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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 laid to be this, f I'hat he might destroy 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, Qt 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
noMvhh- not a^ec^> ln *° °Pen ar)d undifguis'd a out Vow- manner, since the Establishment of Christianity, which has mightily impaired his Power j but, tho' we do not know the Laws of the invinstble World, and under what Regulation evil Spirits may be now restrain'd, or how, and for what Reasons, they may have varied the outward Appearances of their former Conduct in thejrTi ansactions 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
John iii. 8. * Luh xi. 21, sa.
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
quel of the Story, h we read, that the Womanglorified God for her happy Recovery; that the Ruler of the Synagogue exprefs'd his Malice and Indignar tion at it; that our Saviour wisely justified the Action he had done; and that all the People rejoic'd and were exceedingly glad for what they had seen :'but, if the Woman's Disease was only Vapoursy and a little lowness of Spirit, her Gratitude was too prodigals because her Distemper was but a trifle, and all the Favour ,fhe had receiv'd from Jesus, was only that of a few fair Words ; the Ruler was outragious for nothing, for no Cure had been done in breach of the Sabbath-day; and the People's Joy was only Noise and Nonsense, because they had seen no glorious Thing perform'd. But enough has been said in Confutation of this idle Dream , and therefore proceed we next to our Lord's Prophetical Conversation, •with the Samaritan Woman.
* huh xiii. 13, &c. I Ray's Vind. Part 2. p. 5$.
SECT. SECT. XV.
Of his Prophetical Conversation with the Samaritan Woman.
BUT instead of any thing Prof he- The 0j,. tkal'm it, it is all mere Fortune-* jection. telling. So far indeed as one can ga-p ther from the Woman's Discourse, the Expectation of the Samaritans was, that the Messiah should be neither a 'Prince nor a Prophet, but Conjurer only; and for what appears in the Story (instead of any Tokens of . Omniscience in it) the whole thing might "be a Cheat and Artifice. By some private Intimations or other, (as the Practice of Fortune-tellers is,) Jesus might get Intelligence of some Circumstances of this Woman's Life; and, by the help of these, first raise her Admiration, and then possels her with the Notion of his being the promis'd Messiah, which we find him more ready to declare to her, than ever hewas to wiser People.