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II

THE ORIGIN OF EVIL

“ And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world : he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."-Revelation

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xii. 9.

It requires but a casual survey of this problem to reach a conclusion that its hideousness cannot be explained by any other hypothesis than the power of an invisible Personality. When we scrutinize the footprints of the race, it will be found that progress has been along a dark, slimy trail; the infidels and philosophers who are loud in their boastings of inherent goodness will have difficulty in reconciling this fact. All who think are confronted with an everrecurring question-yea, exclamations : why do such things happen? What meaneth these barbarities, ravages, cruelties? Why so much domestic discord, ending in ruin-so many suicides? Why do men and women hurl themselves over the precipice of vice and deadly indulgences—when even a novice might easily see the inevitable ?

For a parallel we are reminded of an incident in war: log-chains were used when the cannon-ball supply was exhausted; lanes the width of the chain length were mowed through the ranks of the opposing army. These chasms of death were closed up each time, only to be cut down again by the next

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discharge. The pathway of ruin is thronged—the “broad road” is easy; however, there is something stranger than this utter blindness: the victims laugh and shout on this highway, paved as it is by the macadam of crushed humanity.

Now, can there be found a rationale for this dreadful twist in human affairs—this seeming unfathomable conundrum? We cannot believe that God would create a “footstool” in which sin, suffering, and misery were to abound; no such provision could have been in the divine plan. In the Word of God alone we find the explanation of it all. The Word gives an unmistakable account of an insurrection in heaven : “ Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not.” This strange warfare was inaugurated by the great archangelic leader.

This “ war in heaven” could have but one ending : the complete overthrow of the disturber and his followers. They were cast out, and are, beyond a doubt, swarming around this sin-blinded planet—invisible, yet personal and all but omnipresent. When we remember that one-third of the angelic population of heaven cast their lot with this chieftain, his strength and personality can be somewhat understood. It is written : “ The tail (influence) of the dragon drew the third part of the stars (angels) of heaven, and cast them down to the earth." In their relation to heaven, the dragon and his angels met with irremediable ruin; now, defeated, humiliated, maddened, doomed, this fallen archangel and his innumerable myrmidons are filling the whole earth with every curse that can be conjured up by their superior, supernatural intelligence. There can be no room to doubt the truth of this hellish propaganda, as he is called the “god of this world.”

It must be kept clearly in mind that the powers of darkness can, in no sense, mean an ethereal, impersonal spirit of evil—or perverseness of weak human nature; but rather a Being who rules and commands legions upon legions of subjects—demons, each of them endowed with all the powers and gifts possessed when they were ministering emissaries of God. They are now “ the angels which kept not their first estate."

We have no way to estimate the size of this satanic army, marshalled for the destruction of the race and the overthrow of Christ's kingdom. However, we read in the tenth chapter of Revelation that two hundred million were turned loose in the earth at one time. Ten thousand were in the country of the Gadarenes when the Master entered there; no wonder the entire land was kept in terror, even though their incarnation seemed to have been limited to one man living in a graveyard. Seven demons were cast out of one woman.

We should keep in mind the distinction between “ the devil" and demons; there is but one Devil, but the demons are swarming the length and breadth of the whole earth. Just as God directs His angels in ministeries of righteousness, so this god of darkness directs his angels to do his nefarious will. There are feats so daring and important that the Devil, it seems, will not trust to his underlings. He engineered in person the temptations of the Master; he entered the heart of Judas, and caused him to sell his Lord, then commit suicide.

The Bible undoubtedly teaches that Satan and his cohorts, having access to our fallen natures (which became so through his contribution of " forbidden fruit"-his great triumph in the Garden), are inciting this world to all the crimes known to our criminal dockets. Think of the train wreckers, rapists, incendiaries, white slavers, riots, strikes, grafters, gamblers, etc.; and as Paul has catalogued them: “unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, maliciousness, envy, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”

No one can consider this long, gruesome list of iniquities without a feeling that they originated, somehow, in the realm of supernatural darkness. The worst things that can be said of fallen humanity is its availability and susceptibility to the machinations of this past master of the Pit, whose only ambition is to rob the blood of its purchase possessions by wrecking the souls for whom Christ died. Our sinful nature responds to his touch ; the wonderful gamut of the soul is capable of being swept its entire length by his skill. A master player on God's greatest instrument—His masterpiece. All the fearful deeds committed seem to be acts of volition, and they are; but in the dark background lurks another superior will responsible for the initiative.

III

LUCIFER “ How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the na. tions !”-Isaiah xiv. 12.

“ And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp."-Revelation viii. 10.

“ And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth; and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.”—Revelation ix. 1.

It is reasonable to believe that all intelligent beings are morally free; and if free, are on probation. Intelligence, will-power, free agency, and probation are logically inseparable, regardless of place or environment. Without question, in the natural world this is true, and therefore must be true in the spiritual world. That men, angels, archangels,

, and redeemed spirits never attain a state of character beyond the possibility of free choice is a most fearful responsibility.

But for the imperialism of intelligent will, the fall of angels is unreasonable, improbable, impossible. Just how temptation can assail the inhabitants of heaven—the land, we are told,“ where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest"_is beyond all human comprehension. Startling as this truth appears to be, the Bible teaches it in unmistakable language.

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