1 Samuel 1:1
Now there was a man named Elkanah who was from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
Sermons
A Hebrew FamilyB. Dale 1 Samuel 1:1-8
1 Samuel 1:1-8. (RAMAH.) -
The family is a Divine institution. It is the most ancient, most needful, and most enduring form of society; and, in proportion as it accords with the plan of its original constitution, it is productive of most beneficent effects, both temporal and spiritual, to the individual and the community. In times of general laxity and anarchy it has been, in many instances, a little sacred islet of purity, order, and peace, and nurtured the elements out of which a better age has grown. The real strength of a nation lies in its domestic life, and Israel was in this respect eminent above all other ancient nations. Even in the days of the judges, when "there was no king in Israel," and "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25), there were many godly families scattered through the land. One of these was that which gave birth to SAMUEL, the last of the series of the judges, the first of the order of the prophets, and the founder of the Hebrew monarchy. This family is introduced with a brief description (vers. 1, 2). The residence of the family was Ramah (the Height), or, more fully described, Ramathaim (the Two Heights). Here Samuel was born and nurtured; had his permanent abode during the latter portion of his life; died, and was buried. There is not a more sacred spot on earth than the home which is endeared by tender association and religious communion.

"A spot of earth supremely blest;
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest." Things are not to be valued on account of places, but places for the good things which they contain (Bede). "God chooses any common spot for a mighty incident or the home of a mighty spirit." Consider the family as -

I. ORDERED BY A GODLY HEAD (ver. 3). His piety was shown -

1. By his regular attendance on Divine ordinances. He worshipped "the Lord of hosts," not Baalim and Ashtaroth (1 Samuel 7:4); in the way of his appointment, at the tabernacle in Shiloh, at the proper season, and with the prescribed sacrifices; not according to his own reason or inclination merely, a will worship which is not acceptable to God.

2. By his sincere and spiritual service, in contrast to the formal, worthless, and hypocritical service of others, especially the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 2:12), and undeterred by their evil conduct in the priestly office.

3. By his faithful performance of his vows (ver. 21).

4. By his conversation and prayer in his own house (ver. 23).

5. By his conducting all the members of his family to "the house of the Lord (ver. 7), in the exercise of his parental authority, accompanied by instruction and example. The words of the Law of Moses were evidently familiar to him (Deuteronomy 6:6-9), and happy is the family in which they are obeyed.

II. UNITING IN SOCIAL FESTIVITY (vers. 4, 5). Once a year he took his journey, in company with his family, from Ramah to the central sanctuary of the Divine King of Israel, for the twofold purpose of worshipping (lit., bowing down) and sacrificing before Jehovah. The sacrifice he offered was a peace offering (Deuteronomy 27:7), in which, when the animal was killed, the priest received its breast and right shoulder as his lawful portion, whilst the rest was given back to the worshipper that he and his family might feast on it before the Lord. Their festivity was -

1. Religious. It was the festivity of those who were received into communion with God. They were guests at his table, and overshadowed by his presence. It is said of the elders of Israel that they saw God, and did eat and drink" (Exodus 24:11). And if no such visible sign of his glory now appeared, yet their consciousness of his presence (according to his promise, and symbolised by the ark of the covenant) would give solemnity to their repast, and prevent improper indulgence and revelry, which were but too common in this corrupt time (ver. 14; Judges 21:19, 21). It should ever be the same when Christians join in social festivity.

2. Joyous (Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 16:11). Its religiousness did not detract from its gladness, but made it pure, elevating, and refreshing. "The joy of the Lord is your strength."

3. Participated in by the whole family, children as well as adults. As the fathers the women and the children took part in idol feasts (Jeremiah 6:18), so they should take part in "feasting before the Lord."

4. It also called forth expressions of affection (ver. 4). The kindness of God to all should lead to kindness one toward another, and the example of kindness set by the head of the family should be followed by all its members. Even the ordinary family meal may and ought to be such a scene of sacred festivity, but the highest realisation of it on earth is in "the Lord's Supper" (1 Corinthians 11:20). And how great is the blessing which rests upon the family, all the members of which partake together of the "cup of blessing," and are "all partakers of that one Bread."

III. DISQUIETED BY DOMESTIC TROUBLE (vers. 5-8). It was natural that Hannah should feel disappointed at being childless. Her condition was deemed a reproach, and a sign of Divine displeasure. But her grief arose chiefly from the conduct of her rival, Peninnah. There was thus an element of discord and trouble in the family. This trouble -

1. Existed where it might have been least expected. The family was distinguished by earthly prosperity and genuine piety. But what home is there on earth wholly free from trouble? Beneath the fairest appearances there is seldom wanting a cause of disquiet, to check self-complacency and teach the soul its true rest.

2. Was occasioned by want of conformity to a Divine ordinance. The introduction of a second wife by Elkanah was not according to the Divine appointment "in the beginning" (Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:4). The violation of that appointment had taken place at an early period (Genesis 4:19); it was sanctioned by long usage; and it was permitted under the Law "for the hardness of their hearts," and until they should be educated up to a higher moral condition. But it was followed by pernicious consequences (Genesis 4:23; Genesis 30:8), as it always is in those families and nations where it obtains. Ignorance of the laws of God may mitigate or exempt from guilt; but it does not do away with all the evil consequences of their violation; for those laws are rooted in the fixed relations and tendencies of things.

3. Was immediately caused by the indulgence of improper feeling and unseemly speech. Peninnah may have been jealous of the special love shown to Hannah by her husband (ver. 5). She was proud and haughty on account of her own sons and daughters, and, instead of sympathising with her who had none, she made her defect a ground of insult; and trials ordained by Divine providence are peculiarly severe when they become an occasion of human reproach. Finally, she gave free play to "an unruly evil" (James 3:8), especially at those seasons when it should have been held under restraint. Such things are the bane of domestic life.

4. Disturbed the proper performance of sacred duties. Peninnah could have little peace in her own breast, and be little prepared for Divine worship or sacred festivity. As for Hannah, although she did not angrily retaliate, but patiently endured the reproaches cast upon her (affording an admirable example of meekness), yet "she wept and did not eat" (ver. 7), and her joy was turned into mourning. Domestic disturbances tend greatly to hinder prayers (1 Peter 3:7).

5. Was alleviated by affectionate expostulation (ver. 8). "In Elkanah we have an example of a most excellent husband, who patiently tolerated the insulting humour of Peninnah, and comforted dejected Hannah with words full of tender affection, which was truly, in St. Peter's words, to dwell with them according to knowledge" (Patrick). Let each member of the family endeavour to soothe and alleviate the sorrows of the rest, and all learn to find their own happiness in promoting the happiness of others.

6. Was over ruled by Divine providence for great good. In her trouble Hannah was led to pray fervently, and her prayer was answered; sorrowing gave place to rejoicing; the family was benefited; and the people of God were greatly blessed. So, in his wonderful working, God "turned the curse into a blessing" (Nehemiah 13:2). - D.







Be sober, be vigilant.
Christianity in its precepts and commands, as well as in its doctrines, is precisely suited to our nature and our necessities.

1. The temperate man preserves his health of body, health of mind, and alacrity and vigour both of the one and of the other.

2. Moderation in the enjoyment of sensual pleasure enhances the very enjoyment of that pleasure in various ways. The moderate man knows nothing of that languor and disgust which generally treads on the heels of the voluptuary, so frequently embittering his pleasures, rendering them insipid to him, and so seldom allowing him to enjoy them completely. How much more taste does the moderate, the industrious man find in the simplest meats, in the most natural drinks, than the intemperate have in all the delicacies of luxury! And how completely he enjoys the innocent pleasure it offers! He has no need artificially to prepare nor previously to devise means for sharpening his pallid appetite and render himself susceptible of pleasure.

3. Moderation in the enjoyment of sensual pleasure exalts and dignifies the mind. It in a manner spiritualises it; by divesting it of the degrading that is connected with mere animal gratification; by teaching us to use it as a means to higher ends. Thus may we connect spiritual and sensual pleasures together, and give a value to the latter by the former. All then becomes to us the gift of our gracious Father in heaven, the effect and demonstration of His all-comprehending love, and the pledge of still greater benefits and pleasures in the world to come.

(G. J. Zollikofer.)

is all that duty that concerns ourselves in the matter of meat, and drink, and pleasures, and thoughts; and it hath within it the duties of —

1. Temperance.

2. Chastity.

3. Humility.

4. Modesty.

5. Content.

(Bp. Jeremy Taylor.)

"I fell in an unguarded moment; the temptation came so suddenly." How often such excuses are made! But why were we off our guard? Because we live in spiritual things too much like the Saxon king who earned for himself the inglorious surname of the Unready.

(King's Highway.)

Many a city has been taken on its strongest side, which was counted so strong that no watch was kept, even as no danger was dreaded there. We think that we are not exposed to one particular form of temptation; let none be too sure of this; and in resisting one form of evil, never let us forget that there are others in the world. Fleshly sins may be watched against, and yet room be given in the heart for spiritual wickedness, pride, self-righteousness, and the like. The victories gained over the lusts of the flesh may minister to those subtler mischiefs of the spirit: and our fate may be like that of the hero in the Maccabees, who was crushed by the falling elephant himself had slain. There is a white devil of spiritual pride as well as a black devil of fleshly lusts; and if only Satan can ruin us, it is all the same to him by what engines he does it; it is all the same to him whether we go down into hell as gross and carnal sinners, or as elated self-righteous saints. Set a watch, therefore, all round your heart; not on one side only, but on all; for you can never be sure on which side temptation will assail.

(Archbp. Trench.)

The truly pious is never at rest in his mind but when he stands upon his guard against the most minute and unobservable encroaches of sin, as knowing them upon this account more dangerous than greater; that the enemy that is least feared is usually the soonest felt. For as in the robbing of a house it is the custom for the sturdiest thieves to put in some little boy at the window, who being once within may easily open the doors and let them in too, so the tempter, in rifling the soul, despairs for the most part to attempt his entrance by some gross sin, and therefore employs a lesser, that may slide into it insensibly; which yet, little as it is, will so unlock the bars of conscience that the most enormous abominations shall at length make their entrance and take possession of it. Let no man measure the smallness of his danger by the smallness of any sin; for the smaller the sin the greater may be the stratagem. Some have been choked by a fly, a crumb, a grape stone; such contemptible things carry in them the causes of death; and the soul may be destroyed by sinful desires, idle words, officious lies, as well as by perjuries, blasphemies, and murders. Those who consider in how many ways a soul may be ruined, will not count it scrupulosity to beware of the least and slenderest instruments of damnation.

(R. South, D. D.)

The embankment is weak where it once gave way; and though the breach has been repaired, it must be diligently watched. The flames have been put out, but the ashes are still smouldering; and, if the wind rises, the fire may burst forth anew. The rebellion has been put down; but though its armies have been scattered and its prince dethroned, many traitors lurk in secret places, watching for opportunities to renew the struggle. Our old sins are conquered, but not quite killed.

(Newman Hall.)

The devil, as a roaring lion
There is a lion at your doors — such an one as hath none to equal him in power and in fierceness. Are they active in pursuit of prey? He is infinitely more so. They go but a little distance from their dens, but his circuit is the world itself. Other lions roam abroad at certain seasons only — night is their busy time; but "when the sun ariseth they gather themselves together and lay them down in their dens" (Psalm 104:22). But this spiritual lion is perpetually in motion. The day and night are both alike to him. Other lions are bloodthirsty and savage; but he hath no measure in his fury. He cannot possibly be satisfied unless all men are his prey. But mark some other points of contrast which show how far more terrible this lion is than the lions of the forest. They are visible, can be more easily avoided; but he is an invisible being. He springs upon his prey unseen and unsuspected. The natural lion attacks his prey by open violence; but this spiritual lion deals rather by secret craft. The natural lion seeks only to devour the body; the spiritual lion aims at the destruction both of soul and body in hell. The natural lion's strength is far greater than the strength of man, yet man has found out ways of overcoming him; but no power, no skill, no contrivances of man can enable him to overcome the spiritual lion our text speaks of. How then may this roaring lion be resisted and overpowered? Our text returns an answer to it. St. Peter is evidently speaking to believers, who, having been snatched already out of Satan's jaws, have now only to resist him to the end. How is a poor sinner, who "has been carried captive by Satan at his will," to "escape out of the snare"? Now to this the whole gospel is an answer. Why, you must look to the Cross. "For this cause the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." It is a most important question for the true believer, "How am I to resist this fearful adversary of my soul? Though I must not hope, on earth, to be free from his temptations, yet how am I to tread him under my feet?"

1. He exhorts us to sobriety — "Be sober." "Be moderate — be self-denying — make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." Let the Christian but entangle himself in things of this life, and Satan has him at a great advantage.

2. "Be vigilant." They then who have such a watchful and unwearied enemy have need to be upon the watch themselves. Let your eye but rove a little towards some forbidden object, and he will take occasion from it to inflame your heart with evil passions. Once say of any sin, "Is it not a little one?" and suffer yourself, on that ground, to indulge in it — immediately the lion is upon you! He will make this breach much wider, and it will "increase unto more ungodliness." We must not go to sleep ourselves under the notion that the Lord will guard us. It is the wakeful, not the slothful servant who has a warrant for God's protection.

3. But the apostle's third direction is one of such immense importance that we can neither be "sober" nor "vigilant" without it. He bids us be "steadfast in the faith." Let us keep but faith within our bosoms, and we keep Satan at a distance off. We are proof against the lion. Yet a little while and we shall remove out of the lion's reach. In the meanwhile, if there is a lion seeking to devour, there is another Lion standing on our part; for it is under such an emblem that our mighty Saviour hath vouchsafed to represent Himself. He is "the lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5).

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

I. SATAN'S PERPETUAL ACTIVITY. Only God can be omnipresent; hence, Satan can only be in one place at one time. Yet, if you consider how much mischief he doeth, you will easily gather that he must have an awful degree of activity.

1. We know that he is to be found in every place! Wherever the breath of life is inhaled, the poisonous miasma of temptation is a thing familiar.

2. Then, remember, that as he is found in all places, so you have often found him in all your duties. You have sought to serve God in your daily avocations, but strong temptations, furious suggestions of evil, hath followed you there. When we wished to be wrestling with the angel of God, we have had to contend with the fiend of hell.

3. We must observe also how ready Satan is to vent his spite against us in all frames of heart. When we are depressed in spirit — perhaps some bodily illness has brought us low, our animal spirits have ebbed and we feel ready to sink, then that old coward Satan is sure to attack us. On the other hand, if we are joyous and triumphant, then Satan knows how to tempt us to presumption — "My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved"; or else to carnal security — "Soul, take thine ease, thou hast much goods laid up for many years"; or else to self-righteousness — "My own power and goodness have exalted me." Or else, he will even attempt to poison our joys with the spleen of evil forebodings.

4. And ah! remember how well he knows how to turn all the events of Providence to our ill. Here comes Esau, hungry with hunting; there is a mess of pottage ready, that he may be tempted to sell his birthright. Here is Noah, glad to escape from his long confinement in the ark; he is merry, and there is the wine cup ready for him, that he may drink. Here is Peter; his faith is low, but his presumption is high; there is a maiden ready to say "Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." There is Judas, and there are thirty pieces of silver in the priestly hand to tempt him, ay, and there is the rope afterwards for him to hang himself withal.

II. SATAN'S ROARINGS.

1. Perhaps Peter here alluded to the roaring of persecution. How Satan roared with persecutions in Peter's days! There were racks and gibbets; there was the sword for beheading and the stake for burning; there was dragging at the heels of the wild horse; there was smearing over with pitch and then setting the body still alive to burn in Nero's garden. There was nothing for the Christian then but banishment and imprisonment; these were the lowest penalties.

2. But there is another kind of furious attack, the roaring of strong and vehement temptation. This some of us have felt. Do you know what it is to be caught hold of by some frightful temptation which you detest, grid yet the clutch of the hand is seconded by an arm so terrific in its strength that it drags you right on against your will.

3. Satan can roar also in the Christian's ears With blasphemies. Oh! the terrors which Satan has sometimes caused to God's people by saying, "Ah, you are not a child of God, or you would not have so vile a nature." Whereas you never thought it at all. It was his suggestion, not yours; and then, having laid his sin at your door, he has turned accuser of the brethren, and has sought to cast down your faith from its excellency, by making you imagine that you had committed the unpardonable sin. Now, if he roars against you, either with persecution or with temptation, or with diabolical insinuations, take the language of our apostle here — "Whom resist steadfast in the faith," etc.

III. SATAN'S ULTIMATE AIM — "Seeking whom he may devour." Nothing short of the total destruction of a believer will ever satisfy our adversary. If the battle were between Satan and man, then, indeed, woe to us! We might quit ourselves like men and be strong, but before this giant all the host of Israel must flee. But the battle is not ours; it is the mighty God's. Yea, and Christ Himself must be defeated, the glory of His Cross must be dimmed, the crown of sovereignty must be snatched from His head, ere one of those for whom He died should ever be given up to the power of His adversary.

IV. WHAT WE SHOULD DO IN ORDER THAT WE MAY OVERCOME THIS ADVERSARY.

1. "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith." But how resist him? "Steadfast in the faith." Seek to obtain a clear knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, and then get a good grip of them. This will make you strong. Then take hold of the promises of God, which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus.

2. But there is another word added for our comfort "Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." This is well sketched by John Bunyan. "As Christian was going along the exceedingly narrow pathway, with a deep ditch on one side, and a dangerous quag upon the other, he came to a stand, and he had half a thought to go back; and then again he thought he might be half way through the valley; so he resolved to go on. And while he pondered and mused, he heard the voice of a man as going before him, saying, 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.' Then he was glad, and that for these reasons. He gathered from thence that some who feared God were in this valley as well as himself; that God was with them, though they perceived Him not; that he hoped to have company by and by. So he went on, and called to him that was before, but he knew not what to answer for that he also thought himself to be alone." "I did not think that anybody ever felt as I feel." And though I tell you these things, and know that many of you have heard Satan roar, I am compelled to confess that I have frequently said in my own heart "I do not believe that any other man ever had this temptation before me." Well, this text stands to refute our supposition, "The same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When an army is on active service, there is no effort which its commander will spare, to get accurate information about the army which is opposed to him. He uses all the means in his power: and his emissaries are content to run the most fearful risks; that he may learn what is the number of the force arrayed against him; what is its position, what its probable movements. And if any skilful spy could so far penetrate the councils of the hostile commander, as to be able to procure a sketch of his plan for conducting the campaign, we can all understand that such a plan would be worth almost any price. For to be forewarned is to be forearmed. It is part of our religious belief, that a host of beings, with power and skill far more than human, are hourly exerting all their power and all their skill for our eternal ruin. It is a part of our religious belief, that at the head of this host of foes there is one miserable, yet powerful being: a being inconceivably malignant, crafty, wretched: whose great desire is to dishonour God, and to make us human beings as sinful and as wretched as himself. Now there is no doubt at all, that we have all to contend with a certain amount of lurking unbelief in regard to those evil spirits of which we are to think. You will find men who will tell you that the existence of Satan and his angels is an antiquated doctrine, fitted for a ruder age, but not suited to our growing intelligence: they will tell you that it is not to be supposed that God would suffer such beings to exist and to assail us: and that all that was said by Christ and His apostles with regard to evil spirits must be understood as having been said in compliance with the vulgar way of thinking. As to the notion that the Almighty would not suffer such, why, there is no greater difficulty in understanding why He permits evil spirits, than in understanding why he permits evil men. And we know that God not only allows evil men to exist; but allows them to tempt and mislead other human souls to evil. And as for the notion that Christ and the apostles in speaking of evil spirits were merely complying with the vulgar way of thinking — merely to put that notion plainly before our minds is enough to set it aside. See what it comes to. That there are no evil spirits: that people, however, generally fancied there are: and that our Saviour, for fear of shocking their prejudice, gave in to that foolish error, and countenanced it. Now, is that conceivable? Would that have been worthy of Him who is the Truth? In leading our spiritual life, we have to contend with real, personal beings, striving to lead us wrong: there is something more against us than merely the force of circumstances, and the current of events in a fallen world; these are seconded and used by real persons of the greatest power and craft. Ought we not to seek to know something of the nature and the wiles of our great adversaries? We all know that the Bible contains many references to evil spirits, unclean spirits, or devils: and in the New Testament there is very much more frequent mention of evil angels than of good angels. For whatever advantages we may ever derive from the aid of good angels, we gain by the direct intervention of God: and we are not to think of making any application to any good spirit for his help. But it is different with evil spirits. Against them we are called personally to guard. We may, by our own evil thoughts and ways, tempt them to tempt us. To them we may open our hearts. And them we may by God's grace resist, and drive away. We are exposed to great perils from them, against which we need to be guarded. But the thing of practical moment for each of us, is the manner in which they make their attack upon us. And it is not too much to say that we may be quite sure that they will attack us in the most crafty way. And will not the most crafty way of an evil spirit be the way in which we least expect him? Satan is too cunning to present himself in his own black colours when he can veil himself in a more engaging form. Do you think a fraudulent trader would go about proclaiming that he was a rogue, and theft if you dealt with him he would be sure to cheat you? If a man were trying to get you to buy his bad wares, would he be likely to take pains to tell you how bad they were? No: the evil one and his angels are not weak enough to announce to us how evil they are, and how bent upon our destruction. It is in our own growing worldliness of spirit — our own disposition to put off the care of religion to the more convenient season which never comes — in our own temper of careless easy mindedness, forgetful of the awful realities of heaven and hell, and vaguely trusting that through God's mercy things will somehow go right for eternity with little thought or pains on our part — it is in symptoms like these that we may read the fearful indications that the devil and his angels are working too successfully upon our hearts. I do not mention the stimulus of unholy passion, of covetousness, of envy. You fancy that the bitter, angry spirit that grows up within you at some slight offence is but the working of your own natural temperament: ah, you do not know how it may be encouraged by some dark being, specially devoting himself to the task. In brief, it is reasonable and right for us to suspect the presence and influence of an evil spirit, in every temptation we ever feel to sin or error: in every intellectual process that would cast doubt upon God's revealed religion, in every impulse that would prompt to any deed or any thought that varies from the mind and example of our blessed Saviour Himself. Not by the mere natural working of our fallen mind does the evil suggestion arise: but weaving in with that, mysteriously cooperating with that, reinforcing and aggravating that, comes the baneful influence from the prince of perdition! And yet, though this truth be most awful, it is salutary: it is one which it is good. for us to reflect upon. Is there not something here to fill us with the greater detestation of sin: to lead us to the more resolute battling with temptation? Think that every time you sin, you are doing the very thing that your most malicious enemy wishes you to do! Is not that a motive to hate sin: to battle with temptation?

(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)

l: — Satan allows you as much religion as you please for the carrying on of his designs; and yet, if you please, you may have none at all. Some who are easily to be won, he tempts to downright villainy, only helping out their dull wits to more exquisite and genteel achievements. Others who are more cautious of notorious sins he draws to offences which seem less, but are equally serving his interest.

I. THAT THERE IS A DEVIL was the opinion of the heathen themselves that ever acknowledged a God. But most commonly they were mistaken in the nature of his being, and altogether as to his origin and power. Now as the agreement of all nations in the confession and worship of a God is a powerful argument to prove the same, so the same agreement in the general notion of this malignant being may be of the like force. And truly it seems agreeable to reason that since there is so much evil in the world there should be some sovereign patron of it. He also that shall consider the impetuous current of wickedness which has run down throughout all ages from the beginning of the world, which could never flow from infinite mercy and goodness, hath reasons sufficient to convince him that there must of necessity be some powerful being which manages this kingdom of darkness; some chief promoter of evil and subtle contriver of our ruin.

II. THAT SATAN IS OUR INVETERATE ADVERSARY, with the origin of his malice, and the reasons of God's permission and sufferance. It is very natural to those that are ambitious, when their designs of rising are thwarted, but much more when they are also degraded from that high and happy estate they once enjoyed, to fall into the deepest extremity of malice and eagerness of revenge, not only towards that power that frustrated their ends, but also with an endeavour to hinder all those who are in any possibility of obtaining that felicity which they by their rebellion have lost. And this is the case of the angels that fell. But since their power is still subject to God, how comes it to pass that He tolerates so vehement an adversary both to His honour and the works of His hands? Besides His unsearchable will and pleasure, I may presume to offer two reasons.

1. In relation to the lapsed spirits themselves. God determining not to inflict His utmost wrath upon them till the great day of judgment (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).

2. In relation to mankind. God purposing to advance those only to His kingdom whom neither the principalities nor powers of the air could shake, nor any subtle allurements could draw aside.

III. From experience and ordinary observation we may conclude, THAT THERE MUST OF NECESSITY BE SOME SUCH ENEMY by whose instigation chiefly and not altogether by the propensity of our own natures we commit most sins.

1. If we consider the nature and quality of most sins, how unanswerable to that earnestness with which men commit them, we shall find that the incitement proceeds, not so much from their own inclinations, or the fairness of the objects, as the secret subtle suggestions of Satan.

2. From that general and otherwise unaccountable averseness to religion, and other miscarriages in the duties thereof, which we cannot but charge ourselves withal.

(J. Cooke, M. A.)

I have heard divines say that it is very hard to convince men of the existence of a devil, that they scarcely know whether they are convinced of it themselves. I think they are mistaken. An opinion, a fear, a fancy — call it what you will — must have prevailed long, must have taken possession of men's minds, before it could find its way so readily to their lips. Are there no other signs? Does not each man complain of some incubus which he wants to throw off? One may find it outside of him; if he could have better or less stupid beings to work with, all would be well. Another feels as if it were altogether within him. It is a miserable solitary strife, of which no one knows anything but himself. Intelligent travellers and zealous missionaries know that in barbarous countries the difficulty is not to convince men of this doctrine, but of any other. We may acknowledge that our Lord's words were none of them directed to prove the existence of evil spirits. He found their existence acknowledged. Sickness, pain, death, were the demonstrations to the hearts of men of their presence. What has been said of Christ's words is true also of His acts. He who encountered sickness, madness, death, was certainly not setting forth the power of evil spirits. He was proving their weakness. He was, say the Evangelists, "casting them out." When the apostles went forth to preach, they too had no occasion to persuade men of the existence of evil powers. That was assumed; the Jews and Gentiles were agreed so far. Their theories were different; the witness which the facts of this world and of their own experience bore to their consciences was essentially the same. Can there be a deliverer from these evil powers? — that was the only question which it was important to get answered. The apostles went into all lands to proclaim that there was such a Deliverer. They said that Christ had overcome the diseases of men here upon earth; that by death He had overcome death; that He was every hour overcoming some principality and power in high places, which was claiming men as subjects and captives. This was their gospel. Having such a one, they spoke of necessity concerning the principalities and powers. But the apostles, like their Master, used the singular number as well as the plural. They too were obliged to speak of an adversary, of a tempter. The moment the complete unity of the Divine Nature was proclaimed — the unity of the Father with the Son in one Spirit; the moment that men had been baptised into this perfect, loving, all-embracing Name, they must be told, "There is an adversary of this Name, a self-seeking, self-concentrated, self-worshipping adversary, who is seeking to draw you out of communion with it, and therefore out of communion with each other. You must be sober, for he seeks to make you drunk with the pleasures of this life, with your own self-conceit, that you may lose all thoughts of your Father's house. You must be vigilant, for he seeks to stupefy you with opiates, to keep you asleep." St. Peter felt that a picture as living as this was necessary, that his next words might not be idle words: "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith." Once believe that you have an adversary — that the conflict is not a sham one, and you can repulse him. You have not to win a position, but defend one. You belong to God. You can tell the adversary that you owe him no allegiance; that you scorn his promises and his threats; that it is your Father's good pleasure to give you His kingdom of heaven, and that you do not choose to exchange it for the kingdom of hell. The members of the Christian Church were very likely to take up the notion that they and the world around them were under quite different laws; that they were not subject to the passions which other men were subject to; that they were out of the range of the influence of the evil spirit. A more plausible delusion, or a more perilous one, cannot be imagined. An apostle had no higher duty than to shatter it. He was to assure his disciples that the privilege of their brotherhood in Christ exempted them from no assault which threatened those who had not asserted that privilege. This advantage he had, that being one of a society, of a brotherhood, he felt that his enemy was the enemy of his brethren, and the enemy of that world which he wished to claim as part of his family. He was fighting for all men when he was fighting for himself.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

Dr. Livingstone tells us of an African native who was struck down and torn by a lion, that periodically the dreadful pains returned to the old wound, as if again the monster gnawed at the bone. So was it, I think, with Peter. The old lion had struck him down and fixed his teeth in his prey. Snatched from the jaws of the destroyer by David's greater Son, yet the scar throbbed with vivid reminders of the peril, and brought again before him the memory of his great deliverance. Let us turn and look upon this terrible man slayer.

I. HERE IS A VERY REAL ENEMY. He is an old doctor, as Latimer calls him, and well versed in arts and crafts; but his master stroke has been reserved for these times. There is a fable of a fox that caught its prey by pretending to be dead. That is the last of Satan's devices. A hundred years ago everything was put clown to him — storms, earthquakes, eclipses, plagues, diseases; there was ascribed to him a power and activity that were almost infinite. Thanks to science, she has cast the devil out of the hailstorm and the thundercloud, and has taught us at least some of the laws which regulate these things. So he has altered his tactics, and with a humility which his betters might imitate he has announced his own decease. "I am dead" — saith the devil — "indeed there is no devil. I am passed away with witchcraft and ghosts and all the silly nonsense of the dark ages." No, no. We have a more sure word of prophecy to which we do well to give heed. This old adversary is as real for you and for me as he ever was. As real for us as he was for Adam, or for Job, or for Judas. Your adversary — says the apostle, as if he had marked us out for his prey. We dare not ignore him. We dare not make light of him. He tracks our steps and seeks us as his prey. Be sober, be vigilant.

II. HE IS A MIGHTY FOE. The glimpses we have of him in the Bible reveal one of vast dominion and of amazing power; probably of all God's creatures one of the first in the order of time and highest in rank; amongst the foremost of the angels that do excel in strength. There is a majesty about him as of one conscious of vast power. Think of his triumphs. Away up in the mountain caves is the den of the lion, the mouth and floor of it all strewn with the bones of his victims; Skulls and ribs lie thickly scattered. But what a sight it were to look into the den of this old lion the devil, and to see the mischief that he hath wrought!

III. HE IS A SUBTLE FOE. Think of his knowledge of human nature. How perfectly he understands us! As an old Puritan says, "He taketh the measure of every man's foot; and then he fitteth him instantly." Therefore let us put up a double guard on the side of our weakness. Be sober, be vigilant, and, most of all, be sober and be vigilant where the peril threatens most. It is then that the devil can do most harm when he finds a traitor wish within the soul — into whose ear he can whisper, a traitor that he can bribe. And not only of our besetments does he make use. Our very virtues he tries to turn into handles for his malice. Here is a pleasant, genial, good-hearted fellow — ah! the devil leads him on and tumbles him into the ditch of self-indulgence, or fetcheth him away by evil company. This man is thrifty and saving: and the devil elbows him on year after year until he casts him into that horrible pit of miserliness. This man is generous, but the devil puffs him up with the sense of his importance. This man is very humble, and the devil pushes him down so far in the valley of humility that he begins to climb up the other side and is proud of being so humble. This man is resolute and determined, and the devil eggs him on until he is overbearing and tyrannical. And this man is modest and retiring, and the devil keeps him lazy and useless by assuring him that he has no gifts. He can do almost as much with our virtues as with our vices. For all conditions and for all circumstances the tempter has his attack. Turn to the great temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, again, he seeks to turn our very mercies to our mischief. The lusciousness and beauty of the fruit in Paradise is made to awaken Eve's desire; and when she wished for it, lo! there it was hanging within reach. He is a cruel foe. A lion for his might, he is also a lion for his savage cruelty. His name is Apollyon, the destroyer. To worry if he cannot overthrow; to annoy if he cannot destroy. "Oh, sir," said one to me one day, as gentle and loving a man as ever lived, "I loved my wife better than my life, but when I was drunk it was as if the devil was in me, and I always began knocking her about. I beat her one night so that she could eat nothing but spoon meat for eleven days. And then when I saw what I had done I had to get drunk again just to forget it." He is a cruel monster, a hard master, driving his poor slave to lowest depths.

IV. LASTLY, THIS OLD LION CAN BE OVERCOME. "Be sober, be vigilant." The first word suggests our peril from over-eagerness. People who go rushing into anything and everything, rush into the lion's den and thrust their heads into his very mouth. There are some people that the old lion must hunt for, bat the over-eager he can get by lying still. Be sober. Take a right estimate of things. Measure things by God and by eternity. Don't be too thirsty — that is the meaning of the precept — too thirsty for pleasure; too thirsty for money; too thirsty for honour; too thirsty for your own way in everything. Travellers tell us that there are certain places where you may generally trace the steps of the old lion and expect to find him waiting about. They are the drinking places, where he can spring upon his prey in a moment. Be sober. And yet be vigilant. The too anxious are in peril; but so are the too careless. Be vigilant. But is that all? What is the good of telling the little lamb to be sober and vigilant when the old lion is about? We must go further back and further forward for the instructions as to our safety. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God." Be so little and so weak that you have no faith in yourself at all — and creep for your safety in under that mighty hand. "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you." Beneath that hand I cannot know a fear. Here am I as within a fortress whose walls can neither be scaled nor undermined. That Presence alone is our safety. "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith." Be bold because thine hand is in the hand of thy God.

(M. G. Pearse.)

I. We have here the devil AT WORK IN HUMANITY. He is "going about," not outside men, but in men, going about in the regions of human thoughts, human passions, human impulses, human activities. "He worketh in the children of disobedience." As a worker —

1. His inspiration is malignant. "He is a roaring lion." He is not a sleeping lion, nor a lion crouching down, satiated with food, but a lion roaring with hunger, savage for food.

2. His purpose is destruction. "Seeking whom he may devour." The devil is a devourer physically. The devil is a devourer spiritually. He is a devourer of purity of heart, peace of conscience, confidence in and fellow ship with the everlasting Father. The devil is a devourer socially. He is a devourer of domestic harmony, social order, prosperity, and peace. The devil is a devourer politically. He is a devourer of civil freedom, national progress, inter national harmony.

II. We have the devil here COUNTERACTED BY HUMANITY. Three things are necessary to counteract him —

1. Thoughtfulness — "Be sober." This does not mean mere physical sobriety, although, of course, it includes that — it means sobriety of soul, a state of mind opposed to all volatile excitement. Were men to think whence they came, what they are, whither they are tending, the devil would not easily influence them.

2. Diligence — "Be vigilant." Be vigilant in building up moral fortresses around your soul, so as to resist his entrance.

3. Steadfastness — "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith." Is it wise in a town to ignore the pestilence that has entered its streets and carried death to its homes? How infinitely more unwise is it to ignore this roaring lion!

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. WHAT THE DEVIL REALLY IS IN RELATION TO MEN. First, He is an "adversary." Secondly, He is a malignant "adversary," ravenous and savage. Thirdly, He is a prowling adversary. "Walketh about." He is always on the move. He walks about the markets, the governments and churches of the world; about the public streets and secluded alleys, and about the chambers of every human soul. He has no rest.

II. WHAT MEN REALLY SHOULD BE IN RELATION TO THE DEVIL.

1. They should be serious. "Be sober." As calm, serious, and self-possessed as a soldier who waits the blast of the trumpet for war.

2. They should be watchful. "Be vigilant." He is wily, always plotting.

3. They should be resisting. "Whom resist." Do not yield an inch, but advance.

4. They should be reflective. "Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

The same afflictions are accomplished
Ordinarily, if we speak of afflictions, or sufferings, you presently think of the bereavements or sorrows which fall to us through the dispensations of Providence. But the apostle, when he here uses the term, is speaking only of spiritual assaults — of the attacks of Satan, acting on the corruptions of our nature, and soliciting us to sin. Are these indeed afflictions to us? Happy the man who, though he have to reckon among his sore things "persecution, and peril, and. nakedness, and sword," can yet say, "The sorest thing of all is, that I am continually wrought upon by an invisible foe, who, seconded but too readily from within, places me in peril of deserting my profession and dishonouring my Saviour." Yes, the greatest affliction to us should be the not finding affliction in sin. What is there to encourage the Christian warrior in the knowing that the same afflictions are the lot of others as well as himself? Really at first sight, and with reference more especially to the assaults of the devil, it might be said that this was calculated to discourage us. It seems almost like investing Satan with omnipresence, to exhibit him as afflicting simultaneously the whole body of Christians. Suppose it were the registered course of God's proceedings that there should be comparative freedom from the assaults of Satan, so that the "roaring lion" were not allowed to come against the Christian. What a fearful thing it would then be for a believer to find himself attacked by the devil! It would not be the amount of the attack, so much as the unusualness, that would distress him. His inference would be — "Surely I am not one of the people of God: if I were, He would not deal with me in so uncommon a way." Or, if again, in place of exemption generally from spiritual assault, there were any one form of temptation which was seldom allowed to visit the righteous; would not the being invaded by this form distract the godly man, not because the form itself might be more terrific than he had known before, but because, being novel, it would seem to bring proof that he had deceived himself with regard to his spiritual condition? But now take the opposite, which is the actual case, namely, that the Christian has nothing strange to undergo. Do you not perceive that this very circumstance will do much to encourage him to resist the devil and keep steadfast in the faith? The believer has perhaps to undergo a large measure of domestic trial; death makes frequent inroads into his family; his circumstances become straitened; his children requite him with ingratitude; but he looks into the history of the righteous, and he finds that there is nothing singular in his portion. Or again — and here, it may be, Satan has the greatest advantage — the believer has seasons of spiritual darkness; and he loses all comfortable sense of love of God and the atonement made by Christ. But is he peculiar in this? Has nothing like this been experienced by the believer? He turns to the Book of Psalms. What does he find? Unmingled joy? unclouded assurance? Oh, no! he finds constant alternations, as though night followed day — depression succeeded in necessary order to exultation. There is, however, one more, and an equally important view, which may justly be taken of the passage before us. If we are to resist the devil with good prospect of success, we must prepare to resist the devil; and, in order to this preparation, we should be observant of what has happened and is happening to others. An old writer justly says, "Things certainly fall the lighter upon us when they first fall upon our thoughts." It is the being taken by surprise which makes sorrow so hard; and we want you not to be taken by surprise. Oh, the experience of the Church is not an experience which merely proves the frequency of trouble; it proves also the advantageousness of trouble; it proves that affliction "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby"; it proves that the devil may be resisted; that, with all his subtlety, and malice, and might, he is more than matched by the believer, who takes to himself the whole armour of God. And for this simple truth we would gain, if we could, a strong hold upon your minds. The devil is not irresistible — not one of his temptations is irresistible. Will ye, then, yield, as though it were useless to withstand? Your brethren, in whom the same afflictions have been accomplished, met the devil and vanquished him, but not in their own strength; and you, too, may vanquish the devil. The promised aids of the Holy Spirit — aids which no Christian seeks in vain who seeks in faith — will always suffice to carry you safely, yea, triumphantly through the conflict. What warning, then, is there, that we slumber not at our post! what encouragement that we shrink not from conflict!

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Plain Sermons by Contributors to the, Tracts for the Times.
When people are sick, and in bad pain, we know how apt they are to imagine, Surely never anyone was so afflicted as I am. Thus St. Peter encourages his suffering brethren, when a time of trouble was coming on; much as St. Paul had before encouraged the Corinthians. "There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man": nothing that is beyond human strength, assisted by the grace of the Holy Ghost, to bear. This is the answer to those who think the commandments of the gospel too strict, too pure to be obeyed. "Your Father which is in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." And if that be not enough, look at the lives of the saints: look and see how good and penitent persons, from time to time, have really been helped to keep these commands which you think too hard, and to resist these temptations which you think too strong. On the other hand, that roaring lion, who is ever seeking whom he may devour, will be busy encouraging in you just the contrary of these good thoughts. If you are in trouble he will try to make you feel as if no other person was ever in so bad a condition. If he can, he will persuade you that all or a great part of your trouble arises from such and such a person's ill-usage, and so he will make you spiteful and envious. Other persons, who are not so ill-used, may do well to be forgiving and meek: but your case, he will whisper, is really too hard, too bad. What is the use, they will say, of such exact goodness? you may as well give it up; for you see it does not save you from ill-usage and suffering. Thus the enemy moves us to discontent, when we are afflicted or ill-used: but still more does He encourage us to sin, when we are in strong temptation from our own passions, or the evil example of others. He will at such times set us on thinking, that surely our passions are stronger than other men's, and therefore there is more excuse for our giving way to them. This is how the devil would beguile us, and a very serious temptation it is: he would have us believe, either that there never were any saints, any persons really good and holy, or that if there have been any, they were such by a kind of miracle. To be afflicted, then, is a mark of Christian brotherhood: it is a token that we belong to God's family. If anyone were quite exempt, he would almost feel it unfair: might he choose, he would rather take his share, relieving, if so it might be, his brethren. Or take the case of comrades and fellow soldiers — what sort of a spirit is he thought to have who draws back and spares himself when the rest are entering upon labour and danger? And here comes in the other word, by which, as I said, St. Peter in the text would stir us up to a godly jealousy of the saints. The word I mean is "accomplished." Their afflictions are accomplished, ours but just beginning. To conclude: whereas the apostle's word is, that whatever we suffer, the same afflictions are accomplished "in our brethren that are in the world," we understand that when they are once out of the world, there is an end of their affliction and care forever.

(Plain Sermons by Contributors to the "Tracts for the Times.)

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