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I.         The Five Shields

They are in number five. First, a preparation of ourselves by the use of Gods sacraments, that we may be the more strong to sustain and bear off temptations[1], and to hold out to the end without fainting.

Secondly, a withdrawing [of] ourselves into the desert, or some other solitary place, there (by meditation) to kindle good thoughts, Psalm. 39. 3.[2]

Thirdly, fasting.

Fourthly, watchful prayer, Matt. 26. 41.[3]

Fiftly, the perfecting of ourselves in the Scriptures.[4]

These be the five shields wherewith Solomon’s temple was hanged.

The Use of Scripture:

(A Storehouse)

Now as for the Scripture, we are to note, that where God speaks of any good that we are to receive out of it,

it is recommended to us as a storehouse,

whether we are to make our resort for the bread of life,

and the water of life, whereof he that tasteth, shall never thirst. John6. 35.[5]

And from thence are we to draw the waters of comfort, out of the fountains of salvation, Isaiah 12.3.[6]

When there is any ill-spoken of, which we are to resist,

then is it commended to us as an armory,

            whence we may fetch any kind of weapon which we shall need, either offensive, as a sword, Hebr4. 12[7] or defensive, as a shield, Pro. 30. 5.[8]

(A Shield)

The Scripture is the broad plate [a shield],

that is to bear off the darts:

our faith is the braces or handle whereby we take hold, Eph. 6. 16[9]

and lift it up to defend ourselves withal.[10]

For the Scripture is a shield Non quod dicitur, sed quod creditur.[11]

Dicitur [it is said] there is the strong and broad matter, fit to bear off:

and Creditur, [it is believed] that is the handle or braces to it.

God spake once or twice, I have heard it, power belongeth unto God. Psalm. 62. 11. So that it suffices not that it be spoken only by God, but we must hear it too: neither must we hear it as the voice of a man, (as Samuel at the first did; who when God called him, thought it the voice of Eli[12]) but as the voice of God, that we which were dead in our sins, us hath he quickened & forgiven us all our trespasses, 1. Thes. 2. 13.[13] This is the perfection of our faith.

Generally, of the scriptures, this is Christ’s opinion, confirmed by his own practice; that if the Devil come as a serpent, here is a charm for him, Ps. 58. 5[14]; or if he come as a lion, here is that is able to prevail against him, 1. Pet. 5. 8. And that the Devil knows well enough, as appears by his malice that he hath always borne it, before it was scripture, when it was but only dictum [said]. For so soon as God had said, Let s make man in our likeness, that word was straight a whetstone to the Devil’s envy.[15] And after the fall, when the seed was promised, that was, and is the cause of all the Devil’s enmity. Gen. 3. 15.[16] So when the promise was reiterated, Gen. 22. 18 that was the cause he so turmoiled all the Patriarchs.[17]

But when the words were to be written, and to become Scripture, then his malice began to grow very hot, in so much that he caused it for anger to be broken, Ex. 32. 19.[18] For the Fathers are of opinion, that all the Devil’s busy endeavor, in making the Israelites to commit idolatry with the golden Calf, was to the end, that he might so heat Moses in his zeal, as that in his anger he should break the Tables of the Law, by casting them hastily out of his hands. We are to note therefore, that there is a forceable sound in the word, which the Devil cannot abide; & not only the sound, but the sight also.[19]

It is written of Augustine, that lying sick on his bed, he caused the seven penitential Psalms to be painted on the wall over against him, in great letters; that if after he should become speechless, yet he might point to every verse when the Devil came to tempt him; and so confute him.[20] Blessed is he that hath his quiver full of such arrows, they shall not be ashamed. Blessed is he that has the skill to choose outfit arrows for the purpose, as the Fathers speak out of Isaiah 49. 2.[21]

Christ saith affirmatively of the Scriptures, that in them is eternal life, John 5. 39[22]; negatively, that the cause of error, is the not knowing of them, Mark. 12. 24. David says[23], it was that that made him wiser than his enemies, than his teachers, and than the Ancients, Psalm. 119. 98. 99[24]. & 110. Knowledge of the truth is the way to amendment after a fall, 2. Tim. 2. 26.[25] There is much calling now-a-days for the Word, and others find fault as fast, that it is no better harkened unto: for as the want of obedience and all other abuses (which are so much cried out against) proceed not only from the not hearing of the Word, but as well from the not mingling of faith with it, (without which mixture, it is nothing worth) it profits not, Heb. 4. 2[26] so the error of the former times was, in yielding too far to the Devil’s policy, by sealing up the Scriptures and locking the storehouse and armory of the people.[27]

It is the policy Christ tells us of in the eleventh chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel, the two and twentieth verse. A strong man puts the strong-armed man out of his house, and takes away his armor from him: then he needs not fear him.[28]

The like policy we read of 1. Sam. 13. 19. when the Philistines had taken away all smiths and armor, then they thought they were safe.[29] So in the time of darkness, the Devil might let them do their good works, and what they list[30], and yet have them still under his lure: for he might offend them at his pleasure[31], that had no armor to resist him.

All the Children of GOD, had a right and property in the Law of God, as appears by Christ’s words, John 10. 34 he answered them that is, the common people, Is it not written in your law? As though he should say, the Scripture is yours.[32]

To the young man (in the tenth Chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel, and twenty six verse) that asked Christ what he should do to be saved? Christ answers, What is written in the Law? how readest thou?[33] Whereunto they answer, that we cannot read, or that the book is sealed up, Isaiah 29. 11[34], is as the Devil would have it.[35]

Then hath he a fit time to offer us stones to make bread of.[36] But this answer with our Savior Christ will not be allowed of.[37]


Andrews discusses five spiritual disciplines which will provide spiritual strength: (1) the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper); (2) solitude for meditation, (3) prayer, (4) fasting, and (5) knowing the Scripture.

In this section he is going to emphasize knowing the Scripture. He refers to the Scripture as a storehouse and a shield. The Word of God is an expression of the power of God. It is a power which will provide us protection from the attack of the Devil. The Devil hates the Scripture and the power of the Scripture.

But for this Scrpiture to be effective, the Scripture must be known and believed. The first fault will then be plain ignorance of the Scripture. The Devil is perfectly content to allow us to be good people as long as we don’t know the Scripture. The second fault is to have access but to not understand or believe the Scripture. To be profitable, it must be understood and believed.

When the Devil comes and says to us, “Make bread from stones,” we will failu if we do not know and believe the Scripture.  

[1] To bear without succumbing.

[2] Psalm 39:3 (ESV)

              My heart became hot within me.

          As I mused, the fire burned;

then I spoke with my tongue:

This is an interesting choice to reference meditation. Andrews chose it based upon the fact that musing result strong effect upon him a “fire burned.”

[3] Jesus, speaking to the disciples who fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:41 (ESV) “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

[4] This would mean to become thoroughly acquainted with, understand well.

[5] John 6:35 (ESV)

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

[6] Isaiah 12:1–3 (ESV)

You will say in that day:

                                    “I will give thanks to you, O Lord,

for though you were angry with me,

                                    your anger turned away,

that you might comfort me.

                                  “Behold, God is my salvation;

I will trust, and will not be afraid;

                                    for the Lord God is my strength and my song,

and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

[7] Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

[8] Proverbs 30:5 (ESV)

                  Every word of God proves true;

he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

[9] Ephesians 6:16 (ESV)  “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”

[10] By means of faith, we take up the Scripture and in so doing defend ourselves from the trial.

[11] Not what is said, but what is believed. True belief requires more than mere words. Thus, it is not merely what one professes but what one believes. “Many, I say, the most of men who live under the dispensation of the gospel, do wofully deceive their own souls in this matter. They do not believe what they profess themselves to believe, and what they think they believe.” John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 6, “An Exposition on Psalm 130) (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 505.

[12] 1 Samuel 3 records an incident where God audibly calls to the young boy Samuel. Samuel thinks that Eli, the priest is calling him.

[13] 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV) “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

[14] Psalm 58:4–5 (ESV)

                                  They have venom like the venom of a serpent,

like the deaf adder that stops its ear,

                                  so that it does not hear the voice of charmers

or of the cunning enchanter.

[15] A “whetstone” is used to sharpen a knife. As soon as the Devil heard of the creation of Adam, it provoked the Devil to envy of the position to be granted to this new creature. 

Paradise Lost, Book I.

Who first seduc’d them [Adam and Eve] to that foul revolt?

Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile

Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d [ 35 ]

The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride

Had cast him out from Heav’n, with all his Host

Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring

To set himself in Glory above his Peers,

He trusted to have equal’d the most High, [ 40 ]

If he oppos’d; and with ambitious aim

Against the Throne and Monarchy of God

[16] Genesis 3:15 (ESV)

                  15               I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

                                    he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”

[17] Genesis 22:15–18 (ESV)

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

[18] As Moses comes down from the mountain with the tablets of the covenant realizes that the Israelites are committing idolatry. In his anger he smashes the tablets. Andrews references the interpretation that the Devil’s aim in provoking Israel to idolatry had as its ultimate aim provoking Moses to anger and so to break the tablets.

[19] The Devil cannot abide to hear the Word of God. This provides an interesting understanding of the temptation and Jesus’ response. It is not merely the logic but the fact of the quotations which provide the defense of Jesus. What then of the Devil’s quotation of Scripture. The argument would be that the Devil’s misuse is a distortion which he can bear.

[20] The penitential psalms are the 7 Psalms which particularly concern repentance: Psal. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130. The story of Augustine copying out the Psalms is told variously, “Augustine caused David’s penitential psalms to be drawn upon the walls of his chamber, that he might read them as he lay in his bed; he read and wept, and wept and read.” Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 4 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1867), 227.

[21] Isaiah 49:2 (ESV)

                                  He made my mouth like a sharp sword;

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

                                    he made me a polished arrow;

in his quiver he hid me away.

[22] John 5:39–40 (ESV)  “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

[23] The author of the 119th Psalm is unknown. Andrews takes it that David wrote this Psalm.

[24] Psalm 119:98–99 (ESV)

                  98               Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,

for it is ever with me.

                  99               I have more understanding than all my teachers,

for your testimonies are my meditation.

[25] 2 Timothy 2:24–26 (ESV)  “24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

[26] Hebrews 4:1–2 (ESV) “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.”

[27] Access to the Bible, particularly in one’s own language was a primary element of the Reformation. Andrews is writing within memory of when access to the Bible could be quite difficult for most people. As to errors: There are two errors mentioned in this passage: One error is to have no access to the Bible. The second error is to have access to the Bible but to not believe it.

[28] A strong man needs not fear another whom he has disarmed and thrown out of his house. In the same way, the Devil, as a strong man, can disarm us by taking away from the Scripture.

[29] The passage refers to the Philistines, who were materially more advanced than the Israelites, had control over the blacksmiths Therefore, the Israelites could not forge iron weapons for themselves.  

[30] The Devil might as well let someone go ahead and do some charitable action, if someone so wished (list means to desire).

[31] The Devil can active offensively and conquer; not merely to say something which provokes a strong emotional response. This “offense” in terms of warfare.

[32] When Jesus referes to the Law as “Your Law”, he is telling the Jews that the Scripture was given to them. See, Romans 9:4.

[33] Luke 10:26 (ESV) “He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’” The importance for Andrews here is the “your law.”  

[34] Isaiah 29:11 (ESV) “And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, ‘Read this,’ he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’”

[35] Not knowing the Scripture or not understanding what is read is just as the Devil wishes it to be.

[36] When we don’t know the Bible, we are vulnerable to the Devil’s temptation.

[37] But since Jesus knew the Bible, the Devil’s trick could not work.