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from a neighbouring parish, that a dying man was most anxious to see him. He never remembered seeing the man, or having heard his name before; but the message was so pressing, that he immediately went. On entering the room, he perceived by his manner, that the man at once recognised him, and attempted to speak; but his strength was so far gone, that he was unable to make himself heard. His wife then told the clergyman, that a remarkable effect had been produced upon her husband by a sermon, which he had beard him preach some time ago: that he had often since been desi. rous to see him, but had never had an opportunity. The clergyman, seeing him to be at the point of death, leant over his bed, to catch if possible any thing which he might be able to utter even in whisper. After a short pause, the sick man appeared to gather up his remaining strength for a last effort, just gasped into his ear, The plank bears—and died.

May this blessed experience be yours and mine, whether we have to " pass through the valley of the shadow of death," or whether we

are alive and remain" until the coming of our Lord. May each one of us be enabled to say with the confidence of St. Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" 2 Tim. i. 12.

LECTURE XV.

GOOD AND EVIL SPIRITS.

* For the Sadducees say, that there is Acts xxiii. 8.

neither angel nor spirit."

If we may

OUR Lectures have hitherto formed a continuous chain of argument, all tending to furnish the full scriptural answer to that important question, “ What must I do to be saved ?" With the preceding Lecture, therefore, our subject, strictly speaking, concluded; and it was, in fact, the last of the course, which was delivered from the pulpit. But in sending them to the press, I cannot pass over two doctrines, against which infidelity is very busy just now in aiming her shafts ;-The Existence of the Devil; and The Obligation of the Sabbath, The former will be the subject of the present Lecture.

I scarcely know what is the general opinion of Unitarians in the present day with regard to spiritual agency; but the fathers of modern Unitarianism in the last century, most certainly denied, either the existence of Angels and Devils at all, or at least their having anything to do with our concerns. judge from his speaking of “the most orthodox devil ever believed in," Mr. Barker would seem to disbelieve Satan's existence at all events, whatever he may think of Angels. Both good and evil spirits however, especially the latter, are very favourite subjects of ridicule in the theological discussions, which are so customary in many of the workshops of this neighbourhood. It may be well, therefore, to notice them together; the argument in both cases being the same.

But let it be observed, that we are not arguing with the avowed Deist, wlio merely scoffs at the doctrine, without pretending to reconcile his opinions and scripture together; but with one, who does admit an appeal to scripture, and contends that the existence of such beings, as we are speaking of, is not taught there.

We have therefore nothing to do with such questions as, How can spirits do this? or how can they do that? but simply with the question, What saith the scripture? If God's word says that there are such beings, and that they do interfere in the affairs of this world, we know that it must be true, however unaccountable it may appear to us. As for myself, I must confess, that I can neitlie: see any difficulty,

T

nor even improbability, in the fact: but surely those who do, ought not to require reminding, that “what is impossible with man is possible with God; for with God all things are possible." The way

in which Unitarians explain away the constant mention of spirits in the Old and New Testaments, is by saying, that all such expressions are merely instances of the highflown figurative language so common in the east. They only regard them therefore as allusions to fictitious personages, or personifications of certain principles, virtues, and vices. When a man is assisted by an angel, it only means that good thoughts are rising within him; when he is tempted by the devil, that evil thoughts are rising within him. The following extract from Rowland Hill's Village Dialogues may be thought rather an extreme instance of Solomon's maxim “Answer a fool according to his folly"; but I don't see how it can well be condemned, without also condemning Elijah's mockery of the not one whit more rational or scriptural doctrines of the Priests of Baal.

Considerate. Allow me then, Sir, to ask you this plain question, If we are to be guided alone by our reason, while we are at liberty to doubt every word of revelation, are we to call this Infidelity or Christianity ? or is not Deism far more rational and consistent than such sort of Christianity?

Wisehead. O, sir, we are still believers in the Christian religion.

Considerate. Why then, Christian believers are at liberty to doubt the certainty of every truth of Revelation itself; even Jews and Mohammedans believe a part of the Bible, but deny the rest. I beg leave, therefore, further to ask, if this be Christianity, what is Infidelity?

Wisehead, Sir, the question is easily answered; few infidels doubt, whether there ever was such a person as Jesus Christ, and others of them think there is no future state; but we all believe there will be a future state, and that there is such a person as Jesus, the son of Mary; but then we do not conceive ourselves bound to believe the story of his miraculous conception, or his pre-existence, as it is called, or the strange inconsistent mysterious doctrine of the Trinity; and, among other "corruptions of Christianity," contrary to what we esteem the rational and the true Gospel of Christ," we reject what is commonly called the doctrine of the atopement: “in every shape, and under every modification of it, it is unfounded in the Christian revelation." Nor can we believe, that there is any such a being as the Holy Spirit. Consequently we have nothing to do with the abstruse notion of regeneration, or, as it is called, the work of the Spirit; we believe, that such sort of expressions are to be taken as oriental figures, or as “tropical language;" and, that it only means a good disposition. We, therefore, consequently, deny the popular doctrine of original sin, as there is quite as much virtue as vice in the world; and, we have no doubt at all, as to the devil, that he is entirely a fabulous character, and as to what is said concerning those who were possessed of the devil, it were irrational to suppose, that it could mean any thing further than that “they were mad or had hysteric fits;” and as to the existence of angels, “though there are frequent allusions to it in the New Testament,” yet it is “ a doctrine that cannot be proved or made probable FROM THE LIGHT OF NATURE;" and, what have we got to do with the New Testament, while it contradicts the light of nature? Notwithstanding, therefore, the allusion, we chuse to say, “this is no where taught as a doctrine of revelation. A judicious Christian, therefore, will discard it from his creed; and, that, not only as a groundless, but as a useless and pernicious tenet, which tends to diminish our regard to the omniscient, and omnipresent God, and to excite superstitious respect to, and unreasonable expectations from, imaginary and fictitious beings; when there. fore, we hear how Jesus was tempted of the devil in the wilderness;

some

it was, (for we always talk very rationally in our way,) only an allusion to a fictitious being; and the proper and most rational meaning is, that he was fighting with some good and bad thoughts which alternately possessed him; but such were the Eastern metaphors and Oriental figures then

Considerate, Then, sir, might it not have sounded still more rational had you made it out that he was fighting with two Eastern metaphors or Oriental figures that when the angel spoke to Zecharias about the birth of John, the forerunner of our Lord, he should not have said, “I am Gabriel," but “I am an Oriental figure? " and that it was nothing but an Oriental figure that spoke to Mary on the same subject ? and that Eastern metaphors or Oriental figures appeared unto the shepherds, and sung “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men;" and then again, that our Lord had another meeting of these Eastern metaphors and Oriental figures in the mount of transfiguration that an Eastern metaphor opened the prison in which Peter was confined, and thai an Oriental figure knocked off his fetters ? that Paul was converted at the sight of these Eastern metaphors ? that Stephen saw somewhat of the like sort before he was stoned ? and that an Eastern metaphor stood by Paul when near shipwrecked? And if these be not enough, I could give you some further lucubrations on your rational way of explaining these Eastern metaphors."

It may be asked, what practical difference does it make, whether we understand those passages, which speak of good and evil spirits interfering in human affairs, in a literal or

in use.

figurative sense? We answer, 1. If God has seen fit to reveal the fact of their personal agency, he must have intended the knowledge of that fact to be of some use to us: by disbelieving or neglecting it, therefore, we must lose that benefit; besides being guilty of direct infidelity. 2. If such interpretations of scripture can be admitted, as are required to support the figu. rative view of these statements, we may just as well throw the Bible away at once; for a more dark, useless, unmeaning book, on this principle, was never written. There is not one single fact or doctrine of any kind whatever, that could be proved by it. I challenge the disbeliever in the personality of Satan, to prove from scripture, that there ever were such persons as Peter, Paul, John, Herod, Pontius Pilate, or Jesus Christ;* that there is any resurrection of the dead, any future state, or any judgment to come, at which we shall have to give account of the deeds done in the body. Nay, I challenge him to prove from scripture the existence of God! And I should be quite willing to rest the whole case on this one point. Prove to me from scripture, that God is a real person, and not a figurative representation of certain principles and powers; and I will prove to you, that angels and devils are real persons. Bring forward, if you can, one single argument against their existence, which an atheist might not quite as justly bring against God's existence. Tell us, why one who disbelieves the personality of God may not believe the Bible, just as much as one who disbelieves the personality of Satan. Is one declared an iota more pointedly than the other? I suppose you will allow the first verse in Genesis to be about as strong a declaration of God's personal agency as could well be made :-"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” But how could you bring this against a person holding the doctrine of Lucretius, for instance ? He believed that the world came into existence by a sort of accidental meeting of certain powers of nature: and why, on your principle, might not “God,” in this verse, be “a fictitious personage," personifying that occurrence? You would perhaps tell him, that “to create means to make out of nothing: but he could easily reply, that it was irrational to believe such an impossibility as that the world could be made out of nothing; and that “created,” in this verse, must also be taken figuratively. What answer could you give that would not be just as conclusive against your own unbelief of angelic and Satanic agency? Let us turn to a few passages of Scripture, that you may be able to judge whether this is at all an exaggerated comparison; and whether with any show of reason you can pretend to believe the Bible, and yet deny such plainly revealed truths, as those we are speaking of.

• The German Rationalists have carried the principle out; and contend that Jesus Christ is only "a fictitious personage,” representing certain Divine truths.

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