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Life of Jesus Christ in Its Historical Connexion and Historical Developement.
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§ 101. Two Theories of the Affliction: (a) Possession by Evil Spirits (b) Insanity.—Analogous Phenomena in other Times.

There are two points of view, opposed to each other, but yet, perhaps, admitting of an intermediate ground, in which we may contemplate these forms of disease; they may have originated either (a) from internal causes in the soul itself, or (b) from causes entirely outward and supernatural. Those who adopt the first view confine their attention to the characteristic symptoms as reported, and compare them with the very similar ailments, the diseases of the mind and of the nervous system, which not only existed in that age, but have appeared at all subsequent periods.226226   Similar diseases, occurring in the first centuries, were explained in this way by the physicians.—Orig., in Matt., xiii., § 6. Those who strictly adopt the latter view adhere closely to the letter of the narrative, and make no attempt to distinguish what is objective in it from what is subjective; but see in the miserable demoniacs only passive instruments of evil spirits.

If, in accordance with this view, we admit no intermediate agency, but ascribe the phenomena immediately to evil spirits, the cures must be directly attributed to Christ’s dominion over the powers of the other world; thus strikingly showing his supernatural control over a supernatural cause of disease. And, on the other hand, if we class these phenomena with diseases of the mind in general, and consider the supposed indwelling of evil spirits only as a symptom grounded on natural causes, we shall more readily be able to conceive how a disease arising entirely, or, at least, chiefly from a psychical cause, could be cured by a purely psychical agency. Nor would this in the least degree deny, or even detract from, the miraculous character of Christ’s acts; for to restore a raving maniac to reason by a look or a word was surely beyond all natural psychological influence, and presupposed powers transcending all ordinary agencies. It is true, we find analogous cases in later times, in which great things were wrought by immediate Divine impressions, and by devout prayer in the name of Christ.227227   We must not take the spirit of an age of materialism or rationalism as a rule for judging of all phenomena of the ψυχή, which veils within itself the Infinite; which is capable of such manifold excitement; and whose various powers are alternately dormant and active—now one prevailing, and now another. An age may be destitute of certain phenomena and experiences, because it has no organs for developing them; and this would prove no thing against their reality.
   Although I can hardly think it possible that the view given in the text, taken in connexion with the general principles of this book, can be misunderstood, yet, in order to guard against a possible misinterpretation, I deem it best to add, that it was far from my intention to do away with the distinction between the natural and the supernatural, or to trace the latter entirely to the developement of powers inherent in the ψυχή. I wished only to point out the organ, the point of contact, in the ψυχή, for supernatural communications and influences; to show that it is itself supernatural in its hidden essence, which looks forward to be unfolded hereafter in the higher world to which it is allied.

Not only at the time of Christ’s appearance, but also in the centuries immediately following,228228   As seen in the Fathers, and in Lucian’s Philopseudes. many forms of disease like those called demoniacal in the New Testament were spread abroad; and we may infer that the same cause was at work in both periods.


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