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Julian Period, 4761. Vulgar Æra, 50.
From Samothrace to Neapolis.
ACTS xvi. part of ver. 11.
11 And the next day to Neapolis.
From Neapolis to Philippi-where the Pythoness is dispos-
sessed and the Jailor converted.
ACTS xvi. 12. to the end. 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief Philippi. city' of that part of Macedonia, and a colony. And we were in that city abiding certain days.
13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made: and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us : whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
18 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a cer• tain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying ®: searches of this nature. I bave pot the means of ascertaining what progress has been made of late years in those branches of knowledge, which were so successfully cultivated by Sir William Jones, and various members of the Society over which he presided. It is, however, to be hoped, that great additions will eventually be made to our present information on the early history of the world, from the Sanscrit records.
* It is very uncertain for what reason St. Luke should call Philippi the chief city of that part of Macedonia, as it was not the metropolis of that country.
Amphipolis is mentioned by Livy, (lib. xiv. cap. 29.) as the chief city of this first region of Macedonia, in which Pbilippi Jay, Mr. Pierce (Pref. to his Notes to Phil.) therefore would follow the Syriac in this passage, as Chrysostom also does, reading apúrn rñs, though it be true, as Mr. Biscoe well observes, (chap. x. sect. 2. pp. 367, 368.) that Amphipolis was then on the decline. Raphelius (ex Herod. p. 374.) supposes it may signify only, it was the first city they met with in their journey, but the authorities he produces seem by no means satisfactory. Grotius explains it, the first city that was a colony. See Kui. noel, vol. iv. p. 535.
8 I have already observed upon the folly of making our present experience the criterion of truth. The age in which we live is undoubtedly, for the most part, by God's mercy, delivered from the terrible spectacle of human beings evidently possessed
THE PYTHONESS DISPOSSESSED-CHAP. XII.
208 Julias Pe- 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, Philippi. riod, 4761. Valgarðra, 50.
by evil spirits. But evil still exists amongst us, although
in a less avowed and terrible form, and it still but too fre-
quently, and too effectually withdraws our hearts from the ser,
vice of its Maker.
If it appeared to me to warranted by the sacred text, I .
would willingly interpret this passage with Michaelis, Heinrich,
Kuinoel, Benson, and many others, and believe that the damsel
at Philippi was either an impostor, a ventriloquist, insane, dis-
eased with melancholy, or overpowered with her own fancies ;
but I cannot render the plain language of St. Luke in any but
the literal manner. My reason shall always submit to Scrip-
ture ; and I cannot wrest the words of this Scripture to any
other meaning than the usual one, that an evil spirit bad in-
fluence over the mind and body of this person ; enabling her
to otter oracular responses.
The priestess of Apollo at Delphos, when placed on the tri-
pod, uttered confused words and phrases, among strange con-
tortions and gesticulations. Her words were interpreted by
the priests, and were considered prophetic. The damsel at
Philippi, when agitated by the evil spirit, by which she was
possessed, was probably much convulsed, uttered her oracular
responses with various contortions and gesticulations. It was
either on account of this parallel between her actions, appear.
ance, and language, and those of the Pythian Priestess, that
she is here said to bave the spirit of Python; or because the
evil spirit by which she was actuated was of the same nature
and power as that which prompted the priestess of the Pagan
deity. The damsel at Philippi is generally supposed to have
been one of the eyyaspiuvdoc-that is, she spoke from the inside
as a ventriloquist, in the same manner as the priestess of Apollo
spoke from the tripod.
Biscoe has reasoned with much justice on the question,
whether this narrative proves that an evil spirit possessed this
damsel or not. He sufficiently shews that it capnot be consi-
dered as a trick on the part of the girl, or that the apostles
discovered the imposture, and reproved the deceiver.
Supposing this woman's speaking inwardly, he observes, as
from her belly or breast, were a trick of her own acquiring, and
po ways owing to any demon or spirit that spake from within
her, how could St. Paul's saying those words, “I command
thee to come out of her," discover the trick, reveal the se-
cret, and convince the by-standers that she was
impostor, and had no spirit of divination within her : would
it not rather convince them, that in his opinion she had
such a spirit within her? But let us suppose, what is not
so much as binted in the text, that St. Paul spent much
time in preaching to the people, and shewing them that
this woman, by a particular formation of the organ of speech,
and by long practice, had gained a habit of speaking so as
that no one should see her lips move, and the voice should
seem to come from her breast; I am yet at a loss to know how
this could deprive her masters of their gain: for surely this
would go but a little way towards convincing the people, that
she could not really predict things future. Her reputation was
established; there was a general belief that she did foretel
thipgs, and a great concourse of people after ber to make in-
quiry into their future fortunes. It is expressly said, that “sbe
brought her masters much gain by soothsaying." The showing
Julian Pe. These men are the servants of the most high God, which Philippi.
riod, 4761. shew unto us the way of salvation.
that it was possible for her, by long practice, to attain the art
of speaking inwardly, would no ways dissuade persons from
following her, so long as they retained a notion that she really
prophesied. We will advance therefore one step furt and
suppose that St. Paul, not only discovered her trick of
speaking inwardly, but that he also argued against her being a
diviner or prophetess, and plainly laid before them, that she
usually made her answers in ambiguous and general terms; that
they much oftener proved false than true; and that it was
owing to mere accident, if at any time there seemed to be truth
in what she had said. If we judge of the experience we have of
mankind, we cannot reasonably suppose that these arguments
should immediately prevail with all the by-standers, or indeed
any considerable part of them, to lay aside the opinion they
had entertained of this woman's gift. However, we will sup-
pose that all the by-standers were at once convinced of the
truth and weight of the apostle's argument. Would they imme-
diately be able to spread the same persuasion among all the in-
habitants of Philippi? And if all Pbilippi had believed her an
impostor, might not her masters have sent her to another city,
where by the practice of the same arts she might still have
brought them much gain. The plain truth, therefore is, St.
Paul prevented her future prophesying; or, if the word trick
pleases better, he wholly disabled her from doing the trick any
more. He cast out the spirit which spake within her, so that
she was heard no more to speak as from her belly or breast.
Her masters soon perceived that she was no longer inspired or
possessed, that she could now utter no more divinations or pro-
phecies; and therefore all hope of their gains from ber, whether
in Philippi, or any other city, were wholly gone.
After all, it is a dispute among learned men, whether she did
speak inwardly, as from her belly or breast (a). They say the
words do not necessarily imply this meaning, but only in gene.
ral, that she was possessed of a spirit of divination, or fore-
telling things to come. And they urge, that when she followed
St. Paul, and said, “ These men are the servants of the most
High God, wbich shew unto us the way of salvation," sbe
spake out with a loud and distinct voice. If this were the case,
what trick had the woman, that St. Paul could discover to the
people? Vid. Wolfii Cur. in loc.
Another thing, which demonstrates the absurdity of this interpretation, is the rage of the multitude against St. Paul, For no sooner had the masters of the girl accused him and Silas, to the magistrates, but, it is said, “ that the multitude rose op together against them,” v. 22. Had he, as this interpretation supposes him to have done, convinced the whole city of Philippi that this maid-servant was an impostor, and could foretel things future no more than any other person, no doubt they would bave taken part with St. Paul, and not with the masters of the girl. They would have thought themselves obliged to bim for having discovered the cheat, and preventing their future expense in needless and fruitless applications to one who could only amuse and deceive them, but not foretel any thing future. if they were incensed against any person, it is natural to suppose it should have been against the girl and her masters, for having imposed npon them, and tricked them out of their money. But that they should take part with the masters of
THE PYTHONESS DISPOSSESSED-CHAP. XII.
Julian Pe- 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being Philippi. riod, 4761. Vulgar Æra,
grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in
this impostor against the person who had discovered the fraud,
is so contrary to all the experience we have of mankind, that it
is a demonstration of the absurdity of this comment. On the
other hand, if we take the story in the plain and literal sense,
how natural is it, that the multitude of the city should side
with the master, as being fully persuaded that it was not only a
great piece of injustice dono to them by the apostle, but a
public injury of a very heinous nature; as they had herehy lost
what they esteemed an oracle, to which they might apply upon
all urgent and doubtful occasions. Nor is there any the least
hint in the text of a change in the multitude, as though they
bad been first for St. Paul, and afterwards, by some secret ma-
nagement, brought over to side with the masters.
We may justly therefore conclude with the majority of com-
mentators, and the concurrent testimony of the Church, that
this also was a demoniacal possession, and being so, that it
afforded another instance of the influence the evil spirit main-
tained over mankind, till the power and mercy of the Saviour
delivered us from the bondage and tyranny of the destroyer.
The object of the evil spirit, in bearing testimony to the truth
of the apostle's preaching, is well explained by a modern com-
mentator. The cvil spirit, he observes, well knew that the
Jewish law abhorred all magic, incantations, magical rites, and
dealings with familiar spirits ; hc therefore bore what was in
itself a true testimony to the apostles, that by it he might de-
stroy their credit, and ruin their usefulness., The Jews, by this
testimony, would be led at once to believe that the apostles
were in compact with these demons; and that the miracles
they wrought were done by the agency of these wicked spirits;
and that the whole was the effect of magic: and this of course
would harden their hearts against the preaching of the Gospel.
The Gentiles again, when they saw that their own demon borc
testimony to the apostles, would naturally consider that the
whole was one system; that they had notbing to learn, nothing
to correct; and thus the preaching of the apostles must be use-
less to them. In this situation, nothing could have saved the
credit of the apostles, but their dispossessing this woman of
ber familiar spirit; and that in the most incootestable manner :
for, what could bave saved the credit of Moses, and Aaron,
when the magicians of Egypt turned their rods into serpents,
had not Aaron's devoured theirs? And what could bave saved
the credit of these apostles, but the casting out of this spirit of
divination, with which, otherwise, both Jews and Gentiles would
have believed them incompetent (b)?
(a) Probabilis tamen est sententia Delingii Obss. sac. part 2.
p. 201. Wolfii curis ad h. 1. Walchius observes-Feminam illam,
dykaotqiuúowv, numero non esse adscribendam, cum Lucas v. 17.
verba distincte prolata ei tribuat, cum eam secutam esse dicat Paulam
ejusque comites, atque adeo per id significet eam per plateas et cur-
sitando vaticinatam esse : byyaspiuvdou, vero vel insidentes cuidam
loco vel prostrati in terra oracula sua ediderint V. Walchii Diss. 1.
de servis etc. sect. 7. Kuinoel, vol. iv. p. 540. (b) See on the sub-
ject of this note, Dickinson's Delpbi Phænicizantes--the beginning of
Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry-the references in Kuinoel--Biscoe
on the vol. i. p. 198, &c. Wbithy-Hammond-Dr. A. Clarke,
and on the manner in which the Pythian Priestesses received their
iuspiration, the Treatise on Saul and tbe Witch of Endor, in the Critici
Jalian Pe- the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her. And he Philippi. riod, 4761. came out the same hour, Vulgar Æra, 50.
19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market-place, unto the rulers,
20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21 And teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
22 And the multitude rose up together against them : and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
24 Who having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken : and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm ; for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas ;
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house.
35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go : now therefore depart, and go in peace.
37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us