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Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.—Mat. IV. 8, 9.
THIS is the third temptation. In handling it I shall use the former method, give you the history of the temptation, and observations thereupon.
In the history.
I. The introduction, ver. 8.
II. The temptation itself, with the grievousness of it, ver. 9.
III. Christ’s reply, ver. 10.
First, In the introduction we have—
1. The place the devil taketh him unto: an exceeding high mountain.
2. The fact: he showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.
1. The place chosen for the conflict, ‘an exceeding high mountain.’ For the mountain, the scripture would not name it, and we need not anxiously inquire after it, whether any near Jericho, as some say, or as others, some mountain near Jerusalem; and possibly the 302highest above the rest was chosen by the tempter. The pinnacle of the temple was not proper, because Jerusalem was surrounded with higher mountains on all sides: Ps. cxxv. 2, ‘As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,’ &c. He chose an high mountain, because of the fairer prospect, where the horizon might be as spacious as was possible, and the sight not hindered by any interposing object. God took Moses into Mount Pisgah, and showed him the land of Canaan, Deut. xxxiv. 1. The devil, who affecteth to do in evil as God doth in what is good, taketh Christ into a mountain. He leadeth us high, and promiseth us high things, that suiteth with his disposition; but it endeth in a downfall that suiteth with his condition. The close is still ‘cast thyself down,’ or else, as here, ‘fall down and worship me.’ The devil’s taking him up thither is to be explained the same way with his taking him up to the pinnacle of the temple.
2. The fact, and ‘showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.’ But how could the devil from one mountain show him all the kingdoms of the world, when there is none so high as that we can see the latitude of one kingdom, much less through all, partly through the unequal swellings of the earth, and partly through the weakness of the eye, which cannot reach so far? The sight could go no further than the horizon, and the other hemisphere is not to be seen at all; that part which we see is much less than that part which we see not. Therefore how could he show him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory thereof? Ans. These words must not be taken rigorously; but that he showed them:—(1.) In compendio. (2.) In speculo. (3.) In colloquio.
[1.] In compendio. It maybe understood of so many kingdoms as could fall under the sight of a man looking round about him from some eminent place; as God is said to show Moses all the land of Canaan, when he did actually see only a part thereof. From that high mountain the devil gave him a view of all that was to be seen from thence; many castles, towns, and fruitful fields might be seen as a sample of the rest. It is a synechdochical hyperbole, he that showeth a part of a thing, and the chiefest part, may be said to show the thing itself.
[2.] In speculo, besides what he might reach by his sight. By way of representation and external visible species, he represented to Christ all the rest of the kingdoms of the world and the pomp and glory thereof as in a map. For Satan can object to the eyes of men the species and images of divers things; and there is no absurdity to think that this way he showed his utmost art and cunning to represent the world to Christ in as splendid and inviting a manner as he could. If you ask, therefore, why he carried him to a high mountain—he might have done this in a valley or any other place as well? I answer, it is true if the discovery had been only by representation, or if the devil could have deluded Christ’s fancy or imagination, so as to impress these species upon it so far as that he should seem to see what he did not see, a valley would have served turn as well as a mountain; but this was done without it, and with it, showing the glory of the world as in a map and picture, and therefore a convenient place is chosen.303
[3.] In colloquio, by discourse. The temptation might be helped on by the devil’s pointing at the several quarters of the world, with words relating the glory thereof, what splendour and glory the kings and nations had which adored him, all which Christ should have if he would fall down and worship him. Now all this while Satan is but making way for his purpose, thinking Christ would be ravished with this glorious sight. Possibly it was not a mere dumb show, but the tempting objects were amply set forth by Satan’s speech.
Secondly, The temptation itself, where we may consider the nature and the grievousness of it.
1. The nature of the temptation, where observe two things:—
[1.] An offer or a promise: all these things will I give thee.
[2.] A postulation or demand: if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
[1.] An offer or promise: ‘all these things will I give thee.’ This is a vain boast of the tempter, who ascribeth to himself that which was proper to God, and promiseth to Christ those things which were all his before. God had said, Ps. ii. 8, ‘Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.’ This the devil, who affecteth to be like God, arrogateth unto himself, as if he would make him the universal king of the world. In Luke it is, chap. iv. 6, ‘All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it.’ But you must not always look for truth in the devil’s speeches: he is not lord of the world to dispose of it at his own pleasure. And yet it is not to be supposed he would come with a downright untruth to the Son of God, if there were no pretence or varnish for it. Therefore we must distinguish between the devil’s lie and the colour thereof.
(1.) Certain it is that God doth govern all the affairs of this world, and doth put bounds and limits to Satan’s power, beyond which he cannot pass, and doth often hinder his endeavours, and turn them to the quite contrary end and purpose; and if he doth not hinder them, yet he directeth them for good to his people. Therefore that power that Satan hath is not given, but permitted; not absolute, but limited. It is a lie that Satan can give these things at pleasure; see these scriptures: Ps. xxiv. 1, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein;’ Dan. ii. 21, ‘He changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings;’ and ver. 37, ‘The God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.’ All the alterations that are in the earth are of the Lord; he pulleth down, and raiseth up, as seemeth good unto him. Therefore this power of disposing kingdoms belongeth unto God.
(2.) That the Son of God is the right heir of the world: Heb. i. 2, ‘Whom he hath appointed heir of all things.’ To whom the nations are given: Ps. ii. 8, ‘Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession;’ Mat. xxviii. 18, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.’ And therefore it was impudence in him to arrogate this power, and to promise these things to the Lord which were his before.304
(3.) Though this was a lie, yet here is the colour of the lie. God permitteth that men sometimes by indirect means become great in honour and dignity in this world; all which are done by the instinct of Satan and his help. And evil men often succeed in their attempts, and from hence Satan is called the prince of this world: John xii. 31, ‘Now shall the prince of this world be cast out;’ John xiv. 30, ‘The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me;’ John xvi. 11, ‘Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.’ Yea, Paul goeth higher, and calleth him ‘the god of this world:’ 2 Cor. iv. 4, ‘In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.’ But this is by usurpation, not just right. And the devils are called, Eph. vi. 12, ‘The rulers of the darkness of this world,’ as the wicked consent to his empire and evil suggestions. But all this implieth but a limited and restrained kingdom; and the devil’s impudence and falsehood lieth in this, that he interprets God’s permission for a commission, his connivance for a conveyance. Indeed, there are two lies in the devil’s offer: one assertory, as if the power and glory of the world were at his disposal; the other promissory, as if he would invest Christ in the full and peaceable possession thereof; whereas indeed he went about to divest and dispossess the Son of God of his right, or to tempt him to do a thing contrary to his kingdom; for he knew the abasement of Christ was the way to his glory, the cause of man’s happiness, and the ruin of the kingdom of the devil; therefore he seeketh to prevent this by these magnificent promises.
[2.] The postulation or demand: ‘if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’ Here the devil appeareth in his own likeness. Before it was, ‘if thou be the Son of God;’ now it is, ‘fall down and worship me.’ Before he appeared as a friend to advise him in his hunger; then as a divine to instruct him how to discover himself as the Messiah; now as a plain usurper of God’s worship. And he demands but one act of prostration, such as was given to the kings of the East; and the Jews in that manner did worship God. Therefore this was the vilest and most blasphemous suggestion which Satan could devise, that the Son of God should stoop to God’s rebel. Here we see the devil not only importunate, but impudent.
2. The grievousness of the temptation, that will appear in these considerations:—
[1.] Because it was represented in a matter grateful and pleasing. It was unnecessary to turn stones into bread, dangerous to throw himself down from a pinnacle of the temple; but it might seem sweet and grateful to behold the kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof; for surely the glory of the world is a bewitching object, and would much move a carnal heart. And therefore he produceth this tempting object, and sets it before Christ himself. Mark, he showed him the glory only, not the burdens, the labours, the cares, those storms of jealousy and envy which those encounter with who are at the top. This way did he now choose wherewith to assault Christ. Had he really represented the world, with all the vexations attending it, the temptation had not been so great; but he showeth the kingdoms of the world, and the glory thereof: the bait, not the hook; he talketh highly of small things, commendeth what is pleasing, but hideth the 305bitter of these luscious sweets; he offereth Christ the glory of the kingdoms of the world, but dissembleth the cares, the troubles, the dangers. Alas! we see the best side of those that live in courts, their gorgeous apparel, their costly entertainments, their power and greatness; but their fears of being depressed by superiors, jostled by equals, undermined by inferiors, are hidden from us.
Therefore the temptation was dexterously managed by the devil, in that he showed him the kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof. Temptations of the right hand are more dangerous than those of the left hand.
[2.] He showeth the bait before he offereth the temptation, that the world might speak for him before he spake for himself, and prepared the mind of Christ by this bewitching object before he cometh either with his offer or demand. And then afterwards, before he maketh his demand, he premiseth his offer: ‘All these things will I give thee.’ The offer is made before the spiteful condition is mentioned. Observe the different methods of Christ and Satan:—Satan maketh show of glory first, but Christ of the cross. Satan offereth the benefit before he seemeth to require the service, as here he doth first offer and then ask; but fallaciously, for indeed he requireth a present act, but only promiseth a future compensation: ‘I will give thee’ all these things. Christ telleth us the worst at first: Mat. xvi. 24, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ The issue showeth the fraud of the tempter, and the misery of those poor deluded souls who hearken to him. On the contrary, the sincerity of our Lord, and the happiness of those who obey him, will soon appear. The devil will have all paid before he part with any thing; no worship, no glory. But I am carried too far: my purpose was only to show his dexterity and cunning, how he sets a colour upon sin before he mentions it, by glorious promises, and the manifold pleasure and profit which comes by it.
[3.] He doth not seek to move him by naked words, but by the sight of the thing itself. Objects move the senses, senses draw away the mind; nor are they the porters of the soul so much as the corrupters: Ps. cxix. 37, ‘Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken thou me in thy way.’ If we let loose our senses without a guard, we soon contract a deadness of heart. There is nothing so soon led away as the eye, it is the broker between the heart and the object; the eye gazeth and the heart lusteth; this is the window by which Satan hath crept in, and all manner of taint hath been conveyed into the soul. In the first sin, Eve was corrupted this way: Gen. iii. 6, ‘And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, &c., she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.’ Gazing on the fruit with delight, her heart was ensnared. We read of Potiphar’s wife, ‘She cast her eyes on Joseph,’ Gen. xxxix 7; Achan, Josh. vii. 21, ‘When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them.’ First he saw, then he coveted, then he took them, then he hid them, then Israel falls, and he is attached by lot. So it is said of Shechem and Dinah: Gen. xxxiv. 2, ‘He saw her, and 306took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.’ So of Samson: Judges xvi. 1, ‘He went to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.’ David was ensnared by his eyes: 2 Sam. xi. 2, ‘From the roof he saw a woman washing herself, and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.’ Naboth’s vineyard was ever in Ahab’s eye, as being near his palace, therefore he is troubled and falls sick for it, 1 King xxi. 1, 2. Now, because so many have been betrayed by their senses, the devil taketh this way to tempt Christ, as knowing this is the next way to the heart.
[4.] He taketh him into an high mountain, that he might look far and near, and see the more provinces, cities, and kingdoms, to move him the more. The devil was sensible that small things were not to be offered to Christ, and therefore dresseth out the temptation in as’ glorious a manner as he can. The chapman of souls is grown thirsty of late, he doth not offer all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory thereof, he knoweth that we will accept of less with thanks. The devil buyeth many at a very easy price; he needeth not carry them so high as the mountain; they are contented with a little gain that is got by a fraudulent bargain in the shop. If we stand in our window, or at our doors, we meet with temptations enough to carry us away. He needeth not come with kingdoms, or with the glory of all the world: thirty pence, the price of a slave, is enough to make Judas betray his master, Mat. xxvi. 15; and the prophet telleth us of some that will transgress for handfuls of barley and pieces of bread, Ezek. xiii. 19. And those pretended prophets, too, making God the author and maintainer of their lies and deceits. And, again, of those that respect persons, whether magistrates or ministers: Prov. xxviii. 21, ‘To have respect of persons is not good, for for a piece of bread will that man transgress.’ And another prophet telleth us of those that ‘sell the poor for a pair of shoes,’ Amos ii. 6, and viii. 6. Those will take any price. And the apostle saith of Esau, Heb. xii. 16, ‘For one morsel of meat he sold his birthright.’ So that the devil may abate a great deal of what he offered Christ. He need not say to such, You shall have ‘all these things.’ Nay, hold you! You shall have this petty gain, that slight pleasure and carnal satisfaction. It is a wonder to consider what small things make up a temptation to many, yea, to most. The world is so corrupt that they will violate conscience with a small hire. We are not tempted with great things, less will serve the turn. But the devil knew that small matters were no temptation to Christ, therefore he carrieth him to the mountain, that he might see the glory of all the earth, to make the temptation the more strong.
[5.] He showeth him the kingdoms of the world, ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου, Luke iv. 5, in a moment of time,—that circumstance is not to be passed over. When many objects and glorious come together of a sudden, they do the more surprise us. Therefore, the more to affect Christ with the splendour of these things, and on a sudden to prevail upon him, which otherwise he was not likely to do, he did not represent the glory of these kingdoms of the world to Christ that he might see them one after another, but all together, that there might be less time for consideration, that so his mind might be the more blinded by the appearing splendour of the tempting object, and his heart the 307more captivated thereby. Diverse things seen in one view do more surprise us than if viewed by a leisurely contemplation. Alas! we are sometimes overborne by the violence of a temptation, sometimes overtaken by the suddenness of it: Gal. vi. 1, ‘Brethren, if one be overtaken in a fault,’ προλημφθῇ, inconsiderately and suddenly surprised by a sin. We do many things preposterously and in haste, which we repent of by leisure. Thus the devil thought to surprise Christ, but he was aware of him.
[6.] In other temptations the tempter doth only ask a thing to be done, but here he doth ask and promise things glorious, profitable, and pleasing to carnal sense, and such as seem every way desirable. The offers of gain and glory are promised to the temptation.
[7.] He craveth but one thing, a very small thing, and this under the hope of the greatest advantage: one act of external adoration, easy to be performed; if Christ would but kneel to him, not as supreme God; an inferior adoration would have contented him: yield but a little, do but ‘fall down and worship,’ it shall be enough. As the heathens of old said to the Christians, Do but touch the censer. The commendation of God’s servants was, that ‘they had not bowed the knee to Baal,’ Rom. xi. 4. The devil knoweth if he can get us to a little he shall get us to more; and the least reverence is too much to such an impure spirit.
Secondly, The observations.
I. Observe from that again the devil taketh him, That we must expect not only to be tempted, but to be often tempted. Satan hath both his wiles and darts: Eph. vi. 11, 16. He sometimes assaulteth us with the one, sometimes with the other. Therefore—
1. Be not secure, but watch, and stand upon your defence. It is a careless soul that can sleep in so great a danger. There is yet a malicious tempting devil alive, who would ‘sift you as wheat.’ Luke xxii. 31; and somewhat within you which would betray you to him if you be not wary; and you may meet with such snares as you have not yet met withal.
2. Be not overmuch troubled and dejected if you be assaulted afresh. You must make your way to heaven almost every step by conflict and conquest. Remember your baptismal vow, the obligation of which ceaseth not till your life be ended; and then you shall be out of gunshot and harm’s way. Therefore still follow the captain of your salvation wherever he leadeth you. The more trials the more glory.
3. Avoid rash judgment and censure, if the same happen to others. Pirates do not use to set upon an empty vessel. The best are most assaulted. God permitteth it for their trial, and Satan hath the greatest spite at them.
II. Observe, That the more grievous temptations follow the lighter ones, and the last assaults and trials are usually the greatest. This is so, if you respect either the dexterity and cunning of the tempter, represented before, or the foulness of the temptation, viz., to idolatry. The best of God’s children may be tempted to the most execrable sins. Thus usually doth Satan reserve his worst assaults for the last, and his last temptation is commonly the sorest. Dying beasts bite shrewdly; 308so Satan rageth most when he hath but a short time. Therefore, since our warfare is not over, let us prepare for the worst brunt, and the last efforts of Satan. If God will crown us fighting, we have no cause to complain. Many of God’s servants, whom he could not draw to worldliness, sensuality, or vainglory in their lifetime, he will seek to inject blasphemous thoughts into their minds at last. But, though it be grievous, be not dismayed, your conquest is sure and near.
III. Observe, The world and worldly things are the bait and snare which the tempter offereth to Christ and his followers. As here, when he would make his last onset upon Christ, he sets before him ‘the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,’ as the matter of the temptation.
1. There are three enemies of our salvation, the devil, the world, and the flesh:—they are reckoned up together, Eph. ii. 2, 3, ‘Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.’ The devil is the deceiver and grand architect of all wickedness; the flesh is the principle that he worketh upon, or that rebelling faculty within us that would be pleased before God; the world is the bait by which the devil would deceive us and steal away our hearts from God, for it suiteth with our fleshly appetites and desires. More distinctly that Satan is an enemy appeareth from his name, that signifieth an adversary, and in many places of scripture he is so called; as Mat. xiii. 25; ‘While men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat,’ compared with the 39th verse, ‘the enemy that sowed them is the devil.’ He is the great enemy to God and man: 1 Pet. v. 8, ‘Your adversary the devil like a roaring lion walketh about,’ &c. The flesh is an enemy, yea, our greatest enemy, for it warreth. against the soul: 1 Pet. ii. 11, ‘Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.’ If you indulge the flesh, you are willing to lose your souls. Yea, it warreth against the spirit or better part, as contrary to it: Gal. v. 17, ‘For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh:’ other things could do us no harm without our own flesh. We are tempted to sin by Satan, encouraged to sin by the example and custom of the world, but inclined to sin by our own flesh. The world is an enemy of our salvation, as well as the devil and the flesh; all the other enemies get strength by it. By the bait of worldly things the devil pleaseth the flesh; we are in continual danger of being everlastingly undone by it. Whosoever is a lover of the world is presumed to be a professed enemy of God: James iv. 4, ‘Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God;’ 1 John ii. 15, ‘If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ It is an enemy, because it keepeth us from God, who is our chief good, and the enjoyment of him among his blessed ones, which is our last end. There is a neglect cf. God and heavenly things where the world prevaileth.
2. The devil maketh use of the world to a double end.
[1.] To divert us from God and heavenly things, that our time, and 309care, and thoughts may be wholly taken up about things here below: Luke xii. 19, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine. ease, eat, drink, and be merry;’ Phil. iii. 19, 20, ‘They mind earthly things; but our conversation is in heaven.’ These are perfectly opposite. Some are of the world, and speak of the world, and wholly mind the world, and are governed by the spirit of this world, seldom look higher, or very coldly and slightly. Thus that which should be thought of in the first place is scarce thought of at all. But, remember, he doth but offer you worldly things to deprive you of heavenly.
[2.] To draw us to some open sin for the world’s sake, as here he tempted Christ to idolatry, and Demas to defection from the faith: 2 Tim. iv. 10, ‘Demas hath forsaken us, having loved this present world.’ Others to some carnal, fraudulent, oppressive course, whereby they are spotted by the world. The whore of Babylon propoundeth her abominations ‘in a golden cup,’ Rev. xvii. 4; and the great motive here is, ‘All this will I give thee.’ Though the devil cometh not in person to us with his offers, he doth by his instruments; as Balak, when he sent to Balaam to curse the Israelites, he promised him great rewards: Num. xxii. 17, ‘I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.’ So when he doth entice you by the motions of your own hearts to anything that is unlawful, to falsehood, deceit, or unjust gain, or to get and keep wealth by any base or unjust means, or doing something that is base and unworthy of your religion.
[3.] I observe that temptations from the world may prevail with us. Satan maketh use of a twofold artifice. The one is to greaten the worldly object, the other is to make us large promises of success, happiness, and contentment in our evil enterprises.
(1.) He useth this sleight here; he doth in the most enticing manner lay the world before Christ as a splendid object, to greaten it in Christ’s thoughts and apprehensions. Therefore, when we begin to magnify the riches, pomp, and pleasures of the world, the devil is at our elbow, and we are running into the snare. And therefore, if we begin to say, ‘Happy is the people that is in such a case,’ it is time to correct ourselves and say, ‘Yea, happy is the people whose God is the Lord,’ Ps. cxliv. ib. Take heed the devil doth not gain this advantage over you, to make you follow the world with the greatest earnestness, and spiritual and heavenly things in a slight and overly manner. Esteem, desires, resolutions of worldly greatness, though not upon base conditions, begin the temptation. You think it is a fine thing to live in pomp and at ease, to swim in pleasures, and begin to resolve to make it your business. The devil hath you upon the hip, it is an hour of temptation.
(2.) His next course is to make large offers and promises by his instruments or your own thoughts, that though you neglect God and heaven, and do engage in some sinful course, you shall do well in the world, and enjoy full satisfaction. There is a double evil in Satan’s offers and promises:—
First, They are false and fallacious: ‘All these things will I give 310thee.’ Satan maketh fair offers of what he cannot perform. He promiseth many things, but doth only promise them. He offereth the kingdoms of the world to Christ, but cannot make good his word; he showeth them to Christ, but cannot give them. And this is the devil’s wont, to be liberal in promises, to fill the minds of those that hearken to him with vain hopes, as if he could transfer the riches and honours of the world to whom he pleaseth, whereas they are shame fully disappointed, and find their ruin in the very things in which they sought their exaltation, and their projects are crossed, for ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.’ 1 Cor. xi. 26.
Secondly, All the devil’s offers and promises have a spiteful condition annexed. He pretendeth to give, but yet selleth at the dearest rates. It is but a barter and exchange; a flat bargain, but no gift. He must have our souls, God is dishonoured, his laws broken, his Spirit grieved. The devil staineth his grant with unjust covenants, and exacteth more than the thing is worth.
Two ways then must we defeat the temptation:—
(1.) Not believing his promises, that I must be beholden to sin to make me happy. Those that by unlawful means get up to honour and wealth seem to have accepted the devil’s offer; they think he is lord of the world, and all the kingdoms and the glory thereof. Do not look upon wealth as the devil’s gift, as a thing to be gotten by fraud, flattery, corruption, bribery: alas! it is put into ‘bags with holes.’ Hag. i. 6. It is called the ‘deceitfulness of riches.’ Mat. xiii. 22. They promise that contentment and happiness which they cannot give. There is sure dependence on the Lord’s, but none on Satan’s promises. Young men that are to begin the world, take up this resolution: take what God sendeth, but resolve never to take wealth out of Satan’s hands; what God sendeth in the fair way of his providence, by his blessing on your lawful endeavours: Prov. x. 4, ‘The hand of the diligent maketh rich;’ and ver. 22, ‘The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.’ When you deal righteously, and do not barely heap up treasure to yourselves, but seek to grow rich toward God, to subordinate all to heaven and a better pursuit: otherwise God can find a moth and a thief for your estates.
(2.) The other way is, to consider what a sad bargain you make by gratifying the devil, and hearkening to his counsel: Mat. xvi. 26, ‘What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ A man never gets anything with Satan, but he shall lose that which is more precious; he never maketh a proffer to our advantage, but to our loss and hurt. Follow the world as hard as you can, lie, cozen, cheat, and you shall be rich; put the case, It is so, but I must lose my soul, not in a natural, but legal sense: Job xxvii. 8, ‘What is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?’ He hath far better things from us than we have from him; a birthright for a mess of pottage, the hopes of heaven for an opulent condition here below. The bird buys the fowler’s bait at a dear rate when his life must go for it. Thy soul must be lost, which all the gold and silver in the world cannot redeem and recover.
[4.] I observe again that Christ by his refusal hath taught us to 311tread the world under our feet, and all the glory of it should be an ineffectual and cold motive to a sanctified soul. If we have the same spirit that was in Christ, it will be so. All the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, was far too little to make up a temptation to him. A mortified heart will contemn all this in comparison of our duty to God, and the comfort of a good conscience, and the hopes of glory. Surely they have not the spirit of Christ who are taken with small things, with a Babylonish garment, or some petty temptation.
Uses. The use is to teach us how to counterwork Satan.
1. Since he worketh upon the fleshly mind, we are to be mortified and grow dead to the world. We profess faith in a crucified Lord; we must be like him, crucified as he was crucified; then shall we glory in the cross of Christ, when we feel the virtue of it, and are planted into the likeness of it: Gal. vi. 14, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.’ Grow more dead to the riches, honour, pomp, pleasure, the favour, fear, love, wrath, praise and dispraise of men, that we may readily deny these things, so far as opposite to the kingdom of Christ, or our duty to God, or as they lessen our affections to him. We die as our esteem of those things doth decay; till the man’s temper be altered there is no hope to prevail by argument. Only they that are made partakers of a divine nature do escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2. Since he worketh by representation and promise, you must be prepared against both.
[1.] As he worketh by representation of the fair show and splendid appearance of worldly things, you must check it:—
(1.) By considering the little substance and reality that is in this fair appearance: 1 Cor. vii. 31, ‘The fashion of this world passeth away,’ σχῆμα. It is but a draft, an empty pageantry; so it is called, Ps. xxxix. 6, ‘A vain show;’ an image, shadow, or dream, that vanisheth in a trice. So Prov. xxiii. 5, ‘Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?’ It was not a while ago, and within a little while it will not be again, at least to us it will not be; we must shortly bid good-night to all the world: 1 Pet. i. 24, ‘All flesh is grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of the grass.’ David saith, Ps. cxix. 86, ‘I have seen an end of all perfection.’ It is good often to inter mingle these serious thoughts of the frailty of all sublunary enjoyments, to keep us modest in what we have, or desire to have, that we may not be blinded with the delusions of the flesh, and enchanted with an admiration of worldly felicity.
(2.) As the devil seeketh to open the eye of sense, so must we open the eye of faith: 2 Cor. iv. 18, ‘We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ Things unseen must be every day greatened in our eyes, that all our pursuit after things seen may be subordinated to our desires of, and labour after, things unseen. There we must see the greatest reality, or else we have not the true Christian faith: Heb. xi. 1, ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.’ 312It is such an evidence of the worth and reality of the unseen glory as draweth off the heart from things seen, which are so pleasing to the flesh. Faith sets it before the eye of the soul in the promises of the gospel: Heb. vi. 18, ‘Who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.’ Heb. xii. 2, ‘Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.’ &c.
[2.] As he dealeth with us by promise. Everything we hope to get by sin is a kind of promise or offer of the devil to us; as suppose by unconscionable dealing in our calling. Here consider two things:—
(1.) The falsity of the devil’s promises.
(2.) The truth and stability of God’s promises.
(1st.) The falsity of Satan’s promises. Either he giveth not what he promised, as he promised our first parents to be as gods: Gen. iii. 5, ‘Ye shall be as gods;’ and what ensued? Ps. xlix. 12, ‘Man that is in honour and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish;’ degraded to the beasts, as the brutish and bestial nature prevailed in him when he fell from God. Or else, if we have them, we were better be without them; we have them with a curse, with the loss of better things: Jer. xvii. 13, ‘O Lord, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth.’ They are condemned to this felicity: we have them with stings of conscience:—Mat. xxvii. 4, 5, ‘I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood; and he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and went and hanged himself;’ —which are most quick and sensible when we come to die: Jer. xvii. 11, ‘He that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.’ Now rise up in indignation against the temptation. Shall I sell my birthright? lose my fatness to rule over the trees?—as the olive-tree in Jotham’s parable, Judges ix. 9.
(2dly.) The sufficiency and stability of God’s promises.
First, Sufficiency: Gen. xvii. 1, ‘I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect;’ 1 Tim. iv. 8, ‘Godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come;’ —of heaven and of earth: Mat. vi. 33, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, and all these things shall be added to you.’ It may be you have less than those that indulge themselves in all manner of shifts and wiles, but you shall have enough, not to be left wholly destitute: Heb. xiii. 5, ‘He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ And you shall have it with contentment: Prov. xv. 6, ‘In the house of the righteous is much treasure, but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble;’ and ‘better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues with sin,’ Prov. xvi. 8. And you have it so as not to lose other things.
Secondly, Stability: 2 Cor. i. 20, ‘All the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen;’ and Heb. vi. 18, ‘That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation,’ &c.; Ps. cxix. Ill, ‘Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: they are the rejoicing of my heart.’
IV. Observe—Fall down—The pride of the devil: he sinneth from the beginning, 1 John iii. 8. The sin of pride was fatal to him at first, and the cause of those chains of darkness in which now he is 313held; yet still he sinneth the same sin, he requireth adoration, and would be admitted into a partnership of divine worship. He obtained it from pagans and idolaters, not from Christ. The angel deprecates and detests it: Rev. xix. 10, ‘And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship thou God.’ So Rev. xxii. 9, ‘I fell down to worship before the face of the angel that showed me these things. And he said to me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book: worship God.’ Paul, when the priests at Lycaonia were about to sacrifice to him: Acts xiv. 14, 15, ‘When the apostles heard of it, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God.’ But the evil angels they are apt to invade the right of God.
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