The third effect of this sacrilegious oblation is to inculcate an habitual inclination to cast spells upon men, animals, and the fruits of the earth. This is shown by S. Thomas in the 2nd Book, quest, 108, where he speaks of temporal punishment, how some are punished for the sins of others. For he says that, bodily speaking, sons are part of their fathers' possessions, and servants and animals belong to their masters; therefore when a man is punished in all his possessions, it follows that often the sons suffer for the fathers.
And this is quite a different matter from what has been said about God visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. For there it is a question of those who imitate their fathers' sins, but here we speak of those who suffer instead of their fathers, when they do not imitate their sins by committing them in fact, but only inherit the results of their sins. For in this way the son born to David in adultery died very soon; and the animals of the Amalekites were ordered to be killed. Nevertheless, there is much mystery in all this.
Taking into consideration all that we have said, we may well conclude that such children are always, up to the end of their lives, predisposed to the perpetration of witchcraft. For just as God sanctifies that which is dedicated to Him, as is proved by the deeds of the Saints, when parents offer to God the fruit which they have generated; so also the devil does not cease to infect with evil that which is offered to him. Many examples can be found in the Old and New Testaments. For so were many of the Patriarchs and Prophets, such as Isaac, Samuel, and Samson; and so were Alexis and Nicolas, and many more, guided by much grace to a holy life.
Finally, we know from experience that the daughters of witches are always suspected of similar practises, as imitators of their mothers' crimes; and that indeed the whole of a witch's progeny is infected. And the reason for this and for all that has been said before is, that according to their pact with the devil, they always have to leave behind them and carefully instruct a survivor, so that they may fulfil their vow to do all they can to increase the number of witches. For how else could it happen, as it has very often been found, that tender girls of eight or ten years have raised up tempests and hailstorms, unless they had been dedicated to the devil under such a pact by their mothers. For the children could not do such things of themselves by abjuring the Faith, which is how all adult witches have to begin, since they have no knowledge of any single article of the Faith. We will recount an example of such a child.
In the duchy of Swabia a certain farmer went to his fields with his little daughter, hardly eight years old, to look at his crops, and began complaining about the drought, saying: Alas! when will it rain? The girl heard him, and in the simplicity of her heart said: Father, if you want it to rain, I can soon make it come. And her father said to her: What? Do you know how to make it rain? And the girl answered: I can make it rain, and I can make hailstorms and tempests too. And the father asked: Who taught you? And she answered: My mother did, but she told me not to tell anybody. Then the father asked: How did she teach you? And she answered: She sent me to a master who will do anything I ask at any time. But her father said: Have you ever seen him? And she said: I have sometimes seen men coming in and out to my mother; and when I asked her who they were, she told that they were our masters to whom she had given me, and that they were powerful and rich patrons. The father was terrified, and asked her if she could raise a hailstorm then. And the girl said: Yes, if I had a little water. Then he led the girl by the hand to a stream, and said: Do it, but only on our land. Then the girl put her hand in the water and stirred it in the name of her master, as her mother had taught her; and behold! the rain fell only on that land. Seeing this, the father said: Make it hail now, but only on one of our fields. And when the girl had done this, the father was convinced by the evidence, and accused his wife before the judge. And the wife was taken and convicted and burned; but the daughter was reconciled and solemnly dedicated to God, since which hour she could no more work these spells and charms.
This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
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