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were, in the third heaven with God, when they have had most of him, when they have heard the Lord saying, This is my beloved child ; after special manifestations of his love, then most tempted : Oh! who would be secure, after manifestations of God's love?
Further, God doth not only suffer it thus far: but sometimes he suffers his children to be so far tempted, as they seem to have the worser, Satan the better; Satan taking the wall of them, the upper hand. In the üiird of Zechariah, it is said concerning Joshua : “That Satan stood at his right hand :” Satan took the wall of him, took the upper hand of him.
Lastly, God suffers this to be, and to continue a long time with some of his children. Paul saith, he had prayed thrice: that is, often; and all the answer he could get was this, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” Paul; I do not say, I will deliver thee, but thou shalt have grace enough to uphold thee: my grace shall be sufficient. Thus God suffers his own dear children to suffer under the hand of temptation.
And would you know the reason? Good authors say, That God suffers his own dear children to be tempted, that they may be more enlightened. Temptation enlightens the tempted; thereby they are more experienced, and so more enlightened : God is pleased to answer them by this secret of thunder.
God suffers his children thus to be tempted, that they may be cleansed. This is God's usual way, he does wash us from our own filth, by the dung and excrement of these unclean spirits, and scours off the rust from his chosen vessels by the messengers of Satan : these are God's scullions to make his golden pots of the sanctuary the brighter.
God suffers his own children to be tempted, that they may be conserved or kept: he preserves them from one sin, by being tempted to another. And Paul says, That he received that messenger of Satan twice, that he might not be exalted.
God suffers his children to be tempted, that their graces may be increased. As the fire is blown up by the wind of the bellows; and the strength of an argument draws out the strength of the answerer : so does these temptations draw out the strength of the tempted.
God suffers his children to be tempted, that they may be
discovered to themselves and others, what their sins and graces are.
You do not know what the liquor is, until the vessel be bored, then you know it. And the word that is here used for temptation, telpaouo, originally signifies to bore, as a vessel is bored. The love of a woman is never more known, than when her husband is from home, and she is solicited to folly, then her love is tried to her husband. God suffers his children to be tempted, that occasionally
be made more fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour. A man not tempted may receive the fulness of Christ as the head: but unless a man be tempted, not fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour.
Hereby they are made like unto Jesus Christ. Christ was made like to us, that he might be tempted; and we are tempted that we may be made like to him. He was made like to us, that he might be tempted, and so become our High Priest: and we are tempted, that we may be made like to him, and receive of the
of that office. He was made like to us and tempted, that he might have communion with us in the evil of our temptation : and we are made like to him and tempted as he was, that we might have communion with him in the benefit of his temptations. For these and other reasons, God suffers his children to be tempted. But my design is not to fall upon the argument of temptation at large; only to speak of the suffering part of it: “ For in that he suffered being once tempted, he is able to succour those that are tempted.”
And upon the same reason or account, that God suffered the children of Israel to be vexed, and to suffer by the hands of the Egyptians, he doth suffer his own dear children to be stung and vexed by these temptations. Give me leave a little in that.
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed, and to suffer much by the hands of the Egyptians, that so he might make his glorious power the more to appear for them and in them. For when men saw that the Israelites increased and prospered, the more they were oppressed, and the more the Egyptians laboured to cut them off: then who would not say, , oh! what power and what mercy is here? So now, when as men shall see, that the graces of the saints increase by temptation, and by spiritual oppression ; who would not say, oh! what mercy and what power is here?
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed by the Egyptians that the Israelites might not learn their manners, and their superstitions. They were very apt to drink in their manners, to imitate, to follow them. Notwithstanding all the ill usage that the Israelites had at the hand of the Egyptians, they were very apt to learn their manners : had they had better usage, how would they have drunk them in much more then ? Beloved! God would not have us to learn the manners of Satan, we are apt to drink them in too much notwithstanding all the hard dealing that we have from our temptations that do come from Satan : had we better entertainment, how shouldour souls mingle and incorporate with those temptations.
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed by the Egyptians, that so they might be provoked against them, to cut them off, and destroy them utterly. We never cut off an enemy, and destroy him utterly until we be provoked; and we are provoked by the ill usage we have at their hands. God would have Satan destroyed : for this cause was Christ manifested in the flesh, that he might destroy the works of Satan; and what Christ did for us, he doth work in us : and we will not destroy him till we be provoked; and therefore God is pleased to let us have such hard dealing, and suffering work from the hand of temptation, that we may be the more provoked against him.
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed by the Egyptians, that so they might long for Canaan the land of rest. And why doth God suffer his people to suffer thus by their temptations, but that they might cry out for help, and for the land of rest ? as David, “ Oh that I had wings like a dove for then would I fly away and be at rest."
If the children of Israel had not suffered thus from the hands of the Egyptians; in all likelihood they would have returned to Egypt much more than they did. They made them a captain to return again, notwithstanding all the hardness that they underwent in Egypt: but had the children of Israel had good usage in Egypt, how would they have returned again thither; beloved ! we are apt to return again to folly; you that are the servants of God, too apt to return to folly, notwithstanding all the hard usage that you have from the hand of your temptation, how apt and ready are you to return to folly; now God loves you, and would not
have you to return again; and therefore that you might not
say, in the third place, (to answer the objection) If God's own people, his dearest children, be sorely tempted, yea, suffer under the hand of a temptation : how is that true, which you have in the 1 Epistle of John, the vth chapter, and the 18th verse : “ Whosoever is born of God sins not: he that is begotten of God, keeps himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not;" the devil toucheth him not: and if the devil does not so much as touch him, how can this be true, that he suffers thus by the hand of his temptation.
For answer hereunto, ye must know that this word touching, in Scripture phrase, besides the literal sense, sometimes notes an hurting, or harming of one. So in the cvth Psalm, and the 15th verse. " Touch not mine anointed.” Which is explained in the following words, “ and do my prophets no harm.” We read of Christ's touching, and the devil's touching. Christ touching those that were sick, and he cured them with his touch, it was an healing, curing touch, the touch of Christ. And we read of the devil's touching: so he speaks unto God that he would touch Job; that is, that he would break him, and break all his estate; Christ's touch is an healing touch, a curing touch; but Satan's touch is a destroying touch, a breaking touch. Now though God suffers his own children to be tempted, yea, and to suffer by the hand of a temptation, yet notwithstanding, the evil one touches him not, so as to harm him, to hurt him ; but in the conclusion, so as to heal and to cure him, which is no touching.
Again, this same word touching, in Scripture phrase, sometimes notes fellowship and communion; and so when the apostle forbids the Corinthians fellowship, and communion with idolaters; saith he“ Be ye separate, and touch no unclean thing.” Touching there noting communion and fellowship with them in their worship: do not in the
least measure have any communion with them. So now although it pleases God, to suffer Satan thus to vex his children with temptation, yet notwithstanding, they have not fellowship or communion with him. Satan knocks at their door, but they do not frequently, and ordinarily open and let him in, so as to sup with them : Christ stands at their door and knocks, and they open and he comes in and sups with them, and they with him : they have fellowship with the Father, and they have fellowship with Jesus Christ, but they have not fellowship with the devil; they do not delight in him, they do not converse with him, they have not this fellowship with him: and therefore though they meet with temptation, yea, and though they suffer under temptation, yet in this respect the evil one touches them not, but suffer they do. And so I have cleared the point: God suffers his own dear children to be sorely tempted, yea, and to suffer under the hand of temptation.
I come to the application.
If this be so; Then why do you that are the servants of God question God's love to you, and call your own condition into question because of your temptations, or because of the hard things that you meet withal from the hand of your temptation? Oh ! says one, if God loved me, I should never be thus tempted, I should never suffer such hard things by temptation as now I do: was there. ever any of God's children tempted thus ? Surely this cannot stand with grace. But was not Jesus Christ tempted? Yes, but I am tempted mnay times to doubt of my childship, whether I be the child of God, son of God, aye or no. And was not Christ thus ? There were two special times of Christ's temptation; once when he entered upon the ministry; once when he went out of the world; and you shall see, how at both these times he was followed with this temptation. In the ivth of Matthew, there you read of the first, and in the combat, twice, If thou be the Son of God, says the devil, putting an if upon his Sonship: and again, If thou be the Son of God; putting another if upon his Sonship. So when he was upon the cross; the devil's instruments speak his own language, they had not forgotten it: If he be the Son of God, let him come down; putting an if upon his Sonship again. The devil follows this close. Oh! but I am tempted many times to use indirect