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****N a late Dissertation on Mira1 * cles, the author attempted to
* Mew, that all effects produced *in the systein 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 poffeffions, 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 system 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 thew, that the disorders imputed to supernatural possessions, proceed from natural causes, not from the agency of any evil spirits. This, indeed, hath been already attempted by several very eminent writers a; and, to my apprehenfion, 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 fare ther attempts-should be made to do it jus
a Particularly, Mr. Jofeph Mede, Disc. vi. Ps 28 ; Dr. Sykes, in his Inquiry, and Farther Inquiry ; Dr. Lardner, in his Case of the Demoniacs; and Dr, Mead, in his Medica Sacra, cix,
- tice ; , Dr. Warburton, bishop of Gloucester, Serm. vol. iii. p. 213. His lord ihip’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 paffes a very severe cenfure on the doctrine of possessions, calling it, ** THE SUPERSTITIOUS IMPIETY of demoniacal poleffions.” It must certainly then be worth our while to inquire, upon what grounds this able writer should now assert the real poffeffion of the gospel demoniacs, when he had before branded the general doctrine of demoniacal poffef. fion 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 mould seem, was once the same with theirs. He sets but with the following misrepresentation of them : Of this superstitious fancy, viz. poffefsion by the devil (they tell us) Jesus and his disciples took advantage, in order to imprefs religious horror on their fola lowers. Such gross abuse, intended to create un. just prejudice in his readers against those who oppose his doctrine, doth as little honour to his lordB 2
tice; especially as several things have lately been urged in defence of demoniacal poffeffions, by a person juftly celebrated both for his genius and erudition, 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 mistakes, or giving a satisfactory solution of the difficulties they have not removed, I shall not regret my labour, or think that it requires any apology: Indeed, the discussion of this subject was necessary to complete the design of a former publication. .
Of all the objections against the miracles of Scripture, there are none that unbelievers urge with greater triumph, than that drawn from the common explication of the gospel-demoniacs. Now, though we are not to give up any of the genuine doctrines of revelation, merely en account of groundless prejudices conceived against them; yet certainly we should be very cautious not to create
fhip, -as-service to the cause he undertook to de fend, : “Thus Mr. Rousseau (in his Troisième Lettre écrite de la Montagne) exclaims upon the subject : Il y en a dans l'Evangile qu'il n'est pas même poffible de prendre au pied de la lettre sans re11oncer au bon sens. Tels sont, par exemple, ceux des possédés.-Jésus demande à un grouppe de demons comment il s'appelle, Quoi ! Les dé.
mons ont des noms ? Les anges ont des noms ? Les purs esprits ont des noms ? Sans doute pour s'en tre-appeller entre eux, ou pour entendre quand Dieu les appelle ? Mais, qui leur a donné ces noms ? En quelle langue en sont les mots ? Quelles sont les bouches qui prorsoncent ces mots, les oreilles que leurs sons frappent ? Ce nom c'est Legion ; car ils sont plusieurs, ce qu'apparament Jésus ne favoit pas. Ces anges, ces intelligences fublimes dans le mal comme dans le bien, cos etres célestes qui ont pu se révolter contre Dieu, qui osent combattre ses décrets éternels se logent en tas dans le corps d'un homme, forcés d'abandonner ce malheureux, ils demandent de se jetter dans une troupeau de cochons, ils l'obtiennent; ces cochons se précipitent dans la mer : & ce sont là les auguftes preuves de la million du Rédempteur du genre humain, les preuves qui doivent l'attester à tous les peuples de tous les âges, & dont nul ne fauroit douter, sous peine de damnation! Juste Dieu ! La tête tourne; on ne sait où l'on est. See also Lucian's Philopfend. p. 337. Oper, tom. ii. edo Amftel. B 3