Page images

Finally, I observe, that in the sacred writings extant, prior to the writing the book of Chronicles, there is not the least mention of any angel being cast out of Heaven on account of his having sinned against God, as the common opinion of such an apoftate spirit ; and therefore the writer of it, by the word Satan, could not intend fuch a being. Indeed, had any of those writers made mention of such a being, and that he had tempted or provoked any of the people to sin by his secret wiles or suggestions, there would then be some plausible ground to suppose that Satan provoked David to number the people : but it is certain they have not, even in a single instance. The Satan, or adversary, that excited him to undertake it, probably was his pride, or some other inordinate or criminal desire; or perhaps, the fear of a formidable enemy. One or other of these, it is probable, led him to overe rule the better judgment and expoftulation of Joab, who was entirely against it. That it was his act only, is plain, from his own words. i Chron. xxi. 8. 17.

The next text where the word Satan occurs, is in Job.i. 8. and ii. 1. 2. That a fallen angel, orawicked apoftate fpirit is not meant, appears to me, at least highly probable, from the following considerations : One is, it is very incredible that the Lord should hold the conversation there related, with such a being, and also that he should give him leave to affict his pious servant with the fore disorder of the boils merely to gratify the groundless and invidious insinuation or charge of such a wicked spirit; that his serving God was not from a pious and good principle, but because he had blessed him with an abundance; but, that if he endangered his life, he would rebel against him. in either view of this relation, it certainly is without any precedent in all the Bible ; and, I own, I cannot reconcile the


latter part with the many declarations in those very writings in which is expressed God's regard to those that serve him, in like manner as is related of Job's piety to God; his paternal regard for his children's religious welfare and happiness; and his acts of beneficence manifested to the neceffitous, related in chap. xxix.

That neither Job, nor his wife believed the boils were inflicted by Satan, as a wicked spirit, but by the hand of God, is plain, from chap. ii. 9, 10. and from chap. i. 21. it is equally plain he believed that. his other afflictions came upon him from God; and from the speeches of his friends, it is alike evident that they understood all his afflictions came upon him by the appointment of God; and after the Lord had blessed him with a double portion of goods, as chap. xlii, 10, 11. it is said, Then came there unto him, all his brethren and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and they bemoaned over him all the evils that the Lord had brought upon him; and, according to the custom of that time, and what is similar with it at present in the Eastern countries, every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an ear

, ring of gold.

Lastly, I observe in all that is related of Satan, respecting Job, there is not the least intimation of his infusing into his mind evil thoughts, or exciting in him any inordinate desires, by which he tempted him to sin against the Lord, either prior to, or after he was afflicted with the boils.

The next text in which the word Satan is mentioned is, Zach. iii. 1,, &c. The first six chapters appear to contain a revelation by a vision made to the prophet concerning the Israelites, upon their return from the Babylonian cap.ivity, and their building the Temple ; and the principal persons that are mentioned ar: Joihua and Zerubbabel.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This appears highly probable by consulting the time when the prophet lived and prophesied, and comparing what he says in the context, we are confidering with what is related. Ezra v. Then the prophets Haggai, and Zachariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judea and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jofzadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem, and with them were the prophets of God helping them : i. e. by their prophesying. Their adversaries are thus described : At that time came to them Tatnai, Governor on this side the river; and Shether-boznai, and their companions, and said thus to them : Who hath commanded you to build the house and make the walls? Then said we unto them, after this manner; What are the names of the men that make this building ? In short, they would have made them desist from building, and wrote to Darius for that purpose ; but it stands recorded thus : The eyes of the Lord were upon the elders of the Jews, so that they, (their adversaries, or Satan) could not cause them to cease till the affair came before Darius, who made a decree, that they should not only suffer the building to go on, but also affift the builders with such things as might be needful.

Another text in which the word Satan occurs, is, Psal. cix. 6. Set thou a wicked man over him, (i. e. mine enemy) and let Satan stand at his right hand.* It is exceeding plain that in the context David is speaking of men who were his enemies, he faith,

On this verse Dr. Patrick comments, Let the worst man that can be found be appointed to hear his cause when he is accused, and his most malicious adversary plead against him.



For my love, they are my adversaries. But the Hebrew word rendered adversaries, and also in the verses 20, 29, is the same as in verse 6, translated Satan.* Had the word in the former verses been translated as in the latter, it would be, They are my Satans.

But, I judge, there is no discerning man who can believe that the persons he had mentioned as the wicked, who encompassed him about with words of hatred, and fought against him, were fallen angels, but men only.

Besides the foregoing texts where the words Devils and Satan occur, there are others wherein mention is made of an evil spirit, that, by some persons, may be interpreted and understood to intend à fallen angel, and therefore be urged against what I have asserted respecting the entire silence of those writings concerning such a being. These texts will be considered, and the first I will produce is, 1 Kings, xxii. 21, 22, 23.1 The occasion of the Prophet's mentioning the vision, is related in the foregoing verses, which need not be cited. The vision will be easily discerned, and also allowed to be not a relation of a fact, which then took place, but only a representation made to the Prophet relative to Ahab and Jehoshaphat's going to besiege Ramoth Gilead. Farther, it appears to me highly improbable, at least, that the Prophet believed, the spirit said, to come forth, or out from among the good angels, who are represented as standing before the throne of God, was intended to represent a fallen angel, or apoftate fpirit ; and, I think it will appear in that light to every one who attends to the passage. I judge it will also be granted to have been equally improbable to the Prophet, that God should send such a being to execute the mesfage there related. That which, in my opinion, is an unanswerably strong and decided proof of the justness of the foregoing observations, respecting the Prophet's opinion of the evil spirit not being a fallen angel, is the entire silence of the Scriptures, that such a being had been cast out of Heaven, as I have already observed; and it is past doubt, that in the vision there is not the least hint that the evil spirit was a representation of one of them.

* See Taylor's Hebrew Concordance, No. 1928. + And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him, i. e. Ahab. And the Lord said, wherewith? And he said I will go forth and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets; and he said, thou Malc persuade and prevail alsɔ, go forth and do so. Now therefore behold the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil con. cerning thee,


If it is admitted the vision was subsequent to what is related of the 400 prophets who prophesied to Ahab and Jehoshaphat, that success would attend their besieging Ramoth Gilead, it is plain, that the former was already persuaded of the truth of their prediction, particularly by what is said of Zedekiah and the other prophets, v. II, 12.

But fupposing it should be granted that the evil spirit who came forth and offered to go and persuade Ahab represents a fallen angel, yet it will not prove there is more than one.

I may still add, that whoever will be at the pains to look at the numerous texts in the Old Testament, particularly in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, wherein mention is made of the false prophets, will not find the least hint that they were stirred up, or excited to prophesy falsely, and thereby deceive the people, by an evil spirit, i. e. a fallen angel. But those writings have assigned very different and apparent causes, from whence they were induced or excited to deceive the people by their prophesying false things, as the prophets did we have mentioned.



« PreviousContinue »