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has spent its force, he finds himself deeper in the abyss of iniquity than ever he was before.
Disappointed and stunned at so sudden a relapse, you may leave him, in anger, to his merited destiny; but if time should soften your indignation, and pity induce
you to renew your assiduities, you may find that his malady has made dreadful progress, and that his moral circumstances are dismally changed. Now he can callously laugh to scorn the very suggestions which formerly subdued him, and treat with the most inhuman apathy all that is solemn or sacred to man. Or, if this be too much for his present standing on the scale of moral debasement, you may find him prepared to defend his delinquencies in sullen obstinacy, or angry abuse; and if you venture, as before, to reason or expostulate, you incur his instant defiance. Not that he despises your good intention, or holds you lower in his general esteem; but his hope of reformation is extinguished, he feels himself morally undone, and, to avoid the torment of listening to arguments which he knows his nature would sanction, but which a second nature within him will not allow him to obey, he is driven to absolute desperation, and bound, by a direful moral necessity, to vindicate the very atrocities which he feels to be working his ruin. We have seen him pale and shivering with agony, when honestly dealt with in such circumstances; looking frightful and furious, as if eager to despatch himself; and struggling to escape from the force of your moral reasonings, lest the hell of unbearable remorse should burst into a flame within him. Such a case is of frequent occurrence; and every
one acquainted with the history of profligacy, is fully aware that we have not over-stated it. Here, then, is a prominent fact, and let the sceptic examine its indications. Let him consider the question, whether this phenomenon, and others of the same species, which fall short of it, or go beyond it, be not exactly what we might expect, on the supposition that a very powerful evil agency, distinct from man himself, but having the ascendency over him, has infatuated his understanding, and is still in living alliance with the affections of his heart? Unconscious error in his moral judgments, and consequent aberration in feeling and practice, may be ascribed to that prevailing moral bias, which every one admits to inhere in his nature, whencesoever it may
But here his moral judgment is correct: his better thoughts on the side of virtue, and all that is powerful in relative endearment, with all that is appalling in selfdestruction, urging him to yield to its rescuing dictates; and
he cannot do so. You tell him he is bent on his own undoing, and he wildly owns that you speak the truth; but still there is within him a mysterious and powerful influence, which binds up his energies as in chains of adamant, and leaves him power for doing nothing but completing the horrible disaster. Can this influence be generated solely and exclusively by the agency of the man himself? Is it human to suppose, that a being so tenacious of existence, so susceptible of enjoyment, and so passionately fond of himself, as the child of Adam in this world, should repress his strongest instincts, and rush upon certain destruction with the eye of his reason open, unless there were something urging him on, which
has fearfully mastered his reason and instinct, and maintains itself, in ruinous ascendency, over all their salutary dictates? It is the manner of merely animated nature to be frugal of her Author's provisions, and to prolong the good of existence to the utmost possible extent; and must it be believed, that when we trace her up to man, the acknowledged perfection of creative wisdom, she contemns her own well-being, and conspired against herself? To ascribe effects so tremendous, to any conceivable amount of isolated moral peryerseness in the heart of an individual, is to carry the doctrine of human depravity farther than Christians ever carried it, and thus to surrender one position in the system of infidelity, for the sake of upholding another.
It is true, that the classes of men from which this instance is taken, although positively many, are comparatively few; for if the majority were egregiously profligate, society could not hang together. But this does not invalidate the argument in favour of the doctrine for which we contend. If, in cases where depravity is extreme, the appearance of Satanic influence be clear and striking, it may exist in other cases, although a lower degree of depravity prevents it from being so conspicuous. Nay, there is a decided preponderance in favour of the inference that this is actually the case; for, since it is a fact, that, in respect of bias to moral evil, one man's condition differs from another’s, not in kind, but only in degree, it is natural to conclude that the same evil agency, whatsoever it may be, which shows itself conturrent with human agency, in cases of extreme depravity, is also in ruinous operation in those cases which are
more common. Thus are we warranted, without the aid of the Bible, to pronounce it, not only possible, but probable or likely, not only that ordinary immoralities are fomented by Satanic influence, but that the man whose morals are unimpeachable, may be so addicted to science or literature, or to the acquisition of wealth and distinction, in any department of reputable industry, as to have his mind absorbed in these, to the utter exclusion of religion in every thing but a few of its forms; and that the influence, which thus abstracts him from the great business and end of his being, is that of powerful evil spirits taking advantage of his peculiar dispositions, and working, through the medium of external circumstances, on the rooted depravity of his heart. It is idle to object here, that the doctrine of Satanic influence destroys human responsibility; for that influence is not physical, but moral, finding its way through motive and persuasion: and to say that a moral agent is not responsible for actions to which he is prompted by the moral influence of others, is to introduce a principle which the common sense of man disowns in all forms of society. Evil suggestion is one of the things for which a human being feels himself responsible to his great moral Governor; and, although it may modify, it can never destroy, the demerit of actions to which it contributes. The man has reasoned little, and reflected still less, who is not conscious that there is within him a depraved susceptibility of misleading influence, which contravenes his better judgment, and betrays him into actions which are morally wrong; and what is this consciousness, but experience of responsibilitya far better evidence than reasoning ever can be ?
On the whole, we would ask the infidel, whether, on the one hand, it be not the case, that the moral phenomena of human nature are exactly such as might be expected, on the supposition that man is, in fact, the willing captive of a very powerful evil agency? or whether, on the other hand, he has not met with some of these phenomena, which are truly unaccountable, without the aid of such a solution as that for which we contend ? On this subject the statements of the Bible are copious and explicit. In its account of the introduction of sin, we have the agency of Satan most minutely described; and in its very first announcement of mercy to our guilty family, the victory of man over Satan is predicted, as the very essence of the good contemplated by heaven's gracious interference.
66 The Lord God said unto the serpent, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The subsequent enlargements of this prediction, often embody the same ideas; and the consummation of the Christian economy, is uniformly declared to consist in the entire deliverance of those who are under it from Satan's moral dominion. 66 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Nothing is clearer, from the whole tenure of the New Testament, than that the system of Christianity, as a dispensation of good, takes its character from the death of Christ. But in that death he is expressly declared to have “ spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in his