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Now, this will appear to be a most certain truth, by an induction of particulars, thus:
(1.) By temptations God multiplies and increases his childrens spiritual experiences; the increase of which is better than the increase of gold* ; in the school of temptation, God gives his children the greatest experience of his power supporting them, of his word comforting them, of his mercy warning them, of his wisdom counselling them, of his faithfulness joying in them, and of his grace strengthening them, 2 Cor. xii. 9. My grace shall be sufficient for thee. Paul never experienced so deeply what almighty power was, what the everlasting arms of mercy were, and what in. finite grace and goodness was, as when he was under the buffetings of Satan.
(2.) All their temptations shall be physical, their temptations shall be happy preventions of great abominations, 2 Cor. xii. 7. Lest I should be exalted, lest I should be exalted +: It is twice, in that one verse; he begins with it, and he ends with it ; if he had not been buffeted, he might have been more highly exalted in his own conceit, than he was before in his ecstasy. Ah tempted souls! you say you are naught, very naught; but had it not been for the school of temptation, you might have been quite naught before this time: you say you are sick, you are even sick to death ; why,
Frequent engagements, add to the soldier's skill, and much increase his experiences.
† Those soldiers that are most in fighting, are least in sinning, and most free from diseases.
sickness had before this time killed you, had not temptations been physical to you: you are bad under temptations, but doubtless you would have been much worse, had not God made temptation a diet-drink for you.
(3.) Temptations shall much promote the exercise of grace. As the spring in the watch sets all the wheels a-going; and as Solomon's virtuous woman set all her maidens to work : so temptation sets faith on work, and love on work, and repentance on work, and hope on work, and holy fear on work, and godly sorrow on work*. As the wind sets the mill at work; so the wind of temptation sets the graces of the saints a-going. Now faith runs to Christ, now it hugs a promise, now it pleads the blood of Christ, now it looks to the recompense of reward, now it takes the sword of the Spirit, &c.; now love cleaves to Christ, now love hangs upon Christ, now love will fight it out to the death for Christ; now hope Alies to the horns of the sanctuary, now hope puts on her helmet, now hope casts her anchor upon that within the vail, &c. Grace is never more acted, thạn when a Christian is most tempted. Satan made a bow of Job's wife (of his rib, as Chrysostom speaks), and shot a temptation by her at Job, thinking to have shot him to the heart; Curse God and die: but the activity of Job's graces was a breastplate that made him temptation-proof. The devil tempting Bonaventure, told him, he was reprobate, and therefore persuaded him to
Tapers burn clearest in the dark.
drink in the present pleasures of this life: for (saith he) thou art excluded from the future joys with God in heaven. Bonaventure's graces being active, he answered, No, not so, Satan; if I must not enjoy God after this life, let me enjoy him as much as I can in this life.
(4.) By temptations the Lord will make you the more serviceable and useful to others*; none so fit and able to relieve tempted souls, to sympathise with tempted souls, to succour tempted souls, to counsel tempted souls, to pity tempted souls, to support tempted souls, to bear with tempted souls, and to comfort tempted souls, as those who have been in the school of temptations, 2 Cor. i. 3.4. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comfortethus in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are inany trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” By temptations God trains up his servants, and fits and capacitates them to succour and shelter their fellow-brethren. One tempted Christian, saith Luthert, is more profitable and useful to other Christians, than an hundred, (I may add, than a thousand,) that have not known the depths of Satan f, that have not been in the school of temptation. He that is master of arts in the school of temptation, hath learned
*The most skilful commanders and leaders are of greatest service and use to the soldiers. + In Gen. xxvii. # Rev. ii. 24.
an art to comfort, to succour, and gently to handle tempted and distressed souls, infinitely beyond what all human arts can reach unto; no doctor to him that hath been a doctor in the school of temptation, all other doctors are but illiterate dunces to him.
5. It is an honour to the saints to be tempted, and in the issue to have an honourable conquest over the tempter. It was a great honour to David, that he should be put to fight hand to hand with Goliath, 1 Sam. xvii. and in the issue to overcome him ; but it was a far greater honour to Job and Paul, that they should be put to combat in the open field with Satan himself, Job. i. 2. 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8, 9. 10. and, in the close to gain a famous conquest over him, as they did.
It was a very great honour to David's three mighty men, that, in jeopardy of their lives, they brake through the host of the Philistines, 2 Sam. xxiii. 13--18. to bring water to David out of the well of Bethlehem, and did effect it in spite of all the strength and power of their enemies, though it were to the extremest hazard of their blood and lives: but it is a far greater honour to the saints, to be furnished with a spirit of strength, courage, and valour, to break through an army of temptations, and in the close to triumph over them; and yet this honour have all the saints, 1 Cor. x. 13. “ But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Rom. xvi. 20. “And the God of peace shall tread Satan under your feet shortly." 1 John ii. 13, 14. “ I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning; I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one: I write unto you, children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning: I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in
have overcome the wicked one." 1 John v. 18. « We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not, (that is) that sin that is unto death," yerse 16. or he sinneth not as other men do, delightfully, greedily, customarily, resolved ly, impenitently, &c. “But he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” The glorious victory that the people of God had over Pharaoh, Exod. xiv. and his great host was a figure of the victory that the saints shallobtain over Satan and his instruments; which is clear from that, Rev. xv. 3. where we have the song of Moses, and of the Lamb: But why the song of Moses, and of the Lamb ? but to hint this to us, that the overthrow of Pharaoh was a figure of the overthrow of Satan, and the triumphal song of Moses was a figure of that song, which the saints shall sing for their overthrow of Satan.
As certainly as Israel overcame Pharaoh, so certainly shall every true Israelite overcome Satan. The Romans