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therefore whatever other conclusion we may draw from that fact, it ought, on the principles of analogy, to facilitate our belief, on proper evidence, that a similar catastrophe has involved a distinct and superior order. Whatever difficulties may accompany [the question of] the origin of evil, and however incompetent we may be to conceive how the transition is effected from innocence to guilt, or how to reconcile its foresight and permission with divine rectitude and human freedom, as this is not the place where they [these difficulties] first occur, they are not entitled to be considered as objections against the doctrine which we are endeavouring to support. They exist exactly to the same extent in relation to the fall of man, of which we have experimental evidence. The doctrine which affirms the existence of evil spirits of a superior order, who have sunk themselves into perdition by disobeying their Maker, is perfectly analogous to the history of the only species of rational creatures with which we are acquainted; we find its counterpart in ourselves.
There is one objection which has been frequently urged against the popular view of this subject, which it will be proper to notice before we proceed further in the discussion, lest the prejudice it may [excite] should impair the conviction which the evidence might otherwise produce. It
has been said, that to ascribe to Satan such an interference in the moral concerns of the world, as is implied in his incessantly tempting men to sin, is to suppose him omnipresent, a supposition repugnant to the nature of a finite being. It must be confessed the Scriptures of the New Testament teach us to conceive of satanic agency as concurring in almost every act of deliberate sin : he is said to have filled the heart of Ananias; to have entered into Judas, “after he had taken the sop;" and to be “the god of this world, who worketh mightily in the children of disobedience." To infer from thence, however, that any proper omnipresence is attributed to this apostate spirit, betrays inattention to the obvious meaning of the inspired writers.
We are taught to conceive of Satan as the head of a spiritual empire of great extent, and comprehending within itself innumerable subordinate agents. The term Satan, in application to this subject, is invariably found in the singular number, implying that there is one designated by that appellation. His associates in the primeval rebellion are spoken of in the plural number, and are denominated his angels. Thus the punishment reserved for them at the close of time is said to be“ prepared for the devil and his angels.” What their number may be it is in vain to conjecture; but when we reflect on the magnitude of the universe, and the extensive and complicated agency in which they are affirmed to be engaged, we shall probably be inclined to conjecture, that it far exceeds that of the human race.
In describing the affairs of an empire it is the uniform custom of the historian to ascribe its achievements to one person, to the ruling mind under whose auspices they are performed, and by whose authority they are effected: as it is the will of the chief which, in absolute monarchies, gives unity to its operations, and validity to its laws, and to whose glory or dishonour its good or ill fortune redound; as victories and defeats are ascribed to him who sustains the supreme power, without meaning for a moment to insinuate that they were the result of his individual agency. Thus, in relating the events of the last war, the ruler of France would be represented as conducting at once the most multifarious movements in the most remote parts of Europe, where nothing more was intended than that they were executed, directly or indirectly, by his order. He thus becomes identified with his empire, and spoken of as though he pervaded all its parts. Thus the sovereign of Great Britain, by fiction of speech perfectly understood, is represented as the direct object of every offence, and as present in every court of law, conscience,
Conceiving Satan, agreeable to the intimations of the word of God, to be the chief or head of a spiritual dominion, we easily account for the extent of the agency he is affirmed to exert, in tempting and seducing the human race; not by supposing him to be personally present wherever such an operation is carrying on, but by referring it to his auspices, and considering it as belonging to the history of his empire. As innumerable angels of light fight under the banners of the Redeemer, so, there is every reason to conclude, the devil also is assisted by an equally numerous host of his angels, composing those principalities and powers over which Jesus Christ triumphed, in the making “a shew of them openly.” On this principle, the objection we are considering falls entirely to the ground, and no more ubiquity or omnipresence is attributed to Satan by our system, than to Alexander, Cæsar, or Tamerlane, whose power was felt, and their authority acknowledged, far beyond the limits of their personal presence.
The attentive reader of scripture will not fail to remark, that the statement of the existence, the moral propensities, and the agency of Satan, is extended nearly through the whole of the sacred volume, from Genesis to the Revelations; that its writers, in their portraiture of our great adversary, employ the same images, and adhere to the same appellations throughout; that a complete identity of character is exhibited, marked with the same features of force, cruelty, malignity, and fraud. He is every where depicted as alike the enemy of God and man; who, having appeared as
a serpent in the history of the Fall, is recognized by St. Paul under the same character, in express allusion to that event,* and afterwards by St. John, in the apocalypse, as “ that old serpent, the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.”f
We have, therefore, just the same evidence of the real personality of Satan, as of the Holy Spirit, and exactly of the same kind; both are described by inspired persons; to both, volitions, purposes, and personal [characteristics] are ascribed. A uniformity of representation, an identity of character, distinguished respectively by the most opposite moral qualities, equally pervade the statements of scripture as to each, to such a degree, that, supposing the sacred writers to have designed to teach us the proper personality of Satan, it is not easy to conceive what other language they could have adopted. Notwithstanding, however, this accumulation of evidence, there are those who contend, that all that is said on this subject is figurative, and that the devil, or Satan, is a mere prosopopcia, or personification; but what it is designed to personify they are not agreed; some affirming one thing and some another, according to the caprices of their fancy, or the exigencies of their system. The solution most generally adopted by our modern refiners in revelation is, that Satan is a figure or personification of the principle of evil. For the benefit of the illiterate part of my audience, it may be proper to * 2 Cor. xi. 3.
+ Rev. xii. 9.