I will not dwell on the mere physical evils of this life, though they are enough to appal us, the miseries of sickness, pain, want, cold, hunger; but let us dwell upon the moral evils which it contains. The poor youth who was brought to Christ to be cured, was possessed by the devil, and alas! is not a great portion, is not the greatest portion of mankind at this day possessed by the devil too? He is called in Scripture "the god of this world," and "the Prince of the powers of this air, the spirit which now worketh in the children of disbelief." In the book of Job we read of his "compassing the earth and walking up and down in it," and St. Peter speaks of our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, compassing the earth, seeking whom he may devour." Thus he is found all over the earth, and within the souls of men, not indeed able to do anything which God does not permit, but still, God not interfering, he possesses immense power, and is able to influence millions upon millions to their ruin. And as the poor epileptic in the gospel was under the mastery of the evil spirit, so that his eyes, his ears, his tongue, his limbs were not his own, so does that same miserable spirit possess the souls of sinners, ruling them, impelling them here and there, doing what he will with them, not indeed doing the same with every one, some he moves one way, some in another, but all in some pitiable, horrible, and ungodly way.

Wickedness is sometimes called madness in Scripture—so it is. As literal madness is derangement of the reason, so sin is derangement of the heart, of the spirit, of the affection. And as madness was the disorder in which possession by the devil showed itself in Scripture, so this madness of the heart and spirit is the disorder which in all ages the devil produces in the spirit. And as there are different forms of that madness which is derangement of the reason, so there are different forms of that worse madness which is sin. In an asylum there are different forms of the disorder, and so this whole world is one vast madhouse, of which the inmates, though shrewd enough in matters of this world, yet in spiritual matters are in one  way or another mad.

 

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