« AnteriorContinuar »
Again ; looking at this account, and comparing iť with the quotation from Prideaux, we see why Job's boils are expressly ascribed to satan, without any other agent being concerned in their production. All evil indiscriminately, was ascribed to the evil god or satan, as all good was to the good god. But, as there was no visible agent to which the boils could be ascribed, no agent in this case is mentioned. Satan, or the evil god, has to father this affliction himself, without the assistance of any agent.
Hence it is said, satan smote Job with the boils, which is not said respecting his other afflictions, though the whole aspect of the account, is in agreement with considering him the author and director of all evil. I shall only add, that it has always appeared strange, that in this account, satan should be represented as conversing freely and familiarly with God. But if the account be aş I have stated, the good and evil gods are here only represented as conversing together. It was in unison with the popular opinions concerning them.
In concluding our remarks, let us briefly notice some points of similiarity in the Magian creed, to those of Christian creeds in the present day.
The Persians then had one good being or god, and also one evil being. Or, as Prideaux observes, is to say God and the devil.” Christians in this are perfectly agreed with them, for they believe in one God, and also one devil. Again ; the Persians believed, that these two gods were the authors of all good and evil in the world. In this also Christians agree with them, for all good they ascribe to God, and impute all evil to satan, or the devil. Further; the Persians made darkness the symbol of their evil god. So do Christians. When they speak of the devil he is described as black, dark, and hideous, and as loving darkness, and dwelling in darkness, and keeping men in darkness, and will lead them at last into eter
nal darkness. Again ; the Persians believed that their good god was eternal. Some believed also, that their evil god was eternal. About this, there was a diversity of opinion. So all Christians believe their good god to be eternal, but about the devil there is a difference of opinion. Though none of them believe him to have been from all eternity, yet some of them believe that he is to live for ever, and shall remain eternally the same wicked being. Others of them think that, after a long period of punishment, he will be either struck out of existence, or be redeemed and made eternally happy. But again, the Persians believed, that there was a continual opposition between their good god and evil god, and that this should continue to the end of the world. Then, the good god shall overcome the evil god, and thenceforward each of them shall have his world to himself, that is, the good god his world with all good men with him, and the evil god his world with all evil men with him. All Christians contend, that there is a continual opposition between their God and the devil, and that this opposition shall continue to the end of the world. Then, God is to overcome the devil, and from that time thenceforward, God is to have his world and all good men with him, and the devil is to have his world, and all wicked men with him. Such are a few of the leading points of similiarity, between the ancient Magian faith and Christians in our day, respecting God, the devil, and future punishment. It is but proper and fair to notice
2d. Some of the points of dissimilarity between them. The Magians then believed that their good and evil gods were only “two principles." These principles they not only personified, but deified and worshipped. When Xerxes prayed for evil on his enemies," he addressed his prayer to Arimanius, the evil god, and not to Ormasdes, their good god." Chris
tians, believe their God and the devil, to be, not to principles, but two beings. Their devil is not only a being, but was once an angelic being, but for his sin and rebellion was cast out of heaven. Christians do not worship their devil. But alas, too many who profess to be Christians, like Xerxes, when they wish evil on their enemies, pray to the devil. Christians have a great nnmber of names for their devil. But it is apparent, that whether such a being is called Ahraman, Arimanius, satan, or devil, the leading features of his character among
all nations are the same. The evil god has become the Christians' devil. In fact they make their devil the worst being, for though it was believed that their evil god, should at the end of the world have a world to himself with all wicked men, yet it does not appear, that they believed he was to be the eternal tormentor of men. But it is well known, that this is a principal article in most orthodox creeds, and no man would be deemed orthodox, who denied
I shall only add, that though the Persians and Christians agree in hating Ahraman or the devil, yet the latter have not carried their hatred so far as to write the devil's name inverted. In the next Section we shall see, that the Magian creed was much improved by Zoroaster, and that Christians have not only: adopted his sentiments, but the very language in which he expressed them
Of witches and witchciaft.— The Magian religion, ag revived and
reformed by Zoroaster, a supposed Jew.-Zoroaster's day of judgment.-Concluding remarks,
[This section, and a portion of the former, are principally extracted from Balfour's Second Inquiry, a work which ought to be in every family.] The concluding remarks are by the editor.
1st. In the early stages of the Jewish History, we read of witches and witchcraft. Injunctions are given against these, before we hear any thing about satan or the devil. But notice, that nothing is said to them about witchcraft until they were about to enter Canaan. Many of the injunctions delivered to the Jewish nation, were for the purpose of fortifying them against such heathen notions, and preserving them in the fear and service of the one living and true God. See the following among other passages concerning this. Levit. 19: 26, 31. 20:6, 27. Deut. 18: 9, 12. Exod. 22: 18. comp. Isai. 47: 12, 13. 1 Sam. chap. 28. The inhabitants of Canaan were given to idolatry, and witchcraft with similar superstitions were its effects on the minds of the people. But such a being as Christians call the devil, was neither worshipped, feared, nor known among them. They had abundance of idols, but no devil or satan, nor are the Jews cautioned to beware of imbibing from them such an opinion. It is then a very great mistake, which many good people have made, in calling witchcraft the devil's art, and in thinking witches and wizzards were in league with him. Concerning this, Michaelis, on the laws of Moses, thus writes, vol. iv.
89. “We must however entertain very different sentiments on this point, in reference to the time of Moses. For in the Biblical writings prior to the Babylonish captivity, we meet with very little notice of the devil,
and it would seem, that the effects which he could produce on the material world, were considered as but very trifling. The wizzards of those days rather ascribed the efficacy of their conjurations to other gods ; and therefore, in the Israelitish polity, witchcraft was commonly accounted a species of idolatry, and of course, most severely punishable. Hence orthodox theology, in the time of Moses, could look upon it in no other light, than an imposture: for no one could maintain, that it operated preternaturally, without admitting the existence of other gods, and their power over the material world.”—The Jews, before they entered Canaan, knew nothing about the devil. Nor did its idolatrous inhabitants, for he was not known in that part of the world. If then, as now, he walked about seeking whom he might devour, it is very unaccountable he should not be familiarly known in Canaan, a land full of idols, and witches, and all manner of wickedness, It seems all these could exist in those days without any devil to produce them.Nor is Moses, or rather God, under any apprehension, that he would visit that country. We shall see that the Jews were obliged to go to a foreign land to find the devil.
2d. The Jews were carried to Babylon, and spent seventy years in captivity. Here, the Magian religion, revived and improved by Zoroaster, prevailed, and here we shall find that they became acquainted with the doctrine of the devil, and with other religious opinions not found in their Scriptures. To this point I shall now turn the attention of the reader. Prideaux, vol. i. p. 219~240. gives us an account of "Zoroaster, his religion, and its success, a few brief extracts from which I shall only make. He says :“In the time of his (Darius Hystaspis) reign first appeared in Persia the famous prophet of the Magians, whom the Persians call Zerdusht, or Zaratush, and the Greeks, Zoroaster.