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Historical Sketches: Volumes 1 To 3 -Blessed John Henry Newman

“He found him in a desert land, in a place of horror and of wilderness; He led him about, and taught him; and He kept him as the apple of His eye.”


IT would be a great mistake for us to suppose that we need quit our temporal calling, and go into retirement, in order to serve God acceptably. Christianity is a religion for this world, for the busy and influential, for the rich and powerful, as well as for the poor. A writer of the age of Justin Martyr expresses this clearly and elegantly:—“Christians differ not,” he says, “from other men, in country, or language, or customs. They do not live in any certain cities, or employ any particular dialect, or cultivate peculiar habits of life. They dwell in cities, Greek and barbarian, each where he finds himself placed; and while they submit to the fashion of their country in dress and food, and the general conduct of life, still they maintain a system of interior polity, which, beyond all controversy, is admirable and strange. The countries they inhabit are their own, but they dwell like aliens. They marry, like other men, and do not exclude their children from their affections; their table is open to all around them; they live in the flesh, but not according to the flesh; they walk on earth, but their conversation is in heaven.”—Ad Diogn. 5.

Yet, undeniable as it is, that there is never an obligation upon Christians in general to leave, and often an obligation against leaving, their worldly engagements and possessions, still it is as undeniable that such an abandonment is often praiseworthy, and in particular cases a duty. Our Saviour expressly told one, who was rich and young, “to sell all, and give to the poor;” and surely He does not speak in order to immortalize exceptions or extreme cases, or fugitive forms of argument, refutation, or censure. Even looking at the subject in a merely human light, one may pronounce it to be a narrow and shallow system, that Protestant philosophy, which forbids all the higher and more noble impulses of the mind, and forces men to eat, drink, and be merry, whether they will or no. But the mind of true Christianity is expansive enough to admit high and low, rich and poor, one with another.

If the primitive Christians are to be trusted as witnesses of the genius of the Gospel system, certainly it is of that elastic and comprehensive character which removes the more powerful temptations to extravagance, by giving, as far as possible, a sort of indulgence to the feelings and motives which lead to it, correcting them the while, purifying them, and reining them in, ere they get excessive. Thus, whereas our reason naturally loves to expatiate at will to and fro through all subjects known and unknown, Catholicism does not oppress us with an irrational bigotry, prescribing to us the very minutest details of thought, so that a man can never have an opinion of his own; on the contrary, its creed is ever what it was, and never moves out of the ground which it originally occupied, and it is cautious and precise in its decisions, and distinguishes between things necessary and things pious to believe, between wilfulness and ignorance. At the same time, it asserts the supremacy of faith, the guilt of unbelief, and the divine mission of the Church; so that reason is brought round again and subdued to the obedience of Christ, at the very time when it seems to be launching forth without chart upon the ocean of speculation. And it pursues the same course in matters of conduct. It opposes the intolerance of what are called “sensible Protestants.” It is shocked at the tyranny of those who will not let a man do anything out of the way without stamping him with the name of fanatic. It deals softly with the ardent and impetuous, saying, in effect—“My child, you may do as many great things as you will; but I have already made a list for you to select from. You are too docile to pursue ends merely because they are of your own choosing; you seek them because they are great. You wish to live above the common course of a Christian;—I can teach you to do this, yet without arrogance.” Meanwhile the sensible Protestant divine keeps to his point, hammering away on his own ideas, urging every one to be as every one else, and moulding all minds upon his one small model; and when he has made his ground good to his own admiration, he finds that half his flock have after all turned Wesleyans or Independents, by way of searching for something divine and transcendental.


These remarks are intended as introductory to some notice of the life of St. Antony, the first monk, who finished his work in Egypt just about the time that St. Basil was renewing that work in Asia Minor. The words “monk,” “monastic,” mean “solitary,” and, if taken literally, certainly denote a mode of life which is so far contrary to nature as to require some special direction or inspiration for its adoption. Christ sent His Apostles by two and two; and surely He knew what was in man from the day that He said—“It is not good for him to be alone.” So far, then, Antony’s manner of life may be ill-fitted to be a rule for others; but his pattern in this respect was not adopted by his followers, who by their numbers were soon led to the formation of monastic societies, nay, who, after a while, entangled even Antony himself in the tie of becoming in a certain sense their religious head and teacher. Monachism consisting, not in solitariness, but in austerities, prayers, retirement, and obedience, had nothing in it, surely, but what was perfectly Christian, and, under circumstances, exemplary; especially when viewed in its connexion with the relative duties, which were soon afterwards appropriated to it, of being almoner of the poor, of educating the clergy, and of defending the faith. In short, Monachism became, in a little while, nothing else than a peculiar department of the Christian ministry—a ministry not of the sacraments, but especially of the word and doctrine; not indeed by any formal ordination to it, for it was as yet a lay profession, but by the common right, or rather duty, which attaches to all of us to avow, propagate, and defend the truth, especially when such zeal for it has received the countenance and encouragement of our spiritual rulers.

St. Antony’s life, written by his friend, the great Athanasius, has come down to us. Some critics, indeed, doubt its genuineness, or consider it interpolated. Rivetus and others reject it; Du Pin decides, on the whole, that it is his, but with additions; the Benedictines and Tillemont ascribe it to him unhesitatingly. I conceive no question can be raised with justice about its substantial integrity; and on rising from the perusal of it, all candid readers will pronounce Antony a wonderful man. Enthusiastic he certainly must be accounted, according to English views of things; and had he lived a Protestant in this Protestant day, he would have been exposed to a serious temptation of becoming a fanatic. Longing for some higher rule of life than any which the ordinary forms of society admit, and finding our present lines too rigidly drawn to include any character of mind that is much out of the way, any rule that is not “gentlemanlike,” “comfortable,” and “established,” and hearing. nothing of the Catholic Church, he might possibly have broken what he could not bend. The question is not, whether such impatience is not open to the charge of wilfulness and self-conceit; but whether, on the contrary, such special resignation to worldly comforts as we see around us, is not often the characteristic of nothing else than selfishness and sloth;—whether there are not minds with ardent feelings, keen imaginations, and undisciplined tempers, who are under a strong irritation prompting them to run wild,—whether it is not our duty (so to speak) to play with such, carefully letting out line enough lest they snap it,—and whether the Protestant Establishment is as indulgent and as wise as might be desired in its treatment of such persons, inasmuch as it provides no occupation for them, does not understand how to turn them to account, lets them run to waste, tempts them to dissent, loses them, is weakened by the loss, and then denounces them.

But to return to Antony. Did I see him before me, I might be tempted, with my cut and dried opinions, and my matter-of-fact ways, and my selfishness and pusillanimity, to consider him somewhat of an enthusiast; but what I desire to point out to the reader, and especially to the Protestant, is the subdued and Christian form which was taken by his enthusiasm, if it must be so called. It was not vulgar, bustling, imbecile, unstable, undutiful; it was calm and composed, manly, intrepid, magnanimous, full of affectionate loyalty to the Church and to the Truth.


Antony was born A.D. 251, while Origen was still alive, while Cyprian was bishop of Carthage, Dionysius bishop of Alexandria, and Gregory Thaumaturgus of Neocæsarea; he lived till A.D. 356, to the age of 105, when Athanasius was battling with the Emperor Constantius, nine years after the birth of St. Chrysostom, and two years after that of St. Augustine. He was an Egyptian by birth, and the son of noble, opulent, and Christian parents. He was brought up as a Christian, and, from his boyhood, showed a strong disposition towards a solitary life. Shrinking from the society of his equals, and despising the external world in comparison of the world within him, he set himself against what is considered a liberal education—that is, the study of philosophy and of foreign languages. At the same time, he was very dutiful to his parents, simple and self-denying in his habits, and attentive to the sacred services and readings of the Church.

Before he arrived at man’s estate he had lost both his parents, and was left with a sister, who was a child, and an ample inheritance. His mind at this time was earnestly set upon imitating the Apostles and their converts, who gave up their possessions and followed Christ. One day, about six months after his parents’ death, as he went to church, as usual, the subject pressed seriously upon him. The Gospel of the day happened to contain the text—“If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all that thou hast.” Antony applied it to himself, and acted upon it He had three hundred acres,* of especial fertility, even for Egypt; these he at once made over to the use of the poor of his own neighbourhood. Next, he turned into money all his personal property, and reserving a portion for his sister’s use, gave the rest to the poor. After a while he was struck by hearing in church the text—“Be not solicitous for to-morrow;” and considering he had not yet fully satisfied the Evangelical counsel, he gave away what he had reserved, placing his sister in the care of some women, who had devoted themselves to the single state.

He commenced his ascetic life, according to the custom then observed, by retiring to a place not far from his own home. Here he remained for a while to steady and fix his mind in his new habits, and to gain what advice he could towards the perfect formation of them, from such as had already engaged in the like object. This is a remarkable trait, as Athanasius records it, as showing how little he was influenced by self-will or a sectarian spirit in what he was doing, how ardently he pursued an ascetic life as in itself good, and how willing he was to become the servant of any who might give him directions in pursuing it. But this will be best shown by an extract:—

“There was, in the next village, an aged man who had lived a solitary life from his youth. Antony, seeing him, ‘was zealous in a good thing,’ and first of all adopted a similar retirement in the neighbourhood of the village. And did he hear of any zealous person anywhere, he would go and seek him out, like a wise man; not returning home till he had seen him, and gained from him some stock, as it were, for his journey towards holiness. He laboured with his hands, according to the words—‘If anyone will not work, neither let him eat;’ laying out part of his produce in bread, part on the poor. He prayed continually, having learned that it is a duty to pray in private without ceasing. So attentive, indeed, was he to sacred reading, that he let no part of the Scripture fall from him to the ground, but retained all, memory serving in place of book. In this way he gained the affections of all; he, in turn, subjecting himself sincerely to the zealous men whom he visited, and marking down, in his own thoughts, the special attainment of each in zeal and ascetic life—the refined manners of one, another’s continuance in prayer, the meekness of a third, the kindness of a fourth, the long vigils of a fifth, the studiousness of a sixth. This one had a marvellous gift of endurance, that of fasting and sleeping on the ground; this was gentle, that long-suffering; and in one and all he noted the devotion towards Christ, and love one towards another. Thus furnished, he returned to his own ascetic retreat, henceforth combining in himself their separate exercises, and zealously minded to exemplify them all. This, indeed, was his only point of emulation with those of his own age, viz. that he might not come off second to them in good things; and this he so pursued as to annoy no one, rather to make all take delight in him. Accordingly, all the villagers of the place, and religious persons who were acquainted with him, seeing him such, called him God’s beloved, and cherished him as a son or as a brother.”—§ 4.

Of course this account is the mere relation of a fact; but, over and above its historical character, it evidently is meant as the description of a type of character which both the writer and those for whom he wrote thought eminently Christian. Taking it then as being, in a certain line, the beau ideal of what Protestants would call the enthusiasm of the time, I would request of them to compare it with the sort of religion into which the unhappy enthusiast of the present day is precipitated by the high and dry system of the Establishment; and he will see how much was gained to Christianity, in purity, as well as unity, by that monastic system, the place of which in this country is filled by methodism and dissent.

After a while, our youth’s enthusiasm began to take its usual course. His spirits fell, his courage flagged; a reaction followed, and the temptations of the world which he had left assaulted him with a violence which showed that as yet he had not mastered the full meaning of his profession. Had he been nothing more than an enthusiast, he would have gone back to the world. The property he had abandoned, the guardianship of his sister, his family connexions, the conveniences of wealth, worldly reputation, disgust of the sameness and coarseness of his food, bodily infirmity, the tediousness of his mode of living, and the absence of occupation, presented themselves before his imagination, and became instruments of temptation. Other and fiercer assaults succeeded. However, his faith rose above them all, or rather, as Athanasius says, “not himself, but the grace of God that was in him.” His biographer proceeds:—

“Such was Antony’s first victory over the devil, or rather the Saviour’s glorious achievement in him, ‘who hath condemned sin in the flesh, that the justification of the law may be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.’ Not, however, as if Antony, fancying the devil was subdued, was neglectful afterwards, and secure; knowing from the Scriptures that there are many devices of the enemy, he was persevering in his ascetic life. He was the more earnest in chastising his body, and bringing it into subjection, lest, triumphing in some things, in others he might be brought low. His vigils were often through the whole night. He ate but once in the day, after sunset; sometimes after two days, often after four: his food was bread and salt,—his drink, water only. He never had more than a mat to sleep on, but generally lay down on the ground. He put aside oil for anointing, saying that the youthful ought to be forward in their asceticism, and, instead of seeking what might relax the body, to accustom it to hardships, remembering the Apostle’s words—‘When I am weak, then am I powerful.’ He thought it unsuitable to measure either holy-living, or retirement for the sake of it, by length of time; but by the earnest desire and deliberate resolve of being holy. Accordingly, he never himself used to take any account of the time gone by; but, day by day, as if ever fresh beginning his exercise, he made still greater efforts to advance, repeating to himself continually the saying of the Apostle, ‘forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forth myself to those that are before.’ ”—§ 7.


Such was his life for about fifteen years. At the end of this time, being now thirty-five, he betook himself to the desert, having first spent some days in prayers and holy exercises in the tombs. Here, however, I am compelled to introduce another subject, which has already entered into Athanasius’s text, though it has not been necessary to notice it,—his alleged conflicts with the evil spirits; to it, then, let us proceed.

It is quite certain, then, that Antony believed himself to be subjected to sensible and visible conflicts with evil spirits. It would not be consistent with our present argument to rescue him from the imputation of enthusiasm: he must be here considered an enthusiast, else I cannot make use of him; the very drift of my account of him being to show how enthusiasm is sobered and refined by being submitted to the discipline of the Church, instead of being allowed to run wild externally to it. I say, if he were not an enthusiast, or at least in danger of being such, we should lose one chief instruction which his life conveys. To maintain, however, that he was an enthusiast, is far from settling the question to which the narrative of his spiritual conflicts gives rise; so I shall first make some extracts descriptive of them, and then comment upon them.

The following is the account of his visit to the tombs:—

“Thus bracing himself after the pattern of Elias, he set off to the tombs, which were some distance from his village; and giving directions to an acquaintance to bring him bread after some days interval, he entered into one of them, suffered himself to be shut in, and remained there by himself. This the enemy not enduring, yea, rather dreading, lest before long he should engross the desert also with his holy exercise, assaulted him one night with a host of spirits, and so lashed him, that he lay speechless on the ground from the torture, which, he declared, was far more severe than from strokes which man could inflict. But, by God’s Providence, who does not overlook those who hope in Him, on the next day his acquaintance came with the bread; and, on opening the door, saw him lying on the ground as if dead. Whereupon he carried him to the village church, and laid him on the ground; and many of his relations and the villagers took their places by the body, as if he were already dead. However, about midnight his senses returned, and collecting himself, he observed that they were all asleep except his aforesaid acquaintance; whereupon he beckoned him to his side, and asked of him, without waking any of them, to carry him back again to the tombs.

“The man took him back: and when he was shut in, as before, by himself, being unable to stand from his wounds, he lay down, and began to pray. Then he cried out loudly, ‘Here am I, Antony; I do not shun your blows. Though ye add to them, yet nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ.’ And then he began to sing, ‘If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.’ The devil has no trouble in devising diverse shapes of evil. During the night, therefore, the evil ones made so great a tumult, that the whole place seemed to be shaken, and, as if they broke down the four walls of the building, they seemed to rush in in the form of wild beasts and reptiles.… But Antony, though scourged and pierced, felt indeed his bodily pain, but the rather kept vigil in his soul. So, as he lay groaning in body, yet a watcher in his mind, he spoke in taunt—‘Had ye any power, one of you would be enough to assail me; you try, if possible, to frighten me with your number, because the Lord has spoiled you of your strength. Those pretended forms are the proofs of your impotence. Our seal and wall of defence is faith in our Lord.’ After many attempts, then, they gnashed their teeth at him, because they were rather making themselves a sport than him. But the Lord a second time remembered the conflict of Antony, and came to his help. Raising his eyes, he saw the roof as if opening, and a beam of light descending towards him; suddenly the devils vanished, his pain ceased, and the building was whole again. Upon this Antony said, ‘Where art Thou, Lord? why didst Thou not appear at the first, to ease my pain?’ A voice answered, ‘Antony, I was here, but waited to see thy bearing in the contest; since, therefore, thou hast sustained and not been worsted, I will be to thee an aid for ever, and I will make thy name famous in every place.’ ”—§§ 9, 10.

After this preliminary vigil, Antony made for the desert, where he spent the next twenty years in solitude. Athanasius gives the following account of his life there:—

“The following day he left the tombs, and his piety becoming still more eager, he went to the old man before mentioned, and prayed him to accompany him into the desert. When he declined by reason of his age and the novelty of the proposal, he set off for the mountain by himself … and finding beyond the river a strong place, deserted so long a while that venomous reptiles abounded there, he went thither, and took possession of it, they farther retreating, as if one pursued them. Blocking up the entrance, and laying in bread for six months (as the Thebans are wont, often keeping their bread a whole year), and having a well of water indoors, he remained, as if in a shrine, neither going abroad himself, nor seeing any of those who came to him.… He did not allow his acquaintance to enter; so, while they remained often days and nights without, they used to hear noises within; blows, pitiable cries, such as ‘Depart from our realm! what part hast thou in the desert? thou shalt perforce yield to our devices.’ At first they thought he was in dispute with some men who had entered by means of ladders; but when they had contrived to peep in through a chink, and saw no one, then they reckoned it was devils that they heard, and, in terror, called Antony. He cared for them more than for the spirits, and coming at once near the door, bade them go away and not fear; ‘for,’ he said, ‘the devils make all this feint to alarm the timid. Ye, then, sign yourselves, and depart in confidence, and let them mock their ownselves.’ ”—§§ 12, 13.


To enter into the state of opinion and feeling which such accounts imply, it is necessary to observe, that, as regards the Church’s warfare with the devil, the primitive Christians, as Catholics since, considered themselves to be similarly circumstanced with the Apostles. They did not draw a line, as is the fashion with Protestants, between the condition of the Church in their day and in the first age, but believed that what she had been, such she was still in her trials and in her powers; that the open assaults of Satan, and their own means of repelling them, were such as they are described in the Gospels. Exorcism was a sacred function with them, and the energumen took his place with catechumens and penitents, as in the number of those who had the especial prayers, and were allowed some of the privileges, of the Christian body. Our Saviour speaks of the power of exorcising as depending on fasting and prayer, in certain special cases, and thus distinctly countenances the notion of a direct conflict between the Christian athlete and the powers of evil,—a conflict, carried on, on the side of the former, by definite weapons, for definite ends, and not that indirect warfare merely which an ordinary religious course of life implies. “This kind can go out by nothing but by prayer and fasting.” Surely none of Christ’s words are chance words; He spoke with a purpose, and the Holy Spirit guided the Evangelists in their selection of them with a purpose; and if so, this text is a rule and an admonition, and was acted upon as such by the primitive Christians, whether from their received principles of interpretation or the traditionary practice of the Church.

In like manner, whether from their mode of interpreting Scripture, or from the opinions and practices which came down to them, they conceived the devil to be allowed that power over certain brute animals which Scripture sometimes assigns to him. He is known on one memorable occasion to have taken the form of a serpent; at another time, a legion of devils possessed a herd of swine. These instances may, for what we know, be revealed specimens of a whole side of the Divine Dispensation, viz., the interference of spiritual agencies, good and bad, with the course of the world, under which, perhaps, the speaking of Balaam’s ass falls; and the early Christians, whether so understanding Scripture, or from their traditionary system, acted as if they really were such specimens. They considered that brute nature was widely subjected to the power of spirits; as, on the other hand, there had been a time when even the Creator Spirit had condescended to manifest Himself in the bodily form of a dove. Their notions concerning local demoniacal influences as existing in oracles and idols, in which they were sanctioned by Scripture, confirmed this belief. Accordingly, they took passages like the following literally, and used them as a corroborative proof: “Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.” “They shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” “Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour.” “I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs … they are the spirits of devils, working signs.” Add to these, Daniel’s vision of the four beasts; and the description of leviathan, in the book of Job, which was interpreted of the evil spirit.

Moreover, there is a ground of deep philosophy on which such notions may be based, and which appears to have been held by these primitive Christians; viz., that visible things are types and earnests of things invisible. The elements are, in some sense, symbols and tokens of spiritual agents, good and bad. Satan is called the prince of this air. Still more mysterious than inanimate nature is the family of brute animals, whose limbs and organs are governed by some motive principle unknown. Surely there is nothing abstractedly absurd in considering certain hideous developments of nature as tokens of the presence of the unseen author of evil, as soon as we once admit that he exists. Certainly the sight of a beast of prey, with his malevolent passions, savage cruelty, implacable rage, malice, cunning, sullenness, restlessness, brute hunger, irresistible strength, though there cannot be sin in any of these qualities themselves, awakens very awful and complicated musings in a religious mind, Thus a philosophical view of nature would be considered. in the times I speak of, to corroborate the method of Scripture interpretation which those same times adopted.

But, moreover, Scripture itself seemed, in the parallel case of demoniacs, to become its own interpreter. It was notorious that in the Apostolic age devils made human beings their organs; why, then, much more, should not brute beasts be such? The simple question was, whether the state of things in the third century was substantially the same as it was in the first; and this, I say, the early Christians assumed in the affirmative, and certainly, whether they were judges of this question or not, I suppose they were as good judges as Protestants are. The case of demoniacs should be carefully considered, since their sufferings often seem to have been neither more nor less than what would now be hastily attributed to natural diseases, and would be treated by medical rules. The demoniac whom the Apostles could not cure had certain symptoms which in another would have been called epileptic. Again, the woman who was bowed together for eighteen years, and was cured by Christ, is expressly said to have had “a spirit of infirmity,” to have been “bound by Satan.” If, then, what looks like disease may sometimes be the token of demoniacal presence and power, though ordinarily admitting of medical treatment, why is it an objection to the connexion of the material or animal world with spirits, that the laws of mineral agents, or the peculiarities of brute natures, can also be drawn out into system on paper, and can be anticipated and reckoned on by our knowledge of that system? The same objection lies, nay, avails, against the one and the other. The very same scoffing temper which rejects the teaching of the Church, primitive and modern, concerning Satan’s power, as “Pagan,” “Oriental,” and the like, does actually assail the inspired statements respecting it also, explains away demoniacal possessions as unreal, and maintains that Christ and His Apostles spoke by way of accommodation, and in the language of their day, when they said that Satan bound us with diseases and plagues, and was “prince of the power of this air.”

Dreams are another department of our present state of being, through which, as Scripture informs us, the Supernatural sometimes acts; and in the same general way; i.e. not always, and by ascertainable rules, but by the virtue of occasional, though real, connexion with them.


On the whole, then, I am led to conclude that, supposing I found a narrative, such as Antony’s, of the Apostles’ age, it would be sufficiently agreeable to the narratives of Scripture to make me dismiss from my mind all antecedent difficulties in believing it. On the other hand, did the miracle of the swine occur in the life of St. Antony, I venture to maintain that men of this scientific day would not merely suspend their judgment, or pronounce it improbable (which they might have a right to do), but would at once, and peremptorily, pronounce it altogether incredible and false: so as to make it appear that

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

I have no wish to trifle, or argue with subtlety upon a very deep subject. This earth had become Satan’s kingdom; our Lord came to end his usurpation; but Satan retreated only inch by inch. The Church of Christ is hallowed ground, but external to it is the kingdom of darkness. Many serious persons think that the evil spirits have, even now, extraordinary powers in heathen lands, to say nothing of the remains of their ancient dominion in countries now Christian. There are strange stories told in heathen populations of sorcerers and the like. Nay, how strange are the stories which only in half-heathen, or even Christian places, have come perhaps to our own knowledge! How unaccountable to him who has met with them are the sudden sounds, the footsteps, and the noises which he has heard in solitary places, or when in company with others

These things being considered, were I a candid Protestant, I would judge of Antony’s life thus:—I should say: “There may be enthusiasm here; there may be, at times, exaggerations and misconceptions of what, as they really happened, meant nothing. And still, it may be true also that that conflict, begun by our Lord when He was interrogated and assaulted by Satan, was continued in the experience of Antony, who lived not so very long after Him. How far the evil spirit acted, how far he was really present in material forms, how far on the other hand was dream, how far imagination, is little to the purpose. I see, anyhow, the root of a great truth here, and think that those are wiser who admit something than those who deny everything. I see Satan frightened at the invasions of the Church upon his kingdom; I see him dispossessed by fasting and prayer, as was predicted; I see him retreating step by step; and I see him doing his utmost in whatever way to resist. Nor is there anything uncongenial to the Gospel system, that so direct a war, with such definite weapons, should be waged upon him; a war which has not the ordinary duties of life and of society for its subject-matter and instruments. That text about fasting and prayer is a canon in sanction of it: our Saviour too Himself was forty days in the wilderness; and St. Peter at Joppa, and St. John at Patmos, show us that duties of this world may be providentially suspended under the Gospel, and a direct intercourse with the next world may be opened upon the Christian.”

And if so much be allowed, certainly there is nothing in Antony’s life to make us suspicious of him personally. His doctrine surely was pure and unimpeachable; and his temper is high and heavenly,—without cowardice, without gloom, without formality, and without self-complacency. Superstition is abject and crouching, it is full of thoughts of guilt; it distrusts God, and dreads the powers of evil. Antony at least has nothing of this, being full of holy confidence, divine peace, cheerfulness, and valorousness, be he (as some men may judge) ever so much an enthusiast. But on this subject I shall say something in the next chapter.

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