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IX

To speak of every kind of temptation particularly, by itself, would be, you know, in a manner an infinite thing. For under that, as I told you, fall persecutions and all. And the devil hath a thousand subtle ways of his snares, and of his open fight as many sundry poisoned darts. He tempteth us by the world, he tempteth us by our own flesh; he tempteth us by pleasure, he tempteth us by pain; he tempteth us by our foes, he tempteth us by our own friends—and, under colour of kindred, he maketh many times our nearest friends our most foes. For, as our Saviour said, "Inimici hominis domestici eius."

But in all manner of so diverse temptations, one marvellous comfort is that, the more we be tempted, the gladder have we cause to be. For, as St. James saith, "Esteem and take it, my brethren, for a thing of all joy when you fall into diverse and sundry manner of temptations." And no marvel, for there is in this world set up (as it were) a game of wrestling, in which the people of God come in on the one side, and on the other side come mighty strong wrestlers and wily—that is, the devils, the cursed proud damned spirits. For it is not our flesh alone that we must wrestle with, but with the devil too. "Our wrestling is not here," saith St. Paul, "against flesh and blood, but against the princes and potentates of these dark regions, against the spiritual wicked ghosts of the air."

But as God hath prepared a crown for those who on his side give his adversary the fall, so he who will not wrestle shall have none. For, as St. Paul saith, "There shall no man have the crown but he who contendeth for it according to the law of the game." And then, as holy St. Bernard saith, how couldst thou fight or wrestle for it, if there were no challenger against thee who would provoke thee thereto? And therefore may it be a great comfort, as St. James saith, to every man who feeleth himself challenged and provoked by temptation. For thereby perceiveth he that it cometh to his course to wrestle, which shall be, unless he willingly play the coward or the fool, the matter of his eternal reward.

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