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u Matt. vii.28.


And they were astonished at his doctrine; for

Mark 1. 22.

knight (g), Bishop Newton (h), Jortin (i), (who would hardly have been expected among this number); Campbell (k), Dr. Adam Clarke, in his Commen. tary, and many others. The sum of their argument is stated by Horne (1), Macknight (m), and Dr. Hales (n), with great fairness and impartiality. I have endeavoured to follow so good an example in the following brief summary of the respective arguments on both sides, beginning with those which are considered conclusive against the doctrine of demoniacal possessions.

1. The word dæmon, properly signifies the soul of a dead person. It cannot be supposed that the speeches and actions recorded of the imagined demoniacs could be imputed to these.

In reply to this, it is justly said, that the word does not uniformly denote the spirits of the departed.

2. Amongst the Heathens, lunacy and epilepsy were ascribed to the operation of some dæmons: demoniacs were therefore called larvati, and cerriti.

Several answers may be given to this objection.-One, that it is not quite impossible, but that the Heathens were right.-Another, that the opinion of the Heathens, whether right or wrong, is no proof that the Jews were in error; for the demoniacs of Scripture are represented as differing from insane and epileptic persons. Compare Matt. ii. 24. where the daiμovizoμivovç are opposed to the σεληνιαζομένους, the παραλυτικούς, and the ποικίλαις νόσοις, καὶ βασάνοις, συνεχομένους, and in Matt. x. 1. The power to cast out devils, or dæmons, by whatever name the evil spirits might be called, is expressly opposed to the power of healing all other diseases whatever. See Luke iv. 33-36; compare also v. 41. with v. 40. where the same contrast is observable.

3. It is argued that the Jews had the same idea of these diseases as the Heathen, and the instance of the madness of Saul, and Matt. xvii. 14, 15. John vii. 20. viii. 48. 52. x. 20. are adduced to prove the assertion. These passages certainly prove that lunatics, epileptics, and demoniacs, are sometimes synonymous terms; but this admission, however, will only shew that they were occasionally identified: the argument deduced from the contrast between lunatics and demoniacs, in the passages quoted above, will not be destroyed. The literal interpretation is confirmed by the recollection of the source from whence the Heathens derived their ideas of dæmons, and their philosophy in general.

Pythagoras, as I have endeavoured elsewhere to prove, probably derived much of his philosophy, and many opinions and institutions, from the Jews in their dispersion, at the time of the Babylonish captivity (o). He was of opinion that the world was full of dæmons (p). Thales too, the contemporary of Pytha

(g) Essay prefixed to his Harmony, 4to. edit. p. 172. (h) Dissertation on the Demoniacs. (i) Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, Works, 8vo. edit. vol. i. p. 199. (4) Essay on the words Διάβολος, Δαίμων, and Δαιμόvtov Prelim. Dissert. vol. i. p. 182. 4to. edit. of the work on the Gospels. (1) Critical Introduction, 2nd edit. vol. iii. p. 483. (m) Essay prefixed to the Harmony. (n) Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. p. 764. See also Bishop Gleig's edition of Stackhouse, vol. iii. p. 57. and Doddridge's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 431. Kippis' edition. (0) Arrangement of the Old Testament, vol. ii. p. 723, &c. &c. (p) 'Ειναι πάντα τὸν ἀέρα ψυχῶν ἔμπλεων καὶ τούτους daípováç Te Kai hpwas voμíleσ0ai. Diog. Laert lib. viii. § 32. ap. Biscoe,

p. 285.

Mark i. 22.

he taught them as one that had authority, and not Capernaum, as the Scribes.

and after them Plato and the Stoics, affirmed that all things were full of
dæmons (q). And it is well known that the priests, in giving forth their oracles,
are always represented as being possessed by their gods (r).

4. Christ is said to have adopted the common language of the people, which it was not necessary to change. He was not sent to correct the mistakes in the popular philosophy of the day in which he lived.

This argument takes for granted the very point to be proved. With respect also to the philosophy of the day, it would be difficult to shew that our Lord sanctioned an error because it was popular.

5. No reason can be given why there should be demoniacal possessions in the time of our Lord, and not at present, when we have no grounds to suppose that any instances of this nature any where occur.

In reply to this objection, it may be observed, that these possessions might then have been more frequent, that the power of Christ might be shewn more evidently over the world of spirits, and that he who came to destroy the works of the devil, should visibly triumph over him. By this act of Almighty power he confuted also the error so prevalent among the Sadducees, which denied the existence of angels or spirits, (Acts xxiii. 8.) and which likewise prevailed among many of those who were distinguished for their rank and learning at that time among the Jews.

Lightfoot, when speaking on this point, supposes that the power of dæmons might be permitted to display itself in this peculiar manner while Christ was upon earth, because the iniquity of the Jews was now at its greatest height; and the whole world were consequently in a state of extreme apostacy from God. He adds also, that the Jews were now much given to magic: and to prevent his miracles from being attributed to this source, our Saviour evoked the evil spirits, to show that he was in no confederacy with them.

Those, on the contrary, who espouse the ancient opinion, not only adduce the

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(q) Tòv кóoμov daμóvwv λnon. Diog. Laert. lib. i. §. 27. ap. Biscoe. (r) They much mistake," says Mr. Biscoe, "who assert that Demoniacs abounded in the Jewish nation alone. We learn from the writers of other nations, that they abounded elsewhere. If they were not always known by the name of Demoniacs, they were spoken of under several other names, which signify the same thing, such as ευρυκλεῖται †, νυμφόληπτοι †, θεοφόρητος δ, θεόληπτος, φοιβόληπτοι α, πύθωνες **, Bacchantes ft, Cerriti, Lavati, Lymphatici §§, Nocturnis Diis, Faunisque agitati ||||."

History of the Acts confirmed, p. 283.

† Εγγαστρεῖται δε καὶ ἐυρυκλεῖται ἐκαλοῦντο, &c. schol. in Aristophan. Vesp. p. 503.

Plato in Phæd.

§ Φρενομανής τις εἶ Θεοφόρητος, Esch. Agamemnon, 1149. Scholia in Sophoc. Antiq. ad. v. 975.

Herod. Melpom. §. 13.

** Plut. de Orac. def. p. 414.

†† Plaut. Amph. act 2. scene 2. v. 71. Herod. lib. iv. §. 79.

‡‡ Plaut. Mon. act 5. scene 4. v. 2. Bag. Amph. v. 5, &c. &c. &c.

§§ Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. 25. s. 24. and lib. 27. s. 83, &c. &c.

Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. 30. s. 24.


And in the synagogue there was a man which Luke iv. 33.

arguments already mentioned in reply to the objections of their opponents, but maintain much that is laid down in the following positions, which have ever appeared to me decisive in favour of the popular opinion.

I. The Heathens had an idea of beings superior to men, but inferior to the one Supreme God. Cudworth (s) enumerates many instances. Among others he quotes Plato's expression, that there were oparoi kai yevvŋroi Oɛot, visible and generated gods; and Maximus Tyrius, avvápxovτes Osy, co-rulers with God, &c. &c. The Jewish and Christian ideas of angels and spirits are in some respects similar. Both believe that these inferior beings may possess some influence by the permission of the Deity, in the concerns of mankind: and the opinion is neither hostile to reason or Scripture (t).

H. The doctrine of demoniacal possessions is consistent with the whole tenor of Scripture. Evil is there represented as having been introduced by a being of this description, which in some wonderful manner influenced the immaterial principle of man. The continuance of evil in the world is frequently imputed to the continued agency of the same being. Our ignorance of the manner in which the mind may be controlled, perverted, or directed, by the power of other beings, ought not to induce us to reject the opinion. We are unable to explain the operation of our own thoughts, but we do not therefore deny their existence,

III. The doctrine of demoniacal possessions is likewise consistent with reason. We acknowledge that a merciful God governs the world, yet we are astonished to observe that exceeding misery is every where produced by the indulgence of the vices of man. An ambitious conqueror will occasion famine, poverty, pestilence, and death, to hundreds of thousands of his fellow men, whose lives are blameless and tranquil. If one man may cause evil to another, is it not probable that evils of a different kind might be produced by means of other beings, and the moral government of God remain unimpeached? We are assured that in the great period of retribution, other beings than man, will be condemned by their Creator. The Scripture affirms this fact, that other accountable and immortal beings, superior to mankind, have been created, some of whom have not fallen; while others, under the influence of one who is called Satan, or the Devil, apostatized from God, perverted the mind of man, are still persevering in evil, are conscious of their crimes, and are now reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day. A future state alone can explain the mystery of the origin and destiny of man, and his rank in the universe of God. The whole supposition, that the demoniacs spoken of in Scripture were madmen, is crowded with difficulties. But let us take for granted the ancient and orthodox opinion; let us believe Christ to be divine, and pre-existent, conversant with the world of spirits, as well as with the world of men ; and if we then trace the progress of that evil he was appointed to overthrow from the beginning to the end, how much more easy and rational is the belief, that he exerted over this dæmon the power he will hereafter display at the end of the world, when apostate devils and impenitent men will be associated in one common doom?

(s) Intellectual System, vol. i. book i. ch. iv. p. 232. Birch's 4to, edition, London, 1743. (t) Locke's Essay, book ii. ch. ii. sect. 13. fin.

had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out Capernaum. with a loud voice,

IV. The facts recorded of the supposed demoniacs demonstrate also that they were not merely madmen. The insane either reason rightly on wrong grounds (u), or wrongly on right grounds, or blend the right and wrong together. But these demoniacs reasoned rightly upon right grounds. They uttered propositions undeniably true. They excelled in the accuracy of their knowledge the disciples of Christ himself; at least, we never hear that either of these had applied to our Lord the epithet of the Holy One of God. They were alike consistent in their knowledge and their language. Their bodies were agitated and convulsed. The powers of their mind were controlled in such manner that their actions were unreasonable; yet they addressed our Lord in a consistent and rational, though in an appalling and mysterious manner. Our Lord answered them not by appealing to the individuals whose actions had been so irrational, but to something which he requires and commands to leave them: that is, to evil spirits, whose mode of continuing evil in this instance had been so fearfully displayed. These spirits answer him by evincing an intimate knowledge both of his person and character, which was hidden from the wise and prudent of the nation. The spirits that have apostatized are destined to future misery—their Judge was before them. "Ah, what hast thou to do with us, in our present condition," they exclaim, "Art thou come to torment us before our time?" And they entreat him not to command them to leave this earth, and to go to the invisible world (x). The dæmons believed and trembled.

It is an admirable observation of Jortin on this point, that where any circumstances are added concerning the demoniacs, they are generally such as shew that there was something præternatural in the distemper; for these afflicted persons unanimously joined in giving homage to Christ and his Apostles; they all know him, and they unite in confessing his divinity. If, on the contrary, they had been lunatics, some would have worshipped, and some would have reviled our Saviour, according to the various ways in which the disease had affected their minds.

V. The other facts recorded of the demoniacs are such that it is impossible to conclude that they were madmen only. The usual and principal of these is that most extraordinary event of the possession of the herd of swine, by the same dæmons which had previously shown their malignity in the human form. It has ever been found impossible to account for this extraordinary event (y), excepting upon the ancient and literal interpretation of Scripture.

A singular instance of the absurdities into which some have been led, in their endeavours to overthrow the testimony of Scripture, and establish some proposition in their place which may seem more rational, or, as they very strangely think, more philosophical, may be found in Lardner, vol. i. p. 239; who, among the various opinions which had been advanced on the subject of the demoniacs, mentions one which endeavours to account for the destruction of the

(u) Luke viii. 28-31.

(a) Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, Works, 8vo. edit. vol. i. p. 199. (y) The Socinian version of the New Testament has no note on this part. With the usual modesty, however, which characterizes the writers of this school, Evanson is quoted to prove the whole history of the Gadarene demoniac, (Luke viii. 27-40.) to be an interpolation.


Or, Away.

Saying, * Let us alone; what have we to do Luke iv. 34. with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come

herd of swine, by imagining that Christ drove the lunacy, and not the dæmons, from the man into the swine.

VI. It cannot be supposed, as Doddridge observes, that our Lord humoured the madmen by adopting their language, and inducing his disciples to do the same. Hold thy peace, and come out of him-What is thy name-thou unclean spirit, &c. &c. These are all expressions which imply truths and doctrines of infinitely greater moment than any which could be conveyed to the minds of his hearers by flattering a madman, or increasing and encouraging the religious errors of a deluded and wicked generation.

Dr. Lardner, in his remarks on Dr. Ward's Dissertations, quotes a letter from his friend Mr. Mole, which accurately expresses the feeling that induced so many to reject what appears to me to be the plain narrative of Scripture. "This affair of the possessions is an embarrassment, which one would be glad to be fairly rid of," &c. &c. It is the part of reason to examine the evidences of revelation. When reason is satisfied of its truth, as it must be, its only remaining duty is to fall prostrate before the God of reason and Scripture, and implieitly to believe the contents of the sacred volume in their plain and literal meaning. This stage of our existence is but the introduction to, and the preparation for another, and it seems therefore but rational and philosophical to conclude that some things would be recorded in revelation, which should serve as links to connect the visible with the invisible world. Among these may be considered such facts as the resurrection-the three ascensions-the visits of angels-the sudden appearances of the Jehovah of the Old Testament-the miraculous powers of prophecy conferred upon the favoured servants of God. Among these events also, I would place the fact of demoniacal possessions. As at the transfiguration Moses and Elias appeared in glory, to foreshew to man the future state of the blessed in heaven; so also do I believe that the fearful spectacle of a human being possessed by evil spirits, was designed as a terrible representation of the future punishment. The demoniac knew Christ, yet avoided and hated him. An outcast from the intellectual and religious world, he grieved over his lot, yet he could not repent. In the deepest misery and distress, he heightened his own agony by self-inflicted torments. The light of heaven, which occasionally broke in upon his melancholy dwelling among the tombs, served only to make more visible the darkness of his wretchedness, and embittered every anguish and suffering by the torturing remembrance of what he was, and what he might have been. Although I have not met with the opinion elsewhere, I cannot but consider, that we are here presented with a fearful and overwhelming description of the future misery of the wicked, by the visible power of the devil, over the bodies and souls of men. The account of demoniacal possessions may be regarded as an awful warning addressed to mankind in general, lest they also come into the same state of condemnation. At the last day, when every eye shall see Him, and every knee bow down before him, many, like the raving demoniac, shall hail the same Saviour, who died to redeem them, with unavailing horror and despair. Many like the demoniac will be compelled to acknowledge his divinity-"We know thee, who thou art, the Holy One of God,”—while they join in the frantic and piercing cry, "Art thou come to torment us?"

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