Archive for the ‘Charles Bridge’ Category

“The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” Psalm 119:72

Well might David acknowledge the benefit of affliction, since he had thus learned in God’s statutes something that was better to him than thousands of gold and silver.  This was indeed an enlightened judgment for one to form, who had so small a part of the law of God’s mouth, and so large a portion of this world’s treasure.  And yet, if we study only his book of Psalms to know the important uses and privileges of this law, and his son’s book of Ecclesiastes, to discover the real value of paltry gold and silver (Eccl. 5:9-20; 6:1-2), we shall, under Divine teaching, be led to make the same estimate for ourselves.  Yes, believer, with the same, or rather with far higher delight than the miser calculates his thousands of gold and silver, do you tell out the precious contents of the law of your God?

After having endeavoured in vain to count the thousands in your treasure, one single name sums up their value—“the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).  Would not the smallest spot of ground be estimated at thousands of gold and silver, were it known to conceal under its surface a mine of inexhaustible treasure?  This it is that makes the Word so inestimable.  It is the field of the “hidden treasure.”  “The pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:44-46) is known to be concealed here.  You would not, therefore, part with one leaf of your Bible for all the thousands of gold and silver.  You know yourself to be in possession of the substance—you have found all besides to be a shadow.  “I lead”—saith the Savior—”in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment that I may cause them that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures” (Prov. 8:20-21).  The grand motive, therefore, in “searching the Scriptures,” is because “they testify of Christ” (John 5:39).  A sinner has but one want—a Savior.  A believer has but one desire—to “know and win Christ” (Phil. 3:8-10).  With a “single eye,” therefore, intent upon one point, he studies this blessed book.  “With unveiled face he beholds in this glass the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18), and no arithmetic can compute the price of that which is now unspeakably better to him than the treasures of the earth.

Christian, bear your testimony to your supreme delight in the book of God.  You have here opened the surface of much intellectual interest and solid instruction.  But it is the joy that you have found in the revelation of the Savior, in his commands, in his promises, in his ways, that leads you to exclaim, “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold!” (Psa. 19:10).  Yes, indeed—every promise—every declaration—centering in him is a pearl; and the Word of God is full of these precious pearls.  If then they be the richest who have the best and the largest treasure, those who have most of the Word in their hearts, not those who have most of the world in their possession—are justly entitled to this pre-eminence.  Let then the Word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).  For those who are rich in this heavenly treasure are men of substance indeed.

True—this is a correct estimate of the worth of God’s law—better than this world’s treasure.  But is it better to me?  Is this my decided choice?  How many will inconsiderately acknowledge its supreme value, while they yet hesitate to relinquish even a scanty morsel of earth for an interest in it!  Do I then habitually prefer this law of God’s mouth to every worldly advantage?  Am I ready to forego every selfish consideration, if it may only be the means of uniting my heart more closely to the Book of God?  If this be not my practical conviction, I fear I have not yet opened the mine.  But if I can assent to this declaration of the man of God, I have made a far more glorious discovery than Archimedes; and therefore may take up his expression of joyful surprise—‘I have found it! I have found it!’  What?  That which the world could never have given me—that of which the world can never deprive me.

Yet how affecting is it to see men poor in the midst of great riches!  Often in the world we see the possessor of a large treasure—without a heart to enjoy it—virtually therefore a pauper.  More often still in the Church do we see professors (may it not be so with some of us?) with their Bibles in their hands—yet poor even with the external interest in its “unsearchable riches.”  Often also do we observe a want of value for the whole law or revelation of God’s mouth.  Some parts are highly honored to the depreciation of the rest.  But let it be remembered that the whole of Scripture “is given by inspiration of God and is therefore profitable” for its appointed end (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Oh beware of resting satisfied with a scanty treasure.  Prayer and diligence will bring out not only “things new,” but the “old” also with a new and brighter glow.  Scraping the surface is a barren exercise.  Digging into the bowels is a most enriching employ.  No vein in this mine is yet exhausted.  And rich indeed shall we be, if we gather only one atom of the gold each day in prayerful meditation.  But as you value your progress and peace in the ways of God—as you have an eye to your Christian perfection—put away that ruinous thought—true as an encouragement to the weak (Zech. 4:10), but false as an excuse to the slothful (Prov. 13.4)—that a little knowledge is sufficient to carry us to heaven.

And—Lord—help me to prize the law as coming from thy mouth (1 Thess. 2:13).  Let it be for ever written upon my heart.  Let me be daily exploring my hidden treasures.  Let me be enriching myself and all around me with the present possession and interest in these heavenly blessings.

Excerpted from Psalm 119: An Exposition.

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“Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.” Psalm 119:136

If the Lord teaches us the privileges of his statutes, he will teach us compassion for those who keep them not. This was the mind of Jesus. His life exhibited one, whose “heart was made of tenderness.” But there were some occasions, when the display of his compassion was peculiarly striking.

Near the close of his life, it is recorded, that, “when he was come near, and beheld the city”— “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” (Psa. 48:2)—but now given up to its own ways, and “wrath coming upon it to the uttermost,” he “wept over it” (Luke 19:41; Matt. 23:37, also Mark 3:5). It was then a moment of triumph. The air was rent with hosannas. The road was strewed with branches from the trees, and all was joy and praise (Luke 19:36-40). Amid all this exultation, the Savior alone seemed to have no voice for the triumph—no heart for joy. His omniscient mind embraced all the spiritual desolation of this sad case; and he could only weep in the midst of a solemn triumph. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

Now a Christian, in this as in every other feature, will be conformed to the image of his Lord. His heart will therefore be touched with a tender concern for the honor of his God, and pitying concern for those wretched sinners, that keep not his law, and are perishing in their own transgressions. Thus was ‘just Lot” in Sodom “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Pet. 2:7, 8). Thus did Moses “fall down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water; because of all their sins which they had sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger” (Deut. 9:18, 19). Thus also Samuel, in the anticipation of the Lord’s judgments upon Saul, “grieved himself and cried unto the Lord all night” (1 Sam. 15:11,35). Ezra, on a similar occasion, in the deepest prostration of sorrow, “rent his garment and his mantle, and plucked off the hair of his head and of his beard, and sat down astonished until the evening sacrifice” (Ezra 9:3, 4). And if David was now suffering from the oppression of man (Psalm 119:134), yet his own injuries never drew from him such expressions of overwhelming sorrow as did the sight of the despised law of his God.

Need we advert to this tender spirit, as a special characteristic of “the ministers of the Lord?” Can they fail in this day of abounding wickedness—even within the bounds of their own sphere—to hear the call to “weep between the porch and the altar” (Joel 2:17)? How instructive is the posture of the ancient prophet—first pleading openly with the rebellion of the people—then “his soul weeping in secret places for their pride” (Jer. 13:17)! Not less instructive is the great apostle—his “conscience bearing witness in the Holy Ghost to his great heaviness and continued sorrow in his heart for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:1-3). In reproving transgressors, he could only write to them, “Out of much affliction and anguish of heart with many tears” (2 Cor. 2:4), and in speaking of them to others, with the same tenderness of spirit, he adds: “Of whom I tell you even weeping” (Phil. 3:18; Acts 20:19). Tears were these of Christian eloquence no less than of Christian compassion.

Thus uniformly is the character of God’s people represented, not merely as those that are free from, but as “those that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst of the land.” They, they alone, are marked out for mercy in the midst of impending, universal ruin (Ezek. 9:4). The want of this spirit is ever a feature of hardness and pride—a painful blot upon the profession of the gospel (1 Cor. 5:2). How wide the sphere presenting itself on every side for the unrestrained exercise of this yearning compassion! The appalling spectacle of a world apostatized from God, of multitudes sporting with everlasting destruction—as if the God of heaven were “a man that he should lie” (Num. 23:19), is surely enough to force rivers of waters from the hearts of those who are concerned for his honor. What a mass of sin ascends as a cloud before the Lord, from a single heart! Add the aggregate of a village—a town—a country—a world! Every day, every hour, every moment well might the rivers of waters rise to an overflowing tide, ready to burst its barriers. We speak not of outward sensibility, but we ask—Do we lay to heart the perishing condition of our fellow-sinners? Could we witness a house on fire, without speedy and practical evidence of our compassion for the inhabitants? And yet, alas, how often do we witness souls on the brink of destruction- unconscious of danger, or bidding defiance to it-with comparative indifference!

How are we Christians, if we believe not the Scripture warnings of their danger; or if, believing them, we do not bestir ourselves to their help? What hypocrisy is it to pray for their conversion, while we are making no effort to promote it! Oh! let it be our daily supplication, that this indifference concerning their everlasting state may give place to a spirit of weeping tenderness; that he may not be living as if this world were really, what it appears to be, a world without souls; that we may never see the sabbaths of God profaned, his laws trampled under foot, the ungodly “breaking their bands asunder, and casting away their cords from them” (Psa. 2:3), without a more determined resolution ourselves to keep these laws of our God, and to plead for their honor with these obstinate transgressors.

Have we no near and dear relatives, yet lying in wickedness-dead in trespasses and sins? To what blessed family, reader, do you belong, where there are no such objects of pity? Be it so—it is well. Yet are you silent? Have you no ungodly, ignorant neighbors around you? And are they unwarned, as well as unconverted? Do we visit them in the way of courtesy or kindness, yet give them no word of affectionate entreaty on the concerns of eternity? Let our families indeed possess, as they ought to possess the first claim to our compassionate regard. Then let our parishes, our neighborhood, our country, and the world, find a place in our affectionate, prayerful, and earnest consideration.

Nor let it be supposed, that the doctrine of sovereign and effectual grace has any tendency to paralyze exertion. So far from it, the most powerful supports to perseverance are derived from this source. Left to himself—with only the invitations of the Gospel—not a sinner could ever have been saved. Added to these—there must be the Almighty energy of God, the seal of his secret purpose working upon the sinner’s will, and winning the heart to God. Not that this sovereign work prevents any from being saved. But it prevents the salvation from being in vain to all, by securing its application to some. The invitations manifest the pardoning love of God; but they change not the rebel heart of man. They show his enmity; yet they slay it not. They leave him without excuse; yet at the same time—they may be applied without salvation. The moment of life in the history of the saved sinner is, when he is “made willing in the day of the Lord’s power” (Psa. 110:3) when he comes—he looks—he lives. It is this dispensation alone that gives the Christian laborer the spring of energy and hope. The palpable and awful proofs on every side, of the “enmity of the carnal mind against God,” rejecting alike both his law and his Gospel, threaten to sink him in despondency. And nothing sustains his tender and compassionate interest, but the assurance of the power of God to remove the resisting medium, and of his purpose to accomplish the subjugation of natural corruption in a countless multitude of his redeemed people.

The same yearning sympathy forms the life, the pulse, and the strength of missionary exertion, and has ever distinguished those honored servants of God who have devoted their time, their health, their talent, their all, to the blessed work of “saving souls from death, and covering a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). Can we conceive a missionary living in the spirit of his work, surrounded with thousands of mad idolaters, hearing their shouts, and witnessing their abominations, without a weeping spirit? Indignant grief for the dishonor done to God—amazement at the affecting spectacle of human blindness—detestation of human impiety—compassionate yearnings over human wretchedness and ruin—all combine to force tears of the deepest sorrow from a heart enlightened and constrained by the influence of a Savior’s love.

My God! I feel the mournful scene;

My bowels yearn o’er dying men;

And fain my pity would reclaim,

And snatch the fire-brands from the flame,

This, as we have seen, was our Master’s spirit. And let none presume themselves to be Christians, if they are destitute of “this mind that was in Christ Jesus” (See Philippians 2:4-8); if they know nothing of his melting compassion for a lost world, or of his burning zeal for his heavenly Father’s glory.

Oh, for that deep realizing sense of the preciousness of immortal souls, that would make us look at every sinner we meet as a soul to be “pulled out of the fire,” and to be drawn to Christ—which would render us willing to endure suffering, reproach, and the loss of all, so that we might win one soul to God, and raise one monument to his everlasting praise! Happy mourner in Zion, whose tears over the guilt and wretchedness of a perishing world are the outward indications of thy secret pleadings with God, and the effusion of a heart solemnly dedicated to the salvation of thy fellow-sinners!

But feeble my compassion proves,

And can but weep, where most it loves:

Thine own all-saving arm employ,

And turn these drops of grief to joy.

Excerpted and edited from Psalm 119: An Exposition.

The current formatting and editing is copyrighted by Jim Ehrhard, 2000. You are permitted to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author; (2) any modifications are clearly marked; (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction; and (4) you do not make more than 100 copies without permission. If you would like to post this material to your web site or make any use other than as defined above, please contact Teaching Resources International

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“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Behold, Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” Luke 12:31-22

After our greatest enjoyments of God, usually follow the greatest temptations of Satan. And therefore our Savior speaks these words unto his disciples. In the 19th verse of this chapter, we find them at the Lord’s 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 communion with him there, our Savior gives them out a most gracious and blessed promise, at the 28th, 29th, and 30th verses, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint to you a kingdom, as my Father has 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 upon them all: and therefore these words are knit together with the former by the word and; “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired.” Though you have had this communion with me; and though I have made you 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 31st, and the remedy in the 32nd verse. In the 31st verse, we have for consideration, the tempter, called Satan, which signifies an adversary. The tempted [include] not Simon only, but all the disciples. Satan has desired you: it is in the plural number: he directs his speech unto Simon, but the temptation spreads larger upon all the disciples; “That he may sift you.” The Lord Jesus Christ does give leave sometimes unto Satan, to tempt and winnow his own and best disciples. Christ’s own, and best disciples are exposed to Satan’s tempting and winnowings. Not Peter only, but James and John and all the beloved disciples of Jesus Christ were exposed here unto Satan’s winnowings. He has desired you, in the plural number, not thee Peter only, but you all my disciples, that he may sift you as wheat.

For the clearing and making out of this truth, I shall labor to discover:

1) What great power Satan has to tempt, molest, and annoy the children of men.

2) That he puts forth this power especially upon the saints, Christ’s own and best disciples.

3) How he comes by this power, and why God the Father gives him this leave.

What power Satan has to infest, molest, and thus to tempt the children of men?

First, that Satan is an angel still; and being an angel, he is a superior creature to man, and therefore, according to the rank of creation, he has a great deal of power over man. Man has a great power over the beasts, for man is a superior. The angels by creation are superior 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.

Secondly, He is not only a superior creature, but also a more spiritual creature than man. He is a spirit, and he is more able to come close with a man’s 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 pleases, and to cast in a thousand sinful objects into a man’s mind one after another.

Fourthly, and being so well experienced, having studied man for many thousand years: having gotten in all these years so much tempting skill and policy, he is able to discern what that bait is that will take soonest with the children of men, according to their natures, constitutions, complexions, ages, sexes, & etc.

Fifthly, He is not only able to present and suggest, but [to provoke.] It is said, “That he stood up, and provoked David to number the people: “He did not only present that evil unto David, but he did solicit: he provoked David to number the people, says the text.

Lastly, Satan has so great a power that the same words that are given unto God, and unto the Holy Ghost, for good, in Scripture, are given, also, unto Satan for evil. The Holy Ghost is said to enable a man: Satan is said for to blind him: “The God of this world has blinded their eyes,” says the apostle. The Spirit is said “to rule in us;” Satan is said to “rule in the children of disobedience.” The Holy Ghost is said “to work in us mightily;” the same word is used for [Satan] also. The Holy Ghost is said to fill the hearts of believers;” They were filled with the Holy Ghost: “so are men’s hearts said to be filled with Satan; says Peter to Ananias, “Why has Satan filled thy heart?”

Indeed, there are three things especially wherein he does fall short. [First,] for though Satan is able to discern what temptations would take best with a man, yet he does not know man’s thoughts, for God only is the knower of one’s thoughts; that is God’s prerogative. And though Satan may work very effectually in the children of disobedience, yet, notwithstanding, he does not work with an almighty power. When the Lord converts a man, he puts forth an almighty power in man’s conversion.

[Second, he is not omnipotent.] The same power,” says the apostle, “that raised up Christ from the dead, makes ye to believe.” The devil is magnipotent, says Luther, but not omnipotent: the devil may be very powerful, but he is not almighty: neither does he put forth an almighty power in his temptations, as God does in the conversion of a sinner.

[Finally,] though he may suggest, and provoke unto what is evil, he cannot force or determine any man to evil. And therefore says the apostle Peter, “Why has Satan filled thine heart?” He asked Ananias that question, because Satan, though he did fill his heart, he could not have forced, or determined him without his own will there-unto.

But Satan is very powerful. In Ephesians 6, you shall see the apostle says: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” He [also] speaks concerning Satan in the former verse: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Oh, what a mighty power then has Satan to infest, molest, and to tempt the children of men.

[But] does Satan put forth this power and exercise this tempting power upon the saints and children of God?

Yes, for they are the saints that the apostle speaks of here, in that to the Ephesians: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Yea, the saints are not only tempted by Satan; but the best, and the most beloved disciples of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament; who more beloved than David and Job? Yet they were tempted. In the New Testament; who more beloved than Peter and Paul? One of the circumcision, and the other of the uncircumcism and apostleship, and yet both had special temptations.

But you will say, Why should Satan lie so heavy upon God’s own children and people? For he may know, that they shall be saved do he what he can. Satan had heard our Savior Christ say to Peter, The gates of hell shall not prevail against thee; and yet now Satan tempts: if Satan knows this, why should he follow God’s children, yea, the best of his children so sorely with sad temptations

First, Satan is the envious man we read of in Scripture; and when he hears the Lord owning and honoring of his children, then does his envy work, and rise. And when he hears any of God’s children triumphing by faith, and making 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 damned, says he, shall such a one be received, and shall I be cast away for ever? These are the boilings of this envious man’s heart against the children of the Most High.

But, secondly, there is this great reason for it. Satan knows, that if he can but make God’s people and the best of his children fall; though they should not be damned, but pardoned, that their fall may be stumbling blocks unto others that may be damned. And therefore, I pray, mark how it is carried concerning David: it is said in the 1 Chronicles 21:1, “That Satan stood up against Israel to provoke David to number Israel.” It is not said thus; And Satan stood up against David, and provoked David to number the people: no, but thus, And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number the people: he stood up against Israel. Why? Because he knew, that if he did make David thus to number the people, it would be a stumbling for all Israel, and all Israel should fare the worse by it. When Satan stands up and tempts the master of a family 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 disciple of Christ in a town, Satan stands up against all in tempting that one man. He stood up against Israel, 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 [though] their sins shall be pardoned, yet he does follow them with sad and sore temptations.

Thirdly, Satan loves to divide between friends. He may know, that there is so much goodness between man and wife, that he shall never part them; and yet he will labor to sow discord among them, that they may live uncomfortably. And so, though he knows he shall never part Christ and a poor believer; yet he will labor to throw jealousies into the heart of a believer concerning the love of Christ. So I say, although Satan should know that the Lord will pardon such or such a man, yet he loves to make a division between God and the soul, and to cast in jealousies between Christ and a believer. As for others, says he, they are my own already, I shall not need to break into that house, there is nothing but chaff lies there; but here is a godly man, and here is treasure; and therefore he does especially lay his battery against the saints, and those that are the most beloved disciples of Jesus Christ.

But you will say unto me, How does Satan come by this tempting power, this infesting and molesting power?

Great is the power, as we have read already, that he has, as he is a superior creature: but Satan has yet another power, and that is the power of conquest; for in Adam’s fall, Satan conquered the whole world, all mankind, they were the devil’s conquest upon the fall. When a man is converted and turned to God, then he comes out of the kingdom of Satan. But I say, upon the fall the devil made a conquest upon all mankind, and so by conquest he has a great power. Satan has [permission] from God the Father to tempt. I do not say that he has a special [permission] for every temptation, or [permission] for every temptation; but there is no great or extraordinary temptation that does fall upon the children of God, but Satan has [permission] from God the Father for it. There was a special temptation upon Job, and [Satan needed permission] for that. Here was a special temptation upon the disciples, and he [Satan needed permission] for that. “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired.…” There is no extraordinary or great temptation [that] befalls any of the children of God, but Satan is [required] to ask [permission] for it.

But you will say to me, Why does God the Father give Satan leave thus to tempt his own children and Christ’s own disciples?

First, look at the end and the issue of any evil which befalls the children of God, and the design of God the Father in suffering that evil to come upon them. Now the end of the saints’ temptation is always good unto them; and therefore God suffers the temptations of his people, because he has a design of mercy and love upon them in these temptations.

But, secondly, God has yet greater and higher designs—the manifestation 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 tempted and buffeted by Satan, the Lord said unto him, that his strength should be perfected in weakness:” in Paul’s weakness, God’s strength should be perfected.

The manifestation of his wisdom. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation,” says the apostle.

The manifestation of his faithfulness. In the 1 Corinthians 10:13, “The Lord is faithful, and will not suffer you 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 buffeted 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 sincerity, their firm and fast cleaving to God, if they were never tempted? Before Job was tempted, Satan thought that Job had served God for a boon, for something: “Have thou not seen my servant Job?” says God; Yes, says Satan, but “Does Job serve God for nought?” But now touch him, and let me tempt him a little, and see if he does not blaspheme God then: thus Satan said. And just thus is the language of the devil now: Does such a man or woman serve God for nought? He is but an hypocrite, all things go well with him, he was never yet tempted: but, O Lord, let this man or woman come under my hand, and let me tempt him a little, and see if he does not blaspheme. Well, Satan, says God, Job is in thy hand, only spare his life. And Satan did tempt him and touch him; and instead 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 upright. And so, when men can hold out, notwithstanding all their temptations, they give a testimony of their uprightness and sincerity, and that their souls do cleave unto God in truth. For these and many other reasons, the Lord does suffer his own best and dearest children to be tempted by Satan.

I come to the application.

If God does suffer his own people and dearest children to be exposed to Satan’s temptings and winnowings; Why should any man then doubt of his childship, doubt of his own everlasting condition, and say, that he is none of the child of God because he is tempted? But, my beloved in the Lord, if this be true, that the Lord doth suffer his own, and best children, to be exposed to Satan’s winnowings and temptings, then why shouldest thou conclude that thou art not the child of God because thou art tempted? Oh, but I do not conclude, will some say, that I am not the child of God; I do not 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 [temptation from Satan]?

But you will say unto me, 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.

I answer, first, this is no new thing for God’s own people and children, to charge all Satan’s temptations upon their own hearts, to lay all at their own door. Wicked men, they charge all their own corruptions upon Satan’s temptations, as if they were not their own, but altogether Satan’s. Godly men charge all Satan’s temptations upon their own hearts, and upon their own account, as if they were all their own and nothing of Satan’s; 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 believed in Christ: and, says Eve, “This serpent gave me to eat;” as if she should say, He hath done it, it is all his work, it is Satan’s work, and it is none of mine; being in her unregenerate state, she lays all upon the devil, and frees herself, as if she had nothing to do with it.

On the other side, David was provoked by Satan to number the people; yet notwithstanding, see what he says in the 2. Samuel 21:10. “And David’s 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 beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done very foolishly.” He lays it all upon himself: he does not go now and say, Satan has provoked me to number the people, and it is Satan’s work and none of mine; but he does charge it here upon himself, as if Satan had no hand at all in it. I have done foolishly, says he, and I have sinned. This is usual; wicked men excuse their own corruptions by Satan’s temptations; godly men [attribute them to] their own corruptions.

[Additionally], it is the property and disposition of God’s people to be humbled and grieved under their temptations, as if they were all their own and nothing of Satan’s. Peter goes out and weeps bitterly when he had fallen; he might have said thus: The Lord told me that there was a temptation coming, Satan had desired to winnow me; and now the word of the Lord is fulfilled, Satan has 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 Satan’s, the Lord will pardon them to you, as if they were all Satan’s, and nothing of your own.

Oh! But you will say, what comfort can I have in this condition?

What comfort! Is it not much comfort to know that there is nothing does befall you but what may befall a true child of God? Sometimes ye say thus: No man’s condition is like to mine; did I but know that it is so with other of God’s children, then I should be satisfied. This doctrine tells thee, that Christ’s own best disciples, sometimes, are exposed to Satan’s temptings, to Satan’s 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 prayed for thee.” In time of temptation, you cannot pray, but Christ can pray, and he is then at prayer for you. As he said to Peter, so he says to every disciple of his now, “But I have prayed for thee:” poor soul, though thou canst not pray for thyself, yet I have prayed for thee.

Is it not a sweet comfort, for a man to know, that the enemy is overcome before he strikes? Satan’s temptation is overcome by Christ’s intercession; and Christ prays before Satan tempts; “But I have prayed for thee:” before the temptation came.

Is it not a choice comfort, for a man to know, that Satan, the great tempter, has no more power than my Father gives him leave?

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 on his journey, if he meet with thieves, they take away the money that he has about him. But when they have taken all his money, he says, though they have taken away my spending money, and that which I did wear about me, yet I have land at home that they can not rob me of.

And so says the 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 inheritance in heaven that thieves 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 estate, such durable riches that I can never be robbed of.

Well, but you will say, what shall I say, or what shall I do, that I may not yield unto his temptations?

What shalt thou say: if it be possible, do not stand to treat with Satan, do not stand to parley with him; he will dispute you out of all your comfort if you stand and parley with him. You have half lost the field when ye honor Satan, and you honor him when you follow him into his disputes.

If it be possible therefore do not stand and parley, or dispute with Satan, but if you must say something to him, tell Satan then, that therefore you believe it, because he denies it: therefore you do not believe it, because he affirms it; that you believe the contrary because he speaks thus. When ye are to deal with a great liar, one that is your enemy, and he comes and tells you very ill news, you will say, He is a liar and he is my enemy, and he does it to scare me, and therefore I believe the contrary. Satan is a great liar, and he is your enemy, and therefore when he says unto thee, there is no hope for thee, thou hast been a great sinner, [that] there is no hope for thee: say to Satan, therefore I believe the contrary, there is hope for me, because thou sayest there is none, for thou art a liar, yea, the father of lies.

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 temptations. I have better. [If you must] therefore needs speak with Satan, speak to him words of faith; not of sense; not of reason, but speak words of faith.

But you will say, I know it is a good thing and happy, so to answer Satan’s temptations as I may not yield: but oh that I might not be led into any temptation: What shall I do that I may prevent it?

First, take heed that you do not stand playing upon the borders or confines of any sin. If you stand upon the brink of a sin, Satan comes behind and thrusts you into it

Again, secondly, If ye would prevent temptation; then labor to get your hearts mortified unto the objects of love and fear. Satan tempts two ways; as a serpent, and as a lion. 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 he as God,” says he unto Adam and Eve, when he tempted as a serpent. And so dealing as a serpent with our Savior Christ, “All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Shows him the glory of the world, and all this will I give thee. So says he unto a poor soul when he tempts as a serpent, Come and yield 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.

Sometimes he tempts as a lion; for he goes up and down as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And when Satan tempts as a lion, then he does roar upon a poor soul, and labors to scare him out of his conscience, and out of the good ways 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 shall stand and rattle the chains of a prison; look, do you hear these? If you will go on in such and such a way, you will lose all your friends; and if you will go on in such a way, I will 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.

Therefore now, my beloved, do you desire to prevent the mischief of a temptation? Oh! Labor 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 would prevent temptation, that ye labor more and more to walk in the light: Satan is the prince of darkness, and he walks in darkness, and he tempts in darkness. And when Satan sees a poor ignorant soul, that walks in the dark, says he, Here is a fit prey for me.

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 than flesh and blood with you. And therefore, have you overcome temptation? 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!

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