7. The Church attributes to demons the possession of transcendent faculties; “they have lost nothing of their angelic nature;” they possess the knowledge, perspicacity, foresight, clear vision of the angels, and, moreover, keenness, cleverness, and cunning in the highest degree. Their aim is to turn humankind from goodness, and especially to draw them away from God and to draw them down into Hell, of which they are the purveyors and recruiters.
We can understand that the demons should address themselves to those who are pursuing the upward path and who will be lost to them if they continue to follow it; we can understand that the demons should address themselves to such, and that they should employ every imaginable seduction and even the false veneer of goodness to draw them into their nets; but what we cannot understand is that these invisible agents should address themselves to those who are already given up, body and soul, to evil, and should urge them to return to God and to goodness. Can any human beings be more completely and thoroughly within the grip of the Devil’s claw than those who deny and blaspheme God, and who have plunged, headlong, into all the vices and disorders of unbridled passions? Are not such already on the high road to Hell? Is it comprehensible that the demons, when sure of their prey, should incite the latter to pray to God, to submit themselves to God’s will, to renounce evil; that they should hold up before them the delights that await the virtuous in the other life, and should horrify them with frightful pictures of the miseries that await the wicked? Who ever saw a tradesman praising up the wares of his rival to the disparagement of his own and urging his customers to go to that rival’s shop? Who ever heard a recruiting-sergeant lecturing on the hardships of a soldier’s life and the charms of domestic happiness, telling the recruits that, if they enlist, they will have a life of fatigue and privation, and that, ten chances to one they will be killed, or have a leg or an arm shot away in their first battle?
Such, however, is the stupid part which our adversaries make the demons play, by attributing to their intervention the spirit-manifestations of our time, for it is a well-known fact that, every day, through the instructions emanating from the invisible world, skeptics and atheists are brought back to belief in God, those who never prayed before are seen to pray with fervor, and the most vicious are induced to work ardently for their own moral improvement. To say that all this is a piece of cunning on the part of the devil is to make him out to be a conglomeration of multiple idiocies. And as the cases we instance are not suppositions but facts, and as no denial can undo the reality of a fact, we are compelled to conclude, either that the demons are the stupidest of bunglers – in which case they are neither so cunning nor so clever as they are said to be, and, consequently, not so much to be feared as is pretended, seeing that they are working against their own interests – or else that all the manifestations alluded to are not of their producing.