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TO THE CHRISTIAN READER,
GRACE AND PEACE.
SOME few months are past, since a worthy and eminent Divine from the west *, once part of my charge, earnestly moved me to undertake this task of Temptations ; seconding his Letters with the lines of a dear intercessor from those parts.
Upon the first view, I slighted the motion : returning only this answer, That I remembered this work was already so completely performed by the reverend and learned Mr. Downame, in his “ Christian Warfare," as that whoso should meddle with this subject, should but seem to glean after his sickle.
But, when I had sadly considered the matter, my second thoughts told me, that there is no one point of Divinity, wherein many pens have not profitably laboured in several forms of discourse ; and that the course, which I was solicited unto, was in a quite different way of tractation, namely, to furnish my fellow-christians with short and punctual answers to the particular suggestions of our great enemy; and that our deplored Age had rifely yielded public temptations of impiety, which durst not look forth into the world in those happy days. I was, thereupon, soon convinced in myself, how useful and beneficial such a Tractate might be to weak souls; and embraced the motion, as sent from God, whose good hand I found sensibly with me in the pursuance of it.
I, therefore, cheerfully addressed myself to the work : wherein what I have assayed or done, I humbly leave to the judgment of others ; with only this, that if in this Treatise my decrepit hand can have let fall any thing that may be to the service of Gods Church, to the raising up of drooping hearts, to the convincing of blasphemous errors, to the preventing of the dangerous insinuations of wickedness, I desire to be thankful to my good God, whose grace hath been pleased to improve those few sands that remain in my glass to so happy an advantage. That God, the Father of all Mercies, fetch from these poor labours of his weak servant much glory to his own Name, and much benefit to the souls of his people.
And may the same God be pleased to stir up the hearts of all his faithful ones, that shall, through his goodness, receive any help by these well-meant endeavours, to interchange their prayers with and for me, the unworthiest of his Ministers, that I may finish the small remainder of my course with joy. Amen.
From my Cottage at Higham, near Norivich: Feb. 12, 1646.
* Mr. Hannibal Gammon, of Cornwall.
THE FIRST DECADE.
TEMPTATIONS OF IMPIETI.
"Foolish sinner, thou leanest upon a broken reed while thou reposest
all thy trust in a Crucified Saviour :" Repelled, BLASPHEMOUS Spirit! It is not the ignominy of the Cross, that can blemish the honour of my Saviour. Thou feelest, to thy endless pain and regret, that he, who would die upon the tree of shame, hath triumphed victoriously over death and all the powers of hell. The greater his abasement was, the greater is the glory of his mercy. He, that is the Eternal God, would put on man, that he might work man's redemption, and satisfy God for man. Who, but a man, could suffer? and who, but a God, could conquer by sufferings? It is man, that had sinned: it is God, that was offended: who, but he, that was God and man, could reconcile God unto man? He was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth, and triumpheth, in the power of his, omnipotent, Godhead; 2 Cor. xiii. 4. Neither was it so much weakness to yield unto death, as it was power to vanquish it. Yea, in this very dying, there was strength : for here was no violence that could force him into his grave : who should offer it? I and the Father are one, saith that Word of Truth; and in Unity there can be no constraint: and, if the persons be divers; He thought it no robbery to be equal with God, the Father; Phil. ii. 6: and there is no authority over equals. And, for men or devils, what could they do to the Lord of Life? I lay down my life, saith the Almighty Redeemer, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again : John x. 17, 18. O infiniteness, both of power and mercy, met in the centre of a willing death!
Impudent Tempter, dost thou not remember thine own language? The time was, indeed, when thou couldst say, If thou be the Son of God; Matt. iv. 3, 6: but, when thou foundest thyself quelled by divine power, and sawest those miraculous works fall from him which were only proper to an Infinite Godhead; now thou wert forced to confess, I know who thou art, even the Holy One of God; Mark i. 24: and, again, Jesus, the Son of the Most High God; Mark v. 7: and, yet again, What have we io do with thee, Jesus, the Son of God ? art thou come to torment us before the tiine ? Matt. viii. 29. Lo then, even in the time of his human weakness, thou couldst, with horror enough, acknowledge him the Son of the Most High God: and darest thou, now that he sits crowned with celestial glory, disparage his Ever-Blessed Deity?
Thy malice hath raised up, as in the former, so in these latter days, certain cursed imps of heretical pravity ; who, under the name of Christians, have wickedly re-crucified the Lord that bought them ; not sparing to call into question the Eternal Deity of him, whom they dare call Saviour : whom if thou hadst not steeled with a hellish impudence, certainly, they could not profess to admit the Word written, and yet, the while, deny the Personal Word. How clear testimony doth the one of them give to the other! When thou presumedst to set upon the Son of God by thy personal temptations, he stopt thy mouth with a scriptum est : how much more shall these Pseudo-Christian agents of thine be thus convinced !
Surely, there is no truth, wherein those oracles of God have been more clear and punctual.
Are we not there required to believe in him as God, upon the promise of eternal life; John iii. 16: under the pain of everlasting condemnation? v. 18. Are we not commanded to baptize in his name, as God ? Matt. xxviii. 19. Acts ii. 38. Is not the Holy Ghost given as a seal to that baptism? Acts x. 47, 48. Are we not charged to give divive honour to him ? Ps. xxii. 27. Is not this required and reported to be done not only by the kings of the earth; Psalm lxxii. U, 15: but by the saints and angels in heaven? Rev. v. 11, 12. and iv. 9, 10, 11. Is he not there declared to be equal with God ? Phil. ii. 6. Is he not there asserted to be one with the Father? John X. 30. 1 John v. 7. Doth he not there challenge a joint right with the Father in all things, both in heaven and earth? John xvi. 15. xvii. 10.
Are not the great works of divine power attributed to bim? Hath not he created the earth, and man upon it? Have not his hands stretched out the heavens? Hath not he commanded all their host? Isa. xlv. 12. Ps. xxxiii. 6. and cii. 25.
Are not all the attributes of God, his? Is he not eternal ? Is it not he, of whom the Psalmist, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre ? Ps. xlv. 6. not be the Father of Eternity ? Isa. ix. 6: the First and Last? Rev. i. 17: Have not his going forth been from everlasting? Mic. V. 2.
Had not he glory with the Father, before the world was? John xvii. 5. Is not he the Word, which was in the beginning ; the Word, that was with God; and the Word, that was God ? John i. 1. Is he not infinite and incomprehensible? Is it not be that filleth all things ? Eph. iv. 10: that was in heaven, while he was on earth? John iii. 13. Is he net Almighty? Rev. i. 8. even the Mighty
God, who upholds all things by the word of his poze'er ? Isa. ix. 6. Yea, is he pot expressly styled the Lord, Jehovah ; the Lord of Ilosts ; God blessed for ever; the true God, and eternal life; the great God and Saviour ; the Lord of Glory? Isa. xl. 3. xlv. 21, 22, 13. vi. 3. Rom. ix. 5. 1 John v. 20. Tit. ii. 13. 1 Cor. ii. 8.
Hath he not abundantly convinced the world of his Godhead, by those miraculous works which he did, both in his own persou while he was here on earth, and by the hands of his followers ? works so transcending the possibility of nature, that they could not be wrought by any less than the God of Nature : as, ejecting of devils, by command; raising the dead, after degrees of putrefaction; giving eyes to the born blind; conquering death, in his own resuscitation; ascending gloriously into heaven; charming the winds and waters ; healing diseases, by the very shadow of his transient disciples?
Yea, tell me, by what power was it, that thine oracles, whereby all the world was held in superstition, were silenced? what power, whereby the Gospel, so opposite to flesh and blood, hath conquered the world; and, in spite of all the violence of tyrants and oppugnation of rebellious nature, hath prevailed ?
Upon all these grounds, how can I do less, than cry out, with the late-believing disciple, My Lord, and my God? John xx. 28.
Malignant Spirit, thou dost but set a face of checking me by my Saviour's Cross. Thou knowest and feelest, that it was the chariot of his triumph, whereupon being exalted, he dragged all the powers of hell captive after him ; making a show of them openly, to their confusion, and his glory ; Col. ii. 15. Thou knowest, that, had it not been for that Cross, those infernal regions of thine had been peopled with whole mankind; a great part whereof is now delivered out of thy hands, by that victorious redemption. Never had heaven been so stored, never had hell been so foiled, if it had not been for that Cross.
And canst thou think to daunt me with the mention of that Cross, which, by the eternal decree of God, was determined to be the means of the deliverance of all the souls of the elect? Dost thou not hear the Prophet say, of old, He was cut off from the land of the living : for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. He hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many ? Isa. liii. 8, 9, 12. Didst thou not hear my Saviour himself, after his glorious resurrection, checking Cleopas and his fellow-traveller, for their ignorance of this predetermination? O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken : ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? Luke xxiv. 25, 26.
Yea, lastly, when had my Saviour more glory, than in this very act of his ignominious suffering and crucifixion? It is true, there hangs the Son of Man, despicably upon the tree of shame: he is mocked, spit upon, buffeted, scourged, nailed, reviled, dead; Luke xxiii. 35, 36. now have men and devils done their worst : but, this