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also, with his false doctrine, which is called all deceiveableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, is said to be after the coming of Satan, who is the head of the apostacy, the chief and king of the devils and of all sinners.
Unclean sinners are called children of Belial.
66 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrificed, they sacrificed to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” I come now to treat of the manifestation of the Son of God.
“ That he might destroy the works of the devil.” The scriptures declare that Christ hath destroyed the devil's works, and even the devil himself; for Paul says that through death Christ destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and delivered them who, through the fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage, Heb. ii. 14, 15.
These things, which the word of God declares, though with which the face of things in the world does not seem to agree, are not a little puzzling to weak believers; for we hear of the whole kingdom of the beast being full of darkness, and whole nations still in idolatry; and even in this land, where the truth is continued, every old heresy is revived, and every doctrine of devils advanced and defended, and all sorts of profanity riding in triumph. And, as for religion, a dead form prevails every where; nay, among professors them. selves, how many have a name to live and are dead? Legions of impostors fill the pulpit, and swarms of hypocrites the pews; so that there are but a few names even in Sardis.
This wonder arises from our ignorance of the scriptures. Christ never undertook in behalf of any but the elect of God, nor will he ever destroy the devil's works out of any soul living but out of the objects of his own choice. Very early intimations were given of this: for, at the same time that God declared the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, he assigned a seed to the serpent, which are called the children of the devil; between whom and the seed of the woman God put enmity, which soon appeared in Cain and Abel. Abel was a child of God by faith, as all the elect are and shall be: and Cain was of that wicked one, and slew him. And in this matter the two seeds were made manifest, and the enmity that was put between them. And even among the Jews, instead of the devil's works being destroyed out of them, Christ declared that the devil should fall with
greater force after his departure, as it is written, “When the uuclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and finding none. Then he saith, I will return into my house, from whence I came out; and when he is come he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more
wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” These Jews are called Satan's own house. The gospel of Christ tormenting him, he left it; and at his return he claims it still as his own: and, in order to repossess it with more firmness and fortitude, he goes and takes to himself seven other spirits, more wicked than himself, by which it appears that some devils are more desperately wicked than others, and these enter in and dwell there: and, if their last state is worse than the first, neither the devils nor their works were ever destroyed out of them. Even where the gospel comes the seed of the serpent only sin and rage the more: “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which
shall in no wise believe though a man declare it unto you.” These despisers are no other than the serpent's seed; between whom and the saints God has put enmity. These, instead of believing in Christ, defend the empire of Satan to the uttermost. Some of the pagan Roman emperors abdicated their thrones, and died in despair, only because they could not extirpate the Christians; and others armed themselves, in the days of Constantine, and appeared in open war, and fought with the devil at their head, vindicating Satan's cause at the expense of a sea of blood; and even perished in support of the devil's usurpation: " And there was war in heaven: Michael and his
angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him," Rev. xii. 7-9. And even John himself, the penman
my text, speaks very strongly of the universal possession of Satan when he says, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” The first step taken in destroying the devil's works, was
The incarnation of Christ; for, as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he likewise took part of the same. This bringing Godhead and manhood together brought God and man together; hence he is called Emmanuel, or God with us. To this the Psalmist alludes when he says, “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the Son of man, whom thou hast made strong for thyself.” The strength of this man lies in the union between the two natures, which was to answer all the good purposes of God towards men in destroying the devil's works, and in setting up an empire of grace on its ruin.
The Son of God was manifested, or, as Paul says, “ Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." Now the Godhead was manifested by the miracles he wrought. “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory.” By raising the dead; by rebuking the sea and the winds; by his authority over the devils, and their fears and tremblings at his presence; by the adoration and worship given him both by men and angels; by the Father's voice three times from heaven giving testimony to him; by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost upon him; by the power, wisdom, and majesty, of his word; by the communications of pardoning and every other grace; by eternal life attending his voice; by the heavenly light that shone into the hearts and souls of men; by the change made in the worst of sinners; by his transfiguration on the mount; by his patience, humility, and fortitude in death; by the prodigies that appeared in the earth, in rocks, graves, and the veil of the temple rending, when he yielded up the ghost; by his resurrection from the dead, and his appearances to his own followers afterwards; by his ascension into heaven in sight of eleven witnesses; by the coming of the Holy Ghost, as the fruit and effect of his mediation; by the miraculous power displayed in the apostles; by the conversion of Jew and Gentile; by the unparalleled fortitude of his martyrs; and by the irresistible spread of his kingdom in the world, in the face of all opposition, both from men and devils, and by its continuance to this day; “God was manifest in the flesh.”