Monday, May 22, 2017
The Bible and Demonology by Jonathan L. Forster 1873
BIBLICAL DEMONOLOGY by Jonathan Langstaff Forster 1873
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The Spirit-world is a region in which the poets of all periods have delighted to expatiate. The heathen mythology has peopled earth and air with phantoms of poetic creation. The nymphs, fauns, satyrs, gods and goddesses of classic celebrity are identified with the groves, fountains, rivers, and landscapes of Greece and Italy. In like manner, fairies and supernatural beings of various orders perform no unimportant part in modern literature. Popular superstition has thus, in all ages and countries, attested a sense or tradition of something more than is seen by mortal eye—that there are or have been influences, operating in the midst of us, of more than human or material origin. The demons of the ancient pagans were of this traditionary character; and, being accounted favourable to men, they bore some analogy to the Hebrew angelic ministrations.
It is not probable (as supposed by the atheist) that the supernatural of tradition is entirely the creature of imagination. The creations of imagination are purely plastic modifications of objective ideas. The idea of another world and a higher order of intelligences, as matters of primeval and nearly universal belief, would be unlikely to arise without some analogous experience suggestive of them. The existence of traditions of the supernatural amongst the most barbarous, as well as civilised, peoples points to a realistic origin; but, the phantoms of superstition or imagination being once originated, it no longer follows that they are themselves real.
According to Mede, the philosophers, before the times of the apostles and also contemporaneously with them, regarded the demons as angelic ministers between heaven and earth. The Academics and Stoics seem to have held a similar doctrine. Some of these demons were regarded as the souls of deified men (Newton's Dissertations, fifth edition, vol. ii., page 439, &c).
Plato, in Sympos., defines a daimonion to be a being intermediate between the supreme God and man.
Hesiod, as quoted by Newton, introduces them in this sense as attendants upon mortals.
Plato, in his Timaeus, calls the soul of man a demon, in a strictly personal sense (Stall. Phi. 359).
Euripides uses the word DAIMONWNTAS for those possessed with demons, in the sense of a divine inspiration or frenzy.
Although, in the times of the ancient Greeks, the daimonia were regarded in a favourable aspect, yet, in the gospel period, they seem to have been viewed, by the Jews at least, as the enemies of man. The Pharisees in particular, as manifest in the later Talmuds, had not only embraced much of the Greek philosophy, but had blended with it certain of the magian doctrines of good and evil spirits. They believed in bad as well as in good angels (Josephus Ant. Jud., xiii., 9).
The heathen in different ages and countries have very commonly attributed human ailments to demoniacal agency or possession; and some of them do so at the present day.
It is not necessary for our present argument to traverse, with Howitt, the vast historic domains of the supernatural. The recorded instances may be accepted as evidences of a universal abstract belief in supernatural powers and influences without establishing any particular superstition. It does not follow, because the pagan and popular demonology may be disbelieved in part or in whole, that, therefore, the supernatural is rejected in the abstract, or Biblical spiritualism is discredited.
The American Indians have their medicine man, who is employed in special cases of bodily or mental affliction to exorcise the patient by various grotesque gestures and mysterious incantations. The Veddahs of Ceylon when sick "send for devil dancers to drive away the evil spirit, who is believed to inflict disease" (Sir J. E. Tennant's Ceylon, vol. ii., page 442). Amongst other receipts of a Tamul doctor, referred to by Sir James, is one "to possess with a devil," analogous to the pretended spells of witchcraft. The modern Hindoos similarly personify the disturbing cause occasioning disease. The frantic prophetess, described by Virgil (AEneid, lib. vi.), somewhat resembles these modern exorcists.
In the New Testament, the instances of daimonia adduced are those of unclean or evil spirits. The phraseology, by which they are termed, no doubt expresses the character in which they were popularly regarded. The demoniacs also believed themselves to be possessed; and, like the heathen of their own time and our day, they spoke and acted in that character. As such they came or were brought to Jesus, who alone had power by his fiat to heal diseases and cast out demons.
The heathen exorcists, in the time of the apostles and of Josephus, assumed to deliver the afflicted from such possessions; but probably the scene enacted when the seven sons of Sceva did so, may furnish an example of their contemptible reputation.
The opinion held by some eminent persons that these possessions, like those of the present day, were merely modified forms of insanity or disease, does not in the opinion of Campbell and others account for the special phenomena. On the other hand, many excellent persons appear to be shocked at every suggestion, which does not admit, that they were the literal possessions of the bodies of men by personal agencies from the unseen world. Whatever they may have been, they must harmonise in their doctrinal aspect rather with Biblical psychology than with the pagan. If in a physical sense they were diseases, they might in a psychological sense be inspirations, yet, scarcely in the corporeal sense in which the quaint illustrators of not very antique editions of the Scriptures have represented them.
There are many words and phrases in Scripture, which are popularly understood in a different sense from that which the general tenor of Scripture warrants. Our enquiry, therefore, should be directed rather to the apostolic than to the popular sense.
The Bible is totally opposed to the popular opinion concerning demons; and, whilst there was really no other way in which the narrative could be intelligibly recorded than in the vernacular language, it is probable that both Christ and his apostles would thus colloquially make known the doctrines which are ascribed to them. In short, those infirmities, which were popularly ascribed to the pagan demons, are in the Scriptures attributed to none other than to Satan himself. Thence, it is said of Christ, in the Acts of the Apostles, that he "went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil."
At the same time, we shall see reason to suppose that, in some instances, these possessions were apostolically classed with ordinary maladies; and, in others, that the satanic influence was rather doctrinal than special.
Two possessed with demons came out of the tombs exceeding fierce, like the LUKANQRWPOI of the ancient Greeks, who, as Virgil says, implerunt falsis mugitibus agros. These demoniacs, as if they had been informed who Jesus was, cried out, saying, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?" (Matt. viii., 29.) It does not appear that they possessed any intuitive or supernatural knowledge. In Luke, only one demoniac is mentioned; but he calls himself Legion, and thus becomes the mouth-piece of plurality, according to the characteristics developed (Luke viii., 30). The narrative then proceeds to state that the demons besought our Saviour, if he should cast them out, to suffer them to enter the herd of swine which were feeding at some distance off. As the Greeks believed that their mythological deities could inspire men and brutes, our Lord practically demonstrated, to the astonishment of those around, that he could also transfer the demoniacal or satanic inspiration from the man to the unclean swine. In this instance, and in some others, the demons themselves are said to have addressed our Lord, or to have cried out. But, from the general context it seems, that the possessed himself personified the demon, and acted as his mouth-piece, the latter never appearing in any visible or recognised aspect. Again, in the Gospel of St. Mark, a man with an unclean spirit cried out, "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us?" And then concluded in terms appropriate to his own personality, "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God" (Mark i.,24).
Again, when demons came out of many, crying out, "Thou art Christ, the Son of God" (Luke iv., 41), the dispossessed were themselves the spokesmen; phraseologically the personified demons are said to speak, because the possessed believed themselves to personify the influences under which they spoke. Thus, in Acts xix., 16, "the evil spirit" and "the man in whom the evil spirit was" is the same person.
Those out of whom the demons came are apparently included amongst those "sick with divers diseases," mentioned in the preceding verse (Luke iv., 40). And, in the Gospel of St. Matthew (viii., 16-17), demoniacal possessions are apparently classed amongst human infirmities and sicknesses; also in Matt, ix., 32-35. Moreover, we read of a deaf, dumb, and blind spirit; the possessed being deaf and dumb, or blind; probably attended with mental imbecility.
In one instance the possessed is said to be a lunatic (Matt, xvii., 15). In a parallel passage he is said to have a dumb spirit (Mark ix., 17). And in another place, the spirit is called unclean, and a Daimonion (Luke ix., 42).
When the Jews said of Christ, "he hath a demon and is mad" (DAIMONION ECEI KAI MAINETAI, John x., 20), they only expressed the common notion that madness indicated a possession, or in other words, that the demon was the occult cause of mania. It would thus appear, that even lunacy and phrenzy were popularly treated as possessions, as they were by the Greeks and others.
If, at one time, we find the lunatic identified with the possessed, and at another time spoken of distinctively, or, if the possession is sometimes treated as an infirmity or disease, and at other times as a demoniacal or satanic influence, we may not unreasonably seek a solution of the difficulty in the different aspects in which they were regarded, whether physically or psychologically, whether merely as diseases, or with reference to their occult causes.
The diseased, the possessed, the lunatic, were brought to our Lord and "He healed (EQERAPEUSEN) them" (Matt. iv., 24). The daughter of the Canaanitish woman who was "grievously vexed with a demon," was said to be "made whole" IAQH (Matt. xv., 28). Thus, the possessed were sometimes said to be healed, and sometimes to be made whole, as if mentally or bodily diseased; and, at other times, the demon is said to be cast out or exorcised. On another occasion, mentioned by St. Luke (iv., 35), our Lord rebuked (EPETIMHSEN) the demon, and he came out of the possessed; and, in the same chapter, we read that, when Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever, he rebuked the fever, and it left her.
By casting out the popular demons, our Lord did not sanction the heathen doctrines concerning them, but vindicated his own power over the bodies and minds of men even upon popular grounds. He probably did not attempt to controvert argumentatively their superstitions; but, by the exercise of Divine attributes, Jesus attempted to establish his own authority, and thereby to vindicate his own and his apostles' teaching. Yet, on some occasions, he expressly attributed to Satan that which was popularly ascribed to the demons. It may, therefore, be conjectured, that Christ and his disciples were not altogether silent concerning the prevailing pagan superstition upon other occasions, although not recorded in the brief narratives. In the minds of the heathen, the demon symbolised psychologically an occult agency. In the minds of Christ and his apostles, as we shall presently see, the same term symbolised the spirit of him "that worketh in the children of disobedience."
It is not the miracle, but the psychology which is in question. It is as great a miracle to restore by a word a lunatic to his right mind, as to cast out a legion of devils. After the ascension of our Lord, the apostles continued to perform similar miracles, expressed in the same phraseology (Acts v., 16).
At different periods during the Christian era, mental phenomena, not very dissimilar from those of the Gospel possessions, have been recorded, and, on that account, have been likewise so denominated. The Camisards of the Cevennes, in Savoy, in the 16th century, were thus characterised; and, so, also used to be considered certain cases of witchcraft or fanaticism in this country. More recently, the fanatical epidemic of Morzine, in 1857 and several successive years, presented similar instances of phrenzy. The persons subjected to the attacks were chiefly ignorant enthusiasts; they became violently excited, threw themselves down, blasphemed their bishop, related visions of the Virgin Mary, and sometimes fancied themselves to have returned from hell upon missions of retribution; one or two young men were said to have run up trees and along the upmost branches and twigs like squirrels! The latter statement we may at once set down to be a physical exaggeration; but the others, like the revivals that have occurred in various times amongst Protestants in this country and America, present a feature common to demoniacs in all ages and countries. The mental phenomena in all are identified with the most extravagant form of the prevailing religion or superstition; all believe themselves to be possessed in some sense. The revivalists conceive, whether rightly or wrongly, that they are under the special influence of the Holy Spirit; the others pretend that evil spirits have entered into them. The ideas of the one class are essentially evangelical; those of the other class are essentially pagan, tinged with the prevailing popular superstitions. All are more or less convulsionists, wrought into phrenzy by the force of religious or superstitious ideas; neither their communications nor symptoms are preternatural. Their apparent insensibility to pain is probably to be traced to the common cause of analogous phenomena, namely, the absorption of mental attention in another direction.
If the Biblical phraseology conform itself to the vernacular, it is not for the purpose of imparting the authority of the latter to the verbal hagiographa, but in order to impress more intelligibly the popular mind. Likewise, Christ conformed to a popular superstition, when he anointed the eyes of the blind man with mingled saliva and dust. He could have imparted sight to the blind man by his word; but he preferred fixing the popular attention by a recognised popular superstition. The demoniacs could only be recorded eo nomine. Thus, he manifested his attributes without startling the prejudices of the people; only on suitable occasions, he ascribed to Satan what they attributed to the demons.
Upon another occasion, Jesus illustrated his rebuke to the Pharisees, by addressing to them the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in conformity with their own creed founded upon the pagan doctrine of Hades.
In such cases we have sometimes to supply an understood parenthesis, "as the people say" or "as the Pharisees say."
By miracles our Lord, and the Apostles in his name, taught the people that he was Lord of life and of all its agencies, that not only the bodies but the minds of men were under his control, and that not only the minds of men but the popular demons were subject to him.
Upon one occasion, the Jews imputed the fervour of our Lord's rebuke to his having a daimonion or demon; and, although he denied it, yet, when he proceeded to say that, if a man kept his sayings, he should never see death, or should not see death for ever, they said more emphatically "now we know that thou hast a demon" (John viii., 52). Such was the popular mode of speaking, as it is amongst some of the heathen of the present day, in order to account for what might appear to them a mystery or preternatural assumption. Deeming what he said to be incredible and irrational, they concluded he was mad or had a demon.
St. John is the only evangelist who does not record a single instance of the popular demoniacal possessions; but it has been suggested, by competent critics, that he omitted them, as well as many other equally important transactions, because they had been previously related by the other evangelists.
It may be observed, that the Hellenists attached Greek and magian ideas to Greek words, and that those who spoke the vernacular Syriac dialect incorporated a term daivo into their language corresponding with the Greek daimonion, in addition to their own shido, whilst a distinct designation was given in both languages to the Hebraistic Satan —in Greek, Diabolos; and in Syriac, Ochelkarzo (the Accuser). In our translation the same term 'devil' is indiscriminately applied to all. When used in its special sense, it is discriminated in each language by the article, to designate the arch-accuser; without the article, the term is equally applicable in its general sense to man himself.
The heathen were only acquainted with 'demons;' these designated or personified occult agencies diverse from the known and natural agencies, being the daimonia of the Greeks, the shaidim of the Canaanites, or the shidee of the Syrians. Hence, when a person was affected either in mind or body in an unaccountable manner, these heathen personified in him the unknown agent or demon, to whom they ascribed such extraordinary influences.
With respect to such of these possessions as were of a preternatural character, or were only such in a doctrinal sense, we are more likely to find the apostolic apprehension of them in the apostolic teaching, than in the vernacular phraseology of the narrative. Although "God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts xix., 11, 12); yet, St. Paul does not, in any of his epistles, sanction the popular doctrines of demonology, but cautions the churches against their reception. Doctrinally, the apostle adverts solely to "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. ii., 2). He also expressly exhorted Timothy to caution the early Christians against the doctrines of demons (1 Tim. iv., 1), popularly current amongst the pagans; he says nothing even about the demons being the agents of Satan, as suggested by some writers upon the subject.
There do not appear to be sufficient Scriptural, nor any psychological grounds for supposing, that the DAIMONIA (demons), or the AKAQARTA PNEUMATA (unclean spirits) were unpurged human spirits, as intimated by some of the patristic writers; such views approximate closely to the philosophical doctrine of a metempsychosis. The phrase "unclean spirit" is a parallelism with DAIMONIWN (demon); for the scribes charged our Saviour with casting out unclean spirits by the prince of the demons, and thereby accused him of having "an unclean spirit" (Mark iii., 30;.
The application of 'demon' to the human soul or spirit, by Chrysostom and others, is clearly the Platonic doctrine. Likewise, the expressions translated "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. iv., 1) and "spirits of demons" (Rev. xvi., 14) have reference, as before noticed, to the pagan doctrines concerning demons.
In the New Testament, we not only read of persons being demoniacally possessed, but also of their being so in the sense of a plurality of evil spirits. Out of Mary Magdalene went seven demons. Another demoniac styled himself Legion on the same account.
The popular demon expresses the occult cause of corporeal or mental infirmity, or wickedness. The apostolic doctrine teaches us, that a satanic influence, either special or congenital, is the real originator of all these evils. Hence, when a plurality of evil spirits or demons are spoken of in a personal sense, we may surmise, either that the same person is afflicted in several mysterious ways, or that, by numerical emphasis, some extraordinary degree of phrenzy or wickedness is implied. For example, in the parable of the Unclean Spirit returning to a man with seven other spirits more wicked than himself, our Lord illustrated in a popular manner the seven-fold wickedness of the generation whom he addressed (Matt. xii., 45). The same numerical emphasis of 'seven' is here adopted as in the instance of Mary Magdalene. In an analogous manner, he upbraided the Pharisees with compassing sea and land to make one proselyte, "and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" (Matt. xxiii., 15).
Yet, seeing that the leading idea of the word 'demon' is implicative of a Genius or knowing and heroic character, and hence of a superior being in a good or evil sense, and seeing that this word was ultimately transferred by the heathen for the purpose of personifying or expressing an occult agency, it might not be inappropriately adopted by our Lord with reference to the spirit of him that "worketh in the children of disobedience." Jesus evidently applied the term 'demon' in this sense, when he answered those who imputed his power over the demons to be by means of the co-operation of the Prince of Demons—"How can Satan cast out Satan?" (Mark iii., 23). There was thus a philological propriety in the adoption of this very word, notwithstanding its perversion by the ignorant. At the same time Christ, by using 'demon' in preference to any periphrasis, did thereby more popularly establish his own authority; whilst he confounded the vain pretensions of the exorcists with the apposite question, "by whom do your sons cast them out?" (Luke xi., 19).
The remarks of the learned Parkhurst and of some of his authorities upon DAIMONIWN may be usefully consulted.
Judas Iscariot is denominated a devil (diabolos) after the spirit of Satan had entered into him (John vi., 70, and xiii., 27). With special propriety might he be called the accuser or calumniator of his Divine Master. Christ also ascribed to Satan the oppression of the woman bound with infirmity (Luke xiii., 16). Peter, adverting to the cures effected by our Lord, describes him indiscriminately as "healing all that were oppressed of the devil" diabolos (Acts x., 38).
A certain damsel is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as "possessed with a spirit of divination" PNEUMA PUQWNOS —a spirit of Python, the traditional Serpent of the heathen (Acts xvi., 16). Perhaps she was an oracular Pythoness, reputed to be inspired with the spirit of the god Apollo, or in other words stated to be "possessed with a spirit of divination." This person was exorcised by St. Paul in the same manner as the demoniacs.
Similar to this soothsayer was the character of those we read of in the Old Testament called Ovothr or those who had familiar spirits. And, classed with these men, there were the Zidonim, or wizards— called in the Septuagint EGGASTRIMUQOI, ventriloquists —pretending to supernatural knowledge and influences (Lev. xx., 27).
Simon, the sorcerer, is said to have "bewitched the people of Samaria" (Acts viii., 9); however, we have no reason to believe, that he was any more than a pretender, who himself wondered beholding the really great miracles which were wrought by the Apostles.
Although we read of diviners, enchanters, wizards, witches, and necromancers in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, they are only mentioned by way of narrative, or for the purpose of condemnation (Deut. xviii., 10-11-12). They did but imitate the miracles wrought by God, of which they had heard or been witnesses. They resorted to what, in the Acts of the Apostles, arc termed "curious arts."' Contrariwise, the People of God were to be perfect before him, and were not suffered thus to mock him. Nor is it any denial of Scripture to deny the authenticity of such vain pretenders to the possession of supernatural gifts, which the Scriptures themselves in nowise sanction. If they ever possessed supernatural inspiration, it must, according to the Biblical doctrine, have been through him that "worketh in the children of disobedience." Yet the miracles ascribed to Satan are termed "lying wonders." He himself is termed the father of lies, or a liar (John viii., 44). And sorcerers are, in the Book of Revelations, comprised in the same category with "whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Rev. xxii., 15).
The very names, by which sorcerers, diviners, and similar characters are designated, imply nothing more than the character of their pretensions. The Mecashaif (sorcerer or wizard) performs his enchantments pharmaceutically; the Chartumim (diviners) were hierogrammatists, interpreters of hieroglyphics, and astrologers; the Shoail O (consulter with familiar spirits) puffed and swelled himself out as if inflated by some inspiration, like those in the Greek and Roman classics. Virgil describes the frantic Sibyl thus:—
* * * "Subito non vultus, non color unus,
Non comptae mansere comae: sed pectus anhelum,
Et rabie fera corda tument; majorque videri,
Nee mortale sonans: afflata est numine quando
Jam propiore Dei" (AEneid, lib. vi., v. 47-51).
The Zidonim (wizards) or wise men resembled the wise women of a recent period; and the doraish el hamaithim (necromancer), like the witch of Endor or some of our modern spirit-rappers, appears to have held only an ideal communion with the dead. The manes or shades of the old mythology were the representatives of the latter, and similar are the ghosts or spirits of haunted houses and solitary places. But, if these be visible or otherwise cognizable by the senses, it must be in a body; and, if the ghost or shade be corporeal, it must either be in the natural body or in the spiritual body; however the latter body is that of the resurrection only. Under no other conditions are we led to believe, that the departed can hold any personal intercourse with the living; and, therefore, we cannot look for such communion until the resurrection of the dead. Wherefore, supposing that the prophet Samuel were really raised by the Witch of Endor, it must have been in his natural body; since we nowhere read of his translation into the spiritual state. If he appeared like an old man with his mantle around him, he must have been visible to King Saul equally as well as to the Witch of Endor. Howbeit Saul was made to know (vayaidha) Samuel himself, seemingly immediately after the frightened shriek of the Baalath Ou. It was the profession of this woman to practise oracular pretensions and ventriloquism; but she appears, from the narrative, to have been allowed no time to counterfeit, after that Saul "said, Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice" (1 Sam. xxviii., 11, 12). The time was night, when discernment is slow. How humbled was the witch with her impostures before a real appearance. She could say and do nothing, but only betray her fear. She acknowledges her want of penetration by exclaiming, terrified, "Why hast thou deceived me?" She did not even recognise Samuel, when she saw him. She performed no part in the drama, other than that of an inactive, silent spectator. Samuel himself was the spokesman, announcing his final message on earth directly to King Saul without any person's intervention. The strange scene may have been enacted under the starry heavens. Samuel, the truly inspired Prophet of God—and not the false prophetess, the sham Witch of Endor—foretold the coming events of the morrow, the victory of the Philistines and the death of the King of Israel with his sons. The Man of God says, "Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me" (1 Sam. xxviii., 19); this strongly corroborates the supposition, that Samuel did not appear in his spiritual, but in his natural body; he would have again (like Lazarus had) to return to the grave. Now mark the greatness of Saul's fear; he "fell straightway all along on the earth and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel" (verse 20)—not because of anything uttered by the witch. She appears to have fled to a little distance, in dread, during the colloquy; for the next verse (21) says, "The woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled." This very judgment on Saul is attributed in part to his having consulted "one that had a familiar spirit to enquire of it, instead of enquiring of the Lord" (1 Chron. x., 13). The event is, no doubt, historically true and graphically delineated; but any supernatural characteristics, except the temporary resuscitation of Samuel, are self-condemnatory, and repugnant to the Divine counsels and prerogatives.
The modern demonology of spirit-rapping, in which tables and chairs are made the media of intercourse between the visible and invisible, cannot, according to the Biblical doctrine, be a communion between departed and living human intelligences; because the human personality of the former no longer exists, and the period of the spiritual has not yet arrived. It is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture that angelic beings of any order should pander to human curiosity, or should avail themselves of inorganic matter to make those communications imperfectly which they could effect so much better face to face; or should trouble themselves to tell us things not worth knowing, or which are better known by living men.
No apparition of a fallen angel (except of Satan himself), or of a disembodied spirit is Biblically recorded; nor is any miraculous influence ascribed to any other than to Satan as the instigator of "the Man of Sin," "with all power and signs and lying wonders." Yet, it is doubtful whether these are to be regarded as real miracles, rather pretended miracles and "lying wonders." Paley, Douglas Bishop of Salisbury, and other eminent writers notice the same Biblical fact. Except where a special satanic influence is Biblically recognised, we perhaps ought not to introduce it; where sin and deception in their natural sense are sufficient to explain the phenomena, we need not—nay, peradventure, should not—suppose supernatural workings. Even the enchantments of the Egyptian magicians are not ascribed to any special satanic influence.
The Chartumim, diviners or hierogrammatists, simulated miracles by their incantation fires (belahataihem); perhaps their incantations and imitations deceived the people for a time. The magicians themselves ultimately acknowledged that the finger of God was in the Mosaic miracles. St. Paul, in his second Epistle to Timothy, mentions Jannes and Jambres amongst the number of these magicians, and compares with them certain heady and godless characters who by a form of godliness led captive silly women; but, he says, they shall proceed no further, "for their folly shall be made manifest unto all men, as theirs (the magicians) also was." Here, the apostle seemed to consider that the magicians had succeeded in deceiving the people for a time, until their folly or deceptive arts became detected and manifest; their characters were an abomination to the Almighty; they were the makers of lies and forgeries and a parody of the Divine prerogatives, "Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God" (Deut. xviii., 13).
The influences of Satan upon mankind are doctrinally described to be the communication of an evil energy. There are only two recorded instances of objective personal communion; the one was with the Adam of Paradise, and the other was with the second Adam, Jesus Christ—in the former Satan triumphed, by the latter he was vanquished. To no other order of evil spirits is there a similar influence with mankind ever ascribed, or a personal intercourse ever represented. On the contrary, the demoniacal influences themselves are in some instances expressly ascribed to Satan, and appear to be all embraced in the category of those who are "oppressed of the devil."
At the same time, we are never informed, that Satan professes the attribute of ubiquity in the same sense as it is applied to the Holy Spirit; yet, wherever the human race extends, the fallen nature as Satan's work is co-extensive; nor is the foregoing inconsistent with the Evil One's exercising special influences in individual cases.
Some writers have considered that the sons of God, mentioned in the sixth chapter of Genesis, were evil angels; but such an opinion is not sanctioned by any parallel passage in Scripture nor by its doctrinal tenor; on the contrary, the nature of angels is represented to be such that they "neither marry nor are given in marriage." Wherefore, the inference is that the intercourse referred to must have been human.
The judgment of fallen angels, recorded by St. Jude, is an illustration of the Divine condemnation of sin, even in angelic natures; he does not confuse the sins of angels with those of the flesh, or the spiritual with the natural body. We do not even read in Scripture of incorporeal or disembodied spirits.
Although it is said by some that the popular belief in demons continued so late as the second century, yet it appears historically, that the popular demon (like the Pagan oracles and augurs) gradually disappeared with the extension of Christianity and popular intelligence; in the same manner, similar superstitions amongst the heathen, in the present day, vanish in the light of evangelical illumination.
Fontenelle combats the once popular idea, that the ancient oracles were delivered by demons. It is but due to the Divine character of our holy religion to endeavour to clear it of those glosses, which are incongruous with its general teaching, and which are calculated to disparage it in an enquiring age. Consequently, we have ventured to combat opinions concerning the demoniacs, which appear to savour rather of a Pagan and mystical character than to harmonise with those doctrines which are more plainly enunciated. The same author concludes his Histoire des Oracles with the following causes of their decline, which are in a modified degree equally applicable to the doctrines of demons—D'abord de grandes sectes de philosophes Grecs qui se sont moqués des Oracles, ensuite les Bomains qui n'en faisoient point d'usage, enfin les Chrétiens qui les détestoient, et qui les ont abolis avec le Paganisme.
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