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Some wonderful circumstances of the overthrow of Satan.
The wisdom of God greatly and remarkably appears in so exceedingly baffling and confounding all the subtlety of the old serpent. Power never appears so conspicuous as when opposed and conquering opposition. The same may be said of wisdom; it never appears so brightly, and with such advantage, as when opposed by the subtlety of some very crafty enemy; and in baffling and confounding that subtlety.—The devil is exceeding subtle. The subtlety of the serpent is emblematical of his, Gen. iii. 1. He was once one of the brightest intelligences of heaven, and one of the brightest, if not the very brightest, of all. And all the devils were once morning stars, of a glorious brightness of understanding. They still have the same faculties, though they ceased to be influenced and guided by the Holy Spirit of God; and so their heavenly wisdom is turned into hellish craft and subtlety.—God in the work of redemption hath wondrously baffled the utmost craft of the devils, and though they are all combined to frustrate God’s designs of glory to himself, and goodness to men.—The wisdom of God appears very glorious herein. For,
1. Consider the weak and seemingly despicable means and weapons that God employs to overthrow Satan. Christ poured the greater contempt upon Satan in the victory that he obtained over him, by reason of the means of his preparing himself for it, and the weapons he hath used. Christ chooses to encounter Satan in the human nature, in a poor, frail, afflicted state. He did as David did. David when going against the Philistine refused Saul’s armour, a helmet of brass, a coat of mail, and his sword. No, he puts them all off. Goliah comes mightily armed against David, with a helmet of brass upon his head, a coat of mail weighing five thousand shekels of brass, greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders; a spear, whose staff was like a weaver’s beam; and the spear’s head weighing six hundred shekels of iron. And besides all this, he had one bearing a shield before him. But David takes nothing but a staff in his hand, and a shepherd’s bag and a sling; and he goes against the Philistine. So the weapons that Christ made use of were his poverty, afflictions and reproaches, sufferings and death. His principal weapon was his cross: the instrument of his own reproachful death. These were seemingly weak and despicable instruments, to wield against such a giant as Satan. And doubtless the devil disdained them as much as Goliah did David’s staves and sling. But with such weapons as these has Christ in a human, weak, mortal nature overthrown and baffled all the craft of hell.
Such disgrace and contempt has Christ poured upon Satan. David had a more glorious victory over Goliah for his conquering him with such mean instruments; and Samson over the Philistines, for killing so many of them with such a despicable weapon as the jaw-bone of an ass. It is spoken of in Scripture as a glorious triumph of Christ over the devil, that he should overcome him by such a despicable weapon as his cross. Col. ii. 14, 15. “Blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross: and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”—God shows his great and infinite wisdom in taking this method, to confound the wisdom and subtlety of his enemies. He hereby shows how easily he can do it, and that he is infinitely wiser than they. 1 Cor. i. 27-29. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things that are mighty: and the base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen; yea, and things that are not, to bring to nought the things that are.”
2. God has thereby confounded Satan with his own weapons. It is so contrived in the work of redemption, that our grand enemy should be made a means of his own confusion; and that, by those very things whereby he endeavours to rob God of his glory, and to destroy mankind, he is made an instrument of frustrating his own designs. His most subtle and powerful endeavours for accomplishing his designs are made a means of confounding them, and of promoting the contrary. Of this, I will mention but two instances. First, His procuring man’s fall is made an occasion of the contrary to what he designed. Indeed he has hereby procured the ruin of multitudes of mankind, which he aimed at. But in this he does not frustrate God’s design from all eternity to glorify himself; and the misery of multitudes of mankind will prove no content to him, but will enhance his own misery.
What Satan did in tempting man to fall, is made an occasion of the contrary to what he intended, in that it gave occasion for God to glorify himself the more; and giveth occasion for the elect being brought to higher happiness. The happy state of man was envied by Satan. That man who was of earthly original should be advanced to such honours, when he who was originally of a so much more noble nature should be cast down to such disgrace, his pride could not bear. How then would Satan triumph, when he had brought him down!
The devil tempted our first parents with this, that if they would eat of the forbidden fruit, they should be as gods.—It was a lie in Satan’s mouth; for he aimed at nothing else but to fool man out of his happiness, and make him his own slave and vassal, with a blinded expectation of being like a god.—But little did Satan think that God would turn it so, as to make man’s fall an occasion of God’s becoming man; and so an occasion of our nature being advanced to a state of closer union to God.
By this means it comes to pass, that one in man’s nature now, sits at the right hand of God, invested with divine power and glory, and reigns over heaven and earth with a God-like power and dominion. Thus is Satan disappointed in his subtlety. As he intended that saying, Ye shall be as gods 151151 Gen. iii. 5. , it was a lie, to decoy and befool man. Little did he think, that it would be in such manner verified, by the incarnation of the Son of God. And this is the occasion also of all the elect being united to this divine person, so that they become one with Christ. Believers are as members and parts of Christ. Yea, the church is called Christ. Little did Satan think, that his telling that lie to our first parents, “Ye shall be as gods, 152152 Ibid ” would be the occasion of their being members of Christ the Son of God.
Again, Satan is made a means of his own confusion in this:—It was Satan’s design, in tempting man to sin, to make man his captive and slave forever; to have plagued, and triumphed over him. And this very thing is a means to bring it about, that man instead of being his vassal should be his judge. The elect, instead of being his captives, to be for ever tormented and triumphed over by him, shall sit as judges to sentence him to everlasting torment. It has been the means, that one in man’s nature, should be his supreme Judge. It was man’s nature that Satan so envied, and sought to make a prey of. But Jesus Christ at the last day shall come in man’s nature; and the devils shall be all brought to stand trembling at his bar: and he shall judge, and condemn them, and execute the wrath of God upon them. And not only shall Christ in the human nature judge the devils, but all the saints shall judge them with Christ as assessors with him in judgment. 1 Cor. vi. 3. “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?”
Secondly, In another instance Satan is made a means of his own confusion; that is, in his procuring the death of Christ. Satan set himself to oppose Christ as soon as he appeared.—He sought, by all means, to procure his ruin. He set the Jews against him. He filled the minds of the scribes and Pharisees with the most bitter persecuting malice against Christ. He sought by all means to procure his death; and that he might be put to the most ignominious death. We read “that Satan entered into Judas, and tempted him to betray him.” Luke xxii. 3. And Christ speaks of his sufferings as being the effects of the power of darkness, Luke xxii. 53. “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour and the power of darkness.”—But Satan hereby overthrows his own kingdom. Christ came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. And this was the very thing that did it, viz. the blood and death of Christ. The cross was the devil’s own weapon; and with this weapon he was overthrown: as David cut off Goliah’s head with his own sword.
Christ thus making Satan a means of his own confusion was typified of old by Samson’s getting honey out of the carcass of the lion. There is more implied in Samson?s riddle, “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness, 153153 Jud. xiv. 14. ” than ever the Philistines explained. It was verified by Christ in a far more glorious manner. God’s enemies and ours are taken in the pit which they themselves have digged: and their own soul is taken in the net which they have laid. Thus we have shown, in some measure, the wisdom of this way of salvation by Jesus Christ.
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