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Socinianism brought to the Test

Arians' and Socinians' Monitor

Shaver

515

631

656

INTRODUCTION.

NOTHING can be more various and opposite than the opinions of mankind, respecting the influence and agency of infernal spirits. Some continually throw the blame of their vices upon the poor Devil ;-take their word for it, and they are on all occasions the innocent dupes to his subtilty and malice; they represent him as the prime agent in all their complicated scenes of wickedness; and would fain persuade us, that so far from being the objects of our just aversion, they deserve our commiseration and pity. From such representations one would be tempted to think, that if malicious and busy devils did but stay in their own country, mankind would be as harmless as lambs, and every species of wickedness be soon banished from our then agreeabie world.

Others there be who fall into the opposite extreme, and with. all their power endeavour to clear the Devil of the slanders thrown upon him ; whether he hath retained them as his advocates, I pretend not to say: but they tell you that he has no hand in all the wickedness committed under the sun; that it is impossible he should have any influence on the minds and manners of men. Nay, some go farther still, even doubt of his very existence, and are confident that all their wickedness ariseth from another quarter.

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My mind, I must confess, was long agitated between these widely different opinions : now I verged towards the one, now towards the other extreme; and for a long time continued in such painful suspense, that I would have given a world to have

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been satisfied in a matter of such vast importance in buman life. But at length I obtained a full and most convincing discovery of this very intricate affair ; and let who will deny it, I am perfectly satisfied that, however justly the guilt of men may be charged on their own corruptions, infernal spirits do exist, and are fully employed in forwarding their wicked designs and purposes. Yea, I have learned so much of the art and address of diabolical spirits in this matter, that as I shall, I trust, avail myself much of the very singular discovery, so, from a principle of benevolence to mankind, I think myself fully justified without further apology, in communicating it to the public.

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Know then, that not far from my humble cot, there is a widely extended, most tremendous and gloomy Vale, first formed, as is supposed, by some dreadful earthquake, or some other remarkable convulsion in nature. The confines of this valley, on the outside, are every where nearly level with the surface of the ground, but the precipice within is to the last degree horrible, insomuch that few have had fortitude enough to approach it. The ancient bards very justly called it HORRIDA Vallis, and we from them, the Vale of Horrors. This horrid vale has long been supposed, by the credulous vulgar, to be the haunt of infernal spirits; and some people imagine that it is the only place on earth where they freely converse about the dark designs of their mal-administration.

My curiosity continually prompting me, at last conquered my native timidity, and I resolved, if possible, to find an entrance into this unfrequented, unknown, and dreadful place.

But many months, I may say some years were spent in this Truitless search, and I despaired of success. At length, however, having entered a very large and unfrequented wood, one side of which led to the very edge of the precipice, as I walked a few furlongs down a gradual descent, gloomy beyond whatever I had seen before, I came to a huge rock, all overgrown with ivy and

It had the appearance of an ancient ruin, somewhat in

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inoss.

the form of a pyramid ; the bottom occupied a considerable spacc, and the spiral top was hardly concealed by the highest branches of the tall and aged oaks which surrounded it. Near the ground, by chance, I discovered an opening almost choaked up with baleful hemloc and night-shade. At first I thought that this could be no other than the cave of some ancient Druid; but approaching it, and having with much toil cleared away the noxious weeds, I found, what I had long sought for, an entrance into the dreadful cavity,

Here my resolution almost failed me, and I was at the point of relinquishing the long projected enterprise. At length I recollected myself a little, and resolved to descend into the place, though, as I thought, not much less horrible than hell. The passage, a little within the entrance, led downwards almost in a perpendicular direction; but its straitness, and the natural unevenness of the rocks that formed it, rendered

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descent more practicable and safe than I at first expected. Down, however, I went, fathoms I know not how many, ere I found myself at the bottom, and from an easy opening entered the gloomy vale.

Looking up, I saw rocks upon rocks projecting over my timorous head; and I perceived myself to be within the most hideous inclosure that sure ever mortal eyes beheld. The vale being solitary and gloomy as death itself, I said in my heart, Surely if damned spirits are permitted to visit the earth, this must be their rendezvous, and two to one I shall see some of them. I therefore observed carefully my retreat ; and by several marks on the rocks which formed it, I hoped that, on any emergency, I might be directed to the entrance of the cave, by which alone I could return to the society of mortals.

I soon found that my precautions were far from being unne. cessary; for I saw, by the feeble light which glimmered in the place, a form most frigh'ful making directly towards me. My heart bounced in my breast with terror, and swift as a hare prest by sanguine hounds, I ran to my little sanctuary. No sooner

had I entered it, but the fiend stalked up to the very door of it. The hair of my head stood upright, the blood ran down my back as cold as Greenland ice, and I looked on myself as a dead man; having often heard of miserable wretches being torn in pieces by the talons of merciless infernals. But as the hideous form attempted not to penetrate into the cave, nor seemed at all conscious of my being there, I recovered myself a little, and reviewed it with less apprehension of danger. At length he espied another of his clan, to whom he called, and with whom he held the following dialogue, which made such an impression on my mind, that I afterwards recollected the most part of it; and here present it to the worthy reader. The name of this devil, as I afterwards understood, was AVARO, and that of the other FAS

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