Peter Lombard on Magic and Demons

Here follows some excerpts from Book II of Peter Lombard’s Sentences taken from The Franciscan Archive, and also some of my own notes interspersed between the quotations.

Distinction VI, Chapter V.

Whether all the demons are in this gloomy air, or whether some (are) in Hell

“Moreover there is customarily asked, whether they are all in this gloomy air, or whether some are already in Hell.  —  That some of the demons descend unto Hell every day, is very likely [verisimile], they who lead souls down to that place [illuc] to be tortured [cruciandas], and that some are always in that place [illic], perhaps at alternate times, is not far from the truth, they who detain and torture [cruciant] souls in that place.  But that the souls of the wicked descend to that place and are punished in that place, is established from this, that Christ descended to the lower (regions), so that He might lead forth the just, who where held there.  For if the just descended to that place, much more (have) the unjust; and just as authority has handed down, when He lead forth the just, He left the iniquitous there.  For Hell stung (Him), it did not absorb (Him).”

Distinction VI, Chapter VI.

On the power of Lucifer

“But of Lucifer certain (authors) are of the opinion, that he was bound [religatus est] there and that he does not now have access to tempt us, because there is read in the Apocalypse: When a thousand years will have been consummated, Satan will be loosed from his prison, and he shall go forth and seduce the nations; which will be in the last time [novissimo tempore] of the Antichrist, when there will be such great tribulation, that, if it is possible [si fieri potest], even the Elect will be shaken [moveantur].  Whom they say (has been) bound there from that time, in which he tempted Christ in the desert and/or in (His) Passion, and (in which) he was conquered by Him.  They think that he tempted and conquered man, and second God, but that he was conquered by Him, and for that reason (was) bound in Hell.  —  But others think, that from that (time in) which he fell in virtue of the magnitude of his sin, he was plunged [demersum] into that place.  —  But whether he was plunged into Hell, or not, it is believable, that he does not have the faculty to approach to us, which he will have in the time of the Antichrist; in which he will work [operabitur] fraudulently and violently, and for this reason, perhaps, it is said (that) then “he (is) going to be loosed”, because there will be given to him by God at that time, the power of tempting men, which he does not now have.”

Chapter VII explores the idea that saints once they have conquered a demon nullify that demon’s powers to tempt man:

Distinction VI, Chapter VII.

Whether demons, once conquered by the Saints, thereafter approach other (men)

“The power to tempt others also seems to have been taken away from the others, who were conquered by the Saints living in a just and virtuous manner [iuste et pudice].  Whence Origin says: « I think, sanely, that the Saints, fighting back against these inciters [incentores] and conquering (them), diminish [minuant] the army of demons, and (do so) as if [velut] to do away with [interimant] so very many of them; and that it is no longer allowed [nec ultra fas] to that spirit, who was conquered by any Saint living chastely and virtuously [caste et pudice], to fight again against another man ».  —  But certain (authors) think that this must be understood only of that vice, in which he was conquered, so that, if he tempts any holy man from pride and is conquered, that it is licit no more [ulterius non] for him to tempt him and/or another from pride.”

Before their confirmation of grace Angels could sin, and some did so and fell. But now they can’t.

Although Peter Lombard seems to say that they still have free will? Their grace means that their free will can no longer serve sin.

St. Isidore to be understood:  « The Angels, mutable by nature, are immutable by grace »

Likewise the demons are so hardened in vice that they cannot live well. Therefore angels and demons can’t change their characters for good or evil.

Chapter V of Distinction VII shows that Demons are very knowledgeable, especially regarding divination:

Distinction VII, Chapter V.

In what manners evil angels may know the truth of temporal things.

And though the evil angels have been hardened thus through malice, yet they have not been thoroughly deprived of a vivacious sense.  For, as (St.) Isidore (of Seville) hands down, demons are vigorous in [vigent] the threefold sharpness of (their) knowledge, namely, according to (their) subtlety of nature, (their) experience of times, (and) the revelation of superior7 spirits.  Of this (St.) Augustine also says:  « The evil spirits are permitted to know [noscere] certain truths concerning temporal things, partly by the subtlety of (their) sense, partly by (their) experience of times, more cunning on account of such a great length of life, partly from the Holy Angels, what they themselves learn from the Omnipotent God, revealing (this) to them at His command [iussu].  But sometimes the same abominable [nefandi] spirits even predict, as if divining, (the things) which they themselves are going to do ».

Distinction VII, Chapter VI.

That the arts of magic prevail by the virtue and knowledge of the Devil, which is theirs from God.

By whose knowledge and virtue the arts of magic are also exercised; yet to whom both knowledge and power has been given by God either to deceive the deceitful, and/or to warn the faithful, and/or to exercise and prove the patience of the just.  Wherefore (St.) Augustine in the third book On the Trinity says:  « I see what can / happen to infirm thought; namely, why even those miracles come to be by magical arts.  For the mages of Pharaoh made serpents and other (things).  But this is more to be admired, in what manner the power of the mages, which could make serpents, entirely failed, when [ubi] it came to the most minute flies, namely, sciniphs (ash flies):  by which third plague Egypt was slain.  In that (his) mages certainly failed, saying:  The Finger of God is here.  From which it is given to be understood, that indeed the arts of magic cannot prevail (to do) anything, whatever they can (do), through the very transgressor angels and powers of the air (who have been) thrust down from the habitation of that sublime Ether of purity into this lowest gloom, as into a prison for their own kind, unless power (had) been given (them) from above.  Moreover, (power) is either given (to them) to deceive the deceitful, just as unto the Egyptians — and it was even given unto the mages themselves, so that they might seem to be admired in the operation of their spirits, by whom they came to be damned — and/or to warn the faithful, lest they desire to work any such (miracle) for vainglory [pro magno]; on account of which (such miracles) have been handed down to us even in Scripture; and/or to exercise, prove and manifest the patience of the just ».

However, demons only have power of magic because God allows it:

Distinction VII, Chapter VII.

That the matter of visible things does not serve the evil angels at will.

« Not must it be thought, that this matter of visible things serves those transgressor angels at will [ad nutum], but rather as much as (it is) incommutable, it judges according to God (when to obey them), from Whom this power has been given ». [st augustine]

God and Angels can appear to men – although not in their own form – but a form given to them. Not clear if they took on a body of actual existence or formed their own bodies for this?

“let us hold this indubitably, that God in the appearance of His Essence has never appeared to mortals, just as He said to His household servant [famulo suo], Moses: Man shall not see Me, and live.  And in the Gospel of (St.) John there is read:  No one has ever seen God.  « For whatever is not mutable, that is not visible » « For that reason the Substance or Essence of God, since It is in no manner mutable, can in no manner be visible through its very Self.  “

Demons  take a corporal air form, which means they can suffer the pain of fire. Shadowy air.

Do Demons possess men? No they affect their souls with evil so that evil enters the soul of man:

Distinction VIII, Chapter IV.

In what manner demons are said “to enter” into men.

It also seems very worthy of consideration, whether the demons, whether they are either corporeal or incorporeal, substantially enter [intrent] into the bodies of men and slip into [illabantur] their souls; or whether they are said “to enter” for this reason, because they exercisethe effect of their malice there by God’s permission, by oppressing and vexing these, and/or drawing (them) into sin in virtue of their own will.  —  That they do go into [introeant] men and (when) expelled go forth from them, the Gospel openly declares, commemorating the demons (who) stepped into [ingressa] certain (persons) and (who were) ejected by Christ; but whether they had stepped into (them)  according to substance, or whether they are said “(to have) stepped into (them)” on account of the effect of evil, is not so thoroughly seen [perspicuum].  Moreover concerning this Gennadius in The Definitions of the Dogmas of the Church says:  « We do not believe that the demons through (their) energetic operation [energicam operationem] slip into souls substantially, but that they are united (to these) by the application and oppression (of their powers).  Moreover to glide into [illabi] a mind is possible to Him alone, who created (the mind), who according to nature [natura] is the incorporeal Subsistent One, capable of its making ».  —  Behold here he seems to insinuate, that the demons do not substantially slip and/or go into the hearts of men.  (St.) Bede (the Venerable) also on that passage of the Acts of the Apostles, where (St.) Peter says to Ananias:  Why has Satan temptedand filled full your heart? says:  « It must be noted, that nothing can fill full the mind of a man according to substance [iuxta substantiam] except the Creator Trinity, because the soul of those, which have been created, is only filled full according to the operation and instinct of the will.  On the other hand Satan fills full the heart of someone, not indeed by stepping into him and into his sense, nor by going into the entrance [aditum] of (his) heart. — if indeed this power belongs to God alone — but drawing the soul by a cunning and fraudulent deception into the effect of malice through the thoughts of and incentives of the vices, with which he is full.  Therefore Satan filled full the heart of Ananias not by entering, but by inserting the virus of his own malice ».  The same (says): « The unclean spirit, expelled by the flame of virtues from the hearts of the faithful, pours forth the venom of persecution against the doctors of the truth ».  —  By this authorities there is shown, that the demons do not enter the hearts of men substantially, but (are said “to enter” these) on account of the effect of malice (they induce in them), concerning which (hearts) they are said “to strike” [pelli], when they are not allowed to harm.”

There are nine orders of Angels. Some authors say that a tenth order will be made up of Men – maybe that men beatified (sainted?) may replace gaps in the nine orders of angels who fell with Lucifer?

Are the spirits Michael, Gabriel, Raphael individual angels or could be any angel yet fulfilling a certain role.

Just as the Devil has certain names depending on his role?

Every man has a good angel to guard him and an evil angel to exercise/tempt him.

Each angel looks after a number of men.

Angels said to live in beatitude – like saints. Do saints take on the same characteristics of angels? It’s not clear from Peter Lombard’s writing if this is the case or not.

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4 thoughts on “Peter Lombard on Magic and Demons”

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