Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary

145 Exorcism


The expelling of devils from persons possessed, by means of conjuration and prayers. The Jews made great pretences to this power. Josephus tells several wonderful tales of the great success of several exorcists. One Eleazer, a Jew, cured many daemoniacs, he says, by means of a root set in a ring. This root, with the ring, was held under the patient’s nose, and the devil was forthwith evacuated. The most part of conjurers of this class were impostors, each pretending to a secret nostrum or charm which was an overmatch for the devil. Our Saviour communicated to his disciples a real power over daemons, or at least over the diseases said to be occasioned by daemons.

Exorcism makes a considerable part of the superstition of the church of Rome, the ritual of which forbids the exorcising any person without the bishop’s leave. The ceremony is performed at the lower end of the church, towards the door. The exorcist first signs the possessed person with the sign of the cross, makes him kneel, and sprinkles him with holy water. Then follow the litanies, psalms, and prayer; after which the exorcist asks the devil his name, and adjures him by the mysteries of the Christian religion not to afflict the person any more; then, laying his right hand on the daemoniac’s head, he repeats the form of exorcism, which is this: “I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ: tremble, O Satan, thou enemy of the faith, thou foe of mankind, who hast brought death into the world; who hast deprived men of life, and hast rebelled against justice, thou seducer of mankind, thou root of all evil, thou source of avarice, discord, and envy.” The Romanists likewise exorcise houses and other places supposed to be haunted by unclean spirits; and the ceremony is much the same with that for a person possessed.

Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.

Charles Buck on the Biblical Covenants (Complete)
Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary