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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 him 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 hath Satan filled thine heart?” Indeed, there are three things especially wherein he does fall short: 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. “ 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. And 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 hath 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 thereunto. But very powerful Satan is. In the vith chapter of the Ephesians, you shall see the apostle speaks thus much unto you there, at the 12th verse: 6 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 speaks concerning Satan, as you see in the former verse : the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood," &c. It is something for a man to have all the world against him, to have all mankind against him : if all mankind should be against one man, you would say, There were a great strength; but behold more than that, here is something more than flesh and blood that every man does wrestle against: “ For we wrestle not against flesh and
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blood :" all mankind is but flesh and blood, and so there is a weakness; but we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, for authority; and against powers, for strength; and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. Oh, what a mighty power then hath Satan to infest, molest, and to tempt the children of men.
Whether does Satan put forth this power, and exercise this his 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.” You that are Ephesians, and you that are saints, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. Properly, ye do not wrestle with a man that is down; ye wrestle with a man for to throw him down; but he must be a standing man that ye wrestle with ye
do not wrestle with one that does run away, but that stands to it. Now all wicked men, they are down, but the saints, they stand, and they labour to throw Satan down, and Satan labours to lay them all along in unbelief: but they properly do wrestle with Satan, for they stand, the other are fallen already.
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 uncircumcision and apostleship, and yet both had special temptations.
Yea, it is possible for one of God's own children to be so far oppressed with Satan, that he may even be weary of his life. In the xth chapter of Job, and the 2nd verse, says Job under his great temptations, “My soul is weary of
life.” And if Rebekah were weary of her life because of the children of Heth; much more may a poor gracious soul be weary of his life, by reason of these children of darkness, these powers of darkness, these temptations of Satan.
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 Saviour Christ say to Peter, The gates of hell shall not prevail against
thee; and yet now Satan tempts : if Satan know 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 honouring 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 xxist chapter, and the 1st verse, “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 the town 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 their sins shall be pardoned, yet he does follow them with sad and sore temptations.
Thirdly, Satan loves to divide between friends; he is the great make-bare of the world, he loves to divide. He may know, that there is so much goodness between man and wife, that he shall never part them; and yet he will labour 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 labour to throw jealousies into the heart of a believer concerning the love of Christ. He knew well enough what was said concerning our Saviour Christ; what was said by the angels at the birth of Christ; what was said by the angel to Mary, what was said by Elizabeth; he heard what was said from heaven, “ This is my beloved Son, , in whom I am well pleased :” and yet presently he comes to Christ with an if; “If thou be the Son of God :" labouring to throw a jealousy into the heart of Christ, and to doubt of his Sonship, even with God the Father. 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.
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 hath, as he is a superior creature : but Satan hath 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 hath a great power. Satan hath leave from God the Father to tempt; I do not say that he hath a special leave for every temptation, not a special commission or permission, or leave for every temptation; but there is no great or extraordinary temptation that does fall upon the children of God, but Satan hath a special leave from God the Father for it. There was a special temptation upon the country, in his running their herd of swine into the sea, and he had leave for that before he did it. There was a special temptation upon Ahab, in the lying spirit of the prophets, and he had a special leave and permission from God for that. There was a special temptation upon
Job, and he had a leave for that. Here was a special temptation coming down upon the disciples, and he had leave for that. Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired you. He was fain to ask leave, and he had leave for that. There is no extraordinary or great temptation befals any of the children of God, but Satan is fain to ask leave for it; he hath a leave for it, before he can come and tempt the soul.
But you will say then unto me, Why does God the Father give Satan leave thus to tempt his own children and Christ's own disciples ?
First, take it thus, Look whatsoever is the end and the issue of any evil which befals the children of God, that was the design of God the Father in suffering that evil to come upon them. Now the end and issue of the saints' temptation is always good unto them; and therefore God suffers the temptations of his people, because he hath a design of mercy and love upon them in these temptations. What was the end and issue of Satan's tempting of Adam and Eve? They fell, and then the righteousness of Christ, and eternal life thereby was brought in : this was the end and the issue of it. Now God the Father had this design upon Satan's temptation, all the while Satan was tempting of Adam : and the Lord would never have suffered our heel to have been bruised by Satan's temptation, but that he did intend to break the head of Satan. It was a great temptation that of David, when as Satan stood up and provoked him to number the people : pray, what was the end and issue of that temptation? I shall only name the Scriptures : the 1 Chronicles, the xxist chapter; and the xxiind chapter and the beginning of it; and the 2 Chronicles, the iïrd chapter, and 1st verse, compared together you shall find this. First Satan tempts David; he numbers the people, the people being numbered, a plague breaks forth ; the plague prevailing, David goes and offers up a sacrifice at the threshing floor of Ornan, and there God told him the temple should be built. David had a long time desired to know where the temple should be built; he says, he would give no rest unto himself, no sleep unto his eye-lids, until he had found out a place for God: you shall find, that David had this place discovered as the issue of this temptation, this was the issue of it; the devil had as good have let David alone, he had as good have been