« PreviousContinue »
sons, that the demons which possessed them could not exist near that man of God, the Messiah; and therefore that they must necessarily flee at his approach. In reply to this, a writer in the Tüb. gel. Anz.? justly remarks, “ It is altogether incredible that, in so short a time, and in the population of one small country, a mere opinion should of itself, in so many instances, have effected a permanent cure of mental derangement, a disease generally resulting from some radical disorganization of the body; or that in so many cases it should happen, that just at the precise time when Jesus approached such unfortunate beings, the bodily causes of their derangement should in every instance have spontaneously vanished, and their minds have been restored, by mere chance."
The physical influence of wicked angels is, moreover, corroborated by those declarations of Christ himself, which were uttered on occasions when he might have expressed his opinion without reservation, as he was not addressing the multitude, but speaking to his confidential disciples, and on those occasions when there was peculiar reason for his contradicting the popular opinion, if he had entertained a different one himself. Thus, when the Pharisees charged him with casting out demons by the aid of the devil, their prince, it would have been peculiarly necessary for him to contradict the doctrine of demons, if he had not believed it himself. But surely it is far from being philosophical, to give a forced, unnatural exposition of such plain passages as those referred to in the Gospels, relative to demoniacs, merely because the subject borders on some obscurity, and because we do not know the manner in which the influence of wicked angels on men is exerted. And as to the narrative contained
1 for 1801, p. 279. 2 Matth. 17; 19, 21. Luke 10: 17, 21.
3 Matth. 12: 28, 29. Dissert. de sensu histor. Not. 63, and Hess über die Lehren und Thaten unseres Hernn, S. 257-264. 4 See Dissert, on the death of Jesus, p. 539 VOL. II.
in Acts 16:16-18, it is not necessary, as Michaelis 1 and Eckermann ? have contended, to believe that Paul and Luke accommodated themselves to a false opinion. For we are under no necessity of adopting their translation of the phrase arvavuo IIT2NOE, spirit of Apollo, as Paul and Luke both regarded Apollo as a mere empty fictitious name. But the usage of the language will warrant us in considering aviwvos as equivalent to eyyaotoluvdov i. e. spirit of a ventriloquist. This sense of the word viwv is fully established by Wetstein and Schleusner ; and both quote the following passage from Plutarch de Defectu Oraculorum L.II,εγγαστριμυθους ευρυκλεας παλαι, νυνι πυθωνος προςαγορευομενους i. e. ventriloquists were formerly demoninated Euryclitae, but now they are called diviners or fortunetellers, literally, Pythons. The damsel had actually been sick, and by her disease had become a ventriloquist. For if she had merely been playing a game of deception, which she had been able to perform without any peculiarity of bodily conformation, Paul's commanding that spirit to come out of her (v. 18), could not have deprived her of the power of continuing her practice. Accordingly, Michaelis admits that her disease enabled her to practise this deception. But the cause of the disease by which the damsel had become a ventriloquist, may have been the same as the cause of other diseases which Christ cured, that is, it may have resulted from the influence of a (rivevua) wicked angel. Ilvevua nvlovos, therefore, signifies an evil spirit who produced ventriloquism, just as in Luke 13: 11, itvevua qoftVELAS means an evil spirit which produced disease. Nor can it be objected to this interpretation, that in the first case the genitive aviwvos is a concrete, whilst in the latter case the genitive aotavelas is an abstract word. For the metonymy by which the effect is placed instead of the cause, occurs in concrete words as well as in such as are abstract; and avavua nviwvos is a genitive in apposition, and is equivalent to TrvEvua quod est nuθων.1 Thus in Luke 11: 14. Mark 9 : 25, 17, a dumb, speechless spirit (πνευμα κωφον, αλαλον) signifes nothing else than a spirit which had made the person who was possessed (daquovisouevos Matth. 12 : 22) by him, dumb; and so also“ a spirit which was a ventriloquist (aviwv),” may just as well signify “a spirit that made a person a ventriloquist.”
1 Dogmatik, S. 353 &c. and Notes on the New Test. Pt. II. p. 375. 2 Compend. Theolog. christianae, p. 89.
3 1 Cor. 8: 4. 10: 19, OUDEV Eldwov ev noquo an idol is nothing in the world.
4 See his Notes on v. 16. 17,
Finally, the objection against the actual influence of evil spirits on the bodies of certain individuals, which Eichhorn? would derive from the silence of St. John on the subject, possesses no force. For we have no reason to believe that the cause of his silence was a disbelief of demoniacal influence. On the other hand, that his opinion was directly the reverse, we know with certainty, from the passages of his works which were quoted in VÝ 50, 51, 52. The true cause of this silence appears to lie in the general scope of his Gospel ; inasmuch as he did not intend to furnish a complete history of the actions of Jesus (as we have proved in the work on the Object of John's Gospel § 1), but presupposed the greater part of his miracles as known to his readers from their acquaintance with the other Gospels, and among the rest also the cures of those possessed with devils; see § 12. Il. 4. St. John's plan was to select only a few particular miracles from the whole number of cures, which he himself states (6: 2) to have been very great. In accordance with his plan, therefore, he has given us only three ; viz. the cure of the courtier's son who lay sick, at a distance from him; the cure of the man at
1 Observv. p. 104. 2 Bibliotheca of Biblical Literature, Vol. 4. p. 333. &c.
Bethesda, who had been sick eight and thirty years; and the cure of the man born blind. Certainly, then, it is not remarkable, that among so few examples, there should not have been the dure of a disease which had been produced by an evil spirit.
The pernicious influence of wicked angels can be withstood,
and it is our duty to resist it. Still the utmost exertions of wicked angels, can accomplish no more than to gain them an influence over those(1) whose dispositions had previously accorded with that of Satan (2), that is, over those who had been lovers of sin(3). The more watchful we are in avoiding sin, the more secure shall we be against the evil influence of wicked angels. And the same means which are appointed to enable us to resist the general influence of sin where no Satanic agency exists, will fortify (4) us against the influence of evil spirits, if it should be added to the other temptations to sin. Hence, as Satan can have access to the human heart only through the fault of the individual himself, who exposes himself to his influence and gives him opportunity to plunge him deeper into sin (5), it follows, that we cannot justify ourselves for the commission of those sins, by attempting to cast the blame upon Satan. For neither the devil nor any external temptation can have any influence upon us, excepting by our own fault. To this source indeed all our sins must
ultimately be referred. They can never accomplish any thing, excepting when we neglect to resist the inward temptations (James 1: 14) by the use of those means which must be resorted to in every temptation, whether or not the influence of wicked angels is added to the other allurements to transgression. It cannot indeed, in individual cases, be determined with certainty whether Satanic influence has been exerted or not (6); and yet its certainty is presupposed by those who seek extenuation of their crimes by attributing them to the agency of evil spirits; a refuge altogether vain, even if that certainty were established. But although we are not able, in individual cases, to assert the certain existence of such influence; we must not forget the general truth that such agency is actually exerted (7); in order that we may have reference in our conduct to these enemies of our real (8) welfare, who rejoice in our misery, and by whose power and subtlety (9) the unwary are often led on to greater lengths in sin (10) than they of themselves (11) would
go; that thus we may be the more watchful (12) in avoiding those sins by which Satan and his angels gain access to our hearts, and be the more diligent in the use of those means (13) which shall best fortify us against the seductions of the devil. And how much more salutary would be the practical influence, which the inculcation of this doctrine of Scripture (14) would exert, to stimulate men to virtue and deter them from the paths of vice, than that which would result from an entire rejection of belief in the agency of wicked spirits, whether the doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture, or is a supplement annexed to it by the superstition of men ! But this intemperate zeal, which wages war alike against truth and error, has other conse