by James Stalker
IN war it is a great advantage to possess a thorough knowledge of the country. Soldiers fighting on their own ground are able to attack when not expected, to draw the enemy into ambushes, and to vanish when hard pressed without paying the penalty of defeat. It is of equal importance to possess accurate information as to the numbers of the opposing side, their strength in the different arms, and their material equipment.
The lack of such knowledge may involve even for the victors an enormous expenditure of life and treasure. These rules are no less true of spiritual than of physical warfare. If we are to cope with the tempter, we must not be ignorant of his devices, and we must know the nature and the extent of the forces, which he is to bring into the field. For this reason it has been one of the tasks of theology to enumerate the sins by which the human soul is beset, to search into their subtlety, and to expose their methods of attack; and, as the result of many centuries of observation, seven sins have been especially noted as the leaders and chieftains of those that war against the soul—pride, avarice, luxury, envy, appetite, anger, and sloth.
These seven sins are nowhere all mentioned together in any single passage of Scripture, although, of course, they are all often mentioned separately; and it is open to anyone to question whether there are not others entitled to the bad pre-eminence of being called the deadly sins; but the selection of these for this position is a conclusion reached, after centuries of discussion, by some of the acutest intellects of the race.
Table of Contents
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
THE SEVEN CARDINAL VIRTUES