Samuel Parris, "Christ Knows How Many Devils There Are," March 27, 1692
27 March, Sacrament day.
Occasioned by dreadful Witchcraft broke out here a few weeks past, and one Member of this Church, and another of Salem, upon public examination by Civil Authority vehemently suspected for shewitches, and upon it committed.
John 6: 70. "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a Devil.". . .
Doctrine: Our Lord Jesus Christ knows how many Devils there are in his Church, and who they are.
1. There are devils as well as saints in Christ's Church.
2. Christ knows how many of these devils there are.
3. Christ knows who these devils are.
Proposition 1: There are devils as well as saints in Christ's church. Here three things may be spoken to: (1) Show you what is meant here by devils; (2) That there are such devils in the church; (3) That there are also true saints in such churches.
(1). What is meant here by devils? "One of you is a devil." Answer: By devil is ordinarily meant any wicked angel or spirit. Sometimes it is put for the prince or head of the evil spirits, or fallen angels. Sometimes it is used for vile and wicked persons--the worst of such, who for their villainy and impiety do most resemble devils and wicked spirits. Thus Christ in our text calls Judas a devil: for his great likeness to the devil. "One of you is a devil": i.e., a devil for quality and disposition, not a devil for nature--for he was a man, etc.--but a devil for likeness and operation (John 8:38, 41, 44--"Ye are of your father the devil.")
(2). There are such devils in the church. Not only sinners, but notorious sinners; sinners more like to the devil than others. So here in Christ's little Church. (Text.) This also Christ teacheth us in the parable of the tares (Matth. 13:38), where Christ tells us that such are the children of the wicked one--i.e., of the devil. Reason: Because hypocrites are the very worst of men--corruptio optimi est pessimi. Hypocrites are the sons and heirs of the devil, the free-holders of hell--whereas other sinners are but tenants. When Satan repossesseth a soul, he becomes more vile and sinful (Luke 11:24-26). As the jailer lays loads of iron on him that hath escaped. None are worse than those who have been good, and are naught; and might be good, but will be naught. . . .
Proposition 2: Christ knows how many of these devils there are in his churches. As in our text there was one among the twelve. And so in our churches God knows how many devils there are: whether one, two, three, or four in twelve--how many devils, how many saints. He that knows whom he has chosen (John 13:18), he also knows who they are that have not chosen him, but prefer farms and merchandise above him and above his ordinances (2 Tim. 4:10). . . .
Use 1. Let none then build their hopes of salvation merely upon this: that they are church members. This you and I may be, and yet devils for all that (Matth. 8:11-12--"Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down, etc. And however we may pass here, a true difference shall be made shortly, etc.").
Use 2. Let none then be stumbled at religion, because too often there are devils found among the saints. You see, here was a true church, sincere converts and sound believers; and yet here was a devil among them.
Use 3. Terror to hypocrites who profess much love to Christ but indeed are in league with their lusts, which they prefer above Christ. Oh! remember that you are devils in Christ's account. Christ is lightly esteemed of you, and you are vilely accounted for by Christ. Oh! if there be any such among us, forbear to come this day to the Lord's table, lest Satan enter more powerfully into you--lest while the bread be between your teeth, the wrath of the Lord come pouring down upon you (Psalm 78:30-31). . . .
Use 5. Examine we ourselves well, what we are--what we church members are. We are either saints or devils: the Scripture gives us no medium. The Apostle tells us we are to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5). Oh! it is a dreadful thing to be a devil, and yet to sit down at the Lord's table (1 Cor. 10:21). Such incur the hottest of God's wrath (as follows--v. 22). Now, if we would not be devils, we must give ourselves wholly up to Christ, and not suffer the predominancy of one lust--and particularly that of covetousness, which is made so light of, and which so sorely prevails in these perilous times. Why, this one lust made Judas a devil (John 12:6, Matth. 26:15). And no doubt it has made more devils than one. For a little pelf [money], men sell Christ to his enemies, and their souls to the devil. But there are certain sins that make us devils; see that we be not such:
1. A liar or murderer (John 8:44)
2. A slanderer or an accuser of the godly
3. A tempter to sin
4. An opposer of godliness, as Elymos (Acts 13: 8 etc.)
5. Envious persons as witches
6. A drunkard (I Sam. 1:15-16)
7. A proud person