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ever be grieved, be sure the Spirit be not grieved by your enormities; nor by your refusing the cordials and comforts that he sets before you; nor by slighting and despising his gracious actings in others; nor by calling sincerity, hypocrisy; faith, fancy; nor by fathering those things upon the Spirit, that are the fruits of your own hearts. The Spirit of the Lord is your Counseller, your Comforter, your Upholder, your Strengthener. It is only the Spirit that makes a man too great for Satan to conquer. Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world, 1 John iv. 4.
Direct 3. If you would not be taken with any of Satan's devices, then labour for more heavenly wisdom. Ah, souls, you are much in the dark. You have but a little light to what others have, and to what you might have had, had you not been wanting to yourselves. There are many knowing souls, but there are but a few wise souls. There is often-times a great deal of knowledge, where there is but little wisdom to improve that knowledge. Knowledge without wisdom is like metal in a blind horse, which is often an occasion of the rider's fall. It is not the most knowing Christian, but the most wise Christian, that sees, avoids, and escapes Satan's snares. The way of life is above to the wise, says Solomon, that he may depart from hell beneath, Prov. xv. 24. Heavenly wisdom makes a man delight to fly high; and the higher any man flies, the more he is out of the reach of Satan's snares. Ah, souls, you had need of a great deal of heavenly wisdom, to see where and how Satan lays his baits and snares; and wisdom to find out proper remedies against his devices; and wisdom to apply those remedies seasonably, inwardly, and effectually to your own hearts, that so you may avoid the snares which that evil one has laid for your precious souls.
Direct. 4. If you would not be taken with any of Satan's devices, then make present resistance against Satan's first motions. It is safe to resist, it is dangerous to dispute. Eve disputes, and falls in paradise; Job resists, and conquers upon the dunghill. He that will play with Satan's bait, will quickly be taken with Satan's nook. The promise of conquest is made over to resisting, not to disputing; Resist the devil, and he shall fly from you. Ah, souls, were you better at resisting, than at disputing (though happily you are not very expert at either) your temptations would be fewer, and your strength to stand would be greater, than now it is.
Direct. 5. If you would not be taken with any of Satan's devices, then labour to be filled with the Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord is a Spirit of light and power: and what can a soul do without light and power, against spiritual wickednesses in high places? It is not enough that you have the Spirit; you must be filled with the Spirit, or else Satan, that evil spirit, will be too hard for you, and his plots will prosper against you. That is a sweet word of the apostle; Be filled with the Spirit; that is, labour for abundance of the Spirit. He who thinks he has enough of the Holy Spirit, will quickly find himself vanquished by the evil spirit. Satan has his snares to take you in prosperity and adversity, in health and sickness, in strength and weakness, when you are alone and when you are in company, when you come on to spiritual duties and when you come off from spiritual duties; and if you are not filled with the Spirit, Satan will be too hard and too crafty for you, and will easily and frequently take you in his snares, and make a prey of you in spite of your souls. Therefore labour more to have your hearts filled with the Spirit, than to have your head filled with notions, your shops with wares, your chests with silver, or your bags with gold; so shall you escape the snares of this fowler, and triumph over all his plots.
Direct. 6. If you would not be taken in any of Satan's snares, then keep humble. An humble heart will rather lie in the dust, than rise by wickedness; and sooner part with all, than the peace of a good conscience. Humility keeps the soul free from many darts of Satan's casting and snares of his spreading; as the low shrubs are free from many violent gusts and blasts of wind, which shake and rend the taller trees. The devil has least power to fasten a temptation on him who is most humble, He who has a gracious measure of humility, is neither affected with Satan's proffers, nor terrified with his threatenings. I have read of one, who seeing in a vision many snares of the
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devil spread upon the earth, sat down and mourned, and said in himself ' Who shall pass through these V Whereunto he heard a voice answering, 'Humility shall.' God has said, that he will teach the humble, and that he will dwell with the humble, and that he will fill and satisfy the humble; and if the teachings of God, the in-dwellings of God, if the pourings in of God, will not keep the soul from falling into Satan's snares, I do not know what will: and therefore, as you would be happy in resisting Satan, and blessed in triumphing over Satan and all his snares, keep humble; I say again, keep humble.
Direct. 7. If you would not be taken in any of Satan's snares, then keep a strong, close, and constant watch. A secure soul is already an ensnared soul, The soul that will not watch against temptations, will certainly fall before the power of temptation. Satan works most strongly on the fancy, when the soul is drowsy. The soul's security is Satan's opportunity to fall upon the soul, and to spoil the soul, as Joshua did the men of Ai. The best way to be safe and secure from all Satan's assaults, is, with Nehemiah and the Jews, to watch and pray, and pray and watch: by this means they become too hard for their enemies, and the work of the Lord did prosper sweetly in their hands. Remember how Christ chid his sluggish disciples, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? What, cannot you watch with me? How will you then die with me? If you cannot endure words, how will you endure wounds? Satan always keeps a crafty and malicious watch, seeking whom he may devour, or whom he may drink, or sip up, as the apostle speaks in 1 Pet. v. 8. Satan is very envious at our condition, that we should enjoy that paradise out of which he is cast, and out of which he shall be for ever kept. Shall Satan keep a crafty watch; and shall not Christians keep a holy spiritual watch? Our whole life is beset with temptations; Satan watches all opportunities to break our peace, to wound our consciences, to lessen our comforts, to impair our graces, to slur our evidences, and to damp our assurance. O what need then have we to be always upon our watch-tower, lest we be surprised by this subtle serpent.
Watchfulness includes a waking, a rousing up of the
soul. It is a continual, careful observing of our hearts and ways, in all the turnings of our lives, that we still keep close to God and his word. Watchfulness is nothing else but the soul running up and down, to and fro, busy every where. It is the heart busied and employed with diligent observation of what comes from within us, and of what comes from without us and into us. Ah, souls, you are no longer safe and secure, than when you are upon your watch. While Antipater kept the watch, Alexander was safe; and while we keep a strict watch, we are safe. A watchful soul is a soul upon the wing, a soul out of gun-shot, a soul upon a rock, a soul in a castle, a soul above the clouds, a soul held fast in everlasting arms.
I shall conclude this seventh head with this advice—remember the dragon is subtle, and bites the elephant's ear, and then sucks his blood, because he knows that to be the only place which the elephant cannot reach with his trunk to defend; so our enemies are so subtle, that they will bite us and strike us where they may most mischief us; and therefore it very much concerns us to stand always upon our guard.
Direct. 8. If you would not be taken with any of Satan's snares and devices, then keep up your communion with God. Your strength to stand, and withstand Satan's fiery darts, is from your communion with God. A soul high in communion with God may be tempted, but will not easily be conquered; such a soul will fight it out to the death. . Communion with God furnishes the soul with the greatest and the choicest arguments to withstand Satan's temptations. Communion is the result of union. Communion is a reciprocal exchange between Christ and a gracious soul. Communion is Jacob's ladder, where you have Christ sweetly coming down into the soul, and the soul by divine influences sweetly ascending up to Christ. Communion with Christ is very inflaming, raising, and strengthening.
While Sampson kept up his communion with God, no enemy could stand before him, but he goes on conquering, and to conquer: but when he was fallen in his communion with God, he quickly falls before the plots of his enemies. It will be so with your souls. So long as your communion with God is kept up, you will be too hard for spiritual wickednesses in high places; but if you fall from your communion with God, you will fail as others before the face of every temptation. David, so long as he kept up his communion with God, stands, and triumphs over all his enemies; but when he was fallen in his communion with God, then he falls before the enemies that were in his own bosom, and flies before those that pursued after his life. It will be so with your souls, if you do not keep up your communion with God. Job keeps up his communion with God, and conquers Satan upon the dunghill. Adam loses his communion with God, and is conquered by Satan in paradise. Communion with God is a shield upon land as well as an anchor at sea: it is a sword to defend you, as well as a staff to support you; therefore keep up your communion.
Direct. 9. If you would not be taken in any of Satan's snares, then engage not against Satan in your own strength, but be every day drawing new virtue and strength from the Lord Jesus. Certainly, that soul that engages against any old or new temptation, without new strength, new influences from on high, will fall before the power of the temptation. You may see this in Peter. He rested upon some old received strength, (Though all men should deny thee, yet will not I.) and therefore he falls sadly before a new temptation; he curses, and swears, and denies him thrice, who had thrice appeared gloriously to him. Ah, souls, when the snare is spread, look up to Jesus Christ, who is lifted up in the gospel, as the brazen serpent was in the wilderness; and say to him, ' Dear Lord, here is a new snare laid to catch my soul; and grace formerly received, without fresh supplies from thy blessed bosom, will not deliver me from this snare. O give me new strength, new power, new influence, new measures of grace, that so I may escape this snare.' Ah, souls, remember this, that your strength to stand and overcome, must not be expected from graces received, but from the fresh and renewed influences of heaven. You must lean more upon Christ than upon your duties; you must lean more