Imágenes de páginas

pain, (and that the latter is probably an alleviation of the former,) it suggests an idea that it

which the evil one had inflicted, from the miserable man into the swine, Christ demonstrated his own extraordinary power to the surrounding bye-standers ; punished the dealers in this unJawful traffic for their violation of those laws which they themselves held sacred; demonstrated the impotence of his infernal foe's request, and the power of light over darkness; dispensed a trial to the neighbouring inhabitants which clearly ascertained their want of the heavenly Physician, which, by the sequel of this narration, we find them irreligiously rejecting. For they that fed the swine fled and told it in the city and in the country, and they went out to see what it was that was done: and they came to Jesus and saw him that was possessed with the devils, and had the legion sitting at his feet, comfortably clothed and in his right mind. In a tranquil, composed, and happy state, filled with love to his celestial deliverer, calmly and gratefully receiving his instructions, and no longer the miserable, wild, insane creature they had formerly beheld him. And they, instead of rejoicing at the glorious deed which the benevolent Jesus had performed, were afraid; they were astonished and could not disbelieve his wonderful power; but it led them not into inquiries as to the pretensions of so extraordinary a person, or drew their attention to the gracious words that were ever proceeding out of his mouth; but, on the contrary, they were filled with fear, and preferring, as Bishop Horne observes, “the safety of their swine to the salvation of their souls," prayed him to depart out of their coasts. Far different was the conduct of the grateful man who had been so recently delivered from the power of his merciless oppressor : he had now been taught to know the Son of God most high by blest experience of his tender mercy, not through the pitiless agency of the shrewd and piercing serpent: and dreading separation from his kind, benig. nant benefactor, humbly and affectionately supplicated permission to remain with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not; another destination was appointed for him; his faith was to be preserved by love, not by sight; he was to glorify his Saviour by exhibiting his unspeakable mercy to him. Jesus sent him away,

may be an act of mercy, rather than of vengeance, in the Supreme Being, to have prepared a recep

saying, “ Return to thine own house, and go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." (Luke viïi. 38, 39.) And he departed, and began to publish throughout the whole city and in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him, and all men did marvel. He was instantly obedient, and zealously fervent in spreading abroad the fame of his gracious deliverer, awaiting with patient resignation, cheered by joyful hope, the happy moment that was to convey him to his much-loved Lord, to part no more for ever.

We have already given quotations, pp. 46 and 47, to prove that all common infirmities and diseases which afflict mankind, are attributed in the gospel to the operation of an infernal agency, unto which may be added the testimony of St. Paul. « Lest I should be exalted above measure,” says that great apostle, “through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” (2 Cor. xii. 7.) Also that the epithet, being possessed by devils, is therein applied to many common disorders; and the instances which we are now about to recite will be found to incontrovertibly establish the important fact, that all evil is disseminated on our earth through malice of the devil. As they went out, behold they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil; and when the devil was cast out, behold, the dumb spake. (Matt. ix. 32, 33.) Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb, and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. (Matt. xii. 22.) Have mercy on me, O Lord, my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil: and Jesus said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith; and her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matt. xv. 22–28.) And moral disorders are by him, who could best ascertain their origin, rebuked in the following terms; “Get thee behind me, Satan." (Matt. xvi. 23.) Again, Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil; and just before the consummation of Judas's perfidy, Satan is said to have entered into him. (Luke xxii. 3.) In another instance we find the

tion for the devil and his angels amidst a tormenting element. The worm that never dies, the gnawings and cravings of evil desires, are named before the fire that never will be quenched : and an attentive observer may almost invariably perceive those miserable beings, who commit the enormous crime of suicide, to have been driven into the perpetration of that act of rashness, through mental, not corporeal sufferings. “The spirit of a man can sustain its infirmities, but a wounded spirit who can bear ?" (Prov. xviii. 14:) though the bituminous lake, the misery that man can now most readily conceive, is, for most obvious reasons, the terrific threat thrown out in dread terrorem. When that portentous hour,-tremendous morn! epithet merely made use of by the Jews as an opprobrious accusation. John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say he hath a devil. (Matt. xi. 18.) Then said the Jews to Jesus, Now we know thou hast a devil. (John viii. 16.) And the recapitulation with which we shall dismiss this subject contains a list of disorders which, if compared with the passages already stated, will be found imputable to the same source.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people; and his fame went throughout all Syria. And they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, occasioned by the most excruciating disorders; and those which were possessed with devils, who were in the highest and most frenzied state of insanity; and those which were lunatic, whose derangement was of a more inoffensive and milder description; and those that, had the palsy, that common but lamentable complaint: and he healed them. And it is finally recorded, that through his own death he destroyed him who had the power of death, the prince of the power of the air, (Eph. ii. 2, (who possessed such deplorable power over the human frame, that is, the devil. (Heb. ii. 14.)

whose dawn enwrapt in mystery impenetrable, shall, like an instantaneous flash, dart on the amazed view of the astonished universe; the malign passions of bell's wretched chieftain, and his black compeers, will have attained maturity, and their coincidence of misery await its only aggravation. That infinite and awful Being, whose scrutinizing eye beholds their hate of Him, pride, envy, rage, deceit, spite, malice, and desire of dire revenge, strengthened, past all redemption, their wilful banishment from his blest presence, maintained by sullen, stubborn perseverance, will then pronounce that dread and final doom, which does confirm for ever their miserable choice, and gives completion to their bitter woes. They did depart from the bright realms of bliss; Omnipotence irrevocably decrees they never shall return; no place for them in heaven will evermore be found. (Rev. xii. 8.) A gulph impenetrable shall now henceforth for ever bar the possibility, (Luke xvi. 26,) and set that most horrific seal, despair, on all their self-wrought torments. Unto this dismal crisis, in adamantine chains of darkness, are they now reserved for punishment. (2 Thess. i. 9; 2 Pet. iii. 7.)

The undeviating principle that had so long been working those indissoluble unions, virtue and happiness, vice and misery, will now exasperate the latter to its extreme extent. Jehovah's sore, and strong, and mighty sword, (Isa. xxvii. 1,) whet by their fostering of the scorpion pride into its keenest edge, will pierce their vitals with its sharpened point; the cherished

scorpion deep indent his deadly venomed sting. How will that pride which lost them heaven, boil over with rage to endure their justly-earned ignominy! For by works will man be judged, and so will also devils. Their murderous ravages, falsehood, deceit, and wide-spread devastation amongst God's intelligent offspring, will be openly exposed; no secret can then escape a clear develope, and their gangrened wounds will be to the highest pitch inflamed by that frail nature over which they had long reigned such cruel tyrants, joining its voice with that of holy angels for their full condemnation. “Know ye not that we shall judge angels ?” (1 Cor. vi. 3.) Then will bright tried virtue raise up aloft its long recumbent head, and like meridian sun-beams through a misty cloud, break forth and shine for ever. (Luke xxi. 28; Matt. xiii. 43.) It is now just on the eve of lasting separation from its invidious foe, whilst nought remains for him and his adherents, but venting of their haughty spirits in endless broils, infuriate taunts, spite, malice, and revenge against each other : the eternal mandate which consigns them to their destined portion in the burning lake (as mercy only can from mercy flow) may prove to them an act of mitigation.*

* That the sufferings of the wicked are most acute, entirely independent of bodily pain, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus appears intended distinctly to ascertain ; for we are told that the former died and was buried; his mortal remains are represented as consigned to the grave in our earth : yet in hell he is said to have lifted up his eyes in torments : his spirit, being separated from that body which he had pampered and

« AnteriorContinuar »