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CASE OF THE DÆMONIACS
MENTIONED IN THE
FOUR DISCOURSES UPON MARK V. 19.
FOR FARTHER ILLUSTRATING THE SUBJECT.
[FIRST PUBLISHED IN MDCCLVIII.]
THESE discourses were preached to a small but attentive audience, in 1742. In the year 1737, were published by a learned author, • An Enquiry, and a Further Enquiry, into • the meaning of Dæmoniacs in the New Testament. But as the subject had much employed my thoughts, and the plan had been drawn up a good while before, I did not discern any sufficient reason for laying it aside.
The publication of these discourses has been often desired by divers of those that heard them, and by others. They who know how I have been engaged, need not be told the reason of the delay. They might bave been put into one continued dissertation, but then the practical observations must have been struck out; which I was unwilling to have done. And in their present form they must remain, for a while at least, a monument, that any subject, tending to illustrate the scriptures, may be treated in christian assemblies, if it be done with modesty and discretion.
These Discourses, with the Appendix, may be reckoned a Supplement to the first part of the Credibility of the Gospel History.
March 15th, 1758.
MARK V. 19.
Houbert Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go
home to thy friends, and tell then, how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
IT is now some years since I explained and improved, as I was able, the bistory of our Lord's miracles, recorded in the gospels. J think that very few were entirely omitted, which are particularly related, except this in the country of the Gadarenes. And I always intended to consider this likewise, though it has been long deferred. As life, through the Divine goodness, is still preserved, I propose now to consider this history, which, with some few differences only, is found in three several evangelists, Matt. viii. 28–34; Mark v. 1–20; Luke viii. 26–39.
I. In the first place, I shall consider distinctly this whole narration, comparing together the several evangelists as we go along. II. After which I intend to make some remarks
this miracle, and the history of it.
I. In the first place, I shall distinctly consider the whole of this narration, comparing the several evangelists as we go along.
The time of this miracle may be in some measure perceived by the connexion : in all the three evangelists, it is preceded by an account of our Lord's crossing the sea of Galilee, with his disciples, and laying a tempest, which they had met with in their passage.
St. Luke bad before given an account of divers of our Lord's discourses, ch. viii. 19, 22, 26, “ Then came unto him his mother, and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.-Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with the disciples. And he said unto them, Let us go into the other side of the lake.And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.”
St. Mark also, baving related divers of our Lord's discourses, says, “ And the same day, when even was come, be saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
And when they bad sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with hiin other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship asleep on a pillow; and they awoke him, And he arose and rebuked the wind. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. — And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him ? And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.” That is, our Lord passed from the western to the eastern side of the sea of Galilee, or of Tiberias, as it is called at other times.
St. Matthew calls the place where our Lord arrived, country of the Gergesenes :" whereas the two other evangelists, as we have just seen, call it " the country of the Gadarenes.” Some learned men think, that this last is the right reading in St. Matthew's gospel also.
It follows in St. Mark, whose history we shall for the most part take for our text, and cite in the first place : “ And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there niet him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.” From which words, I think, it may be concluded, that this nian's abode, and the burial-place, where he chietly was, lay near the shore, or upon the sea-side. St. Luke's words confirm this supposition, which are these : “ And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time."
But here is a difference between St. Matthew and the two other evangelists. St. Mark says, “ Immediately there met him a inan with an unclean spirit.” St. Luke, * A certain man, which had devils." But St. Matthew says, “ There met bim two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs.” Of this difficulty several solutions have been offered by learned interpreters of scripture. The most likely seems to be this, that one of these men was upon dia vers accounts more remarkable than the other: he, especially, may have been “exceeding fierce," and his distemper of the longest standing. Perhaps he was best known in those parts, being an inhabitant of the city not far off. He likewise was the person with whom our Lord discoursed chiefly, asking him his name, and receiving for answer, that he was called Legion. It is likely, that one only desired to accompany the Lord Jesus when cured : and, possibly, he only of the two had a grateful sense of the benefit conferred, and afterwards declared, “how great things the Lord bad done for bim." There being therefore several things peculiar to one, two of the evangelists speak of him only, omitting the other, for the sake of brevity : but there is no contradiction between them and the third evangelist. There were two, as St. Matthew says : wbich is not denied by St. Mark or St. Luke, though they confine their relation to one only.
Says St. Mark, “ Immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs.” St. Luke, “ Neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.” St. Matthew, “ There met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs.
This circuinstance therefore is mentioned by all the three evangelists ; that this man, or these two men, had their abode in tombs, or among tombs. It was not then usual to bury within the walls of cities, but at soine distance without them, more or less. By tombs may be meant in general a burying-place, where were many sepulchres; or by tombs may be meant sepulchres. And indeed many of the sepulchres of the eastern countries at that time were large, capable of containing divers persons. And to this day, travellers, when overtaken by storms and bad weather, take shelter in them.
These men then being fierce and melancholy, shunning company and being shunned, abode at a distance from all cities, and particularly among' or 'in sepulchres.' This place suited their gloomy apprehensions, and bere in the night season and in bad weather they had shelter, Moreover, there might be another reason of this. For some are of opinion that the dæmons, or unclean spirits, by which these persons were possessed, were not supposed to be fallen angels, but the souls or departed spirits of bad men. If so, a lunatic, acted by such spirits, or thinking bimself acted by them, might be much disposed to be chiefly among the dead, or in burial-places. But whether there be any ground for that opinion or not, it is likely, the two reasons before mentioned ought not to be disregarded : these places suited their melancholy apprehensions, and here at some seasons they bad shelter and relief from rain and cold.
There follows in the evangelists a description of the unhappy circumstances of one or both these persons. Says St. Mark, who is most particular: “And no man could bind him, no pot with chains : because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces. And always night and day he was on the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting bimself with stones.” St. Luke's account is : “ There met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and wore no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.” And afterwards: “ For oftentimes it had caught him. And he was kept, bound with chains, and in felters. And he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness,” or the desert, mountainous country, where the tombs were situated. St. Matthew more briefly says,
“ There met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass that way.”
The sum is, that this was a deplorable case. One of these men, especially, had been in this condition, of a discomposed mind, for a long season. He was exceeding fierce and dangerous at some times. He had been fast bound, but he bad broken his bands, escaped out of his confinement, and had been for some while in desert, mountainous places, lodging in sepulchres only, not in any house. All' which are evident symptoms of lunacy or distraction. That is the unhappy case before us.
Possibly it may be here inquired by some, how came the evangelists, especially Mark and Luke, who are most particular, to be so well acquainted with the history of this man's case in time past, to be able to say, 6 he had been so long time," and that he had been “often bound with chains, and that they had been broken asunder by him ?” His present circumstances and actions, bis nakedness, bis fierceness, his cutting himself with flints, his crying, or raving, as be did, were discerned immediately. These things the disciples were eye or ear-witnesses of, upon the man's approaching them, wben they came out of the ship. But how came they to know the circumstances of his indisposition in time past, and the treatment that had been given bim?
To which I answer, that it is easy to suppose divers things, which are not mentioned in relations of this kind : which therefore are omitted, because all intelligent and attentive persons are able to supply them. It is not unlikely, that the inan himself, when cured by our Lord, gave some account of his former condition. Moreover, here were the keepers of the swine, who might be able to relate several things concerning bim. Possibly too it was a well known case, and the people who came over with Jesus from the other
ide of the lake, might be able to give the disciples some information concerning birn.
Finally, before our Lord went away, great multitudes of that country bad come to the place where Jesus was. And