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What is understood by “ The Devil” ?

This question, apparently so simple, is nevertheless most difficult to answer. The difficulty arises from the multifarious and vague notions which at all times have been, and still are, held upon the subject, even by those from whom critical precision might fairly be expected. Comparatively few, however, have examined the subject : it is not deemed in itself an attractive one, and those who would enter upon the inquiry are open to the charge of either meddling with unwholesome subjects, or treading upon dangerous ground. The term “devil" has enjoyed a very wide

range of application, but, according to the most generally received notion, a devil is a spirit of Evil, and “The Devil” is the personification of supreme Evil. There have, in the human mind, been conceived as many devils as there have been ideas of evil; and the trooping legions of evil thoughts have naturally suggested legions of devils, legions have suggested leaders, and these have involved a supreme head; so


that a Supreme Devil, the Spirit of Supreme Evil, has been realized. Had there not been the idea of a Supreme God, there would certainly not have been the idea of a Supreme Devil. The two ideas of good and evil are, in fact, inseparable, and logically dependent upon one another : we cannot conceive shade, except as contrasted with light, nor death except as following life : so, were there not such an idea as that of goodness, evil would be inconceivable : every vice is the opposite of some virtue, and every evil the opposite of some good : the idea of a Supreme God has paved the way for that of a Supreme Devil.



Definition of Evil- Personal Evil-Social and Domestic Evil

National Evil—Theological and Religious Evil-Savage, Barbaric, and Civilized Moral Standards—Intolerance-Evil is



WHAT then is Evil ?

Anything is evil which is opposed to good. But, what is Good? Good is almost as indefinable ; like evil, it only exists relatively: it certainly does exist in the mind of each reasonable being, but the idea of goodness varies with the standard formed by each individual thinker. Each age, each nation, each creed, each sect, each man, woman and child has had a standard of goodness different from any other : the tree, which of all others has borne the greatest variety of fruits, is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Evil then is simply a question of standard. Whatever I consider to be evil, is my evil, and whatever I believe to be good, is my good. If I am uncontrolled by social and national ties, I enforce my standard to the utmost of my power, and everything that is opposed to me is evil. I wish to eat and drink, and it is good that I should eat and drink : anything that prevents my obtaining food, is an evil : the ground is barren and unfruitful, and I curse it as an evil ; the desert wind dries up all moisture, bringing no pregnant clouds, nor cool refreshing dews; the sun looks down relentlessly from a brazen sky, Nature groans in drought; and I curse the desert wind, the sky and sun as unmixed evils. At last the clouds appear, darkening the horizon, advancing with swift but solemn pace, until they shroud the wide expanse of heaven with deep impenetrable gloom : the muttering thunder swells into deafening peals, as earth and heaven exchange their lightning volleys ; at last the monsoon bursts; the thirsty ground drinks in the copious rain ; languid Nature revives on every side; the frowning storm, with all its welcome turmoil, sails on, and flocks of fleecy clouds, drawn up from each valley, follow in its train ; while sounds of rippling waters, answering the songs of birds, waken glad Nature to new life :-I, refreshed, sink into sweet repose, the crisis past, and hope again restored. The storm, the rain, even the thunder and the lightning, are my good : for they have brought nothing but peace and plenty to me and mine. But that lightning has struck down my neighbour's rooftree, and killed his cattle ; the deluge of rain has swept in an inundating flood over his most fruitful field, taken with it his prospect of a plenteous harvest, and left gaunt ruin in its wake :—the storm is his evil, and as such he curses it.

The frost, the snow, the glacial winter of the North, grip Nature by the throat, causing there as much desolation as the desert wind under the tropical sun. The dwellers in the north regard the frost and the cold biting winds as unmitigated evils; and yet the world of Nature would be poorly off, and dwellers in warmer climes would indeed have reason to cry out, were frost and glacial winds cut out of Nature's scheme. The Lapps and Eskimos may well worship the Sun, and welcome him as their best friend, as he delivers them from the bondage of the Frost Giants. What benighted beings they must think those who dread the sunrise! And yet there are those who look upon the sun as a cruel and relentless enemy.

But natural phenomena are not the only influences which, for good or evil, affect man's struggle for existence : the pestilence stalks through the land, and sweeps whole nations from its surface ; fever and insidious disease creep over thresholds at the dead of night, and carry off the first-born of man and beast; wolves will decimate the flock, and the roaring lion will prowl about the herd, seeking whom he may devour, and not in vain; monsters of uncouth shape and dire resistless strength have, in times gone by, levied their tax of

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