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§ 190. on the pestilence. 211
ary causes of it being overlooked,) is attributed directly to God, Exod, 11: 4–7. 12:23, 29. comp. Ps. 78:49, 50; also to an angel, 2 Sam. 24: 15, 16, who is represented as slaying men with a sword, and, in 1 Chron. 21: 16. is described with the additional circumstance of being elevated between heaven and earth. But that God, or the angel in these instances, is merely the pestileNcr: itself, the original cause being put for the effect, and being identified with it, in a way, which is not common among us, seems to be sufficiently clear from 2 Sam. 24: 12, 15. where a pestilence with its ordinary and natural attributes is the prominent subject of discourse. This view of the subject gives a reason, why the Septuagint renders the word -31 or pestilenre, in Psalm 91: 6. by Öatadvov utomuffolvöv, i. e. the demon of noon-day; and why Jonathan renders the same word in the Chaldee Targum, Habak. 3: 5. by the Chaldee word is:”, angel or messenger. We lay it down then, as a general principle, that wherever we are told, an angel scatters abroad a pestilence, the pestilence merely is meant by such expressions. Apply it for instance to the destruction of Sennacherib's army, 2 K. 19:35. comp. 2 K. 18. 23. 19: 6–8. In this destruction, an hundred and eighty five thousand men perished. We are told, it was done by an angel, but we know, this was a common mode of speech, and that all natural events and effects were frequently described, as the messengers or angels of God. If we seek then for a natural cause, for so wide a destruction, we fix immediately upon the PEstileNCE, which is most violent in its first attack, and might well have destroyed the hundred and eighty five thousand Assyrians, if the spoils of Egypt, infected with its contagious properties, had been scattered through the camp. The idea, that Sennacherib's army perished by means of the pestileNCE, communicated in the way above alluded to, or some other, agrees better than any other hypothesis, with the fact, that the survivors in that army were not aware, till the return of the morning light, of the immense number, that had died. If any one wishes to be informed further concerning the nature of the pestilence, and the symptoms exhibited by an infected person, let him consult the original German edition of this Work, T. II. P. I. § 223. pp. 389–397. It will merely be remarked here, in reference to those topics, that no one ever recovered 212 S191. the disease or sAUL AND NebuchadnezzAR.
from the pestilence, unless the boil of the pestilence came out upon him. And even then, he could not always be cured, 2 K. 20: 7. Is. 38: 21.
[Note. Some liberty has been taken with the Latin of the above section, owing to its great conciseness and consequent obscurity. Having, however, examined the German edition, the translator has given what he supposes to be the meaning of Dr. Jahn. On the sentiments, conveyed in this section, this remark may be proposed for the consideration of the reader. If we admit, that the Hebrews sometimes spoke of winds, fires, and diseases, as messengers, ministers, or angels, as for instance some critics have maintained in Ps. 104: 4. compared with Ps. 148; 8. it is still a question, on which many persons will feel themselves at liberty to dissent from our author, Whether he ought not to have limited his view of the Usus LoquENdi under consideration to the poetical parts of the scriptures 1
Nothing is more obvious than that poetry has its appropriate HERMENEUtica, and what would be a very reasonable and correct interpretation of certain expressions in poetical description, does not necessarily hold good in prose. Accordingly, a serious objection might be made to receiving the accounts, given in 2 Sam. 24: 16. and 2 K. 19:35, which are unadorned historical statements, in any other than their most plain and obvious meaning.]
§ 191. The Disease of SAUL AND NEBUchADNEzzAR.
The position, which we have endeavoured to defend in the preceding section, that diseases and events of rare occurrence, and, we may add here, events likewise of daily occurrence, were attributed by the ancient Hebrews to God, or to some angel, as his messenger, throws light upon many passages of Scripture.
A person, who understands the extent and the proper bearing of that principle, will readily see, that the spirit of God, Fyo ran, which departed from Saul, was no other, than an upright and a generous tendency of mind; and that the evil spirit from the Lord, which beset and filled him with terror, Hyn, nso Hso no- 1 Sam. 16: 14, 15. 18: 10. 19: 9. was a sort of madness, which had the es: fect of deceiving him into the idea, that he was a prophet; for it § 191. The disease of saul. AND NEBUchADNEzzAR. 213
seems, that he prophesied, Nzono, and, in all probability, predicted the loss of his own kingdom. The Targum of Jonathan, accordingly, renders the word Nizno, he was mad or insane. This evil spirit, in a word, was not more a spirit or messenger from God, than the evil spirit, which, in Judges 9:23. is said to have been sent by him among the Shechemites; and which, certainly, as was evident even to the ancient interpreters, and has been since to every body else, was nothing more, than the spirit of strife and dissension. In the same way, the spirit of fornication, Tom booi in Hosea 4: 12, is merely lust; compare 1 Sam. 11; 6, 16:14. Judg. 8: 10. 6. 34. 11:29. 14:6. Ps. 51: 11. Ezek. 11:19. 18. 31. This representation more than any other is suitable to the fact, that Saul was benefitted by music ; for the charms of music, however great its efficacy in any other case, would have been very incompetent to the task of subduing the untractable spirit of a real demon. This mode of speaking did not originate, as some have supposed, in the time of the captivity, from the doctrine held by the Mehestani, although it undoubtedly at that time became more common, and was used with greater latitude, than at any previous period. For, agreeably to this mode of speech and to the belief on which it is founded, viz. the subordinate agency of angels, we find mention made in Daniel 4: 10, 14, 20, [consult Michaelis' edition of the Hebrew Bible,) of to-", or star-watchers. The designs or the decrees of these “holy watchers,” as they are termed, which are made known to Nebuchadnezzar in his vision, and are stated in the verses above mentioned, are referred by Daniel in the twenty eighth verse of the same chapter to the immediate agency of God himself; a circumstance, which is altogether conformable to what has been already stated, in this, and the preceding section, on this subject. The disease of Nebuchadnezzar, mentioned in this chapter, was that of insanity or madness. His mind was in such a state, his reasoning powers were so perverted and deranged, that it appeared to him, as if he heard a voice from heaven, declaring his expulsion from the kingdom; and he imagined, that he was really transformed into a beast. Accordingly he acknowledges, in the fourth chapter, verses 31, 33, that he had again received the use of his reason; which is an evidence, that he understood the disease, from which he had recovered, to have been insanity.
214 § 192. RESPEcTING DEMoniacs.
§ 192. Respecting DEMoniacs.
The inquiry respecting the DeMoniacs, who are so often introduced in the New Testament, and likewise in the writings of profane authors of antiquity, is a very intricate and a very difficult one. There are some persons, who contend, that the demoniacs were all of them either madmen, epileptics, or persons subject to melancholy; and they make their appeal in behalf of their opinions to physicians. They, accordingly, in their interpretation of those expressions, which are employed in reference to demoniacs, go on the principle, that the sacred writers meant by them the same and nothing more, than would be naturally meant, in case the possessed persons were merely the subjects of those diseases.
Other persons, both theologians and physicians, have strong objections to this view of the subject. In their estimation, the expressions in the New Testament clearly imply, that the demoniacs were possessed by an evil spirit; and this state of things, they suppose, was permitted in the providence of God, in order to give to the Saviour an opportunity to exhibit his miraculous powers.
We have no disposition at present to exhibit ourselves, as partisans in this controversy, and shall only endeavour to give an impartial statement of the arguments on both sides, so as to leave the reader in a condition to form his own opinion.
§ 193. DeMoniacs were possessed with A Devil.
It will be our object, in the first place, to state the arguments in favour of the opinion, that the Demoniacs were really possessed with a devil. They are as follows:
I. They expressed themselves in a way, which is not done by epileptic, melancholy, or insane persons, as in Matt. 8:28. Luke 8: 27. Mark 5: 7. They possessed the supernatural power of sundering all sorts of cords and chains. They requested of Jesus not to torment them. They answered with propriety questions, which were proposed to them. Demons departed from them and entered into swine. Certainly it cannot be said in reference § 198. deMoniacs possessed with A Devil. 215
to this last particular, that madness or melancholy, the mere phrensy or wanderings of the brain went out of the possessed persons into the herd. The supposition, which some make, that the swine were driven into the sea by the demoniacs, is destitute of all probability. They would have stood a much better chance of being driven in many more directions than one, by persons of such an undisciplined and irrational character; especially as they were two thousand in number. II. No symptoms of disease are mentioned in the case of the dumb demoniac, introduced in Matt. 9: 32. and Luke 11: 14. nor in that of the dumb and blind demoniac, spoken of in Matt. 12: 22. The possessed persons, therefore, in both of these instances were in a sound state of body and health, with this exception merely, that the devil, (for this certainly could not have been done by epilepsy, melancholy, or madness,) obstructed their organs of speech and vision. III. It is admitted, that the circumstances attending the case of the lunatic, in Matthew 17: 15. are such, as would be expected in the case of a person afflicted with the epilepsy; but then it should be particularly noticed, that the effects in this instance, as well as in others, are attributed to the agency of the devil. IV. We are informed, that the damsel of Philippi, Acts 16: 16. practised divination, which evidently could not have been done by a mad or deranged person. We must conclude, therefore, that she was under the influence of an evil spirit. W. The demoniacs themselves say, that they are possessed with a devil. The Jews of the New Testament, who happened to be concerned on account of their relationship to the person, or in any other way, in a case of demoniacal possession, assert the same thing. The apostles likewise and evangelists allege, that persons possessed with demons, were brought to Jesus, and that the demons departed at his command, Matt. 4:24. 7:22. 9; 33. 12:28. Mark 1:32, 39. 9:25. Luke 4:41. 8:2, 30, 38, 9: 49. 11: 14. Jesus himself asserts, that he casts out devils, Luke 11: 19. Matt. 12:27, 28. WI. The sacred writers make an express distinction between demoniacs, and the sick; and likewise between the exorcism of demons, and the healing of the sick, Mark, 1:32. Luke 6: 17, 18. 7:21. 8: 2. 13:32. Demoniacs, therefore, were not persons af. flicted with diseases, in the way that has been supposed.