SERMON V. Of TEMPTATION.
LUKE 22.31, 32.
THese words (as ye have heard) acquaints us with a great temptation that was to come down upon Christs Disciples. Con∣cerning which ye have here, The Danger of the temptation: And the Remedy a∣gainst it. For the Danger of the temp∣tation, I have spoken already: and now come unto this 32. verse, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. Here is something Implyed; and somthing Exprest. Satans design implyed, which is, and was, to weaken the faith of Christs Disciples, to make their faith to fail. And of that ye have heard already.
Now that which is exprest is; Christs tender care of, and love unto his Disciples in regard of their temptations. And this love and care of his towards his Disciples under temptation, is Exprest in many things. First in the forewarning of them, of a temptation coming upon them: there is his love and care, in that he told them of the temptation before it came. And then also, He prayed for them. Yea, He prayed for them before they were tempted. Yea, And he tels them that he did pray for them that they might have assurance of Page 286his help in the time of their temptation. Great was his love and care, to, and for his Disciples unders their temptati∣on. And so the Observation is this.
Christs love and mercy, [Doct.] is never more at work for his Disciples, and people, then when they are most assaulted by Satan. When Satan is most busie to tempt, and assault their faith, then is Christs love and mercy most at work, to keep and defend both them and their faith. We don't reade of such a pra∣yer for Peter before. We reade indeed, that our saviour said unto Peter; Ʋnto thee do I give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church: but we don't reade there, that he prayed for Peter. But here he prayes, and for Peter in particular: I have pra∣yed for Thee. Why? because now his temptations were to be more than Ordinary; and therefore Christs love and care was drawn out, and exprest in a more than ordinary way.
For the clearing of this Truth unto ye, I shall labour to discover.
- First, Wherein the love, care, and mercy of Christ, is expressed unto his people under their temptations.
- Secondly, That this love and care of his, is most expressed when they are most tempted.
- Thirdly, What there is in the heart of Christ, that does thus incline him to this indulgence, or mercy. And so to the Appli∣cation.
First, [Quest 1] If ye aske me, Wherein the love and care of Christ is expressed unto his people under their temptations?
I answer, [Answ. 1] First, In the ordering of their temptations. For there is no temptation befalls any of His, but he measures out the temptation according to their abilities. As a wise Phifitian, does not give the same Physick unto every person, but considers every ones ability; that which he gives to one, is too strong for another: he considers first the abili∣ty of his patient, and prescribes accordingly. Now, though our Saviour Christ don't direct Satan for to tempt, yet he does order him in tempting; and Satan cannot put Page 287the least dram into any temptation, but as it is measured out by the hand of Christ. And this is that which the A∣postle speaks plainly, in the 1. Cor. 10. Chapter, and the 13. verse. But God is faithful who will not suffer you to be temp∣ted above that you are able &c. that ye may be able to bear it.* The Psalmist David saies, Search me, O Lord, and prove me. That is (saies Gregory) First, O Lord, look upon, my strength, and then, if I must be tempted, suffer me to be tempted according to mine ability. Christ does measure out all the temptations of his people according to their a∣bilities.
Secondly, [unspec 2] As he does measure out their temptations ac∣cording to their abilities: So he does also, mortifie their temp∣tations, and weaken them as they come through his hand. Mor∣tifie them before they do come at his Disciples, and people, before they do come at you. And upon this account (partly) it is said, That we are more than conquerers, through Christ that giveth victory. Because our enemy is overcome before he strikes, and his blow is broken as he strikes. And therefore saies the Apostle, concerning our Saviour, That he hath spoil'd principalities, and powers, and made a shew of them openly upon the crosse. All your temptations, the power and strength of them were spoil'd upon the crosse. There's no temptation befals any of Gods people, but it is mortifi∣ed, and weakned before it does come it them, the sting, teeth, and the poison being taken out.
Thirdly, He does not only thus mortifie, [unspec 3] and weaken a temptation before it does come at us: But he does cause Sa∣tan so to lay his temptations, as that he may be discerned, and so o∣vercome, Satan tempted Adam and Eve; but he tempted in a serpent, and so Adam might easily have discerned the hand of Satan in it: for Adam knew all the creatures; he gave them their Names, & he knew their Natures: and he knew well enough the serpent could not speak to him; he might easily have known, that the hand of Satan was in the business. And so now, though God does suffer Satan to tempt his people, yet he does cause Satan so to lay his Page 288temptations, as that the black feet of the tempter may be discovered: and when a temptation is discovered, 'tis half overcome.
Fourthly, [unspec 4] He doth not only thus: But the Lord Jesus Christ, hath the Timeing of all our temptationps. Time is a great matter in the point of temptation. Should a temp∣tation come at such or such a time, possibly Gods child might be overwhelmed. I praise the Lord (saies one) I did resist such a temptation; but had it fallen out at such a time, I should never have been able to have stood under it. Satan observes his tempting times: he knowes that great advantage may be made unto him by his time. And there∣fore when Christ was an hungry, he tempted him to turn stones into bread: observed his time. And as Satan does observe his time to tempt: So our Lord and Saviour Christ, does set him his time; & the time of his temptations are in the hand of Christ. And therefore, if ye look into the 20. chapter of the Revelation, the 1. 2. and 3. verses, ye shall find to this purpose thus: I saw an Angel come down from Heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand: And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that, he must be loosed a little sea∣son. (Mark) The Lord Jesus Christ, hath not only the tempter in a chain, that he can go no further than he gives him leave to go; but his hand also, is in the hand of Christ, and Christ hath an eye to the Time of his temptati∣on, a special eye upon the time of our temptation, and this argues much of his care and love.
Fiftly. [unspec 5] He hath not only the Timeing of our tempta∣tions: But he does also Sanctifie our temptations, and does make them blessed means of our Sanctification. And there∣fore saies Paul, I received the messenger Satan for to buffet me, that I might not be exalted. Twice he hath that, That he might not be exalted out of measure. But for this I need go Page 289no further than the instance of Peter; before Peter was temp∣ted; what abundance of carnal confidence was there in Pe∣ter? Lord (saies he) though all men for sake thee, yet will not I. But now, I pray look upon him after his temptation, and you shall see how this carnall confidence was laid down: for, our Saviour saies unto him, Peter, lovest thou me more than these? Lord (saies he) thou knowest I love thee: but not a word of the comparative, More than these, he had left comparing now, having been under temptation, and ha∣ving fallen, his carnal confidence was gone; and he don't say now, Lord, though all men forsake thee, yet will not I: the comparison is left out now: he answers to the other part, but not a word to that. So that I say, If the Lord Jesus Christ do measure out all our temptation for us: And mortifie them before they come at us: And does cause Satan to lay them, as we may most easily discover them: And if the Lord Christ does Time our temptations for us: And sanctifie them unto us: Then certainly, there is much of Oh rists love and mercy at work for his people under their temptations.
Secondly, If you ask me yet further, [Quest. 2] Wherein is the love of Christ exprest, or drawn out unto his people under their temptati∣ons?
I answer, It is seen and exprest in this: In teaching of them, [Answ.] in, and by their temptations. Tempting times, are teaching times unto Gods people: the school of temptation is a great school. Luther said, that the temptations of Satan, were the imbracings of Christ: meaning, that then Christ did imbrace his people most, and discover most of his love unto them. Three things (he said) there were that made a Preacher: Meditation, Prayer, and Temptation. And in∣deed, when, or where does God or Christ reveal himselfe more fully unto his people, than in the times of their temp∣tations? 'Tis said, that at Massab and Meribah, the waters of strife and of temptation, there the Lord gave Israel his statutes. How many experiences do Gods people get, in, and by their temptations? tempting times are teaching: Page 290and Christ teaches his people by their temptations. Satans Buffetings, are the Saints schoolings.
Yea, [unspec 3] Thirdly, He does not only teach his people; But he does also bear up, and uphold their hearts with new supplies of his grace, and Spirit, in the times of their temptations. Christ does not suffer his people to go into new temptations, with old strength: but as a new temptation does come from Sa∣tan, so new supply of grace and strength does come from Christ. Saies David, in the 94. Psalm, and the 18. verse. When I said, my foot slippeth: thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. He does not say thus: when my foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord held me up: but when I said, my foot slippeth; when I thought I was quite rejected, cast off, and forsaken: when I said, my foot slippeth: then thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. As new temptations do come in, so new strength comes in.
Yea, and supplies of greace in Proportion to our tempta∣tions. My grace is sufficient for thee (saies the Lord to Paul) my grace is Fit for thee.
Yea, he does not only give out Proportionable strength; but an Cverplus of sirength. As the woman, that had oyle given her, not enough barely to pay her debt, but an O∣verplus to live on the rest. So Gods people in the time of their temptations, have not only strength given them to stand out against their temptations, but an Cverplus to live on the rest.
Yea, and they have not only in-comes of Assisting grace; but of Accepting grace too; more Accepting grace. God doth and will then Accept lesser than at another time. Though the prayer be weak, and the faith low; yet, saies the Lord, it is the time of temptation with this my poor servant; and therefore I will take the Duty, though it be never so little, because it is the time of temptation, it's a time of darkness, and a time of sadness. Ye know what our saviour said unto Thomas: Reach hither thine hand, and put it into my side: Come Thomas, if thou wilt not beleeve without it, I'le take thy faith, even upon these termes, for Page 291I know it is a time of temptation with thee. What grace! what love and mercy is here!
Yea, Fourthly. [unspec 4] The Lord Jesus Christ does not only come in thus, with supplies of grace, & strength in the times of temptation: But he does give his people an Ease, and a Remedy, a breathing time under their temptations, though they be never so sad, and never so great. Indeed, Job said, That God was his enemy, and would not suffer him to swallow his spittle, he followed him so close: but the good man was mistaken much: for at the same time, the time of his temp∣tation, he could say, I know that my Redeemer liveth; and he could blesse the Lord: he had his breathing time in the midst of all. When David was persecuted by Saul, he was under temptation, for, as the Devil casts some men into prison; so the Devil persecutes in wicked men: yet David had his breathing time, now and then, Saul given into his hands, as a pledge of that ful deliverance that David should have afterwards. And this is no other than that which the Apostle speaks of, in that same 1 of the Corinthians, the 10. Chap. at the 13. verse, Who will not suffer you to be tempted a∣bove that you are able; but will with the temptation also, make a way to escape. Make an Out-let, (so the word is;) He will make an Out-let. Though the smoke be very offensive, yet there shall alwaies be some window open for to let it out, or some door open for a poor tempted soul to go out at: stil an out-let, some breathing time in the midst of these temptations.
Fiftly, and lastly. [unspec 5] As the Lord Jesus Christ liveth for e∣ver to make intercession for us; So he doth it especially when his people are under temptation; then he prayes for them, and then especially. I will not determine, whether Christ now in Hea∣ven does intercede Vocally, or Really: but when Satan lies hard upon a poor tempted soul, and fetches blood from it, then does the Lord Jesus step in unto his Father, and present his wounds, and his blood, and saies unto his Fa∣ther, O Father, I have prayed unto thee, that this poor man or woman, may not fail in the time of temptation. Page 292Thus it was with Peter here; I have prayed for thee: and yet this was not the time of his full intercession, when he was here on earth. There are two parts of Christs Priestly Of∣fice: Satisfaction, and Intercession. The proper place for him to make satisfaction for sin, was here on earth: and in Heaven, the holy of holiest, he does make intercession; there he does do it fully, but he could not for bear while he was here on earth, but he saies unto Peter, I have prayed for thee. Though my great work in Heaven be to intercede, and my special work here on earth be to satisfie: yet notwithstan∣ding, I have prayed for thee already Peter. And the Lord Jesus Christ was heard in all that he prayed for. Now then, if the Lord Christ doth intercede here on earth for his poor tempted servants, and was heard here; how much more, when his Disciples are tempted, does he inter∣cede, and pray for them in Heaven, and is heard there. Satan may come running in upon you with his temptation: but when Satan runs in upon you with his temptation, Christ runs into the presence of God the Father, and spreads his blood, and his satisfaction for you, and there he saies unto the Father, Father, I have prayed that this man or womans faith may not fail. Oh! what grace and mercy, and love is here! Thus, in all these respects, (and many others that I might mention) is the love of Christ, and his mercy drawn out unto his people in the time of their temptation.
Well, [Quest. 2] But how may it appear, that Christs mercy is most at work, when his people are most assaulted by Satan? Christ deals by His, [Answ.] as God the Father did deal by Him. Now ye shall find, that Gods love was never more towards Christ, than when Christ was under temptation. When Christ came to die, Satan was very busie; it's called, The hour of darkness: so busie was Satan with all his malice a∣gainst him; yet then was the Fathers love towards Christ, then especially; for saies Christ, Therefore does the Father love me, because I lay down my life. If the Father did there∣fore love him, because he laid down his life, then his love Page 293was most at work towards Christ when this hour of dark∣ness was. And so I say, when you hour of darknese is, the hour of temptation; Christs love is then most at work because he deals by His, as the Father did deal by Him.
The truth is, Christs dealing with his Disciples, was a pattern and plat-form of his dealing with all his people, to the end of the world. Now ye shall observe, that Christs love was never more let out towards his Disciples, than from this time, after he had said these words, Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat. After this time they were all offended because of Christ, and they all forsook him: Pe∣ter denied him; some doubted whether he were the Messiah or no: and another would not beleeve his Resurrection; & as sheep, they were all scattered, and shattered; great was their temptations: yet from this time, do but observe the love of Christ towards them: after this speech, then Christ preaches a most excellent, and sweet Sermon to them, in the 14, 15, and 16. chapters of John. Then he takes wa∣ter and a towel, and washes and wipes his Disciples feet. Then he appoints the Lords Supper. Then he spends a whol chapter (the 17. of John) in prayer for them, makes a most excellent, and sweet prayer for them. Then he cals them his friends: Ye are no longer my servants, but my friends: Yea, his Children: Yea, his Little children. Never was his love more drawn out, or exprest towards them, than after this time. And (I say) this was a pattern, and a plat-form of his dealing with all his people unto the end of the world. And therefore, though Christ do suffer his own peo∣ple to be tempted, yet his love and mercy is never more at work than when they are most assaulted by Satan.
Thirdly, You will say, [Quest. 3] What is there in the heart of Jesus Christ, that does incline him to this indulgence toward his people, that his love and mercy is then most at work when they are most as∣saulted by Satan?
My beloved, [Answ.] There is the quintescence of all the excellen∣cy of loving relations in Jesus Christ. A Father, a Mother, a Brother, a Friend; He is the everlasting Father. And his Page 294soul was in travel (saies the Prophet) He is not ashamed to all you his brethren. And he is a Friend: I call you my friends. Now though parents be tender of their children at all times, yet especially when they are sick; then there's a chair of love stands by the childs bed-side. And so, though Christ be alwaies tender of his people, yet then especially, when their souls are sick; and labour under temptation. There is the greatest pity in Christ that can be, the most pitiful disposition in Christ; which is alwaies laid out where he sees a fit object for it: pray what is the object of pity? The object of pity is, One whom ye love in misery. If ye see a man in misery, yet if ye don't love him, ye don't pity him; if ye see a man whom ye love, yet if ye don't see him in mi∣sery, ye don't pity him, ye love him, but ye don't pity him: but a person whom ye love in misery, is the object of pity. Now all the Saints and people of God, are the be∣loved of Christ; and when they are in temptation, that is their greatest misery; and therefore, when they are most tempted, then is the love and mercy of Christ drawn out unto them especially.
Besides, The Lord Jesus Christ hath a great Interest, and share in every beleever, a share going in every beleever. As the member hath an interest and a share in the head; so the head hath also in every member. Thine they were (saies Christ) and thou gavest them me. Christ hath a special and great interest in all his people, and he will not lose his inte∣rest. The truth is, when Satan does assault a beleever, he does rather strike at Christ, than at a beleever. And therefore saies Gregory well, The Devil in tempting Job, did not so much strike at Job, as at God; for the Lord had said, That Job was an upright man: and now the Devil would go about to make Job an Hypocrite; so that the Devill would fain have made God a lyar; and he did not so much strike at Job, as at Gods testimony of Job, he did strike at God. And so now in all the temptations of the Saints, he strikes at Christ, and they bear those temptations because of Christ. Let a man go on in a wicked, and ungodly way, Page 295Satan won't vex him with temptations; but let a man once become godly, and be in Christ, and then, how many temptations will Satan vex him with? Now (saies Christ) shall this poor soul endure all this for me? and shall not I help? shall not I assist? shall not I deliver? If a man break his Arme, or his Leg before ye, you will pity him: but if he break his Arme, or his leg in your work, or service, in a work that you set him about, you count your self ingaged then to help him. 'Tis the work of Christ that the Saints are about, and Christ sets them on work, and when Satan comes to tempt, 'tis to disturbe them in the work that Christ sets them about: Now therefore, (saies Christ) shall they endure all this because of me, and because of my work? and shall not I assist, and defend them, and help them? Surely I will. Oh! my beloved, if ye did but know what an Interest Jesus Christ hath in every beleever, you would easily see the reason of this, so great tenderness in him, that his love and mercy is never more at work, than when they are most assaulted by Satan.
What abundance of Comfort is here unto all those that are the true Disciples of Jesus Christ! you are not alone in your temptations, Christ is with you; and he is in Heaven too, interceding, and praying for you: he hath sent his Spirit into your hearts, to make intercession for you there; and he himself is in Heaven, making intercession and pra∣ying for you there: when you are in temptation, Christ is at prayer for you. Yea, he does not only pray for you, but his love and his mercy is most of al at work then, when you are most assaulted. Oh! what Comfort is this!
But will some say, I fear this comfort belongs not to me, [Object.] be∣cause I am none of these that are Christs true Diseiples; Christ prayed for Peter, because be was his Disciple, and he prayed for therest, because they were his Disciples: but as for me, though in profession I may be a Disciple, yet really I fear I am no true Disciple of Jesus Christ, and therefore I fear that he does not pray, and in∣tercede for me in the time of my temptation.Page 296
Two things for answer to this. [Answ.]
First I pray consider that place in the 16. chapter of Matthew, and the 24. verse. Then said Jesus unto his Disci∣ples, If any man will come after me (or, if any man will be my Disciple, so some books hath it) let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mark) Here are Three pro∣perties of a true Disciple. (To open the words a little un∣to ye, that I may settle this comfort the more fully upon your hearts.)
First, [unspec 1] A true Disciple does deny himself. So long as a man is in the state of Nature, he is alwaies in the Circle of self, and Satan keeps him in it: but when Christ comes, he gets out of that Circle, and then he denies himself. Self saies, (whether Natural-self, Civil-self, or Sinful-self) Thou art now minding Christ, and the waies of Christ: but mind thy Estate more, and thy Name more, and thy Firends and Relations more, and thy Health more, and thy Pleasures and Recreations more. Nay, (saies a true Disciple) but I must mind Christ more, I must mind mine own Soul more, I must mind mine Eternity more; so he denies himself; his sinful-self, and Civil-self, and Religious-self too: his self-reason, and his self-will, and his self-affection.
Secondly, [unspec 2] He does take up his Cross: A true Disciple takes up his crosse. 'Tis not said, He does bear his crosse with patience; there is a great deal of difference between these; Bearing of a mans cross with patience when it is laid upon him, and taking up his crosse when it is laid before him. Properly a man is said to take up his crosse, when there is Sin laid on one side; and there is a Crosse, and an Afflicti∣on laid on the other side: Now, either you must commit this Sin; or else you must endure this Crosse, or Affliction: Nay then, (saies a true Disciple) rather than I will com∣mit that sin, I will endure this affliciton; and so he takes up his cross.
Thirdly. [unspec 3] He does also Follow Christ. Some there are, that having suffered for the Name, and Cause of Christ; they then grow Proud of their sufferings, and they fal into foul Page 297miscarriages: But a true Disciple of Christ, when he hath taken up the crosse, he follows Christ: now properly a man is said to follow Christ, when he does do those things at Christs command, wherein Christ does differ from others. As now, a man is said to follow Luther, when he does fol∣low him in those things wherein he differs from Calvin: and a man follows Calvin, when he does follow him in those things wherein he differs from Luther. So a man is said to follow Christ, when he follows him in those things wherein he differs from others. There are some things wherein Christ and Nature do agree: Nature saies, That a man must do by another, as he would be dealt by himself; Herein Christ and nature agree. But Christ saies, A new comman∣dement give I unto ye, That ye love one another, as I have loved you: Here Christ differs from Nature. Nature teaches a man, That there is a God, and that God is to be Prayed unto; and that a man is to pray for his friends: But now Christ saies, Pray for your Enemies. I say, a man is pro∣perly said for to follow Christ, when he follows him in that wherein Christ differs from others. Now whosoever thou art that makes this Objection, That thou art not a Disci∣ple of Jesus Christ, and therefore he does not pray for thee in the time of thy temptation; I appeal to ye: Are ye not willing to take up your crosse? rather to endure that affli∣ction, than commit this sin? Do ye not set your self to de∣ny your self, your Pleasures, Recreations, Relations, and all for Christ? And do ye not desire to follow Jesus Christ in those things wherein he does differ from Anti-Christ, and from Nature, and from Moses? then surely, thou art a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
But besides this, Our Saviour tels us in the 17. [unspec 2] of John, That he did not only pray for those his present Disciples; but (saies he) I pray for all that shall beleeve on me through their word, verse the 20. What is it to beleeve on Christ? To rest upon Christ for life and glory in the time of our temp∣tation; this is to beleeve on Christ? Now in the time of your temptation, don't ye rest on Christ? don't ye relye on Page 298Christ? then Christ hath prayed for ye. And though thou art in such a temptation, as thou complainest, thou canst not pray, yet the Lord Jesus Christ hath prayed for thee: and he is heard in all that he prayed for.
But I fear (will some say yet) that the Lord Jesus Christ does not pray, [Object.] or intercede for me in the time of my temptation, because my faith failes me; Oh! my faith hath failed me in the time of temptation: did Christ pray for me, my faith would not fail, for he is heard in all that he prayes for; but Oh! my faith fails in time of temptation, and therefore I fear, that this love and mercy of Christ, is not at work for me in the time of my temp∣tation.
For Answer, [Answ. 1] First, There is a great deal of difference between the failing of your Faith, and the failing of your Heart. Possibly, your Heart may fail in time of temptati∣on, and yet not your Faith. Look I pray into the 73. Psalm, the 26. verse, and you shall find as much. Saies the Psalmist there, My flesh and my heart faileth. I but did not his Faith fail now? See what he saies; his faith stands notwithstanding this; But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever: here's his faith. So that though his flesh failed, and his heart failed; yet his faith did not fail. There is a great deal of difference between a recoyling fit of a heart-failing in time of temptation, and the failing of ones faith.
Secondly, [unspec 2] It is one thing for you to fail in your faith in our own opinion; and another thing for your faith to fail in the opinion of Jesus Christ. When Peter denied his Lord and Master, in his own opinion he could not but think that his faith failed; and yet in the opinion of Jesus Christ his faith did not fail; for Christ prayed that his faith should not fail, and it did not fail, for Christ was heard in what he prayed for.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] There is great deal of difference, between the failing of faith, and failings that do accompany faith. The poor wo∣man that came to Christ, and touched the hem of his gar∣ment, failed very much, for shee came behinde him and Page 299thought to have stolen a cure: I but, though there were many failings that did accompany her faith, yet her faith did not fail; for she came and touched the hem of his gar∣ment, and was cured by her faith. So I say, there is a great deal of difference between the failing of faith, and the failings that do accompany faith: there may be many fai∣lings that do accompany ones faith, and yet ones faith may stand, and not fail.
But yet further, Whosoever you are, [unspec 4] that say your faith fails you, and therefore you are afraid that Christ prayes not for you: Man or woman, Did thy faith ever fail thee like Peters; didst thou ever deny thy Lord and Master as Peter did? and yet Christ said, I have prayed that thy faith fail not, and he was heard in the thing that he prayed for.
Oh! but, that was but one Act in Peter; [Object.] but my faith doth constantly fail; Peter denied, and his faith failed in the exercise as to one Act, but my faith doth constantly fail in time of tempta∣tion: I was heretofore more able to beleeve in the time of my temp∣tation than now I am; my faith is failed, and it constantly fails, and therefore I fear that the Lord Christ will not pray for me in the time of my temptation.
Well, But if you be more able to relye upon meer free-grace, [Answ.] than ye have been heretofore, then your faith is not less, but increa∣sed rather. If you be now more able to be contented with your condition, than you were heretofore. If you can let God and Christ alone, to use his own means about you. If you can leave the Events and successes of things, more unto God than you could heretofore; then your faith is not failed, but rather increased. Man or woman, if that you are able now to take those hints of a word which you could not heretofore. If your judgment be more setled in the Truth. If you be more contented to suffer now for the Cause, and the way of God than you were heretofore: Then thy faith is not failed, but thy faith is increased ra∣ther, and so thou comest within the compasse of the Lord Christs prayer.Page 300
Oh! [Object.] but yet (will some say) I have sinned greatly, very much; I have been a great sinner; and therefore I fear, that the Lord Jesus Christ will let me alone to wrestle with my temptations all alone, and will not pray and intercede for me in the time and hour of my temptation.
Well, [Answ.] I must yet say again to you: Hast thou sinned more than this Peter did, when he denied his Lord and Master? Yet Christ prayed for him, and his prayer took and prevailed. Have you sinned more than Jerusalem did? Oh! Jerusa∣lem, thou that stonest the Prophets, (saies Christ when they put him to death.) And yet if you look into the 1. of the Acts, you shall find, that Christ after his Resurrection, bids his Disciples for to stay and wait at Jerusalem, and not stir from thence; and preach the Gospel, and mercy, and free-grace in Jerusalem. Hast thou (man or woman, that makest this objection) sinned more than those that did put Christ to death? that run him into his body with a spear? that nailed him upon the crosse? hast thou sinned more than these? Ye know our Lord and Saviour when he was upon the crosse, he prayed for them; Oh! Father for∣give them, they know not what they do. But, (Lord) these are thine opposers, these are persecutors, and they persecute thee to death. Well, be it so, (saies Christ) I know what I do, and I know whom I pray for: Father forgive them, they know not what they do. Oh! what grace, and mer∣cy, and love is here! Comfort, yea, Comfort unto all the Disciples of Jesus Christ: when ye are in temptation, the Lord Christ is at prayer for you. And remember the Do∣ctrine; Never is his love and mercy more at work for ye, than when Satan is most busie about ye, to tempt ye most. What comfort is here! This was that (in part) that com∣forted the Martyrs in the Primitive times, ye reade of very great comforts that the Martyrs had in the Primitive times, those times next after Christ: I have desired to con∣sider, what it was especially, that bore up their hearts un∣der all those persecutions. And Turtullian, pitches upon this as one thing: We consider (saies he) the case of Peter;Page 301Satan desired to winnow him; Christ prayed for him. Here were (saies Turtullian) two requests before God the Father: One was the request of Satan: and another was the request of Christ. Now the Son having more credit with God the Father than Satan, his request must needs prevail: So (saies he) Satan hath desired for to tempt, and to winnow us, and persecute us; but the Lord Jesus Christ hath requested for us: There are two requests before God the Father; There's Satans request to winnow us; and there's the Sons request praying for us: Now therefore, seeing that the Son hath more credit with God the Father than Satan, therefore are we assured that we shall be up∣held, and our faith shall not fail. And so may you also. This is matter of great comfort unto all the Saints.
You will say, Indeed it is matter of great comfort: [Quest.] but is there no Duty that this Truth cals for at our hands? Here is much comfort, but what is that Duty that this Truth cals for?
Much every way. If I be an Ungodly man; [Answ.] what a migh∣ty incouragement is here for to get into Jesus Christ, that I may be in the number of the true Disciples. So long as a man is out of Christ, not a true Disciple of Jesus Christ; Satan may come and tempt, and do what he wil with him, and no Christ by to help. Satan could not hurt, or touch, or tempt Job, but he must ask leave: But Satan went to the Sabeans, and brought in them upon Jobs Estate, and he did not ask leave for that, they were in his power: He ruleth in the children of disobedience. Daniel was in the Lyons-den, and they devouered him not, their mouthes were stopt, and they could not hurt him: But when the Enemies were thrown into the Lyons, they crack'd, and crush'd their bones before they came to the ground. If a godly man, one that is a true Disciple of Jesus Christ, if he be in a den with these Lyons, Devils, their mouths shall be stopt, they shall not swallow him. But oh! for wicked men, that are not in Christ, these Lyons, they crush their bones, every day they crush their bones: and a wicked man may say as Saul did, The Philistims are upon me, and God is departed from me:Page 302So a wicked man, that is not in Christ, he may cry out and say, Oh! temptations are upon me, and Christ is departed from me, I have none of Christ to help me: as for the Saints, and those that are true Disciples of Jesus Christ, they have Christ at hand, though they fall, Christ is by for to help them up. And Christ himself measures out all their temptations, and Christ assists them, and helps them, but Oh! as for me, I am all alone in my temptations, I poor soul, am all alone in my temptations: Ah! who would be a Drunkard still? who would be a Swearer still? who would be an Unclean wanton still? who would be a lyar, and a Theevish servant still? Let me tell ye, that while ye go on in these sins, you are out of Christ: Poor soul, a Swearer, a Drunkard, a common Lyar, a Sabbath-breaker, a Wanton, out of Christ, and thy temptations fall heavily upon thee; the Lord knowes, thou art all alone in the time of thy temptations: Oh! but, get into Jesus Christ, get into Jesus Christ, to be in the number of Christs true Disciples; and when thou art tempted, the Lord prayes for thee; yea, and the love and mercy of Christ is never more at work for thee, than when thou art most temp∣ted, and assaulted by Satan. What a mighty incourage∣ment is here to al that hear the word of the Lord, to get in∣to Jesus Christ!
But if I be godly; and al this be true: Why should I quest∣ion the love of God towards me in the time of my temptati∣on? Beloved! ye know it in your Experience, ye are never more apt for to question the love of Christ, than in tempta∣tion; and yet Christs love is never more at work for you, than in temptation. Oh! what an unworthy answering of Christs love is here!
Again, If I be Godly: Why should I not be contented, and quiet under all my temptations, though they be never so great? Christ prayeth for me, Christs love is most at work now I am most assaulted, his bowels then yern to∣wards me.
Yea, If I be Godly: Why should I not with Paul Tri∣umph Page 303over all temptations? and make my boast of Christ, and say as he did, Now know I, that nothing shall separate me from the love of God in Christ; not Principalities, nor Powers nor Devils, nor Temptations; for when I am most tempted Christ is most at work in love for me.
Yea, (beloved in the Lord) why should we not all warm our hearts with this love of Jesus Christ? it's a mercy that the Lord Christ will cast but an eye, or a look upon a poor soul under temptation; that is a mercy: I but, I tell ye more than so; Christ does not only cast an eye, and a look upon a poor tempted soul, but his love and mercy is never more at work, than when you are most assaulted, and tempted by Satan: Ah, what grace, and heart-warming love is here!
If I be Godly: (again) upon this account, why should I give over so soon, and lay down my weapon in time of temptation? If a City be beleaguer'd, besieged, and know that help will come, they will not give over. And though I am thus besieged, and thus tempted, help will certainly come, for Christ hath prayed; why should I give over then in time of temptation?
And if these things be so, if there be so much love in the heart of Christ towards poor tempted souls: then (belo∣ved) should we not all run to Christ in the time, and hour of our temptation, run unto him by prayer?
It may be there are some that will say, [Quest.] If Christ pray for us in time of temptation, what need we pray?
But I pray look into this chapter, [Answ.] and you will find our Saviour carries it otherwise. In the text, saies he, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fall not. At the 46. verse, Why sleep ye? (saies he) rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. So that, though he had said, That he prayed for them, yet he cals upon them also to pray. It's good praying (my beloved) when mercy is coming: and mercy is then coming when Christ is praying; and when you are most tempted, then Christ is at prayer.
But to end all. What ever your temptations there∣fore Page 304be, you that are the servants of God, still think ye hear Christ saying to ye, Man, Woman, be of good comfort, I have prayed for you: though thy temptations be very great, I have prayed for thee: thought thou canst not pray for thy self as thou wouldst, I have prayed for thee: when flesh fails, and eyes fail, and heart fails, and all fails, yet remember this, Christ prayeth for you, in the time of your temptation Christ prayeth for you: think that ye hear Christ speaking to ye in the time of your temptation, for certainly he does it as well to his Disciples now as he did to his Disciples then, he does speak and say, Be of good com∣fort, man or woman, though thy temptations be great, yet I have prayed for thee, and thy faith shall not fail.