Quotations about   devil

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If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downwards to be a devil. He cannot stop at the beast. The most savage of men are not beasts; they are worse, a great deal worse.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) English poet and critic
Table Talk (30 Aug 1833)
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Added on 2-Oct-17 | Last updated 2-Oct-17
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For, where God built a church, there the devil would also build a chapel.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
Table Talk [Colloquia Mensalia], ch. 2 (1566) [tr. Bell]
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See Herbert, who identifies it as a common phrase.
Added on 1-May-17 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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Some folk have been clearly rid of such pestilent fancies with very full contempt of them, making a cross upon their hearts and bidding the devil avaunt. And sometimes they laugh him to scorn, too, and then turn their mind unto some other matter. And when the devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain essays, made in such times as he thought most fitting, he hath given that temptation quite over. And this he doth not only because the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked, but also lest, with much tempting the man to the sin to which he could not in conclusion bring him, he should much increase his merit.

Thomas More (1478-1535) English lawyer, social philosopher, statesman, humanist, Christian martyr
Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, Book 2, sec. 16 (1553)
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More often elided/paraphrased as "The devil ... the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked" or "The devil, that proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked."

C. S. Lewis used a mis-elided version as an epigraph to The Screwtape Letters (1942): "The devil ... the prowde spirit ... cannot endure to be mocked."

Sometimes given in the original (?) spellings: "The deuill ... the prowde spirit, cannot endure to be mock'd."
Added on 15-Feb-17 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
Table Talk
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Variations:
  • "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not go for texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn."
  • The best way to expel the devil, if he will not depart for texts from Holy Scripture, is to jeer and flout him. [Source]
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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It is stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil, when he is the only explanation of it.

Ronald Knox (1888-1957) English priest, theologian, author, broadcaster
Let Dons Delight, ch. 8 (1939)
Added on 19-Jan-17 | Last updated 19-Jan-17
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The devil’s voice is sweet to hear

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
Needful Things (1991)
Added on 14-Sep-16 | Last updated 14-Sep-16
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So give me the political economist, the sanitary reformer, the engineer; and take your saints and virgins, relics and miracles. The spinning-jenny and the railroad, Cunard’s liners and the electric telegraph, are to me, if not to you, signs that we are, on some points at least, in harmony with the universe; that there is a mighty spirit working among us, who cannot be your anarchic and destroying Devil, and therefore may be the Ordering and Creating God.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
Yeast: A Problem, ch. 5 (1848)
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Added on 21-Jul-16 | Last updated 21-Jul-16
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It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941) American singer, songwriter
“Gotta Serve Somebody” (1979)
Added on 25-Sep-15 | Last updated 25-Sep-15
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Don’t excuse yourself by accusing Satan.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
(Attributed)
Added on 7-Oct-14 | Last updated 7-Oct-14
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For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

Alt. trans.:

  • "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (NIV)
  • For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (NRSV)
  • For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. (GNT)
Added on 9-Sep-14 | Last updated 9-Sep-14
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Adam was but human — this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 2 (1894)
Added on 3-Sep-14 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.

Umberto Eco (b. 1932) Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, novelist
The Name of the Rose (1980)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 2-Sep-14
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Now, as Crowley would be the first to protest, most demons weren’t deep down evil. In the great cosmic game they felt they occupied the same position as tax inspectors — doing an unpopular job, maybe, but essential to the overall operation of the whole thing. If it came to that, some angels weren’t paragons of virtue; Crowley had met one or two who, when it came to righteously smiting the ungodly, smote a good deal harder than was strictly necessary. On the whole, everyone had a job to do, and just did it. And on the other hand, you got people like Ligur and Hastur, who took such a dark delight in unpleasantness you might even have mistaken them for human.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
Added on 29-May-14 | Last updated 29-May-14
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Who never ate his bread in sorrow,
Who never spent the darksome hours
Weeping and watching for the morrow,
He knows ye not, ye gloomy Powers.

To earth, this weary earth, ye bring us,
To guilt ye let us heedless go,
Then leave repentance fierce to wring us:
A moment’s guilt, an age of woe!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, 2.13 (1796) [tr. Carlyle (1824)]
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Added on 1-Apr-14 | Last updated 1-Apr-14
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Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The True Believer, Part 3, sec. 65, (1951)
Added on 25-Aug-11 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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No sooner is a temple built to God, but the Devil builds a chapel hard by.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum (1651)
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See also Martin Luther.
Added on 10-Jun-10 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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The real existence of an enemy upon whom one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience. You can then at least say, without hesitation, who the devil is; you are quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not your own attitude.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916) [tr. R. Hull (1960)]
Added on 10-Dec-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-16
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Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: “Do not drink,” answer him: “I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” One must always do what Satan forbids.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
Letter to Jerome Weller (Jul 1530)
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Alt. trans.: "We are soon defeated if we try too hard not to sin. So when the devil says ‘Do not drink’ answer him: ‘I shall drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to!’"
Added on 17-Jul-09 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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It must be remembered that we have only heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “An Apology for the Devil” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 26-Feb-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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I know a number of highly sensitive and intelligent people in my own communion who consider as a heresy my faith that God’s loving concern for his creation will outlast all our willfulness and pride. No matter how many eons it takes, he will not rest until all of creation, including Satan, is reconciled to him, until there is no creature who cannot return his look of love with a joyful response of love […] Some people feel it to be heresy because it appears to deny man his freedom to refuse to love God. But this, it seems to me, denies God his freedom to go on loving us beyond all our willfulness and pride. If the Word of God is the light of the world, and this light cannot be put out, ultimately it will brighten all the dark corners of our hearts and we will be able to see, and seeing, will be given the grace to respond with love — and of our own free will.

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) American writer
The Irrational Season (1977)
Added on 19-Sep-07 | Last updated 14-Nov-15
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Speak the truth and shame the Devil.

François Rabelais (1494-1553) French writer, humanist, doctor
Le Quart-Livre des faicts et dicts héroïques du bon Pantagruel, Prolog (1552)
Added on 13-Sep-07 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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If there is one thing upon this earth that mankind love and admire better than another, it is a brave man — it is the man who dares to look the devil in the face and tell him he is a devil.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Phrenological Journal (Dec 1881).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Dec-15
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ANTONIO: Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, scene 3, l. 97 (1596)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Sep-19
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