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LUKE XI. 14-26.
"And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdon of God is come upon you. 21. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22. But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. 23. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
Ir is probable that Satan still exerts a baneful influence on men's bodies, though not in such a way and to such degree as to enable us to distinguish what is attributable to his operation from common disease: at all events, it is certain, from the general tenor of Scripture, that his influence over the minds of men is still very great, though it is but little thought of by many. Now, the extraordinary and strikingly obvious way in which we read of his possessing the bodies of men, during the time our Lord sojourned on earth, is well calculated to bring home to us the conviction of the truth and power of invisible, satanic agency on the mind, as is the account we have of our Lord's dispossessing him from the bodies of men, to convince us of our Lord's ability and willingness to deliver our souls from spiritual bondage; but we must not here enter at any considerable length into those points which are common to all cases of possession. We
have already had other three cases* under considerationthe case of the man with the spirit of an unclean devil in the synagogue, the case of the Gadarene, and the case of the only son, whom the disciples could not cure. sidering this fourth case, we shall dwell chiefly on the circumstances which are peculiar to it, and to the passage connected with it, noticing, as we proceed, the spiritual improvement we ought to make of the different parts and
The case of this demoniac was very sad, for the devil that possessed him rendered him "dumb"-incapable of speaking and of hearing. When we look at the parallel passage in Matt. xii. 22, we find that the poor man laboured under the additional calamity of being "blind." This was truly a pitiable case, when he could neither speak to make his wants known to others, nor hear what was said to him by his friends, nor see to provide for himself.
But have we not, in the wretched condition of this poor man, a striking representation of the still more wretched condition in which all men are naturally sunk by Satan's spiritual reign of sin? They are dumb. The tongue is "the glory of man:" the faculty of speech is truly honourable and useful, when employed for the great end for which it was given the glory of God; but, however voluble it may be on every other subject, it is naturally dumb as to every right expression of pious feeling. Not to speak of its too frequent use in blaspheming God, and opposing and misrepresenting the truth, it is habitually silent on the best of subjects. The unrenewed are dumb in prayer, strangers sometimes to its form, and always to its spirit. They are dumb as to religious conversation; they are " of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." It would be amusing, were it not so melancholy, to observe how, when in the midst of their vivacity and loquaciousness, any decidedly religious sentiment is introduced, the worldly part of a company are all at once struck dumb, and look as awkward as if they could neither hear nor speak. Man was intended to be, as it were, the mouth of this lower creation, that by him God might be praised for all: but when he is left to himself, this duty is neglected; and as to true praise, there reigns one unvaried and death-like silence. Men are also spiritually deaf by nature. They hear not the voice of God. They are even like the deaf adder that stoppeth her * Luke iv. 33, viii. 26, ix. 37.
ear, and will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming ever so wisely. Men are also blind by nature-blind to their duty, blind to their true interest, blind to their true happiness, blind to the glory of the eternal God and of the blessed Redeemer, blind to the perception of all spiritual beauty.
Our blessed Saviour graciously interposed in behalf of the poor demoniac. He cast out the devil; and as soon as the cause of the disease was removed, the disease itself ceased, for "the dumb spake," or, according to Matthew, "the blind and dumb both spake and saw." How great a deliverance was this! and what joy and gratitude must it have excited in him who was the subject of it! Similar, but still more important, is the change which divine grace makes on sinners. Though formerly dumb as to everything good, their tongue is loosed, and they speak plainly; they take pleasure in discoursing of the things of God, and in pouring forth their hearts in prayer. Though formerly deaf, their ear is opened; they listen with delight to "the joyful sound," they incline their ear and come unto Christ; they hear that their souls may live. Though formerly blind, the eyes of their understanding are opened to the spiritual world; though once darkness, they are now light in the Lord. In such happy change, as well as in the miracle before us, the words of the evangelical prophet are fulfilled, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped: then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert."
As might have been expected, when the people who were surrounding our Lord saw the poor distressed man cured by him in a moment, they "wondered." Matthew informs us that "all the people," that is, the body of the crowd, were amazed, and said, Is not this the Son of David?"—that is, the Messiah, who was to be descended from David. This might have been a question of inquiry, or a question of affirmation. It is true that the impression now made on the multitude was, in most of them, transitory; but it was a correct impression, for they reasoned justly from the miracle before them. Should it be pretended that the common people were less able to judge, and more ready to be deceived than the Pharisees, who are immediately afterwards said to have expressed a very different opinion: it may be
replied, that it was just the reverse; for, of a fact which was before their eyes, the people were of themselves as capable of judging as the scribes and Pharisees; and as to the conclusion to be drawn from that fact, the advantage was much on the side of the people, who were, in a great measure, free from prejudice, whereas the scribes and Pharisees were full of prejudice, and biassed by a regard to worldly reputation and interest. "So plain and easy was the way made to this great truth of Christ's being the Messiah and Saviour of the world, that the common people could not miss it; the way-faring men, though fools, could not err therein." This truth was revealed to babes, while it was hid from the wise and prudent. Let us remember this. If we would attain to a saving knowledge and belief of the truth, let us cultivate a lowly, unprejudiced, and teachable spirit: and if we dread the most ruinous delusion, let us beware of prejudice, superciliousness, and pride.
Verse 15: "But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils." Matthew states that this was said by the Pharisees, when they heard the people saying, "Is not this the Son of David?" The Pharisees denied that he was, and endeavoured to account for his working miracles, without granting his Messiahship, by pretending that he wrought them by the power of Satan, with whom he was in league. On this, and similar passages, very important remark has frequently been made on the evidences of Christianity, that by the two classes of infidelsthe ancient infidels who lived in the time of our Lord, and the modern infidels-the two great points in the proof of the divine origin of the Gospel are granted; namely, the fact of the miracles, and the inference from the fact; each class granting that point of which it is respectively best qualified to judge. These ancient infidels, the Pharisees, allowed the facts, of which they were surely competent to judge, when they were done before their eyes; but they denied the true inference-they denied that these facts proved the divine mission of Christ. Our modern infidels, on the other hand, perceive that if they were to admit the facts, if they were to admit that these miracles had been wrought, they could not deny the inference of Christ's divine mission; and therefore, without combating the inference, they deny and set themselves to disprove the facts. But the ancient infidels were the best judges of the facts, and the conclusion thence aris* Henry. R
ing in favour of the divine origin of the Gospel is obvious to every unprejudiced mind.
As to the name here given by the Pharisees to the chief of the devils;-Baalzebub, or Beelzebub, is mentioned in the 1st chapter of 2 Kings as "the god of Ekron," or the idol worshipped there. The word signifies the lord of a fly, or the god of flies; but why this idol came to be so designated is not agreed among commentators, though it was, probably, because he was imagined by his deluded votaries to be useful in delivering their country from swarms of flies, with which it was, at times, much infested. This name was at last applied by the Jews to Satan, the chief of the fallen angels.
Omitting, for the present, all consideration of the 16th verse, as it is the natural introduction to the 29th verse, we shall proceed to consider our Lord's reply to the blasphemous insinuation of the Pharisees. "But he, knowing their thoughts," having a much more thorough knowledge of their sentiments than could be gathered from anything they had uttered, "said unto them,” replied in a way that met both their avowed and their concealed objections, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falleth." When the inhabitants of
a kingdom are all of one mind, and faithful to each other, it is astonishing what outward attacks they will withstand; but when they divide into parties, and begin to contend in civil discord, they are unable to make head against the common enemy. So also ruin is the result of discord in a
house or family. Let this be a lesson to all the people of God to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let them hold to the truth, but let them not violently, relentlessly, or beyond what is strictly necessary, oppose each other. To see them thus unnaturally engaged, is a great triumph to the wicked, the worldly, and the erroneous. The enemy from without is emboldened to his fiercest attacks, while, instead of facing him, they are bent on overthrowing and exposing each other. "If ye bite and devour one another," says the apostle, "take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
The application of this remark of our Lord's is thus made by himself to the case in hand: "If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub." If it was really so, as the Pharisees pretended, that the miracles were per