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In his Medica Sacra, he hath a chapter de dæmoniacis; in which he hath treated the Evangelic History with all that decency and reverence which becomes a true Scholar and a serious Professor of the Christian Faith.
The first observation I shall make, in the entrance on his argument, is general; and will serve to confute all who have written on the Question. It is this.Our Antidemoniasts reason upon the case, not as they find it recorded by the Evangelists, but as they see it described only in a treatise of Medicine, by Aretæus, Fernelius, or any other of the faculty, where it stands unconnected with all moral as well as religious inquiries. But it hatha been shewn at large, that these demoniacal possessions have a close relation to the Doctrine of REDEMPTION; and were therefore reasonably to be expected at the first promulgation of the Gospel. This sets the matter on quite anotizer footing: and that plausible reasoning, which attends the learned person's representation, entirely disappears, when we put the case as it was in fact.
1. This proper precaution, against so defective and foreign a representation of the case, being premised, I now proceed to the reasoning einployed by our learned Plıysician to discredit the common Opinion of a real possession.
His first argument stands on the extent of the Superstition, which
birth to so many imaginary possessions,
« * It had not only infected the Mosaic Religion in par* ticular, but had overrun paganism in general.”—" As " to the Jews, who were wont tu ascribe whatever there * was of prodigious in nature, to the MINISTRY OF " Angels, they were easily brought to believe, that " those dire diseases, which infected the Mind and
Body JOSEPHUS MEADUS, Theologas, rerum sacrarum cognitione, nulli securđus, luculenta dissertatione eam propugnabit. Cum ex eadem, igitur ac ille, famibia sim oriundus,” &c.-Præf. in Med. Sacr. p.ix. Authore RichARDO MEAD.
* At non Judæi tantum, sed et aliis etiam. gentibus in usu fui't iasanos pro demoniacis habere,. p. 76. A Chaldæis quidem ad Phæniees, postea ad Egyptios propagata, ad Græcos deinde, hinc ad Romanos aliasque demum gentes temporis progressu Demoniaca is a Reliyio pervenit p. 74.
“ Body equally and at once,' and whose causes were “ unknown, could be no other than the work of the « DEVIL*
Let us allow all this Let us allow that the Jews, at the time of Christ, were very superstitious in this matter. But then the learned Doctor, in his turn, will allow, that the Teachers of the Gospel, in the fulness of their inspiration, must needs be secure from an error, which so dreadfully affected the Religion they were intrusted to propagate, as Demonianism did, if it were an error. And if so, they knowingly and designedly gave it countenance and support. But how that will agree with their character and office, we shall see, as we go along.
Our Learned Doctor tells us further, that the Jews not only gave credit to the works of the Devil, but believed in the ministry of ANGELSlikewise.”—This seems to be one of those slips of the pen, to which Truth sometimes betrays those who write most cautiously against her; especially when they act the part of Believers; which, however, I will not suspect was the case here. For the Old Testament, which the learned Doctor reverences equally with the Nex", bears ample testimony to the real ministry of Angels; and with such circumstances attending it, as will not permit a Believing Caviller to evade it, by having recourse to vision, figure, or accommodation. For if the Angel who waylaid Balaam may be reduced to a dusky dream, those whom Abraham entertained in Broad daylight were more substantial. When, therefore, the learned Person puts the ministry and malice of good and bad angels on the same footing, he must confess that, if the reality of the foriner be proved, the reality of the latter will follow.
As to the abounding Superstition, in this matter, both amongst Jeu's and Gentiles, I do not see how that, in the least, alters the case. The Jews, of this time, by a more enlarged and unrestrained Commerce with their Pagan
Judæi antem, siquid faceret Natura, ad ANGELORUM supremi Dei Ministrorum operam referri soliti, facile in animum sibi inducere poterant, ut diras quasdam crederent ægritudines quæ mentem simul et corpus læderent, et quarum cansas cognoscere nequirent, ab angelu. Tum malorum ivegyibais exoriri. p. 74.
neighbours, had defiled the purity of their holy Religion by many opinions borrowed froin the Gentile Philosaphers. Thus they took, we may well suppose, the Doctrine of Demons from Plato, and the pre-existence (if not a future state) from PYTHAGORAS. Notwithstanding, it is certain, that both Demoniacal possessions and future rewards and punishments are equally supported by the acts and doctrine of Jesus and his Disciples.
This too, let me observe-The Doctrines of the FALL and of the REDEMPTION (the two principles on which our holy religion rises) are interwoven into the substance of the Christian Faith. If therefore we can suppose Demonianism to be only a threadbare fable, new-dressed, and offered, by way of accommodation, to amuse the followers of the Gospel, I cannot see what hinders our supposing, with SYNESIUS, a future state itself to be no
Both Opinions had the advantage of old prejudice in their favour. Yet if only one of them were true (namely, that of a future state), and the other of Demonianism, taught but by way of accommodation, we see, it could hold its ground no otherwise than from the difficulty of erasing it from the popular belief: yet so uncomfortable a doctrine, one sliould think, might be removed with very little trouble.
Nay, Jesus was even invited to help forward, as it were, its discredit, had it been only a delusion. A Father* mistook his Son's disorder to be LUNACY, when, accord ing to the Historian, it was a DIABOLIC POSSESSION. And as such, Jesus treats it. He rebukes the Devil, who departed out of the Child, and he was cured from that very hour. And to prevent all mistake in this matter, when the Father had told Jesus that his Disciples could not cure the Child, our Lord, after upbraiding his followers for their want of faith, tells them, however, that this miracle of dispossession, the most difficult of all, required a more extraordinary preparation for the work, than any other, by acts of piety and humiliation. For which assertion an obvious reason may be assigned, this victory over Satan being a certain mark, that the Redemp* Matt. xvii.15.
tion was completed and accomplished, this evidence of it was ftly reserved to be bestowed on the most perfect of the followers of Christ. Yet had the Satanic part beon only a popular fancy, Jesus here might have decried it with advantage, while he had the Father of the sufferer on bis side; who considered his Son's disease as a Lunacy only.
It may be said, perhaps, that the Doctrines of a future state, and that of Demoniacal possessions, which I put upon the same footing of Credibility (because the Gospel katha so put them), differ in this, that a future state may be proved by natural reason, which Demoniacal possessions cannot. But what doth this objection infer more than this : that a future state inakes part of NATURAL RELIGION; and Demoniacal possessions, a part of the REVEALED.
2. The ingenuous Discourser brings another objection to these possessions—Ilaving collected together all the SYMPTOMS of this disorder, from Matthcw, Mark, and Luke, he concludes thus—“ All these are the Symptoms *** of a natural disorder. They are more surprising, « indeed, than those of other disorders, yet nothing super“ natural*.”—Hlislearned Fellow Collegiate, Dr.J.Freind, treating the same subject, alter bie hath given us, from Ætius and Orilasius, a description of the madness called Lycanthropy, of which, one of the most striking Symptoms was a fondness to wander amongst the Sepulchres of the dead, adds---the Demoniac in the Scriptures, who was POSSESSED WITH A LIKE SORT OF MADNESS, is represented as having his dweiling amongst the Tombst.
The opinion of these two learned Naturalists is founded, we see, in this circumstance," that the Symptoms of a " demoniacal possession are the same with those of some * natural disorders."
- osanorum sunt hæc omnia; utrum vero a Dæmoniis, an vi morbi provenerint, disceptatur --Reque enim alius squam inter om nes, qui humanum genus intestant, morbus tam naturæ vim excedere videtur. p.06. + Hlist. of Physic, Part I. pp. 16–21.
But now, if evil spirits were permitted to disturb the vital functions of the human frane, whether i the solids, the fluids, or in both together; can we have any conception how this could be effected without causing or occasioning, in supernatural disorders, the very same SYMPTOMS which accompany natural maladies These Symptoms, in both cases, must arise from the disturbance of the material Frame, and can arise no other wise; and those disturbances, whether produced by a spiritual Agent, or by material causes, must produce the sa ne sensible effects. Madness, for instance, whether occasioned by the malignity of an intelligent Agent ab extra, or by discordant hinnoors ab intra, will be still madness, and accompanied with the same Symptoms. That appearance, therefore, which must accompany a Deminiacal possession, if REAL, can never by any roles of logic be converted into a reasonable argument for the falsehood of such a possession.
It is worth observation, that one of the Evangelists being a Physician, our learned Critic, bý a very becoming partiality, prefers him to the rest. Et. Luke (he tells us) being superior to them for the purity and accuracy of his expression, when there is occasim to speak of distempers, or of the cure of them; and is more particular in reciting all the miracles of our Suviour in relition to healing, than the other Evangelists are*.
All this is true; and yet St. Luke speaks the very same language with the rest concerning demoniacal possessions. Now if the Gospel Demoniacs were men only labouring under natural disorders, a Physician, by bis deeper insight into Nature, with the assistance of inspiration to boot, was very likely to have discovered the mistake; and for the glory of his art as likely to liave recorded it: especially as the detection of it was the overturning a hurtfil Superstition. And we know how ready these benevolent Gentlemen have ever been to detect VULGAR ERRORS.-Not to insist, at present, that St. Luke was guided, in so good a work, by a stronger passion than honour for his profession, as a Physician, that is, a love for truth, as an Evangelist. Įb. pp. 223--225.