Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

with him ? Answer; did you ever notice, that neither in the two first chapters of Job, nor in the ac, count of our Lord's temptation, nothing is said about any form, color, or shape, which satan assumed ? Nor in either of these cases, are the conversations represented as held by him with sinful men. Besides, in considering those accounts, we think it has been shown that no such being was intended by the writers. If you can prove the contrary, we hope it will be done. Do you object further by saying—"are we not told that satan transformed himself into an angel of light, and is he not represented in the book of Revelations under the form of a great red dragon ? Yes; and you might add—“ having seven heads and ten horns, and crowns on his heads; yea, as having a pretty long tail, which could sweep from the firmament a third part of the stars and cast them to the earth.” But brethren, is it correct to assume, as frue, that the devil is a fallen angel, and then recur to the symbolical language of Scripture for proof, which proofs, when adduced, render your doctrine ridiculous ? Besides, have we not shown that such passages have no relation to such a subject? Is it still objected—“does not the history of the world since revelation was completed, furnish accounts of the devil appearing to men in various forms, conversing with them; of persons who have sold themselves soul and body to him, and at the agreed time he has come and carried them away wholesale from the world ?" Yes; verily such stories bave been told. But if any minister among us should preach such nonsense to the people, he might be looking out for another parish in some other quarter of the globe. If any man among us should seriously say he had seen the devil, and conversed with him, his friends would soon procure a place for him in the insane hospital. Do our orthodox friends believe such childish

stories themselves? They would smile at me if I even suggested that they had any faith in them ; still however, they continue to preach that an angel fell from heaven, has ruined the whole human race, deceives them, walks about seeking whom he may deyour, and that he will be the eternal tormentor of a considerable portion of them. Yet no person has ever seen him or conversed with him, nor do the Scriptures teach such a doctrine, when carefully and candidly examined.

3d. If an angel fell from heaven before the sin of our first parents, how do our orthodox brethren account for the fact, that the Jews, to whom were committed the oracles of God, were obliged to go to Babylon to get information about such a being ? Moses says nothing about him; nor delivers any injunctions to Israel concerning him. Nor until after the Babylonish csptivity does it appear that such a being was known in Judea, except as an evil god among the heathen nations. The evidence of this has been stated, Section 4. We would ask our brethren affectionately, how they account for this, if their views of the devil are drawn from divine revelation? The Old Testament writers use the term satan, but never use it to designate an angel who fell from heaven. How they have used it may be seen in Section 3. They had the name, but wanted the evil being to whom they could apply it.

4th. It is a notorious fact, not easily accounted for on Scripture ground, that people in these days make very different uses of the terms devil and satan from what were made in the days of the inspired writers. I shall give an example or two of what I mean. First, you never find in those days as in these, persons apologising for crimes by blaming the devil. Nor do you find that any one ever made the devil a bugbear for the purpose of frightening their children into obedience. Nor does the devil appear to have been any objeci

of fear, to old or young, by night or by day. Besides, though men in ancient times, as in these, were given to cursing and swearing, yet you do not find that any of them had learned to swear by the devil. An instance is not on record, of one in a passion or otherwise, who ever wished any of his fellow creatures to go to hell or the devil. In old times, people swore by the name of the Lord, and cursed each other by their gods, but no one seems to have known how to swear by satan or the devil. And it is equally certain, that no inspired writer seems to have known how to give such horrible descriptions of the devil and hell torments, as is frequently done by modern preachers. But it is well known, that many damn their hearers to endless hell torments, and send them without much ceremony to the devil; and is it any matter of surprise, that their hearers in a less genteel way should do the same ? So long as we have so much unscriptural, not to say profane talk about the devil and hell torments in the pulpit, let us cease to wonder, that similar profane, silly language should salute our ears in the streets almost at every corner.

5th. The Old Testament is often quoted in the New, and quoted to show what was the faith of believers during that dispensation, but is never quoted nor alluded to, showing that any of them believed the devil to be a fallen angel. They neither announce this as an Old Testament doctrine, nor as a new revelation from God under the gospel dispensation. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, but it is not said of any one, that he believed in a fallen angel, called the devil; and that this was of use to him in any way. We have seen, that both Old and New Testament writers frequently speak of satan and the devil, and we appeal to the candor of our brethren to say, whether the Scripture writers would have applied these terms to good and bad men, to the

angel of Jehovah, to men's evil passions and to a piece of writing, had they considered them appropriate titles of the worst being in the universe, and the implacable enemy of God and man?

6th. It is a fact that, in every country where the Bible is not known, or not studied where it is known, there superstitious notions have prevailed concerning witches, evil spirits, ghosts and the devil: and just in proportion as it has been known and studied all such superstitions have gradually been exploded and renounced by the people. For example, not many centuries ago, it was firmly believed by all the Christian world, that human beings could become witches and wizards. It was also believed, that they were in league with the devil, and could perform very extraordinary things. See Mather's Magnalia. When the tragical scenes of the Salem witchcraft were acting, the man who would have written against it, as I now do against the devil, would have been an object of universal execration. But I doubt if you can find in the town of Salem an intelli. gent man who has the least faith in the doctrine of witchcraft. Even the devil himself now, with all his extraordinary powers, does not excite one half the attention which a few witches did in those days. Let him muster all the priestcraft and superstition left in the land to his assistance, he could not procure a jury of twelve men to condemn a single individual to death for being in league with him. It was a dark day for the devil when witchcraft declined, for from that hour his popularity has been on the wane, it being one of his chief supports. All their powers were derived from him. Now, it is believed they never had any, and people would be as much puzzled to explain now how a human being could become a witch or a wizard as how a holy angel in heaven could become a devil. But while people are generally agreed that witchcraft was all a piece of

[ocr errors]

superstition, and do justice to the devil in freeing him from all blame about it, yet they still continue to believe in his existence and extraordinary powers. We look back with surprise to the days when our fathers burned the witches, and throw the mantle of charity over them. Our children will have to do the same for us a century hence. Will they not have to say—“Strange that our fathers should say the pow. er of witches was all a piece of superstition yet not see that the power of the devil whence it was derived was no better. Strange that they should perceive all the proofs of witchcraft were mistaken views of the Bible, and yet think their proofs of a personal devil correct strange, that they should discard witches as imaginary beings yet believe their father the devil to be a real being. Their devil never performed such wonders as witches have done. Did their devil ever bring a good man from the state of the dead to converse with the living as did the witch of Endor? Strange, beyond measure strange, that our fathers should so completely discard witchcraft as a superstition which the Jews imbibed from the Canaanites, where no devil was known, and yet continue to believe in the devil, a superstition which the Jews imbibed at Babylon many ages after.” Thus will our children be surprised at our superstition and weakness and will have to cover us with the mantle of their charity for our belief in the personality of the devil as we do that of our fathers respecting witches.

That a great revolution of opinion has taken place, about witches, ghosts, &c. no one can well deny. Well, how has it been effected ? Not by force but by the slow but gradual influence of the light of truth. The Bible has been more read and critically examed. Reason and common sense, formerly degraded, assume their proper place and dignity. The arts and sciences have been cultivated and the means of

« ElőzőTovább »