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William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

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The like Guaginm in his Sarmatia Europea tells of the Li-
thnamam ; as alfo Scaliger in his Exercitations, and that
they lacrifice to them Milk and Cocks. The like Ser-
pent-woriliip the fame Scaliger relates of the People of
CalecHt in the Indies^ in his Notes upon Ariflotles Book
of Animals. And Fhillp AiclanEihon tells a ftrange Story '
of fbme Priefts fomewhere in Afia, that carry about a Ser-
pent in a brazen VefTel, which they attend with a great
deal of Mufick and Charms in Verfe ; the Serpent lifts
up himfelf, and opens his Mouth, and thrufls out the
Head of a beautiful Virgin ; the Devil thereby glorying
in this Mifcarriage, among thofe poor Idolaters. And
fome Books of Travels into the Weft-Indies^ give the like
Accoimt there. Now fince the Devil has made ufe of
thefe viperous Animals in his Service in fo many Parts of
the World ; why fhould Men find Fault with Mofes's
Hiftory, for afferting a Thing, fo agreeable to the Ex-
perience of all Mankind ?

3^, Neither is it neceffary to afTert, that the Serpent ^'''^'
was of the comm.on creeping ferpentine Kind. It is moft ^J^^'
jprobable fomething like that flying fiery Sort, whic}\ are vipsrms

KmiL
^ Lib. 17, Capff. t Difcrt. 38.

;.-. bred



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mt the
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no ^-^ Conference

bred in Arahk and z/£gypt^ that are of a fhining yellowiilt
Colour, like that of brafs ; which by the Morion of
their Wings, and the Vibration of their Tails, reverbera-
ting the Sun-Beams, do afford a moil glorious Appear-
ance. Now if the Serpent, whofe Body the Devil abu-
fed, was of this Sort, tho' perhaps it was a Species far
more glorious, it was a very proper Creature for him ta
make ufe of for this Delign. For thefe Serpents were
♦Deut.viii. called * Saraphsy or Seraphim^ which gave the Name to
'^- thofe bright lofty Angels, v/hich v/ere frequently in an-

cient Times employ'd by God Almighty, to deliver his
Will to Mankind ; which were wont to take a fplendid
Form upon them, fbmething like thofe fiiining Seraphs.
Now the Devil, who is ufed to imirate the divine Adi-
ons by an artificial Mimicry, obfervine, that good An-
gels did minifter to ^dam Sind Eve in this bright Appear-^
ance, he ufurps the Organs of one of thcfe filning Ser-^
fents^ which he rendred fo artificially gloriciis, as to re-
prefent to Eve the ufual Schechmdj^ or angelical Appear-
. ance flie was accuflomed to ; and by this Means, renders
himfelf more fuccefsful in his accurfed Projedl. Now un-
lefs the Angels did appear in fuch a Kind of Form, which
we fuppofe here the Devil to imitate, there can be no Ac-
count given of the Seraphim and Cherubim-^ which were
the only fjmhoUcd Imagery allow'd of in the JewijJo
Church ; and which feem to be nothing elfe, but the Re-
prefentation of thofe diverfe Appearances of Angels, fome
in the Form of Cherubim, beautiful flying Oxen ; others
in the Shape of Seraphim^ winged and ihininp- Serpents.
Now when the Devil had taken this angelical Reprefen-
tation upon him, it was no Wonder that he did more
eafily deceive our firft unhappy Mother, who might then
probably take him to be fome jrood Anirel come from
Heaven to affift her, as fhe might often have cxpericnc'd
before, during their Stay in Paradife. And if this be (oy
which I take to be the mo ft probable Account of it ;
then^all that Banter, which your Gentlemen make ufe of,
about thefpeaking Snake, and the Fright of the Woman,
will fall to the Ground , and this Relation ofAfofes will

be



^J^ith r^THEIST. Ill

be built, not only upon a firm, but a very rational Bot-
tom. But if you nave a Mind to be fatisfied more in
this Matter, I refer you to Archbifhop Tomfons learned
Tjcatife of Idolatry, Cap. 14.

Phil, But granting all this to be true, that the Devil
appeared to Eve in the Shape of an Angel of Light, or,
as you will have it, like one of the flying lucid SerapPjSy o.R. p.41,
and thus deceived Eve; yet methinks it v/ould have been
but juft, that feme good Angels Hiould have fuccoured
a poor, ignorant, weak Woman; furely thofe juft Guardi-
ans of human Affairs would not have permitted fo un-
equal a Conflift. Certainly, a Perfon, who had fo great
a Price kt upon her Head, as the Salvation of all Man-
kind, might well have deferv'd a Guard of Angels. Nay ,
farther it feems to refled upon the Wifdom and Good-
nefs of God himfelf, to fuffer his whole Creation, which
he had been fo many Days a working, to be ruin'd in a
Moment's Time by a malicious Spirit. I can never think,
but that God Almighty would have contrived feme Way
or other, to have hindred fuch a fatal Mifcarriage, when
he fo eafily might ; he v/ould never have left a poor young
Creature open to all the ¥/iles of an old crafty Devil, and
have damn'd all her Pofterity, for not being fo cunning
as he.

Cred, This Objedlion of yours, Philologm, is grounded coJ^'f cb^
upon a Miflake common to you and fome of the ancient ^ig^
terraneous Waters, turned the Earth into fomething like
its Chaotick 'IauV, or that Mud it was* at the firfi: Crea-
tion ; fo that the Courfe of Rivers muft be altered, by
the wafliing away their Banks, and the choakinGj ud their
Chanels. And therefore it is in vain, to feek for thefe
Ante-dihivian Rivers, in thofe Courfes of Waters, that
trickle over the Earth now. And therefore you do very
ill, to cenfure the Mofiicd Writings, becaufe you cannot
find thofe Rivers now a-days, v/hich he fpeaks of before
the Flood.

Phil, But by the Way, Sir, if Mofei defcribes thefe
Rivers as they were before the Flood, which you fup^
pofe XQ be different from what they are now j this will

I 5. render



ii8 ^Conference

render it a very idle and fuperfluous Defcription. For he
Q.R. p.37. defcribes thefe Rivers of Paradife, only to find out the
Situation of it ,• but if thefe Rivers were fuch, as were
defaced in the Deluge, one can no more find out the Si-
tuation of Paradife by this, than if he had only mentioned
the Man in the Moon.
Mofes did Cred, You are much miftaken, PhilologHs, to think, that
not give the Aim o^ Mofes ^ in this Defcription of the Pvivers, was
irjox^n for Men to find out Paradife by ; for the Holy Scripture
tQ find out does not ufe to condefcend, to fatisfy Men's inquifitive
li^radife by . Cwno^mts. It was the Defign of the Holy Ghoft, in
this Relation, to acquaint Pofterity with the Beauty of
that happy Place, which our firfl: Parents unfortunately
forfeited ; but, I dare fay, it was not the leafi: of his In-
tention, to leave Minutes for witty Men to write Books,
and draw Maps by. But, I pray, was there never a De-
fcription made of any Thing, but only to teach Men
how to find it by ? Some Things are defcribed, that
are paft and gone, as the Relation of the Aflions of Men,
Sieges, Battles, Tumults, &c. and fo are impollible to be
found ; other Things are related in a Ihorter Manner,
when they need not be found, as Paul was buried at Romcy
Pompej was conquered at Philippi : Now it would be Non-
ienfe in the Hiftorians, to defcribe exadly the Vault or
Spot of Ground where the Apo file's Body was laid, or
to fhew the particular Ground which was covered by
each Army ; fo that the Reader, if he pleafed, might go
diredly to them. Should Hiftorians do this, it would
make their Writings as tedious and ridiculous, as a Story
that is filled up with nothing but IfaUy and he faidy and
I /aid again. Therefore the Prophet's Defcription of Pa^
radife is very proper, to give the Reader an Account, what
Kind of Place Paradife was j but as for the finding out the
Place, it is neither neceflary for us to know, nor for him
to relate, with fuch Particularity.

Phil, The next Thing, Credentius, I have to accoft you
with, is. The Great Law which ^dam and Eve were to
be tried by, and all Mankind (land or fall, by the keep-
in", or the breaking of it. Now one would think, that

a Law;,



'with (^Theist. 119

a Law, upon which EfFeds of fo vaft a Confeqnence did
depend, mufl be fome mighty wife Precept in it felf, moft
admirably conducing to the Good of Mankind, and the
Honour and Wifdom of the Lei>ifIator ; but inftead of
this, we find only a poor little trivial Thing commanded,
only forfooth the not eating an Apple. A reafonable
Man would fuppofe, that thefe wife Couple, with the
fupralapfarian Knowledge, fhould have had a Law given
them for their Trial, fuitable to their great Capacities;
fome fuper-cminent Rules of moral Virtue , fuch as Phi-
lofophers talk of, and leave for others to pradife ; fome
noble Part of your Chriftian Charity, or feraphick Love,
which fome of your melting Divines make fuch fine
Speeches upon : Thefe would have been Precepts agreeable
to that wile and glorious State; but fuch a ludicrous Law
as this does not only feem to be an undervaluing to the
Wifdom of the Deity, but even to Man himfelf, to be
dealt with fo like a Child, as this comes to.

Cred, I perceive this is an Argument, which Infidels TheRcafon.
have made ufe of in all Ages, down from Julkn and Cel- ^f^^^f^



Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 47)