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the opposite error, and gave such definitions of the personal distinctions, as they are called, in the Divine Nature, as cannot in thought, nor, scarcely, in words, be separated from Tritheism. This author, in a work entitled “A Vindication of Scripture," undertook to defend the literal bistory of the Creation and Fall: and the absurdities into which he falls in the attempt, are strongly exposed by Dr. Middeton, who thus addresses him on that subject:

“ The author you are confuting says, it seems, that Christians are now ashamed of the literal interpretation of this story: which though you seem disposed to treat as a calumny, yet it is certain and undeniable, that all commentators whatsoever are forced in some measure to desert the letter, in order to make the story rational and credible. You tell us, with many of them, that the Deceiver was a real Serpent, actuated by the Devil: this you declare sufficient to obviate all difficulties, and solve all objections: yet Moses, you own, says not one word of the Devil; nor had occasion to say any thing of him; nay, that it was better he should say nothing of him, because he had said nothing of him: but whether it were better or worse, it is certain that the introducing a Devil is contrary to the letter, which speaks only of a proper and mere serpent, as the author of this deception, and suggests the reason, both of the attempt and the success of it, in the natural cunning of that beast. For the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field; and by his subtlety, says St. Paul*, he deceived Eve; who, in making her defence to God, does not plead that the Devil, which had been a much better excuse, but that the serpent deceived her.

“ Now because the serpent was more remarkably subtle, he was, you say, the properest instrument of the tempter to deceive by; the best to cover his fraud. But here, again, most people will be of a different mind : for it is natural to be jealous and on one's guard against the counsels, to distrust all offers of kindness, of the subtle and malicious: so that an ass or a dove must needs have been a fitter engine for Satan, under the disguise of folly or innocence, to have insinuated his poison by. And though you tell us here, that the apprehension Eve had of his subtilty might make her less surprised to hear him reason and discourse; yet, in the very next page, you declare it natural to suppose, that, for want of longer experience, she might not know whether any brute crea

* 2 Cor. xi. 3.


tures were capable either of reason or speech. Can such shuffling and inconsistency, think you, have any good effect towards rescuing the Word of God from reproach and censure?

" It is the opinion, you say, of some very worthy and learned persons, that the Serpent was so like a Seraph, that Eve mistook it for a good Angel. The opinion, indeed, is very extravagant, that serpents were originally in shape and beauty so like to blessed angels, that it was easy to mistake the one for the other. But, as extravagant as it is, it was embraced by Bishops Patrick, Tennison, and many other learned men, to avoid, what they thought the more extravagant of the two, the very opinion you maintain; which though you declare to have no kind of difficulty or improbability in it, yet Bishop Patrick treats as ridiculous and incredible*: and what reasonable hopes can you have of converting Infidels and silencing Scepticks, by the force of a solution, which our best Commentators and orthodox Bishops reject as simple and foolish?

“ But it is not the extravagance of this notion that offends yon, but the easiness of it: it spoils the whole story, by making it, you say, too easy. This indeed is the true spirit of a right orthodox Divine : nothing easy will go down with him; nothing but the marvellous and improbable will please him; and the good old principle, Credo quia impossibilet, is with him the only touchstone of a true saving faith.

“ But since, in a question of this nature, both your reason and mine may possibly be suspected, as if prejudiced by education, influenced by custom, or biassed, perhaps, by some interest in favour of established opinions ; I shall appeal to an authority which cannot be charged either with prejudice or partiality, with favouring or detracting from Moses; one of the greatest masters of Reason that antiquity ever produced : I mean Cicero; whose sentiments, declared in some cases nearly allied to the present, may serve to inform us what unprejudiced Reason would determine upon the literal history of Man's Fall.

* “ She was not so simple as to think that beasts could speak 3-nor doth it seem at all credible to me, that she could have been otherwise deceived, but by some creature which appeared so gloriously, that she took it for a heavenly minister.” Patrick on Gen. iii. I.

+“ I believe, because it is impossible.” This was a favorite maxim with the divines and schoolmen of the middle ages.

* It is, says he*, the common opinion of all Philosophers, of what sect 'soever, that the Deity can neither be angry, nor hurt any body. How would he have been surprised, then, to find God represented here as fierce and enraged, driving out his own creatures, in anger, from the bliss he had provided for them, and, in a kind of fury, cursing the very earth, for their sakes !

“ He exclaims, upon another occasion, the wonderful equity of the Gods ! would any people endure the maker of such a law, that the son or grandson should be punished, because the father or grandfather had offended?+ How would he have exclaimed then, at God's punishing so severely, not only the first pair, but their whole posterity, the whole race of mankind, for their sin; and even the serpent too, for the fraud of the Devil!

“Lastly, upon mention of a dream of Alexander the Great, that a serpent appeared to him, and told him where he might find a certain root to cure his friend Ptolemy of a wound which was judged mortal; laughing at the story, The serpent, says he, seemed to talk to Alexander: this, whether true or false, has nothing in it: since he did not really hear him speak, but seemed only to do so. But how would he have laughed at your literal story, of a serpent actually speaking and reasoning, without moving the least wonder and surprise in the hearer!

“These passages may serve, I say, to shew what unprejudiced reason would have thought of the vulgar history of man's fall : and though you, Sir, can swallow and digest the whole without the least difficulty or reluctance; yet what offence, what contradiction to reason, is to be found in every single article of the account!

It is necessary then, for the satisfaction of our reason, and the quieting of our scruples, to desert the outward letter, and search for the hidden allegorical sense of the story: where I shall not take the trouble of collecting all the fancies and whimsical solutions of the Rabbins and tbe Fathers; but content myself with proposing one, which seems to me the most probable and rational of them all: viz. that by Adam we are to understand reason or the mind of man; by Eve, the flesh or outward senses; by the serpent, lust or pleasure: in which Allegory we see clearly explained the true cause of man's fall and degeneracy: that as soon as his mind, through the weakness and treachery of his senses, be

* De Off, iii, 27.

+ De Nat. Deor. iii. 38.

# De Divin, ii, 68. * De Genes. cont. Manich. 1. ii. c. 12. † Ibid. c. 3. I Acts vii, 22.


came captivated and seduced by the allurements of lust and pleasure, he was driven by God out of Paradise; that is, lost and forfeited the happiness and prosperity which he had enjoyed in his innocence. All this is intelligible and rational; agreeable not only to the common notions and traditions of history, but to the constant and established method of God's providence, who has wisely instituted misery, sorrow, and the debasement of our nature, to be the natural and necessary effect of vice and sin.

“ This interpretation is embraced by several of the Ancients ; particularly St. Austin; who tells us, that the same thing is acted over again in every one of us, as often as we fall into sin, that was represented by the serpent, the woman, and the man: for there is first, says he, a suggestion or insinuation, either by a thought or the senses of the body, by which if our inclination is not prevailed with to sin, then is the subtelty of the serpent baffled and vanquished; but if it is prevailed with, then we yield, as it were, to the persuasions of the woman: and when our reason has thus consented to execute what our lust had moved, then is man effectually driven out and expelled from all possession of happiness, as from Paradise.* Now whatever. opinion this Father might, on other occasions, declare, (as he was not always very consistent with himself,) yet at the time of writing the book whence this passage is taken, he was persuaded, that in the history of the creation and fall of man, we could not avoid absurdities and blasphemy towards. God, without giving up the literal meaning, and trusting wholly to an allegorical exposition of it.

Moses, we read, was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptianst; and their learning, especially in things sacred and divine, was wholly mystical and symbolical; proposed always under the figures of men, beasts and birds, which were called Hieroglyphics, or sacred characters; invented and used by them, as Kirchers hás shewn, before Moses's time. Among these the Serpent, as all authors inform us, was of more common use with them than any other animal, whose nature they imagined to have something very excellent and divine in it.lf So that it supplied the place

Obelisc. Pamph. 1.2. De Institutione et Fabrica Hierogl. c. 2. p. 102, &c. So also Tacitus : Primi, &c.-" The Egyptians were the first, who, by the forms of animals, figured the senses of the mind.” Annal. xi. 14.

| Kircher Ibid. I. iv. Ideæ Hierogl. p. 347.

of two letters of their symbolic alphabet, and served them as a hieroglyphic of various signification ; more particularly as an emblem of subtlety and cunning, as well as of lust and sensual pleasure. *—Dr. Spencer, explaining this custom of the Egyptians, of delivering all the sublimer parts of knowledge under the cover of Symbols, Types, and Emblems, observes that when God called out Moses to his prophetic office, he considered him as one who had been trained up in that kind of learning; and that it is consonant therefore to the character and history of Moses, to imagine that God designed, that he should write and treat of all the sublime, things committed to him in that mystical and hieroglyphical way of literature in which he had been educated.+

The sentiments thus expressed by Dr. Middleton having been severely reprehended in a “ Reply” by an anonymous author, he supported them further in his " Defence of the Letter to Dr. Waterland.” The Replier had affirmed, that the story about Alexander's dream by no means proved that, Cicero would have rejected the account of the Serpent's speaking in Genesis, but that had he met with the story so well attested by the gravest and most ancient of all historians, he must needs have believed it. To this Dr. M. answers thus :

"Since you have thought fit to call this story again upon the siage, and vouch for Cicero, that he would have believed it on the same good authority that Jews and Christians do; pray tell us, Şir, after all, what it is that we Christians are obliged to believe of it. Must we believe it to be all an allegory? No; it is the allegorical interpretation that has drawn this clamour upon me of weakening the authority of Moses, and favouring. Infidelity. Must we believe it to be all literal? No; we are not allowed

do that, since there is certainly much mystery in it. What then are we to do? Why, we are to consider it neither as fact nor fable; neither literal nor allegorical; but both together: to interpret one sentence literally; the next allegorically; the third again literally; and so on to the end of the chapter; which, like the very serpent it treats of, is all over spotted and speckled, here with letter, there with mystery, and sometimes with a dash of both.

“ For instance: God made man; we accept literally; but after

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* Ibid. 1. ii. c. 6. p. 131. Item Pierii Valerian. Hierogl. 1. xiv. # De Legg. Heb. t. i. 1. i. c. 15, p. 211.

No. III.- VOL. 1.


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