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Elements from whence it arose. And that sect of Philosophy which most favoured, and best cultivated the Doctrine of the Soul's immortality, considered the Body only as its priso, into which it was thrust, by way of penance, for its pre-existent crimes ; and from which, when it had undergone its destined purgation, it was to be totally set free. Nay, so little did the RESURRECTION ÓF THE BODY enter into their more studied conceptions, that when St. Paul, at Athens, (the capital Seat of Science,) preached JESUS AND THE RESURRECTION his Auditors mistook the second term to be like the first, a revelation of some new Deity, a certain Goddess, called ANASTASISt.
With all these prejudices, so unfavourable to the RESURRECTION OF THE BODY, nothing less than the assurance of the best attested MIRACŁE, in confirmation of it, could have reconciled the Gentile World to the belief of so incredible a Doctrine.
This we say with the greater confidence, since St. Paul himself, on this occasion, appears to argue on the same idea. For when he had rectified this error of the Athenians, concerning Jesus and the resurrection, and had informed them that, by this resurrection, he meant the revival of the dead bodies of men, and restoration of them to life, he adds—whereof God hath given ASSURANCE unto all men, in that he raised Jesus from the dead.--For after his resurrection, he was seen (says the same Apostle; on another occasion) of five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, 1 Cor. xv. 6.
idea. Acts xvii. 31. + In this sense St. Chrysostom understood the thoughts of the Athenians to be concerning St. Paul's mention of the Anastasis
. Dr. BENTLEY thinks otherwise. But which of these two Doctors was likely to be best acquainted with the genius and state of Paganism, when St. Paul preached at Athens, must be left to the judgment of the · leader. This, at least, is certain, that the reason the modern Doctor
gives, why the Athenians could not mistake ANASTAsis for a Goddess, because they too well understood the notion of a resurrection, is a very weak one, since they had no notion of a resurrection at all; unless they mistook (which is very unlikely) the STOICAL RENOVATION for that which the Apostle preached.' Dr. Bentley, indeed, seems to have fallen into that error, or he could scarce have said the Athenians well understood the notion of a Resurrection. However, let the Athenians understand this Stoical renovation as they would, they were certainly liable to a folly as gross, and at that time much more general, which was, the turning a moral entity into an object of worship: most of which abstract notions, superstition had thus metamorphosed. Amongst the Jews, indeed, the ResuRRECTION, was become a national Doctrine some time before the advent of the Messial; not collected (we may be sure) from natural reason, nor taught them by their Scriptures, yet collected from the contemplation of their Prophets misinterpreted; where the restoration of the Dosaic Republic was predicted, in terms which were mistaken by the latter Jews, to signify the revival or resurrection of the Bodies of their deceased Ancestors ; of which many instances inight be given, besides Ezekiel's Vision of the dry bones.
2. Under this second division of Miracles, whose subject makes an essential part in the Economy of the Christian dispensation, let me recommend to your consideration and belief the power of Jesus and his Disciples to CAST OUT DEVILS OR EVIL SPIRITS from the bodies of Men suffering by those inhospitable Guests*.
And under this division I the rather chuse to place this species of Miracles, since, by occasion of a very general and infamous pretence of such a power, especially in these later times, the fact itself has been rendered doubtful; and even excluded from the number of those mental and bodily disorders, recorded by the Evangelists, to have been relieved in the most extraordinary manner by Jesus and his Disciples - And they brought unto hiin all sick people (says St. Matthew) that were taken with diters diseases and torments, and those which were posSESSED with DEVILS, AND LUNATICS; and he healed themt. -Insomuch that at length we have been told, that what is here called the being possessed with Devils, was, indeed, no other than an atrabilaire Lunacy, or one of those óccult distempers for which Physicians could not find a remedy, or, what was still harder, were at a loss for a name; and therefore, in complaisance to the imbecility of their Patients, they agreed to suppose it supernatural, or (saving your presence) the work of the Devil.
But this strange Malady being delivered to us as a REAL Possession by the Evangelist last quoted, who, at the same time, distinguishes it from natural disorders, and particularly from LUNACY, with which these modern · Doctors are willing to confound it, we chuse to adhere to the opinion of the sacred Writer. . Serinon Or the Full of Satan, vol. x. + Matt. iv. 24.
In support of which, and to form a right judgment of the matter in question, it may be proper to consider what adverse part the Devil bore in disturbing the Economy of Grace.
Now, in the History of the Fall, recorded by Moses, to which the Writers of the New Testament perpetually allude; SATAN, or the Tempter; Calumniator, the old Serpent, or the evil One, (for by these rames he is characicrized in Scripture,) is represented as having instigated the first man; Adam, to disobedience; for which, by the second Adam, Jesus Christ," (who restored us to our lost inheritance) is denounced his punishment in these figurative terms, the Seed of the Woman should bruise the Serpent's head* : explained in the New Testament, to be the final conquest and destruction of this enemy of mankind by our Redeemer. So that we may reasonably expect to find the punishment of the Tempter recorded in the History of our REDEMPTION, as his crime was recorded in the History of the Fall. And, indeed, this circumstance, so necessary to the story of the whole transaction, we meet with in the Gospel, on several occasions.
When the Disciples, whom Jesus had sent out to renounce their Mission, came back to their Master exulting in the power of their Ministry, he receives them as Conquerors, returning in triumph from their spiritual warfare-I beheld SATAN (says he) us lightning fall from heavent. A strong and lively picture of the sudden precipitation of that Prince of the Air from the place where he had so long held his usurpation, hanging like a pestilential meteor over the sons of men.
The rise, therefore, of Christ's Kingdom, and the fall of Satan's, being thus carried on together, it would be strange indeed, if, in the Gospel, we should find no MARKS of the rage of Satan's expiring tyranny amidst all the salutary blessings of the rising Empire of Christ. But we find them in abundance. We find this enemy of our salvation, mad with despair
, invoking all the powers of darkness to blast that peace and good will towards men, proclaimed by Angels on the birth-night of the Son of God. For when be understood, by his baffled attempts on his Lord and Master, that the SOULS * Gen. mi. 15.
t. Luke x. 18.
of Men had escaped his usurped Dominion, he turned his cruelty on their Bodies, in the most humiliating circumstances of pain and oppression that could dishonour or disgrace humanity : permitted, no doubt, to take a wider range at this decisive instant than at any other, either before or since, in order to illuminate the glories of his Conqueror.
Had the first Adam stood in the rectitude of his Creation, he had, on observing the Command given to hiin in Paradise, gained IMMORTALITY, and been placed above and beyond the reach of NATURAL and MORAL evil. His relapse back to MORTALITY brought both into the world. The office of the second Adam was to restore us to our Paradisaical State. But as the immortality, purchased for us by the Son of God, was unlike to that which became forfeit by the transgression of the first man in this particular, that it was not to commence immediately, but was reserved for the reward of a future state, it followed that both physical and moral evil were to endure for a season. Yet, to manifest that they were, in good time, to receive their final doom from the ReDEEMER, it seems essential to his character that he should, in the course of his Ministry, give a convincing specimen of his power over both.
One part, therefore, of his Godlike labours was, we find, employed in curing all kinds of natural diseases. But had he stopped here amidst his conquests over physical evil
, the full evidence of his Dominion over both Worlds, which, by his office, he was to restore to their primeval integrity, had remained defective.
Jesus, therefore, was to display his Sovereignty over moral evil likewise ; and this could not be seen in the manner it was manifested over natural evil, but by a sensible Victory over Satan; through whose machinations moral evil was brought into the World, and by whose temptations it was sustained and increased,
Hence it was that, amongst his amazing works of sanity and salvation, the CASTING OUT OF DEVILS is so much insisted on by the Writers of his life and death ; he himself having informed them, that it was essential to the erection of his spiritual Kingdom-If I (says he) cast
out Devils by the Spirit of God, "THEN the Kingdom of God is come unto you*.
Thus, from the very genius of the GOSPEL, from the nature and constitution of the System of GRACE, it appears that this was a real ejection of the evil Spirit.
But, besides this, Jesus and his' Disciples, in their manner of working, and in the mode of recording what they worked, did every thing that might beßt display a real victory over SATAN. : Let the Jews of that time, let the Diseased themselves, be as much in an error as you are pleased to conceive them, in the matter of Diabolical Possession, yet no Believer will presume to think that Jesus was deceived in his own case; or was disposed to deceive others, when he informed his Historians of his being led by the Spirit into the Wilderness, and of his being tempted there forty days of the Devilt.-Whether any, or what part of this transaction passed in Vision, is not material to determine, since the reality of the agency is the same on either supposition ; as its truth depended not on the mode of sensation, but on the infallible assurance of that agency. For Jesus, in his antazing humiliation, when he assumed our nature, was yet, without doubt, superior to those infirmities of it which arise from the delusions of sense; a's such delusions would have been incompatible with the exercise of his divine Ministry. If, therefore, there was any mistake in this matter, it must be (I speak it with the most reverential horror) the designed contrivance of our blessed Master himself
, who assures us, that he was not only the way, but the TRUTH likewise.
So far then is clear, that the evil Spirit was neither absent nor inactive when the Gospel was first opened to mankind.
In THIS TEMPTATION, he was permitted to try whether he could traverse the great work of human Redemption In his possession of men's bodies, he seems to have been, in part; forced upon the attempt, that the casting of him.out, by the power of Jesus, might evince Mankind that our restoration to LIFE Was fülly accomplished: * Matt. xii, 28. + Luke iv. 1, 2.
John xiv. 6.