« PreviousContinue »
*sight, discourse and behave to him as he did; only allowing for what his disorder made him mingle therewith.
• What is farther said, p. 76, concerning the inhabitants of • the neighbouring town, that they do not seem to have
known more of Christ than this man, is with me alike void ' of probability. For Christ had been teaching the doctrine
of the kingdom, and working miracles, a considerable time, • and had taken up bis residence at Capernaum ; in which,
and in the neighbourhood thereof, he lived a good while. • It is credible that all this could have been, and St. Matthew, iv, 24, (as is by our late friend observed, p. 78,) had said before, that his fame went throughout all Syria ?” • And yet the people of this town, not above perhaps seven • or eight miles distant, and to which a boat might pass in ' a night's time from Capernaum, had never heard and knew * nothing of him? What! spread over all Syria, and never
reached a place within a few miles of bim? 1 allow it is a • general expression, and must admit of limitation. But I
can see no other ground for excepting this place, than the * serving an hypothesis.
• Nor does the instance adduced, p. 79, from Mark i. 21, • &c. prove any thing, as I think, to the purpose for which • it is brought. For though that was something earlier in ' the ministry of Christ than this, and he might be then less • known; yet he bad been long enough known there for " that person to have heard of him. For Mark i. 16, he • had begun to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God, • saying, “ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is • at band; repent ye, and believe the gospel" and walking
by the sea of Galilee, be had called first Simon and An"diew, and afterwards James and John his brother, ver. 16– • 20, and, I suppose, had wrought some miracles. It is not
impossible, but the person who was cured in the syna‘gogue of Capernaum, being left at bis liberty, and allow•ed to enter there, might have heard of what Christ had • done in his way thither; and heard, or heard of, what he .bad preached after he came thither. And in St. Luke iv. * 31—37, it should seem, that this person was cured, not upon • Christ's first coming to Capernaum. Wbich enlargeth
the time, that this man had to come to the knowledge of • him.
• There is no necessity therefore to suppose, that these persons could have no knowledge of Christ, and that it * must not be they, but the devils only in them, who knew • him.
• The arguing, p. 82, from the mention made of " casting out devils,” after raising the dead, in the commission given • by Christ to bis disciples, Matt. x. 8, when he sent them forth, is, I think, of no force; for there may
be no necessity of supposing the expression to rise higher than the • other, from its being placed after it; as appears from other * texts. Luke ix, 1, 2," Then he called his twelve disciples
together, and gave them power and authority over all • devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach • the kingdom of God, and to beal the sick.” And Matt. 'x. 1, “ And when he had called unto him the twelve disci.. * ples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast • ibem out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all man
of disease. See also Matt. iv. 24. It may likewise be • observed, that if the expression of “ casting out devils,” • be supposed to refer to real possessions; it is not an expres•sion of greater power, than that of raising the dead. Nor • does the fact carry in it a greater degree of evidence and • conviction; because there is not equal evidence to be bad • that a person is really possessed, as there is of a person's * being really dead. And therefore it may be as well • placed after the raising the dead, if it be interpreted of persons mad, as if it be understood of persons possessed.
May not the term owopovovta, Mark v. 16; Luke viii. 35, “ in his rigbt mind," by wbich this person is repre6 sented after his cure, as it is used both by sacred and pro• fane writers in opposition to madness, afford some coun• tenance to this interpretation ??
So far my good friend. One of my arguments against real possessions was taken, • from the manner in which the persons, said to have “ • clean spirits,” speak of our Lord Jesus Christ.
• For such persons did often bear an bonourable testimony . to our Lord. So Mark i. 24; Luke iv. 41. But it is in* credible, that Satan, or any other evil spirits, under his • influence and direction, should freely and cheerfully bear • witness to our Lord, as the Christ.
Indeed, this appears to me a very forcible argument. • I have been sometimes apt to think, that this consideration • has been overlooked by learned and pious men, who have • so readily admitted real possessions.''
So I said. But Dr. Ward is not at all moved by that consideration. He even thinks the testimony of demons to our Lord, to have been of some value, and of use, especially for encouraging the disciples.
• See Vol. i. Supplement. Disc. III. 8. '
Diss. p. 81, . And as to the case of these demoniacs among • the Gergesenes, there seems to have been the greatest pro* priety at that time, not only for his permitting the devils
to confess him to be the Son of God, but likewise to wor• ship bim. For it does not appear, that any other persons
were then present, but Christ himself, and his disciples, • except the demoniacs. And this was not long before he 6 sent forth his disciples both to preach, and also “ to heal • the sick, to raise the dead, and cast out devils,” Matt. •x. 7, 8. Therefore what could be more proper, or give • them higher encouragement to hope for success in their • work, than to see the devils thus subject to their master, and paying homage to him ?'.
But first, it is not at all likely that our Lord should accept the testimony of demons in private, if he did not receive it in public. How he checked and disallowed the confessions of persons under these disorders, may be seen, Mark i. 23–26; and Luke iv, 33, 35. Dr. W. supposeth that there was great propriety in permitting such confessions, when few were present. But I am not able to discern that propriety.
Secondly, there were others then present with our Lord, beside the disciples, and the demoniacs. For St. Matthew says, viii. 28, “ And when he was come to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce." St. Mark v. 1, 2, “ And they came over unto the other side of the sea- -And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.” Luke viii. 27, “ And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, wbich had devils long time, and ware no clothes.”
The place of the present abode of these demoniacs was on the sea-coast. When they saw our Saviour and the disciples come on shore, they immediately came toward them. Nor can there be any doubt. made, that the sailors also, in whose ship our Saviour and his disciples had arrived, came ashore with them, or presently after. The appearance of such objects could not but excite their curiosity. Moreover, in the voyage from the other side there had happened a great storm, which our Lord composed by his word. And the men of the ship, as well as the disciples, “ marvelled greatly,” or
or were exceedingly surprised," saying: What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” Matt. viii. 27. Nor were these men now first acquainted with our Lord. Before this they had heard him preach, and might have seen some other miracles done by him. Besides, as we are assured by St. Mark, upon our Lord's saying in the evening, “ Let us pass over to the other side," he not only set out himself in the ship, where he had been preaching; but “ there were also several other little ships,” filled, it is likely, with men who had attended on his discourses in the day-time. These knew he was going to “ the other side” of the lake; and would be there as soon as he, or before. In short, our Lord was now, as it were, in the height of his ministry. And we know from the evangelists, that before this time, he was followed with uncommon zeal by multitudes wherever he went, even into desert places. As is shown, Mark i. 45; and Luke iv. 42, 43. So that before this inan, or these men, worshipped our Lord, or acknowledged him to be the Son of God, many people must have been gathered together.
P. 75. For proving that this unhappy person was not barely distracted, our author says: • Besides, it is plain that • he could not be apprised of his coming at that time, for • the ship sailed over from the other side in the night. And • so soon as Christ came ashore, and the man saw him at a • distance, he ran to him, and worshipped him.'
But there is not sufficient precision in that proposition. Two things are joined together, which ought to be separated. When our Lord, and his disciples, let me now add,) and other people, landed, he came toward them. And from the respect shown to our Lord by the disciples, and by all the company, he discerned him to be the principal person : but he did not worship our Lord, nor confess him to be the Christ, until after some discourse, as appears from the history. Matt. viii. 28, 29, already cited.
6 And when he was come to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce — And, behold, they cried out saying: What bave we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God
But let us compare the other evangelists. Mark v. 2, * And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spiritVer. 6-8, But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him. And cried with a loud voice, and said : Wbat bave I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? I adjure thee, that thou torinent me not. For he had said unto him; Come out of him, thou unclean spirit."
And Luke viii. 27-29, “ And when he went forth to
land, there met him out of the city a certain man which had devils long time. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before bim, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God Most High. I beseech thee, torment me not. For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man."
According to all the Evangelists therefore, this demoniac, or these two demoniacs, acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God. But from St. Mark and St. Luke it appears, that tbis was not done until after our Lord had some discourse with him. From this discourse, and from the general intelligence which he had before received concerning Jesus, in the intervals of his disorder, he was enabled and disposed to speak of bim as he did.
St. Mark alone expressly says, that the man of whom he speaks “ worshipped” Christ. But the same thing is said by St. Luke in another phrase, “ he fell down before him.” And it is implied in what is attested by all the Evangelists, that he acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God. So in the history of the man born blind, whom our Lord had healed. John ix. 35—38, “ Jesus heard that they had cast him out. And when he had found him, he said, Dost thou believe on the Son of God ? He answered, and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on bim? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped bim." So likewise, after our Lord's ascension. Matt. xxviii. 17, “ And when they saw him they worshipped him.”
I have no intention to add any new arguments concerning the case of the demoniacs, mentioned in the New Testament. I rely upon those which were formerly alleged. And let every one judge as he sees best. But I would take this opportunity to propose some observations upon the history of the cure of the two unhappy men in the country of the Gadarenes, which have not been yet mentioned.
Inaccounting for the loss of the swine several things are said at Supplement to vol. I. Disc. IV. The distraction under which the man called Legion had laboured, was very grievous. He was a hideous form, and his action was very violent. When he had conceived the thought of gratifying the evil spirits, by wbich he imagined himself to be possessed, with the destruction of the swine, he would without much difficulty drive them off the precipice. If some few of them were put in motion, the whole herd would follow.
I would now say more distinctly, that the loss of the swine