Monday, March 16, 2009

Askinosie Chocolate, Absolute Sandman Volume 4, Satan's Devices

Askinosie Soconusco Nibbler Bar + Crunchy Cocoa Nibs, Neil Gaiman's The Absolute Sandman Volume 4
Some people are particular about the pedigree of their chocolate, others are antsy about the art in their favourite graphic epics, but a man is rarely sticky about the sins he commits. If there were such a man, he would be reviled at least as an extremist tragically burdened by too sensitive a conscience.

To trick man into writing off rebellion against God so flippantly must be Satan's oldest trick. While our deliberate disobedience is no one's fault but our own, the Devil is ever at hand to help us fulfil our sinful potential (see eg. Genesis 3, Ephesians 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:26).

Whatever sin the heart of man is most prone to, that the devil will help forward. If David is proud of his people, Satan will provoke him to number them, that he may be prouder (2 Samuel 24). If Peter is slavishly fearful, Satan will encourage him to rebuke and deny Christ to save his own skin (Matthew 16:22, 26, 69-75). If Ahab's prophets are given to flattery, the devil will straightaway become a lying spirit in the mouths of four hundred of them and they shall flatter Ahab to his ruin (1 Kings 22) etc

Satan has several devices to deceive, entangle and undo the souls of men:
Device 1: To present the bait and hide the hook
To present the golden cup and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin, and by hiding from the soul the wrath and misery that will certainly follow the committing of sin. By this device he took our first parents: "And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: for God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes shall be opened and you will be as gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5). Your eyes shall be opened and you shall be like gods! here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. Oh, but he hides the hook - the shame, the wrath and the loss that would certainly follow!

Device 2: By painting sin with virtue's colours
Satan knows that if he should present sin in its own nature and dress, the soul would rather fly from it than yield to it; and therefore he presents it to us, not in its own proper colours, but painted and gilded over with the name and show of virtue, that we may the more easily be overcome by it, and take the more pleasure in committing of it. Pride, he presents to the soul under the name and notion of neatness and cleanliness, and covetousness to be but good husbandry; and drunkenness to be good fellowship, and riotousness under the name and notion of liberality, and wantonness as a trick of youth.

Device 3: By extenuating and lessening of sin
Ah! says Satan, it is but a little pride, a little worldliness, a little uncleaniness, a little drunkenness etc. As Lot said of Zoar,"It is but a little one, and my soul shall live" (Genesis 19:20). Alas! says Satan, it is but a very little sin that you stick so at. You may commit it without any danger to your soul.

Device 4: By presenting to the soul the best men's sins, and by hiding from the soul their virtues and repentance
By setting before the soul the adultery of David, the pride of Hezekiah, the impatience of Job, the drunkenness of Noah, the blasphemy of Peter etc, and by hiding from the soul the tears, the sighs, the groans, the meltings, the humblings, and the repentings of these precious souls.

Device 5: To present God to the soul as one made up all of mercy
Oh! says Satan, you need not make such a matter of sin, you need not be so fearful of sin, not so unwilling to sin; for God is a God of mercy, a God full of mercy, a God that delights in mercy, a God that is ready to show mercy, a God that is never weary of showing mercy, a God more prone to pardon his people than to punish his people; and therefore he will not take advantage against the soul; and why then says Satan, should you make such a matter of sin?

Device 6: By persuading the soul that the work of repentance is an easy work and that therefore the soul need not make such a matter of sin
Why! Suppose you do sin, says Satan, it is no such difficult thing to return, and confess, and be sorrowful, and beg pardon, and cry,"Lord, have mercy upon me!" and if you do this, God will cut the score and pardon your sins and save your souls.

Device 7: By making the soul bold to venture upon the occasions of sin
Says Satan, you may walk by the harlot's door though you won't go into the harlot's bed; you may sit and sup with the drunkard though you won't be drunk with him; you may look upon Jezebel's beauty and you may play and toy with Delilah though you do not commit wickedness with the one or the other.

Device 8: By representing to the soul the outward mercies that vain men enjoy and the outward miseries that they are freed from while they have walked in the ways of sin
Says Satan, do you see, O soul, the many mercies that such and such enjoy, that walk in those very ways that your soul startles even to think of, and the many crosses that they are delivered from, even such as makes other men, that say they dare not walk in such ways, to spend their days in sighing, weeping, groaning and mourning? And therefore, says Satan, if you are to be freed from the dark night of adversity and enjoy the sunshine of prosperity, you must walk in their ways.

Device 9: By presenting to the soul the crosses, losses, reproaches, sorrows and sufferings that daily attend those that walk in the ways of holiness
Says Satan, do you not see that there are none in the world that are so vexed, afflicted and tossed, as those that walk more circumspectly and holily than their neighbours? They are a byword at home and a reproach abroad; their miseries come in upon them like Job's messengers, one upon the neck of another, and there is no end of their sorrows and troubles. Therefore, says Satan, you had better walk in ways that are less troublesome, and less afflicted, though they are more sinful; for who but a madman would spend his days in sorrow, vexation and affliction when it may be prevented by walking in the ways that I set before you?

Device 10: By working them to be frequent in comparing themselves and their ways with those that are reputed or reported to be worse than themselves
By this device, the devil drew the proud pharisee to bless himself in a cursed condition,"God I thank you that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican (Luke 18:11)". Why, says Satan, you swear but pretty oaths, as "by your faith and troth" but such and such swear by wounds and blood; you are now and then a little wanton but such and such do daily defile and pollute themselves by actual uncleanness and filthiness; you deceive and overreach your neighbours in things that are but as toys and trifles but such and such deceive and overreach others in things of greatest concernment, even to their ruin and undoings; you do be sit and chat and sip with the drunkard but such and such sit and drink and are drunk with the drunkard; you are only a little proud in heart and habit, in looks and words.

Device 11: By polluting and defiling the souls and judgements of men with such dangerous errors, that do in their proper tendency tend to carry the souls of men to all looseness and wickedness, as woeful experience abundantly evidences
Ah, how many are there filled with these and suchlike Christ-dishonouring and soul-undoing opinions eg, that ordinances are poor, low, carnal things that should not only be lived above but without also; that the Scriptures are full of fallacies and uncertainties, and not to be heeded unless they agree with us; that is is a poor low thing, if not idolatry too, to worship God in a mediator, such man or person as Jesus Christ, but that all is an allegory, and it signifies nothing but light and love, and such good frames born in men; that there is no God nor devil, heaven nor hell, but what is within us; that there is no sin in the saints, they are under no law but that of the Spirit, which is all freedom; that sin and grace are equally good, and agress to his will... with a hundred other horrid opinions, which has caused wickedness to breaking as a flood among us.

Device 12: To choose wicked company, to keep wicked society
And oh! the horried impieties and wickedness that Satan has drawn men to sin, by moving them to sit and associate themselves with vain persons.

See Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, for useful suggested remedies to these cunning devices. (Brooks, in his dedicatory note, calls himself a "Watchman", which naturally brings to mind the question "Who watches the Watchmen?" (check out The New Frontiersman), which can in turn be answered: a fair number people. We did a fortnight ago before stumbling home at 3am.)

Of God, it might be said: Your voice was is the soundtrack of my summer.

Askinosie Chocolate
Crim defense attorney done good. Then again, he was never one of those bad greed-enabling corporate lawyer types. The choc-o-lot number on each bar allows purchasers to track its genesis.


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