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The Worship of the Serpent

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Author Topic: The Worship of the Serpent  (Read 464 times)
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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2009, 01:15:08 pm »

whose ingenuity I owe much that is novel and interesting in the present volume; especially the discovery of the origin of columnar architecture in the avenues of the Dracontium.

In conclusion, I must remark, that the present edition of this treatise, although very superior to the last, both as to correctness of information, and quantity of new matter, is still only an introduction to what may be written on "the Worship of the Serpent," as connected with the Fall and Redemption of Man. And I shall hail the day with pleasure, when "some person of true learning and a deep insight into antiquity shall go through (with this view) with the history of the serpent 1." It would be, indeed, as Bryant most justly observes, "a noble undertaking, and very edifying in its consequences;" and if this short syllabus shall be in any degree instrumental to a work so desired, it will not have been written in vain.


 July 12, 1833.

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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2009, 01:15:19 pm »

xii:1 Bryant, Anal. 2. 219.

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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2009, 01:15:32 pm »

p. xiii

Preliminary Observations on the Fall of Man
CHAP. I.--Serpent Worship in Asia
 SECT. 1. Babylon
 2. Persia
 3. Hindûstan
 4. Ceylon
 5. China and Japan
 6. Burmah
 7. Java
 8. Arabia
 9. Syria
 10. Asia Minor
 11. The Islands of Asia Minor
CHAP. II.--Serpent Worship in Africa
 SECT. 1. Egypt
 2. Ethiopia
 3. Whidah and Congo
CHAP. III.--Serpent Worship in Europe
 SECT. 1. Greece
 2. Epirus
 3. Italy
 4. Northern Europe
 1. Sarmatia
 2. Scandinavia
 5. Western Europe
 1. Britain
 2. Ireland
 3. Gaul
 4. Britany
CHAP. IV.--Serpent Worship in America
 SECT. 1. Mexico
 2. Peru
p. xiv
CHAP. V.--Heathen Fables, illustrative of the Fall of Man
 SECT. 1. Egypt--Typhon
 2. Greece
 1. Python
 2. The Dragon of the Hesperides
 3. Melampus, Helenus, and Cassandra
 4. Ceres and Proserpine
 5. Saturn and Ops
 3. Persia.
 1. Ahriman
 2. Ophiuchus
 4. Arabia--Legend of the Fall
 5. Hindûstan--Crishna
 6. Teutonic Fables.--Midgard,--Thor,--Hela
 7. America.
 1. Mexican Paintings
 2. Remarkable Legend in New Zealand
CHAP. VI.--Serpent Temples
 Sect. 1. Carnac
 2. Abury
 3. Stanton Drew
 4. Temples on Dartmoor
 5. Shap
 6. Palmyra and Geraza
 7. The Dragon of Colchis
 8. Popular Traditions respecting the Celtic circles
CHAP. VII.--The Decline of Serpent Worship
 SECT. 1. Babylon
 2. Persia
 3. Hindûstan
 4. China, &c
 5. Arabia
 6. Syria
 7. Egypt
 8. Abyssinia
 9. Whidah
 10. Greece
 11. Thrace, &c
 12. Italy
 13. Colchos
 14. Britain, &c.
 15. America
CHAP. VII--Summary
Concluding Remarks on the Redemption of Man


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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2009, 01:15:59 pm »

p. 1

I. THAT man, in his present state of ignorance, infirmity and wickedness, is not the Adam of God's hand--the similitude of his Creator--the being which he was when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," placed him in Paradise, and pronounced him "good,"--is an observation not resulting from metaphysical research, but obvious to the most simple, unlettered mind. To the truth of it responds every feeling of our nature, and every voice from the Scriptures; and whether we look into ourselves or into them, we read the same writing,

p. 2

indited by the same Spirit: "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not 1."

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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2009, 01:16:11 pm »

Whence then this corruption, so great, so universal? Whence this unsparing and appalling ruin? "By ONE MAN sin entered into the world, and death by sin 2." "By the offence of ONE, judgment came upon ALL MEN to condemnation 3." "By ONE MAN'S disobedience, MANKIND (οἱ πολλοι) were made sinners 4."

But consequences so ruinous as the corruption of the body and soul of all his posterity,--the dissolution of the one, and the eternal banishment of the other from the presence of GOD,--could not have resulted from the disobedience of ONE MAN, had the sin which he committed fallen short of the most aggravated which he could commit. Scripture and reason declare GOD to be "just:" he would not therefore have "visited the sin of the father upon the children," had not THAT SIN been of a nature THE MOST ODIOUS in his sight. This necessary conclusion from established premises, has induced many a well-meaning but ill-reflecting

p. 3
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« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2009, 01:16:21 pm »

Christian to represent the history of the fall of man as AN ALLEGORY. But allegorizing Scripture is at all times a hazardous, and sometimes a dangerous, practice. It is so in the case before us: for if the narrative of the Fall be allegorical, the promise of the Redemption must be allegorical likewise, since the serpent enters personally into the one, as well as the other. But the promise of Redemption, though figuratively expressed, assumes the real agency of the Serpent in the Fall: we conclude, therefore, that not only did the serpent bring about this calamity upon man, but that he brought it about in the very manner in which it is described by the woman: "THE SERPENT beguiled me, and I did eat."

Having stated this, the sacred historian says no more; leaving it to the understanding and common sense of the children of Israel to conclude that the serpent's form must have been assumed by a spirit of extraordinary power and malignity, the better to accomplish his object of seduction. That this powerful and malignant spirit was the Devil, we are expressly informed by St. John, who calls the dragon of the Apocalypse "that old serpent called the Devil and

p. 4

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« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2009, 01:16:31 pm »

Satan, that deceiveth the whole world 1." The author of the Book of Wisdom attributes the fall of man to the agency of the Devil: "God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity; but through envy of the Devil came death into the world 2." St. Paul, alluding to the same event, ascribes it to the serpent:--"But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ 3."

These incidental allusions to the agency of the Devil under the form of a serpent, are perhaps more valuable in corroborating the account of Moses, than if the whole narrative of the Fall were in so many words recapitulated by the other sacred writers: for these writers, being Jews, had no reason for enforcing the assent of their contemporaries to facts which were universally admitted. Hence incidental allusions as to a fact well known, are all that we can expect to find in the sacred writings respecting the agency of Satan and the Serpent, in the ruin of mankind. These are abundant; and from the event which they assume, arose the metaphor

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« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2009, 01:16:42 pm »

p. 5

under which the enemies of God and the wicked are described. These are represented under the image of "a serpent 1," "a dragon 2," "a leviathan, a crooked serpent 3," &c.; expressions which are strong presumptive evidences of the intimate connexion between the SERPENT and the EVIL SPIRIT.

Though the circumstances of the seduction and fall of man are objects of no difficulty to the faith of a Christian, yet it must be confessed that an obscurity surrounds them, which is not easily penetrable to the rash or unreflecting. Hence some have argued that the whole is allegorical, and others have pronounced the whole to be an invention: for a sceptical mind solves every difficulty by disbelief. Against either of these opinions I will endeavour to show, that the seduction of man by the agency of the serpent is no allegory; that the fall of man by eating of the forbidden tree is no allegory: that nothing could be more natural than that Adam and Eve should fall by such a simple act: and that no method of seduction could be so effective as the one employed by Satan.
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« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2009, 01:16:52 pm »

p. 6

First then, let us consider THE SIN; and secondly, THE TEMPTER.

"The Lord God said unto the woman, what is this that thou hast done 1?"--The offence of which she had been guilty was the eating of a tree, of which GOD had said, "Thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die 2."

Here we perceive, amidst a general indulgence, one particular restriction, and a penalty attached to the violation of it. It is argued against the probability of such a condition,

First, That the restriction is unworthy of God.

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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2009, 01:17:00 pm »

Secondly, That the punishment is more than adequate to the offence.

Both of which objections I will endeavour to answer.


1. From the narrative of Moses we learn, that at the time of this sin, Adam and his wife Eve were the only human creatures in existence--that "they twain were one flesh "--and that they were without those natural propensities to wickedness, which now, unhappily, characterize their descendants. A positive command

p. 7

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« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2009, 01:17:09 pm »

was given to them, under. a very severe penalty in case of disobedience; and this command was, that they should not eat the fruit of a particular tree.

If, instead of so simple a command as this, they had been enjoined, like the Jews and Christians after them, to observe inviolate the Commandments of the two tables, would that have been a more reasonable injunction--more worthy of God--more suitable to the condition of Adam and Eve? We apprehend not. The injunction would have been so far unreasonable and unworthy of God, as the violation of it was impossible on the part of Adam and Eve. For being themselves the immediate work of the Creator, and maintaining with him a continual and direct communion 1, is it possible that they could have worshipped any strange gods or idols--taken the name of GOD in vain--or by any act of irreverence profaned the Sabbath? Commandments which would restrict them from such sins as these, would have been unreasonable, and unworthy of God; for they could not be broken. The first table of the decalogue would therefore have been unnecessary;

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« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2009, 01:17:23 pm »

p. 8

and if unnecessary, "unworthy of GOD" to ordain.

In like manner, Adam and Eve could not have violated any commandment of the second. The second table of the decalogue is for a state of society: Adam and his wife were alone. How could they, therefore, honour their father and mother, who had none? How could they commit adultery or theft against each other? How could they have borne false witness against their neighbour, or coveted his goods? And can we suppose that they would so far forget the sense of their common interest as to kill either the other, since the commission of such a crime would have left the survivor the only creature in the universe without its kind? They would not, therefore, have committed murder, even had they known (which is doubtful) the nature and the means of death. Commandments, therefore, which would restrict them from such sins as these, would have been unreasonable, and unworthy of GOD; for they could not, by any probability, be broken. Besides, the violation of them presupposes that tendency to sin--that corruption of their nature, which did not exist in them until after the Fall.

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« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2009, 01:17:32 pm »

p. 9

The offence by which Adam fell must, therefore, have been a simple one: so simple, that it might be committed without inherent depravity; and yet so obnoxious to GOD, as to demand his instant and severest visitation. Now what offence can we imagine more simple, more free from innate depravity, than that of eating the fruit of a forbidden tree? The inducements to eat of it were powerful; and such as, in the absence of a prohibitory command, would have been not only natural, but laudable. It was a desire to become as intelligent as the angels: a desire which, in Adam and Eve, was natural; for by the gratification of it, they would know more of GOD and of themselves: and as "the knowledge of GOD" is perfect happiness, it was natural that they should wish to perfect their enjoyments. Springing from such an origin, the desire was sinless; and only sinful when indulged in opposition to a prohibitory command.

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« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2009, 01:17:43 pm »

But this command was written by the finger of GOD upon their hearts: "Thou shalt not eat of it." And this command they violated!

Simple, of necessity. was the outward act by which they incurred the displeasure of their Maker: but the moral offence involved all the

p. 10

guilt which attaches to unnecessary disobedience, incredulity of GOD'S word, and defiance of his power; and under this view we may regard the sin of Adam to have been as great as if we were to violate the whole of the decalogue: for the whole commandment which was given to them, they broke.

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« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2009, 01:17:54 pm »

2. But, if the prohibition was not unworthy of the dignity of GOD, was not the punishment which followed disobedience more than adequate to the offence? Certainly not. Entire disobedience, being entire unrighteousness, is manifestly obnoxious to the severest penalty. The greatness of the punishment can prove nothing but the greatness of the sin which preceded it, when the parties concerned are man and GOD. But even had the punishment been "more than adequate to the offence," it would not have been an act of injustice to inflict it. For Adam and Eve, as they knew the means of obedience, knew the penalty which would follow disobedience; they sinned, therefore, with all the consequences of sin before them. Their eyes were sufficiently "open" to know the truth which was afterwards revealed to the children

p. 11

of disobedience, that "GOD is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good 1?"

We see, then, that neither was the prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil an unworthy condition on the part of Gm) to make with Adam, nor the punishment which overtook the disobedient man too great for the offence.

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