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8th. His endless existence and future prospects. It is not only believed, that the devil does exist, but that he will forever exist, the same wicked and malignant being. It is the common opinion, that no saviour has, or ever will be provided for him. He is considered beyond the limits of God's mercy. This door is supposed to be forever closed to him, and his repentance and return to his former allegiance and happiness is considered utterly hopeless. Nor, is it even thought, that he will ever desire i but would scorn such a proposal; for his mind is made up, rather to reign in hell than serve in heaven. We are aware, that some have held the opinion, that he will finally be restored, and will be the last being in the universe who shall be delivered from future misery.
But it is the general opinion, that however miserable the devil is, he has nothing better to hope for: nor according to the common belief is he concerned for his own miserable condition. As God cannot, or will not alter it, so he disdains to complain, or to sue for mercy. With such an endless, dreary prospect of intolerable misery before him, yet he scorns to relent or submit, and his stout heart, supported by malice and revenge, is consoled, that if God is to be his eternal tormentor, to the same duration he shall be the tormentor of a large portion of mankind. Some have supposed that he is to be destroyed, as taught, Heb. ii. 14. 1 John iii. 8. What devil is meant will be considered in its place.
Such is a brief summary, of the common opinions entertained of the Devil and Satan, and are by some still preached and published to the world. It is true, that the ancient zeal for such opinions has considerablyabated, but still enough remains to prevent me from being a favorite with the religious public for calling them in question. From early life such opinions have been imbibed; they have been nourished and
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 DECEIVED EVE WAS NOT A FALLEN ANGEL.
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. 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 uscd 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 evil 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