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Chapter 6

 

A recapitulation or summary of the doctrines of demons How the severals thereof are revived and resembled in the apostate Christian Church. —That the word demon* is sometimes in Scripture taken according to the Theology of the Gentiles, and not always for an evil spirit. —That it is so to be taken in the text was the judgment of Epiphanius; an observable passage quoted out of him to this purpose.

 

          And thus have you seen the theology of demons; 1st, for their nature and degree, to have been supposed by the Gentiles an inferior and middle sort of divine powers between the sovereign and heavenly gods and mortal men. 2. Their office to be as mediators and agents between these sovereign gods and men. 3. Their original, to be the deified souls of worthy men after death; and some of a higher degree, which had no beginning, nor ever were imprisoned in mortal bodies. 4. The way to worship them, to find and receive benefits from them; namely, by consecrated images and pillars, wherein to have and retain their presence at devotions to be given them. 5. To adore their relics, and to temple them.

 

          Now, therefore, judge impartially whether St. Paul’s prophecy be not fulfilled already amongst Christians, who foretold that the time should come that they should apostatize, and

 

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revive again* doctrines of demons; whether the deifying and worshipping of saints and angels, whether the bowing down to images, whether of men or other things visible, breaden idols, and crosses like new demon pillars, whether the adoring or templing of relics, whether these make not as lively an image of the Gentiles’ theology of demons as possibly could be expressed, and whether these two words comprehend not the whole pith and marrow of Christian apostasy, which was to consist in spiritual fornication or idolatry; as appears by that name and denomination given by St. John in his Revelation, the whore of Babylon. Is she not rightly termed the Babylonish harlot, which hath revived and replanted the doctrines of demons first founded in ancient Babel? And is not this now fulfilled which St. John foretells us, Revelation 11, that the second and outmost court of the Temple, which is the second state of the Christian Church, together with the holy city, should be trodden down and overtrampled by the Gentiles, that is, overwhelmed with the Gentiles’ idolatry, forty-two months?

 

          But, perhaps, I am yet too forward in my application; some things in our way must first be cleared. For howsoever the resemblance indeed be evident, yet, first, the text seems not to intend or mean it, because the word Demon is in the Scripture never taken in the better or indifferent sense, howsoever profane authors do so use it, but always in an evil sense, for the devil, or an

 

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evil spirit. Now the signification of words in Scripture is to be esteemed and taken only according to the Scripture use, though other writers use them otherwise. Secondly, for the charge of Idolatry; though much of that wherein we have instanced may be granted to be justly suspected for such indeed, yet, nevertheless, that whereupon this application mainly relieth, namely, the praying to saints glorified, as mediators and agents for us with God, should not seem to deserve so foul a name. For suppose it were a needless, yea a fruitless ceremony, yet what reason can be given why this should be more tainted with idolatry, than is the like honor given to saints and holy men whilst they live on earth, whom then to desire to mediate and pray to God for us was never accounted so much as an unlawful matter? When these two scruples are answered, I will return to continue my former application.

 

          To the first, therefore, for the use of the word demon in Scripture, I say, that because those which the Gentiles took for demons and deified souls of their worthies, were indeed no other than evil spirits, counterfeiting the souls of men deceased, and masking themselves under the names of such supposed demons, under that color to seduce mankind; therefore the Scripture useth the name demons, for what they were, indeed, and not for what they seemed to be. For no blessed soul or good angel would admit any honor which did derogate from the honor of the only true God who made them: neither do the glorified saints in heaven,

 

 

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or the blessed angels, though apostate Christians now invocate and worship them, accept of this honor, hear their prayers, or condescend to their devotions, by any sign or act whatsoever; but whatsoever is made to seem to be done by them, is done by the self-same wicked spirits which heretofore were masked under the names of demons; and, therefore, on this account, the one may as well bear the name of demons as the other, and be as likely to be intended by the use of that word.

 

          Secondly, though the Scripture often uses this word in the worst sense, yet follows it not that it would always do so; because the word devil* itself, which the Scripture hath appropriated to signify Satan the Prince of hell-hounds, following therein the Seventy, who first gave it this notion, nowhere else sampled in any Greek author, —yet is this word devil in the New Testament itself † three several times used in the common sense for a slanderer or false accuser, and that in three several epistles, in both those to Timothy, and in that to Titus. And why should the like seem improbable for the word demon Nay, most certain it is so, as I now come to make manifest.

 

          And that comes first, Acts 17: 18, where St. Paul, our apostle, having at Athens preached Jesus risen from the dead, the philosophers thus encountered him, saying,   which we translate, “This fellow seemeth to be a setter forth of

 

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strange gods,” namely, demon-gods. For hearing of one Jesus after death, to become a Lord and Savior, and to be adored with Divine worship, they took him presently (according to their own principles in that kind) to be some new or foreign demon; for so it follows in the text, that they said thus, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection. Upon the same ground Celsus, in Orig., b. 8, call the same Christ our Savior the Christians’ demon; for whereas the Christians said that they without hurt and danger blasphemed and reproached the Gentiles’ gods, Celsus replies,* “Do you not see, good Sir, that some opposing your demon, do not only reproach him, but proclaim him unworthy to be at all in the world.” Where Origen answers Celsus,† “He that acknowledges no evil demons, I know not how he came to forget himself calling Jesus a demon.” But St. Paul thus charged by the philosophers, coming to make his apology in the Areopagus, retorts their accusation: “Ye men of Athens,” saith he, “I see you in all things too full of demons already;” I shall not need to bring any more amongst you. (For thus the word  by etymology signifies “a worshipper of Demon-gods,” and was anciently used in this sense;

 

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and so you shall find it often in *Clemens Alexandrinus, his Protrepticon, not to speak of others; though afterwards, from signifying reverence toward the Divinity, as Budaeus speaks, it came to be applied to those who were too precise and anxious in their devotions.) But I, saith our apostle, preach no new demon to you, but that sovereign and celestial God who made the world and all things therein: who, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not, as your Demon-gods do, in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, as you conceive of your Demons, seeing he giveth to all, life and breath and all things: this God I preach unto you.” And this place I take to be so unanswerable for the indifferent and common acceptation of the word Demon that I care not now though the rest should fail me; but let us see what they are.

 

          In Revelation 9: 13, &c., the sixth trumpet from Euphrates brings a huge army upon the Christian world, which destroyeth a third part of men; and yet those which remained repented not of those sins (verse 20) for which these plagues

 

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came upon the earth, viz. that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk. Is not this a comment upon the apostle’s prophecy in my text? The time which it concerns must needs fall in the last times; for it is the last trumpet save one. The place must be the Roman empire, or Christian World; for that is the stage of all the seals and trumpets. And how could it be otherwise, seeing St. John at Patmos saw them coming from the great river Euphrates? whatsoever comes from thence must needs fall upon the territory of the Roman Empire. To detain you no longer, the best expounders make it the Ottoman or Turkish invasion, which hath swallowed so great a part of Christendom. But what people are they who in the Roman territory do in these latter times worship idols of gold, silver, brass, and stone and wood; Are they heathens? There are none such. Are they Jews? They cannot endure the sight of them. Are they Mohammedans? Nay, they abhor it also. Then must they needs be Christians; and then must Christians, too, worship demons; for both are spoken of the same men. But what Christians do, or ever did worship Devils formally? But demon-gods, alas! they do and have long done. Here, therefore, Demon is again taken in the common and philosophical sense, or, at least, which is all one, for Evil Spirits worshipped under the names of demons and deceased souls.

 

          Besides my text, there is but one place more

 

 

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in all the Epistles of St. Paul, where the word Demon is used, namely, I Corinthians 10: 21, where if there be any allusion to the Gentiles’ conceit of demons, then all the places of St. Paul’s Epistles are bending that way. But some there are, Stephen in his Thesaurus, who think the apostle in his cup of demons, alludes unto that * “cup of the good demon,” used among the Gentiles. And further to strengthen this conceit of the Apostle’s allusion to the heathenish notion of demons, the words of the former verse make much; for the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice, saith he, to demons and not to God. Now this was the very tenet of the Gentiles, that the sovereign and celestial Gods were to be worshipped only with the spirit, and with hymns and praises, and that sacrifices were only for demons. (See Porphyr. in Euseb. Praep. Evang. Herm. Trismeg. in Asclepio, Apuleium de Demonio Socratis.) He, therefore, who had given his faith to that one Lord, to the only Potentate, to the one and only Mediator Jesus Christ,  must have no communion, have no part in the service of those many Mediators, Lords, or demon Gods of the nations; for Christ’s monarchical Mediation excludes all other mediators and demons; not that the wooden idol was ought of itself, but that the Gentiles supposed there dwelt some demon therein, who received their sacrifices, and to whom they intended their services. Thus may this place be expounded, and so the use of the word demon in the worst sense, or directly for

 

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a Devil, will be almost confined to the Gospel; where the subject spoken of being men vexed with evil spirits, could admit no other sense or use; and yet St. Luke, the best languaged of the evangelists, knowing the word to be ambiguous, and therefore, as it were, to distinguish it once for all, doth the first time he useth it, do it with an explication, chapter 4 verse 33, “there was,” saith he, “a man in the synagogue, *having the spirit of an unclean demon.”

 

          Thus much of the word demon in Scripture; whereby, I hope, it appears that this place of my text is not the only place where the word is used according to the notion of Gentiles and their theologists.

 

          But you will say, Did any of the Fathers or ancients expound it thus in this place? If they had done so the Mystery of Iniquity could never have taken such footing; which because it was to come according to Divine disposition, what wonder, then, if this were hidden from their eyes? Howsoever it may seem that God left not his Spirit without a witness; for, as I take it, Epiphanius, one of the most zealous of the Fathers of his time against saint worship then peeping, took the doctrines of demons, in my text, for a doctrine of worshipping dead men. You may read him in the seventy-eighth heresy towards the conclusion, where, upon occasion of some who made a Goddess of the blessed Virgin, and offered a cake unto her as the Queen of Heaven, he quotes this place of my text concerning

 

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them, saying, * “That also of the apostle is fulfilled in these; some shall apostatize from the sound doctrine, giving heed to fables and doctrines of demons; for, saith he, they shall be worshippers of dead men, as they were worshipped in Israel.” Are not these last words an exposition of the doctrines of demons? But what, you will say, doth he mean by the dead worshipped in Israel? I suppose he means their Baalim, who, as is already shown, were nothing else but demons or deified ghosts of men deceased. Yet he brings in two examples besides; one of the Sichemites in his time, who had a Goddess or Demoness under the name of Jephtha’s daughter; another of the Egyptians, who worshipped Thermutis, that daughter of Pharaoh, which brought up Moses. Some, as Beza, would have these words of Epiphanius to be a part of the text itself, in some copy which he use. But ho is that likely, when no other Father once mentions any such reading? Nay it appears, moreover, that Epiphanius intended to explain the words as he quoted them, as he doth ‡‡ the faith, by † “the sound doctrine,” and ‡ erroneous spirits, by § “fables,” and so || “giving heed to doctrines of demons” by Ά “worshipping dead men.” Otherwise we say he used

 

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either a very corrupt copy, or quoted very carelessly. But grant that Epiphanius read so: either this reading was true, and so I have enough: because then the apostle with his “they shall be worshippers, &c.,” should expound himself by Demons to mean the deifying of the dead: or it was not the original reading, but added by some one or other for explication; and so it will follow, that those who did it made no question but that the words there contained some such thing as worshipping of the dead. Therefore take it which way you will, it will follow that some such matter as we speak of was in times past supposed to be in this text and prophecy.

 

 

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