Imágenes de páginas

persons no one questions. It is then agreeable to the fact, that as soon as our Lord sowed the good seed of the word they were ready to prevent its salutary effects on the minds of his hearers, by contradicting and blaspheming it. Every scheme was devised by them to excite popular prejudice against our Lord and his doctrine. No assistance from a fallen angel was needed in this case, for we are told such hearers of the word did not understand it.. What is not understood and believed, is little regarded, soon forgotten, and easily parted with; and especially if public prejudice be against it. If we were even to say, men's evil lusts and passions were the devil and satan that took away the seed of the word from their minds, it would be in agreement with the Scripture usage of these terms. How the seed could be taken away by means of either of these, is easily understood, but how it could be removed by a fallen angel is to me inexplicable: Let it be remembered that it is no where said that such a being made use of them as his tools to accomplish this. See quotations from Jahn, above.

Rev. xü. 9. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” See verses 10, 11, 12. yea, the whole chapter. Again, it is said, Rev. xx. 1, 2. “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and satan, and bound him a thousand years." See verse's 7, 8, 9, 10. and indeed the whole chapter. In these two passages, we have John's authority for saying, that the great dragon, old serpent, devil

, satan, and accuser of the brethren, all mean the same thing. This thing, or being, is also said to deceive

" the whole world." It is from these two passages chiefly, that people conclude that the serpent which deceived Eve was a fallen angel, for here say they, “the devil and satan is called that old serpent, and we know that the devil is a fallen angel." And how do they know all this so clearly and confidently? Their fathers, their catechisms, and their ministers have told them so: and this conclusion is drawn too from a book so highly figurative, that no man, minister or sect, has hitherto been able satisfactorily to explain it. Notwithstanding this is frankly owned by every candid man, yet from this very book the strongest proofs are generally adduced for a personal devil, and eternal punishment. We would respectfully ask our orthodox brethren, why they allow the book of Revelations to be highly figurative or sym

lical, yet give a literal interpretation to the above passages concerning the serpent, devil, and satan? We would affectionately press it on their attention, why they interpret the parts of these passages concerning the devil and satan literally, and yet would refuse to go through with a literal interpretation of them? I shall give a specimen of the absurdities which such a literal interpretation involves. It must then be believed, that the devil has seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads. It must also be believed, that he has a tail, and with his tail he drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And it must be believed, that Michael and his angels, had a batile with the devil and his angels, and that it was fought in heaven. Besides, our orthodox friends ought to inform us, how the devil got back to heaven to fight this battle there, seeing they believe he fell from heaven before he tempted Eve. In short he has been in heaven and fallen from it a number of times, if such principles of Scripture interpretation are admitted. He fell from

heaven before Eve's temptation. He fell again when the seventy were out preaching. And John in the above chapters informs us that he was cast out of heaven to ihe earth a third time. And if Lucifer be the devil, he has at least had four falls from heaven, for it is said, how art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning.

is it then asked, what this great dragon, that old serpent, the devil and satan was?

Dr. Newton says, vol. iii. 135—-137, speaking of this dragon--- We find the kings and people of Egypt, who were the great persecutors of the primitive charch of Israel, distinguished by this title in several places of the Old Testament: Psalm lxxiv. 13. Isai. li. 9. Ezek. xxix. 3. and with as much reason and propriety may the people and emperors of Rome, who were the great persecutors of the primitive church of Christ be called by the same name, 23 they are actuated by the same principle. For that the Roman empire was here figured, the characters and attributes of the dragon plainly evince. He is a great red dragon :' and purple or scarlet was the distinguishing color of the Roman emperors, consuls, and generals; as it bath been since of the popes and cardinals. His seven heads, as the angel afterwards, xvii. 9, 10, explains the vision, allude to the seven mountains upon which Rome was built, and to the seven forms of government, which successively prevailed there. His “ten horns' typify the ten kingdons, into which the Roman empire was divided ; and the seven crowns upon his heads’ denote, that at this time the imperial power was in Rome, the high city, as Propertias describes it, seated on seven hills, which presides over the whole world. · His tail' also, ver. 4. drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth;' that is, he subjected the third part of the princes and potentates of the earth : and the Ro


man empire, as we have seen before, is represented as the third part of the world. He stood before the woman, which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born:' and the Roman emperors and magistrates kept a jealous watchful eye over the Christians from the beginning. As Pharaoh laid snares for the male children of the Hebrews, and Herod for the infant Christ, the son of Mary ; so did the Roman dragon for the mystic Christ, the son of the church, that he might destroy him even in his infancy. But notwithstanding the jealousy and envy of the Romans, the gospel was widely diffused and propagated and the church brought many children unto Christ, and in time such as were promoted to the empire. She brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron,' ver. 5. It was predicted, that Christ should rule over the nations, Psalm ij. 9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, thou shalt dach them in pieces like a polter’s vessel:' but Christ, who is himself invisible in the heavens, ruleth visibly in Christian magistrates, princes, and emperors. It was therefore promised before to Christians in general, ii. 26, 27.' He that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations (And he shall rule them with a rod of iron : as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers) even as I received of my Father. But it should seem that Constantine was he particularly intended, for whose life the dragon Galerius laid many snares, but he providentially escaped them all; and notwithstanding all opposition, was caught up unto the throne of God;' was not only secured by the divine protection, but was advanced to the imperial throne, called the throne of God;' for Rom. xiii. 1.

there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained of God. He too ruleth all nations

with a rod of iron :' for he had not only the Romans, who before had persecuted the church, under his dominion, but also subdued the Scythians, Samaritans, and other barbarous nations, who had never before been subject to the Roman empire: and as the learned Spanheim informs us, there are siill extant medals and coins of his with these inscriptions, the subduer of the barbarous nations, the conqueror of all nations, every where a conqueror, and the like. What is added, ver. 6. of the woman's flying into the wilderness for a thousand two hundred and threescore days' it is said by way of prolepsis or anticipation. For the war in heaven between Michael and the dragon, and other subsequent events, were prior in order of time to the flight of the woman into the wilderness: but before the prophet passeth on to a new subject, he giveth a general account of what happened to the woman afterwards, and entereth more into the particulars in their proper place.” He says further, p. 138—-9, 66 The visible actors in the cause of Christianity were the believing emperors and ministers of the word, the martyrs and confessors; and in support of idolatry were the persecuting emperors and heathen magistrates together with the whole train of priests and sophists. This contest lasted several years, and the final issue of it was, ver. 8, 9. that the Christian prevailed over the heathen religion; the heathens were deposed from all rule and authority, and the Christians were advanced to dominion and empire in their stead. Our Saviour said unto his disciples casting devils out of the bodies of men, Luke x. 18. I beheld satan, as lightning, fall from heaven.' In the same figure satan fell from heaven, and was cast out into the earth, when he was thrust out of the imperial throne, and his angels were cast out with him, not only all the heathen priests and officers civil and military were cashiered, but their very gods and de

« AnteriorContinuar »