The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson File 24 (... continued from file 23) 12th subtlety. He misrepresents true holiness that he may make others out of love with it. He paints the face of religion full of scars, and with seeming blemishes, that he may create in the minds of men prejudice against it. He represents religion as the most melancholy thing, and that he who embraces it must banish all joy out of his diocese, though the apostle speaks of 'joy in believing.' Rom 15: 13. Satan suggests that religion exposes men to danger: he shows them the cross, but hides the crown from them; he labours to put all the disgrace he can upon holiness, that he may tempt them to renounce it; he abuses the good Christian, and gives him a wrong name. The truly zealous man he calls hot-headed and factious; the patient man that bears injuries without revenge, he represents as a coward; the humble man as low-spirited; the heavenly man he calls a fool. He lets things that are seen go for things that are not seen; and thus misrepresents religion to the world. As John Huss, that holy man, was painted with red devils, so Satan paints holiness with as deformed and misshapen a face as he can, that he may, by this temptation, draw men off from solid piety, and make them rather scorn than embrace it. The hand of Joab is in this. Satan is tempting persons to atheism, to cast off all religion. 13th subtlety. Satan draws men off from the love of the truth to embrace error. 'That they should believe a lie.' 2 Thess 2: 11. He is called in Scripture not only an unclean spirit, but a lying spirit. As an unclean spirit he labours to defile the soul with lust, and as a lying spirit he labours to corrupt the mind with error. All this is dangerous, because many errors look so like the truth as gilt represents true gold. Satan thus beguiles souls. Though the Scripture blames heretics for being promoters of error, yet it charges Satan with being the chief contriver of it. They spread the error, but the devil is a lying spirit in their mouths. Satan's great temptation is to make men believe dangerous impostures to be glorious truths. He thus transforms himself into an angel of light. What is the meaning of Satan's sowing tares in the parable but sowing error instead of truth? Matt 13: 25. How quickly had the devil broached false doctrine in the apostles' times? That it was necessary to be circumcised, that angel worship was lawful, and that Christ was not come in the flesh. Acts 15: 1; Col 2: 18; I John 4: 3. The devil tempts by drawing men to error, because he knows how deadly the snare is, and the great mischief it will do. (1) Error is of a spreading nature; it is compared to leaven because it sours, and to a gangrene because it spreads. Matt 16: 11; 2 Tim 2: 17. One error spreads into more, like a circle in the water that multiplies into more circles; one error seldom goes alone. Error spreads from one person to another. It is like the plague, which infects all round about it. Satan by infecting one person with error infects more! The error of Pelagius spread on a sudden to Palestine, Africa, and Italy. The Arian error was at first but a single spark, but at last it set almost the whole world on fire. (2) The devil lays the snare of error, because it brings divisions into the church; and these bring opprobrium and scandal upon the ways of God. The devil dances at discord. Division destroys peace, which was Christ's legacy; and love, which is the bond of perfection. Not only has Christ's coat been rent, but his body, by the divisions which error has caused. In churches and families where error creeps in, what animosities and factions it makes! It sets the father against the son, and the son against the father. What slaughters and bloodshed have been occasioned by errors in the church! (3) The devil's policy in raising errors is to hinder reformation. He was never a friend to reformation. In the primitive times, after the apostles' days, the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, which was a deluge of heresies, that so he might hinder the progress of the gospel. Rev 12: 15. (4) Satan tempts to error, because error devours godliness. The Gnostics, as Epiphanius observes, were not only corrupted in their judgements, but in their morals; they were loose in their lives. 'Ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.' Jude 4. The Familists afterwards turned Ranters, and gave themselves over to vices and immoralities; and this they did while boasting of the Spirit and of perfection. (5) The devil's design in seducing by error is, that he knows it is pernicious to souls. It damns as well as vice; poison kills as well as a pistol. 'Who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.' 2 Pet 2: 1. If Satan be thus subtle in laying snares of error to deceive, had we not need to pray that God would not suffer us to be led into temptation; that he would make us wise to keep out of the snare of error; or, if we have fallen into it, that he would enable us to recover out of the snare by repentance? 14th subtlety. Satan bewitches and ensnares men by setting pleasing baits before them; as the riches, pleasures, and honours of the world. 'All these things will I give thee.' Matt 4: 9. How many does he tempt with this golden apple? Pride, idleness, luxury, are the three worms which are bred by plenty. 'They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare.' I Tim 6: 9. Satan kills with these silver darts. How many surfeit on luscious delights! The pleasures of the world are the great engine by which Satan batters down men's souls. His policy is to tickle them to death, to damn them with delights. The flesh would fain be pleased, and Satan prevails by this temptation; he drowns them in the sweet waters of pleasure. Such as have abundance of the world walk in the midst of golden snares. We had need watch our hearts in prosperity, and pray not to be led into temptation. We have as much need to be careful that we are not endangered by prosperity as a man has to be careful at a feast where there are some poisoned dishes of meat. 15th subtlety. Satan in tempting pleads necessity. He knows that necessity may in some cases seem to palliate and excuse a sin. It may seem to make a less evil good to avoid a greater, as Lot offered to expose his daughters to the Sodomites, and was willing that they should be defiled, that he might preserve the angel strangers that were come into his house. Gen 19: 8. Doubtless Satan had a hand in this temptation, and made Lot believe that the necessity of the action would excuse the sin. The tradesman pleads the necessity of unlawful gain, or he cannot live; another pleads a necessity of revenge, or his credit would be impaired. Thus Satan tempts men to sin by the plea of the necessity. He will quote Scripture to prove that in some extraordinary cases there may be a necessity of doing that which is not at other times justifiable. Did not David, in case of necessity, 'eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him, but only the priests'? Matt 12: 4. We do not read that he was blamed; then says Satan, Why may not you in cases extraordinary trespass a little and take the forbidden fruit? O beware of this temptation! Satan's cloven foot is in it. Nothing can warrant a thing in its own sinful: necessity will not justify impiety. 16th subtlety. Satan draws men to presumption. Presumption is a confidence without sufficient ground: it is made up of two ingredients - audacity and security. This temptation is common. There is a twofold presumption: (1) When men presume that they are better than they are; that they have grace when they have none. They will not take gold on trust, but they will take grace upon trust. The foolish virgins presumed that they had oil in their vessels when they had none. Here that rule of Epicharmus is good, 'Distrust a fallacious heart.' (2) When men presume on God's mercy; that though they are not so good as they should be, yet God is merciful. They look upon God's mercy with the broad spectacles of presumption. Satan soothes men in their sins; he preaches to them, 'All hope, no fear;' and deludes them with golden dreams. Quam multi cum vana spe descendant ad inferos [How many with vain hope go down to hell]. Augustine. Presumption is Satan's draw-net, by which he drags millions to hell. By this temptation he often draws the godly to sin. They presume upon their privileges or graces, and so venture on occasions of sin. Jehoshaphat joined in a league of amity with king Ahab, presuming his grace would he an antidote strong enough against the infection. 2 Chron 18: 3. Satan tempted Peter to presume upon his own strength; and when it came to the trial he was foiled, and came off with shame. We had therefore need pray, that we may not be led into this temptation; and say with David, 'Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.' Psa 19: 13. 17th subtlety. Satan carries on his designs against us under the highest pretences of friendship. He puts silver upon his bait, and dips his poisoned pills in sugar, as some courtiers who make the greatest pretences of love where they have the most deadly hatred. Satan puts off his lion's skin and comes in sheep's clothing; he pretends kindness and friendship, and would consult what might be for our good. Thus he came to Christ, 'Command that these stones be made bread.' Matt 4: 3. As if he had said, 'I see thou art hungry, and here there is no table spread for thee in the wilderness; I, therefore, pitying thy condition, wish thee to get something to eat; turn stones to bread, that thy hunger may be satisfied:' but Christ spied the temptation, and with the sword of the Spirit wounded the old serpent. Thus Satan came to Eve, and tempted her under the notion of a friend: Eat, said he, of the forbidden fruit; for the Lord knows, 'that in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall be as gods:' as if he had said, I persuade you only to that which will put you into a better condition than you now are in; eat of this tree, and it will make you omniscient, 'Ye shall be as gods.' What a kind devil was here! But it was a subtle temptation. She greedily swallowed the bait, and ruined herself and all her posterity. Let us fear his fallacious flatteries. Timeo Danaos et done farentes [I distrust the Greeks even when they bring gifts]. 18th subtlety. Satan tempts men to sin by persuading them to keep his counsel. They are like those that have some foul disease, and will rather die than tell the physician. It were wisdom, in case of sore temptation, to open one's mind to some experienced Christian, whose counsel might be an antidote against it. There is danger in concealing it, as in concealing a distemper that may prove mortal. How had we need renew the petition, 'Lead us not into temptation!' 19th subtlety. Satan makes use of fit tools and engines for carrying on his work - that is, he makes use of such persons as may be the most likely means to promote his designs. He lays the plot of a temptation, cuts out the work, and employs others to finish it. (1) He makes use of such as are in places of dignity, men of renown. He knows, if he can get these on his side, they may draw others into snares. When the princes and heads of the tribes joined with Korah, they presently drew a multitude into the conspiracy. Numb 16: 2, 10. (2) He carries on his designs by men of wit and parts, such as, if it were possible, should deceive the very elect. He must have a great deal of cunning that persuades a man to be out of love with his food; but the devil can make use of heretical spirits to persuade men to be out of love with the ordinances of God, in which they profess to have found comfort. Many who once seemed to be strict frequenters of the house of God are persuaded, by Satan's cunning instruments, to leave it off and to follow an ignis fatuus, the light within them. One great subtlety of the devil is to make use of such cunning, subtle-paled men as may be fit to carry on his tempting designs. (3) He makes use of bad company to be instruments of tempting, especially to draw youth into sin. First they persuade them to come into their company, then to twist into a cord of friendship, then to drink with them, and, by degrees, debauch them. These are the devil's decoys to tempt others. 20th subtlety. Satan strikes at some grace more than others. He aims at some persons more than others; or at some grace more than others; and if he can prevail in this, he knows it will be an advantage to him. If you ask what grace it is that Satan most strikes at, I answer, it is the grace of faith. He lays the train of his temptation to blow up the fort of our faith. Fidei scutum percutit [He strikes the shield of faith]. Why did Christ pray more for Peter's faith than any other grace? Luke 22: 32. Because he saw that his faith was most in danger; the devil was striking at this grace. Satan, in tempting Eve, laboured to weaken her faith. 'Yea, has God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?' Gen 3: 1. The devil would persuade her that God had not spoken truth; and when he had once brought her to distrust, she took of the tree. It is called scutum fidei, 'the shield of faith.' Eph 6: 16. Satan, in tempting, strikes most at our shield, he assaults our faith. Though true faith cannot be wholly lost, it may suffer a great eclipse. Though the devil cannot by temptation take away the life of faith, yet he may hinder its growth. He cannot gratiam diruere [destroy grace], but he may debilitare [weaken it]. Why does Satan in tempting chiefly assault our faith? 'Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king.' I Kings 22: 31. Faith is the king of the graces; it is a royal, princely grace, and puts forth the most majestic and noble acts; therefore Satan fights chiefly with this grace. I shall show you the devil's policy in assaulting faith most. (1) It is the grace that does Satan most mischief; it makes the most resistance against him. 'Whom resist, stedfast in faith.' I Pet 5: 9. No grace more bruises the serpent's head than faith. It is both a shield and a sword, defensive and offensive. It is a shield to guard the head and defend the vitals. The shield of faith prevents the fiery darts of temptation from piercing us through. Faith is a sword that wounds the red dragon. How comes faith to be so strong that it can resist Satan and put him to flight? Because it brings the strength of Christ into the soul. Samson's strength lay in his hair, ours lies in Christ. If a child be assaulted, it runs and calls to its father for help: when faith is assaulted, it runs and calls Christ, and in his strength overcomes. Faith furnishes itself with a store of promises. The promises are faith's weapons to fight with. As David, by five stones in his sling, wounded Goliath, so faith puts the promises, as stones, into its sling. I Sam 17: 40. 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' Heb 13: 5. 'A bruised reed shall he not break.' Matt 12: 20. 'Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.' I Cor 10: 13. 'The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.' Rom 16: 20. 'No man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.' John 10: 29. Here are five promises, like five stones, put into the sling of faith, and with these a believer may wound the red dragon. Faith being such a grace to resist and wound Satan, he watches his opportunity to batter our shield, though he cannot break it. (2) Satan strikes most at our faith, and would weaken and destroy it, because it has a great influence upon all the other graces, and sets them to work. Like some rich clothier, that gives out a stock of wool to the poor, and sets them spinning, faith gives out a stock to all the other graces, and sets them to work. It sets love to work. 'Faith which worketh by love.' Gal 5: 6. When once the soul believes God's love, its love is kindled to God. The believing martyrs burned hotter in love than in fire. Faith sets repentance to work. When the soul believes there is mercy to be had, it sets the eyes weeping. Oh, says the soul, that ever I should offend such a gracious God! Repenting tears drop from the eye of faith. 'The father of the child cried out with tears, Lord, I believe.' Mark 9: 24. If the devil cannot destroy our faith, yet if he can disturb it, if he can hinder and stop its actings, he knows all the other graces will be lame and inactive. If the spring in a watch be stopped, the motion of the wheels will be hindered: so if faith be down, all the other graces will be at a stand. 21st subtlety. Satan encourages those doctrines that are flesh-pleasing. He knows the flesh loves to be gratified, that it cries out for ease and liberty, and that it will not endure any yoke, unless it be lined and made soft. He will be sure, therefore, to lay his bait of temptation so as to please and humour the flesh. The word says, 'Strive as in an agony' to enter into glory; crucify the flesh; take the kingdom of heaven by holy violence. Satan, to enervate and weaken these Scriptures, flatters the flesh; tells man there needs no such strictness; nor so much zeal and violence; a softer pace will serve; sure there is an easier way to heaven; there needs no breaking the heart for sin: do but confess to a priest, or tell over a few beads, or say some Ave Marias, and that will procure you a pardon, and give you admission into paradise. Or he goes another way to work: if he sees men startle at Popery, he stirs up flattering Antinomianism, and says, 'What needs all this cost? what needs repenting tears? these are legal; what need to be so strict in your obedience? Christ has done all for you: you should make use of your Christian liberty.' This temptation draws many away; it takes them off from strictness of life. He who sells cheapest shall have most customers, the devil knows that it is a cheap and easy doctrine which pleases the flesh, and he doubts not but he shall have customers enough. 22nd subtlety. Satan has his temptations in reference to holy duties. His policy is either to hinder from duty, or discourage in duty, or put men too far in duty. (1) To hinder from duty, as (I Thess 2: 18), 'We would have come once and again, but Satan hindered us.' So many duties of religion would have been performed, but Satan hindered. The hand of Joab is in this. There are three duties which the devil is an enemy to, and labours to keep us from. Meditation. He will let men profess, or pray and hear in a formal manner, which does him no hurt and them no good, but he opposes meditation, as being a means to compose the heart and make it serious. He can stand your small shot, if you do not put in this bullet. He cares not how much you hear or how little you meditate. Meditation is chewing the cud, it makes the word digest and turn to nourishment; it is the bellows of the affections. The devil is an enemy to this. When Christ is alone in the wilderness, giving himself to divine contemplations, the devil comes and tempts him, to hinder him. He will thrust in worldly business, something or other to keep men off from holy meditation. Mortification. This is as needful as heaven. 'Mortify your members which are upon the earth, uncleanness, inordinate affection.' Col 3: 5. Satan will let men be angry with sin, exchange sin, or restrain sin, which keeps it a prisoner, that cannot break out; but when it comes to taking away the life of sin, he labours to stop the warrant and hinder the execution. When sin is mortifying, Satan is being crucified. Self-examination. 'Examine yourselves:' a metaphor from metal that is pierced through, to see if there be gold within. 2 Cor 13: 5. Self-examination is a spiritual inquisition set up in the soul. Man must search his heart for sin, as one would search a house for a traitor; or, as Israel sought for leaven to burn it. Satan, if it be possible, will, by his temptations, keep men from this duty. He tells them their estate is good, and what need they put themselves to the trouble of examination? Though men will not take their money on trust, but will examine it by the touchstone, yet Satan persuades them to take their grace on trust. He persuaded the foolish virgins that they had oil in their lamps. He has another policy, which is to show men the faults of others, in order to keep them from searching their own. He will allow them spectacles to see what is amiss in others, but not a looking-glass to behold their own faces and see what is amiss in themselves. (2) His policy is to discourage in duty. When any one has been performing holy duties, he tells him he has played the hypocrite; he has served God for money, he has had sinister ends: his duties have been full of distraction they have been fly-blown with pride: he has offered the blind and the lame and how can he expect a reward from God? He tells a Christian he has increased his sin by prayer, and endeavours to make him out of conceit with his duties, so he knows not whether he had better pray or not. (3) If this plot will not take, he labours to put a Christian on too far in duty. If he cannot keep him from duty, he will run him on too far in it. Humiliation, or mourning for sin, is a duty, but Satan will push it too far; he will say, Thou art not humbled enough; and, indeed, he never thinks a man is humbled enough till he despairs. He would make a Christian wade so far in the waters of repentance, that he should get beyond his depth, and be drowned in the gulf of despair. He comes thus to the soul, Thy sins have been great, and thy sorrows should be proportionate to thy sins. But is it so? Canst thou say thou hast been as great a mourner as thou hast been a sinner? Thou didst for many years drive no other trade but sin - and is a drop of sorrow enough for a sea of sin? No; thy soul must be more humbled, and lie steeping longer in the brinish waters of repentance. He would have a Christian weep himself blind, and in a desperate mood throw away the anchor of hope. Now, lest any be troubled with this temptation, let me say that this is a mere fallacy of Satan; for sorrow proportionable to sin is not attainable in this life, nor does God expect it. It is sufficient for thee, Christian, if thou hast a gospel-sorrow; if thou grievest so far as to see sin hateful, and Christ precious; if thou grievest so as to break off iniquity; if thy remorse end in divorce. This is to be humbled enough. The gold has lain long enough in the fire when the dross is purged out; so a Christian has lain long enough in humiliation when the love of sin is purged out. This is to be humbled enough for divine acceptation. God, for Christ's sake, will accept of this sorrow for sin; therefore let not Satan's temptations drive thee to despair. You see how subtle an enemy he is, to hinder from duty, or discourage in duty, or put men on too far in duty, that he may run them upon the rock of despair. Had we not need, then, who have such a subtle enemy, to pray, 'Lord, lead us not into temptation'? As the serpent beguiled Eve, let us not be beguiled by this hellish Machiavelli. 23rd subtlety. Satan tempts to sin by the hope of returning out of it by speedy repentance. It is easy for the bird to fly into the snare, but it is not so easy to get out of it. Is it so easy a thing to repent? Are there no pangs in the new birth? Is it easy to leap out of Delilah's lap into Abraham's bosom? How many has Satan flattered into hell by the policy, that if they sin, they may recover themselves by repentance! Alas! is repentance in our power? A springlock can shut of itself, but it cannot open without a key; so we can shut ourselves out from God, but we cannot open to him by repentance, till he opens our heart who has the key of David in his hand. 24th subtlety. Satan puts us upon doing that which is good, unseasonably. To mourn for sin is a duty; the sacrifices of God are a broken heart. But there is a time when it may not be so seasonable. Psa 51: 17. After some eminent deliverance, which calls for rejoicing, to have the spirit dyed of a sad colour, and to sit weeping, is not seasonable. There was a special time at the feast of tabernacles, when God called his people to cheerfulness. 'Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt surely rejoice.' Deut 16: 15. Now, if at this time the Israelites had hung their harps upon the willows, and been disconsolate, it had been very unseasonable, like mourning at a wedding. When God, by his providence, calls us to thanksgiving, and we sit drooping, and, with Rachel, refuse to be comforted, it is very evil, and savours of ingratitude. It is Satan's temptation; the hand of Joab is in this. To rejoice is a duty. 'Praise is comely for the upright.' Psa 33: 1. But when God, by his judgements, calls us to weeping, joy and mirth is unseasonable. 'In that day did the Lord call to weeping, and behold joy and gladness.' Isa 22: 12, 13. Oecolampadius, and other learned writers, think it was in the time of King Ahaz, when the signs of God's anger, like a blazing star, appeared. To be given to mirth at that time, was very unseasonable. To read the word is a duty, but Satan sometimes puts men upon it when it is unseasonable. To read it at home when God's word is being preached, or the sacrament administered, is unseasonable, yea, sinful; as Hushai said, 'The counsel is not good at this time.' 2 Sam 17: 7. There was a set time enjoined for the Passover, when the Jews were to bring their offering to the Lord. Numb 9: 2. Had the people been reading the law at home in the time of the Passover, it had not been in season, and God would have punished it for a contempt. It is the devil's subtle temptation either to keep us from duty, or to put us upon it when it is least in season. Duties of religion, not well timed, and done in season, are dangerous. Snow and hail are good for the ground when they come in their season; but in the harvest, when the corn is ripe, a storm of hail would do hurt. 25th subtlety. Satan persuades men to delay repenting and turning to God. He says (as Hag 1: 2), 'The time is not come.' Now youth is budding, or you are but in the flower of your age, it is too soon to repent: 'The time is not come.' This temptation is the devil's draw-net by which he draws millions to hell; it is a dangerous temptation. Sin is dulce venenum (a sweet poison). Bernard. The longer poison lies in the body, the more mortal; so, by delay of repentance, sin strengthens, and the heart hardens. The longer ice freezes, the harder it is to be broken; so the longer a man freezes in impenitency, the more difficult it will be to have his heart broken. When sin has gotten a haunt, it is not easily driven away. Besides, the danger of delaying repentance appears in this, that life is hazardous, and may on a sudden expire. What security have you that you shall live another day? Life is made up of a few flying minutes; it is a taper soon blown out. 'What is your life? It is even a vapour.' James 4: 14. The body is like a vessel, tunned with a little breath; sickness broaches it, death draws it out. How dangerous therefore is it to procrastinate and put off turning to God by repentance! Many now in hell purposed to repent, but death surprised them. 26th subtlety. Satan, in tempting, assaults and weakens the saints' peace. If he cannot destroy their grace, he will disturb their peace. He envies the Christian his good day; and if he cannot keep him from a heaven hereafter, he will keep him from a heaven upon earth. There is nothing, next to holiness, a Christian prizes more than peace and tranquillity of mind. It is the cream of life, a bunch of grapes by the way. Now, Satan's great policy is to shake a Christian's peace; that, if he will go to heaven, he shall go thither through frights, and plenty of tears. He throws in his fire-balls of temptation, to set the saints' peace on fire. Of such great concern is spiritual peace, that no wonder if Satan would, by his intricate subtleties, rob us of that jewel. Spiritual peace is a token of God's favour. As Joseph had a special testimony of his father's kindness in the party-coloured coat, so have the saints a special token of God's good will to them, when he gives them the party-coloured coat of inward peace. No wonder then, if Satan rages so much against the saints' peace, and would tear off this comfortable robe from them. The devil troubles the waters of the saints' peace because hereby he hopes to have the more advantage of them. (1) By perplexing their spirits, he takes off their chariot wheels; unfits them for the service of God; and puts body and mind out of temper, as an instrument out of tune. Sadness of spirit prevailing, a Christian can think of nothing but his troubles; his mind is full of doubts, fears, surmises, so that he is like a person distracted, and is scarcely himself; either he neglects the duties of religion, or his mind is taken off from them while he is doing them. There is one duty especially that melancholy and sadness of spirit unfits for, and that is thankfulness. Thankfulness is a tribute or quit-rent due to God. 'Let the saints be joyful, let the high praises of God be in their mouth.' Psa 149: 5, 6. But when Satan has disturbed a Christian's spirit and filled his mind full of black, and almost despairing thoughts, how can he be thankful? It rejoices Satan to see how his plot takes. By making God's children unquiet, he makes them unthankful. (2) By troubling the saints' peace, Satan lays a stumbling block in the way of others. By this he gets occasion to render the ways of God unlovely to those who are looking heavenward. He sets before new beginners the perplexing thoughts, the tears, the groans of those who are wounded in spirit, to scare them from all seriousness in religion. He will object to new beginners: Do you not see how these sad souls torture themselves with melancholy thoughts, and will you change the comforts and pleasures of this life to sit always in the house of mourning? Will you espouse that religion which makes you a terror to yourselves, and a burden to others? Can you he in dove with a religion that is ready to fright you out of your wits? Thus the devil, by troubling the saints' peace, would discourage others who are looking towards heaven; he would beat them off from prayer, and hearing all soul-awakening sermons, by the fear lest they should fall into this black humour of melancholy, and end their days in despair. (3) By this subtle policy of Satan, in disturbing the saints' peace, and making them believe God does not love them, he sometimes so far prevails as to make them begin to entertain hard thoughts of God. Through the black spectacles of melancholy, God's dealings look sad and ghastly. Satan tempts the godly to have strange thoughts of God; to think he has cast off all pity, and has forgotten to he gracious, and to make sad conclusions. Psa 78: 7, 8, 9. 'I reckoned, that as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night, wilt thou make an end of me.' Isa 38: 13. The devil, by melancholy, causes a sad eclipse in the soul, so that it begins to think God has shut up the springs of mercy, and there is no hope. Hereupon Satan gets further advantage of a troubled spirit. Sometimes he puts it upon sinful wishes and execrations against itself; as Job, who in distemper of mind, cursed his birthday. Job 3: 3. Though he did not curse his God, yet he cursed his birthday. Thus you see what advantages the devil gets by raising storms and troubling the saints' peace. If the devil is capable of any delight, it is to see the saints' disquiets: their groans are his music. It is a sport to him to see them torture themselves upon the rack of melancholy, and almost drown themselves in tears. When the godly have unjust surmises of God, question his love, deny the work of grace, and fall to wishing they had never been born, Satan is ready to clap his hands, and shout for a victory. By what arts and methods does Satan, in tempting, disturb the saints' peace? He slily conveys evil thoughts, and makes a Christian believe they come from his own heart. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack, but it was of Joseph's putting there; so a child of God often finds atheistical and blasphemous thoughts in his mind, but Satan has put them there. As some lay their children at another's door, so Satan lays his temptations at our door, and fathers them upon us. We then trouble ourselves about them, and nurse them, as if they were our own. The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson (continued in file 25...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-24.txt .