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NPNF2-03. Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, & Rufinus: Historical Writings
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7. To proceed:

“This is a great spear with which the devil is pierced, he, ‘who is the universal cause of sin,’ if he is to render account of his works, like a man, and ‘with his angels possess the inheritance of eternal fires.’ This, no doubt, was what was lacking to him, that, having brought mankind into torment, he should himself ‘possess the eternal fires’ which he had all the while been longing for.”

You seem to me here to speak a little too hardly of the devil, and to assail the accuser of all with false accusations. You say ‘he is the universal cause of sin;’ and, while you make him the author of all crimes, you free men from fault, and take away the freedom of the will. Our Lord says that30913091    Matt. xv. 19 ‘from our heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, railings,’ and of Judas we read in the Gospel;30923092    John xiii. 27 “After the sop Satan entered into him,” that is, because he had before the sop sinned voluntarily, and had not been brought to repentance either by humbling himself or by the forbearance of the Saviour. So also the Apostle says;30933093    1 Tim. i. 20 “Such men I delivered to Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme.” He delivered to Satan as to a torturer, with a view to their punishment, those who, before they had been delivered to him learned to blaspheme by their own will. David also draws the distinction in a few words between the faults due to his own will and the incentives of vice when he says30943094    Ps. xix. 12, 13. Vulg. “Cleanse thou me from my secret faults, and keep back thy servant from alien sins.” We read also in Ecclesiastes30953095    Eccl. x. 4 “If the spirit of a ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place;” from which we may clearly see that we commit sin if we give opportunity to the power which rises up, and if we fail to hurl down headlong the enemy who is scaling our walls. As to your threatening your brothers, that is, those who accuse you, with eternal fire in company with the devil, it seems to me that you do not so much drag your brethren down as raise the devil up, since he, according to you, is to be punished only with the same fires as Christian men. But you well know, I think, what eternal fires mean according to the ideas of Origen, namely, the sinners’ conscience, and the remorse which galls their hearts within. These ideas he thinks are intended in the words of Isaiah:30963096    Is. lxvi. 24 “Their worm shall not die neither shall their fire be quenched.” And in the words addressed to Babylon:30973097    Is. xlvii. 14, 15. “There shall not be a coal to warm at nor fire to sit before it. Thus shall they be unto thee for whom thou hast laboured.” A.V. in almost exact agreement with Vulgate. Jerome must have quoted memoriter from an older version. “Thou hast coals of fire, thou shalt sit upon them, these shall be thy help.” So also in the Psalm it is said to the penitent;30983098    Ps. cxx. 3, 4. Vulg. “What shall be given to thee, or what shall be done more for thee against the false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with desolating coals;” which means (according to him) that the arrows of God’s precepts (concerning which the Prophet says in another place,30993099    Probably a loose reference to Ps. xlii. 9, 10 “I lived in misery while a thorn pierces me”) should wound and strike through the crafty tongue, and make an end of sins in it. He also interprets the place where the Lord testifies saying:31003100    Luke xii. 49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish that it may burn” as meaning “I wish that all may repent, and burn out through the Holy spirit their vices and their sins; for I am he of whom it is written,31013101    Deut. iv. 24, Heb. xii. 29 “Our God is a consuming fire;” it is no great thing then to say this of the devil, since it is prepared also for men.” You ought rather to have said, if you wished to avoid the suspicion of believing in the salvation of the devil;31023102    Perhaps from Jer. li. 26 “Thou hast become perdition and shalt not be for ever;” and as the Lord speaks to Job concerning the devil,31033103    Leviathan, Job xli. 9–12. Vulg. “Behold his hope shall fail him and in the sight of all shall he be cast down. I will not arouse him as one that is cruel, for who can resist my countenance? Who has first given to me that I may return it to him? for all things beneath the heaven are mine. I will not spare him and his words that are powerful and fashioned to turn away wrath.” Hence, these things may pass as the work of a plain man. Their bearing is evident enough to those who understand these matters; but to the unlearned they may wear the appearance of innocence.


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