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means to get out of trouble, out of mine affliction. And was not Christ so ? when he was an hungry, says the devil to him, « Command that these stones be made bread.” Oh! but I am tempted, I am loth to say what it is, sometimes even to lay violent hands upon myself. And what said the devil to Christ? Throw thyself down off the pinnacle of the temple. Oh! but I am tempted to horrid and blasphemous things that I am afraid to name, and my heart trembles to think of. And was not Christ thus tempted? says Satan to him, “All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” What? worship the devil! Oh! horrid blasphemy! Blush, O heavens, and be astonished : “All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Oh, but I am tempted to despair: sometimes, I confess, I am able to read God's love, and to say, that God is with me, and I think I can say, I know that God is with me : but at another time, Oh, how unlike am I unto myself, and I say mercy is gone, and Christ is gone, and hath left me as an orphan. And I pray consider how it was with Christ in this respect; he went as near to it as could be, without sin. It is Musculus's observation. In the xvith of John: “Behold,” says Christ at the 32nd verse, “the hour cometh,” speaking of his suffering hour,“ is now come, when
ye shall be scattered every one from his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone because the Father is with me,” (speaking of his suffering hour.) And yet when he was upon the cross, he says, Father, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” How diverse does he seem to be from himself: says he, I am not alone, because the Father is with me. And yet when he comes into the hour, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Oh, but I have suffered as much as ever any did, I have suffered by the hand of my temptations, they have been a continual torment to me, and I have suffered much from them. Well, but have ye suffered more than Christ suffered ? It is said in the text, “For in that he suffered being tempted.” What a mighty suffering was it, for the glorious God of heaven and earth to have such temptations thrown in upon him; any one temptation to be lodged in his mind, what a mighty suffering was this! Thus you see how Christ suffered.
And, beloved, He suffered and was tempted, that he might
succour you that are tempted. Will you question his love then, because of your temptation or your own condition? do ye know what ye do? Suppose that your Father should leave you a great estate, and give you good evidences; and a cunning lawyer comes and writes upon the back side of your evidence, Naught, naught: will ye because of that, join with him and say, that your father hath given you nothing? Christ hath given you in a great estate of mercy, and hath given you good evidences for it; and Satan now comes and writes upon the back side of your evidence, and says, This is naught. Will you join with him against God and Christ? what wrong is this to his love: think of it, I pray, you that are the saints and people of God: Be humbled under every temptation, though it be never so small; but never question your condition, though your temptation be never so great.
There is indeed, something of a suffering, a malignant quality, an affliction in every temptation when it takes least; and therefore, look how you would walk under an affliction, so walk under your temptation. In your affliction, you will walk humbly; so under your temptation do. In your affliction, you will examine the cause, especially if your affliction lie long upon you; so in your temptation do. In your affliction, you will seek God early; so in the morning of your temptation do. In the day of your affliction, you will engage to God; the day of affliction is the day of engaging, and you say, Oh, if the Lord will deliver me, through his grace I will do so and so: so in your temptation do. In your affliction, you will take heed of those sins that you are most apt unto in the time of affliction; so do in the time of your temptation: for example thus : in affliction, a man is very apt to be discouraged, to have his heart sink, and to die within him; so in temptation, take heed of that. In affliction, a man is apt so to mind his present burden, as to forget all his former mercy; so in the time of temptation take heed of that. In the time of affliction, a man is very apt to be froward, and impatient, to break out into frowardness and impatiency, though he did not so before. As the wood that is laid upon the fire, sends forth filth which you did not see in the wood before it came upon the fire : so men are apt to send forth filth, and much frowardness and impatiency in the time of affliction, when you took them for good natured people
before, and thought there was no such frowardness in them, and no such impatiency; so in the time of temptation, also, take heed of that. In the time of affliction, men are apt to make an evil construction and interpretation of things; affliction raises passion, and passion puts other colours upon things than formerly : and so in time of temptation, we are apt to make strange constructions of God's dealings, and Christ's dealings with us; take heed of that. In time of affliction, men are apt to change their behaviour; David did so, he let fall his spittle upon his beard, and feigned himself mad; he changed his behaviour: and so are men apt to change their behaviour in times of temptation ; take heed of that. In time of affliction, men are apt to stint and limit God, and say, Can God provide a table now? and can God deliver now? and so also in the time of temptation, men are apt to say, Can God provide now? and can God deliver now ? and so stint and limit the Holy One of Israel ; take heed of that. In the day of affliction a gracious heart does rather rejoice that he hath any opportunity to exercise his grace, than mourn for his present burden: so do you now. In the day of affliction, a gracious heart doth more desire to be cleansed than to be delivered; wishes rather that his heart may be sanctified by his affliction, than that his affliction may be removed. There is something of a suffering (ye have heard) in every temptation : now then, does a temptation arise and press in upon you; go to the Lord, and say, Lord, though I meet with hard things from the hand of my temptations, and these temptations have lain long upon me: yet I do rather choose grace than peace; rather to be cleansed, than to be delivered. Oh! my beloved, how well it
be with us, if we did but improve our temptations : what a gaining day, what a learning day might the day of temptation be; yea, what an harvest day unto us, when Satan desires to winnow us.
But you will say unto me, We are greatly unskilled in this matter; temptations I have, and great temptations, wherever I go, in every business: but oh, how should I so order things and manage my thoughts, and my heart, as that I may be able so to walk under these temptations, that I may have peace and comfort in the latter end?
Beloved, the next point tells us, that Jesus Christ is a
succouring Christ to all his tempted people : and I intend, God willing, to show you how Christ succours, and how we should draw succour from him under temptations. But for the present, give me leave to give you some rules and directions against these suffering temptations, and so I will wind
First, Take heed that you do not yield to anything, that you may be rid of; that you do not yield to any part of the temptation, that you may be delivered from. It is more easy to keep the enemy out of the town, than to get him out when he is come into it; if he get into the town, and get into the market-place, it will be a more hard thing to get him out again. It is an easy thing to keep a stone on the top of an hill while it lies there; but when it once begins to roll down, it is a hard thing to stay it, and you cannot say how far it shall
go. How many are there that say when they are tempted, I will yield but once, I will yield but a little, and I will never yield again, this is the last time: oh! but your once yielding, and your yielding but a little, engages your heart to the whole work. You should watch and pray against temptation ; “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation :” he does not say, Watch and pray that you be not tempted; but watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. It is one thing for temptation to knock at the door, and another thing to come in : when temptation enters you, you enter into temptation; take heed of that.
Again, Take heed that you do not carry the sin and the guilt of your old condition into a new condition. See your call into a new condition, before you leave your old condition. Never count yourself safe or secure in any condition; but as soon as ever you come into any condition, observe what are the snares and temptations of that condition. Some there are that carry the evil of their former condition into an after condition, into a new condition; and then, as Rachel carrying away her father's idols, tempted Laban to follow after.
Some again, they do not much mind their calling to a condition, nor do not go in the strength of their call; whereas you shall observe, that when Peter was called to stand before the princes and rulers, he did boldly profess Christ, because his call did lead him thereunto; but when he was not called
into the high priest's hall then he falls before a tempting wench. Others again there are, that think their condition will secure them. Oh, says one, if I were but in such and such a condition, then I should be safe and free from Satan's temptations; whereas, several conditions, have several temptations, and the devil does use sometimes to tempt a man to alter his condition, so that by your very avoiding a temptation you fall into it. Take heed of this.
Thirdly, If temptation do arise, observe the temptation; and know that there is some suitable disposition of your own wherein the devil does lay that temptation, and labour to file and pare off that disposition. Beloved, the devil observes the situation of our hearts, and accordingly does plant his ordnance : he seldom tempts, but he lays his temptation in our own disposition, something suitable unto the temptation. So when David had a mind to number the people, then the devil stands up, and provokes him to number the people, suitable to his own disposition. When our Lord and Saviour Christ was an hungry, then he comes and tempts him to turn stones into bread. When, again, he cried out and said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" then says the devil's instruments, If thou be the Son of God, then come down and show thyself. He does usually lay his temptation in our own disposition that is suitable to the temptation. And therefore, I say, first observe the temptation, then know you have a disposition subservient thereunto, and the devil lays his temptation in that disposition, and presently falls to work, and labours to file and pare off more and more that disposition in Jesus Christ.
Fourthly, When a temptation arises, do not always stand to answer it in the kind; but sometimes turn
mind and thoughts off it to another object. It is in our deliverance from a temptation, as in our comforts under an affliction : a man hath a great affliction upon him, possibly the death of some friend that is near and dear unto him, and you go to comfort him, and in comforting him, you fall a speaking of his friend departed: whereas the way to comfort him, is not to speak of the person departed, but fall into conference about some other good thing different: and by that time his heart is settled upon some other thing, then you may come back again and speak of the friend departed without grieving