, ,

Thomas Brooks’ work Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices begins with a pastoral letter to his reader(s). He first lays out the pastoral office:

Beloved in our dearest Lord, Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter. It is my work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman, to do my [1] best to discover the fulness of Christ, [2] the emptiness of the creature, [3] and the snares of the great deceiver

Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 3. In short we are weak, the Devil is deception, but Christ is greater than both our weakness and the Devil’s snares.

There are several “devices” of Satan, because there are various weaknesses and failings of human beings; therefore, the Devil sets his snares to match his prey:

Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men’s temptations to their conditions and inclinations

This work of Satan is no ideal threat; it is a constant, ubiquitous malice which works throughout the world:

From the power, malice, and skill of Satan, doth proceed all the soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems, and machinations, that be in the world. Several

 When we consider both the irrationality of our own sin, and the insanity of the world writ large, we are at loss if we do not consider the malevolence of Satan. Satan, in Paradise Lost (Book I, lines 643-649) realizing that God will not be overthrown by direct war turns his malice to deceit:

Henceforth his might we know, and know our own
So as not either to provoke, or dread
New warr, provok’t; our better part remains [ 645 ]
To work in close design, by fraud or guile
What force effected not: that he no less
At length from us may find, who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.

This malice everywhere present in the world. Now Brooks’ willingness to attribute great effect to Satan is certainly odd in this world. To even posit Satan’s existence, much less agency, is to be considered a bit odd if not ignorant (or perhaps deranged). This is of course a great act of his deception:

He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

The Usual Suspects. Having laid out his plan, Brooks then prays for his reader. This is a marvelous model of prayer:

My desires for you are,

‘That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ that passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God,’ Eph. 3:16–19;


‘That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increased in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering, with joyfulness,’ Col. 1:10, 11;

‘That ye do no evil,’ 2 Cor. 13:7;

‘That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment;’ ‘That ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere, and without offence till the day of Christ,’ Philip. 1:27, 4:1; and that ‘our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power;’ ‘That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ,’ 2 Thes. 1:11, 12.

And that you may be eminent in sanctity, sanctity being Zion’s glory, Ps. 93:5;

that your hearts may be kept upright, your judgments sound, and your lives unblameable.

That as ye are now ‘my joy,’ so in the day of Christ you may be ‘my crown;’ that I may see my labours in your lives; that your conversation may not be earthly, when the things you hear are heavenly; but that it may be ‘as becomes the gospel,’ Philip. 1:9, 10.

That as the fishes which live in the salt sea yet are fresh, so you, though you live in an uncharitable world, may yet be charitable and loving;

That ye may, like the bee, suck honey out of every flower; that ye may shine in a sea of troubles, as the pearl shines in the sky, though it grows in the sea;

that in all your trials you may be like the stone in Thracia, that neither burneth in the fire nor sinketh in the water;

That ye may be like the heavens, excellent in substance and beautiful in appearance;

that so you may meet me with joy in that day wherein Christ shall say to his Father, ‘Lo, here am I, and the children that thou hast given me,’ Isa. 8:18

My desires to you are,

That you would make it your business to study Christ, his word, your own hearts, Satan’s plots, and eternity, more than ever;

That ye would endeavour more to be inwardly sincere than outwardly glorious; to live, than to have a name to live;

That ye would labour with all your might to be thankful under mercies, and faithful in your places, and humble under divine appearances, and fruitful under precious ordinances;

That as your means and mercies are greater than others’, so your account before God may not prove a worse than others’;

That ye would pray for me, who am not worthy to be named among the saints, that I may be a precious instrument in the hand of Christ to bring in many souls unto him, and to build up those that are brought in in their most holy faith;

and ‘that utterance may be given to me, that I may make known all the will of God,’ Eph. 6:19;

That I may be sincere, faithful, frequent, fervent, and constant in the work of the Lord, and that my labour be not in vain in the Lord; that my labours may be accepted in the Lord and his saints, and I may daily see the travail of my soul, &c.

 Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 5-6.