Page images

strengthened by religious instruction in after life; and from the universal influence of public opinion in their favor, people have been deterred frum inquiring—are they true? But, let any sober-minded man sit down and seriously reflect on such opinions, and we think he must be satisfied they cannot all be true. They are at variance with each other, and some of them are incredible and literally impossible, unless the devil. be nearly equal to God himself. When brought to the test of Scripture and examined, we think they will be found wanting, and that they have no better foundation than the doctrine of witchcraft, which is now almost entirely exploded. The evidence of this we hope will appear in succeeding Sections.


REMARKS ON Gen. 3. showing, that the serPENT WHICH


In considering the Scripture doctrine concerning the devil and satan, Gen. iii. claims our attention at the commencement. Those who are not familiar with its contents, will please turn to it and read it. The common opinion is, that the serpent which deceived Eve, was a fallen angel, and is throughout the Bible, called the devil and satan. This is taken for granted with so much confidence, that it will be considered vain and impious to call it in question. But I do call it in question, and shall proceed to state facts and arguments, proving, that in whatever way this chapter ought to be understood, it gives ne countenance to such opinions.

1st. Moses in the two preceding chapters of Genesis, makes no mention of an angel, who fell from heaven and had become a devil. If such an event had happened, or such a being did exist, he was either ignorant of it, was not authorised, or deemed it unnecessary to mention it. We may with equal truth assert, that God created the devil, as assert, that an angel by his fall from heaven had become so, from any thing that Moses has said in these chapters. But ought not his fall to have been announced in them, if it be true, that he is spoken of in the third as the cause of the fall of man?

2d. It is a fact equally indisputable, that Moses in this account, does not say that the serpent was a fallen angel. It is from what he does say, that we can learn what he believed, and not from his silence on the subject. It is not easily conjectured, how such an opinion came to be inferred from this account. The circumstances related, lead to a very different conclusion. I shall notice some of these. Observe then the connexion between the second and third chapters. In ch. ii. 19, 20. it is said, "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam, to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him." The third chapter begins thus-" Now the serpent was more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." Any one reading these two passages, would conclude that the serpent was a beast of the field, which the Lord brought to Adam, and which he had named serpent. The connexion leads to this conclusion, unless we suppose God brought a fallen angel among the beasts of the

field to Adam, and that he gave him this name. But it would be foolish to assert this.

Again, let it be observed, that the woman did not accuse a fallen angel as her deceiver, verse 13. God says to her "What is this that thou hast done?" She answers him, "the serpent beguiled me and I did- eat." This proves that Moses did not believe that a fallen angel deceived Eve. Had either Eve or Moses believed such an evil being was the cause of her disobedience, would they have imputed it to a beast of the field? When God made inquisition, he traces the evil from Adam to the woman, and from the woman to the serpent, and here both stop. But had there been any other agent concerned, I ask, would either of them have stopped here? But again, Moses does not represent the serpent as a fallen angel in the punishment inflicted, verses 14, 15. It is evident God calls the deceiver of Eve serpent. If a fallen angel used this reptile as a cover for his deception, it is certain. he is not accused of the crime, nor does he suffer any punishment. From any thing said in the account, we may as justly accuse the angel Gabriel of deceiving Eve, as a fallen angel, and the punishment inflicted, fell on, and was as much suited to the former as to the latter. Was this fallen angel to go upon his belly and to eat dust all the days of his life?

3d. But another fact is, Moses in no part of his writings, gives us any information about an angel who fell from heaven and had become a devil. Let any one sit down and read the five books of Moses, and he must rise from them fully convinced, that such a being is not once mentioned by him, under any name. Had Moses only recognised the existence of such an evil spirit, there might be some ground for supposing, that he used the serpent as a tool to effect the deception o. Eve. But his entire silence on this subject, throughout his whole writings, forbids such a supposition.

For more than two thousand years then, such an evif being was unknown among men. Was Moses afraid to speak out on this subject? But pray what temptation had he to conceal such information? Let any candid man say, if Moses knew that such an evil being existed, had deceived Eve, was such an enemy to God and the human race, whether he would have been silent about him: such an important article, we might naturally expect, would be conspicuous in his writings. But will any man affirm that this is the


4th. Another fact which strongly confirms all the preceding, is, that no Old Testament writer says, that Moses by the serpent, Gen. 3. meant a fallen angel. They never speak of such a being by the name serpent, so that all foundation for such a supposition is out of the present question. But I ask, had they believed as people do now, would this have been the case? It is true, there are some texts in the Old Testament, from which it has been concluded, that such a being is called satan. These will be fully considered in the next Section. Here, let the reader only notice, that no Old Testament writer considered the serpent a fallen angel, the devil of Christians. They frequently use the term serpent, but never insinuate that a fallen angel used this reptile in deceiving Eve. For four thousand years, then, no such opinion seems to have been entertained by any sacred writer.

5th. What shows conclusively that the serpent, Gen. 3. was not a fallen angel is, in the Bible there are both allusions and direct references to the account of Eve's deception and the entrance of sin, but no intimation is given, that a fallen angel was the cause of either. We shall briefly notice the principal of them. Paul, 2 Cor. xi. 3. says "But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve

through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."

Paul calls the deceiver of Eve the serpent, as Moses did, but not a syllable escapes him, that the devil used this beast of the field as a cover for his deception. If this was the orthodox belief in Paul's day, he gave no sanction to it as an inspired teacher. He agrees with all the preceding sacred writers, in being silent about the devil seducing our first parents. But surely I may ask, if Paul believed this doctrine, is it not strange, that in a direct reference to the deception of Eve by the serpent, he should give no intimation that such a wicked being was the principal agent? But again, Job says, chap. xxxi. 33.-" Îf I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom." But instead of the words, "as Adam," we have in the margin, "after the manner of men." But allowing the rendering in the text correct, Job gives us no hint that he believed an evil. spirit was the cause of Adam's sin. Again, in Hosea vi. 7. it is said-" but they like men (in the margin like Adam) have transgressed the covenant." But here as little is said about such an evil being. But a more direct reference we have, Rom. xii. 13, 14. "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." Here Paul expressly declares, that by one man, and not by a fallen angel sin entered the world. But again, he says, 1 Cor. xv. 22-" for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." See also verses 45--49. But still, he does not say a word about the

« PreviousContinue »