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the inanimate elements themselves, but rather to that "potent spirit," who did "ride in the whirlwind, and direct the storm," Mark iv. 39, Job i. 9.
5. When the damsel at Philippi, possessed by "a spirit of Python," (the old Serpent, or Devil,) who brought great gain to her masters, by divining; for several days followed Paul and his assistants, saying, "These men are servants of THE MOST HIGH GOD, who declare unto us the way of salvation!" Paul, wearied at length, turned and said to the spirit, "I command thee, in the name of JESUS CHRIST, to come out of her!" and it came out the same moment, Acts xvi. 16—18. It is truly remarkable, that all the heathen Oracles at Delphi, &c. were silenced from the time of CHRIST'S ministry, which gives
From the variation of the tenses suited to each occasion, we may presume that JESUS spoke, on both, in Greek; as he certainly did to John, "I am Alpha and Omega," &c. Rev. i. 8. How infinitely superior is "the imperatorial brevity" of this command, to that of Neptune chiding the winds, in Virgil: Quos Ego;-sed motos præstat componere fluctus, as much superior, indeed, as reality is to fiction.
The following extraordinary relation is furnished by Plutarch, to which he attaches much credit, and endeavours thereby to account for the fact of the cessation of oracles in his time, by supposing that the demons who conducted those oracles, though longer lived than men, were now dead. De defectu oraculorum.
"In the time of Tiberius, [in whose reign CHRIST was crucified,] some persons, embarking from Asia for Italy, towards the evening, sailed by the Echinades, [five little islands in the Ionian sea,] where being becalmed, they heard from thence a loud voice, calling one Thamus, an Egyptian mariner among them, and after the third time, commanding him, when he came to the Palodes, to declare that the Great Pan was dead. With the advice of his company, he resolved, that if they had a quick gale when they came to the Palodes, he would pass by silently, but if they should find themselves becalmed there, he would then perform what the voice had commanded. But when the ship arrived thither, there was neither any breeze of wind, nor any agitation of the water. Whereupon Thamus, looking out of the stern, toward the Palodes, pronounced these words with a loud voice, ò μɛyaç lav te‡vŋkɛ, "the Great Pan is dead!" which he had no sooner done, than he was answered by a chorus of many voices, making a great howling and lamentation, not without a mixture of admiration." Cudworth's Intellect. Syst. p. 345.
Plutarch says that Tiberius took pains to ascertain the fact, and enquired among his learned men who this Pan could be.
Whether the story be true or not, in the name Pan, and the aerial demon's application to an Egyptian mariner alone of all the crew, there seems to be a marked allusion to the celebrated inscription on the temple of Neith, or the goddess of Wisdom, at Sais, in Egypt.
Εγω ειμι παν το γεγονός, και ον και εσόμενον
"I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be ;
some foundation to the opinion, that they were not entirely impostures. See the foregoing observations on the witch of Endor, 1 Sam. xxviii. 7; and the Appendix to the fourth volume, On the Primitive Theology, and its corruptions.
6. When, soon after this, some Jewish exorcists at Ephesus, attempted to "exorcise a wicked spirit in the name of JESUS, whom Paul preached," it answered, "JESUS I know, and Paul I am acquainted with, but who are ye? And the man in whom the wicked spirit was, leaped upon them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded," Acts xix. 13-16.
These striking instances, adduced by the sacred historians as plain matters of fact, divested of all allegory, seem to support and establish the unfashionable doctrine of demoniacal possession, at least in OUR SAVIOUR'S days; when it was the prevailing opinion of the Jewish nation, from the highest to the lowest, and indeed of the whole world. What right, then, infidels and philosophizing divines have to explode a doctrine, because they cannot comprehend it at the present day, as visionary, any more than the existence and influence of Satan himself, does not appear*. Strong traces, perhaps, of diabolical influence and agency, in some of the prime actors on the present theatre of the world, seem to be discoverable by those who watch the signs of the times; and who reason, from analogy, from what has been, to what may be; and cannot otherwise account for many extraordinary revolutions, and " passing strange" occurrences, that baffle all political calculation, and set even the spirit of conjecture at defiance!
BLASPHEMY OF THE PHARISEES.
To repel the force of this testimony from the cure of demoniacs, the reality of which was too notorious to be denied, or even questioned; the Pharisees, artfully and malignantly, took advantage of these favourable confessions of the demoniacs to the person and character of JESUS as the CHRIST, to defame
Here Pan, "all," or "the universe," appears to have denoted THE SUPREME GOD, or his associate, NEITH, or WISDOM, Prov. viii. 22; THE ORACLE of the Hebrews, John i. 1.
Beware what spirit rages in your breast:
For ten, inspired, ten thousand are possest! RoSCOMMON.
him to the people; as if he dispossessed demons by collusion or confederacy with the devil himself!
"When a demoniac was brought unto him, both blind and dumb, JESUS healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Is not this THE SON OF DAVID, or THE CHRIST?
"But the Pharisees and the Scribes, who came down from Jerusalem," in order to watch and counteract him, said, repeatedly," He casteth out demons through Beelzebub, the chief of the demons," Matt. ix. 33, 34, xii. 22-24, Mark iii. 22, 23, Luke xi. 14, 15.
OUR LORD, then "calling to him the Pharisees," with authority, exposed the absurdity and wickedness of their calumny, in the following masterly argument, Mark iii. 23.
1. "How can Satan expel Satan?" By thus acting against himself, he would only promote the downfall of his own kingdom; for a "house, or kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand." Such collusion, therefore, on his part, would be absurd and ruinous.
2. "Your sons," the exorcists, profess to expel demons: your argument is equally hostile and injurious to them: therefore, shall they be your judges, or accuse you of slandering them also; and acquit me, as acting, not by the power of Satan, but by "the power of GOD;" thus clearly evincing the sudden arrival of his kingdom among you, by the downfall of Satan's kingdom, Matt. xii. 27, Luke xi. 19, 20.
3. This victory over Satan, proved CHRIST's superiority. Though he is strong, a stronger bound him, and ravaged his house and goods; or rescued those who were under his dominion heretofore, Matt. xii. 29, Mark iii. 27, Luke xi. 21, 22.
4. In CHRIST's warfare with Satan, none can stand neuter *, "he that is not with, or for Him +," as a friend," is against him," as an enemy: he is either" a child of GOD, or a child of the Devil," for there is no medium, (1 John iii. 10.) The Pharisees, therefore, by their opposition to CHRIST, proved themselves, as he boldly reproached them, "a generation of vipers;"
Solon, the Athenian, by a wise law, declared neutrality infamous in civil commotions; in order to compel the well-affected citizens to take an active part; and thereby to quell the disaffected. PLUTARCH.
+ OUR LORD elsewhere expresses the reverse of the proverb: " He that is not against Us, is for Us," Mark ix. 40, Luke ix. 50.
(so John the Baptist had described them before,) whose opposition proceeded from an evil heart of unbelief, Matt. xii. 30-34, Mark xi. 23.
5. He warned them of the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against THE HOLY SPIRIT, neither to be forgiven in this world nor the next, but liable to eternal damnation. Such as that of lying unto the HOLY SPIRIT," (Acts v. 3.) Or knowingly and wilfully perverting the truth, in ascribing the power of GOD to the power of the Devil; resisting the evidence of their senses, and of their reason, or conscience, by which they could not but be self-condemned, (John viii. 9, Tit. iii. 11.)
And to impress more strongly on them the dangers of such malignant calumnies as this, of which they were now guilty, he warned them that for "every idle assertion," (πav pnμа apуov) men should be called to account, in the day of judgment. Such was that which they afterwards suborned the guard of Roman soldiers at the holy sepulchre to use, " His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we were asleep," (Matt. xxviii. 13.) which being propagated among the Jews, occasioned, that every where Christianity was spoken against," and CHRIST represented as a deceiver and impostor, (Matt. xxvii. 63, Acts xxviii. 22.) Matt. xii. 36.
* Among the Greek philosophers this was called λoyos apyog, which Cicero renders Ignava Ratio, "Idle argument;" and explains, Genus interrogationis ignavum atque iners, quod eadem ratione omnis e vita tollatur actio; "a kind of argumentation idle and indolent: because by the same reasoning, (as was brought to prove an overruling fate or destiny, and an inevitable necessity,) all active exertion would be banished from the world." De fato, § 12. And the great English philosopher, Bacon, among the grand causes of error, reckons, Nimia et præpropera mentis festinatio ad conclusiones temere deducendas, an excessive and over hasty precipitance of mind, to draw conclusions rashly," from false, imperfect, or insufficient premises: without taking the necessary pains and trouble to examine their validity. The opposite effects of this indolent disposition of mind in producing both dogmatism and scepticism, are well expressed by Pope, Essay on Man.
"Or indolent, to each extreme they fall,
To trust in every thing, or doubt of all."
"The same dread of labour attending the search of TRUTH, which makes the dogmatist presume it to be always at hand, makes the sceptic conclude it is never to be found. The only difference is, that the laziness of the one is sanguine, and the laziness of the other not sanguine." Warburton's Note.
Hence our Lord so repeatedly warned the Scribes and Pharisees, to "search THE SCRIPTURES,"" to judge, not according to appearance, but to judge just judgment,”— "yea, even of yourselves, why judge ye not what is just ?" John v. 39, vii. 24, Luke xii. 57.
6. Nearly connected with this crime, was that of requiring further evidence of his divine mission, after sufficient evidence had been afforded them; namely, of repeatedly demanding the sign from heaven, foretold by the Prophet Daniel," tempting him," by a distrust of his power to give it; as is evident from their subsequent conduct, when they derided him as he hung upon the cross, and required him to give them the sign of coming down from thence, that they might believe in him, (Matt. xxvii. 42.) Matt. xii. 38, Luke xi. 16.
7. He contrasted their rejection of his superior preaching and authority, with the Ninevites' attention to Jonah, and the queen of Sheba's to Solomon; who should rise up against them, as witnesses, in the day of judgment, and convict them of obstinacy and incredulity, in shutting their eyes against the light while the light that was within them, as they supposed, was darkness; mental darkness, the most dreadful and deplorable, because it was incurable, Matt. xii. 41, 42, Luke xi. 32-36, John ix. 40, 41.
8. He concluded with an admonition to the demoniacs, who had been cured, to beware of relapsing into sin*, lest they should be possessed again in a higher degree, so as to render their case desperate, Matt. xii. 43-45, Luke xi. 24-26, according to the excellent comment of Archbishop Cranmer: "Albeit the hous of your conscience be once made clene and the foule spirit be expelled from us in baptisme or penaunce, [repentance;] yet if we wax idle, and take not hede, he will returne, with seven worse spirites, and possesse us agayne." And OUR LORD extended the admonition to "that wicked generation" in general; whose deplorable catastrophe, for their obstinate impenitence, he had tacitly intimated, in "the sign of the Prophet Jonah;" which had a two-fold reference, to himself, and to them and as Jonah's continuance of three days in the fish's belly, was prefigurative of his own entombment for the same time, so was Jonah's denunciation, "ere forty days, shall Nineveh be overthrown;" (which was suspended upon their repentance,) critically fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, ere forty years were past," from the date of this sign, when last given by OUR LORD, after the third passover, A.D. 30, Matt. xvi. 4.
O toties servus ! quæ bellua ruptis,