« AnteriorContinuar »
66 I am
of him ; but otherwise, even in your comfort you fetch out tears. And so I say in regard of temptation : the way to avoid temptation is not always to apply a salve directly pertinent to the temptation; but turn off your mind and thoughts to some other good object, and by that time your mind is settled upon other objects, you will be easily able to meet with the temptation.
Fifthly, Above all things take the shield of faith. “Whom resist, stedfast in the faith." “Simon, Simon,” says our Saviour, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may winnow you : but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:" that must do it. That same woman that came to Christ for her daughter, she met with great temptations: there was the temptation of her calamity; her daughter possessed: there was a temptation of Christ not answering, but delaying her answer : there was a temptation of Christ's seeming denial ;
not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” There was a temptation of her own unworthiness; “It is not lawful to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs:" yet notwithstanding she believes. Oh! says our Saviour, “ Woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” though your temptations be twisted one within another, and one stands at the end of another ; do but get the prospect of faith, and you will be able to look over all. When temptation, therefore, arises, say, Lord, though thou kill me, yet will I trust in thee: and, Satan, though thou slayest me, I will keep to Jesus Christ. It was the speech of Taulerus, one that Luther prizeth above all : says he, Though the mariners may make use of their oars in the time of calm ; yet when a storm comes down, the mariners leave all and fly to their anchor. So, though at other times we may make use of resolutions, and vows, and the like; yet when the storm of temptation comes down, nothing then but fly to the anchor of faith, nothing then like to casting of anchor into the vail. And as if the Holy Ghost put all on this, he calls faith our anchor; and he calls faith our shield. All dangers are either sea dangers or land dangers : if your dangers be sea dangers, faith is your anchor; and if your dangers be land dangers, faith is your shield. And therefore, I say, when temptation arises, labour then to exercise your faith, and say,
And so I say,
Oh, how should I do this thing, and sin against my Christ, and sin against my God? Satan, thou tellest me, All this will I give thee, if thou wilt do this thing : Aye, but how shall I do this and sin against Jesus Christ who hath loved me and given himself for me? Satan, thou tellest me, that if I do yield, God is merciful, and God will pardon me: Yea, but Satan, God hath pardoned me already, and therefore I will not yield; and because I know that the Lord would pardon me if I did it, therefore I will not do it. Thus labour to exercise your faith in time of a temptation.
Sixthly, Be sure of this, When temptation arises, do not fear too much, nor do not fear too little. I confess, it is an hard thing to carry it equally between too much and too little ; but, beloved, if you fear too much, you honour Satan, you weaken yourselves : immoderate fear weakens. And if you fear too little, then you grow secure; security betrays you, and so you lose all before you strike a stroke. Wherefore this rule is : If temptation arise, do not fear too much, though the temptation be never so great: do not fear too little, though the temptation be never so small.
Seventhly, Art thou assaulted by temptation ? Either you do overcome, or you are overcome : you
do overcome, be thankful, lest you lose your former victory, by your after unthankfulness. And if you be overcome, yet do not lay down the weapon, hold it up still, stand upon your guard. The devil tempts that he may tempt; and he is willing to be overcome in the skirmish, that he may overcome you in the battle ; and he brings up the greatest temptations in the rear : as Job's afflictions were greatest at the last : tempts us to break the law, and sin against the law, that he may tempt us to sin against the gospel. This is the seventh rule : If you be overcome, or be not overcome, walk thus.
Eightly and lastly, If temptation do arise; he sure that you make some improvement of it for the better. If an enemy come and make an assault against one of your garrison towns, and he goes away and gets no hurt, he is encouraged and invited to come again ; for, says he, I lost nothing, though I did not gain and carry the town, yet I lost nothing. But now, if upon his assault he loses many men, and his ordnance ; I will come no more there, says he, for there I had such and such a great loss. Thus it is with Satan when he
: yea, he
comes before a soul with his temptations : There is a soul, says he, I came before him with my temptations, and though indeed I did not carry it, I did not get the thing I would, yet I lost nothing, and therefore I will go again. But there is a soul, and there is a heart; I came before him with my temptations, and I confess I lost much; I tempted and he prayed, and the more I tempted the more he prayed, and the more I tempted still, the more he did go to Jesus Christ, and therefore I will tempt him no more. Beloved, labour to improve your temptations; go to God with your temptations in your hands, and pray over your temptations: and if you improve your temptations, you shall not be troubled with Satan ; and therefore you
troubled with Satan so much, because you improve your temptations no more. Oh, how well might it be with us, if we did but improve our temptations ! what a good day would this be ; what a good day might be this sad day of our temptation, if we did but improve our temptations. And I beseech you think of it, how we may improve them more and more. You know what our Saviour said concerning the false ground; In the time of temptation it fell away: let that awe our hearts. You know what our Saviour says again by way of comfort unto his disciples; “ You continued with me in my temptations, and therefore I appoint unto you a kingdom :" and blessed are they that do continue and hold out this siege. Beloved, these turning times are tempting times : and I think I may truly say,
if ever there was an hour of temptation upon this kingdom, this is the hour of England's temptation, it is an hour of temptation. Oh! you that are the servants of God, and the disciples of Jesus Christ, will ye not watch with him one hour ? an hour of temptation it is; but this is our comfort, it is but an hour: and therefore you that are his servants and disciples, will you not watch with him one hour? Watch and pray, watch and pray: some pray, but they will not watch; and some pretend to watch, but they do not pray. Therefore that I say to you, to myself, and to all is, Watch and pray: if you watch, you enter into your master's joy; if you watch not, you enter into temptation : Oh! let us all watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation.
"For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to
succour them that are tempted.”—HEB. II. 18.
By the word tempted in the first clause, relating to Christ, we are to understand Satan's solicitations to evil (as ye have read in the former sermon). By the word tempted in the last clause, “ He is able to succour them that are tempted, especially to understand those solicitations of Satan and our own sins, by comparing the former verse with this. As if the apostle should say: For in that our Lord and Saviour Christ was tempted by Satan, solicited to what was evil; he is able to succour them that are both, either solicited to evil or overcome thereby.
But how is it said here, He is able to succour them that are tempted, in that he himself suffered being tempted ? Was he not as God able to succour them that are tempted ? Why then is it said, In that he suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted ?
There is an ability of sufficiency, and an ability of idoniety. As God, indeed, he is able to succour those that are tempted : but by being tempted in the flesh, he is able, that is, apt and idonious to succour those that are tempted. There is an absolute ability and a respective ability as he is High Priest. As God indeed, he was able to succour them that are tempted, though he had not been tempted: but he speaks of Christ here as our High Priest; and so by being tempted, he is able to succour them in that way. There is, as I may so speak, a scientifical ability, or an experimental ability. As he was God, he was able in the first sense to succour, it is true: but by being tempted, he is able experimentally to succour them that are tempted.
It is an ability of disposition and compassion that here he speaks of. And therefore in the vth chapter, speaking of the same thing, he saith concerning the high priest, That he can have compassion on the ignorant. and those that are out of the way. So then, Christ by being tempted, is able to succour those that are tempted with an ability of idoniety, an
experimental ability; with an ability of compassion and disposition, and gracious inclination. And so the observation that lies before us is this :
The Lord Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to tempted souls.
In the former doctrine ye heard, That God suffers his own servants and dearest children to be sorely tempted. Now this doctrine holds forth the remedy: Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to tempted souls. As our hearts are full of sin, so his heart is full of succour, he is a succouring Christ. His names and titles speak him so. His nature speaks him so. His offices, his doctrine, his life and conversation, his death and sufferings call him a succouring Christ. I shall not run through all these particulars. But because men are known by their names, I will fix there a little : and we shall see how all the names and titles of Christ call him a succouring Christ.
If we search the Scriptures, we may observe, that the names of Satan, of the deyil, carry malice with them, and evil against them : And the names of Jesus Christ are contrary thereunto, as holding forth a succour against all that evil that is in him who is the evil one.
Is the devil called Satan? that is, an adversary: Jesus Christ is called our Friend. Is Satan called Diabolus ? the accuser, or the accuser of the brethren: Jesus Christ is called our Advocate. Is Satan called a destroyer? Jesus Christ is called our Saviour. Is Satan called a lion, that goes up and down seeking whom he may devour? Jesus Christ is called a Lion of the tribe of Judah. Is Satan called a serpent and old serpent? Jesus Christ is called the Brazen Serpent. Still names of relief and succour answerable unto those names of Satan.
We shall observe, that there is no evil in sin, but there is somewhat in the name of Jesus Christ that speaks the contrary, contrary succour. Is sin called
or a transgression of the law? Jesus Christ is called our Righteousness : “ The Lord our Righteousness.” Is sin called fully? Jesus Christ is called Wisdom, “The Wisdom of the Father.” Is sin called an infirmity or weakness? He is called the Rock, and the Rock of Ages, and the Arm of the Lord. Is sin called darkness ? He is called Light.
He is called Light. Is sin called pol