The Worship Of The Serpent (Illustrated)
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THE deception of Eve by Satan, through the instrumentality of a serpent, has ever been an object of ridicule with the profane, who, reading without reflection, or reflecting without reading, deem that "a foolishness" which they cannot understand, or that "a stumbling-block" which they cannot explain away. Thus faith, which had defied the sophistry of the acutest sceptic, has been sometimes shaken by an incredulous sneer: and Christians, who would have scorned to be argued out of their religion, have not been ashamed to be laughed out of it. To establish by the testimony of heathen authorities the credibility of the Temptation and Fall of Man in Paradise, through the agency of Satan in a serpent's form, is my endeavour in the following Treatise: nor is it with a vain confidence that every argument adduced is either new or conclusive. Many have gone before me in the same path of inquiry, though not to the same extent; and whatever I have found either useful in their arguments, or apt in their illustrations, I have unhesitatingly adopted and as readily acknowledge. But where no reference records the author of any opinion, I am content to take the responsibility upon myself; desiring only that the whole theory may not be pronounced untenable on account of the deficiency of any inconsiderable portion of it. For the force of the argument consists not in the independent importance of every individual inference, but in the aggregate effect of all. Facts in themselves apparently insignificant, and coincidences which singly might be deemed fortuitous, often assume in connexion a character and a consistency which amount to the weight of irresistible evidence. If, therefore, by the aggregate testimony of facts inconsiderable in themselves, and only considerable through the consistency with which they mutually support each other, the main object of this treatise-the universality of Ophiolatreia-can be proved, the point is gained; the proposition is demonstrated.