That which contains the seeds of the devil is a matter the Lord has forbidden to the Israelites to eat. But we would not say that all sorts of other substances and things, for example wine, oil and honey, are forbidden but those of the devil, if we understand the word of the law as meaning: “I have said unto you, Ye shall not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that ye eat thereof you shall surely die.” (JST, Deut. 6:5).
In the case of our species, the seed of the devil consists in a natural tendency—flesh—to evil and in the tendency of the will to evil. But it is said that we should not eat the seed of the devil because it contains a tendency to evil. But in this case, the inclination for the evil is not the same as the will for that which is bad; it is a matter of preference. It depends on the degree of disposition of the inclination, but it may also be a matter of choice, and it may be a matter of indifference, but it is certainly a matter of the natural inclination and a matter of a natural appetite. The disposition itself depends on nature rather than on the habit. It is one thing to have a propensity to evil, whereas the inclination is not of itself evil. Hence the Scripture says: “You shall not murder: for whatsoever is murder is under the law” (Lev. 23:16). It is a moral precept to abstain from murder, and the inclination to murder is a matter of nature, while the inclination to anything else is of a different character altogether.
If the seed of the devil is a matter the Lord has forbidden to our species to eat, then it seems superfluous to make out the objection that it would be a matter of preference for the animals, for otherwise we should not abstain from eating it. We could say to these animals: “Since you have been given this inclination, what shall we do?”
The objection, therefore, is superfluous, not because it is contrary to the law of nature as being bad, but because it is not an argument to persuade us not to eat the seed of the devil. For if we were persuaded not to eat it, it might very well be a matter of preference which would, if such a thing were so, render eating it a matter of necessity: “You shall not eat this fruit of the trees,” is not a
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