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As to the manner by which evil spirits, in ancient, or modern times, got the possession of human beings, is a matter of pure conjecture, as before remarked, and therefore, we proceed on that ground to ascertain the manner of such possessions. It is a fact we believe, that the human constitution of mind is more inclined to sad and sorrowful sensations than to joyful ones. This we believe, is the universal experience; and if a happy sensation crosses the mind, it is the offspring of hope, or of labored excitement, while the general tenor of the feelings of the soul are tinctured with gloom, and tending to ferocity. This is everwhere known to be the case, among savage nations, and would be our condition, were it not for the labors of social, and Christian education, which goes to counteract that natural state of mind; yet even under this influence, the tenor of the mind is to sadness, the genuine offspring of the fall. Concerning this, it is said in Scripture, 2d Cor. vii. 10, that the "sorrow of this world worketh death," and who can define in how many different ways? as when it is deep and poignant, distraction and self-murder are its consequences, not unfrequently, in all ages of the world. But if the sorrows of this world do not always lead to such ends, yet persons of a more than ordinary desponding cast of constitution, by giving way to fits of melancholly, to rage and anger, unrestrained, and to murmuring against God's providence, being dissatisfied with all the circumstances of life, fancying that every one is against them, and that God is their enemy,-it seldom fails but such persons become dangerous characters in society. Their manners are uninviting and gloomy, seeming to be distressed when any one is prospered, and to rejoice and show signs" of pleasure, when any one is ruined in character or property. They seek to be alone, and to wander in the dark, and in solitudes, avoiding human society as much as their necessities will admit of, invariably fixing the impression, when met with, that they are possessed with a devil, or some extraordinary affection. If the passions of hatred and revenge in any one, are secretly indulged, meditating mischief continually, toward the cause of their dislike, deeply imbuing the love of unbounded injury, so as at times to gnash the teeth in secret; and if this state of mind it suffered to continue, it will increase in malignity, till reason is dethroned, or not allowed to operate, when the person is a maniac; and it may be said that Satan has the possession. Their looks denote it, the eye beaming with a fearful glare, is never irradiated with a smile, the hair is suffered to grow till long and tangled, the clothes become neglected and filthy-indifference of food takes place, till nearly starved, or else cramming at times beyond all human appetite-universal ruin and death is the climax.
There are many courses which produce distraction; as excessive jealousy, excessive and inordinate love, excessive oppres
sion, and religious despair and fanaticism, all of which are of the devil, and avenues by which devils may enter into the possession of the mind, and the passions of the human race, and have so done in thousands of instances, as we believe. Hopeless revenge for irreparable injuries, as in cases of inconstancy between lovers, husbands and wives, have produced shocking cases of Satanic possession, so judged to be from the malignancy shown in their behaviour. Some have gone distracted in a few hours, from a fit of anger. A certain person known to the writer, who had been religiously affected by the preaching of a certain order of Christians, which her husband opposed, to that degree, by way of hectoring and tormenting her, till at a certain time she gave way to a burst of passion, instead of prayer, when she threw a brickbat at her husband, with all the violence of intended murder, and that moment lost her reason, and never recovered it again.
Another instance, though of a different cast, is known to the writer, of a woman, whose natural temper was of the fractious and irrascible description, in which she had through life indulged in a very extraordinary manner, rendering herself extremely disagreeable to her family and all about her. At a certain time, a daughter of hers, a young lady of mature age, became religiously concerned, and continued thus about two weeks, when she experienced comfort, through faith in the Saviour of men. At which time, her mother, who had during the concern of the daughter made some opposition, became also concerned on the same account, especially when she witnessed the happiness of her child, and the praise she gave to a God of love. She immediately took to her bed, and wept on account of her condition, as was supposed, for about twenty-four hours; when she burst out into a rage of profane and blasphemous language, too horrible for mortal ear, and went immediately distracted. She continued nine years in that condition, chained most of the time; and died without any change for the better, a spectacle of horror and dismay. She was undoubtedly possessed of a devil, as all who beheld her were of that opinion; which condition was brought about, first, from so long indulgence in angry disposi tion; and second, because she resisted conviction for sin; and probably cursed the cause in her heart, and became a maniac.
There are others, who from one degree of spiritual wickedness to another, progress till a self-willed sufficiency takes place in the mind; so much so as that they fancy themselves some important supernatural character, as the Messiah, a prophet, or some extraordinary messenger of providence, and claim attention and honor accordingly.
This sort, by way of sanctity and self importance, allow their hair and beards to grow its full length, putting on distracted airs, affecting to converse with spirits, and invisible beings; and who
can say they do not? by which they acquire, the dread of all men, however fortified by philosophy, or even religion itself. By pursuing this course, the restraining influence of God's good spirit leaves them to the full operation of all evil, when Satan takes possession. Now the man is prepared for wickedness by rule; no human face can daunt him, no threatened punishment is dreaded, he becomes incased in his own fury and self-will, so that a terror seems to surround himi, a kind of unearthly influence is found creeping over us if he approaches. If their opin ions and assumptions are treated with contempt by any one, malice is seen to work its snaky evolutions along their features, when thoughts of revenge become the happiness of the mind. Many instances of this kind have arisen from time to time all along, since the time of our Lord, of men setting themselves up as Messiahs; even within a few years, there was a wretch of this sort in Ohio, who claimed to be Christ, and seduced quite a number of the inhabitants to follow him, and to believe in him for a time.
We have said before, that all transactions among men are carried on by spiritual influence, one man's mind operating on another, while all the limbs and organization of the body, are in ignorance of what is passing. In this way one man begets, or implants his likeness in the mind of another, that is, the likeness of his thoughts or opinions. Now, if the very image of one person's opinions can be infused, or in any way implanted in another, or in thousands, so as to have an abiding influence, who is prepared to say that spirits, good or bad, if permitted, cannot do as much, or more. As the form of spirits is no interruption to their passing through solids as easily as through open space, as they are immaterial not tangible, any more than is thought; how easily, therefore, if permitted, could an evil spirit enter the heart and brain of a human being, and there abide, giving tone and direction to all their actions at times, by influencing the mind to operate on the nerves, by which actions, words and thoughts should become extravagant and supernatural, or out of the common order of human conduct. Evil spirits are beings, and therefore are continually somewhere, and that somewhere is their location, and if that location is sometimes in the brain of a human being, distraction of some sort is sure to be effected. It was no doubt in this way the devils, being intangible, and having permission, entered into the brains of the swine, so as to have the power to cause them to run into the sea. But there is, no doubt, a vast difference to be made between such demoniacal possessions and those who by arts, known to some, evoke and command the services of evil spirits; as in the latter case, the person having and using such an art, is the controller, while in the former the evil spirit is the one who rules.
We think, therefore, that the manner by which a devil may enter into a man, is plainly enough stated and settled in the New Testament, to have been by simply entering in, as easily as they can go any where else, if allowed; which, for reasons unsearchable, have often been permitted, or Scripture and history are both false on this subject. Were it not for the invisible providence of God, this same Satan, with his angels would instantly enter in, derange and destroy, the whole human race; and the cases where evil spirits have taken the possession of any one, were doubtless, in most cases, such as had by a course of inward wickedness, caused the Holy Spirit to withdraw his protecting as well as his gracious influence; so that devils being permitted to have the possession, did actually enter, and torment such victims of their own folly, as in a multitude of places in the New Testament are spoken of.
But to conclude on this subject, we give the belief of that eminent and holy man, Adam Clarke, on the subject of spirits, and of the possibility of acquaintance with them, and of their ability to appear to men. See his comment on 1st Samuel, xxviii. 15, on the subject of the woman of Endor, as follows: 1st. "I believe there is a supernatural and spiritual world, in which HUMAN spirits, both good and bad, live in a state of consciousness. 2d. I believe there is an invisible world, in which various orders of spirits, not human, good and bad, live and act. 3d. I believe that any of these spirits, may, according to the order of God, in the laws of their place of residence, have intercourse with this world, and become visible to mortals. 4th. I believe there is a possibility, by arts not strictly good, to evoke and have intercourse with spirits not HUMAN; and to employ, in a certain limited way, their power and influence. 5th. I believe that the woman of Endor had no power over the spirit of Samuel the prophet; nor that any incantation can avail, over any departed saint of God, nor indeed over any human spirit whatever."
Attributes of Satan, and Evil Spirits.
But as to Satan, and his demon coadjutors, what are their powers and attributes? are they everywhere present or not, which some incline to believe? This is impossible, as there can be but one everywhere present being, and that is God. How is it then, as some may enquire; as Satan appears to be everywhere present by being a universal tempter to evil? This is probably the secret of it: the heart of man is Satan's representative; and has, ever since the fall of Adam, been his faithful
representative, by way of depravity; and were that being, with all his associate fallen spirits, at a blow of the Almighty hand, swept out of being, yet men would continue sinners; because they have naturally bad and corrupt natures, even from infancy, tending thitherward. But it is our opinion, that were there no Satan nor subordinate spirits of that description, that the world would not witness so many violent acts of wickeness as it now does-deeds of horror, as in some cases, which seems to exceed the capabilities of man.
But although Satan, or any of the fallen angels, are not omnipresent, yet they are spirits; and as such, possess the power of inconceivable swiftness, so that the circuit of the earth can probably be made by them in a few minutes. But notwithstanding this, the Scripture settles the point, that Satan moves over the earth leisurely and at his will, seeking opportunities of moral ruin; see 1st Peter, v. 8, who says, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." And also, Job, ii. 2, where it is seen that Satan's answer to the interogation of the Almighty, respecting from whence he came, was that "from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."
But how do we prove that spirits can pass swiftly from one place to another? We prove it from Daniel, ix. 21, who says that while he was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, who was a spirit or angel, flew swiftly, and touched him about the time of the evening oblation. But from whence did he fly? We cannot tell; but most certainly from some place in immensity of space; perhaps from heaven itself, on this errand to pious Daniel. That Satan can pass swiftly from one part of space to another, is more than intimated by the New Testament, which says that Satan is the prince of the power of the air, the region in which speed by flight is performed. So that if he will, he can visit any quarter or particular part of the earth or the planets, as speedily as he may desire, and from thence away, or can remain, as the interests of his kingdom may require.
Who does not know with what amazing velocity a thought can travel, and how much it can review in a few moments? and that it has only to think of the most distant regions of the far heavens, when lo it is there, and as quickly as far away in some other direction, if it will? Now allowing that Satan has as much power in this respect, as the mind of man, there is no difficulty in ascribing to him and to his subordinate spirits, a suffi cient degree of omnipresence for all the purposes of his evil nature, and to bear out the Scriptures in their incidental statements of his power and attributes to do evil, and to superintend the affairs of his kingdom, in opposition to God and his Christ. We have no doubt he can descend into the earth-as all evil spirits can-and return when he will; or pass through any