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it is reasonable for us to conclude, that soine of those persons were able and disposed to give an account of both these men, especially of one of them; which indeed, as before hinted, I take to be a main reason, why the evangelists Mark and Luke confined their history to one, though there were two of these men, as said by St. Matthew : even because they had received more particular intelligence concerning one than the other.
It follows in St. Mark : “ But wben he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him. And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God. I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. (For he had said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.) And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are many. And he besought hiin much, that he would not send them away out of the country.” St. Luke
“ When he saw Jesus he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus thou Son of God most high. I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.) And Jesus asked him, saying, Wbat is thy name? And he said, Legion, because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him, that he would not command them to go out into the deep." St. Matthew, though briefer than the others, says: “ And behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come bither to torment us before tbe time ?"
By all the evangelists we are assured, that one, or both these men, either they, or the evil spirits in them, owned our Lord's character, as the Messiah, or the Son of God; and they entreat him not to send them away. But I think it appears, both from St. Mark and St. Luke, that these things are not said by them until our Lord had signified his will that the man, or men, should be delivered from this unhappy circumstance: then they own the character of Jesus, that he was the Christ, and his power, as such, to command and send them whither he pleased. But they entreat bim, not to punish them for having taken possession of these persons, and made them miserable. Yea, they are represented complaining of his command as unreasonable: “Wbat bave we to do with thee ?.” Why should you concern yourself with us ? Leave us to act as we think fit, until the last day, the time of the full punishment allotted to us.
The unclean spirits speaking in this manner, Jesus asked
one of the men, what was bis name, and he answered, Legion, because there were in him many unclean spirits.
As these spirits desired, that they might not be “tormented before the time;" so in particular, they petitioned our Lord, that he would " not send them away out of the country,” as it is expressed in St. Mark: or, that he would “ not command them to go out into the deep,” as in St. Luke.
Evil spirits delight in mischief, and are afraid of punishment. They therefore make it their request to Jesus, if he would be obeyed with regard to the commandment he had given them, to come out of the men whom they had so long tormented, that yet he would not require them quite to leave that country, but permit them to act as they pleased toward some other persons in those parts. At least they entreat him, however, that he would not order them away into the deep, or the abyss, that is, the place of torment.
As the full punishment of fallen angels, as well as of bad men, was deferred to the great day of the general judgment; it was the opinion of inany at that time, that some of those evil angels and spirits were allowed (though subject to control) to visit the region of our air, and this earth, and to inflict diseases and other calamities upon men. Of this number are these unclean spirits, and they earnestly entreat not to be sent back to their prison and confined in the abyss, or place of torment, as yet.
I proceed to what remains, now first reading St. Matthew : “ And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine. And behold, the wbole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. Aod when they saw him, they besought him, that he would depart out of their coasts. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city."
Here I would observe, that this great work of our Lord was performed with deliberation. There was some time between bis intimation, that these evil spirits should remove, and their actual departure; or, in other words, the men were not healed at once, immediately upon his command
a See 2 Pet. ii. 4. and Jude ver. 6.
ing the evil spirits to come out of the men : but be allowed a petition to be presented to him, which was in part granted.
St. Mark's account is after this manner: “ Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all
the devils besought bim, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And furthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out and entered into the swine. And the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand,) and were choaked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they came to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And they that saw it, told them, how it befell to bim that was possessed with the devils, aud also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts."
St. Luke's relation is to the like purpose: 66 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain. And they besought him, that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the inen and entered into the swine. And the berd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choaked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city, and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done, and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right inind; and they were afraid. They also which saw it, told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was bealed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from thein, for they were taken with great fear. And he went up into the ship, and returned back again.
As this country was a part of the land of Israel, and the Jews were forbidden by the law of Moses to eat swine's flesh; it may seemn strange to some, that there should bave been in this place so large a number of those animals. But there is reason to think, that this country was then chiefly inhabited by Gentiles, though there were Jews likewise; and it may be supposed, that the herd belonged to the Gentile inhabitants. However, possibly some Jews might have a property in them, and might trade in those creatures, selling them to heathens, without partaking of them as food.
The evangelists do all agree in this part of the history. But two inquiries may be here put. 1. By what means was this herd of swine hurried down the precipice, and drowned in the waters ? 2. For wbat reasons did our Lord suffer this to be done ?
First, How, or by what means was this berd burried down the precipice, and drowned in the waters? And there are several ways of accounting for this. They who suppose that there was here only a distemper, and are unwilling to admit the agency of any bad spirits in this case, say, these men, or one of them, mnight, with the permission of Jesus, go and drive the swine off the precipice into the sea, where they were drowned. Or else, our Lord was pleased to transfer the lunacy, or distraction, from this maii, or these men, to the swine, and the distemper having seized them, they took their way down a steep road, and perished in the
Others, who readily admit the agency of evil spirits in this affair, say, that with our Lord's permission, when these spirits were removed out of the men, they took possession of the swine, and burried thein into the waters, where they were drowned.
Every one is at liberty to judge for himself. But I readily own, that I do not approve of that solution, which supposeth, that the lunacy was transferred from the men to the swine ; for this implies, that the drowning of the swine was owing to our Lord's agency or interposition : whereas I do not perceive, that our Lord wrought any miracles that were hurtful. The only instance of this kind wbich I recollect, is the withering a barren, useless fig-tree in the way between Bethany and Jerusalem. As then there is no clear evidence of our Lord's interposing in this matter, I presume it ought not to be adınitted.
Secondly, it is inquired : Why, or for what reasons did our Lord suffer this to be done? by the men themselves before they were quite cured; or by the evil spirits when they were departed from the men ? For according to the accounts given by the evangelists, it was not, and could not be done without bis permission : his leave was asked and granted.
Some think, that our Lord permitted this to be done, as a proof of the real agency of evil spirits, in this case.
But whether that was a reason or not, there are, I think, other uses which this event would answer, and therefore probably were intended herein. For the loss of the swine tended to make the cure of the man public. It had this
effect : “ They that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country ;" that is, they hasted to noise it abroad every wbere : and many were brought to Jesus, and came to see the man who was healed, and stayed with him, sitting at his feet. Hereby, therefore, and by means of the immediate publication of the miracle, the people of the neighbouring town and country were proved. Jesus, by his presence with them, and by the great miracle performed among them, with which they were presently acquainted, made them a tender of divine knowledge, and other spiritual blessings. But though a great and evident miracle bad been wrought among them, one of the most desirable works that can be thought of, delivering a man from distraction, restoring bim to the use of reason and understanding; these people were so carnal, and so apprehensive of suffering in their worldly interests, that instead of entreating Jesus to stay with them, a while at least, that they might partake in some other like benefits of bis great power, and be instructed by him in things of religion, that they joined together with much unanimity in beseeching him to depart out of their coasts : which he did, and went back again to the other side of the lake.
There remains yet one article in this history, omitted indeed by St. Matihew, but related by both the other evangelists. Says St. Mark: “ And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devils, prayed bim, that he might be with him; Howbeil, Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them, how great things the Lord bath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And be departed, and began to publish in Decapolis, how great things Jesus had done for him, and all men did marvel.” St. Luke's words are these : “ Now the man out of whom the devils were departed, besought him, that he might be with him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thy own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went bis way, and published throughout the whole city, bow great things Jesus had done unto him.”
It is likely, that this person requested to be with Jesus for his own security, fearing that those evil spirits would again take possession of him and torment him. But Jesus suffered him not to be with him. For our Lord to have
• Non quod concesserit Salvator dæmonibus quod petebant, dixit, Ite: sed at per interfectionem porcorum hominibus salutis occasio præberetur. Pastores enim, ista cernentes, statim nuntiant civitati. Hieron. in Matt. Tom. 4. p. 29. m.