Page images

corded in Mark, v. 1-20. Matthew, viii. 28–34. Luke, viii. 26-36, passages which the reader is requested to examine carefully.

Lardner states three hypotheses adopted to explain the destruction of the herd of swine. Christ either communicated the disease, (insanity,) with which the two men were affected, to the swine; or these men drove them down the hill; or evil spirits were cast out of them, and suffered to enter the swine, by which they were driven into the deep. He rejects the first as unreasonable. He adopts the second, as do rational christians generally. The Orthodox adopt the third. Let us examine the rational theory. If the two maniacs drove the swine into the deep, (to say nothing of the difficulty [impossibility ?] of the attempt, and not to ask what the keepers were about,) they either drove them before they were cured, or afterwards. If they drove them before, while they were yet maniacs, why should the people so earnestly have besought Christ to depart out of their coast for curing afflicted maniacs, and preventing farther mischief? Was it common in other cases, when Christ had cured the sick, to beseech him to be gone? Would it not have been more rational in this instance to have besought him to stay? or were they, one and all, desirous of a further destruction of their property ? If they drove them afterwards, were not the maniacs more insane after their insanity was cured, than while their madness raged ?

From the narrative of the evangelists, it is evident, that the cure, in some degree, preceded the destruction of the swine. There is no hint nor shadow of a hint that the men were themselves the cause of this destruction ; still less, if less be possible, that they were this cause after they were restored to "their right mind.” This supposition is not only gratuitous and without evidence, but against the whole mass of evidence. Yet Lardner says,

" when he had imagined the thought of gratifying the evil spirits by which he imagined himself to be possessed, with the destruction of the swine, he would without much difficulty drive them off the precipice. [Would two madmen from the Insane Hospital drive two thousand swine off Central Wharf in the presence of "their keepers,' “ without much difficulty ?! Were swine less contrary in Judea than in Massachusetts ?] If some few of them were put in motion, the whole herd would follow. Nor is it unlikely that the other person, his companion in affliction, joined his assistance ; for St. Matthew speaks of two. They invested the herd [this partakes rather of an Irish than an Oriental idiom,] on each side and thus drove them before them.” Lardner's Works, vol. i, p. 474. All this is rational, very rational. No one more highly respects the amiable character and extensive acquisitions of Lardner, than the writer. But I must protest against absurdity of explanation even though offered by Lardner.*

The question between the Orthodox and the Rationalists is not whether these persons were diseased ? It is admit

* When Peter speaks of the angels who were cast down to hell,” the editors of the Improved Version explain the assertion in a note thus, “the spies, who were sent to explore the land of Canaan.” Sir William Drummond thinks that Moses in giving an account of the twelve sons of Jacob meant to describe the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Mr. Mitford, the historian of Greece, outstrips Mr. Belsham even in the race of liberality. He not only rejects “ the introduction of the gospel of Matthew” and “ the proem of John's gospel,” and the common interpretaion of demoniacs, for all which the English Unitarian Reviewers greatly commend him, but “he justifies Caiaphas, in pronouncing sentence upon Jesus, absolves Pontius Pilate, and concludes that the sacrifice, predestined by Almighty Providence, was accomplished—if not without crime, yet, the signal treachery of one man excepted, without any that we seem warranted to impute.” He also justifies the Roman government for persecuting the early christians. Pity it is ! that Mr. Mitford cannot antedate his existence by a retro-metempsychosis in the personage of Trajan. He could easily answer the inquiries of a too tender-hearted Pliny in one sentence, “ Christianos illos jugulate.” Are the improved editors, or Sir W. Drummond, or Mr. Mitford, most rational ? Will it be believed that Mr. Mitford escapes with almost no Unitarian censure? That he is even hailed as an enlightened advocate of Unitarianism ?

ted on all hands that they were afflicted with a dreadful disease. The question is, what was the nature of this disease? Was it a physical derangement only, or the result of possession by evil spirits ? This distinction should be kept in mind, to detect the fallacies of Lardner and Farmer. When Jesus says of the woman, who had been sick eighteen years, “Satan bound her," does it follow that Satan did not bind her, because she had been sick eighteen years? Yet this is the species of logic adopted by those celebrated authors. In view of such scriptural statements, as have been exhibited under this and the preceding argument, the Rationalists, to produce conviction in reasoning minds, must adduce some argument more weighty than a petitio principii. It should also be remembered, that what in some passages is attributed to evil spirits in general, is, in other places, attributed to Satan in particular; just as the defeats of Burgoyne and Cornwallis were the defeats of King George ; and what was done by those Generals was done by their Sovereign, according to the received maxim, quod facit per alium facit per se. The scriptures represent Satan as the leader of the fallen hosts. These things kept in mind, the whole subject will be plain.

[ocr errors]


Rev. and Dear Sir,

A fifth argument is, That Christ himself taught concern. ing evil spirits a continuity of agency, influence and connezion, intelligible only on the supposition of personal existence,

In the passage from the eighth chapter of John, before quoted, the devil is called by Christ " a murderer," literally a homicide, or in still plainer English, though of precisely the same import, a man-killer. To what incident recorded in scripture can this refer, except to that which “ brought death into the world and all our wo"? With what terrible emphasis of truth is it applicable here? Is it necessary to quote other passages of scripture to show that our first parents were tempted to sin by the wiles of Satan? But having tempted men to transgression, is Satan content to resign all further influence over them ? Luke, xiii. 16. “ Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" xxii. 31. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Here various, ceaseless, continued activity is ascribed to something, which looks very like an agent; which, if it have not a personal existence, is of a unique, indescribable, inconceivable character. Was it “ disease” of any name or nature, or “the principle of evil” more or less inveterate, or “ Sammæl the angel of death," in the popular Jewish mythology, “that desired to have Peter, to sift him as wheat”? Matthew, xxv. 41. “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Here the Lord Jesus Christ distinctly asserts, that, at the judgment day,

the impenitent shall be sentenced to an everlasting residence with something. With what ? With “evil principle” or “ disease" in the abstract ? With madness? With epilepsy ? With a Jewish mythus ? With ? With — ? or “ with the devil and his angels ?" Supply the preceding blanks with whatever explanation or supposition you please, fanciful or philosophical, (which is only another word for ultra-fanciful,) learned or unlearned, will it meet the innumerable and pressing difficulties of the case? Will any supposition meet these, except that of the personal existence of the devil and his angels? In stating this argument, I have purposely limited it to the very words of Christ while on earth, a few of which only have been quoted. The apostles would afford abundant confirmation of it. Considering the early and deadly influence of Satan over Adam, his continued agency in afflicting our race, his seducements in leading men into sin, and the destiny that Christ declares to await the finally impenitent in connexion with fallen angels, we are constrained to pronounce

" the Bible one of the most deceptive books ever written” if “ Satan” do not mean an agent, and not an attribute; a person and not a quality. This will appear still plainer when we consider,

The sixth argument, That Christ personally taught the existence of a mighty evil spirit, who occupies a usurped dominion in this world.

Proof. John, xii. 31. "Now is the judgment of this world ; now shall the prince of this world be cast out." xvi. 11. “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” xiv. 30. “ Hereafter I will not talk much with you, for the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me."

What possible explanation can be assigned to these passages, consistent with a denial of diabolical agency? Can believers in the native original purity, or, what may

« PreviousContinue »