OF THE ANNOYANCE OF EVIL SPIRITS, AND THE PRESERVATION WE HAVE FROM GOOD SPIRITS.
IT is the opinion of divines, that all evil spirits are of that nature, that they hate God as well as man; therefore Divine Providence has set over us more pure spirits, with whom he hath entrusted us, as with shepherds and governors, that they should daily help us, and drive away evil spirits from us, and curb and restrain them, that they should not hurt us, as they would otherwise; as is read in Tobias, that Raphael did apprehend the demon called Asmodeus, and bound him in the wilderness of the Upper Egypt. Of these, Hesiod says, there are 30,000 of Jupiter's immortal spirits living on the earth, who are the keepers of mortal men, who, that they might observe justice and merciful deeds, having clothed themselves with air, go to and fro every where on the earth. For there is no potentate could be safe, nor any woman continue uncorrupted, no man in this vale of ignorance could come to the end appointed to him by God, if good spirits did not secure us, or if evil spirits should be permitted to satisfy the wills of men; as therefore among the good there is a proper keeper or protector deputed to every one, corroborating the spirit of the man to good; so of evil spirits, there is sent forth an enemy ruling over the flesh and desire thereof; and the good spirit fights for us as a preserver against the enemy and flesh. Now man, between these contenders is in the middle, and left in the hand of his own counsel, to whom he will give victory: we cannot therefore accuse angels, or deny free-will, if they do not bring the nations entrusted to them to the knowledge of the true God and true piety, but suffer them to fall into errors and perverse worship; it is to be imputed to themselves, who have, of their own accord, declined from the right path, adhering to the spirits of error, giving victory to the devil: for it is in the hand of man to adhere to whom he
pleases, and overcome whom he will; by whom if once the devil be overcome, he is made his servant, and being overcome, cannot fight any more with another, as a wasp that has lost his sting. To which opinion Origen assents, in his book Periarchon, concluding that the saints fight against evil spirits, and overcoming, do lessen their army; neither can he that is overcome by any molest any more. As therefore there is given to every man a good spirit, so there is given to every man an evil diabolical spirit, whereof each seeks an union with our spirit, and endeavours to attract it to itself, and to be mixed with it, as wine with water; the good indeed, through all good works comformable to itself, change us into angels by uniting us; as it is written of John the Baptist in Malachi, "behold I send my angel before thy face;" of which transmutation and union it is written elsewhere, he that adheres to God is made one spirit with him. An evil spirit also, by evil works, studies to make us conformable to itself, and unite us, as Christ says of Judas, "Have not I chosen twelve, and one of you is a devil?" And this is that which Hermes says, when a spirit hath influence on the soul of man, he scatters the seed of his own notion, whence such a soul, being sown with seeds, and full of fury, brings forth thence wonderful things, and whatsoever are the offices of spirits: for when a good spirit hath influence on a holy soul, it does exalt it to the light of wisdom; but an evil spirit being transfused into a wicked soul, doth stir it up to theft, to man-slaughter, to lust, and whatsoever are the offices of evil spirits. Good spirits, as Jamblicus says, purge the souls most perfectly, and some bestow upon us other good things: they being present, do give health to the body, virtue to the soul, and security; what is mortal in us they take away, cherish heat, and make it more efficacious to life; and, by an harmony, do always infuse light into an intelligible mind. But whether there be many keepers of a man, or one alone, theologians differ among themselves: we think there are more, the prophet saying, "he hath given his angels a charge concerning thee, that they should keep thee in all thy ways," which, as Hierome says, is to be understood of any man, as well as of Christ. All men, therefore, are governed by the ministry of different angels, and are brought to any degree
of virtue, deserts, and dignity, who behave themselves worthy of them; but they who carry themselves unworthy of them, are deposed and thrust down, as well by evil spirits as good spirits, unto the lowest degree of misery, as their evil merits shall require; but they that are attributed to the sublimer angels are preferred before other men; for angels having the care of them, exalt them, and subject others to them by a certain occult power, which, although neither of them perceive, yet he that is subjected feels a certain yoke of presidency, of which he cannot easily quit himself; yea, he fears and reverences that power, which the superior angels make to flow upon inferiors, and with a certain terror bring the inferiors into a fear of presidency. This did Homer seem to be sensible of, when he says, that the Muses begot of Jupiter, did always, as inseparable companions, assist the kings begot of Jupiter, speaking figuratively, who by them were made venerable and magnificent: so we read that M. Antoninus being formerly joined in singular friendship with Octavius Augustus, were accustomed always to play together; but when, as always, Augustus always went away Conqueror, a certain magician counselled M. Antoninus thus: "O Anthony, what dost thou do with that young man? Shun and avoid him, for although thou art older than he, and art more skilful than he, and art better descended than he, and hath endured the wars of more emperors, yet thy Genius doth much dread the Genius of this young man, and thy fortune flatters his fortune; unless thou shalt shun him, it seems wholly to decline to him." Is not the prince like other men? how should other men fear and reverence him, unless a divine terror should exalt him, and striking a fear into others, depress them, that they should reverence him as a prince? Wherefore we must endeavour, that, being purified by doing well, and following sublime things, and choosing opportune times and seasons, we be entrusted or committed to a degree of sublimer and more potent angels, who taking care of us we may deservedly be preferred before others.