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C. S. Lewis recommended in his essay, “On The Reading Of Old Books”, that the reading of a modern book should be followed by the reading of an old book, before reading another modern one. Having finished Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, I took his advice and sought for an old book that dealt with the same topic, spiritual warfare. Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks was first published in 1652, nearly 300 years before Lewis’ treatment of the personal forces of evil.Brooks wrote before the onset of the Enlightenment, when there was little doubt about things invisible and an eternal destiny; when belief in demons, principalities and spiritual dominions was common and unquestioned; when Satan was believed to be a spiritual person, fallen from an angel to a devil, full of malice and envy, who employed his powers to make others eternally miserable as himself. Thusly Brooks writes, “From the power, malice, and skill of Satan proceeds all the soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems, and machinations that are in the world. Several devices he has to draw souls to sin and several plots he has to keep souls from all holy and heavenly services, and several stratagems he has to keep souls in a mourning, staggering, doubting, and questioning condition. He has several devices to destroy the great and honorable, the wise and learned, the blind and ignorant, the rich and the poor, the real and the nominal saints.”Brooks’ publication precedes John Bunyan’s Holy War, but it details the same reasons Bunyan gave on why saints are not immediately delivered from the presence of sin while still on earth: to keep us humble, as a reminder of God’s grace, to put us on reliance upon divine help, to live upon Christ for our sanctification, to keep us wakeful and watchful, and to show the imperative of keeping our armor on and our weapons always in our hands.Many parallel truths and experiences can be observed in Lewis’ and Brooks’ works. A worthy project for a Christian publisher would be a critical edition containing both works with cross-references to parallel passages.One encouraging aspect found in Brooks’ work is his clear and hearty confession of the Puritan hope of the ultimate success of the gospel over the whole world. (see pp. 132 – 152; p. 240)After offering numerous helps against the various stratagems of Satan, Brooks closes with several rules and helps to the Christian in his fight against Satan’s devices: keep humble; keep a strong, close, and constant watch; keep up your communion with God; engage Satan not in your own strength, but every day draw new virtue and strength from the Lord Jesus; be much in prayer; labor to be filled with the Spirit; resist Satan at his first motions; labor for more heavenly wisdom; take heed to not vex and grieve the Holy Spirit; and, walk according to the rule of the Word.After reading Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices I can understand why Charles Spurgeon highly esteemed Thomas Brooks’ writings. He compiled an entire book of quotations from Brooks and gave it the title of Smooth Stones From Flowing Brooks.

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