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All that may be meant by the “ fire of “ hell being prepared for the devil and his
6 angels.” Matt. xxv. 41. may be, that this punishment was originally appointed for the deftruction of all evil, and the instruments of evil; nor can this language, with this construction, be said to be more figurative than that of John, who says, that “ death “ and hell were caft into the lake of fire.”
Rev. xx. 14.
As to the demoniacs mentioned in the New Testament, it is pretty evident, that their disorder was some species of madness, or lunacy, which, in the time of our Saviour, was usually ascribed, by Heathens as well as Jews, to the malignant influence, not of the devil, but of demons, or the souls of evil-disposed persons, which were imagined to range about the earth, and to delight in mischief ; an absurd and unphilosophical notion, but which it was not our Saviour's bufiness to correct.
The only story of this kind which is not pretty easy to be explained by this hypothesis, is that in which a legion of demons is said to have gone out of two men into a herd of swine, Matt. viii. 28. Mark v. 1. Luke viji. 26. But if the swine only happened to be drowned about the same time that the two men were cured, it might have been sufficient to give rise to the story; which, it is to be observed, is not related by any person who was present at the tranfaction; Matthew not being called to follow Christ till after his return from this excurfion beyond the sea of Galilee; so that there was sufficient room for exaggeration and mistake. Or, which I think most
probable, the madness of these men might be transferred to the swine.
Much mistake, with respect to this subject, seems to have been occasioned by the ambiguity in the meaning of the words satan, angel*, and devil, which fignify respectively, adversary, messenger, and accufer. Thus the angels that finned, 2 Peter ii. 4. and Jude 6.
* It is not unusual with the sacred writers to call even the unconscious instruments of God's pleasure, such as natural caufes, &c. angels. Pf. civ. 4.“ Who maketh the wind his “ angels, and flaming fire his ministers.” For so it may with most propriety be rendered.
may mean the messengers who were sent from the wilderness to spy out the land of Canaan, as the author of the scripture meaning of the word Satan has ingeniously conjectured, or
may refer to his history of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, who, for their rebellion against Moses, were destroyed by the earth opening and swallowing them up. Indeed, the common interpretation of these passages is not agreeable to the constant tenor of the scriptures, in which no more than one devil, or Satan, is ever mentioned.
When the devil is said “ to go about like “ a roaring lion, seeking whom he may
de“ vour,” i Pet. v. 8. the best interpreters suppose that Nero, or some other known adversary, or accuser, is intended. Also, when St. Paul says, that “he desired to do” a certain thing “ again and again, but that satan “ hindered him,” i Theff. ii. 10. he might mean any human adversary, or some of his friends, influenced by worldly considerations.
These are only a few general hints upon the subject, nor do I know that
are peculiar to myself; but they appear to me to throw considerable light upon the subject, and to remove some difficulties from the scheme of revelation, which, I hope, will recommend them to others as well as to myself,
THE question concerning the lawful
ness of eating blood, ought to have been considered under the head of precepts that are not of a moral nature; but, as it is a subject of much less importance than the rest, and of a more doubtful nature, I have thought proper to reserve the discussion of it to this Appendix, in which I shall endeavour to do justice to the arguments on both sides.
The prohibition to eat blood, given to Noah, seems to be obligatory on all his
posterity; and as it accompanied the first express grant of animal food, it seems to be reserved, by way of acknowledgment to God, as the giver of life, and of the food which supports it. Also this respect paid to blood, which is thed when animals are killed for food, and which is the most
apparent vehicle of life, may be intended to inculcate a respect for life, as the most valuable gift of God, and to warn us not to deprive any animal of it, and much less man, without neceflity.
It is observable, that the awful denunciation of the judgment of God against murder, immediately follows the prohibition to eat blood, as if it had been understood that they had some connection. Gen. ix. 3. Every “ moving thing that liveth shall be meat “ for you ; even as the green herb have I
given you all things : but flesh with the “ life thereof, which is the blood thereof, “ fhall you not eat. And surely your blood “ of your lives will I require : at the hand “ of every beast will I require it, and at the “ hand of man, at the hand of every man's /