A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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iv               THE ECCLESIA AND PNEUMATIC THERAPY            151
am I to blame ? I was sitting on a lettuce, and this woman, not having made the sign of the Cross, ate me along with it.' 43 This is only one example of the many strange ideas concerning the habits of devils.
Whatever its present position, the office of exorcist was, until comparatively recent times, by no means considered a sinecure. ' The exorcist a terror to demons ' (Paulinus, Epist, 24) survived the Reformation among Protestants, with the belief, expressed by Firmilionus in his epistle to St. Cyprian, that ' through the exorcists, by the voice of man and the power of God, the devil maybe whipped, and burnt and tortured'. In every ancient Church the Bishop himself, by virtue of his Consecration and not of any personal ' charisma of healing' which he might have previously possessed, acted as the chief exorcist and healer. On the other hand, it was recognized that the possession by a layman of such a personal i charisma ' was a recommendation.
Exorcism outlasted the Reformation and continued to be freely practised by the pastors of both the Lutheran and ' Reformed ' (Calvinistic) Churches of Europe and by the Puritan ministers of North America.
1 How often ', said Luther, ' has it happened, and still does, that devils have been driven out in the name of Christ/
In Luther's opinion, ' The greatest punishment God can inflict on the wicked ... is to deliver them over to Satan ; who with God's permission kills them or makes them undergo calamities. Many devils are in woods, waters, wilderness, etc., ready to hurt and prejudice people. When these things happen, then the philosophers and physicians say, it is natural, ascribing it to the planets. Cases of melancholy ... he concluded to be merely the work of the devil. Men were possessed by the devil in two ways; corporally or spiritually.