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formed, nor by which they are sustained, and by which they act one upon the other. In short, you cannot look into any branch of knowledge, but you will meet with subjects above your comprehension. It is no argument, therefore, against the temptations of evil spirits, that you cannot comprehend the manner in which their temptations are presented to your minds, and operate upon them. There is nothing in the doctrine itself which is improbable, or which is not confirmed by analogy. We see that there are wicked men, enemies to God, and malignant towards their fellow-creatures, who take pleasure, and often succeed, in drawing in others to the commission of evil. Why then should it be deemed improbable, that there may be spiritual intelligences of similar natures and properties, who may in like manner be permitted to tempt men to the commission of sin ? There is, in fact, nothing more rational, than that the evil which exists should have a cause—should be assigned to some author, and that that author cannot be God. Who he is, is a matter of pure revelation : we have no natural means of becoming acquainted with his existence, nor can we know any thing of his powerful agency on the human mind, but by a supernatural communication.—I proceed, therefore,
II. To shew, that the existence and agency of evil spirits are clearly revealed in scripture, and supported by matters of fact and experience.
On this subject we have many intimations, and many admonitions and warnings given us in the
sacred volume, which the assaults of infidelity and irreligion, instead of teaching us to disregard, should teach us the more seriously to ponder. We are told what the devil and his angels originally were that they were inhabitants of heaven, holy and happy beings, dwelling in the immediate presence of God. But they kept not their first estate; and the scripture seems to make pride the cause of their fall. Enamoured with the beauty, and dazzled with the lustre 'of their own excellences, it would appear that they conceived an idea of bettering their condition, by rendering themselves, if possible, independent on their Creator. He who admits that the first human pair fell from their original state of righteousness and felicity by a similar temptation, cannot rationally doubt the possibility of so mournful a change taking place in beings of a higher rank in the creation, or of its seeming right in the Supreme Being, for the purposes of his moral government, to permit it. And as the corruption of the best things is always the worst, no wonder that fallen angels should become fiends of pure unmixed malice, and that they should be as much inclined as the wicked of an inferior order among men, to plunge others into similar guilt and wretchedness, or to obstruct their extricating themselves from that miserable condition.
The probability, then, as well as the possibility, of temptations arising from evil spirits being incontrovertible, there seems no reason why the statements of scripture on the subject should not be understood literally, and considered both as proofs and illustrations of the point in question, particularly when the number, variety, and eircumstantial minuteness of these statements are taken into the account. The precise ideas to be annexed to the terms, principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places, with whom Christians are said to wrestle, it may be difficult for us exactly to determine. They remind us of the dif- . ferent orders and ranks existing in a great and populous nation; or rather of an immense empire, divided into states under different deputies or governors, all of whom are subject to a leader who has sufficient skill and power to unite them in the prosecution of one great enterprize. The object of the leader of these powerful and malignant beings, the object to which his efforts are incessantly directed, is the ruin of the human race, from envy
of the favour shewn to them, and from revenge against the Deity. For effecting his cruel purpose, so far as he is permitted, he possesses gigantic means. He brought the storm from the wilderness to smite the corners of the house where Job's children were assembled, and he no doubt contemplated with a horrid pleasure the ruin of the patriarch's temporal happiness, caused by assailing his family and his fortune. But whatever cruel satisfaction he might derive from thence, and from the further permission that was given him to smite his body with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, his final purpose
was, by means of worldly losses and bodily suffer-
tween him and the possession of wealth, but will himself secretly and deliberately take away their life; when the deleterious effects of intoxicating liquor shall not only steel the heart of the murderer against the cries and supplications of the wife of his bosom, but render him unconscious (if such a state of mind can be conceived) of the hand or the instrument that gave the fatal blow; if a female, who had surrendered her virtue and her good name, is led to look for the only reparation which he who had so deeply injured her had it in his power to bestow, but sees the hand which she expected to be joined to hers, as a mutual pledge of conjugal fidelity and affection, armed with a deadly and murderous weapon, which, in a mo. ment, terminates her mortal existence; and if the victims in these cases of recent occurrence among ourselves, were hurried away, in the state in which the murderers dispatched them, into the presence of their Maker and Judge--can we suppose that human nature, fallen as it is from what it originally was, is capable of all this, without some such infernal influence as the scriptures inform us of, and warn us against ?
Nor is it in cases of horrid barbarity alone that the scriptures represent the great enemy of God and man as actively employed. They tell us, that when any one heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth away that which was sown in the heart, lest he should believe and be saved ; that he blindeth the minds of them which believe not, lest the