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Satan is only once mentioned in this Gospel, namely, in xiii, 27, where he is said to enter into Judas. But we may suppose that the devil (oraßonos), mentioned elsewhere in the Gospel, is the same person. He is described as the slayer of mankind from the beginning, and the father of falsehood, and also as the father of those Jews who attacked Jesus (viii, 44).
Altogether the references to Satan or the devil are very vague in the Gospels, and do not present a sufficient basis upon which to form a history of him. Nor do we get much help from the 0. T. He is mentioned in the Book of Job as appearing before God apparently with the song of God, and as one of them. Besides the references to him in the Book of Job, Satan is only spoken of twice in the 0. T., namely, in 1 Chronicles, xxi, 1, and Zechariah iii, vv. 1 and 2. In the passage in Chronicles Satan tempts David to number Israel, whereas, in the earlier account of the same event, in Samuel, it is Jehovah (or Yahweh) who is the tempter. The idea of Jehovah's nature had evidently altered between the dates of those histories. In the passage in Zechariah, Satan appears to be an independent spirit. There is no mention of a devil or devils in the 0. T. The four passages in which the word “devils” occur in the authorized version are instances of mistranslation.
“Evil spirits” are only mentioned twice in the 0. T., namely, in Judges ix, 23, and 1 Sam. xvi, 14 and following verses, probably the oldest portions of the Bible. In both cases they are sent by the deity, who, in the first passage is Elohim, and in the second is Yahweh; but in 1 Sam. xvi, 16, he is also Elohim.
“Familiar spirits" are repeatedly mentioned, though their nature is not explained. Many have thought that the manifestation of their presence was similar to some of the alleged phenomena of “mediumship” of the present day; but no very reliable inferences can be drawn from the meagre notices in the 0. T.
An “unclean spirit” is only mentioned once in the 0. T., namely, in Zechariah xiii, 2, where it appears to be synonymous with the spirit of false prophesy.
It is most likely that the Jews borrowed their ideas about devils, etc., from Persia at the time of the captivity. As the Rev. Prof. Bruce remarks in his work on Apologetics : “the Hebrew Satan answers to the Persian Angra-Mainyu." By the time of Jesus Christ this had probably grown into a recognised demonology of which we do not know the details, but can only gather some shadowy hints from the N. T.
Apart, then, from the first three chapters of Genesis, there is no attempt in the 0. T. or the New to explain the origin of evil. Are we to accept the account in those chapters as an explanation? It may be possible to accept them as an allegorical account of a great fact—that man has fallen through his own self-will from a higher state of existence.
Dean Farrar, in his work on The Bible, tells us that no sane man takes that account literally to-day. Such a statement seems to me too sweeping. But still I have no intention of supporting the literal view to-night. I do not believe that the Jews of the 0. T. times ever appealed to that account as an explanation of the mystery of evil. As a matter of fact there is no supposition of any mystery in the account. God makes man and God curses the ground, just as in later passages he is represented as sending evil, as repenting of evil, as sending evil spirits, as tempting David. The account therefore of the fall is in accordance with the earlier view of God taken by the Jews, but is at variance with their later ideals. The God that Abraham
and Jephthah believed to take a delight in human sacrifice was not the God of whom one of the later Psalmists says: “whose loving kindness is good ” ; “who shall judge the people righteously and govern the nations upon earth”; and “who delights not in burnt sacrifices, but whose sacrifices are a broken spirit.” The Jewish conception of God was a thing of gradual growth, and in later times was largely assisted by contact with the religion of Zoroaster, which, before its contamination by Magianism, was a pure and noble one. It is noteworthy that, after the captivity, the Jews never showed any desire to return to the nature worships which had been their besetting weakness. But, as the Rev. F. H. Woods says in his work entitled The Hope of Israel : “even at best the Jewish conception of God was not absolutely perfect.” It still retained anthropomorphic elements. The conception of God's nature in the Gospels, which I have already dwelt upon, is a great advance. Perhaps the culminating idea of God may be said to be found in the first Epistle of S. John, where we are told that ó Osòs ayanin fotív (God is love-not sensual or sexual desire, but pure beneficence). 8. Paul dwells on the same idea, or I may call it revelation, in 1 Cor. xiii. That idea is really the centre idea of Christianity to-day, and forms the motive power for all the works of Christians and philanthropists.
Is, then, that divine ideal consistent with the belief that God created the world as we know it, and that it is being governed by His laws alone ? Arnobius thought not.
Let us now see what some later apologists have said about the problem.
Of these, Bishop Butler is one of the most famous, and I will quote him first. In the third chapter of the first part of his Analogy of Religion to Nature—the only part which relates to the question before us—Butler arrives at the conclusion that “there is a kind of moral government implied in God's natural government,” and he holds, after assuming the existence of a sole creator, that on the whole, God encourages virtue more than vice. But he can only make out a fairly probable case, and it is a question whether he has done as much as that when we consider his numerous admissions. Thus he admits that “the divine government which ” (according to his assumption) " we find ourselves under in the present state, taken alone, is allowed not to be the perfection of moral government.” He further admits “ that it is not impossible that, amidst the infinite disorders of the world, there may be exceptions to the happiness of virtue, even with regard to those persons whose course of life, from their youth up, has been blameless.” “Still," he adds, “I am far from allowing it doubtful whether virtue, upon the whole, be happier than vice in the present world. But, if it were, yet the beginnings of a righteous administration may, beyond all question, be found in nature, if we will attentively enquire after them.” Again, in ch. viii, he says: “Objections may be insisted upon against the wisdom, equity, and goodness of the divine government implied in the notion of religion, and against the method by which this government is conducted, to which objections analogy can be no direct answer.” Thus, Butler, starting with the presumption that there is one Creator and Cause of all, finds that the facts of nature and human life do not accord with the idea of his government being perfectly moral. He is obliged at last to fall back (ch. vii) on the plea of ignorance, “which,” he tells us, “is really a satisfactory answer to all objections against the justice and goodness of Providence.”
Let us now pass on to a consideration of Paley's views about God in Nature. In ch. vi of Part III of the Evidences, he says: “The general character of the works of nature is, on the one hand, goodness both in design and effect; and, on the other hand, a liability to difficulty and objections, if such objections be allowed, by reason of seeming incompleteness or uncertainty in attaining their end.” He considers, however, that the hypothesis of a life after death, with its rewards and punishments, is a complete solution. “It solves," he says, “all that objection to the divine care and goodness which the promiscuous distribution of good and evil ... is apt on many occasions to create.”
To many of us it will appear no solution at all. Surely, if God be the God of divine love and mercy that we believe him to be, the sight of pain and suffering must be repugnant to him. Is it, then, an answer to the difficulty to say that he will act more in accordance with his own nature at a later time? And, if it were a solution, would it be equally applicable in the case of animals?
But Paley is more optimistic in his Natural Theology. In chapter xxvi he tells us that the proof of the divine goodness rests upon two propositions, each capable of being made out by observations drawn from the appearances of nature.
The first is : “That in a vast plurality of instances in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial.”
The second is : “That the deity has superadded pleasure to animal sensations beyond what was necessary for any other purpose, or when the purpose, so far as it was necessary, might have been effected by the operation of pain.”
Both these propositions leave the question, Why, if the creator be good, he has allowed the existence of pain and