The theological current, thus re-enforced, seemed to become again irresistible; but it was only so in appearance. In spite of it, French skepticism continued to develop; signs of quiet change among the mass of thinking men were appearing more and more; and in 1672 came one of great significance, for the Parliament of Rouen having doomed fourteen sorcerers to be burned, their execution was delayed for two years, evidently on account of skepticism among officials; and at length the great minister of Louis XIV, Colbert, issued an edict checking such trials, and ordering the convicted to be treated for madness.
Victory seemed now to incline to the standard of science, and in 1725 no less a personage than St. André, a court physician, dared to publish a work virtually showing "demoniacal possession" to be lunacy.
The French philosophy, from the time of its early development in the eighteenth century under Montesquieu and Voltaire, naturally strengthened the movement; the results of post-mortem examinations of the brains of the "possessed" confirmed it; and in 1768 we see it take form in a declaration by the Parliament of Paris that possessed persons were to be considered as simply diseased.
In England the same warfare went on. John Locke had asserted the truth, but the theological view continued to control public opinion. Most prominent among those who exercised great power against the truth was John Wesley, and the greatness and beauty of his character made his influence in this respect all the more unfortunate. The same servitude to the mere letter of Scripture which led him to declare that "to give up witchcraft is to give up the Bible and to take ground against the fundamental truths of theology," controlled him in regard to insanity. He insisted, on the authority of the Old Testament, that bodily diseases are sometimes caused by devils, and, upon the authority of the New Testament, that the gods of the heathen were demons; he believed that dreams, while in some cases caused by bodily conditions and passions, are shown by Scripture to be also caused by occult powers of evil; he cites a physician to prove that "most lunatics are really demoniacs." In his great sermon on "Evil Angels," he dwells upon this point especially; resists the idea that "possession" may be epilepsy, even though ordinary symptoms of epilepsy be present; protests against "giving up to infidels such proofs of an invisible world as are to be found in diabolic possession," and evidently believes that some who have
- See Dagron, p. 8; also Rambaud, as above, ii, 155.
- For.St. André, see Lacroix, as above, pp. 189, 190.
cially in astronomy, geology, and political economy, see my previous chapters in "The Warfare of Science."