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THAT the publication of this volume should not be any longer delayed, the editor takes license to introduce a few observations relative to the subject matter.
Every person who believes that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the will of God, and a knowledge of the ultimate destiny of the human race, must perceive the importance of knowledge in relation to these subjects, or be the victim of an astonishing infatuation. If a person implicitly believes what may be asserted relative to these subjects, without an attempt to inquire into the truth or consistency of the tenets with which he is presented, he acts less judiciously than most men do in affairs of minor consequence. If he considers himself in duty bound to search the scriptures for light on these subjects, he will not rashly disapprove this attempt to bring long established tenets to the test of the written word. Truth will lose none of its brilliancy, and none of its value, by investigation. If the prevailing belief relative to the origin, personality, office, and endless existence of the devil be correct, it is worthy a careful reconsideration, and a discovery of the fallacy of another faith, will render the truth nearer and dearer, and its effects will be proportionably more valuable. But if, on the contrary, a careful examination of the scriptures, and a knowledge of the ancient use of language, supposed to convey the common ideas, exhibit the orthodox doctrine on this subject, as entirely groundless, will a single created being regret, that his mind is illuminated by the light of truth? Can a creature be found in the wide creation of God, who would not rejoice in the destruction of evil, and the non-entity of a being clothed with immense power, immortal existence, and unmixed malice? If such a one there be, he owns not the plastic hand of the All-Creating power of God. Let such a being be proved to exist, and he is a complete diabolos.
The same remarks are pertinent relative to the existence of a place of punishment called hell, in another state of being. If it be a truth, that any one of the human family is in any way made liable to intolerable and unending pain, the knowledge of the fact, with the means of escape, if means can effect any thing, ought to be widely diffused. But if the tenet is not justified by the words of revelation, let a knowledge of the contrary fact prevail, and let our fellow sojourners understand it. To search the scriptures on this, and every other topic, is our bounden duty, and ought to be our ruling desire. Can an individual hope for the truth of future, interminable misery? Can one pray for it, or rejoice in it? No, certainly. Then let not our indolence prevail over our duty.
Look at the sects which compose the christian church? See how widely they differ! They agree not yet even on the rite of initia
tion into the church of which they profess to be members! They anathematize and persecute to death each the other, even while they fellowship in essentials! Some must be wrong-all may be wrong: and where is their certificate of infallibility? Let us then refer to the law and the testimony, and prove ourselves lovers of the scriptures, by attending to its injunctions, and searching out its hidden treasures.
Before commencing the examination of this work, one fact should be known and well remembered. The facts which serve as the foundation of the arguments, are Scripture, and the concessions of the orthodox. The language and the connexion of the Scriptures, need no comment-the concessions were wrung from honest hearts, by the unyielding stubbornness of the most obvious facts. But whatever may be the impressions of the reader, let him not fear to read it. No belief can render more unhappy, than that of endless misery nothing can therefore be lost-much may be gained. The editor of this knows the horror of that belief; he now enjoys the soul rejoicing confidence of universal holiness and happiness.
The two last books are brief; they are merely intended as correlatives. If the two first are conclsuive, the succeeding ones may throw light on particular subjects, and assist in giving that light whose brillancy shall increase to the perfect day
LIGHT OF TRUTH.
Scripture proof of the Non-personality of the Devil.
Of the Magi notion of evil-who created it-The term Devil, not found in the Old Testament-Of the term Satan-Of the Greek term Abonos, translated Devil, in the New Testament-Of the origin, or parentage of the Devil.
A position is advanced by schoolmen, which merits our candid attention; it is as follows: That which existed a parte ante, must exist a parte post. In other words-That which has existed from eternity, must exist to eternity. The doctrines taught by the Magians of Babylon, the Doctors of Divinity of that day, supposed two eternal principles to exist, which were personified, and named, the one which presided over light, or heaven, Orasmasdes; the other, which ruled in darkness, or hell, Ahrimanius. These two principles, thus personified, were supposed to exercise an uncontrolable influence over the destinies, and to conduct at pleasure, the affairs of men. To correct this absurd theology, appears to have been the design of the Deity, in his message to Cyrus, by his prophet; whe declared, "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me: I am the Lord, and there is none else: 1
form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."*
What is evil? whence its origin? has been the fruitless inquiry of the learned and curious for ages. The consequences resulting from the existence of any thing or principle, must define its quality, and decide its merits. And it is necessary to observe the distinction between the operation of a principle, and its final result. The man who wantonly severs a member from the body of his fellow, cannot compensate him for the loss, the act is evil in its operation, and an injury in its result. While the skilful amputator, who separates the gangrenous from the healthy part, and restores the sufferer, is entitled to the gratitude and veneration of the recipient. Thus are we taught to view the Great Physician, who heals the moral maladies of men, and advances them progressively to holiness and happiness. The question of origin is answered. "I the Lord create evil!" The time is ascertained by a reference to the beginning of the chastisements of man. The end is seen in the purpose of God, who "will finish the transgression, and make an end of sins."
The second person in the duality of the Persian doctors, has, by an easy metamorphosis, become the devil of the moderns. And it is a fair presumption, that the Jews, during their captivity, imbibed the popular errors of the Magi of Babylon; for they were notorious for going "a whoring after other gods." Neither has it been uncommon for untutored nations to imagine an evil principle or being, whom they have at
*It appears that the above declaration of Isaiah from the Almighty, was made 712 years before Christ, 112 before Cyrus was born-176 before the events noted in the verses were fulfilled.
This prophecy respecting Cyrus, made so long before he was born, was shown to him by Daniel, at Babylon, in the time of Nebuchadnezzar's insanity, while he visited the place, when he was 37 years of age, and in 27 years afterwards he fulfilled the prediction.
See the History of Daniel, byM. Smith, pages 218 and 291--see Isaiah 44: 28, and 45: 1 to 7.
tempted to propitiate by prayers and offerings; while they have assigned to the good spirit, a complacency independent of their agency or actions.
It is worthy of remark, that the term devil, occurs nowhere in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The term Satan, however, a convertible mode of expression, is found; and it is recorded, that "when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them." But this should not excite surprise, since we are assured by the twelve disciples of Christ, that there was not only a Satan among them, but a devil also.
The term devils occurs four times in the Old Testament, as follows: "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring." "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. And he [Jeroboam] ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made." "Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils." This testimony proves, beyond the possibility of confutation, that at a period posterior to the creation of man upon the earth, devils were something new. Also, that Jeroboam manufactured devils, as deliberately as the mechanic does his wares, and probably of similar materials!
We will now extend our inquiry into the New Testament, relative to the devil who tempts the human family, for it is evident the devils of the Old Testament, have no concern in this business. As the term devil frequently occurs in the translation of the New Testament, it would be superfluous to refer you to every passage. It is sufficient to examine the most prominent, where the original contains the appropriate and legitimate term.
It is proper to state, that the word Acoλos, rendered