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Mark i. 21. the sabbath-days, he entered into the synagogue, and Capernaum,
The scriptural authority for this arrangement is founded on Mark i. 21. After the calling of the four disciples, they immediately went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, which Doddridge (Fam. Exp. vol. 1. p. 184.) supposes to have been the next day-ευθέως τοις σάββασιν εισελθών εις την συναγωγήν. .
The event related in this section, since the time of the learned Jos. Mede, has given rise to much discussion. One class of authorities have supposed that the Demoniacs were merely madmen, others that the bodies of human beings were actually possessed, and controlled, and governed, and inhabited by wicked and impure spirits. Among the supporters of the first opinion we find Heinsius Exercitiones Sacræ, on Matt. iv. 24. Jos. Mede (a) (Works, 4th edit. fol. London, p. 28, &c. sermon on John X. 20. and b. iii. ch. v. on the dæmons of the ancients,) Dr. Sykes (b), Dr. Mead (c), Dr. Farmer (d), Dr. Lardner (e), Kuinoel, and Rosenmüller (f ), on Matt. iv. 24.: and in general all those writers of every sect who would believe that origin of the Scriptures, which appears to them rational. On the other side of the question may be placed the uniform interpretation of the passage, in its literal sense by the ancient Church, the best commentators, and all who are generally called orthodox, as desirous to believe the literal interpretation of Scripture, and the opinions of the early ages, in all points of doctrine, whether it can be brought to a level with their reason or not. It is quite unnecessary to attempt to refer to all those writers, of those, however, of a later period, who have written on this subject, may be mentioned Macknight(g), Bishop Newton (h), Jortin (i), (who would hardly have been expected among this number); Campbell (k), Dr. Adam Clarke, in his Commentary, 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 dæmoniacs 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, who 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 daipovvsoμένους, are opposed to the σεληνιαζομένους, the παραλυτικούς, and the ποικίλαις νόσους, και βασάνοις, συνεχομένους, and in Μatt. 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 dis
Mark i. 22.
And they were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught Caperdann, them as one that had authority, and not as the Scribes.
eases as the Heathen, and the instance of the madness of Saul,
Pythagoras, as I have endeavoured elsewhere to prove, pro-
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 pbilosophy 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.
În 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 demons 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 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 bad an idea of beings superior to men, but inserior to the one Supreme God. Cudworth (8) enumerates
Lake iv. 33. And in the synagogue there was a man which had a Capernaum.
spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out, with a loud voice,
many instances. Among others he quotes Plato's expression,
II. The doctrine of demoniacal possessions is consistent with
III. The doctrine of demoniacal possessions is consistent with reason and experience. 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 possible that evils of a different kind might be produced by means of other beings, and the moral government of God remain unimpcached? 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, bave 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 be exerted over this demon 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?
IV. The facts recorded of the supposed demoniacs demonstrate also that they were not merely madmen. The insane either reason rightly on wrong grounds (r), or wrongly on right grounds, or blend the right and wrong together. But these demoniacs reasoned rightly upon right grounds. They utterod 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
Luke iv. 33. Saying, Let us alone : what have we to do with thee, Capernann.
thou Jesus of Nazareth ? Art thou come to destroy us ?
Lord the epithet of the Holy One of God. They were alike
It is an admirable observation of Jortin on this point, that
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 demons 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 herd of swine, by imagining that Christ drove the lunacy, and not the demons, 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 doctripes 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. Larduer, in his remarks on Dr. Ward's Dissertations,
Lake iv. 35. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and Capernaum.
come out of him.
quotes a letter from his friend Mr. Mole, which accurately
It appears to me also, that the demooiacs powerfully repre-