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much evil being devised by it. These, with some other opinions, have been entertained of the devil's residence since his expulsion from heaven, which we should think at least cannot all be true, and creates a suspicion, that they may all be false.
4th. The nature and character of the Devil. The devil is universally believed to be a spirit, and a spirit hath not flesh and bones as we have. God is not more certainly believed to be a good spirit, than he is believed to be an evil and malignant spirit. Not one good quality, is supposed to be in his nature or character. On the contrary every evil, and that in the highest degree, is found in him. He is a perfect compound of all that is evil, and the irreconcileable enemy of God and man. As he is incapable of being made better, it is believed he is so bad that he cannot be made worse. To say a person or thing is as bad as the devil, is saying the worst that can be said concern. ing it.
5th. The extraordinary powers ascribed to him. Many people consider him almost omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is supposed to know the thoughts, words, and actions of all men; that he is in all parts of the world at the same time; and effects things by his power, little inferior to God himself. God is the only being in the universe, who is able to control him. He can assume any shape, form, or color; and though an angel of darkness, can transform himself into an angel of light. One would almost be led to think, that he had greatly increased his powers by his sin and rebellion, for no good angel is ever represented as possessing such extraordinary powers as Christians ascribe to the devil. If his powers have been curtailed by his rebellion against God, what must they have been before it?
6th. How the Devil is employed. It would be an endless task to enumerate all the various work in
which he is supposed to have engaged, since his expulsion from heaven. One of the first things he engaged in, was to tempt our first parents to sin, and thereby ruined them and all their posterity. Ever since, he has been seducing every son and daughter of Adam to all kinds of sin, fomenting all sorts of mischief, and producing misery in our world. He is supposed to be walking about seeking whom he may devour. He deceives the whole world, and accuses the very best of men before God. He infuses evil thoughts and desires into men's minds, and is ever ready to assist them in the execution of their wicked purposes, and the gratification of their sinful lusts and passions. He is supposed, not only to inflict many severe bodily diseases, but to harrass the mind, so as to drive persons to distraction and suicide. He is believed to have been the cause of all Job's afflictions, to have bound a woman eighteen years with an infirmity, and urged Judas on in his course of wickedness, until he betrayed Jesus and was finally led to hang himself. He is also allowed to blind men's minds about the gospel, and harden their hearts, and is at work in the heart of every child of disobedience. He not only picks up the seed of the word when sown, lest men should believe it and be saved, but those who do believe it, are the objects of his particular malice, whom though he cannot ruin forever, he is determined to render as miserable as possible. All wicked men are his, and his care is directed to keep them under his power and dominion. Some marvelous accounts have been given, of his torturing and tormenting good people, and of some who sold themselves soul and body to him. At the stipulated time, he has come and carried them away bodily to hell. It is the belief of some, that at death, the devil carries off the souls of wicked men to the same place. Those who wish to inform themselves more fully may consult Boston's works, Ed
wards, Jeremy Taylor, and many other authors on this subject. See also a print of hell, executed at Hartford, Connecticut, and sold in the bookstores in Boston. On a smaller scale, see a print of hell, handed about in Charlestown for the benefit of the sick and dying. And on a still smaller scale, see some school books, put into the hands of children. If any pious, sensible people, are offended at these statements, let them consider, that they have more cause to be offended at the conduct of such pious people which has occasioned these remarks.
7th. The various names by which he is designated. What the devil's name was before he sinned in heaven we have never been able to ascertain; but it appears that good angels are distinguished in Scripture by names. Now, if we cannot ascertain who or what the devil is, it is not for want of names, which are supposed to distinguish him from every other being. He, it is thought, is called in Scripture, satan, the devil, the evil one, the tempter, the old serpent, the god of this world, the prince of this world, and the prince of the power of the air. These are his principal titles, with a few others which are of less consequence, and do not require any particular notice. He has also a great variety of vulgar names, which to put them on paper, would only be to promote the laughter of fools, which is no object with me in writing. If such a being does exist, we are called to weep rather than to laugh. If he does not, I wish soberly and seriously to expose such a false and pernicious opinion. We protest against the common use of such names in daily conversation, whether people believe, or disbelieve the existence of such a being. One thing we would only remark, that all such vulgar names, are designed to designate a real being or fallen angel, by people who thus use them.
8th. His endless existence and future prospects. It 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 it 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 considerably. abated, 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 con. sidered 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.