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23. “ And God stirred up another Satan, Rezon, the son of Elladab.”
25. “ He was Satan to Israel all the days of Solomon. Numb. xxii. 22.
" And God's anger was kindled against Balaam, because he went, and the angel of Jehovah stood in the
way a Satan against him.” 32. “ And the angel of Jehovah said unto him, Behold I went out to be a Satan to thee."
These two passages afford evidence, almost to demonstration, of the meaning of the term Satan. The angel of Jehovah is Satan !
1 Cor. v. 5. " Deliver such a one to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Delivered to Satan to save his spirit !
1 Tim. i. 20. “ Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may be taught not to blaspheme.” Delivered to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme !
Matt. xvi. 23. “ Jesus rebuked Peter and said, Get thee behind me, Satan.”
What could our Saviour mean by calling Peter Satan?
John vi. 70. , " Jesus answered, Have I not chosen you twelve, and yet one of you is a devil ?" It is not here said that this being entered Judas, but that Judas himself was the devil.
1 Tim. iii. 11. « In like manner the women must not be devils."
2 Tim. iii. 3. “ In the last days, men will be devils."
Titus ii. 3. “ That the aged women, in like manner, be not devils.”
Suffer me now, before I conclude, to call your attention to a few brief remarks.
Ist. The belief in a devil does not constitute a fundamental article in the Christian religion. Whatever inferences you may be inclined to draw from particular passages, you must allow, that it is never said, that a disciple of Jesus ought to believe in the existence of an omnipotent, infinitely malicious being ; much less that this belief is necessary to salvation. You must allow, that it stands on very different grounds from the représentations given
of the glorious attributes and perfections of the Deity. And yet what a clamour is frequently excited against a person who disbelieves it. What ! Not believe in the devil! This is very little better,—nay, I know not whether it be not worse, than at once to avow yourself an atheist ! He believes neither God nor devil, is the climax of infidelity and of profligacy.
2nd. If, in our perusal of the scriptures, we should occasionally meet with a passage which we cannot clearly explain or thoroughly understand, no inference ought to be drawn from that passage, either contradictory to reason or inconsistent with the general tenour of the scriptures. It is an observation, which I shall perhaps have occasion to repeat in the course of these lectures, that we must take the scriptures as a whole, judge of their general sense and meaning, endeavour to reconcile particular passages with the general sense, and if we are unable to reconcile any, at once to acknowledge, that we do not understand the passage, but never to found upon it any important doctrine.
3rd. It was perfectly consistent with the object of the mission of our Saviour Jesus Christ, that he should adopt the common language of the country, on all subjects which did not constitute the main objects of his mission. Our Saviour was not sent to teach philosophy. And if he had spent his time in laborious exertions to prove that the sun did not rise and set, we should have thought his time comparatively ill occupied. Just so with regard to the dæmonology of the Jews, (for of a devil, as now believed, it does not appear that they had any idea); it was not a part. of the office of Jesus to controvert it. But with the utmost propriety he adopted the phraseology of the times, as best conveying his ideas to the minds of his hearers.
4th. All the passages, in which the words satan or devil occur, will bear, and almost all require, the construction and interpretation of adversary. To use the words of Mr. Simpson, a satan, a devil, is an adversary, something adverse, whether it relate to a person or to a thing inanimate. You cannot adduce a passage to which this interpretation will not apply.
To many you must give it. An adversary in general,-an adversary to the evil purmen,—to the friends of Christianity, or righteous sons of God,—to bodily health, --to mental sanity,--to the Christian religion,--to piety and virtue in general. An adversary, or something adverse, it always means.
5th. Amongst all the passages, adduced in favour of the popular opinion of the devil, there
there is scarcely one which does not contradict some part of that received opinion. Indeed, I do not know that there is one; as the quotations I have brought forward to night may probably tend to shew. Which interpretation then, Christians, will you prefer? One which is consistent throughout, which will apply to every passage, or one which is contradicted by many passages, which will apply scarcely to two absolutely alike, but requires some alteration almost every time it is introduced.
6th. Nearly every office, which is usually ascribed to the devil, is, in some part of the scriptures, ascribed either to God