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true, no apology is made for such shameful, unscriptural defamation. We readily excuse all this, for though preachers have declaimed against such a being in the pulpit, and terrified people with such horrible descriptions of him, all must have seen that they had no great faith in their own doctrine. They, like other people, live all the six days of the week without any fear or concern about him. The minister makes him a bugbear in the pulpit to frighten the parents, and parents at home make the same use of him to frighten their children, but both take care not to be too much frightened themselves.
ANY objections which have occurred to me against the views advanced, I shall fairly state and attempt to answer. It may then be objected
1st. "The devil, satan, or tempter, is spoken of as a real being. Personal pronouns, are not only used in speaking of him, but he is represented as speaking and acting, and we are expressly informed of what he said and did."-This objection, has been partially adverted to in the course of our remarks, but I shall here notice it a little further. If all to which personal pronouns are applied, are to be considered real beings, we must admit many inanimate things, yea, qualities to be real beings as well as the devil. For example, the earth or land is personified, Job xxxi. 38. The heavens are also personified, Jer. ii. 12, 13. So is the sea, Job xxxviii. 8, 9. Death, the grave, and destruction are personified, Job xxviii. 22. 1 Cor. xv. 55.
The host of heaven are personified, Psalm cxlviii. 1-5. See the whole Psalm. The mountains and hills can sing, and all the trees of the field can clap their hands, Isai. lv. 12. Wisdom, power, and a variety of other qualities, are personified in Scripture. In short, if things represented as speaking and acting, must be considered as real beings, and proofs of personal existence, then it is certain all inanimate creation ought to be considered real beings, for almost all things are represented as living, and speaking, and acting. Jotham's olive tree, fig-tree, vine and bramble, must be considered living beings, for they are represented as holding a conversation together. Judg. ix. 7-16. Micaiah's speech to Ahab, 1 Kings xxii. must also be literally understood, and who does not perceive, what absurdities would ensue, if such a mode of interpretation was adopted.
2d. "If there be no foundation in Scripture for a fallen angel, called the devil, how came this opinion to obtain such universal currency among mankind? The opinion, you say, was held by the Magians, and this evil being was considered their evil god, and called ahraman, and by the Greeks arimanius. Zoroaster called him "an angel of darkness," and other nations have had various other names for him. Now, as all counterfeit money implies current, must there not be a foundation in truth for such a universal belief of an evil being, call him devil, satan, or by any other name?"As this is the principal, and most popular objection, which can be advanced against my views, I shall spend some time in considering it. It is true that counterfeit money implies current, but do our orthodox friends believe, that counterfeit opinions in religion, always imply that there is some foundation in Scripture for them. If there be, they could not be altogether false. Do they allow, that there is some foundation in truth for a purgatory and the
doctrine of transubstantiation? Do they believe, that there is any foundation in truth for witchcraft, for ghosts, and all the different grades of hobgoblins? Will they allow that there is a foundation in Scripture for all the wild and ridiculous opinions which have obtained currency in the world? If not, why assert that there must be for the common opinion concerning the devil? Is it not possible to invent a thousand things which have no foundation in the Bible? Error supposes truth, as counterfeit money supposes current, but is it true that every error is a corruption of truth? But it ought to be noticed, that Dean Prideaux did not consider the articles of Zoroaster's creed, quoted Sect. 4. as corruptions of truth, but consonant to the truth. Nor do Christians in our day, for they have adopted both the sentiments and language of his creed. Why then call them corruptions of the truth? If they are, why preach such corruptions for truth to the world? Do orthodox preachers tell the people, that such sentiments are greatly corrupted, both as to matter and language? On the contrary, do they not solemnly assure their hearers, that such doctrines are the faithful sayings of God, though it is notorious Zoroaster taught them six hundred years before the days of Christ. Will they thank me for suggesting that there is any corruption in the case? If they believe such opinions have any corruption about them, why not purge them, and preach only the unadulterated truth of God? Why pass as current Bible doctrine, such counterfeit opinions on the public? Although there is no law to punish men for passing counterfeit opinions in religion, yet one should think, their own doctrine of eternal misery if they believed it, would be sufficient to deter them.
If the universal belief in a devil, proves that there is a foundation in truth for the opinion, then Pagan
ism, Mahometanism, and Roman Catholicism, have all a foundation in truth, for they have all in their turn been pretty universally believed. Purgatory, transubstantiation, witchcraft, and a thousand other opinions, ought not to be discarded, for they were once generally believed. Many good and learned men also believed them, and thought their proofs for them as good as those now adduced concerning the devil. Why are they rejected? Because, close attention to the Bible has shown they are not taught there, and closer attention will show also, that the common opinions concerning the devil are equally false. But if the above objection had any real force, or the reasoning employed be correct, our orthodox friends will allow, that universal salvation, and that there is no devil, are opinions, which may have some foundation in the Scriptures, and that should they ever come to be universally believed, this universal reception would make them true. But will they admit such reasoning as correct?
How such an opinion, as that concerning an evil being called the devil, came first to exist among men, has been partly accounted for in Sections 3. and 4. Christians learned this opinion from the Jews, the Jews learned it from Zoroaster's creed, and Zoroaster learned it from the ancient Magian religion. Well, it may be asked, how came the Magians to imbibe such an opinion? I would first answer this question by asking another. How came the Sabians to worship idols? Was there any foundation in Scripture for this? But, the apostle in Rom. 2. answers the question, how all such deviations from truth originated. Men when they knew God glorified him not as God, they became vain in their imaginations, their foolish heart was darkened; and professing themselves to be wise they became fools. See verses 21, 22, 23. Respecting the origin of an
evil principle, which was afterwards personified and deified, Essenus thus writes p. 125. Plutarch observes, that the doctrine of two contrary principles prevailed in all countries. The reason is obvious; evil abounded in every age and nation: and as men could not reconcile the notion of natural and moral evil with an all-wise and benevolent author, it was natural for them to reason in the following manner: 'Since nothing can come into being without a cause; and since that which is perfectly good cannot be the cause of evil, then there must exist a distinct principle in nature, as well for the production of evil as of that which is good.' In this manner argued the Persian sages; and Plutarch seems to have considered the argument conclusive. This doctrine was introduced into Judea before the age of Isaiah, who, as we have seen, thus sets it aside: 'I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil: I the Lord " do all these things.' xlv. 7."
3d. It may also be objected, "you have said, that the doctrine of an evil principle deified, was known as early as the days of Job, which was about the time of Moses: but is not this too early a date for the existence of such an opinion among men, and is there any proof that it existed at such a date?" Some notice was taken of this objection, Section 3. and I shall here add a few remarks in reply to it. It is then certain, that the worship of idols prevailed in the world before the days of Moses. If the question is examined, did the worship of idols or tha. o. an evil principle first prevail? we think the evidence will be in favor of the latter. But, we have found i: impossible to ascertain dates as to the first origin of either, -both being lost in antiquity, where no dates are given. Essenus quoting from Plutarch, says p. 74. "There are others again, who call the good principle only God, giving the name of Demon to the evil being; in