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Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1837, by Josiah Priest, in the Clerk's Office of the Northern District of New York.
No subject that has been agitated since man was created, can be said to have engaged the attention of all people, as that of religion, whether among Pagan or Christian nations. That it is thus, is, however, perfectly natural ; because it claims to involve the interests of man, relative to both time and eternity, as universally allowed. In all ages, and under all circumstances, religion, whether handed down from father to son by tradition, or from God by inspiration, as in the case of the Holy Scriptures, has ever presented to notice two beings, who are shown as opposed to each other in their natures and pursuits. These two beings are known, or spoken of, by the terms JEHOVAH, and Satan; the good and the evil being, in Jewish and Christian countries; while in other parts of the earth, are equally acknowledged, if not thus named-differing only as languages differ, but conveying the same ideas.
Jehovah is represented as being infinitely good, and as having innumerable hosts of spiritual beings, or angels of a supernatural character, who act in his universal providence, among the works of his hands; not only in this, but in all worlds, as agents, exerting a benign and protecting influence :-while the other, namely, Satan, is also shown as having under his supervision hosts of spirits, or angels, of a supernatural character, but of malevolent natures, who act in the way of both moral and physical ruin, so far as in their power in opposition to God.
These two beings are acknowledged by all religions, in all countries, and in all ages, under various names, ideas and attributes ; and were likely to have thus remained in opposition to each other, a while longer-even to the end of the world—had not the Universalist sect of religion arisen, who it seems are determined that one of these beings shall exist no longer--putting their veto upon the judgment of all past ages, and inspiration to boot.
This most important of all subjects, namely, religion, has both by tradition from remotest antiquity, and from the Bible, ever pre. ronted itu sanctions, as oxiuting or taking place in anothor world, or after death; and has qualified those sanctions, in dooming the bad, who pass out of this life having that character, to a state of unutterable wo: while on the contrary, the good, sustaining that character when they change worlds, enter into a state of rapturous and ceaseless happiness—a trait of jurisprudence in the government of God, seemingly well suited to restrain over acts and injurious behaviour among his subjects, so far as threatened coercion can have such an effect; and likewise to encourage the practice of virtue,
But there has arisen, out of the great sea of religious opinions, in these latter days, a sect, namely, the Universalists, who deny not only the being of this one Satan, and his coadjutors or associate evil spirits ; but the whole of the penal sanctions of this great subject, religion, as being inflicted, or as existing after this life, notwithstanding the Scriptures seem to be against them--the text of which they acknowledge—whose influence we will not deny is very great, and pervades all ranks of people, all communions of Christians, far more than is commonly supposed, and is exerted against the doctrines of the orthodox sects, and as we believe the Bible itself.
The object of this work therefore is to examine the Bible in re} lation to the claims of either side to the truth. We have from childhood heard of the existence of a devil, or Satan, from books, the Bible, in prayers, sermons, and conversation on the subject of religion, as if there could be no doubt of it-and also of evil spirits, and yet we have never met with any attempt to examine this trait of theology, as we have the rest, the being of a God, the existence of a hell, a day of judgment, &c. : we have therefore undertaken to give our opinion of this belief—the being of Satan and evil spirits.
In traversing the subject, we of necessity have been compelled to dip into many curious things connected with our main one, yet we have aimed so to manage it as not to debate disputed topics with any of the orthodox orders, endeavoring to maintain all the great and leading features of their faith ; while we combat only with the doctrines of Universalists; who, in our opinion, pervert the whole design of the Scriptures by their dogmas. The course we have pursued in this work has been to avoid prolixity, aiming to furnish ready and short arguments against Universalist sentiments, for the use of the rising generation, and such as scarcely know what to believe, having not much considered the matter; believing we have done what we can in this work to counteract the influence of those principles, we hope for support and patronago, therefore
We do not hesitate to express a belief that we have advanced much curious matter on many curious subjects, worthy the reader's attention, which are doubtless calculated to induce thought and elicit conversation, and lead men to read the Bible, which, in reality, contains more useful and wonderful information, than all the books of mankind put together.
The nature of the subjects, upon which we have treated in this work, are of necessity, such as are denominted the terrible; but on this account, we hope it will not be rejected, while we remember that it is written by St. Paul: (2d Cor. v. 11,)“ Knowing the TERROR of the Lord, we persuade men. With this view, therefore, namely, to persuade men to read the Bible, and the more earnestly to examine it, to arouse the attention of men to the subjects we have treated upon, and to check-according to our ability, Universalist opinions, in their overflow of the land, -we set it afloat on the sea of public opinion, asking the favor of a wide dispersion of the work, and of its being thoroughly read and compared with the Scriptures--having with respect to these objects, the good wishes, at least, of
INDEX TO PART FIRST.
Genesis, third chapter, examined in relation to the original
meaning of the word SERPINT; and inquiry as to what kind of animal
kind of animal......
go to support the ideathat a Snake was the animal of the text of Moscs,
of this kind of animal, a reptile, as koown to the ancients....
tho curse, according to a certain ancient author ; with a full account of
of the largest description, by the Egyptians....
any animal whatever, as used by Satan, in the beguiling of the first
Christians having derived many opinions from the ancient Persians, or
the writings of Zoroaster ; with other subjects. .....
matters : as of the first creative acts of God; whether matter is elernal
swered, &c. .......
great variety of orders ; cause of the being of Satan, &c........
whether the angels of the Scriptures were men or spirits; the latter of
which, by some Universalists, is denied,.....
bearon into the ocean of space, before anything else was created ;