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closely increased, by the age and experience of so many thousand years :
So much the more careful ought we to be, my son, Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; 2 Cor. ii. 11. This is that, be seeks; and, if our spiritual wisdom and circumspection be not the more, will be sure to find.
It is a great word, and too high for us, which the Apostle speaks; For we are not ignorant of Satan's devices; 2 Cor. ii. 11. Alas, he hath a thousand stratagems, that our weak simplicity is never able to reach unto. The wisest of us knows not the deceitfulness of his own heart; much less, can he dive into the plots of hell, that are against us. We hear and are forewarned of the wiles of the Devil; Eph. vi. 11: but what bis special machinations are, how can we know; much less, prevent ? Even the children of this world, saith our Saviour, are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light; Luke xvi. 8: how much more crafty is their Father, from whom their cunning is derived ! Be as mean as thou wilt, my son, in thine own eyes : say, with Agur the son of Jakeh, Surely, I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man : I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy; Prov. xxx. 2, 3.
But, whatever thou art in thyself, know what thou art, or mayest be, in thy God. Consider what the man after God's own heart sticks not to profess: Thou, through thy commandments, hast made me wiser than mine enemies ; for thou art ever with me ; Ps. cxix. 98. Lo, the Spirit of Wisdom. (Deut. xxxiv. 9. Eph. i. 17.) is ours; and he, who is the Eternal Wisdom of the Father, is made unto us wisdom, as well as righteousness; i Cor. i. 30: and he, who orerrules hell, hath said, The gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church. What are the gates of hell, but the deep plots and consultations of those infernal powers ?
The serpent is the known emblem of subtlety. The serpents of the Egyptian sorcerers were all devoured by Moses's serpent: wherefore? but to shew us, that all the crafty counsels and machinations of hellish projectors are easily destroyed, by the power
and wisdom of the Almighty? When all was done, it was the rod of God, that swallowed them all; and was yet still itself, when they were vanquished: so as that, whereby Satan thought to have won most honour to himself, ended in his shame and loss.
What an infinite advantage did the powers of darkness think to have made, in drawing our first parents, by their subtle suggestions, into sin; and, thereby, into perdition: as imagining, “Either mankind shall not be, or shall be ours !” The incomprehensible wisdom and mercy of our God disappointed their hopes; and took occasion, by man's fall, to raise him up to a greater glory; and so ordered it, that the Serpent's nibbling at the heel cost him the breaking of bis head.
What trophies did that Wicked Spirit think to erect upon the ruins of miserable Job! and how was he baffled by the patience of that Saint! and how was that Saint doubled, both in his estate and honour, by his conquering patience!
How confidently did the subtlety of hell say, concerning the Soui of God exbibited in the flesh; This is the Heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours ! Matt. xxi. 38. Mark xii. 7. Luke xx. 14. How sure work did they think they had made, when they saw him, through their subtle procurement, nailed to the Cross, and dying upon that tree of shame and curse; when they saw him laid dead under a sealed and guarded gravestone! And now, behold, even now begins their confusion, and his triumph: now doth the Lord of Life begin to trample upon death and hell; and to perfect his own glory, and man's redemption, by his most glorious Resurrection.
And, as it was with the Head, so it is with the members. When Satan hath done his worst, they are holier upon their sins, and happier by their miscarriages. God finds out a way to improve their evils to advantage; and teaches them, of these vipers, to make sovereign treacles, and safe and powerful trochisees.
Shortly, the temptations of Satan sent out from his power, malice, subtlety, are no other than fiery darts ; for their suddenness, impetuosity, penetration. If we can but huld out the shield of faith before us, they shall not be quenched only, but retorted into the face of him that sends them; Eph. vi. 16: and we shall, with the Chosen Vessel, find and profess, that, in all things, we are more than conquerors, through him, that loved us; Rom. viii. 37: and, in a bold defiance of all the powers of darkness, shall say, I am persuaded, that neither death, nor lifc, nor angels, nor principulities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord; vv. 38, 39: To whom be all honour, glory, praise, power, and dominion, now and for
THE UNIVERSAL RECIPE FOR ALL MALADIES. These are, my son, special compositions of wholesome Recipes, for the several maladies of thy soul : wherein it shall be my happiness, to have suggested unto thee such thoughts, as may any whit avail to the alleviation of thy sorrows.
But, there is an Universal Remedy, which a skilfuller Physician hath ordained for all thy grievances; and I, from his hand, earnestly recommend to thee: Is any among you afflicted? let him pray; James v. 13. Lo here the great and sovereign Panpharmacum of the distressed soul; which is able to give ease to all the fore-mentioned complaints.
Art thou cast down upon thy sick-bed? Call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray; James v. 14. This was Hezekiah's recipe, when he was sick unto death : He turned his face to the wall, and prayed ; 2 Kings xx. 1, 2. This was David's recipe : Have mercy on me, O Lord; for I am wcak : 0 Lord, heal me ; for my bones are vexed ; Ps. vi. 2. Take, therefore, the counsel of the Wise Man: “My son, in thy sickness be not negligent; but pray anto the Lord, and he will make thee whole;" Ecclus. xxxviii. 9.
Art thou soul-sick ? Pray. So did holy David: The sorrows of hell compassed me about ; and the snares of death prevented me. In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God; Ps. xviii. 5, 6. cxvi. 3, 4.
Art thou infested with importunate temptations ? Pray. So did St. Paul, when the messenger of Satan was sent to buffet him : Thrice, 1 besought the Lord that it might depart from me ; 2 Cor. xii. 8. So did David: While I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; Ps. Ixxxviii. 15, 16: But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and, in the morning, shall my prayer prevent thee; v. 13.
Art thou disheartened with the weakness of grace? Pray. So did David : I am feeble and sore broken : I have roared, by reasons of the disquietness of my heart : Lord, all my desire is before thee; Ps. xxxviji. 8, 9.
Art thou afflicted with the slanders of evil tongues? Pray. So did David: The mouth of the wicked and the inouth of the deceitful are opened against me : they have spoken against me with a lying tongue ; Ps. cix. 2. Hold not ihy peace, O God of my praise; v. l.
Art thou grieved or affrighted with the public calamities of war, famine, pestilence ? Pray. So good Jehosaphat presseth God with his gracious promise, made to Solomon; 2 Chron. vii. 13, 14, 15. If, when evil cometh upon us ; as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine ; we stand before this house, and in thy presence, and cry anto thee in our affliction ; then thou wilt hear and help;'2 Chron. xx. 9. and shuts up his zealous supplication with, neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon thee; v. 12.
Art thou afflicted with the loss of friends? Pray, and have recourse to thy God, as Ezekiel, when Peletiah, the son of Benaiah, died : Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah, Lord God! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel ? Ezek. xi. 13.
Art thou distressed with poverty? Pray. So did David: I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I became also a reproach to them ; when they, that looked upon me, shaked their heads. Help me, O Lord my God : Oh, save me, according to thy mercy; Ps. cis. 22, 25, 26.
Art thou imprisoned ? Pray. So did Jonah, when he was shut up within the living walls of the whale : I cried, by reason of my affliction, unto the Lord; Jonah ii. 2. So did Asaph: Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee ; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou them, that are appointed to die ; Ps. Ixxix. 11.
Art thou driven from thy country? Pray. This is the remedy prescribed by Solomon, in his supplication to God: If thy people be carried away into a land far off, or near: Yet, if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried, and turn, and pray to thee in the land of their captivity : If they return to thee xviih all their hearts, and pray toward the land which thou gavest to their forefathers, &c. Then, hear thou from heaven their prayer, and their supplication; 2 Chron. vi. 36-39.
Art thou bereaved of thy bodily senses? Make thy address to him, that said, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, and the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not 1, the Lord ? Exod. iv. 11. Cry aloud to him, with Bartimeus, Lord, that I may receive my sight; Matt. x. 47, 51. And, if thou be hopeless of thine outward sight, yet pray, with the Psalmist, O Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may see the wondrous things of thy Law ; Ps. cxis. 18.
Art thou afflicted with sterility? Pray. So did Isaac; Gen. xxv. 21. So did Hannah: she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore; and received a gracious answer; 1 Sam. i. 10. ii. 21.
Art thou troubled and weakened with want of rest? Pray. So did Asaph: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Thou holdest mine eyes waking : I am so troubled, that I cannot speak; Ps. Issvii. 3, 4. I cried to God with my voice; unto God with my voice, and he gave ear unto me ; v. 1.
Dost thou droop under the grievances of old age? Pray. So did David: Oh, cast me not off in the time of old age: forsake me not, when my strength faileth ; Ps. Ixxi. 9. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: Now also, when I am old and grey-headed, o God, forsake me not; vv. 17, 18.
Art thou troubled and dismayed with the fears of death? Pray. So did David: My soul is full of troubles ; and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them, that go down into the pit : I am as a man, that hath no strength. Free among the dead: ihou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps ; Ps. Isxxviii.
But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and, in the morning, shall my prayer prevent thee ; v: 13.
Dost thou tremble at the thought of judgment ? So did the man after God's own heart: My ftesh trembleth for fear of thee ; and I am afraid of thy judgments; Ps. cxix. 120. Look up, with Jeremiah, and say to thy Saviour, O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; ihou hast redeemed my life : 0 Lord, judge thou my cause"; Lam. iii. 58, 59.
Lastly, art thou afraid of the power, malice, subtlety of thy spiritual enemies? Pray. So did David: Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them, that rise up against me ; . Ps. lix. 1. Oh, hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; Ps. Jsiv. 2. Consider mine enemies; for they are many, and they hate me with cruel hatred. Oh, keep my soul, and deliver me"; Ps. xxv. 19, 20. So did St. Paul pray, that he might be freed from the messenger of Satan, whose buffets he felt; and was answered with, My grace is sufficient for thee; 2 Cor. xii. 9. So he sues for all God's Saints: May the God of Peace tread down Satan under your feet shortly; Rom. xvi. 20.
Shortly, whatever evil it be that presseth thy soul, have speedy
recourse to the Throne of Grace : pour out thy heart into the ears of the Father of all Mercies, and God of all Comfort; and be sure, if not of redress, yet of ease: We have his word for it, that cannot fail us : Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee; and thou shalt glorify me ; Ps. 1. 15.
Fashionable suppliants may talk to God: but, be confident, he, that can truly pray, can never be truly miserable. Of ourselves, we lie open to all evils: our rescue is from above: and what intercourse have we with heaven, but by our Prayers ? Our Prayers are they, that can deliver us from dangers, avert judgments, prevent mischiefs, procure blessings; that can obtain pardon for our sins, furnish us with strength against temptations, mitigate the extremity of our sufferings, sustain our infirmities, raise up
our dejectedness, increase our graces, abate our corruptions, sanctify all good things to us, sweeten the bitterness of our afflictions, open the windows of heaven, shut up the bars of death, vanquish the power of hell. Pray; and be both safe and happy.