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diffidence, our hope in God may be more firmly established. For the Lord hath provided these guards for us, that we may not be terrified by a multitude of enemies, as though they could prevail in opposition to his assistance, but may have recourse to the sentiment expressed by Elisha, "There are more for us than against us." How preposterous is it then, that we should be alienated from God by angels, who are appointed for this very purpose, to testify that his aid is more especially present with us. But they do alienate us from him, unless they lead us directly to him, to regard him, call on him, and celebrate him as our only helper; unless they are considered by us as his hands, which apply themselves to do nothing without his direction; unless they attach us to Christ the only Mediator, to depend entirely on him, to lean upon him, to aspire to him, and to rest satisfied in him. For what is described in the vision of Jacob, (/) ought to be firmly fixed in our minds, that the angels descend to the earth to men, and ascend from earth to heaven, by a ladder above which stands the Lord of hosts. This implies, that it is only through the intercession of Christ, that we are favoured with the ministry of angels, as he himself affirms: " Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels descending upon the Son of man." (e) Therefore the servant of Abraham, having been commended to the care of an angel, (A) does not therefore invoke him for his aid, but trusting to that committal, pours out his prayers before the Lord, and entreats him to display his mercy towards Abraham. For as God does not make them the ministers of his power and goodness, in order to divide his glory with them; so neither does he promise his assistance in their ministry, that we may divide our confidence between them and him. Let us take our leave therefore of that Platonic philosophy, which seeks access to God by means of angels, and worships them in order to render him more propitious to us; which superstitious and curious men have endeavoured from the beginning, and even to this day persevere in attempting, to introduce into our religion.

XIII. The design of almost every thing that the Scripture

^/) Gen. xxviii. 12. (>») John i. 51. (A) Gen. xxiv. 7.12.27. 5%

teaches concerning devils, is that we may be careful to guard against their insidious machinations, and may provide ourselves with such weapons as are sufficiently firm and strong to repel the most powerful enemies. For when Satan is called the god and prince of this world, (i) the strong man armed, (^) the prince of the power of the air, (/) a roaring lion; (m) these descriptions only tend to make us more cautious and vigilant, and better prepared to encounter him. This is sometimes signified in express words. For Peter, after having said that "the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour," immediately subjoins an exhortation to " resist him steadfast in the faith." And Paul, having suggested that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness," (n) immediately commands us to put on suitable armour for so great and so perilous a conflict. Wherefore having been previously warned that we are perpetually threatened by an enemy, and an enemy desperately bold and extremely strong, skilled in every artifice, indefatigable in diligence and celerity, abundantly provided with all kinds of weapons, and most expert in the science of war, let us make it the grand object of our attention, that we suffer not ourselves to be oppressed with slothfulness and inactivity, but on the contrary arousing and collecting all our courage, be ready for a vigorous resistance: and as this warfare is terminated only by death, let us encourage ourselves to perseverance. But above all, conscious of weakness and ignorance, let us implore the assistance of God, nor attempt any thing but in reliance on him: since he alone can supply us with wisdom, and strength, and courage, and armour.

XIV. But the more to excite and urge us to such conduct, the Scripture announces that there are not one or two, or a few enemies, but great armies who wage war against us. For even Mary Magdalene is said to have been delivered from seven daemons by whom she was possessed; (o) and Christ declares it to be a common case, that if you leave the place open

(i)2Cor.iv.4. Johnxii.31. © Matt xii. 29. Luke xi. 21.

{I) Ephcs. u. 2. (m) 1 Peter v. 8,9. (t) Ephes. vi. 12, &c.

(t) Mark xvi. 9.

for the re.entrance of a demon who has once been ejected, he associates with himself seven spirits more wicked still, and returns to his vacant possession. (p) Indeed one man is said to have been possessed by a whole legion. (y) By these passages therefore, we are taught, that we have to contend with an infinite multitude of enemies; lest despising their paucity we should be more remiss to encounter them, or expecting sometimes an intermission of hostility should indulge ourselves in idleness. But when one Satan or devil is frequently mentioned in the singular number, it denotes that principality of wickedness which opposes the kingdom of righteousness. For as the Church and society of saints have Christ as their head; so the faction of the impious, and impiety itself, are represented to us with their prince who exercises the supreme power among them. Which is the meaning of that sentence, " Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (r)

XV. It also ought to stimulate us to a perpetual war with the devil, that he is every where called God's adversary and ours. For if we feel the concern which we ought to feel for the glory of God, we shall exert all our power against him who attempts the extinction of it. If we are animated by a becoming zeal for defending the kingdom of Christ, we must necessarily have an irreconcileabk war with him who conspires its ruin. On the other hand, if we are solicitous for our salvation, we ought to make neither peace nor truce with him who assiduously plots its destruction. Now such is the description given of him in the third chapter of Genesis, where he seduces man from the obedience owed by him to God, so that he at once robs God of his just honour, and precipitates man into ruin. Such also is he described in the Evangelists, where he is called an enemy, and said to sow tares in order to corrupt the seed of eternal life. (a) In short, the testimony of Christ concerning him, that he was a murderer and a liar from the beginning, (f) we find verified in all his actions. For he opposes divine truth with lies; obscures the light with shades of darkness; involves the minds of men in errors; stirs up

(/>) Matt. xii. 43—45. (?) Luke viii. 30. (r) Matt. XXT. 41.
(«) Matt. xiii. 25, 28. (<) John viii. 44.

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animosities, and kindles contentions and wars: and all for the purpose of subverting the kingdom of God, and plunging mankind with himself into eternal destruction. Whence it is evident, that he is naturally depraved, vicious, malignant, and mischievous. For there must be extreme depravity in that mind which is bent on opposing the glory of God and the salvation of men. And this is suggested by John in his epistle, when he says, that " he sinneth from the beginning." For he intends, that he is the author, conductor, and principal contriver of all wickedness and iniquity.

XVI. But since the devil was created by God, we must remark, that this wickedness which we attribute to his nature is not from creation, but from corruption. For whatever evil quality he has, he has acquired by his defection and fall. And of this the Scripture apprises us; lest believing him to have come from God, just as he now is, we should ascribe to God himself that which is in direct opposition to him. For this reason Christ declares, that Satan, "when he speaketh a lie, speaketh of his own; (v) and adds the reason, "because he abode not in the truth." When he says that he abode not in the truth, he certainly implies that he had once been in it: and when he calls him the father of a lie, he precludes his imputing to God the depravity of his nature which originated wholly from himself. Though these things are delivered in a brief and rather obscure manner, yet they are abundantly sufficient to vindicate the majesty of God from every calumny. And what does it concern us to know, respecting devils, either more particulars or for any other purpose? Some persons are displeased that the Scripture does not gives us in various places a distinct and detailed account of their fall, with its cause, manner, time, and nature. But these things being nothing to us, it was better for them, if not to be passed over in total silence, yet certainly to be touched on but lightly; because it would ill comport with the dignity of the Holy Spirit to feed curiosity with vain and unprofitable histories: and we perceive it to have been the design of the Lord, to deliver nothing in his sacred oracles, which we might not learn to our edification. That we ourselves

(») John viii. 44.

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therefore may not dwell upon unprofitable subjects, let us be content with this concise information respecting the nature of devils; that at their creation they were originally angels of God, but by degenerating have ruined themselves and become the instruments of perdition to others. This being useful to be known, it is clearly stated by Peter and Jude; "God," say they, u spared not the angels that sinned, and kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation." (a.) And Paul, mentioning the elect angels, (y) without doubt tacitly implies that there are reprobate ones.

XVII. The discord and contention, which we say Satan maintains against God, ought to be understood in a manner consistent with a firm persuasion, that he can do nothing without God's will and consent. For we read in the history of Job, that he presented himself before God to receive his commands, and dared not to undertake any enterprise without having obtained his permission, (z) Thus also when Ahab was to be deceived, he undertook to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets; and being commissioned by God, he performed it. (a) For this reason he is also called the " evil spirit from the Lord," who tormented Saul, (b) because he was employed as a scourge to punish the sins of that impious monarch. And elsewhere it is recorded, that the plagues were inflicted on the Egyptians by the "evil angels" (c) According to these particular examples, Paul declares generally, that the blinding of unbelievers is the work of God, (d) whereas he has before called it the operation of Satan. It appears then that Satan is subject to the power of God, and so governed by his control, that he is compelled to render obedience to him. Now when we say that Satan resists God, and that his works are contrary to the works of God, we at the same time assert, that this repugnance and contention depend on the Divine permission. I speak now, not of the will or the endeavour, but only of the effect. For the devil, being naturally wicked, has not the least inclination towards obedience to the Divine will, but is wholly bent on insolence and rebellion. It therefore arises from himself

(x) 2 Peter ii. 4. Jude, ver. 6. (_>■) 1 Tim. v. 21. (z) Job i. 6 ii. 1. (a) 1 Kings xxii. 20, &c. (A) 1 Sam. xvi. 14. xviii. 10.

(c) Psalm lxxviii. 49. (d) 2 The«s. ii. 9,11.

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