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Thus, in the case of the man possessed in the country of the Gadarenes-- The Devils, oppressed by the mighty hand of God, and ready to be cast out and sent into it
, place of torment, confess the superiority of their con
queror, and proclaim him to be the promised Messiau, : at a time when he concealed this part of his Character,
and was not certainly known by it even amongst his Disciples.
If it be asked, why the Devils proclaimed it? The answer is easy : It was to impede, or to cut off, the course of his appointed Ministry.
On this account Jesus checks, or enjoins silence to them. Indeed, had all the attestation given by our Saviour to real possessions been no stronger than that which he gave in answer to those who said, "He cast out Devils by Beelzebub, namely, that then, Beelzebub's kingdom being divided within itself, must be brought to destruction*, the argument might be thought to labour a little ; for if the power and operation of Satan or Beelzebub was a groundless fancy, as our Philosophers pretend, Jesus may not unreasonably be thought to argue ad hominem; which a Messenger from God might do without impeachment of his Character, though the concession on which he reasons were not strictly conforınable to the reality of things. But when such a Messenger commands the Devils, who he
pretends to have cast out, not to discover his office or character, this is going a length, if there was no Devil in the case, which a Messenger from the God of Truth could never, surely, bę authorized to engage in.
If we turn from Satan's temptation of Jesus to his.cruel treatment of the Jews, we shall still find the same strong marks of real agency.
Be it granted, that both the Jews and Gentiles of that, time were grown very fanciful and superstitious concerning diabolic possessions, and, consequently, that they often mistook natural for supernatural maladies; what follows, buta that which we find provided against those false conclusions which weak or licentious men drew from thence ?
The utmost care and attention has been given by the sacred Writers to mark ont those cases of real possession, * Matt. xii. 24, & seq.
which Jesus relieved, by some circumstance not equivocal, or what could not accompany an inaginary or natural disorder.
Thus, in the adventure recorded by three of the Eyangelists*—when Jesus had eased the Demoníac, and his tormentors had obtained leave to go into a herd of swine; what other reason can be given, or, indeed, what better can be conceived, of their extraordinary request on the one hand, or permission on the other, than that this circumstance was to afford a certain DIARK to distinguish a REAL from an imaginary Possession ?
It is true, that the wild extravagance of human fancy may be able to form chimeras that shall affilight the Raiser of them to distraction. Yet Brutes (we all know) have none of this dangerous faculty. Therefore, when we find great numbers of them stimulated, at once, to an instantaneous madness, we must needs conclude, that it was caused by some supernatural Agent, operating on
So admirably has our
indulgent Master been pleased to guard this important Truth against the most plausible evasions of self-conceited men.
The strong impulse of a vitiated fancy, pushed forward by superstition, might be supposed able, without other agency, to produce these very extraordinary appearances.
To cut off, therefore, all escape from a forced concession of the inighty hand of God, compelling his most averse Creatures to acknowledge hís Sovereignty, here are two cises obtruded on the most incredulous: The one is, Satan's temptation of the Messiah ; the other is, his Possession of brute Animals: In neither of which cases hath the powers of imagination any place. In the first, the divine Patient was above thieir delusions ; in the other, the Brutal was as much below them.
If we turn from the Facts which the Evangelists have recorded, to the EXPRESSIONS which they have employed, we shall have further reason to rest satisfied with the ancient interpretation.
The text says,—They brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torinents, and
* Matt. viii.-Mark v.-Luke viii.
THOSE WHICH WERE POSSESSED WITH Devils, and
Here we find, that the disorder of those who are said to be POSSESSED WITH Devils, is precisely distinguished, not only from natural diseases and torinents in general, but likewise froin Lunacy in particular; that very disorder which the Antidemoniast is so willing to corifound with supernatural agitations. Is it possible, therefore, to believe, that a Writer of any meaning, at tbe
very time he is distinguishing Lunacy from diabolicat Possessions, should confound these two disorders with one another? Yet, this is what these licentious Critics make him do, in compliance (they tell us) with an accustomed mode of speech. On the contrary, is it not certain, that the sacred Writer was the more intent to represent them as two very different disorders, for this very reason, their having many symptoms in common? a circuinstance which hath made these men solicitous to confound what the Evangelist was careful to distinguish.
In a word, they who, after all these precautions taken by St. Matthew, and the rest, can believe that Devils and Demoniacs were used only as terms of accommodation, may well believe (as some of them profess to do) that the terms Saérifice, Redemption, and Satisfuction, come of no better a Ilouse than one of the cominon figures of speech
Of this kind are the Miracles in which the Deity immediately interposes, to vindicate the Credit of his own Predictions, when impious men have publicly combined to defeat and dishonour them.
The most eminent of this Class was the miraculous interposition of Heaven, which defeated Julian's attempt to rebuild THE JEWISH TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM.
When God found it expedient or necessary, in order to preserve the Memory and keep up the Knowledge of * See note [L] at the end of this Book.
himself amidst a corrupt world, running headlong into Polytheism and Idolatry, lic chose a single Family, which, when spread out into a Națion or People
, was to become the public repository of his holy Name, till the fulness of time should come, when, as he promised by himself, all the earth should be filled with the glory of the Lord*
This family was of the seed of Abraham; which, in compliance with the religious notions of those times, he, was pleased to adopt for his peculiar People, under the idca of their tutelar Deity, or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and, the more effectually to secure the great end of their separation, assumed, likewise, the title and office of their King or CIVIL GOVERNOR; having, first of all, cominunicated himself to them, as the Maker and Governor of the Universe.
Hence, the RELIGION he gave unto this People came under the idea of a Law; and the Law, amongst them, was, in the strictest sense, Religion, as having all the sanctions of a divine command.
From this short account of the JEWISH CONSTITUTioN it appears, that RELIGION, which, elsewhere, had properly and justly particulars only for its subjects, had here the nation or community. And what, elsewhere, (as far as concerns the divine origin of Religion) is only à private matter, was here a public
. For the Deity being both their tutelary God and Civil Governor, the proper object of his care was in either capacity, the collective Body.
Hence it follows, that the principal Rites of the Hebrew Religion and Law were to be performed in some determined Place. For the ideas of a tutelary God and civil Governor implied a local Residence; and a national act, arising from the relations springing out of these qualities, required a fixed and certain habitation for its celebration; and both together seemed to mark out the Capital of the Country for that use.
Such a practice, which the nature and reason of things so evidently point out, the Institutes of the Jewish Law expressly direct and enjoin.
During the early and unsettled times of the Republic, the Sacrifices prescribed by its Ritual were directed to be * Numbers xiv, 21.
offered up at the door of an ambulatory Tabernacle ; but when the People had perfected the Establishment ordained for them, and a magnific TEMPLE was erected for religious Worship, then their Sacrifices were to be offered in that place at Jerusalem only:
Now, SACRIFICES constituting the essentials of their Worship, their Religion could not be said to exist longer than that celebration continued. But Sacrifices were to be performed in no place out of the Walls of their TEMPLE. So that when this holy place was finally destroyed, according to the prophetical predictions, the INSTITUTION itself became abolished. Nor was any thing more consonant to the genius of this Religion, than the assigning such a celebration of its principal Rites. The Temple would exist while they remained a People, and continued Sovereign. And when their Sovereignty was lost; the Temple-worship became precarious, and subject to the arbitrary pleasure of their Masters.—They destroyed this Temple; but it was not till it had lost its use. For the Rites, directed to be there celebrated, were relative to them only as a free-policied People.
So that this was, in reality, a total EXTINCÍION of the Jewish Worship. How wonderful are the ways of God! This came to pass at that very period when a nečo Révêlation from Heaven concurred with the blind transactions of civil policy, to supersede the Law by the introduction of the Gospel: the last great work which completed the Scheme of HUMAN REDEMPTION.
To confound this admirable order of Providence was what induced the EMPEROR JULIAN to attempt the REBUILDING the JEWISH TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM. The vanity of the attempt could be only equalled by its impiety; for it was designed TO GIVE THE LIE TO GOD, who, by the mouth of his Prophets, had foretold that it should never be rebuilt. Here then was the most important occasion for a miraculous interposition, as it was to defeat this mad attempt. And thus in fact it was defeated, to the admiration of all mankind.
But as a large and full account of the whole affair hatk been already given to the Public, in a Work entitled + Julian, or a Discourse concerning the Earthquake and VOL. VI.