Giving the Devil His Due
I know there is a devil for two reasons; first, the Bible declares it; and second I have done business with him.—Billy Sunday.
THE Prince of Darkness was no more real to Martin , Luther, when he flung his ink-well at the devil, than > he is to Billy Sunday. He seems never long out of the evangelist's thought. Sunday regards him as his most personal and individual foe. Scarcely a day passes that he does not direct his attention publicly to the devil. He addresses him and defies him, and he cites Satan as a sufficient explanation for most of the world's afflictions.
There are many delicate shadings and degrees and differentiations in theology—but Billy Sunday does not know them. He never speaks in semitones, nor thinks in a nebulous way. His mind and his word are at one with his base-ball skill—a swift, straight passage between two points. With him men are either sheep or goats; there are no hybrids. Their destination is heaven or hell, and their master is God or the devil.
He believes in the devil firmly, picturesquely; and fights him without fear. His characterizations of the devil are hair-raising. As a matter of fact it is far easier for the average man, close down to the ruck and red realities of life, to believe in the devil, whose work he well knows, than it is for the cloistered man of books. The mass of the people think in the same sort of strong, large, elemental terms as Billy Sunday. The niceties of language do not bother them; they are the makers and users of that fluid speech called slang.
William A. Sunday is an elemental. Sophistication would spoil him. He is dead sure of a few truths of first magnitude. He believes without reservation or qualification in the Christ who saved him and reversed his life's direction. Upon this theme he has preached to millions. Also he is sure that there is a devil, and he rather delights in telling old Satan out loud what he thinks of him. Meanness, in Satan, sinner or saint, he hates and says so in the language of the street, which the common people understand. He usually perturbs some fastidious folk who think that literary culture and religion are essentially interwoven.
Excoriation of the devil is not Sunday's masterpiece. He reaches his height in exaltation of Jesus Christ. He is surer of his Lord than he is of the devil. It is his bed-rock belief that Jesus can save anybody, from the gutter bum to the soul-calloused, wealthy man of the world, and make them both new creatures. With heart tenderness and really yearning love he holds aloft the Crucified as the world's only hope. That is why his gospel breaks hearts of stone and makes Bible-studying, praying church workers out of strange assortments of humanity.
The following passages will show how familiarly and frequently Sunday treats of the devil:
The devil isn't anybody's fool. You can bank on that. Plenty of folks will tell you there isn't any devil— that he is just a figure of speech; a poetic personification of the sin in our natures. People who say that—and especially all the time-serving, hypocritical ministers who say it—are liars. They are calling the Holy Bible a lie. I'll believe the Bible before I'll believe a lot of time-serving, societyfied, tea-drinking, smirking preachers. No, sir! You take God's word for it, there is a devil, and a big one, too.
Oh, but the devil is a smooth guy! He always was, and he is now. He is right on his job all the time, winter and summer. Just as he appeared to Christ in the wilderness, he is right in this tabernacle now, trying to make you sinners indifferent to Christ's sacrifice for your salvation. When the invitation is given, and you start to get up, and then settle back into your seat, and say, "I guess I don't want to give way to a temporary impulse," that's the real, genuine, blazing-eyed, cloven-hoofed, forked-tailed old devil, hanging to your coat tail. He knows all your weaknesses, and how to appeal to them.
He knows about you and how you have spent sixty dollars in the last two years for tobacco, to make your home and the streets filthy, and that you haven't bought your wife a new dress in two years, because you "can't afford it"; and he knows about you, and the time and money you spend on fool hats and card parties, doing what you call "getting into society," while your husband is being driven away from home by badly cooked meals, and your children are running on the streets, learning to be hoodlums.
And he knows about you, too, sir, and what you get when you go back of the drug-store prescription counter to "buy medicine for your sick baby." And he knows about you and the lie you told about the girl across the street, because she is sweeter and truer than you are, and the boys go to see her and keep away from you, you miserable thrower of slime, dug out of your own heart of envy— yes, indeed, the devil knows all about you.
When the revival comes along and the Church of God gets busy, you will always find the devil gets busy, too. Whenever you find somebody that don't believe in the devil you can bank on it that he has a devil in him bigger than a woodchuck. When the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost the devil didn't do a thing but go around and say that these fellows were drunk, and Peter got up and made him mad by saying that it was too early in the day. It was but the third hour. They had sense in those days; it was unreasonable to find them drunk at the third hour of the day. But now the fools sit up all night to booze.
When you rush forward in God's work, the devil begins to rush against you. There was a rustic fanner walking through Lincoln Park and he saw the sign, "Beware of pickpockets."
"What do they want to put up a fool sign like that? Everybody looks honest to me." He reached for his watch to see what time it was and found it was gone. The pickpockets always get in the pockets of those who think there are no pickpockets around. Whenever you believe there is a devil around, you can keep him out, but if you say there isn't, he'll get you sure.
The Bible says there is a devil; you say there is no devil. Who knows the most, God or you? Jesus met a real foe, a personal devil. Reject it or deny it as you may. If there is no devil, why do you cuss instead of pray? Why do you lie instead of telling the truth? Why don't you kiss your wife instead of cursing her? ;You have just got the devil in you, that is all.
The devil is no fool; he is onto his job. The devil has been practicing for six thousand years and he has never had appendicitis, rheumatism or tonsilitis. If you get to playing tag with the devil he'll beat you every clip.
If I knew that all the devils in hell and all the devils in Pittsburgh were sitting out in the pews and sneering and jeering at me I'd shoot God's truth into their carcasses anyway, and I propose to keep firing away at the devils until by and by they come crawling out of their holes and swear that they were never in them, but their old hides would assay for lead and tan for chair bottoms.
Men in general think very little of the devil and his devices, yet he is the most formidable enemy the human race has to contend with. There is only one attitude to have toward him, and that is to hit him. Don't pick up a sentence and smooth it and polish it and sugar-coat it, but shy it at him with all the rough corners on.
The devil has more sense than lots of little preachers.
Jesus said: "It is written." He didn't get up and quote Byron and Shakespeare. You get up and quote that stuff, and the devil will give you the ha! ha! until you're gray-haired. Give him the Word of God, and he will take the count mighty quick. "It is written, thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God."
Don't you ever think for a minute that the devil isn't on the job all the time. He has been rehearsing for thousands of years, and when you fool around in his back yard he will pat you on the back and tell you that you are "IT."
I'll fight the devil in my own way and I don't want people to growl that I am not doing it right.
The devil comes to me sometimes. Don't think that
of everything the devil is against, and I am against everything the devil is in favor of—the dance, the booze, the brewery, my friends that have cards in their homes. I am against everything that the devil is in favor of, and I favor everything the devil is against, no matter what it is. If you know which side the devil is on, put me down on the other side any time.
Hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his.
because I am a preacher the devil doesn't bother me any. The devil comes around regularly, and I put on the gloves and get busy right away.
I owe God everything; I owe the devil nothing except the best fight I can put up against him.
I assault the devil's stronghold and I expect no quarter and I give him none.
I am in favor
The devil's got a lot more sense than some of you preachers I know, and a lot of you old skeptics, who quote Shakespeare and Carlyle and Emerson and everybody and everything rather than the Bible.
When you hear a preacher say that he doesn't believe there is a devil, you can just bet your hat that he never preaches repentance. The men who do any preaching on repentance know there is a devil, for they hear him roar.
I drive the same kind of nails all orthodox preachers do. The only difference is that they use a tack hammer and I use a sledge.
The preacher of today who is a humanitarian question point is preaching to empty benches.
I do not want to believe and preach a lie. I would rather believe and preach a truth, no matter how unpleasant it is, than to believe and preach a pleasant lie. I believe there is a hell. If I didn't I wouldn't have the audacity to stand up here and preach to you. If there ever comes a time when I don't believe in hell I will leave the platform before I will ever preach a sermon with that unbelief in my heart. I would rather believe and preach a truth, no matter how unpleasant, than to believe and preach a lie simply for the friendship and favor of some people.
The man that preaches the truth is your friend. I have no desire to be any more broad or liberal than Jesus, not a whit, and nobody has any right, either, and claim to be a preacher. Is a man cruel that tells you the truth? The man that tells you there is no hell is the cruel man, and the man that tells you there is a hell is your friend. So it's a kindness to point out the danger. God's ministers have no business to hold back the truth.
I don't believe you can remember when you heard a sermon on hell. Well, you'll hear about hell while I am here. God Almighty put hell in the Bible and any preacher that sidesteps it because there are people sitting in the pews who don't like it, ought to get out of the pulpit. He is simply trimming his sails to catch a passing breeze of popularity.