And in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.…
The failure of the tempter has not deterred mankind from venturing on the same appeal, with no very unlike design. Among the crowd of pilgrims who throng the pages of his allegory, Bunyan depicts one Mr. Selfwill, who holds that a man may follow the vices as well as the virtues of pilgrims. "But what ground has he for so saying?" is Mr. Greatheart's query. And old Mr. Honesty replies: "Why, he said he had Scripture for his warrant."
"The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose;
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the core."
Such is Antonio's stricture on Shylock's appeal to Jacob's practice; and there is a parallel passage to it in the next act, where Bassanio is the speaker: —
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it, with a text
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament."
Shakespeare embodies in Richard of Gloucester a type of the political intriguer; as where the usurper thus answers the gulled associates who urge him to be avenged on the opposite faction: —
"But then I sigh, and with a piece of Scripture
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil.
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends, stolen forth of holy writ;
And seem a saint when most I play the devil."
An unmitigated scoundrel in one of Mr. Dickens's books is represented as openly grudging his old father the scant remnant of his days (on the ground that "Three-score and ten's the Bible-mark"); whereupon the author interposes this parenthetical comment: "Is any one surprised at Mr. Jonas making such a reference to such a book for such a purpose? Does any one doubt the old saw that the devil quotes Scripture for his own ends? If he will take the trouble to look about him, he may find a greater number of confirmations of the fact in the occurrences of a single day than the steam-gun can discharge balls in a minute."
Parallel VersesKJV: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.