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cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more.
Rev. xx. 1-3. Without making any vain attempts to fix the sense of this vision, let us be content to derive this instruction from it, that the power of the devil is limited in its duration, as well as in its degrees. There are periods, in which Satan is bound with a chain of the superior power of the Holy Ghost. There are times, in which he is shut up in prison, sealed with the seal of the decrees of God; a seal, that no created power can open.
The power of the Spirit of God is without limits in its periods, as it is in its degrees. Christian ! the worse thy times are, the more ready will this Spirit be to succor thee, if thou implore his aid. Art thou near some violent operation? Doth an object fatal to thine innocence fill thee with fear and dread? Do the sorrows of Death compass thee? Do the pains of hell get hold on thee ? Call upon the name of the Lord, say O Lord! I beseech thee, deliver my soul, Psal. cxvi. 3, 4. He will hear thy voice, and thy supplications, and, by the mighty action of his Spirit, he will deliver thy soul from death, thine eyes from tears, and thy feet from falling, ver. 1. 8.
How invincible soever the hatred of Satan to us may appear, it cannot equal the love of God for us ; whatever desire the devil may have to destroy us, it cannot compare with that, which the holy Spirit hath to save us.
It would be easy to enlarge these articles, and to increase their number: but our time is nearly elapsed. What success can Satan have against a spirit armed with so much power, and animated with so much love? Surely, there is no inchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel. Ye have overcome
them ; because greater is he, that is in you, than ke, that is in the world. Numb. xxiii. 23.
My brethren, the age, for which God hath reserved us, hath a great resemblance to that of the apostles. Satan is as indefatigable now in his attempts to destroy mankind as he was then. We also have our Simons, who call themselves the great power of God. We have men like Ebion and Cerinthus; and if the ministers of Jesus Christ conquer the world, the world also conquers some of the ministers of Christ.
In which class, my brethren, must you be placed? In that of the disciples of false Christs, or in that of the disciples of the true Saviour? In the class of those, whom the world calls conquerors, or in the class of those who have conquered the world ? On a clear answer to this question depends the consequence you must draw from the words of the text.
If you be of those, who are overcome by the world, the text should alarm and confound you. You have put arms into the hands of this enemy. Nothing but a fund of obstinacy and malice could have induced you to resist the superior means, which God hath employed to save you. You are that vineyard, of which the prophet said, My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; and he fenced it, and built a tower, and planted it with the choicest vine ; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes, Isa. v. 1-3, and as you are the original of this portrait, you are also the object of the following threatening. And now, O`inhabitants of Jerusalem, I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up, and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down, and I will lay it
waste, I will also command the clouds, that they rain no rain upon it, ver. v, 6.
But the text ought to fill you with joy and consolation, if you be of those, who have overcome the world. What pleasure doth it afford a believer to remember his combats with the world, and his conquests over it! What unspeakable pleasure, to be able to say to himself; “ In my youth, my vigorous constitution seemed to threaten to drive me to the utmost excesses ; in my mature age, I walked in some slippery paths, which made me alınost despair of preserving my candor and innocence; here, a certain company had an absolute authority over my mind, and used it only to seduce me; there, an inveterate enemy put my resolution to the severest trial, and exhausted almost all my patience; here, false teachers, who were so dexterous in the art of enveloping the truth, that the most piercing eyes could scarcely discern it, had well nigh beguiled me; there, violent persecutors endeavored to force me to an open abjuration of religion. Thanks be to God! I have resisted all these efforts; and although Satan hath sometimes succeeded in his designs, and hath made me totter, he hath always failed in his main purpose, of making me fall finally, and of tearing me for ever from the communion of Jesus Christ.'
The victories you have obtained, my brethren, are pledges of others, which you will yet obtain. Come again, next Lord's-day, and renew your strength at the table of Jesus Christ. Come, and promise him anew, that you will be always faithful to that religion, the light of which shines in your eyes with so much glory. Come, and protest to him, that you will give yourselves wholly up to those powerful motives to virtue, which his gospel affords. Come, and devote yourselves entirely to that spirit, which he hath given you. Having done these things, fear nothing ; let your courage redouble, as your dangers increase,
All the attacks, which Satan hath made on your faith to this day, should prepare you for the greatest and most formidable attack of all: ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin, Heb. xii. 4. The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death, I Cor. xv. 26. The approaches of death are called an agony, that is, the combat by excellence. Then Satan will attack you with cutting griefs, with doubts, and remorse. He will represent to you a deplorable family, whose cries will pierce your hearts, and which, by tightening the ties that bind you to the world, will retain your souls on earth, while they long to ascend to heaven. He will terrify you with ideas of divine justice, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries, Heb. x. 27. He will paint in dismal colors to you the procession at your funeral, the torch, the shroud, and the grave. But he, who is in
invulnerable to all these attacks. He will represent to you the delightful relations you are going to form; the heavenly societies, to which you are going to be united; the blessed angels, waiting to receive your souls. He will shew you that in the tomb of Jesus Christ, which will sanctify your's. He will remind you of that death of the Saviour, which renders your's precious in the sight of God. He will open the gates of heaven to you, and will enable you to see, without a sigh, the foundations of the earth sinking away from your feet. He will change the groans of your death-beds into songs of triumph ; and, amidst all your honors, he will teach each of you to exult, Blessed be the Lord my strength, who teacheth my hands to war, and