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“ If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, let thou also be tempted :" lest thou also fall into sin. And so the apostle says unto the Thessalonians, in the first epistle, the wird chapter, and the 5th verse: “For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. The meaning is, Lest you are fallen; but it is called temptation to them.
Thirdly, Although this be true, that there is no great sin that the saints do fall into, but Satan hath a special hand in it; yet it is the property and disposition of God's people to be humbled and grieved under their temptations, as if they were all their own and nothing of Satan's. Peter goes out and weeps bitterly when he had fallen; he might have said thus: The Lord told me that there was a temptation coming, Satan had desired to winnow me; and now the word of the Lord is fulfilled, Satan hath tempted me, and I am thus fallen: but not a word of Satan, but he goes out and weeps bitterly, as if it were all his own work. And let me tell you, for your comfort, when as you can mourn over your temptations, as if they were all your own, and nothing of Satan's, the Lord will pardon them to you, as if they were all Satan's, and nothing of your own.
In the fourth place, to speak a little of the difference between these, that ye may know the difference between the temptations of Satan and the corruptions of your own heart.
When as your heart and your flesh trembles and quakes under the first rising and motion of a sin, this is not your own corruption alone, but there is a temptation with it. When the corruptions of one's own heart do work up evil, a man's heart is rather pleased and tickled with it, and consents to it, than any way one's flesh lies trembling and quaking under it. That temptation is not much to be feared, when a man fears himself for his temptation. He is to be feared most that does fear least: and he is to be feared least that does fear most. A godly, gracious man or woman, is humbled under nothing more than under his temptations; he looks upon his temptations, as the greatest afflictions in all the world. As now, take that of blasphemous thoughts; suppose a poor soul troubled with such evil thoughts, such a
poor soul says, I do profess it in the sight of God, I never met with such an affliction since I was born: I have lost children; oh, but that affliction is not like to this! I have lost friends; oh, but that affliction is not like to this! I have lost my estate; oh, but that affliction is not like to this! Man or woman, if it be thy affliction it is not thy sin. And I appeal to you now, you that say ye do not doubt of God's love, ye do not fear your own condition, because of temptations only, but because ye are afraid they are the corruptions of your own heart, and not the temptations of Satan ; I appeal to you that say so; Are ye not afraid in yourselves because of your temptations ? Do not ye look upon your temptations as your greatest afflictions ? Nay, does not thy flesh quake and tremble, sometimes, when a temptation dashes, and beats in upon thy soul? Does not thy very outward man, sometimes, lie quaking and trembling before a temptation ? Certainly this is not all the corruption of thine own heart, here is the devil's hand, here is a temptation in it, and, poor soul, thou mayest have some comfort yet; notwithstanding the oppression is so great, yet here is comfort, it is no other but what may stand with grace. Oh! but
you will say, suppose it be all the temptation of Satan, and not the corruption of mine own heart, yet it is a great affliction, and what comfort can I have in this condition?
What comfort! Is it not much comfort to know that there is nothing does befal you but what may befal a true child of God? Sometimes ye say thus: No man's condition is like to mine; did I but know that it is so with other of God's children, then I should be satisfied. This doctrine tells thee, that Christ's own best disciples, sometimes, are exposed to Satan's temptings, to Satan's winnowings.
Is it not a great comfort, for a man to know, that while he is tempted, Christ is at prayer for him? “But I have prayed for thee.” In time of temptation you cannot pray, aye but Christ can pray, and he is then at prayer for you: as he said to Peter, so he says to every disciple of his now, “ But I have prayed for thee:" poor soul, though thou canst not pray for thyself, yet I have prayed for thee.
Is it not a sweet comfort, for a man to know, that the enemy is overcome before he strikes ? Satan's temptation is overcome by Christ's intercession; and Christ prays before
“ But I have prayed for thee:" before the temptation came.
Is it not a choice comfort, for a man to know, that Satan, the great tempter, hath no more power than my Father gives him leave? Thus it is, “ Satan hath desired,” &c.
Is it not wonderful comfort, for a man to know, that there is something that he can never be robbed of? When a man is travelling on his journey, if he meet with thieves, they take away the money that he hath about him; but when they have taken all his money that he hath about him, Well, says he, though they have taken away my spending money, and that which I did wear about me, yet I have land at home that they can not rob me of. And so says the child of God, or at least he may say so, when Satan comes and tempts him, and robs him of some comfort; yet, blessed be the Lord, I have union with Christ that I can never be robbed of; and I have an inheritance in heaven that thieves cannot break through and steal away. Satan may take away my spending money, my spending comforts that I have here in this world; but Oh! blessed be God, I have such comforts, and such an estate, such durable riches that I can never be robbed of. Oh! you that are the saints and people of God, lift up your heads : you that have been bowed under temptation, these things have I spoken to you, that you may not be overwhelmed with temptation, you that are tempted, but that in the midst of all you may breathe out your souls in the bosom of Jesus Christ.
Well, but you will say, It is not comfort that I look for, or that I follow after; but the truth is, I am sorely tempted, and Satan lies heavy on me, following, and dogging me at the heels to yield unto his temptations; what shall I say, or what shall I do, that I may not yield unto his temptations?
What shalt thou say: if it be possible, do not stand to treat with Satan, do not stand to parley with him; he will dispute you out of all your comfort if you stand and parley with him. You have half lost the field when ye honour Satan, and you honour him when you follow him into his disputes : if it be possible therefore do not stand and parley, or dispute with Satan, but if you must say something to him, and ye must treat, ye must speak; tell Satan then, that therefore you
believe it, because he denies it: therefore you do not believe
it, because he affirms it; that you beliere the contrary because he speaks thus. When ye are to deal with a great liar, one that is your enemy, and he comes and tells you very ill news, you will say, He is a liar and he is my enemy, and he does it to scare me, and therefore I believe the contrary. Satan is a great liar, and he is your enemy, and therefore when he says unto thee, there is no hope for thee, thou hast been a great sinner, a drunkard for thus many years, a swearer thus
many years, there is no hope for thee: say to Satan, therefore I believe the contrary, there is hope for me,because thou sayest there is none, for thou art a liar, yea, the father of lies.
Again, if ye must speak with Satan; then speak of Christ of grace, of the infinite love of God in Christ : he cannot stand before words of grace, and before words of love : not a word of grace, or of free love in all his temptations.
Yea, if you must speak with Satan, tell him, Oh! tell him, what ye find in the ways of God, and tell him, that you believe beyond what ye find; thus : Satan for the present I find nothing but sweetness in the ways of God: thou told me that if I would turn godly I should never have a merry day again, but I tell thee what I now find; I find of a truth that the sourest part of godliness, is sweeter than the sweetest part of wickedness. Satan, I find, that all that ever thou told me is false; thou saidest, I should lose all my friends : I have better. Thou saidest, I should lose all my comforts if I turned godly; I have better, Satan. And this I find, Satan; that all that ever Christ spake unto me, is true: oh! I find infinite sweetness in the ways of God, and I believe beyond what I find ; that if the wheels of providence should run never so cross, yet through grace I would believe. Beloved, ye know what the apostle says, “Whom resist, stedfast in the faith :” and “By faith we quench his fiery darts." Must ye therefore needs speak with Satan, speak to him words of faith; not of sense, man, not of reason, but speak words of faith: I charge ye in the Lord, if ye will stand and parley, and speak with Satan, speak words of faith to him, speak words in a way of believing; and it is only faith that brings Christ and the soul together in the time of temptation; and when Christ comes in, Satan goes out.
But you will say, I know it is a good thing and happy, so to answer Satan's temptations as I may not yield: but oh! that I might not be led into any temptation : What shall I do that I may prevent it?
First, take heed that you do not stand playing upon the borders or confines of any sin. If you stand upon the brink of a sin, Satan comes behind and thrusts you into it. Some there are that tempt the tempter, that begin unto Satan, they drink to Satan the first draught, and Satan pledges them, and drinks unto them again. Would you, my beloved, prevent temptation? Oh! take heed how ye stand playing upon the borders of any sin, the holes of the asps.
Again, secondly, If ye would prevent temptation; then labour to get your hearts mortified unto the objects of love and fear. Satan tempts two ways; as a serpent, and as a lion. When Satan tempts as a serpent; then he does make a tender, and an offer of some comfortable, profitable, sweet thing. You shall be like God, “You shall be as God," says he unto Adam and Eve, when he tempted as a serpent, came as a serpent. And so dealing as a serpent with our Saviour Christ, “ All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Shows him the glory of the world, and all this will I give thee. So says he unto a poor soul when he tempts as a serpent, Come and yield unto this temptation, and all this comfort will I give thee, and all this profit will I give thee, and all this repute and honour will I give thee. Thus as a serpent. Sometimes he tempts as a lion; for he goes up and down as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And when Satan tempts as a lion, then he does roar upon a poor soul, and labours to scare him out of his conscience, and out of the good ways of God. And therefore in the book of the Revelation, “Satan shall cast some of you into prison." Satan shall do it. And sometimes he shall stand and rattle the chains of a prison; look, do you hear these? If you will go on in such and such a way, you will lose all your friends; and if you will go on in such a way, I will make it too hot for you, and thus and thus shall you suffer, and it shall cost ye a prison ere I have done with you. Thus now Satan tempts as a lion, by holding terrible objects before a man. It it said that Satan came to our Saviour Christ, and he found nothing in him; so he prevailed not: but Satan comes to us, and he