Obrazy na stronie

losophy, and subtle speculations, and refined heresies: and yet, that the success of these stratagems at home will inevitably create a tone and taste, which commercial nations will com. municate abroad, until idols and superstition are lashed or laughed out of all heathen nations which have any thing to sell or buy. Thus the irreligious mind which Satan is en. deavouring to create at home, will, by its very acuteness and dashing independence, create mind enough abroad to turn the laugh of Asia against all the nonsense of antiquity, and the scowl of Africa against all the enormities of superstition.

Thus Satan's policy, whenever be transforms himself “into an angel of light," defeats eventually his power as an angel of darkness. Like the tide, whatever he gains upon the one coast he loses upon the other, in the long run. Providence thus overrules for good, what Satan intended for evil; and that, not only by turning to account the power of intellect, which temptations to scepticism call forth, but also by rousing to the defence of Truth, the sanctified talent and learning of the Church of Christ. For whenever the Enemy has sowed Tares with a high hand, and in unusual abundance, the Watchmen on the walls of Zion have sounded an alarm, which sent all the Sowers of “ good seed” into the field to re-sow it

We thus owe to his attacks upon the Gospel, the pow. erful and spirited defences of the Gospel, which form the hu. man bulwarks of the national faith.

We are now somewhat prepared to look calmly and closely at the curious fact, that Satan seems, at first sight, to have but little to do with the promotion of the sensual vices : for it is not said in Scripture, that Noah, Lot, or David, fell by Sa. tanic temptation. That it is not brought in by the Sacred Writers, to account even for the wickedness of the old world, or for the enormities of Sodom and Gomorrah, or for the li. centiousness of the Heathen. The fact is, direct Temptation is very properly kept out of the history of these crimes, that the human heart may be chiefly dreaded as the source of the licentious vices, and that Satan's perversions of true Religion might be more dreaded than his personal agency. He is too crafty to have a direct hand in sensuality. He knows that the lusts of the flesh will follow the lusts of the mind like their shadow, certainly and inseparably, and in a degree great enough for his purpose: and, therefore, he puts' forth his strength, not upon individuals, but upon public opinion. He strikes at the moral restraints, which Law and Gospel lay


upon vice. His chief aim is to subvert the authority of Law, and to pervert the design of Grace; well knowing that a false religion will be a foul religion, and that one vicious maxim, once made popular in a nation, will make more slaves to vice in a month, than he could seduce in a year by tempting them one by one. But he is not thus, the less concerned in the evil. It is Satan that worketh in the children of disobedience, although he is not often personally at their right hand. ACcordingly, God says, that whosoever committeth sin is of the devil: and that all who do not make righteousness are not be. gotten of God, but the children of the devil. 1 John, iii. 8. It is upon this principle also, that Satan is called the god and prince of this world; and that the whole unbelieving world is represented, as lying in the Wicked One.

We have now a clue to the process of Satan, in tempting the fearers of God to despair, and blasphemy, and apostacy. This is Satan's peculiar and favourite work in the Church. But, just as in the world, his own hand is not always at the work, however much his eye may be upon it. He works by the power of false maxims in the production of despair, as well as in the production of vice and crime. He has got up, and set on foot or afloat in the world, dark and dire theories of Election and Reprobation, which he has only to keep up as theories, in order to distract or distress thousands, without much interference on his own part. He does, however, evi. dently interfere personally and directly with individuals. He sought to have Peter, that he might sift him as wheat. He entered into Judas, Ananias, and Sapphira. And Paul evi. dently believed, that the Corinthians were as really assailed by the devil, as Eve was. He therefore warned them as much against Satan himself, as against his ministers. 2 Cor. xi. 13. In like manner, all the Apostles warn all Christians against the personal assaults of the spiritual Adversary.

Thus both direct and indirect interferences with the mind of Christians, are expressly charged upon Satan. It is not revealed, however, when the direct begins to act, nor where the indirect ends its influence. And it is well, yea a mercy, that we do not know exactly. We are thus kept equally from too much dread, and from too little fear.

There are, however, cases in which it may safely, and use. fully be said, as in the case of sowing Tares,

“ An Enemy hath done this." What else can be said, when the body, al. though robust and in the vigour of manhood, is paralyzed and

prostrated even to the dust, or worn to a skeleton suddenly, by the haunting fear of reprobation, or the wasting suspicion of non-election, preying upon the spirit? These fears flash across many minds, and often flame for a short time: but a few sleepless nights, or doleful days, exhaust their power to distract the mind. It was not so with Bunyan, nor Rogers. Bruce of Edinburgh (an eminent Minister) was for twenty years shaken with terrors. Rogers was for two years in equal pain of body and mind. Happily such cases are as rare as they are peculiar; but they are very like the personal work of Satan.

In like manner, when blasphemies which are abhorrent to the mind, and which can be traced to no blasphemous book nor bad example, are yet rushing to the lips, and raging in the thoughts, and maddening the imagination, although the victim of them would give worlds to be rid of them, may be safely ascribed to Satanic suggestion. Christ says, indeed, that blasphemies proceed out of the heart: but he does not say, that they do so against the will, and in spite of the prayer and effort, of the heart to suppress and forget them. In such a case, they are most likely what old Isaac Ambrose calls thein, " rather fire-balls thrown into a house, than flames from its own hearth.” Thus it is the Devil himself that tempts to devilish sins,



No one ever hit off, at a stroke, the profile of Bunyan's mind so truly as he himself did when he said, “ [ being very critical, did much desire to be resolved about (certain) questions : for my smart had made me, that I knew not what ground was sure enough to bear me. He was very critical! We see at a glance now, that had he suspected and scrutinized his food, or watched his stomach after every meal, as he did the bear. ings and the effect of Divine Truth upon his case and spirits, he would have eaten in dread, and been afraid of lying down to sleep. This criticizing temper has much to do with both the freaks of his imagination and the frenzies of his conscience. It will not account, however, for all the latter, and especially not for the crisis of his horrors, which we have now to review.

It happened to Bunyan, as to Abraham, that “ a horror of great darkness fell upon him," just after he had seen his “Sal. vation with golden seals appendant.” The Patriarch was not only at the altar, when the " thick cloud” came over his spirit; but he had just been gazing upon the stars of heaven as the seals of his personal acceptance with God, and as emblems of his relative usefulness and countless posterity. Bunyan, in. deed, had had no vision nor revelation of this kind, when a cloud fell upon his spirit; but he had had “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” from believing and loving an unseen Sa. viour. “ Now I found,” he said, “ that I loved Christ dearly ! 0, methought, my soul cleaved unto him—my affections cleav. ed unto him. I felt my love to him as hot as fire. As Job said, now I thought I should die in my nest. But quickly after this, my love was tried to purpose. I did quickly find that my great love was but too little ; and that I who had, as I thought, such burning love to Jesus Christ, could let him go again for a very trifle. For after the Lord had graciously de livered me from great and sore temptation, and had settled me down sweetly in the face of his holy gospel, and had given nie such strong consolation and evidence from heaven touching my interest in his love through Christ, the Tempter came upon me again, and that with a more grievous and dreadful temptation than before.”

This Temptation was, To sell and part with this most Blessed Christ, for the things of this life ; for any thing.” It lay upon him, he says, for the space of a year, and followed him so continually, that he was not rid of it for one day in a month, nor for an hour together on many days, except when he was asleep “ It intermixt itself,” says Dr. Southey, “ with whatever he thought or did.” This is not too strongly stated. Bunyan himself says, “ I could neither eat my food-stoop for a pin-chop a stick-or cast my eye to look on this or that, but still the temptation would come, sell Christ for this, or, sell Christ for that. Sell Himsell Himsell Him!' It would run in my thoughts not so little as a hundred times together,--sell Himsell Him !"

Dr. Southey calls this, both “an almost unimaginable temptation,” and “a strange and hateful suggestion.” Conder says, “ Bunyan does indeed describe the horrible but irrational thought that was ever running in his mind, as a temptation : but where, he asks, is the bait ?He answers his own question thus ; “ Had the prospect of worldly advantage been held out to Bunyan on the condition of renouncing his creed, or violating his allegiance to the Saviour ; had he in the face of worldly scorn or fiery persecution been prompted to deny the faith ; or had some dishonest gain been within his reach while struggling with penury,-here would have been a temptation. But in the case described, the assault—the suggestion—the seeming compliance with abhorred blasphemy, were all ideal, without motive, and contrary to reason. The suffering and distress only were real. We see no reason then to deny, that the darkness into which Bunyan was plunged, arose from that distempered action of the imagination which is the ordinary effect of over-excitement."

If Mr. Conder's object in this reasoning be, to exclude Sa. tanic temptation from this crisis of Bunyan's horrors, I can. not agree with him. I am not sure, however, that this is his design : and as I am quite sure that he would make no con. cession to the Infidel,” or to the Neologian, on the subject, I feel very jealous of myself lest I should mistake his meaning at all. Besides, there is great weight as well as point in his question, 6 Where was the bait,—if this was a temptation ?

« PoprzedniaDalej »