« AnteriorContinuar »
shattered and the iron bars broken, and all the dead who had been bound came out of prison.
"And the king of glory entered in the form of a man, and all the dark places of Hades were lighted up.
"Immediately Hades cried out: 'We have been conquered ! Woe to us!'
"Then the king of glory seized his chief satrap Satan by the head, and delivered him to his angels and said: 'With iron chains bind his hands, and his feet, and his neck, and his mouth." Then he delivered him to Hades, and said: 'Take him, and keep him secure till my second appearing.'"*
Another passage of the same writing declares, " And Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire" (Apoc. xx. 14).
Vivid representations like these would do more for developing devilry than learned arguments and sober discourses. Doubtless, too, they represent the popular state of thinking and feeling at the time. Here, then, in my humiliation, you see that break in the line of demonological development to which I have referred.
My object, however, is not so much to shew you the progress and condition of devildom at this precise time, as to ask you to look calmly and earnestly on the well-defined and prominent personalities that stand before you in at least Hades and Satan. This is a simple creation of the human mind. Scriptural inspiration is here out of the question. The whole, from first to last, is a result of man's power to transmute his conceptions into personal beings, and to endow those personal beings with kindling life and individual attributes. If one age could effect so much toward creating a personal devil, how easy to believe that the result would not fail to ensue from a long series of ages, working in the same direction and under conditions the most auspicious!
However, with facts like this before me, what am I to think of the stability of my foundation? A personification *The Gospel of Nicodemus," in Vol. XVI. of Clark's "Ante-Nicene Christian Library." 1870.
PERSONIFICATIONS VANISH AS WELL AS ARISE.
is but a breath. If one personification brings me into existence, another may take me out of it. What, indeed, does the figure Death denote but decay and extinction? And what are all my names but figures of speech? As Satan, I am man's adversary personified. As devil, I am either the old Parsic dew, a fallen divinity, or the universal accuser diabolus. As for "serpent," " roaring lion," "Apollyon" (the destroyer), clearly these are simple attempts to give a concrete form to the evil of the world. Language is a changeful thing; and as the old forms pass away or lose their import, they will take me with them. Having been thus sunk from "the prince of darkness" into one of his officers by man's imagination, by the same power I must have been made, and at the will of the same power I manifestly hold my present position.
LUTHER SUSTAINS MY TOTTERING THRONE.
A POWER such as mine was not easily undermined. The old Saxon reformer, Luther, to whom the world owes so much of its highest good, was not free from the superstitions of his age; that is, the accumulated superstitions of centuries. Accordingly, I was to him a personal reality. Real, too, was my kingdom; as real as that of God and Christ. Owning my kingdom, he of course owned my subalterns and my subjects. Indeed, the whole of devildom, as handed down from the past, came into and was retained by his hands. This may seem strange on the part of one who by his superior intelligence liberated the human mind from so many falsities. But Luther was a rationalist only in part. He expressly disallowed all reasoning about what are called the mysteries of religion; and made the Bible as the word of
SUPERSTITION IN LUTHER FOSTERED SATAN.
God the test and measure of his belief in an absolute manner, so that whatever the Bible said implicitly or explicitly, he accounted divine truth. And this he carried so far, that cabbalistic misinterpretations, and pagan additions to the teachings of the Bible, he held as firmly as its fundamental principles and clearest declarations. Yet, as his was a genial nature, demonism does not wear so dark a robe as in the writings of many others. He is playful, not to say jocose, occasionally; nay, at times friendly and almost loving in the tone he takes toward devils.
These statements will find exemplifications in the following series of translated extracts from his celebrated Tischreden, or Table Talk, nearly two hundred closely printed octavo pages of which are occupied with the subject.*
Of Good and Bad Angels.
The angels stand at our right hand to guard and protect us at the command of God, so that we may not be destroyed or injured by the devils. Consequently when the devil attempts to do us harm, our dear holy angel keeps him off and drives him away; for God's messenger has long arms, and though he stands in the presence of God or in the sun, yet is he able to take part in our affairs and be our protector.
The devils also are near us, and every moment and ceaselessly plot against our life, health and salvation; but the dear guardian defends us against them, so that they cannot do what they would fain do. There are numerous devils in the woods, the waters, the deserts, in marshes and pools, lying in wait to injure human beings. Some are there in black and thick clouds, occasioning thunder, lightning, hail and storms; they blight meadows and poison the air. When such happens, the philosophers and physicists say that it is natural, ascribing it to the stars, and assigning I know not what causes of the evils and plagues.
* D. Martin Luther's Tischreden oder Colloquia, von Dr. K. E. FörsteLeipzig, 1844.
320 LUTHER PROVES GUARDIAN ANGELS FROM SCRIPTURE.
A Guardian Angel.
Not far from Zwickau, in Voigtland, a pair of peasants one day sent their son, a little boy, into the neighbouring forest to bring home the cows. As the lad was dilatory, he was overtaken by night. There came so heavy a fall of snow that the hills were covered to their summits. Consequently the boy was unable to find his path. And as he returned not home the next day, his parents were greatly distressed, particularly as they were prevented by the snow from making their way into the wood. On the third day, when the snow had been partly swept away by the wind, they went out to seek their child. After long and wearying searches, their glad eyes fell upon him as he sat on a sunny knoll, on which lay no snow. The moment he saw his parents he jumped up, ran toward them, and laughingly asked them why they had come. In reply, they said, "What have you been about? Why did you not come home ?" "Have I been so long absent?" "Yes; why have you tarried here?" set, and I could not find my way." "Where did you sleep?" "Here, under this tree, on some dry straw." "How did you get it?" "A young man brought it to me—a very good young man." "What have you done for food?" "He fed me.' "Who fed you?" "The good man." "Where is he?" "I do not know; he comes and goes, and will not stay, though he says many a kind word to me, and I am so glad of his company." "He will be here again this evening?" "Yes; but we must hasten home; already the day is beginning to decline." "Will he follow?" "O how I wish he would!" Martin Luther often told this story, and said, "Is it not written :
'He will give his angels charge over thee,
To keep thee in all thy ways;
They will bear thee up in their hands,
Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.''
(Ps. xci. 11.)
While in general describing me in all the worst features of commonplace theologians, Luther now and then has pas
THE ONLY EFFECTUAL EXORCISM.
sages which, not differing greatly from the views I have set before you, speak of me as an impersonation of human wickedness, rather than as an individual being, concentrating all evil in himself. For instance:
A godless man is a counterfeit or image of Satan.
Do you wish to see the true form and likeness of the devil? Go over the ten commandments, and suppose the opposite of each incarnated in a human being, and you will have Satan himself before you in ten different shapes. Some one said to Dr. Luther that he should like to see the devil. He answered and said: "As God is the thesis of the Decalogue, so is Satan the antithesis." If you would really know the devil, place before your eyes a godless, hopeless, wicked man, who has no conscience and leads a vicious life, and you see the devil in a bodily form, the devil himself.
Spiritual, not Papal, exorcisms expel Satan.
The poor creatures possessed of the devil are not set free by the words or the arts of the papal conjurors. It can be done only by the power of God in union with each one's endeavour to give the devil a bad time of it so long as he remains.
Don't ask the Devil to be your guest.
One of the German nobles invited Dr. Martin Luther to his mansion, in company with some of the scholars of Wittenberg, and made for them a hunting party. They soon started a fine fox. Off went the host, seated on a dashing racer, after the fox. He was speedily followed by a second and a third. But the fourth huntsman was carried by his horse up into the air against his will. The horse fell to earth and died, and the fox was seen careering through the atmosphere. That fox, said the doctor, was Satan : adding, "Never invite the devil to a feast; we have all devils enough around us, and find enough to do to keep their hands from our bodies and our souls."