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quiet, for David now had the end and the issue, attained unto that that he never did attain unto before. So I say
it is with the people of God, the Lord never suffers his own children to fall into any sin, but he does intend to wean them from that sin that they do fall into even by the falling into it: the Lord never suffers any of his own children to be tempted, but he intends to break the back of that temptation, even by their being tempted. This is the design of God the Father. Oh! what a glorious design of love and mercy is here upon all the temptations of God's people!
But, secondly, God hath 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 Cor. x. 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 ? read for this purpose the xiiith chapter of Deuteronomy, and the 2nd and 3rd verses. Before Job was tempted, Satan thought that Job had served God for a boon, for something : “ Hast thou not seen my servant Job ?" says God; Aye, says Satan, but “Does Job serve God for nought?” Job is an hypocrite, all things go well with him; Job is in a fair and blessed outward condition, and Job was never tempted : 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 then. 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 thine 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 doth suffer his own best and dearest children to be tempted by Satan.
I come to the application.
If God doth 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 ? Beloved, I have seen a sore evil under the sun, a vanity even among the saints and people of God: some doubting of the soundness of their condition and the love of God because they are not tempted; others doubt because they are tempted. One says, Oh! I am afraid I am none of the child of God, for I was never tempted; the children of God, they meet with temptations, but I was never yet buffeted, and therefore I am none of God's child: another, on the contrary; I labour under these and these temptations, and therefore, I fear that I am none of God's child : yea, sometimes the same person thus: First, he does not observe his own heart, and says he, I fear I am none of God's child, for I was never tempted. Afterward when he meets with temptation, then he doubts again that he is not God's child because he is tempted. Oh, what childish dealing is this with God your Father!
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? Oh, but my temptations are such as would make one's hair stand upright on one's head to think of them; sometimes tempted even to lay violent hands upon myself. What think ye of Christ? when Satan spake unto him, and tempted him to throw himself down off the pinnacle of the temple. Oh, but I am tempted with such temptations that I am ashamed
heart aches and trembles when I do reflect on them; even with blasphemous thoughts. What think ye of Christ? was not he tempted to blasphemy? says the devil to him, “ All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me:" what greater blasphemy than to worship the devil ? to make a God of the devil himself, what greater blasphemy? Oh! but I fear and doubt my condition, and the love of God towards me, because my temptations are not as the temptations of God's children ; but my temptations are such as cannot stand with grace, there is a spot, that is not the spot of God's people: and are there not temptations that are not the temptations of God's people ? have not wicked men their peculiar temptations, such as does not fall upon the children of God? I am afraid that my temptations are of that rank and of that sort, and therefore I fear and doubt my condition. Mark I pray, this same word temptation may be considered two ways; either in regard of the formality or form of the temptation, or in regard of the materiality or matter of the temptation.
Take now temptation according to the propriety of the speech and phrase, and so wicked men are not said to be tempted by Satan; by their own hearts they are, but I speak of Satan's temptations, properly the wicked are not said to be tempted by Satan. He is said to rule in them, in the children of disobedience; and he is said to lead them captive at his will: but if ye look into the New Testament, ye will not ordinarily find, that wicked men are said to be tempted by Satan. A man does not tempt his wife, but when he solicits another woman, then he is said for to tempt that woman. As the saints are married to Christ, so wicked men they are matched to Satan; and he is not in propriety of phrase said for to tempt them. Your men-stealers, those that steal
children, they do not tempt their own children for to go with them, they naturally go with their father : but they come and tempt your children, they are other folk's children that they tempt. And so Satan, he is properly said to tempt those that are none of his children. A master does not tempt his servant, he is not said properly to tempt his own servant to dwell with him, or to serve him: but he goes to another man's servant, and speaks to him to come and dwell with him, and to serve him. As for wicked men, they are properly the servants of Satan; and therefore when the devil solicits them to do that which is evil, or to dwell with him, and to converse with him, it is not I say in propriety of speech a proper temptation : but for the servants of Christ, when he solicits them unto evil, then he is properly said to tempt them. This for the form of a temptation.
But now, take a temptation in the materiality of it, for the matter of it, which is a solicitation to evil; and so wicked men are tempted by Satan; yea, they more tempted than the godly are, that is, they are more solicited unto evil by Satan; and the same temptation that godly men are tempted with, wicked men are tempted with : and the same temptation that wicked men are tempted with, a godly man is tempted with. As there is no duty which a godly man does perform, but a wicked man may do it, for the act, and yet remain wicked: so there is no sin, which a wicked man falls into, but a godly man may be tempted to it, and yet remain godly.
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. Indeed, if I were sure that it were only the temptation of Satan, I should never question God's love, nor mine own condition because of it; but, oh! I am afraid it is not a temptation of Satan, but the corruption of mine own heart, and therefore I fear all is not right with me.
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, they 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. Sam. xxivth chapter and the 10th verse. 66 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 hath 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, and forgive this great iniquity. This is usual ; wicked men excuse their own corruptions, by Satan's temptations: godly men aggravate Satan's temptations by their own corruptions.
But, in the second place, although this be so, that it is usual with the saints thus to do, to charge all upon themselves and nothing on Satan ; yet know, that the saints seldom or never do fall into any great sin, but Satan hath a special hand therein. I am not of Origen's mind, to lay all sin upon Satan, not upon man; but I say, there is no great sin that any of God's children do fall into, but Satan hath a special hand and a work therein. And, therefore, if ye look into the New Testament, you will find, that the sins of the godly, they are very often called temptations: in the first of Corinthians, the xth chapter, and the 13th verse, “ There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will with the temptation, also, make a way to escape.
Wherefore (at the 14th verse), my dearly beloved, fly from idolatry;" as if that were temptation too. And so in that vith of Galatians, and 1st verse :