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he cast out spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, “ Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." Because he took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses, he took himself to be engaged for to heal the sicknesses and diseases among the people. Beloved ! he hath taken our infirmities, he hath borne our sins, and therefore he takes himself engaged also for to heal our foul diseases, to heal those temptations : he is very faithful.
Well, But suppose he is faithful, how doth he succour those that are tempted in the day and time of their temptation? (that is the fourth thing).
He succours before temptation: he succours in temptation: he succours after temptation.
Christ succours tempted souls before the temptation comes, sometimes ; by a special manifestation of himself, his love, and fulness to them. When Christ himself was to be tempted, immediately before, the Father said from heaven, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And so when Christ sees that a soul is to go into temptation, he speaks out from heaven, and says, This is my beloved servant in whom I am well pleased.
Sometimes he succours before temptation, by laying in of gospel principles and gospel dispositions in the heart. The law is weak, says the apostle. As it is weak unto the point of justification, the matter of justification ; so a legal disposition is weak as to the matter of resisting temptation : a gospel disposition is able to bear it off. Christ foreseeing a temptation, lays in such a disposition, and then when it comes, Oh! says the soul, how shall I be able to close with all this love of the world, having received so many love-tokens from my dear Saviour.
Again, He succours before the temptation, by filling the heart with the Holy Ghost. When the vessel is filled with one liquor, it keeps out another. I will return to my house, saith Satan, and I came and found it empty; and so he entered. The Lord, therefore, fills the house, the soul, with the Holy Ghost, and so keeps Satan from entering.
He succours also under temptation, by opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that it is but a temptation. A temptation is half cured, when a man knows that it is but a
temptation : when a man's eyes are open to see the tempter and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, because they are hardly persuaded that it is a temptation; when they see that, then they say, Get thee behind me, Satan. Christ opens their eyes.
Again, He succours under temptation, by letting fall some glimpse of his love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the high priest's hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly. It was the sweet voice of Christ that made Peter weep bitterly; Peter's tears came from Christ's eyes first; and though he were much engaged, yet having a love-look from Christ, I will stay no longer, and away he goes. And so, when a soul sees but the gracious eye of Christ looking on him, he breaks off from his temptation : thus he succours.
Again, he succours under temptation by temptation, even from temptation. Beloved ! the devil seldom tempts with one single temptation : as we seldom commit single sins, or receive single mercies; so the devil seldom tempts with a single temptation. One may be laid in our natures, and the other laid in our callings. Christ sees now, that one is given to uncleanness or to pride; and so he lets out Satan upon him, to trouble him with blasphemous thoughts, and by the afflictions of those blasphemous thoughts, they are kept from pride, and from wantonness, and delighting in other sins.
He does succour from temptation ; I say, from temptation by temptation (sometimes) by causing a word in the temptation to stand out, so as thereby to give the tempted man an hint to Jesus Christ. So when Christ tempted and tried the woman of Canaan; It is not lawful to cast children's bread before dogs. There stood out a word, that word dog ; she lays hold on it; “Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs." Christ does so order the very temptations of Satan, that some word or other in the very temptation does so stand forth as to hint the soul again unto Jesus Christ.
Sometimes he succours under temptation: by throwing in a promise, lotting the soul upon some promise ; which, as a cable, keeps the heart fast in the time of a storm.
And sometimes he succours under temptation, again, by weakening the temptation, and by keeping the heart and the temptation asunder; may be, by raising up some affliction :
woe to that soul when the heart and temptation meet, corruption and temptation meet. The Lord Christ, therefore, sometimes is pleased to raise up an affliction between them, that so these two wicked lovers may be kept asunder. Thus under temptation.
After temptation he succours: by filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory. By sending the angels to minister: as when the devil left Christ, had tempted him and left him; then came the angels and ministered to him. Every way, before temptation, and in temptation, and after temptation, the Lord Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to tempted souls: he is a succouring Christ. Beloved! he was a man of sorrows that he might be a God of succours; his heart it is full of succours.
I come to the application.
First, Whilst I stand upon this truth, methinks I hear a solemn and gracious invitation to all poor tempted souls to come unto Jesus Christ, to come for succour. There is none of you all but labour under some temptation or other. Ye have read that the Lord Christ is a succouring Christ: shall I need to invite you to come unto him ? Ye have read how able he is: and willing he is to succour. His heart is bent to succour you ; his arms are open, his bosom is open, his heart is open to poor tempted souls that they may receive succour from him. Oh, therefore, you that are tempted, come unto Jesus Christ that you may be succoured by him: come unto Christ; come unto Christ alone. You will
But does he succour all that are tempted ? why then are any damned ?
Some men will not come unto him: 66 Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life.” Some come unto him, but make an half Christ of him : they will not come under great temptations, then they are afraid, and then they despair : they will not come under small temptations : then they despise: but for middling temptations, those they will come to Christ for succour in; and thus they make a half Christ of him. Some come to him as to a Moses; make a conditional Christ of him: they must have their own preparations and humiliations before they come unto him, or else they will not come unto him. But, beloved, ye know what the apostle says, in the viith of the Hebrews : “ He is able to save unto
the uttermost those that come to God by him." Those that come to God by Him: if you come unto Him he will
But my temptation is an old temptation, an ancient temptation; I have gone under fears and temptations for many years together, I may say, almost my whole life: and will Jesus Christ succour such an one as I am ?
Pray what think you of the verse that goes before the text ? read it and consider it: the 14th and 15th verses : “ He himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” And at the 15th verse : 66 Deliver them from Satan that were all their life-time subject to bondage.” That he might deliver them from Satan that were all their life-time subject to bondage : in fear of death, and all their life-time subject to bondage.
Art thou, therefore, a man or woman that hath gone up and down, all thy days, in fear of death, and fear of hell, and been in bondage all thy life-time? See, he came to deliver such souls : such tempted souls as these are, Christ came to deliver.
Oh! but my temptation is not a bare temptation, there is much affliction that is mixed withal: and will he deliver those ?
Yes, you know how it was with Jacob: Jacob used indirect means to get the blessing; Esau's heart rose against him: Jacob flies for it; when he was in the field, in the night, then Christ appears to him: a ladder, whose top was in heaven (the Deity), the bottom on earth (the humanity), and angels ascending and descending. All the while he was in his father's house he never had this vision of Christ, but now, when he lay in the open field, Christ appears for his succour by his angels thus.
Oh, but my temptation is not such; but my temptation is mixed with much corruption; I have a proud heart, an unclean heart, a froward heart: will the Lord Jesus Christ lay such a wretched heart as mine is in his bosom? Oh, will he succour such a soul as I am ?
For answer to this, I pray consider these three things with me: the Lord Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ ye have read'; and,
First, He will succour tempted sinners most when they are most tempted. When the child is sick, and when the child is most sick, then the mother comes forth and succours it, then love sits upon the bed-side, then love lays the child in her bosom. And, says he, in the lxvith chapter of Isaiah, and at the 13th verse, “ As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.
Again, secondly, he will not only succour thus, but he will succour you that are tempted, when you cannot succour yourselves; when your own thoughts cannot succour you, when your own thoughts dare not succour you, or when your own thoughts trample upon your evidences, and when your own thoughts shall make a mutiny in your hearts, and set all on fire: “ In the multitude of my thoughts thy word comforts my soul.” The Lord knows how to deliver in the time of temptation, though you do not know; and when you do not know it, then he knows, and then he will deliver when you know not. Read again the same place, the 13th verse of the lxvith of Isaiah. 66 As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” Who are those? says he, at the 5th verse. “ Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word, and you that are cast out by your brethren : as one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you :" you that lie and tremble before the promise, and dare not draw near unto it, as a mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.
Thirdly, He will not only succour thus, but he will succour poor tempted souls with a notwithstanding: notwithstanding all their failings, notwithstanding all their infirmities. Joseph, a type of Christ, his brethren sold him away, he endured much misery. Afterward his brethren came to want, and they go down to Egypt to him; and when they came there, Joseph succours them, notwithstanding all their former unkindness: I am your brother Joseph, I am Joseph your brother; it is true you sold me, and thus and thus you dealt by me; but you are come for succour, and I will succour you with a notwithstanding. So says the Lord Jesus Christ : Poor tempted soul, I know how thou hast dealt by me, how thou hast sold me, how thou hast neglected me, how thou hast crucified me; but I will succour thee with a