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forced, but perfectly consonant with the general tenor of Scripture. « The old serpent” is said to be “the devil
“ and Satan," Rev. xx, 2. Our Lord said to the Jews, “ Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your
will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it,” John viii, 44. Who then can doubt that he was the father of that lie by which our parent was deceived; and by the effect of it a mur. derer from the beginning? We do not, however, say, as Mr. G. supposes,
6 that there grew a tree whose fruit was capable of imparting a knowledge of good and evil,” (vol. i, p. 80 ;) but of which the prohibition taught man to know what was good, viz., to abstain from that fruit; and what was evil, viz., to eat of it. We
“ that God walked in the garden to seek for Adam,” not because we forget that God is a spirit; but because we believe that if we had witnessed the transaction, we could not have described it in more appropriate terms. We do not say
66 that Adam called to inform the Deity of his hiding place;" but that Mr. G. should read the passage on which he comments. We say that the serpent" was cursed above all cattle,” because we believe that Mr. G. cannot contradict that saying, any more than he can deny that it “was compelled to crawl upon the ground and eat the dust” with its food.
As Mr. G.'s prejudice has raised these, to him, insu. perable difficulties in the common interpretation of this passage, his ingenuity, with a little assistance, has found out another which he imagines to be more easy.
He has learned from Philo the Jew that “it is an allegory expressive of what really happened, under feigned images ; and the serpent, says he, is an emblem of vicious plea. sure,” (vol. i, p. 81.) But here we must pay a just tribute to Mr. Go's prudence! He does not say that it is so, but makes use of this Jewish fable to get rid of the difficulty, and then leaves poor Philo to answer for it. But until Mr. G. honestly disclaim what he dare not ven. ture to maintain, it will not be unfair to say that he ought to be sure that he has not multiplied, instead of lessening our difficulties. 1. This half-adopted comment is a mere
gratuitous assumption, without the smallest particle of proof. But then, to a Socinian, proof is not always neces. sary for the support of his own hypothesis. To get rid of the testimony of Scripture is the task, and the means are not to be scrupulously examined. 2. If the whole be an allegory, and Mr. G. loudly insists upon consistency, then we have not only an allegorical serpent, but an allegorical tree, bearing allegorical fruit, and an allegorical garden; an allegorical woman, formed allegorically out of an allegorical man; in a word an allegorical creation. But Mr. G. has brought us into a labyrinth, from which it will puzzle both him and the “ learned Jew” to extricate
3. The serpent is indirectly said to be one of the beasts of the field, which the Lord God had made ; whereas vicious pleasure, however beastly, is neither a beast nor a creature of God. 4. “Vicious pleasure” had no existence in the woman until she had been guilty of sin, by tasting of a forbidden pleasure. Could she know any thing of the pleasure of sin before she had sinned ? 5. Moses describes the reasonings of the tempter as pre. ceding the thought of the pleasure of eating the forbidden fruit. The woman first heard the tempter, and afterward saw. “ that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise."
The tempter was therefore distinct from the thought of any pleasure in the sin. 6. How is “ vicious pleasure” cursed ? Is there any curse'attached to it now more than before the fall ? And how is “vicious pleasure” cursed above all cattle? 7. What enmity is there now put between the woman and vicious pleasure ? Was there not greater enmity between them before than since the commission of sin ? 8. How is vicious pleasure to eat the dust?
No absurdities are too great for those who refuse to take the plain letter of Scripture for their guide : who “ strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel !” When an atheist speaks of the phenomena around him, because he cannot do so without allowing a great, universal, free, and active first cause, he imagines à being whom he calls Nature, to whom he attributes the designs and operations of a real being, whose existence he is disposed to deny. Thus, they who wish to drive the devil out of the universe
the evil prin.
cannot help observing how many of his works remain ; and feel themselves under the necessity of finding him a substitute, who, during his absence, may manage bis affairs with as much discretion, and do his work with as much ability, as he himself. To effect this, a well imagined being is poetically created, which, lest it should seem to be nothing for want of a name, is dubbed ciple," or “ vicious pleasure.” It must not be supposed that this is a devil, any more than that nature is a god. It has neither a body nor a soul. It is a mere accident, without any substance in which to inhere. It was not in God; for “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." It was not in man before the fall, “ for in the image of God made he him.” It did not exist in the serpent, for that is supposed to be a nonentity, and in fact was a mere arimal, and therefore incapable of moral principles, either good or evil. It was an effect without a cause. It had a beginning without an author. And it had an existence when, as yet, it was nothing. It was an absurdity fit only to nestle in the brains of would-be philosophers, and to cast its spawn in those works which are intended to supplant the Bible. It is the property of error to be inconsistent. When the degeneracy of human nature is to be denied, no evil principle is acknowledged. But when the devil is to be destroyed, his ghost haunts his murderers in the shape of “the evil principle," and is left sufficiently alive and substantial to find a way into the heart of Eve, and to tempt even Jesus Christ. What devil that was ever invented could be worse than this “ evil principle ?"
The book of Job, which records the manifold tempta. tions of that " upright man,” imputes them all to Satan, and was probably written to make known to God's people the author of mischief, and to guard them against his temptations. Mr. G. grants that this great doctrine (the being of Satan) is more explicitly taught in that than in any other book,". (vol. I, p. 81,) and therefore needed not to suppose that it was “borrowed from the Persian the. ology, or conjured up by philosophers, at a nonplus to account for the origin of evil,” (vol. i, p. 76.) We, on the other hand, may be excused if we have imbibed our opinions from that book, for those opinions cannot now be said to be unscriptural. What then is to be done ? Why,
with the utmost effrontery, he calls it “an eastern fable, a poetical effusion, not improbably a drama," (vol. I, p. 81.) Thus, with a Socinian, those parts of Scripture which do not give countenance to his creed, are any thing, or no. thing ; a legendary tale, or an old ballad. Instead of granting that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning ;" he will (some would say blasphemously) suppose that they were written when the author was in a merry mood, for the entertainment of boys and girls on a holiday.
“ The first chapter,” says Mr. G., "will furnish us with a key to the term (Satan) in every other part of the book ;” (vol. i, p. 81;) but he might as well have called it a fire
i; in which to burn the whole. The difficulties with which he meets in that chapter are converted into some kind of proof that the whole must be an allegory. Now we must observe two things: 1. That the allusions with which we meet in Scripture are allusions to real facts, and to real beings. The sacred writers do not "conjure up” imagi. nary beings at a “nonplus,” either for the exercise of their genius, or the amusement of their readers. Such a con. duct would but ill become those who are commissioned to instruct mankind in things spiritual. If therefore we should grant that the first chapter of Job is an allegory, still we should maintain that all its allusions are founded in facts, and that the poetical mention of Satan, in such a book, would be proof of his existence. Mankind have invented superstitions enow, without receiving any addition to them from those Scriptures which are intended for the destruction of error, and the diffusion of Divine truth. So far is the book of Job from “ darkening counsel by words without knowledge," that in that book the practice is reproved : see Job xxx, 8. 2. Tbat there is no ground for the supposition that the book of Job is an allegory. It is an exposition of what actually took place, couched in such terms as will best convey the truth to human minds. In what terms would Mr. G. describe the transactions of the invisible world, if he reject such as are used in the chapter in question? Have those Socinians who suppose their own souls to be nothing but organized matter, refined and spiritualized their ideas, so as to be able to speak of spi. ritual things in any other language than “after the man. ner of men ?"
To answer Mr. G.'s objections to the literal interpreta. tion of this book, is rather to instruct ignorance than to combat argument. “ Satan,” says he, “comes unawed, unabashed, into the presence of the Almighty! The great Jehovah condescends to hold a conversation with him, upon terms of the utmost familiarity. With the most per. fect confidence, he gives an account to God what he has been doing. The Almighty points out a being to him as having escaped his notice !” (vol. i, p. 88.) Now is this argument ? Is it any thing more than fourish? The words printed in italics are the emphatical words, and in them the strength of the supposed argument consists. But they are the comment, not the text. One of them is entirely false, and the rest are mere conjecture. Again : " He begs of God to afflict this man!” What wonder ? 6 God gives him permission to afflict him.” And does not God permit all our afflictions? Does not Mr. G. know that blessed is the man that endureth temptation ; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life? “ Was it necessary that he should first go and petition the Almighty ?" He could not afflict Job without permission ; for after all the devil is not almighty. “In every sense of the word was not the devil his (God's) agent?” No. He acted not for God, at the divine command, but under permission. “ Were not the Sabeans, the Chaldeans, the lightning, the hurricane, sufficient agents of the Deity ?" Now Mr. G. has answered his own question. Why might not Satan be permitted to do apparent mischief, as well as the Sabeans and the Chaldeans? “But were not the latter sufficient ?" They did not fight against Job, till Satan had obtained permission, and then they acted their part under his influ. ence and management. “But Job imputes the whole to God.” He did so, and justly; for all Job's trials had by him been wisely permitted and overruled. If this argument prove the nonentity of Satan, it will equally prove the nonentity of the Sabeans and Chaldeans.
But how does Mr. G.'s interpretation consist with the text ? “The sons of God were the holy men who came to worship in the temple of the Lord. Their wicked adversaries, their Satan, assembled with them, opposed them to the utmost of their power, and were permitted by God to be successful in their schemes of hostility.” This is the