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and agency of evil spirits—which we will notice in numerical order.
Obj. 1. “No distinct account is given in scripture of an angel of God, sinning in heaven, and thereby becoming a devil, and on account of which he was cast out of it.” If Christ's assertion that he beheld satan as lightning fall from heavenand if Peter's assertion that God spared not the angels that . sinned, and cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment—and if Jude's assertion that the angels which kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day, will not satisfy Mr. B. they will probably be sufficient for every unprejudiced mind.
Obj. 2. “If it be true that an angel fell from heaven, and has been walking about in the world for near six thousand years, how it is accounted for, that no sacred writer asserts, that any person ever saw him, or had personal intercourse with him." That men have had no intercourse with evil spirits, from the time of Eve till now, and that none are to have a habitation with the devil and his angels, is the very thing for Mr. B. to prove, and not to assume, and then convert into an objection. If Mr. B.'s difficulty is that no person has ever seen and conversed with the devil, he should recollect that no man hath seen God at any time. Yet I think he professes to believe there is a God.
Obj. 3. “If an angel fell from heaven before the sin of our first parents, how do our orthodox brethren account for the fact that the Jews, to whom are committed the lively oracles of God, were obliged to go to Babylon to get information about such a being.” The question was once started in a philosophical circle where Dr. Franklin was present—How do you account for the fact that a barrel filled with ashes will contain as much water, as if there were no ashes in it? After this and that man had given a learned opinion, the question came to Dr. Franklin. And he ended the investigation at once by
enquiring, whether it be a fact. So Mr. B.'s “ orthodox brethren” will first wish to be satisfied as to the fact, before they attempt a solution. Any man, orthodox, or heterodox who undertakes to account for all of Mr. B.'s facts without such a previous question, will soon find himself in difficulty. . Nor will any of Mr. B.'s orthodox brethren be driven to conviction of this fact, by all the learning spent by him in proving that the Jews went to Babylon, and that the Babylonians believed in the existence of evil spirits.
Obj. 4. “It is a notorious fact not easily accounted for, that people in these days, make a very different use of the terms devil and satan from what were made in the days of the inspired writers. In old times people swore by the name of God, and cursed each other by their gods, but no one seems to have known how to swear by satan, or the devil.” Surely Mr. B. has as much need to account for this fact as any one: for profane swearing, and taking of the devil's name in vain, is, to to say the least,.quite aš prevalent, and quite as little rebuked, in Universalist as in Orthodox circles.
Obj. 5. “ The Old Testament is often quoted in the New and quoted to show what was the faith of believers during that dispensation. But it is never quoted or alluded to, showing than any of them believed the devil to be a fallen angel." This is another of Mr. B.'s apocryphal facts, which will be credited or not, as his interpretations are received or not.. But suppose we admit it. There are many things in the Old Testament which are not in the New, and many things in the New which are not in the Old.
Obj. 6. “It is a fact that in every country where the bible is not known or not studied where it is known, these superstitious notions have prevailed concerning witches, evil spirits, ghosts and the devil. And just in proportion as it has been known and studied, these have gradually been exploded and renounced by the people.” Here I am happy perfectly to agree with Mr. B. as to the general fact stated. But some of his examples are unfortunately selected, being rather exceptions than illustrations of the general rule. He instances the case of our Puritan fathers, and refers particularly to Mather's Magnalia, while there never was a race of men who had a more thorough acquaintance with the scriptures than these same puritans. And does the Rev. Mr. Balfour boast of his thorough acquaintance with the scriptures, compared with that of Mather!! His attainments are those of the merest baby in the comparison-yea, few men in modern days can begin to compare with this same Mather, in respect to biblical acquisitions. And yet such is the arrogance of literary coxcombs, that Mr. Balfour can speak contemptuously of Mather. And then who are these Universalists that issue such boasts of their thorough acquaintance with the scriptures ? Where did they come by all this knowledge ? Are their means of biblical learning more elevated, more abundant, or more assiduously applied, than those of other denominations ? How many of their ministers are even able to read the bible in its original languages ? Yea, how many of those among them who pretend to publish criticisms in these languages, are able to read the Greek Testament without the aid of a Lexicon or translation? It is really amusing to hear pretensions to a monopoly of biblical science, coming from such quarters, and a threatening to pour daylight in upon the ignorance of the rest of the world, and to bring in such a brightness, that our children will blush that they had such ignorant and superstitious fathers. Mr. Balfour, we pray, we beg, we beseech of you, not to do it!! Spare us a little_forbear to pour the full orbed splendors, the scorching radiations of your science all at once upon us!!
Obj. 7. “It is also a fact that the common opinions entertained of the devil are at variance with other plain and acknowledged truths of the bible.” As for instance the devil's tempting men to sin. Then is the bible plainly at war with itself. But here Mr. B. refutes his own objection by citing some passages to show that the same things are sometimes ascribed to God, to the devil, and to men; and this fact obviates all the difficulty that he makes out of the assertion of James, that every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts. For the devil cannot operate on the mind to its injury, but through its own lusts.
Obj. 8. “It is also a fact that men in sinning are never conscious of the influence of the devil upon them.” And this is very true, and for a good reason. For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird. But does our unconsciousness of satanic influence disprove it. Is Mr. B. conscious of that agency of God in which he lives and moves and has his being ? Can he feel the touch of the invisible hand, that expands his lungs, and propels his blood ? yet I suppose he does not doubt
of that agency.
Obj. 9. “It is also a fact that the common opinions entertained of the devil, whether right or wrong, are the effect of early education, and popular opinion.” It may be so; but such a fact is no proof of the right or the wrong of the opinions. Most of the right opinions we have in religion came to us originally through such sources. And some Universalists get their opinions from early education, though none would rely on such a proof of their falsity. Is it not rather strange, that all the rationality and freedom from bias, and all the unprejudiced examination of the scriptures, should be on the side of the Universalists?
Obj. 10. “The last fact which I shall mention is, that allowing the personal existence of the devil fully proved, it is beyond all doubt that he had been much misrepresented and his character abused by many christian people.” It may be so, and it is very kind in Mr. B. to undertake his vindication.
May he have all success in this part of his learned labor. “ Give the devil his due." But I see not what this has to do as a “ fact showing that the devil is not a fallen angel or a real being," yet it is so called in the heading of the chapter. Many persons have been abused and yet they retain a personal existence.
Mr. B's reply to objections anticipated by himself, I am not interested to notice. It embraces few if any of the arguments which an intelligent believer of satanic agency would use, His last chapter is employed in painting the ill effects of a belief in the existence of satan, and in ranting and railing against orthodox views in general. Now the effects of orthodox doctrines may be very bad in his esteem, and yet these doctrines still be found in the word of God. And it is therefore not needful to controvert him here. But if the question turned on the effects of the respective systems, it is to be hoped that orthodoxy would not shrink from a comparison with Universalism.