And Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (there were about two thousand;) and were drowned in the sea.
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Ephrem The Syrian
I asked this too, whether Paradise was sufficient in size for all the righteous to live there. I asked about what is not written in Scripture, but my instruction came from what is written there: “Consider the man in whom there dwelt a legion of all kinds of demons. They were there although not apparent, for their army is of a stuff finer and more subtle than the soul itself. That whole army dwelt in a single body. A hundred times finer and more subtle are the bodies of the righteous when they are risen at the resurrection. They resemble the mind that is able, if it so wills, to stretch out and expand, or, should it wish, to contract and shrink, so as either to focus on one place or to expand to encompass all places. Listen and learn: A lamp with thousands of rays can exist in a single house. Ten thousand scents can exist in a single blossom. Though located in a small space, they have ample room to extend themselves. So it is with Paradise: though full of spiritual beings, it is amply s...
Was it just that two thousand swine perished so one soul might be saved? One seeking purity of heart had best not become preoccupied with the natural prerogative of the demonic legion or animals. It is better that each single reader reflect upon his own soul, his own way of life, and the rarity of true excellence. Remember when the whole of Judea was led into captivity when Nebuchadneser came, and thousands were displaced into Babylonia as prisoners—Jeremiah alone was left praising God. And they threw him into a muddy cistern. Nevertheless, the soul of this one man was more decisive for the destiny of Israel than all the rest.
It need not disturb anyone that by the Lord’s command two thousand swine were slain by the agency of demons, since those who witnessed the miracle would not have believed that so great a multitude of demons had gone out of the man unless an equally vast number of swine had rushed to ruin, showing that it was a legion that impelled them. The Life of St.
He did this so that you might know that the demons would have done the same thing to human beings and would have drowned them if God had allowed them to do so. But he restrained the demons, stopped them, and allowed them to do no such thing. When their power was transferred to the swine, it became clear to all witnesses what they would have done to persons. From this we learn that if the demons had the power to possess swine, they also could have possessed humans.
The devil’s legion would not have had power over the herd of swine unless they had gotten it from God. Thus they are far from having power over the sheep of God. Even the bristles of the swine were counted by God, just as were the hairs of the heads of the just. The devil, it must be admitted, seems indeed to have power—in this case really his own—over those who do not belong to God. In relation to God the idolatrous nations are all counted as a drop in the bucket, as dust on the threshing floor, as spittle in the mouth, and so thrown open to the devil as if they were a free possession. But the devil has no power over those who belong to the household of God, and cannot treat them as if they were his own. The cases marked out in Scripture show when and for what reasons he may touch the faithful. Indeed to vindicate faith, the power of trial of a believer is sometimes temporarily granted to the devil to test and challenge faith. Or to elicit repentance the sinner may be temporarily hand...