« PreviousContinue »
modern times, who wrote down the sentence, and indeed every thing in relation to the trial; for instance, the articles of agreement, that might be entered into, previous to the commencement of the judicial proceedings, Isai. x. 1, 2. Jer. xxxii. 1-14. The Jews assert that there were two secretaries, the one being seated to the right of the judge, who wrote the sentence of not guilty, the other to the left, who wrote the sentence of condemnation. Comp. Matth. xxv. 33-46. That an apparitor or beadle was present, is apparent from other sources.
"2. The accuser was denominated in Hebrew SATAN, or the adversary, Zach. iii. 1-3. Psalm cix. 6. The judge or judges were seated, but both of the parties implicated stood up, the accuser standing to the right hand of the accused. The latter, at least after the captivity, when the cause was one of great consequence, appeared with hair dishevelled, and in a garment of mourning."
Such are all the texts in the Old Testament, where the term satan occurs. The reader can now judge for himself, if it is ever used by the writers as the name of a fallen angel, who ruined our first parents and all their posterity.
THE OPINION, THAT THE DEVIL OR SATAN IS A REAL BEING, WITH OTHER CONNECTED OPINIONS, SHOWN TO HAVE THEIR ORIGIN IN HEATHENISM.
It has been shown in the two preceding Sections, that the Old Testament gives no countenance to the
common doctrine of a fallen angel, under the name serpent, satan, or any other. Indeed, we think it has been established, that the account of satan in the two first chapters of Job, was introduced for the express purpose of refuting such opinions. A very important inquiry arises, How came such opinions to be imbibed by Christians, become so current in the world, and even seem to derive countenance from the New Testament. To account for these and other things shall be our business in the present Section.
1st. In the early stages of the Jewish history, we read of witches and witchcraft. Injunctions are given against these, before we hear any thing about satan or the devil. But notice, that nothing is said to them about witchcraft until they were about to enter Canaan. Many of the injunctions delivered to the Jewish nation, were for the purpose of fortifying them against such heathen notions, and preserving them in the fear and service of the one living and true God. See the following among other passages concerning this. Levit. xix. 26, 31: xx. 6, 27. Deut. xviii. 9— 12. Exod. xxii. 18. comp. Isai. xlvii. 12, 13. 1 Sam. chap. 28. The inhabitants of Canaan were given to idolatry, and witchcraft with similar_superstitions were its effects on the minds of the people. But such a being as Christians call the devil, was neither worshipped, feared, nor known among them. They had abundance of idols, but no devil or satan, nor are the Jews cautioned to beware of imbibing from them such an opinion. It is then a very great mistake, which many good people have made, in calling witchcraft the devil's art, and in thinking witches and wizzards were in league with him. Concerning this, Michaelis, on the laws of Moses, thus writes, vol. iv. page 89. "We must however entertain very different sentiments on this point, in reference to the time of Moses. For in the Biblical writings prior to the Babylonish cap
tivity, we meet with very little notice of the devil, and it would seem, that the effects which he could produce on the material world, were considered as but yery trifling. The wizzards of those days rather ascribed the efficacy of their conjurations to other gods; and therefore, in the Israelitish polity, witchcraft was commonly accounted a species of idolatry, and of course, most severely punishable. Hence orthodox theology, in the time of Moses, could look upon it in no other light, than an imposture: for no one could maintain, that it operated preternaturally, without admitting the existence of other gods, and their power over the material world."-The Jews before they entered Canaan knew nothing about the devil. Nor did its idolatrous inhabitants, for he was not known in that part of the world. If then, as now, he walked about seeking whom he might devour, it is very unaccountable he should not be familiarly known in Canaan, a land full of idols, and witches, and all manner of wickedness. It seems all these could exist in those days without any devil to produce them. Nor is Moses, or rather God, under any apprehension, that he would visit that country. We shall see that the Jews were obliged to go to a foreign land to find the devil.
2d. The Jews were carried to Babylon, and spent seventy years in captivity. Here, the Magian religion, revived and improved by Zoroaster, prevailed, and here we shall find that they became acquainted with the doctrine of the devil, and with other religious opinions not found in their Scriptures. To this point I shall now turn the attention of the reader. Prideaux, vol. i. p. 219-240. gives us an account of Zoroaster, his religion, and its success, a few brief extracts from which I shall only make. He says"In the time of his (Darius Hystaspis) reign first appeared in Persia the famous prophet of the Magians,
whom the Persians call Zerdusht, or Zaratush, and the Greeks, Zoroaster.
"He was the greatest impostor, except Mahomet, that ever appeared in the world, and had all the craft *and enterprising boldness of that Arab, but much more knowledge; for he was excellently skilled in all the learning of the East that was in his time; whereas the other could neither write nor read; and particularly he was thoroughly versed in the Jewish religion, and in all the sacred writings of the Old Testament that were then extant, which makes it most likely, that he was, as to his origin, a Jew. And it is generally said of him, that he had been a servant to one of the prophets of Israel, and that it was by this means that he came to be so well skilled in the holy scriptures, and all other Jewish knowledge; which is a farther proof, that he was of that people; it not being likely, that a prophet of Israel should entertain him as a servant, or instruct him as a disciple, if he were not of the same seed of Israel, as well as of the . same religion with him; and that especially since it was the usage of that people, by principle of religion, as well as by long received custom among them, to separate themselves from all other nations, as far as they were able. And it is farther to be taken notice of, that most of those who speak of his original, say, that he was of Palestine, within which country the land of Judea was. And all this put together, amounts with me to a convincing proof, that he was first a Jew, and that by birth, as well as religion, before he took upon him to be prophet of the Magian sect.
"He did not found a new religion, as his successor in imposture Mahomet did, but only took upon him to revive and reform an old one, that of the Magians, which had been for many ages past the ancient national religion of the Medes, as well as of the Persians for it having fallen under disgrace on the death
of those ringleaders of that sect, who had usurped the sovereignty after the death of Cambyses,, and the slaughter which was then made of all the chief men among them, it sunk so low, that it became almost extinct, and Sabianism every where prevailed against it, Darius and most of his followers on that occasion going over to it. But the affection which the people had for the religion of their forefathers, and which they had been all brought up in, not being easily to be rooted out, Zoroaster saw, that the revival of this was the best game of imposture that he could then play; and, having so good an old stock to graft upon, he did with the greater ease make all his new scions to grow, which he inserted into it.
"The chief reformation which he made in the Magian religion was in the first principle of it: for whereas before they had held the being of two first causes, the first light, or the good god, who was the author of all good; and the other darkness, or the evil god, who was the author of all evil; and that of the mixture of these two, as they were in a continual struggle with each other, all things were made; he introduced a principle superior to them both, one supreme God, who created both light and darkness, and out of these two, according to the alone pleasure of his own will, made all things else that are, according to what is said in the 45th chapter of Isaiah, 5, 6, 7. "I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God besides me; I girded thee, though thou hast not known me, that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil, I the Lord do all these things." For these words being directed to Cyrus, king of Persia, must be understood as spoken in reference to the Persian sect of the Magians, who then held light and darkness, or