Practical Meditations on the Lord's Prayer

Newman Hall, 1889



Some have considered this clause as a part of the sixth petition; a stating positively what had been already expressed negatively—"Bring us not in, but pull us out." Others regard it as a separate petition, associated with the preceding but more comprehensive, having affinity with it, but seeking a blessing higher in degree, the absolute reverse of what had been deprecated—deliverance from evil universally. As the petition "Forgive us" refers to the past, and "Lead us not into temptation" to the present, so this "Deliver us from evil" reaches forward to the future. Thus it forms a separate and seventh petition, completing the perfect Jewish number.

The expression, from the evil, may be neuter, meaning "evil" in general, or "the evil thing" specifically; or it may be masculine, and rendered, as by the Revisers, "the Evil One." The older and more familiar rendering is sustained by Rom. 12:9—"Abhor that which is evil;" "cleave to that which is good." If "good" in the abstract is that which is to be cherished, "evil" in the abstract, "the evil," is that which is to be shunned. Dean Alford says, "it is here certainly neuter; the introduction of 'the Evil One' would here be quite incongruous and even absurd." Stier says—"This is the Liturgy of all liturgies, and here it reaches its sublime close; which through the deep lowliness of the believing 'deliver us,' immediately passes on to the heavenly doxology. And just at this point must the Conqueror confer that honor on the vanquished enemy to name him with his threatening power? Are the believing children of the Father, already redeemed, forever to be subjected to the ridicule at the end of every private and common prayer of mentioning him? Let him believe this who can! Our inmost sense of holy propriety recoils from it. The Redeemer has left His own name unmentioned; though Himself the ground, medium, end of every prayer—and can He be thought to have expressly mentioned Satan?"

In defense of the R.V. it is urged, that, as the rendering "the Evil One" must be given to the same Greek word in most other passages, consistency requires the same rendering here. In the parable of the Sower, our Lord says, "Then comes the Evil One," (the masculine of person, not the neuter of thing), "and catches away that which was sown in his heart." "The evil" is here an intelligent agent performing an act. Our Lord in His intercessory prayer said, "I pray that You should keep them;" on which Alford says, "Not from the evil, as E.V., but from the Evil One, John 17:15;" and refers to the usage of the same apostle in 1 John 2:14; "I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and you have overcome the wicked one;" and in v. 19, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies "in the Evil One," as contrasted with the righteous. So it is said of Cain, that he was "of that wicked one" (1 John 3:12). Paul, in describing the armor with which Christians "may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil," says, "Withal taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One." Dean Mansel says—"The words may also be rendered 'from the Evil One;' but the neuter is more comprehensive, and includes deliverance from the evil thoughts of one's own heart, and from evils from without, as well as from the temptations of Satan." We prefer the familiar and wider term, as relating to all "the evil" connected with temptation—comprising the Tempter himself, the "Evil One;" the evils directly and indirectly resulting from yielding to temptation; and the evil tendencies in our own hearts which incline us so to yield. Thus praying, we seek the final deliverance of the Church from whatever assails and pollutes it; the rescue of the world and all who dwell on it from whatever injures it; the accomplishment of every holy hope; the fulfillment of all millennial prophecy; the perfect blessedness of all who call God "Our Father who is in heaven." Thus viewed, this last petition is the climax of the whole prayer, the chief, permanent, all-comprehensive longing of the believer. "Whatever tribulation he may suffer, for this he groans, in hope of this he weeps; from this begins, with this perseveres, uttering this completes his prayer" (Augustine—Tholuck).


If the petition does not refer exclusively to Satan, he is included in it. Of the "temptation" against which we pray, he is the chief promoter; of the "evil" from which we implore deliverance, he is the chief author. It is the fashion of what is called "advanced thought" to deride the idea of a personal devil as a nursery bugbear, a tradition of the dark ages, a Monastic and Puritan superstition, a fossil of the past suitable only for the shelves of an ecclesiastical museum. And in popular literature and amusements the personality of Satan is employed for caricature, burlesque and ridicule. But if a fact and not a fiction, it is too solemn a truth, with consequences too momentous, to be treated with levity. When the devil is made a subject of jesting, his existence is as practically disowned as when formally denied.

Is this doctrine of a personal devil so absurd as to be absolutely incredible, even if affirmed by testimony in other respects worthy of reliance? Agnosticism finds no such Being; but does it possess positive evidence that no such Being exists? Ignorance of a fact is no necessary disproof. Until I know with absolute certainty all existences throughout the universe, I cannot absolutely pronounce that any particular person or thing has no existence, much less that such existence is impossible. Otherwise ignorance would become positive knowledge. There are occult agencies now regarded as distinct existences which were once never thought of except as phenomena. Things are now familiarly known which were recently hidden by reason of distance or minuteness, but which existed as certainly when unknown as when demonstrated by telescope and microscope. It would have been very un-philosophical to have pronounced their existence impossible simply because unknown. What is now so familiar to us in the achievements of science, telegraphy, the telephone, etc., might with equal reason have been derided as the idle dream of enthusiasm fifty years ago. True science holds itself ready to accept any fact when demonstrated, however unknown, strange and improbable at present.

The "Evil One" is a spirit, and therefore his existence cannot be demonstrated in the same manner as that of beings like ourselves, incorporate, visible, tangible. Yet we ourselves are spirits; not so much bodies in which spirits dwell, as spirits for a time occupying bodies. We do not actually see each other, but merely the body thus inhabited. Is it absurd to suppose there may be other spirits existing apart from a material body, or from such a body as may be seen and handled? If so, we ourselves can have no existence after death, and a personal God is an impossibility.

We know that below us in the scale of existence are innumerable living things. Every day the microscope is bringing to view sentient creatures, elaborately constructed, hitherto unknown. From one gradation to another, closely linked together, the universe below us teems with life. May there not be other existences in the region above us? If man is the chief of all visible living creatures, may not visibility indicate the boundary beyond which life (does not cease to be, but) becomes imperceptible to our present faculties? Is it absurd to suppose that man, though at the head of visible existence, is not at the head of all existence; and that as beneath him there are innumerable beings of various orders, so also above him there may be beings superior to himself? The distance between man and nothing is measurable; between man and infinity is immeasurable—shall the lower and limited region be replete with living creatures, and the higher and unlimited region be a void? If there are globes superior to the earth in size revolving round the same center, and stars surpassing the earth's sun; is it inconceivable that there may be intelligent beings somewhere in the universe surpassing in capacity the dwellers on the earth? If it is thought unlikely that beings with superior capacities should be morally depraved and corrupters of others, we have only to look among men to see a similar sad combination.

Is it difficult to conceive that such beings can in any way influence our thoughts and conduct? We are, in fact, exposed to influences which we cannot understand. Material things affect our thoughts, emotions, purposes. A picture, a strain of music, a look, the condition of our body, even the state of the atmosphere, may suggest ideas and excite emotions, which may result in actions materially affecting the weal or woe of ourselves and others. We influence each other. How great the power of mind over mind, though often unexpected! Is it incredible that other spirits may be able in some way to influence us? Would such agency destroy our freedom of will? But we are in fact exposed to various influences external to ourselves, and yet preserve our freedom. Circumstances, books, current opinions, fashions, companions—these are ever more or less affecting without enslaving our will. No criminal would be acquitted on the plea that his surroundings suggested and encouraged the theft or the murder. On this plea no one would be accountable for his own actions, which would not indeed be his own. But consciousness refutes the fallacy that we are thus "creatures of circumstances," and not moral agents. The influence of mind on mind does not destroy responsibility.

But is it likely that the Supreme Ruler would permit the existence of Beings, whose powers are employed in endeavoring to counteract His purposes? Whatever the mystery of the existence of evil, we know it to be a fact. There are, alas! multitudes of evil men and women, some of them possessing superior powers, which are exerted to contravene His laws, and alienate His creatures from allegiance. If this is actually so as regards evil men, it may also be so as regards evil spirits.

We may venture another suggestion. There have been events in history very difficult to explain by reference merely to circumstances and human nature. Individuals have exercised power in a manner so cruel, productive of consequences so disastrous, apparently from motives so inadequate, as to favor the idea of some malignant spiritual influence; so that the solution often suggested of such conduct is in the expression which may have a deeper truth than the speaker means—"the devil is in him!" And so with whole communities, which have sometimes seemed to be urged by an unreasoning impulse into acts of superstitious frenzy, or unprovoked and destructive war. Systems of iniquity have been developed during a long course of ages, which seem beyond mere human power to devise and establish, and bear the stamp of one presiding evil genius. There are minds to which the theory of the existence and agency of the devil furnishes an easier solution to these problems than any explanation attempted by philosophy.

The object of these observations is not to prove the existence of a personal devil, but to show that it is not the impossible absurdity which some assert it to be, and to clear the way for the positive evidence as to the fact. This is afforded by Divine Revelation. We believe that a Witness from the spirit-world has certified the existence of both good and evil spirits. After a life of blameless virtue and beneficence, after giving instructions worthy of their claim to be Divine, and working miracles beyond mere human power to effect; having declared Himself the Son of God, and predicted that in evidence of this claim He would rise from the grave, He did in fact so rise and ascend to heaven in the sight of witnesses, who, with no motive to influence them in testifying to an imposture, did, with a unanimity and assurance nothing could shake, encounter torture and death rather than cease to proclaim the gospel of a risen Savior. We believe the fact so witnessed, and accept the authority of Him whose claims were so attested.

He not only made known the love of Him who sent His Son to save, but clearly warned us of that Evil One whose malice He came to thwart, and whom, as the prince of darkness, He, the Prince of Life, encourages and enables us to resist and conquer. On this authority we credit the existence of a personal devil. He confirmed the earlier Revelation. The Scriptures He often quoted as the Word of God, speak of the "Evil One" as the serpent who tempted our first parents. Whether he appeared to them in serpent-form, or whether the term is to be regarded as one of the designations of "that old serpent called the devil and Satan," it is personal agency from without which is described in Gen. 3:1-7. We read that "Satan provoked David to number Israel." The calamities which overtook Job are represented as connected with his malign agency. The prophet saw in vision "Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand, to resist him. And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, O Satan." If Joshua was not a principle, but a person, so also was Satan who resisted him. The Jews were thus, by their Scriptures, made familiar with the idea of a personal devil. The Messiah, whom these Scriptures foretold, contradicted some of their opinions, but confirmed this. The account of His temptation must have been communicated by Himself to the Evangelist, who describes how the devil, a person, whether in visible form, or more probably unseen as when he assails ourselves, did tempt Christ. Our Lord said of such assaults—"The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me." There was no sinful principle or tendency in Christ to favor such temptation. The devil who tempted Him could not therefore be the "evil principle;" for this can only influence when within the soul. That which came was therefore not a principle, but a person. To this personal devil our Lord referred when He said, "If Satan be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?" He described the infirm woman as one "whom Satan had bound these eighteen years." He warned Peter, "Behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." He accused the Jews as being "of their father the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning." He spoke of "the enemy, the devil," who sows tares, as "the Evil One;" and in His intercessory prayer besought for His disciples, not that they might be taken out of the world, but be kept from the Evil One. The ancient promise foretold that He would crush the serpent's head; and He said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." It was His great work on earth to withstand this foe of God and man—"For this purpose the Son of man was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

The Apostles confirm the truth of the agency of the "Evil One." "The devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus." Peter said to Ananias, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" and spoke of the devil as "a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour; whom" (a person, not a thing) we are to "resist, steadfast in the faith." Paul said, "The God of peace shall crush Satan under your feet shortly," referring to each as a person, not a mere principle. He warned the Corinthians against allowing Satan to get any advantage over them, "for we are not ignorant of his devices;" and spoke of Satan being "transformed into an angel of light;" of "the messenger of Satan" sent to buffet him; of "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience;" of not giving "place to the devil;" of "principalities and powers" against which we wrestle, and of the "fiery darts of the Evil One;" of Satan "hindering him;" of "the working of Satan with signs and lying wonders;" of falling "into the condemnation of the devil;" and of those who were "in the snare of the devil." In the Epistle to the Hebrews the devil is said to have "the power of death." James exhorts, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." John writes to "young men" who have "overcome the Evil One," and says, "He who commits sin is of the devil." Jude refers to "the angels which kept not their first estate;" and the closing prophetic book describes how, at last, "the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world," is to be "cast into the abyss." If some of these passages can be explained on the evil-principle theory, others of them can only be regarded as referring to a personal agent, while none of them are incompatible with that idea. It may be said that the sacred writers were under the influence of Jewish notions, but it cannot be said that in this concurrent mode of speech they themselves only intended by "the Evil One," an evil influence. We accept their statements as illustrating the testimony of the Lord to the existence and agency of a personal devil.

If such a Being exists, it is important we should know the fact, and be on our guard against his designs. It was worthy of a Divine Revelation to open our eyes to our danger. It was worthy of the devil's great Antagonist to summon His followers to aid Him in the great conflict, and to teach His disciples to ask deliverance from the "Evil One," the great tempter, the chief agent of evil, the destroyer of the souls of men. As a skillful general often hides his strength from the foe who may thus by false security become an easy prey, so Satan has no stratagem more cunning than persuading those he seeks to destroy that no such destroyer exists. "Dangers are no more light if they once seem light; and more dangers have deceived men than forced them" (Lord Bacon). Let us thank God for revealing to us our foe, and showing us how to conquer him.

The names of this foe are so many lessons of warning. He is "the Evil One:" evil in its very essence; its author, agent, champion, king. He is Satan, Adversary, opposing himself to all that is true and pure, the enemy of all who call God Father. He is devil, Accuser, accusing us to ourselves to plunge us into despair, accusing us to justice to secure our condemnation. He is Apollyon, Destroyer, taking delight in undoing whatever tends to holiness and righteousness, in destroying health and happiness, peace and comfort, purity and life. He is described as a serpent, on account of his crafty and venomous nature; as "the old serpent," from his long experience in evil; as a "roaring lion," from his ferocity; as "going about," from his activity; as "seeking whom he may devour," from his insatiable rapacity in destruction.

We are warned that we contend with no mean foe. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places." We must not underrate his sagacity. We are not to be "ignorant of," that is, we are to be constantly vigilant against, "his devices." We have need to pray against both "the crafts and the assaults of the devil." We are not indeed to think of the devil as omniscient or omnipresent, for God alone is in every place, and from Him alone "no secrets are hidden;" but if there are a multitude of evil spirits whose name is legion, and who serve the Evil One as their superior lord, what they do may be regarded as done by him. Combining as he does so much force of intellect with so much depravity of nature, such power with such subtlety, such long experience in evil-doing with the aid of such hosts of wicked agents, the devil is a foe too formidable to be treated with indifference, self-security, ridicule, or contempt.

How does he tempt? Not overtly, for this would put us on our guard. Not, therefore, as often represented in pictures, by hideous deformity or revolting expression at once proclaiming who he is and bidding us beware; but rather hiding himself under the ordinary appearances of daily life, as a serpent may lurk amid perfumed flowers, or a wasp lie hidden in a fragrant peach. He may look at us through a picture, charm us by a song, influence us through a book, beguile us in the person of a friend, whisper to us in our imagination by day or our dreams by night. He seldom appears as an "adversary," but in the guise of a helper; not thwarting our inclinations, but gratifying them; not opposing our will, but encouraging it. He knows how to adapt his temptations to our special circumstances and temperaments. In the book of Job he is represented as "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth?" Whether regarded as history or parable, this opening chapter teaches that the devil is in constant activity among men, "considering" their various characters, and how best he may succeed against them. The question implies that his inspection was on a very wide scale, so that he was able to compare Job with all other men. Satan had "considered" both them and him, and supposed that he had discovered the weak places in the patriarch's armor. "Does Job serve God for nothing? But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face." Thus Satan "considers" his intended victims, goes round about their defenses, observes their weaknesses, takes note of their special tendencies, in order to plan his method of attack. So a farmer surveys his fields, and selects the seed suited for different kinds of soil. So a skillful angler chooses among his cunningly-prepared flies the one suited to the season, the stream, and the fish.

Sometimes he tempts through curiosity, as with Eve. "In the day you eat thereof your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." He employs pride, as with David in numbering the people; animal passions, as with Solomon; eager self-confidence, as with Peter; covetousness, as with Judas and Ananias. He comes to us when suffering the innocent infirmities of humanity, as to Christ when hungry and faint. He takes advantage of us when weary in body or dormant in spirit. "While men slept the enemy sowed tares." He pretends friendship when most malignant in his designs, as Joab when he took Abner aside and then stabbed him; and as Judas when he kissed his Master in the act of betrayal. He can make use of the well-meaning but mistaken kindness of our dearest and most trusted friends to beguile us from our duty; as when, having in the wilderness failed to divert Christ from His path of suffering, he influenced Peter, from motives of generous affection, to say in reference to the cross, "That be far from You, Lord!" But Jesus replied, "Get behind me, Satan! for you savor not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men." Christ detected Satan in the disguise of Peter, and addressed, not His friend, but the foe who was using the friend as his unconscious instrument to persuade to self-indulgence instead of self-sacrifice. The devil employs even the truth of God as a weapon against those to whom that truth is dear. He dared to assault even Him who is "The Truth" with quotations from His own word, using as his plea, "It is written." Thus many have been deceived and allured to evil by what at first seemed deference to revealed truth, but was really Satan's perversion of the spirit under disguise of its letter.

"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose." He thus makes the very standard of truth an auxiliary to falsehood, and clothes sin in the garb of virtue. He often commends covetousness as prudence, anger as manliness, revenge as justice, prodigal excess as hospitality, frivolity as needful recreation, fashionable vice as becoming conformity to the opinions and usages of society, damnable licentiousness as pardonable gaiety.

"And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths;
Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
In deepest consequence." —Macbeth

An illustration of Satan's method of beguiling to destroy, was one day witnessed by the writer when rambling near Scawfell. His guide said he thought he could find a trout, and, stooping down over the grassy bank of a small mountain-stream, remained for a few minutes perfectly quiet, excepting a slight motion of the arm. Presently he brought up a large fish. He knew where it was likely to be; he gently stroked and "tickled" its back, soothed and charmed his victim, then grasped and captured it. So "the devil's policy is to tickle his victims to death and damn them with delights." He knows how to cast a fair screen over a foul picture, which, seen at once in all its native grossness, would revolt the beholder, who is lured by the dissolving view which partially conceals until it gradually displays its true features to the now fascinated eye. Paul said, "We are not ignorant of his devices." We must be stronger and wiser than the apostle if we can safely cease to watch and pray against the "the wiles of the devil." Only when "filled with the Spirit" are we safe from the Evil One, and then we shall be most vigilant and earnest both in avoiding his snares and repelling his attacks.

The temptation of our Lord teaches both our liability to danger and how we may overcome. He was exposed to the devil's malignity when removed from the haunts of wicked men and the noisy world, in a solitude specially favorable for meditation and communion with heaven. Thus we learn that no season of religious seclusion, no scenes of rural solitude, are a security against the presence of a foe, who may specially assail us when we regard ourselves specially secure. As our Lord, when alone among the wild creatures of the wilderness and needing human sympathy, was exposed to Satanic approach; so the devil may be waiting for us in some desert of affliction, ready to make the sorrows we imagine to be a security against sin the occasion of our falling into it, and the absence of human sympathy an opportunity of receiving forbidden solace. As our great Example was assailed when hungry and faint, so when we are suffering any deprivation the devil may tempt us to seek the satisfaction of what is natural and right in itself, in some method which is wrong. As Christ's very faith in His Father's care was employed by the devil as an argument for presumption; so, when we are enjoying some season of special assurance of the Divine favor, the witness of the Spirit to our adoption may be perverted into an occasion of boastful recklessness and a testing of God's grace. As the true Prince was tempted by the usurper to secure the kingdoms of the world for their good by other than lawful methods; so our very zeal for God's glory and the welfare of men may become the devil's opportunity for urging us to attain holy ends by unholy methods, thus really worshiping Satan when seeming to be most zealous in our homage to God.

If our Lord was thus assailed, can we expect to escape? If to Him who said "the prince of this world has nothing in me," yet that false prince did come, how certain it is he will come to us in whose hearts there is so much which he may claim as his own! The Ephesian Church was addressed as composed of those who had been "quickened," "predestinated to the adoption of children," "accepted in the Beloved," "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works;" yet they were exhorted not to "give place to the devil," and warned against "the fiery darts of the wicked one." Whatever, therefore, our spiritual advantages, instead of thinking ourselves secure against assault, the greater our attainments the greater will be our vigilance.

Our Lord's example shows us how to conquer. He did not employ any weapon out of our reach. He did not entrench Himself in His Divinity. He fought as man, and as men we are encouraged by His victory. He quoted our Scriptures as one of ourselves. He contended, not that as the eternal Son He could live without bread, but that as one of mankind "every word of God" was sustenance. He placed Himself on our level when He quoted the command against putting God to the test, and in any degree bowing down to the devil; and so we are encouraged to resist because Christ resisted as we also have to resist, and conquered humanly, "tempted like as we are."

Such illustrations of the character and power of the devil may well rouse us to watchfulness and prayer. He is not omnipotent, but great must be the power of him who is described by Christ as the "prince of this world;" by Paul as "the god of this world, who has blinded the minds of those who believe not," and as "the prince of the power of the air, the Spirit that now works in the children of disobedience;" and of whom John says, "The whole world lies in 'the Evil One.'" "He is the head of the great confederacy of fallen spirits and wicked men against the rule of righteousness and love; the protagonist in the warfare against the Son of God, holding all the threads of the rebellion against heaven in which the vast majority of the human race are entangled and enslaved." Our encouragement is this, that the world is not left to this "Evil One," but that the Son of God has come to destroy his works. No wonder the devil strove to resist the Captain of our salvation. He excited Herod to slay Him in His infancy; tempted Him to save Himself and so leave men to perish; thought to overwhelm Him with sorrows, and crush Him by betrayal to His foes when He said to them, "This is your hour and the power of darkness;" then stirred up the Jews to crucify Him, and yet suggested that He might save Himself and come down from the cross. But Jesus conquered, by resisting every inducement to evil; by suffering every sorrow ordained; by submitting to the very death which seemed His defeat, but which proved to be His victory; by rising from the grave which was sealed and made secure as His lasting prison; and by ascending as our victorious champion to God. "Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in His cross. Now at the right hand of God He lives and reigns, to aid us by His intercession, to strengthen us by His Spirit, to overrule all events for our good, to reign until all His enemies, and. this "Evil One," be made His footstool.

Let us rejoice in His ability to aid and save. If Satan is our accuser, Christ is our advocate. If our foe condemns, our Friend acquits. If the devil tempts, Jesus prays. If the strong man armed attacks, the Stronger than he protects. If the serpent beguiles and envenoms, the Seed of the woman will crush his head. The lion that devours is no match for the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He who has "the power of death" is vanquished by the Prince of Life. Satan the adversary must yield to Emmanuel the Almighty Friend, Apollyon the destroyer to Jesus the Savior. If myriads of demons obey Beelzebub, our Leader is surrounded by "an innumerable company of angels," who under His direction are "ministering spirits" for the heirs of salvation. "More are those who are with us than those who are with them." The Evil One is not at the same time with all he seeks to destroy, but Jesus is never absent from one of His disciples, to whom He says, "I am with you always." By the help of this ever-present Savior, "we know that whoever is born of God sins not;" not habitually, not fatally, "but He who was begotten of God keeps him, and the Evil One touches him not." No fatal injury is done to those whom Christ protects, and for whom He intercedes "Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm."

Victory is sure. Satan shares not in any sense the authority and power of God; is God's enemy, not His minister; is the object of God's holy anger, as the foe of all goodness and happiness; and therefore we are not to "give place to the devil" as an inevitable necessity, but to resist him "steadfast in the faith," that God is against all that is evil, and will eventually conquer it, and "subdue all things to Himself." Therefore we are to be workers together with God, and fellow-soldiers with Jesus, in resisting and conquering "the Evil One." Imitating Him, let this petition, like the rest, be accompanied by appropriate efforts. While asking from God deliverance from Satan, let us not lay ourselves open to his assaults, nor listen to his wiles. Let every evil desire rising within us be abhorred as the devil's suggestion. In every forbidden pleasure, however beautiful it may appear, let us see the serpent's coil and hear the serpent's hiss; so may we turn from it and pass away. Let neither his threats nor his bribes cause us to turn aside from the narrow path. Let us so act in our conflict with the Evil One, that the eulogy of Milton may be merited by us—"No menace could divert him from his purpose; no intimidation on the one hand, and no promise of emolument on the other, could alter the serenity of his countenance, or shake the firmness of his soul." Thus imitating our Great Leader, in His name we may confidently set ourselves

"Against whatever may tempt, whatever seduce,
Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate, all you stratagems of hell,
And devilish machinations come to nothing."—Paradise Regained

When Apollyon in his fiercest form assaults us in our pilgrimage, and "straddles quite over the whole breadth of the way," let us boldly face him with a renewed avowal of our loyalty to our only Lord, and say, "I have given Him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to Him; and, to speak truth, I like His service, His company and country; leave off to persuade me, I am His servant, and I will follow Him." When the devil who tempted us to hesitate at the wicket-gate, to turn aside into bypath meadow, to slumber in the arbor, brings against us his own work to crush us with despondency, let us say with Christian, "All this is true, and much more which you have left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honor, is merciful and ready to forgive; these infirmities possessed me in your country, but I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince." However fierce the fight, the shield of faith will "quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One," and the sword of the Spirit wielded with prayer will enable Christian to say, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Thus may we realize the vision of the dreamer—"With that, Apollyon spread forth his dragon's wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more."

The Evil One often tempts experienced Christians by a false assurance that because they have won many victories and have conquered their old sins, they may remit vigilance. "We are never safe—the very stubble of our old sins may run into our eyes and blind us; the dregs of them may choke us; the ashes of them may kindle again and consume us. Therefore do we always need the present help of the Comforter, in order that His conviction may abide in our souls full of life and power; so that the Prince of this world may be judged in us also, even as he was judged by our Lord" (Hare). The Evil One was condemned, despoiled, dethroned by Christ in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, on the Cross, at the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost—in the case of every believer turned "from the power of Satan to God." Our Champion has given Satan his death-blow. We fight secure of victory. Let us turn the devil's weapons against himself, and make his assaults occasions of our triumph. As Paul not merely endured "the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him," but made his weakness an occasion of obtaining fresh strength from God and gloried in his infirmity; as Christ "by death destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil," so let us turn every assault on his part into a victory on ours, ascribing all the glory to Him in whose strength alone we triumph. "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Temptation yielded to "brought death into the world and all our woe." "By sin came death." Whatever might otherwise have been the lot of man, death as we know it, with all its circumstances of sickness, pain, infirmity, dread, anguish, and mourning, is the penalty included in the threatening, "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." The very ground was cursed by triumphant temptation. Sorrow and anxiety were superadded to toil. We are not dependent on ancient records for proof that sin causes suffering. Physical laws of health are expressions of the Divine will; and ignorance of them, arising from carelessness and indolence, is culpable, and entails various and heavy penalties. How many of the plagues that have decimated crowded cities have been caused by the willful blindness, the selfish apathy or greed which have neglected the first essentials of health—pure water, fresh air, and cleanliness! How many diseases are brought on by excessive indulgence of the appetites, how many accidents by recklessness? Where the sufferer himself is not blameworthy, how many pay the penalty of the faults of others; and in the case of inherited and constitutional disorders, how often in the physical world the solemn word uttered on Sinai is illustrated, and the sins of the father are visited on the children "to the third and fourth generation "!

Who can estimate the amount of evil caused to others by sensual excess? Take the one case of intemperance. Think of the tens of thousands of drunkards who bring disgrace upon their families, ruin on their homes, brokenness of heart on parents, wives, children. By prodigality, pride, improvidence, indolence, multitudes are beggared; by avarice and hoarding, multitudes more are left to suffer or perish, not because there is not enough and to spare, but because the stewards have yielded to the temptation of regarding what was entrusted to them as their own. Think of all the sorrows caused by an ungoverned temper, angry words, cherished hatred and revenge; evils abiding and still extending like ripples in water, long after the first provocation. Think of the national disasters resulting from ambition whether of princes or peoples, the cruel wars of contending factions and rival dynasties, the woes of millions the fruit of the caprice or pride of one; the miseries entailed by cruel superstitions, blind prejudices, imperious customs, false principles of legislation, oppressive governments! If we clearly see so much of the undoubted and immediate consequences of sin, how enormous must be the totality of "the evil" which, whether we see the connection or not, has been caused by yielding to the temptation into which we pray not to be brought; by serving rather than resisting "the Evil One"!

The word of God teaches us to regard all such sufferings as in themselves evil. The Stoicism which affects to treat them with indifference or to think them good, is contrary to human nature and the whole testimony of history. Men in all ages and countries have uttered one cry of distress because of abounding evil, and in various forms have united in one earnest prayer for deliverance. "The whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now." Christianity encourages resignation by teaching us that God is above all the evil, that He is our Father, that His name is Love, that we are to hallow that name by trusting Him to comfort us in sorrow, to help us in difficulty, to overrule all things for our welfare; but it nowhere teaches us to regard evil itself as good. Our Father takes the weapons aimed to hurt us and turns them into instruments to help us; but that which forged and aimed them is evil nevertheless. He converts what the devil intended for poison into heavenly medicine; but it was originally distilled from sin, and but for sin would not be needed as medicine. Poverty may be overruled to increase our spiritual store and sickness, to promote our soul's health, but poverty and sickness are evil and not good. The light afflictions that "work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," are afflictions nevertheless; and though "afterward they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness," yet "they are not joyous but grievous." They are mercifully utilized for the purifying of our faith, "which is much more precious than gold that perishes," because at present there is a "need be" for the process; but were there no inducements luring us to sin, there would be no necessity to be "in heaviness through manifold temptations." It was a mistaken heroism that induced some of the early Christians to provoke persecution, that they might win the martyr's crown; and it would be foolish sentimentalism to regret that we did not live in times when such distinction could be gained. Let us not envy the martyrs as though such sufferings are essential to victory;

"Nor think who to that bliss aspire
Must win their way through blood and fire:
The writhings of a wounded heart
Are fiercer than a foeman's dart." —Keble

But both the bleeding body and the wounded spirit, although giving occasion for the exercise of faith and the winning of reward, are in themselves evils which we may lawfully shun and deprecate as not of God.

We might well despair if our religion required us to feel the evils in the world to be good. Christ did not so teach. He regarded them as the work of the devil whom He came to vanquish. He unloosed the cords with which He said Satan had bound the cripple (Luke 13:16). "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." He set Himself against them. He did not submit to them as a necessity, nor bid us sit down under them in indolent despair or fatalistic apathy. He combated the evil of hunger, and fed the multitude; the evil of disease, and cured the sick; the evil of infirmity, and healed the lame and the blind. He rebuked the winds and waves that threatened shipwreck; He cast out the demons that possessed the insane; He vanquished death and the grave. Throughout the Old Testament men were taught to expect deliverance from temporal evils as a Divine reward, and Christ fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. He Himself suffered as our High Priest, but those sufferings were in themselves evil. The cup which He, as our Substitute for sin, drank in Gethsemane, was in itself not sweet but bitter, and as our Example He prayed to be spared the drinking of it. His murder was the greatest atrocity the world ever committed; and though overruled for man's salvation, was the culminating curse of the nation that perpetrated it, the evil of evils. Our Lord willingly suffered, but never regarded the sufferings themselves as good; and we therefore may be comforted in all our troubles by the permission to think of them as arising not from our Father's original design, but, although He will overrule them for our good, evils to which He is opposed and from which He will deliver.

No! evil cannot be good; it arises from sin; it is not the normal condition of the world, but a frightful disorder which is to be corrected, against which we are to contend together with God, for universal deliverance from which we are to pray. In our present state of discipline we dare not ask to be kept from all suffering, which may be needed for our spiritual welfare, but that we may be delivered from all evil which might injure the spirit. Our Father, "from seeming evil still educing good," knows when that which in itself is real evil can be turned into merely seeming evil, by changing its harmful into helpful tendencies; and therefore we offer this petition with reservation; we ask our Father to deliver us from trials not needed for our spiritual welfare, which might endanger our soul's health, which might make us evil by leading us into sin.

Mankind have universally sought deliverance from evils, but this has been the commencement and burden of their prayer. Christians are taught to begin with God, not with self. We first look up to Him as "our Father." We contemplate His holiness, wisdom, goodness. Reverencing His perfections and seeking His glory, desiring His will to be everywhere done, we may confidently because filially pray, "Deliver us from evil." This gives us hope, that we have not to expect deliverance by mere human efforts, which have been so often frustrated, but by the agency of the Almighty Father. "We have not to work our way upwards by stairs winding, broken, endless, to an indefinite shadowy point, which we are afraid to reach, lest it should prove to be nothing. We begin from the summit; we find there the substance of all the hope men have drawn from the promising but changeable aspects of the cloud-land below; we see that all the darkness of earth, all its manifold forms of evil, have come from the rays being intercepted which would have scattered it, and

shall scatter it altogether. Therefore we pray boldly, 'Deliver us from evil,' knowing assuredly that we are praying to be set free from that to which the will of the Creator is opposed" (Maurice).

This deliverance is effected in various ways. The evil dreaded may be altogether removed, the threatening cloud disperse, the stormy waves subside, the angry foe retreat; or we may be sheltered amid the storm, securely guarded in the fierce assault, and while severely distressed be so strengthened as to sustain no injury. We may not only be enabled to endure but to rejoice, so that the season of greatest trial may become one of greatest privilege, and the evils most dreaded promote our eternal good. "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trials." Let us leave the method with Him, and then with fullest assurance pray, "Deliver us from evil."

This petition, like the rest, has its practical and fraternal lessons. We are taught to say, not "deliver me," but "deliver us." We come to the throne of grace in company with our brethren, all exposed to similar evils. If we truly ask deliverance for them, we should endeavor to promote it. How can I pray God to save those whom I am too indolent or selfish to help? Sincerely to offer this prayer will stimulate our zeal in every branch of philanthropy; succoring the poor and the sick, teaching the ignorant, lifting up the fallen, comforting the sad, reclaiming the drunkard, promoting peace at home and abroad, reforming abuses, encouraging righteous legislation, and in every way according to our opportunity being "fellow-workers with God "in delivering the world from the evil against which we pray.


We have been viewing the streams, we come now to the source; those may be termed "evils," this is emphatically "the evil;" those surround us, this is within us. "Out of the heart proceeds" the sin that produces the evils, the heart which is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." Whatever may be said of evolution from lower to higher forms of physical organization, the word of God declares the fact of moral degeneracy. This does not consist in any specific form of vicious indulgence, but in the generic root of ungodliness. The evangelical doctrine does not assert that all men are depraved in the sense of outward wickedness, but of disregard to the Divine will. The depravity of vice is happily far from being universal, but the depravity of setting up self-pleasing as the rule of life is, alas! characteristic of the race. This leads men into different paths, according to the inclinations of each; but it is pleasure and not duty which is the guide; and though the path chosen may for a time happen to concur with the Divine will, as soon as this opposes the human will the latter prevails, with all its attendant evils. Paul, describing his spiritual condition prior to faith in Christ, says—"I find then the law, that to me, who would do good, evil is present…bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members."

"The evil" is not ourselves, originally, naturally, necessarily, by any Divine appointment. It is not resident in the body, as some have taught, else how hopeless would be our condition, ever dragging about with us a corrupting corpse from which death alone could free us! No, it is not in the body, but in the evil use of it. It is not in sorrow, which, though the result of sin, may be overruled for our eternal good, but in our impatience and distrust. It is not in our joys; as if the beauties with which the Creator has thickly strewn our path, the pleasure linked with the healthy exercise of every faculty, the delights of knowledge, social interaction, endearing relationships, had in them a secret poison, and must be regarded with suspicion and fear in proportion to their sweetness; no, but in our abuse of these blessings. It is not in the world itself; for we must live and work in it; must not dare to quit it until the Master calls; cannot if we would, should not if we could, come out of it by selfish isolation and indolent seclusion—but in being worldly in spirit, being of it as well as in it, living as though the present world was supreme. Christ was in the world, sharing its joys, sorrows and companionships, yet in Him was no evil. The evil is sin, and the root of all sin self-will. Outward temptation would be harmless but for this. Self-will is "the evil" of all evils.

While this remains unchecked there can be no true peace. Apart from evils caused by it, this condition of the soul is one of degradation and disquiet. "The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt; there is no peace, says my God, to the wicked." The soul is made for God, and can never be at peace until centered in Himself. Diderot, the infidel Cyclopaedist, makes a character in one of his plays say "To do wrong is to condemn ourselves to live and find our pleasure with wrong-doers; to pass an uncertain and troubled life in one long and never-ending lie; to have to praise with a blush the virtue we fling behind us; to seek a little calm in sophistical systems, that the breath of a single good man scatters to the winds; to shut ourselves forever out from the spring of true joys, the only joys that are virtuous and sublime; and to give ourselves up, simply as an escape from ourselves, to the weariness of mere frivolous diversions, in which the day flows away in half-oblivion, and life glides slowly from us, and loses itself in waste." Another votary of pleasure, who, to silence remorse, encouraged himself in unbelief, has left this sad testimony to the bitterness of "the evil"—

"And do you ask what secret woe
I bear, corroding joy and youth?
And will you vainly seek to know
A pang even you must fail to soothe?

It is that settled, ceaseless gloom
The fabled Hebrew wanderer bore,
That will not look beyond the tomb,
But cannot hope for rest before.

What exile from himself can flee?
To zones though more and more remote,
Still, still pursues wherever I be
The blight of life— the demon THOUGHT."—Childe Harold

Sooner or later, mostly in this life, always in the next, the votary of evil, the slave of self-will, discovers that the pleasure promised by sin is a delusion, and its seeming good evil only. A wise Chinese proverb says, "Who finds pleasure in evil and pain in virtue, is a novice in both." Sin is the object of the believer's chief abhorrence and resistance. It burdens the conscience, disturbs peace, prevents usefulness, darkens hopes, and hinders conversation with heaven. There is no real evil in what the world calls dishonor, poverty, pain. Sin is disgrace indeed, dragging us down from our true nobility, whatever our earthly distinctions; it is poverty, whatever our store; and sickness, though the body be robust; and death, while we seem to live. As a man's life consists not in what he has but what he is, so his poverty is not the lack of "things," but of goodness. The wounds made by sorrow have no poison in them, and soon heal; but sin envenoms and destroys. Disease may mark the body, but "the evil" brands the soul. It is this which militates against the whole prayer. Do we say "Our Father"? This prevents a filial spirit, and separates us from God and one another. Do we add "in heaven"? This unfits for its holiness, and obscures our hopes of reaching it. "Hallowed be Your name"? This dishonors it. "Your kingdom come"? This hinders it. "Your will be done"? This resists it. "Give us our daily bread"? This claims it as a right, and renders no thanks. "Forgive us our debts"? This augments them. "As we forgive"? This exacts. "Bring us not into temptation"? By this we bring ourselves into it. The seventh petition therefore appropriately closes, as it summarizes the prayer—Our Father! deliver us from evil.

All men naturally pray against temporal evils; those who are taught by the Holy Spirit pray also and chiefly against "the evil." The former seek escape from what is inconvenient to themselves, the latter from what is displeasing to God. "Evils" are light and transitory, soon forgotten, and leave no trace but the "good" they "work together" to produce in the heart; but sin, "the evil," is unmitigated, permanent, destructive. The unregenerate may hate and strive against some special form of moral evil, as drunkenness; but Christians strive to destroy the root out of which all the branches grow. Others may dread the consequences, but these hate the cause. Others may join in the petitions for bread and pardon; but those alone who truly say, "Our Father," truly pray, "Deliver us from evil." Is this our earnest prayer? If we are not seeking deliverance from sin above all other evils, its consequences cannot be escaped. There is no escape from its evils but by salvation from itself.

We are not left in doubt as to the possibility of such deliverance. To answer the prayer He Himself taught, the Son of God came into the world. This was His one great purpose; "You shall call His name Jesus—for He shall save His people from their sins." As our Example, He so ruled His own strong human will that it was ever subservient to the supreme authority of God, and He said, "Father, not my will, but Yours be done." His whole life was one of self-abnegation. "He pleased not Himself." "He gave His life a ransom for many." By His atonement He removed the evil of condemnation, and by His Spirit He destroys the evil principle in the heart. He constrains us by his own love to love Him in return, and thus prompts us to that entire surrender to Himself which is the sure corrective of "the evil." Thus the Baptist described Him as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,"—the sin, not the sins—He does take these away with all their manifold evils; but He does more by taking away the root, the producing cause, the very principle of evil, the sin of the world. To Him who taught us thus to pray, we look for the deliverance which He died and lives to accomplish. "Good Lord! deliver us. By Your Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation; by Your Agony and bloody Sweat, by Your Cross and Passion, by Your precious Death and Burial, by Your glorious Resurrection and Ascension, good Lord! deliver us."

We look for the coming of the kingdom in this world, when the victory over evil shall be complete. Until then we cannot escape "evils," but we may be delivered from "the evil." Paul and Silas were suffering the evils when they were in the inner prison, with bleeding wounds and feet fast in the stocks; but delivered from "the evil," they were praying and singing to God, and the prisoners were listening in wonder. Sufferings merely external may be easily endured when the heart's great malady is healed; as the roaring wind and the rattle of rain and hail at the windows outside do not diminish the pleasure of a company of loving friends, with cheery conversation and sweet music, before a blazing hearth. "Outward troubles do not disturb inward peace, but an unholy affection does. All the winds without, cause not an earthquake; but that within the earth's own affections does" (Leighton). "One drop of sin has more evil in it than a sea of sorrow."

The entire prayer is an argument in support of the closing petition. "Our Father in heaven;" save Your children, and let us not, by yielding to evil, grieve You—"Hallowed be Your Name;" keep us from the evil that dishonors You—"Your kingdom come;" let us not, by yielding to evil, retard it—"Your will be done;" let us not by sin oppose it—"Give us this day our daily bread;" preserve us from the evil of ingratitude to the Giver—"Forgive us our trespasses;" let us not repeat them—"Bring us not into temptation;" lest we fall into sin—"But deliver us from evil." Deliverance is the climax of the prayer. Not "evil," but salvation is the closing note. O blessed hope! O glorious certainty, that all who call God Father will some day be delivered perfectly and forever from evil of every kind—from the power of the "Evil One;" from all the evils sin has caused; from every taint of evil within; dwelling in our Father's presence, seeing Him as He is, and sharing His perfect purity and bliss. Dying Jacob invoked "the Angel who redeemed him from all evil;" and we will adore the Savior who for us conquered the "Evil One;" and with the apostle will exult in the assurance, "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work."

The Author of the prayer is Himself the Mediator by whom it is fulfilled. He reveals God as "Our Father;" saying, "He who has seen me has seen the Father:" He hallows the "Name" by exhibiting the nature of God—of "the Kingdom," He is the Vicegerent and Head—"the Will" was perfectly done by Him, and, through the Holy Spirit He gives, is done by us—the "Daily Bread" is a symbol of Himself, the manna from heaven—"Trespasses" are forgiven through His sacrifice—He is the most illustrious example of "Temptation" resisted, and the Giver of the grace by which we resist—He conquered the Evil One, neutralized the evils of sin, and delivers us from the power of evil by His love "shed abroad in the heart."

Against the powers of darkness,
With hellish craft and rage,
Our heavenly Captain calls us
Incessant war to wage:
But who would be deserter
From such a noble fight?
We're sure of deathless triumph,
We struggle for the right.
We'll bless You for the battle,
We'll glory in the strife;
We'll shout at call of trumpet,
We'll win eternal life
Strong in the strength of Jesus,
And in His Spirit brave,
Crowned through eternal ages,
We'll sing His power to save. —Newman Hall