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left for inference. But as this is the interpretation of the same word, and also of the word devil, throughout the Improved Version, it may fairly be presumed that the approved Unitarian explanation of these words is contained in the expression “principle of evil.” If I knew of any other explanation more or less plausible, I would give it. This discussion may not be wholly useless, if it tend to enlighten us as to the opinions held by different parties or individuals on this subject. If any Unitarian shall think that his opinions or those of his friends, are not properly stated, I trust he will find an excuse for the writer in the want of explicitness on this topic in American Unitarian writings. Priestley, Belsham, &c. are not oracles for consultation, or at least their responses are not allowed to be authoritative on this side the Atlantic. And it certainly is unfair to attribute to an opponent, sentiments, which he does not, or we do not know him, to believe. The opinions of the Orthodox on the subject in question, are sufficiently explicit. Unitarianism, so far as it is known to have taken any positive shape, is embodied in the phrase already quoted, “principle of evil.” Permit me to ask you, my dear sir, do you not assent to this interpretation of your brother in the ministry, and of Unitarian expositors generally? I also desire every reader of these Letters, before he proceeds farther, to settle in his own mind and for his individual satisfaction, the precise import of the words, Satan, Devil, &c. so often used in the New Testament.
The writer is not ignorant of the difficulties, which either do, or are supposed to attend this subject; nor of the names that may be brought to bolster up a denial of what the scriptures, left to the plain import of language, evidently teach. In the discussion, however, on which we are about to enter, all names and all authority will be thrown aside, except the authority of those names, to
which Unitarians and the Orthodox attribute inspiration. Unitarians will, of course, be the last to reject the grand Protestant principles, the sufficiency of scripture, and the right of private judgment. To these scriptures, with what judgment we possess, let us now appeal.
Rev. and Dear Sir,
I REMARK that the Bible reveals the existence of good spirits, angelic natures, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. This position is analagous to the main one I shall take, and will tend to introduce, illustrate, and confirm it. These spirits not only exist, and take an interest, but are actually concerned in the government of this world. For proof of this, I simply ask, who walked with the three children of Israel in the fire ? Who is Gabriel, sent to Daniel, to Mary and others ? Who is “ Michael, that great Prince that standeth for the people of God ?” Who were the multitude of the heavenly host, attendant on the angel that announced the advent of the Saviour to the shepherds in Bethlehem? Who strengthened Jesus, when he fainted in the garden ? Who are the twelve legions of angels, that he might have commanded at any moment ? Who were the shining ones, that rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and there appeared to the disciples and the women? Who told the apostles, that in like manner Jesus should return, as they had seen him taken up into heaven ? Who opened the prison doors by night, and brought the apostles forth and
said, “ Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life ?" Who smote Peter, sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, saying, “Arise up quickly, and the chains fell off from his hands, and the iron gate opened to them of his own accord ?”
In these passages a visible, perceptible, angelic agency is asserted. But is such an agency never invisible and imperceptible ? Does any one doubt it ? Read the sixth chapter of the second book of Kings. The king of Syria had sent horses and chariots, and a great host, to seize Elisha. The servant of the man of God trembled when he saw the city thus encompassed, and said, “ alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, fear not : for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man ; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” The imagery, here attributed to the spiritual world, was probably drawn from the visible horses and chariots, which encompassed them. The actual fact, however, of invisible protectors and protection, is distinctly asserted. So true is it, that “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” Should any one suppose the import of these passages doubtful, because the one is figurative and the other poetical, to remove such doubts, only one passage more need be quoted. This is from an argumentative epistle. "Are not the angels all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those, who shall be heirs of salvation ?" This passage is thus rendered Professor Stuart; “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to assist those who are to obtain salvation ?" But enough. You believe in good angels.* You believe also in gradation
* See note B.
of rank among them, angels and archangels, and in their interposition in the affairs and the government of our world. All this, American Unitarians, unless I greatly err, believe plainly revealed, or at least, have not denied to be plainly revealed. But I ask you, sir, and your Unitarian brethren, if you are conscious of any such guardianship, protection and influence as is positively asserted in the passage last quoted ? According to Unitarianism, recently developed, there is no such thing as future eternal punishment. Some incorrigible offenders may, perhaps, be annihilated, but most will be restored to purity and to heaven, either during the course of this life, or by the disciplinary, reforming power of punishment in the life to come. The great mass of human beings during all past ages, and of those now upon the stage, whatever may be their character, must ultimately, according to this theory, be “heirs of salvation.” But the “ heirs of salvation " " have angels ministering to them," or assisting them in obtaining this unspeakable blessing. Are the great mass of men conscious of such ministration ? Will they not pronounce these “
angel visits" very “ far between,” that not even one can be recollected ? Have the " men, studious of nature,” found or believed in such an influence from the invisible world for even the best of our race?
But lest you should be dissatisfied with this view of the subject, let us look at it from another quarter, and with a different light.
Unitarians, while they deny the personality and agency of the Holy Spirit, yet believe, or profess to believe in a divine influence of some kind, expressed by the terms, grace, Holy Spirit, &c. by which men are assisted in forming habits of virtue. But is not this influence imperceptible? Is it not, though experienced, yet unfelt by its subject ? But does that affect its reality? Certainly not.
Neither does the fact, that the agency of angels in ministering to the salvation of men is imperceptible, affect its reality. Will not all agree, then, that whatever beneficial influence is exerted in behalf of our race, either by the Father of our spirits, or by those unseen messengers that fly to do his will, is exerted in such a way, so exactly according to the principles of our nature and the laws of mind, as to be imperceptible? It does not at all interfere with our own activity or accountableness. The fact of its existence is beyond the province of unassisted reason to discover, and is to be believed, like the facts of a future resurrection and a general judgment, simply because revealed.
Let the reflecting reader carry these last remarks along with him in the discussion before us.
Rev. and Dear Sir,
Having thus prepared the way for the discussion, I now assert, and shall endeavor to prove, that the Bible, plainly and unequivocally reveals the existence of evil spirits, one of whom, called Satan or Devil, being represented as leader of the rest ; and reveals also the fact, that they possess and exercise a great and terrible influence
It has been seen that American Unitarians, generally, believe, or do not deny the existence of good, while they do deny the existence of evil spirits of a loftier order than
Does the inquiry suggest itself, why is it that