And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.Revelation 16:17Satanic Influence.
I. We know it to have been a prevalent opinion among the Jews that fallen angels had their residence in the air, filling that region which extends between the earth and the firmament. We can hardly say whence the opinion was derived, nor on what sufficient reasons it can be supported. But when St. Paul calls the devil "the prince of the power of the air," he may be said to favour the opinion and almost to give it the sanction of his authority. It is, however, of little importance that we determine where fallen angels have their habitations; and perhaps the associating the devil with the air is not so much for the purpose of defining the residence of Satan as to give us information as to the nature of his dominion. We mean that probably we are not hereby taught that the devil dwells in the air—though that also may be the meaning—but rather that he has at his disposal the power of the air, so that he can employ this element in his operations on mankind. And we know of no reason why the power of the devil should be regarded as confined to what we are wont to call spiritual agency, so as never to be employed in the production of physical evil, why the souls, and not also the bodies, of men should be considered as objects of his attack. If we believe, as we do believe, that ever since his first success Satan has been unwearied in his endeavours to follow up his victory, as far as the soul is concerned, by instigating to sin, plying with temptations, and throwing obstacles in the way of piety, why should we not also believe that he has continued his assaults on the body, wasting it with sickness, racking it with pain, and thus making it a vast encumbrance to the soul in her strivings after righteousness? Indeed, if it could even be supposed that, engaged in attempting the destruction of our immortal part, the devil would care nothing for our mortal, knowing it already doomed to death and therefore not worth his malice, yet, when you remembered how the mind may be acted on through the body, how difficult and almost impossible it is to turn the thoughts on solemn and deep inquiries where there is great suffering in the flesh, you would conclude it probable that the body as well as the soul would be assailed and harassed by Satan and his angels.
II. We are indeed well aware that it is not the devil who destroys man. It must be man who destroys himself. The devil can do nothing against us except as we afford him opportunity, yielding ourselves to his suggestions and allowing him to lead us captive at his will. But it may at length come to pass, if we persist in walking as children of disobedience, that we quite expel from our breast the Spirit of God, whose strivings have been resisted, and whose admonitions have been despised, and enthrone in his stead that spirit of evil whose longing and whose labour it is to make us share his own ruin. And then is there as clear a demoniacal possession as when the man was cast into the fire or water through the fearful energies of the indwelling fiend. Let us not too hastily conclude that there is nothing in our days at all analogous to those demoniacal possessions of which so frequent mention is made in the Gospel. When the Apostle speaks of the devil as "working in the children of disobedience," he uses the same word which is elsewhere used of the operations of the Holy Ghost, that Divine Agent who dwelleth in believers, residing in them as a permanent monitor, renewing their nature, and preparing them for glory. So that St. Paul ascribes to the devil, as acting in the children of disobedience, that very same energy which he ascribes to God's Spirit as acting in the disciples of Jesus. And whatever, therefore, the degree in which we consider good men as possessed by the Holy Ghost, in that very same degree must we consider abandoned and reprobate men as possessed by Satan and his angels. There must be as much of direct influence, as much of the surrender of the man to the dominion set up within himself, in the one case as in the other. In neither have we right to say that free agency is interfered with, much less destroyed; but in both there is the willing submission to the dictates of another, and that other so identified with the man himself that he is actually bound by the being obeyed. There is, then, no doubt that the devil is an enemy to be dreaded and resisted; but we thank God for the assertion that there is to break a day on our creation when the malignant adversary shall be bound and spoiled of his power to assail.
H. Melvill, Fenny Pulpit, No. 1838.
References: Revelation 18:2.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 99. Revelation 18:4.—G. Carlyle, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 168. Revelation 18:10.—F. W. Farrar, Ibid., vol. xxxiii., p. 312. Revelation 19:1.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 262. Revelation 19:3.—G. Calthrop, Words Spoken to My Friends, p. 358.
And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.