11. I find in a book of his sentences, and also in an exposition of his of the Epistle to the Romans, that this rash inquirer into the Divine Majesty attacks the mystery of our Redemption. He admits in the very beginning of his disputation that there has never been but one conclusion in our ecclesiastical doctors on this point, and this he states only to spurn it, and boasts that he has a better; not fearing, against the precept of the Wise Man, To cross the ancient boundaries which our fathers have marked out (Prov. xxii.28). It is needful to know, he says, that all our doctors since the Apostles agree in this, that the devil had power and dominion over man, and that he rightly possessed it, because man, by an act of the free will which he had, voluntarily consented to the devil. For they say that if any one conquers another, the conquered rightly becomes the slave of his conqueror. Therefore, he says, as the doctors teach, the Son of God became incarnate under this necessity, that since man could not otherwise be freed, he might, by the death of an innocent man, be set free from the yoke of the devil. But as it seems to us, he says, neither had the devil ever any power over man, except by the permission of God, as a jailer might, nor was it to free man that the Son of God assumed flesh. Which am I to think the more intolerable in these words, the blasphemy or the arrogance? Which is the more to be condemned, his rashness or his impiety? Would not the mouth of him who speaks such things be more justly beaten with rods than confuted with reasons? Does not he whose hand is against every man, rightly provoke every man's hand to be raised against him? All, he says, says so, but so do not I. What, then, do you say? What better statement have you? What more subtle reason have you discovered? What more secret revelation do you boast of which has passed by the Saints and escaped from the wise? He, I suppose, will give us secret waters and hidden bread.
12. Tell us, nevertheless, that truth which has shown itself to you and to none else. Is it that it was not to free man that the Son of God became man? No one, you excepted, thinks this; you stand alone. For not from a wise man, nor prophet, nor apostle, nor even from the Lord Himself have you received this. The teacher of the Gentiles received from the Lord what he has handed down to us (1 Cor. xi.23). The Teacher of all confesses that His doctrine is not His own, for I do not, He says, speak of Myself (S. John vii.16 and xiv.10), while you give us of your own, and what you have received from no one. He who speaketh a lie speaketh of his own (ibid. viii.44). Keep for yourself what is your own. I listen to Prophets and Apostles, I obey the Gospel, but not the Gospel according to Peter. Do you found for us a new Gospel? The Church does not receive a fifth Evangelist. What other Gospel do the Law, the Prophets, apostles, and apostolic men preach to us than that which you alone deny, viz., that God became man to free man? And if an angel from heaven should preach to us any other Gospel, let him be anathema.
13. But you do not accept the Doctors since the Apostles, because you perceive yourself to be a man above all teachers. For example, you do not blush to say that all are against you, when they all agree together. To no purpose, therefore, should I place before you the faith and doctrine of those teachers whom you have just proscribed. I will take you to the Prophets. Under the type of Jerusalem the prophet speaks, or rather the Lord in the prophet speads to His chosen people: I will save you and deliver you, fear not (Wisd. iii.16). You ask, from what power? For you do not admit that the devil has or ever has had power over man. Neither; I confess, do I. It is not, however, that he has it riot because you and I wish it not. If you do not confess it, you know it not; they whom the Lord has redeemed out of the hand of the enemy, they know it and confess it. And you would by no means deny it, if you were not under the hand of the enemy. You cannot give thanks with the redeemed, because you have not been redeemed. For if you had been redeemed you would recognize your Redeemer, and would not deny your redemption. Nor does the man, who knows not himself to be a captive, seek to be redeemed. Those who knew it called unto the Lord, and the Lord heard them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And that you may understand who this enemy is, He says: Those whom He redeemed from the hand of the enemy He gathered out of all lands (Ps. cvii.2, 3). But first, indeed, recognize Him Who gathered them, of Whom Caiaphas in the Gospel prophesied, saying that Jesus should die for the people, and the Evangelist proceeds thus: And not for that nation only, but that He might gather together into one all the children of God which were scattered abroad (S. John xi.51, 52). Whither had they been scattered? Into all lands. Therefore those whom He redeemed He gathered together from all lands. He first redeemed, then gathered them. For they were not only scattered, but also taken captive. He redeemed and gathered them; but redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. He does not say of the enemies, but of the enemy. The enemy was one, the lands many. Indeed, he gathered them not from one land, but from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. What Lord was there so powerful, who governed not one land but all lands? No other, I suppose, than He who by another prophet is said to drink up a river, that is, the human race, and not to wonder; and to trust that he can also, draw up into his mouth Jordan, i.e., the elect (Job xl.18). Blessed are they who so flow in that they can flow out, who so enter that they can go out.
14. But now perhaps you do not believe the Prophets, thus speaking with one accord of the power of the devil over man. Come with me then to the Apostles. You said, did you not? that you do not agree with those who have come since the Apostles; may you agree then with the Apostles; and perhaps that may happen to you which one of them describes, speaking. of certain persons: If God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Tim. ii.25, 26). It is Paul who thus asserts that men are taken captive by the devil at his will. Do you hear? "at his will;" and do you deny his power? But if you do not believe Paul, come now to the Lord Himself, if perchance you may listen to Him and be put to silence. By Him the devil is called the prince of this world (S. John xiv.30), and the strong man armed (S. Luke xi.21), and the possessor of goods (S. Matt. xii.29), and yet you say that he has no power over men. Perhaps you think the house in this place is not to be understood of the world, nor the goods of men. But if the world is the house of the devil and men his goods, how can it be said he has no power over men? Moreover, the Lord said to those who took Him: This is your hour and the power of darkness (S. Luke xxii.53). That power did not escape him who said: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. i.13)The Lord then neither denied the power of the devil even over Him, nor that of Pilate, who was a member of the devil. He said: Thou couldst have no power against me at all except it were given thee from above (S. John xix.11). But if that power given from above so violently raged against the green tree, how is it that it did not dare to touch the dry? Nor I suppose will he say, that it was an unjust power which was given from above. Let him, therefore, learn that not only had the devil power over man, but also a just power, and in consequence let him see this, that the Son of God came in the flesh to set man free. But though we say that the power of the devil was a just one we do not say that his will was. Whence it is not the devil who usurped the power, who is just, nor man who deservedly was subjected to it; but the Lord is just, who permitted the subjection. For any one is called just and unjust, not from his power but from his will. This power of the devil over man though not rightly acquired, but wickedly usurped, was yet justly permitted. And in this way man was justly taken captive, viz., that the justice was neither in the devil, nor in man, but in God.