On the fact that those men are more wretched who are possessed by sins than those who are possessed by devils.
Although it is a fact that those men are more grievously and severely troubled, who, while they seem to be very little affected by them in the body, are yet possessed in spirit in a far worse way, as they are entangled in their sins and lusts. For as the Apostle says: “Of whom a man is overcome, of him he is also the servant.” Only that in this respect they are more dangerously ill, because though they are their slaves, yet they do not know that they are assaulted by them, and under their dominion. But we know that even saintly men have been given over in the flesh to Satan and to great afflictions for some very slight faults, since the Divine mercy will not suffer the very least spot or stain to be found in them on the day of judgment, and purges away in this world every spot of their filth, as the prophet, or rather God Himself says, in order that He may commit them to eternity as gold or silver refined and needing no penal purification. “And,” says He, “I will clean purge away thy dross, and I will take away all thy sin; and after this thou shalt be called the city of the just, a faithful city.” And again: “Like as silver and gold are tried in the furnace, so the Lord chooseth the hearts;” And again: “The fire tries gold and silver; but man is tried in the furnace of humiliation;” and this also: “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” 1490
Isa. 1:25, 26, Prov. 17:3, Sir. 2:5, Heb. 12:6.