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tion of that Prince of the Air from the place where he had so long held his usurpation, hanging like a pestilential meteor over the sons of men.
The rise, therefore, of Christ's Kingdom, and the fall of Satan's, being thus carried on together, it would be strange indeed, if, in the Gospel, we should find no MARKS of the rage of Satan's expiring tyranny amidst all the salutary blessings of the rising Empire of Christ. But we find them in abundance. We find this enemy of our salvation, mad with despair, invoking all the powers of darkness to blast that peace and good will towards men, proclaimed by Angels on the birth-night of the Son of God. For when he understood, by his baffled attempts on his Lord and Master, that the SOULS of men had escaped his usurped Dominion, he turned his cruelty on their BODIES, in the most humiliating circumstances of pain and oppression that could dishonour or disgrace humanity: permitted, no doubt, to take a wider range at this decisive instant than at any other, either before or since, in order to illuminate the glories of his Conqueror.
Had the first Adam stood in the rectitude of his Creation, he had, on observing the Command given to him in Paradise, gained IMMORTALITY, and been placed above and beyond the reach of NATURAL and MORAL evil. His relapse back to MORTALITY brought both into the world. The office of the second Adam was to restore us to our Paradisaical State. But as the immortality, purchased for us by the Son of God, was unlike to that which became forfeit by the transgression of the first man in this particular, that it was not to commence immediately, but was reserved for the reward of a future state, it followed that both physical and moral evil were to endure for a season. Yet, to manifest that they were, in good time, to receive their final doom from the REDEEMER, it seems essential to his character that he should, in the course of his Ministry, give a convincing specimen of his power over both.
One part, therefore, of his Godlike labours was, we find, employed in curing all kinds of natural diseases. But had he stopped here amidst his conquests over physical evil, the full evidence of his Dominion over both Worlds, which, by his office, he was to restore to their primeval integrity, had remained defective.
Jesus, therefore, was to display his Sovereignty over moral evil likewise; and this could not be seen in the manner it was manifested over natural evil, but by a sensible Victory over SATAN; through whose machinations moral evil was brought into the World, and by whose temptations it was sustained and increased.
Hence it was that, amongst his amazing works of sanity and salvation, the CASTING OUT OF DEVILS is so much insisted on by the Writers of his life and death; he himself having informed them, that
it was essential to the erection of his spiritual Kingdom—If I (says he) cast out Devils by the Spirit of God, THEN the Kingdom of God is come unto you.*
Thus, from the very genius of the GOSPEL, from the nature and constitution of the System of GRACE, it appears that this was a real ejection of the evil Spirit.
But, besides this, Jesus and his Disciples, in their manner of working, and in the mode of recording what they worked, did every thing that might best display a real victory over SATAN.
Let the Jews of that time, let the diseased themselves, be as much in an error as you are pleased to conceive them, in the matter of Diabolical Possession, yet no Believer will presume to think that JESUS was deceived in his own case; or was disposed to deceive others, when he informed his Historians of his being led by the Spirit into the Wilderness, and of his being tempted there forty days of the DEVIL. Whether any, or what part of this transaction passed in Vision, is not material to determine, since the reality of the agency is the same on either supposition; as its truth depended not on the mode of sensation, but on the infallible assurance of that agency. For Jesus, in his amazing humiliation, when he assumed our nature, was yet, without doubt, superior to those infirmities of it which arise from the delusions of sense; as such delusions would have been incompatible with the exercise of his divine Ministry. If, therefore, there was any mistake in this matter, it must be (I speak it with the most reverential horrour) the designed contrivance of our blessed Master himself, who assures us, that he was not only the way, but THE TRUTH ‡ likewise.
So far then is clear, that the evil Spirit was neither absent nor inactive when the Gospel was first opened to mankind.
IN THIS TEMPTATION, he was permitted to try whether he could traverse the great work of human Redemption-In his possession of men's bodies, he seems to have been, in part, forced upon the attempt, that the casting of him out, by the power of Jesus, might evince Mankind that our restoration to LIFE was fully accomplished.
Thus, in the case of the man possessed in the country of the Gadarines,—The Devils, oppressed by the mighty hand of God, and ready to be cast out and sent into a place of torment, confess the superiority of their conqueror, and proclaim him to be the promised MESSIAH, at a time when he concealed this part of his Character, and was not certainly known by it even amongst his Disciples.
If it be asked, why the Devils proclaimed it? The answer is easy: It was to impede, or to cut off, the course of his appointed Ministry. On this account Jesus checks, or enjoins silence to them. Indeed, Luke iv. 1, 2.
Matt. xii. 28.
1 John xiv. 6.
had all the attestation given by our Saviour to real possessions been no stronger than that which he gave in answer to those who said, He cast out Devils by Baalzebub, namely, that then, Baalzebub's kingdom being divided within itself, must be brought to destruction, the argument might be thought to labour a little; for if the power and operation of Satan or Baalzebub was a groundless fancy, as our Philosophers pretend, Jesus may not unreasonably be thought to argue ad hominem; which a Messenger from God might do without impeachment of his Character, though the concession on which he reasons were not strictly conformable to the reality of things. But when such a Messenger commands the Devils, whom he pretends to have cast out, not to discover his office or character, this is going a length, if there was no Devil in the case, which a Messenger from the God of Truth could never, surely, be authorised to engage in.
If we turn from Satan's temptation of Jesus to his cruel treatment of the Jews, we shall still find the same strong marks of real agency.
Be it granted, that both the Jews and Gentiles of that time were grown very fanciful and superstitious concerning diabolic possessions, and, consequently, that they often mistook natural for supernatural maladies; what follows, but that which we find provided against those false conclusions which weak or licentious men drew from thence?
The utmost care and attention has been given by the sacred Writers to mark out those cases of real possession, which Jesus relieved, by some circumstance not equivocal, or what could not accompany an imaginary or natural disorder.
Thus, in the adventure recorded by three of the Evangelists +when Jesus had eased the Demoniac, and his tormentors had obtained leave to go into a herd of swine; what other reason can be given, or, indeed, what better can be conceived, of their extraordinary request on the one hand, or permission on the other, than that this circumstance was to afford a certain MARK to distinguish a REAL from an imaginary Possession ?
It is true, that the wild extravagance of human fancy may be able to form chimeras that shall affright the Raiser of them to distraction. Yet Brutes (we all know) have none of this dangerous faculty. Therefore, when we find great numbers of them stimulated, at once, to an instantaneous madness, we must needs conclude, that it was caused by some supernatural Agent, operating on their organs.
So admirably has our indulgent Master been pleased to guard this important Truth against the most plausible evasions of self-conceited
The strong impulse of a vitiated fancy, pushed forward by superMatt. viii.; Mark v.; Luke viii.
• Matt. xii. 24, et seq.
stition, might be supposed able, without other agency, to produce these very extraordinary appearances.
To cut off, therefore, all escape from a forced concession of the mighty hand of God, compelling his most averse Creatures to acknowledge his Sovereignty, here are two cases obtruded on the most incredulous: The one is, SATAN's temptation of the Messiah; the other is, his Possession of brute Animals: In neither of which cases hath the powers of imagination any place. In the first, the divine Patient was above their delusions; in the other, the Brutal was as much below them.
If we turn from the FACTS which the Evangelists have recorded, to the EXPRESSIONS which they have employed, we shall have further reason to rest satisfied with the ancient interpretation.
The text says, They brought unto him all sick people, that were taken with divers diseases and torments: and THOSE WHICH WERE POSSESSED WITH DEVILS, and LUNATICS; and he healed them.
Here we find, that the disorder of those who are said to be posSESSED WITH DEVILS, is precisely distinguished, not only from natural diseases and torments in general, but likewise from LUNACY in particular; that very disorder which the Antidemoniast is so-willing to confound with supernatural agitations. Is it possible, therefore, to believe, that a Writer of any meaning, at the very time he is distinguishing Lunacy from diabolical Possessions, should confound these two disorders with one another? Yet, this is what these licentious Critics make him do, in compliance (they tell us) with an accustomed mode of speech. On the contrary, is it not certain, that the sacred Writer was the more intent to represent them as two very different disorders, for this very reason, their having many symptoms in common? a circumstance which hath made these men solicitous to confound what the Evangelist was careful to distinguish.
In a word, they who, after all these precautions taken by St. Matthew, and the rest, can believe that Devils and Demoniacs were used only as terms of accommodation, may well believe (as some of them profess to do) that the terms Sacrifice, Redemption, and Satisfaction, come of no better a House than one of the common figures of speech.*
We now come to the third and last Class of MIRACLES, which, we say, demand the assent of every reasonable man, when proposed to him with full evidence of the Fact.
Of this kind are the Miracles in which the Deity immediately interposes, to vindicate the Credit of his own Predictions, when impious men have publicly combined to defeat and dishonour them.
• See note L, at the end of this book.
The most eminent of this Class was the miraculous interposition of Heaven, which defeated JULIAN's attempt to rebuild THE JEWISH TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM.
When God found it expedient or necessary, in order to preserve the Memory and keep up the Knowledge of himself amidst a corrupt world, running headlong into Polytheism and Idolatry, he chose a single Family, which, when spread out into a Nation or People, was to become the public repository of his holy Name, till the fulness of time should come, when, as he promised by himself, all the earth should be filled with the glory of the Lord.*
This family was of the seed of Abraham; which, in compliance with the religious notions of those times, he was pleased to adopt for his peculiar People, under the idea of their tutelar Deity, or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and, the more effectually to secure the great end of their separation, assumed, likewise, the title and office of their KING or CIVIL GOVERNOR; having, first of all, communicated himself to them, as the Maker and Governor of the Universe.
Hence, the RELIGION he gave unto this People came under the idea of a Law; and the Law, amongst them, was, in the strictest sense, RELIGION, as having all the sanctions of a divine Command.
From this short account of the JEWISH CONSTITUTION it appears, that RELIGION, which, elsewhere, had properly and justly particulars only for its subjects, had here the nation or community. And what, elsewhere, (as far as concerns the divine origin of Religion) is only a private matter, was here a public. For the Deity being both their tutelary God and Civil Governor, the proper object of his care was, in either capacity, the collective Body.
Hence it follows, that the principal Rites of the Hebrew Religion and Law were to be performed in some determined Place. For the ideas of a tutelary God and civil Governor implied a local Residence ; and a national act, arising from the relations springing out of these qualities, required a fixed and certain habitation for its celebration; and both together seemed to mark out the Capital of the Country for that use.
Such a practice, which the nature and reason of things so evidently point out, the Institutes of the Jewish Law expressly direct and enjoin.
During the early and unsettled times of the Republic, the Sacrifices prescribed by its Ritual were directed to be offered up at the door of an ambulatory Tabernacle; but when the People had perfected the Establishment ordained for them, and a magnific TEMPLE was erected for religious Worship, then their SACRIFICES were to be offered in that place at Jerusalem only.
Num. xiv. 21.