on this subject will show us a very wide distinction. If malignant passions, in complete vigour, were the spontaneous productions of our hearts, all attempts to eradicate them would perhaps be ineffectual, their impulses would probably be irresistible; but an irregular bent in our own desires, or even a strong propensity to moral turpitude, though worked upon and encouraged by an artful seducer, the united force of which it may be difficult to withstand, yet would be infinitely easier to resist, than if the baneful desires, in their full maturity, were the natural inmates of our minds. We have already remarked upon the frequent instances that present themselves of early depravity, and it appears extremely probable, (supposing the existence of an evil being,) that he would avail himself of the inexperience of youth and the strength of passion incidental to that period : but if young persons are destined to combat with many difficulties on these accounts, they still enjoy some advantages peculiar to that season; irregular inclinations have not become confirmed habits; and that internal guardian of virtue, conscience, is generally allowed to be particularly tender and alive in the minds of

young persons, with other securities to virtue that might be specified.

Having submitted these considerations to the opinion of our readers, and reserving our intended inquiry into the origin of evil for a subsequent page, we shall only here observe, that we find the Scriptures describing various orders of evil beings, therein distinguished by the following appellations; the devil, evil angels, evil spirits, principalities and powers of the kingdom of darkness, rulers of the darkness of this world.* And these beings are represented as interfering, with a malicious influence in the affairs of this our globe. We are all experimentally acquainted with the following truth; namely, that evil does, by some means or from some quarter, assail and distress mankind. And does it not appear at least as rational to suppose, that it is permitted to molest us through the interposition of an invisible, malicious agent, who may have many subordinate confederates, as any other medium ? Now we cannot imagine such beings capacitated for exercising their diabolical attempts, without supposing them possessed of a certain degree of power for the attainment of their malign purposes. Their leader could have but small hope of success to animate his enterprises, were he not furnished with temptations adapted to ensnare persons of every age and disposition, and to suit


circumstance and situation in life.

Scriptural information does more than corroborate these suppositions ; for that asserts, we wrestle not against feeble foes, against unarmed

* Rev. xii. 9; Psalm lxxviii. 49; Acts xix. 15; Coloss. ii. 15. The reason of our so particularly investigating the scriptural declarations which assert the existence of a subordinate and evil agency, is, the having frequently heard this article of the Christian's faith treated as a mere nursery story, invented for the purpose of frightening children. But as the truth of Revelation cannot be established without assenting to this article of faith, we have ventured to offer many more observations on this subject than we should have done.

enemies, but against those provided with most formidable weapons for attack; against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places :* it describes the head of these infernal hierarchies as a busy adversary walking about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour;t as employing various subtle artifices for the destruction of the human race; as the engine who scatters all those obstacles to our virtue which make this a state of trial, endeavouring to seduce us by his allurements, or to affright us with his terrors, out of the path of duty. I Unassisted reason does indeed clearly lead us to conclude, that natures so diametrically opposite as those of a good moral agent and an evil one, would ever be acting in the most determined opposition to each other ; but we are very far from supposing, like the votaries of the Magian religion previous to its reformation by Zoroastres,|| that such beings could in any degree be possessed of an equality in power; for were that the case, perpetual anarchy and confusion would inevitably ensue; whereas, on the contrary, perfect regularity, order, and harmony, pervade the movements of the whole creation, and clearly prove how completely the power of the wise and benevolent being preponderates over that of a malicious one.

Ephesians vi. 12. + 1 Peter v. 8. These strictures do, we are well aware, suppose evil beings endued with the power of exercising an invisible influence on the mind. On this influence, as possessed and exercised by Deity, we shall hereafter take occasion to speak, and from thence deduce the reasonableness of ascribing a subordinate degree of this power to inferior beings.

11 “ The chief reformation which Zoroastres made in the Magian religion was in the very first principle of it. whereas before they had held the being of two first causes, the first light, or the good God, who was the author of all good; and the other, darkness, or the evil god, who was the author of all evil; and that of the mixture of these two, as they were in a continual struggle with each other, all things were made; he intro

And though it is an incontrovertible fact, that evil is permitted to molest mankind, nevertheless, God has not left himself without witness, (even in this our probationary state,) in that He does good, and gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts xiv. 17.) The most indispensable necessity must, however, have existed, supposing the evil power to have gained any one advantage, that the truth we have so briefly touched by abstracted reasoning should be clearly evinced to the beholding universe, and that the superiority of the benignant power over that of the evil one, should be fully illustrated by the most express and public demonstration. A complete coincidence, we venture to assert, will be found between this conclusion and scripture declaration,* which uniformly describes the death of Christ as an event productive of the most stupendous consequences--namely, the vindication of God's honour, the clear manifestation of his

duced a principle superior to both, one supreme God, who created all things."-Prideaux.

* We presume to promise that our future pages will prove the truth of this assertion.

supremacy, and the spoiling of the power of darkness.

But reserving for subjects of future observation, how the death of Christ could appear productive of these last named purposes, and also for further and very particular inquiry why Christ must needs have suffered, we shall now, casting a retrospective eye over the conclusions already stated, draw a very brief comparison between them and New Testament assertions ; selecting from thence some few out of the very many passages that might be quoted in answer to the following question.

Q. Why does it appear indispensably requisite that human nature should triumph over every difficulty that opposed its perfect virtue ?

A. It appears essentially requisite that it should do so for the honour and glory of God, which Christ himself expressly declares He came to seek. (John vii. 18.)

The supreme Creator had been dishonoured in the sight of every order of intelligent beings whose faculties extended to the observation of our world, by having formed a nature that appeared totally incapable of fulfilling his will, or successfully combating with the difficulties that virtue enjoined it to overcome; a nature that seemed utterly unable to act in conformity with the dictates arising from its own convictions, or wilfully determined to disobey them : by having created a race of intelligent beings, who, by continually transgressing his commands, had demonstrated an example derogatory to his authority as moral

« 前へ次へ »