[This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850.]
Supposing the principle which we established as indubitable at the commencement of this dissertation—that God alone is the sovereign arbitrator of life and death; that he alone can give life to men, and restore it to them after he has taken it from them—the question that we here propose appears unseasonable and absolutely frivolous, since it concerns a supposition notoriously impossible.
Nevertheless, as some learned men have believed that the demon has power to restore life, and to preserve from corruption, for a time, certain bodies which he makes use of to delude mankind and frighten them, as it happens with the ghosts of Hungary, we shall treat of it in this place, and relate a remarkable instance furnished by Monsieur Nicholas Remy, procurer-general of Lorraine, and which occurred in his own time; that is to say, in 1581, at Dalhem, a village situated between the Moselle and the Sare. A goatherd of this village, named Pierron, a married man and father of a boy, conceived a violent passion for a girl of the village. One day, when his thoughts were occupied with this young girl, she appeared to him in the fields, or the demon in her likeness. Pierron declared his love to her; she promised to reply to it on condition that he would give himself up to her, and obey her in all things. Pierron consented to this, and consummated his abominable passion with this specter. Some time afterwards, Abrahel, which was the name assumed by the demon, asked of him as a pledge of his love, that he would sacrifice to her his only son, and gave him an apple for this boy to eat, who, on tasting it, fell down dead. The father and mother, in despair at this fatal and to both unexpected accident, uttered lamentations, and were inconsolable.
Abrahel appeared again to the goatherd, and promised to restore the child to life if the father would ask this favor of him by paying him the kind of adoration due only to God. The peasant knelt down, worshiped Abrahel, and immediately the boy began to revive. He opened his eyes; they warmed him, chafed his limbs, and at last he began to walk and to speak. He was the same as before, only thinner, paler, and more languid; his eyes heavy and sunken, his movements slower and less free, his mind duller and more stupid. At the end of a year, the demon that had animated him quitted him with a great noise; the youth fell backwards, and his body, which was fetid and stunk insupportably, was dragged with a hook out of his father's house, and buried in a field without any ceremony.
This event was reported at Nancy, and examined into by the magistrates, who informed themselves exactly of the circumstance, heard the witnesses, and found that the thing was such as has been related. For the rest, the story does not say how the peasant was punished, nor whether he was so at all. Perhaps his crime with the demon could not be proved; to that there was probably no witness. In regard to the death of his son, it was difficult to prove that he was the cause of it.
Procopius, in his secret history of the Emperor Justinian, seriously asserts that he is persuaded, as well as several other persons, that that emperor was a demon incarnate. He says the same thing of the Empress Theodora his wife. Josephus, the Jewish historian, says that the souls of the wicked enter the bodies of the possessed, whom they torment, and cause to act and speak.
We see by St. Chrysostom that in his time many Christians believed that the spirits of persons who died a violent death were changed into demons, and that the magicians made use of the spirit of a child they had killed for their magical operations, and to discover the future. St. Philastrius places among heretics those persons who believed that the souls of worthless men were changed into demons.
According to the system of these authors, the demon might have entered into the body of the child of the shepherd Pierron, moved it and maintained it in a kind of life whilst his body was uncorrupted and the organs unchanged; it was not the soul of the boy which animated it, but the demon which replaced his spirit.
Philo believed that as there are good and bad angels, there are also good and bad souls or spirits, and that the souls which descend into the bodies bring to them their own good or bad qualities.
We see by the Gospel that the Jews of the time of our Savior believed that one man could be animated by several souls. Herod imagined that the spirit of John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, had entered into Jesus Christ, and worked miracles in him. Others fancied that Jesus Christ was animated by the spirit of Elias, or of Jeremiah, or some other of the ancient prophets.
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