Satan's Sermon on Suicide
Satan was making earnest efforts to persuade a certain man to commit suicide. He tempted him at midnight as far as the center of the bridge, and as the man hesitated to spring into the water, Satan continued speaking:
“I congratulate you as you stand here on the very edge of genuine happiness. If you have sufficient courage, you will soon enter into perfect peace. Look down upon the sweet waters, and see how they invite you to the most peaceful kind of a death. They promise to cover all your cares and troubles, and put you to sleep on the bosom of the deep.”
A good angel interrupted these temptations of Satan:
“Spring not from this bridge, for such an act will bring no relief to your poor soul. It would be the opening of the door through which you would enter to experience deeper sorrows and grief more terrible. Listen no longer to the voice that points you toward the pangs of death.”
The words of the angel touched the heart of the man and they seemed to draw him away, but Satan again quickly spoke:
“Don’t be a coward. Have you not found that the best joys of this life are worthless, and that your troubles are so great that you can no longer bear them? Why be so foolish as to continue under this load, to live on in misery and wretchedness? You have gone thus far towards peace, and now one plunge from the bridge will end all your woes.”
Again the angel insisted:
“Nay! nay! be not so foolhardy. Before you lies not only the dark waters, but the judgment bar of God. If you listen and heed the voice of Satan, you are responsible for the result of listening. You cannot plead any excuse for self-murder, inasmuch as God has sent me, as one of his angels, to warn you while the warmth of life is yet yours. Return to your tasks; face your situation; forsake sin and take God into your life, then your troubles will no longer seem unsurmountable. By God’s help, you will be given the best solution of the problem that vexes you, and your life will yet be crowned with honor and glory. Let God drop life’s curtain, but do not draw it yourself.”
These kindly words had a great influence on the heart of this man. Once more he was about to turn and walk toward the city, but the enemy with bold audacity, again continued his sermon:
“What can you see ahead of you as you lift your eyes? Have you not tried the theater, and what joy can that give! Have you not tried the ways of prostitution, and what lasting comfort have you found? Have you not tasted of the wine glass, and found no satisfying portion! In brief, is it not true that everything has failed to give you the peace for which you have been vainly sighing? You must not be deceived by false voices that call you to imaginary peace. Religion is a failure, and you need not think of depending upon the church or Sunday School for any real comfort. The world would be far better off if there were no churches. The only work they do is to annoy the consciences of people while they live, and in many instances, cast a heavy gloom over them in death.” The Devil paused just a moment and then in a softer voice continued: “Since all of your prospects are like bubbles, why not leap instantly into the waters, whose velvety touches shall smooth down all your cares and bury you in peace forever! There is no grave like that of the water. Look now upon its smiling face and remember that all those silent moonlight beckonings are inviting you to the deepest and most sublime comfort. Hesitate no more. Why not carry your whole purpose to a finish? There could be nothing sweeter than to fall from this bridge. The rest will all follow like the evening follows noon, or like the bright stars follow the heat of a closing day.”
At this the man actually leaned over and was looking thoughtfully into the waters below him. Then the good angel lovingly entreated him once more:
“Think of your mother and your friends. Look at the disgrace you will leave behind you. Remember, God, who made the waters, made them not to comfort a dying man. There is no peace to be found in such a manner of ending life. Empty your mind of these vain delusions which I assure you are but temptations from the Devil. If you heed his voice you will find, when it is too late, that you will be in the power of the very wretch who now seeks your ruin.”
Then did the Devil whisper a few long sentences so low that no one could hear but the listener. It was a terrible temptation playing upon the man in his weakness. It was his purpose to heed the voice of the good angel, but he somehow felt that he was being drawn away from the light that was trying to enter his soul, and so, in the desperation that was born of this thought, he seized his enemy as if in bodily conflict, and taking advantage of the advice previously given to him by the angel, he called upon God for help. After a sharp decisive struggle Satan was pushed off of the bridge, but it seemed as if he did not fall into the water. The man quickly turned for he felt a saving hand upon him, and to his happiness he found that the angel had not let go of him during all the conflict. Never did any creature seem so beautiful as the angel appeared to him at that moment. He had conquered in the conflict, and next he breathed out his petition on the midnight air that God might help him through the troubles that had almost overwhelmed him. His prayer was answered and over the wrecks of a wasted life he reared a building of character and wealth that he humbly dedicated to the unseen God.
It is sad to relate that not all of the sons and daughters of the human race conquer Satan when they are subjected to the terrible temptations of self destruction.
Every inward voice or suggestion that urges a man to self-destruction is born of Satan. Look at the picture and see how the Black Demon points downward. He is urging the man to find comfort in suicide. That is the best recipe that Satan and infidelity can offer to a person who is overwhelmed with trouble. Let such a one turn a deaf ear to Satan’s temptation and listen to the Angel of Light who will point him to the Son of Righteousness by day and the Star of Hope by night.
From: Harris, William. Sermons by the Devil. 1904/2021. LutheranLibrary.org