Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

allege a story which was current, and owned among that nation, though there was no such thing in Scripture; and so he argueth with them, from their own authors and concessions : for among the Talmudists, there seems to be something like the relics of such a matter, viz. of Michael and the angel of death, disputing, or discoursing, about filching away the soul of Moses.” Jude here, then, only reasons with the persons he addresses, on a received story among them, for the purpose of refuting their wicked conduct in speaking evil of dignities. In this, he acted as our Lord did, in reasoning on the popular opinion, that satan had bound a woman eighteen years, for the purpose of refuting his adversaries. But the truth of this story is no more admitted in the one case, than the correctness of the opinion is in the other. Both are introduced merely for the sake of argument, without any regard to their truth or falsehood, This story about Michael and the devil must have been invented about the time of the Babylonisb captivity or soon after it. Before the captivity we never read of angels having names.

Nor before the captivity, does it appear, that the Jews knew any thing about a fallen angel called the devil and satan. It has been shown Sect. 4. that the Jews learned their ideas about the devil, and other things, during the captivity. Besides, the words which Michael used in dispute with the devil, “ the Lord rebuke thee,” are taken from Zachariah iii. 2. and it is well known that Zachariah prophesied during the captivity. See on this passage Sect. 3. The following quotation from Jahn, not only shows us, that similar opinions to that in the passage before us existed among the Jews, but when and how they came to adopt them. He says, pages 235—6. "The more recent Hebrews, adhering too strictly to the letter of their Scriplures, exercised their ingenuity, and put in requisi

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tion their faith, to furnish the monarch Death with a subordinate agent or angel, ninn 7897, viz. the prince of bad spirits ó Ala Bonos, otherwise called Sammael, and also Ashmedai, and known in the New Testa. ment by the phrases, the prince of this world, the tempter, who hath the power of death. The Hebrews, accordingly, in enumerating the attributes and offices of the prime minister of the terrific king of Hades, represent him as in the habit of making his appearance in the presence of God, and demanding at the hand of the Divinity the extinction, in any given instance, of human life. Having obtained permission to that effect, he does not fail of making a prompt exhibition of himself to the sick; he then gives them drops of poison, which they drink and die. Comp. John xiv. 30. Hebrews ii. 14. Hence originate the phrases, " to taste of death,” and “to drink the cup of death," which are found also among the Syrians, Arabians, and Persians, Matt. xvi. 28. Mark ix. 1. Luke ix. 27. John viii. 52. Heb. ii. 9.” It appears from this quotation, that "the more recent Hebrews," furnished death with an angel, the prince of bad spirits, called Sammael, Ashmedai, the devil, the prince of this world, the templer. But the ancient Hebrews knew nothing about such a being ; and where could “the more recent Hebrews" imbibe such opinions but during their captivity, and from their intercourse with the heathen? See Section 4. Jahn allows, that “ adhering too strictly to the letter of their Scriptures, they “ exercised their ingenuity” to get their Scriptures to favor such opinions. Christians have imbibed the Jewish opinions, and have exercised like ingenuity to find proof for them in the New Testament.

Rev. ii. 10. " Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death,

[ocr errors]

and I will give thee a crown of life.” It will not be questioned, that what John calls satan, verses 9, 13, 24. and chap. iii. 9. he here calls the devil. See remarks on all these passages, Section 5. which are here sufficient for an illustration. Suffer me to ask, does any one believe that the devil, a fallen angel, ever cast Christians into prison? No; but the adversaries of Christianity, then, and since, have often done this. It will not answer to say, the devil, a fallen angel, influenced the enemies of the gospel to cast Christians into prison, for this is just taking for granted the point in question. But, are our orthodox brethren aware, that their faith in the devil influencing men to sin, militates against the doctrine of total depravity? What need is there of such a being's assistance? Total depravity is sufficient without him to produce all manner of wickedness. If men would he less wicked, without the devil's influence, then they are not so bad but he can make them worse : and who can tell but they might all be very good if he would only let them alone? Mankind are, wicked enough, but all their wickedness arises from a different source. “From whence come wars and fightings? Come they not hence of your lusts which war in your members ? Is the assistance of a fallen angel required to produce them? But the reader may pursue these reflections at his leisure.

SECTION VII.

ALL THE PASSAGES CONSIDERED, IN WHICH THE TERMS

DEVIL AND SATAN ARE USED SYNONIMOUSLY.

ac

The first passages which present themselves for our consideration are Matth. iv. 1-12. Mark i. 12, 13. and Luke iv. 1-14. and which contain an count of our Lord's temptation. The reader will please turn to them and read them. Most religious people interpret this account literally. But concerning a literal interpretation, Essenus thus writes, p. 117–120. “The bistory of our Lord's temptation is commonly understood in a literal sense. Satan is supposed to be a real being; to have actually appeared and conversed with our Saviour. Having taken him up through the air to the top of the temple, and thence to some high mountain, he tempted him in the manner represented in the narrative. This interpretation is loaded not only with difficulties, but even with absurdities shocking to common sense. The learned Mr. Farmer has examined the question ; and his objections to the literal translation are so numerous and decisive, that no thinking person can accede to it

, without abandoning the first and most obvious principle of reason, and the tenor of the gospel. "Why the devil at all assaulted our Lord, and what advantage he could possibly gain over him, has, he observes, always been acknowledged to be a great difficulty, by the advocates of the common interpretation. But this difficulty is increased by the manner the devil proposed his temptation to our Lord. For he came to him in person, and urges temptations

of an

such as could proceed only from an evil being. Now with what prospect of success could he tempt our Lord, if he thus exposed himself to open view ? By a personal and undisguised appearance, he can never hope to prevail over the feeblest virtues, much less could he expect the illustrious person, whom he knew to be the Son of God, and who knew him to be the devil, to comply with his temptations.

“In the first temptation, in which Jesus is solicited to turn stones into bread, nothing is promised on the part of satan to gain his consent; the

request implacable enemy, when no advantage attends it, being in itself a reason for rejecting it. But satan defeats his own temptation by asking an useless favor.

“ While the foe betrays great folly in the first temptation, he supposes Christ to be actuated by still greater in the second. The people, on seeing Jesus throwing himself from the top of the temple, might conclude that he was the Son of God. But he knew that the tempter had it in his power to lead them to draw the same conclusion of himself. Satan also would throw himself down unhurt; and his miraculous preservation would prove him, as well as Jesus, to be the Son of God. Nay, he might claim the superiority; for it was a greater exertion of power to convey him from the wilderness to the top of the temple, than in sustaining his fall to the court below. What inducement, then, could Christ have for a compliance with the proposal suggested? Would he be disposed to gratify satan, by doing an act at his mere suggestion ? Was he to acquire any glory, or advantage to himself? No; on the contrary, he would only have incurred the infamy of having entered the lists with the devil, without having acquired any superiority over him.

6 With regard to the third temptation, the Son of God knew that the father of lies had not the empire

« VorigeDoorgaan »