Heretics, in quoting Scripture, follow the example of the Devil
St. Vincent of Lérins (+445), Commonitory
omeone will say, What proof have we that the Devil customarily appeals to Holy Scripture? Let him read the Gospels wherein it is written, "Then the Devil took Him (our Lord and Savior) and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and said unto Him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge concerning thee, that they may keep thee in all thy ways: In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest perchance thou dash thy foot against a stone’" (Mat. 4:5 ff.). What sort of treatment must men, insignificant wretches that they are, look for at the hands of him who assailed even the Lord of Glory with quotations from Scripture? "If thou be the Son of God," he says, "cast thyself down." Wherefore? "For," he says, "it is written." It is fitting and necessary for us to pay special attention to this passage and bear it in mind that, warned by so important an instance of Evangelical authority, we may be assured beyond doubt, when we find people alleging passages from the Apostles or Prophets against the Catholic Faith [NOT Roman Catholic, but "Universal", and so throughout. This was written before there was such a distinction], that the Devil speaks through their mouths. For as then the captain spoke to the Captain, so now also the followers speak to the followers, the members of the Devil to the members of Christ, misbelievers to believers, sacrilegious to religious, in one word, Heretics to the faithful.
But what do they [those who pervert the true faith] say? "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down;" that is, If thou wouldst be a son of God, and wouldst receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, cast thyself down; that is, cast thyself down from the doctrine and tradition of that sublime Church, which is imagined to be nothing less than the very temple of God. And if one should ask one of the heretics who gives this advice, How do you prove your doctrine? What ground have you, for saying, that I ought to cast away the universal and ancient faith of the Catholic Church? he has the answer ready, "For it is written;" and forthwith he produces a thousand testimonies, a thousand examples, a thousand authorities from the Law, from the Psalms, from the apostles, from the Prophets, by means of which, interpreted on a new and wrong principle, the unhappy soul may be precipitated from the height of Universal Christian truth to the lowest abyss of heresy. Then, with the accompanying promises, the heretics customarily and rather marvelously commence to beguile the unwary and careless. For they dare to teach and promise, that in their church, that is, in the assembly of their communion, there is a certain great and special and altogether personal grace of God, so that whosoever becomes one of their followers, without any labor, without any effort, without any industry, even though they neither ask, nor seek, nor knock, have such a divine exemption from God, that, borne up by angelic hands, preserved by the protection of angels, it is impossible that they should ever dash their feet against a stone, that is, that they should ever be offended.
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