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of Satan, which tends to God's dishonour, grieves the Holy Spirit, and defiles our own consciences.

But, on the other hand, we may humbly hope and trust, that they are rather to be charged on Satan than ourselves, when they are the result of some bodily distemper, as in those that are under the prevailing power of melancholy, in whom it may be observed, that when by the use of natural means, the distemper is abated, and the constitution mended, these blasphemous suggestions cease. Moreover, when our souls tremble at the temptation, and oppose it with the utmost abhorrence, as our Saviour did, when the Devil tempted him to fall down and worship him; to whom he immediately replies, Get thee hence, Satan, chap. iv. 9, 10. Again, when we confess, and can appeal to the heart-searching God, that we are so far from having any inclination to comply with the suggestion, that nothing is more grievous to us, than to be assaulted with it: and especially when we take occasion from hence, to exercise that reverential fear of the divine Majesty, that is opposite there


(2.) As Satan gives disturbance by blasphemous suggestions, so he uses endeavours to drive persons to despair. We observed, under a foregoing head, that so long as he can persuade any one to take up with a false peace, and fancy himself secure though going on in a course of rebellion against God, he gives him but little uneasiness, endeavouring rather to increase his stupidity, than awaken his fears. Before this, he attempted to bring ruin upon him, by suggesting those temptations that led to presumption, and pretended to him, that all things were well, when the ground was sinking under him, and his hope built on a sandy foundation: But, when the frame of his spirit is somewhat altered, and he is brought to a sense of his miserable condition; so that none of those stupifying medicines that have been used, will heal the wound; then Satan endeavours to persuade him, that his condition is hopeless, or that there is no help for him in God. This temptation believers, as well as the unregenerate, are sometimes liable to; of which, we have many instances in scripthre, besides those that are matter of daily experience. But it may be observed, that there is this difference between the one and the other, in that we scarce ever read of a believer's despair; but we have, at the same time, something added, which either argues his faith in God, or, that there was a mixture of hope, which was like a beam of light shining in darkness: Thus the Psalmist, in Psal. lxxxviii. expresses himself like one in the depths of despair; yet it may be observed, that he addresses himself to God, in ver. 1. as the Lord God of his salvation. And when the church is represented in Lam. iii. 18. as

saying, My hope is perished from the Lord; it is considered afterwards as encouraging itself in him, as in ver. 24. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him; and, in ver. 31. For the Lord will not cast off for ever. But when unbelievers are tempted to despair, it is attended with an obstinate resolution to go on in a course of sin, and a total withdrawing themselves from the ordinances, or instituted means of grace. Thns when Cain complains that his punishment was greater than he could bear; it is said concerning him, that he went out from the presence of the Lord, Gen. iv. 13, 16. this case despair, especially if it does not proceed from a bodily distemper, as it sometimes does, is a sad mark of a person's being under the dominion of Satan, who was before a tempter, but now proves a tormentor to him.


Here we may take occasion to consider how Satan proceeds against men in tempting them to despair.

1st. He takes the fittest opportunity, when we are most like to be overcome by his temptation; he observes our constitution when most addicted to melancholy, and therefore more easily led to despair: He also takes notice of some circumstances of providence that we are brought under, which are more than ordinarily afflictive, and tend to deject and render us more receptive of this temptation, in which he endeavours to add weight to our burden, and depress our spirits under it: He also lays hold on those times, more especially when we are under divine desertion; and, as the consequence hereof, our faith is weak, and very much indisposed to seek help from God. Moreover, he often takes occasion, from some great fall and miscarriage which we have been guilty of, whereby we have grieved the Holy Spirit, and wounded our own consciences, to aggravate our crime, so far that from hence we may conclude our state to be altogether hopeless.

2dly, He endeavours to stop all the springs of comfort, that might fortify us against, or afford us any relief under this temptation; and accordingly he turns our thoughts from the promises of the covenant of grace, and persuades the soul to conclude that they are not made to himself; therefore he ought not to apply them to himself for his comfort; and to determine peremptorily against himself, that he is not elected to salvation; not from any marks of reprobation that he finds in himself, but by entering into God's secret counsels, and pretending to search the records of heaven, which he has no warrant to look into, (in which respect despair contains in it a mixture of sinful presumption,) and, at the same time, he has a secret aversion to converse with those who are able to speak a word in season to him; and if any endeavours are used to convince him that the mercy of God is infinite, his thoughts

are not as our thoughts, and that the merit of Christ extends itself to the chief of sinners, it is all to no purpose, for his ge neral reply, to this and all other arguments of the like nature, is that this belongs not to him, or his iniquities have excluded him from the divine favour.

3dly, Satan endeavours to hinder a soul at this time, from waiting on God in ordinances. As for the Lord's supper, he not only dissuades him from attending on it, but endeavours to insinuate, that, in partaking of it in times past, he has eat and drunk his own damnation, giving a perverse sense of that scripture, 1 Cor. xi. 29. which, as appears from the context, is not to be applied to weak believers, but to such as engage in this ordinance, in a profane and irreverent manner, as though it were not a divine institution, and without any desire of obtaining spiritual mercies from God therein; and the word which we render damnation, ought to be rendered judgment, denoting that they expose themselves to temporal, as well as spiritual judgments in this world for this wickedness; not that they are from hence to conclude, that their eternal damnation will unavoidably ensue hereupon: And therefore the design of this scripture, is to lead to repentance, and not to despair. As for the word preached, he concludes, that every thing which is delivered therein, contains an indictment against him, and there he cannot endure to hear it: And, as for prayer, Satan discourages him from it, by pretending that he is not in a right frame for the performance of this duty, and by giving a false sense of such scriptures as these, in Prov. xxviii. 9. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination; and, in chap. xxi. 27. The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination; the meaning of which is, not that the duty itself is sinful because performed by sinners, or that God hates them the more for praying, but that he hates the hypocrisy, formality, and other sins committed by them, when engaged in this duty; so that they should rather strive and pray against this unbecoming frame of spirit, than lay aside the duty itself, as they are tempted to do.

4thly, Satan also makes use of false reasoning, by which he endeavours to answer this end; as,

[1.] He puts them upon concluding, that because they have no grace, therefore they never shall have it; which method of reasoning, if it were just, must be applied to all unregenerate sinners; and then we must conclude, that the whole work of conversion in this world, is at an end; which, blessed be God, it is not.

[2.] He farther argues, that because they have lived a great while in a course of sin, and their hearts are very much hardened thereby; therefore they cannot be broken, or their wound is

Incurable, and there are no healing medicines; which is to set limits to the almighty power and grace of God.

[3.] Satan farther induces them to conclude, that there is something uncommon in their case, that they are greater sinners than ever obtained mercy, which is more than it is possible for them to know; however, they are tempted to apply this presumptuous and discouraging suggestion to themselves to heighten their despair, and hinder the force of any argument that may be brought to the contrary.

[4.] The most common argument which Satan uses to induce persons to despair, is, that they have sinned against light, and the convictions of their own consciences, grieved and quenched the Spirit of God; and therefore they are inclined to think that they have committed the unpardonable sin. This is often alleged by persons against themselves, though, at the same time, they know not what that sin is, and regard not any thing that is said to convince then, that they have committed it; and, indeed, their very fears that they have, and the desires they express that it were otherwise with them, are an undeniable argument that they are mistaken in the judgment which they pass on themselves, by adhering to Satan's suggestions, leading them to despair *. Thus we have given some account of the great variety of temptations which we are exposed to from the world, the flesh and the Devil. We are now to consider,

Secondly, How we are to pray, that we may not be led into temptation; or, if we are, by what means we may be delivered from the evil consequences that will arise from our compliance therewith. An hour of temptation is not only. afflictive, but dangerous, by reason of the united assaults of those enemies that we have to deal with. The world continually presents objects that are agreeable to corrupt nature; and Satan is unwearied in his endeavours, to turn us aside from God thereby, that he may have us in his own power, and drive us from one degree of impiety to another: There fore, though it is not impossible to be tempted without sin, yet it is exceeding difficult; and therefore, as we are to take heed, that we do not go in the way of temptation; so we are to address ourselves to God, that he would keep us from it, if it be his will.

We are not, indeed, absolutely to pray against it, as we are to pray against sin, which it is not possible for us to commit, without contracting guilt; whereas we may be tempted to sin, and yet come off conquerors over it: But, since

See a particular account what this sin is; and when a person may certainly conclude that he has not committed it, ante page 318 to 320.

the enterprize itself is hazardous, the conflict difficult, and the event, with respect to us, uncertain, we should rather desire, that, if God has not some, gracious ends to answer thereby, which are, at present, unknown to us, he would be pleased to prevent it. The case is the same as though we were apprehensive of an infectious distemper raging amongst us, which we are to pray against; though God could, by his power, preserve us, in particular, from the ill consequenees thereof; or, if we were informed, that an enemy laid wait secretly for our lives, it is possible for God to deliver us out of his hand; yet if the matter were referred to our own choice, we would rather desire that he may not be suffered to assault us. Thus we are to pray, that God would keep us from temptation; though we are not, at the same time, to question his power, or distrust his providence, as though he could not carry us safely through it; which we are to hope that he will do, if he suffers us to be tempted. Neither are we to suppose, that we can be altogether free from those temptations that arise from the imperfection of this present state, in which we must expect to be subject to the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit: Therefore we are principally to direct our prayers to God, that he would keep us from failing by the temptation, or else, that he would recover us, when fallen, prevent the evils, that would otherwise ensue, and over-rule our sinful compliance therewith, to his own glory, and our future advantage.

1. We are to pray, that he would keep us from falling by the temptation, that it may be like a wave dashing against a rock, which remains unmoved thereby, or like a dart shot against a breast-plate of steel, which only blunts the point thereof, and returns it back without doing any execution. Now God prevents our falling by temptation, either by his restraining or renewing grace: The former of these is common to the regenerate and the unregenerate; and where there is nothing more than this, it chiefly consists in some alteration made in the natural temper, or present inclinations of men, whereby sin, though it remains unmortified, is, nevertheless abstained from, like a river that is kept from overflowing a country, not by ceasing to be fluid in its own nature, but by being contained within its proper banks. These restraints, in some, proceed from that change which providence makes in their outward condition or circumstances in the world; so that those temptations, which, before this, they were so ready to comply with, are either discontinued, or offered without success; as when a person is bowed down with some affliction, that it gives a different turn to his passions, whereby, as Job speaks, the heart is made soft, Job xxiii. 16. in a natural way, by those

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