Choice excerpts from Thomas Brooks'
Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices


Soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems & machinations!


"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11

Christ,
the Scripture,
your own hearts,
and Satan's devices,
are the four prime things that should be first and most
studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these,
they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter. It is my
work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman,
to do my best to discover . . .
  the fullness of Christ,
  the emptiness of the creature,
  and the snares of the great deceiver.

Satan being fallen . . .
 from light to darkness,
 from felicity to misery,
 from heaven to hell,
 from an angel to a devil,
is so full of malice and envy that he will leave no means
unattempted, whereby he may make all others eternally
miserable with himself. He being shut out of heaven, and
shut up "under the chains of darkness until the judgment
of the great day," makes use of all his power and skill to
bring all people into the same condition and condemnation
with himself. Satan has cast such sinful seed into our souls,
that now he can no sooner tempt, but we are ready to
assent
; he can no sooner have a plot upon us, but he makes
a conquest of us. If he does but show men a little of the
beauty of the world, how ready are they to fall down and
worship him! Whatever sin the heart of man is most
prone to, that the devil will help forward!
Satan loves
to sail with the wind, and to suit men's temptations to
their conditions and inclinations.


From the power, malice and skill of Satan—proceeds all the
soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems and machinations,
which are in the world. A man may as well count the stars, and
number the sands of the sea, as reckon up all the devices of Satan!

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11



He hides the hook!

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11

Satan has his several devices to deceive, entangle,
and undo the souls of men. Satan has . . .
  snares for the wise, and snares for the simple;
  snares for hypocrites, and snares for the upright;
  snares for brave, and snares for the timorous;
  snares for the rich, and snares for the poor;
  snares for the aged, and snares for youth.
Happy are those souls which are not captured
and held in the snares that he has laid!

Satan's first device to draw the soul into sin is,
  to present the bait—and hide the hook;
  to present the golden cup—and hide the poison;
  to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit
that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin—
and to hide from the soul the wrath and misery
that will certainly follow the committing of sin!

By this device he deceived our first parents, "And the
serpent said unto the woman, You shall not surely die
—for God knows, that in the day you eat thereof, then
your eyes shall be opened; and you shall be as gods."
Your eyes shall he opened, and you shall be as gods!
Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit.
Oh—but he hides the hook—the shame, the wrath,
and the loss that would certainly follow! So Satan
cheats them—giving them an apple in exchange for
a paradise!

Satan with ease pawns falsehoods upon us, by his
golden baits
, and then he leads us and leaves us
in a fool's paradise. He promises the soul honor,
pleasure, profit—but pays the soul with the greatest
contempt, shame, and loss that can be!

Alas! Many have fallen forever by this vile strumpet,
the world, who, by showing forth her two fair breasts
of PROFIT and PLEASURE, has wounded their souls,
and cast them down into utter perdition! She has,
by the glistening of her pomp and preferment,
slain millions!



The pouring forth of all His wrath

"I will sing of Your love and justice." Psalm 101:1

Mercy is God's Alpha—justice is His Omega.

When God's mercy is despised—then His justice takes
the throne!

God is like a prince, who first hangs out the white flag
of mercy; if this wins men—they are happy forever! But
if they remain rebellious, then God will put forth His red
flag
of justice and judgment.

If His mercy is despised—His justice shall be felt!

God is as just—as He is merciful. As the Scriptures
portray Him to be a very merciful God—so they
portray Him to be a very just God.

Witness His casting the angels out of heaven and
His binding them in chains of darkness until the
judgment of the great day.

Witness His turning Adam out of Paradise.

Witness His drowning of the old world.

Witness His raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom.

Witness all the troubles, losses, sicknesses,
and diseases, which are in the world.

Witness His treasuring up of wrath against
the day of wrath.

But above all, witness the pouring forth of all His
wrath
upon His bosom Son, when Jesus bore the
sins of His people, and cried out, "My God, My God,
why have You forsaken Me?"

As I know not the man who can reckon up his mercies;
so I know not the man who can sum up the miseries
which are coming upon him for his sins.

God is slow to anger—but He recompenses His slowness
with grievousness of punishment. If we abuse His mercy
to serve our lust—then He will rain hell out of heaven,
rather than not visit for such sins.

Men shall be deeper in hell, because heaven was offered
unto them—and they abused God's mercy. Sins against
God's mercy, will bring upon the soul the greatest misery!



A soul given up to sin

It is the greatest judgment in the world to be left to sin.
O unhappy man—when God leaves you to yourself, and
does not resist you in your sins! Woe, woe to him at
whose sins God winks at. When God lets the way to hell
be a smooth and pleasant way—that is hell on this side
hell, and a dreadful sign of God's indignation against
a man; a token of his rejection, and that God does not
intend good unto him.

That is a sad word, "Ephraim is joined to idols—let him
alone!
" (Hosea 4:17) Ephraim will be unteachable and
incorrigible; he has made a match with sin—and he shall
have his bellyful of it!

And that is a terrible saying, "So I gave them up unto
their own hearts' lusts, and they walked in their own
counsels." (Psalm 81:12). A soul given up to sin is
a soul ripe for hell—a soul hastening to destruction!

Ah Lord! this mercy I humbly beg—that whatever You
give me up to, You will not give me up to the ways of
my own heart! If You will give me up to be afflicted,
or tempted, or reproached—I will patiently sit down,
and say, It is the Lord, let Him do with me what seems
good in His own eyes. Do anything with me, lay what
burden You will upon me—but do not give me up to
the ways of my own heart!

Augustine says, "Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil
man—myself!"



It is but a little sin!

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11

"Ah!" says Satan, "It is but a little sin—a little pride,
a little worldliness, a little lust, etc. You may commit it
without any danger to your soul. It is but a little one;
you may commit it, and yet your soul shall live."

Consider, that there is great danger, yes, many times
most danger—in the smallest sins. "A little leaven leavens
the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:6). If the serpent sneaks in his
head—he will draw in his whole body after him. Greater
sins do sooner startle the soul, and awaken and rouse
up the soul to repentance, than lesser sins do. Little sins
often slide into the soul, and breed, and work secretly and
indiscernibly in the soul, until they come to be so strong, as
to trample upon the soul, and to cut the throat of the soul.

Many are eternally killed and betrayed by the 'little sins',
as they call them, that are nourished in their own bosoms.

A little hole in the ship, sinks it.

A small breach in a dyke, carries away all before it.

A little stab at the heart, kills a man.

A little sin, without a great deal of mercy, will damn a man!



Sweet poisons!

"I will give You all these things—if You will fall down and
 worship me." Matthew 4:9

Satan presents the world in such a dress, and in such a garb,
as to ensnare the soul, and to win the affection of the soul.
He represents the world to them in its beauty and finery, which
proves a bewitching sight to carnal men. Satan can no sooner
cast out his golden bait—but we are ready to play with it,
and to nibble at it!
He can no sooner throw out his golden
ball—but men are apt to run after it—though they lose God
and their souls in the pursuit!

Ah! the time, the thoughts, the hearts, the souls—which the
inordinate love of this wicked world eats up and destroys!
Where one thousand are destroyed by the world's frowns
—ten thousand are destroyed by the world's smiles!

The world, siren-like, sings to us—then sinks us!

It kisses us—then betrays us, like Judas!

It kisses us—then stabs us under the rib, like Joab.

The honors, splendor, and all the glory of this world, are but
sweet poisons, which will much endanger us, if they do not
eternally destroy us. Ah! the multitude of souls that have
glutted on these sweet baits, and died forever! Such men
will sell Christ, heaven, and their souls for a trifle! "How long
will you love what is worthless and pursue a lie?" Psalm 4:2

Ah, how many thousands are there now on earth, who have
found this true by experience; who have spun a lovely rope
to strangle themselves, both temporally and eternally, by
being bewitched by the beauty and finery of this world!

The main reason why men dote upon the world, and damn
their souls to get the world, is, because they are not acquainted
with a greater glory! Men ate acorns, until they were acquainted
with the use of wheat. Ah, did men but taste more of heaven,
and live more in heaven, and had more glorious hopes of going
to heaven, ah, how easily would they trample the world under
their feet!

"You joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because
 you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions."
     Hebrews 10:34

Let heaven be a man's object, and earth will soon be his abject.
Assurance of more great and glorious things, breed in the soul a
holy scorn and contempt
of all these poor, base worldly things
—which the soul before valued above God, Christ and heaven.



A sea of blood, wrath, sin, sorrow, misery

Ah, what a sea of blood, of wrath, of sin, of sorrow
and misery—did the Lord Jesus wade through for your
eternal good! Christ did not plead, "This cross is too
heavy for Me to bear; this wrath is too great for Me to
lie under; this cup of suffering, which has in it all the
ingredients of divine wrath, is too bitter for Me to sip
of—how much more to drink the very dregs of it!" No!
Christ does not plead the difficulty of the service—but
resolutely and bravely wades through all! "I gave My
back to those who beat Me, and My cheeks to those
who tore out My beard. I did not hide My face from
scorn and spitting." Isaiah 50:6. Christ bears . . .
  His Father's wrath,
  the punishment of your sins,
  the malice of Satan,
  the rage of the world,
and sweetly and triumphantly passes through all.

Christ has freed you from
. . .
  all your enemies,
  the curse of the law,
  the damnatory power of sin,
  the wrath of God,
  the sting of death,
  the torments of hell.

"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us
 purify ourselves from everything that contaminates
 body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence
 for God."
2 Corinthians 7:1




Sheep or swine?

It is possible for Christians to fall into the same sins of
which they have formerly repented—by the secret, subtle,
and strong workings of sin in their hearts. And no wonder,
for though their repentance is ever so sincere and sound
—yet their graces are but weak, and their mortification
of sin is imperfect in this life. Though by grace they are
freed from the dominion of sin, and from the damnatory
power of every sin, and from the love of all sin; yet grace
does not free them from the indwelling of any one sin.
Therefore it is possible for a Christian to fall again and
again into the same sin.

God will graciously pardon those sins to His people,
which He will not in this life totally subdue in His people.

I have never seen a promise in Scripture, which says that
when our sorrow and grief has been so great, or so much,
for this or that sin—that God will then preserve us from
ever falling into the same sin. The sight of such a promise
would be as life from the dead to many a precious soul,
who desires nothing more than to keep close to Christ,
and fears nothing more than backsliding from Christ.

Yet, there is a great difference between a sheep which by
weakness falls into the mire—and a swine which delights
to wallow in the mire! There is a great difference between
a woman who is raped, though she fights and cries out—
and an alluring adulteress!



Hell's greatest enrichers!

"The prophets who lead my people astray." Micah 3:5

Satan labors by false teachers, who are his emissaries
to deceive, delude, and forever undo the precious souls
of men! They seduce them, and carry them out of the
right way into by-paths and blind thickets of error and
wickedness—where they are lost forever!

As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume
their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls;
so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish
upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that
they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls.
They know sugared-poison goes down sweetly. They wrap
up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold! "Peace, peace!
they say, when there is no peace." Jeremiah 6:14

"Beware of false prophets, for they come to you in sheep's
clothing—but inwardly they are ravening wolves!" These
lick and suck the blood of souls! These kiss and kill! They
cry, 'Peace, peace!' until souls fall into everlasting flames!

False teachers handle holy things with wit and trifling, rather
than with fear and reverence. They are soul-murderers! They
are like evil surgeons, who skin over the wound—but never
heal it. False teachers are hell's greatest enrichers! Such
smooth teachers are sweet soul-poisoners! This age is full
of such teachers—such monsters!

They eye your goods more than your good; and mind
more the serving of themselves—than the saving of your
souls. So they may have your substance—they care not
though Satan has your souls! That they may the better
pick your purse—they will hold forth such principles as
are very indulgent to the flesh.

These are Satan's great benefactors, and such as divine
justice will hang up in hell as the greatest malefactors!




The worst & most infectious plague in the world

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11

Keep at the greatest distance from sin, and from
playing with the golden bait which Satan holds
forth to catch you!

It is our wisest and our safest course to stand at the
farthest distance from sin; not to go near the house
of the harlot—but to fly from all appearance of evil.
The best course to prevent falling into the pit is to
keep at the greatest distance from it; he who will be
so bold as to attempt to dance upon the brink of the
pit, may find by woeful experience that it is a righteous
thing with God, that he should fall into the pit.

Joseph keeps at a distance from sin, and from playing
with Satan's golden baits—and stands. David draws near,
and plays with the bait—and falls, and swallows bait and
hook! David comes near the snare, and is taken in it, to
the breaking of his bones, the wounding of his conscience,
and the loss of fellowship with his God.

Sin is a plague, yes, the worst and most infectious
plague in the world
; and yet, ah! how few are there
who tremble at it—who keep at a distance from it! Ah,
how does the father's sin infect the child, the husband's
infect the wife, the master's the servant! The sin that is
in one man's heart is able to infect a whole world, it is
of such a spreading and infectious nature!



Dance and dine with the devil

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11

Sin is but a bitter sweet. That seeming sweet which
is in sin will quickly vanish; and lasting shame, sorrow,
horror, and terror will come in the room thereof.

Forbidden profits and pleasures are most pleasing to
vain men, who count madness mirth. Many long to be
meddling with the murdering morsels of sin, which
nourish not—but rend and consume the soul which
receives them. Many eat that on earth which they
digest in hell.
Sin's murdering morsels will deceive
those who devour them.
Adam's apple was a bitter sweet;
Esau's bowl of stew was a bitter sweet;
the Israelites' quails a bitter sweet;
Jonathan's honey a bitter sweet;
Adonijah's dainties a bitter sweet.

After the meal is ended, then comes the reckoning.
Men must not think to dance and dine with the
devil
, and then to sup with Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; to feed upon the
poison of asps, and yet that the viper's tongue
should not slay them!



 

Nibbling at Satan's golden baits!

". . . the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13

Sin is of a very deceitful and bewitching nature. It will
kiss the soul, and look enticing to the soul, and yet betray
the soul forever. It will with Delilah smile upon us—that it
may betray us into the hands of the devil—as she betrayed
Samson into the hands of the Philistines.

Tell the bewitched soul that sin is a viper that will certainly
kill; that sin often kills secretly, insensibly, eternally—yet
the bewitched soul cannot, and will not, cease from sin.

A man bewitched with sin had rather lose God, Christ,
heaven, and his own soul—than part with his sin! Oh,
therefore, forever take heed of playing with or nibbling
at Satan's golden baits!



Painted and gilded over


"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
 are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11

Satan knows that if he would present sin in its own nature
and dress, the soul would rather fly from it than yield to it;
and therefore he presents it unto us, not in its own proper
colors—but painted and gilded over with the name and
show of virtue, that we may the more easily be overcome
by it, and take the more pleasure in committing of it.

Consider that sin is never a whit the less filthy, vile, and
abominable—by its being colored and painted with virtue's
colors. A poisonous pill is never a whit the less poisonous
because it is gilded over with gold; nor a wolf is never a
whit the less a wolf because he has put on a sheep's skin;
nor the devil is never a whit the less a devil because he
appears sometimes like an angel of light. So neither is sin
any whit the less filthy and abominable by its being painted
over with virtue's colors.

The most dangerous vermin is too often to be found under
the fairest and sweetest flowers; the fairest glove is often
drawn over the foulest hand; and the richest robes are
often put upon the filthiest bodies. So are the fairest and
sweetest names upon the greatest and the most horrible
vices and errors that be in the world.



True repentance

True repentance includes a sensibleness of sin's sinfulness—how opposite and contrary sin is to the blessed God.
God is light, sin is darkness;
God is life, sin is death;
God is heaven, sin is hell;
God is beauty, sin is deformity.

Also true repentance includes a sensibleness of sin's destructiveness; how sin cast angels out of heaven, and Adam out of paradise; how sin laid the first cornerstone in hell, and brought in all the curses, crosses, and miseries, which are in the world; and how sin makes men liable to all temporal, spiritual and eternal wrath; how sin has made
men Godless, Christless, hopeless and heavenless.

Further, true repentance includes sorrow for sin, contrition of heart. It breaks the heart with sighs, and sobs, and groans—that by sin—a loving God and Father is offended; a blessed Savior afresh crucified, and the sweet Comforter, the Spirit, grieved and vexed.

Again, repentance includes, not only a loathing of sin—but also a loathing of ourselves for sin. As a man does not only loathe poison—but he loathes the very dish or vessel which has the smell of the poison; so a true penitent does not only loathe his sin—but he loathes himself, the vessel which smells of it. So Ezek. 20:43: 'And there shall you remember your ways and all your doings, wherein you have been defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that you have committed.' True repentance will work your hearts, not only to loathe your sins—but to loathe yourselves!

Again, true repentance does not only work a man to loathe himself for his sins—but it makes him ashamed of his sin also: 'What fruit had you in those things whereof you are now ashamed?' says the apostle (Rom. 6:21). So Ezekiel: 'And you shall be confounded, and never open your mouth any more, because of your shame, when I am pacified toward you for all that you have done, says the Lord God' (16:63). When a penitent soul sees his sins pardoned, the anger of God pacified, the divine justice satisfied, then he sits down and blushes, as one ashamed.

Yes, true repentance makes a man to deny his sinful self, and to walk contrary to sinful self, to take a holy revenge upon sin, as you may see in Paul, the jailor, Mary Magdalene, and Manasseh. This the apostle shows in 2 Cor. 7:10, 11: 'Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.'

True repentance is a continual act. The word repent implies the continuation of it. Anselm confesses, that all his life was either damnable for sin committed, or unprofitable for good omitted; and at last concludes, "Oh, what then remains, but in our whole life—but to lament the sins of our whole life." True repentance inclines a man's heart to perform God's statutes always, even unto the end. A true penitent must go on from faith to faith, from strength to strength; he must never stand still nor turn back. Repentance is a grace, and must have its daily operation as well as other graces. True repentance is a continued spring, where the waters of godly sorrow are always flowing: 'My sin is ever before me' (Psalm 51:3). A true penitent is often casting his eyes back to the days of his former vanity, and this makes him morning and evening to 'water his couch with his tears.' 'Remember not against me the sins of my youth,' says one blessed penitent; and 'I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man,' says another penitent.

Repentance is a continual act of turning, a repentance never to be repented of, a turning never to turn again to folly. A true penitent has ever something within him to turn from; he can never get near enough to God; no, not so near him as once he was; and therefore he is still turning and turning that he may get nearer and nearer to him, who is his chief good and his only happiness, optimum maximum, the best and the greatest. They are every day a-crying out, 'O wretched men that we are, who shall deliver us from this body of death!' (Rom. 7:24). They are still sensible of sin, and still conflicting with sin, and still sorrowing for sin, and still loathing of themselves for sin. Repentance is no transient act—but a continued act of the soul.

Those who do not burn now in zeal against sin, must before long burn in hell for sin.

As the flood drowned Noah's own friends and servants, so must the flood of repenting tears drown our sweetest and most darling sins.


 
Flee from the occasions of sin!

Whatever has the least appearance of evil, shun it, as you
would do a serpent in your way, or poison in your food.

To venture upon the occasion of sin, and then to pray,
'Lead us not into temptation,' is as to thrust your finger
into the fire, and then to pray that it might not be burnt.

There is no conquest over sin, without the soul turning
from the occasion of sin. It is impossible for that man to
get the conquest of sin—who plays and sports with the
occasions of sin. God will not remove the temptation to
sin, except you turn from the occasion of sin. It is a just
and righteous thing with God, that he should fall into the
pit—who will adventure to dance upon the brink of the pit;
and that he should be a slave to sin—who will not flee
from the occasions of sin.

As long as there is fuel in our hearts for a temptation,
we cannot be secure. He who has gunpowder about
him had need keep far enough away from sparks!

To rush upon the occasions of sin is both to tempt
ourselves, and to tempt Satan to tempt our souls!

It is very rare that any soul plays with the occasions
of sin—but that soul is then ensnared by sin!

It is seldom that God keeps that soul from the acts
of sin, who will not keep off from the occasions of sin.
He who adventures upon the occasions of sin, is as he
who would quench the fire with gasoline!

Ah, souls, often remember how frequently you have
been overcome by sin, when you have boldly gone
upon the occasions of sin! Look back, souls, to the
days of your vanity, wherein you have been as easily
conquered as tempted, vanquished as assaulted—
when you have played with the occasions of sin.

As you would for the future be kept from the
acting of sin, and be made victorious over sin,
oh! flee from the occasions of sin!



The devil's logic


"Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
 God forbid. How shall we who are dead to sin, live
 any longer therein?" Romans 6:1, 2

To argue from God's mercy to sinful liberty—is the devil's
logic
—and such logicians do ever walk as upon a mine of
gunpowder ready to be blown up! No such soul can ever
avert or avoid the wrath of God. This is wickedness at the
height—for a man to be very bad, because God is very good!
There is not a worse spirit than this in hell. Ah, Lord, does
not wrath, yes, the greatest wrath, lie at this man's door?
Are not the strongest chains of darkness prepared for such
a soul? To sin against mercy is bestial; no, it is worse!

To render good for evil is divine.

To render good for good is human.

To render evil for evil is brutish.

But to render evil for good is devilish!

There is nothing in the world which renders a man more
unlike a Christian, and more like Satan—than to argue
from God's mercy to sinful liberty; from divine goodness
to licentiousness. This is devilish logic, and in whomever
you find it, you may write, 'This soul is lost!'

A man may as truly say, 'the sea burns', or 'the fire cools'
—as that God's free grace and mercy should make a truly
gracious soul to live wickedly.



A flower which does not grow in nature's garden!

"Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the
 hope that God will grant them repentance leading
 them to a knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 2:25

Repentance is a turning from sin (the most darling sin)
to God. It is mighty work, a difficult work; a work which
is above our power. There is no power below that power
which raised Christ from the dead, and which made the
world—which can break the heart of a sinner, or turn
the heart of a sinner!

You are as well able to melt adamant—as to melt your
own heart! You are as well able to turn a flint into flesh
—as to turn your own heart to the Lord! You are as well
able to raise the dead and to make a world—as to repent!

Repentance is a flower which does not grow in
nature's garden!


"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its
 spots? Neither can you do good, who are accustomed
 to doing evil."
Jeremiah 13:23


Repentance is a gift that comes down from above.

Men are not born with repentance in their hearts, as
they are born with tongues in their mouths! It is not
in the power of any mortal to repent at pleasure. 



Afflictions

All the afflictions which attend the people of God, are such as shall turn to their profit and glorious advantage.

Afflictions discover that filthiness and vileness in sin, which the soul has never yet seen.

Afflictions contribute to the mortifying and purging away of their sins. Afflictions are God's furnace, by which he cleanses His people from their dross. Affliction is a fire to purge out our dross, and to make virtue shine.

Afflictions are medicines which heal soul diseases. Colds and frosts destroy vermin; so do afflictions destroy the corruptions which are in our hearts. The Jews, under all the prophet's thunderings, retained their idols; but after their Babylonish captivity, there have been no idols found among them.

Afflictions are sweet preservatives to keep the saints from sin—which is a greater evil than hell itself.

Afflictions assist to make us more fruitful in holiness. 'But He afflicts us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.' The flowers smell sweetest after a shower; vines bear the better fruit, after pruning. Saints spring and thrive most internally when they are most externally afflicted. Afflictions are called by some 'the mother of virtue.' Manasseh's chain was more profitable to him than his crown. Luther could not understand some Scriptures until he was in affliction.

God's house of correction is his school of instruction. All the stones that hit Stephen's head, did but knock him closer to Christ, the corner-stone.

Afflictions lift up the soul to more rich, clear, and full enjoyments of God. God makes afflictions to be but inlets to the soul's more sweet and full enjoyment of His blessed self.
Christians, by their afflictions, gain more experience of the power of God supporting them, of the wisdom of God directing them, of the grace of God refreshing and cheering them, and of the goodness of God quieting and quickening of them to a greater love to holiness, and to a greater delight in holiness, and to a more vehement pursuing after holiness.

Afflictions keep the hearts of the saints humble and tender. Prosperity does not contribute more to the puffing up the soul, than adversity does to the bowing down of the soul. This the saints by experience find; and therefore they can kiss and embrace the cross, as others do the world's crown. The more the purest spices are beaten and bruised—the sweeter scent and fragrance they send abroad. So do saints when they are afflicted.

Afflictions bring the saints nearer to God, and to make them more importunate and earnest in prayer with God.

Afflictions revive and recover decayed graces; they inflame that love which is cold, and they quicken that faith which is decaying, and they put life into those hopes which are withering, and spirits into those joys and comforts which are languishing. Most men are like a top, which will not go unless you whip it, and the more you whip it the better it goes. You know how to apply it.

Those who are in adversity do better understand Scriptures. The more saints are beaten with the hammer of afflictions, the more they are made the trumpets of God's praises, and the more are their graces revived and quickened. Adversity abases the loveliness of the world which strives to entice us; it abates the lustiness of the flesh within, which strives to incite us to folly and vanity.

The afflictions which attend the saints in the ways of holiness, are but short and momentary. 'Sorrow may abide for a night—but joy comes in the morning' (Psalm 30:5). This short storm will end in an everlasting calm; this short night will end in a glorious day, that shall never have end. It is but a very short time between grace and glory; between our title to the crown and our wearing the crown; between our right to the heavenly inheritance and our possession of the heavenly inheritance. What is our life but a shadow, a bubble, a flower, a runner, a span, a dream?

It will be but as a day before God will give his afflicted ones beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness for the spirit of heaviness; before he will turn all your sighing into singing, all your lamentations into consolations, your sackcloth into silks, ashes into ointments, and your fasts into everlasting feasts!

There are none of God's afflicted ones, who have not their intermissions and respites while under their short and momentary afflictions. When God's hand is on your back, let your hand be on your mouth, for though the affliction be sharp, it shall be but short.

It is mercy that our affliction is not execution—but a correction. He who has deserved hanging, may be glad if he escapes with a whipping.

God's corrections are our instructions,
His lashes are our lessons,
His scourges are our schoolmasters,
His chastisements are our admonitions.



A house full of gold

Prosperity has been a stumbling-block, at which millions
have stumbled and fallen, and broke the neck of their souls
forever! Ah, the secret fretting, vexing, and gnawing that
daily, yes hourly, attends those men's souls—whose hands
are full of worldly goods! It is a heavy plague to have a
house full of gold
, and a heart full of sin.

"So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are
 trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge
 them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is
 at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving
 money, have wandered from the faith and pierced
 themselves with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:8-10



 
Names which the Holy Spirit has given them

Always look upon wicked men, under those names and
notions which the Scripture describes them, such as:
  lions for their fierceness,
  bears for their cruelty,
  dragons for their hideousness,
  dogs for their filthiness,
  wolves for their subtleness,
  scorpions,
  vipers,
  thorns,
  briars,
  thistles,
  brambles,
  stubble,
  dirt,
  chaff,
  dust,
  dross,
  smoke,
  scum.

You may know well enough what is within them, by the
apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them.
By looking upon them under those names and notions
that the Scripture sets them out by, may preserve the
soul from frequenting their company and delighting in
their society. Such monsters are wicked men—which
should render their company to all who have tasted of
the sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel
 of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in
 the seat of mockers." Psalm 1:1



 
A heavy burden

Riches are a heavy burden, and often a hindrance to heaven, and happiness.

All the felicity of this world is MIXED. Our light is mixed with darkness, our joy with sorrow, our pleasures with pain, our honor with dishonor, our riches with wants. If our minds are spiritual, clear and quick, we may see in the felicity of this world—our wine mixed with water, our honey with gall, our sugar with wormwood, and our roses with prickles. Surely all the things of this world are but bitter sweets. Sorrow attends worldly joy, danger attends worldly safety, loss attends worldly labors, tears attend worldly purposes. As to these things, men's hopes are vain, their sorrow certain, and joy feigned. The apostle calls this world 'a sea of glass,' a sea for the trouble of it, and glass for the brittleness and bitterness of it. (Rev. 4:6, 15:2, 21:18). The honors, profits, pleasures and delights of the world are like the gardens of Adonis, where we can gather nothing but trivial flowers, surrounded with many briars.

Tell why do you then neglect your duty towards God—to get the world? Why do you then so eagerly pursue after the world—and are so cold in your pursuing after God, Christ and holiness? Why then are your hearts so exceedingly raised, when the world comes in, and smiles upon you; and so much dejected, and cast down, when the world frowns upon you, and with Jonah's gourd withers before you?

The world is troublesome, and yet it is loved

Worldly things are not able to secure you from the least evil;
they are not able to procure you the least desirable good. The
crown of gold cannot cure the headache, nor the velvet slipper
ease the gout, nor the jewel about the neck take away the pain
of the teeth. Our daily experience evidences this, that all the
honors and riches which men enjoy, cannot free them from
calamities, diseases, or death. Why then should that be a bar
to keep you out of heaven—which cannot give you the least
ease on earth?

Polycrates gave a large sum of money to Anacreon, who for two nights afterwards, was so troubled with worry how to keep it, and how to spend it; that he took the money back to Polycrates, saying that it was not worth the pains which he had already taken for it.

King Henry the Fourth asked the Duke of Alva if he had observed the great eclipse of the sun, which had lately happened. No, said the duke, I have so much to do on earth, that I have no leisure to look up to heaven. Ah, that this were not true of most professors in these days! It is very sad to think, how their hearts and time are so much taken up with earthly things, that they have scarcely any leisure to look up to heaven, or to look after Christ, and the things that belong to their everlasting peace!



It is better to go to heaven alone

Those who walk with the many—shall perish with the many.

Those who do as the many, shall before long suffer with the many.

Those who live as the many, must die with the many,
and go to hell with the many.

The way to hell is broad and well beaten.

The way to be undone forever is to do as the most do.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate
 and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and
 many enter through it. But small is the gate and
 narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few
 find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Surely, it is better to go to heaven alone—than
to hell with company!

What wise man would fetch gold out of a fiery crucible;
that is, hazard his immortal soul, to gain the world, by
following a multitude in those steps that led to the
chambers of death and darkness?



 
Having nothing, yet possessing everything

True grace will enable a soul to sit down satisfied and
contented with the naked enjoyments of Christ. The
enjoyment of Christ without honor will satisfy the soul.
The enjoyment of Christ without riches, the enjoyment
of Christ without pleasures, and without the smiles of
creatures—will content and satisfy the soul.

'It is enough—Joseph is alive!' (Gen. 45:28) So says a
gracious soul, though honor is not, and riches are not,
and health is not, and friends are not—it is enough that
Christ is, that He reigns, conquers, and triumphs!

Christ is a bottomless ocean of all contentment, comfort
and satisfaction. He who has Him lacks nothing. He who
lacks him enjoys nothing. "Having nothing, yet
possessing everything
." 2 Corinthians 6:10



 
Let me have Jesus!

"Christ is all that matters!" Colossians 3:11

So says the saved soul: "Why do you tell me of this and
that outward comfort, when I cannot see the face of Him
whom my soul loves? Why, honor is not my Christ; riches
are not my Christ; the favor of the creature is not my Christ!
Let me have Jesus—and let the men of this world take
the world, and divide it among themselves!
I prize my
Christ above all, I would enjoy my Christ above all other
things in the world."

His presence will make up the absence of all other comforts.

His absence will darken and embitter all other comforts.

Christ is all and in all, to truly gracious souls.

We have all things in Christ.

Christ is all things to a Christian.

If we are sick, Jesus is a physician.

If we thirst, Jesus is a fountain.

If our sins trouble us, Jesus is our righteousness.

If we stand in need of help, Jesus is mighty to save.

If we fear death, Jesus is life.

If we are in darkness, Jesus is light.

If we are weak, Jesus is strength.

If we are in poverty, Jesus is plenty.

If we desire heaven, Jesus is the way.

The soul cannot say, 'this I would have, and
that I would have.' But having Jesus, he has
all he needs—eminently, perfectly, eternally.

Luther said he had rather be in hell with Christ,
than in heaven without Him.

'None but Christ! none but Christ!' said Lambert the
martyr, lifting up his hands and his flaming fingers!



 
Conflicts against sin

"I hate every false way." Psalm 119:104. The Hebrew
signifies to hate with a deadly and irreconcilable hatred.

A Christian conflicts against sin universally—the least
as well as the greatest; the most profitable and the most
pleasing sin, as well as against those which are less pleasing
and profitable. He will combat with all sin, though he cannot
conquer one as he should, and as he desires. He knows that
all sin strikes at God's holiness, as well as his own happiness;
at God's glory, as well as at his soul's comfort and peace.

The Christian knows that all sin is hateful to God, and
that all sinners are traitors to the crown and dignity of
the Lord Jesus. He looks upon one sin, and sees that
which threw down Noah, the most righteous man in
the world; and he looks upon another sin, and sees that
which cast down Abraham, the greatest believer in the
world; and he looks upon another sin, and sees that
which threw down David, the best king in the world.
He sees that one sin threw down Samson, the strongest
man in the world; another cast down Solomon, the
wisest man in the world; and another Moses, the
meekest man in the world; and another sin cast down
Job
, the most patient man in the world. This raises
a holy indignation against all sin, so that nothing can
satisfy and content his soul, but a destruction of all
those lusts and vermin which vex and rack his
righteous soul.

It will not suffice a gracious soul to see justice done
upon one sin—but he cries out for justice upon all.
He would not have some crucified and others spared;
but cries out, "Lord, crucify them all, crucify them all!
Though there is no one sin mortified and subdued in
me, as it should be, and as I would desire; yet every
sin is hated and loathed by me."

Oh! but the conflict which is in wicked men is partial.
They frown upon one sin and smile upon another; they
strike at some sins yet stroke others; they thrust some
out of doors but keep others close in their bosoms; as
you may see in Jehu, Herod, Judas, Simon Magus, and
Demas. Wicked men strike at gross sins, such as are
against the laws of society—but make nothing of lesser
sins; as vain thoughts and idle words. They fight against
those sins which fight against their honor, profits, and
pleasures; but make truce with those which are as dear
as right hands and as right eyes to them.



 
Ah! were Christians more humble

Labor to be clothed with humility. Humility makes a man . . .
  peaceable among brethren,
  fruitful in well-doing,
  cheerful in suffering, and
  constant in holy walking.

Humility fits for the highest services we owe to Christ, and yet will not neglect the lowest service to the lowest saint. Humility can feed upon the lowest dish, and yet it is maintained by the choicest delicacies, as God, Christ, and glory. Humility will make a man bless him who curses him, and pray for those who persecute him.

Humility is the nurse of our graces, the preserver of our mercies, and the great promoter of holy duties. A humble soul always finds three things on this side heaven: the soul to be empty, Christ to be full, and every mercy and duty to be sweet wherein God is enjoyed.

Humility can weep over other men's weaknesses, and rejoice over their graces. Humility will make a man quiet and contented in the lowest condition, and it will preserve a man from envying other men's prosperous condition. Humility honors those who are strong in grace, and puts two hands under those who are weak in grace.

Ah, Christian! though faith is the champion of grace, and love the nurse of grace; yet humility is the beautifier of grace! It casts a general glory upon all the graces in the soul. Ah! did Christians more abound in humility, they would be less bitter, selfish, and sour. They would be more gentle, meek, and sweet in their spirits and practices. Humility will make a man have high thoughts of others and low thoughts of himself; it will make a man see much glory and excellency in others, and much baseness and sinfulness in himself; it will make a man see others strong, and himself weak; others wise, and himself foolish.

Humility will make a man excellent at covering others' infirmities, and at recording their gracious services, and at delighting in their graces. Ah! were Christians more humble, there would be less contention, and more love among them than now is.

The humble soul is like the violet, which grows low, hangs the head downwards, and hides itself with its own leaves; and were it not that the fragrance of his many virtues discovered him to the world, he would choose to live and die in his self-contenting secrecy.



Ignorant people

The Catholic Church says that ignorance is the mother
of devotion. But the Scripture says that it is the mother
of destruction.

'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.' Hosea 4:6

'You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures.'
     Matthew 22:29

Ignorance is the mother of mistake, and the cause of
trouble, error, and of terror.

Ignorance is the highway to hell, and it makes a man
both a prisoner and a slave to the devil at once.

Ignorance unmans a man; it makes a man a beast, yes,
makes him more miserable than the beast which perishes.

There are none so easily nor so frequently captured in
Satan's snares—as ignorant people. They are easily
drawn to dance with the devil all day—and to dream
of supping with Christ at night.

Sin at first was the cause of ignorance—but now
ignorance is the cause of all sin.

There are none so frequent, and so impudent in the
ways of sin—as ignorant people. They care not, nor
mind not what they do, nor what they say against
God, Christ, heaven, holiness, and their own souls.



 
He loves those who are most unlovely

Ah! sinners, the greatness of your sins does but set
off the freeness and riches of Christ's grace, and the
immensity of His love! This makes heaven and earth
to ring of his praise, that He loves those who are
most unlovely
, that he shows most favor to those
who have sinned most highly against Him; as might
be showed by several instances in Scripture—as Paul,
Mary Magdalene, and others. Who sinned more against
Christ than these? And who had sweeter and choicer
manifestations of divine love and favor than these?



 
Until men have faith in Christ, their best services are
but splendid sins!



The unsearchable riches of Christ!


There is everything in Christ to encourage the greatest
sinners to believe on Him, to rest and lean upon Him for
all happiness and blessedness. Christ is . . .
  the greatest good,
  the choicest good,
  the chief good,
  the most suitable good,
  the most necessary good
  a pure good,
  a real good,
  a total good,
  an eternal good,
  a soul-satisfying good!

Sinners, are you poor? Christ has gold to enrich you.

Are you naked? Christ has royal robes, and white clothing to clothe you.

Are you blind? Christ has eye-salve to enlighten you.

Are you hungry? Christ will be manna to feed you.

Are you thirsty? He will be a well of living water to refresh you.

Are you wounded? He has a balm under his wings to heal you.

Are you sick? He is a physician to cure you.

Are you prisoners? He has laid down a ransom for you.

"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Ephesians 3:8



 
He has the worst names

We may read much of Satan's nature and disposition
by the diverse names and epithets that are given him
in the Scripture. Sometimes he is called Behemoth,
whereby the greatness and brutishness of the devil
is figured (Job 40:15). Those evil spirits are sometimes
called accusers, for their calumnies and slanders;
and evil ones, for their malice. Satan is Adversarius,
an adversary, that troubles and molests (1 Pet. 5:8).
Abaddon is a destroyer (Rev. 9:11). They are . . .
  tempters, for their suggestions;
  lions, for their devouring;
  dragons, for their cruelty;
  serpents, for their subtlety.

As his names are, so is he. Satan's names answer
to his nature. He has the worst names and the
worst nature of all created creatures.



Should God chain up Satan

"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery,
 sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."
Mt. 15:19


Man has an evil root within him. Were there no devil to
tempt him, nor any wicked men to entice him, yet that
cursed sinful nature which is in him, would draw him to
sin, though he knows beforehand that 'the wages of sin
is eternal death.'

The whole frame of man is out of frame.
The understanding is dark,
the will cross,
the memory slippery,
the affections crooked,
the conscience corrupted,
the tongue poisoned,
the heart wholly evil, only evil, and continually evil.

Should God chain up Satan, and give him no liberty to
tempt or entice people to vanity or folly, yet they could
not but sin against Him, by reason of that cursed nature
that is in them.

Satan can only present the golden cup—but he has no
power to force us to drink the poison that is in the cup.
He can only present to us the glory of the world, he
cannot force us to fall down and worship him, to enjoy
the world. He can only spread his snares, he has no
power to force us to walk in the midst of his snares.



 
From the cradle to the cross, His whole life was
a life of sufferings. Jesus waded through . . .
  a sea of trouble,
  a sea of sin,
  a sea of blood
  a sea of wrath,
that sinners might be pardoned, justified, reconciled,
and saved!


 

When he was but a young serpent

Satan is full of envy and enmity, and that makes him very studious to suit his snares and plots to the tempers, constitutions, desires, and callings of men—that so he may make them as miserable as himself.

Satan is a spirit of mighty abilities; and his abilities to lay snares before us are mightily increased by that long standing of his. He has had time enough to study all those ways and methods which tend most to ensnare and undo the souls of men. He has made it his whole study, his only study, his constant study—to find out snares, traps, and stratagems, to entangle and overthrow the souls of men. When he was but a young serpent, he easily deceived and outwited our first parents. But now he is grown into that 'old serpent,' as John speaks (Rev. 12:9). He is as old as the world, and has grown very cunning by experience.

Oh! has Satan so many devices to ensnare and undo the souls of men? How should this awaken dull, drowsy souls, and make them stand upon their watch! A Christian should be like the seraphim, beset all over with eyes and lights, that he may avoid Satan's snares, and stand fast in the hour of temptation.

The Lord has in the Scripture discovered the several snares, plots, and devices that the devil has to undo the souls of men, that so, being forewarned, we may be forearmed; that we may be always upon their watch-tower, and hold our weapons in our hands, as the Jews did in Nehemiah's time.

Ah, friends! 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.

Satan has his snares to capture you in prosperity and adversity, in health and sickness, in strength and weakness, when you are alone and when you are in company; and if you are not filled with the Spirit, Satan will be too hard and too crafty for you, and will easily and frequently capture you in his snares, and make a prey of you! Therefore labor more to have your hearts filled with the Spirit than to have your heads 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.

Your strength to stand and withstand Satan's fiery darts is from your communion with God. A soul in close 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.

If you would not be taken in any of Satan's snares, then do not engage Satan in your own strength—but be every day drawing new virtue and strength from the Lord Jesus. Certainly the one engages against any old or new temptation without new strength, new influences from on high—will fall before the power of the temptation. Ah, souls! when the snare is spread, look up to Jesus Christ, and say to him, "Dear Lord! here is a new snare laid to catch my soul, and grace formerly received, without fresh supplies from your blessed heart, will not deliver me from this snare. Oh! give me new strength, new power, new influences, new measures of grace—that so I may escape these snares!"

If you would not be taken in any of Satan's snares, then be much in prayer. Prayer is a shelter to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to the devil. Prayer is the gate of heaven, a key to let us into paradise. There is nothing that renders Satan's plots fruitless like prayer!

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."
Ephesians 6:11-13




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