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in both, the guilt would attach to one alone.
I now proceed to the more immediate object of the present Lecture. In the notice given in my last, I stated that in consequence of an expectation generally expressed, that I should pursue the subject relating to the popular opinion of the devil, to which I had alluded in my first lecture, I would endeavour this evening to include that subject, with the rise and progress of the doctrine of the Trinity. But I am anxious not again to trespass so long upon your patience, and so completely to fatiguè and exhaust you and myself, as I did at our last Lecture. Besides as the origin and progress of the Trinity includes also the Personality of the Holy Ghost, and the Divinity of Jesus Christ, another convenient opportunity will probably be offered for this subject, I must be allowed this evening to confine myself to the subject of the common opinion of a devil.
It will not, I presume, be necessary to repeat the arguments adduced in our first Lecture. The general statement was,
that the devil is either independent and omnipotent, or that all super-human powers are useless. In the latter case he is simply an agent of God, and can of himself do nothing. In the former case he is a deity. I think it must be conceded, that, judging from reason alone, the weight of argument is decidedly against the existence of such a being as the devil.*
It may be gratifying to some members of that congregation which the Author of these Lectures has the happiness to serve, to see a few extracts, from a scarce pamphlet, edited by one, who, half a century ago, delivered, to their admiring parents and predecessors, the oracles of truth.
"Our animal passions and bodily appetites expose us to innumerable trials and temptations; we are every moment surrounded with temptations to intemperate and impure excesses; avarice and ambition continually present themselves; the occasions of envy, malice and hatred are ever before us; and without the utmost vigilance and circumspection, we are continually exposed to the danger of being overcome by one or other of these temptations. Frequent meditation upon our danger, and the strongest resolutions to preserve our innocence, are not more than sufficient to keep us in safety. Now can it be supposed that the kind, the merciful God, the Father of Mankind, the just, the righteous, the moral Governor of the world, does not think these temptations sufficient for us, but that he must moreover let loose the devil? so powerful, so subtle, so malicious, so wicked a being, as he is thought to be! What a des
In order to understand the sense in which our Saviour and his apostles would use the words, it would be useful to as
perate chance must we stand against such an adversary! Such suppositions as these, one would think, should be far from all sober, and seriously considerate persons."
"God, by his prophet declares,' I am the Lord, and there is none else, I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create evil, I the Lord do all these things.', None of the evils or calamities of human life are owing to the devil, or any other evil spiritual being; but they are brought about by the providence of God himself, to teach mankind repentance and reformation. God alone bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up; and in this sense it is, that there is no evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it. God, by the prophet Isaiah, severely threatens those who ascribed any calamities to any invisible wicked beings."
"There seems to be a necessity of interpreting many things concerning the devil, figuratively, if we would not assert the most absurd and ridiculous things. Every one who is acquainted either with human or divine learning knows that the most beautiful parts of it consist in figurative, bold, hyperbolical descriptions. Nay, nothing is more usual or ornamental in all kinds of poetry than to represent good or evil qualities, virtues or vices, under the characters of persons."
"The word Satan may signify nothing more than an adversary, or a calumniator, or the abstract quality, called calumny, which may, with the greatest beauty, be poetically described either among the worshippers of the sons of God on earth, or the angels in heaven; or it may mean no more than the slanders of envious neighbours. The word Satan does not only signify, but is rendered adversary by our own translators."
"The Scripture is as express as can be, that when we sin,
certain the opinions of the Jews upon the subject, whose phraseology was adopted, and to whom the instructions were addressed.
I cannot find, after the examination which I have been able to give to the subject, any evidence, that the Jews, in the time of our Saviour, at all believed in the existence of an infinitely malicious being, or such a being as the devil is now considered. It was, at this time, a common opinion amongst all heathen nations, that the spirits of departed men and heroes were permitted, after their death, to enter the bodies of human beings. Now there is sufficient evidence to shew that
we ourselves only are in the fault. Every man is tempted, when he is drawn aside of his own lust and enticed. St. James says this against those who were ready to lay the fault of their being drawn into sin, upon God; whereas he tells them, God did not tempt any man; their own lust tempted them. St. James allows that if God tempted them, that would be an exeuse; certainly it would be equally an excuse, if the devil tempted them: but their own lust only, excited by outward ob jects, tempted them. These considerations are enough to convince us, that the devil has no hand in tempting us." The Sovereignty of the Divine Administration Vindicated. By the late Rev. Mr. Thomas Dixon of Bolton. With a Preface, by the Rev. Mr. John Seddon of Manchester.
the Jews had adopted the opinions of the heathens upon this subject. To these spirits they gave the name of dæmons, and applied the term both to good and bad spirits. The Jews imagined every individual, even a child, to have his guardian spirit, who watched over him, was capable of infusing ideas into his mind, and, in some degree, of influencing his conduct. To such of these as instigated to good actions, the term dæmon was not so frequently applied, as to those spirits which were permitted to enter the human frame to do evil, that is, inflict pain or excite disease. Josephus expressly says that" dæmons are the spirits of wicked men, who enter the living, and kill those who receive no help."* Of these dæmons, who delighted in inflicting pain, Beelzebub was considered the chief. But, I believe I am perfectly correct in saying, that they had not the slightest idea that this being or any of his agents were fallen angels, or were omnipotent, and capable of controuling the laws of God. Now, in all the passages in the New Testament,
* De Bello Jud. lib. 7. c. 6. sec. 3.