Now, it may be alleged that these instances of the slowness of belief on the part of our Lord’s immediate followers, and the conduct of the multitudes who expressed such wonder at His miracles, are contrary to one another, but, they are not; for the astonishment of the multitudes did not arise from credulity in the least, but was the expression of that state of mind which must exist (no matter how carefully it is concealed), when some unlooked-for occurrence, totally inexplicable on any natural principles, presents itself. I cite it to show how utterly unfamiliar that age was with even the pretence of the exhibition of miraculous powers. If there be any substratum of truth whatsoever in the accounts of the slowness of belief on the part of the Apostles, it is a proof that our Lord’s most familiar friends were anything but the superstitious persons which certain writers assume them to have been.
The question of Demoniacal Possession now demands a passing notice.
The author of “Supernatural Religion” ascribes all such phenomena to imposture or delusion; and, inasmuch as these supposed miracles of casting out of evil spirits are associated with other miracles of Christ in the same narrative, he uses the odium with which this class of miracles is in this day regarded, for the purpose of discrediting the miracles of healing and the Resurrection of Jesus.
I cannot help expressing my surprise at the difficulty which some writers, who desire fully and faithfully to uphold the supernatural, seem to have respecting Demoniacal Possession. The difficulty seems to me to be not in the action of evil spirits in this or in that way, but in their existence. And yet the whole analogy of nature, and the state of man in this world, would lead us to believe, not only in the objective existence of a world of spirits, but in the separation of their characters into good and evil.
Those who deny the fact of an actually existing spiritual world of angels, if they are Atheists, must believe that man is the highest rational existence in the universe; but this is absurd, for the intellect of man in plainly very circumscribed, and he is slowly discovering laws which account for the phenomena which he sees, which laws were operative for ages before he discovered them, and imply infinitely more intellect in their invention, so to speak, and imposition and nice adjustment with one another, than he shows in their mere discovery. A student, for instance, has a problem put before him, say upon the adjustments of the forces of the heavenly bodies. The solution, if it evinces intelligence in him, must evince more and older intelligence in the man who sets him the problem; but if the conditions of the problem truly represent the acts of certain forces and their compensations, can we possibly deny that there is an intellect infinitely