Are there any Puritan works on angels and/or demons?

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've tried searching for any books dedicated to the subject, but coming up empty. Or authors outside of the Puritans that anyone would recommend.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Martyn Lloyd-Jones was in the broader Puritan tradition. He gave lectures on Bible doctrines at his church in the 1950's. This link includes his lecture on angels. The printed lectures (published by Crossway) have his fuller lectures including angels and demons.

 

Pilgrim72

Puritan Board Junior
Isaac Ambrose has a work called "War with Devils: Ministration Of, and Communion with Angels". But I have not read it.

I'm sure it's good, though.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
It's not a Puritan work, but it is the medieval classic: Malleus Malificarum. Many Puritans--certainly the Mathers--would have been familiar with it.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
I've been meaning to read Perkins's On the Damnable Art of Witchcraft. He actually interacted with the occult in his youth and later became a critic of it.
I’d be interested in reading about that. Is there something accessible in print or online?
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk

Excellent articles. One note: the last one mentions Unger's work. It's a good work but there are two editions and they are somewhat different. Unger updated it after hearing disturbing accounts from mission fields.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
His widow is my late grandmother's cousin. I am planning on re-reading that book soon. There are comparatively few modern Reformed works on Satan and demons, which, as my minister once told me, may itself be the work of the Devil.

Douglas Van Dorn, a Reformed Baptist, has written some good stuff on it.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
As much as I look up to the Puritans, I don't know if I would generally look to them as a solid source for understanding the supernatural. I'm sure some had good theology in this area, but I have heard some really strange things about their understanding of this category. In New England, they were heavily steeped in superstition, to the point where things were just plain weird in many ways. It also seems that they tended to over spiritualize many things, attributing almost anything negative to Satan or the demonic realm. Here's an example:

"Prayer Test​

Medieval wisdom held that witches were incapable of speaking scripture aloud, so accused sorcerers were made to recite selections from the Bible—usually the Lord’s Prayer—without making mistakes or omissions. While it may have simply been a sign that the suspected witch was illiterate or nervous, any errors were viewed as proof that the speaker was in league with the devil. This twisted test of public speaking ability was commonly used as hard evidence in witch trials. In 1712, it was applied in the case Jane Wenham, an accused witch who supposedly struggled to speak the words “forgive us our trespasses” and “lead us not into temptation” during her interrogation. Still, even a successful prayer test didn’t guarantee an acquittal. During the Salem Witch Trials, the accused sorcerer George Burroughs flawlessly recited the prayer from the gallows just before his execution. The performance was dismissed as a devil’s trick, and the hanging proceeded as planned."
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
The Mathers' accounts of the Salem witch trials are informative if quite astonishing.

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Incidentally, during a visit to Boston we saw the rather neglected Mather family gravesite at Copp's Hill, as well as Proctor's Ledge in Salem, where most of the executions took place.

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I’m not necessarily looking for suggestions on spiritual warfare, but more or less wanting information on what angels are. Why they were created, how ancient Israel viewed them, what they’re doing now, etc.

All I know about them is they exist, they sometimes interact with humans, they minister to God’s people in some fashion, devils tempt us in some way. In a way, we could do without them. But I feel they must be important in some way (Heb. 2:2).

I’ve read some believe all idols have a fallen angel behind them receiving the worship and it got me curious.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Chuck,

Sometimes we learn about the nature of beings by what they do, what they love, and what they hate. We know, from Scripture, that angels – both fallen and elect – are spirits, creatures without bodies yet having hearts, minds, and personalities. God Himself is a Spirit, the eternal One, the first cause and source of all other things that exist.

You probably know that once all the angels were holy, but Lucifer, the greatest of the angels, enticed by pride and a desire to be like God – indeed, not only like but with a desire to replace Him, became unholy. Evidently the Almighty concealed the majesty and omnipotence of His being and this gave Satan the hope he might succeed. As we know, he failed and fell into awful ruin, seeking to take another of God's creatures – man – with him, hoping to wreak destruction on God's masterpiece.

To study the warfare in the spiritual realm is to learn what they are, and why they were created. But it's not just a mere academic study, as it pertains to our own lives and deaths – the activities of these angelic beings – as the ruined ones are utterly committed to our destruction, and the elect, holy ones committed to our redemption and protection, under God's direction to watch over us.

The odd thing about the times we live in is that ours is the age of the great invasion of the hordes of hell into the collective consciousness of humankind – the zeitgeist, or spirit of the age – and this through the medium of what has come to be known as "recreational sorcery". I'll attach a brief paper on this below, "A Nation of Witches and Sorcerers". Apart from understanding the reality and nature of this activity – sorcery – we will be manipulated and deceived by the fallen angelic beings, who, by their nature, are superior in strength and cunning than we humans are, save for those humans in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells and gives His wisdom and strength to.

Ignorance of these things, in such a time as ours, is dangerous. Although the paper below talks of this, I will say that sorcery, Biblically speaking, is the word translated from the Greek pharmakeia, which in the Book of Revelation, pertains to drugs that enable opening the barrier separating the demonic realm from the human (in Classical Greek, it may also be used to refer to curative medicines and poisons, but in Revelation only to sorcery).

The demonic realm, of which you desire to learn concerning the creatures therein – the fallen angels – is a good study if it enables you to be equipped to resist them. In Revelation 9:4 it is written that only those sealed of God – i.e., the Christians – are protected from their darkening influence and power, as the word of God has given us an understanding, and a spiritual armor to protect ourselves with (Eph 6:10-18).

This is why your question inevitably bleeds over into the area of "spiritual warfare", as the fallen angels are in the process of taking over our culture (and our entire world) for the advent of the antichrist – all of which is foretold in Scripture – for the final battle, Armageddon, in the midst of which our Saviour and King intervenes and rescues us to Himself at the beginning of the general resurrection.

It's quite a study, you're contemplating entering into! And I've written quite a lot on this, if you – or any others – are interested.
 

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Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
In regards to your original post, there is a book well worth getting. It's called "A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life." It's basically a systematic on puritan beliefs. It has a section on angels and one on demons. I was reading it tonight but it would take me too long to summarize those topics. Maybe you can purchase it?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
John Newton has some intriguing ideas about it, which he mentioned in writing to Rev. William Barlass:

My dear sir,

I could write a long note indeed, upon what I first meet with, your very great mistake in considering me as a very great man. If we could have a personal interview, I think you would be presently undeceived. Your mistake, however, has done me good. A whole quire of invective from an enemy could hardly have given me so keen a sense of shame. The Scripture assures us that our hearts by nature — like coin from the same mint, are all alike. And I hear my fellow-Christians complain of evils similar to what I feel, and they have the same right with myself to be believed. Otherwise I seem to have reason to conclude there cannot be one upon earth who knows the Lord, so inconsistent, so evil, as myself!

What you say of Gurnall, reminds me to put another book in your way (I think the author was a countryman of yours) — Gilpin on Temptation. I think the perusal of it would throw light upon some of your inquiries. I have only room for a few brief hints. Those who go down to the sea in ships, and do their business in great waters, experience hardships, and likewise see wonders — which people who live on shore have no idea of. Many of the Lord's people are comparatively landsmen; others are mariners, and are called to conflict a great part of their lives with storms and raging billows. I believe much of the variety of this kind is constitutional. We are at a loss to conceive of the invisible world, and the invisible agents belonging to it; but we live in the midst of them. But it seems to me that people of very delicate nerves, and those who are subject to what we call low spirits, are more accessible to this invisible agency than others.

I am rather but a landsman myself, and know but just enough of some of Satan's devices to qualify me to lisp about them. And I account it a mercy the Lord, in compassion to my weakness, has encouraged me to pray, "Lead us not into temptation."

Satan's power, I apprehend, is chiefly upon the imagination. His temptations may be considered under two heads — the terrible and the plausible. By the former he fights against our peace; by the latter he endeavors to ensnare us in our judgment or conduct. The former are the most distressing; the latter not the least dangerous. The former are often the lot of humble, tender-conscienced Christians; in the latter, he has most success when we are careless and self-dependent. By the former he shows his rage and power as a roaring lion; by the latter his subtlety and address as a deceitful serpent or angel of light.

His attacks in the former way are so vehement, as when he fills the mind with dark and horrible thoughts, blasphemies and suggestions, at which even fallen nature shudders and recoils (which is the case with many), that his interference is plainly to be felt. In the latter, his motions are so insinuating, and so natural to the man of sin within us, that they cannot be easily distinguished from the workings of our own thoughts. I suppose that when Ananias attempted to deceive Peter, he was little aware that Satan had filled his heart, and helped him to the lie. But Satan has a near and intimate connection with the man of sin — the heart while unrenewed, is his workshop, Ephes. 2:2. And it is the same with believers, so far as they are unrenewed. Therefore, I believe he is never nearer to us, or more busy with us, than at sometimes, when we are least apprehensive of him.

We have no clear ideas of the agency of evil spirits, nor is it necessary. The Scripture says little to satisfy our curiosity; but tells us plainly that he is always watching us, and desiring to sift us as wheat. I believe we give him no more than his due, when we charge him with having a hand in all our sins. I believe he cuts us all out abundance of work. But the other kind of temptations, in which people are rather passive, though they often think themselves compliant, it is not appointed for all believers to feel, at least, not frequently, or in a violent degree.

A fine general representation of them we have in that part of the Pilgrim's Progress which describes Christian's passage through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Bunyan had been an exercised mariner in these deep waters, and he writes like one. As tempted souls go through the most distress, so they usually have the most affecting and striking discoveries of the wisdom, power, and glory of the Lord, and acquire a sympathy for afflicted minds, and a skill in dealing with them which cannot easily be obtained by reading books. Something of this skill may be acquired from a careful observation of others — but experience is the best school. This lesson, is, however, so painful to flesh and blood — that we may be thankful if the Lord permits us to pass it over. I have had some little experience of these things; but my situation in Olney, among a poor afflicted people, who, from a confined and sedentary employment (lace-making), are mostly afflicted with low spirits and nervous disorders, has made me something of a theorist in the business, and I know not but I could write a volume upon it. But no words can adequately express the dreadful tempests some of God's dear children sustain. They pass through fire and floods; but He is with them, and therefore the floods cannot drown them, nor the flame destroy them. I doubt not but the severest part of Job's trials were of this kind.

Oh! if my heart were not still vile beyond expression — the commendation of the whole universe could have no other effect than to cover me with blushes and confusion. Ah, dear sir! what would you have thought of me had you seen me when I lived among the slaves? The sight of me would have been offensive to your eyes, and my speech would have struck you with horror. Miserable and despicable in every view; pinched with want, and the common mark of scorn and insult, my whole wretched amusement and pleasure seemed to lie in blaspheming the name and person of Jesus, and in feeding my imagination with schemes of wickedness which I had not opportunity to perpetrate!

The Lord has since given me a name and a place among his children; favored me with the friendship and love of many of his most honored and excellent people upon earth. And I have reason to thank him, likewise, that He has given me a habitual recollection of those past dreadful scenes; so that there is seldom a day of my life in which my thoughts are not led back to my former state of estrangement from him, and that pre-eminence of wretchedness into which my sins plunged me!

I hope He has often sanctified this review, to abate in some measure the force of the temptations I have been since exposed to — to think myself something. If He gives me liberty in preaching, or enables me to write a letter to please a fellow worm, should it not suffice to keep me from being elated — to remember that I am the same person who once delighted to treat him as an impostor, to rank him with, or upon the comparison below, Mohammed? or to think that some of my unhappy companions (as I have reason to fear) perished in their sins, who had just cause to charge the ruin of their souls to my account? For Satan himself, had he been upon earth in a bodily shape, could hardly have been more industrious in tempting to infidelity and profligacy than I was!

I am, dear sir, your affectionate friend and servant,

John Newton

July 10, 1778.​
 
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