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rather of a more easy passage out of the world. Wherein I marvel at the indulgence of some doctors, that would either excuse or mince the matter : for, although I cannot blame that natural disposition in any creature, to shrink from pain; and to affect, what it may, the shifting from extremity of misery : yet, for a Christian so to do it, as to draw a greater mischief to himself and an apparent danger to his soul, it cannot justly bear any other than a hard construction. For, thus to carve himself of justice, is manifestly to violate lawful authority; and, while he would avoid a short pain, to incur the shame and sin of a self-executioner.
But if in that way, wherein the doom of death is passed, a man can give himself ease or speed of dissolution; as when a martyr, being adjudged to the fire, uses the help of a bag of gunpowder to expedite his passage; it cannot be, any way, judged unlawful. The sentence is obeyed: the execution is accordingly done: and, if the patient have found a shorter way to that end which is appointed him, what offence can this be either to the law or to the judge ?
THE THIRD DECADE.
CASES OF PIETY AND RELIGION.
CASE I. Whether, upon the appearance of Evil Spirits, we muy hold discourse
. with them; and how we may demean ourselves concerning them. That there are Evil Spirits is no less certain, than that there are men. None but a Sadducee or an Atheist can make question of it.
That Evil Spirits have given certain proofs of their presence with men, both in visible apparitions, and in the possessions of places and bodies, is no less manifest, than that we have souls whereby they are discerned.
Their appearances are not wont to be without grievous inconveniences; whether in respect of their dreadfulness, or their dangerous insinuations.
It is the great mercy of the God of Spirits, that he hath bound up the Evil
Angels in the chains of darkness ; restraining them from those frequent and horrible appearances, which they would otherwise make, to the terror and consternation of his weak creatures.
Whensoever it pleaseth the Almighty, for his own holy purposes, so far to loosen or lengthen the chains of Wicked Spirits, as to suffer them to exhibit themselves in some assumed shapes unto men, it cannot but mainly import us, to know what our deportment should be concerning them. Doubtless, to hold any fair terms of commerce or peace, much more of amity and familiarity, with them, were no better than to profess ourselves enemies to God : for such an irreconcileable hostility there is, betwixt the Holy God and these Malignant Spirits, that there can be no place for a neutrality in our relation to them; so as he is an absolute enemy to the one, that bids not open defiance to the other,
As, therefore, we are wont, by our silence, to signify our heart. burning against any person; in that we abide not to speak unto those, whom we hate: so must we carry ourselves towards Evil Spirits. And, if they begin with us, as that Devil did in the Serpent with Eve, how unsafe and deadly it may be to hold chat with them, appears in that first example of their onset; the issue whereof brought misery and mortality upon all mankind : yet then, were our first parents in their innocency, and all earthly perfection; we, now so tainted with sin, that Satan hath a kind of party in us, even before his actual temptations.
As, therefore, we are wont to say, That the fort that yields to parley is half won; so may it prove with us, if we shall give way to hold discourse with Wicked Spirits, who are far too crafty for us to deal withal: having so evident an advantage of us; both in na. ture, we being flesh and blood, they spiritual wickednesses; and, in duration and experience, we being but of yesterday, they coetaneous with the world and time itself.
If you tell me, that our Saviour himself interchanged some speeches with the spirits whom he ejected, it is easily answered, that this act of his was never intended for our imitation : since his omnipotence was no way obnoxious to their malice; our weakness is.
I cannot, therefore, but marvel at the boldness of those men, who, professing no small degree of holiness, have dared to hold familiar talk with Evil Spirits, and could be content to make use of them for intelligence: as the famous Jesuit in our time, Pere Cotton: who, having provided fifty questions to be propounded to a demoniac, some concerning matters of learning, some other matters of state concerning the then French King and the King of Eng. land; and having them written down under his own hand to that purpose; being questioned concerning it, auswered, that be had Jicence from Rome to tender those demands : as I received it, apon a certain relation, from the learned Dr. Tilenus, with many preg. nant and undeniable circumstances, which I need not here espress
. Although this need not seem strange to me, when I find that Navarre determines plainly, that “When Evil Spirits are present, not by our invocation, as in possessed bodies, it is lawful to move questions to them, so it be without our prayers to them or pact with them, for the profit of others : yea, thus to confer with them, even out of vanity or curiosity, is but venial at the most *.” Thus he: with whom Lessius goes so far, as to say, Licitum est petere verbo è Diabolo, ut nocere desinat, &c. “ It is lawful to move the Devil in words, to cease from hurting, so it be not done by way of deprecation, or in a friendly compliance, but by way of indignation t:" a distinction, which I confess past the capacity of my apprehension; who have not the wit to conceive, how a man can move without implying a kind of suit, and how any suit can consist with an indignation.
It savours yet of a more heroical spirit, which the Church of Rome professeth to teach and practise, the ejection of Evil Spirits by an imperious way of command; having committed to her exorcists a
power of adjuration, to which the worst of Devils must be subject :
power, more easily 'arrogated, than really exercised. Indeed, this overruling authority was eminently conspicuous; not only in the selected twelve, and the seventy disciples of Christ who returned from their embassy with joy (Luke x. 17.) that the devils were subject to them through his name, but even in their holy successors of the Primitive Church, while the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost were sensibly poured out upon men: but, if they will be still challenging the same power, why do they not as well lay claim to the speaking of strange tongues? to the supernatural cure of all diseases? to the treading on serpents and scorpions ? to the drinking of poisons without an antidote? Mark xvi. 17, 18: and, if they must needs acknowledge these faculties above their reach, why do they presume to divide the Spirit from itself? arrogating to themselves the power of the greatest works, while they are professedly defective in the least. Wherein, surely, as they are the true successors of the sons of Sceva, who would be adjuring of devils by the name of Jesus, whom St. Paul preached : so they can look for no other entertainment, than they found from those demoniacs; which was to be baffled, and beaten, and wounded; Acts xix. 13-16.
Especially, if we consider the foul superstition and gross magic, which they make use of in their conjurations ; by their own vainlydevised exorcisms, feoffing a supernatural virtue upon drugs and herbs, for the dispelling and staving-off all Evil Spirits.
Because the books are not perhaps obvious, take but a taste in one or two.
In the “ Treasure of Exorcisms *,” there is this following Benediction of Rue, to be put into a hallowed paper, and to be carried about you and smelled at for the repelling of the invasion of devils t: “I conjure thee, O thou creature of Rue, by the Holy Lord, the Father, the Almighty and Eternal God, which bringeth forth grass in the mountains, and herbs for the use of man; and which, by the Apostle of thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, hast taught, that the weak should eat herbs: I conjure thee, that thou be blessed and sanctified to retain this invisible power and virtue, that, whosoever shall carry thee about him, or shall smell to thee, may be free from all the uncleanness of diabolical infatuation; and that all devils and witchcrafts may speedily fall from him, as herbs or grass of the earth : through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, which shall come to judge the quick and the dead, and the world by fire." The like is prescribed to be done to the seeds of Hypericon, or St. John's Wort.
Add to this the horrible fumigation to this purpose, as it follows:
* “ Thesaurus Exorcismorum, atque Conjurationum Terribilium, &c.” Tract. “ Dispersio Dæmonum,” Fratris Valerü Polydori Patavini, Ord. Minorum Conventualium.
+ Tit. Applicabile. 3.“ Ruiæ in charta benedictà super se portanda ei olfaciend.a, ad omncm invasionem diabolicam repellendam."
“ I conjure thee, O thou creature of galbanum, sulphur, assafoe. tida, aristolochium, hypericon, and rue, by the Living God, by the True God, &c. by Jesus Christ, &c. that thou be for our de. fence; and that thou he made a perpetual fumigation, exorcised, blessed, and consecrated to the safety of us, and of all faithful Christians; and that thou be a perpetual punishment to all Malignant Spirits, and a most vehement and infinite fire unto them, more than the fire and brimstone of hell is to the Infernal Spirits there, &c."
But what do I trouble you with these dreadful incantations, whereof the allowed books of conjuration are full ?
To these I may add their application of Holy Water, wherein they place not a little confidence, which, saith Lessius t, receives the force from the prayers of the Church, by the means whereof it comes to pass, that it is assisted with divine power; which, as it were, rests upon it, and joios with it, to the averting of all the infestations of the Devil.
But, fain would I learn, where the Church hath any warrant from God to make any such suit; where any overture of promise, to have it granted. What is their prayer, without faith ? and what is their faith, without a word ?
But I leave these men, together with their crosses and ceremonies and holy relics wherein they put great trust in these cases, to their better informed thoughts. God open their eyes, that they may see their errors !
For us, what our demeanour should be, in case of the appearance or molestation of Evil Spirits, we cannot desire a better pattern than St. Paul : his example is our all-sufficient instruction; who, when the messenger of Satan was sent to buffet him, fell presently to his prayers; and instantly besought God thrice, that it might depart from him ; 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8. Lo, he, that could command Evil Spirits out of the bodily possession of others, when it comes to his own turn to be buffeted by them, betakes himself to his prayers to that God, whose grace was sufficient for him ; v. 9. To them, must we still have our recourse. If we thus resist the Devil he shall fee from us; James iv. 7.
In the primitive times, those, that could command, needed not to sue; and, therefore, fasting and prayer was a higher, as a more laborious, work, to this purpose, in the disciples, than their imperative course of ejection : but, for us, we, that have no power to bid, must pray; pray, not to those ill guests that they would depart, not to the Blessed Virgin or our Angel-keeper that they would guard us from them, but to the Great God of Heaven, who commands them to their chains. This is a sure and everlasting remedy : this is the only certain way to their foil, and our deliverance and vietory.
* Applicabile. 15. Tit. “Profumigatio horribilis, ejusque vulgata benedictio" # Less. ubi supra: Dubit 5,