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As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a dumb man possessed with a devil, etc.
Q. YOU have already told me, in the explanation of a former parable, that by being possessed of a devil, is to be understood possession as to the body, or corporeal part, as well as with respect to the mind, or mental part; and that it consisted in the subjection of the corporeal parts or members to the rule and governance of infernal spirits --- can you now tell me what is to be understood by the dumb man here spoken of?
A. The dumbness here spoken of may be considered in two senses, a natural sense, and a spiritual sense; and according to the natural sense of the term, it means a deprivation of the use of the tongue, or of the organs of speech, so that the dumb person is incapable of articulation; but according to the spiritual sense of the term, it implies a deprivation of that principle in which all speech originates, namely. the principle of thought, so that a spiritually dumb person is incapable of exercising the faculty of thinking, and especially of thinking on spiritual subjects, and thus of confessing that the lord is god, The miracle, therefore, under consideration, has respect to both these kinds of dumbness, and to its cure through the omnipotence of the great redeemer. It is also to be further considered, that the dumbness here spoken of, like the blindness treated of in a former miracle, was figurative, and that in its figurative character it was representative of the state of the Jewish church at that period, which state was such, that they were incapable of exercising spiritual thought, thus of elevating their understandings to the contemplation of spiritual and eternal objects, and of confessing their god accordingly.
Q. But it is written, that when the devil was cast out, the dumb spoke — what do you here understand by the devil being cast out, and by the dumb speaking?
A. According to the sense of the letter, by the devil being cast out, is to be understood, that the man was liberated from the possession which infernal spirits had gained over his bodily organs; and by the dumb speaking, according to the same sense, is to be understood, that the man recovered the use of speech in consequence of such liberation. But according to the spiritual sense of the miracle here recorded, by the devil being cast out, is to be understood, the man's emancipation from the dominion of the powers of darkness, as to his mind or spirit; and by the dumb speaking, is further to be understood, according to the same sense, the consequent liberation of the faculty of thought, and especially of spiritual thought; so that whereas the man, when under infernal influence, was incapable of elevating his understanding to the contemplation of spiritual and eternal objects; he now acquired a capacity of thinking, and thus of meditating on the word of god, and of making confession accordingly.
Q. And what do you conceive to be implied in the words which immediately follow, where it is written, that the multitude marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel?
A. By the multitude marvelling, is to be understood the holy awe with which their minds were struck at witnessing the effect of the divine omnipotence of the saviour god, manifested in the subjugation and separation of the powers of darkness, and in the consequent liberation of the church, both as to bodily and mental faculties, so that not only the bodily tongue was loosed, but the mental thought, from which the tongue derives the exercise of its powers, was set at liberty to employ itself on spiritual subjects, and thus to elevate itself to spiritual and eternal objects : and by saying, it was never so seen in Israel, is implied that the church never before witnessed such divine effects; and that consequently the saviour, in whom those effects originated, must be the god of heaven and earth, thus the eternal jehovah.
Q. But it is added, that the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils — what do you learn from these words?
A. I learn from these words, that wherever evil and error have taken possession of the human heart, inconsistency and mistaken judgement are sure to be found there. For what idea could be more inconsistent, and what judgement more groundless, than to suppose that any being can act against himself and his own interest? Yet when the Pharisees conceived that power to cast out devils, was derived from the prince of the devils, what is this but conceiving that the prince of the devils acts in opposition to himself, and to the interests of his own kingdom? Well, therefore, might the blessed Jesus exclaim on this occasion, as it is written in another place, How can Satan cast out Satan? Yet the blindness of the Pharisees of old, in not acknowledging the divine power of Jesus Christ, exercised in the casting out of devils, isnot greater than what prevails at this day in the minds of many Christians, whilst they are not aware, that every opposition to the kingdom of darkness in themselves, every combat against their natural evils, every restraint made to their bad passions, and every victory obtained over them, are manifest proofs and demonstrations of the same divine presence and agency, since it is as impossible for man to combat and overthrow the enemies of his salvation, by any power merely his, own, as it is for the prince of the devils to cast out devils, as for Satan to cast out Satan.
Q. It is further added, that Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease amongst the people — what instruction do you learn from these words?
A. I learn again to adore the goodness of that Divine Being, whose life was thus spent in providing for the necessities, and supplying the wants, both spiritual and natural, of his distressed creatures. I learn further to adore the gift
of that divine word, or speech, which was powerful at once to remove the distempers both of mind and body, and thus to restore man to all the health and strength of heavenly life and order in every principle of his constitution. I am taught also to mark some singular and edifying distinctions, which here occur in the letter of the divine history, such as the distinction between teaching and preaching and also the distinction between sickness and disease.
Q. And what do you suppose to be the ground and meaning of these distinctions? A. The distinction in both cases originates in the distinction between the two universal principles of good and truth, and also of their opposites, evil and error; and the distinction is marked in the sacred history, in order to lead the reader to a right apprehension of those eternal principles, their distinct natures, and yet their union in that distinction. The term teaching, therefore, is applied to denote the divine truth of doctrine, which ever influenced the speech of the incarnate god; whilst the term preaching is applied to denote the power of divine love from which He spoke, and to which His divine speech was intended to conduct his hearers. Thus both terms united were designed to express that divine and heavenly marriage of love and wisdom, or of goodness and. truth, which constitutes the very life and soul of the eternal word ; and of which Jesus Christ speaks in another place, where He says, My words are spirit and life; spirit having relation to their wisdom or truth; and life having relation to the love and good from which that wisdom and truth flowed. In like manner the two terms, sickness and disease, were intended to express the opposite or infernal marriage, namely. the marriage of evil and error; sickness having relation to the one, and disease to the other, whilst both united express the conjunction of those principles in the human mind, and thus express the true nature of man's destruction, which has no other source than that infernal union.
Q. What then is the general instruction which you learn from the above miracle?
A. I learn that there is a spiritual dumbness as well as a natural one, and that the lord god the saviour Jesus Christ, is the only Being in the universe who has power to remove either. I learn, therefore, not only that the organs of bodily speech are under His divine control, but also the organs of spiritual speech, which are nothing more or less than the principles and persuasions of spiritual thought. I learn further, that both the above kinds of dumbness are in connection with disorderly spirits, and that they cannot be cured, only so far as those spirits are first cast out, I am yet further instructed, that the manifestation of divine power, as exhibited in. the cure of both kinds of dumbness, has a double effect on different minds, exciting in the well-disposed, a sacred awe and adoration, and leading them to exclaim, It was never so seen in Israel; whilst with the ill-disposed it produces a contrary effect of calumny and misinterpretation, leading them to exclaim, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. Lastly, I learn, that in all the words of the blessed Jesus, there is a twofold principle, which He Himself distinguishes by the names of spirit and life; and which is marked in the above history by the terms teaching and preaching, the former having relation to the divine wisdom or truth, and the latter to the divine love or goodness. In agreement with this distinction is that of the opposite principles, or of evil and error, one of which is therefore called sickness, whilst the other is called disease. I am resolved, therefore, now on to regard all my powers of speech, whether natural or spiritual, as gifts from the Almighty Dispenser of all good, and to employ them accordingly to His glory, the benefit of my fellow-creatures, and the consequent promotion of my own salvation. Thus shall I ever, in the use of those powers, be struck with a sacred awe and adoration, which will lead me also to exclaim with the multitude of old, It was never so seen in Israel; and thus too shall I escape the terrible misinterpretation and perversion of miraculous agency, by which the Pharisees of old were deceived, and instead of joining in their infernal cry, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils, I shall joyfully and gratefully ascribe the agency to the inexpressible mercy and omnipotence of the incarnate god, whose high and holy name is Jesus Christ. Lastly, I am resolved to regard all the words of Jesus Christ in their two-fold character of spirit and life; in other words, of wisdom and love, or of goodness and truth; and to take good heed to myself lest I ever separate those principles in my own mind, by receiving truth in my understanding without good in my will, or good in my will without truth in my understanding. To the same purpose, I am resolved to distinguish well in myself the opposite principles of evil and error, calling one sickness and the other disease, and to apply to the great redeemer for the cure of both, under the full conviction that they never can be cured but by the joint reception of His love, or goodness in my will, and of His wisdom or truth in my understanding, and of both in my life and conversation. amen.
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