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view of it that was suggested; or considered in relation to the ideas and intentions of the worshippers themselves, to which alone in my apprehension, the apostle here alludes. First, then, we may justly say, that their sacrifices were not offered to God; for, however much they might use the name of God, the intention is to be judg. ed, not by the name, but by the meaning affixed to it. Now, such a being as the eternal, unoriginated, immutable Creator and Ruler of the world, they had not in all their system, and therefore did not adore. For this reason they are not unjustly termed by the same apostle, (Eph. 2: 12), äteol, atheists, without God, that is, without the knowledge, and consequently the belief and worship, of him who alone is God. But their sacrifices and devotions were presented to beings, to whom they themselves ascribed a character infinitely inserior to what we know to belong to the true God, of whom they were ignorant.
A late philosopher, who will not be suspected of partiality to the sentiments of an apostle, or of the weakness of a bias in favor of Christianity, has nevertheless, in this instance, adopted the ideas of the sacred author, and has not hesitated to pronounce the pagans* " a kind of superstitious atheists, who acknowledged no being that corresponds to our idea of a deity.” Besides, a great part of the heathen worship confessedly paid to the ghosts of departed heroes, of conquerors and potentates, and of the inventors of arts, whoin popular superstition, after disguising their history with fables and absurdities, had blindly deified. Now, to all such beings they themselves, as well as the Jews, assigned the name datuóvia. Further, it deserves our notice, that the apostle is not writing here to Hebrews, but to Greeks; and that he himself, being a native of a Grecian city, knew perfectly the sense that was affixed by them to the word datuóvia. "If, therefore, he had intended to suggest that they were all malignant beings to whom their devotions were addressed, he would never have used the general terin, which he knew they commonly understood in a inore favorable sense. In that case, he would have said xaxodarnooi gues, or something equivalent.
17. However much, therefore, the Gentiles might bave disputed the truth of the first part of the apostle's assertion, that they did not offer sacrifice to God, because they were not sensible of their own ignorance on this article; the latter part of the assertion they would have readily admitted, that they sacrificed to demons, such as the spirits of heroes and heroines deceased, and other beings conceived superior to mere mortals. This charge they themselves would not have pretended to be either injurious or untrue.
The very passage forinerly quoted from the Acts, where they call Jesus
Natural History of Religion, sect. iv.
and the resurrection strange demons, šiva datuória, shows, that there were known demons, γνώριμα δαιμόνια, to whose service they were accustomed. We cannot worship whom we do not mean to worship. There is an inconsistency in the ideas. They could, therefore, no more be said to have worshipped the devil, as we Christians understand the term, than they could be said to have worshipped the cannibals of New Zealand, because they had no more conception of the one than of the other. However much it may be in the spirit of theological controvertists to use amplifications irreconcileable with truth and justice, in order to render an adversary odious;
this manner is not in the spirit of the sacred penmen. Some appearances of the polemic temper there are in inost versions of the New Testament, which will be found to spring entirely from translators. The popular doctrine has indeed been adopted by Milton, and greatly embellished in bis incomparable poem. But it is not from the fictions of poets that we must draw the principles of religion.
18. I must likewise own, that when, in the passage to the Corinthians under examination, we render duluónia demons, we still express the sentiment more harshly than it is in the original, because the word was commonly then used in a good sense, not as we Christians use it at present, invariably in a bad sense. One way, however, of restoring it to its proper import, is to preserve sacredly the distinction which holy writ so plainly authorizes, and never to confound terms as synonyinous, which are there never confounded.
19. The above observations may serve also to illustrate a noted passage in the Apocalypse, (chap. 9: 20): “The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues, yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, datuovia, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.” It is equally manifest here as in the former example, that the word rendered devils ought to bave been demons ; nor is it less manifest, that every being who is not the one true God, however much conceived to be superior to us, whether good or bad, hero or heroine, demigod or demigoddess, angel or departed spirit, saint or sinner, real or imaginary is in the class comprised under the name demons. And the worship of them is as much demonolatry (if you will admit the word) as the worship of Jupiter, Mars, and Minerva. This may serve to show of how much consequence it is to attend with accuracy to the differences to be found in the application of words. It is only thereby that we can learn their exact import, and be qualified to judge, both of the subject and of the completion of scriptural prophecies. As to the worship of the devil tóū draßolov, nothing can be clearer than that in Scripture no pagans are charged with it; and as to the worship Tov daluoviwv, beings subordinate to the Supreme, it may be considered how far we can with justice say that the pagans are peculiarly chargeable. It will deserve to be remarked by the way, that the only difference between demonolatry and idolatry appears to be, that the first regards the object of worship, the second the mode. The former is a violation of the first commandment,
the latter of the second. The connexion, however, is so intimate between them, that they have rarely, if ever, been found separate.
20. There are only two other passages wherein the word datuóvia occurs in the New Testament, in both which there is some difficulty. One is, where Paul warns Timothy (1 Tim. 4: 1), of those who would make a defection from the faith, “ giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" diduoxadiais datuoviwv doctrines of demons. It is hard to say, whether, by this phrase, we are to understand doctrines suggested by demons, or doctrines concerning demons. The form of expression will support either meaning. If the first, the word demons is taken in a bad sense, for ghosts, or other spirits of a malignant character, the common acceptation of the word in the gospels where an agency on human beings is ascribed to them. The connexion of the words doctrines of demons with seducing spirits, immediately preceding, gives some plausibility to this interpretation. If the second, there is reason to think that it is used more extensively, for all those beings inferior to God who are made objects of adoration. In this case, the words foretell either a total apostasy from the faith of the gospel to the heathen demonology, commonly called mythology, or a defection from the purity of its doctrine, by admitting an unnatural mixture of heathenish absurdities. That this is his meaning is rendered not improbable, by its being connected with other corruptions of the Christian doctrine, also introduced some ages after the times of the apostles, and implied in the words, “ forbidding to marry, and cominanding to abstain from meats," etc. But with respect to this question, I do not pretend to decide.
21. The other passage is in the epistle of James, ch. 2: 19. The whole verse in the common version runs thus : “ Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well; the devils also believe and tremble ;" ta datuóvia, the demons. That the apostle here means the spirits of the wicked men deceased, which in Jewish use, as we learn from Josephus) were commonly styled demons, there is no reason to question. The only points of which their belief is asserted, are the being and the unity of the Godhead. The epithet daluoviaidns is accordingly used in a bad sense in this epistle, (ch. 3: 15), where that wisdom which produceth envy and contention, is styled earthly, sensual, devilish, d'aluovudins, demonian.
22. The only other words in the New Testament connected with δαίμων, are δεισιδαιμων and δεισιδαιμονία. Each occurs only
once. The former is rendered by our translators superstitious, the latter superstition. Neither of them is found in the Septuagint, or the Apocrypha, or in any part of the New Testament, except the Acts of the Apostles. We may readily believe that the Jews, in speaking of their own religion, would avoid the use of terms bearing so inanifest an allusion to a species of worship which it condemns. The only place where the term deloidavuwv occurs, is Paul's speech in the Areopagus at Athens. It is applied by him to the Athenians, who were pagans. " Avdoes ' _49yvažou, says he, κατά πάντα ως δεισδαιμονεστέρους υμάς θεωρώ; in the common version, “ Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious,” Acts 17: 22. The English expression is in my opinion much harsher than the Greek. As the word nowhere else occurs in the sacred writings, our only rule for ascertaining its import is the classical application. Besides, the apostle being a native of a Grecian city, well knew in what sense his hearers would understand the term. If then he spoke to be understood, we must suppose that he employed his words according to their current value in the place. Now it is plain, that, in the classical use, decoidaluar has not a bad meaning, unless there be something in the context that leads us to an unfavorable interpretation. Alsi de deloidaluov nu, “ He was always a religious man,” says Xenophon of Agesilaus, when he is plainly commending him. Favorinus explains the word by o Evosprís, pious ; and gives evhaßeia as the common import of δεισιδαιμονια, which he resolves into φόβος Θεού η daluóvwv, " the fear of God, or of demons.”
Now it has been shown, that among pagans, in the common acceptation of Saiuor, the meaning was favorable. It is acknowledged, that deloidaluov was also susceptible of a bad meaning, answering to our word superstitious. Further, I readily admit, that the apostle would not probably have used that term in speaking of either Jews or Christians, because he did not consider the daimoves as objects of their veneration. At the same time he knew, that in addressing the Athenians he employed a term which could not be offensive to them. Indeed, bis manner of introducing his subject shows a desire of softening the disapprobation which his words imply, and from which he took occasion to expound the principles of a more sublime theology. The Athenians gloried in the character of being more religious, deloidaipoveotápou, than any other Grecian State. Paul's concession of this point in their favor, would rather gratify than offend them, and would serve to alleviate the censure of carrying their religion to excess. Every thing in the turn of his expression shows, that it was his intention to tell them in the mildest terms what he found censurable in their devotion, and thence to take occasion of preaching to them the only true God. Accordingly, he employed a word which he knew no pagan Vol. ).
could take amiss ; and to denote the excess with which he thought them chargeable, he chose to use the comparative degree, which was the gentlest manner of doing it. Nay, he even abates the import of the comparative, by the particle ws. Beza has properly rendered the expression quasi religiosiores. The version too superstitious not only deviates from the intention of the speaker, but includes a gross impropriety, as it implies that it is right to be superstitious to a certain degree, and that the error lies in exceeding that degree; whereas, in the universal acceptation of the English term, all superstition is excess, and therefore faulty.
As to the noun delodajuovia, in the only place of Scripture where it occurs, it is mentioned as used by a heathen in relation to the Jewish religion. Festus, the president, when he acquainted king Agrippa concerning Paul, at that time his prisoner, says that he found the accusation brought against him by his countrymen not to be such as he had expected, but to consist in Śninuara riva nepi rñs idias delodaluovias, in the English translation, “certain questions of their own superstition,” Acts 25: 19. It was not unlike a Roman magistrate to call the Jewish religion superstition. That the Gentiles were accustomed to speak of it contemptuously, is notorious. But it should be considered, that Festus was then addressing his discourse to king Agrippa, who had come to Cesarea to congratulate bim, whom he knew to be a Jew, and to whom it appears, from the whole of the story, that Festus meant to show the utmost civility. It cannot then be imagined, that he would intentionally affront a visitant of rank, the very purpose of whose visit had been to do him honor on his promotion. That the ordinary import of the term was favorable cannot be questioned. Diodorus Siculus, (lib. i), speaking of the religious service performed by the high-priest, at which the kings of Egypt were obliged to be present, adds, Ταύτα δ' επράττεν, άμα μεν εις δεισιδαιμονίαν και θεοφίλη βίον töv Baordt'u 100tpenOMÉvos ; " These things he did to excite the king to a devout and pious life.” The word therefore ought to have been rendered religion, according to its primitive and most usual acceptation among the Greeks.
Bishop Pearce is, for aught I know, singular in thinking that της ιδίας δεισιδαιμονίας ought to be translated of a private superstition, meaning the Christian doctrine taught by Paul. But of this version the words are evidently not susceptible; the only authority alleged is Peter, who says, (2 Pet. 1: 20), nãou npoontzia ypacñs idias énelúoews où yiverat, in the common translation, “ No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” Admitting that this is a just expression of the sense of that passage, the cases are not parallel. Idios has there no article. If the import of idios in the other place were private, the meaning of the phrase must not be a but the private superstition, or the private religion.