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man's hesitation and delay to accept the mighty Saviour ! Were they permitted to stand in the place of those of us who are ambassadors for Christ, how would they plead with the infatuated sons and daughters of men, by all the folly, and ingratitude, and eternal agony of their apostate and lost companions, to beware how they “neglect so great salvation s” And do they not thus minister ? Happy in being humble and obedient, like their divine Lord, they are even “now in the midst of this fallen world as one that serveth.” They hover over the pillow of the thoughtless sinner, when he sleeps; they hover around the sanctuary where he worships; they hover over the volume that he reads, to see if there be no repenting prodigal that may be setting his face toward his father's house. Even now, as the reader closes the present chapter, they wait to see if they cannot discover some victory of the cross over ignorance, sorrow, and sin—some sighings of a broken and contrite heart—some dawnings of hope—some babe-like lispings of the new and everlasting song—some one returning sinner, whose repentance will fill them with transport, and heaven with praise.
0 HAPTER IX. Čjt first Jerritor.
UP to the events of which we speak in the present chapter, everything on this earth was bright and gladsome. Infinite all-sufficiency and loveliness had called into existence this vast and beautiful creation, and by the same infinite power and goodness, formed a race holy as God is holy. We have seen him instituting and consecrating the domestic relations, and giving to this new-created world, that day of rest, of light, and of fellowship with heaven; thus setting this earth in motion under influences which may well be supposed, would secure its progress and its perpetuity in holiness. Heaven itself could scarcely present a scene of more exquisite beauty and loveliness, than these bright outlines of this early and unsullied creation. -
But in an evil hour, a dark and heavy cloud is superinduced over all this matchless beauty; its light fades, its varied and splendid coloring becomes obscured. The “six days’ labor of a God” is spoiled; and from that hour to the present, every successive generation of men bears witness that some foul enemy has done this. Among the “first things” therefore, which we are contemplating, is this FIRST DECEIVER, We have already adverted to the apostasy of a part of the angelic race; it was the great head and leader of this revolt who became the tempter of man. We are not now about to enter into any philoSophical disquisition upon the origin of man's apostasy. The researches of men into the cause of this lamentable fact are almost as many as they are useless. Their explanations are profound and ingenious; but very many of them, instead of relieving the subject of difficulty, render it more complicated and embarrassed. The Mosaic narrative is intelligible to a child; if God had desired we should know more, more would have been revealed. So far as that narrative instructs us, the thought of man's rebellion is one which originated in the mind of another; one to which he was tempted. Our object is to speak of the tempter. It has been remarked by a learned commentator upon the book of Job, that “men who do not believe in the existence of the devil, do not be. lieve in the existence of God.” With those who receive the sacred writings as the rule of their faith, there can be no doubt of the existence and agency of this Evil Spirit. It is no uncommon thing for writers, both of a philosophical and an imaginative cast of mind, to speak familiarly of “the principle of evil,” of the “genius of destruction;” as though by these, and such like designations, they conveyed some intelligible and well-defined thought. The Scriptures never utter themselves in this mystic language; they speak of the inciting cause both of evil and good; but they lead our minds to distinct and responsible personalities. The account which they give of the common enemy of mankind is as explicit and intelligible as that which they give of any other person, or agent. They give us his origin and history; they delineate his character, and set before us the great objects he is pursuing ; they premonish the world of his subtlety and wiles; and they distinctly foretell his overthrow, and the triumphs of the mighty Conqueror by whom he is to be cast down. They give him his distinctive names and appellations, every one of them marking his distinctive qualities. “There is no characteristic property, or feature of distinct personality, and nothing which constitutes personal individuality in any case,” which they do not attribute to this great author of wickedness. The teachings on this subject in the book of Genesis alone are as explicit as language can make them. It were to make a romance of the Bible to call them allegory. If the representations in the third chapter of this book respecting the serpent and the woman be a mere allegory, then is the Saviour there promised an allegory; the whole revelation of God is an allegory; man's apostasy is an allegory; his redemption an allegory; the final judgment, heaven and hell, are allegories. Great as are the power and influence which the adversary exerts, they are mainly dependent on his subtlety and craft. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field.” His character as the Deceiver, and the eatent of his deceptions, are the two leading thoughts, therefore, to which our remarks are now directed. In turning our attention to HIS CHARACTER As THE DECEIVER, we may not venture into the fairy land of conjecture and imagination. The sacred records alone furnish the clue by which our pursuit may be safely governed; and with these lights, we may ferret even the tortuous and slimy path of the serpent. These infallible records speak of him as one who “goes forth to deceive the nations,” as “the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” The character of this prince of darkness is to deceive; to mislead the mind; to cause it to err; to induce it to believe what is false, or disbelieve what is true; to impose upon it by stratagem and artifice. In proof of this position, we advert, in the first instance, to the fact that his agency is concealed.