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years has taught this wily adversary every accessible avenue, every vulnerable point, in the human heart.
But if we would know fully Satan's strength, let us estimate it by the fatal results of that war which he has waged with man. Look round upon a desolated paradise; a palace in ruins : where man, once its rightful lord, wanders an outcast: in the sweat of his brow“ forces a churlish soil for scanty bread;" and dwells amid the magnificence of nature like the despised savage, whose sightless hovel blots the base of some magnificent column of Thadmor in the wilderness : while its tenants are like the tenants of Babylon's ruins,“ hateful, and hating one another.” Look at this earth converted into one great hospital of pain and disease, where the dying bury their dead. Look at the weapons of enmity, of worldliness, of lust, with wbich Satan has armed the whole human race; then mingle them in indiscriminate conflict, where man is man’s deadliest foe. Look at pestilence, and famine, and the sword. Look at modern refinements in sinning to suit the fastidious taste of a polished generation ; and which have thrown still wider the gates, that the decent moralist, the active religionist, the wise and prudent of this world, may, with the publican and harlot, the profligate and blasphemer, gratify without compunction each his congenial sin, and walk together in the broad way that leadeth to destruction.
Thus armed, and thus victorious, Satan kecpeth his palace in the sinner's heart :-a heart created to be the temple of the living God, but desecrated by sin, and now become the citadel of Satan : a heart designed, as God's noblest workmanship in this lower world, to be an habitation of God through the Spirit, but now become an habitation of devils, a cage of all unclean birds.” Every chamber of it Satan occupies, and vigilantly excludes God. He darkens the understanding, and warps the judgment of his victim, so that he cannot see objects in their true character, nor discover the things that belong to his everlasting peace. He cannot rightly estimate the comparative value of time and eternity. He cannot perceive inevitable consequences,—that sin is misery,—that the wages of sin is death. And even when the present consequences of sin obtrude themselves, Satan perverts his will, that he is content to embrace sin even with those evils. He is content to pamper some sensual appetite with a momentary gratification, though he must pay the forfeit of health, of property, of character. He is content to glut revenge with a momentary stimulant, though at the cost of death or ruin. The affections he draws down from every aspiration after things above, and fixes upon things below. He debases the tastes, and thus depraves the very appetites of the soul ; so that, like him whose diseased stomach can feed but upon poisons, he thirsts for the stimulating pleasures of sense, or the frothing but intoxicating vanities of the world, but has no desire to feed upon that spiritual food which is the light manna of angels, or to drink of those rivers of pleasure which are at God's right hand for evermore. Even memory cannot draw upon her resources for things pure, and honest, and lovely, and of good report. The treasury of a wasted or ill-spent life can furnish but images of sin. Imagination, which, if energized by faith, should invest every object with the Divine glory and Divine goodness,—which should see God in the face of nature, in the book of Providence, as in the visitations of Grace,—is debased and polluted; and “to the defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure.” All things are seen through a distorting and corrupt medium: are pursued and enjoyed out of God; and therefore all, though designed as a scale by which the soul should gently rise to heaven, perverted and abused, serve but as a dense veil to shut out from the debauched and carnalized soul the vision of an ever present God.
It might well be supposed that in such a state as this, the sand of life steadily and rapidly running out, the king of terrors fast approaching, and a dark and dreary eternity for which he was wholly unprepared stretching out interminably in gloomy perspective before him, the arrows of the Lord would rankle in the sinner's bosom, and the alarms of a guilty conscience would drink up his spirits. But no; “the strong man armed keepeth his palace, and his goods are in
peace.” But it is the peace of the tomb : the stillness of moral · death. Satan sears the conscience, and blinds the eyes of them that believe not. He diverts their thoughts wholly from the consideration of the one thing needful, and dissipates them in the careful and troubled pursuit of many things. If a guilty fear intrudes, he expels it by some false ground of peace : leads them perhaps to compare themselves among themselves; and to ask, If God visit for such things, what must become of the great bulk of mankind, for what do I more than others? And if that awful declaration of Christ himself at such a moment cross the mind, that the broad, and thronged, and easy road is that which leads to destruction, a subtle spirit of infidelity steals in, and secretly contradicts Christ, and says, “ Ye shall not surely die :” and, with infatuated self-delusion, pretends to magnify God's mercy, though at the expense of his justice, holiness, and truth, by stretching it to the full measure of his own necessities. Thus does Satan cause him to say, Peace, peace, where there is no peace; for there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked : thus to cry peace and safety, when sudden destruction is coming upon him.
But although Satan be a strong man, and armed, there is a stronger than he. Christ has already met him in the field of personal conflict, and been more than conqueror. His temptations in the wilderness, and in the temple, he resisted and overcame with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. On the cross he conquered death, and him that had the power of death, that is the devil. He there spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it: and when he ascended up on high He led captivity captive.
Nor is His superiority less strongly exemplified in the conflicts which he has waged with Satan in the hearts of His people. The power which dislodged Satan from the bodies of men was but a faint type of that more glorious power which ejects him from the regenerated soul. When the messenger of Satan buffets the soul, and in persevering confidence and humility it cries unto the Lord, His answer, not in word but in power, ever is, “My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness.
The weapon which Christ ever uses in effecting this great work, is the gospel of free grace. In it He holds up to the awakened sinner the holy law of God. He shews him that the commandment is exceeding broad; spiritual in its nature, and comprehensive in its
requirements : that it claims to regulate the whole inward and out. ward man; and not content with partial, occasional, sincere obe. dience, demands a perfect and perpetual fulfilment of every precept. He shews him too the holiness of God; as pledged to enforce this holy law in all its strictness, without compromising or relaxing it in one jot or one tittle; and pronouncing a curse on him “who conti. nueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” This holy law the Divine Spirit shews him that he has in numberless instances violated, and drawn down upon him the curse. Thus does the Spirit effect His first work, in convincing him of sin. Nor does the gospel here leave him to perish in despair : it admits him to the council chamber of heaven, and shews him this holy God touched with a feeling for his miseries, and looking with the eye of pity upon ruined and apostate man: exhausting the treasures of Divine wisdom and Divine omnipotence for the perfection of a scheme of redemption in which mercy and truth might meet together; by which man might be saved, and yet the Divine attributes uncompromised; so that God might be just, and yet the Justifier of the ungodly. It reveals to him God, so loving the world that He spared not His own Son, but freely gave Him up for us all. It manifests Christ, loving us and giving himself for us : redeeming us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us : suffering, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. This holy love of God kindles the purifying and refining flame of a new affection in the human heart. We love Him because He first loved us. A flame which consumes sin and sanctifies the soul, has been lighted up. A counter principle of attraction to the lusts of the flesh, and the allurements of the world, has been created in the soul. This weakens the power of temptation, and thus withers the arm of the tempter. Satan's fiery darts fall blunted from the shield which faith throws over that bosom where love to God and hatred to sin reign. Satan can find no ope in the breast-plate of righteousness,—in the whole armour of God, through which to inject his fiery darts: no handle of corruption by which to seize upon the sanctified soul. Of the believer, in proportion as he is sanctified, may it be said, as of the Great Captain of our salvation, The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in him. Thus does Christ take from Satan the armour wherein he trusted, -namely, the sympathy with temptation, the inbred corruption of the heart, and divideth his spoils,—that is, uses them, not only for His own glory, but for the benefit of His people.
Once, all that the sinner had, or was, was devoted to the service of Satan, and to the ruin of his fellow man. His genius, and learning, and eloquence, were used to prop the cause of infidelity: to varnish and colour the deformities of vice: to detach the wavering from God: and to perplex the simple and ignorant, when the eloquence of deceit has made the worse appear the better cause; and they found it difficult “to give an answer for the hope that was in them” to the specious objections and evasive quibbles of perverted knowledge. But now, “he preaches the faith which once he destroyed ;" and thinks genius, learning, eloquence, best employed when they are winning souls to God. Once, his wealth was abused to the vilest purposes of sensuality and folly,-in seducing those beneath him from the paths of innocence: in keeping up that hellish system of vice and profligacy which embrutes man's higher nature : or that system of idle amusement which is resorted to as a substitute for sober thought; that its hollow shadows, its frothy stimulants, may for a moment satisfy, without God, the cravings of an immortal soul : a soul made to know and to enjoy God :
:-a system which dissipates, and morally annihilates the soul. But now, the treasures of Egypt are converted into vessels for the sanctuary. His wealth feeds the hungry, and clothes the naked, and educates the young, and sends forth the missionary with glad tidings of the gospel of peace to the rude, and wretched, and perishing heathen. His rank and influence, which once frowned down every effort of the humble in the cause of God and souls, are now used to supply his own lack of personal service in the work of charity. In a word, all that man has, or is, when taken from Satan by Christ, He uses for the benefit of His saints. When kings cast their crowns before the Lamb, He makes them the nursing fathers, and their queens the nursing mothers, of the church.
One profitable use, at least, we may derive from the subject which has now occupied us. It should impress upon us a lively belief of the existence and the influences of Satan. At our baptism we renounced “ the world, the flesh, and the devil ;” and, however men may have set themselves to perform this covenant, all know, by experience, that the world and the flesh are no ideal antagonists, but wield the weapons of real and powerful temptation. But few to any purpose believe, though all acknowledge, that the devil also is a real existence, and an active foe. But, if men would watch and analyze the workings of their own minds, they would soon perceive, that Satan does not act upon them merely through the instrumentality of the world and the flesh, but also by direct and immediate suggestion : that he enters into the heart—as of Judas-as of Ananias and Sapphira, and stimulates to sin. How often do men find that images of ambition, of pride, of vengeance, of impurity, rise, unbidden and unwished for ; and, sometimes unperceived, sometimes with a victorious struggle, bear away the soul. Man's power over the world within him is equally limited as his power over the material universe. Not only is it equally withheld from man to call into existence a new simple idea as a new world, but, even from the materials of his ordinary meditation, he cannot command a single unsuggested thought to arise into contemplation, Man's sole power—and he should use it with sacred awe-is this; to select from that infinite variety of thought which imagination unbidden conjures up, and whose silent, though rapid, current ceaselessly flows across his soul: to detain this selected object on its quick passage into oblivion : to view it in its different aspects and connexions : to associate it with feelings of sympathy or aversion : to open for it, if good, the first traces of a habit of thought; to render it intimate and familiar to the mind : and, by the reception which at each appearance it meets, to repel or to invite its return. But who is it that suggests thought? There are but two spirits which can ani. mate and energize the soul—the Spirit of Christ, and the spirit of Satan. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His ;” and can these be possessed and animated but by “ the god of this world, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobe.
dience." These are the two great roots of thought; and “by their fruits
shall know them." To be fully impressed with a belief of this is of vast importance : for otherwise we shall never put ourselves into an adequate posture of defence. Were we deeply convinced that there surrounds us- s-and more dangerous because unseen—a widely ramified and regularly organized confederacy, of which Satan is the head, and which has for its grand object the ruin of man : that its power is such as could not for a single moment be resisted by any strength inherent in man: still more, that there is in man no desire to resist ; that the continual tendency of his nature is to sink into this snare; with what humility and earnestness would it prostrate us before the Throne of Grace, that the shield of the Divine Presence might be cast over us, and the indwelling Spirit of Christ exclude the enemy from our bosom! With what vigilance would it excite us to watch, as well as pray always, against the subtle approaches of the tempter, when he would creep in unawares in the garb of an angel of light, and seduce the soul! Thus would the shield of this faith quench all the fiery darts of the devil.
J. M. H.
ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LORD'S SUPPER TO
CRIMINALS BEFORE EXECUTION,
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It was reported, and not contradicted, that the chaplain of Newgate administered the Lord's Supper to the convicted murderer Courvoisier, on the morning of the execution of his sentence, according to the general, though not invariable, custom in such cases. I well remember that when a similar statement was
made in the newspapers in the case of Coombs, who was executed at Penenden Heath, for the murder of Morgan, at Beckenham, the chaplain of Maidstone jail, Mr. Winter, wrote a letter for insertion in your pages to contradict it. (C. O. 1825, p. 159.) In that letter he remarked :
“ Up to the last moment, I thought it my duty to pay the unbappy man the most unremitted attentions ; with a sincere wish that it might please God to bless my humble endeavours for his spiritual good, and that he might be moved to make a penitent confession of his guilt; but finding him, after all my efforts, obstinately determined to leave the world in circumstances very unfit for a dying man, I felt that I could not, conscientiously and safely, comply with his wish; and on subsequent reflection, though the propriety of my refusal has been variously spoken of among some of the clergy and others in the neighbourhood, I am still of opinion that I evinced no want of candour or charity in withholding the solemn ordinance from such a man, who not only could not give any reason of the hope that was in him,' and rejected the only probable means of being enabled to learn it, but who almost invariably received my instructions with sullen indifference, and persisted in the most shocking falsehoods to the last.” “ The sacrament was also refused to Ingram, another hardened criminal who suffered ten days after Coombs ; so that this holy ordinance, though loo frequently I fear, is not always, administered indiscriminately to prisoners left for execution, with. out very great respect to their suitable preparation for it.”
Mr. Winter acted as became a Christian minister on this awful occasion; and without impeaching the Chaplain of Newgate's conscientious integrity in the case of Courvoisier, I think he would have exercised a more sound discretion if he had followed Mr. Winter's ex