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Evangel'ifi's; and'twas his reading Greek Aitthors% while he Jiudied Phyfick, that made his Language in this respeff better. Let us then lee in what manner he delcribes the Distemper now before us. He tells us, ' That while our Saviour was teaching in one of the Synagogues, on the Sabbath Day, he chanc'd to eipy a Woman, who, for eighteen Tears, had been so infirm, that her Body was contracted, and bound together, and that to such a degree, that ihe could in no wife lift up herself, i. e. could not so much as raiie her Head, and look upwards. For, that this is the true Meaning of the Passage, appears most evidently from the Phraies being bound, and then hosed, which latter Word is literally interpreted by the equivalent Expression, of her v being made Jlrait by Jesus.
Thus it appears, that the Woman's inflicted Condition was convuls'd, and convuls'd hY tllc by a tension of the Muscles, which bend he"J'u the Body forwards; and the immediate Cause of this her Malady, the Evangelist acquaints us, was a Spirit of Infirmity. By this Spirit of Infirmity we might indeed understand the Disease itself, agreeably to the Jewish way of ipeaking; but since afterwards, our Saviour himself plainly tells us, that this Evil was R 2 ■ infixed
'Luke xiii. lo. &c. "Ver. x
inflicted * by Satan, " It is the better ** way, (fays w a learned Annotator) to *' take this matter in the fame Sense, "wherein x St. Mark uses the Expreffi"on, irviv/xcc ai.Xa.Mvy a dumb Spirit', '-' as meaning thereby an evil Spirit, that "obstructed the Power of Speaking. "For it was an ancient Opinion of the "Jews, that many Diseases were occa"sion'd in Mankind by evil Spirits, "without any regard to naturalQmfes; "as it appears in the Case of Job, and "Saul, as well as several Instances in "the New Testament", y So that, upon very competent Authority, we may pronounce, that this Woman's Distemper was so far from being the mere Effect of Vapours and Melancholly, that it was a real and inveterate Disease of a very long standing, and occasion'd by the Influence of an Evil Spirit. The Ex- That there are Spirits of this kind, the ifimet of noiy Scriptures have taken such care to foreCbfft. aca,uaint US z witn their Origin and Fall, their Names and a Numbers, their b Government and c Orders, their d malicious Designs, and Employments, &c. that no one can doubt of their Exist
ence, who believes these holy Oracles to be true; nor can any endeavour to dispossess his Mind of this Persuasion, without tempting God to give him up to a Jlrong Delujiw, that he may believe a Lye. That,e both among the yews and Gentiles, before our Saviour's time, Men were possess'd with these evil Spirits, is manifest from the Testimony oijosej>hus, who tells us of a very powerful Form of Exorcism, which descended from Solomon, who learnt it from God; and from the Testimony of Plutarch, who acquaints us, that the Magicians of most Nations advised those, that were possess'd, to repeat the Ephejian Letters. That these evil Spirits were distinct SubRjlences, and neither the Passions nor Diseases of Mankind, is plain, from the Circumstances of their Ejection; from their expostulating hereupon with Christ, What have we to do with thee? art thou come to dejlroy us? art thou come to torment us before the tfime? And from his commanding them sometimes to be silent, and sometimes to come out of the Man, and enter into him no more, &c.
The Truth is, these apostate Spirits Why more had gotten so far Possession of the World, abfut his that they began to rival God in his Wor-' ship j and therefore one End of his Son's R 3 Incar
♦ \id.fVbitly's Gcn.Pref. before the Epist. p. 43,
Incarnation is said to be this, f rfhat he might dejiroy the Works of the Devil, and s overcome the strong one, and divide his Spoils. And this, by the way, may suggest a Reason, why at, gr about the Time of our Saviour's Advent, God might permit the Devil to exert himself in an usual manner, in order to be the more signally triumph'd over by the Saviour of the World, and those, that were delegated by him to convert Mankind to his Religion. That 'Tis true indeed, that the Devil has
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out Pow- manner, since the Eltabhlhment 01 Christianity, which has mightily impair'd his Power; but, tho' we do not know the Laws of the invinfible World, and under what Regulation evil Spirits may be now restrains,, or how, and for what Reasons, they may have varied the outward Appearances of their former Conduct in thekTransactions with Mankind, yet there is too much reason to apprehend, from the prodigious growth of all sorts of Vice and Impiety, that evil Spirits are, even now, more concern'd with the Spiritual Affairs of Men, than is generally imagin'd, tho' they may carry on their Commerce in a more art
jchn iii. 8. « Lute xi. 21, is.
ful and clandestine manner, than in former Times.
To return then to the Woman. If'riicWo such was her unhappy Condition, that, man for eighteen Tears, she had been subjected to the Bondage of one of these evil Spirits, and reduc'd, at last, to such a degree of Crookedness, that stie could by no means lift up her Head j how can we suppose, that a little good Advice and comfortable Discourse should dilpossesi the Fiend, and make her ftrait, and stand up right in a Moment? What is most remarkable in the Woman's Case is, that me does not seem to have expected any relief from Jesus. She happen'd accidentally to be in theSynagogue on the Sabbath-day, among other People; and he, seeing her, and observing her pitiable Condition, called her to him, and healed her. Now, had this Woman been only a little Vapourish, or Melancholly, without any visible bodily Distemper, it can hardly be imagin'd, that Jesus, in such a publick solemn Assembly,before so many Witnesses,and among'these, not a few of his inveterate Enemies, would have pretended to cure a Woman,that had only some Illness, or flight Indisposition, which no Body cou'd perceive ? So far from this, that, in the seB. 4 quel