Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

must here be remembered, that reputed demoniacs, when they were cured by Christ, were restored to a perfect and permanent state of fanity. Now, if demons have a natural power of entering the bodies of mankind, why did they not return to those bodies from which they were ejected? Was a return to them more difficult than their entrance into them at firft? If you affirm, that they were perpetually restrained by God from exercising their natural power of re-entering the bodies from which they had been expelled; you affirm more than you can fupport by any pofitive proof, and what is in itself very improbable; for demons cannot be restrained from ufing their natural powers without a miracle, a perpetual miracle. Now doth reafon, or doth revelation warrant the expectation of such an extraordinary and continued interpofition of the divine power in any cafe? Is it credible that God fhould beftow and

con

continue powers to any of his creatures, which he always, or almost always, reftrains them from ufing? The only just inference, therefore, that can be drawn from the perfect and lasting cure of a reputed demoniac, is, that demons had never poffeffed him, and that the diforder imputed to their poffeffion was a natural one. We will not take any farther pains to shew how certainly the impotence of demons may be inferred from the leading principle of revelation, and the proofs by which it was established. For,

III. All the prophets of God, in every age, when profeffedly delivering their divine meffages to mankind, have with one voice proclaimed the utter impotence of demons; and hereby entirely fubverted the doctrine of demoniacal poffeffions.

It is, I apprehend, a point, in which all are agreed, and which is capable of the clearest proof, that by demons in Scripture, we are to understand the heathen deities,

[ocr errors]

deities. It is the name by which those deities, fuch of them efpecially as were the more immediate objects of public worship, are described by the Heathens themselves. By this name they are defcribed in the Septuagint verfion of the Old Testament. In ftill later writings of the Jews, the Apocrypha, they are called by the fame name; and the New Teftament affirms, that the heathens facrificed to demons. With respect to Beelzebub, the prince of demons, in particular, it hath been shewn already *, that he was the god of Ekron. It is ftill, however, a matter in difpute, whether the heathen gods or demons were confidered by the facred writers as the fpirits of deified men and women, or as apoftate angels. If you allow, that the Scripture reprefents

b Differt. on Mir. chap. iii. fect. 2. and Wolfius on Acts xvii. 18. p. 1253.

* Deut. xxxii. 17. Pf. xcvi. 6. Pf. cvi. 37.

a Baruch iv, 7.

d

e

I Cor. x. 20, 21, compared with ver, 19, 7. 14.
See above, p. 31.

them

them as fuch dead men and women as fuperftition deified, you must allow that the Scripture hath overturned the doctrine of poffeffions, by giving us fuch an account of the ftate of the dead, as can never be reconciled with the fuppofition of their having power over the bodies of the living'. If, on the other hand, you maintain, that demons are not of human origin, we lofe, indeed, one argument against poffeffions, with which the Scripture fupplies us; but it is an argument that, however conclufive, is not wanted.

For, whoever the heathen demons or deities were, whether human or angelic fpirits, they are all, without exception, branded in Scripture as being utterly void of all power to do either good or evil ta mankind. Very many paffages to this purpose, both from the Old and New Teftament, have been produced in a former publication; and for this reafon are

Differt, on Mir. p. 161. * Id. p. 233, &c.

here

[ocr errors]

f

* Εἴδωλον.

1. That by an idol, we are here to understand a heathen demon or deity, and not (as fome apprehend) the mere image, or ftatue, which reprefented him. The image or ftatue, abftractedly confidered, was regarded by all Heathens, no less than by all Chriftians, as a mere mass of fenfeless matter: what diftinguished the latter from the former was, a belief of the nullity of the deities themselves. Indeed, the original word, which we render idol, and which fignifies an image or reprefentation of things in the mind, is very frequently applied by the Greeks (to whom St. Paul is here writing) to ghosts or Spectres, which were supposed to appear in the likeness, or to be an image and representation of their former bodies". Hence they employed this term to de

1

The reader may find ample proofs of this point in Le Clerc and Elfner, on 1 Cor. viii. 4. in the latter writer efpecially. See also Wolfius in loc.

« AnteriorContinuar »