3. To those who bring forward these articles of that Mosaic law as obligatory, we reply in the first place, that, if this law is to be rigorously observed in regard to this particular point, it must be held to be equally binding in regard to all other points; for why should its provisions be regarded as good in what concerns evocations and bad in what concerns other matters? We must be consistent; and, if the common sense of Christendom has decided that the legislation of Moses, in many of its provisions, is no longer in harmony with the ideas and the habits of humankind, there is no reason for not admitting that it may be the same in regard to the prohibition we are now considering.
We have in the next place to remark that in regard to the prohibition in question, we must take into account the motives that prompted it, motives which had their weight in the days of Moses, but which, assuredly, are without importance at the present day. The Hebrew legislator wished to make his people break with all the customs acquired by them in Egypt, where the habit of evoking was carried to excess, as is shown by these words of Isaiah: – “The spirit of Egypt shall be annihilated in her, and I will overthrow her prudence; they shall consult their idols, their diviners, their pythons, and their magicians.” (Chap. XIX, 3)
Moreover, the Israelites were not to contract any alliance with the nations around them; and therefore, as they would have found these customs among the nations on whose territories they were about to enter and with whom they were about to fight, Moses found it necessary, for the carrying out of his plans, to instill into the minds of his people a profound aversion for all the customs which, if adopted by them, would have constituted so many points of contact between them and their neighbors. In order to furnish a plausible basis for this aversion, it was necessary to represent those customs as being condemned by God; hence the assertion, “The Lord has all these things in abomination, and He will destroy, at your coming, the nations which commit those crimes.”