549. Is there any truth in the idea that pacts can be entered into with evil spirits?
“No; there is no pact, but there is sympathy, between an evil nature and evil spirits. For example; you wish to torment your neighbour, but you know not how to set about it; and you therefore call to your help some of the inferior spirits, who, like yourself, only desire to do evil, and who, in return for the help they give you in carrying out your wicked designs, expect you to help them with theirs. But it does not follow that your neighbour will not be able to get rid of such a conspiracy by an opposing conjuration and the action of his will. He who desires to do an evil deed calls evil spirits to his assistance by that mere desire; and he is then obliged to serve them as they have served him, for they, on their side, have need of his help in the evil they desire to do. What you call a pact consists simply in this reciprocity of assistance in evil.”
The subjection to evil spirits, in which a man sometimes finds himself, proceeds from his abandoning himself to the evil thoughts suggested by them, and not from any sort of stipulations between them and him. The idea of a pact, in the sense commonly attached to that word, is a figurative representation of the sympathy which exists between a bad man and malicious spirits.
550. What is the meaning of the fantastic legends of persons selling their soul to Satan in order to obtain from him certain favours?
“All fables contain a teaching and a moral; your mistake is in taking them literally. The one you refer to is an allegory that may be thus explained -He who calls evil spirits to his aid, in order to obtain from them the gifts of fortune or any other favour, rebels against Providence. He draws back from the mission he has received, and from the trials he was to have under gone, in his earthly life; and he will reap the consequences of this rebellion in the life to come. By this we do not mean to say that his soul is condemned to misery for ever; but as, instead of detaching himself from matter, he plunges himself deeper and deeper into it, his enjoyment of earthly pleasures will only have led to his suffering in the spirit-world, until he shall have redeemed himself from the thraldom of evil by new trials, perhaps heavier and more painful than those against which he now rebels. Through his indulgence in material pleasures, he brings himself under the power of impure spirits, and thus establishes between them and him a tacit compact which leads him to his ruin, but which it is always easy for him to break with the assistance of higher spirits, if he have the firm determination to do so.”
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