When the Christian is beset with some great affliction, this is as blind lane or solitary place, fit for this thief to call for his purse in.  An expert captain first labours to make a breach in the wall, and then falls on in storming the city.  Satan first got power from God to weaken Job in his estate, children, health and other comforts he had, and now tempts him to impatience, and what not; he lets Christ fast forty days before he comes, and then he falls to his work; as an army stays till a castle be pinched for provision within, and then sends a parley, never more likely to be embraced than in such a strait.  A temptation comes strong when the way to relief seems to lie through the sin that Satan is woo­ing to; when one is poor and Satan comes, What! wilt starve rather than step over the hedge and steal for thy supply? this is enough to put flesh and blood to the stand.

 

When the Christian is about some notable enterprise for God’s glory, then Satan will lie like a serpent in the way, ‘an adder in the path, that biteth his horse-heels, so that his rider shall fall back­ward.’  Thus he stood at Joshua’s right hand ‘to resist him.’  The right hand is the working hand, and his standing there implies the desire to hinder him in his enterprise.  Indeed the devil was never friend to temple-work, and therefore that work is so long a doing.  What a handsome excuse doth he help the Jews unto—The time is not come!  God’s time was come, but not the devil’s, and therefore he helps them to this poor shift, Ezra 1, 2, 6, 8, perverting the sense of providence as if it were not time, because they were so poor; whereas they thrive no better because they went no sooner about the work, as God tells them plainly.  Paul and Barnabas had a holy design in their thoughts, to [go] visit the brethren in every city, and strengthen their faith.  The devil knew what a blow this might give to his kingdom; their visiting might hinder him in his circuit, and he stirs up an unhappy difference between these two holy men, who grow so hot that they part in this storm, Acts 15:36-39.  There were two remarkable periods of Christ’s life, his intrat and exit, his entrance into his public ministry at his baptism, and his finishing it at his passion, and at both we have the devil fiercely encountering him. The more public thy place, Christian, and the more em­inent thy service for God, the more thou must look that the devil [will have] some more dangerous design or other against thee; and therefore if every private soldier needs armour against Satan’s bullets of temptation, then the commanders and officers, who stand in the front of the battle, much more

Advertisements