« AnteriorContinuar »
Of the Greek terms Daimonion, or Daimoniou and Daimon, trans
lated Devil, or Devils—Testimony of Scripture to prove the Non-personality of a Devil-Of the destruction of the Devil.
The more effectually to remove the stumbling blocks from the inquirer after truth, it is necessary to notice the varied translation of the same term, in the original. In all those passages which speak of persons being possessed by devils, the devils being cast out, and the sufferers healed, a different word is found. We read * Daimonion, --not t-Diabolos. This word properly signifies insane persons. Hence the declaration of James is to this amount-Thou believest in one God. Very good. The evidences of God's existence are so notorious, that even insane persons believe as much as this. This belief produces fear, unless it is accompanied with a true knowledge of God's character and purposes. An evil spirit was supposed to produce epilepsy, insanity, &c. Consequently, curing these diseases was termed casting out devils (or demons) destroying their power over the sufferers.
Christ was accused by the Jews of deriving this power from the chief of the evil spirits. This could not be; for no spirit would contribute to his own downfal. He gave evidence that his power was of a higher order; and counfounded their ideas of the Magian hypothesis. The Greeks had a catalogue, of 30,000 gods. Their heroes were deified, and their gods were exalted in proportion to their supposed prowess. When Paul preached at Athens “certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods : because he preached unto them
Jesus, and the ressurrection.” In the original * Dacmonion ; our translators were pleased in this verse of Scripture to translate daimonion, gods, but in all other places where the term occurs, they have rendered it devils, or devil, which shows they believed the doctrine of a devil without the authority of Scripture. There were good and evil demons, in the opinion of the Greeks; and the Atheninas understood Paul to preach that Jesus had died and was now a spirit in another world : which they signified by the term demon, and considered him a strange one, not having heard of him. This is reasonable, considering their ideas of theology.
There is a species of prosopopæia, or pesonification, even in the Scripture, which authorises the firmest conviction of the truth of our position, relative to the personification of sin. Thus wisdom, “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars : she hath killed her beasts; she hnth mingled her wine; she hath sent forth her maidens ; she crieth upon the highest places of the city,” fc. It is therefore evident, that the personification of a thing, or principle, cannot be a creation of a person, or even a metamorphosis, by which one substance is changed into another. It is one of the helps to aid the mind of man, and increase his means of conception and knowledge.
Again : The doctrine we are attempting to disprove, is an outrageous contradiction of the most prominent asseverations of God's prophets. For it is declared, " The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." A devil distinct from man, then, is a supernumerary in creation, and less deceitful and wicked than man.
If the temptation is supposed to come from the vilest being, the man is more
Greek * Δαιμονιον, ,
likely to tempt the devil, than the devil the man; for the obvious reason, that the heart of man is deceitful above all.
We will now refer to testimony in the Sacred Volume, which shall farther illustrate and confirm the truth we are trying to support. And, first, we will prove, that a contrary doctrine amounts to unqualified infidelity! the Scriptures are unequivocal in their declaration, that “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin," and that “ By man came death.”' While, on the other hand, the popular error we are combating, as unequivocally declares, that by one or more devils sin and death entered into the world : now a compromise can never be effected, but by a virtual surrender of the devil, by an acknowledgment of the truth of the doctrine we avow, and associating him with man, as a consequence of his fleshly propensities.
The consideration of the temptation of the first sinner will remove all difficulty from the mind, on the subject. The law of God to man in Eden, required obedience, and forbid them to eat the specified fruit. Their ignorance in giving heed to their own desires, and distrust of their maker, proved their SIN and moral DEATH. God virtually declared the fruit would kill them, if they ate thereof. The woman disbelieved the Creator, and ate. God is proved true, the desires of the flesh, the Serpent, a liar. “To sin is to miss of that good, which the divine commandment promises to the obedient.
We have now exhibited concurrent testimony of Scripture to confirm the doctrine taught by St. Paul, that “in his flesh dwelt no good thing.” Thus the devil must be sought for in the recesses of the human heart; the seat of all the evil machinations which have disturbed the peace of man.
Here is his throne. Here he reigns and conquers, and his fleshly dominion
must be dissolved, ere the rebel receives his doom. The seat of the disease, and its extent, is declared by Paul, in his epistle to his brethren at Colosse. Of Christ, he writes as follows; “Ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power, in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins (not of an imaginary devil,] but of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.” The subjection to vanity is declared, in his epistle to the Romans, to extend to the creation of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity.” The bondage is limited to the present life, in his epistle to the Hebrews ; declaring the object of Christ's mission to be the destruction of death, and the cause of it, and the deliverance of those who were all their lifetime [and no longer,] subject to bondage. It is also affirmed, of Christ, that "he both died and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living.” And the apostle triumphantly exclaims, “No man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord.” All have sown to the flesh, and of the flesh reaped corruption. But that which " is sown in corroption," man, "shall be raised in incorruption.” That wbich “is sown in dishonour, shall be raised in glory!" When ?
Hear Christ. “Father, the hour is come. Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." The inference is irresistible, it is first necessary that the Son be glorified, before he can glorify the Father! He was glorified. His prayer was heard. “For the suffering of death he was crowned with glory and honour.” The members of his body, all men, are included in the triumph ; for “he tasted death for every man." The moment of deliverance is annonncedthe manner of it explained. Through death-death
is destroyed! The bondage to corruption ceases ! The body of sin is put off-the dishonor is swallowed up in glory! Sin, the personified devil, is no more ; and the freed soul wings its way, in cherubic splendour, to the mansions of its Father God. Can this be true? Yes as true as holy writ can make it, and such truths are the joy of the immortal Spirit.
Although we think that enough 'has been said' on this subject to satisfy an unprejudiced mind, that reason and Scripture are against the popish, degrading, and tormenting doctrine of a personal devil-- Yet as we know that early, and religious notions, however erroneous, are very hard to overcome, and believing the doctrine we dispute, to be injurious to human virtue and happiness, and the one we wish to establish to be favorable to both, we will extend the subject of inquiry.
SEOTION III. The opinion of Plato, Heisod, and others, respecting Demons-How
the English translators rendered the same Greek term differently -Opinion of Homer and Josephus. Of the Jewish AngelologyHippocrates' opinion of Demoniacs.
In the New Testament, through the negligence, prejudice, or ignorance of the translators, the word devil occurs as the English term for the three Greek words, diamon, daimonion, and diabolos; but the latter only should have been rendered devils. The two first words are both derived from daio, to divide, and all the ancients used the term daimon, to signify a being, who distributed to man his proportion of pain and pleasure. Hence Daimones among the Greeks, and Manes
among the Latins, were words of the same import or meaning.
Quisque suos patimur manes-Virgil.