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be just before God ? shall man be pure in the presence of his Maker? No: nothing can constitute us just in his eyes, but the imputation of Christ's perfect righteousness. Nor can any thing restore us, inchoatively on earth, and completely in heaven, to the purity of God's image, but the omnipotent agency of God's sanctifying Spirit.
(2.) Carry back your views to our Lord's transfiguration on mount Tabor (a), and you will read of, not one only, but two persons, who descended for a while from heaven to earth, appearing visibly to, and conversing audibly with, the Son of God and three of his disciples.-As Jesus prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and glittering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah; who appeared, in glory, and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
From such holy, from such happy, from such glorified beings, as Moses and Elias ; I revert, for the present, to those malignant spirits, of whom our text speaks; to the devils, who believe and tremble. Spirits of a very different cast from those above ! Spirits, who are bound down under the chains of divine providence, and now imprisoned at large, in the atmosphere that surrounds our globe, till the great audit comes, when they shall be turned into hell, together with all who forget God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
II. I now proceed to the second enquiry: viz. What it is that these devils believe? and how far their faith goes ?
To which I answer, in general, that the devils are incomparably more orthodox, than 19 in 20 of our modern divines. Do you think there is such a being,
(a) Luke ix. 29, 30, 31.
as an Arian devil ? or a Socinian devil ? or a Sabellian? Is there an Anti-Trinitarian among the devils ? or an Arminian? or a Pelagian? No. They endeavour to seduce men into those heresies ; but they are too well informed, to be speculatively he. terodox themselves.
They believe the existence of God, and that God is one.
So the text may be rendered: Thou believest, óri ose siç 8071, that God is one in nature and essence: the devils likewise believe as much ; and that in the unity of this Godhead, there is a co-existence of Three distinct, eternal, consubstantial, and equal Persóns.
Satan and his angels believe also, and tremble in believing, that the second of the Divine Persons assumed the nature of man; and by the perfection of his obedience and atonement, secured the justification and completed the redemption of every elect sinner.
They know, too, that the covenant-office and business of the Holy Ghost, is, to quicken, to convert, and bring to eternal life, all those who are elected by God the Father, and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.
They know that the Bible is the uñerring word of God; that every syllable of it is true; and that a time shall come, when they themselves shall be arraigned at the Messiah's bar, and receive sentence for all the evil they have done, and for the evil which they have prevailed on men to do. They believe this, and tremble : ©2109861, they are all in horror, commotion, and confusion. The term is borrowed from that violent, convulsive fermentation, which agitates the ocean, when it is wrought and lashed into all the turbulence and rage of total tempest.
Thus do these once dignified, but now degraded spirits, believe with all the certainty of demonstration, and tremble with all the horrible magnificence of angelic fury and despair. They wait, with anxious dread, the enunciation of that sentence, which they know they must receive, from the lips of that incarnate God, whose crucifixion was brought about through their instigation. They asked him, in the days of his flesh, Art thou come to torment us, before the time (a)? And they still tremble, at the sure expectation of what they are to suffer, when they have filled up the measure of their iniquities, and the destined season of their torment is come.
What was observed, a few minutes ago, concerning the orthodoxy of devils, holds, I doubt nota equally true, of every human soul now in hell. When the departed spirits,
spirits, of unregenerate men, do (figuratively speaking) open their eyes in torments; they, at the same time, open their eyes on the truths of God. There is not an Arian, a Socinian, a Sa. bellian, a Pelagian, or an Arminian, weltering in that lake of fire. As there are no heretics in heaven, so there are none in hell. It is only on earth, that men have the dreadful prerogative of out-sinning the very devils themselves.
Do not, however, mistake me, as though I meant to pass sentence of condemnation on any of my fel. low-creatures. Whether the souls of such men as Arius, Socinus, and Arminius, who
who certainly trampled the gospel system under their feet, and were the artful and indefatigable instruments of disseminating the most pernicious errors ;
say, whether the departed souls, of such heresiarchs and heretics as these, are saved or lost (which is among the secret things that belong to God); I will venture to declare, that Arius is not an Arian now. Sabellius is not now a Sabellian. The two Socinus' are not now Socinians. Pelagius is no longer a Pelagian, nor Manes a Manichean. Arminius is not
(a) Matth. viii. 29.
an Arminian, nor does Roëllus any longer dispute the eternal generation of the Son of God.
III. Let us consider, in what respects does the faith of devils differ from the evangelical faith of the saints, or from that faith which is of the (a) operation of God ?
Much, every way: but, chiefly, in these.
(1.) The faith of the devils is only a mere assent of the understanding, unaccompanied by any cordial consent of the will and affections to the truth : a faith, without regard to Christ, or any concern for the glory of God. They discern the traces of infinite wisdom, shining in the gospel plan; but they feel nothing of Christ's suitableness and loveliness. They speculatively see, but it is only to hate and blaspheme (and, if it were possible to counteract) the covenant-designs of the Trinity respecting the salvation of sinners.
Sorry I am, to observe, that we have some professors among ourselves, who are for shutting out all feelings of grace for Christian experience. I dare do no such thing. On the contrary, I am persuaded, that, if a cold, dry, assent to the written word be that faith which is connected with salvation ; all the devils in hell, are and must be, children of God. But I cannot bring myself to have so good an opinion of satan and his legions. Nor, consequently, can I suppose that faith to be saving, which has nothing to do with spiritual feelings.
If once the feeling or inward perception of God's Spirit, as a (6) convincer of sin, and of righteousness, and of sanctification, were to be excluded from faith, there would presently be an end of all vital religion, and the power of godliness would take its flight, from that day forward. What is conviction of sin? it is no conviction to me, unless I feel my
self convinced of my sinfulness and inability. What is conviction of Christ's righteousness ? no conviction at all to me,' unless I feel the necessity and value of that righteousness. What are the comforts of the holy Spirit ? no comforts at all to me, except I feel them. Unfelt consolation is a contradiction in terms.
Hence our (a) church teaches us to pray, that, by the light of the same holy Spirit, who taught and illumined the disciples in the day of Pentecost, we too may have a right judgment in all things pertaining to God; and be enabled, evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. But how can we rejoice in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, unless we feel and perceive his visitations ? where is the enthusiasm of believing, that the blessed Spirit of God can make my soul feel, no less vividly, than the impressions of outward objects can make my soul perceive, through the organs of sensation ? Putting scripture quite out of the question, I am bold to assert, that no churchman can reprobate religious feelings, without reprobating the church at the same time. For, in the 17th article upon election, or predestination unto life, the church roundly affirms, that the godly consideration of our election and predestination in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and to such as feel in themselves the workings of the Spirit of Christ. May we feel these workings, more and more, mortifying the deeds of the flesh, and drawing up our minds to high and heavenly things !
(2.) The faith of the devils is a faith without repentance. Though they saw something of the glory of God before they fell; yet, they do not repent of having fallen. My meaning is, they do not repent of having offended God; though the fear of
(a) Collect for Whitsunday.