The life of a true Christian (Right Reverend) is full of labour and trouble, and this accompanied with daily dangers. . . .And in this respect the Christians life is compared to a Warfare, in which he acteth the part both of a painfull pioner in toilsome labour, and of the valiant Souldier in a dangerous fight . . . . For hee is assaulted on all sides, with many and mighty enemies, who with might and mayne indevour his destruction. . . . The which as it should move every Christian to shake off security, and standing upon his continuall watch to be prepared for the fight, seeing there is no time for ease and retchlesnesse (recklessness), where there is no place free from danger; so should it stirre up Gods faithfull Ministers who are appointed Captaines over the Lords Armies, to traine up all those committed to their charge in this Military Discipline, whereby they may be fitted for this Christian Warfare; and to teach them the nature of their spirituall Enemies, their power and policies, and how they may so put on their Armour and use their Weapons, that they may stand with courage and comfort in the day of battaile, in hope and assurance of obtaining victorie. This I have indeavoured in this Worke, to traine up others that are unskilfull in this Militarie Discipline, and to arme the weake Christian against the assaults of these pernicious Enemies . . . and . . . stirre up some other of the Lords greatest Worthies who are of farre better abilities, to undertake this profitable, yet difficult taske, and to bring what I have begun to greater perfection.
Book 1: Entreating of the Power and Policies of Our Spiritual Enemies
[p. 1] Chapter 1
That all the godly are assaulted with the spiritual enemies of their salvation
The Apostle having shewed the mystery of our salvation and the causes thereof for the confirmation of our faith, in the three first chapters of his Epistle to the Ephesians, and afterwards in other chapters having set downe divers duties both generally belonging to all Christians, and also particularly appertaining to men of sundry conditions, that he might move them to repentance and amendment of life; in the next place, like the Lord's Centinell, doth discover and give us warning of the approach of mightie enemies, willing us to arme ourselves at all points in our own defence, and courageously to stand under the standard of Christ Jesus, that wee may be continually in readinesse to endure the encounter, Chap. 6, 10, 11, &c. Whereby hee giveth us to understand, that as soone as we seeke for assurance of salvation in Christ, and endeavour to serve the Lord in a holy and a Christian life, wee are to prepare our selves for a combat, unlesse we would suddenly be surprised; for the spirituall enemies of our salvation bandie themselves against us as soone as we have given our names unto God, and taken upon us the profession and practice of Christianitie, which are the liverie and cognisance of our heavenly Lord and Master. And this is manifest by the example of Gods children from time to time, who although they lived in peace and securitie before they were intertained into God's family, yet no sooner were they admitted to be of Gods household servants, but Satan and the world have raged against them, labouring both by inward temptations and outward furie, either to withdraw them from Gods service by flattering enticements, or utterly to destroy and overthrow them by open violence. No sooner [p. 2] had Abel offered a sacrifice of sweete smelling savour unto God, but Satan stirreth up Cain to become his butcher: whilst Moses was contented to be reputed among the sonne of Pharaoh's daughter he enjoyed all prosperitie, but as soone as he joined himself to Gods people and Church, Pharaoh seeketh his life: as long as the Israelites worshipped the Egyptian Idols they sate (were satisfied) by their flesh pots in peace and quietly enjoyed the fruits of the land; but as soon as they made but a motion of serving the Lord, the King stirred up by the devil, doth rage against them with more than barbarous crueltie. Whilst Paul persecuted the Church of God, Satan did not so much trouble him either outwardly in body or inwardly in mind; but no sooner was he truly converted to the faith and preached the Gospell, but presently he setteth his wicked imps on worke to take away his life; which the Lord not permitting, hee mooveth them to persecute him by imprisoning, whipping, and stoning him; and not content with these outward afflictions, hee sendeth his messenger to buffet him, that hee might bee no less vexed inwardly in mind than outwardly in bodie. Yea he spared not our Savior Christ himselfe, but as soon as he began to show himselfe to be son of God and Redeemer of mankind, in performing the duties of his calling, then especially he bendeth all his force against him, he tempteth and assaulteth him fortie days together, and taking the foyle himselfe, hee stirreth up his wicked instruments to persecute him, and at length to take away his life.
Whosoever therefore resolve to be Gods servants, must make account to be his souldiers also; and whilst with Nehemiah's followers, with one hand the perform the works of their callings and Christianity, they must with the other hand hold their weapons to repel their spiritual enemies, who continually labor to hinder the Lord's buildings: for no sooner do we become friends to God, but presently Satan advanceth against us his flagges of defiance, labouring both by secret treacherie, and outward force, to supplant and overcome us.
Here therefore is instruction for secure Worldlings, and consolation and encouragement for God's children. Worldly men instead of fighting the Lord's battlailes, spend their time in chambering and wantonnesse, in lusts and uncleannesse, in musicke and dalliance, in surfeiting and all voluptuousnesse, in covetousnesse and idlenesse, as though there were no enemy to assault them, and as if Satan were some meeke Lambe and not a roring Lion ready to devour them . . . .
In a word, they flourish in their outward states, and never in their minds feel any vexation of Satan's temptations. And what is the cause of all this? If you ask them, they will say, that they have such a strong faith and peace of conscience, that Satan's temptations have no power over them; neither were they ever troubled with any of his encounters. And not content with these brags of their own happy estate, they censure and condemn God's children, accounting their state most desperate who are molested with Satan's temptations, and go mourning under the burden of sin all day long; supposing either that they are in Satan's power, and have more grievously sinned than other men, or that they are mad and frantic so to vex themselves with such needless sorrow. But let such men know, that of all others their state is most dangerous, for they are grievously sick, and have no sense of their disease, their wounds are so mortal, that they deprive them of all feeling; they are assaulted yea taken prisoners whilst they sleep soundly in security, and discern not the approach of the enemy . . . .
They make no resistance, because they are ignorant of the assault. And what can be more dangerous than to have the enemy approach and lay hands on us before we be aware? But this is the state of those men: for as one sayeth . . . they are most assaulted when the feel no assault. Let them no know, that they are not the Lord's soldiers but the devil's revellers, and therefore he fighteth not against them because they are his friends. For there was never any of Christ's soldiers in the Militant Church which have not been exercised in this warfare: there was never any so strong in faith but Satan durst encounter him, even the Apostles, yea Adam in the state of innocency, yea our Savior Christ himself; there were never any so constant in the course of Christianity, but the world hath fought to draw them out of the right way be her baits or prosperity, or to force them to sin by threatening adversity; there were never any that have had in them one spark of God's spirit (Christ excepted) who have not felt it assaulted and often foiled by the flesh . For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and they are contrarie the one to the other. Yea the [p. 3] Apostle Paul himselfe when hee was most sanctifie, saw another law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and leading him captive to the law of sinne, as appeareth, Rom.7.23.
It is not therefore their strength of faith, but their carnal security which so lulleth them asleep in the cradle of worldly vanities that they cannot discern this fight; it is not their peace with God nor the peace of conscience which makes them thus quiet, for there is no (such) peace, sayeth my God, to the wicked Esa. 57.21. but it is a peace which they have made with Satan, a covenant with death and an agreement with hell as the Prophet speaketh: Esa 28.15. When the strong armed man Satan (quietly) keeps the house, the things that he possesseth are in peace; but when a stronger the he commeth to dispossess him, he will never lose his possession without a fight, and we cannot choose but feel the blows in so sharp an encounter: Luk 11.21. If a man ever enter the field to fight against Satan, or if at the first encounter he yield himself prisoner, and be content to be tied in the pleasing fetters of sin, it is no marvel that he doth not rage in his conscience, when as already he is in his captivity ready to perform all those works of darkness wherein he employeth him: but if when Christ the Redeemer is preached unto him by his Ambassadors, he would show any desire of coming out of his thraldom, surely this spiritual Pharaoh would never lose his service but by force and compulsion, neither can so strong a man be forced but we must needs feel the conflict. While the prisoner lieth in the dungeon, loaded with bolts and tied in chains, the keeper sleepeth securely, because he knoweth he is safe; but if his bolts being filed off and his chains loosed, he have escaped out of prison; then the jailor beginneth to bustle, and pursueth him speedily with hue and cry: so whilst Satan holdeth us imprisoned in the dark dungeon of ignorance, loaded and tied with the heavy bolts and chains of sin, he is retchless and secure,; but if our Savior by his Ambassadors in the preaching of the word, loose and unburden us of these chains and bolts, and by the light of his Spirit so illuminate the eyes of our understanding, that we see the way out of Satan's dungeon of ignorance, and so escape out of his captivity, then he rageth against and pursueth us, as Pharaoh did the Israelites, that either he may bring us back again into his bondage, or else destroy us, if we make resistance. Lastly, the feel not any fight between the flesh and Spirit, because the flesh wholly ruleth them, and like a flood which hath a clear current carryeth them wholly into a sea of sin without any stop or resistance, and therefore no marvel they feel nor this fight, when the spirit which is one of the combatants hath no force nor residence in them.
Secondly, God's children who continually feel the assaults of their spiritual enemies, and see the breaches which are made in their souls with the continual battery of their temptations, may receive no small consolation hereby, when as they consider that all who profess themselves God's servants, and resolve to serve the Lord in holiness and righteousness, are thus tempted and tried. For the Dragon is wroth with the woman (that is, God's Church) and her seed which keepeth the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, as it is Revel. 12.17 and like a roaring lion seeketh their destruction, because they have renounced him, and fight under the standard of the Lord of hosts whom he maligneth: and hence it is that whilst we live without sense of sin, we eat and drink and take our ease without disturbance, but after we make any conscience of our ways, and endeavor to serve the Lord, then Satan casteth against us the fiery darts of his temptations and we feel many conflicts between the flesh and the spirit, with which the worldly man is never troubled, whilst we are poor and beggarly in God's graces and be content to rest in the earth as upon our own native soil, Satan letteth us alone as having nothing to lose: but if once we enrich ourselves with the unvaluable treasures of God's spiritual graces, and make the world a passage or place of pilgrimage, and desire to sail through this dangerous sea into our own heavenly country: then this arch-pirate Satan will set upon us and discharge against us a whole volley of temptations, that so he may spoil us of this rich fraught, and sink our souls in bottomless perdition. Neither will he ever give over this fight til we safely arrive in the haven of rest, when as being out of his reach we shall be quite freed from the danger of his encounters. So that when we are thus tempted and assaulted by Satan, the world, and our corrupt flesh, it is a strong argument to persuade us that we are entertained for God's soldiers, and have received the press money of his Spirit; for Satan's kingdom is not divided, neither doth he fight against those who are his friends and servants, but against those who wage war against him and fight under the Lord's standard. True it is, that when his servants have committed such abominable and grievous sins, as have made deep wounds in their seared consciences, whereby they are awakened out of their sleepy lethargy of security, then Satan filleth them with horror and despair, that he may keep them from true repentance, when he can hide from them their sins no longer; and the Lord in his just judgement, and for [p. 4] the example of others, doth suffer Satan to begin in them the torments of hell in this life; but if he can by any means hide their sins and keep them quietly in his kingdom, he will never vex them. And hence it is that whereas one perisheth through despair, many thousands perish through presumption and security. Let all those therefore who feel the burden of their spiritual enemies, comfort themselves; for hereby they have assurance that they are members of the church militant, into which none but soldiers are entertained, and that now they begin to be God's friends and servants when as Satan opposeth himself against them.
And so much concerning Sathans strength, being considered in himselfe. But besides himselfe hee hath the aide of other enemies to supplant us, who though they doe not make so terrible a shew, yet they are no lesse dangerous; and all these are led under the conduct of two Captaine Generals, the World and the Flesh.
By the World I understand impious, carnall and unbeleeving men, with all their baites and inticements unto vanitie, and all their discouragements, afflictions and miseries, wherewith they hinder Gods children in travelling the path of righteousnesse which leadeth to Gods Kingdome. This wicked World, the Devils Darling and chiefe Champion, doth assault us on both sides. On the right hand it encountreth us with prosperitie, offering us the bait of pleasure, that thereby it may allure us to swallow the hooke of sinne; it casteth before us the golden apple of riches, that by stooping downe to gather them, wee may be hindred in tunning the Christian race, and so lose the goale and garland of everlasting glorie; it tempteth us with honours and glory thereof to dishonour God, and to fall before Satan, worshipping him by our sinnes; in a word, it promiseth whatsoever our corrupt minds desire, if wee will live in sinne, and turn aside out of the narrow path into the broad way, which leadeth to destruction . . . .Are there not many who have beene forward Professors in the time of their adversities and want, which cast off the cloake of their profession as soone as the warme sunne of prosperitie hath shined upon them? Are there not many amongst us who in the time of affliction could not be inforced with torments to prophane Gods Name by swearing an idle oath; or his Sabbath by following their pleasures, or by doing the workes of their callings; and yet the same men after they have fallen into wicked company, who have inticed them by their words and evill examples to taste of the World and the vanities thereof, will not sticke (hesitate) to sweare with the swearer, and follow their pleasures on the Lords Day with the most prophane? so hard a thing it is to resist the World when it fauneth on us.
But how hard soever it seemeth to flesh and bloud, yet must we oppose our selves against this enemie also: for without a fight we can never obtaine victorie . . . .Let us remember that it is impossible to serve God and this Mammon, Mat 6.24, to love the World and God also . . . .Let us remember that it wil be to smal purpose to enjoy these worldly pleasures of sinne for a season, and in the end plunge our selves into everlasting death . . . that though the cup which is offereth be of gold, and the drinke sweet in taste, yet it is deadly poyson in operation: for they that drinke thereof are so lulled asleepe in pleasures and securitie, that they never awake out of their spirituall lethargie . . . .
But if the World cannot thus prevaile, then doth she turne her smiles into frownes, her allurments into threats, her beds of pleasure, into miseries and afflictions, her glorious offers of Honours and Riches, to proud menacings of povertie and ignominy; all of which being terrible in the eyes of flesh and bloud so farre prevaile with some, that they move them to make shipwracke of faith and good conscience; and being wearie in travailing thorow this desert and unpleasant Wildernesse unto the Land of Promise, they desire to retourne backe into the bondage of the spiritual Pharaoh, that they may quietly sit by the flesh-pots of Egypt, and glut themselves with the Cucumbers and Pepons of carnall pleasures: that is, they chuse rather to walke in the broad way which leadeth to destruction, because it is delightfull, then in the narrow way, which leadeth to everlasting life, because they must passe thorow the briars of affliction and thornes of tribulation . . . .
Yet though the World be farre more terrible to looke upon when it frowneth, then when it fawneth, yet it is farre lesse dangerous. For oftentimes this poyson of adversitie is so tempered and corrected with those wholesome preservatives of Faith, Hope, Patience and Humilitie, that in stead of killing us, it doth but purge away our corrupt humours of sinne; though the World whip us, yet thereby God correcteth us, and makes us better . . . .
Notwithstanding, howsoever by the grace and blessing of God, adversitie (the Worlds churlish sonne) oftentimes worketh these good effects; yet in itselfe it is a temptation, and that a strong one, to draw us from God, by causing us to murmure and repine; yea (as Satan said of Job) to curse God to his face, to envie all who seeme unto us more happy then our selves, to despaire of Gods mercie, and to use unlawfull meanes, that thereby wee may better our estate . . . And to this end we are to remember, first, that these fatherly corrections are evident testimonies to assure us that wee are not bastardes, but Gods deare children, whom hee gently chastiseth, that wee may not be destroyed with the World; that how Christ hath chosen us out of the World, seeing the World hateth us; that now we are the friends of God, which the World (Satans eldest sonne) becommeth our enemie: for so long as wee are of the World the World loveth us, for it loveth her owne. . . .
The second enemy which assisteth Satan against us, is the flesh, that inborne traitour, which we nourishing in our selves, doth open a gate in our soules, into which Satan and the World may easily send whole troupes of temptations to enter and surprize us. By the flesh wee are not to understand the bodie alone and the flesh thereof, but that corruption of nature which hath defiled both body and soule, being spread and mixed with every part of both, even as the light is mingled with darknesse in the twilight or dawning of the day; whereby we are made prone to all sinne, and readie to entertaine all temptations, which promise the satisfying of any of the lusts thereof. This secret traitour conspiring with Satan and the World to worke our destruction doth entertaine & further all their temptations; it fighteth and lusteth against the spirit, it rebelleth against the law of our minds, and leadeth us captive to the law of sinne; it hindreth us from doing the good wee would, and maketh us commit the evil which we hate . . . .
This enemie the holy Ghost in the Scriptures desiphereth by divers names; for it is called the olde man, the old Adam, the earthly, carnall, and naturall man, the sinne which is inherent and dwelleth in us, the adjoyning evill, the law of members, the lust of the flesh which fight against the soule; by all which is signified our corruption of nature, which is derived from our first parents, whereby wee are made backward unto all good, and prone unto all evill, unapt to entertaine any good motions of Gods Spirit, but most readie to receive and imbrace all the suggestions and temptations of the World and the Devill, as the wax the print of the seale, or the tindar fire. . . .So that Satan is the father, so the flesh is the mother of sinne, which receiveth Satans temptations, as it were, into a fruitfull wombe, doth conceive, nourish, and bring forth sinne, which no sooner is borne, but like deadly stinging Serpent, it bringeth death to bodie and soule, unless the poyson thereof be overcome and taken away by the precious bloud of Christ.
And thus you seen what the flesh is, and how it conspireth with Satan in seeking our destruction; whereby appeareth the treacherie and dangerousnesse of this our enemy. The treacherie thereof is hereby manifest, in that being in outward shew a deare friend, and more neere then an alter idem, another selfe, it notwithstanding aideth Satan to our owne overthrow. . . .For this Judas which daily followeth us, and eateth, and thinketh and sleepeth with us, doth betray us into the hands of those enemies who seeke our life; and then, when it seemeth lovingly and kindly to imbrace and kisse us. And as it is most treacherous, so also most dangerous, and hard to be overcome, for as much as it is in our selfe, and the greatest part of our selfe, and therefore we cannot forsake it, unlesse wee forsake our selves . . . . wee cannot vanquish it, unlesse wee subdue our selves. . . wee cannot be sure of life, unlesse wee mortifie and kill our greatest part.
[S]o we being in continuall danger to have the Citie of our soules sacked through the treacherousnesse of our flesh, must, if wee be strong enough and powerfull through Gods Spirit, mortifie, kill, and abolish the flesh, and the lusts thereof; but if we find the spirit weake and the flesh strong, we are to disable it by fasting and watchfulnesse in prayer, by withdrawing from it the food with which it is nourished, that is, voluptuous pleasures and worldly delights. But especially being weake in our selves, we are to implore the aide and assistance of Gods Spirit, whereby we may be strengthened and enabled to subdue and mortifie the lusts of the flesh . . . .
[A]s our enemie is exceeding strong, so is he also no lesse subtil & politike, in imploying all his strength to his best advantage and therefore as in regard of his strength he is called in the Scriptures a Lion and a mightie Dragon; so in respect of his subtiltie and wilinesse he is called a Serpent; yea an old Serpent, which being the subtilest of beasts, hath his craft redoubled by his age and experience. . . .No marvaile therefore though Satan be an expert Souldier, seeing he is not only of wonderfull strength, but also of great knowledge by creation; which though in respect of good things it was much decreased by his fall, yet in sleights and stratagems it is much increased by his long experience from the beginning of the World, even almost six thousand yeeres, which is sufficient to make one wise that is by nature foolish and simple, and therefore much more Satan, who is naturally very politicke; being also a spirit, and hereby fit to dive as it were into the secrets of nature, and with incredible swiftnesse to passe from place to place, ready to intrude himselfe into all companies secretly, and to learne the nature, qualities and dispositions of all men, against whom he fighteth. And though he cannot know our thoughts directly and certainly (for this is proper to God alone to be the searcher of hearts) yet hee hath such intelligence from our affections, lusts, inclinations and outward actions, that hee can inwardly guesse at them, if hee doe but a while keep us [p. 18] company, and see our dispositions and conversation (behavior). So that we cannot give Satan the least advantage, but hee is readie to take it and make use thereof to our overthrow; we can lay no plot against him but he discerneth it, and is readie to prevent it. And therefore in this respect our state is like the King of Arams, 2.King.6.12. for Satan our enemie knoweth all our counsailes and consultations, which wee take and hold in our most secret chambers.
And thus you see what Sathans policie is: against which wee must oppose no lesse wisdome and skill, if we will have the victorie. And because we are foolish by nature, or wily to beguile our selves (that wisdome which wee have naturally being worldly and carnall, which is enmitie against God, and therefore more fit to betray us into the hands ofour enemie, then to defend us from him) it behoveth us to goe out of our selves into the Lords treasurie of wisdome, and there to furnish our minds with such spirituall saving wisdome, as shall be fit to oppose against the subtill policie of our spirituall enemie. That is, wee must continually heare and meditate in Gods Word, which will make us wise and skilfull in descrying [descerning] all Satans stratagems and also in preventing them being discovered. For howsoever in the darke night of ignorance and errour wee may easily fall into his ambushments, yet the light of Gods Word shining unto us, will plainly disclose them to the eyes of the most simple: But besides this theoreticall wisdome seated in the understanding, there is also a practicall or operative wisdome required in Gods Word, which sheweth it selfe in our affections and actions. And this consisteth in the feare of the Lord, that is, true godlinesse and sinceritie of heart. . . If therefore wee would attaine unto such spirituall wisedome that wee may resist our spirituall enemie, wee must be conversant in hearing and reading the Word of God, meditating therein with the Prophet David both day and night; and withall wee must by all meanes seeke the feare of the Lord, labouring to lead our lives in a constant course of true godlinesse. And though we are full of infirmities, yet at least let us have an holy endeavour to performe service unto God, in truth, uprightnesse, and integritie of heart. And so wee may assure our selves that though we be never so simple and foolish by nature, yet shall wee be wise enough to withstand and overcome our spirituall enemies: for the Lord who is wisdome it selfe will direct us in our wayes, and he also will so infatuate this cursed Achitophel, and turne his wisdome unto foolishnesse, that wee shall never thereby be hurt or circumvented.
But on the other side, though we be never so wise in carnall wisdome, and thou our heads be a store-house of politicke stratagems, if yet wee neglect Gods Word, and voluntarily give our selves over unto sinne and disobedience, wee shall be so besotted with folly, that Satan will easily deceive and circumvent us. . . .
Now wee are to speake of the last meanes which wee are to use in our preparation immediately before our combate, that is, the Christian armour wherewith we are to arme our selves against the encounter: and to this end (because wee are but fresh water souldiers and of small experience) let us take the counsaile and advice of the Apostle Paul, one of Gods chiefe Champions and expert Captaines, as he setteth it downe, Ephes.126.96.36.199.14.&c. where first he describeth the qualitie, and as it were the metall of our armour in which respect he telleth us, that we must put on the armour of God which is spirituall: neither doe we wrestle against flesh and bloud, but against principalities, powers, and spirituall wickednesse, as it is Ephes.6.12. In vaine therefore it were with the Papists to seeke to defend our selves with holy Water, or Crucifixes, or ragges and reliques of Saints, [against] the violent assaults of this our enemie; or else with desperate Hacksters to trust in our Sword, Buckler and Speare: for well is that verified of this spirituall Leviathan, which the Lord speaketh of the earthly Leviathan, Job 41.17.20 When the sword doth touch him, he will not rise up, and he laugheth at the shaking of the speare. And that therefore when we are to encounter this great Goliath, wee are to lay aside the carnall weapons of Saul, which are altogether unfit for a Christian, serving rather to burthen and hinder him, than to defend and further him in this spirituall combate. . . .
Neither is it enough that wee put on one peece of the armour, and like young souldiers leave off the rest for the lightnesse sake, or else through the foole-hardinesse to shew needlesse valour; wee must not put on the helmet of salvation, and leave off the breast-plate of righteousnesse, nor take unto us the girdle of veritie and the shield of faith, and cast away from us the sword of the Spirit; but wee are to put on the whole armour of God. . . .
The last and chiefe meanes whereby wee may both defend our selves and offend our enemies is fervent and effectuall Prayer, which the Apostle exhorteth us to use, Ep.6.18. And pray alwayes with &c. The necessitie and profit of which exercise is exceeding great in this spirituall combate, because thereby we doe obtaine all our strength to fight, and victorie also over our enemies. For first we cannot endure the least assault of Satan by our owne strength, unlesse we be armed with the power of Gods might, as before I have shewed. And the Lords assistance, whereby only wee can overcome, is obtained by earnest and effectuall Prayer. . . .Secondly, we cannot obtaine the spirituall armour (before described) by any meanes of our owne, but those graces of Gods Spirit are his gifts, from whom every good and perfect gift descendeth, Jam.1.17. and therefore are to be begged at his hands by earnest and effectual Prayer. . . .
But whereas these graces are in this life but weake and imperfect in us; our strength being mixt with wil-worship and hypocrisie; and the puritie of our conscience stained with our corruption; our knowledge of the Gospell but in part; and shadowd with the vaile of ignorance; our faith mixt with doubting, and weakened with incredulitie; our hope shaken from its anker-hold, when the promises of God are delayed; and whereas wee also are unskilfull to use this spirituall armour for our best advantage; therefore it behoveth us after wee have armed our selves at all points, not to trust altogether in our armour, but to have our recourse unto our grand Captaine Christ Jesus, acknowledging our owne weaknesse, and desiring his aide and assistance. . . .
For first hee dealeth not withall alike, neither useth the same weapons to foile every one, but he observeth the qualitie and disposition of his enemies, and accordingly he fitteth his temptations, so as they may be most forcible to prevaile against them. And to this end hee observeth to what sinnes wee are most inclined, either by nature, or by present occasion, and to those hee inciteth us, thrusting us as it were downe the Hill, where wee are apt to runne head-long of our own accord; and seconding his assault with the aide of our corrupt flesh, which entertaineth willingly his suggestions. . . . For example, if he find a man ambitiously affected, hen hee coveteth his hooke with the baite of honours . . . .[p. 31] If he find that men are addicted to voluptuousnesse, then he tempteth them to sinne by offering carnall pleasures. . . . But if hee find that men are given to covetousnesse, then hath hee matter enough to worke upon . . .Doth hee not overcome all sorts and conditions of men, as well those who abound in all things, as those that enjoy little, by proportioning his offers of riches, according to their severall estates; much to these that have much, and little to those that possesse little?
So also Satan taketh advantage of our complexion and temperature; by tempting the Sanguine to pleasure and lust; the Flegmaticke to idleness and sloth; the Melancholicke to envie and malice; the Cholerick man hee provoketh to quarrels and braules, and inticeth him to take revenge by aggravating the injurie, and suggesting that it will bee a great disparagement to put up such a wrong. . . .
In regard to our worldly estate, he observeth whether wee are in prosperitie or adversitie. If wee bee in prosperitie, then he tempteth us to those sinnes whereunto that estate is most subject, namely to pride and forgetfulnesse of God, to contempt of our poore brethren, to the love of the world, to coldnes in religion, and carnall securitie; for he will perswade us, how wickedly soever we live, that wee are highly in Gods favour, otherwise hee would not bestow so great and manifold benefits upon us, as pledges of his love. If wee bee in adversity, then he will labour to perswade us to use unlawfull meanes for the repairing of our estates. . . .If wee bee poore, he inticeth us to steale, defraud and oppresse our brethren . . . If wee have lost any thing . . . he tempteth us to go to witches and wizards, that so wee may hazard our soules. . . .If wee suffer any great crosse or affliction, he will persuade us that God hath forsaken and hateth us, or else he would not so grievously afflict us; and hereby he mooveth us to despaire, murmure and repine against God. . .
In respect of our spirituall estate Satan observeth whether wee be meere worldlings or professors. If worldlings, then whether we be notoriously wicked, or civill honest men; those that be notoriously wicked he plungeth headlong into a gulfe of all wickednes and outragious rebellion against God, he tempteth them to Atheisme, and to contempt of Gods worship and service, to swearing and blaspheming, to the prophaning of the Sabbath, and scorning of all religion, to murthers, adulterie, drunkennesse, theft and all divelish practices, because thy are his slaves readie at his appointment to execute all those workes of darknes wherein he will imploy them. . . . If they be civill honest men, he perswadeth them that it is sufficient if they deal justly and uprightly with their neighbours both [p. 34] in their words and actions; and for Gods service consisting in the duties of pietie, which is commanded in the first table (of the Ten Commandments, those dealing with God and religion), that it is enough if they have a good meaning, though they be utterly ignorant of the principles of religion, and that it is onely required of Preachers and those that bee booke-learned, to be able to render account of their faith; as for them God will have them excused, so they lead an honest life amongst their neighbours, and be not tainted with grosse and outragious sinnes. . . .
But if those whom he incountreth bee professours of religion, then hee seeketh to perswade them, that if they outwardly performe the duties of piety, as the hearing of Gods word, the publike and private calling upon Gods name, the frequent receiving of the Sacraments; if they attaine to the knowledge and professing of religion, and can tip their tongues with godlinesse: then they may live how they list (want) amongst their brethren, neglecting all the duties of the second table (of the Ten Commandments, those dealing with other people), so they outwardly observe the first; for though they bee barren of good workes, destitute of charitie, filled with pride, addicted to covetousnesse, oppression, and all deceitvull dealing, yet they shall be justified by their faith, and approved of God for their outward profession sake. . . .
But if they be sincere professors, then hee observeth whether they bee babes or strong men in Christ; if hee finde them babes, then he seeketh to abuse their simplicitie, by drawing them either into errours and heresies, or at least into blinde zeale and superstition. If he cannot so prevaile . . . then he laboureth to overwhelme them with the burthen of their sinnes, and to plunge them into the bottomlesse gulfe of horror and despaire, by aggravating the odiousness of their rebellion, and huge multitudes of their outragious transgressions, by setting before them, the curse of the law, the vengeance of God due unto them, his infinite and exact justice which must be satisfied, and unspeakable and endlesse torments prepared for the damned. But if he cannot aggravate their sinnes, which in truth they have committed, and make of them such an huge mountain as may serve to overwhelme them, he addeth unto them his own sins, by casting into their minds outragious blasphemies against God, and such horrible suggestions of impietie, as will make their haires to stand on end when they do but thinke of them, perswading them that they are their owne thoughts, and therefore horrible sinnes, whereas in truth they are but his suggestions. . . .
If by this meanes he cannot overthrow their faith and bring them to despaire, then he taketh advantage of their simplicitie, by inticing them to commit sins of ignorance. For example, hee will tell them that it is lawfull, nay expedient to use their Christian libertie, when he tempteth them to licentiousnesse; and to the end he may more easily deceive them, he will set a faire glosse upon foule sinnes, and seeke to justifie them by Gods word, apparelling vices in the habite of vertues which most resemble them. He will tempt to covetousnes, under shew of frugalitie, telling them that they who provide not for their familie are worse then Infidels. . . .
And thus Satan dealeth with weake Christians: but if he find those whom he assaulteth strong men in Christ, so that he cannot take any advantage of their ignorance, nor overthrow their faith, then he laboureth to make them wound their conscience, by committing sins of presumption against their knowledge, using the violence of their affections, to abuse their reason and misleade their judgement. . . .But if he cannot thus prevaile, hee will transforme himselfe into an angell of light, and tempt them to the doing of a lesse good, that they may neglect a greater; or that which is in it selfe lawfull and commanded in its due time and place, he will tempt them to performe it unseasonablie, when as other duties in respect of present occasion are more necessarie. . . .For example, in the hearing of the word he wil cast into their minds meditations, in their owne nature good and acceptable to God in their due time and place, to the end hee may distract their minds and make them heare without profit. In the time of prayer, he will not sticke (hesitate) to recall to their memories some profitable instructions which they have heard at the Sermon; to the end hee may disturbe them in that holy exercise, and keepe them from lifting up their hearts wholly unto God. Moreover, in all his temptations he will alleage Scripture; but then either he depraveth the place by adding or detracting . . . or if he recite them right, he will wrest the words unto another sense, then the holy Ghost hath written them, that so he may deceive us and lead us into error.
And thus have I shewed at large Satans first politicke stratagem, which hee useth to circumvent us by fitting his temptations according to our nature & disposition, or our state and condition. A second policie which Satan useth to circumvent us is this: if he cannot at first intice us to fall into outragious wickednes, he will seeke to draw us thereunto by degrees, beginning at the least, and so bringing us from that to a greater, till at last wee come to the highest steppe of wickednesse. . . .For example, if hee see a professor of religion which maketh conscience of his waies, hee doth not usually seeke at first to draw him into hainous sinnes, unlesse the cords of his temptations bee exceeding strong; but first he allureth him to come into company of wicked men, by offering some pleasure or profit, or by occasion of affinitie (family relations) and marriage. . . .If he thus prevaile, then hee tempteth him to winke at their sinnes which in conscience he condemneth that he may still enjoy his pleasure and profit, or continue in their love and favour. Then in the next place he moveth him to thinke them tolerable sinnes which they commit, and nothing so outragiuos as others fall into. . . . [S]o Satan enticeth us to swallow downe the poyson of sinne at the first in such small quantitie, that our consciences may not be sick thereof: but having well digested the least, he encreaseth the measure till by long custome hee hath made it so familiar to our consciences, that those sinnes are even meate and drinke unto us, which at the first wee loathed as deadly poysons.
A third policie which Sathan useth to circumvent us, is to bring us from one extreame to another. For example, when wee see the vilenesse of prodigalitie, so as wee will no longer be possessed of that vice, then will Satan make it as odious as he can, and endevour to bring us into extreame hatred thereof, that so hee may the more easily drawe us into the contrarie vice of covetousnesse. If he cannot any longer keepe us asleepe in sin, by rocking us in the cradle of carnall securitie, and singing unto us the sweete tunes of Gods mercie and Christs merites, then will he labour to plunge us into despaire, by setting before our eyes the hainousnesse of our sins, and sounding in our eares the thundring threatenings of the Law. . . . If he cannot hide out or our sight the shining graces of Gods Spirit, by casting before our eyes the cloud of our sinnes and corruptions, then he will cause us to looke on them thorow the spectacles of selfe-love and affection, to the end wee may imagine them much greater then in truth they are, and so be pufffed up in pride, and too securely rest in those gifts we have. . . . Now the end why Satan useth this policie, is more violently to cast us into one extreame of sinne, when with full swinge of will we doe avoid the other: as also to make us beleeve that the latter temptation is the motion of Gods Spirit, seeing it is cleane contrary to the former suggestion of Satan, whereas in truth they are but unlike children of the same father.
The danger of which temptations if wee would avoid, we must keepe in the golden meane, avoyding both extremes; and because we are ignorant and unskilfull in travelling the strait path which leadeth to Gods kingdome . . . let us use the Word of God for our guide. . . .
So also hee useth the helpe of our owne flesh to betray the spirit, and leade us captive into sinne; and that so cunningly, that we can hardly discerne betweene Satans suggestions and our owne corrupt motions and desires. For being a spirit, he doth not appeare in a corporall (bodily) shape and perswade us to sinne with reall words, which are convayed to the understanding and heart by the eare, but hee commeth to us after a spirituall manner, and suggesteth secretly his temptations into the heart and mind directly and immediately, so as wee can seldome distinguish his motions from our owne thoughts. For as the Spirit of God doth so move us to all vertuous and holy actions, as that in the meane time wee would thinke his motions to bee our owne godly cogitations, but that we are sufficiently instructed out of Gods Word, that wee cannot of our selves so much as thinke a good thought, unlesse it proceed from God; so much lesse can we discerne between the suggestions of Sathan and our owne fleshy thoughts, because they are both corrupt and alike wicked. By reason whereof it commeth to passe that Satan wanteth no opportunitie of circumventing us, because we can put no difference betweene his temptations and our owne carnall desires. . . .