What a Dreadful Enemy We Have to Grapple With

           First. As spirits, they are of vast intellectual abilities.  Sorry man, while in this dark prison of the body, hath not light enough to know what angelical perfections are.  That they excel in knowledge all other creatures, we know because, as spirits, they come nearest by creation to the nature of God who made them.  The heavens are not lift higher from the earth, than angels, by knowledge, from man while on earth.  Man, by art, hath learned to take the height of the stars of heaven, but where is he that can tell how far in knowledge angels exceed man?  It is true they have lost much of that knowledge they had, even all their knowledge as holy angels; what now they know of God hath lost its savour, and they have no power to use it for their own good.  What Jude saith of wicked men, may be said of them: What they know naturally, in these things they corrupt themselves. They know the holiness of God, but love him not for it, as the elect angels do, and themselves by creation did.  They know the evil of sin, and love it not the less; but though they are such fools for themselves, yet [they] have subtilty too much for all the saints on earth, if we had not a God to play our game for us.

           Second. As spirits, they are invisible, and their approaches also.  They come, and you see not your enemy.  Indeed, this makes him so little feared by the ignorant world, whereas it is his greatest advantage, if rightly weighed.  O, if men have an apparition of the devil, or hear a noise in the night, they cry, ‘The devil! the devil!’ and are ready to run out of their wits for fear; but they carry him in their hearts, and walk all the day long in his company, and fear him not. When thy proud heart is clambering up to the pin­nacle of honour in thy ambitious thoughts, who sets thee there but the devil?  When thy adulterous heart is big with all manner of uncleanness and filthiness, who but Satan hath been there, begetting these brats on thy whorish spirit?  When thou art raging in thy passion, throwing burning coals of wrath and fury about with thy inflamed tongue, where was it set on fire, but of hell?  When thou art hurried like the swine into the precipice, and even choked with thy own drunken vomit, who but the devil rides thee?

           Third. As spirits, they are immortal.  Of other enemies you may hear news at last, that ‘they are which sought thy life,’ as the angel told Joseph of Herod.  Persecuting men walk a turn or two upon the stage, and are called off by death, and there is an end of all their plots; but devils die not, they will hunt thee to thy grave, and when thou diest they will meet thee in another world, to accuse and torment thee there also.

           Fourth. As spirits, they are unwearied in their motions.  When the fight is over among men, the conqueror must sit down and breathe, and so loseth the chase because not able to pursue it in time.  Yea, some have given over their empires, as glutted with the blood of men, and weary of the work, when they cannot have their will as they desired.  Thus Dio­cletian, because he saw he did but mow a meadow, that grew the thicker for cutting down—as Tertullian speaks of the Christians martyred—he throws away his sceptre in a pet.  Charles V. did the like, some say, upon the same reason, because he could not root out the Lutherans.  But the devil’s spirit is never cowed, nor he weary of doing mischief, though he hath never stood still since first began his walk to and fro the world.  O what would become of us, if a God were not at our back, who is infinitely more the devil’s odds than he ours.

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