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SECT. IX. HOW WE ARE TO PROCEED AGAINST EVIL SPIRITS. We may not yield to that Evil One. Our next thought must be, how to oppose him.
Our skilful Leader hath prescribed a spiritual panoply, both for defence and victory: The helmet of salvation ; the breast-plate of righteousness ; the girdle of verity; the sword of the Spirit ; and above all, the shield of faith, wherewith we may be able both to quench and beat back the fiery darts of that wicked one. These, well put on and well managed, shall both secure us, and foil our adversary.
But the art of repelling several temptations, is a long work, and worthy of a just volume. How we ought to deal with evil spirits, in their bodily apparitions and possessions, may be seasonable for our present enquiry.
Whereas, then, there is pretended to be only a double way of proceeding for their ejection; the one by pact, the other by com. mand: as the former is disclaimed, by all faithful Christians; so the other is wont to be challenged and practised, by some, who lay no small claim to holiness.
This we call exorcism or conjuration : a course so well approved of the Churches of the Roman Correspondence, as that they make this office one of the seven stairs, whereby they ascend to their highest order: but so disrelished by us, that we ordinarily place conjurers in the same rank of sorcerers, and professors of the black and damned arts; although, indeed, upon a strict inquisition, we shall find them far different ; for conjuration or exorcism implies a kind of force and violence, whereas those, that are in league with Satan, go on as upon a set match in a way cursedly amicable.
This latter is heinously sinful; as being directly against the Di. vine Law, and a professed affront to the Majesty of God: the for. mer, unjustifiable; as being without divine warrant.
It is most true, that the disciples of Christ and their primitive successors ejected devils, by command; and could rejoice to see those evil spirits subjected to their over-ruling charge : but, withal, the same persons healed all diseases, were perfect poison proof, spake divers languages. .
Why should any in these latter times challenge a right of succession in one of these, and not claim it in the other? All these were given, with one and the same breath; continued, by the same power; called in and stinted, by the same provideyce, with their fellow-miracles.
And, if still this privilege were ordinarily left in the Church, it were not a work for puisnes and novices, but for the greatest masters and most learned and eminently-holy doctors, which the times can possibly yield.
And, if this were really done, as is commonly vaunted by them; yet, with how much difference from the apostolic practice and issue! With them of old, there was no more but a word of command, and
an instant ejection: here, what a world of business! what sprink. ling! what censing! what blessings of herbs, and other ingredients of suffumigation! what variety of direful ceremonies ! and, when all is done, the success shuts up no otherwise, than in just suspicion or censure.
Not that free scope is given, in these last times, without any check, to the tyranny of evil spirits. The good providence of the Highest hath not left us unfurnished with means of our freedom and deliverance. Whilst we can pray, we cannot be remediless. When the disciples' power stuck at the dispossession of a demoniac, they heard from our Saviour, This kind goes not out but by fasting and prayer. Whence it is plain, that, as there are several kinds of devils, one worse and more powerful than another; so the worst of them are to be vanquished by prayer, sharpened with abstinence.
What a difference then there is of times and means ! At the first, it was a greater work to dispossess devils, by prayer and fasting, than by command; now, it were far greater to do it, by a mere command, than by prayer and fasting : that, which was then ordinarily done, were now strangely miraculous ; and that, which is in the ordinary course now, was then rare and unusual : the power of an adjuring command, we see ceased; the power of fervent prayer, can never be out of date.
This, and this only, is the remedy of both bodily and mental possession : thus, if we will resist the devil, he shall tice away from us. Upon the ground of this scripture it was, as myself was witness, that, in our age, Mr. Dayrel, a godly and zealous preacher, undertook, and, accordingly through the blessing of God upon his faithful devotion, performed, those famous ejectments of evil spirits, both at Nottingham and Lancashire, which exercised the press and raised no small envy from the gainsayers.
Shortly, all, that we have to do concerning malignant spirits, is, to repay them with hatred; to persuade our hearts of their continual dogging of us for mischief; to arm ourselves with constant resolutions of resistance; diligently to watch the ways of their temptations; to keep the strongest guard upon our weakest parts; to fortify ourselves, by our faithful prayers; and, by the virtue of our faith, to make him ours, who is able to strengthen us, and to make us more than conquerors.
SECT. X. OF THE WOEFUL ESTATE OF THE SOULS OF THE DAMNED. It is not for our discourse, to sever those, whom the divine justice will have put together; Devils, and Damned Souls. .. There is none of those evil spirits, which doth not, wheresoever he is, carry his hell about hinı : yet, doubtless, there are degrees of their torture: Art thou come io torment us before cur iime? said those devils to our Blessed Saviour: and how do they beg not to be commanded to the deep!.
Reprobate souls are no less partners of their pain, than objects of
their fury. No sooner is this living spirit of ours dislodged from the body, than it is presented, as in a Privy Sessions, to her Judge; from whom she receives a speedy doom, of life, or death. The sentence is instantly seconded, with an answerable execution. The good angels are glad actors, in the happy instalment of the just, in their glory: the evil angels seize upon the guilty soul, and drag it to their hell. For any third place, or condition; let them take thought, that believe it: for me, I must profess I never saw any colour of ground for it, in the Sacred Oracles of God; and shall not easily believe, that a truth, mainly importing us, would have been concealed from our eyes.
Woe is me, what a doleful, what a dreadful spectacle is this, which is now presented to my soul! the burning Tophet; the bottomless pit; the lake of fire and brimstone; the region of horror and death: wherein there is the perfection of all more-than-conceiveable anguish ; the full consummation of the divine vengeance to sinners : exquisiteness, eternity of torment; despair and impossibility of release, or intermission; perpetual dying, perpetual liv. ing in a death that never can end. How are my thoughts at a loss in this place of confusion! whether shall I more tremble, o God, at the consideration of thy terrible justice, or be swallowed up with astonishment of these infinite and intolerable sufferings ? I should not know thee, if I did not, with holy Chrysostom, believe, that the utter loss of thy presence alone, is as a thousand hells: to be for ever banished from thy sight, in which is the fulness of joy, what can it be less, than fulness of turment ? But, alas, this is far from a mere absence.
The very sin of the damned is no small part of their hell: for as all their powers, parts, faculties, are aj so many subjects of their insupportable pain and torture; so, out of that insufferable extremity, they conceive a desperate indignation and hatred against God: not, as he is in himself, infinitely good, for goodness can be no object of hate ; but, as he is to them, a severe, though most just, avenger of sin: to which is ever added a will obstinately fixed in evil; while they were in their way, they were in a possibility of reclamation; now that they are in termino, they can be no other than they are. As, therefore, the glorified souls are in a condition, like to the angels of heaven : so the damned are in the state of devils; not more capable of avoiding torment, than sin ; equally reserved in everlasting chains of darkness, to the judgment of the great duy: when, woe is me! that, which seemed little less than infi. nite, shall yet receive a further aggravation of pain and misery ; when the addition of the body shall give a further extent to this woeful cruciation, without all possibility of release for ever.
Alas, what anguish do I feel in myself, to see the body of a malefactor Haming at a stake! and yet this is but the act of a few minutes : for the air, so vehemently incended, instantly stops the passage of that free breath, which should maintain life; and the Aesh, by opposition of that combustible matter which encompasses it, is soon turned into dead cinders. But, if I could conceive of a body frying a whole day in a continued Aame, Lord, how should I be affected with the sad compassion of that intolerable torment, and burn inwardly with the sense of another's pain! but, to think of a whole year's broiling in such a fire, how can it but turn our bowels within us! What then, Oh, what is it, to conceive of lying in a fire more intense than nature can kindle, for hundreds, thousands, millions, yea millions of millions of years; yea, further beyond these, than these are beyond a minute of time to all eternity : where, besides the endurance, every thing, that makes towards the mitigation of other pains, adds to these!
Here is society of tortures; but such, as tortureth more: those perpetual howlings, and shriekings, and wailings of so many millions of the damned, were enough to make the place a hell, even to him, that should be exempted from those sufferings. Here is some glimpse of knowledge of the blessed estate of glorified souls; enough to heighten their envy, enough to perfect their torment: even as meat is set before that man, which is doomed to famish. Shortly, here is exquisite disconsolateness, gloomy darkness, extreme horror, pain insufferable, bideous ejaculations, utter hopelessness, vesing indignation, furious blasphemies, infinite dolour and anguish; without relaxation, without pity, without possibility of remedy, or ease, or end. How can it be otherwise ? O God, if thy mercy have prepared such a heaven for thy poor servants, whose very best works, for their great imperfection, deserve nothing but punishment; what a hell hath thy justice provided for those enemies of thine, that wilfully despite thee, and offend of malicious wickedness! How infinitely art thou more just, than sinners can be miserable!
But it is enough, () my soul, to have looked into the pit; enough, to make thee to lament the woeful condition of those, that are there shut up; enough, to warn thee to avoid those sinful ways, that lead down to these chambers of death; enough, to make thee think no tears can be sufficient, to bewail the desperate carelessness of wretched sinners, that run on in a known course of wickedness, without any regard of an ensuing damnation. Alas, so are they bewitched, they have not the grace to pity themselves and to foresee the danger of their own utter perdition; which if they could but look into, they would be ready to run mad with horror. Poor souls, could they but recover their reason, they would then think, “If a thousand days' pleasure cannot weigh with one hour's torment, what do I buy one hour's pleasure with the torment of more than ten thousand ages ? How do I dare to dance, for a few minutes, upon the mouth of hell, with the peril of an everlasting burning ?" Surely, if infidelity had not robbed men of their wits, they could not resolve to purchase the momentary pleasures of sin, with so dreadful and eternal damnation.
SECT. XI. A RECAPITULATION OF THE WHOLE DISCOURSE. AND now, what is to be done? Surely, as some traveller, that hath, with many weary steps, passed through divers kingdoms and countries, being now returned to his quiet home, is wont to solace his leisure, by recalling to his thoughts a short mental landscape of those regions, through which he hath journeyed; here conceiving a large plain, there a lake; here a track of mountains, there a wood; here a fen, there a city; here a sea, there a desert; so do thou, O my soul, upon this voyage of thine through the great Invisible World, bethink thyself of what thou hast seen; and so abridge this large prospect to thyself, as that it may never be out of thine eye.
Think, first, that, whatsoever thou seest, thou canst not look beside the Invisible Majesty of thy God. All this material world is his; he is in all; rather, all is in him; who, so comprehends this universe, that he is infinitely without it. Thik of him, as with thee; as in thee; as every where. Do thou, therefore, ever acknowledge him, ever adore him, ever enjoy him, ever be approved of him. See him; from whom, thou canst not be hid: rely on him ; without whom, thou canst not subsist: glorify him; without whom, thou canst not be happy.
Next, as those, that have their celestial life and being, by, from, and in him, wonder at the glorious Hierarchy of the heavenly Angels: bless him, in their pure and spiritual nature, in their innumerable numbers, in their mighty power, in their excellent knowledge: bless him, in their comely orders, in their divine offices, in their beneficial employments, in their gracious care and love of mankind. And, so far as weak flesh and blood may with pure and majestical spirits, converse with them daily : entertain them, for thou knowest they are present, with awful observances, with spiritual allocutions : ask of thyself, how pleasing thine actions are to them: receive from them their holy injections; return to them, under thy God, thy thankful acknowledgments: expect from them a gracious tuition here, and a happy transportation to thy glory.
After these, represent to thyself the blessed society of the late charge, and now partners, of those heavenly angels, the Glorified Spirits of the Just. See the certainty of their immortal being, in the state of their separation. See them, in the very instant of their parting, blessed with the vision, with the fruition, of their God. See how they now bathe themselves in that celestial bliss; as being so fully sated with joy and happiness, that they cannot so much as desire more. See them, in a mutual interknowledge, enjoying each others' blessedness. See the happy communion, which they hold with their warfaring brotherhood, here upon earth; whose victory and consummation they do, in a generality, sue for to the Throne of Grace. Foresee them, lastly, after a longing desire of meeting with their old and never forgotten partner, joyfully re