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age, as well
persecution of the courts of justice. No land and no people were behind the rest in this cursed drama, as Semler calls it-every party in religion vied with the others for the first rank in the persecution of witches ; hundreds of thousands were sacrificed, and misery spread its wings of darkness everywhere. Even the sick, and children of from nine to fourteen years of
men, were struck by the destroying power; neither the traveller journeying on his way, nor yet even the blind maiden, were spared.” People of rank, consideration, and wealth, were often, from envy, revenge, or hatred, accused of witchcraft, because their understanding made them more distinguished, their diligence richer, and their rank more honoured. The protestations of innocence were treated as lies; the anguish and terror of the accused were regarded as proofs of guilt; and they who courageously stood firm by the truth had, by hours of continued torture, lies pressed out of them, for death only ended such misery. Auber, in recording these facts, Acta scripta magica-prays the reader, and especially those who had not seen the depths of Satan, and who always seem to think that in the doctrine of the bodily power of the devil there is something almost divine and true, to reflect, “ per viscera Christi,” who would probably have escaped with his life, if a stop had not been put to these fire-murders ?
We have already seen, in our notice of paganism, the foundations of the belief in sorcery amongst Christians; we have now to take a nearer view of the further extension of the magic and witch-faith in Christianity down to the witch persecutions, which were no isolated appearances, but, as it were, a necessary development of a deeply-rooted germ.
The idea of two contending principles arose very early in the East. The apparently hostile powers of nature, and also the morally base, occasioned philosophy to accept of two higher, opposed primeval beings, the bad near to the good, and exercising a secret influence on nature and
On this notion rested especially the religious doctrines of Zoroaster, according to whom Ormuzd was the author of light, and Ahriman the author of darkness, the principle of evil
. Both principles had their ministering spirits. The Amschaspands and the Izeds were the good spirits, and the Devs were the bad ones under the rule of
Ahriman. " The representations of absolute evil
, of the devil and devilish spirits, which afterwards took such fast and universal hold on the public mind, were unknown to our pagan progenitors. A total ideal distinction between a good and an evil spirit is equally unknown to the Greek, the Indian, and our old German theology" (Grimm, S. 549)
It seems certain that the Jews, during their Assyrian captivity, acquired for the most part their notions respecting Satan and good and evil angels. In the history of the creation, Moses speaks nothing of Satan or the devil, but only of the serpent, “which was more subtle than all the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made." It is true that there lies an undeniable principle of treachery in the idea of the serpent; and the devil, as the author of wickedness and the opposer of God, is originally contained in the Jewish religion, although not so fully demonstrated till the Babylonish captivity. The word Satan presents itself a few times in the Old Testament; as in Samuel, 2nd book, xix. 22, where David says,
6 What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that
you should thus be Satan* to me ?” Then in 1st Book of Chronicles, c. 21,—“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”
Through the envy of the devil death is come into the world,” — Wisdom, ii. 24. But Satan first stands forth in person in Job: “So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils,” etc. And he mingled amongst the children of God, and entered into a dialogue with the Lord, which is of genuine Oriental character,—Chap. i. ver. 6–13.
“6. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also
“7. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou ? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
“8. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered
my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, onė that feareth God and escheweth evil?
* Thus rendered in the German Bible.
“9. Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought ?
“10. Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side ? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
“11. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
“12. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.”
In the second chapter Satan holds the same dialogue with the Lord, with the request that he may stretch forth his hand, and touch Job's flesh and bone; whereupon the Lord gave him into Satan's hand, with this condition, that he should spare his life :-" Then went Satan forth from the
of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” It is clear that the pious and sorely afflicted Job had somnambulic visions, which the whole conversation of Satan with the Lord shows, and which is also plainly declared. Thus, in the conversation with his wife,-ii. 9; and again, iv. 12–16.
“12. Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof.
“ 13. In thoughts of the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men,
“14. Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my
bones to shake. “ 15. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood
up : “16. It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof; an image was before mine eyes,” etc.
And further,—“Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifyest me with visions”—viii. 14. And again,—“ For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit.”
The whole extraordinary book of Job has been by numerous commentators asserted not to be of a period earlier than the captivity. Of this opinion are Michaelis, Döderlein, and Hufnagel; and Horst, in his “ Dämonomagie,” says,—“ From this time forward as the Jews lived amongst the admirers of Zoroaster, and thus became acquainted with his doctrines, we find, partly in contradiction to the earlier views of their religion, many tenets prevailing amongst them, the origin of which it is impossible to explain, except by the operation of the doctrines of Zoroaster. To these belong the general acceptance of the theory of Satan, as well as of good and bad angels (see the Handbook of the History of the Church, by J. E. C. Schmidt).
All the different descriptions of the existence and influence of evil spirits, as they have come down to us, have been modified by Christianity. The devil is altogether Jewish, Christian, heathen, idolatrous, and spectral. As the heathen gods disappeared Christianity stooped to dualism, and the gnostic philosophy endeavoured to establish the universal principle of good and evil.
“ The name of Devil,” says Grimm,“is un-German, and is nothing else than the retained diábolos ; and our Angel, both in word and idea, is thence also derived. Tiebil, Tieval, Diefal, are used by the Vulgate for dæmonium; and in Ulfilas is Diabaulus, Satana, and Unhultho, translated by daluóvtov."
By Angel in the Old Testament, according to the original text, was understood an officer to carry a message; and thence messenger, one sent of God: on which account also the teachers and preachers in the Old and New Testaments are called “Publishers of glad tidings.” Some commentators in this sense understand in Isaiah, xxxiii. ver. 7, by. Angels of Peace, the messengers of the Assyrians to the Jews, and of the Jews to the Assyrians. In the Old Testament the appearances in the visions are called angels, as appearing to Moses, Abraham, etc. When the angel appeared a second time to Hagar, he promised to make of Ishmael a great people.
“The doctrine of angels," says Gottfried Büchner (Biblische Real- und Verbalconcordanzien, 1757), “is for the most part covered with darkness : here reason cannot see far; and the knowledge which we derive from the Scriptures is equally small. We do not know properly what a spirit is, and how it can move a body. Whether this class of beings think as we do ; how they explain their ideas one to another; are questions as much buried under uncertainty. Reason, indeed, finds nothing absurd in the existence of spirits, since the
Scriptures clearly reveal it; but perceives, at the same time, that it is not contrary to the goodness, wisdom, and omnipotence of God, to have created such beings. But much further it cannot advance ; it must content itself with probability, and it does so when it accepts, in faith, the divine assurances, and does not suffer itself to be disturbed at what a good and wise God has concealed from its knowledge."
Whence we infer, that we can as little deny as we can prove the existence of objective spirits ; but that there is nothing in the theory contrary to reason, that God in his great household should have such, and should permit them to have an influence on the spirits of men. On this subject, in an article in the “ Archeolog. Phil., p. 68,” T. Burnet says :-“ Facile credo, plures esse naturas invisibiles in rerum universitate, sed harum omnium familiam quis nobis enarrabit ? Et gradus et cognationes et discrimina et singularum munera! quid agunt, quæ loca habitant ? Harum rerum notitiam semper ambivit ingenium humanum, nunquam attigit. Juvat interea, non diffiteor, quandoque in animo, tanquam in tabula, majoris et melioris mundi imaginem contemplari, ne mens assuefacta hodiernæ vitæ minutiis se contrahat nimis, et tota subsidat in pusillas cogitationes. Sed veritati interea vigilandum est, modusque servandus, ut certa ab incertis, diem a nocte distinguamas."
It is very certain that impulses of spirits towards men are not so common as we fancy, for the psychological representations of all kind of phenomena proceed out of the undivided nature of the living man, and for the most part through a physical process, as I have shown in my “Magnetism in relation to Nature and Religion.” It would not be, according to that belief, so very absurd to consider that man is influenced directly by God, without this influence being communicated through angels; while this influence has assumed to itself a form according to the language and ideas of men ; as the Izeds of the East, the Angels of the Jews, the Dis of the Germans, and the Saints of the Middle Ages.
There is, indeed, no foundation in the Bible for the idea that every man has his guardian angel, since we see that one angel is given to many men (Daniel, iii. 28), and again many to one