« AnteriorContinuar »
was our Lord's meaning. But, on the view which I have given of the prince of this world, it is consonant to truth, and evidence stated in the context. Thus, when our Lord was taken before Pilate, and he had examined the case, what does Pilate say? His words are remarkable: “I find in him no fault at all,” chap. xviii. 38. Very similar to those of our Lord ; “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me," or against me.
5th. My view is also confirmed from the words which immediately precede the expression—"the prince of this world cometh." They stand thus* Hereafter I will not talk much with you.” Why not? Our Lord assigns as a reason for his not talking much with his disciples afterwards" for the prince of this world cometh.” Was the devil, a fallen angel, to prevent his talking with his disciples? This must be affirmed by those who say that he referred to such a being. But how could he prevent him talking with his disciples ? Let those explain this who believe it. It is easily perceived, how he was prevented, on my views of the prince of this world. The moment he was apprehended in the garden, his disciples forsook him and fled, and from this period, being in the hands of his enemies, he was not at liberty to talk much with his disciples, nor had he much opportunity if even liberty had been allowed him.
6th. The only thing remaining which deserves notice, is the following. “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” The word here rendered judgment, signifies condemned or condemnation, and is so rendered in other places. Is it asked, how the world were condemned ? They were so, by their rejecting and crucifying Christ, and is illustrated by such passages as John iii. 18, 19. Is it asked, how the prince or powers of this world were cast out?
By putting to death the lord of glory, the Jews filled up the measure of their iniquity, and from that hour were cast out from being the people of God, and have been so for nearly two thousand years. They were the chief persons concerned in our Lord's crucifixion, for the Roman power was only called in to effect their purpose. Pilate showed how unwilling he was to condemn Jesus contrary to all law and justice.
7th. The devil, a fallen angel, is also supposed to be called the prince of the power of the air.” Eph. ii. 2. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children, of disobedience.” Wakefield renders the passage thus—"conformably to the ruler of this empire of darkness, the spirit that now showeth its power in the sons of disobedience.” “ It was the opinion both of the Jews and heathen," says Whitby on this text, “ that the air was full of spirits called demons ; that from the earth to the firmament, all things were full of these companies and rulers; and that there was a prince over them who was called the governor of the world, that is, of the darkness of it.” The apostle evidently here alludes to this heathen notion, but he told the Ephesians, that this prince or governor of the world, was the spirit which wrought in the children of disobedience. The evil, or wickedness of men's minds, is the true devil, satan, or governor of this world.
8th. The devil is also supposed to be called “the god of this world.” 2 Cor. iv. 4. 66 In whom the god of this world (aionos) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The god of this world mentioned here, is the same as the prince or power of the air in the last, which Whitby says, they called “the gov
ernor of the world, that is, of the darkness of it." But the apostle declares, that this governor of the world, prince of the power of the air, or god of this world, was the spirit that wrought in the children of disobedience. This view is agreeable to the words before us, for this certainly blinded the minds of them which believed not.
We have now finished our remarks on all the passages which are supposed to contain the names and titles of an evil being in the universe, deemed by most Christians but little inferior in powers to its Creator. We have stated our views frankly, but in some cases very briefly. Such texts, on which the greatest dependance is placed for proof, have been considered pretty fully. The result of this investigation has been, a deep.conviction, that the more the subject is examined, it will be found that the Bible gives no countenance to that evil being Christians call the devil and satan. But of this our readers must judge for themselves.
FACTS STATED, SHOWING THAT THE DEVIL IS NOT A
FALLEN ANGEL OR REAL BEING.
In the preceding Sections several facts have been developed, showing that the devil is not a fallen angel. We shall now very briefly advert to some other facts, not easily reconciled with this doctrine.
1st. No distinct account is given in Scripture, of an angel of God sinning in heaven, thereby becoming a devil,
and on account of which he was cast out of it. When proof is demanded of such things, we are referred to texts where satan or the devil is said to have fallen from heaven, and to be cast out into the earth. But we have shown in Section 7. and other parts, that the sacred writers attached no such ideas to such passages, and by quotations from Jahn, Newton and others, that a very different thing was intended. How then is the fact accounted for, that no sacred writer gives such an account?' Is it too much to expect, that such a remarkable event, would be clearly and repeatedly mentioned, yea, recorded previous to the fall of man? If true, would all the sacred writers have been silent about it both before and after the fall? This is contrary to God's usual conduct with men. When God was about to destroy the world by a flood, and the cities of the plain by fire, he forewarns the people of their danger, so as to avoid the consequences. But concerning a holy angel becoming a devil in heaven, his fall from it, and the direful consequences from it to our race, God says nothing about such things. The want of such information is indisputable, and we think no man will affirm, that this is either like God's usual dealings with men, or, that he assigns any reason for withholding such information. How then do our orthodox friends account for all this, and where did they obtain such explicit information as they generally give to people about a fallen angel, and the consequences of his fall upon the human race ? Was it from Paradise Lost and the Apocrypha, or was it from the Scriptures? We beg of them to re-examine this subject.
2d. If it be true that an angel fell from heaven, and has been walking about in the world seeking whom he might devour, for nearly six thousand years, how is it to be accounted for, that no sacred writer asserts that any person saw him, or had personal intercourse with him ?
They repeatedly inform us of persons seeing good angels, and relate the conversations which men had with them. They even inform us of their appearance, and sometimes describe the clothing they had
But, do they ever intimate that any one ever saw the devil, a fallen angel, describe his appearance and clothing, or relate any conversations held with him? It cannot be for want of powers on his part to do all this, for our brethren believe that he can do more remarkable things than any of these. Is he ashamed to show himself among men? We doubt this, for he is believed to be a shameless being. Well, does he conceal himself from men, that he may the more effectually accomplish his wicked designs against them? We doubt this also, for it is affirmed by his advocates, that he can assume a very
fascinating form, yea, transform himself into an angel of light, the more effectually to deceive us. How then do our orthodox brethren account for it, that no sacred writer says any one ever saw the devil, or conversed with him? We are aware, that they may object by saying—" did he not assume the likeness of a serpent in Eden, and did he not converse with Eve ??? But brethren, you take this for granted, which is the very question you ought to prove. Besides, we have shown, Sect. 2. that this is a mistaken view of Gen. 3. You will perhaps object again by saying—“did not satan make a personal appearance among the sons of God as stated in the first and second chapters of Job, and is not his conversation distinctly related?” We answer yes; but can you disprove the evidence which has been adduced, ihat satan was not a real being, but only the evil imaginary god of the Magians? If you can, we shall feel greatly indebted to you if you take the trouble to do this. But, perhaps you will object again by saying— did not the devil appear to the Saviour and hold a conversation