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BIBLE DOCTRINE CONCERNING DEMONS.
masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned, and said to the spirit, I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her. And he came out the same
Acts 19 13-16. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
James 2: 19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils (demons) also believe, and tremble.
Remarks and observations on DEMONS; and facts stated, showing that the demons mentioned in the Bible were not fallen angels.
If the reader will carefully examine every passage in the New Testament wherein allusion is made to demons, he will see that demons," ," "unclean spirits," "the spirits," "evil spirits," "unclean spirit," and "spirit of divination," all mean precisely the same thing. The common theory respecting these demons is the following: It is supposed that they were once holy and happy angels of God in heaven. But, in consequence of their having been drawn off from their allegiance to God, and joining the devil in his rebellion against the Most High, they, together with their great chief, or leader, were expelled from heaven, and cast out into the earth; since which time they have been constantly at work contriving how they may torment the human race. To this theory we object as
1. We have shown that the Bible gives no account of any such rebellion in heaven, nor of any such fall of angels; and that it does not teach the real, personal existence of any such being as the devil. any man believes, therefore, that these demons were fallen angels, he must believe it without the authority of the Bible.
2. A marked distinction is kept up between the devil and demons, throughout the Bible. The Jews are accused of sacrificing unto demons, Deut. 32: 17; Ps. 106: 37; Isa. 65: 11.
they are never accused of sacrificing unto Satan, or Diabolos. Satan and Diabolos are spoken of as one; and these words are never used in the plural number only when speaking of human beings. But the demons are spoken of as many; ·seven were cast out of Mary Magdalene; and of one man we read he had a whole legion. Persons are spoken of as being possessed of demons; but nowhere is it intimated in the Bible that any person was ever possessed of Satan or Diabolos. Demons are said to have been cast out of persons; but never is it said that Satan, or Diabolos, was cast out of any man.
3. This theory is contrary to the opinions of both Jews and heathen respecting the origin and nature of these demons. Enfield tells us that the Chaldeans, and, indeed, all the heathen nations, believed in the existence of an innumerable host of demons. He also tells us that the same belief was entertained by all the different schools of heathen philosophers. He likewise informs us that Xenoc rates, Plato, Cicero, Pythagoras, and others, taught that demons are of two kinds - superior and inferior; the superior, those that inhabited the sun and stars; the inferior, human souls, separated from the body. Plutarch, Thales and Hesiod, taught the same doctrine. Josephus tells us that demoniacs were possessed by the spirits of dead men. That the belief in the existence of demons was common among the Jews in our Saviour's time, is a fact too notorious to admit of denial. From what source they derived these opinions we shall see presently. It is also an indisputable fact that these demons, so far from being fallen angels, were the spirits, souls or ghosts, of dead men, which were supposed to come back to this world, and take possession of, or enter into, the living.
4. The Bible nowhere informs us that these demons were fallen angels. Demons are spoken of in the Old Testament, and very frequently mentioned in the New; but not a hint is given that they were fallen angels. Now, can it be believed that the scripture writers believed these demons to be fallen angels, and, although they frequently mention them, yet that this opinion of theirs should never leak out?
5. This theory comes in direct contact with the plain teachings of the Bible. See Deut. 32: 17. It is certain, from this text, that these demons were something that the Jews had formerly known nothing about, and that their fathers had no fear of them.
If, then, they were fallen angels, the Jews of ancient times were ignorant of their existence, and had no fears respecting them. In Psalm 96: 5, we are told that "all the gods of the heathen are idols" (daimonia). The heathen worshipped the deified ghosts of dead men, and their idols were representations of these ghostly gods. But the Bible declares that these gods had no real existence; and the mere representation of them was all that did really
There are now three questions which demand serious consideration. 1. What was the theory adopted by the Jews respecting these demons? 2. From whence did they derive their opinions concerning them? 3. Had their opinions in relation to them any foundation in truth?
1. What were their opinions respecting demons? authority of Josephus, we affirm that they believed these demons to be the souls or spirits of dead men. From reading what is said about these demons in the New Testament, it is evident the Jews believed there was a vast number of them. It is also evident they believed these demons sometimes came back to this world, entered into the bodies of the living, and had power to torment them, by inflicting various maladies upon them, such as dumbness, blindness, lunacy, epilepsy, madness, &c. This opinion is alluded to, Matt. 9: 32-34; Luke 11: 14-26; Matt. 12: 22-28, and 17: 14 -18; and Luke 8: 26-38. Madness was supposed to be occasioned by a demon of the very worst and most malignant kind. The number of demons which a man had was supposed to be in proportion to the strangeness and malignity of the disease with which he was afflicted. They had observed that, when a person was cured of insanity or madness, and afterwards had a relapse, the disease seized hold of him with increased violence. Hence they supposed the old demon had returned, and brought other demons with him; or that a new demon, of more malignant character than the first, had taken possession of him. This opinion is alluded to, Luke 11: 24-26, and Matt. 12: 43–45. They believed that all the demons were subordinate to one great chief or leader, and this chief they called Beelzebub. This opinion is alluded to by Mark 3: 20 -26; Matt. 12: 22-28, and Luke 11: 14-26. They seem to have thought that these demons were in due time to be sent into some place of punishment, under the earth, or under the sea.
This we infer from Luke 8: 31, and Matt. 8: 29. They believed these demons might be expelled by human agency; and hence they practised exorcism for that purpose. Matt. 12: 27, and Luke 11: 19.
2. From whence did they derive these opinions? It could not be from the Bible, for we have seen the Bible teaches no such doctrines. Where, then, could they have learned them? We answer, they learned them from the heathen. We have seen that their fathers knew nothing about the existence of such beings, and had no fear of them. We have also seen that when the Jews first began to worship such beings they worshipped "new gods," which came "newly up," and of which their fathers, although enjoying a revelation from God, had never heard. But when did they learn these opinions? Dr. Knapp, an orthodox German divine, whose work on Theology has been translated at Andover, and highly approved by the professors there, says: "There is no trace of a belief in the existence of evil spirits, even among the Jews, until the Babylonian captivity." And every person at all acquainted with Jewish history knows that, during their seventy years' captivity in Babylon, they learned a vast many heathen notions, and, by incorporat ing them with their own religion, corrupted the religion of their fathers, and even made void the law of God by their traditions. But where did the heathen learn these opinions? Certainly not from divine revelation, for they enjoyed no such revelation. In fine, we can trace these opinions to no higher or better source than the vain imaginations of the heathen. They originated from the same source as did the heathen opinions concerning the angel of darkness, the angel of light, the god Baal, the god of the grove, the god of the hills, the god of the valley, the god of thunder, the god of storms, the god of peace, the god of war, &c., &c. They owe their origin to the same source as did all the gods of the heathen, of whom there were no less, in the time of Christ, than thirty thousand. If any man thinks he can trace them to a higher or better source than this let him nerve himself to the task. We feel very confident he will fail in the undertaking. Let us now hear what the learned Wakefield says on this subject. He says: "Demoniacs was a popular name for one sort of madness, chiefly of the raging kind, founded on a foolish superstition of the vulgar, that madmen were possessed by the spirits of dead men, called demons, just as
others were called lunatics, as if affected by the moon. So modern times have had their St. Vitus' dance, and St. Anthony's fire; and these terms are used without scruple by those who have not the least notion of the interference of these saints in these particular disorders. Indeed, all great irregularities in the system of nature, of which raging madness is one, the ancients, both heathen and Jews, but especially the latter, were accustomed to attribute to supernatural agency. Thus, for instance, an unusual and lucky cast of the dice was called by the Romans the cast of Venus,' as if occasioned by that goddess. It is wonderful to me how any man, conversant with classic authors, can entertain any other opinion of the demoniacs of the New Testament. Indeed, it is the most remarkable instance I know of the triumph of prejudice and superstition over learning and good sense. This idea is nothing new. The same opinion was maintained by several great men, both of the last and present century; and, among the rest, by Joseph Mede, of Christ's College, Cambridge, as learned, and, in every view, as respectable a divine as England ever produced."
Such being the facts in relation to demons and demoniacs, we are led necessarily to adopt the following conclusions, namely:
1. That all that is said in the New Testament concerning demons is spoken in accordance with the generally received opinions of the people of that day, and without any intention to sanction those opinions, or give them the least countenance or support.
2. When persons are spoken of in the New Testament as having been possessed with demons, all that ought to be understood by it 18, that the persons were laboring under some kind of disease, either bodily or mental, which was supposed to be occasioned by a demon or demons.
3. When the Jews accuse Christ of having a demon, John 10: 20, 21, and 7: 20, and 8: 48, 49, 52, and John the Baptist of having a demon, Matt. 11: 18, and Luke 7: 33,- all that is to be understood by it is, that either they accused them of this out of malice, or else they actually believed them to be deranged, and supposed their derangement to be occasioned by a demon. Indeed, they say of Christ, John 10: 20, « He hath a demon, and is mad." Now, all will admit that when they supposed John and Christ to have a demon, they were mistaken. Why, then, not