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For more than two thousand years then, such an evil being was unknown among men. Was Moses afraid to speak out on this subject? But pray what temptation had he to conceal such information? Let any candid man say, if Moses knew that such an evil being existed, had deceived Eve, was such an enemy to God and the human race, whether he would have been silent about him: such an important article, we might naturally expect, would be conspicuous in his writings. But will any man affirm that this is the
4th. Another fact which strongly confirms all the preceding, is, that no Old Testament writer says, that Moses by the serpent, Gen. 3. meant a fallen angel. They never speak of such a being by the name serpent, so that all foundation for such a supposition is out of the present question. But I ask, had they believed as people do now, would this have been the case? It is true, there are some texts in the Old Testament, from which it has been concluded, that such a being is called satan. These will be fully considered in the next Section. Here, let the reader only notice, that no Old Testament writer considered the serpent a fallen angel, the devil of Christians. They frequently use the term serpent, but never insinuate that a fallen angel used this reptile in deceiving Eve. For four thousand years, then, no such opinion seems to have been entertained by any sacred writer.
5th What shows conclusively that the serpent, Gen. 3. was not a fallen angel is, in the Bible there are both allusions and direct references to the account of Eve's deception and the entrance of sin, but no intimation is given, that a fallen angel was the cause of either. We shall briefly notice the principal of them. Paul, 2 Cor. xi. 3. says-"But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve
through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
Paul calls the deceiver of Eve the serpent, as Moses did, but not a syllable escapes him, that the devil used this beast of the field as a cover for his deception. If this was the orthodox belief in Paul's day, he gave no sanction to it as an inspired teacher. He agrees with all the preceding sacred writers, in being silent about the devil seducing our first parents. But surely I may ask, if Paul believed this doctrine, is it not strange, that in a direct reference to the deception of Eve by the serpent, he should give no intimation that such a wicked being was the principal agent? But again, Job says, chap, xxxi. 33.-" if I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom." But instead of the words, "as Adam," we have in the margin, "after the manner of men." But allowing the rendering in the text correct, Job gives us no hint that he believed an evil. spirit was the cause of Adam's sin. Again, in Hosea vi. 7. it is said-" but they like men (in the margin like Adam) have transgressed the covenant." But here as little is said about such an evil being. But a more direct reference we have, Rom. xii. 13, 14. "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." Here Paul expressly declares, that by one man, and not by a fallen angel sin entered the world. But again, he says, 1 Cor. xv. 22-" for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." See also verses 45-49. But still, he does not say a word about the
devil or a fallen angel having any concern with either sin or death by Adam. But in 1 Tim. ii. 13, 14. the apostle directly alludes to the third chapter of Genesis. "But Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived; but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression." The apostle here says, Eve was deceived, but not a word about her being deceived by a fallen angel. He told us, 2 Cor. xi. 3. that the serpent beguiled her, and this is just what Eve said herself," the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." Gen. iii. 13.
Such are the references made in Scripture, to the account given us by Moses in the third chapter of Genesis, except two or three passages, where we read of that old serpent, the devil and satan. These will be considered in Section 8.
6th. But admitting it true, that such an evil spirit did exist, call him by what name you please, how is the character of God to be defended, in not forewarning our first parents again his evil devices. It is very evident, not a word of caution was afforded them. They have to learn his existence, by the mischief he does them, and if God gives them information afterwards concerning him, it comes too late to be of any benefit to them. Was God ignorant of the fall of this angel from heaven? Or, could he be ignorant of his evil devices, and not foresee the ruin of our first parents by him? This is impossible. Are we then to conclude, that God willingly concealed the knowledge of such a being from them, that they might be seduced and ruined? I should rather conclude that no such being existed, about which God could give them information. He did foresee the consequences of their being seduced, and he guarded them against the true tempter, as we shall presently see.
7th. The fall of an angel from heaven, and his becoming a devil, is certainly a very remarkable event.
in the history of God's creation. It is rendered more so, by its connexion with the fall of man, in making him a sinner, and entailing, according to many, eternal misery on his posterity. The very nature of the case leads us to think, that Moses would have related the fall of this angel, before he introduced the fall of man. But nothing like this is found, nor is the one related as having any connexion with the other. Moses says just as much about the ascent of a devil to heaven, and becoming a good angel, as he does about the fall of an angel from heaven, and becoming a devil; and the deception of Eve, is just as much ascribed to the former as to the latter. Nor, does any later scripture writer teach the doctrine of a fallen angel, or ascribe the fall of man to his evil influence. But allowing the existence of such a being we would notice,
8th. There is no evidence in this account, that a fallen angel knew that one tree of the garden was prohibited, and it is not easy to understand how a mere serpent could know it. Did God inform the devil about the prohibition? Or was he present when it was given? It does not appear that Eve informed him, for the serpent began the conversation with her, and seems to have known all about it. This very circumstance, representing the serpent as perfectly acquainted with the prohibition, suggests a hint, that Moses merely used the serpent to represent something else, which will rationally account for this.
9th. Admitting for a moment, that the devil did assume the likeness of a serpent, how does this accord with the good policy which this arch deceiver is supposed to possess? This is the more surprising, as his advocates affirm, that he can assume a much more agreeable likeness than that of a vile, contemptible reptile. Besides, he does not seem to have chosen this appearance often since, for people represent him
as appearing in various forms, but seldom if ever in that of a serpent.
10th. Unless we believe that Eve was on familiar terms with the devil, and knew that serpents spoke and reasoned in those days, she was more likely to be frightened than deceived. A speaking serpent, or the devil under this likeness, would terrify the most courageous female among us. But Eve showed no signs of fear, or even suspicion on this occasion. She conversed with the devil, or the serpent, with as much apparent composure, as she could have done with Adam. The common belief makes her, a perfect holy creature, to fall before a temptation, and that by means of agents, which almost all her sinful posterity would have resisted. What man, what female, now, would be deceived into disobedience by a speaking serpent, or the devil under this likeness? If she, then, could not resist such a temptation, how can it be expected now, that her offspring can resist any temptation? All these things lead me to suspect, that this account of the deception of Eve by a serpent, was intended to teach us something else; and that we are indebted to Milton, rather than Moses, for the common opinions entertained on this subject.
I shall now state for candid consideration my own opinion of this passage. We find it then said, chap. iii. 1. Now the serpent was more subtile than any beast of the field."-The question to be considered is-What serpent did Moses mean? Chap. ii. 19. would lead us to conclude it was a beast of the field. But it will be asked-What! could serpents speak and reason in those days? I answer, we have no evidence to believe that they did. It will be asked, what then did he mean by the serpent? I would answer this by asking-did not Moses in this account mean to inform us how Eve was deceived, and how sin was first introduced? To this all will readily agree. Well, the serpent was