The demoniac restored

The demoniac restored

Demoniacs healed. The Swine.

(The Gospel History, Section 56)

And they came to the other side of the sea into the country of the Gerasenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he was come out of the boat upon the land, straightway there met him out of the tombs a certain man out of the city, with an unclean spirit. And for a long time he had worn no clothes, and abode not in any house, but had his dwelling in the tombs, and was exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by that way. And no man could any more bind him, no, not with a chain; because that he had often been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been rent asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: and no man had strength to tame him; but breaking the bands asunder, he was driven of the devil into the deserts. And always night and day, in the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out, and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he cried out, and ran, and fell down before him, and worshipped him; and crying out with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God? I adjure thee by God, torment me not. Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? For he said unto him, Come forth, thou unclean spirit, out of the man. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he saith unto him, My name is Legion, for we are many; for many devils had entered into him. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country, or command them to depart into the abyss. Now there was afar off from them on the mountain side a great herd of swine feeding: and they intreated him that he would give them leave to enter into them. And he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out from the man and entered into the swine: and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep place into the sea, in number about two thousand, and perished in the waters. And when they that fed them saw what was come to pass, they fled and went away into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen him that was possessed with devils. And behold all the city came out to see what it was that had come to pass. And they come to Jesus, and found the man from whom the devils were gone out, sitting, clothed and in his right mind, at the feet of Jesus; even him that had the legion; and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how he that was possessed with devils was made whole, and concerning the swine. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes round about began to beseech him to depart from their borders, for they were holden with great fear: and he entered into a boat and returned. And as he was entering into the boat, the man from whom the devils were gone out prayed him that he might be with him. And he suffered him not, but sent him away, saying, Return to thy house unto thy friends, and declare unto them how great things God hath done for thee, and how he had mercy upon thee. And he went his way, and began to publish throughout the whole city and in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

The demoniac restored

(The Saviour of the World, Vol III Book III Poem XXXI)

They reach the other side, and, on low strand,
In country of the Gerasenes they land;
Come down to meet Him, see, terrific sight,
Man naked, savage, fierce,—a sorer fright
To the disciples than the storm, allayed
By word of Him who “peace,” on instant, bade:
But, here, a soul tossed by its secret pains,
Not to be held with fetters; iron chains
Asunder rent he; no man’s strength could hold
This wretch who night and day, through heat and cold,
Made awful wastes more hideous by his cries,
Gave terror to the tombs, where, see, he plies
Sharp stones upon his flesh, and cuts and tears;—
And fearful shepherds from that region scares!

And, lo, the man saw Jesus from afar,
Cried out and ran and fell,—but knew a bar
’Twixt him and the Son of Man: “What then have I
To do with Thee, Thou Son of God most high?
Let me alone nor torment with the sight
Of all Thy grace! By God, I Thee adjure,
Leave me at large to wait the issue sure
Of Thy last judgment! Why, before that day
Wilt Thou torment us? Prithee, go Thy way!”
For Christ addressed Him to that power within
Which drave the man to raging, rebel sin.
“Come forth,” He bade, “spirit unclean and vile,
Whose constant lust is to destroy, defile!
What is thy name?” And, cowed, he made reply:
“Legion, my name, for many devils cry
And rage in this one soul given up to us:
Nay, send us not away, but bid us thus;—
Say, get ye to that herd of swine ye see,
Enter to them, and let this man go free!”

He gave them leave; and all the herd, distract
By strange unease, put their brute strength in act;
In sudden violent rush vent their distress,
And plunge from precipice, hot-foot to press
To the cool waters of the sea for ease
From intolerable burnings of disease.

The men who fed them haste with panic tale
To their masters in the city. “What avail
To feed and guard the swine when one doth come
Able to ’gulph two thousand in that tomb
Of the deep sea whence none shall be restored?
The man possessed with devils, sane is he,
But at what cost—nay, come ye out and see!”
And all the city came to see this thing—
How rebel spirits succumbed to the King!

There, terror of those wastes, the man sat low
At feet of Him who had subdued him so;
Sat clothed (in garments the disciples lent?)
Restored to sense and goodness, solely bent
To keep him in the presence of the Lord,
Knew to deliver him with potent word!
And were these glad to see their brother healed,
To see that urgent need of men revealed—
The Power could reach th’ ultimate source of sin,
Spirits of evil let to rule within?
Knew they no hellish promptings in their heart
That they dared pray Him from their coasts depart?
Did no good angel hold them from that prayer
Of whose presumption hardly were they ’ware?—
Who held them from their gains—an enemy,
Himself by right should perish in that sea!

And Christ—the Saviour, yielded to their fear,
For never prayer falls idle on His ear!
The Gerasenes’ inhospitable land
Affords no spot of earth where He might stand
To heal and teach and bless that barbarous race:
Rejected,—meek, took boat to quit the place!
But who is this in haste and all distraught,
With love and terror torn, urgent besought
That he might be with Him who knew to save!
The Lord regarded with look, steadfast, grave,
This new disciple; faith and love discerned;
Knew how great longing for His service burned
In that poor soul late outcast of his kind:
“Return,” saith He, “to home and friends, and find
Amongst thine own how best thou shalt serve Me;
Declare to them how God hath dealt with thee!”
Now, will this man respond to that sure test
Christ offers each disciple—laying hest—
A task of lesser things, on him would great
Love-task for Him perform? The man went straight
To his own city; published ’mongst them all
How Christ alone was mighty to enthral
Legions of rebel spirits, cast them out:
This told he in Decapolis, round about
Coasts of that land which had the Lord refused,—
And set men marv’lling while the tale they mused.

Why, here, a tale to scoff at! All men know,
Science the story flouted long ago!
A joke, forsooth, that devils should on swine
Spend their fine spirit-essence, half divine;—
That there be devils, spirits, Power to deal
With that which no man can or see or feel!—
“Nay, we be flesh and blood: we comprehend
Such things as reason sanctions; let us end
Vain talk of devils, spirits of the air
Able to reach our sprite, its motions, share!
That which we see, believe we, right or wrong;
The rest hold we but as an idle song!”

In sooth, we know not; nought can answer these—
Accept, reject, with unconcern and ease!
Like him went down to Ethiopia, we,
Bewildered, read, nor can the meaning see:
This thing we know: In that tumultuous scene,
Our Master moveth Godlike, kind, serene:
He seeks no audience, asks no ready praise,
Concerns Him not to justify His ways;
Rejected for His grace, He makes no plaint,
But tender-wise, lays He the soft constraint
Of His command upon the man He freed
From awful bondage:—this, our simple creed,—
None other than the Christ hath been conceived
By genius, or of credulous souls believed,
Could move through like wild scene with grace benign,
Transcendent in simplicity Divine!

Not we, what moves the strong demoniac, know;
Like figures skating on thin ice we go;
Speak of the weather, that man’s easy gait,
That other,—awkward; sorry we were late!—
Sudden, a crack! quick sinks our airy grace,
Submerged in that cold dread Unseen!—No place
We found; for in our cheerful hours,
Condemned we as illusion, fear of powers
Ill of intent who labour to destroy;—
We chose the pleasant paths and shunned annoy!

This other thing we know: In awful hour,
Consumed of passion, hate, wild lust of power,
Our raging spirits tear their heedless way
To end we covet, scorning reason’s sway;—
Sudden, we hear a word—“My son, be still!”
And all that tumult succumbs to His will:
Humbled and sorrowful, we seek our place
At the dear feet of Him whose Godlike grace
Subdued demoniac more wild than we,
And bade him forth—Christ’s messenger to be!

St. Mark v. 1-20.
St. Luke viii. 26-39.
St. Matthew viii. 28-34.