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Malleus Maeficarum - The Witches' Hammer, part 7


Question 15 (Innocent people suffer because of witches' sins.)


We start off by explaining how one person's sins can be transferred onto another person. There are three ways.

  1. Let's say there's a father and a son. The father commits a sin. To punish the father, the son dies. So, even though the father is the one that sinned and is being punished, the kid is the one that lost his life. Collateral damage, I suppose.

  2. When a child/subject sees their parent/leader sin, it makes them think that it's okay to sin. They might not commit the same type of sin, but seeing another person misbehaving have encouraged them to do so as well. This also works the other way around; if subjects are sinful, they will receive a sinful ruler as punishment.

  3. The third way seems to be similar to Original Sin. One person sins and the whole group suffers for it. Kind of like when one or two kids act up so the whole class has to stay in from recess.

The author recounts an anecdote that he feels illustrates his point:


An example was brought to our notice as Inquisitors. A town was once rendered almost destitute by the death of its citizens; and there was a rumour that a certain buried woman was gradually eating the shroud in which she had been buried, and that the plague could not cease until she had eaten the whole shroud and absorbed it into her stomach. A council was held, and the Podesta with the Governor of the city dug up the grave, and found half the shroud absorbed through the mouth and throat into the stomach, and consumed. In horror at this sight, the Podesta drew his sword and cut off her head and threw it out of the grave, and at once the plague ceased. Now the sins of that old woman were, by Divine permission, visited upon the innocent on account of the dissimulation of what had happened before. For when an Inquisition was held it was found that during a long time of her life she had been a Sorceress and Enchantress.


Sometimes the wicked are punished by the good, but sometimes they are punished by other wicked people. It just depends on how God wants to allow the punishments to occur.


He says death of the body is punishment for Original Sin, so it's not a correction for any other sins. However, violent death can be a correction for other sins. Setting the stage for Part 3, though we won't be there for a while.


There are five reasons God would punish someone.

  1. To show His glory when he removes their punishment

  2. To test a person's faith and patience, as in Job

  3. To humble a person

  4. Gettin' a head start on their eternal punishment in Hell

  5. To purify a person

I think that's enough for this post. See you next time!


Stay safe!

- me

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