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Julian Period, 4761.
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-
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.
13 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-
searches of this nature. I have not the means of ascertaining
It is very uncertain for what reason St. Luke should call
Amphipolis is mentioned by Livy, (lib. xiv. cap. 29.) as the chief city of this first region of Macedonia, in which Philippi lay. Mr. Pierce (Pref. to his Notes to Phil.) therefore would follow the Syriac in this passage, as Chrysostom also does, reading porn rns, 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 Kuinoel, vol. iv. p. 535.
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
Julian Period, 4761. Vulgar Era, 50.
THE PYTHONESS DISPOSSESSED-CHAP. XII.
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, Philippi.
by evil spirits.
But evil still exists amongst us, although in a less avowed and terrible form, and it still but too frequently, and too effectually withdraws our hearts from the service of its Maker.
If it appeared to me to be 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, diseased 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 Scripture; and I cannot wrest the words of this Scripture to any other meaning than the usual one, that an evil spirit had influence over the mind and body of this person; enabling her to utter oracular responses.
The priestess of Apollo at Delphos, when placed on the tripod, 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, appearance, and language, and those of the Pythian Priestess, that she is here said to have 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 eyyaspíμv0oi—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 cannot be considered 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 no 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 secret, and convince the by-standers that she was a mere 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 hinted 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 things, and a great concourse of people after her to make inquiry into their future fortunes. It is expressly said, that "she 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. Vulgar Æra,
that it was possible for her, by long practice, to attain the art
After all, it is a dispute among learned men, whether she did
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 up 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 have taken part with St. Paul, and not with the masters of the girl. They would have thought themselves obliged to him 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 upon them, and tricked them out of their money. But that they should take part with the masters of
Julian Period, 4761.
THE PYTHONESS DISPOSSESSED-CHAP. XII.
18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being Philippi. grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in
this impostor against the person who had discovered the fraud,
We may justly therefore conclude with the majority of com-
The object of the evil spirit, in bearing testimony to the truth of the apostle's preaching, is well explained by a modern commentator. The evil spirit, he observes, well knew that the Jewish law abhorred all magic, incantations, magical rites, and dealings with familiar spirits; he therefore bore what was in itself a true testimony to the apostles, that by it he might destroy 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 nothing to learn, nothing to correct; and thus the preaching of the apostles must be useless to them. In this situation, nothing could have saved the credit of the apostles, but their dispossessing this woman of her familiar spirit; and that in the most incontestable manner: for, what could have 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 have 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. Wolfiii curis ad h. 1. Walchius observes-Feminam illam, lykarroipiowy, numero non esse adscribendam, cum Lucas v. 17. verba distincte prolata ei tribuat, cum eam secutam esse dicat Paulum ejusque comites, atque adeo per id significet eam per plateas et cursitando vaticinatam esse: yyaspíμvšo, 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 subject of this note, Dickinson's Delphi Phænicizantes-the beginning of Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry-the references in Kuinoel-Biscoe on the Acts, vol. i. p. 198, &c.-Whitby-Hammond-Dr. A. Clarke, and on the manner in which the Pythian Priestesses received their inspiration, the Treatise on Saul and the Witch of Endor, in the Critici Sacri.
Julian Pe- the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her. And he Philippi. riod, 4761. came out the same hour,
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 thy-
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
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