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fining the poffeffions of the Spirit of God, the appearances of angels, and the presence of the Son of God on earth, to the firft age of Chriftianity; so there may have been reafons of great importance determining the possessions of devils to that age also. It was not agreeable to the wisdom of God to repeat in every age, those proofs addressed to the senses of men, by which he was pleased to reveal to them the state of the invisible world. The age in which his Son appeared on earth, he honoured with the miraculous effufion of the Holy Ghost, and with frequent appearances of angels, because thereby the doctrines of his Son, concerning the friends which mankind have in the invifible world, was made an object of their senses. For the same reason, he confirmed what his Son taught concerning the devil and his angels, by the peculiar power which he allowed the devils to exercise in that age. Of this dispensation mankind could not then complain; because in that age the Son of God, and the apostles of his Son, lived on earth, armed with miraculous powers for restraining and casting out the devils. Such a difpensation tended greatly to the instruction and benefit of mankind, in all future generations. It has made us fenfible of the number, nature, and power of our enemies. And this information, while it stirs us up to watchfulness, is so tempered as not to dispirit us. At the very time our enemies were shewed to us, we were fortified against the excessive dread of them, by the sensible demonstrations which were given in their ejections, proving that the devil, though powerful, is not independent and infinitely powerful, but is absolutely subject to God and to his Son; fo that he can hurt no man beyond what is permitted him of God. Wherefore, however strange it may seem, that evil spirits were allowed, not only to afflict mankind with diseases, but by means of those diseases to take pofíefiion of them, in the age wherein the Sun of God appeared on earth, the great importance of the end gained by this dispensation, renders it every way worthy of the perfections and government of God, and consequently gives fufficient probability to all the possessions recorded in the Gospels*.

3d.

* In the above defence of the miracles wrought upon the Demoniacs, it is allowed that the devils have not now that power over the bodies and spirits of men, which they exercised in our Lord's age. From this, however, it is not to be inferred, that they have no power at all over them. The visible operation of their power, in the age mentioned, proves the contrary; being intended to convince men, that evil spirits often intermeddle in their affairs. Many diseases, called incurable, may be brought on and continued by the operation of evil spirits. Other mischiefs, of various kinds, they may be inftrumental in producing. For the Scriptures attribute to the devils much more influence in the affairs of the world than most people are willing to allow them. For example, the Apostle Paul calls the devil, “ the prince of the power «s of the air,” Eph. ii. 2. and his angels “the rulers of the darknefs of this world,” Eph. vi. 12.

These tities mark the influence which evil spirits have in changing the constitution of the air, and by that means of bringing'diseases both upon man and beast, and of destroying the fruits of the earth. Farther, we are told that the Apostles delivered over to Satan incorrigible offenders for the destruction of their fleth: and it is to be supposed, that, in consequence of this sentence, the devil punished them with mortal diseases. In the moral world also the Scriptures represent the devils as having great power : for, on two different occasions, Jesus 'attributed to them the machinations whereby he was put to death, John xiv. 30. Luke xxvii. 53. In like manner, the evangelift Luke ascribes the treachery of Judas to an especial energy of Satan upon his mind, chap. xxii. 23. and the cowardice of Peter to the same cause, cbap. xxii. 31. alío the wickedness of Ananias, Acts v. 3. Hence Peter, taught by experi

ence

3d. “ The destruction of the herd of fwine,” which happened in consequence of the dispoffeffion of the Demons of Gadara, may be de fended upon the soundeft principles of reason, if the foregoing vindication of possessions in general is admitted. Impostors have pretended by exorcisms to expel devils; for the idea of demons and their power is not only of ancient original, but hath widely prevailed. These exorcists, however, have never succeeded, unless by compact with impostors like themselves, who have counterfeited possessions,

in order to bestow upon their accomplices the honour of miracles. Wherefore, to prevent every suspicion, even the most diftant, that this was the case with Jesus in the miracles wbich he performed upon the possessed, it became both his wisdom and his goodness, in one inAtance at least, to order matters so that the miracle should be raised above all doubt. This happened in the dispoffeffion of the demons of Gadara. For the devils, who were expelled, being permitted to enter into a herd of swine on the neighbouring mountain, they drave them into the sea, where they perished, to the number of two thousand. This extraordinary circumstance very happily answered the end 'designed by it; because both the learned and the ignorant must be sensible, that, whatever bargain our Lord may have made with the Demoniacs, he could make none with the swine. In this illuftrious miracle, therefore, by a proof addressed to the senses of men, a proof which, if it had not been found in the Gospels, the enemies of revelation very probably would have exprel-ly required, Jesus has taught men that there are really evil spirits exiting in the world, enemies to mankind, and authors of all evil; that these wicked spirits are many in number ; that a multitude of them are often employed in hurting particular persons; that their power and malice are very great; but that they are absolutely subject to God and to his Son; and that God actually restrains them from doing all the missbief they incline. Finally, by this undeniable miracle, Jesus has given crediVol. V.

bility bility to the other miracles which he performed upon the Demoniacs, and has vindicated his own character from the aspersions which have been thrown upon it, as if, to aggrandize himself in the eyes of the ignorant multitude, he made the spectators believe the diseases which he cured were not natural, but the effects of possessions : while in reality there never was in the world any person whatever possessed with devils.

ence, earnestly cautions his disciples to beware of the devil, who, he telis them, 1 Eph. v. S. “ goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” To these representations the Apostle Paul agrees; for he tells us, 2 Cor. iv. 4. that “ the devil blindeth the minds of

those who believe not.” Besides, it is on account of the power which the devil exercises both in the natural and moral world, that our Lord has styled him, in three different places, THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD (John xii. 13. xiv. 30. xvi. 11); and the Apostle Paul, THE GOD OF THIS WORLD, 2 Cor. iv. 4. Finally, to impress mankind with a fente of their danger from evil spirits, our Lord, in the form of prayer which he taught his disciples, hath commanded us to beseech God as to deliver us (c70 72 tuingu) from the evil one,” the Devil.---Such are the representations which Jesus and his Apoftles have given, of the power exercised by evil spirits in the natural and moral world. If any one takes upon him to dirbelieve those things, he ought to remember that they are matters of fact which he cannot reafon upon, because he knows nothing of the invisible world at all; and that Jesus, having come frorn that world, deserves to be credited in the account which he has given of it.

The reader, no doubt, observes, that I have not produced our Lord's temptation in the wilderness as an example of the agency of evil spirits in the moral world. The reason is, Le Clerc affirms, it was transacted in a vision; and the ingenious Mr. Farmer, in his “Inquiry" &c. that it happened in a “ Divine Vision." But I now mention it after the other proofs from Scripture, relative to the agency of the Devil in human affairs, not doubting but the whole taken together, will convince impartial judges, that the literal sense of the history of the temptation is agreeable to the representation which the Scriptures have given us of the agency of evil spirits; and the rather, that all the objections which have heen raised against the literal sense may easily be removed, by attending to the circumstances of the transaction, and to the true meaning of the phrafes which the Evangeli&s have made use of in that part

of their narration,

4. That so great a quantity of wine was furnished at the marriage of Cana, cannot be thought indecent, considering that, among the Jews, marriage-feasts lasted a whole weck, and that on those occasions great numbers of people were gathered together. In the whole of his life, Jesus fhewed the most perfect temperance. We may therefore believe, that he would not be present at any meeting where was excess; far less would he be instrumental in carrying on the debauch, by furnishing the means thereof. For which reason, though the quantity of wine that was produced should be thought too great for the occasion and the company, we ought to view it in any favourable light, rather than imagine that he acted here quite contrary to his acknowledged character. In particular, we may suppose Jesus did not intend that the whole of the wine which he formed thould be drunk at this time. He designed it as a nuptial present, for supplying the future neceflities of the new-married couple. It was usual for relations and friends to make presents on such occafions: wherefore, seeing the nature of the miracle required that the quantity of wine which was formed should be large, to prevent all suspicion of fraud, could there be any thing more proper than that what remained should be charitably designed by our Lord as a provision for the new family? In the history no circumstance occurs, hindering us to put this favourable construction upon the miracle. We are told, indeed, that the governor of the feast, when he tasted the wine that was made, said to the bridegroom, ver. 10. “Every man at the beginning doth set forth

good wine; and when men have we!! drunk, then that which is $c worse, but thou hast kept the good wine till now." And the adversaries of revelation complain, that the true import of the word jueguchwor is disguised in the translation, by being rendered, “ when 's men have well drunk;” because they say ihe proper meaning of it is, « when men have yot drunk.” However, as this is not the conftant signification of the word, the translators cannot be charged with unfair dealing. It means no more, often, but to drink " to satisfaction, or " plentifully.” Thus, Gen. xliii. 30. it is said of Jofephus's brethren that efebuonour ust auto, which can mean no more but that they drank 66 to satisfaction. Nay, the word is applied to “ meat” as well as to 66 drink.” For Horea, xiv. 7. speaking of the Israelites, says, Succulas, yout MaduoEncoylas oilw. In like manner, the Apostle, blaming the Corinthians for eating together in parties, and not waiting for one another, when they met for celebrating the Lord's supper, mentions it as one of the inconveniences of that method, i Cor. xi. 21, ós Hiv TTEITA, os de padure “ one is hungry, and another is filled.” Wherefore, from the words of the governor of the feast at Cana, it cannot be in

ferred, ferred, that at marriage entertainments it was usual for all the guests to get drunk, far less that the guests were so at this entertainment.

To conclude: he who in the first creation made fuch liberal provision for the necessities of men, might on a particular occasion, when he was forming nourishment for the natural life of his friends, with all decency do it plentifully: because thus the favour was enhanced; and by the quantity furnished he both shewed his own exuberant goodness, and gave such magnificence to the miracle, as removed it beyond all poffibility, and even suspicion of fraud.

5. The resurrection of Lazarus is spoken against, on account of a circumstance taken notice of in the history of that miracle, John xi. 44 “ And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with

grave cloaths.” Here the question is, How a man could come out of a grave, who was bound hand and foot ? Yet to this puzzling question, I do not despair of returning a satisfactory answer. From the writings of Josephus, and of such travellers as have visited Palertine, we learn that the Jewilh sepulchres were generally caves or rooms hewn out of rocks. Wherefore, as the Jews did not make use of coffins in burying the dead, they placed the bodies generally in niches, cut into the sides of these caves or rooms. (See Maundrel's descrips tion of the fepulchres of the kings. Travels, p. 76.). This form of the Jewish fepulchres suggests an easy solution of the difficulty under consideration. The Evangelist does not mean to say, that Lazarus walked out of the sepulchre ; but that, lying on his back in a nich, be raised himself into a fitting pofture; then putting his legs over the edge of his nich or cell, Nid down, and stood upright upon the floor. All this he might do, notwithstanding his arms were close bound to his body, and his legs were tied ftrait together with the throud and rollers, wherewith, after the manner of the Jews, he was swathed. Accordingly, when he thus came forth, it is said, Jesus ordered them to loose him and let him go; a circumstance plainly importing, that the Evangelist knew Lazarus could not walk till he was unbound.

SECT. IV. The Actions ascribed in the Gospels to the Apostles, are probable. 1. THE apostles are thought to have thewed too much precipitancy in their attachment to their Master. This seeming impropriety was taken notice of anciently by Porphyry and Julian, who offered it as a personal objection against Matthew's character, but not against the history itself. In either view, however, the objection is frivolous and incompetent, arising merely from the brevity of the narration. I acknowledge that three of the Evangelists do not mention our Lord's having had any previous interviews with the persons whom he afterwards called to be his apostles. Yet from this circumstance to infer, that they had neither seen nor heard of one another before, would be very absurd. John in his Gospel affures us, that Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael, all of whom afterwards became

Christ's

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Christ's apostles, waited upon him, and conversed with him at Jora dan, when he came to be baptized of John. They were therefore no strangers to his character and pretensions; but had a favourable opinion of both, long before they joined themselves to him as his disciples. How then can it be thought ftrange, that, when Jesus called them to follow him, they readily obeyed? The censure indeed is levelled chiefly against Matthew, whom Jesus called from the receipt of custom. Yet he likewise may be vindicated by the apology just now offered. The receipt of custom, from which he was called to follow Jesus, was near Capernaum, the place of our Lord's ordinary residence. Wherefore, if this publican,, as is probable, was an inhabitant of Capernaum, he could be no stranger to our Lord's character, doctrine, and miracles. He may not only have heard him often preach, but he may have seen him perform miracles; and from both may have formed a just notion of his pretensions. In such circumstances, could Marthew be blamed for instantly obeying the call of one whom he believed to be Meffiah, and who in calling him conferred a favour upon him? The same account may be given of James and John the sons of Zebedee, and of all the reft; who, besides the personal knowledge which they had of Jesus, were no doubt acquainted with the Baptist's testimony concerning him, and with the auguít character which the voice from heaven had given him, when, in the hearing of the multitude, it declared him to be " the beloved 6. Son of God, in whom he was well-pleased.”

2. It is thought, that if our Lord's character and miracles had been really such as in the Gospels they are said to have been, it is not probable that any of his disciples would have betrayed him. The expectation which they had of being raised to the chief places in his fupposed kingdom, would have attached even the most covetous of them to his perfon; and the confideration of his knowledge and power as the Son of God would have deterred the moft daring among them from attempting any thing to his disadvantage. The sum which the traitor received for giving up his Master, in value did not exceed three pounds ten shillings iterling. It was therefore a trifle, which the most covetous wretch cannot be supposed to have taken as an equivalent for the life of a friend, from whom he had any expectations of gain at all. To fuppose that he betrayed his Master in refentment of the rebuke which he gave him for blaming the woman who came with the precious ointment, is attributing too much to the force of such a passion. That rebuke was not levelled against him singly. It was directed also to the rest. Besides, it should be considered, that though he struck the bargain with the chief priests about betraying his master, a few hours after he was rebuked, almost two days passed before he fulfilled his bargain ; so that he had time enough to think deliberately of what he was going to do. From all this our adversaries infer, that the treachery of Judas, as we were pleased to call it, was occasioned by some suspicion which he entertained of his Master's character. His eyes, it seems, were at length opened. He found that Jesus was not the Meffiah, and he delivered him into the hands

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