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At leait, you
mies, you would see these chariots of fire fent down from heaven in your defence; and, poffefsing your souls in peace, you would exclaim with the prophet, " Fear not; for they that be with us, are more than they that be with them *.”
But, while you rejoice in their friendship and protection, you should propose their bright examples of goodness for your own imitation. should not be fatisfied with any thing short of their obedience. Your Lord himself has taught you to pray, that the will of God may be done on earth,
as it is in heaven." You are not to regulate your practice by the defective standard of human righteousness, nor limit your desires to any attainments, which do not, in their measure, resemble the holiness of Angels. They serve God perfectly, without the exception of one duty; constantly, without intermission; and cheerfully, not of constraint, but with fervent love and supreme delight. This, alío, you should aspire after; and therefore earnestly covet and implore increasing communications of that grace, by which you will finally be brought into a state of com plete conformity with them. But, on comparing yourselves with the pattern here exhibited, are you. not deeply ashamed and humbled ? Those
and exalted creatures in every respect answer the end of their being. Many, alas! of our corrupt race, are not merely defective in righteousness, but totally opposite to this character. Do we: not live among those, who are actuated by tempers: and principles, as contrary to those of Angels, as darkness to light? We, therefore, folemnly appeal to them, and ask, of what fort will be your society hereafter? Disposed as you are, you cannot have fellowship with the host of heaven, nor they with you. Their employment is what you will never
* 2 Kings vi. 15-175
relish: you detest and put away from you, what is their highest delight. It is not possible, that they fhould accommodate themselves to your depraved taste; for this would involve an opposition to God and an exclusion from happiness. Your prospect is indeed tremendous. You must dwell with those, whom you resemble, and with whom you are confederate in rebellion against Jehovah. Is this what you can bear to think of? Yet most assuredly, you must have your portion with evil spirits, unless you be created anew in Christ Jesus.
May the Lord God, in sovereign mercy, pour out his fanctifying influence upon all orders and ranks of men! May He form us to be a people for his name, and make us of one heart and mind with the Church above! So shall we understand and feel the meaning of those exalted anthems, which we are taught to
With sincere and ardent devotion we shall cry aloud to the God of our falvation; “ With Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name; praising thee, and saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God of holts; heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord most High * !” 'Amen.
* Communion Service.
CHA P. XIV.
Evil spirits, their existence, fall, and exclusion from hea
ven--tempted our first parents--maintain large influence in the earth, among the impenitent-once permitted to possess men's bodies--opposed the Saviour refist the progress of the Gospel-alfault believers--yet their agency does not extenuate our guilt-will soon be confounded-Summoned to judgment and doomed to eternal punishment.
FTER the strong proofs, which we have seen, of man's apoftasy from God, perhaps the question may arise, Is this the only order of intelligent beings, who have revolted from their obedience? Or, where did sin originate? The sacred records have informed us of another system of creatures, who were the first tranfgreffors, and are the authors and abettors of that rebellion, which has prevailed in our own world. We proceed, therefore, to observe, that there are Devils in hell, as well as Angels in heaven. There is a numerous company of wicked spirits, who discover a blafphemous contempt of God, and are continually endeavouring to defeat the purposes of his government. The contemplation of their wretched condition may excite many painful sensations; but the subject seems properly to come under our plan, as being closely connected with scripture history, and it may be productive of folid advantage, if we consider it with true seriousness of mind.
Their influence in human affairs, and even their existence have been denied. But, if we allow the inspiration of the Bible, we ought implicitly to receive
its testimony in every particular. We attempt to in validate its authority, if we think ourselves at liberty to reject those declarations, however clear and express, which cannot be accommodated to our systems or wishes. Now, no account can be delivered in plainer terms, none more repeatedly asserted and confirmed, than that which is given of the fallen angels. It is no good objection to this history, that it does not contain to full and minute a relation, as our curiosity might desire : for it never was designed, that we should underitand every thing, or obtain perfect fatisfaction in our speculative enquiries. But, if we admit what the scriptures have revealed concerning the state, character, and employment of evil spirits, we shall have a consistent explanation of what we observe both in ourselves and others. A serious attention to the world around us, and to the wild and irregular workings, of which we cannot but be conscious in our own minds, would incline us to believe, even if we had no Bible, that we are subject to a foreign influence of a malignant kind. Universal experience verifies what the inspired volume has affirmed. May we be led to admire and adore that grace, which not only restrains the malice of these unholy beings, but is effectual to rescue us from their power ! May our great Deliverer break the bonds, by which many of our finful race are still enslaved, and give them to know, that his service is the most perfect freedom !
In describing the history of wicked spirits, we must confider
1. Their fall. A total and lamentable change has taken place both in their situation and disposition, Originally they were poffeffed of dignity, purity, and happiness, which they have now entirely lost. They were ranked amongst the Angels in heaven, and equal to them in excellency and glory; but they kept not their first estate :" renouncing their obedience to God, they “ left their own habitation," being driven out
with shame and confusion*. They are called “principalities and powers," and are said to have been in high places t;" which shews that they were endued with eminent faculties, and diftinguished among the fuperior orders of the celestial Hierarchy. But their exaltation was no preservative: they have suffered a tremendous degradation, A numerous company, combined under one leader, who is named Satan or Beelzebub, joined in rebellion againit Jehovah. We do not enquire into the particular nature and circumstances of their transgression. But it should seem, that they were instigated by ambition, or a vain defire of attaining a degree of knowledge or preemi. nence, beyond the divine appointment: for, when St. Paul speaks of one “lifted up with pride,” he describes him as “ falling into the condemnation of the Devil I.” It is sufficient, however, to say, that they finned.
Having, then, cast off their allegiance to God, they could no longer associate with those, whose whole delight is to do his will, and worship at his feet. Have ing lost their holiness, they could not retain their felicity; for misery is the neceflary consequence of de.. pravity and guilt. Every good principle was banished, every vile affection admitted ; and therefore they became a torment to themselves. But their wretchednefs is not to be considered merely as the unavoidable effect of their apostasy: it is the righteous infliction of their incenfed Sovereign. His authority being despised, his anger was provoked, and his justice armed with terrors against them. He could not fuffer them to remain in heaven, with a spirit of disobedience or independence. He appointed them a new place, and consigned them to a state of extreme and endless punilhment in hell, where they are exhibited as an example of the malignant nature and destructive ten
+ Eph. vi. 12.
I 1 Tim. iii. 6.