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On the whole, there doth not seem to be the least proof that the evil spirit, mentioned in the vision, was designed to represent a fallen angel ; or was so understood by the prophet to whom it appeared.
Another text I shall take under consideration, is, 1 Sam. xvi. 14,* &c. Previous to my offering any observations upon it, I judge it will be proper to attend to what is related in chapter the tenth, wherein mention is made of God's sending Samuel to choose Saul, and anoint him to be King over his people. To whom Samuel said, The spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy, and thou shalt be turned into another man: And after he had turned back from him, God gave him another heart; and when he and his companions came to the hill, a company of the prophets met him, and the spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. Some time after this, God, by Samuel, sent him to go up against Amalick, and utterly destroyed it; as it is related chapter xi. but, instead of his fully executing this commission, he spared Agag, &c. as v. 8, 9. Upon this, Samuel came to him, and, among other things, plainly told him, as v. 22, 23, that, for this act of perverse disobedience, God rejected him from be
Soon after this, Samuel was sent to anoint David, the son of Jeffe, to be King in his Itead, which he accordingly did ; tho' the commencement of his reign did not take place till the death of Saul. I think there can hardly be any doubt that Saul was informed of David's being anointed King
Let any one, for å moment, only consider these particular cases, which, it is natural to believe, very deeply affected the mind of Saul : It was im
* The spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil Spirit, from the Lord, troubled him.
bittered with the juft accusation of his own inexcusable guilt ; or, in the words of Samuel to him : Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry; thou hast rejected the word of the Lord in not executing it on the Amaelkites. That God, who had raised him up in a very singular manner to be the first King over his people Israel; that he had withdrawn his spirit from him by which he had prophesied among the prophets ; and, finally, he had, by a special direction to Samuel, anointed David to be King; and to him he had given his spirit. A
proper attention to these very interesting particulars, will, I presume, without any difficulty, explain in what sense we are to understand that an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him; and also the true cause from whence his servants, who, no doubt, saw his unusual dejection of mind, said to him, Behold! now, an evil spirit, from God, troubleth thee. To remove, or mitigate which, they gave him this advice: Let our Lord the King command thy servants to seek out a man who is a cunning player on a harp, and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit, from God, is upon thee, that he will play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. To which proposal he assented; and David was sent for; and when the evil spirit, from God, was upon Saul, he took an harp and played with his hand : So Saul was refreshed, and
ell, and the evil spirit departed from him.The success attending the advice of his servants, shews plainly what was their opinion of the real cause, as well as the nature of his trouble.
I presume it will be allowed there is not the least evidence in the context from whence we may justly fuppose, that Saul's servants believed the
of the musical harp could possibly expel a fallen angel from Saul, had they understood it to be such a
being. But it was not an improper expedient to relieve his mind, under its present disordered state ; especially if we may suppose that he was rather fond of that kind of music.
Men, in common, and even very sensible men too, through the force of habit, are very apt to affix to the words evil spirit, they find in Scripture, the idea of a fallen angel; and then incautiously conclude that those writers used them in the same fenfe ; but this is often, as in the case before us, a very capital error, as, I presume, will appear more fully in the following pages.
There is another text in Judges chapter ix. 23. where it is said, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. After the death of Gideon, the father of Abimelech, he applied to the men of Shechem to obtain their consent, that, as one of his fons, he might rule over them in his stead; but that he might not have any competitor in the family of Jerubbaal his brother, who had fixty fons, he obtained money out of the house of Baal-berith, with which he hired vain and light persons, and by these he flew them all, except Jotham, the youngest, who escaped from that unnatural and unprovoked massacre. Upon this, the Shechemites made him King. As they in general were not concerned in that wicked act, Jotham addressed them to retaliate it upon Abimelech and those who were concerned with him ; as V. 7-20.
After Abimelech had reigned three years, it is said God sent an evil spirit, &c. think it is probable that the Shechemites, who were not concerned with him, in consequence of Jotham's expoftulation, meditated revenge against him and his adherents, and therefore cummenced hoftilities against him; upon which Abimilech, with his forces, went against Shechem, and New many of the people ; after which he attacked
Thebez, and took it; but, upon his attempt upon the tower, he was Nain. Upon his death, it is said, verses 56, 57, Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in Naying his brethren ; and for all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads, and upon them came the curses of Jotham, the fon of Jerubbaal.
From this relation, it appears plain, to me, that by an evil spirit is not to be understood a fallen angel; but, that God, in the courfe of his Providence, raised, or stirred up an enemy to Abimelech and his adherents : as, verses 56, 57. to punish them for the wicked act of Naying the fons of Jerubbaal his brother, who had rendered signal fervices to his people against their enemies in the time of Gideon their father.
Another text is in Psalms lviii. 49, where, it is faid, God caft upon them (the Egyptians) the fierceness of his wrath and indignation, by fending evil angels. I would juft obferve that the Hebrew word here rendered angels, is often and justly tranflated Messengers, and sometimes Prophets, who, from God, delivered his messages to his people ; and therefore the word Angels, doth, by no means, always intend angels as invisible fpirits, much lefs fallen angels. This can be determined only by the context, or parallel pafiages. Now, it is indifputably, plain, in the context, the writer gives a summary account of God's dealings with the Egyptians, as is particularly recorded in Exod. vii. to the xiii. But, it is certain, that Mofes hath not mentioned evil angels being sent among the Egyptians. The only angels, or messengers be hath related whom God fent among them, were himself and Aaron, by whose instrumentality God caft upon them the fierceness of his wrath, &c. and in this fenfe, to the Egyptians they were evil angels, ,
or messengers. Now, I think, it will be granted, that the Psalmist could not derive any knowledge of evil angels, i. e. apoftate fpirits, being sent among the people of Egypt, but from the History of Moses, in which there is not even any hint of such beings fent among them.
I here beg leave to observe, that whatever real knowledge men have of angels, i, e. their intellectual powers, or their visible communications with men, or their being the agents of God in his providential government in this world, that it is wholly derived from divine revelation, without which it is absolutely impossible they can have the least knowledge of either; and the reason is as obvious as it is unquestionably true, viz. because they are the inhabitants of the invisible world. And this is equally true, as it respects any of those beings haying finned against God, and on that account expelled from Heaven. But, even fupposing that was clearly revealed, yet that would be no proof of their tempting men to sin, by fuggesting to their minds evil thoughts, or raising in them corrupt defires, terminating in sinful actions. A real knowledge of these things muft depend upon revelation, or a relation of real facts in proof of it. But of these things the Old Testament is entirely filent, as we have feen.*
Thus much concerning what we find in the Old Teftament.
* Mr. Farmer's opinion is this, That the Old Testament contains no account of the fall of angels, much less does it reprefent them as scaling Heaven, and being thrown down from thence. There is not even the most diftant reference, or aliulion to such an event in any of the Jewish prophecs. Farther, he faith, I am far from taking opon me to say there was not an early revelation of the rebellion of angels, and their expulsion from Heaven. Bur hitherto this point has been afserted only-Qot proved.