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tion might be permitted in punishment of so manifest a disregard of the Divine injunctions. And although our Lord was not wont to interpose his authority judicially in temporal concerns, yet under such special circumstances, as none might presume to question his authority, thus proved to be more than human, so can it not be doubted that the effect would be salutary, both as to the offending parties themselves, and on others who were in danger of being ensnared by their evil practices. In the exercise, therefore, of his compassion towards the Demoniacs on the one hand, and of retributive justice towards the Gadarene violators of the Jewish Law on the other ; our Lord asserted his character as the Saviour and as the Judge of men, giving demonstrative assurance of his authority in both respects. That the Gadarenes themselves were in some degree sensible of this, may be inferred from the terror with which the miracle impressed them, and from their not presuming to utter complaints on the loss they had sustained. Dread of the judicial power of our Lord, and vexation at being deprived of their unlawful gain, appear indeed to have taken such possession of their minds, that his benevolence in delivering two of their fellow-creatures from
so miserable a state was utterly disregarded :
they besought him to depart out of their “ coasts !." The fame of the miracle was nevertheless spread by one of the parties on whom it had been wrought, who “ went his way,
and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto “ him ;” and such was the effect, that when Jesus returned thither, “ the people gladly “ received him ; for they were all waiting for 6 him m.”
If the considerations, then, which have here been stated respecting the case of the Demoniacs in general, as well as this instance in particular, be of weight to remove the doubts and objections which men, weak in faith, or prone to disputation, may have raised against them; we shall be at no loss to perceive how valuable an accession of testimony to our Lord's Divine character and mission is hereby obtained, and how especially miracles of this description were adapted to manifest the great purpose of his coming into the world.
That evil spirits, with the great apostate spirit at their head, (emphatically called “ the mitted by the Almighty to tempt men to evil, and, for the trial of their integrity, occasionally to molest and injure them ; is a fact, which, as far as the authority of the sacred writings can go, seems to be established beyond the power of refutation. To attempt to set aside this evidence by abstract reasoning on the general improbability of the thing, is surely most unreasonable. Of the actual existence of such beings, we naturally know nothing. We can neither prove it nor disprove it by any physical or moral evidence. It is a matter only to be known through the medium of Revelation. Nothing, however, in the visible phenomena of nature contradicts it, or gives even a just suspicion that it is impossible or improbable. On the contrary, that gradation in the scale of being which we perceive in the visible world, leads by analogy to a conjecture that there may
prince of the power of the air ",") are per
m Luke viii. 39. 10.
1 Matth. viii. 31. ii. 2.
be something similar in that which is invisible; and that between man and his Creator
many intermediate intelligences of various orders may exist. That among these, evil as well as good beings should be permitted, for special purposes of God's providence, to exercise their agency to an extent and in a manner to us inconceivable; is in itself no more incredible than the acknowledged fact, of which we have daily and hourly experience, that, in our own species, numberless are the instances of wicked and mischievous beings, who scarcely seem to exist but for the purpose of inflicting misery upon themselves and others, and who apparently act as scourges in the hands of the Almighty, for the chastisement or the probation of their fellow creatures. Let the vain disputer of the world solve this problem, which so continually presents itself to his view, before he presumes to question what the word of God reveals, or to reason upon the hidden counsels of the Almighty, inscrutable to mortal apprehension.
So far, however, as the wisdom or the goodness of God may seem to be implicated in this inquiry, he who enters upon it with an humble and teachable spirit will be satisfied with the assurance, that, whatever may be the disposition or the power of any invisible beings to inflict evil upon us, they as well as other created beings are, and ever must be, subject to the controul and restraint of Him “ whose kingdom ruleth over all.” This (as the word of God reveals to us) was proved by the fall of these apostate spirits from the high estate they at first enjoyed, to a state of degradation and misery from which they have no redemption. It was further shewn by that entire mastery over them which our Lord exercised during his abode on earth, in delivering men from the effects of their cruelty and malice. And probably for this, among other reasons, it might be permitted by the Almighty, that at and near to the
period of the Messiah's coming their malignant agency
should be more extensively and more perceptibly felt. Occasion was thus given signally to illustrate the declared purpose of his manifestation in the flesh,“ that he might
destroy the works of the Devilo.” From the beginning it had been foretold that he should “ bruise the serpent's head;" and his victory over the great spiritual adversary of mankind is frequently represented as indispensable to the great work he had undertaken. To signify his power in this respect more ostensibly to the world, these miracles appear to have been especially wrought. With reference, perhaps, to these, in particular, the Prophet Zechariah foretold that he should 6 cause the unclean spirit to pass out “ of the land ? ;” and when the disciples expressed their astonishment at this evidence of his Divine authority, his reply was, “ I be“ held Satan as lightning fall from heaven 9;" alluding to another prophecy of Isaiah to the
9 Luke x. 18.
• 1 John iii. 8.
p Zech. xiii. 2.