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made known is presented by Mr. Layard in the Yezedis of Mesopotamia.* Their conceptions and practice have procured for them the specific name of "Devil-worshipers." They do indeed recognize one Supreme Being, but, like too many pretended Christians, they stop short with a barren acknowledgment; while they honour Satan at least by fearing him. The name of the evil Spirit they are indeed said never to mention. This express avoidance arises from the fear of giving him offence. So far do they carry their dread of offending him, that they abstain from every expression which may resemble in sound the name Satan. Thus in speaking of a river they will not say Shat, because it is too nearly connected with the first syllable in Sheitan, Satan, but substitute Nahr. When they speak of the devil, they do so with a reverence which has a parallel in ordinary professors of Christianity. Accordingly the Yezedis call me Melec Taous, king Peacock, or Melek-el-Kout, the mighty angel. They worship me under the symbol of a bird of bronze. They also agree with Christian orthodoxy in holding me to be the chief of the angelic host, now suffering punishment for rebellion against the Divine will, but still all-powerful and to be restored hereafter to my high estate in the celestial hierarchy; thus adding another to the numerous instances which exhibit heresy as more merciful as well as more philosophic than orthodoxy. I am, they logically add, to be conciliated and reverenced; for as now I have the means of doing evil to mankind, so hereafter shall I have the power of rewarding them, if only by commuting their penalties. Indeed, they are obviously imbued with magian conceptions; for next to me in wisdom and power, they own seven archangels (Amshaspands) who exercise great influence over the world. These bear names which you, my pupil, will become familiar with ere long in forms slightly different; viz., Gabriel, Michail, Raphail, Azrail, Dedrail, Azrapheel, Shemkeel. I know not
* Nineveh and its Remains, by Austen Henry Layard, Vol. I. p. 296, seq. 2 vols. London, 1849.
GOD, SATAN AND MAN, IN EVANGELICALISM. indeed that they have not as good a claim to the title Christian as that of the bulk of those who are so denominated, for they hold Christ to be a great angel who took the form of man. He did not die on the cross, indeed, but he ascended to heaven and is to come to earth again.
THE DUALISM IS THROWN INTO CONFUSION BY ECCLESIASTICISM.
Were the elements
Good and God, if not the same word, represent the same reality. The antithesis of good is evil. of good and evil everywhere the same, a confusion of the terms would be easily avoided. But with man, good and evil rise and fall on the moral scale exactly as his general culture rises and falls. Hence in a certain sense every man has his own God and his own devil. Not to reduce the matter to this minuteness; from the variations of moral character, corresponding differences arise touching the good principle and the bad principle. It is only the highly cultivated conscience that gives birth to normal good, and by contrast displays normal bad. But lofty culture is general only in modern days. Hence the earlier religionists worship evil when they think they are worshiping good. These false impressions, transmitted in books, come down into later ages and throw the dualism of good and evil into confusion. What is bad is called good, what is good is identified with what is bad. Such is the gross mistake made at the present hour by popular ecclesiasticism.
What is its theory? God made man upright. The first man disobeyed God, and so brought God's wrath on all his posterity. In consequence, every man is born with a fatal disease. This disease entails his ruin. He is under the curse of God for time and eternity. In other words, he is the slave of Satan. Satan himself is a condemned convict, for he too disobeyed God. Accordingly, this lower world lies in moral chaos.
THE MORAL UNIVERSE A CHAOS.
Thus it lay for four thousand years, during which period earth, with a few exceptions, was only a training ground for hell. At length God interposed and sent his Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to substitute a blessing for the curse. But here, again, God was disappointed in the result. Jesus was crucified, I triumphed. The world still remained for the most part in my hands, and in my hands for the most part it remains to this hour, and will remain when time shall have passed into eternity, leaving me the ruler and the punisher of millions that no man can number, no man estimate, except by saying that my victims incomparably surpass the true worshipers of God. This, then, is the final issue of creation. The noblest work of God is not only a failure, but a ruin, an irreparable and everlasting ruin.
What specially darkens this result is, that it is grossly and incurably unjust for God to condemn a race for one act of disobedience on the part of one man. It is unjust to continue in existence the race condemned, so as to cause the certain loss to all eternity of most individuals of each successive generation. It is unjust to punish the innocent Jesus for the sins of a guilty world. It is unjust, when God has received the penalty, to exact a second payment in the eternal torments of the bulk of human kind. But the height of injustice is it, when God has been placated, for him to act toward men for ever as pitilessly as he would have done had he received no vicarious atonement whatever. But even this injustice is exaggerated when the condemned suffering many behold the elect few in the enjoyment of God's favour, not because they are more obedient than the others, but simply because such is God's will. The will of such a God is the rule of simple force. Hence emphatically God becomes Satan. Even greater than it is would be the majority of my wretched slaves, but for an order of men whose special functions it is to take the sting out of that curse. These men, having an office so momentous, obtain immense power on earth, and accordingly subdue generations after generations to their will.
Ecclesiastical tyranny begets civil despotism. And thus two other plagues infest the human race. Yet submission is the only way of salvation. "Everlasting punishment" can be avoided only by submitting to rites and ceremonies or professing a creed. Both may be unreasonable, but they have a divine sanction. Therefore yield, or "without doubt you
will perish everlastingly."
This is the ecclesiasticism. It calls light darkness and darkness light; or, rather, without making me good, it makes God bad. That it does make God bad, every one owns the moment the dire system is placed before him, if only he retains undarkened and unperverted the natural sentiments of good and evil, as they are in themselves and as they stand contradistinguished the one from the other. The God of the system is no God at all. He is Satan under another denomination. And thus ecclesiasticism delivers the world over to two Satans. Only in name can the dualism be said to exist. To compare the two together would be too painful. But this must be said, that I am not loaded with the fearful responsibility of having given birth to this eternal moral chaos; for after all I am, according to the system, but the tolerated instrument of him to whom I owe my being, and who in consequence is chargeable with all the ills I inflict on the human
Compared with such a God, Moloch sinks into a petty demon. Had the Europeans now in this nineteenth century for the first time heard that such a religion was held and practised by some savage tribe on the western side of Africa, they would have pronounced the tale a phantasm bred in some diseased and over-excited brain.
Utterly different is the Almighty Being whom Jesus called "My Father," "Our Father," "Righteous Father." To him in time men will learn to cleave more and more, until their love and service of God will relieve the world of the terrible incubus of the ecclesiastical principle of good and the ecclesiastical principle of evil. Even yet the confusion is but partially
THE ANGRY GOD OF FALSE THEOLOGY.
exhibited. The good side of the dualism appears under three aspects. Before "the Fall," God loves man; after "the Fall," he hates man. Even when he has received full payment of man's debt, he pursues the bulk of the creditors with unappeasable wrath. Hence Hence it appears that of the three aspects of the bright side of the dualism, two are for the most part irretrievably dark. As for the originally dark side, it remains dark, yet gains some relief in contrast with the double darkness of the other side; for, bad as theologians make me, I am, according to their own account, nothing but the executioner of the Divine will.
Pitiable, O man, is thy condition, if it is such as it is made. to be by systems of divinity!
Do I not, you ask, gloomy and frightful? My dear pupil, it is not I that paint the Almighty; it is the doctors of divinity. I will give you the proof in two or three extracts from the psalmody of Dr. Watts, one of the most gentle and amiable of men, but also one who has drawn some of the most dismal and distorted caricatures of God.
paint the Almighty in colours too
"His sounding chariot shakes the sky;
He makes the clouds his throne;
His nostrils breathe out fiery streams!
A sovereign voice divides the flames,
Think, O my soul! the dreadful day,
Shall rend the sky, and burn the sea,
What shall the wretch, the sinner do?
He once defied the Lord;
But he shall dread THE THUNDERER now,