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I have now conducted you through nearly one half of the New Testament. We have, under the direction of M. Meylan, studied the Apocalypse, the Epistles, and the book of Acts. Every proof-text we have looked carefully into. What is the result? We have, as I led you to expect, found instances in which mention is made of devils, but not one clear case in which the sacred writer declared his belief in them. Some of the passages, indeed, are such as, if the existence of the ecclesiastical devil had been previously established, would admit of that interpretation. But no solid independent proof thereof have we found. It is easy to see that belief in me existed in the medium in which the writers lived and worked. It is not easy to determine to what extent, or whether at all, those writers held the vulgar opinions; but we have no positive evidence whatever that those opinions were the same as are now a constituent part of the "saving faith" of orthodoxy.



And thus I am, in due course, brought to the Gospels. The question to be decided is: Do the Gospels shew that Jesus. believed in a personal devil, such as I am now described to be?

Certain points have been previously established. First, the Hebrew nation, a branch (indeed the chief branch) of the Shemitic people, after emerging from their state of religious pupilage, were, and persistently remained, rigorous monotheists, who not only owned the one only living and true God, but waged war against all false divinities, and specially opposed the Zoroastrian dualism, in which the notion of a devil, or originator of moral evil, first came into full and definite existence. In consequence, their classic literature presents no trace of a personal devil, and it is only at a late period, and among popular superstitions, that diabolical mythology makes an appearance. That appearance, at first shadowy and infrequent, if not equivocal also, taking place in degenerate ages,



when the monotheism of the prophets had been distempered by foreign ingredients, increased alike in bulk and diversity, until in what, in a large sense, may be termed the age of Jesus, it became a substantial part of the national belief, and, mixed up with Messianic misconceptions and apocalyptic dreams, went far to madden the populace and precipitate the fatal collision with Rome. In a word, during the public ministry of Jesus, the air, so to say, was in Judea full of devils and demons. Was the vulgar conception shared by Jesus? This one or two considerations will shew to be improbable. If Paul was 66 a Hebrew of the Hebrews" (Philip. iii. 5), Jesus was a Shemite of the Shemites. He seized, appropriated and taught, the grand Shemitic idea of one only God, the Creator and Benefactor of all. Proofs are not needed of a fact that most will at once admit. This idea of one God, Jesus so modified as to bring out, in the utmost fulness and beauty, the moral element which it contains. Hence his invocations, "Our Father" (Matt. vi. 9), "Righteous Father" (John xvii. 25). Of this one righteous Father the providence is universal, extending not only to the physical and the animal world (Matt. vii. 24, seq.), but also to the intelligent world, and in that world embracing the bad no less than the good (Matt. v. 45), and embracing the bad with such tender and sympathetic care, that he loves even his enemies (44), and sends his Son to minister to the sick rather than to the sound, to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance, to seek and save the lost, and that with such singleness of purpose, as to leave of his flock ninety-and-nine that are quietly browsing the downs, in order to go over hill and dale, and through wood and wilderness, to recover the one lost sheep, which, when found, he lays on his shoulder and bears home rejoicingly.

Here you have the positive side of the mind of Jesus in regard to the solemn and all-comprehensive subject of God and Providence. Now I submit that a mind such as that of Christ, which was pervaded and actuated by that idea, could


never, along side of it, have admitted the manifest contradiction thereof which is involved in the notion of the common ecclesiastical devil. To such an extent are the two incompatible, that now, just in proportion as individuals and churches make the first a reality in their minds and lives, does the old superstition recede, until it finally retires and passes into congenial darkness. Of all minds, that of Jesus most fully realized his own idea of God in conception, in sentiment, and in act. Consequently he could not have held its antagonist.

I further observed that Jesus stood before the religion of his forefathers and the religion of his contemporaries as an eclectic. The fact is proclaimed and exemplified by his Sermon on the Mount. Not indiscriminately did he follow either the ancients or the moderns. Not by wholesale did he appropriate the contents of their sacred books. No one feature of his character is more marked and decided than its eclecticism. It is all contained in his own phrase, "It has been said by those of old-but I say unto you," &c. (Matt. v. 21, seq.). And the general tenor of his antithesis proves beyond a doubt that it was a moral and spiritual power of the widest and deepest kind by which he was actuated in the mental processes by which he chose that and rejected this, enlarged the narrow, converted the partial into the universal, and in the fact dived down and took up its underlying principle, thus in all cases casting aside the external and the temporary, so as to lay firm hold of the intrinsic and everlasting. A mind habituated to such processes could not fail to leave behind the speculative and legendary elements connected with a personal devil.

This eclectic power is essential to his typal character as "the Son of Man." The child of his race, he stood forth in one aspect as the model man. Being the model man, he contained in himself all possible human perfections. In consequence, he was in his own qualities an anticipation of humanity made perfect. But as humanity has evolved its essential elements, a personal devil has sunk out of sight. At present, moral science does not take the trouble to disprove


his existence, so ludicrous does its averment appear. If, then, Jesus did believe in a personal devil, he loses at least so much of his typal character. But something less than perfection is simply imperfection, and so those who uphold the devil disparage Christ, and that in so momentous a matter as to rob him of moral perfection. Yet, without that attribute, if the Christ of yesterday, he is not the Christ of to-day and for ever. Already has a Christ with whom belief in a personal devil is an essential, lost influence over the most intelligent and cultivated portions of the human race. Should the teachers that have the popular ear, following in the footsteps of Pastor Meylan, continue to enforce belief in me, beyond a doubt their loss of the philosophers will be supplemented by the loss of the people, and that in the degree in which knowledge and culture shall cover the earth.

The only other general consideration I offer now is, that the known words of Jesus are free from this spurious element. Those words are presented in his parabolic teachings. The amount is very considerable, and so various are its contents, as to comprise all he had to say on the great object of his mission, namely, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, the nature and attractiveness thereof, the conditions of admission, and the rewards and retributions which membership involves. Here you have that "gospel of the kingdom" which is "the good seed" and "the word of God." Make your mind familiar Father taught Jesus in

therewith; it is what his heavenly order that he might teach, and in teaching save the world. The whole sphere of this most wise, most salutary, most simple, most sublime and most impressive doctrine is, almost without exception, free from national, local, partial, legendary elements. To exhibit this fact to your eyes would require me to extract the larger part of the four Gospels. I must here leave you in the main to your own studies. And this I can do with the greater confidence, because I am about to consider the real or fancied exceptions as they are presented by M. Meylan.



In number, the passages in the Gospels to which he refers in proof of his views on Satan are 17. Of these, 6 are in Matthew, 4 in Mark, 6 in Luke, and 1 in John. His zeal and knowledge may be taken as a guarantee that he has adduced the whole adducible evidence on the point.

Let me first ask your attention to the one reference to the authority of the fourth Gospel. Observe, it is one : what, only one? Only one. And yet this Gospel contains so very many words ascribed to Jesus. Taken as it stands in the common English Version, it contains 919 verses. Of these, two-thirds at least consist of Christ's words. Of (say) 600 verses, only one verse refers to our subject. Why, this is marvellous indeed! And yet Satan lies at the centre of orthodox theology. The whole system turns round that pivot. Take away the devil, and, the key-stone of the arch being removed, the bridge falls into ruins. And with all the implied reticence on the part of Christ touching myself, not a single word does the Gospel contain touching what are called my angels. Yes, the demoniacs are left out of the fourth Gospel. Nevertheless, it is a requirement of orthodoxy to believe that it was written by John, the beloved disciple, who saw his Master daily casting out demons. What greater testimony can be alleged against the supposition that Jesus believed in a personal devil? Either John must have lost his eyes and ears or lost his memory, or Jesus could not have held the view ascribed to him by Pastor Meylan. You deny that the Gospel is the work of John. Critics of a high character make the affirmation. But then the affirmation clears the way for the statement, that the author of the fourth Gospel wrote expressly, as to universalize the testimony in both its character and its effects, so with a view to that important end to winnow out of the mind of the Church all the legendary tares of devilism and demonism, and to transmit to posterity a portrait of Jesus as he really was, and consequently as free in word as well as thought from "the wood, hay and stubble" of the pagan as well as the Hebraic past.

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