Imágenes de páginas


idea of their master being more powerful wlien awake than when asleep, acquainted him with the danger. This conduct drew on them reproaches for their want of faith, while it probably gave time to the tempest, to subside. Then Jesus, in the tone of a master, commanded the sea to be still, and immediately the order was obeyed. Yet, in spite of this prodigy, the faith of the disciples was still for a long time wavering. Jesus on this returned immediately to the country of the Ge. rasenes, without having either preached or performed miracles on tlie other side.






JESUS, landed again in the country of the Gera. senes, took a route by which no person had for some time passed. Two demoniacs, inhabiting the tombs in the neighbourhood, rendered this passage dangerous. Scarcely had Christ shewn himself, when these two madmen ran to meet him. As he was a connoisseur, in matters of possession, he no sooner perceived them than he began to exorcise, in order to make the unclean spirit come out of them. Notwithstanding his divine skill, he acquitted himself very imperfectly on this oecasion. It was not with one devil, but with a legion of devils he had to deal. One of them, laughing at the mistake of the Son of God who asked him his name, answered, I am called Legion. On this Jesus changed his batteries, and was proceeding to dislodge them, when the devils, obstinate in continuing in the country, or very little desirous of returning to hell, proposed a capitulation. One of the articles bore, that, on leaving the body of the possessed, they should enter into a herd of swine, which fed hard by on the declivity of a hill. Jesus readily agreed, for once, to grant something on the prayer of the devils, and not use liis authority rigorously.. Neither he nor his disciples, as good Jews, ate pork; he reckoned, therefore, that swine, prohibited by the law of Moses, might well serve for a retreat to devils. He consented to the treaty; the demons came out of their former residence to enter into the swine, who, feeling Satan within them, were thrown into commotion, or perhaps were terrified in ạ very natural manner; and having precipitated them selves into the sea, were drowned to the number of about two thousand.

If a legion of devils is composed of the same number as a Roman legion, we must believe, that there were six thousand devils. This evidently makes three devils for each hog, a sufficient number to induce them to commit suicide.

Some grave authors assure us, that Jesus never laughed, nor even smiled ;* yet it is very difficult to believe, that the Son of God could preserve his gravity after performing such a trick. But it did not appear bymourous to the herdsmen, who found this fine miracle so little pleasant, that they complained of it to their masters, and ran to the city, where the affair was no sooner known, than the proprietors of the swine, far from being converted, bewailed a prodigy so ruinous to them, and maintained that it was a matter of public concern. The Gerasenes went in a body to oppose the entry of Jesus into their city, and, from inability to punish, besought him to leave their territory as soon as possible. Such was the effect which the miracle of the swine produced.

* M. Fleury, in the Mours des Chretiens, p. 14. ed. 1601, speaking of Jesus Christ, employs these remarkable words:“ He was very grave. He was seen to weep on two occasions, but it is not related that he has laughed: not but he has smiled sweetly, as St. Chrysostom remarks.” As men are accustomed to regard God as a very malignant being, and not understanding raillery, they require gravity in all who come on his ser. vice. The more gloomy a religion is, the more it pleases inen, who love to indulge fear. To succeed, reformers must always display an aușlere exterior. Devotees prefer a harsh and morose confessor to an easy one ; a preacher who excites terror is always certain of success. The Jansenists are reformers, who strive to bring back Christians to their primitive gloom, and who would succeed in reviving the fanaticism of the apostolic - times, if the world was not altered,

This memorable transaction must be true, for it is attested by three evangelists, who, however, vary in some circumstances. St. Matthew informs us, that the possessed were two in number; Mark and Luke maintain that there was only one, but so furious, according to St. Mark, that they could no longer bind bim even with fellers. St. Luke is certain that the devil frequently carried him into the deserts ; St. Mark affirms · that he spent days and nights in the tombs, and on the neighbouring mountains.

On this occasion Jesus was also proclaimed Christ by the devil. As be was among his friends, or disciples, at the time, he did not enjoin silence to satan. The acknowledgment was useful when given in private, and could not hurt him ; but there were occasions on which it might do harm if made in public, where our puissant miracle-worker evinced circumspection, especially when he did not perceive himself sufficiently supported,

Unbelievers pretend to discover important errors, and evident marks of falsehood in the narrative, which also appears ridiculous. Ist, They are surprised to see devils, who, according to Christians, are con. demned to eternal torments in bell, leaving it on pur

pose to take possession of the inhabitants of this earth. 2dly, There is reason to be astonished at seeing the de. vils address prayers to the son of God. It is an article of faith, among Christians, that to pray, grace is requisite; that the damned cannot pray; and much more so, that this grace must be denied to the chiefs of the damned. 3dly, The incredulous are offended at a miracle by which Jesus benefited two persons possessed with devils, at the expence of the proprietors of two thousand swine, to whom this miracle cost at least four thousand pounds sterling; an action not quite agreeable to the rules of equity. Athly, We caņnot conceive how Jews, whom their law inspired with a horror towards swine, could have herds of animals which among them were of no use, and which they could not even touch without being defiled; and, 5thly, It is indecorous to make the Son of God enter into a compromise with devils; ridiculous to make them enter into swine; and unjust to make them enter into and des, troy other people's property.

Moreover, we are not informed what became of these devils after being precipitated into the sea. There is reason to believe, that, in coming out of the swine, they entered into the Jews, to procure for our Saviour the pleasure of casting them out again; for the curing of people possessed was of all miracles that in which he was most expert.

With respect to the possessed person cured by Jesus, penetrated with gratitude to his physician, with whom he was perhaps previously acquainted, he wanted to follow Christ, according to St. Mark; but it was fore. seen that his testimony might become suspicious, if he put himself in the train of the Messiah, who therefore ghose rather that he should repair to his family, and

« AnteriorContinuar »