SERMON III. Of TEMPTATION.
LUKE 22.31, 32.
AFTER our greatest injoyments of God, usually follow the greatest temptations of Satan. And therefore our Saviour speaks these words unto his Disciples. In the 19. verse of this Chapter, we find them at the Lords Supper with Christ himself; This is my body which is given for you; This do in remembrance of me. Having received the Supper with Christ himself, and having had sweet Com∣munion with him there, our Saviour gives them out a most gracious and blessed promise, at the 28, 29, & 30. verses, Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint to you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me: that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Having said thus unto them; He comes in the very next words to acquaint them with a great temptation that was coming down up∣on them all: and therefore these words are knit together with the former by the word And; And the Lord said, Si∣mon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired. Though you have had this Communion with me; and though I have made Page 242you this gracious and blessed promise, know, that there is a great storm of temptation coming down upon you.
Here are two things: The Danger of the temptation; and the Remedy against it. The Danger in the 31. and the Re∣medy in the 32. verse. In the 31. verse we have considera∣ble, The Tempter; called Satan, which signifies an Adver∣sary. The Tempted; and those are, not Simon only, but all the Disciples. Satan hath desiredyou: 'tis in the Plural num∣ber: he directs his speech unto Simon, but the temptation spreads larger upon all the Disciples: That he may sift you.
The Manner of the temptation, in Two expressions: Satan hath Desired you: according to the Original word, Satan hath challenged you into the field;* as one man does another: And hath desired you, that he may sift you as wheat, and leave you nothing but chaffe. Plainly then, here this Observation.
The Lord Jesus Christ does give leave sometimes unto Satan, [Doct.] to tempt and winnow his own and best Disciples; Christs own, and best Disciples are exposed to Satans temp∣tings, and winnowings: not Peter only, but James, and John, and all the beloved Disciples of Jesus Christ were exposed here unto Satans winnowings. He hath desired You, in the Plural number, not thee Pe∣ter only, but you all my Disciples, that he may sift you as wheat.
For the clearing and making out of this Truth, I shall labour to discover.
- First, What great power Satan hath to tempt, molest, and an∣noy the children of men.
- Secondly, That he puts forth this power especially upon the Saints, Christs own-and bestDisciples.
- Thirdly, How he comes by this power, and why God the Fa∣ther gives him this leave. And so to the Applycation.
First, [Quest. 1] If ye aske me, What power Satan hath to infest, mo∣lest, and thus to tempt the children of men?
I answer, [Answ. 1] First, ye know that Satan is an Angel still;Page 243and being an Angel, he is a Superiour creature to man, and therefore, according to the rank of Creation he hath a great deal of power over man. Man hath a great power over the Beasts, for man is a Superiour. The Beasts have a great deal of power over the Herbs, and the grasse, for the Beast is the Superiour. The Angels by Creation are Superiour to man, Satan, though fallen, is an Angel still: according to the rank of Creation, therefore he must needs have a mighty power over the children of men.
But he is not only a Superiour creature, [Answ. 2] but also a more Spiritual creature than man, he is a spirit; and upon that account, he is more able to come within a man, to close with a mans soul and spirit: being spirit himself, he is more able to converse with, to close and get within our souls and spirits.
Thirdly, He is able to suggest unto man whatsoever he plea∣ses, and to cast in a thousand sinfull objects into a mans mind one after another. [Answ. 3]
Yea, and he being so well experienced, [Answ. 4] having studied man for many thousand years: having gotten in all these years so much tempting skill and policy, he is able to dis∣cern what that bait is, that will take soonest with the children of men, according to their Natures, Constituti∣ons, Complexions, Ages, Sexes, &c.
Further, He is not only able to present and suggest; [Answ. 5] but he is also able to follow his suggestions. It is said, That he stood up, and provoked David to number the people: he did not only present that evill unto David, but he did solicite, he provoked David to number the people (saies the text.)
He is not only able thus; but he is able also, [Answ. 6] to bemire the phansie, to raise stormes in that lower region: A mans soul (ye know) it works by organs, it works by the body, and by the phansie: now Satan being able to disturbe the phansie of a man, is thereby able also, to hinder the very operation of the soul.Page 244
He is able to hold down a mans mind unto that parti∣cular thing, [Answ. 7] and to cut off al relief to the soul; so to befiege it, that unless relief comes immediately from Heaven, he is able to bow down a mans mind, and to hold it down un∣to that particular.
Lastly, [Answ. 8] satan hath so great a power, that the same words that are given unto God, and unto the holy Ghost for good, in Scriptnre, are given also unto Satan for evil. The holy Ghost is said to enlighten a man: Satan is said for to blind him, The god of this world hath blinded their eyes; saies the Apostle. The Spirit is said to Rule in us; Satan is said, To rule in the children of disobedience. The holy Chost is said, To work in us mightily, the same word is used for Him also. The holy Ghost is said, To fill the hearts of beleevers; They were filled with the holy Ghost: So are mens hearts said, To be filled with Satan: Saies Peter to Ananias, why hath Sa∣tan filled thine heart? Indeed, there are three things especi∣ally, wherein he does fal short: for though Satan is able to discern what temptations would take best with a man, yet he don't know mans thoughts, for God only is the knower of ones thoughts; that is Gods prerogative. And though Satan may work very effectually in the children of disobe∣dience, yet notwithstanding, he does not work with an Al∣mighty power. When the Lord converts a man, he puts forth an Almighty power in mans conversion. The same power (saies the Apostle) that raised up Christ from the dead, makes ye to beleeve. The Devil is Magnipotent (saies Luther) but not Omnipotent: the Devil may be very powerful, but he is not Almighty: neither does he put forht an Almighty power in his temptations, as God does in the conversion of a sinner. And though he may suggest, and provoke un∣to what is evil, he cannot force, or determine any man to evil. And therefore saies the Apostle Peter, why hath Satan filled thine beart? he asked Ananias that question, because Satan, though he did fill his heart, he could not have for∣ced, or determined him without his own will thereunto. But very powerful Satan is. In the 6. chapter to the Ephesi∣ans,Page 245you shall see the Apostle speaks thus much unto you there: at the 12. verse. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the ru∣lers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickdness in high places. He speaks concerning Satan, as you see in the former verse, Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil, For we wrestle not a∣gainst flesh and blood, &c. It is something for a man to have all the world against him, to have all man-kind against him: if all man-kind should be aginst one man, you would say, there were a great strength; but behold more than that, here is something more than flesh and blood that every man does wrestle against: For we wrestle not a∣gainst flesh and blood: all man-kind is but flesh and blood, and so ther's a weakness; but we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, for Authority; and against power, for Strength; and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. Oh! what a mighty power then hath Satan to in∣fest, molest, and to tempt the children of men.
Whether does Satan put forth this power, [Quest. 2] and exercise this his tempting power upon the Saints and Children of God?
Yes, [Answ.] for they are the Saints that the Apostle speaks of here, in that to the Ephesians; For we wresile not against flesh and blood. You that are Ephesians, and you that are Saints We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principa∣lities and powers. Properly, ye don't wrestle with a man that is down; ye wrestle with a man for to throw him down; but he must be a standing man that ye wrestle withal: ye don't wrestle with one that does run away but one that stands to it. Now all wicked men, they are down, but the Saints they stand, and they labour to throw Satan down, and Satan labours to lay them all along in unbe∣lief: but they properly do wrestle with Satan, for they stand, the other are fallen already.
Yea, the Saints are not only tempted by Satan; but the Page 246best, and the most beloved Disciples of Jesus Christ. In the old Testament: who more beloved than David, and Job? yet they tempted. In the new Testament, who more be∣loved than Peter, and Paul? One of the Circumcision, and the other of the Uncircumcision and Apostleship, and yet both had special temptations.
Yea, it is possible for one of Gods own children to be so far opprest with Satan, that he may even be weary of his life. In the 10. of Job, and the 1. verse, saies Job under his great temptations: My soul is weary of my life. And if Re∣bekah were weary of her life, because of the children of Heth: much more may a poor, gracious soul be weary of his life, by reason of these children of darkness, these po∣wers of darkness, these temptations of Satan.
But you will say, [Quest.] Why should Satan lie so heavy upon Gods own children and people? for he may know, that they shall be sa∣ved do he what he can: Satan had heard our Saviour Christ say to Peter, The gates of Hell shall not prevail against thee; and yet now Satan tempts: if Satan know this, why should he follow Gods children, yea, the best of his children so sorely with sad temptations?
Satan is the envious man we reade of in Scripture; [Answ. 1] and when he hears the Lord owning and honouring of his chil∣dren, then does his envy work and rise: and when he hears any of Gods children triumphing by faith, and ma∣king boast of the love of God, then does his malice kindle into a flame; shall such a one go to Heaven, and shall I be damn'd? (saies he) shall such a one be received, and shall I be cast away for ever? These are the boylings of this envi∣ous mans heart against the children of the most high.
But there is this great reason for it. [Answ. 2] Satan knows, that if he can but make Gods people, and the best of his chil∣dren fall; though they should not be damn'd, but pardo∣ned, that their fall shall be stumbling blocks unto others that may be damn'd. And therefore, I pray mark, how it is carried concerning Dauid: it is said, in the 1 Chron. 21. chapter, and the 1. verse. That, Satan stood up against Israel Page 247to provoke David to number Israel. It is not said thus, And Satan stood up against David, and provoked David to num∣ber Israel: no, but thus, And Satan sood up against Is∣rael, and provoked David to number the people: he stood up against Israel; why? because he know, that if he did make David thus to number the people, it would be a stum∣bling for all Israel, and all Israel should fare the worse by it. When Satan stands up, and tempts the master of a fa∣mily unto sin, he does not barely stand up against him, but in tempting him, he stands up against all the family. When Satan tempts a religious holy man, a beloved Dis∣ciple of Christ in a Town, Satan stands up against all the Town in tempting that one man. He stood up against Is∣rael, and tempted David to number the people: and so when he tempts those that are the most beloved Disciples of Christ, he stands up against others; and therefore though Satan knows, that their sins shall be pardoned, yet he does follow them with sad and sore temptations. [Answ. 3]
Thirdly: Satan loves to divide between friends: he is the great make-bait of the world, he loves to divide. He may know, that there is so much goodness between man and wife, that he shal never part them; and yet he will labour to sow discord between them, that they may live uncomfor∣tably. And so, though he knows he shall never part Christ and a poor beleever; yet he will labour to throw jealousies into the heart of a beleever concerning the love of Christ. He knew well enough what was said concerning our Savi∣our Christ: What was said by the Angels at the birth of Christ; what was said by the Angel to Mary; what was said by Elizabeth; he heard what was said from Heaven, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: and yet pre∣sently he comes to Christ with an If: If thou be the Son of God: laboring to throw a jealousy into the heart of Christ, and to doubt of his Son-ship, even with God the Father. So I say, although Satan should know, that the Lord will pardon such of such a man, yet he loves to make a division between God and the soul, and to cast in jealusies betweenPage 248
Christ and a beleever. As for others (saies he) they are my own already, I shal not need to break into that house, there is nothing but chaffe lies there; but here's a godly man, and here's treasure; and therefore he does especially lay his battery against the Satines, and those that are the most beloved Disciples of Jesus Christ.
But you will say unto me, [Quest. 3] How does Satan come by this tempting power; this infesting, and molesting power?
Great is the power (as we have read already) that he hath as he is a Superiour creature:* but Satan hath yet another power, and that is the power of Conquest; for in Adams fall, Satan conquered the whol world, all man-kind, they were the Devils conquest upon the fall. When a man is Converted, and trun'd to God, then he comes out of the kingdom of Satan. But I say, upon the fall the Devil made a conquest upon all man-kind, and so by conquest he hath a great power. Satan hath heave from God the Father to tempt; I don't say, that he hath a special leave for every temptation, not a special commission, or permission, or leave for every temptation; but there is no great, or extra∣ordinary temptation that does fall upon the children of God, but Satan hath a special leave from God the Father for it. There was a special temptation upon the Country, in his running their herd of swine into the Sea, and he had leave for that before he did it. There was a special temp∣tation upon Ahab, in the lying spirit of the Prophets, and he had a special leave, and permission from God for that. There was a special temptation upon Job, and he had a leave for that. Here was a special temptation coming down upon the Disciples, and he had leave for that. Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired you. He was fain to ask leave, and he had leave for that. There is no extraordinary, or great temptation befals any of the children of God, but Satan is fain to ask leave for it: he hath a leave for it, before he can come and tmept the soul.
But you will sa then unto me, [Quest. 4] Why does God the Father give Satan leave thus to tempt his own Children, and Christs own Disciples?Page 249
First: take it thus, Lood whatsoever is the end, [Answ. 1] and the issue of any evil which befals the children of God, that was the design of God the Father, in suffering that evil to come upon them. Now the end, and issue of the Saints tempta∣tion is alwaies good unto them; and therefore God suffers the temptations of his people, because he hath a design of mercy, and love upon them in these temptations. What was the end, and issue of Satans tempting of Adam and Eve? They fell and then the righteousness of Christ, and eter∣nal life thereby was brought in: this was the end and the issue of it. Now God the Father had this design upon Sa∣tans temptation, all the while Satan was tempting of A∣dam: and the Lord would never have suffered our heel to have been bruised by Satans temptation, but that he did in∣tend to break the head of Satan. It was a great temptati∣on, that of David, when as Satan stood up, and provoked him to number the people: pray, what was the end, and issue of that temptation? I shall only name the Scriptures: The 1 Chron. the 21. chapter: and the 22. chapter and the beginning of it, and the 2 Chron. the 3. chapter, and 1. verse, compared together, you shall find this: First Satan tempts David; he numbers the people, the people being numbe∣red, a plague breaks forth: the plague prevailing, David goes and offers up a sacrifice at the threshing flowre of Or∣nan; and there God told him the temple should be built. David had a long time desired to know where the Temple should be built: he saies, he would give no rest unto him∣self, no sleep unto his eye-lids, until he had found out a place for God: you shall find, that David had this place discovered as the issue of this temptation, this was the issue of it, the Devil had as good have let David alone, he had as good have been quiet, for David now had the end & the issue, attain'd unto that, that he never did attain unto be∣fore. So I say it is with the people of God, the Lord ne∣ver suffers his own children to fall into any sin, but he does intend to wean them from that sin that they do fall into, even by the falling into it: the Lord never suffers any of Page 250his own children to be tempted, but he intends to break the back of that temptation, even by their being tempted. This is the design of God the father: Oh! what a glorious design of love, and mercy is here upon all the temptations of Gods people!
But God hath yet greater, [Answ. 2] and higher designs: The Ma∣nifestation of his own Power; of his own Wisdom; of his own Faithfulness; of his own Love and Free grace.
The manifestation of his Power. When Paul was temp∣ted, and buffeted by Satan, the Lord said unto him, That his sirength should be perfected in weakness: in Pauls weakness, Gods strength should be perfected.
The manifestation of his Wisdom, The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, saies the Apostle.
The manifestation of his Faithfulness. In the 1 Cor. 10.13. The Lord is faithful, and will not suffer ye to be tempted above what ye are able to bear.
The manifestation of his Free-love and grace. And therefore, when Paul was tempted and bufferted by Satan, and prayed against his temptation, the Lord answered thus: My grace is sufficient for thee.
But in regard of the Saints themselves: How should they give a Probate, or Testimony of their uprightness, and sin∣cerity, their firm, and fast cleaving to God, if they were never tempted: reade for this purpose, the 13. of Deuterono∣my, and the 2. and 3. verses. Before Job was tempted, Sa∣tan thought that Job had served God for a boone, for some∣thing: Hast thou not seen my servant Job (saies God) I, saies Satan, but does Job serve God for naught? Job's an Hypocrite, all things go well with him, Job's in a fair, and blessed outward condition, and Job was never tempted; does Job serve God for naught? but now touch him, and let me tempt him a little, and see if he don't blaspheme God then: thus Satan then. And just thus is the language of the Devil now: Does such a man or woman serve God for naught? he is but an Hypocrite, all things go well with him, he was never yet tempted: but, O Lord, let this man or wo∣man Page 251come under my hand, and let me tempt him a little, and see if he don't blaspheme. Well Satan, (saies God) Job is in thine hand, only spare his lefe: And Satan did tempt him, and touch him: and in stead of blaspheming, behold blessing; The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be his Name: Here now Job gave a Testimony, that he did not serve God for something, that his heart was sincere and up∣right. And so, when men can hold out, notwithstanding all their temptations, they give a Testimony of their up∣rightness, and sincerity, and that their souls do cleave un∣to God in truth. For these, and many other reasons, the Lord doth suffer his own best, and dearest Children to be tempted by Satan.
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!Page 252
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.