Imágenes de páginas

§ 196. of DEMoniacks. - 221

(if we may credit the assertion of Cicero in his Treatise on Divination, Ernesti's edit. I. 5. p. 661,) was always attributed to the agency of Apollo; insane persons, who professed to prophesy under his auspices, were in a situation to make much money; which was the case in the present instance. It is not by any means to be supposed, that the predictions of the damsel or any other predictions of a like character, were true prophecies, for such were beyond the power of Apollo, who was regarded as “nothing” in the estimation of Paul, to utter or to communicate. Many other Demoniacks, who are mentioned, but the symptoms or rather operations of whose disease are not particularly given, are to be reckoned among those, who were insane; for example, Mary Magdalene, from whom, (Luke 8: 2,) Jesus cast out seven devils, i.e. restored her from a madness of so violent a nature, that it was supposed to be caused by the united agency of this large number of the spirits of the dead. If the Saviour commanded the demoniacks not to make him known, the reason was, that their declaration on the subject would do more hurt than good, Mark 1: 24. Luke 4:34. Matt. 8:29. Mark 5: 7.

V. Whether the expulsion of actual demons from a person, or the healing of epilepticks, madmen, and hypochondriacks be the greater and most striking miracle, in the present argument it is of but little consequence to decide. To those, however, who deny in this case the actual agency of demons, the healing of these maladies appears a more impressive exhibition of miraculous power than the ejection of demons, which was likewise done, as the advocates of the opposite opinion will themselves admit, by exorcists.



The Apostles and Evangelists, it is contended, whether they are introduced as speaking, or whether they appear as the authors of a narration, employ those expressions, which in their time were in common use. Hence, as was very natural, they make use of such phraseology as the following; “Demoniacks came to Jesus,” “Demoniacks were brought to Jesus,” “They were possessed with demons,” “The demons were cast out,” “They depart222 § 196. or DEMoniacks.

ed from or entered into a person,” &c. If it be inquired what they really understood by such expressions, the answer is this. Similar expressions were used in respect to madness or insani

ty in that age, even in cases, where there could be no doubt in .

respect to the natural cause of it; i.e. a man might lose his reason in some way or by some accident, which was perfectly well understood, and still, as much as in any other case, the loss of his reason was attributed to the agency of a demon. That was the common mode of speaking. Furthermore, demons were spoken of in reference to diseases, in the same way that Bacchus among the Greeks was used tropically for wine, and Ceres for corn. It cannot be inferred, therefore, that Jesus, the Apostles, and Evangelists supposed, that those persons, who were represented as possessed, were in reality possessed with demons or the spirits of the dead. It cannot be inferred, we contend, the more especially, because they often give intimations of a contrary opinion, as will appear from the following statements. ARGUMENT I. The Evangelists often introduce Demoniacks among sick men, as a separate class of sick, Matt. 4:23, 24. 10:8. Mark 1: 32. Luke 4:40, 41, 5:15.8: 2. 9:1. 13: 32; and, what is worthy of notice, all classes of sick persons, many of whom are never described by the Evangelists, as being subject to demoniacal possessions, are represented in Acts 10:38, without any exception, as being oppressed with the devil, zacadvvaorévousvos ūto row duaffolov.

From this it clearly appears, that, in the view of the sacred wri-.

ters, to be a sick person, and to be a Demoniack or vexed with the devil, (i.e., with the subordinate agents of the devil, the spirits of the wicked dead,) were only different expressions for the same thing. The Evangelists, it should be remarked in addition, in some instances comprehend Demoniacks under the head of sick and diseased persons, when, without expressly mentioning them, they describe in general terms those, to whom the Saviour gave assistance. That is to say; when enumerating those, who had experienced the healing power of the Saviour, they did not deem it necessary particularly to mention Demoniacks in distinction from the rest, because they did not conceive, there was any thing sufficiently peculiar in their case to render it necessary always to make this distinction, since they might conveniently and justly be

considered as comprehended, (even when not expressly mention

[ocr errors]

§ 196. opinions of chaist, the Apostles, etc. 223

ed.,) in a general catalogue of those maladies, which men were subject to, and which the Saviour had healed, Luke 7. 21, 22. Matt. 11: 5. On the contrary, the Evangelists certainly would not have omitted the mention of them in such an enumeration, which was designed as a statement of what the Saviour had done in relieving the bodily woes of men, if they had supposed the demoniacks to be sound and in good health with the exception, that they were possessed with a devil ; because in this case, their situation and recovery would have been - so peculiar, as to have demanded a distinct specification. The sacred historians frequently say, that the Demoniacks were made whole, or restored, which is an intimation at least, that they were previously diseased, Matt. 8:16, 12: 22. Luke 7: 21, 8: 2, 9:42, Luke, especially, (11: 14,) when speaking of a dumb spirit, and when describing the spirit of infirmity, (13:11,) could not certainly mean to be understood, as speaking of a real spirit, but merely of a disease, or of some defect in the bodily organs. If, moreover, Luke, who was a physician, uses such expressions as these, viz, to heal, to be healed from spirits, to heal those oppressed with a devil ; if he uses such expressions in reference to demoniacal possessions, it is clear, we are to understand possessions in his language to mean the same with diseases, and nothing more, consult Luke 7: 21, 8: 2, and Acts 10:38. Not only the Evangelists themselves, but the Jews also, who are introduced as speaking in the Gospels, use the words, Öatutov and Öotuovov tropically, (the same as profane writers,) when they speak of insanity, hypochondria, and natural madness, Matt. 11:18. Luke 7: 33. John 7: 19, 20. 10:20. Furthermore, in Mark 3: 21, 22, sésort he is beside himself is interchanged with Bečāśsflow, syst, he hath a devil. It can be shown also, that the word demon is interchanged in the same way with the words, which signify disease or sickness, as if they were altogether synonymous, comp. Mark 7: 29, and Matt. 15:22: 28; compare also Mark 9: 17, with Luke 9:39, also Matt. 17: 15, and Luke 13: 10–12. ARGUMENT II. John, it is true, introduces the Jews, as speaking in the customary way in respect to Demoniacks and demons, (7: 9 —20. 10:20,) but let it be carefully marked, that he himself is altogether silent on the subject of demoniacal possessions, notwithstanding that he frequently speaks of the sick, who were healed by the Saviour, 4:46. 5:3. 6: 2. Paul also, in enumerating the

various kinds of miraculous gifts, (1 Cor. 12:9,) says nothing in rew

224 - § 196. of DeMoni Acks.

spect to the exorcism of demons; a power which, it appears, he possessed himself, and which the Saviour had promised, Mark 16: 17. Matt. 10:8. Luke 10: 17. These two Apostles, therefore, considered Demoniacks as no other than persons afflicted with disease; and it was very natural indeed, that it should be so, when it is remembered, that, in Asia Minor, where John composed his Gospel, and Paul wrote his first Epistle to the Corinthians, medical science was in a very flourishing condition, and it was very generally known, that the diseases, attributed to demons, were merely natural diseases, comp. the large German edit. of this Work, P.I. Vol. II. 232. pp. 477–480. If, therefore, it be objected against us, that the Demoniacks in the New Testament acknowledge themselves to be possessed with demons, we reply, that nothing else was to be expected from madmen. If it be further objected, that the Jews of the New Testament are in the habit of speaking of such possessions, it must be admitted by our opponents, either that this was the Usus LoquENDI in respect to diseases, the common language to describe the causes and effects of certain bodily maladies, without any particular belief, that those maladies originated from the agency of spirits, or that the Jews actually believed in real possessions. If, moreover, we are told, that both the Apostles themselves and the Evangelists inform us, that Demoniacks came to Jesus, or were brought and were healed; that Jesus also says, that he casts out devils, the answer is, the ground of these expressions was the common mode of speaking, prevailing at that period; and Jesus, the Apostles, and Evangelists made use of such expressions, when they spoke of hypochondria, insanity, epilepsy, and madness, in order to be understood by their hearers and readers. Nearly in the same way physicians of the present time denominate a certain class of sick persons lunaticks, i.e. persons under the influence of the moon, and tell us of St. Anthony’s fire, and the night mare, although the true causes of these diseases are well known. Something in the same way also, it is customary every where to speak of the sun's setting and rising, and to designate certaia of the heavenly bodies as planets or wandering stars, although it is not philosophically true, either that the sun sets or rises, or that the planets describe that wandering, irregular path in the heavens, which they appear to, to an uninstructed eye.

§ 196. opinions or chrisT, THE Apostles, etc. 225

If, finally, it be said, that the diseases of Demoniacks are sometimes distinguished from those of other persons, the reason of it is, that these diseases, viz. melancholy, insanity, epilepsy, and madness, are in some respects peculiar, and are healed with difficulty; and hence the curing of them by a single word of the Saviour was a matter of the greater moment.

ARGUMENT III. It is admitted, that Jesus speaks to the Demoniacks, threatens them, commands them to be silent, orders them to depart, and not to return, Mark 1:24. 5: 8, 9:25. Matt. 8:28. Luke 4:35. 8:30–32. But it may be remarked in explanation of this, that he has reference partly to the Demoniacks, whom he commands to be silent and whom he threatens, and partly to the disease, which he orders to depart and not to return. Paul, in the same manner, (Acts 16:16,) addresses the spirit of Apollo, and commands him in the name of Jesus to depart from the soothsaying damsel; and yet, as we may learn from first Corinthians, 8:4, he had not the least faith in Apollo, nor in any other god beside Jehovah. Nor are we at liberty to suppose, that Luke, the historian of the Acts, who subjoins to the account, of which we have now spoken, that the spirit left her, believed at all, that the spirit of Apollo was really present. The reason, why Paul and the Saviour made use of such expressions on such an occasion, was, that they might excite the attention of the bystanders, and give them to understand, that the disease had terminated at their command. It was for a reason of the same nature, viz. to make an impression on the minds of those present, that the Saviour, when the tempest was overruled and laid by his miraculous interference, commanded in an audible manner the winds and the seas to be at rest. Let those, who inquire, how Jesus could call the demon by name, if he did not believe one to be present, read the Greek, text of Mark 5:9 and of Luke 8:30, and they will see, that it is not the demon, which is addressed by name, but the demoniack himself, (Etmgoro, avrov, i.e. ov690ttov, not avto—tvsvuo.)

Jesus, in Luke, 10:17, does not assert the operations of demons in men, for he couples Satan with serpents and scorpions, which places us under the necessity of interpreting all of these words tropically, and of understanding by them cunning and powerful adversaries, who opposed the progress of the Gospel, but with

all their power were unable to interrupt its advancement. The

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »