Freethought Archives > Walter R. Cassels > Supernatural Religion

PART ONE

CHAPTER 4.

THE AGE OF MIRACLES

LET us now, however, proceed to examine the evidence for the reality of miracles, and to inquire whether they are supported by such an amount of testimony as can in any degree outweigh the reasons which, antecedently, seem to render them incredible. It is undeniable that belief in the miraculous has gradually been dispelled, and that, as a general rule, the only miracles which are now maintained are limited to brief and distant periods of time. Faith in their reality, once so comprehensive, does not, except amongst a certain class, extend beyond the miracles of the New Testament and a few of those of the Old, and the countless myriads of ecclesiastical and other miracles, for centuries devoutly and implicitly believed, are now commonly repudiated, and have sunk into discredit and contempt. The question is inevitably suggested how so much can be abandoned and the remnant still be upheld.

As an essential part of our inquiry into the value of the evidence for miracles, we must endeavour to ascertain whether those who are said to have witnessed the supposed miraculous occurrences were either competent to appreciate them aright, or likely to report them without exaggeration. For this purpose, we must consider what was known of the order of nature in the age in which miracles are said to have taken place, and what was the intellectual character of the people amongst whom they are reported to have been performed. Nothing is more rare, even amongst intelligent and cultivated men, than accuracy of observation and correctness of report, even in matters of sufficient importance to attract vivid attention, and in which there is no special interest unconsciously to bias the observer. It will scarcely be denied, however, that in persons of fervid imagination, and with a strong natural love of the marvellous, whose minds are not only unrestrained by specific knowledge, but predisposed by superstition towards false conclusions, the probability of inaccuracy and exaggeration is enormously increased. If we add to this such a disturbing element as religious excitement, inaccuracy, exaggeration, and extravagance are certain to occur. The effect of even one of these influences, religious feeling, in warping the judgment is admitted by one of the most uncompromising supporters of miracles. "It is doubtless the tendency of religious minds," says Newman, "to imagine mysteries and wonders where there are none -- and much more, where causes of awe really exist, will they unintentionally misstate, exaggerate, and embellish, when they set themselves to relate what they have witnessed or have heard"; and he adds: "And further, the imagination, as is well known, is a fruitful cause of apparent miracles." [56:1] We need not offer any evidence that the miracles which we have to examine were witnessed and reported by persons exposed to the effects of the strongest possible religious feeling and excitement, and our attention may, therefore, be more freely directed to the inquiry how far this influence was modified by other circumstances. Did the Jews at the time of Jesus possess such calmness of judgment and sobriety of imagination as to inspire us with any confidence in accounts of marvellous occurrences, unwitnessed except by them, and limited to their time, which contradict all knowledge and all experience? Were their minds sufficiently enlightened and free from superstition to warrant our attaching weight to their report of events of such an astounding nature? And were they themselves sufficiently impressed with the exceptional character of any apparent supernatural and miraculous interference with the order of nature?

Let an English historian and divine, who will be acknowledged as no prejudiced witness, bear testimony upon some of these points. "Nor is it less important," says Dean Milman, "throughout the early history of Christianity, to seize the spirit of the times. Events which appear to us so extraordinary that we can scarcely conceive that they should either fail in exciting a powerful sensation or ever be obliterated from the popular remembrance, in their own day might pass off as of little more than ordinary occurrence. During the whole life of Christ, and the early propagation of the religion, it must be borne in mind that they took place in an age, and among a people, which superstition had made so familiar with what were supposed to be preternatural events that wonders awakened no emotion, or were speedily superseded by some new demand on the ever-ready belief. The Jews of that period not only believed that the Supreme Being had the power of controlling the course of nature, but that the same influence was possessed by multitudes of subordinate spirits, both good and evil. Where the pious Christian of the present day would behold the direct agency of the Almighty, the Jews would invariably have interposed an angel as the author or ministerial agent in the wonderful transaction. Where the Christian moralist would condemn the fierce passion, the ungovernable lust, or the inhuman temper, the Jew discerned the workings of diabolical possession. Scarcely a malady was endured, or crime committed, which was not traced to the operation of one of these myriad daemons, who watched every opportunity of exercising their malice in the sufferings and the sins of men." [57:1]

Superstitious Character of the Jews
Another English divine, of certainly not less orthodoxy, but of much greater knowledge of Hebrew literature, bears similar testimony regarding the Jewish nation at the same period. "Not to be more tedious, therefore, in this matter" (regarding the Bath Kol, a Jewish superstition), "let two things only be observed: (1) That the nation, under the second Temple, was given to magical arts beyond measure; and (2) That it was given to an easiness of believing all manner of delusions beyond measure." [57:2] And in another place: "It is a disputable case, whether the Jewish nation were more mad with superstition in matters of religion, or with superstition in curious arts: (1) There was not a people upon earth that studied or attributed more to dreams than they. (2) There was hardly any people in the whole world that more used, or were more fond of, amulets, charms, mutterings, exorcisms, and all kinds of enchantments. We might here produce innumerable instances." [57:3] We shall presently see that these statements are far from being exaggerated.

No reader of the Old Testament [57:4] can fail to have been struck by the singularly credulous fickleness of the Jewish mind. Although claiming the title of the specially selected people of Jehovah, the Israelites exhibited a constant and inveterate tendency to forsake his service for the worship of other gods. The mighty "signs and wonders" which God is represented as incessantly working on their behalf, and in their sight, had apparently no effect upon them. The miraculous even then had, as it would seem, already lost all novelty, and ceased, according to the records, to excite more than mere passing astonishment. The leaders and prophets of Israel had a perpetual struggle to restrain the people from "following after" heathen deities, and whilst the burden of the prophets is one long denunciation of the idolatry into which the nation was incessantly falling, the verdict of the historical books upon the several kings and rulers of Israel proves how common it was, and how rare even the nominal service of Jehovah. At the best, the mind of the Jewish nation, only after long and slow progression, attained the idea of a perfect monotheism, but added to the belief in Jehovah the recognition of a host of other gods, over whom it merely gave him supremacy. [58:1] This is apparent even in the first commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"; and the necessity for such a law received its illustration from a people who are represented as actually worshipping the golden calf, made for them by the complaisant Aaron, during the very time that the great Decalogue was being written on the Mount by his colleague Moses. [58:2] It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that at a later period, and throughout patristic days, the gods of the Greeks and other heathen nations were so far gently treated that, although repudiated as deities, they were recognised as demons. In the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, where "idols" are spoken of in the Hebrew, the word is sometimes translated "demons"; as, for instance, Psalm 96:5 is rendered: "For all the gods of the nations are demons." [58:3] The same superstition is quite as clearly expressed in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul, for instance, speaking of things sacrificed to idols, says: "But (I say) that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I would not that ye should be partakers with demons. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons; ye cannot partake of the Lord's table, and of the table of demons." [58:4]

The apocryphal Book of Tobit affords some illustration of the opinions of the more enlightened Jews during the last century before the commencement of the Christian era. [59:1] The angel Raphael prescribes, as an infallible means of driving a demon out of man or woman so effectually that it should never more come back, fumigation with the heart and liver of a fish. [59:2] By this exorcism the demon Asmodeus, who, from love of Sara, the daughter of Raguel, has strangled seven husbands who attempted to marry her, [59:3] is overcome, and flies into "the uttermost parts of Egypt," where the angel binds him. [59:4] The belief in demons, and in the necessity of exorcism, is so complete that the author sees no incongruity in describing the angel Raphael, who has been sent, in answer to prayer, specially to help him, as instructing Tobias to adopt such means of subjecting demons. Raphael is described in this book as the angel of healing, [59:5] the office generally assigned to him by the Fathers. He is also represented as saying of himself that he is one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints to God. [59:6]

The Book of Enoch
There are many curious particulars regarding angels and demons in the Book of Enoch. This work, which is quoted by the author of the Epistle of Jude, [59:7] and by some of the Fathers, as inspired Scripture, was supposed by Tertullian to have survived the universal deluge, or to have been afterwards transmitted by means of Noah, the great-grandson of the author Enoch. [59:8] It may be assigned to about a century before Christ, but additions were made to the text, and more especially to its angelology, extending probably to after the commencement of our era. It undoubtedly represents views popularly prevailing about the epoch in which we are interested. The author not only relates the fall of the angels through love for the daughters of men, but gives the names of twenty-one of them and of their leaders; of whom Jequn was he who seduced the holy angels, and Ashbeêl it was who gave them evil counsel and corrupted them. [59:9] A third, Gadreêl, [59:10] was he who seduced Eve. He also taught to the children of men the use and manufacture of all murderous weapons, of coats of mail, shields, swords, and of all the implements of death. Another evil angel, named Pênêmuê, taught them many mysteries of wisdom. He instructed men in the art of writing with paper (chartês) and ink, by means of which, the author remarks, many fall into sin even to the present day. Kaodejâ, another evil angel, taught the human race all the wicked practices of spirits and demons, [60:1] and also magic and exorcism. [60:2] The offspring of the fallen angels and of the daughters of men were giants, whose height was 3,000 ells; [60:3] of these are the demons working evil upon earth. [60:4] Azazel taught men various arts: the making of bracelets and ornaments; the use of cosmetics, the way to beautify the eyebrows; precious stones, and all dye-stuffs and metals; whilst other wicked angels instructed them in all kinds of pernicious knowledge. [60:5] The elements and all the phenomena of nature are controlled and produced by the agency of angels. Uriel is the angel of thunder and earthquakes -- Raphael, of the spirits of men; Raguel is the angel who executes vengeance on the world and the stars; Michael is set over the best of mankind -- i.e., over the people of Israel; [60:6] Saraqâel, over the souls of the children of men who are misled by the spirits of sin; and Gabriel is over serpents and over Paradise, and over the Cherubim. [60:7] Enoch is shown the mystery of all the operations of nature and the action of the elements, and he describes the spirits which guide them and control the thunder and lightning and the winds; the spirit of the seas, who curbs them with his might, or tosses them forth and scatters them through the mountains of the earth; the spirit of hoar frost, and the spirit of hail, and the spirit of snow. There are, in fact, special spirits set over every phenomenon of nature-frost, thaw, mist, rain, light, and so on. [60:8] The heavens and the earth are filled with spirits. Raphael is the angel set over all the diseases and wounds of mankind, Gabriel over all powers, and Fanuel over the penitence and the hope of those who inherit eternal life. [60:9] The decree for the destruction of the human race goes forth from the presence of the Lord because men know all the mysteries of the angels, all the evil works of Satan, and all the secret might and power of those who practise the art of magic, and the power of conjuring and such arts. [60:10] The stars are represented as animated beings. Enoch sees seven stars bound together in space like great mountains, and flaming as with fire; and he inquires of the angel who leads him, on account of what sin they are so bound? Uriel informs him that they are stars which have transgressed the commands of the Highest God, and they are thus bound until ten thousand worlds, the number of the days of their transgression, shall be accomplished. [61:1] The belief that sun, moon, and stars were living entities possessed of souls was generally held by the Jews at the beginning of our era, along with Greek philosophers, and we shall presently see it expressed by the Fathers. Philo Judaeus considers the stars spiritual beings full of virtue and perfection, [61:2] and that to them is granted lordship over other heavenly bodies, not absolute, but as viceroys under the Supreme Being. [61:3] We find a similar view regarding the nature of the stars expressed in the Apocalypse, [61:4] and it constantly appears in the Talmud and Targums. An angel of the sun and moon is described in the Ascensio Isaiae[61:5]

Angelology of the Jews
We are able to obtain a full and minute conception of the belief regarding angels and demons and their influence over cosmical phenomena, as well as of other superstitions current amongst the Jews at the time of Jesus, from the Talmud, Targums, and other Rabbinical sources. We cannot, however, do more, here, than merely glance at these voluminous materials. The angels are perfectly pure spirits, without sin, and not visible to mortal eyes. When they come down to earth on any mission, they are clad in light and veiled in air. If, however, they remain longer than seven days on earth, they become so clogged with the earthly matter in which they have been immersed that they cannot again ascend to the upper heavens. [61:6] Their multitude is innumerable, [61:7] and new angels are every day created, who in succession praise God and make way for others. [61:8] The expression, "host of heaven," is a common one in the Old Testament, and the idea was developed into a heavenly army. The first Gospel represents Jesus as speaking of "more than twelve legions of angels." [61:9] Every angel has one particular duty to perform, and no more; thus of the three angels who appeared to Abraham, one was sent to announce that Sarah should have a son, the second to rescue Lot, and the third to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. [61:10] The angels serve God in the administration of the universe, and to special angels are assigned the different parts of nature. "There is not a thing in the world, not even a little herb, over which there is not an angel set, and everything happens according to the command of these appointed angels." [62:1] It will be remembered that the agency of angels is frequently introduced in the Old Testament and still more so in the Septuagint version, by alterations of the text. One notable case of such agency may be referred to, where the pestilence which is sent to punish David for numbering the people is said to be caused by an angel, whom David even sees. The Lord is represented as repenting of the evil, when the angel was stretching forth his hand against Jerusalem, and bidding him stay his hand after the angel had destroyed seventy thousand men by the pestilence. [62:2] This theory of disease has prevailed until comparatively recent times. The names of many of the superintending angels are given - as, for instance: Jehuel is set over fire, Michael over water, Jechiel over wild beasts, and Anpiel over birds. Over cattle Hariel is appointed, and Samniel over created things moving in the waters, and over the face of the earth; Messahnnahel over reptiles, Deliel over fish. Ruchiel is set over the winds, Gabriel over thunder and also over fire, and over the ripening of fruit; Nuriel over hail, Makturiel over rocks, Alpiel over fruit-bearing trees, Saroel over those which do not bear fruit, and Sandalfon over the human race; and under each of these there are subordinate angels. [62:3] It was believed that there were two angels of Death, one for those who died out of the land of Israel, who was an evil angel, called Samael (and at other times Satan, Asmodeus, etc.), and the other, who presided over the dead of the land of Israel, the holy angel Gabriel; and under these there was a host of evil spirits and angels. [62:4] We shall presently see how general this belief regarding angels was amongst the Fathers, but it is also expressed in the New Testament. In the Apocalypse there appears an angel who has power over fire, [62:5] and in another place four angels have power to hurt the earth and the sea. [62:6] The angels were likewise the instructors of men, and communicated knowledge to the Patriarchs. The angel Gabriel taught Joseph the seventy languages of the earth. [63:1] It appears, however, that there was one language -- the Syriac - which the angels do not understand, and for this reason men were not permitted to pray for things needful in that tongue. [63:2] Angels are appointed as princes over the seventy nations of the world; but the Jews consider the angels set over Gentile nations merely demons. [63:3] The Septuagint translation of Deuteronomy 32:8 introduces the statement into the Old Testament. Instead of the Most High, when he divided to the nations their inheritance, setting the bounds of the people "according to the number of the children of Israel," the passage becomes, "according to the number of the angels of God (kata arithmon angelôn Theou). The number of the nations was fixed at seventy, the number of the souls who went down into Egypt. [63:4] The Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 11:7:8, reads as follows "God spake to the seventy angels which stand before him: Come, let us go down and confound their language that they may not understand each other. And the word of the Lord appeared there (at Babel), with the seventy angels, according to the seventy nations, and each had the language of the people which was allotted to him, and the record of the writing in his hand, and scattered the nations from thence over the whole earth in seventy languages, so that the one did not understand what the other said." [63:5] Michael was the angel of the people of Israel, [63:6] and he is always set in the highest place amongst the angels, and often called the High Priest of Heaven. [63:7] It was believed that the angels of the nations fought in heaven when their allotted peoples made war on earth. We see an allusion to this in the Book of Daniel, [63:8] and in the Apocalypse there is "war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels." [63:9] The Jews of the time of Jesus not only held that there were angels set over the nations, but also that each individual had a guardian angel. [64:1] This belief appears in several places in the New Testament. For instance, Jesus is represented as saying of the children: "For I say unto you that their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." [64:2] Again, in the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter is delivered from prison by an angel and comes to the house of his friend, they will not believe the maid who had opened the gate and seen him, but say: "It is his angel" (ho angelos autou estin). [64:3] The passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews will likewise be remembered where it is said of the angels: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth for ministry on account of them who shall be heirs of salvation." [64:4] There was at the same time a singular belief that when any person went into the private closet the guardian angel remained at the door till he came out again, and in the Talmud a prayer is given for strength and help under the circumstances, and that the guardian angel may wait while the person is there. The reason why the angel does not enter is that such places are haunted by demons. [64:5]

Demonology of the Jews
The belief in demons at the time of Jesus was equally emphatic and comprehensive, and we need scarcely mention that the New Testament is full of references to them. [64:6] They are in the air, on earth, in the bodies of men and animals, and even at the bottom of the sea. [64:7] They are the offspring of the fallen angels who loved the daughters of men. [64:8] They have wings like the angels, and can fly from one end of heaven to another; they obtain a knowledge of the future, like the angels, by listening behind the veil of the Temple of God in heaven. [64:9] Their number is infinite. The earth is so full of them that if man had power to see he could not exist on account of them; there are more demons than men, and they are about as close as the earth thrown up out of a newly-made grave. [64:10] It is stated that each man has 10,000 demons at his right hand and 1,000 on his left, and the passage continues: "The crush on the Sabbath in the synagogue arises from them, also the dresses of the Rabbins become so soon old and torn through their rubbing; in like manner they cause the tottering of the feet. He who wishes to discover these spirits must take sifted ashes and strew them about his bed, and in the morning he will perceive their footprints upon them like a cock's tread. If anyone wish to see them, he must take the afterbirth of a black cat which has been littered by a first-born black cat, whose mother was also a first-birth, burn and reduce it to powder, and put some of it in his eyes, and he will see them." [65:1] Sometimes demons assume the form of a goat. Evil spirits fly chiefly during the darkness, for they are children of night. [65:2] For this reason the Talmud states that men are forbidden to greet anyone by night, lest it might be a devil, [65:3] or to go out alone even by day, but much more by night, into solitary places. [65:4] It was likewise forbidden for any man to sleep alone in a house, because anyone so doing would be seized by the she-devil Lilith and die. [65:5] Further, no man should drink water by night on account of the demon Schafriri, the angel of blindness. [65:6] An evil spirit descended on anyone going into a cemetery by night. [65:7] A necromancer is defined as one who fasts and lodges at night amongst tombs, in order that the evil spirit may come upon him. [65:8] Demons, however, take more especial delight in foul and offensive places, and an evil spirit inhabits every private closet in the world. [65:9] Demons haunt deserted places, ruins, graves, and certain kinds of trees. [65:10] We find indications of these superstitions throughout the Gospels. The possessed are represented as dwelling among the tombs and being driven by the unclean spirits into the wilderness, and the demons can find no rest in clean places. [65:11] Demons also frequented springs and fountain. [65:12] The episode of the angel who was said to descend at certain seasons and trouble the water of the pool of Bethesda, so that he who first stepped in was cured of whatever disease he had, may be mentioned here in passing, although the passage is not found in some of the older MSS. of the fourth Gospel, [66:1] and it is argued by some that it is a later interpolation. There were demons who hurt those who did not wash their hands before meat. "Shibta is an evil spirit which sits upon men's hands in the night, and if any touch his food with unwashen hands that spirit sits upon that food, and there is danger from it." [66:2] The demon Asmodeus is frequently called the king of the devils, [66:3] and it was believed that he tempted people to apostatise; he it was who enticed Noah into his drunkenness, and led Solomon into sin. [66:4] He is represented as alternately ascending to study in the school of the heavenly Jerusalem, and descending to study in the school of the earth. [66:5] The injury of the human race in every possible way was believed to be the chief delight of evil spirits. The Talmud and other Rabbinical writings are full of references to demoniacal possession; but we need not enter into details upon this point, as the New Testament itself presents sufficient evidence regarding it. Not only one evil spirit could enter into a body, but many took possession of the same individual. There are many instances mentioned in the Gospels, such as Mary Magdalene, "out of whom went seven demons" (daimonia hepta), [66:6] and the man whose name was Legion, because "many demons" (daimonia polla) were entered into him. [66:7] Demons likewise entered into the bodies of animals, and in the narrative to which we have just referred the demons, on being expelled from the man, request that they may be allowed to enter into the herd of swine, which, being permitted, "the demons went out of the man into the swine, and the herd ran violently down the cliff into the lake, and were drowned," [66:8] the evil spirits, as usual, taking pleasure only in the destruction and injury of man and beast. Besides "possession," all the diseases of men and animals were ascribed to the action of the devil and of demons. [67:1] In the Gospels, for instance, the woman with a spirit of infirmity, who was bowed together and could not lift herself up, is described as "bound by Satan," although the case was not one of demoniacal possession. [67:2]

Superstitions of the Jews
As might be expected from the universality of the belief in demons and their influence over the human race, the Jews at the time of Jesus occupied themselves much with the means of conjuring them. "There was hardly any people in the whole world," we have already heard from a great Hebrew scholar, "that more used, or were more fond of, amulets, charms, mutterings, exorcisms, and all kinds of enchantments." [67:3] Schoettgen bears similar testimony: "Caeterum judaeos magicis artibus admodum deditos esse, notissimum est." [67:4] All competent scholars are agreed upon this point, and the Talmud and Rabbinical writings are full of it. The exceeding prevalence of such arts alone proves the existence of the grossest ignorance and superstition. There are elaborate rules in the Talmud with regard to dreams, both as to how they are to be obtained and how interpreted. [67:5] Fasts were enjoined in order to secure good dreams, and these fasts were not only observed by the ignorant, but also by the principal Rabbins, and they were permitted even on the Sabbath, which was unlawful in other cases. [67:6] Indeed, the interpretation of dreams became a public profession. [67:7] It would be impossible within our limits to convey an adequate idea of the general superstition prevalent amongst Jews regarding things and actions lucky and unlucky, or the minute particulars in regard to every common act prescribed for safety against demons and evil influences of all kinds. Nothing was considered indifferent or too trifling, and the danger from the most trivial movements or omissions to which men were supposed to be exposed from the malignity of evil spirits was believed to be great. [68:1] Amulets, consisting of roots, or pieces of paper with charms written upon them, were hung round the neck of the sick, and considered efficacious for their cure. Charms, mutterings, and spells were commonly said over wounds, against unlucky meetings, to make people sleep, to heal diseases, and to avert enchantments. [68:2] The Talmud gives forms of enchantments against mad dogs, for instance, against the demon of blindness, and the like, as well as formulae for averting the evil eye, and mutterings over diseases. [68:3] So common was the practice of sorcery and magic that the Talmud enjoins "that the senior who is chosen into the council ought to be skilled in the arts of astrologers, jugglers, diviners, sorcerers, etc., that he may be able to judge of those who are guilty of the same." [68:4] Numerous cases are recorded of persons destroyed by means of sorcery. [68:5] The Jewish women were particularly addicted to sorcery and, indeed, the Talmud declares that they had generally fallen into it. [68:6] The New Testament bears abundant testimony to the prevalence of magic and exorcism at the time at which its books were written. In the Gospels, Jesus is represented as arguing with the Pharisees, who accuse him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils: "If I by Beelzebub cast out the demons (ta daimonia), by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, let them be your judges." [68:7]

Exorcism of Demons
The thoroughness and universality of the Jewish popular belief in demons and evil spirits and in the power of magic is exhibited in the ascription to Solomon, the monarch in whom the greatness and glory of the nation attained its culminating point, of the character of the powerful magician. The most effectual forms of invocation and exorcism and the most potent spells of magic were said to have been composed by him, and thus the grossest superstition of the nation acquired the sanction of their wisest king. Rabbinical writings are never weary of enlarging upon the magical power and knowledge of Solomon. He was represented as not only king of the whole earth, but also as reigning over devils and evil spirits, and having the power of expelling them from the bodies of men and animals, and also of delivering people to them. [68:8] It was, indeed, believed that the two demons Asa and Asael taught Solomon all wisdom and all arts. [69:1] The Talmud relates many instances of his power over evil spirits, and, amongst others, how he made them assist in building the Temple. Solomon desired to have the help of the worm Schamir in preparing the stones for the sacred building, and he conjured up a devil and a she-devil to inform him where Schamir was to be found. They referred him to Asmodeus, whom the King craftily captured, and by whom he was informed that Schamir is under the jurisdiction of the Prince of the Seas; and Asmodeus further told him how he might be secured. By his means the Temple was built, but, from the moment it was destroyed, Schamir for ever disappeared. [69:2] It was likewise believed that one of the Chambers of the second Temple was built by the magician called Parvah, by means of magic. [69:3] The Talmud narrates many stories of miracles performed by various Rabbins. [69:4]

The Jewish historian Josephus informs us that, among other gifts, God bestowed upon King Solomon knowledge of the way to expel demons, an art which is useful and salutary for mankind. He composed incantations by which diseases are cured, and he left behind him forms of exorcism by which demons may be so effectually expelled that they never return -- a method of cure, Josephus adds, which is of great efficacy to his own day. He himself had seen a countryman of his own, named Eliezer, release people possessed of devils in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian and his sons, and of his army. He put a ring containing one of the roots prescribed by Solomon to the nose of the demoniac, and drew the demon out by his nostrils; and, in the name of Solomon, and reciting one of his incantations, he adjured it to return no more. In order to demonstrate to the spectators that he had the power to cast out devils, Eliezer was accustomed to set a vessel full of water a little way off, and he commanded the demon as he left the body of the man to overturn it, by which means, says Josephus, the skill and wisdom of Solomon were made very manifest. [69:5] Jewish Rabbins generally were known as powerful exorcisers, practising the art according to the formulae of their great monarch. Justin Martyr reproaches his Jewish opponent, Tryphon, with the fact that his countrymen use the same art as the Gentiles, and exorcise with fumigations and charms (katadesmoi), and he shows the common belief in demoniacal influence when he asserts that, while Jewish exorcists cannot overcome demons by such means, or even by exorcising them in the name of their kings, prophets, or patriarchs, though he admits that they might do so if they adjured them in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, yet Christians at once subdued demons by exorcising them in the name of the Son of God. [70:1] The Jew and the Christian were quite agreed that demons were to be exorcised, and merely differed as to the formula of exorcism. Josephus gives an account of a root potent against evil spirits. It is called Baaras, and is flame-coloured, and in the evening sends out flashes like lightning. It is certain death to touch it, except under peculiar conditions. One mode of securing it is to dig down till the smaller part of the root is exposed, and then to attach the root to a dog's tail. When the dog tries to follow its master from the place, and pulls violently, the root is plucked up, and may then be safely handled; but the dog instantly dies, as the man would have done had he plucked it up himself. When the root is brought to sick people, it at once expels demons. [70:2] According to Josephus, demons are the spirits of the wicked dead; they enter into the bodies of the living, who die unless succour be speedily obtained. [70:3] This theory, however, was not general, demons being commonly considered the offspring of the fallen angels and of the daughters of men.

The Jewish historian gives a serious account of the preternatural portents which warned the Jews of the approaching fall of Jerusalem, and he laments the infatuation of the people, who disregarded these Divine denunciations. A star in the shape of a sword, and also a comet, stood over the doomed city for the space of a whole year. Then, at the feast of unleavened bread, before the rebellion of the Jews which preceded the war, at the ninth hour of the night, a great light shone round the altar and the Temple, so that for half an hour it seemed as though it were brilliant daylight. At the same festival other supernatural warnings were given. A heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the Temple; moreover, the eastern gate of the inner court of the Temple, which was of brass, and so ponderous, that twenty men had much difficulty in closing it, and which was fastened by heavy bolts descending deep into the solid stone flour, was seen to open of its own accord, about the sixth hour of the night. The ignorant considered some of these events good omens, but the priests interpreted them as portents of evil. Another prodigious phenomenon occurred, which Josephus supposes would be considered incredible were it not reported by those who saw it, and were the subsequent events not of sufficient importance to merit such portents: before sunset, chariots and troops of soldiers in armour were seen among the clouds, moving about, and surrounding cities. And further, at the feast of Pentecost, as the priests were entering the inner court of the Temple to perform their sacred duties, they felt an earthquake, and heard a great noise, and then the sound as of a great multitude saying, "Let us remove hence." [71:1] There is not a shadow of doubt in the mind of Josephus as to the reality of any of these wonders.

Cosmical Theories of the Fathers
If we turn to patristic literature, we find everywhere the same superstitions and the same theories of angelic agency and demoniacal interference in cosmical phenomena. According to Justin Martyr, after God had made the world and duly regulated the elements and the rotation of the seasons, he committed man and all things under heaven to the care of angels. Some of these angels, however, proved unworthy of this charge and, led away by love of the daughters of men, begat children, who are the demons who have corrupted the human race, partly by magical writings (dia magikôn graphôn) and partly by fears and punishments, and who have introduced wars, murders, and other evils among them, which are ignorantly ascribed by poets to God himself. [71:2] He considers that demoniacs are possessed and tortured by the souls of the wicked dead, [71:3] and he represents evil spirits as watching to seize the soul at death. [71:4] The food of the angels is manna. [71:5] The angels, says Clement of Alexandria, serve God in the administration of earthly affairs. [71:6] The host of angels and of gods (Theôn) is placed under subjection to the Logos. [71:7] Presiding angels are distributed over nations and cities, and perhaps are also deputed to individuals, [71:8] and it is, by their agency, either visible or invisible, that God gives all good things. [71:9] He accuses the Greeks of plagiarising their miracles from the Bible, and he argues that, if certain powers do move the winds and distribute showers, they are agents subject to God. [71:10] Clement affirms that the Son gave philosophy to the Greeks by means of the inferior angels, [71:11] and argues that it is absurd to attribute it to the devil. [71:12] Theophilus of Antioch, on the other hand, says that the Greek poets were inspired by demons. [72:1] Athenagoras states, as one of the principal points of belief among Christians, that a multitude of angels and ministers are distributed and appointed by the Logos to occupy themselves about the elements and the heavens and the universe and the things in it, and the regulating of the whole. [72:2] For it is the duty of the angels to exercise providence over all that God has created, so that God may have the universal care of the whole, but the several parts be ministered to by the angels appointed over them. There is freedom of will amongst the angels as among human beings, and some of the angels abused their trust, and fell through love of the daughters of men, of whom were those who are called giants. [72:3] These angels who have fallen from heaven busy themselves about the air and the earth; and the souls of the giants, [72:4] which are the demons that roam about the world, work evil according to their respective natures. [72:5] There are powers which exercise dominion over matter, and by means of it, and more especially one who is opposed to God. This Prince of matter exerts authority and control in opposition to the good designed by God. [72:6] Demons are greedy for sacrificial odours and the blood of the victims, which they lick, and they influence the multitude to idolatry by inspiring thoughts and visions which seem to come from idols and statues. [72:7] According to Tatian, God made everything which is good, but the wickedness of demons perverts the productions of nature for bad purposes, and the evil in these is due to demons and not to God. [72:8] None of the demons have bodies -- they are spiritual, like fire or air, and can only be seen by, those in whom the Spirit of God dwells. They attack men by means of lower forms of matter, and come to them whenever they are diseased; and sometimes they cause disorders of the body, but when they are struck by the power of the word of God they flee in terror, and the sick person is healed. [72:9] Various kinds of roots and the relations of bone and sinew are the material elements through which demons work. [72:10] Some of those who are called gods by the Greeks, but are in reality demons, possess the bodies of certain men, and then, by publicly leaving them, they destroy the disease they themselves had created, and the sick are restored to health. [73:1] Demons, says Cyprian of Carthage, lurk under consecrated statues, and inspire false oracles and control the lots and omens. [73:2] They enter into human bodies and feign various maladies in order to induce men to offer sacrifices for their recovery, that they may gorge themselves with the fumes, and then they heal them. They are really the authors of the miracles attributed to heathen deities. [73:3]

Tertullian enters into minute details regarding angels and demons. Demons are the offspring of the fallen angels, and their work is the destruction of the human race. They inflict diseases and other painful calamities upon our bodies, and lead astray our souls. From their wonderful subtleness and tenuity they find their way into both parts of our composition. Their spirituality enables them to do much harm to men, for, being invisible and impalpable, they appear rather in their effects than in their action. They blight the apples and the grain while in the flower as by some mysterious poison in the breeze, and kill them in the bud, or nip them before they are ripe, as though in some inexpressible way the tainted air poured forth its pestilential breath. In the same way demons and angels breathe into the soul and excite its corruptions, and especially mislead men by inducing them to sacrifice to false deities, in order that they may thus obtain their peculiar food of fumes of flesh and blood. Every spirit, whether angel or demon, has wings; therefore, they are everywhere in a moment. The whole world is but one place to them, and all that takes place anywhere they can know and report with equal facility. Their swiftness is believed to be divine because their substance is unknown, and thus they seek to be considered the authors of effects which they merely report, as, indeed, they sometimes are of the evil, but never of the good. They gather intimations of the future from hearing the prophets read aloud, and set themselves up as rivals of the true God by stealing his divinations. From inhabiting the air, and from their proximity to the stars and commerce with the clouds, they know the preparation of celestial phenomena, and promise beforehand the rains which they already feel coming. They are very kind in reference to the cure of diseases, Tertullian ironically says, for they first make people ill, and then, by way of performing a miracle, they prescribe remedies either novel or contrary to common experience, and, removing the cause, they are believed to have healed the sick. [74:1] If anyone possessed by a demon be brought before a tribunal, Tertullian affirms that the evil spirit, when ordered by a Christian, will at once confess that he is a demon. [74:2] The fallen angels were the discoverers of astrology and magic. [74:3] Unclean spirits hover over waters in imitation of the brooding (gestatio) of the Holy Spirit in the beginning, as, for instance, over dark fountains and solitary streams and cisterns in baths and dwelling-houses and similar places, which are said to carry one off (rapere) -- that is to say, by the force of the evil spirit. [74:4] The fallen angels disclosed to the world unknown material substances and various arts such as metallurgy, the properties of herbs, incantations, and interpretation of the stars; and to women specially they revealed all the secrets of personal adornment. [74:5] There is scarcely any man who is not attended by a demon; and it is known that untimely, and violent deaths which are attributed to accidents are really caused by demons. [74:6] Those who go to theatres may become specially accessible to demons. There is the instance, the Lord is witness (domino teste), of the woman who went to a theatre and came back possessed by a demon, and, on being cast out, the evil spirit replied that he had a right to act as he did, having found her within his limits. There was another case, also well known, of a woman who at night, after having been to a theatre, had a vision of a winding sheet (linteum), and heard the name of the tragedian whom she had seen mentioned with reprobation, and five days after the woman was dead. [74:7] Origen attributes augury and divination through animals to demons. In his opinion, certain demons, offspring of the Titans or giants, who haunt the grosser parts of bodies and the unclean places of the earth, and who, from not having earthly bodies, have some power of divining the future, occupy themselves with this. They secretly enter the bodies of the more brutal and savage animals, and force them to make flights or indications of divination to lead men away from God. They have a special leaning to birds and serpents, and even to foxes and wolves, because the demons act better through these in consequence of an apparent analogy in wickedness between them. [74:8] It is for this reason that Moses, who had either been taught by God what was similar in the nature of animals and their kindred demons, or had discovered it himself, prohibited as unclean the particular birds and animals most used for divination. Therefore, each kind of demon seems to have an affinity with a certain kind of animal. They are so wicked that demons even assume the bodies of weasels to foretell the future. [75:1] They feed on the blood and odour of the victims sacrificed in idol temples. [75:2] The spirits of the wicked dead wander about sepulchres, and sometimes for ages haunt particular houses and other places. [75:3] The prayers of Christians drive demons out of men, and from places where they have taken up their abode, and even sometimes from the bodies of animals, which are frequently injured by them. [75:4] In reply to a statement of Celsus that we cannot eat bread or fruit, or drink wine or even water, without eating and drinking with demons, and that the very air we breathe is received from demons, and that, consequently, we cannot inhale without receiving air from the demons who are set over the air, [75:5] Origen maintains, on the contrary, that the angels of God, and not demons, have the superintendence of such natural phenomena, and have been appointed to communicate all these blessings. Not demons but angels have been set over the fruits of the earth and over the birth of animals and over all things necessary for our race. [75:6] Scripture forbids the eating of things strangled, because the blood is still in them -- and blood, and more especially the fumes of it, is said to be the food of demons. If we ate strangled animals, we might have demons feeding with us; [75:7] but, in Origen's opinion, a man only eats and drinks with demons when he eats the flesh of idol sacrifices, and drinks the wine poured out in honour of demons. [75:8] Jerome states the common belief that the air is filled with demons. [75:9] Chrysostom says that angels are everywhere in the atmosphere. [75:10]

Not content, however, with peopling earth and air with angels and demons, the Fathers also shared the opinion, common to Jews [75:11] and heathen philosophers, that the heavenly bodies were animated beings. After fully discussing the question, with much reference to Scripture, Origen determines that sun, moon, and stars are living and rational beings, illuminated with the light of knowledge by the wisdom which is the reflection of eternal light. They have free will and, as it would appear from a passage in Job (25:5), they are not only liable to sin, but actually not pure from the uncleanness of it. Origen is careful to explain that this has not reference merely to their physical part, but to the spiritual; and he proceeds to discuss whether their souls came into existence at the same time with their bodies, or existed previously, and whether, at the end of the world, they will be released from their bodies or will cease from giving light to the world. He argues that they are rational beings because their motions could not take place without a soul. "As the stars move with so much order and method," he says, "that under no circumstances whatever does their course seem to be disturbed, is it not the extreme of absurdity to suppose that so much order, so much observance of discipline and method, could be demanded from or fulfilled by irrational beings?" [76:1] They possess life and reason, he decides, and he proves from Scripture that their souls were given to them, not at the creation of their bodily substance, but like those of men implanted strictly from without, after they were made. [76:2] They are "subject to vanity" with the rest of the creatures, and "wait for the manifestation of the sons of God." [76:3] Origen is persuaded that sun, moon, and stars pray to the Supreme Being through his only begotten Son. [76:4] To return to angels, however, Origen states that the angels are not only of various orders of rank, but have apportioned to them specific offices and duties. To Raphael, for instance, is assigned the task of curing and healing, to Gabriel the management of wars; to Michael the duty of receiving the prayers and the supplications of men. Angels are set over the different churches, and have charge even of the least of their members. These offices were assigned to the angels by God agreeably to the qualities displayed by each. [76:5] Elsewhere Origen explains that it is necessary for this world that there should be angels set over beasts and over terrestrial operations, and also angels presiding over the birth of animals, and over the propagation and growth of shrubs; and, again, angels over holy works, who eternally teach men the perception of the hidden ways of God and knowledge of divine things; and he warns us not to bring upon ourselves those angels who are set over beasts, by leading an animal life, nor those which preside over terrestrial works, by taking delight in fleshly and mundane things, but rather to study how we may approximate to the companionship of the Archangel Michael, to whose duty of presenting the prayers of the saints to God he here adds the office of presiding over medicine. [76:6] It is through the ministry of angels that the water-springs in fountains and running streams refresh the earth, and that the air we breathe is kept pure. [77:1] In the Shepherd of Hermas, a work quoted by the Fathers as inspired Scripture, which was publicly read in the churches, which almost secured a permanent place in the New Testament canon, and which appears after the canonical books in the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest extant MS. of the New Testament, mention is made of an angel who has rule over beasts, and whose name is Hegrin. [77:2] Jerome also quotes an apocryphal work in which an angel of similar name is said to be set over reptiles, and in which fishes, trees, and beasts are assigned to the care of particular angels. [77:3]

Clement of Alexandria mentions, without dissent, the prevailing belief that hail-storms, tempests, and similar phenomena do not occur merely from material disturbance, but also are caused by the anger of demons and evil angels. [77:4] Origen states that, while angels superintend all the phenomena of nature, and control what is appointed for our good, famine, the blighting of vines and fruit trees, and the destruction of beasts and of men, are, on the other hand, the personal works [77:5] of demons, they, as public executioners, receiving at certain times authority to carry into effect divine decrees. [77:6] We have already quoted similar views expressed by Tertullian, [77:7] and the universality and permanence of such opinions may be illustrated by the fact that, after the lapse of many centuries we find St. Thomas Aquinas as solemnly affirming that disease and tempests are the direct work of the devil; [77:8] indeed, this belief prevailed throughout the middle ages until very recent times. The Apostle Peter, in the Recognitions of Clement, informs Clement that, when God made the world, he appointed chiefs over the various creatures, even over the trees and the mountains and springs and rivers, and over everything in the universe. An angel was set over the angels, a spirit over spirits, a star over the stars, a demon over the demons, and so on. [77:9] He provided different offices for all his creatures, whether good or bad; [77:10] but certain angels, having left the course of their proper order, led men into sin and taught them that demons could, by magical invocations, be made to obey man. [77:11] Ham was the discoverer of the art of magic. [77:12] Astrologers suppose that evils happen in consequence of the motions of the heavenly bodies, and represent certain climacteric periods as dangerous, not knowing that it is not the course of the stars, but the action of demons, that regulates these things. [78:1] God has committed the superintendence of the seventy-two nations into which he has divided the earth to as many angels. [78:2] Demons insinuate themselves into the bodies of men, and force them to fulfil their desires; [78:3] they sometimes appear visibly to men, and by threats or promises endeavour to lead them into error, they can transform themselves into whatever forms they please. [78:4] The distinction between what is spoken by the true God through the prophets or by visions, and that which is delivered by demons, is this: that what proceeds from the former is always true, whereas that which is foretold by demons is not always true. [78:5] Lactantius says that when the number of men began to increase, fearing that the Devil should corrupt or destroy them, God sent angels to protect and instruct the human race, but the angels themselves fell beneath his wiles, and from being angels they became the satellites and ministers of Satan. The offspring of these fallen angels are unclean spirits, authors of all the evils which are done, and the Devil is their chief. They are acquainted with the future, but not completely. The art of the magi is altogether supported by these demons, and at their invocation they deceive men with lying tricks, making men think they see things which do not exist. These contaminated spirits wander over all the earth, and console themselves by the destruction of men. They fill every place with frauds and deceits, for they adhere to individuals, and occupy whole houses, and assume the name of genii, as demons are called in the Latin language, and make men worship them. On account of their tenuity and impalpability, they insinuate themselves into the bodies of men, and through their viscera injure their health, excite diseases, terrify their souls with dreams, agitate their minds with phrenzies, so that they may by these evils drive men to seek their aid. [78:6] Being adjured in the name of God, however, they leave the bodies of the possessed, uttering the greatest howling, and crying out that they are beaten, or are on fire. [78:7] These demons are the inventors of astrology, divination, oracles, necromancy, and the art of magic. [78:8] The universe is governed by God through the medium of angels. The demons have a foreknowledge of the purposes of God, from having been his ministers and, interposing in what is being done, they ascribe the credit to themselves. [79:1] The sign of the cross is a terror to demons, and at the sight of it they flee from the bodies of men. When sacrifices are being offered to the gods, if one be present who bears on his forehead the sign of the cross, the sacred rites are not propitious (sacra nullo modo litant), and the oracle gives no reply. [79:2]

Patristic Theory of Demons
Eusebius, like all the Fathers, represents the gods of the Greeks and other heathen nations, as merely wicked demons. Demons, he says, whether they circulate in the dark and heavy atmosphere which encircles our sphere or inhabit the cavernous dwellings which exist within it, find charms only in tombs and in the sepulchres of the dead, and in impure and unclean places. They delight in the blood of animals, and in the putrid exhalations which rise from their bodies, as well as in earthly vapours. Their leaders, whether as inhabitants of the upper regions of the atmosphere or plunged in the abyss of hell, having discovered that the human race had deified and offered sacrifices to men who were dead, promoted the delusion in order to savour the blood which flowed and the fumes of the burning flesh. They deceived men by the motions conveyed to idols and statues, by the oracles they delivered and by healing diseases, with which, by the power inherent in their nature, they had before invisibly smitten bodies, and which they removed by ceasing to torture them. These demons first introduced magic amongst men. [79:3] We may here refer to the account of a miracle which Eusebius seriously quotes, as exemplifying another occasional function of the angels. The heretical Bishop Natalius, having in vain been admonished by God in dreams, was at last lashed through the whole of a night by holy angels, till he was brought to repentance and, clad in sackcloth and covered with ashes, he at length threw himself at the feet of Zephyrinus, then Bishop of Rome, pointing to the marks of the scourges which he had received from the angels, and implored to be again received into communion with the Church. [79:4] Augustine says that demons inhabit the atmosphere, as in a prison, and deceive men, persuading them, by their wonderful and false signs or doings or predictions, that they are gods. [79:5] He considers the origin of their name in the Sacred Scriptures worthy of notice; they are called Daimones in Greek, on account of their knowledge. [79:6] By their experience of certain signs, which are hidden from us, they can read much more of the future, and sometimes even announce beforehand what they intend to do. Speaking of his own time, and with strong expressions of assurance, Augustine says that not only Scripture testifies that angels have appeared to men with bodies which could not only be seen, but felt but, what is more, it is a general report, and many have personal experience of it, or have learned it from those who have knowledge of the fact, and of whose truth there is no doubt, that satyrs and fauns, generally called Incubi, have frequently perpetrated their peculiar wickedness; [80:1] and also that certain demons, called by the Gauls Dusii, every day attempt and effect the same uncleanness, as witnesses equally numerous and trustworthy assert, so that it would be impertinence to deny it. [80:2]

Lactantius, again, ridicules the idea that there can be antipodes, and he can scarcely credit that there can be anyone so silly as to believe that there are men whose feet are higher than their heads, or that grain and trees grow downwards, and rain, snow, and hail fall upwards to the earth. After jesting at those who hold such ridiculous views, he points out that their blunders arise from supposing that the heaven is round, and the world, consequently, round like a ball, and enclosed within it. But if that were the case, it must present the same appearance to all parts of heaven, with mountains, plains, and seas, and consequently there would be no part of the earth uninhabited by men and animals. Lactantius does not know what to say to those who, having fallen into such an error, persevere in their folly (stultitia), and defend one vain thing by another; but sometimes he supposes that they philosophise in jest, or knowingly defend falsehoods to display their ingenuity. Space alone prevents his proving that it is impossible for heaven to be below the earth. [80:3] St. Augustine, with equal boldness, declares that the stories told about the antipodes -- that is to say, that there are men whose feet are against our footsteps, and upon whom the sun rises when it sets to us -- are not to be believed. Such an assertion is not supported by any historical evidence, but rests upon mere conjecture, based on the rotundity of the earth. But those who maintain such a theory do not consider that, even if the earth be round, it does not follow that the opposite side is not covered with water. Besides, if it be not, why should it be inhabited, seeing that, on the one hand, it is in no way possible that the Scriptures can lie, and, on the other, it is too absurd (nimisque absurdum est) to affirm that any men can have traversed such an immensity of ocean to establish the human race there from that one first man Adam? [81:1]

Patristic Views of the Phoenix
Clement of Rome had no doubt of the truth of the story of the Phoenix, [81:2] that wonderful bird of Arabia and the adjoining countries which lives 500 years, at the end of which time, its dissolution being at hand, it builds a nest of spices, in which it dies. From the decaying flesh, however, a worm is generated, which, being strengthened by the juices of the bird, produces feathers and is transformed into a Phoenix. Clement adds that it then flies away with the nest containing the bones of its defunct parent to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and in full daylight and in the sight of all men it lays them on the altar of the sun. On examining their registers, the priests find that the bird has returned precisely at the completion of the 500 years. This bird, Clement considers, is an emblem of the Resurrection. [81:3] So does Tertullian, who repeats the story with equal confidence. [81:4] It is likewise referred to in the Apostolic Constitutions. [81:5] Celsus quotes the narrative in his work against Christianity as an instance of the piety of irrational creatures, and although Origen, in reply, while admitting that the story is indeed recorded, puts in a cautious "if it be true," he proceeds to account for the phenomenon on the ground that God may have made this isolated creature in order that men might admire not the bird, but its creator. [81:6] Cyril of Jerusalem likewise quotes the story from Clement. [81:7] The author of the almost canonical Epistle of Barnabas, explaining the typical meaning of the code of Moses regarding clean and unclean animals which were or were not to be eaten, states as a fact that the hare annually increases the number of its foramina, for it has as many as the years it lives. [82:1] He also mentions that the hyena changes its sex every year, being alternately male and female. [82:2] Tertullian also points out as a recognised fact the annual change of sex of the hyena, and he adds: "I do not mention the stag, since itself is the witness of its own age; feeding on the serpent, it languishes into youth from the working of the poison." [82:3] The geocentric theory of the Church, which elevated man into the supreme place in the universe, and considered creation in general to be solely for his use, naturally led to the misinterpretation of all cosmical phenomena. Such spectacles as eclipses and comets were universally regarded as awful portents of impending evil, signs of God's anger, and forerunners of national calamities. [82:4] We have already referred to the account given by Josephus of the portents which were supposed to announce the coming destruction of the Holy City, amongst which were a star shaped like a sword, a comet, and other celestial phenomena. Volcanoes were considered openings into hell, and not only does Tertullian hold them to be so, but he asks, Who will not deem these punishments sometimes inflicted upon mountains as examples of the judgments which menace the wicked? [82:5]
 


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