Hern Brook, Pa. Nov. 30, 1834
BROTHER BEEBE: – You will gratify one of your subscribers by publishing the inclosed epistle signed by Elder West, if you think it worthy a place in your columns.
WM. S. WAY.
Hezekiah, to his well beloved Brother William:
I have read the book you handed me twice through with attention; and if you would know what I think of it, here it follows in black and white. I think it a piece of sophistry – a jargon full of contradictions – it frequently contradicts the Bible in plain english and several times itself; besides contradicting plain matters of fact, that comes within the observation even of carnal minded. Men. It appears to me to be a mixture of Quakerism, Swedenburghism, Mormonism, and Deism. It also displays a great ignorance of the Bible, or dishonesty in the writer; and while he seems to affect great knowledge of God, love to Jesus and faith in him, his wisdom fails him.
He however displays some talent in decyphering hieroglyphichs, and forming alegories and then misapplying them; in forming immaginary systems for his antagonist, and then beating them to pieces. I shall attempt only in a few of the many particulars I have noticed in the work, to show their fallacy. I shall begin with what he calls page 5th in his preface; “I believe no doctrine can be strictly true, as it relates to our salvation from sin, unless it is consistent with all the gospel means of grace in the economy of God’s plan.” If this be true he cannot believe the system laid down in his writings. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, Cor. i. 18. We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness, verse 23. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to one we are of death unto death, and to the other a savour of life unto life, 2 Cor. ii. 15,16. In page 6th, preface, he calls the field “the human heart;” the enemy that sowed the tares, “that devilish disposition in man called the enmity of the heart.” Query, how came that devilish disposition in the heart of an innocent Adam, unless some one from without placed it there? Besides in his theory he contradicts the Bible, which says: The field is the world, the god seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the seed of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil, Mat. xiii. 38,39. The next I shall notice, is page 7, of preface; “Let him who doubts a proposition, honestly own he does not believe it.” I honestly own I do not believe the absurd propositions he has laid down, nor the fallacious arguments which he has brought to support them; same page he says, “I shall be positive in writing, because I am sure.” This I also doubt, for he writes like one who is drawn to the last extremity in an argument, and has set all his inventive powers on the wreck to find out a scheme that he can flatter himself to believe, his opponent cannot answer; he has been so intent on making out his argument, that it will not hold together without being often repeated. It reminds me of an old adage: A lie well stuck too is better than the truth wavering. But to proceed introduction, page 9, “As he cursed none in the beginning, he will curse no part in the final consummation of all his created works.” Conclusion, page 176, “Hence we never read of his cursing any of his own works but blessing all. If any are cursed, an enemy, not God hath done this; although it may be revealed to them that they are cursed, and this revelation be of God, yet none are cursed by him.” To say nothing at present of the Lord’s cursing the serpent, and cursing the ground, see Deut. xx, 15, and read on, and say, did Edwin tell the truth when he said “we never read of his cursing any of his own work.” See also Prov. iii. 33, The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked. Read also Mat. ii. 2, I will even send a curse upon you, I will curse your blessings, yea, I have cursed them already. So is it possible for words to be placed to contradict each other in more positive terms, than Edwin’s declaration contradicts the Bible. Chap. 1, page 12, speaking of the creation of man, he speaks of “the first shadow of a divine law, which was ever yet expressed to man as a ruler of his moral conduct in life; wherein the invisible man is commanded to subdue the earth, and to have dominion over all animal nature, which as an allegorical figure to us, signifies that we must subdue our wild earthly nature, and keep a proper dominion over all our animal passions. This holy law was given to the spiritual man, before the earthly man was formed of the dust of the ground.” If I have penetration enough to guess what is meant by all this, I guess that he intended to be understood as speaking of the creation of the progenitor of mankind, i.e., Adam the first. If this is what he wishes to be understood, he has a false-syllogism, and thereby has contradicted plain Bible again. The testimony of Moses, Gen. ii. 7, The Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The testimony of Paul, 1 Cor. xiv. 4,5, And so it is written; the first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth earthly. Now we see in plain english that while Moses and Paul both agree in testimony, Edwin is not afraid to contradict them. Again, in the 3rd chap. Page 22, he says, “The mind or soul, and not the flesh, is amenable to the divine law.” Here common sense is contradicted in plain english; who does not know that the body as well as the soul, is punished for crimes. How could Jesus warn his disciples to fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, if the flesh is not amenable to the divine law? See Mat. x. 28. In chap. 5, page 30, he has the same idea over again, with quite an enlargement, and declares that “natural death makes no part of the punishment for sin.” I will only add in this place, that the scriptures state, that the wages of sin is death; and the argument must be far fetched and hard strained, to prove that the death of the body is no part of it. Chap. 4, page 24, speaking of the serpent he says, “I think according to the scriptures, that by the serpent must be meant some principle in nature attached to man in his state of formation, which as a link connects his animal and spiritual nature together, in point of natural reasoning faulty.” Where he finds scripture for his thoughts on the subject, he has not told us, nor do I believe there is any to support such an idea. We read in Rev. xii. 9, of that old serpent called the devil & satan. Jesus was tempted of the devil; was it some principle in nature which as a link connected his animal & spiritual nature, that tempted the blessed Redeemer? When God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, did he connect his body and soul by such a serpentine faculty and disposition? If not, from whence did Adam obtain such a faculty? When God cursed the serpent did he curse him as a separate being from man, or did he curse one faculty in man and no the rest? When God connected Adams’ soul and body by that link or faculty, was it a faculty that God had made for that purpose, and so was it a part of his own work, or did Adam obtain a faculty to unite soul and body together that God had not made, or did not give him when he gave life to his body? Is it not a clear scriptural idea, that the same principle, spirit or faculty, (whatsoever name it may bear) that seduced our parents in the garden, and has been the principal seducer of man ever since? This being granted, no matter whether called a serpent, devil, or satan, or grand enemy of mankind, whither it be the Greek Diobolus, or Hebrew Abbadon, or Apollyan, or any other name by which he may be known or distinguished; it is certain, according to Edwin’s idea, that it either was a work of God, in forming such a faculty as a connecting link, by which to connect Adam’s soul and body, or it must have been a self existing principle, for it is certain that Adam could not have formed such a principle by which to connect himself, before he became a living soul.
I am of opinion however, that it was an evil spirit that entered into the serpent. How it became contaminated we are not told; so I leave it as one part of the mystery of iniquity. Certain I am, that there are seducing spirits; these doubtless are the unclean spirits like frogs, that are read of Rev. xvi. 13,14, For they are the spirits of devils, &c. But in passing to notice some things in his 12th chap. on the New Testament, page 131, we shall have occasion to remark further on this point. He there says, “The ultimate object of this so well concerted plan of God, is a full display of his own unblemished glory in the best good of all created inteligences.” Now if we admit this as truth, and agree with our author that the devil is some degenerate faculty in man, did not God create that faculty? WE think we have sown that he did or that it was self-existent, or it must have been a separate being from man that had become his seducer; turn it which way you will, it is certain that the devil is an intelligent spirit, Eph. 2-2 he appears to be called the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; if he is not intelligent how could he ask to go into the swine or know when he had leave so to do? Or how could they, or he the evil spirit, answer the sons of Sceva, saying, Jesus I know, Paul I know, if he is not an intelligent spirit?
If the ultimate object of God’s plan is the full display of his own glory and the best good of all created intelligencies, why not save, instead of destroy the devil? “Now” if we take “an even honest stand” with our author, “at the beginning of the creation of God,” and acknowledge that “he is the august sire of all intelligencies,” it will follow that he is the sire of that intelligent spirit, however contaminated he since may have been, that is called the devil. The devil then is as really the offspring of God, as man is; if then Christ came to save all the
To be Continued.
Signs of the Times
Volume 3, No. 1
January 7, 1835