« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
to watch what should become of him whom he had just declared he would follow to prison and to death, the too confident servant was led by the devil to deny that he even knew his Lord, and to confirm the lie with oaths and curses : how dreadful must have been his feelings at the moment—how agonizing the tortures of his conscience, when the look of his compassionate Lord, suddenly turned upon him at the crowing of the cock, brought his sin home to his bosom with all its aggravations! He could not fall at the feet of the captive-he could by no possibility approach him through the phalanx of weapons that hemmed him in. He could not cause the voice of his passionate supplication to reach that patient ear; nor could he hear from the beloved lip the word of pardon. Probably the countenance turned upon him with that heartbreaking look, was already bruised by the ruffian stroke of his persecutors; and, though we may fairly believe that the power of God, acting without a word spoken, at that moment drove Satan from his diabolical work in the mind of Peter, with what unmixed anguish of soul must the apostle have recalled his cruel desertion, and insulting denial of his blessed Master: while John, who had professed nothing more than others, was boldly exposing himself to the peril of a recognition in the midst of the judgment hall. All had forsaken Jesus and fled, “ that the Scriptures might be fulfilled ;” and for this no Satanic influence was necessary. The weakness of human nature, wholly unassisted by divine strength, would suffice to hurry a handful of unarmed men from the presence of a hostile band, with
weapons and torches, who had taken captive their leader, the root of all their confidence. This panic over, John was enabled instantly to return and to tread, as near as he could approach him, the steps of his Lord: so presenting a contrast to Peter's treachery, which made the latter at once inexcusable and doubly odious in the eyes of the unhappy culprit himself. To us the story is most important: it was Satan's hour, as the Lord had declared. The prince of this world came, and had nothing in Him; but in every one of us, he has enough to furnish a broad ground for any temptation that he may choose to bring; and the ferocious cruelty of his dealing against the heart and conscience of the poor, weak fisherman, at that season of bitter sorrow and irreparable bereavement, may teach us a lesson of continual watchfulness and prayer, that we may be able to resist the wiles of the devil.
Cruelty is altogether a Satanic quality ; it could not exist but for him. God is love, and all that God made was innocent, lovely, loving, till sin entered in, to defile, and Satan got power to destroy. In testimony to this, we have the predictions that point to the period when Satan shall be bound, and earth be whol. ly free from his influence. Thus cruelty in all its forms shall disappear. “ Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah ii. 4. " The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and, the fatling, and the young lion together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed-their young ones
shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” Isaiah xi. 6–9. Such will be the consequence of removing the originator of all wickedness, the instigator of all cruelty from the earth, and re-establishing the reign of love.
"The angel of the bottomless pit” is called Abaddon, or Apollyon, a destroyer, (Rev. ix. 11,) and in the work of destruction his activity is indeed great. When we reflect on the extent of our globe, on the number of its inhabitants-an ever-changing, ever-increasing population during almost sixty centuries, and the vast varieties of mind, temper, disposition, and circumstances that prevent the history of any one among them from being the history of any other ; when, too, we remember that of all these multitudes not one has escaped the temptation of the devil, and that the main bulk of the whole have been doing his will, promoting his interests, and acting in harmony with his general design, in the face of all the evidences that crowd around them to the being and power of a holy, just, and beneficent God—we surely must discern the characteristic of amazing activity, in him who keeps so mighty a host true to his interests, and blind to their own.
When Noah preached righteousness to the men of his generation, and verified his warnings by preparing before their eyes the ark which was to preserve all flesh that did not perish in the coming deluge, he made not a single convert to his doctrine ; and the angel of the bottomless pit swept off the whole generation of men into his own abode, one family only being reserved. Scarcely was that reserved family re-estab. lished on earth's surface, when he beguiled the godly patriarch into an act of intemperance; and this transgression the enemy also turned to such advantage, that it laid a third part of his progeny
malediction, of which Satan well knew how to avail him. self for further mischief. He fastened on the posterity of Canaan with peculiar tenacity; and plunged them into every abomination. So far as the Bible traces their history, we find it one of perpetual crime and suf. fering ; and at this day, their condition, physical, moral, and spiritual, is a blot on the name and nature of
What prodigious activity has he shown, and how extensively, how unremittingly have the rulers of the darkness of this world debased and afflicted the children of Canaan!
Shem had a blessing, and Japheth also, which Satan could not hope to reverse; but against each of their races he has prevailed in a signal manner, and to this day he glories in the triumph achieved. From Shem, a single family was chosen, to be blessed above all the nations of the earth, and to be a universal blessing. To them were committed the laws and the oracles of God; through them alone was He revealed, and his will made known to the world; and above all, of them