The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20
Sunday Evening Lectures: No. XLIV. "The Madman Among the Toombs,"
Sunday Evening Lectures: No. XLIV. "The Madman Among the Toombs,"
The following lecture was delivered on Sunday evening last by G. C. Leech, Esq., in the Mechanics' Institute. Subject: "The Madman among the Tombs." Reported by Mr E. C. Martin.
Some of the parallel scenes of this world contain, at times, strange and startling contrasts. In some cities, especially of the east, the hut of the beggar abuts on the Palace of the Prince. In one part of a great city, the head of a criminal may be falling beneath the sword of the headsman, when elsewhere they are making merry at a joy us feast. In one quarter, with voices of loud mourning they are burying the dead, while in another they are welcomine the birth of a new born heir. So pain and pleasure often run in parallel lines. Upon one memorable occasion, the history of Jesus and his apostles, presented one of these startling contrasts With James and John he was up upon the heights of Mount Tabor, where, endowed with supernatural vision, they not only commuted with, but beheld the mighty dead. The sublime law giver of the Jews, with the grandest of all the Prophets, there conversed face to face with the founder of the new faith. And, says the narrative, it was so sublime, and so carried away the Fishermen, who were companions of Jesus, that they desired to tarry there, rather than go down again to the common business, and cares of life. Such emotions are not unknown to humanity. In some of the best moments of our lives, relieved from the low and sordid things of earth, our souls commune with the great Spirit of the universe, and we get weary with the thought that we have to go back to the course cares of daily life: but for Jesus, for James and for John, there was waiting work to be wrought out on the plain of this lower world. There was to be encountered by the great Teacher himself, a day of the desertion, agony, scorn, and shameful death, and for his followers, a somewhat similar doom each. And so to the plain, of necessity, they descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, and as they descended there met Jesus a man bearing him his little son. "Have mercy upon me thou Son of David, for my son is tormented with a demon, and I brought him to thy disciples but they could not heal him." The great pitiful heart of Jesus went out in compassion to the stricken father and he gave forth from himself that power whereby the nerves and jarred forces of nature were adjusted and reconciled. When thus entreated he healed the afflicted. On another occasion to which we refer he healed without entreaty, because he came across a wretched outcast, afflicted hopeless man, and who, according to the page break superstitation of the day was possessed with a demon. It was no wonder that in that period of ignorance what is termed a mental malady should be imputed to the possession of a demon, for ignorant men at the time deemed that all diseases arose out of the possession of devils. There were demons of fever, leprosy, paralysis, and so on through the long and weary round of troubles by which the body of humanity is oppressed. So with greater force were they led to believe that the disorder arose from the possession of devils when the object of attention was afflicted with mental disease. In reality there is no such thing as mental disease. All diseases are physical—they grow out of the disturbance of the nerves and secretive organs. When the finer and nicer nerves of the brain are disturbed the mind becomes disordered Let some of the extremely line nerves of the brain be affected, and the philosopher of to-day may to-morrow be a fool, and the sage of to-morrow may the day after be a madman. Indeed, the consideration of this great fact, as to what are called mental maladies, leads to a very nice and important psychological question, as to the continuance of the thinking part of our nature after death. Strike a man somewhere on the head a blow and his power to think will have gone, yet he will still be able to swallow fool, the blood will course through the veins and arteries bat he has become as one of the lower creatures—as little capable of working out some proposition as the ox that grazes upon the plain. Where is the thinking part of him? the higher faculties? Restore the injured part and he will begin to think again, but the time that will have elapsed between his injury and recovery will be an utter blank to him. He will take up the thread of his intellectual existence just where he left off. A seaman at the great battle of the Nile who fought on board the Victory was wounded during the engagement in the head by a splinter which drove a part of his scull on the brain. After suffering this injury he was incapable of thought. He was completely unconscious and had only an animal existence, He was taken home and conveyed to the Green which hospital. Years afterwards it was proposed to try the effect of the operation of trepanning on him. Immediately the fractured portion of the skull was removed and the pressure taken off the brain, he recovered consciousness. But he thought he was still in the Bay of Aboukir, that he was still on board the Victory, and that the battle was yet going on; and he proceeded to complete [unclear: the] order he was executing when struck by [unclear: plioter] years ago. So far so good. But what of the time that had elapsed? What of the thinking part of the man when nerves and brains are for ever destroyed? How is it then with us as regards that part of our nature that thinks and aspires? that part that will live on aid still hope and aspire? Men and brethern, man is a triune being. The immortal part of him is a something distinct from the animating spirit. I have been informed that a certain Father Kelly his been telling the world that man has only two natures, and that that which will live for ever is the same thing which meditates and directs in life. Well, if man has but this twofold nature—if he has only a mind and body—I can see no escape from pure materialism; but I do not believe it. I believe that when not only the nerves, muscles and bones will have passed away into dissolution, but also that part of our being we have in common with the lower animals, there will then exist, and be remaining, a third division of our triple being, and that is what we call a soul. But to return. Let there he any serious jarring of the nerves of the brain and there will ensue,—whether from a shock without or more stealthy injury from within—according to the manner or the injury, madness or [unclear: idiocy] At the time of Jesus when the people believe that physical evils were caused by demons it naturally led to the belief that mental maladies were produced by the same causes. The east abounds more wish madness than the countries from whence we came, and there is a kind of pitifulness shown to people thus afflicted there but I am sorry to say that in Fatherland, the treatment of the insane was awful to contemplate. Why was it so in the unhappy past? Just because of the old horrid superstition. When the cruelties to which I refer, were perpetrated without men actually believing in this, there was the effect still remaining of the old superstition. Accordingly lunatics were chained, beaten and innured in dungeons, and all hopes of re storation and reparation were destroyed. In modern days, when old cruelties are going out with old superstitions a I those things are changed, and a spirit of pitifulness and love is brought to bear on those who are thus unhappily afflicted. When Jesus was on earth, people were very ignorant of physical laws, and the nice laws of the science called psychology were altogether unknown. Hence the mistake as to mental maladies. It is also extremely probable that Jesus did believe himself that the possession of demons did cause disease, madness, and death. As I have told you, all the forces and powers of the mind and nature of Jesus went out in one direction—that was love to God and man. It is well for humanity, it page break was so for a man cannot be great In all things. You never heard of any man who attained to the highest scholarly position, in more at the outside than two or three branches of learning. No man attains exalted pre eminence in all learning. So also in regard to the forces of man's nature. If the forces of Jesus of Nazareth's nature had been directed to the attainment of astronomy, of philosophy history, and all the physical sciences a certain proportion of them would have been taken away from the manifestation of love to God and man. Therefore, when we speak of the man as being ignorant in some things, or having entertained erroneous ideas on some subjects, you are not to suppose that that means any disrespect to the grandeur and power of Jesus. People who have done the greatest wrong and mischief are those who have raised him up to a preposterous elevation. When theologians, for instance, took him out of the sphere of man and made him the Almighty Creator, they took away one of the very principle of the powers of Jesus as an exemplar and guide to mankind. The main power of Jesus over humanity as an exemplar is in the fact that he was "a man tempted in all things like as we are, and yet without sin." When men are told that two thousand years ago there lived a man tempted in all things like unto ourselves—tempted really, honestly, and bona fide as they were, and yet won complete victory—that he trampled down his lower nature, making the spiritual supreme, then is presented a picture to man of unutterable power and strength. But when you take him out of the category of man and tell them that he was not like themseles, but the Almighty Creator, then man, struggling heretofore under a strong hope that he can was as Jesus won, shrugs his shoulders and withdraws from the strife. Therefore you will understand that it is from no lack of respect to our elder brother when I say that Jesus held to superstitions which modern science had exploded. One night in the darkness, whilst the billows of Lake Tiberius rose high beneath the moonless sky, the weary fishers were anxiously rowing with their master. Beside them loomed in the darkness the land of the Gadereens, and the weary rowers would not land, for it was an accursed place. It was where the dead were buried out of sight. But it was not that which kept them from the place. The inmate of the tombs of the inland of Tiberias was a living and not a dead man, a man whose maniacal cries startled their ears in the darkness as they rowed across the billows of the lake. But by and bye when the morning began to break they took courage and set their feet on shore and as they landed the madman of the tombs came down to meet them; urged by the restlessness of insanity or it may be moved by some good and gentle spirit tenderly leading him to the place where he might find hearing rest and peace. And this man, naked and bleeding from his self infected wounds with the [unclear: rema] of the gyves he had worn and broken stood in front of Jesus of Nazareth Oh what a contrast, in A parallel presentation of this world. The wretched, de-maniac standing in wild and excited disordered, helpless homeless, hopeless, attitude before Jesus the incarnation of peace and divine beauty. I remember how this picture was brought vividly back to my mind one day, in the great city of New York. I happened to be in the prison, which by a strange association with this story is called The Tombs. It is so called because it is built after the model of the Egyptian tombs. Seated on one of the benches of the prison was a man strongly strapped to the seat. The foam of rage and madness was welling from each corner of his lips. His blood-shot eyes rolled savagely and furiously. Men stood carefully aloof looking upon him. A little boy, a child belonging to one of the warders or jailers, whilst the attention of the observers was diverted for a moment, fearlessly want up to the fettered madman, and out his little hand on the fettered hand of the maniac. Instantly a bystander put his hand out to prevent the boy going near, but not soon enough. The touch of the child seemed to soothe the disordered system of the man. The face lost its hateful expression, the eyes became softened and toned down to something almost like reason, and at last he said in a sorrowful and softened voice, don't take him away, "I won't hurt him." In an instant by the process of inevitable analogy of thought there arose upon my mind the picture of two thousand years ago; the madman by the shore of the Galilean Lake, and the other, a man confronting him with the simplicity and purity of a child and the majesty of a God. We cannot well form an idea of the history of the case. It is evidently magnified and distorted by the narrator, who was himself labouring under the superstition of the time; but, at the same time, I believe in it a verity as a whole, and I believe in the mighty lesson taught therein. Jesus spoke kindly, laid his hands upon the shoulders of the maniac, and instantly the disordered forces of nature were restored to their proper tone; the startled multitude beheld the erst naked, violent, raving lunatic sitting at the feet of Jesus. Oh mighty power of love and pity page break manifested to us! We often hear of the proofs of the love of God manifested to the world, through Jesus. Men and brethren, thank God for such manifestations. Blessed and happy are the ears of the man who has heard the tidings of that marvellous manifestation. But I say, with all fervour, thank God it was not through Jesus only that the love of God has been manifested to mankind. Ever since the guiding mind of Deity gave order to the forces of materialism, the love of God has been manifested to mankind, not waiting for the birth of Jesus, and not tarrying when he died. It has been poured Out in lands where the name of Jesus was never heard. Thank God, the God and Father of Jesus Christ, our elder brother, that love of God flows freely. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God manifested in the flesh, but I believe also that every good man, and every good women, is God manifested in the flesh, and when man before Jesus and since, Jew or Gentile, Greek or Scythian, bond or free, has fulfilled in any way the great command of loving his neighbour or has been occupied in any way in executing loving offices to mankind, that he differs from Jesus of Nazareth in degree and not in kind, and every man and woman has the power to be in all things as Jesus was. How then, it will be asked, is it that Jesus stands alone as the manifestation of divine love? I do not know that he stands alone, but by reason of our education and by reason of history having made him the Great Centre and stand point of our teachings; our minds have been directed solely to him. But furthermore in all the manifestations of divine power to man the great geniuses and men of gigantic intellect stand alone. The phrase of the French adulator, though blasphemous, indicates a fact that is undeniable. He said that God made Napoleon, and then rested. Napoleon was the one man of his time. There was no other Napoleon. In the history of China we find a Confucius, but not two. In Greek history we find a Plato, but not two. We find in Epie poetry a Homer, but not two. We find in our literature a Shakespeare, but not two. And so also we find in the religions history of a large proportion of the races of earth a transcendant Jesus, but pot two. When the Great Spirit of the Universe resolves that there shall be a higher condition of things, there is a man created beyond his fellows, with mightier forces, greater brain power and greater capacity to compass difficulties. He is the vehicle and in trument of the new condition of things, and therefore such men do not find their fellows, but, notwithstanding this, I am assured that the divine power and love and pity that were manifested in Jesus for mankind—though far greater in degree than was probably ever exhibited by any other man, differ only in degree from the love shown and exercised by many others. His transcendent love gave hope to those who would otherwise have despaired. It, was that love which teaches that in every man and woman however degraded there is something inexpressibly precious to the divine Creator. That spirit is abroad and each man may partake of it. Jesus is the highest type of humanity, but yet a man, and if you or I wish to rise up to him, we must think and act as he has done, and never despise the outcast Be full of love and forbearance even to those who seem to be lost to all self-respect and goodness. Then in you and me will be the mind which was in Chrst. Men and brethren, nineteen centuries or thereabouts have rolled away and the mouldering body of Jesus has long since been resolved into its kindred dust, but his spirit still lives, and not only lives, but by affinity is drawn to the human soul. I cannot but believe that the mighty in love and pity still takes the deepest and tendered interest in the world he so much loved. If you and I seek him his spirit will come to our souls, and make all that would be otherwise harsh and evil, good and gentle, and he will cheer the lonely hours of our lives. I have faith still that in the darkest and most disordered minds there will be light. The pitiful one who spoke in such marvellously consolatory tones to the madman of the Tombs will give to us not only love, comfor, and peace, but an abiding assurance of our everlasting happiness. One more explanation and I have done. In reading the lesson of this history to-night there is added evidently to it a piece of foolish superstition which I believe was added by the compiler, but formed no part of the hi story as originally and truly recorded That is the incident as to the evil spirits or demons going into the herd of swine in the neigh Unhappily histories like these have gathered accretions which have taken from their power and beauty, and yet divines will insist on entire acceptance or entire rejection. Theologians of all churches will tell us we have to take all this book or none, that we are to cast away everything, or, at their bidding, to accept every vain and absurd story. I ask you to reject the manifestly absurd story of the spirits entering the herd of swine, but receive that which will come home to your minds with abiding beauty and faith.
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