Thursday, July 30, 2009

With Signposts and Without

John Downame, "The Epistle Dedicatorie," in The Christian Warfare (modern type), pp. 1-2:

Manifold (right Worshipfull) and most dangerous are the temptations and assaults of our spiritual enemies, whereby they labour to hinder the salvation of God's elect, and to increase the greatness of their hellish dominions, by withdrawing (if it were possible) God's servants from their subjection and allegiance, and making them their slaves and perpetual vassals. To this end they take indefatigable pains, going continually about seeking whom they may devour; sometimes like roaring Lions, compelling by violent force, and sometimes like old Serpents, alluring and deceiving with treacherous policies. Neither do they rest in the time of our rest, but waking and sleeping they set upon us, one while enticing us to swallow the poison of sin, with the sugared baits of worldly vanities, and another while driving us into their snares of perdition, with the sharp pricking goads of misery and affliction. Before us they set carnal pleasures, deceiving riches, and vain honours, to allure to come into the broad way that leadeth to destruction: and behind us they hold the three-stringed whip of loss, shame, and punishment, to keep us from going back, and to hasten us with winged speed to run forward in this hellish journey. Neither do they greatly care what path we choose in this common way of perdition; whether the spacious way of security and presumption, or the straight path of horror and desperation, whether the toyling way of unsatiable covetousness, or the soft fair way of bewitching pleasures, whether the open way of worldliness and atheism, or through the hidden thickets of hypocrisy and dissumulation: in a word they regard not in what way we walk, so we go forward in the ways of sin, for they they seem divers and contrary to one another, yet they have all the same end, meeting together in hell and destruction.

Screwtape in C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, XII, p. 56:

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is not better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

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