« PoprzedniaDalej »
other Christians, p. 135. 5. This opinion a just inference from the
fundamental articles of Christianity, p. 138.' Demons being mere
nullities, ihere never could be a real demoniac, p. 142.
Attempting to solve the several objections against the
foregoing explication of the Gospel demoniacs, p.
The objections drawn from what was said and done by the demo-
niacs themselves, considered, p. 143. 1. From their knowing and
proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah, p. 144. 2. From their being
forbidden by Christ to discover him, p. 148. 3. From their ar-
guing rationally with Christ, and speaking to better purpose than
the bulk of those who were in their senses, p. 154 How ill this
observation applies to the Gadarene demoniac, ib. His conduct
accounted for on the supposition of his not being really possessed,
p. 158. 4. From their discovering more than human strength, p.
164. The case of the demoniac at Ephesus, p. 165.
The objection drawn from the destruction of the herd of swine, p.
167. The swine were not driven into the sea by the two madmen,
ib. but grew mad at the instant the demoniacs were cured, p. 168.
Their madness was not owing to the influence of demons, but to a.
divine agency, p. 173. The miraculous destruction of the swine
vindicated, p. 175. 1. It was a just punishment of the owners, ib.
It served, 2. to ascertain the reali'y, and to spread the fume, of the
miracle performed upon the demoniacs, p. 177. 3. To correct the
false notions of the world concerning the power of demons, p. 178.
4. To prevent several great inconveniences that would otherwise
have attended the personal ministry of Christ, p. 181. 5. To warn
all, who, overlooking the justice of God, are in danger of abusing
the Gospel, considered as a dispensation of mercy, p. 182.
The objection taken from the language used by Christ and his
apostles in performing and recording the cure of demoniacs, or
in describing the case of these unhappy men, p. 183. This lan-
guage was not first introduced by Christ or his apostles, but was
the common popular language of the age in which the Guspel
was first published, p. 187. The first teachers of Christianity
could not, without great inconsistency, give their sanction to the
opinion on which that language was originally founded, ib. Nor
can they by impartial persons be understood to do so, merely by
using that language. For, I. It is customary with all sorts of
persons, with the sacred writers in particular, and our Saviour
himself, to speak on many subjects in the language of the vulgar,
though known and admitted to have been originally grounded
on a false philosophy, p. 188. II. They all do this, the sacred
writers, and our Saviour himself not excepted. when speaking on
the very subject in question, p. 193. 11. The common phrase-
ology was adopted by Christ and his apostles with good reason;
tor, though originally built upon a false philosophy, it was como
nionly employed to describe the real case of the demoniacs, both
the symptoms of their disorder, and their cure, p. 203. The
symptoms of their disorder better described by this language than
by calling them madmen, p. 206. What was meant by the dis-
possession of demons, p. 209. Why demoniacs are distinguished
from the diseased, and their cure from the healing of diseases,
p. 211. Why demons were commanded to come out, p. 212,
IV. It doth not appear, that either Christ or his apostles were com-
missioned by God to instruct mankind in the secret causes of those
diseases which were imputed to possession, any more than of other
diseases; or to change the vulgar language in describing the case
of the demoniacs, p. 214. V. As the first publishers of the Go-
spel were not, so they could not with any propriety be, commissioned
by God to instruct mankind in the physical causes of those dis-
eases which they healed, p. 217. VI. They have, however, in
the most proper manner, rectified the dangerous errors mankind
were under with regard to demons, and thereby sufficiently se-
cured the interests of true piety, p. 221. Recapitulation, p. 224,
Pointing out the inconveniences attending the common
explication of the Gospel demoniacs, and the advan-
tages which result from the account given of them in
the two preceding chapters, p. 227.
A view of the advantages supposed to be derived from the demo-
niac system, and particularly of the arguments urged to show the
expediency and necessity of the devil's enjoying an unusual liberty
in the first age of the Gospel, and of Christ's gaining a public tri-
umph over him, p. 227. In answer to this reasoning it is observed,
1. That it is not supported by the testimony of scripture, p. 228.
2. It is built upon this false hypothesis, viz. that possessing demons
were devils or fallen angels, p. 230. 3. It further supposes that
possessions were more frequent in the age of the Gospel than at
any other time; which is also a false supposition, ib. 4. The cases
of reputed demoniacs described in the Gospel, do not furnish
any proof or evidence of the agency of the devil or any evil spi-
rit, p. 231. 5. The expulsion of demons, literally understood, no
public specimen of Christ's power over the devil; both because
possessions were not referred to the devil, and because there is no
evidence of dispossessions arising from the facts themselves, even
supposing them to be real, p. 233. Revelation improperly ap-
pealed to in proof of their reality, p. 234. 6. The bare ejection
of demons cannot be pronounced a greater -miracle than the cure
of natural disorders, nor any miracle at all with regard to man-
kind, p. 237. 7. The doctrine of demoniacal possession a great
prejudice to Christianity, p. 239; a source of much superstition, ib.
sets reason and revelation at variance, p. 240; discredits the mira.
culous infliction and cure of diseases, p. 241, and destroys the evi.
dence of miracles in general, p. 243. E. The true explication of
the Gospel demoniacs establishes the certainty, and displays the
full glory, of the miracles performed upon i hem, which are spoken
of in the New Testament with singular emphasis, made a very
powerful impression upon the spectators, and deserve to be ranked
amongst the most illustrious attestations to Christ's divine commis.
sion, p. 244 to the end.
In a late Dissertation on Miracles, the author attempted to show that all effects produced in the system of nature, contrary to the general laws by which it is governed, are proper miracles; and that all miracles are works appropriate to God. But the case of the gospel demoniacs is by many considered as an objection against the general principle of that Dissertation, as well as against what is there advanced with respect to demons in particular. Supernatural possessions, it may be truly said, suppose the power of evil spirits to inflict diseases, and to deprive men of their reason; and, being effects produced in the systein of nature contrary to the general laws by which it is governed, are therefore proper miracles; provided the account of these works here referred to be just.
In order to solve this objection, it is necessary to show that the disorders imputed to supernatural possessions proceed froin natural causes, not from the agency of any evil spirits. This, indeed, hath been already attempted
by several very eminent writers *; and, to my apprehension, not without considerable success. But, great as their merit may be, they do not seem to have placed every part of the argument in its proper light, or to have cleared it from every difficulty. Many think it necessary that some further attempts should be made to do it justice ; especially as several things have lately been urged in defence of demoniacal possessions, by a person justly celebrated both for his genius and erudition t, which could not be taken notice of by those learned writers. If I should happen to contribute any thing, be it ever so little, towards supplying their defects, or correcting their mis
* Particularly Mr. Joseph Mede, Disc. vi. p. 28; Dr. Sykes, in his Inquiry, and Farther Inquiry ; Dr. Lardner, in his Case of the Demoniacs; and Dr. Mead, in his Medica Sacra, c. ix.
Dr. Warburton, bishop of Gloucester, Sermons, vol. iii. p. 213. His lordship’s zeal for the common explication of the New Testament demoniacs is the more remarkable, as in the first volume of his Sermons, p. 204, he passes a very severe censure on the doctrine of possessions, calling it “ THE SUPERSTITIOUS IMPIETY of demoniacal possessions.” It must certainly then be worth our while to inquire, upon what grounds this able writer should now assert the real possession of the gospel demoniacs, when he had before branded the general doctrine of demoniacal possession as superstitious and impious. His defence is masterly; but it is defective, if not in argument, at least in candour towards those who differ from him'in opinion, though his own, as it should seem, was once the same with theirs. He sets out with the following misrepresentation of them: “Of this superstitious fancy, viz. possession by the devil (they tell us), Jesus and his disciples took advantage, in order to impress religious horror on their followers.” Such gross abuse, intended to create unjust prejudice in his readers against those who oppose his doctrine, doth as little honour to his lordship, as service to the cause he undertook to defend.