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finds a great deal in us, he finds a disposition in us to be moved with objects of love, unto comfortable, and profitable things : he comes to us, and finds in us a disposition to be moved with fear by terrible objects. Wherefore now, my beloved, do you desire to prevent the mischief of a temptation? oh! labour more and more to die unto all the objects of your outward love, and the objects of fear; die to the objects of love, get your heart mortified to these two objects of love and fear. And be sure of this, if thou wouldest prevent temptation, that ye labour more and more to walk in the light: Satan is the prince of darkness, and he walks in darkness, and he tempts in darkness. “When night comes the beasts go forth to their prey,” says the Psalmist. And when Satan sees a poor ignorant soul, that walks in the dark, says he, Here is a fit prey for me.
0! therefore, you that are ignorant, and have sat ignorant under the ordinances; for the Lord's sake, labour to get more light and more knowledge, get your heart opened unto every truth of God, labour to acquaint yourselves m. re with gospel light, and set your bosoms open unto every truth of the Lord.
And, beloved! whether you would overcome, or whether you would prevent temptation; whatever means you use ; be sure of this, that you take your temptation and dip it in the blood of Christ. Take a candle, that is lighted, and only blow out the candle, the candle is easily lighted again : but when the candle is out, take it and put it into the water, and then it is not so easily lighted again : so now a temptation comes, and you blow it out with a resolution, and you will not yield to it, alas, it is easily lighted again : but now take this candle, take this temptation, and come and dip it in the blood of Jesus Christ, and it will not be so easily lighted again; so you shall be able to prevent temptation for the time to come: never rest alone in resolving, but, oh! take your temptation and dip it in the blood of Jesus Christ.
And if that you do overcome your temptation at any time; be thankful to God: if ye have more than flesh and blood against you, ye shall have more than flesh and blood with you. And therefore, have you overcome temptation ? go away and be very thankful, and say, oh! though flesh and blood be against me, yet I have more than flesh and blood
with me, praise the Lord much : and if you have been overcome with temptation, yet be not discouraged; for ye hear the doctrine, God doth suffer his own dear children to be tempted, to be buffetted, to be exposed to Satan's temptings, and to Satan's winnowings. But though ye be tempted, and it be a temptation of Satan, yet ye hear withal, that it is the property and disposition of God's own people to grieve and mourn under their temptation, as if it were all their own, and nothing of Satan's. Wherefore now, my beloved, having heard these things, think on them, and the Lord bless them to you every day more and more.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have
you that he may sift you as wheat ; but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.”—Luke xxii. 31, 32.
Ye find that these words hold forth the relation of a great storm of temptation coming down upon Christ's disciples. The danger of it. And the remedy against it. Of the danger somewhat
And now I am to speak unto the 32nd verse.“ But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”
Here is somewhat implied, and somewhat expressed : implied, Satan's design, and his great design upon their faith. Expressed; Christ's love and care, his special love and care over them, and towards them in this temptation. As if he should say thus, Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to tempt you; not only thee, but all my disciples : the temptation is great, and in this temptation, his great design is upon your faith : but I have spoken unto my Father, and your Father, that your faith may not fail. So that hence you may observe thus much :
That in the time of temptation, Satan's great design is upon the faith of the saints, to make their faith fail.
He doth not say, But I have prayed for thee, that thy prayer fail not, or that thy patience fail not, or that thy love fail not; but I have prayed that thy“ faith fail not.” So that Satan's great design in all his temptations is upon the
faith of the saints, that he may make their faith to fail them.
For the further clearing and opening of these words, and of this truth, I shall labour to show you :
First, What it is for to fail in our faith ; and how far the saints may fail in their faith in time of temptation.
Secondly, What an evil thing it is for the saints to fail in their faith in time of temptation.
Thirdly, That Satan's great design in all his temptations, is upon our faith.
Fourthly, How Satan labours to weaken our faith in the time of temptation; what strokes he gives unto our faith, and how we shall be able to bear off those blows in the time of temptation, that so our faith fail not?
If ye ask me, first, What it is for to fail in faith here? I answer, Theword in the original signifies, an eclipse, as the eclipse of the sun, or of the moon : and the words may be so translated, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith be not eclipsed. But according to the ordinary acceptation of that word eclipse, Peter's faith did fail, for it was much eclipsed. The word signifies also, a total defect, such as Judas made, who of a disciple became an enemy, a traitor; and instead of believing fell to despair : and so Peter's faith did not fail. A man's faith is said to fail, either when it falls short of what it hath been, or what it should be ; and in both these respects Peter's faith did fail : it fell short of what it had been, it fell short of what it should be. But there is a two-fold failing in faith : one in regard of the acting and exercise of faith; and another in regard of the grace of faith itself. In regard of the acting, working, and exercise of faith, Peter's faith did fail: but in regard of the grace itself, so it failed not. The Lutherans, they say, and contend much for it, that a regenerate man's faith may fail totally, and finally in time of temptation: and so they say that Peter's faith, failed here, when he denied his Lord and Master; because it is said in the next words, " When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren.” As if his faith had failed so far, as he should need a new conversion. But that word translated, When thou art converted (as divers of the learned do well observe) may be translated, again, thus : I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and do thou strengthen thy brethren
again : do thou return to that work again. And so you have the same word used in the Septuagint, translated at the lviïith Psalm, at the 6th verse. “ Wilt thou not revive us again ?” The word in the Hebrew is thus: Wilt thou not convert, or turn unto us, and revive us? which we translate, “ Wilt thou not revive us again!" And so the words here may be translated, (being an Hebraism) But do thou strengthen thy brethren again. But suppose that the words stand according to their present translation, it does not argue, that Peter did fail totally in this temptation : for, the whole life of a christian here, is a continual converting, and turning to God: we repent, and repent again ; we turn, and turn again. Every day we turn unto God yet more and more; every day brings forth another conversion : yet not so, as if the former conversion were made void. And if the faith of a believer would fail totally in the time of a temptation; what should be the meaning of those words, in 1 John vth chapter, and the 18th verse. “ We know, that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not:" the wicked one: that is Satan, he toucheth him not. But now, if Satan could tempt a godly man, and prevail so far in his temptation, as to make his faith fail totally, then he would touch him to the purpose: but, says the text, “ He keeps himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not :" and therefore his faith cannot fail totally, a regenerate man's faith cannot fail totally. And ye know what is said, in that viith of Matthew at the 24th and 25th verses, “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which hath built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not, because it was founded upon a rock.” Now every believer is founded upon a rock, Christ, and therefore though the rain descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and temptations be never so great, he cannot fail totally, because he is built upon a rock. In the xüith of Matthew, ye know it is made the property of the false ground that in the time of temptation it fell away: now if the good ground, a regenerate man, should fall away in the time of temptation; what difference were there between the false
ground, and the good ground? Plainly therefore, the Scripture holds forth this truth unto us, that a regenerate man, a believer, though his faith may fail much, yet it does not fail totally in time of temptation. And thus Peter's faith failed, and thus it failed not : in regard of the exercise, and acting of his faith it did fail; but in regard of the grace itself, faith itself, so it failed not: and so it is, and may be with others of the saints also.
Secondly: If the faith of a believer do only fall in regard of the acting, exercise, and working thereof, what great inconvenience is there or evil in the failing of his faith?
Much, my beloved, very much: for though that faith fail only in regard of the acting, exercise, and working, he does lose an opportunity of glorifying God. It is said of Abraham, that he believed and gave glory to God. Faith gives glory to God: it glorifies his power, his mercy, his faithfulness, and his wisdom; not faith in the habit, but faith in the exercise of it, glorifies God: and so much as a man's faith does fail, in the acting, working, and exercise of it, so much he loseth an opportunity of glorifying God.
Moreover, he loses his own comfort. Faith is a comforting grace.
“ Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” And in the xvth to the Romans, and the 13th verse, ye find, that joy and peace grows upon faith : “ Now the God of hope, fill ye with joy and peace in believing.” So much as a man does believe, so much joy and peace: if a man fail in the exercise of his faith, he does lose his comforts.
Yea, hereby also, he does lose his present prize. A Christian hath a prize in this life; he hath a two-fold crown: a crown of glory in the world to come; and a present crown. And therefore says the Lord unto the Church of Philadelphia, “Hold fast that which thou hast, lest another take thy crown." Now if a man do fail in the exercise of his faith, he does lose much of his present prize. Ye know how it was with Moses and Aaron, ye read of it in the xxth chapter of Numbers, and the 12th verse. “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, because ye believe me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel; therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have promised them.” They were shut out of the land of Canaan for not believing. But Moses and Aaron did not lose the