QUESTION VII. CONTINUED . . . .
The Method of Preaching to the People about Infatuate Love.
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Concerning what has been said above, a preacher asks this question: Is it a
Catholic view to maintain that witches can infect the minds of men with an
inordinate love of strange women, and so inflame their hearts that by no
shame or punishment, by no words or actions can they be forced to desist
from such love; and that similarly they can stir up such hatred between
married couples that they are unable in any way to perform the procreant
functions of marriage; so that, indeed, in the untimely silence of night,
they cover great distances in search of mistresses and irregular lovers?
As to this matter, he may, if he wishes, find some arguments in the
preceding question. Otherwise, it need only be said that there are
difficulties in those questions on account of love and hate. For these
passions invade the will, which is in its own act always free, and not to be
coerced by and creature except God, Who can govern it. From which it is
clear that neither the devil nor a witch working by his power can force a
man's will to love or to hate. Again, since the will, like the understanding,
exists subjectively in the soul, and He alone can enter into the soul Who
created it, therefore this question presents many difficulties in the matter
of unravelling the truth of it.
But notwithstanding this, we must speak first of infatuation and hatred,
and secondly about the bewitching of the generative power. And as to the
first, although the devil cannot directly operate upon the understanding and
will of man, yet, according to all the learned Theologians in the 2nd
Book of Sentences, on the subject of the power of the devil, he can
act upon the body, or upon the faculties belonging to or allied to the body,
whether they be the inner or outer perceptions. This is authoritatively and
reasonably proved in the preceding question, if one cares to look; but if
not, there is the authority of Job ii: The Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he
is in thine hand. That is, Job is in his power. But this was only in regard
to the body, for He would not give his soul into his power. Wherefore He
said: Only save thou his life; that is, keep it unharmed. And that power He
gave him over his body, He gave also over all the faculties allied to the
body, which are the four or five outer and inner perceptions, namely Common
Sense, Fancy or Imagination, Thought, and Memory.
If no other instance can be given, let us take an example from pigs and
sheep. For pigs know by instinct their way home. And by natural instinct
sheep distinguish a wolf from a dog, knowing one to be the enemy and the
other the friend of their nature.
Consequently, since all our reasoned knowledge comes from the senses (for
Aristotle in the 2nd book On the Mind says that an intelligent man
must take notice of phantasms), therefore the devil can affect the inner
fancy, and darken the understanding. And this is not to act immediately upon
the mind, but through the medium of phantasms. Because, also, nothing is
loved until it is known.
As many examples as are needed could be taken from gold, which the miser
loves because he knows its power, etc. Therefore when the understanding is
darkened, the will also is darkened in its affectations. Moreover, the devil
can effect this either with or without the help of a witch; and such things
can even happen through mere want of foresight. But we shall give examples
of each kind. For, as it is said in S. James i: Every man is tempted
when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath
conceived, it bringeth forth sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Again, when Schechem saw Dinah going out to see the daughters of the land,
he loved her, and seized her, and lay with her, and his soul clave unto her
(Genesis xxxiv). And according to the gloss: When the infirm mind
forsakes its own business, and takes heed, like Dinah, of that of other
people, it is led astray by habit, and becomes one with the sinners.
Secondly, that this lust can arise apart from witchcraft, and simply through
the temptation of the devil, is shown as follows. For we read in II.
Samuel xiii that Ammon desperately loved his own sister Tamar, and
yearned greatly for her, so that he grew ill for love for her. But no one
would fall into so great and foul a crime unless he were totally corrupt,
and grievously tempted by the devil. Wherefore the gloss says: This is a
warning to us, and was permitted by God that we should always be on guard
lest vice should get the mastery over us, and the prince of sin, who
promises a false peace to those who are in danger, finding us ready should
slay us unaware.
Mention is made of this sort of passion in the Book of the Holy Fathers,
where it says that, however far they withdrew themselves from all carnal
lusts, yet they were sometimes tempted by the love of women more than could
possibly be believed. Wherefore in II. Corinthians xii the Apostle
says: There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan
to buffet me. On which the gloss says: It was given to me to be tempted by
lust. But he who is tempted and does not yield is no sinner, but it is a
matter for the exercise of virtue. And by temptation is understood that of
the devil, not that of the flesh, which is always venial in a little sin.
The preacher could find many examples if he pleased.
The third point, that infatuate love proceeds from the evil works of the
devil, has been discussed above; and we speak of this temptation.
It may be asked how it is possible to tell whether such inordinate love
proceeds not from the devil but only from a witch. And the answer is that
there are many ways. First, if the man tempted has a beautiful and honest
wife, or the converse in the case of a woman, etc. Secondly, if the
judgement of the reason is so chained up that by no blows or words or deeds,
or even by shame, can he be made to desist from that lust. And thirdly,
in especial, when he cannot contain himself, but that he is at times
unexpectedly, and in spite of the roughness of the journey, forced to be
carried through great distances (as anyone can learn from the confessions
of such men), both by day and by night. For as S. John Chrysostom says on
Matthew xx concerning the ass upon which Christ rode: When the devil
possesses the will of a man with sin, he carries him at his will where he
pleases. Giving the example of a ship in the sea without a rudder, which the
winds carry about at their pleasure; and of a man firmly sitting a horse;
and a King having dominion over a tyrant. And fourthly, it is shown by the
fact that they are sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly carried away, and at
times transformed, so that nothing can prevent it. It is shown also by the
hideousness of their very appearance.
And before we proceed to the further question of witches, touching the
powers of generation, which follows, we must first resolve the arguments.
Here Follow the Resolutions of the Arguments.
But for the answer to the arguments: for the first, that the will of man is
ruled by God, just as his understanding is by a good Angel, the solution is
clear. For the intellect is enlightened by a good Angel only to the
knowledge of the truth, from which proceeds the love of that which is good,
for the True and the Actual are the same thing. So also the intellect can
be darkened by a bad angel in the knowledge of what appear to be true; and
this through a confusion of the ideas and images received and stored by the
perceptions, from which comes an inordinate love of the apparently good,
such as bodily delectation, which such men seek after.
As to the second argument, that the devil cannot effect physical changes in
the body; this is in part true, and in part not, and this is with reference
to three sorts of mutation. For the devil cannot change the body in such a
way that its whole shape and appearance is altered (which is rather to be
called a new production than a change) without the help of some agent, or
with the permission of God. But if we speak of a change in quality, as in
the matter of sickness and health, as has been shown before, he can inflict
upon the body various diseases, even to taking away the reason, and so can
cause inordinate hatred and love.
And a third kind of mutation can be added, which is when a good or bad angel
enters into the body, in the same way that we say that God alone is able to
enter into the soul, that is, the essence of life. But when we speak of an
angel, especially a bad angel, entering the body, as in the case of an
obsession, he does not enter beyond the limits of the essence of the body;
for in this way only God the Creator can enter, Who gave it to be as it
were the intrinsic operation of life. But the devil is said to enter the
body when he effects something about the body: for when he works, there he
is, as S. John Damascene says. And then he works within the bounds of
corporeal matter, but not within the very essence of the body.
For this it appears that the body has two properties, matter and spirit. And
this is like the distinction between the apparent and the real. Therefore
when devils enter the body, they enter the power belonging to the bodily
organs, and can so create impressions on those powers. And so it happens
that through such operations and impressions a phantasm is projected before
the understanding, such as the seeing of colours, as it is said in the 3rd
book de Anima. And so this impression penetrates also to the will. For
the will takes its conception of what is good from the intellect, according
as the intellect accepts something as good either in truth or in appearance.
As for the third argument: a knowledge of the thoughts of the heart may
come about in two ways, either from seeing their efforts or by reading
them actually in the intellect. In the first way they can be known not only
by an angel, but even by man, although it will be shown that an angel has
more skill in this matter. For sometimes the thoughts are made evident, not
only by some external action, but even by a change in the countenance. And
doctors also can discern some affections of the mind through the pulse.
Wherefore S. Augustine says (de Diuin. Daem.) that sometimes it is
very easy to tell a man's disposition, not only from his words, but from his
very thoughts, which are signs of the soul expressed in the body; although
in his book of Retractions he says that no definite rule can be laid down
how this is done; and I think that he is reluctant to admit that the devil
can know the inner thoughts of the heart.
From another point of view, the thoughts of the intellect and the
affectations of the will can be known only by God. For the will of a
rational creature is subject only to God, and He alone can work in it Who
is its first cause and ultimate end. Therefore that which is in the will, or
depends only on the will, is known only to God. Moreover, it is manifest
what depends only on the will, if one considers things by their resultant
actions. For when a man has the quality of knowledge, and the understanding
that comes from it, he uses it when he wills.
It is proved, then, from what has been said, that a spirit cannot enter the
soul, therefore he cannot, naturally, see what is in the mind, especially
what is in the inner depths of the soul. Wherefore, when it is argued that
the devil cannot see the thoughts of the heart, and therefore cannot move
the hearts of men to love or hatred, it is answered that he does learn men's
thoughts through their visible effects, and is more skilful in this matter
than man; and so by subtle ways he can move men to love and hatred, by
creating phantasms and darkening the intellect.
And this must be said by way of comfort to relieve the apprehensions of the
virtuous: that when the sensible exterior and bodily change which
accompanied men's thoughts is so vague and indeterminate that the devil
cannot by it arrive at any certain knowledge of the thoughts, especially
when the virtuous at times take a little leisure from study and good works,
he molests them then chiefly in dreams; as is known by experience. But when
the physical effect of thought is strong and determinate, the devil can
know by a man's appearance whether his thoughts are turned towards envy or
luxury. But we find that it must be left an open question whether he can by
this means have certain knowledge in respect of all circumstances, as such
and such; although it is true that he can know such circumstances from their
And fourthly: although to enter the soul belongs only to God, yet it is
possible for a good or bad angel to enter the body and the faculties allied
to the body, in the manner which has been shown above. And in this way
hatred and love can be aroused in such a man. For the other argument, that
the powers of the spirit are greater than the physical powers, which
themselves cannot be changed by the devil, in so far as they can be
hastened or retarded in the flesh and bone. But he does this, not for the
sake of impeding or stimulating the inner or outer perceptions, but for his
own gain; since he derives his chief benefit by the deception of the senses
and the delusion of the intellect.
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This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
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