The works of William Bridge, sometime fellow of Emanuel Colledge in Cambridge; now preacher of the Word of God at Yarmouth. The first volume. Viz. I. The great Gospel-mysterie of the saints comfort and holinesse, opened and applyed from Christs priestly office. II. Satans power to tempt; and Christs love to, and care of his people under temptation. III. Thankfulnesse required in every condition.
Bridge, William, 1600?-1670., Yates, John, d. ca. 1660., Greenhill, William, 1591-1671., Adderley, William.

I come to Application.

If God doth suffer his own people, and dearest children,* to be exposed to Satans temptings and winnowings: Why sould any man then doubt of his Child-ship, doubt of his own everlasting condition, and say, That he is none of the child of God because he is tempted? Beloved! I have seen a sore evil under the sun, a vanity even among the Saints, and people of God: Some doubting of the soundness of their condition, and the love of God, because they are not tempted; others doubt betause they are tempted. One saies, Oh! I am afraid I am none of the child of God, for I was never tempted, the children of God, they meet with temptations, but I was never yet buffetted, and therefore I am none of Gods child: Another on the contrary; I labour under these and these temptations, and therefore I fear that I am none of Gods child: yea, sometimes the same person thus: First, he does not observe his own heart, and saies he, I fear I am none of Gods child, for I never was tempted. Af∣terward, when he meets with temptation, then he doubts againe that he is not Gods Child because he is tempted: Oh! what Childish dealing is this with God your Fa∣ther!

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But my beloved in the Lord, If this be true, That the Lord doth suffer his own, and best children, to be exposed to Satans winnowings, and temptings; then why shouldst thou conclude that thou art not the child of God, because thou art tempted? Oh! but, I don't conclude (will some say) that I am not the child of God, I don't conclude that the Lord does not love me because I am tempted, but because I meet with such and such temptations. Tell me, did not David, Job, Paul, and Peter meet with such and such, and so great temptations? Yea, did not Christ himself meet with it? Oh! but, my temptations are such as would make ones haire stand upright on ones head to thinke of them; sometimes tempted, even to lay violent hands upon my self: What think ye of Christ? when Satan spake unto him, and tempted him to throw himself down off the pina∣cle of the Temple. Oh! but, I am tempted with such temp∣tations that I am ashamed to name, and my heart akes, and trembles when I do reflect on them, even with blasphe∣mous thoughts. What think ye of Christ? was not he tempted to blasphemy? Saies the Devil to him, All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me: what greater blasphemy than to worship the Devil? to make a God of the Devil himself, what greater blasphemy? Oh! but, I fear, and doubt my condition, and the love of God to∣wards me, because my temptations are not as the temptati∣ons of Gods children, but my temptations are such as can∣not stand with grace, there is a spot, that is not the spot of Gods people: and are there not temptations, that are not the temptations of Gods people? have not wicked men their peculiar temptations, such as does not fall upon the children of God? I am afraid that my temptations are of that rank and of that sort, and therefore I fear and doubt my condition. Mark I pray, This same word Temptation may be considered two waies: Either in regard of the For∣mallity, or form of the temptation; or in regard of the Ma∣teriallity, or matter of the temptation.

Take now Temptation according to the propriety of the Page  253speech and phrase, and so wicked men are not said to be tempted by Satan; by their own hearts they are, but I speak of Satans temptations, properly the wicked are not said to be tempted by Satan. He is said to rule in them, in the children of disobedience; and he is said to lead them captive at his will: but if ye look into the new Testa∣ment, ye will not ordinarily find, that wicked men are said to be tempted by Satan. A man does not tempt his wife, but when he solicites another woman, then he is said for to tempt that woman. As the Sains are married to Christ, so wicked men, they are match't to Satan; and he is not in propriety of phrase said for to tempt them. Your men stea∣lers, those that steal children, they don't tempt their own children for to go with them, they naturally go with their father: but they come and tempt your children, they are other folkes children that they tempt. And so Satan, he is properly said to tempt those that are none of his children. A Master don't tempt his servant, he is not said properly to tempt his won servant to dwell with him, or to serve him; but he goes to another mans servant, and speaks to him to come and dwell with him, and to serve him. As for wic∣ked men, they are properly the servants of Satan; and therefore when the Devil solicites them to do that which is evill, or to dwell with him, and to converse with him, 'tis not I say in propriety of speech a proper temptation: but for the servants of Christ, when he solicites them unto evil, then he is properly said to tempt them. This for the form of a temptation.

But now, take a temptation in the Materiality of it, for the Matter of it, which is a solicitation to evil; and so wic∣ked men are tempted by Satan; yea, they are more temp∣ted than the godly are; that is, they are more solicited un∣to evil by Satan; and the same temptation that godly men are tempted with, wicked men are tempted with: and the same temptation that wicked men are tempted with, a god∣ly man is tempted with. As there is no Duty which a godly man does performe, but a wicked man may do it, Page  254for the Act, and yet remain wicked: So there is no sin, which a wicked man fals into, but a godly man may be tempted to it and yet remain godly.

But you will say unto me, [Object.] This evil that is upon my heart, is not the temptation of Satan, but indeed it is the corruption of mine own heart, and therefore I fear my condition. Indeed, if I were sure that it were only the temptation of Satan, I should never que∣stion Gods love, nor mine own condition because of it; but, Oh! I am afraid it is not a temptation of Satan, but the corruption of mine own heart, and therefore I fear all is not right with me.

This is no new thing, [Answ. 1] for Gods own people and chil∣dren, to charge all Satans temptations upon their own hearts, to lay all at their own door. Wicked men, they charge all their own corruptions upon Satans temptations, as if they were not their own, but altogether Satans: God∣ly men, they charge all Satans temptations upon their own hearts, and upon their own account, as if they were, all their own and nothing of Satans; this is no new thing. Adam and Eve, when they were fallen, and had eaten the forbidden fruit, then they were ungodly, in the state of nature presently upon the fall before they beleeved in Christ: and, saies Eve, This serpent gave me to eat; as if she should say, He hath done it, 'tis all his work, 'tis Satans work, and 'tis none of mine; being in her unregenerate state, she laies all upon the Devil, and free's her self, as if she had nothing to do with it. On the other side, David was provoked by Satan to number the people; yet not∣withstanding, see what he saies in the 2 Sam. 24. Chapter and the 10. verse. And Davids heart smote him after that he had numbered the people; and David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done; and now I be∣seech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done very foolishly. He laies it all upon himself: he does not go now and say, Satan hath provoked me to num∣ber the people, and 'tis Satans work and none of mine; but he does charge it here upon himself, as if Satan had no Page  255hand at all in it. I have done foolishly (saies he) and I have sinned, and forgive this great iniquity. This is usual; Wicked men excuse their own corruptions, by Satans temptations: Godly men aggravate Satans temptations by their own corrupti∣ons.

But in the Second place: [Answ. 2] Although this be so, that it is usual with the Saints thus to do, to charge all upon them∣selves, and nothing on Satan; yet know, that the Saints seldom or never do fall into any great sin, but Satan hath a special hand therein. I am not of Origens mind, to lay all sin upon Satan, not upon man; but I say, there is no great sin that any of Gods children do fall into, but Satan hath a special hand and a work therein. And therfore if ye look into the New-Testament, you wil find, That the sins of the godly, they are very often called Temptations: in the 1 of Cor. 10. Chap. and the 13. verse. There hath no temp∣tation taken you, but such as is common to man; but God is faith∣ful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape. Wherefore (at the 14. verse) my dearly beloved, fly from Idolatry, as if that were temptation too. And so in that 6. of Ga∣latians, 1. vers. If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thy self, lest thou also be tempted: lest thou also fall into sin. And so the Apostle saies unto the Thessalonians, in the 1 of Thessa. 3. chap. and the 5. vers. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. The meaning is, Lest you are fallen; but 'tis called temptation to them.

Thirdly, Although this be true, [Answ. 3] That there is no great sin that the Saints do fall into, but Satan hath a speciall hand in it: Yet it is the property and disposition of Gods people to be humbled and grieved under their temptations as if they were all their own and nothing of Satans. Peter goes out and weeps bitterly when he had fallen; He might have said thus: The Lord told me that there was a temp∣tation Page  256coming, Satan had desired to winnow me; and now the word of the Lord is fulfilled, Satan hath tempted me, and I am thus fallen: But not a word of Satan, but he goes out and weeps bitterly, as if it were all his own work. And let me tell you for your comfort, When as you can mourn over your temptations, as if they were all your own, and nothing of Satans, the Lord will pardon them to you, as if they were all Satans, and nothing of your own.

In the Fourth place, [Answ. 4] to speak a little of the difference be∣tween these that ye may know the difference between the temptations of Satan, and the corruptions of your own heart.

When as your heart, and your flesh trembles and quakes under the first rising, and motion of a sin, this is not your own corruption alone, but there is a temptation with it. When the corruptions of ones own heart does work up evil, a mans heart is rather pleased and tickled with it, and con∣sents to it, then any way ones flesh lie trembling, and qua∣king under it. That temptation is not much to be feared, when a man fears himself for his temptation. He is to be feared most, that does fear least: and he is to be feared least, that does fear most. A godly, gracious, man or woman, is humbled under nothing more than under his temptati∣ons; he looks upon his temptations as the greatest afflicti∣ons in all the world. As now, take that of Blasphemous Thoughts; Suppose a poor soul troubled with such evill thoughts, such a poor soul saies, I do professe it in the sight of God, I never met with such an affliction since I was born: I have lost Children; Oh! but that affliction is not like to this: I have lost friends; Oh! but that affliction is not like to this: I have lost my Estate; Oh! but that affliction is not like to this. Man or woman, if it be thy affliction, 'tis not thy sin. And I appeal to you now, you that say, ye don't doubt of Gods love, ye don't fear your own condi∣tion because of temptations only, but because ye are afraid they are the corruptions of your own heart, and not the Page  257temptations of Satan; I appeal to you that say so; Are ye not afraid in your selves because of your temptations? Don't ye look upon your temptations as your greatest af∣flictions? Nay, does not thy flesh quake, and tremble some∣times, when a temptation dashes, and beats in upon thy soul? does not thy very outward man, sometimes, lie qua∣king, and trembling, before a temptation? Certainly, this is not all the corruption of thine own heart, here's the De∣vils hand, here's a temptation in it, and, poor soul, thou maiest have some comfort yet; notwithstanding the oppres∣sion is so great, yet here is comfort, 'tis no other but what may stand with grace.

Oh! but you will say: [Object.] Suppose it be all the temptation of Satan, and not the corruption of mine own heart, yet 'tis a great affliction, and what comfort can I have in this conditi∣on?

What comfort! Is it not much comfort to know, [Answ.] that there is nothing does befal you, but what may befall a true child of God? Sometimes ye say thus: No mans conditi∣on is like to mine; did I but know that it is so with other of Gods children, then I should be satisfied: This Doctrine tels thee, That Christs own best Disciples, sometimes, are exposed to Satans temptings, to Satans winnowings.

Is it not a great comfort, for a man to know, that while he is tempted, Christ is at prayer for him? But I have pra∣yed for thee. In time of temptation you cannot pray, I but Christ can pray, and he is then at prayer for you: as he said to Peter, so he saies to every Disciple of his now, But I have prayed for thee: poor soul, though thou canst not pray thy self, yet I have prayed for thee.

Is it not a sweet comfort, for a man to know, that the E∣nemy is overcome before he strikes? Satans temptation is overcome by Christs Intercession; and Christ prayes before Satan tempts; But I have prayed for thee: before the temp∣tation came.

Is it not a choice comfort, for a man to know, that Satan Page  258the great tempter, hath no more power than my father gives him leave? Thus it is, Satan hath desired &c.

Is it not wonderful comfort, for a man to know, that there is something that he can never be robbed of? When a man is travelling in his journey,; if he meet with theeves, they take away the money that he hath about him; but when they have taken away all his money that he hath about him, well (saies he) though they have ta∣ken away my spending-money, and that which I did wear about me, yet I have land at home that they cannot rob me of. And so saies a child of God (or at least he may say so) when Satan comes and tempts him, and robs him of some comfort; yet blessed be the Lord, I have Union with Christ that I can never be robbed of; and I have an inheri∣tance in Heaven that theeves cannot break through and steal away. Satan may take away my spending-money, my spending comforts that I have here in this world; but Oh! blessed be God, I have such comforts, and such an E∣state, such durable riches that I can never be robbed of Oh! you that are the Saints and people of God, lift up your heads: you that have been bowed under temptation, these things have I spoken to you, that you may not be over∣whelmed with temptation, you that are tempted, but that in the midst of all you may breath out your souls in the bo∣some of Jesus Christ.

Well, [Object.] but yet you will say, It is not comfort that I look for, or that I follow after; but the truth is, I am sorely tempted, and Satan lies heavy on me, following, and dogging me at the heels to yeeld unto his temptations; what shall I say, or what shall I do, that I may not yeeld unto his temptations?

What shalt thou say: [Answ.] If it be possible, don't stand to treat with Satan, don't stand to parley with him; he will dispute you out of all your comfort if you stand and par∣ley with him. You have half lost the field when ye honour Satan, and you honour him when you follow him into his disputes: if it be possible therefore don't stand and parley, or dispute with Satan, but if you must say something to Page  259him, and ye must treat, ye must speak; Tell Satan then, That therefore you beleeve it, because he denies it: there∣fore you do not beleeve it, because he affirms it; that you beleeve the contrary, because he speaks thus. When ye are to deal with a great lyar, one that is your Enemy, & he comes and tels you very ill news, you will say, He is a lyar, and he is my Enemy, and he does it to scare me, and there∣fore I beleeve the contrary. Satan is a great lyar, and he is your Enemy, and therefore when he saies unto thee, There is no hope for thee, thou hast been a great sinner, a Drunkard for thus many yeers, a Swearer thus many yeers, there's no hope for thee: say, Satan, therefore I beleeve the contrary, there is hope for me, because thou saiest there is none, for thou art a lyar, yea, the father of lyes.

Again, If ye must speak with Satan; then speak of Christ, of grace, of the infinite love of God in Christ: he cannot stand before words of grace, and before words of love: not a word of grace, or of free love in all his temp∣tations.

Yea, If you must speak with Satan, tell him, Oh! tell him, what ye find in the waies of God, and tell him, that you beleeve beyond what ye find; thus: Satan, for the pre∣sent I find nothing but sweetness in the waies of God; thou toldst me that if I would turn godly I should never have merry day again, but I tell thee what I now find, I find of a truth, That the sowrest part of godliness, is sweeter than the sweetest part of wickedness. Satan, I find, that all that e∣ver thou toldst me is false; Thou saidst, I should lose all my friends: I have better. Thou saidst, I should lose all my comforts if I turned godly; I have better, Satan. And this I find, Satan; That all that ever Christ spake unto me, is true: Oh! I find infinite sweetness in the waies of God, and I beleeve beyond what I find: that if the wheels of pro∣vidence should run never so crosse, yet through grace I would beleeve. Beloved! ye know what the Apostle saies, Whom resist, stedfast in the faith: and by faith we quench his fie∣ry darts. Must ye therefore neds speak with Satan; speak Page  260to him words of faith; not of sence (man) not of reason, but speak words of faith; I charge ye in the Lord, if ye will stand and parley, and speak with Satan, speak words of faith to him, speak words in a way of beleeving; and 'tis only faith that brings Christ and the soul together in the time of temptation; and when Christ comes in, Satan goes out.

But you will say, [Quest.] I know 'tis a good thing and happy, so to answer Satans temptations as I may not yeeld: But Oh! that I might not be led into any temptation: what shall I do that I may prevent it?

Take heed that ye don't stand playing upon the borders, [Answ. 1] or con∣fines of any sin. If you stand upon the brink of a sin, Satan comes behind you and thrusts you into it. Some there are that tempt the tempter, that begin unto Satan, they drink to Satan the first draught, and Satan pledges them, and drinks unto them again. Would you (m beloved) prevent temptation? Oh! take heed how ye stand playing upon the borders of any sin, the holes of the Aspes.

Again, [Answ. 2] If ye would prevent temptation: Then labour to get your hearts mortified unto the objects of love and fear. Satan tempts two waies: As a Serpent: And as a Lyon. When Satan tempts as a Serpent; then he does make a tender, and an offer of some comfortable, profitable, sweet thing: You shall be like God; You shall be as God, saies he unto Adam and Eve, when he tempted as a Serpent, came as a Serpent. And so dealing as a Serpent with our Saviour Christ, All this will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Shews him the glory of the world, and all this will I give thee. So saies he unto a poor soul, when he tempts as a Serpent, Come and yeeld unto this temptation, and all this comfort will I give thee, and all this profit will I give thee, and all this repute and honor will I give thee. Thus as a Serpent. Sometimes he tempts as a Lyon: for he goes up and down as a roaring Lyon, seeking whom he may devour. And when Satan tempts as a Lyon, then he does roare upon a poor soul, and labours to scare him out Page  261of his conscience, and out of the good waies of God. And therefore in the book of the Revelation, Satan shall cast some of you into prison. Satan shall do it. And sometimes he does stand and rattle the chaines of a prison; Look, do ye hear these? If you will go on in such and such a way, you wil lose al your friends; & if you will go on in such a way, I wil make it too hot for you, and thus and thus shall you suffer, and it shall cost ye a prison ere I have done with you. Thus now Satan tempts as a Lyon, by holding terri∣ble objects before a man. It is said, That Satan came to our Saviour Christ, and he found nothing in him; so he prevailed not: But Satan comes to us, and he finds a great deal in us, he finds a disposition in us to be moved with ob∣jects of love, unto comfortable, and profitable things: He comes to us, and finds in us a disposition to be moved with Fear by terrible objects. Wherefore now (my beloved) do you desire to prevent the mischief of a temptation? Oh! labour more and more to die unto all the objects of your outward Love, and the objects of Fear; Die to the objects of Love, get your heart mortified to these two objects of Love and Fear. And be sure of this, if thou wouldst pre∣vent temptation, that ye labour more and more to walk in the light: Satan is the prince of darkness, and he walks in darkness: and he tempts in darkness. When night comes the beasts go forth to their prey, saies the Psalmist, And when Satan sees a poor ignorant soul, that walks in the dark, saies he, Here's a fit prey for me. Oh! therefore, you that are ignorant, and have sate ignorant under the Ordinan∣ces; for the Lords sake, labour to get more light, and more knowledge, get your heart opened unto every truth of God, labour to acquaint your selves more with Gospel∣light, and set your bosomes open unto every truth of the Lord.

And, beloved! whether you would overcome, or wha∣ther you would prevent temptation; what ever means you use; be sure of this, That you take your temptation and dip it in the blood of Christ. Take a candle, that is lighted, and Page  262only blow out the candle, the candle is easily lighted a∣gain: but when the candle is out, take it and put it into the water, and then 'tis not so easily lighted again: So now a temptation comes, and you blow it out with a Reso∣lution, and you won't yeeld to it, alas, 'tis easily lighted again: but now, take this candle, take this temptation, and come and dip it in the blood of Jesus Christ, and it will not be so easily lighted again; so you shall be able to pre∣vent temptation for the time to come: Never rest alone in re∣solving, but, Oh! take your temptation and dip it in the blood of Jesus Christ.

And if that you do overcome your temptation at any time; be thankful to God: if ye have more than flesh and blood against you, ye shall have more then flesh and blood with you. And therefore, have you overcome temptati∣on? go away and be very thankful, and say, Oh! though flesh and blood be against me, yet I have more than flesh and blood with me, praise the Lord much: And if you have been overcome with temptation, yet be not discouraged; for ye hear the Doctrine, God doth suffer his own dear chil∣dren to be tempted, to be buffeted, to be exposed to Satans temptings, and to Satans winnowings. But though ye be tempted, and it be a temptation of Satan, yet ye hear withall, That 'tis the property, and disposition of Gods own people to grieve, and mourn under their temptation as if it were all their own, and nothing of Satans. Where∣fore now (my beloved) having heard these things, think on them, and the Lord blesse them to you every day more and more.