Sunday, August 16, 2009

Q114 A4: Whether demons can lead men astray by means of real miracles?

Yes. Sometimes miracle may be taken in a wide sense (for whatever exceeds the human power and experience) and thus demons can work miracles (that is, things which rouse man's astonishment, by reason of their being beyond his power and outside his sphere of knowledge) because even a man by doing what is beyond the power and knowledge of another, leads him to marvel at what he has done, so that in a way he seems to that man to have worked a miracle.

Dicitur quandoque miraculum large (quod excedit humanam facultatem et considerationem) et sic Daemones possunt facere miracula (quae scilicet homines mirantur, inquantum eorum facultatem et cognitionem excedunt) quia et unus homo, inquantum facit aliquid quod est supra facultatem et cognitionem alterius, ducit alium in admirationem sui operis, ut quodammodo miraculum videatur operari.

It is to be noted, however, that although these works of demons, which appear marvelous to us, do not attain the true formal aspect of miracles, they are sometimes nevertheless something real. Thus the magicians of Pharaoh by the demons' power produced real serpents and frogs. And "when fire came down from heaven and at one blow consumed Job's servants and sheep; when the storm struck down his house and with it his children--these were the works of Satan, not the products of the imagination"; as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 19).

Sciendum est tamen quod, quamvis huiusmodi opera Daemonum, quae nobis miracula videntur, ad veram rationem miraculi non pertingant, sunt tamen quandoque verae res. Sicut magi Pharaonis per virtutem Daemonum veros serpentes et ranas fecerunt. "Et quando ignis de caelo cecidit et familiam Iob cum gregibus pecorum uno impetu consumpsit, et turbo domum deiiciens filios eius occidit, quae fuerunt opera Satanae, phantasmata non fuerunt", ut Augustinus dicit, XX de Civ. Dei.

As we have said above (Q110, A2), corporeal matter does not obey either good or bad angels at their will, so that demons be able by their power to transmute matter from one form to another; but they can employ certain seeds that exist in the elements of the world, in order to produce these effects, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 8,9).

Sicut supra dictum est, materia corporalis non obedit Angelis bonis seu malis ad nutum, ut Daemones sua virtute possint transmutare materiam de forma in formam, sed possunt adhibere quaedam semina quae in elementis mundi inveniuntur, ad huiusmodi effectus complendos, ut Augustinus dicit III de Trin.

Therefore it must be admitted that all the transformation of corporeal things which can be produced by certain natural powers, to which we must assign the seeds above mentioned, can alike be produced by the operation of the demons, by the employment of these seeds.

Et ideo dicendum est quod omnes transmutationes corporalium rerum quae possunt fieri per aliquas virtutes naturales, ad quas pertinent praedicta semina, possunt fieri per operationem Daemonum, huiusmodi seminibus adhibitis.

But those transformations which cannot be produced by the power of nature, cannot in reality be effected by the operation of the demons.

Illae vero transmutationes corporalium rerum quae non possunt virtute naturae fieri, nullo modo operatione Daemonum, secundum rei veritatem, perfici possunt.

As is clear from what has been said above (Q110, A4), if we take a miracle in the strict sense, the demons cannot work miracles, nor can any creature, but God alone, because in the strict sense a miracle is something done outside the order of the entire created nature, under which order every power of a creature is contained.

Sicut ex supra dictis patet, si miraculum proprie accipiatur, Daemones miracula facere non possunt, nec aliqua creatura, sed solus Deus, quia miraculum proprie dicitur quod fit praeter ordinem totius naturae creatae, sub quo ordine continetur omnis virtus creaturae.