« AnteriorContinuar »
are highly dishonorable to the character of God. We have never seen the least attempt made to show how such a being as the devil was for the honor of God's character. On the contrary it is believed, that sin dishonors God, and why not also the devil, the author of sin? And why should these be for his dishonor here, when God is finally to make them redound to his glory in the world to come? But if any man can explain, how the devil can be for the honor of God, either here or hereafter, we should be glad to see it done. How such a being, with such extraordinary powers, with this world for his range of wickedness, and existing forever the enemy of God and the tormentor of men, can be for the honor of Jehovah's character, is beyond all my feeble powers to comprchend. It seems to argue, that God could not, or would not prevent his existence. That he cannot, or will not curtail his powers, confine him, restore him, or strike him out of existence. This evil, once introduced, is without remedy and without end. It is certainly a poor account of God to tell us, that the glory and honor of his character, is inseparable from the devil and sin, and that the eternal misery of this being with multitudes of mankind, are to promote the glory of God forever. If this be glory and honor, pray what is dishonor or disgrace?
4th. The common opinions concerning the devil and satan, with others generally held, have tended to land men in downright infidelity. Is it any matter of surprise that men become infidels, when such opinions are presented to them as the religion of Jesus Christ? Is it not rather matter of wonder that all men are not infidels? Cast your eyes round the whole world, and say, if infidelity has not had its hotbed, in the countries where such absurd and ridiculous opinions have been palmed on the world for religion by interested priests. Neither infidelity, nor
idolatry, can be conquered or prevented, but by the truth of God.
5th. Such opinions, mixed with the religion of Jesus Christ, have been in time past, and must be while they are retained, a great hindrance to the universal reception of Christianity in the world. It is a question of no-ordinary kind to a reflecting mind, Is the religion of Jesus Christ presented to the heathen in its pure unadulterated state? Or, are we introducing to them a human creed, containing articles derived from Zoroaster and the Grecian philosophy, and only supplanting one system of ignorance, superstition, and cruelty, by establishing another in some respects worse? Viewing the creeds taught the heathen generally, let us see if this is saying any thing but the truth. Christian missionaries teach only one God, but this God they divide into three. But passing this, I ask, what heathen god ever called on its votaries to believe that he had elected some to everlasting happiness before they were born, and had left, not to say doomed all the rest to endless misery? Heathen gods have required parents to sacrifice their children to them, women to immolate themselves on the funeral piles of their husbands, and hecatombs of old and young have been slaughtered to appease their wrath; but name the heathen god, if you can, that ever required its worshippers to be willing to be damned in order that he might save them? What heathen divinity ever required its votaries to believe, that hell was paved with the skulls of their infants a span long? And, when did any of them ever teach their worshippers, that their happiness in heaven will be greatly increased by the sight of their nearest and dearest relatives writhing under eternal torments? I call on our orthodox brethren to name the heathen god, who ever taught such doctrines, or ever bore such a cruel, horrible character; and to crown the climax of his
nameless wickedness said, "all this was done for the display of his glorious character." Who would be a Christian if this be the Christian's God? Who would not be a Pagan to get rid of such a God?
Is it said Missionaries do not teach such things to the heathen?" It will certainly afford me pleasure to find that they do not. But did they not teach such things here, before they went far hence unto the Gentiles to teach them? If they taught them here, why not there? Had they openly avowed their disbelief in such doctrines here, would they ever have been employed as missionaries? The managers of missions teach such doctrines. They hold the purse strings; and would not the pay of a missionary be stopped, and himself degraded from his office, if he openly avowed his disbelief in such doctrines? If it was reported to the managers at home, that any missionary taught such doctrines to the heathen, would he be admonished or dismissed the service? Would he not be rather applauded for his faithfulness and zeal, in propagating the pure, and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel? Presuming, then, that such doctrines are taught to the heathen, permit me to ask, what an intelligent heathen might be expected to say to such Missionaries? He might surely with great propriety say something like the following:-"Gentlemen missionaries-You have been at some trouble, and considerable expense in coming here to teach us about your God and religion. While we thank you for your good intentions, we must say that we cannot change our own gods for yours, or add one more to the gods we have already, unless he is a good, kind, and merciful God. Our own gods are cruel enough, but if your God be as you describe him, to receive him as our God, would only be to add to our miserable condition. We have had all the tender feelings of our hearts torn to pieces, in seeing our infants and
relations tortured to death to satisfy our present gods. But bad as they are, none of them ever made such cruel demands on us as yours do on you. No, none of them ever demanded us to believe, that our eternal felicity would be increased, by beholding others in misery, and that we ourselves must be willing to be damned for their glory or we never could be saved by them. You have come a great way to tell us that all our gods are but dumb idols. Perhaps this may be true; but unless you suppose us heathen devoid of all feeling and common sense, how could you ever suppose, that we would renounce our earthly cruel false gods for an eternally cruel true one. Return to your employers, with our thanks for their good intentions towards us, and when we send Missionaries to your country, they shall bring you thousands of gods all better than the one you propose to us. Bad as our gods are, none of them like yours, allows a devil to ruin us here, and torment us forever in the world to come. Our fathers knew about your devil, and you have borrowed a considerable part of your creed from what they were taught many years before your religion existed, and yet you come to tell us things which we knew long before, as wonderful revelations from your God. Whether your impudence is not as great as you think our ignorance to be, you may reflect about, on your passage home. Fare you well."
To conclude. If we wish the heathen to cast their idols to the moles and to the bats, let us cast our devil and many other idol opinions out of the Christian religion, and let us both say, what have we any more to do with idols or with the devil? the Lord he is our God and we will serve him.
END OF THE FIRST PART.
INTO THE EXTENT OF DURATION EXPRESSED BY THE TERMS OLIM, AION, AND AIONION, RENDERED EVERLASTING, FOREVER, &c. IN THE COMMON VERSION, ESPECIALLY WHEN APPLIED TO PUNISHMENT.
ALL THE TEXTS NOTICED WHERE OLIM OCCURS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, BUT IS RENDERED BY WORDS WHICH DO NOT EXPRESS OR IMPLY ETERNAL DURATION.
TAYLOR, in his Hebrew concordance, on the word olim, says, "The word is applied to time, and signifieth a duration which is concealed, as being of an unknown or great length, with respect either to time past or to come." After quoting some texts, which he supposed proof this, he adds; "it signifies eternity, not from the proper force of the word, but when the sense of the place, or the nature of the subject to which it is applied requireth it; as God and his attributes." As he refers to no text to show, that when applied to punishment it signifies eternity, it may I think be inferred, that he did not think it was ever so applied. Parkhurst, on the word olim, says, "it