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perceive, by examining the supposed cases of possessions recorded in the New Testament, that the symptoms put forth by the subjects of them, are precisely the symptoms shown by persons really afflicted with those diseases. The Saviour, in speaking of persons thus afflicted, used the common language; not, as we suppose, to give countenance to the silly notion of the real existence of demons, but in tenderness perhaps to the persons afflicted, and in accommodation to their views of themselves, as well as to the prevailing opinion on the subject. It has been objected to this, that Jesus would thereby have confirmed people in the false supposition, and deceived them by giving countenance to what was unreal. Those should reflect, who think the demoniacs were possessed by the devil, almost omnipotent, in whom they believe, that this opinion is as wide from that which prevailed in the days of Christ, as the opinion we have expressed. The case is made no different, therefore, by adopting the present hypothesis in regard to possession by the devil. Although the Jews really believed the demoniacs were possessed, they did not believe they were possessed bydiabolos,-the devil, but by the spirits of the human dead; and so the demoniacs seem to have thought of themselves, as they sometimes took up their residence among the tombs. In the scriptures, the common language on the subject is kept up, and we are left to explain it by what we know of the religious opinions of the Jews and heathen. When Jesus cured people of insanity or epilepsy, he was said to cast out a demon, or demons, if the possessed thought himself to have more than one; and when Jesus transferred the madness, on one
1 On this subject, see Jahn's Biblical Archaeology.
occasion, to a herd of swine, as the leprosy of Naaman was transfered to Gehazi, the demons were said to enter them, and their end was what might have been expected.
The parable under consideration is founded on the prevailing opinion of demons. The unclean spirit was said to leave a man, to walk through dry places, seeking rest and finding none. He concluded to return to the man whom he had left, and he found him in a better condition than when he left him; or, as it is expressed, he returned to the house whence he came out, and found it empty, swept and garnished. He went and took with him seven spirits worse than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of the man was of course, worse than the first. Jesus made the application of the parable by saying, "even so shall it be atso unto this wicked generation.
It was commonly supposed, that if the insanity left a man for a time, but returned, it came with seven fold violence, which is all that is meant by "seven other spirits." We say at the present day, when a fever is expelled, that if the person is not careful, the disease will return, and the relapse is seven times more difficult to cure than the first attack. The same rule holds good, in regard to moral things. Peter says, "for if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning." The occasion of Jesus using the parable before us was this, he had just cured a man of blindness and dumbness, or, in the common language, had cast out a demon that was both blind and dumb; and this circumstance suggested to him the figure by
which he represented what, it might reasonably be supposed, would be the last state of the Jews. They were earnestly looking for the coming of the latter days, in which they hoped to enjoy all the glory foretold by their prophets. This latter state of the nation was a matter of universal and joyful expectation among them; but alas! by rejecting the true Messiah, and putting him to death, they brought upon themselves in the end of the age, a great tribulation, such as had not been from the beginning of the world to that time, and was never afterward to be exceeded. The last state" of that generation, instead of being, as they expected, better than any former condition they had ever enjoyed, would be worse-no calamities they ever suffered would compare with those about to fall upon them.
This parable may be very easily and naturally applied to many persons now on the earth. In the process of what they call conversion, they get rid of one devil, but they often take in seven. We do .not feel disposed to deny it is sometimes the case in proselyting men, that they are led to forsake some sins; but it is a fact that they fall into others of a more enormous character; as some writer has quaintly said, "they throw off the sins of a man, and take on those of a devil." There are people who have been made worse by being proselyted to orthodoxy, and although they have boasted of casting the devil out, their last state is worse than the first. So it is with this wicked generation.
Parable of the Sower.
MATT. XIII. 3—8.—MARK IV. 3-8.
-LUKE VIII. 5-8.
"Behold a sower went forth to sow; And, when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way-side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprung up, because they had not deepness of earth: And, when the sun was up, they were scorched; and, because they had no root, they withered away: And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold."-Matt. xiii. 3—8.
AT the commencement of the 13th chapter of Matthew, we read that "Jesus sat by the seaside;" and in consequence of the great multitudes that gathered to hear him, he went into a ship and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore." It was the custom of the Jewish instructors to stand up, as a mark of reverence, when they recited portions of the word of God, but they expounded sitting. Jesus adopted the same practice. Compare Luke iv. 16 with 20. See also Matt. v. 1. xxiii. 2. Jesus drew the parable before us, as he did many others, from the pastoral occupations of the Jews. It may appear unnatural to some, that he should represent the seed which fell into good ground as bringing forth fr it even to a "hundred fold" but on the rich lands of Palestine, crops as large as this were so netimes obtained. See Gen. xxvi. 12.
The great object of Jesus in uttering the parable of the Sower, was to shew the different ways in
which the truth would be received by different orders of men. The explanation, as given by our Lord himself, will be found in vers. 18-23. The seed was sown in four different ways, and, in the explanation, Jesus showed that there were four different kinds of hearers of the word.
1. There were those who heard the word, but did not understand it. Ver. 19. The word preached to them was the seed which fell by the way side, and which the fowls of the air came and devoured. Hence it is said, that when the word is preached to a man who did not understand it, then cometh the wicked,1 and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. It was not difficult for the wicked enemies of Jesus, to take away the word of the gospel, from the hearts of those who did not understand it. Their great object was to prevent men from embracing the religion of the blessed Redeemer. They took away the key of knowledge from the people,-they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, neither entering themselves, nor suffering those who would enter to go in; and they were represented by the fowls who came and devoured the seed.
2. There were those who heard the word, and received it with joy; but they were men of instability, and endured only for a while; for when tribulation or persecution arose on account of the word they had professed, they became offended and gave it up. This was a class of men to whom the word was preached, which, when preached to them, was represented by the seed which fell upon stony places, where there was but little earth. It sprang quickly up, as seed does when slightly covered, and having but little root, it could not endure
1 The word one, being supplied by the translators, I omit.