« ForrigeFortsæt »
tion their faith, to furnish the monarch Death with a subordinate agent or angel, nion 7897, viz. the prince of bad spirits o AloBonos, otherwise called Sammael, and also Ashmedai, and known in the New Testa. ment by the phrases, the prince of this world, the tempter, who hath the power of death. The Hebrews, accordingly, in enumerating the attributes and offices of the prime minister of the terrific king of Hades, represent him as in the habit of making his appearance in the presence of God, and demanding at the hand of the Divinity the extinction, in any given instance, of human life. Having obtained permission to that effect, he does not fail of making a prompt exhibition of himself to the sick; he then gives them drops of poison, which they drink and die. Comp. John xiv. 30. Hebrews ji. 14. Hence originate the phrases, "to taste of death,” and “to drink the cup of death, which are found also among the Syrians, Arabians, and Persians, Matt. xvi. 28. Mark ix. 1. Luke ix. 27. John viii. 52. Heb. ii. 9.” It appears from this quotation, that " the more recent Hebrews," furnished death with an angel, the prince of bad spirits, called Sammael, Ashmedai, the devil, the prince of this world, the tempter. But the ancient Hebrews knew nothing about such a being; and where could “the more recent Hebrews" imbibe such opinions but during their captivity, and from their intercourse with the heathen? See Section 4. Jahn allows, that “adhering too strictly to the letter of their Scriptures," they exercised their ingenuity” to get their Scrip. tures to favor such opinions. Christians have imbibed the Jewish opinions, and have exercised like ingenuity to find proof for them in the New Testament.
Rev. ii. 10. 6 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of
you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall bave tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life.” It will not be questioned, that what John calls satan, verses 9, 13, 24. and chap. iii. 9. he here calls the devil. marks on all these passages, Section 5. which are here sufficient for an illustration. Suffer me to ask, does any one believe that the devil, a fallen angel, ever cast Christians into prison? No; but the adversaries of Christianity, then, and since, have oftendone this. It will not answer to say, the devil, a fallen angel, influenced the enemies of the gospel to cast Christians into prison, for this is just taking for granted the point in question. But, are our orthodox brethren aware, that their faith in the devil influencing men to sin, militates against the doctrine of total depravity ?: What need is there of such a being's assistance? Total depravity is sufficient without him to produce all manner of wickedness. If men would be less wicked, without the devil's influence, then they are not so bad but he can make them worse : and who can tell but they might all be very good if he would only let them alone? Mankind are wicked enough, but all their wickedness arises from a different source. “ From whence come wars and fightings? Come they not hence of your
lusts which war in your members ?" Is the assistance of a fallen angel required to produce them? But the reader may pursue these reflections at his leisure.
ALL THE PASSAGES CONSIDERED, IN WHICH THE TERMS
DEVIL AND SATAN ARE USED SYNONIMOUSLY.
The first passages which present themselves for our consideration are Matth. iv. 1-12. Mark i. 12, 13. and Luke iv. 1-14. and which contain an account of our Lord's temptation. The reader will please turn to them and read them. Most religious people interpret this account literally. But concerning a literal interpretation, Essenus thus writes, p. 117-120. 6 The history of our Lord's temptation is commonly understood in a literal sense. Satan is supposed to be a real being; to have actually appeared and conversed with our Saviour. Having taken him up through the air to the top of the temple, and thence to some high mountain, he tempted him in the manner represented in the narrative. This interpretation is loaded not only with difficulties, but even with absurdities shocking to common sense. The learned Mr. Farmer has examined the question ; and his objections to the literal translation are so numerous and decisive, that no thinking person can accede to it, without abandoning the first and most obvious principle of reason, and the tenor of the gospel: “Why the devil at all assaulted our Lord, and what advantage he could possibly gain over him, has, he observes, always been acknowledged to be a great difficulty, by the advocates of the common interpretation. But this difficulty is increased by the manner the devil proposed his temptation to our Lord. For he came to him in person, and urges temptations
such as could proceed only from an evil being. Now with what prospect of success could he tempt our Lord, if he thus exposed himself to open view ? By a personal and undisguised appearance, he can never hope to prevail over the feeblest virtues, much less could he expect the illustrious person, whom he knew to be the Son of God, and who knew him to be the devil, to comply with his temptations.
“In the first temptation, in which Jesus is solicited to turn stones into bread, nothing is promised on the part of satan to gain his consent; the request of an implacable enemy, when no advantage attends it, being in itself a reason for rejecting it. But satan defeats his own temptation by asking an useless favor.
“While the foc betrays great folly in the first temptation, he supposes Christ to be actuated by still greater in the second. The people, on seeing Jesus throwing himself from the top of the temple, might conclude that he was the Son of God. But he knew that the tempter had it in his power to lead them to draw the same conclusion of himself. Satan also would throw himself down unhurt; and his miraculous preservation would prove him, as well as Jesus, to be the Son of God. Nay, he might claim the superiority ; for it was a greater exertion of power to convey him from the wilderness to the top of the temple, than in sustaining his fall to the court below. What inducement, then, could Christ have for a compliance with the proposal suggested? Would he be disposed to gratify satan, by doing an act at his mere suggestion ? Was he to acquire any glory, or advantage to himself? No; on the contrary, he would only have incurred the infamy of having entered the lists with the devil, without having acquired any superiority over him.
“ With regard to the third temptation, the Son of God knew that the father of lies had not the empire
of the world at his disposal, and that he therefore promised what he had not power to perform. Such a promise was rather an insult than a temptation, and was calculated only to provoke scorn or resentment. Could the devil then hope by such contemptuous treatment, to engage the Son of God to listen to his accursed counsels, and to seduce him to an act of the highest dishonor to his heavenly Father, that of paying divine homage to this infernal spirit? This interpretation represents the old serpent as acting quite out of character, and supposes him to be as void of policy as he is of goodness; inasmuch as he used the least art in proposing temptations, where the greatest would have been insufficient to insure
" It detracts from the dignity and sanctity of the Redeemer, to be seen in conference with, and under the power of, an unclean spirit, who transports at his pleasure his sovereign and his judge from place to place; raises him to the most conspicuous stations to expose him to public derision; and wantonly and arrogantly propounds to him one foolish enterprise after another. And as the devil could have no power over our Lord unless by his free consent, Christ must have been accessary to his own dishonor, danger, and temptations.
" The common opinion further ascribes to satan the greatest miracles. It supposes that the devil, by nature a spiritual and invisible agent, has a power of assuming at pleasure a corporeal or invisible form, and of speaking with an audible voice; though there is no more ground from experience, (our sole instructor in the established law of nature.) to ascribe this power to the devil, than to ascribe life to the inanimate, or speech to the brute creation.
" It is a still greater objection to the common opinion, that it ascribes to the devil the performance of