« AnteriorContinuar »
TO KNOW THIS IS THE FIRST STEP UPWARDS.
I did not make her such. I merely offered her something attractive to the eye, pleasant to the taste, and nutritious to the body. She accepted my offer, sinned, and led her husband into sin. Wherein then lay the sin? In her wilful disobedience to her Maker's prohibition. She had been told not to eat the apple. Yet she did eat it; and, disobeying God, sinned. But God represents the moral law. Sin, then, is disobedience to a moral law; that is, an internal power. The woman sinned because she did that which she knew she ought not to do. So acting, she sinned against her own light. She could not then have been absolutely ignorant of good and right in contradistinction to bad and wrong. Had she been thus blind, she could not have sinned. Total moral blindness is incapable of doing wrong no less than of doing right. A stock being devoid of moral perceptions is incapable of sinning. The account then cannot mean that the woman was so blind, for such blindness would have reduced her into a mere animal. Rather the account implies that the woman was open to moral impressions, when it makes her hear the word of God: "Thou shalt not." Her condition was that dubious one which, seeing duty, sees it not; hearing its voice, hears it not. Perilous position for such a moral infant as the woman manifestly was! It needed not the quasi-omnipotence theory ascribes to me to occasion her fall. Let but an occasion come, and her fall was unavoidable. It came; she fell. What was the consequence? "So the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" (Gen. iii. 22). Well, then, if I had caused her sin, I had rendered her the greatest possible service, and I claim the honour of having made Adam and Eve moral beings. Before, they had the moral capacity solely in embryo. I acted as the widwife, and the grand speciality of man was born. This inevitable conclusion I press on your mind, if only to shew you how dangerous it is to build theological theories on these archaic stories. Certainly, hard names and damaging charges such as I have so long suffered under should
be studiously avoided, when their sole ground is a strained interpretation of a figurative incident.
Finally if now you look back over what I have said of "the Fall of Man," and, studying these details, consider the whole matter in the light of God's dealings in Providence, as declared by universal history, the Bible included, you will not improbably be led to the conclusion, that what is theologically called "man's ruin," is really man's first step out of his animal condition into the ascensional pathway of ceaseless
THE JEWISH ELEMENT AS SEEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA; ALEXANDRINE DEMONOLOGY; JOSEPHUS; THE PSEUDEPIGRAPHS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; THE BOOK OF ENOCH; THE TALMUD AND CABBALISTS.
HEBREWISM offered me little, if any, hospitality. Indeed, in one way it waged ruthless war upon me, while in course of time it came to oppose in good earnest the pagan Baal, Moloch and Ashteroth, from whom it had been delivered by the hand of God.
A more auspicious reception was I favoured with by that mixture of Aryan with Shemitic influences which gave birth to Judaism, the immediate forerunner of the Christianity of the Church, as contradistinguished from the Christianity of Christ.
The darker and depravating elements which produced the impure amalgam, I proceed to set before you in one or two brief outlines.
Let me shortly resume what I have said of demonology in connection with the Shemitic spirit. The two stand in mutual
IS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF TOBIT.
opposition, so far as first principles are concerned.
Only on the surface of the Old Testament have I left an imprint of myself, and in that imprint you can see the trace of no horns, no cloven feet, no tail. Even in the later literature of the Hebrew nation, which I will term Jewish, I cannot boast of great prominence. And yet here I sowed seed which, under ecclesiastical fostering, brought forth a plentiful crop. The Jewish belief in evil spirits was formed under the influence of Parsism; yet that influence, checked by the resistance offered to it by the Shemitic spirit, produced effects at first not of a very marked nature nor on a very large scale. The most that it did was to give a certain consistence to obsolescent traditions derived from paganism that lingered in the popular mind, and to find support in Oriental imaginations, when not tempered and controlled by a severe and spiritual monotheism.
Not till you come down after the exile to the Jewish Apocryphal book of TOBIT do you find clear traces of the demonology of the Jews of Palestine and the Jews of Babylonia. A devil, by name Asmodeus, who appears in the Talmud as the divinity of lust, and even as the prince of evil spirits, falling in love with Sarah, daughter of Raguel, a citizen of Ecbatana, kills for his own vile purpose seven young men who successively were to be her husbands (iii. 8, vi. 14). By the advice of the angel Raphael, who has become travelling companion to Tobit's son, the devil is put to flight by the smoke which rises from the liver of a fish placed on burning coal, and hastens to hide himself in the deserts of Upper Egypt, where he is thrown into chains by the angel Raphael. His demoniacal rival being thus disposed of, Tobit takes Sarah to wife, and consummates the marriage without let or hindrance. The power possessed by the devil was given him of God, in order that Sarah's virtue might be tried and established.
Asmodeus (tempter), judging by his name, a Persian by birth, supports the reference of the Biblical doctrine to Baby
THE PERSIAN ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH DEMONOLOGY. 105
lonia. The same effect ensues from the acquaintance with Mesopotamia manifested in his style by the unknown author of the book, who, if not a native, must have travelled in those lands. Consequently he was acquainted with the Persian demonology. Indeed, he introduced into the writing as much of it as he could make comport with the Jewish monotheism, without going as far as the Mazdean dualism, which in its proper form does not figure in any Jewish composition, and without making me a rival power to that of God.
From the character of the book you are justified in inferring the Magian origin of the Jewish demonology. Taking into account the Persian origin of the name Asmodeus, which rests on the high authority of Reland, we may declare that the Jewish view of myself regarded me as the tempter of human beings. In this unenviable aspect I am symbolized in Genesis, as you are aware, and thus the connection of the Jewish demonology with that of Persia is put beyond a doubt. The union of the two makes an appearance in these words of Tobit's: "Thou madest Adam of the dust of the earth, and gave him Eve for a helper" (Tobit viii. 8; Gen. ii. iii.).
Similar in result is the account which the angel Raphael gives of himself: "I am the angel Raphael" (a beautiful young man (Tobit v. 5), one of the seven who stand before the Lord, "the good angel of God" (Tobit v. 27). "When thou (Tobit's father) didst pray with tears and didst bury the dead, I offered thy prayer to the Lord; and because thou wast acceptable to the Lord, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee." (Comp. Job ii. 3, seq.). "And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee and to deliver Sarah thy son's wife from the devil. And when they heard these things they were seized with fear and fell prostrate on the ground. And the angel said to them, Fear not; for now that I am with you, I am here by the will of God; bless ye him and sing his praises. I seemed, indeed, to eat and to drink with you; but I use meat and drink which cannot be seen by men. Now then it is time that I return to him that sent me. He