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.
Page  263

SERMON IV. Of TEMPTATION.


LUKE 22.31, 32.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold,* Satan hath de∣sired to have you that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.

YE find that these words hold forth the re∣lation of a great storme of temptation coming down upon Christ's Disciples: The Danger of it. And the Remedy against it. Of the Danger somewhat ye heard from the 31. verse. And now I am to speak unto the 32. verse. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.

Here is somewhat Implied; and somwhat Exprest: Im∣plied, Satans Design, and his great Design upon their faith. Exprest, Christs love and care, his special love and care over them, and towards them in this temptation. As if he should say thus, Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to tempt you; not only thee, but all my Disciples: the temptation is great, and in this temptation, his great design is upon your faith: but I have spoken unto my Father, and your Father, that your faith may not fail. So that hence you may observe thus much:

That in the time of temptation, [Doct.] Satans great Design is upon the faith of the Saints, to make their faith fail.

Page  264

He doth not say, But I have prayed for thee, that thy Prayer faile not, or that thy Patience fail not, or that thy Love fail not; but I have prayed that thy Faith fail not. So that Satans great design in all his temptations is upon the faith of the Saints, that he may make their faith to faile them.

For the further clearing, and opening of these words, and of this Truth; I shall labour to shew you.

  • First, What it is for to fail in our faith: and how far the Saints may fail in their faith in time of temptation.
  • Secondly, What an evilthing it is for the Saints to faile in their faith in time of temptation.
  • Thirdly, That Satans great design in all his temptations, is upon our faith.
  • Fourthly, How Satan labours to weaken our faith in the time of temptation: what strokes he gives unto our faith, and how we shall be able to bare off those blows in the time of temptation that so our faith fail not?

If ye aske me, [Quest. 1] What it is for to fail in faith here?

The word in the Original signifies, [Answ.] * an Eclipse, as the E∣clipse of the Sun, or of the Moon: and the words may be so translated, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith be not Eclipsed. But according to the ordinary acception of that word Eclipse, Peters faith did fail, for it was much Eclipsed. The word signifies also, a total defect, such as Judas made, who of a Disciple became an Enemy, a Traitour; and in stead of beleeving, fell to despair: and so Peters faith did not faile. A mans faith is said to faile, Either when it fals short of what it hath been, or what it should be; and in both these respects Peters faith did fail: It fell short of what it had been, it fell short of what it should be. But there is a Two fold failing in faith: One in regard of the Acting and Exercise of faith; and another in regard of the grace of faith it self. In regard of the Acting, Working, and Exercise of faith, Peters faith did fail: but in regard of the grace it self, so it failed not. The Lutherans, they say and contend much for it, That a regenerate mans faith Page  265may fail totally, and finally in time of temptation: and so they say, that Peters faith failed here, when he denied his Lord and Master; because it is said in the next words, When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. As if his faith had failed so far, as he should need a new conversion. But that word translated, When thou art converted, (as divers of the learned do well observe) may be translated,*A∣gain, thus: I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and do thou strengthen thy brethren again: do thou re∣turn to that work again. And so you have the same word used in the Septuagint, translated in the 58. Psalm, at the 6. verse. Wilt thou not revive us again? The word in the He∣brew is thus: Wilt thou not convert, or turn unto us, and re∣vive us? which we translate, Wilt thou not revive us a∣gain? And so the words here may be translated, (being an Hebraisme) But do thou strengthen thy brethren again. But suppose that the words stand according to their present translation, it does not argue, that Peter did fail totally in this temptation: for, the whole life of a Christian here, is a continual converting, and turning to God: We repent, and repent again; turn, and we turn again. Every day we turn unto God yet more and more; every day brings forth another conversion: yet not so, as if the former con∣version were made void. And if the faith of a beleever would fail totally in the time of a temptation; what should be the meaning of those words, in the 1. of Joh. 5. Chapter, and the 18. verse. We know, that whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not: The wicked one: that is Satan, he toucheth him not. But now, if Satan could tempt a godly man, and prevail so far in his temptation, as to make his faith fail totally, then he would touch him to the pur∣pose: but (saies the text) he keeps himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not: and therefore his faith cannot fail totally, a regenerate mans faith cannot fail totally. And ye know what is said, in that 7. of Matthew at the 24. and 25. verses. Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doth Page  266them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which hath built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the flouds came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not, because it was founded upon a rock. Now every Beleever is founded up∣on a rock, (Christ) and therefore, though the rain descend, and the flouds come, and the winds blow, and temptations be never so great, he cannot fail totally, because he is built upon a rock. In the 13. of Matthew, ye know it is made the property of the false ground, that in the time of temp∣tation it fell away: Now if the good ground (a regenerate man) should fall away in the time of temptation; what difference were there between the false ground, & the good ground? Plainly therefore, the Scripture holds forth this truth unto us, That a regenerate man, a Beleever, though his faith may fail much, yet it does not fail totally in time of temptation. And thus Peters faith failed, and thus it failed not: In regard of the Exercise, and Acting of his faith, it did fail; but in regard of the grace it self, faith it self, so it failed not: and so it is, and may be with others of the Saints also.

Secondly: [Quest. 2] If the faith of a beleever do only fail in regard of the Acting, Exercise, and Working thereof, What great incon∣venience is there, or evil in the failing of his faith?

Much, (my beloved) very much: [Answ.] For though that faith fail only in regard of the Acting, Exercise, and working, he does lose an opportunity of glorifying God. 'Tis said of Abraham, That he beleeved, and gave glory to God. Faith gives glory to God: it glorifies his Power, his Mercy, his Faithfulness, and his Wisdom; not faith in the Habit, but faith in the Exercise of it glorifies God: and so much as a mans faith doth fail, in the Acting, Working, and Exer∣cise of it, so much he loseth an opportunity of glorifying God.

Moreover, He loses his own Comfort. Faith is a Com∣forting grace. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. And in the 15. to the Romans, and the 13. verse, ye find, That Joy and Peace grows upon faith: Now the God of hope, Page  267fill ye with all Joy and Peace in beleeving. So much as a man does beleeve, so much Joy and Peace: if a man fail in the Exercise of his faith, he does lose his Comfort.

Yea, hereby also, he does lose his present prize. A Christ∣an hath a prize in this life; he hath a two-fold crown: A crown of glory in the world to come; and a present crown. And therefore saies the Lord unto the Church of Philadel∣phia, Hold fast that which thou hast, lest another take thy crown. Now if a man do fail in the Exercise of his faith, he does lose much of his present prize. Ye know how it was with Moses and Aron, ye reade of it in the 20. chapter of Num∣bers, and the 12. verse. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye beleeve me not, to sanctifie me in the eyes of the children of Israel; therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have promised them. They were shut out of the land of Canaan for not beleeving. But Moses & Araon did not lose the grace of faith, it was only failing in the Exercise of faith; their failing was not in the grace it self, but only they failed, in the Exercise of their faith, and they were shut out of Canaan for it. And Moses besought the Lord earnestly in prayer, that he would reverse this threatning, and it might not be; he was shut out of Canaan, meerly for failing in the Exercise of his faith. Oh! what an evil thing is it then, for a Christian to fail in his faith, though it be no more than in the Exercise of his faith.

Further, In this failing of ones faith, though but in the Exercise of it; A Christian does lose much of the benefit, and sweetness of the mercy promised. Look as it is with a wicked man, in regard of the judgment threatned; So with a god∣ly man in regard of the mercy promised. Now take a wic∣ked man, and let the threatning of God be fulfilled before him upon others, upon himself; he profits not by Gods judgments. Why? because that he don't exercise faith concerning the threatning; and so when the judgment comes, he profits not by Gods dealing, by Gods judgments, he loses the benefit of Gods dispensations that way. So I say with a godly man: let the promise be fulfilled, and pos∣sibly Page  268he does not find the sweetness, or the benefit of the mercy promised when the promise is fulfilled: Why? be∣cause he don't exercise faith in the promise it self. When as the Lord gave Manna, Moses had the seetness of it, why? because he exercised faith about it: But the children of Isra∣el, they make a tush of it, a light matter of it: why? because they look't upon it in a way of sence, & did not take it in a way of beleeving, and so they lost the benefit, and sweet∣ness of the mercy promised. Beloved! it is no small mat∣ter this, for to lose the benefit, and sweetnesse of the mercy promised: that a Christian loses by failing in his faith in regard of the Exercise of it; and therefore certainly it is a very evil thing: though their faith fail not in regard of the grace it self, yet if it fail in regard of the work, and the exercise of it, it is a very evil thing, and much incon∣venience comes unto the Saints thereby.

Thirdly, [Quest. 3] Whereby may it appear, that Satans great design is upon our faith in the time of temptation?

He does tempt most unto that sin which is the greatesi: and the sin against the Gospel is the greatest sin. [Answ.] Satans great de∣sign is, to hinder the work of Christ, the kingdom of Christ in the hearts of the Saint; to counter-work the Spirit of God. Satan does tempt that he may tempt: and the grea∣test temptation usually comes in the reare, comes at the last. Satan does tempt a man to break the Law; but he hath a further reach in that: for he tempts a man to break the Law, that so he may tempt him afterwards to sin a∣gainst the Gospel: he lies in ambush in one temptation, for to draw to another. When Satan tempted our first parents Adam and Eve, he tempted like a serpent, in form of a serpent: and so now too, he comes, and he winds a∣bout us in his temptation; but his sting is in the taile, and at the latter end. And thus ye see it was in the temptation of our Saviour Christ: his great design was upon Christs faith: in the 4. of mathhew, ye know he hath Three temptations there: and saies he, in the two first temptati∣ons, If thou be the Son of God? and If thou be the Son of God?Page  269And in the Last temptation: All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. He tempted him to Blasphemy, and Atheisme; and what greater unbeleef? So 'tis with the Saints also: Satan, he comes and tempts them to sowre∣nesse, frowardnesse, and passion in their families, but he hath a further reach upon that distemper: for (saies he) I will tempt this man or woman to passion, and froward∣ness, and when he hath been froward, and passionate, then I will tempt him to be doubting whether he be the child of God or no: first I wil tempt this man for to break the Law, and when he hath broken the Law, then will Itempt him to sin against the Gospel, then will I strike at his faith: his great design still is upon your faith in all his temptati∣ons.

But you will say, [Quest.] Why is Satans great design upon our faith in time of temptation?

He is the great Robber, or Theef: and if he can, [Answ.] he will be sure to spoil a man of that wich is the best. Now faith is more precious than gold; the trial of your faith is, faith is the gift of God: and therefore, if he can get any thing from a man, he will get that which is Gods gift. He is the great hinderer of all good, of every good work; and he will especially labour to hinder that work which is The work of God in a special manner: and this is THE Work of God, that ye beleeve in his Son. Satan knows, that faith is the most Beneficial grace unto the Saints: The Shield of faith, it is called; and the Anchor of faith. If ye be in a storm at sea; faith is your Anchor: If ye be in danger at land, before Enemies, faith is your Shield. If that a mans Faith fail, his Duties fail, his heart failes, and all failes. He knows well enough, that he shall soon make us suffer shipwrack, if he can but weaken faith, and there∣fore his great design is upon our faith. He knows, that faith is most prejudicial to Himself: for by faith we overcome the world; whom resist, stedfast in the faith; And by faith we quench the fiery darts of the Devil. Now then (saies Satan) Does faith quench my fiery darts? then will I labour to Page  270quench faith if I can. The Devil does labour alwaies to present himselfe in Christs cloathes unto a soul, as an An∣gel of light: and he does labout to rpesent Christ in his own cloathes, as an Angel of darkness. When as he is a lyar Himself, he does labour to make the soul put the lye upon Christ, and upon the Spirit. The Spirit of God, that comes and testifies unto a man or woman, Thou art the child of God: Satan saies, No. When a man there∣fore does say, He is not the child of God; the language of his action is, He gives the lye unto the Spirit, and he saies, that Satan speaks true: So here he makes Christ and the Spirit of Chrhist a lyar by his unbelief; & he makes the devil to speak true. Now this is Satans great design, and there∣fore, in all his temptations, still he strikes at the faith of the Saints, labours to weaken their faith; his great design is upon their faith.

In the Fourth place, [Quest. 4] How does Satan weaken our faith in time of temptation? What are those strokes that Satan gives unto our faith? and how shall we be able to bare them off?

In the general, [Answ.] Satan does sometimes labour to weaken our faith, By drawing us from the means of faith. Take the wood away from the fire, it will soon lose it's heat, if not put out. And if a man be but drawn away from the means of faith; the means drawn from him, or he from the means by his own default, his faith will be soon wea∣kened. This Satan labours to do sometimes.

Sometimes again, He raises up Mountains of Difficulties, and Discouragements in the way of a Christians obedience; and so labours to wound his faith. Throw water upon the fire it will soon be out.

But that I may speak the more fully unto this great Question, the answer whereof is of concernment every day amongst you.

Ye know there the Three acts of faith: There is the faith of Reliance; whereby a soul does relye upon God in Christ. There is the faith of Assurance; Whereby a man is perswaded of Gods love towards him, and his love to God, Page  271and that he is the child of God, And there is the faith of Acknowledgment; whereby a man does own, and acknow∣ledge the Cause, and Truth of Christ. I shall now spend some time, and shew ye, How Satan strikes at all these faiths: and withal labour to shew you, How we may bare off his blows, that so we may stand in the time of tempta∣tion, and our faith may not fail.

First, For the faith of Reliance: Satan does sometimes strike at the faith of Reliance in the Saints, by hiding from them their former Experiences of Gods gracious dealing with them. So long as a man hath the sight, and view of his Experien∣ces of Gods gracious dealing with him before, he does relye on God, and he saies, I will for ever rest upon God, and relye upon God in Christ, for thus and thus he hath dealt wth me heretofore. Now therfore, Satan does labour in the time of temptation, to hide the Experiences of the Saints from them, and so does strike at their faith, and labours to make their faith faile.

But then, How should we bare off this blow? [Quest.]

Thus, Take heed that ye never rest upon the promise barely, [Answ. 1] or only because of your Experience; but rather deal with your Experi∣ence because of the promise. It is a good thing for a man to come up to the Promise by the ladder of Experience: but it's better for a man to go down to the promise by his Ex∣perience. And if ye look into the 106. Psalm, ye shall find, that when a man does rest upon the Promise, barely by reason of his Experience, his faith will soon fail. The wa∣ters covered their enemies (at the 11. verse, 'tis spoken of the Israelites when they came through the red sea) there was not one of them left. Verse the 12. Then beleeved they his words. (Mark) now because of their Experience, now they belee∣ved Gods word, now they beleeved his promise by reason of their Experience; Then beleeved they his words, they sang his praise. But what became of this? Reade the next words: They soon forgate his works, they waited not for his counsel. So that I say, take heed that ye don't rest upon the promise barely, and only because of your Experience, for if your Page  272Experience be but out of the way a little, then your heart will fail, and your faith fail presently.

Take heed that ye never mourn for any evil, [Answ. 2] no not for sin it self, so as to be unthankful for, or unmindful of former mercies. We are very apt to this; and Satan he comes and tempts, and saies unto a poor soul, Are you speaking of former mercies, or blessings to be thanful for them? That is a good work for others, but as for you, you have committed such a sin, and it's your duty now to mourn for your sin committed, look you to that, to be humbled; apply your self to that work: and so when he hath gotten a mans heart fix't upon that work in opposition to thankfulness for former mercies received, the soul loses the sight of his Experience and so his faith failes in the time of temptation. Wherefore my Ex∣hortation is, that you may avoid this blow, and this stroke, Never mourn, no not for son committed; but still be thank∣ful for grace received, otherwaies your Experience will go out of sight, and then your faith failes ye.

Again, [Answ. 3] Satan does sometimes strike at the faith of Reli∣ance, Labours to weaken the faith of the Saints Reliance, By sundering or severing their souls from the promise. So long as a man hath the sight of the promise, and the pro∣mise is by him; a gracious heart saies, I wil for ever trust in God, and relye upon God in Christ, for thus and thus hath God spoken, and thus and thus saith the promise to me. But now, if the promise be gone, then a mans reli∣ance fails. Satan therefore, in the into of temptation, la∣bours to take away the promise; scaring the soul, or cog∣ging the soul from the promise; this he does many waies, but sometimes he speaks out thus: What! do you meddle with the promise? the promise don't belong to you, the Threatening belongs to you; you have finned so and so, and the Threatning belongs to you, but the Promise don't belong to you: And if he can but get the soul to beleeve this, then his faith failes.

Oh! [Quest.] but, How should we bear off this blow in time of tempta∣tion? for I confesse thus, by this temptation does Satan strike at Page  273my faith, and labours to make my faith to faile.

In this case, let a mans heart speak thus: [Answ.]

First: If the Lord do command me to beleeve, [unspec 1] then the promise belongs to me, for I cannot beleeve unless I apply the promise: now in this time, at this very time of my temptation, the Lord does command me to beleeve, else it were no sin not to be∣leeve; 'tis a sin for me not to beleeve, not therefore the Lord commands me to beleeve; but beleeve I cannot unless I apply the promise, therefore God would have me to ap∣ply the promise, therefore the promise does belong to me, and I may apply it.

Again, Let the heart speak thus: [unspec 2] If the Lord does give out a Threatning that it may not be fulfilled; and he does give out a Promise that it may be fulfilled: If the very applying of the Threatning, makes the Threatning not to belong to me; and the very applying of the Promise, makes the Promise to belong to me; then the Threatning does not belong to me, for I have applied it; and the Promise does belong to me, for I have applied it; Oh! I remember how my soul hath lien trembling before the Threatning, the Lord knows I have often applied the Threatning: but now this is true, That the very applying of the threatning, makes the threatning not to belong to a man; and the very applying of the Pro∣mise, makes the Promise to belong to a man; and therfore Satan, the Threatning belongs not unto me, but the Pro∣mise does.

But then again Thirdly, let him say thus: [unspec 3] If I be more godly now, than I was when Satan told me, that the Threatning did not belong to me; and the Promise did belong to me, then there is no reason for this temptation. When I went on in a way of sin, then Satan told me, the Threatning did not belong to me; and then he told me, the Promise did belong to me: Oh! but now I am more godly than I was then, I have more of Christ than I had then I am sure, & therfore Satan, Didst thou tel me, that the Promise did belong to me then? 'therefore it belongs much more to me now. Thon toldst me heretofore, when I went on in a way of sin, the Threat∣ning Page  274did not belong to me: now then the Threatning does less belong to me, for now I am more godly than I was then. [unspec 4]

But above all things, remember that of the Commamnd to beleeve. Luther was a man that laboured under great temp∣tations: and being once sorely tempted, and the teares trickling down his cheeks; saies he my friend (my spi∣ritual father) came unto me, and said, O my son! why doest thou mourne? doest thou not know that God hath commanded thee to beleeve? When (saies Luther) I heard that word, Command, that God hath Commanded me to beleeve; it prevail'd more with my heart, than all that was said, or thought on before. So say I now unto ye, Does Satan come with this temptation, and tell thee, the Promise don't belong to thee? Answer, I but the Lord hath Commanded me to beleeve (Satan) God hath Commanded me to beleeve, 'tis my duty now at this time to beleeve; but I cannot beleeve unlesse I apply the Promise, therefore I may go by commission from God unto the Promise, and the Promise does belong to me. Thus, give in these an∣swers, so shall ye be able to stand, and to relye upon God, and your faith of Reliance shall not fail. This is the first thing, The faith of Reliance.

Secondly, [Quest. 2] How does Satan strike, or labour to weaken the faith of Assurance, the Assurance of Gods people?

Much may be said here, [Answ.] 'tis a large field I shall only ga∣ther up some few things, and present them to you.

Sometimes Satan does labour to weaken the Assurance of the Saints, [unspec 1] By telling them that they have no faith. As∣surance is the flower of faith, it grows upon faith; but you have no faith (saies Satan) and therefore your assurance is naught. But how unreasonable is this temptation! for, observe I pray, in what rounds Satan goes: He tempts us to beleeve that we have no faith, because we have no Assu∣rance; and he tempts us again, to beleeve we have no Assu∣rance, because we have no faith. For answer hereunto, I shall only turn unto that 4. to the Romans: It is said of A∣brahamPage  275(at the 21. verse) Being fully perswaded, that what God had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore (at the 22.) it was imputed to him for righte∣ousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him: but for us also to whom it shall be imputed, if we beleeve on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Abraham was justified by faith, it was imputed to him for righteousnesse: and saies the Apo∣stle here, it was not written for his sake, but for us also. We are justisied as Abraham was, by the same faith, what faith is that? is it the faith of Assurance? Yes! he was As∣sured indeed, but I pray of what? He was Assured that God was able to performe: He being fully perswaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Abraham beleeved that God was able, and so relyed upon God, and hereby he was justified. So it shall be with men and women now: if they be Assured, and Perswaded, that God is able, and so relye upon God; this is the faith that justifies. When therefore this temptation comes, Answer unto Satan: Satan, thou saiest I have no Assurance, because I have no faith; but I have this Assurance that Abraham had, whereby he was justified, I beleeve God is able to help me, and so I relye upon God, and therefore (Satan) I am now justified, and stand righteous through Jesus Christ in the sight of God.

Secondly, [unspec 2] As he does labour to weaken the faith of As∣surance, By telling the Saints that they have no faith: So also, by telling them, That they have no Obedience, that they don't profit under the means, that they are not fruit∣full: where ever there is true faith, there will be Obedienee, and men will profit under the means, and be fruitful; but you are Unfruitful, and you are barren, and where's your Obedience? here's no Obedience, therefore no faith: So no Assurance, your Assurance is wrong.

Well, But how may we ward, [Quest.] and keep off this blow in the time of temptation, that our faith of Assurance may not faile?

Truly, this blow is not to be warded off, [Answ.] if this be true; Page  276That ye never were Obedient, never Fruitful, never profited by the means of grace; this blow fals dead upon the soul, this blow is not to be warded off, this is no temptation. But now, if ye have ever been fruitful, if ye have ever been obedient, if ye have ever profited by the means of grace; though for the present ye may seem dead: yet remember what Job saies, There is hope of a tree, though it be cut down, that by the scent of waters it will florish again. And so, there is hope of thy soul, that by the scent of the Gospel-waters thou maiest flourish again. But though there be no obedi∣ence in your own eye, though ye don't profit under the means in your own eye; yet your obedience may be in the eye of others: and in time of temptation, another mans eye is a better judge than your own.

But suppose there seem to be no obedience, neither in your own, nor anothers eye; yet the root of the matter may be in you. Ye know how it is with the fish, that are in the water, in a windy and a stormy day: ye put many fish into a pond; and in a faire, sun shiney day, ye see them playing upon the water, upon the uppermost part of the water; but in a rainy, and stormy day, ye see none of them there, but yet you say, they are all there, they are in the water, they are at the bottome, though you see them not. And so, it may be, in this stormy time of temptation, your obedience, and profiting is not seen, but it may be there as heretofore. Satan does never more presse a child of God, to try himself by signs of grace drawn from his own conver∣sation, than in the time of temptation. There is indeed a good use of signs drawn from our own conversation, but this is agreed upon by all, That there's no use of them in the time of temptation. And therefore saies Luther: In the time of temptation, I am as if there were no Law, nor no works, but only the righteousness of Christ in the world, and so I do rest up∣him. Does Satan come forth therefore with this temptati∣on, That you have no obedience, that you don't profit, that you are Unfruitful? Answer it thus: True Satan, I con∣fesse I am very Unprofitable, and therefore I will learn to Page  277profit more; I confesse I am very unfruitful, and therefore I will labour to be more fruitful: But (Satan) I will not now at this time determine about my Condition; for it may be a time of temptation: hereafter, at another time, I will come and determine about my Condition, and I will look after signes; but now at this time, it may be a time of temptation, and therefore I will forbear to winde, and draw up a conclusion, but leane my self upon God, and rest upon God at this time.

Thirdly, [unspec 3] Sometimes Satan does labour to weaken the Assurance of Gods people, the faith of Assurance, to make that to fail, By telling of them, that they have no faith at all, because they have no particular faith, no particular promise; for, saies Satan thus: faith and Wavering, faith and Doubting do not agree; He that beleeveth doubteth not: but now, you pray and doubt, you beleeve and wa∣ver, ye have no particular word for what you beleeve, therefore ye have no particular faith, so no faith at all, and therefore your Assurance is naught.

[Quest.] How should we ward off this blow?

[Answ.] In this case now, let a poor beleever say Two or Three things unto his own soul.

First, Tell thy soul this: [unspec 1] Though it pleases God some∣times to give out a particular word unto his people, a par∣ticular promise, in the time of Affliction, or Desertion (e∣specially) or temptation; yet the Lord does not therefore giveout a particular promise, that a man may measure his condition thereby; (there's a mistake) but the Lord does therefore give out a particular word or promise, to uphold the soul in the condition: not to measure out his condition by it, but to uphold him; and therefore, though I have not a particular word, or promise, I will not conclude a∣gainst my faith for this.

Again, Tell thine own soul, [unspec 2] That though it pleases the Lord to give out a particular word or promise sometimes; yet alwaies he does not. Hezekiah had a particular word for his recovery; but the three children had not a particu∣lar Page  278word, that they should be delivered out of the fiery furnace, yet they beleeved; and whether God deliver, or does not deliver, (say they) we will not bow our selves to this Idolatry. So that, though God is pleased sometimes, to give out a particular word or promise, yet alwaies he does not, and therefore my faith may be right (Satan) though I have not a particular word now for this businesse.

Again, [unspec 3] Tell thy soul this: That though God is pleased thus to indulge, and sometimes to give out a particular promise unto his people, and they have a particular faith concerning this or that businesse; yet there is alwaies a Waiting-faith that we reade of in Scripture. There is a faith of Recumbency, whereby a soul leans upon God, and commits his cause unto God: And there is a Waiting faith. Now therefore (Satan) though I have not a parti∣cular word, and a particular faith for this business; yet notwithstanding I have a Waiting faith, I can waite upon the Lord my God, and I can rest upon Jesus Christ: and therefore (Satan) I do yet beleeve, and my faith is right. Tell your own soul thus; so shall you be able to stand to your faith, and shall not fall off in the time of your temp∣tation.

Thirdly, [unspec 3] For the faith of Acknowledgement. Sometimes Satan does labour to weaken the faith of the Saints Acknow∣ledgement. He does labour either that they should deny the Truth, or not own it: either that they should deny Christ, or that they should not own him. So he laboured to make Peters faith to fail, by denying Christ. And therefore, he comes unto a poor soul and saies, If you will go on in this way, it shall cost you a prison; can you lie, and rot, and die in a prison? he rattles chaines in the ears of a poor be∣leever, and so labours to scare him away from his consci∣ence, and from his faith, and from the Truth and Cause of God, and the good waies of Christ.

How shold we ward off this blow? [Quest.]

First, [Answ. 1] Before the temptaton comes, labour to possesse your heart much, with the Mercy, and priviledge of suffe∣ring Page  279for the Cause, Truth, Name, and Way of Christ. To you it is given, not only to beleeve, but to suffer; 'tis a great Gift: A suffering opportunity, and a suffering heart, is a great Gift from God. Is it not a great mercy to be confor∣mable to Jesus Christ our head? For this Cause (saies Christ) came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth, Is it not a great mercy, to be confessed at the last day before all the world, Angels, and men? He that confesses me before men, (saies Christ) Him will I confess before my father &c. Is it not a great mercy, to live and reigne with Christ a thousand years? ye know that Scripture; I shall not speak of the meaning of it now, but cerainly, there is a great deal of glory promised there, living and reigning with Christ a thousand years: and the promise is made unto those that do acknowledge, and own the Cause, and Truth of God and Jesus Christ. Possesse your heart much, with the priviledge, and mercy of bearing witness to the Truth, the Cause, and the good way of Christ be∣fore your temptation comes.

Secondly, [Answ. 2] If you would bear off the blow of this temp∣tation; Be sure that you look upon both sides of your suf∣fering, or bearing witness to the Truth, Cause, or way of Christ: the Dark side, and the Light side; let them not be sundered. When the Lord cals for any of his people to suffer at any time for him, he does give them more strength than before, and he does give them more Comfort and Consolation than they had before. Now Satan, comes and holds forth the suffering, he makes mention of the suffering; but he hides the Strength, and the Consolation. Either Satan holds forth the suffering alone; or else, if he do mention any strength, or comfort that a gracious soul shall have in the suffering, 'tis but the same strength that he hath now, he don't speak of the strength he shall have then, and the great Consolation that he shall have then when the suffering comes: and so these being parted, the Suffering and the Consolation being parted, now our faith fails. When ever therefore this temptation does Page  280come upon you, answer thus: Satan, here thou bringest the suffering before me, and causest that to come before me; but thou doest not tell me of the strength I shall have, and of the consolation I shal receive Satan, I shall not have the strength I have now, nor the consolation I have now, but I shall have more strength then, when the suffering comes, and I shall have more consolation, when as the affliction comes than I had before. Keep these together, don't look only upon the one side of your suffering, and witness-bea∣ring; but look upon both sides together, and thus you shall be able to stand, and ride out the storm of this temp∣tation.

But you will say, [Quest.] We have heard of the several blowes that Satan gives unto our faith: unto the faith of Reliance, unto the faith of Assurance, and unto the faith of Acknow∣ledgment; how he labours to weaken all these our faiths, and how we should bear off al these blows: But there may be yet some temptation (possibly) that does not fall within the compass of these temptations: these directions are pointed against these par∣ticular temptations; but I have other temptations that don't fall within the compass of these, whereby Satan labours to weaken my faith, and to make my faith to fail: What general Rules and Directions may be given, by which a man should so walk, as that Satan may not make his faith to fail in the time of his temp∣tation?

First: [Answ. 1] Before your temptation comes, while you are up∣on even ground; Study, and look much into the Scrip∣ture, and into every corner, and nook thereof, (as I may so speak) laying, and treasuring up Promises, and Words su∣table to every condition. Let the Word of the Lord dwell in you richly; that so when a temptation comes, ye may have a word sutable at hand, and this will help ye to bear off the strength of the temptation when it comes.

Secondly. [Answ. 2] Either a particular Word and Promise does come unt ye, or it does not, in the time of your temptation. If it do come unto ye, Take heed that ye dont' measure your selves, or your condition, by the warmth, and life, and inlargment of Page  281your heart which ye have at the coming in of the word. And if a particular word, or Scripture, and promise do not come unto you in the time of your temptation; don't mea∣sure your selves, and your condition, by the straightness, and deadnesse of your heart which you have at that time when a particular word does not come.

Thirdly, If temptaion come, [Answ. 3] Look much unto the infirmi∣ties of Jesus Christ: not the sinful infirmities, for so he had none, but he had many other infirmities. And ye know what the Spouse in the time of Desertion saies, in the book of the Canticles, His left hand is under my head, and with his right hand he does imbrace me. The right hand, is a hand of power; and the left hand, is a hand of weaknesse: and in the time of Desertion, and Temptation, it's a great relief to a poor soul, to consider the infirmities of Jesus Christ, his left hand is under our head then. As when a man is inlarged in heart, 'tis good to consider of Christs Example, that so he may be humbled under his inlargement: So when a man is in Desertion, or Temptation, it's good for to think of Christs Infirmities, that so he may not be over∣whelmed, or cast down too much.

Fourthly, If temptation do come, be sure of this, [Answ. 4] That ye don't conclude it is no temptation. Satan tempts, and then he tempts a man to think it is no temptation. So long as a poor soul thinks it is but a temptation, his heart is borne up with comfort, and he saies, It is but a temptati∣on, and it will be over shortly, and the Lord Jesus Christ will pity me, for 'tis but a temptation, and so his heart is borne up with comfort, waiting upon God: But if the Devil can get a man so far, as to make him think it is no temptation, but worse than a temptation; then his heart fails, and his faith failes. Therefore, I beseech ye, If a temptation come, don't conclude it is no temptation, but say, Oh! it may be 'tis a temptation, and therefore I will wait on God.

Fifthly, If temptation come, [Answ. 5] Remember thine own soul of the waies of God with thee. Gods waies (ye know) are in the Page  282deep, and his footsteps are not known: but as the Heavens are greater than the earth, so are Gods waies of mercy beyond our waies. Now therefore, if a drak temptation do come upon ye, and ye see no way to get out, say, O but my soul, remember Gods waies are infinite, and his waies are beyond our waies; and though I see no way, God hath infinite waies, he walks over mulbery-trees, and his waies have been in the deep; and so it hath been all along with my soul, and therefore now, O my soul, wait on God.

Sixthly, [Answ. 6] If temptation come, if Satan come, Do you run to Christ; and look how Satan appears to you, so do you apply the Attributes of Christ to you sutable to his temptation. Does Sa∣tan set a temptation unto your breast? observe what temp∣tation it is, and take an Attribute of Christ sutable to that temptation, and set it to the breast of that temptation. For Example: Does Satan come and tempt as a Serpent? Then remember, that Jesus Christ is the brasen serpent. Does Sa∣tan come and present himself as a roaring Lyon? Now re∣member, that Jesus Christ is the Lyon of the tribe of Judah. Does Satan come and present himself as an Accuser? Now remember, that the Lord Jesus Christ is an advocate. Be∣loved! in the time of temptation, ye are to run to Christ, that is true; but that is not all, but you are to observe how your temptation lies, and apply that Attribute of Christ to your soul which is sutable to your temptation: do this, and your faith shall not faile in time of temptati∣on.

Seventhly, [Answ. 7] and lastly. Above all things, take the Shield of faith. Take the Shield of faith, that your faith may not fail: for, the way to beleeve is to beleeve; the way to pray is to pray; the way to hear, is to hear; the way to receive, is to receive; the way to perform duty, is to perform duty; the way to exercise grace, is to exercise grace. When temp∣tation therefore does come upon thee, that thy faith may not fail, now stir up thy self to this work of faith, and to beleeve; and if ye beleeve that ye shall overcome, ye shall overcome; and if ye beleeve that ye shall prevaile against Page  283your temptations, ye shall prevaile against your temptati∣ons. And, poor soul, if thou canst relie upon Christ, and beleeve that thou shalt be justified, thou shalt be justified; and if thou canst by faith relie upon the Promise, the Pro∣mise shall belong to thee. Wherefore, stir up your selves now to beleeve when temptation comes. When ye have to deal with an Enemy here among men, I don't say, beleeve ye shall overcome your enemy, and ye shall overcome: a man may beleeve he shal overcome his outward enemy here in the field, and yet fall before him, and not overcome: but having to deal with this enemy, Gods enemy, your fathers enemy, and your enemy; beleeve ye shall overcome him, and ye shall overcome him.

[Quest.] But shall we overcome him Only if we beleeve?

[Answ.] Who ever thou art that speakest, or thinkest thus: Doest thou make on Only of beleeving? I tell thee from the Lord, It is an harder thing to beleeve, than to keep all the Commande∣ments: for there is something in Nature towards the keeping of the ten Commandements; but nothing in Nature towards beleeving in Christ. And, (poor soul) doest thou make an Only of beleeving? thou doest not know what beleeving means: but I say unto thee from the Lord, Beleeve that thou shalt overcome, and thou shalt overcome; beleeve that thou shalt prevaile against Satan, and thou shalt prevail against him; beleeve that thy sins shal be pardoned through Christ and relie upon him, and thy sins shal be pardoned. When∣soever therefore any temptation comes, Oh! run to Christ, cry unto Christ, and rest upon Christ, and say, Lord I do beleeve, help thou my unbelief.

Beloved in the Lord, ye have heard, That in all Satans temptations, his great design is upon your faith, to wea∣ken your faith: therefore, let it be all your design, in all your temptations, to strengthen your faith, and to look to your faith. Which that ye may do, think on all these things, and the Lord bless them to you.