I come to the Application
Whist I stand upon this Truth,* me thinks I hear a so∣lemn, and gracious Invitation to all poor tempted souls to come unto Jesus Christ, to come for succor. There's none of you all, but labour under some temptation or other. Page 230Ye have read that the Lord Christ is a succouring Christ: shall I need to invite you to come unto him? Ye have read how able he is: and willing he is to succour. His heart is bent to succour you, his armes are open, his bosom is open, his heart is open to poor tempted souls that they may re∣ceive succour from him. Oh! therefore, you that are tempted, Come unto Jesus Christ that you may be succou∣red by him, Come unto Christ, Come unto Christ a∣lone.
You will say, [Quest.] But does he succour all that are tempted? why then are any damned?
Some men will not come unto him: [Answ.] Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life. Some come unto him, but make an halfe Christ of him: They won't come under great temp∣tations, then they are afraid, and then they despair: They won't come under small temptations, then they despise: But for middleing temptations, those they will come to Christ for succour in; and thus they make a halfe Christ of him. Some come to him as to a Moses, make a conditional Christ of him: they must have their own Preparations, and Humiliations before they come unto him, or else they will not come unto him. But beloved! ye know what our Apostle saies, in the 7. of the Hebrews: He is able to save unto the uttermost those that come to God by him. Those that come to God by Him: if you do come unto Him, he will succour.
But my temptation is an Old temptation, [Object.] an Ancient temptation; I have gone under fears, and temptations for many yeers together, I may say, almost my whole life: and will Jesus Christ succour such a one as I am?
Pray what think you of the verse that goes before the text? [Answ.] reade it, and consider it: the 14. and the 15. verses. He himself took part of the same, that through death he might de∣stroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil. And (at the 15. verse) Deliver them from Satan that were all their life time subject to bondage. That he might deliver them from Satan that were all their life time subject to bondage: in Page 231fear of death, and all their life time subject to bondage.
Art thou therefore, a man or woman, that hath gone up and down all thy daies in fear of death, and fear of hell, and been in bondage all thy life time? See, he came to de∣liver such souls, such tempted souls as these are Christ came to deliver.
Oh! But my temptation is not a bare temptation, [Object.] there's much affliction that is mixt withal: and will he deliver those?
Yea, you know how it was with Jacob: [Answ.] Jacob used indirect means to get the blessing; Esau's heart rose against him: Jacob flies for it; when he was in the field, in the night, then Christ appears to him: A ladder, whose top was in Heaven (the Deity) the bottom on Earth (the Humanity) and Angels ascending and descending. All the while he was in his fathers house, he never had this Vision of Christ, but now, when he lay in the open field, Christ appears for his succour, by his Angels thus.
Oh! but my temptation is not such; [Object.] but my temptation is mixt with much Corruption; I have a Proud heart, an Ʋnclean heart, a froward heart; Will the Lord Jesus Christ lay such a wretched heart as mine is in his bosom? Oh! will he succour such a soul as I am?
For answer to this, [Answ.] I pray consider these Three things with me. The Lord Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ ye have read: And
First, He will succour tempted sinners most, [unspec 1] when they are most tempted. When the Child is sick, and when the Child is most sick, then the Mother comes forth and succours it, then love sits upon the bed-side, then love laies the Child in her bosom. And (saies he) in the 66. chapter of Esay, and the 13. verse: As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.
Again, He will not only succour thus: [unspec 2] but he will suc∣cour you that are tempted, when you cannot succour your selves; when your own thoughts cannot succour you, when your own thoughts dare not succour you, or when your own thoughts trample-upon your Evidences, and when your Page 232own thoughts shall make a Mutiny in your hearts, and set al on fire: In the multitude of my thoughts thy word comforts my soul. The Lord knows how to deliver in the time of temp∣tation, though you do not know; and when you do not know it, then he knows, and then he will deliver when you know not. Reade again the same place, the 13. verse of the 66. of Esay. As one whom his mother comfor∣teth so will I comfort you. Who are those? (saies he) at the 5. verse. Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble his word, and you that are cast out by your brethren: As one whom his mo∣ther Comforteth, so will I comfort you: you that lie and trem∣ble before the promise, and dare not draw neer unto it, As a mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] He will not only succour thus: but he will succour poor tempted souls with a Notwithstanding; Not∣withstanding all their failings, Notwithstanding all their infirmities. Joseph, a Type of Christ, his brethren sold him away, he indured much misery: Afterward his brethren came to want; and they go down to Egypt to him; and when they came there, Joseph succours them, Notwithstan∣ding all their former unkindnesse; I am your brother Jo∣seph, I am Joseph your brother; 'tis true, you sold me, and thus and thus you dealt by me; but you are come for suc∣cour, and I will succour you with a Notwithstanding. So saies the Lord Jesus Christ; Poor tempted soul, I know how thou hast dealt by me, how thou hast sold me, how thou hast neglected me, how thou hast crucified me: but I will succour thee with a Notwithstanding, Notwithstand∣ing all thy guilt, and all thy fear, I will succour thee with a Notwithstanding.
Three great succours that the Jewes had in the wilderness: Suc∣cour from the Rock, that gave out water: Succour against their Thirst. Succour from the Mannah that came down from Heaven: succour against their Hunger. Succour from the Brasen-serpent: from the fiery serpents that stung them. All these Three were great Types of Christ. And the Rock was Christ, saies the Apostle. And saies Christ Page 223himself: I am the bread, (speaking of the Mannah.) And when I am lifted up, (speaking of the brasen-serpent, allu∣ding to it.) Now, look into the story and you will find; God did not give out these succours to them till they murmur; in the 15. of Exodus, there they murmur, and murmur, and murmur, and then God opened the rock, and God gave them water notwithstanding. And in the 16. of Exodus, there he gives them bread. And in the 17. there he opens the rock: but first they murmured; the Lord gave them these succours with a Notwithstanding. The thing that I mean is this: Will the Lord give them a Typi∣call Christ for their succour, with a Notwithstanding? and will he not give poor tempted souls the Real Christ with a Notwithstanding, Notwithstanding all if they do come un∣to him, if tempted souls do but come unto him? Oh! what a mighty incouragement is here unto all poor tempted souls to come unto Jesus Christ? Oh! you, Come unto Je∣sus Christ, you that never came unto Jesus Christ, Come unto Jesus Christ, you shall find him a succouring Christ.
Secondly, If this Doctrine be true: [unspec 2] what ground of strong Consolation is here unto all the Saints? Oh! you that are the servants of God, children of God; you that are Saints, will you ever doubt of Christs love again? will you ever suffer your hearts to lie under the pressure of de∣spondent fears again? Doubting arises from Ignorance, mistakes of Christ; we put Esau's cloathes upon him; we make him an Angel of darkness and then we fear him. Ye don't look upon him as a succouring Christ, and therefore you are so full of Doubtings: or if you do, you don't actu∣ate your considerations, and you notions on him.
Beloved! Either there is a truth in this Doctrine; or else there is not. If there be not, what mean all the proofs that ye have had? And if there be a truth, if the Lord Je∣sus Christ be a succouring Christ to tempted souls; why then should you not triumph in him? and say, Well, no∣thing shall separate me from the love of God in Jesus Christ: Page 234I am perswaded, I am perswaded, that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other ereature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thus Paul reasoned in the 8. of the Romans. And I pray mark it; Who then shall separate us? (saies he at the 35. verse) shall tribulation, or distresse, or persecution, or fa∣mine, or nakednesse, or peril, or sword? Nay in all these things we are more than conquerers, through him that loved us. I am per∣swaded, that neither death, nor life, &c. Whence did arise this perswasion? (at the 33. verse) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods Elect? it is God that justifieth. (Mark) He does not say, 'Tis God that justifies me; but only in the general, 'Tis God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. He does not say, 'Tis Christ that died for me: but 'tis Christ that died.
You will say, [Quest.] I, indeed, if I could say, That God justifies me; and Christ died for me; then I would say with Paul, That no∣thing shall separate.
Paul raises his perswasion thus: [Answ.] 'Tis God that justifies, and 'tis Christ that died.
I but, [Quest.] was there any temptation, in any of all these that Paul speaks on?
Yes sure: [Answ.] Why does he say else, That in all these things we are more than conquerers? There is an adversary power in this. And what think you when he saies, That neither life, nor death, nor Angels, nor principalities, and powers? Does not the Devil come in there, under principalities and powers? Neither does he say thus: I'le hope well now, That be∣cause Christ dies, and 'tis God that justifies; I'le hope well: No, but I am perswaded, none of all these shall separate me from the love of God in Christ. Though I have feared, I will fear no more. Thus he makes his Triumph. Oh! what strong consolation is here to all the Saints? You that are the tempted Saints of God, do not your hearts burn, and glow within you with love to Jesus Christ? and will you question his love to you? Did Christ Come and Page 335succour you? and will not you succour your selves? Is his heart full of succour toward you? and won't you own it? The Lord rebuke our unbelief.
Thirdly, If Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ: [unspec 3] Then let us be succouring Christians. Shall the Lord Jesus Christ take a poor tempted soul into his arms? and shall I thrust him away with my hand? Shall the Lord Christ take him into his Bosome? and must I thrust him out of the City, and the place where he dwels? Shall the Lord Jesus Christ car∣ry a poor tempted soul upon his shoulder, by way of suc∣cour? and shal I carry him upon my shoulder as a burden? It was Christ's Command: See that ye love one another, as I have loved you. And how did Christ love us? He loved us, and gave himself for us: He loved us, and was made in the form of a servant, took our Infirmities upon him: he lo∣ved us, and was tempted for us, suffered being tempted: And shall not I be willing to succour those that are temp∣ted? You look upon another mans Opinion, or his Pra∣ctice, or his froward disposition, and you are offended at it whom otherwise you would love, and do account godly: But how do you know whether that be not his temptation? that his disposition, and Opinion, and Practice; how do you know whether that be not his temptation that he lies under? and will you not succour him? Oh! my beloved, How contrary are our dispositions to Christs? Christ came from Heaven to succour those that are tempted: and we call for fire from Heaven against those that are tempted. Christ would bear with much smoke, for a little fire: and we wil quench a great deal of fire because of a little smoke. Oh! therefore, as you desire to be like unto Jesus Christ, succour the Saints: and if there be any thing in their life that does offend you, say with your selves; I but, may be it is a temptaion that such a man lies under; and Christ came to succour those that are tempted, why should not I?
Fourthly, If the Lord Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ? [unspec 4] Then why should we yeeld unto our sins, and to our temptations?Page 236Though the Siege be straight, and violent, and fierce, if a City be block't up, be beleaguer'd; if it have but hopes that succour and relief will come, it will hold it out: and if it know for certain that succour will come, it will hold out unto great extreamity. There's never a temptation but you are beleaguer'd by it: and when your temptation is about you, say, O my soul, be quiet, yeeld not; the Lord Christ is a succouring Christ, and succour will come, and therefore hold it out. Shall the Lord Jesus Christ, shall he succour me against my temptations with his bo∣som? and shall I take my sins, and temptations into mine own bosom? Shall he come to succour me against my sins? and shall I succour my sins that he comes against? What a mighty argument is here to keep us from all our sins, and from yeelding to our temptations? Jesus Christ is a suc∣couring Christ to tempted souls.
In the fift place, [unspec 5] If there be a truth in this, Christ is a succouring Christ: Let us all labour to answer Christ. Be∣loved! 'tis the duty, and the property of the people of God, to observe what God is doing upon their hearts, and to help on that work. If Jesus Christ be succouring of any of your souls, against your temptations; Oh! help it on, help on the work; 'tis your duty for to help it on, and to answer him.
But you will say, [Quest.] Christ succours Before temptation; and he succours Ʋnder temptation; and he succours After temptation: how shall I answer this? how shall I help his work on?
Give me leave to give an answer unto this Question, [Answ.] and so I will winde up all. Does the Lord Jesus Christ succour Be∣fore temptation? Observe his succours, and lay them up in your hearts against a rainy day: Gird your sword upon your thigh, it may not be to seek when the enemy comes: have it in readinesse. You don't lay the plaister on upon the wrist for the Ague, when the Ague is on, but before it comes. Observe what those tokens of love are that Jesus Christ does throw into your bosom before a temptation comes, and lay them up carfully there.Page 237
And beloved in the Lord; Labour to keep the sence of his love warm upon your hearts; Look as it is with water in win∣ter; so with your hearts in this respect: So long as the fire is under the water, and the water is hot, it freezes not; but when the heat goes off, and the water is cold, then ice comes upon it. And so long as your heart is kept up in the sence of Christs love, and warm with Christs love; so long the ice comes not, the temptation comes not. The slumber of grace, is a preparation to sin, and a preparation to temp∣tation. When once our hearts grow cold, and grow re∣misse; then way is made to temptation: and therefore, if you would answer Jesus Christ; Oh! labour to keep the sence of his love still upon your hearts.
And when the temptation is come: Then look upon Jesus Christ. No temptation so violent, or fierce, but a thought may steal out, and get a look upon Jesus Christ. The sight of Christ on the Cross, is a Judge upon the Bench against all temp∣tation. The consideration of Three things, keeps one from the power of temptation. The worth of a soul: The hainousness of sin: And the love of Christ. And you see all these in Christ upon the Crosse. When temptation comes, stand & look upon him. You know, that when the Israelites were stung, they were then to look upon the brasen serpent, and by their very looking upon it, they were cured thereby. The Lord Jesus Christ is our brasen-serpent, lift up upon Gospel poles, having more excellency than any brasen-serpent: That was but a piece of brasse: he is the God of glory. That for a time: he is our High-Priest, and lives for ever. That for the Jewes only: but he for Jew and Gentile. That for those that could see; and if any poor, blind man was stung, it was a case, what should become of the blind man, how should he look upon the brasen serpent? how should he be cured; but this our brasen serpent, is able to give you an eye. Beloved! this Ordinance is still on foot spiritually. And therefore Christ saies by the Prophet Esay, Look unto me from all the ends of the earth, and be saved. Oh! when a temptation comes; poor tempted soul, ad∣dresse Page 238thy self to the Lord Jesus, stand wishly looking up∣on him.
And then: Give thy soul over into the hands of Christ all thou canst: put thy self out of thine own hands. So long as the planck, or the board swims in the stream, in the midst of the water, you may draw it along with a little thred: but if once it come towards the banck, towards the shoare, and touches upon the ground, then you can hardly draw it. So long as your temptation is in the stream of Christs love, and of his blood, you may draw it along the more ea∣sily: but if once it come to touch upon your own shoare? Oh! then you draw hard. Whensoever therefore, a temptation arises, go unto Jesus Christ, and say, O Lord, I have no strength to stand against this great Enemy: I con∣fesse it is my duty to resist this temptation, but 'tis thy pro∣mise to succour me under this temptation, and therefore I put my self upon thee.
And then, rest upon Christ. As I use to say, Your very re∣sting on him makes him yours; your resting on his strength makes it yours; and your resting on his succour makes that yours.
And if the Lord command you to the use of any means; Don't rest upon any because they are great: Or despise any because they are small. You do observe, that the great Victories a∣mongst the Jewes, they were obtained by the weakest means; and by the blowing of rams horns wals fell down. Those were but Types of those spiritual Victories under the Gos∣pel.
God seldom does wound the head of a temptation, but first the heel (the means) is bruised whereby the head of the temptation is wounded. As Christs heel is bruised in his wounding of Satans head; So I say, 'tis in regard of means: seldome that any means does wound the head of a temptati∣on, but the very heel of that means is first bruised: and therefore, don't despise it though it be small.
And if it please the Lord, to cast in any Promise, when you are under a temptation: Oh! take heed, that you don't Page 339live upon the letter of the Promise. I mean, don't live upon the Conveyance, but upon the Land: and yet how many do live upon the bare Promise, bare letter of the Promise. When a temptation comes, passe from the temptation unto the Promise; and through the Promise unto Jesus Christ, and learn to live upon the thing Promised, and not the let∣ter of the Promise.
After temptation is over, (I can but touch on things) Either you have the better of Satan: Or else the worse. If you have the worse; Be for ever Humbled, but never Discouraged. And if you have the better of him: Then rejoyce in the Lord, and in all his goodness toward you, and in all his succouring love and mercy. Rejoyce in the Lord evermore, and again I say, rejoyce. As one whom his mo∣ther comforteth, so will I comfort you: and then it follows, They shall rejoyce; your hearts shall rejoyce. But take heed your spiritu∣all joy after Victory, don't degenerate into carnal joy, and you be drunk therewith. 'Tis reported of the English, that once going into Spain, and taking in a Town there: after they had taken it in, there being much wine in the Town, the souldiers fell a drinking of themselves drunk; and the Country came down upon them, and beat them out, and recovered the Town again. So 'tis with many: They have a Victory over temptation, and they begin to rejoyce spiritually; but their spiritual joy degenerates into carnal joy, and they are drunk with their joy, and so lose their Victory. Beloved! Joy not in your Joy, but in the God of your Joy after Victory.
And if you have the better after temptation, if you have the better: be sure of this, That you improve your Victory to more assurance. If the Devil get the better of you, he'le be sure to improve his Victory to your despair: I say, if he get the better of you, he will be sure to improve his Victo∣ry to your despair. Therefore, if you get the better of him be sure that you improve your Victory, to more assurance of Gods love in Christ.
Yea, (my beloved) for ought I know, there is no temp∣tation Page 240that a child of God meets withal, but he may im∣prove it to more assurance. As thus:
Surely, If I were the Devils own, he would never trouble me thus. When the strong man keeps the house, all is at peace, and all is at quiet. Now ever since, from the very first day that I have set my face towards heaven, and Christ; Oh! how have I been troubled, and tempted, and perplexed, and vexed in my spirit? Surely therefore, I am none of the Devils. Now if I had been his own, I should have been more quiet under him: but because I am thus troubled. I hope in the Lord I am none of the Devils, I am the child of God. Thus a man may improve.
And, Oh! what a good thing were it, if we did make improvement of our temptations! what gracious improve∣ment might we make of all our temptations? and what a blessed issue might we have in our temptations, if we did go unto Christ for succour.
I beseech you therefore in the Lord, when as any temp∣tation arises, go unto Jesus Christ, he is a succouring Christ. He hath National succours; and he hath Family succours; and he hath Personal succours: You have National temp∣tations; and you have Family temptations; and you have Personal temptations; Soul-temptations; temptations when you are alone. Therefore go unto Christ for suc∣cour.
To conclude, I beseech you (beloved in the Lord) go to Christ and try him, put him to it: The greater your temp∣tation is, the more fit work for Christ to cure: do not de∣spair, do not sit down; go to Jesus Christ, you shal find him better than I have spoken, you shall not find him worse; he will go beyond my words, he will not fall short of my words. As the Devill goes about like a roaring lyon, see∣king whom he may devour: So Jesus Christ in the Gospel, goes up and down with his succour, seeking whom he may succour. Go to him for succour: and the God of peace, even Jesus Christ himself, tread down Satan under our feet shortly.