Most of the miracles said to have been wrought by Christ were recorded to show his power over evil spirits. On many occasions, he is said to have "cast out devils"--devils who could speak, and devils who were dumb.
For many years belief in the existence of evil spirits has been fading from the mind, and as this belief grew thin, ministers endeavored to give new meanings to the ancient words. They are inclined now to put "disease" in the place of "devils," and most of them say, that the poor wretches supposed to have been the homes of fiends were simply suffering from epileptic fits! We must remember that Christ and these devils often conversed together. Is it possible that fits can talk? These devils often admitted that Christ was God. Can epilepsy certify to divinity? On one occasion the fits told their name, and made a contract to leave the body of a man provided they would be permitted to take possession of a herd of swine. Is it possible that fits carried Christ himself to the pinnacle of a temple? Did fits pretend to be the owner of the whole earth? Is Christ to be praised for resisting such a temptation? Is it conceivable that fits wanted Christ to fall down and worship them?
The church must not abandon its belief in devils. Orthodoxy cannot afford to put out the fires of hell. Throw away a belief in the devil, and most of the miracles of the New Testament become impossible, even if we admit the supernatural. If there is no devil, who was the original tempter in the garden of Eden? If there is no hell, from what are we saved? to what purpose is the atonement? Upon the obverse of the Christian shield is God, upon the reverse, the devil. No devil, no hell. No hell, no atonement. No atonement, no preaching, no gospel.