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wise account, and which are accompanied by any very remarkable symptoms) to the instrumentality of evil spirits. During the dark ages, when astrology was so much cultivated, every part of the body was supposed to be under the influence of some of the planets. One part was ruled by Mars; and medicine, to be useful, should only be administered on the day dedicated to him, and when he had attained a certain position in the heavens. This is closely akin to the notion of demoniacal possession, for Mars was a deified human ghost. In still later ages, and in our own countries, a similar superstition was extensively prevalent. How many diseases were attributed to the machinations of witches! It was once a common belief, that by making a figure of wax, and sticking a large pin in it, they could communicate to
lingering disease, which at length terminated in death. Even at this day, in some parts of our own empire, certain diseases of cattle are still attributed to spiritual agency. It were needless to mention the supposed influence of an “evil eye,” or the popular notion of "changelings," which once prevailed. These superstitions have gradually melted away before the light of advancing knowledge, and are only to be found in the legendary tales of the peasantry. Neither is it requisite to state the fancy which once existed, and which still lingers in many minds, respecting the existence and appearance of human ghosts. These things show that the Heathen and the Jew were not singular in attributing extraordinary diseases to the influence of evil spirits, as the same superstition once prevailed in all parts of the world, and still prevails in many. In this stage of society, and to the readers of this Exposition, it were but solemn trifling to show the absurdity of ascribing our diseases to the ghosts of our fellow-creatures; no one in these countries is in danger of imagining, that madness, or epilepsy, or fever, or small-pox, is produced by ghosts entering our bodies and remaining there. Yet, this was the opinion of the ancient Heathens, of the Pharisees, of Josephus, of all the Jews at the commencement of the Christian era. When they said, that a man was “possessed by a demon,” they meant neither more nor less than that a ghost had taken possession of him; for “demons," in the words of Josephus, " are the spirits of wicked men, who enter the living, and kill those who receive no help.”
Having thus established the true meaning of the word “demon," and of the phrase “demoniacal possession,” it
may be well to inquire, What was really the matter with those who are described as “ possessed”?
And, first, it must be observed, that those who were imagined to be tenanted by human ghosts, did in reality labour under violent disorders. By the Evangelists they are ranked among diseased persons. Thus, Matthew (iv. 24), when speaking of the miracles which Jesus wrought in Galilee and Syria, says, " And they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases:" he thus enumerates the diseases, “ those that were possessed with demons, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy.” Here demoniacs, lunatics, and paralytics, are all equally included in the class “ sick people.” In the present chapter (viii.) the same Evangelist thus writes at verses 16 and 17: “ They brought unto him many that were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.” Here, as before, “possession by demons” is included in the class “ sicknesses;" in other words, was a disease affecting the human frame. In perfect conformity with this representation, Matthew says, in the passage already quoted (iv. 24),-- they brought unto him demoniacs, lunatics, and paralytics, “ and he healed them," namely, of their diseases. It is observable, that the same word “ to heal,” which marks the cure of “ those that were lunatic,” and “ those that had the palsy,” also expresses the cure of “ those that were possessed with demons;”. “ and he healed them.” The same Evangelist, in his Gospel (xv. 28), in recording the cure of the daughter of the woman of Canaan, who was “grievously vexed with a demon,” says, “ and her daughter was made whole,” i. e. was healed of the disease which the popular superstition attributed to the influence of a human ghost. Similar language is used by the other Evangelists. Luke (vi. 18) has the expression, “ And they that were vexed with unclean
spirits came, and they were healed." He again tells us (vii
. 21), “ And in the same hour be cured many of their infirmities, and plagues, and of evil spirits.” In fact, and not to multiply quotations, his biographers say, indifferently, Jesus "expelled the demon," or “ healed” the person supposed to be possessed. From all this it appears, that a real disorder was cured, a real disease healed, whenever Jesus is represented as “casting out a demon." Not only among the Jews, but also among the Greeks and Romans, demoniacs were considered to be afflicted by real distempers. It is not easy, indeed, to imagine how they could hold any other opinion, as it was only from the disease under which the person laboured, that they inferred he was possessed. So far it has been perfectly apparent, that those who were fancied by the ignorant and superstitious Gentiles, and by the no less ignorant and superstitious Jews, to be possessed by human ghosts, did labour under violent disorders.
We are now conducted to the question, What were the diseases which both Heathens and Jews ascribed to the influence of demons? We are prepared to answer in definite terms :—they were such only as disturbed the understanding; in a word, demoniacs were madmen. This we should have expected beforehand, independent of any evidence. In times of ignorance, and among unenlightened people, there is no disease of which the cause is so difficult to discover as madness; hence they would readily attribute it to supernatural agency. The external symptoms of the disease, would also favour this superstition. The extraordinary actions of a maniac--bis contortions of countenance, his wild and haggard visage, his loud outcries, his gnashing of the teeth, his extraordinary motions of the body, his unnatural strength, bis fierceness of disposition,-all would naturally lead the ignorant and affrighted spectators to conclude he was inhabited by an evil spirit. They would scarcely conceive a merely human being could look, speak, and act, so unlike the rest of the species; they would conclude, that a demon resided within him, and exercised full power over his bodily frame. Among the Latins, most of the words which describe demoniacs, or persons possessed by human ghosts, include in them also the idea of alienation of mind.
Among the Greeks, and it was in the Greek language the Apostles wrote, the very same word denoted, both being mad and having a demon. The highest degree of rage was expressed by a term borrowed from evil demons; just as among ourselves, we say of one in an extreme passion, “the man's possessed," though we believe not that a ghost is dwelling within him. The Greeks also often used the phrase possession by demons, to express simple madness, even when they did not suppose that disorder to proceed from spiritual influence. The same forms of expression were in constant use among the Jews, who, as usual, adopted the sentiments and the language of the neighbouring Gentile nations. Josephus says, in his “ Wars of the Jews,” that certain impostors “persuaded the multitude to be possessed by a demon.” What does he mean? Nothing more than this,--that the impostors worked upon the passions of the people, till they raised them to phrensy, and caused them to act like madmen. The madness of which the multitude was guilty, did not proceed from possession by human ghosts, but from the artful and exciting harangues of the impostors. This is an exceedingly remarkable, an exceedingly valuable passage; for it contains a clear proof from a Jew, a contemporary of the Apostles, and one who used the same language as themselves, that his countrymen spoke of persons as “having demons,” and being “ possessed by demons," when they only meant to assert that they were mad. We might rest here with the authority of Greeks, Romans, and above all of Josephus, to prove our position, that the ancients considered all the demoniacs to be madmen. But it may be advisable to turn to the New Testament, to show that the Jews in general were of the same opinion. In the Gospel of John (x. 20), we read, that some of the Jews who were offended with the teachings of Jesus, said “ He hath a demon, and is mad: why hear ye him?” Here is a proof, that to “have a demon,” and to be “ mad,” are synonymous terms. The reply of some who thought favourably of the Preacher, confirms this exposition,—“ Others said, these are not the words of him that hath a demon;" as if they had answered, “ these are not the words of a madman, we cannot discover anything in his discourses from which it
can be inferred that he is diseased in his understanding.” A similar passage occurs in John's Gospel (viii. 48). “ Then answered the Jews and said unto him, say we not well-that thou art a Samaritan [one that hatest us], and hast a demon ?” [art mad also?] “ Jesus answered, I have not a demon;” like Paul afterwards, “ I am not mad, but speak the words of truth and soberness.” In the 51st verse the Master asserts, “ If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death:” the Jews malignantly distorted the sentiment, as referring to the death of the body, and again charged him with insanity,—“ Now we know that thou hast a demon,” now we know that thou art deranged: “ Abraham is dead, and the Prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my sayings, he shall never taste of death.” These passages afford abundant proof, that the Jews in general used demoniac and madman, interchangeably; or, what is more probable in an ignorant populace, that they considered madness to be the result of a possession by human ghosts. Nor was it raving madness alone which they attributed to demoniacal possession; they traced to the same source what we now call melancholy madness, or hypochondria: “ When John came, neither eating nor drinking, they say, He hath a demon.” From his avoiding society, seeking the solitude of the wilderness, denying himself not only the luxuries but the comforts of life, they inferred that John laboured under melancholy madness, and was therefore possessed. In Mark (v. 15), when one had been cured who had been “possessed with a demon,” he is described as “ in his right mind;" evidently implying that he had been previously insane. It is needless to adduce further evidence: did space permit, it were easy to show, from the conduct also of those who were supposed to be possessed, that they were maniacs. Enough and more than enough has been already rehearsed, to evince, that not only the Greeks in general, the Romans in general, and Josephus a learned Hebrew, but the whole Jewish nation in general, ascribed such diseases only to the influence of demons, as were attended with disturbance of the reasoning powers; that they ascribed madness alone to the power of those human ghosts, by whom they imagined the bodies of men to be occasionally occupied. Epilepsy was also attributed to