THE Scope and Drift of this Epistle, is to raise and strengthen the faith of the He∣brewes, and so the faith of those that are weak in grace. Our Apostle Paul there∣fore (whom I take to be the Pen-man) labours to discover the transcendent Ex∣cellency of Jesus Christ, with his love and good-will to the Children of men. And because his Ex∣cellencies, were either such as relate his Person; or such as re∣late his Offices, of King, Priest, & Prophet: He tels us in the Page 98first Chapter, that for the Personal Excellencies of Jesus Christ; He is the Son of God; Heire of all things; by whom were the Worlds made: being the brightness of his Fathers glory, and the express Image of his Person, in the 2, & 3. verses of that Chapters. That he is far above the Angels, at the 4. verse. That he is God himself, at the 6. verse. And as for those ex∣cellencies that relate his Offices: He tels us at the 1. verse, That he is the Prophet of Prophets. That he is the great King, at the 8. verse. That he is an High-Priest, in the 2. Chap. and the 17. verse: and therefore who would not trust unto him, and take heed unto such things are he shall speak unto them. And as for the love, and good-will that he bears unto the Children of men; the Apostle speaks it out in all this Se∣cond Chapter.
The greater Condeseention in the person loving, to the person loved, the greater is the love. Now though Jesus Christ be Heir of all things; and had all things put under his feet; far above all Angels: yet notwithstanding, at the 7. verse, He is made a little lower than the Angels, takes our na∣ture upon him, &c.
The more Profitable any love is, to the person loved, the greater is the love. Such is the love of Christ; for his love is such, That by him many sons are brought to glory, at the 10. verse. Sanctified while they live, at the 11. verse. Satan their deadly enemy subdued for them, at the 14, & 15: verses.
The more Distinguishing any love is, the greater is that love. Now Jesus Christ, as the great Load-stone, passes by the golden mettel of Angels, and draws unto himself the Iron-mettal of man kind, at the 16. verse: For verily, he took not on him the nature of Angels; but he took on him the seed of A∣braham.
Again, The more the person loving, does Suffer for the person loved, the more and the greater is the love. Christ suffered death, and he was while he lived subject to our in∣firmities, and unto our temptations: He was in all thing made like unto us, at the 17. verse. And he was tempted as we are tempted, that he might succour those that are tempted, at the 18. verse.Page 99
And would you have an Account, or a Reason of all this? it is, that he might shew mercy unto the children of men, verse the 17. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faith∣ful High-Priest, in things partaining to God, to make reconciliati∣on for the sins of the people. If he were not made like unto us in regard of our infirmities, he could not so experimental∣ly pity us under our infirmities: If he were not tempted like unto us, he could not so feelingly succour us under our temptation; and so he had not been so fit to have benn our High-Priest: but our High-Priest he is gone into the holy of holiest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto us, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest: For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, be is able to suc∣cour them that are tempted,
I will not hold you longer in the Coherence, or Divisi∣on of the words, or further Explication: I shall open the words (God willing) more particularly, and distinctly, as I shall come to the Observations that shall be raised from them. And I begin with the last, being made the reason of the former. For in that he him self hath suffered being temp∣ted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Tempted twice: He tempted, and They tempted.
This word Tempted, or Tempt; it is given in Scripture phrase, sometimes to God, sometimes to Man, and some∣times to the Devil; and accordingly it is used Three waies: Sometimes it is used for to Prove; and so God is said for to Tempt, in the 13. of Deuteronomy. Sometimes it is used for to Try, to make experiment of a Thing, or a Person, whom or which we did not know before; and so it is given to Man (as I take it) in the 6. of Judges. Sometimes it is used for a So∣licitation, and Drawing unto what is evil; and so it is given unto the Devil, in the 4. of Matthew, Christ was led into the axilderness to be tempted. If ye look into the Scripture, ye don't find in all the old Testament, that the word Tempta∣tion is given to Satan, that Satan was said to Tempt any: Page 100Satan did frequently Tempt, we reade in the old Testament; but I say, the word Tempt is not given unto him. Satan tempted Job, but Job's afflictions in the old Testament, are not called Satans temptations. As our Lord and Saviour Christ in the old Testament was Vail'd, the old Testament was full of Christ, yet Christ was hidden there: So was Satan and his temptations mask't. Now when the light of the glorious Gospel shined more cleerly in the comming of Jesus Christ, as Christs vail was taken off, so Satans Mask was taken off; Satans temptations are no longer cal∣led afflictions, but bare Temptations, throughout the new-Testament. Indeed, this word Temptation, in the phrase of the new Testament, is used sometimes for Afflicti∣on; Sometimes for Satans Suggestions; sometimes for our own Sins. Temptation used for our Afflictions: in the 1. of James, 2. verse, Rejoyce when ye fall into divers temptations. That is, Afflictions. Sometimes for the Devils suggestions, Solicitations to evil. So in the 4. of Matthew, Christ is led in∣to the wilderness to be tempted. Sometimes for our own sins. Galatians the 6 chapter, and the 1. verse. If any man be over∣taken with an infirmity, you that are spiritual, restore him, consi∣dering that you also may be tempted. Now though our Savi∣our Christ is said to be Tempted, in the two first respects, and not in the third; yet when it is said here in the text, He himself hath suffered being tempted; I take it to be meant in the second way, not the first: for otherwise, there would be an identity thus: He himself hath suffered; having suffered; that would be the sense of it else. And though we our selves are said to be tempted in all three respects, In regard of Afflictions, Satans Suggestions, and our own Cor∣ruptions, and Sins; yet when it is said in the latter end of the verse, He is able to succour them that are tempted; I take it to be meant especially in he two last respects, and not in the first: for it hath relation unto that which goes before the last verse being a reason of the latter end of the 17. vers. To make reconciliation for the sins of the people, for in that he him∣self hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succovr them that Page 101are tempted. Hence the Observation that I shall present un∣to you is only this.
That God doth suffer his own Servants, and dearest Children, [Doct.] to be sorely tempted. Yea, even to suffer by the hand of the temp∣tation.
Our Lord and Saviour Christ, the Son of God, the only Beloved Son of God, yet saith the text, He himself hath suffered being tempted: not only tempted, but suffered being tempted. And it is said, of his Brethren, (for so his people are called, in the beginning of the 17. verse) that they are tempted: He is able to succour them that are tempted. Succou∣ring presupposeth suffering.
For the opening, and clearing of this Truth, I shall de∣liver my self these Three waies.
First, That there is a suffering, Afflictive disposition in every Temptation, though it don't prevail.
Secondly, That the Saints and People of God do thus suffer, and why?
Thirdly, Answer to an Objection; and so come to the Ap∣plication.
First, There is a Vexing, Corroding, [unspec 1] Afflictive disposition in every temptation, when it takes least, though it do not prevaile These Granadoes, fire-bals, fire-darts of Satan have a dan∣ger with them; though they do not burn down our spiri∣tual building to the ground, they are afflictive, there is somewhat of a suffering with them. Paul cals his buffetings, a thorn, or a prick in the flesh: a Buffetting and therefore Af∣flictive; a thorn, or a prick in the flesh, and therefore Affli∣ctive. Notable is that expression which our Saviour Christ useth, in the 22. of Luke, at the 31. verse, to Peter. Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. There is never a word here, but carries a suffering with it. It is some affliction, to have so great an Adversa∣ry as an Angel is, who is great in Power; the Devil is cal∣led an Angel, and he is called Satan, that is an Adversa∣ry. [Satan hath desired] the word that is used there, Desired,* it is not used again in the new Testament, (as I remember) Page 102But in other Authors that use it, it signifies such a De∣siring, as when one man does challenge another into the field to a Duel: Or such a Desiring, as when a man comes and cals for open, and publick Punishment upon a man: and all this is Suffering, and Afflictive. Or, as your trans∣lation hath it: Satan hath desired to Have you. He does not say thus: Satan hath desired to Sift you; but Satan hath desired to Have you. Is it not an affliction to a child, to hear a Begger stand craving, and begging of his father to have him away, to carry him away from his house? There is never a Temptation, but in that Temptation Sa∣tan desires to Have you, you that are the Children of God, Satan desires to have you. Then again, He hath desired to have you that he may [sift you as wheat.] Now though in sif∣ting, there is a separation between the Chaff and the wheat, yet it is not without a concussion, and a shaking of the wheat: the wheat and the grain is shaken, though the chaffe be blown aside, and laid on heaps. And though through the skil of the sifter, the wheat may be so kept, as it does not fal into the chaffe-heap; yet notwithstanding, there is some danger in sifting, that the grain should fall o∣ver into the heap of chaffe, and be burnt with the chaffe: So here. Especially where Satan, the great destroyer of man-kind, hath the fan in his hand: Saith Christ, Satan hath desired to have you, and hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; and I tell you, there is so much dan∣ger in it, that nothing but my prayer can secure you, But I have prayed for you. So that you see, there is something of a Suffering in a Temptation. You know it was a Law in the old Testament, that if a woman were abroade in the fields, and there met her some that offered violence to her; if she cryed out, and did not consent, she was not guilty: but now, though she were not guilty, but inocent, if she were abused, it would be a continual affliction, to a modest good woman. So it is here, Satan comes to meet us, and though we do not consent to him, yet a gracious heart can∣not but look upon it as an affliction, to be thus followed, Page 103and haunted with a Temptation. And the holy Ghost al∣luded to this practise, when he saith here in the text, Jesus Christ is able to succour: The word Succour,* signifies such a Succouring as brings in help unto those that cry out; to come in, and run in with help upon ones crying out. In the 12. of the Revelation, it is said, Woe to the inhabitants of the earth; for the Devil is come down with great wrath, for he knows that his time is short. There is a Woe in it, where the Devil comes down with great wrath. Now he looks up∣on all the Saints, as having their time but short, and he comes down upon them in great wrath with his temptati∣ons: and there is a Woe in it, although the temptation takes not: And for ought I know, upon this account, the new-Testament may so promiscuously use the word Tempta∣tion, both for Affliction, and Satans Suggestions, even because seldom any Affliction comes, but it does bring Temptation with it: never any Temptation but brings Affliction: al∣waies something of a Suffering in every Temptation, even at that very time when it does least prevail. This is the First thing.
Secondly, Doth God suffer his own children thus to Suffer? [Quest. 2]
Yes, And many times the best, most tempted, [Answ.] the best men meet with the worst temptations, those that are most eminently Godly, are most fouly assaulted. David, Job, Peter, Paul, and Christ himself was. Yea, God doth not only suffer Satan to come, and present evil objects before his servants, but suffers him to go so far, as to solicite, to press, to follow on his temptation. And therefore it is said concerning David, That Satan stood up, and provoked him to Number the people. He did not only present an evil object to him, but he followed his temptation, he solicited, he stood up and provoked Da∣vid to Number the people.
Yea, God doth not only suffer this: but at that very time, when the Saints have had most of God, then they have suffered by the hand of temptation. when Paul had been taken up into the third Heaven, then a messenger, Satan was sent to buffet him. And when Jesus Christ had heard the voice, This is Page 104my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: Then (saies the text in the 4. of Matthew 1.) was he led by the spirit into the wil∣derness, to be tempted of the Devil. And so with the Saints now: when they have been, as it were, in the third Heaven with God, when they have had most of him, when they have heard the Lord saying, This is my beloved child; after special manifestations of his love, then most tempted: Oh! who would be secure, after manifestations of Gods love?
Further, God doth not only suffer it thus far: but some∣times he suffers his children to be so far tempted, as they seem to have the worser, Satan the better; Satan taking the wall of them, the upper hand, In the 3. of Zachary, it is said concerning Joshua: That Satan stood at his right hand: Satan took the wall of him, took the upper hand of him.
Lastly, God suffers this to be, and to continue a long time with some of his children. Paul saith, he had prayed thrice: that is, often; and all the answer he could get was this, My grace is sufficient for thee, (Paul) I don't say, I will deliver thee, but thou shalt have grace enough to uphold thee, My grace shall be sufficient. Thus God suffers his own dear children to Suffer under the hand of temptation.
And would you know the Reason? [Reas. 1] Good Authors say, That God suffers his own dear children to be tempted, that they may be more inlightened. Temptation inlightens the temp∣ted; there by they are more experienced, and so more in∣lightened: God is pleased to answer them by this secret of thunder.
God suffers his children thus to be tempted, [Reas. 2] That they may be cleansed. This is Gods usual way, he does wash us from our own filth, by the dung and excrement of these unclean spirits: and scowres of the rust from his chosen vessels by the messengers of Satan: these are Gods scullions to make his golden pots of the Sanctuary the brighter.
God suffers his own children to be tempted, [Reas. 3] That they may be conserved, or kept: He preserves them from one sin, Page 105by being tempted to another. And Paul saies, That he re∣ceived that messenger of Satan, twice, that he might not be exal∣ted. [Reas. 4]
God suffers his children to be tempted, That their graces may be increased. As the fire is blown up by the wind of the bellows; and the strength of an Argument, draws out the strength of the Answerer: So does these temptations draw out the strength of the tempted.
God suffers his Children to be tempted, [Reas. 5] That they may be discovered to themselves, and others; what their sins & graces are. You don't know what the liquor is, till the vessel be bored, then you know it. And the word that is used here for Temptation, Originally signifies to bore, as a vessel is bored.* The love of a woman is never more known, than when her husband is from home, and she is solicited to folly, then her love is tryed to her husband.
God suffers his children to be tempted, [Reas. 6] That occasionally they may be made more fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Savi∣our. A man not tempted may receive the fulness of Christ as the head: but unlesse a man be tempted, not fit to re∣ceive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour.
Hereby they are made like unto Jesus Christ. [Reas. 7] Christ was made like to us, that he might be tempted; and we are tempted that we may be made like to him. He was made like to us, that he might be tempted, and so become our High-Priest: and we are tempted, that we may be made like to him, and receive of the mercy of that office. He was made like to us and tempted, that he might have com∣munion with us in the evil of our temptation: and we are made like to him and tempted as he was, that we might have communion with him in the benefit of his temptati∣ons. For these and other reasons, God suffers his chil∣dren to be tempted. But my design is not to fall upon the argument of Temptation at large; only to speak of the Suf∣fering part of it: For in that he suffered being once tempted, he is able to succour those that are temped.
And upon the same reason, or account, that God suffe∣red Page 106the children of Israel to be Vexed, and to suffer by the hands of the Egyptians, he doth suffer his own dear children to be stung, and vexed by these temptations. Give me leave a little in that.
God suffered the Isralites to be vexed, [unspec 1] & to suffer much by the hands of the Egyptians, That so be might make his glo∣rious power the more to appear for them, and in them. For when men saw, that the Isralites increased and prospered, the more they were oppressed, and the more that the Egypti∣ans laboured to cut them off: then who would not say, Oh! what power, and what mercy is here? So now, when as men shall see, that the graces of the Saints increase the more by temptation, and by spiritual oppression; who would not say, Oh! what mercy, and what power is here?
God suffered the Isralites to be vexed by the Egyptians, [unspec 2] That the Isralites might not learn their manners, and their Super∣stitions. They were very apt to drink-in their manners, to imitate, to follow them. Notwithstanding all the ill u∣sage that the Israelites had at the hand of the Egyptians, they were very apt to learn their manners: had they had better usage, how would they have drunk them in much more then? Beloved! God would not have us to learn the manners of Satan, we are apt to drink them in too much notwithstanding all the hard dealing that we have from our temptations that do come from Satan: had we better entertainment, how should our souls mingle, and incor∣porate with those temptations?
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed by the Egyptians, [unspec 3] That so they might be provoked against them, to cut them off, and destroy them utterly. We never cut off an Enemy, and de∣stroy him utterly till we be provoked; and we are provo∣ked by the ill usage that we have at their hands. God would have Satan destroyed: for this cause was Christ manifested in the flesh, that he might destroy the works of Satan; And what Christ did for us, he doth work in us: and we will not destroy him till we be provoked and Page 107therefore God is pleased to let us have such hard dealing, and suffering work from the hand of temptation, that we may be the more provoked against him.
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed by the Egyptians, [unspec 4] That so they might long for Canaan the land of rest. And why doth God suffer his people to suffer thus by their temptati∣ons, but that they might cry out for help, and for the land of rest? as David, Oh! that I had wings like a dove for then would I fly away and be at rest.
If the children of Israel had not suffered thus from the hands of the Egyptians; [unspec 5] in all likelihood they would have returned to Egypt much more than they did. They made them a Captain to re∣turn again, notwithstanding all the hardness that they un∣derwent in Egypt: but had the children of Israel had good usage in Egypt, how would they have returned a∣gain thither; Beloved! we are apt to return again to fol∣ly, you that are the servants of God, too apt to return to folly; notwithstanding all the hard usage that you have from the hand of your temptation, how apt and ready are you to retturn to folly; now God loves you, and would not have you to return again, and therefore that you might not return to your garlike, onyons, and fleshpots a∣gain, he suffers this Spiritual Phatoah thus to follow you, and lie hard upon you in these temptations. And thus you see what a glorious design of love God hath, even in the suffering part of his childrens temptations: Gods own children do suffer thus by the hand of a Temptation.
But you will say, [Object.] In the Third place (to answer the Ob∣jection) If Gods own people, his dearest children be sorely tempted, yea, suffer under the hand of a temptation: how is that true, which you have in the 1 Epistle of John, the 5. chapter and the 18. verse: Whosoever is born of God sins not: he that is begotten of God, keeps himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not; the Devil toucheth him not: and if the Devil does not so much as touch him, how can this be true, that he suffers thus by the hand of his temptation.
For answer hereunto, ye must know, [Answ.] that this word Page 108Touching, in Scripture phrase, besides the litteral sense, sometimes notes an Hurting, or Harming of one. So in the 105. Psalm, and the 15. verse. Touch not mine anointed. Which is explained in the following words, and do my Pro∣phets no harm. We reade of Christs Touching, and the Devils Touching. Christ touching those that were sick, and he cured them with his touch, it was an healing, cu∣ring touch, the touch of Christ. And we reade of the De∣vils touching: So he speaks unto God that he would touch Job; that is, that he would break him, and break all his E∣state: Christ touch is an healing touch, curing touch; but Satans touch is a destroying touch, a breaking touch. Now though God suffers his own children to be tempted, yea, and to suffer by the hand of a temptation, yet not∣withstanding, the evil one touches him not, so as to harm him, to hurt him; But in the conclusion, so as to heal and to cure him, which is no touching.
Again, This same word Touching, in Scripture Phrase, sometimes notes Fellowship and Communion: and so when the Apostle forbids the Corinthians fellowship and com∣munion with Idolaters; saith he, Be ye Separate, and touch no unclean thing. Touching there noting Communion and Fellowship with them in their Worship: don't in the least measure have any communion with them. So now, al∣though it pleases God, to suffer Satan thus to vex his chil∣dren with temptation, yet notwithstanding, they have not fellowship or Communion with him, Satan knocks at their door, but they don't frequently, and ordinarily open and let him in, so as to sup with them: Christ stands at their door and knocks, and they open, and he comes in and sups with them, and they with him: they have fellow∣ship with the Father, and they have fellowship with Jesus Christ, but they have not fellowship with the Devil; they don't delight in him, they don't converse with him, they have not this fellowship with him: and therefore though they meet with temptation, yea, and though they suffer under temptation, yet in this respect the evil one touches Page 109not, but suffer they do. And so I have cleared the Point: God suffers his own dear children to be sorely tempted, yea, and to suffer under the hand of a temptation.
I come to the Application.
If this be so:*Then why do you that are the Servants of God question Gods love to you, and call your own condition into questi∣on because of your temptations, or because of the hard things that you meet withall from the hand of your temptation? Oh! saies one, if God loved me, I should never be thus tempted, I should never suffer such hard things by temptation as now I do: was there ever any of Gods Children tempted thus? Surely this cannot stand with grace. But was not Jesus Christ tempted? Yes. But I am tempted many times to doubt of my Child-ship, whether I be the Child of God, Son of God I or no. And was not Christ thus? There were Two special times of Christs temptation: Once when he entered upon the Ministry: Once when he went out of the world; and you shall see, how at both these times, he was followed with this temptation: In the 4. of Matthew, there you reade of the first, and in the combate, twice, If thou be the Son of God? saies the Devil: putting an If upon his Son∣ship: and again, If thou be the Son of God: putting an∣other If upon his Son-ship. So when he was upon the Cross; the Devils Instruments speak his own Language, they had not forgotten it: If he be the Son of God, let him come down? putting an If upon his Son-ship again. The Devil follows this close. Oh! but I am tempted many times to use indi∣rect means to get out of trouble, out of mine affliction. And was not Christ so? when he was an hungry, saies the De∣vil to him, Command that these stones be made bread. Oh! but I am tempted, I am loth to say what it is, sometimes even to lay violent hands upon my self. And what said the Devil to Christ? Throw thy self down off the pinacle of the Temple. Oh! but I am tempted to horrid and blasphe∣mous things that I am afraid to name, and my heart trem∣bles Page 110to think of. And was not Christ thus tempted? saies Satan to him, All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. What? worship the Devil! Oh! horrid blasphemy! Blush, O Heavens, and be astonished: All this will I give thee, If thou wilt fall down and worship me. Oh! but I am tempted to depair: sometimes; I confesse I am able to reade Gods love, and to say, that God is with me, and I think I can say, I know that God is with me: but at another time, Oh! how unlike am I unto my self, and I say, Mercy is gone, and Christ is gone, and hath left me as an orphan. And I pray consider how it was with Christ in this respect; he went as neer to it as could be, without sin. It is Musculus his Observation. In the 16. of John: Behold (saies Christ at the 32. verse) the hour cometh (speaking of his suffering hour) Yea, it is now come, when ye shall be scattered every man from his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (Speaking of his suffering hour) And yet when he was upon the Cros, he saies, Father, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? How diverse does he seem to be from himself? Saies he, I am not alone, because the Father is with me: And yet when he comes into the hour, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Oh! but I have suffered as much as ever any did, I have suffered by the hand of my temptati∣ons, they have been a continual torment to me, and I have suffered much from them. Well, but have ye suffered more than Christ suffered? It is said in the text, For in that he suf∣fered being tempted: What a mighty suffering was it, for the glorious God of Heaven and Earth to have such temptati∣ons thrown in upon him? any one temptation to be lod∣ged in his mind, what a mighty suffering was this? Thus you see how Christ suffered.
And beloved, He suffered, and was tempted, that he might succour you that are tempted. Will you question his love then, because of your temptation, or your own condition? do ye know what you do? Suppose that your Father should leave you a great Estate, and give you good Evidences; and Page 111a cunning Lawyer comes, and writes upon the back-side of your Evidence, Naught, naught: will ye because of that, joyn with him and say, that your Father hath given you nothing? Christ hath given you in a great Estate of Mer∣cy, and hath given you good Evidences for it; and Satan now, comes & writes upon the back-side of your Evidence, and saies, This is naught. Will you joyn with him against God and Christ? what wrong is this to his love? think of it, I pray, you that are the Saints and people of God: Be humbled under every temptation, though it be never so small; but never question your condition, though your temptation be never so great.
There is indeed, something of a suffering, a malignant quality, an affliction in every temptation when it takes least: and therfore, look how you would walk under an afflicti∣on, so walk under your temptation. In your affliction, you will walk Humbly: so under your temptation do. In your affliction, you will examine the Cause, especially if your affliction lie long upon you: So in your temptation do. In your affliction, you will seek God Early: So in the morning of your temptation do. In the day of your affliction, you will Engage to God; the day of affliction, is the day of engaging, and you say, Oh! if the Lord will deliver me, through his grace I will do so and so: So in your temptation do. In your affliction, you will take heed of those sins that you are most apt unto in the time of affliction: so do in the time of your temptation: For ex∣ample thus: in affliction, a man is very apt to be discoura∣ged, to have his heart sink and to die within him: So in temptation, take heed of that. In affliction, a man is apt so to mind his present burden, as to forgit all his former mercy: so in the time of temptation take heed of that. In the time of affliction, a man is very apt to be froward, and impatient, to break out into frowardness, and impatiency though he did not so before: As the wood that is laid up∣on the fire, sends forth filth which you did not see in the wood before it came upon the fire: So men are apt to send Page 112forth filth, and much frowardness and impatiency in the time of affliction, when you took them for good natured people before, and thought there was no such frowardness in them, and no such impatiency: So in the time of temp∣tation also take heed of that. In the time of affliction, men are apt to make an evil construction, and interpretation of things: Affliction raises Passion, and Passion puts other colors upon things than formerly; and so in time of temp∣tation, we are apt to make strange constructions of Gods dealings, and Christ's dealings with us: take heed of that. In time of affliction, men are apt to change their behaviour; David did so, he let fall his spittle upon his beard, and faigned himself mad; he changed his behaviour: and so are men apt to change their behaviour in times of temptati∣on: take heed of that. In time of affliction, men are apt to stint, and limit God, and say, Can God provide a table now? and can God deliver now? and so also in the time of temptation, men are apt to say, Can God provide now? & can God deliver now? and so stint, and limit the Holy One of Israel; take heed of that. In the day of affliction a gracious heart does rather rejoyce that he hath any oppor∣tunity to exercise his grace, than mourn for his present bur∣den: so do you now. In the day of affliction, a gracious heart doth more desire to be cleansed, than to be delivered; wishes rather that his heart may be sanctified by his affliction, thā that his affliction may be removed. There is somthing of a suffering (ye have heard) in every temptation: now then, does a temptation arise, and presse in upon you; Go to the Lord and say, Lord, though I meet with hard things from the hand of my temptations, & these temptations have lien long upon me: yet I do rather chuse Grace than Peace; rather to be Cleansed, than to be Delivered: Oh! my belo∣ved, how well might it be with us, if we did but improve our temptations? what againing day, what a learning day might the day of temptation be? yea, what an harvest-day unto us, when Satan desires to winnow us?
But you will say unto me; [Quest.] We are greatly unskil'd in this Page 113matter: temptations I have, and great temptations, where ever I go, in every business: but Oh! how should I so order things, and mannage my thoughts, and my heart, as that I may be able so to walk under these temptations, that I may have peace and comfort in the latter end.
Beloved, the next point tels us, [Answ.] That Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to all his tempted people: and I intend (God willing) to shew you, how Christ succours, and how we should draw succour from him under temptations. But for the present, give me leave to give you some Rules, and Directions, against these suffering temptations, and so I will winde up all.
First, Take heed that you don't yeeld to any thing, [unspec 1] that you may be rid of; that you don't yeeld to any part of the temptation, that you may be delivered from. It is more easy to keep the E∣nemy out of the town, than to get him out when he is come into it: if he get into the town, and get into the market∣place, it will be a more hard thing to get him out again. It is an easie thing to keep a stone on the top of an hill, while it lies there; but when once it begins to roul down, it is a hard thing to stay it, and you cannot say how far it shall go: How many are there that say when they are tempted, I'le yeeld but once, I'le yeeld but a little, and I'le never yeeld again, this is the last time: Oh! but, your once yeelding, and your yeelding but a little, ingages your heart to the whole work. you should watch and pray a∣gainst temptation; Watch and pray that ye enter not into temp∣tation: he does not say, Watch and pray, that you be not tempted; but watch and pray, that you enter not into temp∣tation. 'Tis one thing for temptation to knock at the door, and another thing to come in: When temptation enters you, you enter into temptation; take heed of that.
Again, Take heed that you don't carry the sin, [unspec 2] and the guilt of your Old condition, into a New condition. See your Call in∣to a New condition, before you leave your Old condition. Never count your self safe, or secure in any condition, but assoon as ever you come into any condition, observe what Page 114are the snares, and temptations of that condition. Some there are that carry the evil of their former condition, into an after condition, into a new condition; and then as Ra∣chel carrying a way her fathers Idols, tempted Laban to fol∣low after.
Some again, they don't much mind their Calling to a condition, nor don't go in the strength of their Call: whereas you shall observe, that when Peter was called to stand before the Princes, and Rulers, he did boldly professe Christ, because his call did lead him thereunto: but when he was not Called into the High-Priests hall, then he fals before a tempting wench. Others again there are, that think their condition wil secure them: Oh! saies one if I were but in such and such a condition, then I should be safe and free from Satans temptations; whereas, several conditions, have several temptations: and the Devil does use sometimes to tempt a man to alter his condition, so that by your very avoiding a temptation you fall into it. Take heed of this.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] If temptation do arise, observe the temptation; and know that there is some suitable disposition of your own, wherein the Devil does lay that temptation, and labour to file, and pare off that disposition. Beloved, the Devil observes the situation of our hearts, and accordingly does plant his Ordnance: he seldom tempts, but he laies his temptation in our own disposition, something sutable unto the temptation. So when David had a mind to number the people, then the Devil stands up, and provokes him to number the people sutable to his own disposition. When our Lord and Savi∣our Christ was an hungry, then he comes and tempts him to turn stones into bread. When again, he cryed out and said, My God my God why hast thou forsaken me? then saies the Devils instruments, If thou be the Son of God, then come down and shew thy self. He does usually lay his temptation in our own disposition that is sutable to the temptation. And therefore, I say, first observe the temptation, then know you have a disposition subservient thereunto, and Page 115the Devil laies his temptation in that disposition, and pre∣sently fals to work, and labours to file, and pare off more and more that disposition in Jesus Christ.
Fourthly, When a temptation arises, [unspec 4] don't alwaies stand to answer it in the kind, but sometimes turn your mind and thoughts off it to another object. 'Tis in our deliverance from a temp∣tation, as in our comforts under an affliction: a man hath a great affliction upon him; possibly the death of some friend that is near and dear unto him, and you go to comfort him, and in comforting him, you fall a speaking of his friend departed: whereas the way to comfort him, is not to speak of the person departed, but fall into confe∣rence about some other good thing different; and by that time his heart is setled upon some other thing, then you may come back again, and speak of the friend departed without grieving of him, but otherwise, even in your comfort you fetch out tears. And so I say in regard of temptation: the way to avoid temptation, is not alwaies to apply a salve directly pertinent to the temptation; but turn off your mind and your thoughts to some other good objects, and by that time your mind is setled upon other objects, you will be easily able to meet with the temptati∣on.
Fifthly, Above all things take the shield of faith. [unspec 5] Whom re∣sist siedfast in the faith, Simon, Simon (saies our Saviour) Sa∣tan hath desired to have you, that he may winnow you: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith faile not: that must do it. That same woman that came to Christ for her daughter, she met with great temptations: There was the temptation of her calamity; her daughter possest: There was a tempta∣tion of Christs not answering, but delaying his answer. There was a temptation of Christs seeming denial; I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: There was a temptation of her own unworthiness; 'Tis not lawful to take the childrens bread and to cast it to dogs: yet notwithstan∣ding she beleeves, Oh! saies our Saviour, Woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And so I say, though Page 116your temptations be twisted one within another, and one stands at the end of another; do but get the prospect of faith, and you will be able to look over all. When temp∣tation therefore arises, say, Lord, though thou kil me, yet will I trust in thee: And Satan, though thou slayest me, I will keep to Jesus Christ. It was the speech of Taulerus, one that Luther prizeth above all: Saies he, Though the Marriners may make use of their Oars in the time of calm, yet when a storm comes down, the Marriners leave all and fly to their Anchor. So, though at other times we may make use of Resolutions, and Vows, and the like; yet when the storm of temptation comes down, nothing then, but fly to the anchor of faith, nothing then like to casting of anchor into the Vail. And as if the holy Ghost, put al on this, he cals Faith our Anchor; and he cals Faith our Shield: All dangers are either Sea-dangers, or Land dan∣gers: if your dangers be Sea-dangers, Faith is your Anchor; and if your dangers be Land dangers, Faith is your Shield. And therefore I say, when temptation arises, labour then to exercise your faith, and say, Oh! how should I do this thing, and sin against my Christ, and sin against my God? Satan, thou tellest me, All this I will give thee, if I wil do this thing: I but, how shall I do this, and sin against Je∣sus Christ who hath loved me, and given himself for 'me? Satan, thou tellest me, that if I do yeeld, God is merciful, and God will pardon me: Yea, but Satan, God hath par∣don'd me already, and therefore I will not yeeld; and be∣cause I know that the Lord would pardon me if I did it, therefore I will not do it. Thus labour to exercise your faith in time of a temptation.
Sixthly, [unspec 6] Be sure of this, When temptation arises, don't fear too much: nor don't fear too little. I confesse, it's an hard thing to carry it equally, between too much, and too little: but (beloved) if you fear too Much; you honour Satan, you weaken your selves: immoderate fear weakens. And if you fear too little, then you grow secure: security betraies you, and so you lose all before you strike a stroke. Where∣fore Page 117this Rule is: If temptation arise, don't fear too much, though the temptation be never so great: don't fear too little though the temptation be never so small.
Seventhly, Art thou assaulted by temptation? [unspec 7] Either you do overcome; or you are overcome: if you do overcome, be Thankful, lest you lose your former Victory, by your after-Ʋnthankfulness. And if you be overcome, yet don't lay down the weapon, hold it up still, stand upon your guard. The Devil tempts that he may tempt; and he is willing to be overcome in the skirmish, that he may overcome you in the battel: and he brings up the greatest temptations in the reare: As Jobs afflictions were greatest at that last: yea, he tempts us to break the Law, and sin against the Law, that he may tempt us to sin against the Gospel. This is the Seventh Rule: If you be overcome, or be not overcome, walk thus.
Eighthly, and Lastly, [unspec 8] If temptation do arise; Be sure that you make some improvement of it for the better. If an enemy come and make an assault against one of your garrison∣towns, and he goes away, and gets no hurt, he is incou∣raged, and invited to come again; for (saies he) I lost no∣thing; though I did not gain, and carry the Town, yet I lost nothing: But now, if upon his assault he loses many men, and his Ordnance, I'le come no more there (saies he) for there I had such and such a great loste. Thus it is with Satan when he comes before a soul with his temptations; there is a soul (saies he) I came before him with my temp∣tations, and though indeed I did not carry it, I did not get the thing I would, yet I lost nothing, and therefore I'le go again. But there is a soul, and there's a heart, I came before him with my temptations, and I confesse I lost much; I tempted and he prayed, and the more I temp∣ted the more he prayed, and the more I tempted still, the more he did go to Jesus Christ, and therefore I will tempt him no more. Beloved, labour to improve your temp∣tations, goe to God with your temptations in your hands, and pray over your temptations: and if you improve your temptations, you shall not be troubled Page 118with Satan; and therefore you are troubled with Satan so much, because you improve your temptations no more. Oh! how well might it be with us, if we did but improve our temptations? what a good day would this be? what a good day might be this sad day of our temptation, if we did but improve our temptations? And I beseech you think of it, how we may improve them more and more. You know what our Saviour said concerning the false ground; in the time of temptation it fell away: let that awe our hearts. You know what our saviour saies again by way of comfort unto his Disciples; You continued with me in my temptations, and therefore I appoint unto you a kingdom: and blessed are they that do continue, and hold out this siege. Beloved! these turning times, are tempting times: and I think I may truly say, if ever there were an hour of temptation upon this kingdom, this is the hour of Eng∣lands temptation, it is an hour of temptation. Oh! you that are the servants of God, and the Disciples of Jesus Christ, will ye not watch with him one hour? an hour of temptation it is, but this is our comfort, it is but an hour: and therefore you that are his servants and Disciples, will you not watch with him one hour? Watch and pray, watch and pray: some pray, but they will not watch; and some pretend to watch, but they don't pray. There∣fore that I say to you, to my self, and to all is, watch and pray: if you watch, you enter into your masters joy; if you watch not, you enter into temptation: Oh! let us all watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation.