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There is one opinion respecting Satan, or the Devil, that in this enlightened age is very much, if not entirely relinquifhed, which, for many ages paft was univerfally, or at least very generally believed to be founded upon the teftimony of fcrip ́ture; and that is his bewitching men, by having poffeffion in them, or, at leaft, by his fecret influence on their mind. And were men as calmly and with a like unprejudiced mind, to attend to the texts already cited, and the explication given of them, it is probable they will fee juft reafon to alter their opinion of his tempting men to fin; as what appears to me is alike unfounded in thofe writings. At leaft, in reading thefe pages, it is poffible they may discern clearer and stronger proofs on the oppofite fides of the queftion, than they apprehend could be offered in favor of it.

Should the foregoing explication of the paffages which reprefent Satan as a tempter of men to fin, appear to be the true meaning of them, I prefume it will tend to remove an objection which fome perfons may make against Revelation, or those parts of it. For, I fhould judge, it will be allowed, at least, by many perfons, that exclufive of fuch a tempter, or that men derive any moral corruption from the fin of their firft parents, they are of themfelves too much inclined or prone to tranfgrefs the law of their nature and the precepts of Revelation. For to fuppofe that they are under the power or influence of those two additonal excitements to it, must lay fuch a strong bias upon their rational powers, or the law of the mind, in their choofing or willing what is right and their duty to perform, as cannot but place them in a ftate exceedingly dif advantageous to their moral and religious improvement, efpecially thofe of them who have not the

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advantage of knowing the precepts and motives contained in Revelation; and which, if admitted, may be found not reconcileable with the goodness of God, their Creator.


That man is liable to be tempted to fin by his own paffions, or inordinate desires, when they are not properly governed, exclusive of any moral taint or corruption, he is by many fuppofed to derive from the fin of his firft parents, is undeniable from their first tranfgreffion; who, it is certain, were not from thence in the leaft excited or influenced to tranfgrefs against the pofitive law of God given them.

If the explication I have given of the texts cited in the preceding pages, be juftly founded, it is poffible the following objection may be made to it, which is, How, or by what means are we to account for what Jefus, the Evangelift, and the Apoftles have faid of Satan or the Devil, as a being then exifting, if there really be no fuch being For, it will be urged, that what they have faid of his acts, implies it; and alfo their exhortations to refift his devices and temptations. To which I anfwer, if there be any force in the objection, it equally applies to what they have faid of Demons, which, in a like manner fuppofes not only their exiftence, but alfo their having power to poffefs the bodies of men, and produce diforders in them, fuch as are related in the New Teftament; and

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I fubmit it to the deliberate judgment of the intelligent and enlightened reader, whether the belief of Satan's being the principal if not the fole caufe of mens finning, and confequently of the effects refulting from it are not too coincident with and patronizes the Manichian opinion of an evil principle to be admitted by thofe who profefs the Chrif tian religion, which plainly teaches them that God alone rules and governs over all his mortal creatures.


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yet, notwithstanding this, I prefume it is a truth not to be difproved or juftly controverted, that neither the Evangelifts, nor the Apostles had, or could have received any real knowledge of either of those things; and for these unanswerable reafons, viz. Because there is not any revelation made of them in the Old Teftament; and it is impoffible by the light of their natural reason, or understanding, they could derive any knowledge of them, any more than it refpects Satan, and for the fame reafons.

And there is not the leaft account in the New Teftament that Jefus revealed thofe things to the Apostles or Evangelifts.

To me it appears, that the only obvious method of answering the objection, or accounting for what thofe perfons have mentioned of demons is, by admitting the diforders or infirmities of mens bodies to be natural indifpofitions, and not the effects of a poffeffing demon, or an human departed fpirit. Sp likewife what they have faid of Satan and his acts, may, on a like ground, be confidered as the lufts or evil defires of men, excited in them from various causes, by which, as the Apostle James faith, every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own luft, and enticed; and when luft hath conceived, it bringeth forth fin.

I readily own, that were there any clear revelation, in the Old Teftament, of a fallen angel, and that he tempted men to fin, it would certainly be very natural to understand the feveral texts I have cited, in the common acceptation of them; but, as I have juft obferved, there is not in thofe writings any mention of either of thofe particulars.

If the foregoing proofs, from Scripture, and the obfervations founded thereon, are admitted, as entirely invalidating the common op nion concerning


the Devil, or Satan, and his tempting men to fin, it eventually and decidedly proves that the Heathen oracles and the Priefts and Priefteffes being infpired by fuch a being, is entirely groundless, there being not the leaft proof of their reality; but they wholly originated from, and were fupported by the cunning and artful. Whether the learned or unlearned, or both, who were concerned therein, and who, therefore, whether from finifter or political ends, or both, imposed on the weakness and credulity of the people.

And these observations, and the conclufion just mentioned, are equally true, as it refpects demons, i. e. the fouls of men departed, whether of heroes or others.


If the foregoing proofs, from Scripture, and the reafoning deduced from them, that there is not any real evidence of there being any fallen angel, or angels; and that they tempt men to fin, is juftly founded, it will eventually and decidedly prove, that no man in any paft age of the world, hath been poffeffed by one of them; and, confequently, that any bodily or mental diforders, or both, that have, by Dr. Worthington and others, been afcribed to their power in, or over men, is wholly void of any evident or real proof from Scripture; and confequently, that the teftimony of the Fathers in the primitive ages, or by any other writers in more modern ones, have not any real foundation in truth, notwithstanding the very circumstantial relations they gave of them, and confequently, that the many accounts which thofe writers give of the manner or the means by which they have afferted that fuch a fpirit, or fpirits were expelled or caft


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out of the bodies of men, cannot be admitted, but must be attributed to the miftaken opinion they had concerning fuch a being, and his power over men; and therefore, that in thofe relations there is not any real evidence or proof for the truth of the Christian religion; however they, were then and have fince been urged to that purpose even in this age.

In afferting and maintaining what I have just mentioned, as what appears to me is built upon unqueftionable evidence, I know I differ very much from men of high repute for their great learning and abilities, who have been, and ftill are advocates for the contrary opinion.

Whatever credit is juftly due to the writings of the Fathers as it refpects their account of real transactions which then took place, and of which they were competent to judge, and in recording which, their minds were not influenced by any ftrong religious prejudices of education, may be admitted; yet, in the cafes we have mentioned, there is, in my opinion, just ground to disbelieve them, as what neither Scripture nor any real facts evince the truth of. To urge, that fome of the Fathers, and other writers fince, were men of great abilities and learning, as well as of integrity, which I do not deny, and therefore that they were competent to judge in fuch cafes as we are mentioning, is not, in my opinion, a fufficient fecurity against their being mistaken concerning them, as not vifible to their notice and inspection, and in which they were liable to be misguided in their judgment by the strength of rooted prejudices, not only from education, but by the concurring fentiments of many others their cotemporaries.


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