Imágenes de páginas
PDF

226 . § 196. of DEMON1Acks.

expressions, which he employs, are as follows. “I see, (Hebrew "n's".) I see Satan,” i.e. all the adversaries of the Gospel, who are afterwards called serpents, scorpions, and the enemy's host, “fall like lightning from heaven,” i. e. from the political heaven, from power and authority. Consult Isa. 14 : 12, 13. Matthew 24th chapter, Luke 10:15. Revelation 12:7–9, See also Cicero, where he says to Mark Antony, you lave hurled your colleagues down from heaven. (The adversaries of the Gospel also occur in Luke 22; 31. under the name of Satan.) “Behold, (he proceeds,) I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,” i.e. of overcoming and subduing by your miraculous gifts all adversaries, “ and nothing shall by any means hurt you, i.e. oppress and overcome you, (comp. aduanos, with the Hebrew Pox.) “ Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven,” i.e. rejoice rather in the favour of God, than in the power of casting out devils, or of healing the most difficult diseases. Jesus, in Matt. 12: 24–30, Mark 3:22–30. Luke 11: 16–24, employs against the Pharisees the ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM, which has no bearing in this case any further than the refutation of the adversary is concerned. The ground of his employing this species of argument in the present instance was this. The Pharisees, if we may believe Josephus, taught, that the demons, by which men were possessed, were the spirits of bad men, who were dead, and were commissioned on their present business of tormenting the children of men by Beelzebub. Jesus, therefore, replied, provided this were the true state of the case, that Beelzebub, by lending his assistance in casting out his own devils, was overturning his own kingdom. He then adds, that this powerful spirit, for such the Pharisees supposed him to be, could not be compelled to perform such an unwelcome task, unless a stronger one, than Beelzebub himself, should first come, should bind him, and take away his arms. The Parable in Matt. 12:43–45, and Luke 11:24–28, is to be interpreted with a reference to the explanation, at the end, viz. “so shall it be with this wicked generation.” The demons in these passages are the vices of the Jews, which had been, in some little degree, corrected by the preaching of John the Baptist and § 196. opinions of christ, the Apostles, etc. 227

the Saviour, but which soon after developed themselves with greater virulence, and to a greater extent than ever, as Josephus testifies was the case in the time of the War with the Romans ; comp, the large German edition of this Work, P.I. Vol. II. § 232. p. 490, 491. Finally, Jesus liberates the woman, described in Luke 13:12, as bowed down with infirmity, without making any mention of a demon; if, therefore, a little after, he asserts, that she was a daughter of Abraham, bound by Satan for eighteen years, the expressions are to be considered, as figurative, being an allusion to the loosing of oxen, which it was lawful to do on the Sabbath in order to lead them to drink, and having reference at the same time to an opinion among the Jews, that all diseases had their ultimate origin, (not indeed from demons,) but from the Devil, that overruling spirit of wickedness, who tempted Eve, and to whom allusions are made in Acts 10:38, and in 2 Cor. 12; 7. ARGUMENT IV. That the Church Fathers unanimously agreed in the opinion, that individuals, in the time of Christ, were really and truly possessed with demons, those, who maintain, that Demoniacks were diseased persons, plainly and expressly deny. They produce testimonies to the contrary. They assert, moreover, that, in point of policy, the church fathers would not have thought it advisable, to have made such assertions, as are represented, since they were contending incessantly with philosophers, who believed in, and strenuously contended for the agency of demons. They say further, that nothing is gained or lost, even if the fathers were unanimous in one opinion, since this is not a question of faith or doctrine, in which alone, the united sentiment of the Fathers can be considered, as possessing a binding authority. They deny also, that it can be concluded from the fact, that a class or order of persons, called exorcists, existed in the primitive ages of the Church, that the Church itself believed in the real agency of demons; since the popular superstitions on the subject might have been, as no doubt they were, the ground of such an institution, see Veronius IN REGUL. FID. § 4. No. 4.

/

228 & 197. Possessions inconsistENT with Doctrine.

§ 197. REAL Possessions inconsistent with The DocTRINE of Jesus AND THE ApostLEs.

Those, who oppose the doctrine of real possessions, state, that Jesus, the Apostles, and Evangelists are not to be understood literally, when they speak of the agency of demons, because such a supposition would make them act contrary to the doctrine, which they themselves taught. They, accordingly, in support of the point, that the doctrines of the Apostles and Jesus are contrary to that of real demoniacal possessions, advance the following considerations. ARGUMENT I. Jesus and the Apostles teach us, that all things, even the most minute, are under the direction of God. They could not, therefore, for a moment suppose, that so great miseries were inflicted by demons, (whether they were the spirits of dead men, or other evil spirits,) or that God would be accessory to such evils, by permitting them to exist in such a way. They would not countenance such an opinion the more especially, because it had its origin among nations, which were given to idolatry. It was the common belief among such nations, that the celestial divinities governed the world by proxy, entrusting it to inferiour deities, and to the spirits of the dead. ARGUMENT II. Jesus and the Apostles teach us, that the spirits of the dead immediately enter upon that state or destiny, which from their previous character they deserve; both the good and the bad going to a retribution, from which they can never return, Luke 16:22, et, seq. 23:43. 2 Cor. 5: 1. 1 Philipp. 1:21. 3: 12. Heb. 12:23. Some of the wicked spirits, as we learn from 2 Peter 2: 4, and from Jude 6 verse, are reserved in custody, till the day of judgment; a statement, which cannot be reconciled with the supposition, that they are straying about the earth, and tormenting its inhabitants. ARGUMENT III. Let it be admitted, that Jesus does not in direct terms, contradict the prevailing notions, and does not expressly and explicitly say, that the Demoniacks were not afflicted by the agency of demons, but merely by natural diseases, (which was the opinion maintained by the Sadducees,) still it must be confessed, that, on the other hand he no where expressly denies, that the effects, produced upon individuals, who were represented as § 198. The pool, NEAR THE sheep-MARKET, JERUsALEM. 229

possessed with demons, resulted from such diseases merely. The fact is, as is contended, the Saviour neither took one part nor the other, neither denied nor asserted the reality of demoniacal possessions. Indeed it was not necessarily nor actually his province. A question of that kind, one, which involved the state of the body or the mind, belonged rather to professed physicians. The Apostles pursue the same course in respect to this subject, that the Saviour does, with the exception of John and Paul, who, having resided much in Asia Minor, do not, as has been already observed, make use of the customary and prevalent phrases in regard to Demoniacks. It is stated, further, in defence of the conduct of the Saviour and his Apostles, that there was no need of their refuting the vulgar opinion in respect to Demoniacks, as it was evidently inconsistent with their doctrine, concerning the state of the dead, and was attacked by the physicians of that age with great success. Besides, an attempt at such a refutation, in an age, when the opinion to be attacked was yet so prevalent, and in a country, where it was so fondly cherished, would have involved the disciples and the Saviour in prolix disputations, and would have withdrawn their attention too much from the preaching of the Gospel.

Note. I have thus given the statements, illustrations, and arguments on both sides of this question, and will leave each one to form his own opinion.

§ 198. The Pool, NEAR THE SHEEP-MARKET AT JERUSALEM.

The pool, site to 1903aruxn, or the receptacle of water, called Bethesda, John 5:2, was a bath.

I. The first argument in favour of this position is to be found in the fact, that the Rabbins and the Chaldaick Paraphrast on Ecclesiastes make the words nintone and Nosino, (the Greek troogation,) mean baths; and make the word Ntoane mean the servant attending on a bath. The name Bethesda, in Hebrew no Noori, means, the house or place of favour or kindness, and agrees very well with a bath, which was both salutary and pleasant.

II. Another proof, that the pool in question was a bath, is the fact, that the blind, maimed, and withered were gathered around 230 § 198. The Angel. That Troubled THE BATH.

it; and that there were likewise five porticos, erected without doubt for the reception of those, who were sick and infirm. That this was the object of the porticos is the opinion, expressed both in the Peshito and by Suidas.

THE ANGEL THAT TRouBLED THE BATH.

It is related, (John 5: 2–4, 6, 7,) in respect to this bath, that an angel of the Lord descended at certain times and troubled the water, and that the person, who descended first after this operation upon the water, was healed of whatever infirmity he might labour under. * This account of the descent of an angel, and of the consequent restoration of the first one, who entered the water after his descent, is omitted in certain Greek and Latin manuscripts, and likewise in the Armenian version. It is pointed out to the particular notice of the reader in some Greek manuscripts, sometimes by an obelus or dagger [f], and sometimes by an asterisk. The genuineness of the whole passage, therefore, is justly liable to suspicion. On the supposition, that the whole narration is a genuine one, the bath in question might have been an animal bath, which has a beneficial influence in certain diseases, and which, in the present case, was furnished with blood from the temple, by means of a subterranean passage. Accordingly, when the blood flowed into it, the water might be said with no impropriety to be disturbed, especially on festival days, when it received a greater quantity, than usual. Or it might have been, (and most probably was,) a mineral bath, which derived its salutary powers from the mineral particles, that were intermixed with the mud at the bottom. Accordingly, when the water was more than usually disturbed or put in motion by some external cause, for instance, by showers or by subterranean heat, it is natural to suppose, that it was the more strongly impregnated with minerals, and of course more than usually efficacious. The sick and infirm, therefore, wished to enter it at this period, before the mineral particles had subsided, and the water had returned to its ordinary state. Eusebius in his Ononasticon under the word Bečnów confirms the last hypothesis, for he states, that in his time there were, at that place, viz. Bethesda,

« AnteriorContinuar »