Demons

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“There are indications that demons in popular Hebrew mythology were believed to come from the nether world. Various diseases and ailments were ascribed to them, particularly those affecting the brain and those of internal nature. Examples include the catalepsy, headache, epilepsy, and nightmares... Demons supposedly entered the body and caused the disease while overwhelming or "seizing" the victim.”
—Wikipedia, Demon
“There are many human conditions thought by many to be demonic possession”
—Wikipedia, Demonic possession

An History of Corruption on Christianity

“And that exorcism took its rise from the Platonic notion that evil daemons hovered over human souls, seducing them to sin.”
—Priestley, Joseph, An History of Corruption on Christianity p. 84

An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament

“Nay, the very words of our Saviour, How can Satan cast out Satan? if taken in their strictest sense, imply that three were several satans. And our Lord might only mean that it was unreasonable to suppose that one demon would cast out another.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 10
“It was customary with the Jews, according to Lightfoot, to attribute some of the more grievous diseases to evil spirits, especially those wherein either the body was distorted, or the mind disturbed.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 45
“Among the Latins, all the words which describe demoniacs, or persons possessed by ghosts, include in them the idea of madness, or an alienation of mind. Their Larvati and Cerriti in particular, who answer exactly to the possessed with demons in the New Testament, were all madmen. To be full of larvae, or the ghosts of wicked men, was a phrase expressive of the most outrageous madness.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament pp. 46-47
“When Josephus says that certain Jewish impostors "persuaded the multitude to be possessed by a demon," he can only mean that these imposters worked up the people into a phrensy, or prevailed upon them to act like madmen.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 50
“Some of the Jews, offended with Christ's discourses said, "He hath a demon, and is mad; why hear ye him?" If we understand these words in the strictest sense, the Jews intended to reproach Christ both with possession and madness. For these two, when thus joined together are not necessarily to be understood as synonymous terms; possession may be put for the apprehended cause, and madness for the supposed effect.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 55
“Nor was it raving madness only that the Jews ascribed to demons, but that species of madness also called melancholy. "When John came neither eating nor drinking, they say, He hath a demon." From his secluding himself from the cheerful converse of men, in the wilderness, and practising great abstinence and mortification they inferred that John was under the power of melancholy, and therefore possessed.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 57-58
“When they saw a person acting as if he was in a deep melancholy, which the Jews thought John the Baptist was, because he denied himself the pleasures of society, and the usual refreshments of nautre; when they observed any speaking and behaving irrationally, and strangely bent upon doing mischief to themselves or others, as madmen are apt to be; or having no command over themselves, not even over the members of their own bodies, like epileptics; it was from hence concluded, that the patient had a demon. If at the same time the patient lost his sight, his speech, or hearing, when there was no visible defect in the organs, the patient was said to have a demon that was blind, dumb, or deaf.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 66
“This was the case more especially with respect to epileptic diseases, the fits of which, it was affirmed, constantly returned every new and full moon. Galen says, "the moon governs the periods of epileptic diseases;" and others referred the disease entirely to this planet. Hence epilepsies were, by the Greeks and Latins, called lunatics. The evanglist Matthew, therefore, without doubt, by lunatics meaned epileptics.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament pp. 71-72
“And Justin Martyr, in express terms, says, "that those who are seized and thrown down by the souls of the deceased, are such as all men agree in calling demoniacs and mad."”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 75
“It hath never yet been proven from reason, that the spirits of dead men have power to enter and torment the living; to govern their bodily organs in as perfect a manner as their own souls can do, to deprive them of their understandings, and to render them blind, deaf, and dumb. Nay, the advocates of possessions do now admit, that it is highly absurd to ascribe this power to the spirits of dead men. On this account it is, that they labour strenuously to prove, that by demons we are to understand fallen angels.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 89
“"Goats (he observes) are remarkably subject to the epilepsy; and, on dissecting the head, the brain is found to be overcharged with a rheum of a very bad small; a plain proof (he adds) that the animal was diseased, not possessed by a diety."”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 95
“That whether the doctrine of possessions be true or false, it was not originally founded on revelation; nor did it ever receive the sanction of any of the prophets either of the Old or New Testament.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 102
“For with regard to Saul, of whom we read that "an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him," it is sufficent to observe, that the word spirit is often applied to the temper and affections of the human mind; and that the Jews were wont to call all kinds of melancholy an evil spirit. Saul's disorder, therfore, was a deep melancholy. This appears, not only from the language in which it is described, but also from the history of its cure; for it was not cured by prayer, but by music; a proper method of exhilarating the animal spirits, though not of expelling demons.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 103
“When Moses prescribed the means of being purified from the defilement of natural disorders, is it not strange that he appointed no method of being cleansed from the defilement even of a diabolical possession?”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 104
“Especially as our Savior, when applying to himself the prophecies concerning his miracles, doth not specify the ejection of demons, though at that very time he cured many of evil spirits.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 105
“If demons posses mankind, they must do it either by their own natural power, or by the power supernatural and miraculous, occasionally imparted to them by God for that purpose. That they do not posses mankind by a miraculous and divine power, seems evident from hence, that in this case the Deity must contradict himself, and counteract his own power in casting them out. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that demons have a natural power of possessing mankind.. Now, if demons have a natural power of entering the bodies of mankind, why did they not return to those bodies from which they were ejected?”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament pp. 110-111
To these persons St. Paul thus addresses himself: "We know that an idol is nothing in the world; and that there is none other God but one." Strong prejudices, aided by great parts, having prevented many from discerning the meaning of this plain passage, it will be necessary to exmain it with some attention.



Indeed, the original word, which we render idol, and which signifies an image or representation of things in the mind, is very frequently applied by the Greeks (to whom St. Paul is here writing) to ghosts or spectres, which were supposed to appear in the likeness, or to be an image and represetnation, of their former bodies. Hence they employed this term to describe their demons, who were the ghosts or images of dead men.

— Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament pp. 114-115

“By all the ancient prophets, also, the heathen gods are spoken of as dead persons. Our apostle himself entertained the same opinion of them as the prophets did. Like them, he describes Jehovah by the title of the Living God, in order to distinguish him from the gods taken from amongst mortal men.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 131
“This seems to me much more probable, than that interfnal spirits should freely and zealously assert the divine claims, and spread the glory of Jesus as the Messiah.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 147
“The strong impression which this information made upon her mind, will easily account for this woman's conduct in following them from day to day in the manner here related; especially if we add that, under a melancholy, the mind is always fixed upon one object.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 147
“For, if demons are wicked and lying spirits, as they are generally supposed to be, they are much more likely to speak falsehood than truth.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 154
“The unclean spirit dreaded nothing so much as being expelled and tormented by Jesus; and yet hastens into his immediate presence, instead of flying from it. 2. In the next place, the demoniac fell down before Jesus, and worshiped him.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 155
“Now a madman, who conceived himself to be a demon, or who represented one, being accommodated, as he thought, with a suitable habitation, and believing that Jesus was that extraordinary prophet who cast out demons, might be (as the demoniacs of the Gospel were) greatly terrified at Jesus's approach, lest he should be expelled by him and perhaps subjected to some additional or premature punishment.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 162
“Would Christ ask the devil his name? In what language did he expect an answer?”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 163
“But so great is the force of prejudice, as to make the plainest symptoms of a natural disease, proofs of the interposition of superior beings.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 165
“All that can be inferred from the saying that "the demons came out of the men, and entered the herd of swine," is, that the madness of the former was transferred to the later, in the same sense as "the leprosy of Naaman was to cleave to Gehazi, and to his seed for ever."”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 174
“If the foregoing observations are just, the history before us does not exhibit a single instance of the power and interposition of demons; though here, where we have samples of the highest degrees of insanity, proofs of their agency were most to be expected. At the same time, it represents God as the only being in the universe who inflicts and removes diseases at his pleasure, not excepting those which superstitution ascribed to evil spirits. On both these accounts, this history, on which so much stress is laid by the advocates of real possesions, seems to me to discredit, rather than confirm, the extravagant notions which the heathens and (from them) the Jews entertained of the miraculous power of demons.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament pp. 180-181
“So difficult is it to recede from those ways of speaking which were introduced by the ancients, even after the reason of them ceases. They are retained, notwithstanding their acknowledged impropriety. Our best philosophers still use the common language concerning the rising and setting of the sun, though they know that it is founded in error and prejudice. They call that an eclipse of the sun, which they are very sensible is properly an eclipse of the earth. (Previously) Philosophers speak of the motion and path of the sun, though they know it never changes its place.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 189
“The prophets of god also, as well as the professors of science, when they speak upon points of philosophy, adopt the common language, though grounded upon opinions universally allowed to be erroneous.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 189
“Why then might they not adopt the common language with respect to possession, considered as the cause of a bodily disorder? Why should it be taken for granted, that they express themselves with a philosophical exactness on this subject when they neglect it on others? You can no more infer their belief of possessions, from their saying that some had demons, or a spirit of Apollo, than you can learn a man's system of philosophy from his saying that his friend hath St. Anthony's fire, or from his afirming that the sun rises and sets every day.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 193
“Is it not the more reasonable to believe this is to be the case, as Christ commanded no more than one demon to come out of the man, in whom there was a legion?”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 196
“To fall from heaven is a mode of expression familiar to all languages, the Eastern especially, and denotes the loss of dignity and dominion.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 200
“Christ and his apostles had sufficent reason for adopting the common phraseology with respect to the demoniacs, (even supposing them not to approve the hypothesis on which it was grounded;) because it was employed to describe the real case of these persons, both the symptoms of their disorder and their cure.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 203
“The moderns reckon three species of madness, the mirthful, the melancholy, and the raving: which, variously compounded, together with anger and boldness, fear and sadness, create a great diveristy of phaenomena in maniacs.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 207
“Hippocrates, in his treaise on the epilepsy, says that each distinct affection of it was referred to a particular diety as the cause. If persons imitated a goat, their disorder was attributed to the mother of the gods; if they made a noise like a horse, to Neptune; if they foamed and kicked, to Mars.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 207
“When he said, "Come out, thou dumb and deaf spirit," he could not, as we have shown mean to declare his belief of there being spirits who are deaf and dumb. Nor could he expect to be heard by such as are deaf, till by a previous miracle he restored or communicated the power of hearing.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 213
“It is indeed too notorious to be disputed, that the language appealed to in proof of possessions is used only in describing the case of the demoniacs; and that the doctrine itself is never proposed as an article of faith, nor are we ever required to receive it as such.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 217
“Indeed, the argument in proof of the nullity of demons, draw from their authority as the divinely appointed teachers of Christianity and from those fundamental principles of it, there being but one God, and one mediator between God and man, are such as can be offered only for the conviction of believers.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 224
“If demons can inflict grievous diseases, deprive men of their reason and sense, render them dumb and blind, and cause them to suffer the most exquisite torments, they can work miracles: for the infliction of a diease by the agency of any spiritual being, answers to the definition of a miracle, as an affect produced in the system of nature, contrary to the general rules by which it is governed.”
—Farmer, Hugh, An essay on the demoniacs of the New Testament p. 241

The Gods and Other Lectures

“For ages all nations supposed that the sick and insane were possessed by evil spirits. For thousands of years the practice of medicine consisted in frightening these spirits away.”
—Ingersoll, Robert, The Gods and Other Lectures p. 29