SERMON II. Of TEMPTATION.
BY the word Tempted in the first clause, re∣lating to Christ, we are to understand Satans solicitations to evil, (as ye have read in the former Sermon:) By the word Tempted in the last clause, He is able to succour them that are tempted, specially to understand those solicitations of Satan and our own sins, by comparing the former verse with this. As if the Apostle should say: For in that our Lord and Sa∣viour Christ was tempted by Satan, solicited to what was evil; He is able to succour them that are both, either soli∣cited to evil, or overcome thereby.
But how is it said here, He is able to succour them that are tempted; in that he himself suffered being tempted? Was he not as God, able to succour them that are tempted? Why then is it said, In that he suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted?
There is an ability of Sufficiency: and an ability of Ido∣niety. As God (indeed) he is able to succour those that are tempted: but by being tempted in the flesh, he is able, that is, apt, and idonious to succour those that are tempted. There is an Absolute ability: and a Respective ability as he is Page 118〈1 page duplicate〉Page 119〈1 page duplicate〉Page 220High-Priest. As God indeed, he was able to succour them that are tempted, though he had not been tempted: but he speaks of Christ here as our High-Priest; and so by be∣ing tempted, he is able to succor them in that way. There is, (as I may so speak) a Scientifical ability, or an Experi∣mental ability. As he was God, he was able in the first sense to succour, 'tis true: but by being tempted, he is able Ex∣perimentally to succour them that are tempted.
It is an ability of Disposition and Compassion that here he speaks of. And therefore in the fift Chapter, speaking of the same thing, he saith concerning the High-Priest, That he can have Compassion on the ignorant, and those that are out of the way. So then, Christ by being tempted, is able to suc∣our those that are tempted with an ability of Idoniety, an Experimental ability: with an ability of Compassion and Dis∣position, and gracious Inclination. And so the Observa∣tion that lies before us, is this:
In the former Doctrine ye heard, That God suffers his own servants, and dearest children to be sorely tempted: Now this Doctrine holds forth the remedy, Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to tempted souls. As our hearts are full of Sin, So his heart is ful of Succour, he is a succouring Christ. His Names, and Titles speak him so. His Nature speaks him so. His Officies, His Doctrine, His Life and Conversation; His Death and Sufferings call him a Succouring Christ. I shall not run thorow all these particulars. But because men are known by their Names, I will fix there a little: and we shall see, how all the Names and Titles of Christ call him a Succouring Christ.
If we search the Scripture, we may observe, That the Names of Satan, of the Devil, carry malice with them, and evil against them: And the Names of Jesus Christ are con∣trary thereunto, as holding forth a Succour against all that evil that is in him, who is The Evil One.
Is the Devil called Satan? that is, an Adversary: Jesus Page 221Christ is called our Friend. Is Satan called Diabolus? the Accuser, or the Accuser of the brethren: Jesus Christ is called our Advocate. Is Satan called a Destroyer? Jesus Christ is called our Saviour. Is Satan called a Lyon, that goes up and down seeking whom he may devour? Jesus Christ is called a Lyon of the Tribe of Judah. Is Satan called a Serpent? and, Old Serpent? Jesus Christ is called the Brasen-Serpent. Still Names of reliefe and succour answerable unto those Names of Satan.
We shall observe, that there is no Evil in Sin, but there is somewhat in the Name of Jesus Christ that speaks the con∣trary, contrary succour. Is sinne called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or a transgression of the Law? Jesus Christ is called our Righte∣ousness: The Lord our Righteousness. Is Sin called Folly? Je∣sus Christ is called Wisdom, The Wisdom of the Father. Is sin called an Infirmity, or Weakness? He is called the Rock, and the Rock of ages, and the Arme of the Lord. Is sin called Darkness? He is called Light Is sin called Pollution, or Ʋn∣cleanness? His blood is the fountain opened for sin and for un∣cleanness to wash in. Is sin called Death? He is called Life. Is there Ignorance in sin? He is called our Prophet, in opposi∣tion to that. Is there Disorder in sin? In opposition to that, he is called our King to order. Is there Guilt in sin? In opposition to that, he is called our Priest; he is called our Propitiation, in that place of John: But in the 3. of the Romans, and the 25. verse, He is called our Propitiatory: Whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation (so you reade it) but rather, a propitiatory:* the Same Greek word that the Septuagint used for the Jewes Propitiatory: And in that he is our Propitiation, or Propitiatory; this speaks him a succouring Christ.
Famous was the succour, and reliefe that the Jewes had from their Cities of refuge: and as if the holy Ghost inten∣ded the confirmation of this Truth that is now before us, those Hebrew Names that were given to the Cities of refuge are given to Christ. Is any of the Cities of refuge called Kedesh? signifying Holy: He is called Holy, Holy, Holy.Page 222Was another City called Shechem? signifying Shoulder: Ʋpon his Shoulder is the government; and the lost sheep brought home upon his Shoulder. Is another City called Hebron? from Society, or Fellowship: By him we have fel∣lowship with the Father. Is another called, Golan? signify∣ing one Revealed, or Manifested: 'Tis said of him, He was Manifested in the flesh. Is another City called Ramoth? Things Exalted: Him hath God Exalted, and by him are all Exalted. In the phrase of the new-Testament, he is cal∣led our Father, and our Brother, and our Friend, and our Shepheard; a Hen, a Lamb, a Door: there's none of all his Names but speak him full of sweetness and loving disposi∣tion, and succour unto poor souls.
But that I may the better clear up this Truth I shall deli∣ver my self these Four waies.
- First, That Jesus Christ is able to succour tempted souls.
- Secondly, That he is willing to do it.
- Thirdly, That he is faithful in doing of it.
- Fourthly, How he doth it, in the day and time of their temp∣tation; and so come to the Application.
First, [unspec 1] He is able to do it. He is able to succour them that are tempted. He is able (saith our Apostle in that 17. of the Hebrews) to save those that come unto God by him, he is able to save them to the uttermost:* As Satan tempts to the uttermost, he is able to save to the uttermost. And as they sin to the uttermost, he is able to save to the uttermost. A man is said to be able to do all that which he hath a commission, and power from God to do: The Lord Jesus Christ in the 3. of the Romans and the 25. was set forth to be a propitiation: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation. He hath laid help upon one that is Mighty; and that is Christ. Design'd, and called he is to the office of the High-Priest. The proper work of the High-Priests office was, to condole with, re∣lieve and succour the people against their sins: And the more Eminent any High-Priest was, the more in this work. In the 17. of the Hebrews, we find all along, how abun∣dantly he excels all the High-Priests that ever were. As Page 223for other High-Priests, they did not take an Oath when they came into their office: but he swears. Other High-Priests, had sins themselves to offer for: but he Holy, and Seperate from sinners. Other High-Priests, dyed, and did not continue so for ever: but he liveth for ever to make inter∣cession. Other High-Priests, offered not Themselves: but he offered up Himself. He was a King and a Priest: they were not. They indeed entered into the Holy of Holiest, but it was Earthy: he is gone into the Holy of Holiest, and that is Heavenly. They were but Types of him, Shadows: if a shadow fall upon a dirty ground, it cannot make it dry; but the Sun can: and yet notwithstanding, these o∣ther High-Priests, the Apostle saith of them, Being compast about with infirmities; they could have compassion on those that are ignorant, and out of the way; They men of Infirmities, sinners; They in the time of the Law: How much more is Jesus Christ able to succour, who is so transcendent an High-Priest, and excelling all others that ever went before him. I'le say nothing of the great Power that he hath with the Father, or in his own hands: The Keyes of hell and death. He is able by Conquest for to succour you that are temp∣ted: he is able by Conquest for to raise the Siege that is laid against our souls; he hath beaten through the Enemy: As now, if a Town be beleaguer'd straightly, besieged by an Enemy, and the Enemy abroad in the Field, having an army in the Field: if any will come to raise the Siege, they must fight through the Army, they must beat through the Army before they can raise the Siege. Never a tempted sould but is thus besieged with temptation, closely begirt, and the Devils were abroad in the field, were the Masters of the field till Christ came: and no man, nor Angel was able to beat through: but Jesus Christ beat up the Quarters all along, beat through the Enemy, cast out Devils all along, overcame. Paul by being tempted overcame temptation. So by his dying he overcame death; and by taking our in∣firmities upon him, he overcame our infirmities; and by being subject to the Law, he overcame the Law, and the Page 224curse of the Law: and so by being tempted, he overcame temptation; and having beaten the Enemy out of the field he is now able to raise the Siege; he is absolutely able to raise the Siege, which none else is able to do: He is able to save to the uttermost. We shall not need to stand long on this.
But you will say, [unspec 2] We will grant Christ is able to succour tempted souls: but is he willing?
Yes, He is infinitly willing to succour poor tempted souls. Our great succour lies in Reconciliation with God the Father; as by comparing these two verses together doth appear. God the father hath set him forth to be a propitiation: it was the will of God the Father, that Jesus Christ should come and make propitiation, it was his will. Now, look into the 40. Psalm, and see what Christ saith concerning the will of the Father; verse the 7. Loe, I come: in the vo∣lum of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy Law is within my heart: Some books reade it, Thy Law is within my bowels: thy Law is within my heart, 'tis in my desires. Yea, not only (saith he) in my desires: but in the Gospel we reade it, With desiring have I desired to eat this Pass-over, before he suffered. Desiring have I desi∣red. And (saith he) I have a baptisme to be baptizeds with, and I am straitened till it be accomplish't: I can have no rest till it be done, I am straitened till it be accomplished. Yea, not only so: but (saith he) here in this Psalm, I de∣light to do thy will: 'tis the will of God he should make pro∣pitiation; and so succour: I delight to do thy will. And in the 8. of the Proverbs: My delights are with the sons of men: some reade it, All my delight: but 'tis in the plural number. When God laid the foundations of the earth my delights were with the sons of men. A high, and a great expression. Surely, Jesus Christ cannot but be willing to succour tempted ones, when his delights are with the sons of men.
Again, A man must needs be willing, to do that which he is willing to suffer much for, to be at much cost and pains for. Da∣vidPage 225was willing to build the Temple, because he laid out so much by way of preparation. And Araunah was willing to have a sacrifice, because he gave up his threshing-flowr, it appear'd he was willing. And now when Jesus Christ is content to suffer so much that he may make a propitia∣tion for sinners, and reconciliation with the Father, and so succour; it argues that he is very willing.
Besides, A man is willing to have that done which he is much troubled for if it be not done. You know when Christ came to Jerusalem, he wept (saies the text) and he wept: He came a succouring, and they would not be succoured: How often would I have gathered thee as an hen gathers her chic∣kens under her wings, and thou wouldst not? A Hen is a suc∣couring creature: Christ came a succouring, came to ga∣ther them as a Hen. A Hen sits upon the eggs, and hatcheth with the warmth of her body: So doth Christ do with the warmth of his love. A Hen sits till the feathers be off her own body, makes her own body naked for to hatch up: And so did Christ. When the chicken is hatch't, she suc∣cours it, and covers it under her wings: and when the chicken can run abroad, let the hen find but a grain of corn, she clucks, and cals the chicken to her to have part of it: And so did Christ. And when danger comes, the Kite comes, she cals the chicken under her wings again to suc∣cour it: So does Christ. When he saies thus, he came to gather them as a Hen gathers her chickens under her wings, he came to succour them, but they would not be succour'd; see how he takes it: the text saies, He wept, he wept; he was much troubled. Wise men don't use to weep before company; children will: but those that are very wise, if they will weep, they weep in private: Jesus Christ (that was the wisdom of the Father) fals a weeping, and all be∣cause they would not be succour'd; Surely then, Jesus Christ is very willing to succour poor sinners. And belo∣ved! this was his love, and this was his compassion in the day of his infirmity; how great is it now in the day of his glory?Page 226
Again, It argues that he is very willing to succour poor tempted souls, because he was so willing to cure diseased bodies; when he was upon the earth he was willing to cure them: So willing, as though it did cost a miracle, yet he would do it. So willing, that though they did not know him as he was, but thought him a Prophet, yet he would do it. So willing, as that though they did not desire it themselves but were brought by others, yet he would do it. So wil∣ling, as that though they were unmannerly in their co∣ming to him; withness the pulling the tyles off the house, yet he would do it. And that so willing, though much unbeleef express by those that were brought unto him, yet he would do it. I beseech you consider it: this was a work that Christ came into the world to do; this is The work: the work that Christ came to do, it was to bind up broken hearts: The work that Christ came to do, was to open the pri∣son doors to poor captives: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (you know the place.) To administer a word in due season to those that are weak: He hath given me the tongue of the learned to administer a word in due season to those that are weak. Now then, if Jesus Christ was so willing to do the other work which was but his work by the bye, which was not The-work that he did come about: how infinitely willing must he needs be to do The-work that he did come about? but I say, to succour poor tempted ones, this was The-work that he came upon; Heaven hath not alter'd him, he hath lost none of his love by going thither: Surely therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is infinitely willing to succour poor tempted souls.
Well, [unspec 3] But though he be able, and willing, yet it may be he is not faithfull.
Yes, saith the former verse, Faithful: merciful, and faithful High-Priest. Faithful in all his house as Moses was. What honest man will break his word? go contrary to his oath? He is sworne into this office of the High-Priest. Yea, we have not only his Promise, and his Oath, but the fa∣thers Bond for the Sons performance: The seed of the woman Page 227shall break the serpents head: it shall bruise his heel, she shall break his head. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. This is the work that is in his hand, to succour tempted ones: it shall prosper in his hand. In the 8. Chapter of Matthew, We reade there at the 16. verse, That he cast out spirits with his Word, and healed all that were sick: That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esai∣as the Prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. Because he took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses, he took himself to be engaged for to heal the sicknesses, and diseases among the people. Beloved! he hath taken our infirmities, He hath borne our sins, and therefore he takes himself engaged also, for to heal our soul-diseases, to heal those temptations: He is very faith∣full.
Well, But suppose he is faithful: [unspec 4] How doth he succour those that are tempted, in the day and time of their temptation? (that is the Fourth thing.)
He succours Before temptation: He succours In temptation: He succours After temptation.
Christ succours tempted souls Before the temptation comes; sometimes: By a special manifestation of himself, ihs love, and fulness to them. When Christ himself was to be tempted, immediately before, the Father said from Hea∣ven, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And so, when Christ sees that a soul is to go into temptation, he speaks out from Heaven, and saies, This is my beloved servant in whom I am well pleased.
Sometimes he succours Before temptation; By laying in of Gospel-principles, and Gospel-dispositions in the heart. The Law is weak, saies the Apostle. As it is weak unto the point of Justification, the matter of Justification; so a legal disposition is weak as to the matter of resisting temptation: a Gospel-disposition is able to bear it off. Christ fore-see∣ing a temptation, laies in such a disposition, & then when it comes, Oh! saies the soul, How shall I be able to close with all this love of the world, having received so many Page 228love-tokens from my dear Saviour.
Again, He succours Before the temptation: By filling the heart with the holy Ghost. When the vessel is fild with one liquor, it keeps out another. I will return to my house (saith Satan) and I came and found it empty; and so he entered. The Lord therfore, fils the house, the soul with the holy Ghost, and so keeps Satan from entering.
He succours also, Ʋnder temptation: By opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that 'tis but a temptation. A temptation is half cured, when a man knows that 'tis but a temp∣tation: when a mans eyes is open to see the tempter, and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, be∣cause they are hardly perswaded that 'tis a temptation; when they see that, then they say, Get thee behinde me Satan. Christ opens their eyes.
Again, He succours Ʋnder temptation: By letting fal some glimpse of his love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the High-Priests hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly. It was the sweet look of Christ, that made Peter weep bitterly; Peters tears, came from Christs eyes first: and though he were much engag'd, yet having a love-look from Christ, I'le stay no longer, and away he goes. And so, when a soul sees but the gracious eye of Christ looking on him, he breaks off from his temptation: thus he succours.
Again, He succours Ʋnder temptation, by temptation, even from temptation. Beloved! the Devil seldom tempts with one single temptation: As we seldom commit single sins, or receive single mercies; so the Devil seldom tempts with a single temptation. One may be laid in our Natures; and the o∣ther laid in our Callings: Christ sees now, that one is given to Uncleannesse, or to Pride; and so he lets out Sa∣tan upon him, to trouble him with blasphemous thoughts, and by the afflictions of those blasphemous thoughts, they are kept from Pride, and from Wantonnesse, and deligh∣ting in other sins.
He does succour From temptation; I say, from temptation Page 229by temptation (sometimes) by causing a word in the temptation to standout, so as thereby to give the tempted man an hint to Jesus Christ. So when Christ tempted, and tryed the woman of Canaan: 'Tis not lawful to cast childrens bread before dogs: There stood out a word, that word Dog: she laies hold on it, True Lord: yet the dogs eate of the crums. Christ does so order the very temptations of Satan, that some word or other in the very temptation does so stand forth as to hint the soule again unto Jesus Christ.
Sometimes he succours Ʋnder temptation: By throwing in a Promise, lotting the soul upon some Promise; which as a Ca∣ble, keeps the heart fast in the time of a storm.
And sometimes he succours Ʋnder temptation (again:) By weakending the temptation, and by keeping the heart, and the temp∣tation asunder; may be, by raising up some Affliction: Woe to that soul, when the heart and temptation meet, cor∣ruption and temptation meet. The Lord Christ therefore, sometimes is pleased to raise up an Affliction between them, that so these two wicked lovers may be kept asunder. Thus Under temptation.
After temptation he succours: By filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory. By sending the Angels to Mini∣ster: As when the Devil left Christ, had tempted him and left him; then came the Angels and Ministred to him. Every way, Before temptation: and In temptation: and After temptation, the Lord Jesus Christ is asuccouring Christ to tempted souls, he is a succouring Christ: Beloved! he was aman of sorrows, that he might be a God of succours; his heart it is full of succours.
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.