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any insuperable difficulties, notwithstanding the labours of sceptical men to involve it in doubt and perplexity.

The first point to be considered is the nature of the malady itself, as it is represented to us in the sacred history.

By what external symptoms the disorders with which the Demoniacs were afflicted were distinguishable from other bodily maladies, and how it was discerned that they were produced by the agency of evil spirits, it is not easy for those who never witnessed such occurrences to form a clear apprehension. But that there were certain tokens by which these diseases were then generally known, so as not to be confounded with ordinary distempers, it is reasonable to infer from the manner in which they are spoken of by the sacred writers, from the peculiar circumstances related of the persons so affected, and from the consequences that ensued on the alleged expulsion of the evil spirits.

Many of the symptoms attending these demoniacal possessions, appear, indeed, to have been such as are incidental to natural disorders of the human frame. Some of the unhappy sufferers were dumb; others, blind and dumb; others, dumb and deaf; others, distorted, convulsed, or epileptic; others, lunatic, and impelled by maniacal


and fury to the most frantic actions. Nevertheless, the Evangelists uniformly speak of these several cases, though accompanied with such variety of symptoms, as disorders distinct from the ordinary maladies of blindness, dumbness, deafness, lunacy, or epilepsy; in the cure of which disorders likewise our Lord continually exercised his miraculous power. Thus St Matthew states, that “they brought “ unto Jesus all sick people that were taken “ with divers diseases and torments, and those “ which were possessed with devils, and those “ which were lunatic, and those that had the

palsy; and he healed them .” St. Mark, in like manner, says, “ They brought unto him “ all that were diseased, and them that

were possessed with devils :-and he healed

many that were sick of divers diseases, and “ cast out many devils b.” St. Luke also (himself a physician, and whose accuracy on such subjects has been noticed by persons distinguished for medical science) makes the same distinction between these and other maladies. He

“ all they that had any “ sick with divers diseases, brought them “ unto him, and he laid his hands on every “ one of them, and healed them. And devils a Matth. iv. 24.


b Mark i. 32, 34.


“ also came out of many, crying out, and say

ing, Thou art Christ, the Son of God.” These passages sufficiently prove, that, however similar many of the symptoms attending the disorders under which the Demoniacs laboured might be to those of common bodily or mental diseases, yet there was something in them different in its kind from ordinary or natural distempers; and that the distinction (whatever it might be) was so perceptible, as to be easily known by those who witnessed the effect. Else, why should the Jews in general have marked them as peculiar in their character, though exhibiting symptoms, in other respects, not unusual in bodily infirmities, and such as never were ascribed to any other than natural causes ? And why should the Apostles, and even our Lord himself, so invariably describe them under the specific character of demoniacal possessions ?

It has, however, been maintained, that the diseases of Demoniacs were neither more nor less than madness of various kinds, or, in some cases, epilepsy; and that our Lord and his Apostles merely conformed to the popular phraseology, in speaking of them as actual possessions of evil spirits. And to prove

c Luke iv. 40, 41.

this, much learned and laborious investigation has been expended on the meaning of the words Demons and Demoniacs, according to their usual acceptation among the Jews and among heathen writers; with the intent to shew, that the supposition of such possessions rests entirely on the vague and idle superstitions of the Gentile world, or on the ignorant credulity of the Jewish multitude : whence the inference is drawn, that there was nothing extraordinary in these cases ; nothing to place them in a different class from the numberless other maladies, in the cure of which our Lord was wont to exercise his miraculous power.

Now, not to enlarge further upon what has been already observed, that the sacred writers expressly distinguish these cases from other maladies, and even from lunacy itself; it may

be remarked, that the very circumstances related of the persons so afflicted, appear to have been such as neither insanity, nor epilepsy, nor any other natural disease, will satisfactorily account for. The Demoniacs, though thus disordered in mind and body, know and acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God. They address him as such ; they dread him as their Lord and Judge; they expostulate with him under that impression; they discover a knowledge of his dignity and office, not only inconsistent with the wild ravings of a disordered imagination, and the state of exclusion from society incidental to persons so circumstanced, but such as even the Jews in general had not attained to. Their confessions of Christ were uniform and unequivocal ; not variable and hesitating, like those of the multitude, some of whom believed at one time, and doubted at another; and of whom comparatively few acknowledged him in his true character as the Son of God. To what can we attribute this, but to some superior agents within the Demoniacs themselves, bearing involuntary testimony to that Power, at whose presence they “ believed and trembled ?"

Respecting the opinions prevalent among heathens concerning the nature of those demons or evil spirits, whom they supposed to be the proximate cause of such maladies, it is to little purpose to inquire; since the main question, whether the maladies themselves were natural or preternatural, depends not on the issue of such an inquiry. The theory of heathen Demonology, (if we may so call it,) and the analogy it bears to what is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, are abstruse and difficult subjects, on which there is great scope

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