The Devils Believe and Shudder
Devils and damned men have some kind of conviction and sense of all attributes of God, both natural and moral, that is strong and very affecting. The devils know God’s almighty power. They saw a great manifestation of it when they saw God lay the foundation of the earth, etc. and were much affected with it. They have seen innumerable other great demonstrations of his power, as in the universal deluge, the destruction of Sodom, the wonders in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, causing the sun to stand still in Joshua’s time, and many others. And they had a very affecting manifestation of God’s mighty power on themselves in casting all their hosts down from heaven into hell. And have continual affecting experience of it, in God’s reserving them in strong chains of darkness, and in the strong pains they feel. They will hereafter have far more affecting experience of it, when they shall be punished from the glory of God’s power, with that mighty destruction in expectation of which they now tremble.
So the devils have a great knowledge of the wisdom of God. They have had unspeakably more opportunity and occasion to observe it in the work of creation, and also in the works of providence, than any mortal man has ever had. And have been themselves the subjects of innumerable affecting manifestations of it, in God’s disappointing and confounding them in their most subtle devices, in so wonderful and amazing a manner. So they see and find the infinite purity and holiness of the divine nature, in the most affecting manner, as this appears in his infinite hatred of sin, in what they feel of the dreadful effects of that hatred. They know already by what they suffer, and will know hereafter to a greater degree, and far more affecting manner, that such is the opposition of God’s nature to sin, that is like a consuming fire, which burns with infinite vehemence against it.
They also will see the holiness of God, as exercised in his love to righteousness and holiness, in the glory of Christ and his church, which also will be very affecting to devils and wicked men. And the exact justice of God will be manifested to them in the clearest and strongest, most convincing and most affecting, light, at the day of judgment; when they will also see great and affecting demonstrations of the riches of his grace, in the marvelous fruits of his love to the vessels of mercy, when they shall see them at the right hand of Christ, shining as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and shall hear the blessed sentence pronounced upon them, and will be deeply affected with it, as seems naturally implied in Luke 13:28, 29.
The devils know God’s truth, and therefore they believe his threatenings, and tremble in expectation of their accomplishment. And wicked men that now doubt his truth, and dare not trust his word, will hereafter, in the most convincing, affecting manner, find his word to be true in all that he has threatened, and will see that he is faithful to his promises in the rewards of his saints. Devils and damned men know that God is eternal and unchangeable. And therefore they despair of there ever being an end to their misery.
Therefore it is manifest, that merely persons having an affecting sense of some, or even of all God’s attributes, is no certain sign that they have the true grace of God in their hearts.
Objection: Here possibly some may object against the force of the foregoing reasoning, that ungodly men in this world are in exceeding different circumstances from those in which the devils are, and from those which wicked men will be in at the day of judgment. Those things which are visible and present to these, are now future and invisible to the other. And wicked men in this world are in the body, that clogs and hinders the soul, and are encompassed with objects that blind and stupefy them. Therefore it does not follow, that because the wicked in another world have a great apprehension and lively sense of such things without grace, ungodly men in their present state may have the same.
Answer: To this I answer: It is not supposed that ever men in this life have all those things which have been mentioned to the same degree that the devils and damned have them. None supposes that ever any in this life have terrors of conscience to an equal degree with them. It is not to be supposed that any mortal man, whether godly or ungodly, has an equal degree of speculative knowledge with the devil. And, as was just now observed, the wicked at the day of judgment, will have a vastly greater idea of the external glory of Christ than ever any have in the present state. So, doubtless, they will have a far greater sense of God’s awful greatness and terrible majesty, than any could subsist under in this frail state. So we may well conclude, that the devils and wicked men in hell have a greater and more affecting sense of the vastness of eternity, and (in some respects) a greater sense of the importance of the things of another world than any here have. And they have also longings after salvation to a higher degree than any wicked men in this world.