[This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850, revised and edited by D. J. McAdam, 2010. Copyright as such.]
But the possibility, the verity and reality of the obsessions and possessions of the devil are indubitable, and proved by the Scripture and by the authority of the Church, the Fathers, the Jews, and the pagans. Jesus Christ and the apostles believed this truth, and taught it publicly. The Savior gives us a proof of his mission that he cures the possessed; he refutes the Pharisees, who asserted that he expelled the demons only in the name of Beelzebub; and maintains that he expels them by the virtue of God. He speaks to the demons; he threatens them, and puts them to silence. Are these equivocal marks of the reality of obsessions? The apostles do the same, as did the early Christians their disciples. All this was done before the eyes of the heathen, who could not deny it, but who eluded the force and evidence of these things, by attributing this power to other demons, or to certain divinities, more powerful than ordinary demons; as if the kingdom of Satan were divided, and the evil spirit could act against himself, or as if there were any collusion between Jesus Christ and the demons whose empire he had just destroyed.
The seventy disciples on their return from their mission came to Jesus Christ to give him an account of it, and tell him that the demons themselves are obedient to them. After his resurrection, the Savior promises to his apostles that they shall work miracles in his name, that they shall cast out devils, and receive the gift of tongues. All which was literally fulfilled.
The exorcisms used at all times in the Church against the demons are another proof of the reality of possessions; they show that at all times the Church and her ministers have believed them to be true and real, since they have always practiced these exorcisms. The ancient fathers defied the heathen to produce a demoniac before the Christians; they pride themselves on curing them, and expelling the demon. The Jewish exorcists employed even the name of Jesus Christ to cure demoniacs; they found it efficacious in producing this effect; it is true that sometimes they employed the name of Solomon, and some charms said to have been invented by that prince, or roots and herbs to which they attributed the same virtues, like as a clever physician by the secret of his art can cure a hypochondriac or a maniac, or a man strongly persuaded that he is possessed by the devil, or as a wise confessor will restore the mind of a person disturbed by remorse, and agitated by the reflection of his sins, or the fear of hell. But we are speaking now of real possessions and obsessions which are cured only by the power of God, by the name of Jesus Christ, and by exorcisms. The son of Sceva, the Jewish priest, having undertaken to expel a devil in the name of Jesus Christ, whom Paul preached, the demoniac threw himself upon him, and would have strangled him, saying that he knew Jesus Christ, and Paul, but that for him, he feared him not. We must then distinguish well between possessions and possessions, exorcists and exorcists. There may be found demoniacs who counterfeit the possessed, to excite compassion and obtain alms. There may even be exorcists who abuse the name and power of Jesus Christ to deceive the ignorant; and how do I know that there are not even impostors to be found, who would place pretended possessed persons in the way, in order to pretend to cure them, and thus gain a reputation?
I do not enter into longer details on this matter; I have treated it formerly in a particular dissertation on the subject, printed apart with other dissertations on Scripture, and I have therein replied to the objections which were raised on this subject.
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