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A CAUTION AGAINST BIGOTRY.
“ And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting
out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not.” Mark ix. 38, 39.
1. In the preceding verses we read, that after the Twelve had been disputing“ which of them should be the greatest, Jesus took a little child, and set him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of these little children in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever receiveth me, receiveth not me, (only,] but him that sent me.” Then “ John answered,” (that is, said with reference to what our Lord had spoken just before,] “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.” As if he had said,
Ought we to have received him ? In receiving him, should we have received thee? Ought we not rather to have forbidden him? Did not we do well therein ?' “But Jesus said, Forbid him not."
2. The same passage is recited by St. Luke, and almost in the same words. But it may be asked, What is this to us, seeing no man now casts out devils? Has not the power of doing this been withdrawn from the Church, for twelve or fourteen hundred years?, How then are we concerned in the case here proposed, or in our Lord's decision of it ?
3. Perhaps more nearly than is commonly imagined ; the ease proposed being no uncommon case. That we may reap our full advantage from it, I design to show, First, In what sense men may, and do, now Cast out Devils : Secondly, What we may understand by, “He Followeth not Us.” I shall, Thirdly, Explain our Lord's Direction, “Forbid him not; and conclude with an Inference from the whole,
1. 1. I am, in the First place, to show, w what sense men may, and do, now Cast out Devils.
In order to have the clearest view of this, we should remember, that (according to the scriptural account) as God dwells and works in the children of light, so the Devil dwells and works in the children of darkness. As the Holy Spirit possesses the souls of good men, so the Evil Spirit possesses the souls of the wicked. Hence it is that the Apostle terms him “the god of this world ; ” from the uncontrolled power he bas over worldly men. Hence our blessed Lord styles bim “the prince of this world ;” so absolute is his dominion over it. And hence St. John, “We know that we are of God, and "all who are not of God,“ the whole world,” av TW TOVNEW XEITA!, – not lieth in wickedness, but “lieth in the wicked one;" lives and moves in him, as they who are not of the world do in God.
2. For the Devil is not to be considered only as “a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour ;' nor barely as a subtle enemy, who cometh unawares upon poor souls, and “leads them captive at his will;" but as he who dwelleth in them and walketh in them ; who ruleth the darkness or wickedness of this world, (of worldly men and all their dark designs and actions,) by keeping possession of their hearts, setting up his throne there, and bringing every thought into obedience to himself. Thus the “strong one armed kecpeth his house; and if this “uncican spirit” sometimes " go out of a man," yet he often returns with “ seven spirits worse than himself, and they enter in and dwell there." Nor can he be idle in his dwelling. He is continually “working in [these] children of disobediencc.” He works in them with power, with mighty energy, transforming them into his own likeness, effacing all the remains of the image of God, and preparing them for every evil word and work.
3. It is therefore an unquestionable truth, that the god and prince of this world still possesses all who know not God. Only the manner wherein he possesses them now, differs from that wherein he did it of old time. Then he frequently tormented their bodies, as well as souls, and that openly, without any disguise; now he torments their souls only, (unless in some rare cases,) and that as covertly as possible. The reason of this difference is plain : It was then his aim to drive mankind into superstition; therefore he wrought as openly as he could. But it is his aim to drive us into infidelity; therefore he works as privately as he can : For the more secret he is, the more he prevails.
4. Yet, if we may credit historians, there are countries, even now, where he works as openly as aforetime. But why in savage and barbarous countries only? Why not in Italy, France, or England.' For a very plain reason : He knows his men; and he knows what he has to do with each. To Laplanders, he appears barefaced ; because he is to fix them in superstition and gross idolatry. But with you he is pursuing a different point. He is to make you idolize yourselves; to make you wiser in your own eyes than God himself, than all the Oracles of God. Now in order to this he must not appear in his own shape: that would frustrate his design. No: he uses all his art, to make you deny his being, till he has you safe in his own place.
5. He reigns, therefore, although in a different way, yet as absolute in one land as in the other. He has the gay Italian infidel in his teeth, as sure as the wild Tartar. But he is fast asleep in the mouth of the lion, who is too wise to wake him out of sleep. So he only plays with him for the present; and, when he pleases, swallows him up!
The god of this world holds his English worshippers full as fast as those in Lapland. But it is not his business to affright them, lest they should fly to the God of heaven. The Prince of darkness, therefore, does not appear, while he rules over these his willing subjects. The conqueror holds his captives so much the safer, because they imagine themselves at liberty. Thus the “ strong one armed keepeth his house, and his goods are in peace:” neither the Deist nor nominal Christian suspects he is there; so he and they are perfectly at peace with each other.
6. All this while he works with energy in them. He blinds the eyes of their understanding, so that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ cannot shine upon them. He chains their souls down to earth and hell, with the chains of their own vile affections. He binds them down to the earth, by love of the world, love of money, of pleasure, of praise. And by pride, envy, anger, hate, revenge, he causes their souls to draw nigh unto hell ; acting the more secure and uncontrolled, because they know not that he acts at all.
7. But how easily may we know the cause from its effects ! These are sometimes gross and palpable. So they were in the most refined of the heathen nations. Go no farther than the admired, the virtuous Romans ; and you will find these, when at the height of their learning and glory, “ filled with all
unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousnes3, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, despiteful, proud, boasters, disobedient to parents, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful."
8. The strongest parts of this description are confirmed by one, whom some may think a more unexceptionable witness. I mean, their brother-heathen, Dion Cassius; who observes, that before Cæsar's return from Gaul, not only gluttony and lewdness of every kind were open and barefaced; not only falsehood, injustice, and unmercifulness abounded, in public courts, as well as private families; but the most outrageous robberies, rapine, and murders, were so frequent in all parts of Rome, that few men went out of doors without making their Wills, as not knowing if they should return alive!
9. As gross and palpable are the works of the Devil, among many (if not all) the modern heathens. The natural religion of the Creeks, Cherokees, Chicasaws, and all other Indians, bordering on our southern settlements, (not of a few single men, but of entire nations,) is, to torture all their prisoners from morning till night, till at length they roast them to death; and, upon the slightest undesigued provocation, to come behind and shoot any of their own countrymen! Yea, it is a common thing among them, for the son, if he thinks his father lives too long, to knock out his brains; and for a mother, if she is tired of her children, to fasten stones about their necks, and throw three or four of them into the river, one after another !
10. It were to be wished, that none but heathens had practised such gross, palpable works of the Devil. But we dare not say so. Even in cruelty and bloodshed, how little have the Christians come behind them! And not the Spaniards or Portuguese alone, butchering thousands in South America: Not the Dutch only in the East Indies, or the French in North America, following the Spaniards step by step: Our own countrymen too, have wantoned in blood, and exterminated whole nations; plainly proving thereby, what spirit it is, that dwells and works in the children of disobedience.
11. These monsters might almost make us overlook the works of the Devil that are wrought in our own country. But, alas! we cannot open our eyes even here, without seeing them on every side. Is it a small proof of his power, that common swearers, drunkards, whoremongers, adulterers, thieves, robbers, sodomites, murderers, are still found in every part of our land ? How triumphant does the prince of this world reign in all these children of disobedience!
12. He less openly, but no less effectually, works in dissemblers, tale-bearers, liars, slanderers ; in oppressors and extortioners ; in the perjured, the seller of his friend, his honour, his conscience, his country. And yet these may talk of religion, or conscience still; of honour, virtue, and public spirit! But they can no more deceive Satan than they can God. He likewise knows those that are his : and a great multitude they are, out of every nation and people, of whom he has full possession at this day.
13. If you consider this, you cannot but see in what sense men may now also cast out devils : Yea, and every Minister of Christ does cast them out, if his Lord's work prosper in his hand.
By the power of God attending his word, he brings these sinners to repentance; an entire inward as well as outward change, from all evil to all good. And this is, in a sound sense, to cast out devils, out of the souls wherein they had hitherto dwelt. The strong one can no longer keep his house. A stronger than he is come upon him, and hath cast him out, and taken possession for himself, and made it an habitation of God through his Spirit. Here then the energy of Satan ends, and the Son of God “ destroys the works of the Devil.” The understanding of the sinner is now enlightened, and his heart sweetly drawn to God. His desires are refined, his affections purified; and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, he grows in grace till he is not only holy in heart, but in all manner of conversation.
14. All this is indeed the work of God. It is God alone who can cast out Satan. But he is generally pleased to do this by man, as an instrument in his hand; who is then said to cast out Devils in his name, by his power and authority. And he sends whom he will send upon this great work; but usually such as man would never have thought of: for “his ways are not as our ways, neither his thoughts as our thoughts." ACcordingly he chooses the weak to confound the mighty; the foolish to confound the wise ; for this plain reason, That he may secure the glory to himself; that “no flesh may glory in his sight.”
II. 1. But shall we not forbid one who thus “ casteth out Devils,” if “he followeth not us?" This it seems was both the judgment and practice of the Apostle, till be referred the case to his Master. “We forbad him," saith he, “ because Vol. I. No. ll.