And indeed, before the cross was erected, he (Satan) was eager that it should be so; and he “wrought” [for this end] “in the children of disobedience.” 1320 He wrought in Judas, in the Pharisees, in the Sadducees, in the old, in the young, and in the priests. But when it was just about to be erected, he was troubled, and infused repentance into the traitor, and pointed him to a rope to hang himself with, and taught him [to die by] strangulation. He terrified also the silly woman, disturbing her by dreams; and he, who had tried every means to have the cross prepared, now endeavoured to put a stop to its erection; 1321 not that he was influenced by repentance on account of the greatness of his crime (for in that case he would not be utterly depraved), but because he perceived his own destruction [to be at hand]. For the cross of Christ was the beginning of his condemnation, the beginning of his death, the beginning of his destruction. Wherefore, also, he works in some that they should deny the cross, be ashamed of the passion, call the death an appearance, mutilate and explain away the birth of the Virgin, and calumniate the [human] nature 1322 itself as being abominable. He fights along with the Jews to a denial of the cross, and with the Gentiles to the calumniating of Mary, 1323 who are heretical in holding that Christ possessed a mere phantasmal body. 1324 For the leader of all wickedness assumes manifold 1325 forms, beguiler of men as he is, inconsistent, and even contradicting himself, projecting one course and then following another. For he is wise to do evil, but as to what good may be he is totally ignorant. And indeed he is full of ignorance, on account of his voluntary want of reason: for how can he be deemed anything else who does not perceive reason when it lies at his very feet?
Eph. ii. 2.117:1321
[This is the idea worked out by St. Bernard. See my note (supra) suffixed to the Syriac Epistle to Ephesians.]117:1322
The various Gnostic sects are here referred to, who held that matter was essentially evil, and therefore denied the reality of our Lords incarnation.117:1323
The ms. has μαγείας, “of magic;” we have followed the emendation proposed by Faber.117:1324
Literally, “heretical in respect to phantasy.”117:1325
Literally, is “various,” or “manifold.”