The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c.
by Augustin Calmet
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Quemadmodum multa fieri non posse, priusquam facta sunt, judicantur; ita multa quoque, quae antiquitus facta, quia nos ea non vidimus, neque ratione assequimur, ex iis esse, quae fieri non potuerunt, judicamus. Quae certe summa insipientia est.—PLIN. Hist. Nat. lib. vii. c. 1.




TO HENRY JAMES SLACK, ESQ., F.G.S. &c. &c. &c.


I inscribe these volumes with your name to record a friendship which has lasted from our infancy, tain suspicion, and darkened by no shadow.

So long as eminent talents can challenge admiration, varied and extensive acquirements command respect, and unfeigned virtues ensure esteem and regard, so long will you have no common claim to them all; and none will pay the tribute more gladly than your affectionate

Friend and Cousin, HENRY CHRISTMAS.

SION COLLEGE, March, 1850.


Among the many phases presented by human credulity, few are more interesting than those which regard the realities of the invisible world. If the opinions which have been held on this subject were written and gathered together they would form hundreds of volumes—if they were arranged and digested they would form a few, but most important. It is not merely because there is in almost every human error a substratum of truth, and that the more important the subject the more important the substratum, but because the investigation will give almost a history of human aberrations, that this otherwise unpromising topic assumes so high an interest. The superstitions of every age, for no age is free from them, will present the popular modes of thinking in an intelligible and easily accessible form, and may be taken as a means of gauging (if the expression be permitted) the philosophical and metaphysical capacities of the period. In this light, the volumes here presented to the reader will be found of great value, for they give a picture of the popular mind at a time or great interest, and furnish a clue to many difficulties in the ecclesiastical affairs of that era. In the time of Calmet, cases of demoniacal possession, and instances of returns from the world of spirits, were reputed to be of no uncommon occurrence. The church was continually called on to exert her powers of exorcism; and the instances gathered by Calmet, and related in this work, may be taken as fair specimens of the rest. It is then, first, as a storehouse of facts, or reputed facts, that Calmet compiled the work now in the reader's hands—as the foundation on which to rear what superstructure of system they pleased; and secondly, as a means of giving his own opinions, in a detached and desultory way, as the subjects came under his notice. The value of the first will consist in their evidence—and of this the reader will be as capable of judging as the compiler; that of the second will depend on their truth—and of this, too, we are as well, and in some respects better, able to judge than Calmet himself. Those accustomed to require rigid evidence will be but ill satisfied with the greater part of that which will be found in this work; simple assertion for the most part suffices—often first made long after the facts, or supposed facts, related, and not unfrequently far off from the places where they were alleged to have taken place. But these cases are often the best authenticated, for in the more modern ones there is frequently such an evident mistake in the whole nature of the case, that all the spiritual deductions made from it fall to the ground.

Not a few instances of so-called demoniacal possession are capable of being resolved into cataleptic trance, a state not unlike that produced by mesmerism, and in which many of the same phenomena seem naturally to display themselves; the well-known instance of the young servant girl, related by Coleridge, who, though ignorant and uneducated, could during her sleep-walking discourse learnedly in rabbinical Hebrew, would furnish a case in point. The circumstance of her old master having been in the habit of walking about the house at night, reading from rabbinical books aloud and in a declamatory manner; the impression made by the strange sounds upon her youthful imagination; their accurate retention by a memory, which, however, could only reproduce them in an abnormal condition—all teach us many most interesting psychological facts, which, had this young girl fallen into other hands, would have been useless in a philosophical point of view, and would have been only used to establish the doctrine of diabolical possession and ecclesiastical exorcism. We should have been told how skilled was the fallen angel in rabbinical traditions, and how wholesome a terror he entertained of the Jesuits, the Capuchins, or the Fratres Minimi, as the case might be. Not a few of the most remarkable cases of supposed modern possession are to be accounted for by involuntary or natural mesmerism. Indeed the same view seems to be taken by a popular minister of the church (Mr. Mac Niel), in our own day, viz., that mesmerism and diabolical possession are frequently identical. Our difference with him is that we should consider the cases called by the two names as all natural, and he would consider them as all supernatural. And here, to avoid misconception, or rather misinterpretation, let me at once observe, that I speak thus of modern and recorded cases only, accepting literally all related in the New Testament, and not presuming to say that similar cases might not occur now. Calmet, however, may be supposed to have collected all the most remarkable of modern times, and I am compelled to say I believe not one of them. But when we pass from the evidence of truth, in which they are so wanting, to the evidence of fraud and collusion by which many are so characterized, we shall have less wonder at the general spread of infidelity in times somewhat later, on all subjects not susceptible of ocular demonstration. Where a system claimed to be received as a whole, or not at all, it is hardly to be wondered at that when some portion was manifestly wrong, its own requirements should be complied with, and the whole rejected. The system which required an implicit belief in such absurdities as those related in these volumes, and placed them on a level with the most awful verities of religion, might indeed make some interested use of them in an age of comparative darkness, but certainly contained within itself the seeds of destruction, and which could not fail to germinate as soon as light fell upon them. The state of Calmet's own mind, as revealed in this book, is curious and interesting. The belief of the intellect in much which he relates is evidently gone, the belief of the will but partially remains. There is a painful sense of uncertainty as to whether certain things ought not to be received more fully than he felt himself able to receive them, and he gladly follows in many cases the example of Herodotus of old, merely relating stories without comment, save by stating that they had not fallen under his own observation.

The time, indeed, had hardly come to assert freedom of belief on subjects such as these. Theology embraced philosophy, and the Holy Inquisition defended the orthodoxy of both; and if the investigators of Calmet's day were permitted to hold, with some limitation, the Copernican theory, it was far otherwise with regard to the world of spirits, and its connection with our own. The rotundity of the earth affected neither shrines nor exorcisms; metaphysical truth might do both one and the other; and the cry of "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," was not raised in the capital of Asia Minor, till the "craft by which we get our wealth" was proved to be in danger.

Reflections such as these are painfully forced on us by the evident fraud exhibited by many of the actors in the scenes of exorcism narrated by Calmet, the vile purposes to which the services of the church were turned, and the recklessness with which the supposed or pretended evil, and equally pretended remedy, were used for political intrigue or state oppression.

Independent of these conclusions, there is something lamentable in a state of the public mind, which was so little prone to examination as to receive such a mass of superstition without sifting the wheat, for such there undoubtedly is, from the chaff. Calmet's work contains enough, had we the minor circumstances in each case preserved, to set at rest many philosophic doubts, and to illustrate many physical facts; and to those who desire to know what was believed by our Christian forefathers, and why it was believed, the compilation is absolutely invaluable. Calmet was a man of naturally cool, calm judgment, possessed of singular learning, and was pious and truthful. A short sketch of his life will not, perhaps, be unacceptable to the reader.

Augustine Calmet was born in the year 1672, at a village near Commerci, in Lorraine. He early gave proofs of aptitude for study, and an opportunity was speedily offered of devoting himself to a life of learning. In his sixteenth year he became a Benedictine of the Congregation of St. Vannes, and prosecuted his theological and such philosophical studies as the time allowed with great success. He was soon appointed to teach the younger portion of the community, and gave in this employment such decided satisfaction to his superiors, that he was soon marked for preferment. His chief study was the Scriptures; and in the twenty-second year of his age, a period unusually early, in an age when all benefices and beneficial employments were matters of sale, he was appointed to be sub-prior of the monastery of Munster, in Alsace, where he presided over an academy. This academy consisted of ten or twelve monks, and its object was the investigation of Scripture. Calmet was not idle in his new position; besides communicating so much valuable information as to make his pupils the best biblical scholars of the country, he made extensive collections for his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, and for his still more celebrated work, the History of the Bible. These materials he subsequently digested and arranged. The Commentary, a work of immense value, was published in separate volumes from 1707 to 1716. His labors attracted renewed and increased attention, and the offer of a bishopric was made to him, which he unhesitatingly declined.

In 1718, he was elected to the abbacy of St. Leopold, in Nancy; and ten years afterwards, to that of Senones, where he spent the remainder of his days. His writings are numerous—two have been already mentioned—and so great was the popularity attained by his Commentaries, that they have been translated into no fewer than six languages within ten years. It exhibits a favorable aspect of the author's mind, and gives a very high idea of his erudition. One cause which tended greatly to its universal acceptability, was its singular freedom from sectarian bitterness. Protestants as well as Romanists may use it with equal satisfaction; and accordingly, it is considered a work of standard authority in England as much as on the continent.

In addition to these Commentaries, and his History of the Bible, and Fragments, (the best edition of which latter work in English, is by Isaac Taylor,) he wrote the "Ecclesiastical and Civil History of Lorraine;" "A Catalogue of the Writers of Lorraine;" "Universal History, Sacred and Profane;" a small collection of Reveries; and a work entitled, "A Literal, Moral, and Historical Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict," a work which is full of curious information on ancient customs, particularly ecclesiastical. He is among the few, also, who have written on ancient music. He lived to a good old age; and died regretted and much respected in 1757.

Of all his works, the one presented here to the reader, is perhaps the most popular; it went rapidly through many editions, and received from the author's hand continual corrections and additions. To say that it is characterized by uniform judgment, would be to give it a praise somewhat different as well as somewhat greater than that which it merits. It is a vast repertory of legends, more or less probable; some of which have very little foundation—and some which Calmet himself would have done well to omit, though now, as a picture of the belief entertained in that day, they greatly add to the value of the book. For the same reasons which have caused the retention of these passages, no alterations have been made in the citations from Scripture, which being translations from the Vulgate, necessarily differ in phraseology from the version in use among ourselves. The apocryphal books too are quoted, and the story of Bel and the Dragon referred to as a part of the prophecy of Daniel; but what is of consequence to observe, is, that doctrines are founded on these translations, and on those very points in which they differ from our own.

If the history of popery, and especially that form and development of it exhibited in the monastic orders, be ever written, this work will be of the greatest importance:—it will show the means by which dominion was obtained over the minds of the ignorant; how the most sacred mysteries were perverted; and frauds, which can hardly be termed pious, used to support institutions which can scarcely be called religious. That the spirits of the dead should be permitted to return to earth, under circumstances the most grotesque, to support the doctrines of masses for the dead, purgatory and propitiatory penance; that demons should be exorcised to give testimony to the merits of rival orders of monks and friars; that relics, many of them supposititious, and many of the most disgusting and blasphemous character, should have power to affect the eternal state of the departed; and that all saints, angels, demons, and the ghosts of the departed, should support, with great variations indeed, the corrupt dealings of a corrupt priesthood—form a creed worthy of the darkest and most unworthy days of heathenism.

There is, however, one excuse, or rather palliation, for the superstition of that time. In periods of great public depravity—and few epochs have been more depraved than that in which Calmet lived—Satan has great power. With a ruler like the regent Duke of Orleans, with a Church governor like Cardinal Dubois, it would appear that the civil and ecclesiastical authority of France had sold itself, like Ahab of old, to work wickedness; or, as the apostle says, "to work all uncleanness with greediness." In an age so characterized, it does not seem at all improbable that portentous events should from time to time occur; that the servants of the devil should be strengthened together with their master; that many should be given over to strong delusions and to believe a lie; and that the evil part of the invisible world should be permitted to ally itself more closely with the men of an age so congenial. Real cases of demoniacal possession might, perhaps, be met with, and though scarcely amenable to the exorcisms of a clergy so corrupt as that of France in that day, they would yet justify a belief in the reality of those cases got up for the sake of filthy lucre, personal ambition, or private revenge. If the public mind was prepared for a belief in such cases, there were not wanting men to turn it to profitable account; and the quiet student who believed the efficacy of the means used, and was scarcely aware of the wickedness of the age in which he lived, might easily be induced to credit the tales told him of demons expelled by the power of a church, to which in the beginning an authority to do so had undoubtedly been given, and whose awful corruptions were to him at least greatly veiled.

Calmet was a man of great integrity and considerable acumen, but he passed an innocent and exemplary life in studious seclusion; he mixed little with the world at large, resided remote "from courts, and camps, and strife of war or peace;" and there appears occasionally in his writings a kind of nervous apprehension lest the dogmas of the church to which he was pledged should be less capable than he could wish of satisfactory investigation. When he meets with tales like those of the vampires or vroucolacas, which concern only what he considered a heretical church, and with which, therefore, he might deal according to his own will—apply to them the ordinary rules of evidence, and treat them as mundane affairs—there he is clear-sighted, critical and acute, and accordingly he discusses the matter philosophically and logically, and concludes without fear of sinning against the church, that the whole is delusion. When, on the other hand, he has to deal with cases of demoniacal possession, in countries under the rule of the Roman hierarchy, he contents himself with the decisions of the scholastic divines and the opinions of the fathers, and makes frequent references to the decrees of various provincial parliaments. The effects of such a state of mind upon scientific and especially metaphysical investigation, may be easily imagined, and are to be traced more or less distinctly in every page of the work before us.

To conclude: books like this—the "Disquisitiones Magicae" of Delrio, the "Demonomanie" of Bodin, the "Malleus Maleficarum" of Sprengel, and the like, are at no time to be regarded merely as subjects of amusement; they have their philosophical value; they have a still greater historical value; and they show how far even upright minds may be warped by imperfect education, and slavish deference to authority.

The edition here followed is that of 1751, which contains the latest corrections of the author, and several additional pieces, which are all included in the present volumes.





I. The Appearance of Good Angels proved by the Books of the Old Testament 37

II. The Appearance of Good Angels proved by the Books of the New Testament 38

III. Under what form have Good Angels appeared? 41

IV. Opinions of the Jews, Christians, Mahometans, and Oriental Nations, concerning the Apparitions of Good Angels 44

V. Opinion of the Greeks and Romans on the Apparitions of Good Genii 47

VI. The Apparition of Bad Angels proved by the Holy Scriptures—Under what Form they have appeared 50

VII. Of Magic 57

VIII. Objections to the Reality of Magic 61

IX. Reply to the Objections 63

X. Examination of the Affair of Hocque, Magician 67

XI. Magic of the Egyptians and Chaldeans 70

XII. Magic among the Greeks and Romans 73

XIII. Examples which prove the Reality of Magic 75

XIV. Effects of Magic according to the Poets 81

XV. Of the Pagan Oracles 83

XVI. The Certainty of the Event predicted, is not always a proof that the Prediction comes from God 86

XVII. Reasons which lead us to believe that the greater part of the Ancient Oracles were only Impositions of the Priests and Priestesses, who feigned that they were inspired by God 89

XVIII. On Sorcerers and Sorceresses, or Witches 93

XIX. Instances of Sorcerers and Witches being, as they said, transported to the Sabbath 98

XX. Story of Louis Gaufredi and Magdalen de la Palud, owned by themselves to be a Sorcerer and Sorceress 102

XXI. Reasons which prove the Possibility of Sorcerers and Witches being transported to the Sabbath 106

XXII. Continuation of the same Subject 111

XXIII. Obsession and Possession of the Devil 114

XXIV. The Truth and Reality of Possession and Obsession by the Devil proved from Scripture 117

XXV. Examples of Real Possessions caused by the Devil 119

XXVI. Continuation of the same Subject 123

XXVII. Objections against the Obsessions and Possessions of the Demon—Reply to the Objections 128

XXVIII. Continuation of Objections against Possessions, and some Replies to those Objections 132

XXIX. Of Familiar Spirits 138

XXX. Some other Examples of Elves 142

XXXI. Spirits that keep Watch over Treasure 149

XXXII. Other instances of Hidden Treasures, which were guarded by Good or Bad Spirits 153

XXXIII. Spectres which appear, and predict things unknown and to come 156

XXXIV. Other Apparitions of Spectres 159

XXXV. Examination of the Apparition of a pretended Spectre 163

XXXVI. Of Spectres which haunt Houses 165

XXXVII. Other Instances of Spectres which haunt certain Houses 170

XXXVIII. Prodigious effects of Imagination in those Men or Women who believe they hold Intercourse with the Demon 172

XXXIX. Return and Apparitions of Souls after the Death of the Body, proved from Scripture 176

XL. Apparitions of Spirits proved from History 180

XLI. More Instances of Apparitions 185

XLII. On the Apparitions of Spirits who imprint their Hands on Clothes or on Wood 190

XLIII. Opinions of the Jews, Greeks, and Latins, concerning the Dead who are left unburied 195

XLIV. Examination of what is required or revealed to the Living by the Dead who return to Earth 201

XLV. Apparitions of Men still alive, to other living Men, absent, and very distant from each other 204

XLVI. Arguments concerning Apparitions 216

XLVII. Objections against Apparitions, and Replies to those Objections 221

XLVIII. Some other Objections and Replies 224

XLIX. The Secrets of Physics and Chemistry taken for supernatural things 229

L. Conclusion of the Treatise on Apparitions 232

LI. Way of explaining Apparitions 235

LII. The difficulty of explaining the manner in which Apparitions make their appearance, whatever system may be proposed on the subject 237




I. The Resurrection of a Dead Person is the Work of God only 247

II. Revival of Persons who were not really Dead 249

III. Resurrection of a Man who had been buried Three Years, resuscitated by St. Stanislaus 251

IV. Can a Man really Dead appear in his own Body? 253

V. Revival or Apparition of a Girl who had been Dead some Months 256

VI. A Woman taken Alive from her Tomb 259

VII. Revenans, or Vampires of Moravia 260

VIII. Dead Persons in Hungary who suck the Blood of the Living 262

IX. Narrative of a Vampire from the Jewish Letters, Letter 137 263

X. Other Instances of Revenans.—Continuation of the "Gleaner" 264

XI. Argument of the Author of the Jewish Letters, concerning Revenans 266

XII. Continuation of the argument of the Dutch Gleaner 270

XIII. Narrative from the "Mercure Gallant" of 1693 and 1694 on Revenans 272

XIV. Conjectures of the "Glaneur de Hollandais" 273

XV. Another Letter on Ghosts 276

XVI. Pretended Vestiges of Vampirism in Antiquity 278

XVII. Ghosts in Northern Countries 282

XVIII. Ghosts in England 283

XIX. Ghosts in Peru 284

XX. Ghosts in Lapland 285

XXI. Return of a Man who had been Dead some Months 285

XXII. Excommunicated Persons who went out of Churches 289

XXIII. Some Instances of the Excommunicated being rejected or cast out of Consecrated Ground 291

XXIV. Instance of an Excommunicated Martyr being cast out of the Ground 292

XXV. A Man cast out of the Church for having refused to pay Tithes 293

XXVI. Instances of Persons who have given Signs of Life after their Death, and have withdrawn themselves respectfully to make room for more worthy Persons 294

XXVII. People who perform Pilgrimage after Death 296

XXVIII. Reasoning upon the Excommunicated who go out of Churches 297

XXIX. Do the Excommunicated rot in the Earth? 300

XXX. Instances to show that the Excommunicated do not rot, and that they appear to the Living 301

XXXI. Instances of these Returns to Earth of the Excommunicated 302

XXXII. A Vroucolacan exhumed in the presence of M. de Tournefort 304

XXXIII. Has the Demon power to kill, and then to restore to Life? 308

XXXIV. Examination of the Opinion that the Demon can restore Animation to a Dead Body 310

XXXV. Instances of Phantoms which have appeared to the Living and given many Signs of Life 313

XXXVI. Devoting People to Death, practised by the Heathens 314

XXXVII. Instances of dooming to Death among Christians 317

XXXVIII. Instances of Persons who have promised to give each other News of themselves from the other World 321

XXXIX. Extracts from the Political Works of the Abbe de St. Pierre 325

XL. Divers Systems to explain Ghosts 331

XLI. Divers Instances of Persons being Buried Alive 333

XLII. Instances of Drowned Persons who have come back to Life and Health 335

XLIII. Instances of Women thought Dead who came to Life again 337

XLIV. Can these Instances be applied to the Hungarian Revenans? 339

XLV. Dead People who chew in their Graves and devour their own Flesh 340

XLVI. Singular Example of a Hungarian Revenant 341

XLVII. Argument on this matter 343

XLVIII. Are the Vampires or Revenans really Dead? 344

XLIX. Instance of a Man named Curma being sent back to this World 351

L. Instances of Persons who fall into Ecstatic Trances when they will, and remain senseless 354

LI. Application of such Instances to Vampires 356

LII. Examination of the Opinion that the Demon fascinates the Eyes of those to whom Vampires appear 360

LIII. Instances of Resuscitated Persons who relate what they saw in the other World 361

LIV. The Traditions of the Pagans on the other Life, are derived from the Hebrews and Egyptians 364

LV. Instances of Christians being Resuscitated and sent back to this World.—Vision of Vetinus, a Monk of Augia 366

LVI. Vision of Bertholdas, related by Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims 368

LVII. Vision of St. Fursius 369

LVIII. Vision of a Protestant of York, and others 371

LIX. Conclusion of this Dissertation 374

LX. Moral Impossibility that Ghosts can come out of their Tombs 376

LXI. What is related of the Bodies of the Excommunicated who walk out of Churches, is subject to very great Difficulties (in Belief and Explanation) 378

LXII. Remarks on the Dissertation, concerning the Spirit which came to St. Maur des Fosses 380

LXIII. Dissertation of an Anonymous Writer on what should be thought of the Appearance of Spirits, on Occasion of the Adventure at St. Maur, in 1706 387

Letter of the Marquis Maffei on Magic 407

Letter of the Reverend Father Dom Calmet, to M. Debure 440


The great number of authors who have written upon the apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied souls is not unknown to me; and I do not presume sufficiently on my own capacity to believe that I shall succeed better in it than they have done, and that I shall enhance their knowledge and their discoveries. I am perfectly sensible that I expose myself to criticism, and perhaps to the mockery of many readers, who regard this matter as done with, and decried in the minds of philosophers, learned men, and many theologians. I must not reckon either on the approbation of the people, whose want of discernment prevents their being competent judges of this same. My aim is not to foment superstition, nor to feed the vain curiosity of visionaries, and those who believe without examination everything that is related to them as soon as they find therein anything marvelous and supernatural. I write only for reasonable and unprejudiced minds, which examine things seriously and coolly; I speak only for those who assent even to known truth but after mature reflection, who know how to doubt of what is uncertain, to suspend their judgment on what is doubtful, and to deny what is manifestly false.

As for pretended freethinkers, who reject everything to distinguish themselves, and to place themselves above the common herd, I leave them in their elevated sphere; they will think of this work as they may consider proper, and as it is not calculated for them, apparently they will not take the trouble to read it.

I undertook it for my own information, and to form to myself a just idea of all that is said on the apparitions of angels, of the demon, and of disembodied souls. I wished to see how far that matter was certain or uncertain, true or false, known or unknown, clear or obscure.

In this great number of facts which I have collected I have endeavored to make a choice, and not to heap together too great a multitude of them, for fear that in the too numerous examples the doubtful might not harm the certain, and in wishing to prove too much I might prove absolutely nothing. There will, even amongst those I have cited, be found some which will not easily be credited by many readers, and I allow them to regard them as not related.

I beg those readers, nevertheless, to discern justly amongst these facts and instances; after which they can with me form their opinion—affirm, deny, or remain in doubt.

From the respect which every man owes to truth, and the veneration which a Christian and a priest owes to religion, it appeared to me very important to undeceive people respecting the opinion which they have of apparitions, if they believe them all to be true; or to instruct them and show them the truth and reality of a great number, if they think them all false. It is always shameful to be deceived; and in regard to religion, to believe on light grounds, to remain wilfully in doubt, or to maintain oneself without any reason in superstition and illusion; it is already much to know how to doubt wisely, and not to form a decided opinion beyond what one really knows.

I never had any idea of treating profoundly the matter of apparitions; I have treated of it, as it were, by chance, and occasionally. My first and principal object was to discourse of the vampires of Hungary. In collecting my materials on that subject, I found many things concerning apparitions; the great number of these embarrassed this treatise on vampires. I detached some of them, and thus have composed this treatise on apparitions: there still remains a large number of them, which I might have separated for the better arrangement of this treatise. Many persons here have taken the accessory for the principal, and have paid more attention to the first part than to the second, which was, however, the first and the principal in my design. For I own I have always been much struck with what was related of the vampires or ghosts of Hungary, Moravia, and Poland; of the vroucolacas of Greece; and of the excommunicated, who are said not to rot. I thought I ought to bestow on it all the attention in my power; and I have deemed it right to treat on this subject in a particular dissertation. After having deeply studied it, and obtaining as much information as I was able, I found little solidity and certainty on the subject; which, joined to the opinion of some prudent and respectable persons whom I consulted, had induced me to give up my design entirely, and to renounce laboring on a subject which is so contradictory, and embraces so much uncertainty.

But looking at the matter in another point of view, I resumed my pen, decided upon undeceiving the public, if I found that what was said of it was absolutely false; showing that what is uttered on this subject is uncertain, and that one ought to be very reserved in pronouncing on these vampires, which have made so much noise in the world for a certain time, and still divide opinions at this day, even in the countries which are the scene of their pretended return, and where they appear; or to show that what has been said and written on this subject is not destitute of probability, and that the subject of the return of vampires is worthy the attention of the curious and the learned, and deserves to be seriously studied, to have the facts related of it examined, and the causes, circumstances, and means sounded deeply.

I am then about to examine this question as a historian, philosopher, and theologian. As a historian, I shall endeavor to discover the truth of the facts; as a philosopher, I shall examine the causes and circumstances; lastly, the knowledge or light of theology will cause me to deduce consequences as relating to religion. Thus I do not write in the hope of convincing freethinkers and pyrrhonians, who will not allow the existence of ghosts or vampires, nor even of the apparitions of angels, demons, and spirits; nor to intimidate those weak and credulous, by relating to them extraordinary stories of apparitions. I do not reckon either on curing the superstitious of their errors, nor the people of their prepossessions; not even on correcting the abuses which arise from this unenlightened belief, nor of doing away all the doubts which may be formed on apparitions; still less do I pretend to erect myself as a judge and censor of the works and sentiments of others, nor to distinguish myself, make myself a name, or divert myself, by spreading abroad dangerous doubts upon a subject which concerns religion, and from which they might make wrong deductions against the certainty of the Scriptures, and against the unshaken dogmas of our creed. I shall treat it as solidly and gravely as it merits; and I pray God to give me that knowledge which is necessary to do it successfully.

I exhort my reader to distinguish between the facts related, and the manner in which they happened. The fact may be certain, and the way in which it occurred unknown. Scripture relates certain apparitions of angels and disembodied souls; these instances are indubitable and found in the revelations of the holy books; but the manner in which God operated the resurrections, or in which he permitted these apparitions to take place, is hidden among his secrets. It is allowable for us to examine them, to seek out the circumstances, and propound some conjectures on the manner in which it all came to pass; but it would be rash to decide upon a matter which God has not thought proper to reveal to us. I say as much in proportion, concerning the stories related by sensible, contemporary, and judicious authors, who simply relate the facts without entering into the examination of the circumstances, of which, perhaps, they themselves were not well informed.

It has already been objected to me, that I cited poets and authors of little credit, in support of a thing so grave and so disputed as the apparition of spirits: such authorities, they say, are more calculated to cast a doubt on apparitions, than to establish the truth of them.

But I cite those authors as witnesses of the opinions of nations; and I count it not a small thing in the extreme license of opinions, which at this day predominates in the world, amongst those even who make a profession of Christianity, to be able to show that the ancient Greeks and Romans thought that souls were immortal, that they subsisted after the death of the body, and that there was another life, in which they received the reward of their good actions, or the chastisement of their crimes.

Those sentiments which we read in the poets, are also repeated in the fathers of the church, and the pagan and Christian historians; but as they did not pretend to think them weighty, nor to approve them in repeating them, it must not be imputed to me either, that I have any intention of authorizing. For instance, what I have related of the manes, or lares; of the evocation of souls after the death of the body; of the avidity of these souls to suck the blood of the immolated animals, of the shape of the soul separated from the body, of the inquietude of souls which have no rest until their bodies are under ground; of those superstitious statues of wax which are devoted and consecrated under the name of certain persons whom the magicians pretended to kill by burning and stabbing their effigies of wax; of the transportation of wizards and witches through the air, and of their assemblies of the Sabbath; all those things are related both in the works of the philosophers and pagan historians, as well as in the poets.

I know the value of one and the other, and I esteem them as they deserve; but I think that in treating this matter, it is important to make known to our readers the ancient superstitions, the vulgar or common opinions, and the prejudices of nations, to be able to refute them, and bring back the figures to truths, by freeing them from what poesy had added for the embellishment of the poem, and the amusement of the reader.

Moreover, I generally repeat this kind of thing, only when it is apropos of certain facts avowed by historians, and by other grave and rational authors; and sometimes rather as an ornament of the discourse, or to enliven the matter, than to derive thence certain proofs and consequences necessary for the dogma, or to certify the facts and give weight to my recital.

I know how little we must depend on what Lucian says on this subject; he only speaks of it to make game of it. Philostratus, Jamblicus, and some others, do not merit more consideration; therefore I quote them only to refute them, or to show how far idle and ridiculous credulity has been carried on these matters, which were laughed at by the most sensible among the heathens themselves.

The consequences which I deduce from all these stories, and these poetical fictions, and the manner in which I speak of them in the course of this dissertation, sufficiently vouch that esteem, and give as true and certain only what is so in fact; and that I do not wish to impose on my reader, by relating many things which I myself regard as false, or as doubtful, or even as fabulous. But that ought to be prejudicial to the dogma of the immortality of the soul, and to that of another life, not to the truth of certain apparitions related in Scripture, or proved elsewhere by good testimony.

The first edition of this work having been printed in my absence, and upon an incorrect copy, several misprints have occurred, and even expressions and phrases displeasing and interrupted. I have tried to remedy this in a second edition, and to cast light on those passages which they noticed as demanding explanation, and correcting what might offend scrupulous readers, and prevent the bad consequences which might be derived from what I had said. I have even done more in this third edition. I have retrenched several passages; others I have suppressed; I have profited by the advice which has been given me; and I have replied to the objections which have been made.

People have complained that I took no part, and did not come to a decision on several difficulties which I propose, and that I leave my reader in uncertainty.

I make but little defence against this reproach; I should require more justification if I decided without a perfect knowledge of causes, for one side of the question, at the risk of embracing an error, and of falling into a still greater impropriety. There is wisdom in suspending one's judgment till we have succeeded in finding the very truth.

I have also been told, that certain persons have made a joke of some facts which I have related. If I have related them as certain, and they afford just cause for pleasantry, let the condemnation pass; but if I cited them as fabulous and false, they present no subject for pleasantry; Falsum non est de ratione faceti.

There are certain persons who delight in jesting on the most serious things, and who spare nothing, either sacred or profane. The histories of the Old and New Testament, the most sacred ceremonies of our religion, the lives of the most respectable saints, are not safe from their dull, tasteless pleasantry.

I have been reproached for having related several false histories, several doubtful facts, and several fabulous events. This is true; but I give them for what they are. I have declared several times, that I did not vouch for their truth, that I repeated them to show how false and ridiculous they were, and to deprive them of the credit they might have with the people; and if I had gone at length into their refutation, I thought it right to let my reader have the pleasure of refuting them, supposing him to possess enough good sense and self-sufficiency, to form his own judgment upon them, and feel the same contempt for such stories that I do myself. It is doing too much honor to certain things to refute them seriously.

But another objection, and a much more serious one, is said to be, what I say of the illusions of the demon, leading some persons to doubt of the truth of the apparitions related in Scripture, as well as of the others suspected of falsehood.

I answer, that the consequences deduced from principles are not right, except when things are equal, and the subjects and circumstances the same; without that there can be no application of principles. The facts to which my reasoning applies are related by authors of small authority, by ordinary or common-place historians, bearing no character which deserves a belief of anything superhuman. I can, without attacking their person or their merit, advance that they may have been badly informed, prepossessed, and mistaken; that the spirit of seduction may have been of the party; that the senses, the imagination, and superstition, may have made them take that for truth, which was only seeming.

But, in regard to the apparitions related in the Holy Scriptures, they borrow their infallible authority from the sacred and inspired authors who wrote them; they are verified by the events which followed them, by the execution or fulfilment of predictions made many ages preceding; and which could neither be done, nor foreseen, nor performed, either by the human mind, or by the strength of man, not even by the angel of darkness.

I am but little concerned at the opinion passed on myself and my intentions in the publication of this treatise. Some have thought that I did it to destroy the popular and common idea of apparitions, and to make it appear ridiculous; and I acknowledge that those who read this work attentively and without prejudice, will remark in it more arguments for doubting what the people believe on this point, than they will find to favor the contrary opinion. If I have treated this subject seriously, it is only in what regards those facts in which religion and the truth of Scripture is interested; those which are indifferent I have left to the censure of sensible people, and the criticism of the learned and of philosophical minds.

I declare that I consider as true all the apparitions related in the sacred books of the Old and New Testament; without pretending, however, that it is not allowable to explain them, and reduce them to a natural and likely sense, by retrenching what is too marvelous about them, which might rebut enlightened persons. I think on that point I may apply the principle of St. Paul;[1] "the letter killeth, and the Spirit giveth life."

As to the other apparitions and visions related in Christian, Jewish, or heathen authors, I do my best to discern amongst them, and I exhort my readers to do the same; but I blame and disapprove the outrageous criticism of those who deny everything, and make difficulties of everything, in order to distinguish themselves by their pretended strength of mind, and to authorize themselves to deny everything, and to dispute the most certain facts, and in general all that savors of the marvelous, and which appears above the ordinary laws of nature. St. Paul permits us to examine and prove everything: Omnia probate; but he desires us to hold fast that which is good and true: quod bonum est tenete.[2]


[1] 2 Cor. iii. 16.

[2] 1 Thess. v. 21.


Every body talks of apparitions of angels and demons, and of souls separated from the body. The reality of these apparitions is considered as certain by many persons, while others deride them and treat them as altogether visionary.

I have determined to examine this matter, just to see what certitude there can be on this point; and I shall divide this Dissertation into four parts. In the first, I shall speak of good angels; in the second, of the appearance of bad angels; in the third, of the apparitions of souls of the dead; and in the fourth, of the appearance of living men to others living, absent, distant, and this unknown to those who appear. I shall occasionally add something on magic, wizards, and witches; on the Sabbath, oracles, and obsession and possession by demons.




The apparitions or appearances of good angels are frequently mentioned in the books of the Old Testament. He who was stationed at the entrance of the terrestrial Paradise[3] was a cherub, armed with a flaming sword; those who appeared to Abraham, and who promised that he should have a son;[4] those who appeared to Lot, and predicted to him the ruin of Sodom, and other guilty cities;[5] he who spoke to Hagar in the desert,[6] and commanded her to return to the dwelling of Abraham, and to remain submissive to Sarah, her mistress; those who appeared to Jacob, on his journey into Mesopotamia, ascending and descending the mysterious ladder;[7] he who taught him how to cause his sheep to bring forth young differently marked;[8] he who wrestled with Jacob on his return from Mesopotamia,[9]—were angels of light, and benevolent ones; the same as he who spoke with Moses from the burning bush on Horeb,[10] and who gave him the tables of the law on Mount Sinai. That Angel who takes generally the name of GOD, and acts in his name, and with his authority;[11] who served as a guide to the Hebrews in the desert, hidden during the day in a dark cloud, and shining during the night; he who spoke to Balaam, and threatened to kill his she-ass;[12] he, lastly, who contended with Satan for the body of Moses;[13]—all these angels were without doubt good angels.

We must think the same of him who presented himself armed to Joshua on the plain of Jericho,[14] and who declared himself head of the army of the Lord; it is believed, with reason, that it was the angel Michael. He who showed himself to the wife of Manoah,[15] the father of Samson, and afterwards to Manoah himself. He who announced to Gideon that he should deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites.[16] The angel Gabriel, who appeared to Daniel, at Babylon;[17] and Raphael who conducted the young Tobias to Rages, in Media.[18]

The prophecy of the Prophet Zechariah is full of visions of angels.[19] In the books of the Old Testament the throne of the Lord is described as resting on cherubim; and the God of Israel is represented as having before his throne[20] seven principal angels, always ready to execute his orders, and four cherubim singing his praises, and adoring his sovereign holiness; the whole making a sort of allusion to what they saw in the court of the ancient Persian kings,[21] where there were seven principal officers who saw his face, approached his person, and were called the eyes and ears of the king.


[3] Gen. iii. 24.

[4] Gen. xviii. 1-3.

[5] Gen. xix.

[6] Gen. xxi. 17.

[7] Gen. xxviii. 12.

[8] Gen. xxxi. 10, 11.

[9] Gen. xxxii.

[10] Exod. iii. 6, 7.

[11] Exod. iii. iv.

[12] Numb. xxii. xxiii.

[13] Jude 9.

[14] Josh. v. 13.

[15] Judges xiii.

[16] Judges vi. vii.

[17] Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21.

[18] Tobit v.

[19] Zech. v. 9, 10, 11, &c.

[20] Psalm xvii. 10; lxxix. 2, &c.

[21] Tobit xii. Zech. iv. 10. Rev. i. 4.



The books of the New Testament are in the same manner full of facts which prove the apparition of good angels. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, and predicted to him the future birth of the Forerunner.[22] The Jews, who saw Zachariah come out of the temple, after having remained within it a longer time than usual, having remarked that he was struck dumb, had no doubt but that he had seen some apparition of an angel. The same Gabriel announced to Mary the future birth of the Messiah.[23] When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the night,[24] and declared to them that the Saviour of the world was born at Bethlehem. There is every reason to believe that the star which appeared to the Magi in the East, and which led them straight to Jerusalem, and thence to Bethlehem, was directed by a good angel.[25] St. Joseph was warned by a celestial spirit to retire into Egypt, with the mother and the infant Christ, for fear that Jesus should fall into the hands of Herod, and be involved in the massacre of the Innocents. The same angel informed Joseph of the death of King Herod, and told him to return to the land of Israel.

After the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness, angels came and brought him food.[26] The demon tempter said to Jesus Christ that God had commanded his angels to lead him, and to prevent him from stumbling against a stone; which is taken from the 92d Psalm, and proves the belief of the Jews on the article of guardian angels. The Saviour confirms the same truth when he says that the angels of children constantly behold the face of the celestial Father.[27] At the last judgment, the good angels will separate the just,[28] and lead them to the kingdom of heaven, while they will precipitate the wicked into eternal fire.

At the agony of Jesus Christ in the garden of Olives, an angel descended from heaven to console him.[29] After his resurrection, angels appeared to the holy women who had come to his tomb to embalm him.[30] In the Acts of the Apostles, they appeared to the apostles as soon as Jesus had ascended into heaven; and the angel of the Lord came and opened the doors of the prison where the apostles were confined, and set them at liberty.[31] In the same book, St. Stephen tells us that the law was given to Moses by the ministration of angels;[32] consequently, those were angels who appeared on Sinai and Horeb, and who spoke to him in the name of God, as his ambassadors, and as invested with his authority; also, the same Moses, speaking of the angel of the Lord, who was to introduce Israel into the Promised Land, says that "the name of God is in him."[33] St. Peter, being in prison, is delivered from thence by an angel,[34] who conducted him the length of a street, and disappeared. St. Peter, knocking at the door of the house in which his brethren were, they could not believe that it was he; they thought that it was his angel who knocked and spoke. St. Paul, instructed in the school of the Pharisees, thought as they did on the subject of angels; he believed in their existence, in opposition to the Sadducees,[35] and supposed that they could appear. When this apostle, having been arrested by the Romans, related to the people how he had been overthrown at Damascus, the Pharisees, who were present, replied to those who exclaimed against him—"How do we know, if an angel or a spirit hath not spoken to him?" St. Luke says that a Macedonian (apparently the angel of Macedonia) appeared to St. Paul, and begged him to come and announce the Gospel in that country.

St. John, in the Apocalypse, speaks of the seven angels who presided over the churches in Asia. I know that these seven angels are the bishops of these churches, but the ecclesiastical tradition will have it that every church has its tutelary angel. In the same book, the Apocalypse, are related divers appearances of angels. All Christian antiquity has recognized them; the synagogue also has recognized them; so that it may be affirmed that nothing is more certain than the existence of good angels and their apparitions.

I place in the number of apparitions, not only those of good or bad angels, and the spirits of the dead who show themselves to the living, but also those of the living who show themselves to the angels or souls of the dead; whether these apparitions are seen in dreams, or during sleep, or awaking; whether they manifest themselves to all those who are present, or only to the persons to whom God judges proper to manifest them. For instance, in the Apocalypse,[36] St. John saw the four animals, and the four-and-twenty elders, who were clothed in white garments and wore crowns of gold upon their heads, and were seated on thrones around that of the Almighty, who prostrated themselves before the throne of the Eternal, and cast their crowns at his feet.

And, elsewhere: "I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the world,[37] who held back the four winds and prevented them from blowing on the earth; then I saw another angel, who rose on the side of the east, and who cried out to the four angels who had orders to hurt the earth, Do no harm to the earth, or the sea, or the trees, until we have impressed a sign on the foreheads of the servants of God. And I heard that the number of those who received this sign (or mark) was a hundred and forty-four thousand. Afterwards I saw an innumerable multitude of all nations, tribes, people, and languages, standing before the throne of the Most High, arrayed in white garments, and having palms in their hands."

And in the same book[38] St. John says, after having described the majesty of the throne of God, and the adoration paid to him by the angels and saints prostrate before him, one of the elders said to him,—"Those whom you see covered with white robes, are those who have suffered great trials and afflictions, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb; for which reason they stand before the throne of God, and will do so night and day in his temple; and He who is seated on the throne will reign over them, and the angel which is in the midst of the throne will conduct them to the fountains of living water." And, again,[39] "I saw under the altar of God the souls of those who have been put to death for defending the Word of God, and for the testimony which they have rendered; they cried with a loud voice, saying, When, O Lord, wilt thou not avenge our blood upon those who are on the earth?" &c.

All these apparitions, and several others similar to them, which might be related as being derived from the holy books as well as from authentic histories, are true apparitions, although neither the angels nor the martyrs spoken of in the Apocalypse came and presented themselves to St. John; but, on the contrary, this apostle was transported in spirit to heaven, to see there what we have just related. These are apparitions which may be called passive on the part of the angels and holy martyrs, and active on the part of the holy apostle who saw them.


[22] Luke i. 10-12, &c.

[23] Luke i. 26, 27, &c.

[24] Luke ii. 9, 10.

[25] Matt. ii. 13, 14, 20.

[26] Matt. iv. 6, 11.

[27] Matt. xviii. 16.

[28] Matt. xiii. 45, 46.

[29] Luke xxii. 43.

[30] Matt. xxviii. John.

[31] Acts v. 19.

[32] Acts vii. 30, 35.

[33] Exod. xxiii. 21.

[34] Acts xii. 8, 9.

[35] Rom. i. 18. 1 Cor. iv. 9; vi. 3; xii. 7. Gal. iii. 19. Acts xvi. 9; xxiii. 9. Rev. i. 11.

[36] Rev. iv. 4, 10.

[37] Rev. vii. 1-3, 9, &c.

[38] Rev. vii. 13, 14.

[39] Rev. vi. 9, 10.



The most usual form in which good angels appear, both in the Old Testament and the New, is the human form. It was in that shape they showed themselves to Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Manoah the father of Samson, to David, Tobit, the Prophets; and in the New Testament they appeared in the same form to the Holy Virgin, to Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, to Jesus Christ after his fast of forty days, and to him again in his agony in the Garden of Olives. They showed themselves in the same form to the holy women after the resurrection of the Saviour. The one who appeared to Joshua[40] on the plain of Jericho appeared apparently in the guise of a warrior, since Joshua asks him, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?"

Sometimes they hide themselves under some form which has resemblance to the human shape, like him who appeared to Moses in the burning bush,[41] and who led the Israelites in the desert in the form of a cloud, dense and dark during the day, but luminous at night.[42] The Psalmist tells us that God makes his angels serve as a piercing wind and a burning fire, to execute his orders.[43]

The cherubim, so often spoken of in the Scriptures, and who are described as serving for a throne to the majesty of God, were hieroglyphical figures, something like the sphinx of the Egyptians; those which are described in Ezekiel[44] are like animals composed of the figure of a man, having the wings of an eagle, the feet of an ox; their heads were composed of the face of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle, two of their wings were spread towards their fellows, and two others covered their body; they were brilliant as burning coals, as lighted lamps, as the fiery heavens when they send forth the lightning's flash—they were terrible to look upon.

The one who appeared to Daniel[45] was different from those we have just described; he was in the shape of a man, covered with a linen garment, and round his loins a girdle of very fine gold; his body was shining as a chrysolite, his face as a flash of lightning; his eyes darted fire like a lamp; his arms and all the lower part of his body was like brass melted in the furnace; his voice was loud as that of a multitude of people.

St. John, in the Apocalypse,[46] saw around the throne of the Most High four animals, which doubtless were four angels; they were covered with eyes before and behind. The first resembled a lion, the second an ox, the third had the form of a man, and the fourth was like an eagle with outspread wings; each of them had six wings, and they never ceased to cry night and day, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

The angel who was placed at the entrance of the terrestrial paradise was armed with a shining sword,[47] as well as the one who appeared to Balaam,[48] and who threatened, or was near killing both himself and his ass; and so, apparently, was the one who showed himself to Joshua in the plain of Jericho,[49] and the angel who appeared to David, ready to smite all Israel. The angel Raphael guided the young Tobias to Rages under the human form of a traveler.[50] The angel who was seen by the holy woman at the sepulchre of the Saviour, who overthrew the large stone which closed the mouth of the tomb, and who was seated upon it, had a countenance which shone like lightning, and garments white as snow.[51]

In the Acts of the Apostles,[52] the angel who extricated them from prison, and told them to go boldly and preach Jesus Christ in the temple, also appeared to them in a human form. The manner in which he delivered them from the dungeon is quite miraculous; for the chief priests having commanded that they should appear before them, those who were sent found the prison securely closed, the guards wide awake; but having caused the doors to be opened, they found the dungeon empty. How could an angel without opening, or any fracture of the doors, thus extricate men from prison without either the guards or the jailer perceiving anything of the matter? The thing is beyond any known powers of nature; but it is no more impossible than to see our Saviour, after his resurrection, invested with flesh and bones, as he himself says, come forth from his sepulchre, without opening it, and without breaking the seals,[53] enter the chamber wherein were the apostles without opening the doors,[54] and speak to the disciples going to Emmaus without making himself known to them; then, after having opened their eyes, disappear and become invisible.[55] During the forty days that he remained upon earth till his ascension, he drank and ate with them, he spoke to them, he appeared to them; but he showed himself only to those witnesses who were pre-ordained by the eternal Father to bear testimony to his resurrection.

The angel who appeared to the centurion Cornelius, a pagan, but fearing God, answered his questions, and discovered to him unknown things, which things came to pass.

Sometimes the angels, without assuming any visible shape, give proofs of their presence by intelligible voices, by inspirations, by sensible effects, by dreams, or by revelations of things unknown, whether future or past. Sometimes by striking with blindness, or infusing a spirit of uncertainty or stupidity in the minds of those whom God wills should feel the effects of his wrath; for instance, it is said in the Scriptures that the Israelites heard no distinct speech, and beheld no form on Horeb when God spoke to Moses and gave him the Law.[56]

The angel who might have killed Balaam's ass was not at first perceived by the prophet;[57] Daniel was the only one who beheld the angel Gabriel, who revealed to him the mystery of the great empires which were to succeed each other.[58]

When the Lord spoke for the first time to Samuel, and predicted to him the evils which he would inflict on the family of the high-priest Eli, the young prophet saw no visible form; he only heard a voice, which he at first mistook for that of the high-priest Eli, not being yet accustomed to distinguish the voice of God from that of a man.

The angels who guided Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah were at first perceived under a human form by the inhabitants of the city; but afterwards these same angels struck the men with blindness, and thus prevented them from finding the door of Lot's house, into which they would have entered by force.

Thus, then, angels do not always appear under a visible or sensible form, nor in a figure uniformly the same; but they give proofs of their presence by an infinity of different ways—by inspirations, by voices, by prodigies, by miraculous effects, by predictions of the future, and other things hidden and impenetrable to the human mind.

St. Cyprian relates that an African bishop, falling ill during the persecution, earnestly requested to have the viaticum administered to him; at the same time he saw, as it were, a young man, with a majestic air, and shining with such extraordinary lustre that the eyes of mortals could not have beheld him without terror; nevertheless, the bishop was not alarmed. This angel said to him, angrily, and in a menacing tone, "You fear to suffer. You do not wish to leave this world. What would you have me do for you?" (or "What can I do for you?") The good bishop comprehended that these words alike regarded him and the other Christians who feared persecution and death. The bishop talked to them, encouraged them, and exhorted them to arm themselves with patience to support the tortures with which they were threatened. He received the communion, and died in peace. We shall find in different histories an infinite number of other apparitions of angels under a human form.


[40] Josh. v. 29.

[41] Exod. iii. 3, 44.

[42] Exod. xiii. xiv.

[43] Psalm civ. 4.

[44] Ezek. i. 4, 6.

[45] Dan. x. 5.

[46] Rev. iv. 7, 8.

[47] Gen. iii. 24.

[48] Numb. xxii. 22, 23.

[49] 1 Chron. xxi. 16.

[50] Tobit v. 5.

[51] Matt. xxviii. 3.

[52] Acts ii.

[53] Matt. xxviii. 1, 2.

[54] John xix. 20.

[55] Luke xxiii. 15-17, &c.

[56] Deut. iv. 15.

[57] Numb. xii. 22, 23.

[58] Dan. x. 7, 8.



After what we have just related from the books of the Old and New Testament, it cannot be disavowed that the Jews in general, the apostles, the Christians, and their disciples have commonly believed in the apparitions of good angels. The Sadducees, who denied the existence and the apparition of angels, were commonly considered by the Jews as heretics, and as supporting an erroneous doctrine. Jesus Christ refutes them in the Gospel. The Jews of our days believe literally what is related in the Old Testament, concerning the angels who appeared to Abraham, Lot, and other patriarchs. It was the belief of the Pharisees and of the apostles in the time of our Saviour, as may be seen by the writings of the apostles and by the whole of the Gospel.

The Mahometans believe, as do the Jews and Christians, that good angels appear to men sometimes under a human form; that they appeared to Abraham and Lot; that they punished the inhabitants of Sodom; that the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mahomet, and revealed to him all that is laid down in his Koran: that the genii are of a middle nature, between man and angel;[59] that they eat, drink, beget children; that they die, and can foresee things to come. In consequence of this principle or idea, they believe that there are male and female genii; that the males, whom the Persians call by the name of Dives, are bad, very ugly, and mischievous, making war against the Peris, who are the females. The Rabbis will have it that these genii were born of Adam alone, without any concurrence of his wife Eve, or of any other woman, and that they are what we call ignis fatuii (or wandering lights).

The antiquity of these opinions touching the corporality of angels appears in several old writers, who, deceived by the apocryphal book which passes under the name of the Book of Enoch, have explained of the angels what is said in Genesis,[60] "That the children of God, having seen the daughters of men, fell in love with their beauty, wedded them, and begot giants of them." Several of the ancient Fathers[61] have adopted this opinion, which is now given up by everybody, with the exception of some new writers, who desire to revive the idea of the corporality of angels, demons, and souls—an opinion which is absolutely incompatible with that of the Catholic church, which holds that angels are of a nature entirely distinct from matter.

I acknowledge that, according to their system, the affair of apparitions could be more easily explained; it is easier to conceive that a corporeal substance should appear, and render itself visible to our eyes, than a substance purely spiritual; but this is not the place to reason on a philosophical question, on which different hypotheses could be freely grounded, and to choose that which should explain these appearances in the most plausible manner, even though it answer in the most satisfactory manner the question asked, and the objections formed against the facts, and against the proposed manner of stating them.

The question is resolved, and the matter decided. The church and the Catholic schools hold that angels, demons, and reasonable souls, are disengaged from all matter; the same church and the same school hold it as certain that good and bad angels, and souls separated from the body, sometimes appear by the will and with the permission of God: there we must stop; as to the manner of explaining these apparitions, we must, without losing sight of the certain principle of the immateriality of these substances, explain them according to the analogy of the Christian and Catholic faith, acknowledged sincerely that in this matter there are certain depths which we cannot sound, and confine our mind and information within the limits of that obedience which we owe to the authority of the church, that can neither err nor deceive us.

The apparitions of good angels and of guardian angels are frequently mentioned in the Old as in the New Testament. When the Apostle St. Peter had left the prison by the assistance of an angel, and went and knocked at the door where the brethren were, they believed that it was his angel and not himself who knocked.[62] And when Cornelius the Centurion prayed to God in his own house, an angel (apparently his good angel) appeared to him, and told him to send and fetch Peter, who was then at Joppa.[63]

St. Paul desires that at church no woman should appear among them without her face being veiled, because of the angels;[64] doubtless from respect to the good angels who presided in these assemblies. The same St. Paul reassures those who were with him in danger of almost inevitable shipwreck, by telling them that his angel had appeared to him[65] and assured him that they should arrive safe at the end of their voyage.

In the Old Testament, we likewise read of several apparitions of angels, which can hardly be explained but as of guardian angels; for instance, the one who appeared to Hagar in the wilderness, and commanded her to return and submit herself to Sarah her mistress;[66] and the angel who appeared to Abraham, as he was about to immolate Isaac his son, and told him that God was satisfied with his obedience;[67] and when the same Abraham sent his servant Eleazer into Mesopotamia, to ask for a wife for his son Isaac, he told him that the God of heaven, who had promised to give him the land of Canaan, would send his angel[68] to dispose all things according to his wishes. Examples of similar apparitions of tutelary angels, derived from the Old Testament, might here be multiplied, but the circumstance does not require a greater number of proofs.

Under the new dispensation, the apparitions of good angels, of guardian spirits, are not less frequent in most authentic stories; there are few saints to whom God has not granted similar favors: we may cite, in particular, St. Frances, a Roman lady of the sixteenth century, who saw her guardian angel, and he talked to her, instructed her, and corrected her.


[59] D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. Perith. Dives, 785. Idem, 243, p. 85.

[60] Gen. vi. 2.

[61] Joseph. Antiq. lib. i. c. 4. Philo, De Gigantibus. Justin. Apol. Turtul. de Anima. Vide Commentatores in Gen. iv.

[62] Acts xii. 15.

[63] Acts x. 2, 3.

[64] 1 Cor. xi. 10.

[65] Acts xxvii. 21, 22.

[66] Gen. xvi. 9.

[67] Gen. xxii. 11, 17.

[68] Gen. xxiv. 7.



Jamblichus, a disciple of Porphyry,[69] has treated the matter of genii and their apparition more profoundly than any other author of antiquity. It would seem, to hear him discourse, that he knew both the genii and their qualities, and that he had with them the most intimate and continual converse. He affirms that our eyes are delighted by the appearance of the gods, that the apparitions of the archangels are terrible; those of angels are milder; but when demons and heroes appear, they inspire terror; the archontes, who preside over this world, cause at the same time an impression of grief and fear. The apparition of souls is not quite so disagreeable as that of heroes. In the appearance of the gods there is order and mildness, confusion and disorder in that of demons, and tumult in that of the archontes.

When the gods show themselves, it seems as if the heavens, the sun and moon, were all about to be annihilated; one would think that the earth could not support their presence. On the appearance of an archangel, there is an earthquake in every part of the world; it is preceded by a stronger light than that which accompanies the apparition of the angels; at the appearance of a demon it is less strong, and diminishes still more when it is a hero who shows himself.

The apparitions of the gods are very luminous; those of angels and archangels less so; those of demons are dark, but less dark than those of heroes. The archontes, who preside over the brightest things in this world, are luminous; but those which are occupied only with what is material, are dark. When souls appear, they resemble a shade. He continues his description of these apparitions, and enters into tiresome details on the subject; one would say, to hear him, that that there was a most intimate and habitual connection between the gods, the angels, the demons, and the souls separated from the body, and himself. But all this is only the work of his imagination; he knew no more than any other concerning a matter which is above the reach of man's understanding. He had never seen any apparitions of gods or heroes, or archontes; unless we say that there are veritable demons which sometimes appear to men. But to discern them one from the other, as Jamblichus pretends to do, is mere illusion.

The Greeks and Romans, like the Hebrews and Christians, acknowledged two sorts of genii, some good and beneficent, the others bad, and causing evil. The ancients even believed that every one of us received at our birth a good and an evil genius; the former procured us happiness and prosperity, the latter engaged us in unfortunate enterprises, inspired us with unruly desires, and cast us into the worst misfortunes. They assigned genii, not only to every person, but also to every house, every city, and every province.[70] These genii are considered as good, beneficent,[71] and worthy of the worship of those who invoke them. They were represented sometimes under the form of a serpent, sometimes as a child or a youth. Flowers, incense, cakes, and wine were offered to them.[72] Men swore by the names of the genii.[73] It was a great crime to perjure one's self after having sworn by the genius of the emperor, says Tertullian;[74] Citius apud vos per omnes Deos, quam per unicum Genium Caesaris perjuratur.

We often see on medals the inscription, GENIO POPULI ROMANI; and when the Romans landed in a country, they failed not to salute and adore its genius, and to offer him sacrifices.[75] In short, there was neither kingdom, nor province, nor town, nor house, nor door, nor edifice, whether public or private, which had not its genius.[76]

We have seen above what Jamblichus informs us concerning apparitions of the gods, genii, good and bad angels, heroes, and the archontes who preside over the government of the world.

Homer, the most ancient of Greek writers, and the most celebrated theologian of Paganism, relates several apparitions both of gods and heroes, and also of the dead. In the Odyssey,[77] he represents Ulysses going to consult the sorcerer Tiresias; and this diviner having prepared a grave or trench full of blood to evoke the manes, Ulysses draws his sword to prevent them from coming to drink this blood, for which they thirst; but which they were not allowed to taste before they had answered the questions put to them. They believed also that the souls of the dead could not rest, and that they wandered around their dead bodies so long as the corpse remained uninhumed.

Even after they were interred, food was offered them; above everything honey was given, as if leaving their tomb they came to taste what was offered them.[78] They were persuaded that the demons loved the smoke of sacrifices, melody, the blood of victims, and intercourse with women; that they were attached for a time to certain spots and certain edifices which they infested. They believed that souls separated from the gross and terrestrial body, preserved after death one more subtile and elastic, having the form of that they had quitted; that these bodies were luminous, and like the stars; that they retained an inclination for those things which they had loved during their life on earth, and that often they appeared gliding around their tombs.

To bring back all this to the matter here treated of, that is to say, to the appearance of good angels, we may note, that in the same manner that we attach to the apparitions of good angels the idea of tutelary spirits of kingdoms, provinces, and nations, and of each of us in particular—as, for instance, the Prince of the kingdom of Persia, or the angel of that nation, who resisted the archangel Gabriel during twenty-one days, as we read in Daniel;[79] the angel of Macedonia, who appeared to St. Paul,[80] and of whom we have spoken before; the archangel St. Michael, who is considered as the chief of the people of God and the armies of Israel;[81] and the guardian angels deputed by God to guide us and guard us all the days of our life—so we may say that the Greeks and Romans, being Gentiles, believed that certain sorts of spirits, which they imagined were good and beneficent, protected their kingdoms, provinces, towns, and private houses.

They paid them a superstitious and idolatrous worship, as to domestic divinities; they invoked them, offered them a kind of sacrifice and offerings of incense, cakes, honey, and wine, &c.—but not bloody sacrifices.[82]

The Platonicians taught that carnal and voluptuous men could not see their genii, because their mind was not sufficiently pure, nor enough disengaged from sensual things; but that men who were wise, moderate, and temperate, and who applied themselves to serious and sublime subjects, could see them; as Socrates, for instance, who had his familiar genius, whom he consulted, to whose advice he listened, and whom he beheld, at least with the eyes of the mind.

If the oracles of Greece and other countries are reckoned in the number of apparitions of bad spirits, we may also recollect the good spirits who have announced things to come, and have assisted the prophets and inspired persons, whether in the Old Testament or the New. The angel Gabriel was sent to Daniel[83] to instruct him concerning the vision of the four great monarchies, and the accomplishment of the seventy weeks, which were to put an end to the captivity. The prophet Zechariah says expressly that the angel who appeared unto him[84] revealed to him what he must say—he repeats it in five or six places; St. John, in the Apocalypse,[85] says the same thing, that God had sent his angel to inspire him with what he was to say to the Churches. Elsewhere[86] he again makes mention of the angel who talked with him, and who took in his presence the dimensions of the heavenly Jerusalem. And again, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews,[87] "If what has been predicted by the angels may pass for certain."

From all we have just said, it results that the apparitions of good angels are not only possible, but also very real; that they have often appeared, and under diverse forms; that the Hebrews, Christians, Mahometans, Greeks, and Romans have believed in them; that when they have not sensibly appeared, they have given proofs of their presence in several different ways. We shall examine elsewhere how we can explain the kind of apparition, whether of good or bad angels, or souls separated from the body.


[69] Jamblic. lib. ii. cap. 3 & 5.

[70] "Quod te per Genium, dextramque Deosque Penates, Obsecro et obtestor."—Horat. lib. i. Epist. 7. 94.

——"Dum cunctis supplex advolveris aris, Ei mitem Genium Domini praesentis adoras." Stac. lib. v. Syl. I. 73.

[71] Antiquitee expliquee, tom. i.

[72] Perseus, Satire ii.

[73] Senec. Epist. 12.

[74] Tertull. Apol. c. 23.

[75] "Troja vale, rapimur, clamant; dant oscula terrae Troades."—Ovid. Metam., lib. xiii. 421.

[76] "Quamquam cur Genium Romae, mihi fingitis unum? Cum portis, domibus; thermis, stabulis soleatis, Assignare suos Genios?"—Prudent. contra Symmach.

[77] Odyss. XI. sub. fin. Vid. Horat. lib. i. Satire 7, &c.

[78] Virgil. AEneid. I. 6. August. Serm. 15. de SS. et Quaest. 5. in Deut. i. 5 c. 43. Vide Spencer, de Leg. Hebraeor. Ritual.

[79] Dan. x. 13.

[80] Acts xvi. 9.

[81] Josh. v. 13. Dan. x. 13, 21; xii. 1. Judg. v. 6. Rev. xii. 7

[82] Forsitan quis quaerat, quid causae sit, ut merum fundendum sit genio, non hostiam faciendam putaverint.... Scilicet ut die natali munus annale genio solverent, manum a coede ac sanguine abstinerent.—Censorin. de Die Natali, c. 2. Vide Taffin de Anno Saecul.

[83] Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21.

[84] Zech. i. 10, 13, 14, 19; ii. 3, 4; iv. 1, 4, 5; v. 5, 10.

[85] Rev. i. 1.

[86] Rev. x. 8, 9, &c.; xi. 1, 2, 3, &c.

[87] Heb. ii. 2.



The books of the Old and New Testament, together with sacred and profane history, are full of relations of the apparition of bad spirits. The first, the most famous, and the most fatal apparition of Satan, is that of the appearance of this evil spirit to Eve, the first woman,[88] in the form of a serpent, which animal served as the instrument of that seducing demon in order to deceive her and induce her to sin. Since that time he has always chosen to appear under that form rather than any other; so in Scripture he is often termed the Old Serpent;[89] and it is said that the infernal dragon fought against the woman who figured or represented the church; that the archangel St. Michael vanquished him and cast him down from heaven. He has often appeared to the servants of God in the form of a dragon, and he has caused himself to be adored by unbelievers in this form, in a great number of places: at Babylon, for instance, they worshiped a living dragon,[90] which Daniel killed by making it swallow a ball or bolus, composed of ingredients of a mortally poisonous nature. The serpent was consecrated to Apollo, the god of physic and of oracles; and the pagans had a sort of divination by means of serpents, which they called Ophiomantia.

The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans worshiped serpents, and regarded them as divine.[91] They brought to Rome the serpent of Epidaurus, to which they paid divine honors. The Egyptians considered vipers as divinities.[92] The Israelites adored the brazen serpent elevated by Moses in the desert,[93] and which was in after times broken in pieces by the holy king Hezekiah.[94]

St. Augustine[95] assures us that the Manichaeans regarded the serpent as the Christ, and said that this animal had opened the eyes of Adam and Eve by the bad counsel which he gave them. We almost always see the form of the serpent in the magical figures[96] Akraxas and Abrachadabra, which were held in veneration among the Basilidian heretics, who, like the Manichaeans, acknowledge two principles in all things—the one good, the other bad; Abraxas in Hebrew signifies that bad principle, or the father of evil; ab-ra-achad-ab-ra, the father of evil, the sole father of evil, or the only bad principle.

St. Augustine[97] remarks that no animal has been more subject to the effects of enchantment and magic than the serpent, as if to punish him for having seduced the first woman by his imposture.

However, the demon has usually assumed the human form when he would tempt mankind; it was thus that he appeared to Jesus Christ in the desert;[98] that he tempted him and told him to change the stones into bread that he might satisfy his hunger; that he transported him, the Saviour, to the highest pinnacle of the temple, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and offered him the enjoyment of them.

The angel who wrestled with Jacob at Peniel,[99] on his return from his journey into Mesopotamia, was a bad angel, according to some ancient writers; others, as Severus Sulpicius[100] and some Rabbis, have thought that it was the angel of Esau, who had come to combat with Jacob; but the greater number believe that it was a good angel. And would Jacob have asked him for his blessing had he deemed him a bad angel? But however that fact may be taken, it is not doubtful that the demon has appeared in a human form.

Several stories, both ancient and modern, are related which inform us that the demon has appeared to those whom he wished to seduce, or who have been so unhappy as to invoke his aid, or make a compact with him, as a man taller than the common stature, dressed in black, and with a rough ungracious manner; making a thousand fine promises to those to whom he appeared, but which promises were always deceitful, and never followed by a real effect. I can even believe that they beheld what existed only in their own confused and deranged ideas.

At Molsheim,[101] in the chapel of St. Ignatius in the Jesuits' church, may be seen a celebrated inscription, which contains the history of a young German gentleman, named Michael Louis, of the house of Boubenhoren, who, having been sent by his parents when very young to the court of the Duke of Lorraine, to learn the French language, lost all his money at cards: reduced to despair, he resolved to give himself to the demon, if that bad spirit would or could give him some good money; for he doubted that he would only furnish him with counterfeit and bad coin. As he was meditating on this idea, suddenly he beheld before him a youth of his own age, well made, well dressed, who, having asked him the cause of his uneasiness, presented him with a handful of money, and told him to try if it was good. He desired him to meet him at that place the next day.

Michael returned to his companions, who were still at play, and not only regained all the money he had lost, but won all that of his companions. Then he went in search of his demon, who asked as his reward three drops of his blood, which he received in an acorn-cup; after which, presenting a pen to Michael, he desired him to write what he should dictate. He then dictated some unknown words, which he made him write on two different bits of paper,[102] one of which remained in the possession of the demon, the other was inserted in Michael's arm, at the same place whence the demon had drawn the blood. And the demon said to him, "I engage myself to serve you during seven years, after which you will unreservedly belong to me."

The young man consented to this, though with a feeling of horror; and the demon never failed to appear to him day and night under various forms, and taught him many unknown and curious things, but which always tended to evil. The fatal termination of the seven years was approaching, and the young man was then about twenty years old. He returned to his father's house, when the demon to whom he had given himself inspired him with the idea of poisoning his father and mother, of setting fire to their chateau, and then killing himself. He tried to commit all these crimes, but God did not allow him to succeed in these attempts. The gun with which he wished to kill himself missed fire twice, and the poison did not take effect on his father and mother.

More and more uneasy, he revealed to some of his father's domestics the miserable state in which he found himself, and entreated them to procure him some succor. At the same time the demon seized him, and bent his body back, so that he was near breaking his bones. His mother, who had adopted the heresy of Suenfeld, and had induced her son to follow it also, not finding in her sect any help against the demon that possessed or obseded him, was constrained to place him in the hands of some monks. But he soon withdrew from them and retired to Islade, from whence he was brought back to Molsheim by his brother, a canon of Wurzburg, who put him again into the hands of fathers of the society. Then it was that the demon made still more violent efforts against him, appearing to him in the form of ferocious animals. One day, amongst others, the demon, wearing the form of a hairy savage, threw on the ground a schedule, or compact, different from the true one which he had extorted from the young man, to try by means of this false appearance to withdraw him from the hands of those who kept him, and prevent his making his general confession. At last they fixed on the 20th of October, 1603, as the day for being in the Chapel of St. Ignatius, and to cause to be brought the true schedule containing the compact made with the demon. The young man there made profession of the Catholic and orthodox faith, renounced the demon, and received the holy sacrament. Then, uttering horrible cries, he said he saw as it were two he-goats of immeasurable size, which, holding up their forefeet (standing on their hindlegs), held between their claws, each one separately, one of the schedules or agreements. But as soon as the exorcisms were begun, and the priests invoked the name of St. Ignatius, the two he-goats fled away, and there came from the left arm or hand of the young man, almost without pain, and without leaving any scar, the compact, which fell at the feet of the exorcist.

There now wanted only the second compact, which had remained in the power of the demon. They recommenced their exorcisms, and invoked St. Ignatius, and promised to say a mass in honor of the saint; at the same moment there appeared a tall stork, deformed and badly made, who let fall the second schedule from his beak, and they found it on the altar.

The pope, Paul V., caused information of the truth of these facts to be taken by the commissionary-deputies, M. Adam, Suffragan of Strasburg, and George, Abbot of Altorf, who were juridically interrogated, and who affirmed that the deliverance of this young man was principally due, after God, to the intercession of St. Ignatius.

The same story is related rather more at length in Bartoli's Life of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Melancthon owns[103] that he has seen several spectres, and conversed with them several times; and Jerome Cardan affirms that his father, Fassius Cardanus, saw demons whenever he pleased, apparently in a human form. Bad spirits sometimes appear also under the figure of a lion, a dog, or a cat, or some other animal—as a bull, a horse, or a raven; for the pretended sorcerers and sorceresses relate that at the (witches') Sabbath he is seen under several different forms of men, animals, and birds; whether he takes the shape of these animals, or whether he makes use of the animals themselves as instruments to deceive or harm, or whether he simply affects the senses and imagination of those whom he has fascinated and who give themselves to him; for in all the appearances of the demon we must always be on our guard, and mistrust his stratagems and malice. St. Peter[104] tells us that Satan is always roaming round about us, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And St. Paul, in more places than one,[105] warns us to mistrust the snares of the devil, and to hold ourselves on our guard against him.

Sulpicius Severus,[106] in the life of St. Martin, relates a few examples of persons who were deceived by apparitions of the demon, who transformed himself into an angel of light. A young man of very high rank, and who was afterwards elevated to the priesthood, having devoted himself to God in a monastery, imagined that he held converse with angels; and as they would not believe him, he said that the following night God would give him a white robe, with which he would appear amongst them. In fact, at midnight the monastery was shaken as with an earthquake, the cell of the young man was all brilliant with light, and they heard a noise like that of many persons going to and fro, and speaking.

After that, coming forth from his cell, he showed to the brothers (of the convent) the tunic with which he was clothed: it was made of a stuff of admirable whiteness, shining as purple, and so extraordinarily fine in texture that they had never seen anything like it, and could not tell from what substance it was woven.

They passed the rest of the night in singing psalms of thanksgiving, and in the morning they wished to conduct him to St. Martin. He resisted as much as he could, saying that he had been expressly forbidden to appear in his presence. As they were pressing him to come, the tunic vanished, which led every one present to suppose that the whole thing was an illusion of the demon.

Another solitary suffered himself to be persuaded that he was Eli; another that he was St. John the Evangelist. One day, the demon wished to mislead St. Martin himself, appearing to him, having on a royal robe, wearing on his head a rich diadem, ornamented with gold and precious stones, golden sandals, and all the apparel of a great prince. Addressing himself to Martin, he said to him, "Acknowledge me, Martin; I am Jesus Christ, who, wishing to descend to earth, have resolved to manifest myself to thee first of all." St. Martin remained silent at first, fearing some snare; and the phantom having repeated to him that he was the Christ, Martin replied: "My Lord Jesus Christ did not say that he should come clothed in purple and decked with diamonds. I shall not acknowledge him unless he appears in that same form in which he suffered death, and unless I see the marks of his cross and passion."

At these words the demon disappeared; and Sulpicius Severus affirms that he relates this as he heard it from the mouth of St. Martin himself. A little before this, he says that Satan showed himself to him sometimes under the form of Jupiter, or Mercury, or Venus, or Minerva; and sometimes he was to reproach Martin greatly because, by baptism, he had converted and regenerated so many great sinners. But the saint despised him, drove him away by the sign of the cross, and answered him that baptism and repentance effaced all sins in those who were sincere converts.

All this proves the malice, envy, and fraud of the devil against the saints, on the one side; and on the other, the weakness and uselessness of his efforts against the true servants of God, and that it is but too true he often appears in a visible form.

In the histories of the saints we sometimes see that he hides himself under the form of a woman, to tempt pious hermits and lead them into evil; sometimes in the form of a traveler, a priest, a monk, or an angel of light,[107] to mislead simple minded people, and cause them to err; for everything suits his purpose, provided he can exercise his malice and hatred against men.

When Satan appeared before the Lord in the midst of his holy angels, and asked permission of God to tempt Job,[108] and try his patience through everything that was dearest to that holy man, he doubtless presented himself in his natural state, simply as a spirit, but full of rage against the saints, and in all the deformity of his sin and rebellion.

But when he says, in the Books of Kings, that he will be a lying spirit in the mouth of false prophets,[109] and that God allows him to put in force his ill-will, we must not imagine that he shows himself corporeally to the eyes of the false prophets of King Ahab; he only inspired the falsehood in their minds—they believed it, and persuaded the king of the same. Amongst the visible appearances of Satan may be placed mortalities, wars, tempests, public and private calamities, which God sends upon nations, provinces, cities, and families, whom the Almighty causes to feel the terrible effects of his wrath and just vengeance. Thus the exterminating angel kills the first-born of the Egyptians.[110] The same angel strikes with death the inhabitants of the guilty cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.[111] He does the same with Onan, who committed an abominable action.[112] The wicked man seeks only division and quarrels, says the sage; and the cruel angel shall be sent against him.[113] And the Psalmist, speaking of the plagues which the Lord inflicted upon Egypt, says that he sent evil angels among them.

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