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the slumbering city about to be inundated with a flood of burning lava, or swallowed in the yawning chasms of this quaking earth. He looks into man's wonderful frame, and with a practised skill that no refinement of mortal art can attain to, marks the seeds of incipient disease, as they take root, and tend, perhaps unsuspected by the heedless individual, to the harvest of death—too often, alas! a harvest of wrath and ruin. Omnipresence is not his; but motion quicker than our thoughts he can no doubt command; and with an army of zealous followers, so well trained to execute his behests, he may leave it in their hands to work out some deep laid schemes of his devising in one quarter, while he speeds to the uttermost parts of the earth to pursue the same employment, perhaps in a distinct form; perhaps so as to harmonize with, and to help forward the preceding mischief.
In order rightly to estimate the peril that we are in from this tremendous enemy, we must consider first, that all are sinners, condemned by the law of God; “that without shedding of blood there is no remission," and that, therefore, each individual believer may and must say of Christ, He loved me, and gave himself for
Christ will never overlook, or be indifferent to any soul for which he shed his precious blood: in their final salvation he sees the travail of his own soul, and is satisfied: and we have no lack of evidence that to wrest a single human being from the hand of the Saviour is an enterprise, however hopeless, in which Satan is content to embark all his energies; and to put into motion all the vast machinery placed at his disposal. He desires
to have them that he may sift them as wheat; yet to judge by the language of many excellent people, it would seem as though they considered their own corrupt nature and evil tendencies as the only hindrance in the heavenly race. This is a dangerous mistake: the Bible shows us in a most impressive manner how our adversary works upon that nature which he first prevailed to corrupt. David, full of ease and abundance, meditates on the extent and stability of his wide kingdom, and Satan takes advantage of it to suggest an act that he knew would be highly displeasing to the Lord, and probably bring a judgment on the nation. “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” 1 Chron. xxi. 1. Even Joab, the most godless, unscrupulous man, and at the same time the most devoted subject and zealous patriot, saw the danger of this foolish act, and remonstrated against it. But the Devil had possessed the king's mind with a fancy in which he would not submit to be crossed, and the consequence was a destroying visitation on the land. Job was pious and prosperous,the enemy attributed his godliness to his gains, and obtained leave to try him by heavy losses, calamities, and bodily sufferings; then stirred up his wife to coun. sel blasphemy and suicide, and failing of that, insti. gated his friends to tax him with hypocrisy, and to represent these afflictions as an evident judgment from God, sent to brand him in the sight of the world as a gross though secret transgressor. Of all his infernal devices this is one of the worst, and by no means un. frequent. Satan first, by the divine permission, afflicts
a child of God, and then works on the pride, the rashness, the folly of some friend to pour corrosive acids into the wound where the softest oil of Christian sympathy and love ought rather to trickle down. The operator sees a cause and a need-be, for his friend's grievance far removed from those which the Lord saw when he smote : and taking this phantom of Satan's conjuring up for a reality, proceeds to do the archfiend's bidding by helping forward the affliction in a clumsy attempt to deal wisely with it. Thus he tormented Job, by means of his three friends, whom he also exposed to the Lord's severe displeasure by provoking them to such presumptuous sin; while Job, whose real fault was unrenewed blindness to the corruption of his nature, reaped a two-fold temporal, and a ten thousandfold spiritual blessing from what the Devil hoped to turn to his destruction. Judas was of a covetous disposition, and would have been a thief whenever he had opportunity; but Satan marked him out for the deepest crime that it was possible for man to perpetrate once throughout all eternity. “Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot:” (Luke xxii. 3.) What an awful expression is that! the chief adversary of God and man became for a time incarnate to oppose, and by opposing to accomplish, the great object of the Lord Jehovah in coming down to earth. He pervaded with his diabolical influence the mind and spirit of his willing victim, and led him on from the mere indul. gence of avaricious thoughts to the terrible transgression for which no name can be found ; then left him to despair, to suicide, and to hell. Ananias and Sapphira
were doubly covetous: of lucre and of fame; they wanted both to keep their money, and to obtain applause for sacrificing it to the public good. Of this Satan took advantage to fill their hearts with a lie, by which they might hope to accomplish the desired end. But it was to the Holy Ghost that the lie was told, and instantaneous death was the penalty of seeking either to deceive the Lord, or to make Him connive at their guilt.
These instances exhibit the manner of Satan's working, where, but for what is revealed, we might suppose no such agency had existed. It was needful that Eve should be tempted from without, since the image of God yet remained within, and her heart, still holy and obe. dient, would not have suggested a departure from the path of His commandments. But the idea of numbering Israel-taking a census-in time of peace, and under
every favourable circumstance, appears so natural that we probably should not search beyond the king's desire to know the extent of Israel's population, had not the Holy Spirit expressly told us who provoked him to it. In like manner Job's calamities might be referred to the predatory habits of his Arab neighbours, to the sudden storms and blasts of the desert, and to the bodily effects often produced by excessive mental suffering ; while the erroneous view taken by his three friends was perfectly consistent with those frequently formed by ourselves, concerning others, when we should be loth to imagine that the Devil was prompting us. Judas might have been supposed to perpe. trate his unparalleled crime under the impression that his Master would, as he had more than once before done, deliver himself by a miracle from the hands into which he was about to sell him: and Ananias with his wife, might have arranged their plan under the impulse of natural vanity, combined with love of money. Yet in all these cases we are distinctly told that Satan himself was present to instigate and direct; and many a recollection of our own past lives, now perhaps painful and self-condemnatory, would wring our hearts with anguish and horror if we knew how far the great adversary was concerned in them, and to what extent the will of God was resisted, the cause of Christ injured, and the Holy Ghost grieved, while evil spirits looked on rejoicing. We "give place to the Devil ” daily; and nothing more effectually helps him to lead us into this breach of a positive command, than our readiness to forget his continual presence, either personally or by his active ministers; and perhaps to leave out of sight the fact of his very existence.