Temptation Chapter 8

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen

KEEP THE WORD OF CHRIST’S PATIENCE
The directions insisted on in the former chapters are such as are partly
given us, in their several particulars, up and down the Scripture, [and they]
partly arise from the nature of the thing itself. There is one general direction
[that] remains, which is comprehensive of all that went before and
also adds many more particulars unto them. This contains an approved
antidote against the poison of temptation—a remedy that Christ himself
has marked with a note of efficacy and success; that is given us in the
words of our Savior himself to the church of Philadelphia. “Because,” says
he, “you have kept the word of my patience, I will also keep you from the
hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that
dwell in the earth” (Rev. 3:10). Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and
forever” [Heb. 13:8]. As he dealt with the church of Philadelphia, so will
he deal with us. If we “keep the word of his patience,” he will “keep us
from the hour of temptation.” This, then, being a way of rolling the whole
care of this weighty affair on him who is able to bear it, it requires our
peculiar attention.
And, therefore, I shall show: (1) What it is to “keep the word of Christ’s
patience,” that we may know how to perform our duty; and (2) How this
will be a means of our preservation, which will establish us in the faith of
Christ’s promise.
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38 gap, broken area
What It Means to “Keep the Word of Christ’s Patience”
The word of Christ is the word of the gospel; the word by him revealed from
the bosom of the Father; the word of the Word; the word spoken in time of
the eternal Word. So it is called “the word of Christ” (Col. 3:16), or “the
gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 9:12), and “the doctrine of Christ”
(Heb. 6:1). “Of Christ,” that is, as its author (Heb. 1:1-2); and of him, as the
chief subject or matter of it (2 Cor. 1:20). Now this word is called “the word
of Christ’s patience,” or tolerance and forbearance, upon the account of that
patience and longsuffering which, in the dispensation of it, the Lord Christ
exercises toward the whole, and to all persons in it; and that both actively
and passively, in his bearing with men and enduring from them.
He is patient toward his saints—he bears with them, suffers from them.
He is “patient toward us” (2 Pet. 3:9)—that is, that believe. The gospel is the
word of Christ’s patience even to believers. A soul acquainted with the gospel
knows that there is no property39 of Christ rendered more glorious therein
than that of his patience. That he should bear with so many unkindnesses, so
many causeless breaches, so many neglects of his love, so many affronts done
to his grace, so many violations of engagements as he does, it manifests his
gospel to be not only the word of his grace, but also of his patience. He suffers
also from them in all the reproaches they bring upon his name and ways;
and he suffers in them, for “in all their afflictions he is afflicted.”
[He is patient] toward the elect not yet effectually called. He stands waiting
at the door of their hearts and knocks for an entrance (Rev. 3:20). He
deals with them by all means, and yet stands and waits until “his head is filled
with the dew, and his locks with the drops of the night” (Song 5:2), as enduring
the cold and inconveniences of the night, that when his morning is come
he may have entrance. Oftentimes for a long season he is by them scorned in
his person, persecuted in his saints and ways, reviled in his word, while he
stands at the door in the word of his patience, with his heart full of love
toward their poor rebellious souls.
[He is patient] to the perishing world. Hence the time of his kingdom in
this world is called the time of his “patience” (Rev. 1:9). He “endures the vessels
of wrath with much longsuffering” (Rom. 9:22). While the gospel is
administered in the world he is patient toward the men thereof, until the
saints in heaven and earth are astonished and cry out, “How long?” (Ps. 13:1-
2; Rev. 6:10). And themselves do mock at him as if he were an idol (2 Pet.
3:4). He endures from them bitter things, in his name, ways, worship, saints,
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39 characteristic, quality
promises, threats, all his interest of honor and love; and yet passes by them,
lets them alone, does them good. Nor will he cut this way of proceeding short
until the gospel shall be preached no more. Patience must accompany the
gospel.
Now, this is the word that is to be kept, that we may be kept from “the
hour of temptation.” Three things are implied in the keeping of this word:
(1) knowledge; (2) valuation; (3) obedience:
Knowledge. He that will keep this word must know it, be acquainted
with it, under a fourfold notion: first, as a word of grace and mercy to save
him; second, as a word of holiness and purity to sanctify him; third, as a word
of liberty and power to ennoble him and set him free; and fourth, as a word
of consolation to support him in every condition.
First, as a word of grace and mercy able to save us: “It is the power of
God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16); “the grace of God that brings forth salvation”
(Titus 2:11); “the word of grace that is able to build us up, and to give
us an inheritance among all them that are sanctified” (Acts 20:32); “The word
that is able to save our souls” (James 1:21). When the word of the gospel is
known as a word of mercy, grace, and pardon, as the sole evidence for, as the
conveyance of an eternal inheritance; when the soul finds it such to itself, it
will strive to keep it.
Second, as a word of holiness and purity able to sanctify him: “You are
clean through the word I have spoken unto you,” says our Savior (John 15:3).
To that purpose is his prayer (John 17:17). He that knows not the word of
Christ’s patience as a sanctifying, cleansing word, in the power of it upon his
own soul, neither knows it nor keeps it. The empty profession of our days
knows not one step toward this duty; and thence it is that the most are so
overborne under the power of temptations. Men full of self, of the world, of
fury, ambition, and almost all unclean lusts, do yet talk of keeping the word
of Christ! (See 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:19.)
Third, as a word of liberty and power to ennoble him and set him free—
and this not only from the guilt of sin and from wrath, for that it does as it
is a word of grace and mercy; not only from the power of sin, for that it does
as it is a word of holiness; but also from all outward respects of men or the
world that might entangle him or enslave him. It declares us to be “Christ’s
freemen” and in bondage unto none (John 8:32; 1 Cor. 7:23). We are not by
it freed from due subjection unto superiors, nor from any duty, nor unto any
sin (1 Pet. 2:16); but in two respects it is a word of freedom, liberty, largeness
of mind, power and deliverance from bondage: first, in respect of conscience
as to the worship of God (Gal. 5:1); second, in respect of ignoble, slavish
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respects unto the men or things of the world, in the course of our pilgrimage.
The gospel gives a free, large, and noble spirit, in subjection to God and none
else. There is administered in it a spirit “not of fear, but of power, and of love,
and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7); a mind “in nothing terrified” (Phil.
1:28)—not swayed with any by-respect40 whatsoever. There is nothing more
unworthy of the gospel than a mind in bondage to persons or things, prostituting
itself to the lusts of men or affrightments of the world. And he that thus
knows the word of Christ’s patience, really and in power, is even thereby freed
from innumerable, from unspeakable temptations.
Fourth, as a word of consolation to support him in every condition and
to be a full portion in the want of all. It is a word attended with “joy unspeakable
and full of glory” [1 Pet. 1:8]. It gives support, relief, refreshment, satisfaction,
peace, consolation, joy, boasting, glory, in every condition
whatsoever. Thus to know the word of Christ’s patience, thus to know the
gospel, is the first part, and it is a great part of this condition of our preservation
from the hour and power of temptation.
Valuation of what is thus known belongs to the keeping of this word. It
is to be kept as a treasure. That excellent depositum41 (that is, the word of
the gospel)—“keep it,” says the apostle, “by the Holy Ghost” (2 Tim. 1:14);
and “Hold fast the faithful word” (Titus 1:9). It is a good treasure, a faithful
word; hold it fast. It is a word that comprises the whole interest of Christ in
the world. To value that as our chief treasure is to keep the word of Christ’s
patience. They that will have a regard from Christ in the time of temptation
are not to be regardless of his concerns.
Personal obedience, in the universal observation of all the commands of
Christ, is the keeping of his word (John 14:15). Close adherence unto Christ
in holiness and universal obedience, then when the opposition that the gospel
of Christ does meet with in the world does render it signally the word of his
patience, is the life and soul of the duty required.
Now, all these are to be so managed with that intension42 of mind and
spirit, that care of heart and diligence of the whole person, as to make up a
keeping of this word; which evidently includes all these considerations.
We have arrived, then, to the sum of this safeguarding duty, of this condition
of freedom from the power of temptation: He that, having a due
acquaintance with the gospel in its excellencies, as to him a word of mercy,
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40 private advantage
41 deposit
42 intention
holiness, liberty, and consolation, values it, in all its concerns, as his choicest
and only treasure—makes it his business and the work of his life to give himself
up unto it in universal obedience, then especially when opposition and
apostasy put the patience of Christ to the utmost—he shall be preserved from
the hour of temptation.
How Keeping the Word of Christ’s Patience Will Be a Means
of Preservation
This is that which is comprehensive of all that went before and is exclusive
of all other ways for the obtaining of the end purposed. Nor let any man think
without this to be kept one hour from entering into temptation; wherever he
fails, there temptation enters. That this will be a sure preservative may appear
from the ensuing considerations:
It has the promise of preservation, and this alone has so. It is solemnly
promised, in the place mentioned, to the church of Philadelphia on this
account. When a great trial and temptation was to come on the world, at the
opening of the seventh seal (Rev. 7:3), a caution is given for the preservation
of God’s sealed ones, which are described to be those who keep the word of
Christ; for the promise is that it should be so.
Now, in every promise there are three things to be considered: (1) The
faithfulness of the Father, who gives it; (2) The grace of the Son, which is the
matter of it; (3) The power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, which puts the
promise in execution. And all these are engaged for the preservation of such
persons from the hour of temptation.
The faithfulness of God accompanies the promise. On this account is our
deliverance laid (1 Cor. 10:13). Though we be tempted, yet we shall be kept
from the hour of temptation; it shall not grow too strong for us. What comes
on us we shall be able to bear; and what would be too hard for us we shall
escape. But what security have we hereof? Even the faithfulness of God: “God
is faithful, who will not suffer you,” etc. And wherein is God’s faithfulness
seen and exercised? “He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:23); his faithfulness
consists in his discharge of his promises. “He abides faithful: he cannot
deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). So that by being under the promise, we have
the faithfulness of God engaged for our preservation.
There is in every promise of the covenant the grace of the Son; that is the
subject matter of all promises: “I will keep you.” How? “By my grace with
you.” So that what assistance the grace of Christ can give a soul that has a
right in this promise, in the hour of temptation it shall enjoy it. Paul’s temp-
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tation grew very high; it was likely to have come to its prevalent hour. He
besought the Lord, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, for help (2 Cor. 12:8), and
received that answer from him, “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9). That
it was the Lord Christ and his grace with whom he had peculiarly to do is
evident from the close of that verse: “I will glory in my infirmity, that the
power of Christ may rest upon me,” or “the efficacy of the grace of Christ in
my preservation be made evident” (so Heb. 2:18).
The efficacy of the Spirit accompanies the promises. He is called “the
Holy Spirit of promise” [Eph. 1:13], not only because he is promised by
Christ, but also because he effectually makes good the promise and gives it
accomplishment in our souls. He also, then, is engaged to preserve the soul
walking according to the rule laid down (see Isa. 59:21). Thus, where the
promise is, there is all this assistance. The faithfulness of the Father, the grace
of the Son, the power of the Spirit, all are engaged in our preservation.
This constant, universal keeping of Christ’s word of patience will keep
the heart and soul in such a frame, as wherein no prevalent temptation, by
virtue of any advantages whatsoever, can seize upon it, so as totally to prevail
against it. So David prays, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me”
(Ps. 25:21). This integrity and uprightness is the Old Testament keeping the
word of Christ—universal close walking with God. Now how can they preserve
a man? Why, by keeping his heart in such a frame, so defended on every
side, that no evil can approach or take hold on him. Fail a man in his integrity,
he has an open place for temptation to enter (Isa. 57:21). To keep the word
of Christ is to do this universally, as has been showed. This exercises grace in
all the faculties of the soul,43 and compasses it with the whole armor of God.
The understanding is full of light; the affections, of love and holiness. Let the
wind blow from what quarter it will, the soul is fenced and fortified; let the
enemy assault when or by what means he pleases, all things in the soul of such
a one are upon the guard; “How can I do this thing, and sin against God?”
[Gen. 39:9] is at hand. Especially, upon a twofold account does deliverance
and security arise from his hand:
By the mortification of the heart unto the matter of temptations. The
prevalency of any temptation arises from hence, that the heart is ready to
close with the matter of it. There are lusts within, suited to the proposals of
the world or Satan without. Hence James resolves all temptations into our
“own lusts” (1:14); because either they proceed from or are made effectual
by them, as has been declared. Why do terror or threats turn us aside from a
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43The traditional “faculties of the soul” are understanding (intellect), will (volition), and affection (emotion).
due constancy in the performance of our duty? Is it not because there is
unmortified, carnal fear abiding in us, that tumultuates in such a season? Why
is it that the allurements of the world and compliances with men entangle us?
Is it not because our affections are entangled with the things and considerations
proposed unto us? Now, keeping the word of Christ’s patience, in the
manner declared, keeps the heart mortified to these things, and so it is not
easily entangled by them. Says the apostle, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal.
2:20). He that keeps close to Christ is crucified with him and is dead to all
the desires of the flesh and the world (as more fully: Gal. 6:14). Here the
match is broken, and all love, entangling love, dissolved. The heart is crucified
to the world and all things in it. Now the matter of all temptations almost
is taken out of the world; the men of it, or the things of it, make them up.
“As to these things,” says the apostle, “I am crucified to them” (and it is so
with everyone that keeps the word of Christ). “My heart is mortified unto
them. I have no desire after them, nor affection to them, nor delight in them,
and they are crucified unto me. The crowns, glories, thrones, pleasures, profits
of the world, I see nothing desirable in them. The reputation among them,
they are all as a thing of nought.44 I have no value nor estimation of them.”
When Achan saw the “goodly Babylonian garment, and two hundred shekels
of silver, and a wedge of gold,” first he “coveted them,” then he “took them”
(Josh. 7:21). Temptation subtly spreads the Babylonish garment of favor,
praise, peace, the silver of pleasure or profit, with the golden contentments
of the flesh, before the eyes of men. If now there be that in them alive, unmortified,
that will presently fall a-coveting; let what fear of punishment will
ensue, the heart of hand will be put forth into iniquity.
Herein, then, lies the security of such a frame as that described: It is
always accompanied with a mortified heart, crucified unto the things that are
the matter of our temptations; without which it is utterly impossible that we
should be preserved one moment when any temptation does befall us. If liking
and love of the things proposed, insinuated, commended in the temptation
be living and active in us, we shall not be able to resist and stand.
In this frame the heart is filled with better things and their excellency, so
far as to be fortified against the matter of any temptation. See what resolution
this puts Paul upon; all is “loss and dung” to him (Phil. 3:8). Who would
go out of his way to have his arms full of loss and dung? And whence is it
that he has this estimation of the most desirable things in the world? It is from
that dear estimation he had of the excellency of Christ. So (v. 10), when the
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44 they are all as nothing
soul is exercised to communion with Christ, and to walking with him, he
drinks new wine, and cannot desire the old things of the world, for he says
“the new is better.” He tastes every day how gracious the Lord is; and therefore
longs not after the sweetness of forbidden things—which indeed have
none. He that makes it his business to eat daily of the tree of life will have no
appetite unto other fruit, though the tree that bear them seem to stand in the
midst of paradise. This the spouse makes the means of her preservation: even
the excellency which, by daily communion, she found in Christ and his graces
above all other desirable things. Let a soul exercise itself to a communion with
Christ in the good things of the gospel—pardon of sin, fruits of holiness, hope
of glory, peace with God, joy in the Holy Ghost, dominion over sin—and he
shall have a mighty preservative against all temptations. As the full soul
loathes the honeycomb—as a soul filled with carnal, earthly, sensual contentments
finds no relish nor savor in the sweetest spiritual things; so he that
is satisfied with the kindness of God, as with marrow and fatness—that is,
every day entertained at the banquet of wine, wine upon the lees,45 and well
refined [Isa. 25:6]—has a holy contempt of the baits and allurements that lie
in prevailing temptations, and is safe.
He that so keeps the word of Christ’s patience is always furnished with
preserving considerations and preserving principles—moral and real advantages
of preservation.
He is furnished with preserving considerations that powerfully influence
his soul in his walking diligently with Christ. Besides the sense of duty which
is always upon him, he considers—
The concern of Christ, whom his soul loves, in him and his careful walking.
He considers that the presence of Christ is with him, his eye upon him;
that he ponders his heart and ways, as one greatly concerned in his deportment
of himself, in a time of trial. So Christ manifests himself to do (Rev.
2:19-23). He considers all—what is acceptable, what is to be rejected. He
knows that Christ is concerned in his honor, that his name be not evil spoken
of by reason of him; that he is concerned in love to his soul, having that
design upon him to “present him holy, and unblamable, and unreprovable in
his sight” (Col. 1:22)—and his Spirit is grieved where he is interrupted in this
work; concerned on the account of his gospel, the progress and acceptation
of it in the world—its beauty would be slurred, its good things reviled, its
progress stopped, if such a one be prevailed against; concerned in his love to
others, who are grievously scandalized, and perhaps ruined, by the miscar-
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45 wine that has been aged properly
riages of such. When Hymeneus and Philetus fell, they overthrew the faith of
some [2 Tim. 2:17-18]. And says such a soul, then, who is exercised to keep
the word of Christ’s patience, when intricate, perplexed, entangling temptations,
public, private, personal, do arise, “Shall I now be careless? Shall I be
negligent? Shall I comply with the world and the ways of it? Oh what
thoughts of heart has he concerning me, whose eye is upon me! Shall I contemn
his honor, despise his love, trample his gospel in the mire under the feet
of men, turn aside others from his ways? Shall such a man as I fly, give over
resistings? It cannot be.” There is no man who keeps the word of the patience
of Christ but is full of this soul-pressing consideration. It dwells on his heart
and spirit; and the love of Christ constrains him so to keep his heart and ways
(2 Cor. 5:14).
The great consideration of the temptations of Christ in his behalf, and
the conquest he made in all assaults for his sake and his God, dwell also on
his spirit. The prince of this world came upon him, every thing in earth or
hell that has either allurement or affrightment in it was proposed to him, to
divert him from the work of mediation which for us he had undertaken. This
whole life he calls the time of his “temptations,” but he resisted all, conquered
all, and became a Captain of salvation to them that obey him [Heb. 2:10].
“And,” says the soul, “shall this temptation, these arguings, this plausible pretense,
this sloth, this self-love, this sensuality, this bait of the world, turn me
aside, prevail over me, to desert him who went before me in the ways of all
temptations that his holy nature was obnoxious46 unto, for my good?”
Dismal thoughts of the loss of love, of the smiles of the countenance47 of
Christ, do also frequently exercise such a soul. He knows what it is to enjoy
the favor of Christ, to have a sense of his love, to be accepted in his
approaches to him, to converse with him, and perhaps has been sometimes
at some loss in this thing; and so knows also what it is to be in the dark, distanced
from him. See the deportment of the spouse in such a case (Song 3:4).
When she had once found him again, she holds him; she will not let him go;
she will lose him no more.
He that keeps the word of Christ’s patience has preserving principles
whereby he is acted.48 Some of them may be mentioned:
In all things he lives by faith, and is acted by it in all his ways (Gal. 2:20).
216 OF TEMPTATION: THE NATURE AND POWER OF IT
46 harmfully exposed
47 approval
48 activated
Now, upon a twofold account has faith, when improved, the power of preservation
from temptation annexed unto it:
Because it empties the soul of its own wisdom, understanding, and fullness,
that it may act in the wisdom and fullness of Christ. The only advice for
the preservation in trials and temptations lies in that of the wise man, “Trust
in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding”
(Prov. 3:5). This is the work of faith; it is faith; it is to live by faith. The great
falling of men in trials is [due to] their leaning to, or leaning upon, their own
understanding and counsel. What is the issue of it? “The steps of his strength
shall be straitened,49 and his own counsel shall cast him down” (Job 18:7).
First, he shall be entangled, and then cast down; and all by his own counsel,
until he come to be ashamed of it, as Ephraim was (Hos. 10:6). Whenever in
our trials we consult our own understandings, hearken to self-reasonings,
though they seem to be good, and tending to our preservation, yet the principle
of living by faith is stifled, and we shall in the issue be cast down by our
own counsels. Now, nothing can empty the heart of this self-fullness but faith,
but living by it, but not living to ourselves, but having Christ live in us by our
living by faith on him.
Faith, making the soul poor, empty, helpless, destitute in itself, engages
the heart, will, and power of Jesus Christ for assistance; of which I have spoken
more at large elsewhere.
Love to the saints, with care that they suffer not upon our account, is a
great preserving principle in a time of temptations and trials. How powerful
this was in David he declares in that earnest prayer, “Let not them that wait
on you, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek
you be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel” (Ps. 69:6)—“Oh, let not
me so miscarry, that those for whom I would lay down my life should be put
to shame, be evil spoken of, dishonored, reviled, contemned on my account,
for my failings.” A selfish soul, whose love is turned wholly inwards, will
never abide in a time of trial.
Many other considerations and principles that those who keep the word
of Christ’s patience, in the way and manner before described, are attended
with, might be enumerated; but I shall content myself to have pointed at these
mentioned.
And will it now be easy to determine whence it is that so many in our
days are prevailed on in the time of trial—that the hour of temptation comes
upon them, and bears them down more or less before it? Is it not because,
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49 shortened
among the great multitude of professors that we have, there are few that keep
the word of the patience of Christ? If we willfully neglect or cast away our
interest in the promise of preservation, is it any wonder if we be not preserved?
There is an hour of temptation come upon the world, to try them that
dwell therein. It variously exerts its power and efficacy. There is not any way
or thing wherein it may not be seen acting and putting forth itself. In worldliness;
in sensuality; in looseness of conversation; in neglect of spiritual
duties, private, public; in foolish, loose, diabolical opinions; in haughtiness
and ambition; in envy and wrath; in strife and debate, revenge, selfishness; in
atheism and contempt of God, does it appear. They are but branches of the
same root, bitter streams of the same fountain, cherished by peace, prosperity,
security, apostasies of professors, and the like. And, alas! How many do
daily fall under the power of this temptation in general! How few keep their
garments girded about them, and undefiled! And if any urging, particular
temptation befall any, what instances almost have we of any that escape? May
we not describe our condition as the apostle [described] that of the
Corinthians, in respect of an outward visitation: “Some are sick, and some
are weak, and many sleep” [1 Cor. 11:3]? Some are wounded, some defiled,
many utterly lost. What is the spring and fountain of this sad condition of
things? Is it not—as has been said—that we do not keep the word of Christ’s
patience in universal close walking with him, and so lose the benefit of the
promise given and annexed50 thereunto?
Examples of Professors Coming Short of Keeping the Word of
Christ’s Patience
Should I go about to give instances of this thing, of professors coming short
of keeping the word of Christ, it would be a long work. These four heads
would comprise the most of them: (1) conformity to the world, which Christ
has redeemed us from, almost in all things, with joy and delight in promiscuous
compliances with the men of the world; (2) neglect of duties which
Christ has enjoined, from close meditation to public ordinances; (3) strife,
variance,51 and debate among ourselves, woeful judging and despising one
another, upon account of things foreign to the bond of communion that is
between the saints; (4) self-fullness as to principles, and selfishness as to ends.
Now, where these things are, are not men carnal? Is the word of Christ’s
patience effectual in them? Shall they be preserved? They shall not.
218 OF TEMPTATION: THE NATURE AND POWER OF IT
50 attached
51 dissent, discord
Cautions to Take in Order to Be Preserved from Temptation
Would you, then, be preserved and kept from the hour of temptation? Would
you watch against entering into it? As deductions from what has been delivered
in this chapter, take the ensuing cautions:
First, take heed of leaning on deceitful assistances; as—
On your own counsels, understandings, reasonings. Though you argue
in them never so plausibly in your own defense, they will leave you, betray
you. When the temptation comes to any height, they will all turn about, and
take part with your enemy, and plead as much for the matter of the temptation,
whatever it be, as they pleaded against the end and issue of it before.
The most vigorous actings, by prayer, fasting, and other such means,
against that particular lust, corruption, temptation, wherewith you are exercised
and have to do. This will not avail you if, in the meantime, there be
neglects on other accounts. To hear a man wrestle, cry, contend as to any particular
of temptation, and immediately fall into worldly ways, worldly compliances,
looseness, and negligence in other things—it is righteous with Jesus
Christ to leave such a one to the hour of temptation.
The general security of saints’ perseverance and preservation from total
apostasy. Every security that God gives us is good in its kind, and for the purpose
for which it is given to us; but when it is given for one end, to use it for
another, that is not good or profitable. To make use of the general assurance
of preservation from total apostasy, to support the spirit in respect of a particular
temptation, will not in the issue advantage the soul; because notwithstanding
that, this or that temptation may prevail. Many relieve themselves
with this, until they find themselves to be in the depth of perplexities.
Second, apply yourselves to this great preservation of faithful keeping the
word of Christ’s patience, in the midst of all trials and temptations:
In particular, wisely consider wherein the word of Christ’s patience is
most likely to suffer in the days wherein we live and the seasons that pass over
us, and so vigorously set yourselves to keep it in that particular peculiarly.
You will say, “How will we know wherein the word of Christ’s patience in
any season is likely to suffer?” I answer: Consider what works he peculiarly
performs in any season; and neglect of his word in reference to them is that
wherein his word is likely to suffer. The works of Christ wherein he has been
peculiarly engaged in our days and seasons seem to be these:
The pouring of contempt upon the great men and great things of the
world, with all the enjoyments of it. He has discovered the nakedness of all
PARTICULAR CASES AND GENERAL DIRECTIONS 219
earthly things, in overturning, overturning, overturning, both men and things,
to make way for the things that cannot be shaken.
The owning of the lot of his own inheritance in a distinguishing manner,
putting a difference between the precious and the vile, and causing his people
to dwell alone, as not reckoned with the nations.
In being nigh to faith and prayer, honoring them above all the strength
and counsels of the sons of men.
In recovering his ordinances and institutions from the carnal administrations
that they were in bondage under by the lusts of men, bringing them
forth in the beauty and the power of the Spirit.
Wherein, then, in such a season, must lie the peculiar neglect of the word
of Christ’s patience? Is it not in setting a value on the world and the things of
it, which he has stained and trampled under foot? Is it not in the slighting of
his peculiar lot, his people, and casting them into the same considerations
with the men of the world? Is it not in leaning to our own counsels and understandings?
Is it not in the defilement of his ordinances, by giving the outward
court of the temple to be trod upon by unsanctified persons? Let us, then, be
watchful, and in these things keep the word of the patience of Christ, if we
love our own preservation.
In this frame urge the Lord Jesus Christ with his blessed promises, with
all the considerations that may be apt to take and hold the King in his galleries,
that may work on the heart of our blessed and merciful High Priest, to
give suitable succor at time of need [Heb. 4:16].

52 summarize, sum up

 


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