; for breathing cannot be literally ascribed to God, who is not a corporeal being. The words import at least, that God caused the air to enter into his body, that its several parts might begin their functions, the lungs to respire, the heart to beat, and the blood to circulate. But, although this process may be considered as mechanical, we know that it cannot be carried on merely by mechanical causes. If a body be dead, the introduction of air into the lungs will not set them and the other parts of the system in motion. A living principle is wanted, distinct from the body, upon which its operations depend, as the motion of a machine constructed by human skill is caused by something different from the machine, as water or steam, or wind. Hence, although we may not be able to prove, that breathing into man the breath of life necessarily implies the communication of this principle, yet the case requires us to understand the words in this sense, especially as the effect is said to have been, that man became a living soul. As we know that the nature of man is compound, consisting of a soul as well as of a body, and no mention is made of the former in any other part of the narrative we may reasonably conclude that Moses, who certainly would not omit a particular of so much importance, here refers to its creation. The body which was made of dust, is plainly distinguished from the soul, when the wise man informs us, that at death, the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." | The living soul of man was created, in the proper sense of the term. It is not a quality, but a substance; and as it did not previously exist, it must have been produced out of nothing by the Father of Spirits. These two constituent parts of human nature were joined together by an • Psalm cxxxix. 14.
+ Gen. ü. 7.
# Eccl. xii. 7.