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Title: Dæmonologia Sacra; or, A Treatise of Satan's Temptations - In Three Parts
Author: Gilpin, Richard
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation, spelling accents and punctuation remain unchanged.

Footnotes are located at the end of the book.

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                            PURITAN PERIOD.

                         With General Preface

                       BY JOHN C. MILLER, D.D.,

                          DÆMONOLOGIA SACRA;


                         RICHARD GILPIN, M.D.


 W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational
 Union, Edinburgh.

 JAMES BEGG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh.

 THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University,

 D. T. K. DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas’s Episcopal Church,

 WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church
 History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh.

 ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presbyterian
 Church, Edinburgh.

                            General Editor.
                  REV. THOMAS SMITH, D.D., EDINBURGH.

[Illustration: Portrait of Richard Gilpin with handwritten note as

 _it was only my design to endeavour a more full discovery, though
 every way short of the thing itself, of Satan’s Craft, because ye
 knowledge of this is so necessary, & withall others have done it more
 sparingly. Such as it is accept & improve for thy spiritual advantage
 for that was ye end of this undertaking, by him who desires that thy
 soul may prosper._

  _Rich: Gilpin._]

                          DÆMONOLOGIA SACRA;

                            IN THREE PARTS.

                         RICHARD GILPIN, M.D.,

                         EDITED, WITH MEMOIR,

                       EDINBURGH: JAMES NICHOL.



  I. PREFATORY NOTE,                                                xiii

  II. MEMOIR OF DR GILPIN,                                            xv

  To the Reader,                                                     3-6

  CHAPTER I.—The introduction to the text, from a consideration
  of the desperate ruin of the souls of men—The text opened,
  expressing Satan’s malice, power, cruelty, and diligence,         8-10

  CHAPTER II.—Of the malice of Satan in particular—The grounds
  and causes of that malice—The greatness of it proved; and
  instances of that greatness given,                               10-14

  CHAPTER III.—Of Satan’s power—His power as an angel considered—That
  he lost not that power by his fall—His power
  as a devil—Of his commission—The extent of his authority—The
  efficacy of his power—The advantages which he hath for
  the management of it, from the number, order, place, and
  knowledge of devils,                                             14-20

  CHAPTER IV.—That Satan hath a great measure of knowledge proved, by
  comparing him with the knowledge of Adam in innocency, and by his
  titles—Of his knowledge, natural, experimental, and accessory—Of his
  knowledge of our thoughts—How far he doth not know them, and how
  far he doth, and by what means—Of his knowledge of things future,
  and by what ways he doth conjecture them—The advantages in point of
  temptation that he hath by his knowledge,                        21-26

  CHAPTER V.—Instances of Satan’s power—Of witchcraft, what it
  is—Satan’s power argued from thence—Of wonder—Whether
  Satan can do miracles—An account of what he can do that
  way—His power argued from apparitions and possessions,           27-35

  CHAPTER VI.—Of Satan’s cruelty—Instances thereof in his dealing
  with wounded spirits in ordinary temptations of the
  wicked and godly, in persecutions, cruelties in worship—His
  cruel handling of his slaves,                                    35-44

  CHAPTER VII.—Of Satan’s diligence in several instances—The
  question about the being of spirits and devils handled—The
  Sadducees’ opinion discovered—The reality of spirits proved,     45-52

  CHAPTER VIII.—Of Satan’s cunning and craft in the general—Several
  demonstrations proving Satan to be deceitful; and
  of the reasons why he makes use of his cunning,                  52-58

  CHAPTER IX.—Of Satan’s deceits in particular—What temptation
  is—Of tempting to sin—His first general rule—The consideration
  of our condition—His second rule—Of providing
  suitable temptations—In what cases he tempts us to things
  unsuitable to our inclinations—His third rule—The cautious
  proposal of the temptation, and the several ways thereof—His
  fourth rule is to entice—The way thereof in the general,
  by bringing a darkness upon the mind through lust,              58-63

  CHAPTER X.—That Satan enticeth by our lust—The several ways
  by which he doth it—Of the power and danger of the violence
  of affections,                                                  63-68

  CHAPTER XI.—That lust darkens the mind—Evidences thereof—The
  five ways by which it doth blind men: (1.) By preventing
  the exercise of reason—The ways of that prevention:
  (1.) Secrecy in tempting; Satan’s subtlety therein;
  (2.) Surprisal; (3.) Gradual entanglements,                     68-72

  CHAPTER XII.—Of Satan’s perverting our reason—His second
  way of blinding—The possibility of this, and the manner of
  accomplishing it directly, several ways; and indirectly, by
  the delights of sin, and by sophistical arguments; with an
  account of them,                                                72-76

  CHAPTER XIII.—Of Satan’s diverting our reason, being the third
  way of blinding men—His policies for diverting our thoughts—His
  attempts to that purpose in a more direct manner;
  with the degrees of that procedure—Of disturbing or distracting
  our reason, which is Satan’s fourth way of blinding
  men—His deceits therein—Of precipitancy, Satan’s fifth way
  of blinding men—Several deceits to bring men to that,           77-83

  CHAPTER XIV.—Of Satan’s maintaining his possession—His first
  engine for that purpose is his finishing of sin, in its reiteration
  and aggravation—His policies herein,                            83-86

  CHAPTER XV.—Of Satan’s keeping all in quiet, which is his second
  engine for keeping his possession, and for that purpose his
  keeping us from going to the light by several subtleties; also
  of making us rise up against the light, and by what ways he
  doth that,                                                      86-91

  CHAPTER XVI.—Of Satan’s third grand policy for maintaining his
  possession; which is his feigned departure: (1.) By ceasing
  the prosecution of his design; and the cases in which he doth
  it—(2.) By abating the eagerness of pursuit; and how he doth
  that—(3.) By exchanging temptations; and his policy therein—The
  advantage he seeks by seeming to fly—Of his fourth
  stratagem for keeping his possession, which is his stopping
  all ways of retreat; and how he doth that,                     91-100

  CHAPTER XVII.—Satan’s deceits against religious services and
  duties—The grounds of his displeasure against religious duties—His
  first design against duties is to prevent them—His
  several subtleties for that end, by external hindrances, by
  indispositions bodily and spiritual, by discouragements; the
  ways thereof, by dislike; the grounds thereof, by sophistical
  arguings—His various pleas therein,                           100-118

  CHAPTER XVIII.—Satan’s second grand design against duties is
  to spoil them—(1.) In the manner of undertaking, and how
  he effects this—(2.) In the act or performance, by distracting
  outwardly and inwardly—His various ways therein, by vitiating
  the duty itself—How he doth that—(3.) After performance,
  the manner thereof,                                           118-125


  CHAPTER I.—That it is Satan’s grand design to corrupt the minds
  of men with error—The evidences that it is so—and the
  reasons of his endeavours that way,                           127-140

  CHAPTER II.—Of the advantages which Satan hath, and useth, for
  the introduction of error—(1.) From his own power of
  spiritual fascination—That there is such a power, proved from
  Scripture, and from the effects of it—(2.) From our imperfection
  of knowledge; the particulars thereof explained—(3.)
  From the bias of the mind—What things do bias it, and the
  power of them to sway the understanding—(4.) From curiosity
  (5.) From atheistical debauchery of conscience,               140-158

  CHAPTER III.—Of Satan’s improving these advantages for error—1.
  By deluding the understanding directly: which he doth,
  (1.) By countenancing error from Scripture—Of his cunning
  therein—(2.) By specious pretences of mysteries; and what
  these are—Of personal flatteries—(3.) By affected expressions—Reason
  of their prevalency—(4.) By bold assertions—The
  reasons of that policy—(5.) By the excellency of the
  persons appearing for it, either for gifts or holiness—His
  method of managing that design—(6.) By pretended inspiration—(7.)
  By pretended miracles—His cunning herein—(8.)
  By peace and prosperity in ways of error—(9.) By lies against
  truth, and the professors of it,                              158-189

  CHAPTER IV.—Of Satan’s second way of improving his advantages,
  which is by working upon the understanding indirectly
  by the affections—This he doth, (1.) By a silent, insensible
  introduction of error—His method herein—(2.) By entangling
  the affections with the external garb of error, a gorgeous
  dress, or affected plainness—(3.) By fabulous imitations of
  truth—The design thereof—(4.) By accommodating truth to a
  compliance with parties that differ from it—Various instances
  hereof—(5.) By driving to a contrary extreme—(6.) By
  bribing the affections with rewards, or forcing them by fears—(7.)
  By engaging pride and anger—(8.) By adorning error
  with the ornaments of truth,                                  190-208

  CHAPTER V.—Satan’s attempts against the peace of God’s children
  evidenced—(1.) From his malice—(2.) From the concernment
  of peace to God’s children—What these concerns
  are, explained—(3.) From the advantages which he hath
  against them by disquieting their minds—1. Confusion of
  mind—2. Unfitness for duty, and how—3. Rejection of
  duty—4. A stumbling-block to others—5. Preparation of
  the mind to entertain venomous impressions, and what they
  are—6. Bodily weakness—7. Our miseries Satan’s contentment,   209-218

  CHAPTER VI.—Of the various ways by which he hinders peace—First
  way, By discomposures of spirit—These discomposures
  explained: by shewing, (1.) What advantage he takes from
  our natural temper, and what tempers give him this advantage—(2.)
  By what occasions he works upon our natural tempers—(3.)
  With what success—[1.] These occasions suited
  to natural inclinations, raise great disturbance—[2.] They
  have a tendency to spiritual trouble—The thing proved, and
  the manner how discovered—[3.] These disturbances much
  in his power—General and particular considerations about
  that power,                                                   219-237

  CHAPTER VII.—Of the second way to hinder peace—Affrightments,
  the general nature and burden of them, in several particulars—What
  are the ways by which he affrights—1. Atheistical
  injections—Observations of his proceeding in them—2.
  Blasphemous thoughts—3. Affrightful suggestions of
  reprobation—Observations of his proceedings in that course—4.
  Frightful motions to sin—5. Strong immediate impressions
  of fear—6. Affrightful scrupulosity of conscience,            238-254

  CHAPTER VIII.—Of his third way to hinder peace, by spiritual
  sadness—Wherein, 1. Of the degrees of spiritual sadness—2.
  Of the frequency of this trouble, evidenced several ways—Of
  the difference betwixt God and Satan in wounding the
  conscience—3. Of the solemn occasions of this trouble—4.
  The engines by which Satan works spiritual sadness:—(1.)
  His sophistry—His topics enumerated and explained—[1.]
  Scriptures perverted—[2.] False notions—[3.] Misrepresentations
  of God—[4.] Sins: how he aggravates them—[5.]
  Lessening their graces: how he doth that—(2.) His second
  engine, fear: how he forwards his design that way,            254-286

  CHAPTER IX.—Of his fourth way to hinder peace, by spiritual
  distresses—1. The nature of these distresses—The ingredients
  and degrees of them—Whether all distresses of soul
  arise from melancholy—2. Satan’s method in working
  them; the occasions he makes use of; the arguments he
  urgeth, the strengthening of them by fears—3. Their weight
  and burden explained in several particulars—Some concluding
  cautions,                                                     287-311


  CHAPTER I.—The first circumstance of the combat, the time
  when it happened—The two solemn seasons of temptation—The
  reasons thereof,                                              313-316

  CHAPTER II.—The second circumstance, Christ’s being led by
  the Spirit—What hand the Spirit of God hath in temptations—and
  of running into temptations when not led into it,             316-321

  CHAPTER III.—The third circumstance, the place of the combat—The
  advantage given to temptations by solitude,                   321-322

  CHAPTER IV.—The fourth circumstance, the end wherefore
  Christ was led to the wilderness—Holiness, employment,
  privileges, exempt not from temptation—Of temptations
  that leave not impressions of sin behind them—How Satan’s
  temptations are distinguished from the lusts of our own
  heart,                                                        322-328

  CHAPTER V.—Of Christ’s fast, with the design thereof—Of
  Satan’s tempting in an invisible way—Of his incessant
  importunities, and how he flies when resisted—Of inward
  temptations, with outward afflictions—Several advantages
  Satan hath by tempting in affliction,                         328-336

  CHAPTER VI.—That Christ’s temptations were real, and not in
  vision—That temptation is Satan’s employment, with the
  evidences and instances thereof—Of Satan’s tempting visibly,
  with the reasons thereof,                                     337-341

  CHAPTER VII.—The general view of these temptations—Of
  Satan’s gradual proceeding in temptations—Of reserving a
  great temptation last—What a great temptation is; in what
  cases to be expected—Of Satan’s using a common road, in
  comparing these temptations with the ordinary temptations
  of men—Of the advantage Satan takes of natural appetite,
  sense, and affections,                                        341-346

  CHAPTER VIII.—The rise of Christ’s first temptation—Of Satan’s
  suiting his temptations to the conditions of men—Of tempting
  men upon the plea of necessity—The reasons and cheats
  of that plea—His pretences of friendship in tempting, with
  the danger thereof,                                           346-350

  CHAPTER IX.—A particular consideration of the matter of the
  first temptation, what Satan aimed at in bidding him turn
  stones into bread—Of Satan’s moving us to things good or
  lawful—The end of such a motion—How to know whether
  such motions are from Satan or the Spirit—What to do in
  case they be from Satan—Of his various aims in one temptation—What
  they are, and of his policy therein—Of his artificial
  contrivement of motions to make one thing infer
  another,                                                      350-355

  CHAPTER X.—Of Satan’s chief end in this temptation—His skill
  in making the means to sin plausible—The reasons of that
  policy, with his art therein—Men’s ignorance his advantage—Of
  the differences of things propounded to our use,              355-359

  CHAPTER XI.—Of the temptation to distrust upon the failure of
  ordinary means—Of the power of that temptation, and the
  reasons of its prevalency—Of unwarrantable attempts for
  relief, with the causes thereof—Of waiting on God, and
  keeping his way—In what cases a particular mercy is to be
  expected,                                                     360-367

  CHAPTER XII.—Of Satan’s proceeding to infer distrust of sonship
  from distrust of providences—Instances of the probability
  of such a design—The reasons of this undertaking—Of
  Satan’s endeavour to weaken the assurance and hopes of
  God’s children—His general method to that purpose,            367-376

  CHAPTER XIII.—The preparation to the second temptation—Of
  his nimbleness to catch advantages from our answers to
  temptation—That Satan carried Christ in the air—Of his
  power to molest the bodies of God’s children—How little
  the supposed holiness of places privilegeth us from Satan—Of
  Satan’s policy in seeming to countenance imaginary
  defences—Of his pretended flight in such cases, with the
  reasons of that policy—Of his improving a temptation to
  serve several ends,                                           376-382

  CHAPTER XIV.—That presumption was the chief design of this
  temptation—Of tempting to extremes—What presumption is—The
  several ways of presuming—The frequency of this
  temptation, in the generality of professors, in hypocrites, in
  despairing persons, and in the children of God—The reasons
  of Satan’s industry in this design—His deceitful contrivance
  in bringing about this sin—Preservatives against it,          382-390

  CHAPTER XV.—Self-murder, another of his designs in this
  temptation—How he tempts to self-murder directly, and
  upon what advantage he urgeth it—How he tempts to it
  indirectly, and the ways thereof—Of necessary preservatives
  against this temptation,                                      390-396

  CHAPTER XVI.—Of pride, Satan’s chief engine to bring on
  presumption—What pride is, and how it prepares men for sinning
  presumptuously—Considerations against pride—The
  remedies for its cure—Pride kindled by a confidence of
  privileges and popular applause,                              397-401

  CHAPTER XVII.—Of Satan’s subtlety in urging that of Psalm xci.
  11, 12, to Christ—Of his imitating the Spirit of God in
  various ways of teaching—Of his pretending Scripture to
  further temptation—The reasons of such pretendings, and
  the ends to which he doth abuse it—Of Satan’s unfaithfulness
  in managing of Scripture—Cautions against that deceit—The
  ways by which it may be discovered,                           402-415

  CHAPTER XVIII.—The manner of Satan’s shewing the kingdoms
  of the world—Of Satan’s preparations before the motion of
  sin—Of his confronting the Almighty by presumptuous imitation,
  and in what cases he doth so—Of his beautifying the
  objects of a temptation, and how he doth it—His way of
  engaging the affections by the senses—Of his seeming shyness, 415-423

  CHAPTER XIX.—Satan’s end in tempting Christ to fall down and
  worship him—Of blasphemous injections—What blasphemy
  is—The ways of Satan in that temptation, with the advantages
  he takes therein, and the reason of urging blasphemies
  upon men—Consolations to such as are concerned in such
  temptations—Advice to such as are so afflicted,               424-430

  CHAPTER XX.—The nature of idolatry—Satan’s design to corrupt
  the worship of God—The evidences thereof, with the reasons
  of such endeavours—His general design of withdrawing the
  hearts of men from God to his service—The proof that this
  is his design—Upon whom he prevails—That professions and
  confidences are no evidences to the contrary—His deceit of
  propounding sin as a small matter—The evidences of that
  method, and the reason thereof,                               430-437

  CHAPTER XXI.—Of worldly pleasure—Proofs that this is Satan’s
  great engine—What there is in worldly delights that make
  them so—Counsels and cautions against that snare,             438-444

  CHAPTER XXII.—Of Christ’s answer in the general—That these
  temptations were upon design for our instruction—Of the
  agreement betwixt Eph. vi. and Mat. iv.—The first direction,
  of courageous resolves in resisting temptations—Its
  consistency with some kind of fear—The necessity of this
  courage—Wherein it consists; and that there is a courage in
  mourning spirits,                                             445-450

  CHAPTER XXIII.—The second direction, that temptations are not
  to be disputed—The several ways of disputing a temptation—In
  what cases it is convenient and necessary to dispute
  with Satan—In what cases inconvenient, and the reasons
  of it,                                                        451-458

  CHAPTER XXIV.—The third direction, of repelling a temptation
  without delay—The necessity of so doing—What a speedy
  denial doth contain,                                          459-462

  CHAPTER XXV.—The fourth direction, of repelling a temptation
  by Scripture arguments—Of several things implied in the
  direction—The necessity of answering by Scripture arguments—The
  excellency of the remedy—How Scripture arguments
  are to be managed,                                            462-469

  CHAPTER XXVI.—The fifth direction, of prayer, and of the seriousness
  required of those that expect the advantage of prayer—Of
  God’s hearing prayer while the temptation is continued—Of
  some that are troubled more, while they pray more,            470-471

  INDICES, &c.,                                                 472-480


Few who know the fine old quarto ‘_Dæmonologia Sacra_’ of Dr Gilpin
will dispute its right to a place of honour in the Series of later
Puritan Divines. To those who have not hitherto heard,—or only heard
of it,—we commend it with all confidence and urgency as in various
respects a remarkable book by a remarkable man. It will be found—as
an early writer says of another—‘_matter-full_,’ and nevertheless
suggestive rather than exhaustive—that is, you have many rich lodes
of the ore of thought opened, but many others indicated, not worked;
clear and keen of insight into the deepest places of the deepest
things discussed; wide in its out-look, yet concentrated in its
in-look; sagacious and wise in its general conclusions, and passionate
as compassionate in its warnings, remonstrances, and counsels; full
of faith in all ‘written’ in The Word, and pathetically credulous
in accepting testimony when a given fact (alleged) is fitted to
barb an appeal; curious and quaint in its lore; intense and anxious
in its trackings of sin without and within; pre-Raphaelite in the
vivid fidelity of its portrayals of satanic guiles, and guises
that are always disguises; and above all, tenderly _experimental_
in its consolation to the tried and troubled. The third part is an
exposition of the Temptation of our Lord, which may bear comparison for
thoroughness and power with any extant.

For our Memoir of Dr Gilpin we have had literally to do everything,
inasmuch as next to nothing has thus far been published concerning
him—not even his birthplace, or birth or death dates known. If still we
feel the result of our ‘labour of love’ in prosecuting the necessary
researches, to be very inadequate, it is gratifying that we have
secured so much as we have done.

As in the preparation of former Memoirs, our visits and investigations
have brought us much pleasant intercourse and correspondence with
descendants, representatives, and reverers of the old Worthy. Family
papers of the most private nature have been unreservedly confided to
us—as duly acknowledged in each place where referred to or used; and
altogether the most ungrudging help has been rendered. The various
friends mentioned in the foot-notes of the Memoir will be so good as
accept this further general acknowledgment.

It only remains to state that the present volume has been edited on
the same principle with Sibbes and Brooks. The text is given with
scrupulous integrity; references and quotations are traced, and less
known names and dates annotated; every reference or quotation of
Scripture verified and filled in; and copious indices are subjoined;
the two last the more important, that Dr Gilpin himself seems to have
quoted Scripture from memory, and furnished no ‘table’ or index beyond
the heading of the several chapters as ‘contents.’

May this revised treatise be used at this later day as in the past, to
help in the great warfare against the Adversary.


       *       *       *       *       *

 ⁂ It has not been deemed needful to give a list of such slight
 _errata_ as have come under our eye in preparing the indices; but
 mark, with reference to the ‘Note,’ page 2, that for ‘Dr’ there is a
 misprint of ‘Mr,’ and that ‘deficiency’ is spelled with an ‘i’ for an


In pursuing our investigations for our Memoir of RICHARD SIBBES, we
found and noted, that his name—in every one of its odd variations of
spelling, numerous as those of Shakespeare and Raleigh—had quite died
out at once of his native county and country, being traceable nowhere
for fully a century of years—the stream which rose at Cony-Weston,
Norfolk, in 1524, lapsing in a ‘Richard Sibbes, clerk, rector of
Gedding, aged 93, February 2, 1737;’ and the blood thenceforward
flowing in the female line.[1]

Very different is it with the name of GILPIN, now before us.
From family-muniments and genealogies intrusted to us by various
representatives, of nearer and remoter kin, it were easy to go back
many generations before the earliest-noticed SIBBES; while at the
present day, in nearly all gradations of circumstance, at home and
abroad—from the original Cumberland and Westmoreland, to ‘the gray
metropolis of the North:’ from the Castle of Scaleby, to ‘huts, where
poor men lie;’ and from Wyoming of Pennsylvania to Acadie of Evangeline
and ‘distant Ind’—GILPINS, descending from our Worthy, and proud of the
descent—sustain the ancient renown of goodness and brain-power. As I
sit down to put my collections into shape, I am called to place therein
the statesman-like Speech on a great public question of our age, of
CHARLES GILPIN, in the House of Commons—words destined to re-echo
again and again, and determine legislation—so grave, wise, patriotic,
Christian are they; and now the Libraries are being besieged for the
‘New America’ of William Hepworth Dixon, wherein I was gladdened with
a splendid, yet penetrative and measured, eulogy of the Founder of
Colorado, WILLIAM GILPIN;[2] both, as I am informed, as do nearly all
of the name—in this resembling the Rogerses of the United States, who
all claim descent from John Rogers, proto-martyr of England—counting
from Bernard Gilpin, the apostle of the North, the venerable and holy
St Bernard of Protestantism; and so, as we shall see, from our Richard.

I place in an Appendix[3] such genealogical-antiquarian details as some
readers may look for in a Memoir of a Gilpin; and summarise here that
the author of ‘_Dæmonologia Sacra_’ was sprung of a race such as old
Dan Chaucer would have cited in teaching ‘_who is worthy to be called
gentill_’ as we may judge by a few of his golden lines:—

    ‘The first stocke was full of rightwisnes,
    Trewe of his worde, sober, pitous, and free.
    Clene of his goste; and loved besinesse,
    Against the vice of slouth, in honeste:
    And but his heire love vertue as did he,
    He is not gentill, though he rich seme,
    All weare he miter, crowne, or diademe.’[4]

Turning now to DR RICHARD GILPIN—whose remarkable book is in the
present volume faithfully reprinted; he was grandson of Richard, a
younger brother of the illustrious Bernard, his father being an Isaac
Gilpin. We get a glimpse of both grandfather and father in the county
History as follows:—‘In a small manuscript by one Isaac Gilpin,—whose
father [Richard Gilpin, _as before_] had been steward of several manors
within the barony of Kendal, and died about the year 1630, at the age
of 92 years,—he says he had heard of his father, and observed the same
himself, that by general custom within the said barony, if a woman
hath an estate, and married, hereby the estate is so far vested in the
husband, that he may sell it in his life-time; but if in his life-time
he doth not alter the property, then it shall continue to her and her
heirs.’[5] This little record takes us to ‘the barony of Kendal,’
the ‘Land’ of Bernard Gilpin; and thither accordingly, we turned our
search. There was a vague traditionary understanding that our Richard
Gilpin was born, as of the same family, so in the same region of
‘Kentmere;’ but nothing definite had hitherto been known. The Kentmere
‘Registers’ do not commence until A.D. 1700; and thus we were baffled
there. But Kentmere being a chapelry in the old Parish of Kendal, a
hope was indulged that in the parent-parish the wished-for facts should
be discovered; nor were we disappointed, for in the Baptism-Register,
under date ‘October 23, 1625,’ there is this entry:—

  ‘Richard, son of Isaac Gilpin, of Strickland Kettle,’

which is our Worthy, as after-dates will shew.[6] He might be born a
week more or less previously, according to the then ‘use and wont’
of infant baptism. The same Register furnishes another earlier
entry, which—if we are correct in surmising that the Isaac Gilpin of
Strickland Kettle in 1625, was the same with the Isaac of it—informs us
Richard was a younger son:—

  ‘1623, May 3, Henry, y^e soun of Mr Isaacke Gilpin of Helsington.’

Elsewhere he is named ‘of Gilthroton, co. Westmoreland;’ and seems to
have been the same who was clerk to the Standing Committee of county
Durham in 1645.[7] That Isaac Gilpin was ‘steward of _several_ manors’
probably covers the different local designations. There are so many
Gilpins, and so many of the same Christian name, that it is hard to
decide on given personalities; but, after considerable comparison
and sifting, such appears to us to be the parentage paternally of Dr
Gilpin. Maternally I have come on nothing; for an Elizabeth Gilpin,
widow of Isaac Gilpin, merchant, Newcastle, though of the same
stock, was not his mother. This ‘widow’ was buried in All Saints,
7th November, 1694.[8] Archdeacon Cooper, of Kendal, in transmitting
these data, remarks: ‘The mode of writing, and the insertion of _Mr_,
indicates a person of some importance.’ But with reference to ‘Mr,’ I
suspect it is rather accidental, as it is inserted in the one, and left
out in the other; and moreover, is frequently omitted when, from other
sources, we know the family was of importance. Little Richard must have
been just beginning to toddle about when his venerable grandfather’s
snow-white head [‘aged 92’] was laid in the old Church-yard. One
delights to picture the aged Simeon, before his serene departure,
‘blessing’ by prayer his dear little grandchild, after the manner of
such ancient Puritans as were the Gilpins in every branch.

Strickland-Ketel, not Kettle, as in the Register and vulgarly,[9]—now
settled to have been the birth-place of Dr Gilpin,—was a most fitting
nest for one destined to serve the master-Shepherd so well. It is
an English Bethlehem—a rich, kine-fragrant, pleasant, breezy tract
of pasture-land, sloping from the west down to the river Kent, its
eastern boundary, which river, issuing out of a fair ‘mere,’ or lake,
gives its name to Kent_mere_ Hall, the seat of the elder house of the
Gilpins. The hamlet of Ketel itself is on the road from Kendal to the
Ferry on Windermere; and thus partakes of the glory of Wordsworth’s
poetry, as of Scott’s, who in Rokeby celebrates a local incident of the
Cromwellian time.[10] It is somewhat noticeable that within the space
of an ordinarily-sized farm should have been born BERNARD GILPIN and
HENRY AIRAY,[11] and later, Richard Gilpin.

Of the childhood of our Richard, we can tell nothing directly. But
with the famous ‘School’ founded by his honoured ancestor available,
we are safe in assuming that he entered it. It is of this School that
the later biographer of Bernard Gilpin,—himself a Gilpin,—thus writes:
‘The effects of his endowment were very quickly seen. His school was no
sooner opened than it began to flourish, and to afford the agreeable
prospect of a succeeding generation rising above the ignorance and
errors of their forefathers.’ ... ‘That such might be its effects,
no care on his part was wanting. He not only placed able masters in
his school, whom he procured from Oxford, but he likewise constantly
inspected it himself.’[12] The saintly Apostle was long gone to his
rest before the advent of Master Richard; but as bearing the name, and
being of the blood of the Founder, he could not fail to be welcomed
to all its privileges. The more’s the pity that no memorial seems to
have been kept of the scholars of this celebrated Institution. Before
proceeding to Houghton, he was probably initiated into learning at the
nearer Kendal, then all astir with the enterprise of the Flemings. So I
gather from family communications made to me; and thus we have to think
of the ‘little lad’ trotting down the quiet rural roads among the sunny
hills, much as another Richard earlier, from Packenham to Thurston,[13]

               ... ‘with his satchel
    And shining morning face,’

_not_, we may be sure,

               ... ‘creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school.’[14]

There is a tradition,—reported by various descendants,—that our
Gilpin went from ‘School’ to Queen’s College, Oxford. This, it will
be remembered, was Bernard Gilpin’s own College, and whither he sent
his favourite scholars, as Airay, Carleton, Ironside, and others. So
that if Richard went to Oxford at all, Queen’s would most naturally
be selected. No mention of him, however, occurs in any of the College
Registers. Therefore he cannot at any rate have graduated.[15] I place
in Appendix incidental valuable _data_ concerning other related Gilpins
gleaned in Oxford.[16]

In lack of the facts of the case, it is impossible to explain why one
so well-born and well-introduced did not, apparently, follow out a
full University career. That the circumstances of his own Family and
kindred were adequate thereto—apart from the Gilpin ‘endowments,’ which
were open to him specially—and that they were of the right stamp to
appreciate a sound, liberal education, is certain from numerous notices
of the house that occur in old records.[17]

Another floating tradition,—also brought before me by descendants, is,
that our Gilpin studied at the University of Glasgow; which so far
receives confirmation from the statement of his bosom-friend Alderman
Barnes of Newcastle—of whose MS. ‘Memoirs’ I have already spoken—that
‘he was educated in Scotland;’ but neither there does his name

Equally uncertain is it,—advancing further,—when or by whom Dr
Gilpin was ‘licensed’ or ‘ordained’ as a Preacher of the Gospel or
Clergyman. Barnes again says that he ‘administered the Lord’s Supper
to a small congregation in Durham;’[19] and Calamy, that ‘he had been
[_i.e._, before Greystoke] a Preacher in Lambeth, at the Savoy—where
he was assistant to Dr Wilkins—and at Durham.’[20] Of all of these,
the memorial has perished. Neither under ‘Lambeth,’ nor ‘Savoy’,
nor ‘Wilkins’—afterwards Bishop of Chester[21]—nor ‘Gilpin,’ does
Newcourt’s _Repertorium_[22] mention him; nor, after considerable
investigation in each place, has any trace of him been found beyond the
above statements. So that his presentation to the Living of Greystoke
in Cumberland is really the first definite fact we have, after his
now ascertained birth-place, baptism-date, and family connexion.
The Rector of Greystoke had been ‘sequestered’[23] by Sir Arthur
Haselrigge and the Parliamentary Commissioners for the Propagation of
the Gospel in the four northern counties; which sentence having been
appealed against, was confirmed by the Committee for (as they were
called) Plundered Ministers. The Rector was William Moreland, M.A.,
‘bred,’ according to Walker of the ‘Sufferings,’ folio, ‘at Jesus
College, Cambridge.’[24] This ‘ejection’ took place in 1649-50. He was
succeeded by ‘one West, who died in about two years’ time.’[25] Such
is all Walker says of West; but from another overlooked authority, we
learn a little more of him. In the ‘Postscript’ concerning ‘Mr John
Noble,’ added to Audland’s funeral sermon on that notable man, it is
said, after mentioning the ‘laying aside’ of Mr Moreland, ‘certain
Commissioners appointed others, in his room, to supply the Parish, when
John Noble was little turned of twenty years of age;’ and then, ‘In
the year 1650, Mr West was sent, a zealous Preacher, and one mighty in
prayer, but sickly; and he soon died of a consumption. His doctrine
being exemplified in his own life, was very effectual on many in that
Parish, and particularly on John Noble, who received lively convictions
of Divine truth and the world to come, and so began earnestly to
inquire about the life and power of godliness.’[26] Gilpin immediately
succeeded Mr West, and thus must have entered on his duties in 1652 or
1653, when he was in his twenty-eighth or twenty-ninth year.

What influence procured our Worthy the ‘presentation’ to this
(comparatively) rich benefice,—for it was then worth £300 per annum,
now nearly trebled, being from £700 to £800, we do not know; but among
the neighbouring gentry there were intermarriages with the Gilpins,
_e.g._, the Laytons and Whartons—the former the ancient owners of
Dalemain in Dacre, the next parish to Greystoke. The Living was
held by the family of Arundel—with a branch of whom it remains—but
was subject no doubt to the Commissioners of Parliament during the

We have Richard Gilpin, then in 1652-53 installed as the ‘parish
priest’ of Greystoke; and save him of Bemerton, none ever brought a
finer spirit, or a more entire consecration, or a more ‘ingenuous’
activity, to the service of the one great Master.

Visiting Greystoke recently, I found it a quaint-visaged, gray,
long, low-roofed church, venerable and time-stained still, though
‘restored’—tenderly—in 1848. It is dedicated to St Andrew. It nestles
in a ‘bit’ of woodland such as—flushed with autumnal tints of green
and gold equal to the glories of a New England Indian summer among
the maples and elms—would have burdened and kindled the eyes of a
Ruysdael or Gainsborough, aye and until the ‘studies’ were transferred
to imperishable canvas; and the whole surrounding district, sweet,
soft, and tranquil enough for the Valley of Rip Van Winkle’s long
dreamless sleep—much more so indeed than Irving’s own, behind the
shaggy bluffs of the Hudson. It is a genuinely English ‘parish.’ When
Gilpin came to it, the ‘_common people_’ were intelligent and godly
after the antique type of the mid-Reformation period, having a spice
of sturdy originality of character and speech that is not altogether
gone even now. For ‘leisure hours,’ if the cultured Rector wished it,
there were in the country Seats—embracing ducal Castle and historic
family mansion—men and ‘faire ladyes’ of rare force and worth. There
are ‘Sunny Memories’ still—treasured in dim old manuscripts—of the
full ‘gatherings’ from far and near, from hall and hut, from plain
and fell, of the ‘gentle and simple’ over a wide area—to hang on the
lips of the ‘good Parson,’—as everywhere he came to be named. We have
a fine ‘testimony’ to the integrity and devotedness of the Rector in
the ‘Postscript’ of John Noble’s Funeral Sermon, previously quoted:
‘Graistock parish was large, had a fair glebe and liberal revenue. It
had four chapels: the nearest three miles distant from the Church. Mr
Gilpin provided worthy, preaching ministers for those, and allowed
generously for their support; himself residing at Graistock, where he
had a society of communicants prepared by the foregoing efficacy of the
word on their minds and hearts, and manifested in a new life,’ (page

Altogether Greystoke could not be other than a most congenial portion
of the great ‘Vineyard’ for one like RICHARD GILPIN, who breathed the
very spirit of saintly GEORGE HERBERT, and had little taste for the
controversies in which some of his contemporaries were engaged.

Not very long after his settlement at Greystoke, viz., in 1654-5, a
sad disaster befell the parent or ‘Kentmere’ house of the Gilpins,
springing out of the ‘confusions’ of the Commonwealth. I shall let
the good Prebendary tell it,—preliminary remarks and all, from the
manuscript already quoted,—reserving comment: ‘In the year 1655, says
he, ‘Cromwell dissolved his refractory parliament, and the members of
the House retiring to their several counties, spread everywhere such
new matter of discontent that measures were no longer observed. Men
were levied in many places against the usurper, and a general rising
was expected. But Cromwell, who had his eyes in all places, soon
dispersed every insurrection as it made its appearance. It was at that
time he sent his major-generals throughout the kingdom to punish with
fines and proscriptions all delinquents. Among the families ruined by
the severity of these military magistrates was Mr Gilpin of Kentmere
Hall, near Kendal, in Westmoreland. He was the head of the family,
and lived respectably on an estate which had been in the hands of
his ancestors from the days of King John. _It seems probable he had
taken an active part against Cromwell in the kings life-time_; but his
affairs being composed, _he lived quietly_ till these new disturbances
broke out on Cromwell’s violent measures with the parliament. _Having
joined an unsuccessful insurrection_, he became a marked man, and was
obliged to provide for his safety as he could. To avoid a sequestration
he gave up his estate in a kind of trust-mortgage to a friend, and went
abroad. There he died; but in a time of quiet, his heir not being able
to get hold of the proper deeds to recover the estate, it was totally
lost to the family. _In the meantime_ Dr Gilpin _lived quietly at
Greystoke_, concerning himself only with his own parish, and lamenting
those public evils, which he could not remove.’[27] One can smile at
this time of day at the name ‘Usurper’ applied to England’s mighty
Protector; can understand the inevitable royalism of a dignitary of
the Church, that holds for ‘the king’ as against ‘the kingdom,’ can
leave the admissions of former freedom to ‘live quietly,’ and of an
active part ‘against Cromwell,’ to justify any enforced flight, without
either refuting allegations or exposing prejudices. But as matter
of fact, while Dr Gilpin, in common with many of his Presbyterian
brethren, condemned the execution of Charles, and while the shadow
that fell on Kentmere doubtless darkened the rectory of Greystoke, he
yet unreservedly accepted the government of Cromwell, and in every way
sought to carry out the measures devised by the Parliament. Moreover,
far from ‘_living quietly at Greystoke_,’ and ‘_concerning himself only
with his own parish_,’ it is the very opposite of the facts. Instead of
retiring in the timid, nerveless fashion suggested, he took a foremost
part in organising that modification of Church government which the
abolition of Episcopacy demanded. The evidence of this, spite of the
wreck and loss of contemporary ‘records,’ is abundant; and it is the
next landmark in the Life we are telling.

It needeth not that in a necessarily brief Memoir such as this we
should enter on the _merits_ of the national change of Church ‘Polity’
which gave supremacy for the time to Presbytery over Prelacy. The
materials for judgment lie in fulness in every worthy Ecclesiastical
History of England; and the whole story has just been re-written with
fine candour and attractiveness by Mr Stoughton.[28] Presbyterianism
in England during the Commonwealth can hold its own,—lustrous as it is
with the names of Edmund Calamy and Bates and Manton, Richard Baxter
and William Jenkyn and Thomas Watson, Samuel Clark and Thomas Wilson of
Maidstone, and Thomas Hall of King’s Norton,—selecting a few, urban and
rural, almost at random.

Suffice it to recall that, outside of the more ambitious organisation
of London,—whose unpublished ‘Memorial’ lies all but unknown in Sion
College Library,[29]—there were various voluntary Associations which
took a semi-Presbyterian mould, in the counties of Chester, Cumberland,
Westmoreland, Dorset, Wilts, Worcestershire, and others. These
Associations embraced the ‘clergymen,’ and ‘ministers’ or ‘pastors,’
and laymen belonging to the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, and
the Independents, and sought to combine the presidency of the first
with the union and co-operation of the second, and the freedom
of the third; in short, a federated rather than organic oneness.
Subordinating everything else, was an intense yearning after nearness
to all who loved the one Lord Jesus, and heroic as devout endeavours
for ‘discipline,’ so as to vitalise and Christianise ‘the _masses_.’
It is pathetic to read of the days and nights of these good men’s
Fasting and Prayer ‘unto the breaking of the light,’ for one another’s
Parishes and Charges. Their ideal was lofty, their own practice
beautiful, their success marked in changing the face of erewhile
godless and heathen-dark communities. What RICHARD BAXTER was in
Worcestershire, RICHARD GILPIN was in Cumberland and Westmoreland; and
as the author of ‘The Saint’s Everlasting Rest’ was chosen to draw
up the ‘Agreement’ for his county, so the author of ‘_Dæmonologia
Sacra_’ was selected to execute the same office for Cumberland and
Westmoreland. The ‘Agreement,’—of which the title-page will be found in
the list at the close of our Memoir, must be studied by all who would
master the problems of the period. It is comprehensive, without being
general or vague; decisive in dogma, but not uncharitable; high in
aim, but most practical; earnest, but not fanatic; stern to offences,
but hopeful and tender toward offenders; richly scriptural, but also,
and because of it, most human, all a-glow with wide sympathies, and
unutterably wistful in its appeals for oblivion on all lesser matters,
so as to set a firm front to the evils and passions, the divisions and
heart-burnings, the rivalries and recriminations, of the time. The
whole is perfumed, so to speak, with prayer. If it was a Utopia, it was
a grander and more celestial one than ever More or Bacon imagined; nor
while it lasted was it a mere paper Agreement. For years through all
the Counties enumerated the ‘good men and true’ made their ‘gatherings’
so many centres of light and love; and their Parishes were as spiritual
Goshens amid the national formalism and barrenness.

Seeing that the extent to which ‘_Dæmonologia Sacra_’ has gone prevents
our reprinting the minor writings of Gilpin, as we had desired,
we shall here give a few brief extracts from the ‘Agreement,’ to
illustrate its aims, tone, and style. Thus he struck the key-note:
‘When we compare the present miseries and distempers with our former
confident expectations of unity and reformation, our hearts bleed
and melt within us. We are become a byword to our adversaries; they
clap their hands at us, saying, “Is this the city that men call the
perfection of beauty?” Piety is generally decayed, most men placing
their religion in “doting about questions” which they understand not;
profaneness thrives through want of discipline; error, blasphemy
domineers; jealousies, divisions, unmerciful revilings and censurings,
are fomented among brethren of the same household of faith; the weak
ones are discouraged and distracted by the multitude of opinions and
fierce opposition of each party, and that which is worst of all, God’s
honour suffers deeply, and the credit of religion is brought very low.
“Is this nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”’ But having lamented,
as with Jeremiah, he assumes a more hopeful and encouraging attitude,
thus: ‘Though these things can never be sufficiently lamented, yet
seeing it is not sufficient barely to lament them, without endeavouring
to heal them, and considering that it is a duty incumbent upon all
Christians, according to their several places and abilities, to promote
the welfare of Zion, especially when we have tasted so much of the
bitterness of our divisions, and because a brotherly Union hath so
much of God in it, and consequently gives so much hope that God will
take that course in establishing his Church when he shall arise to
build Jerusalem, and seeing it is an unjustifiable pettishness and
peevishness of spirit to be averse from joining together in anything
because we cannot join in all things, therefore we resolve, [“the
associated ministers,”] setting aside all carnal interests, and casting
ourselves, with all our concernments, at the Lord’s feet, to walk
together as far as we can for the present, not resting here, nor tying
ourselves from further progress in union, as the Lord shall give light
and satisfaction, much less binding ourselves from a submission to and
compliance with a more general accommodation, if any such thing should
hereafter be agreed on, which might be more suitable and fitted for
the composure of the different principles of brethren throughout the
nation.’—(Pp. 1-3.) Hereupon follows the ‘Basis’ of the ‘Agreement,’
which was very much the same with Baxter’s in Worcestershire, and that
of Essex, &c., &c. ‘In order,’ he proceeds, ‘to the carrying on of
this great work, we lay down and assent unto these general rules as
the Basis and Foundation which must support and bear up our following

‘1. That in the exercise of discipline it is not only the most
safe course, but also the most conducing to brotherly union and
satisfaction, that particular churches carry on as much of their work
with joint and mutual assistance as they can with conveniency and
edification, and as little as may be, in their actings, to stand,
distinctly by themselves and apart from each other.

‘2. That in matters of church discipline those things which belong
only _ad melius esse_, ought to be laid aside, both in respect of
publication and practice, rather than that the Church’s peace should be

‘3. That where different principles lead to the same practice, we
may join together in that practice, reserving to each of us our own

‘4. That where we can neither agree in principle nor in practice, we
are to bear with one another’s differences that are of a less and
disputable nature, without making them a ground of division amongst
us. Yet notwithstanding we do not hereby bind up ourselves from
endeavouring to inform one another in those things wherein we differ,
so that it be done with a spirit of love and meekness, and with
resolutions to continue our brotherly amity and association, though in
those particulars our differences should remain uncomposed,’ (pp. 3, 4.)

Further, all pledge themselves to be true and faithful ambassadors,
stewards, workmen, and overseers, and ‘to this end we resolve in
the course of our ministry to observe the temper, disposition, and
capacity of the generality of the people, and to suit ourselves
not only in our matter to the people’s condition, but also in our
expressions to the people’s apprehension, that so our sermons may be
plain, piercing, seasonable, and profitable,’ (p. 4.) Speaking next
of ‘catechising’ from the Assembly’s ‘Larger and Shorter’ Catechisms,
and of ‘inspection,’ there are these wise counsels, that there be
tender dealing in consideration of ‘first, unacquaintedness with
the terms and words of the question; or, secondly, from bashfulness
or shamefacedness,’ (p. 11.) And in regard to ‘supervision,’ to be
cautious ‘lest brotherly inspection degenerate into an unbrotherly
prying,’ (p. 15.) And there is this pronouncement on a _questio vexata_
of the period: ‘We agree not to press a declaration of the time and
manner of the work of grace upon the people as a necessary proof of
their actual present right to the Lord’s Supper, nor to exclude persons
merely for want of that; yet will we accept it if any will be pleased
to offer it freely,’ (p. 16); and onwards there is encouraged a ‘holy
modesty and bashfulness’ in speaking of the ‘passage and transaction
‘twixt God and our soul,’ (p. 39.) Finally, the Confession of Faith
consists of the Creed paraphrased, and confirmed by texts, (pp. 23-25.)

Another incident proved with equal unmistakableness that RICHARD
GILPIN regarded Oliver as no ‘usurper,’ but the rightful governor
of the nation. I must leave the reader to consult the authorities
on the history of the establishment of the University of Durham.
Every one who knows anything of ‘the times’ knows that the efforts
to found a University there—which the death of Cromwell delayed, and
the Restoration quashed—is one of the ‘boasts’ of the Protector’s
reign.[30] In honoured association with Sir Thomas Widdrington, Lords
Fairfax, Grey, Wharton, and Falconbridge, Sir Henry Vane, and Sir
Arthur Haselrigge, and other well-known names, Gilpin was appointed
one of the ‘Visitors.’[31] He had entered into the scheme with
enthusiasm and hope. It is difficult to estimate what was lost herein
by the death of Cromwell. If we may conjecture from the ‘Model’ of the
learned and pious Matthew Pool—issued in 1657-58, while the grand jury
were addressing Richard to complete what his father had begun—it is
all but certain that a more strictly theological training would have
been inaugurated than any of the great Universities even to this day

To shew that Dr Gilpin still adhered to his former action in Church
matters, it must here be stated that in 1658 he preached a ‘Sermon’
before the ‘associated ministers of Cumberland’ at Keswick. By the
request of the ‘General Meeting’ he published it. The title-page will
be found in our list of his writings at close of this Memoir. It was
with reluctance the good man consented to give his sermon ‘to print,’
as he intimated in the ‘Epistle Dedicatory.’ ‘What your commands,’
says he, ‘have wrested from me—for of that force and prevalency with
me are your desires—I now lay at your feet. If I could have prevailed
with you to have altered your vote, or after you had passed it, durst
have resisted—this had gone no further than your own hearing. But when
you would not be persuaded, I endeavoured to conform myself to those
Christians in Acts xxi. 14, and took up with that which put a stop to
their entreaties. “The will of the Lord be done,”’ (pp. 1, 2.) The
Text of this sermon—which is no common one—is Zech. vi. 13, ‘Even He
shall build the Temple of the Lord,’ &c., and hence its title, ‘The
Temple Rebuilt.’ I select a few of the more easily detached sentences.
First of all, concerning ‘Controversy,’ he says admirably: ‘Disputings,
though they have their fruits, yet are they like trees growing upon a
rocky precipice, where the fruit cannot be gathered by all, and not
by any without difficulty and hazard,’ (p. 3.) Again, on the office
of the ministry, he exclaims: ‘Dream not of ease in an employment of
this nature. God, angels, and men have their eyes upon you to see
how you will bestir yourselves: it is your duty, and not a matter of
unnecessary courtesy which you may give or hold back at your pleasure.
He that hath commanded you ἐν τόυτοις εἰναι, (1 Tim. iv. 15,) to
“give yourselves up wholly to these things,” will not take himself to
be beholden to you when you have done your best: neither is it any
disparagement to you to become even servants to any: so that you may
but gain them and forward Christ’s work. They that think it below them
to trouble themselves so much with catechising, reproof, admonition,
and are of Ptolemæus his mind, who changed the title of Heraclides
his book, from πονου ἐγκωμιον to ὄνου ἐγκωμιον: as if laboriousness
were nothing but an ass-like dulness, making a man crouch under every
burden; but God having made the ox which treadeth out the corn to be
the hieroglyphic of your employment, he doth thereby teach you that
labour and patience are so far from being a disgrace to you, that
they are necessary qualifications for the calling of the ministry,’
(pp. 3, 4.) Lastly—for we may not linger—take a burning and fearless
reproof of the lukewarm: ‘How cowardly and sinfully shamefaced,’ he
observes, kindling as he advances, ‘are many when they should plead
for God and truth, as if their own hearts did secretly question the
reality of religion! How strangely do many of the gentry spend their
time! What irreligious, prayerless families do some of them keep,
when they should shew better example to the meaner sort; and yet how
confidently can they censure others for hypocrites—sometime unjustly
concluding against the strictness of God’s ways from the liberty of
some professors—not considering what their own carriage and vanity
do testify against themselves! How do we needlessly multiply our
controversies and disputes! and with what bitterness do we manage them,
even when the strife is merely about words and method! and, generally,
how is the name of God and religion abused to serve the designs of men!
What strange religious people have we! Some must needs be religious
by taking up a singular conceit and opinion, though a man may easily
see their hearts through their lives: others have all their religion
on their tongue’s-end: they can have good discourses, and yet be
unconscionable in their callings, shops, and trading,’ (pp. 33, 34.)

Thus taking a conspicuous part in all that belonged to the interests of
the Church of Christ, our Worthy behind these went out and in before
his flock a ‘master-builder,’ from Sabbath to Sabbath preaching the
very gospel of Jesus Christ, with unequalled power, pungency, and
pathos combined, while he drew all hearts to himself; for he acted on
the maxim—

                  ‘All worldly joys go less
    To the one joy of doing kindnesses.’[33]

He was a large-hearted and open-handed man, as well as a faithful
‘preacher’—his life an exemplification of his teaching. He was, says
the ‘Noble’ memorial, ‘a gentleman and a Christian indeed; one of
singular gravity, temper, learning, and all valuable qualifications for
a minister; of a good family too, and an eligible estate; a witness and
an honour to the good cause of a further Reformation,’ (p. 38.) And so
he pursued the ‘even tenor of his way’ in his tranquil sphere. He had
married shortly after coming to Greystoke; but, curiously enough, the
lady’s name has not been preserved in any of the numerous family papers
put into my hands. The Greystoke ‘Registers’ record the baptism of two
of his children, William and Susannah. The ‘entries’ may be given here:—

 ‘1657. September. Borne the 5th Day in ye afternoune, and ye 23d day
 Baptized, William, the Soune of Mr Richard Gilpin, p’son, [= parson],
 of Graistock.

 ‘1659. Susanna, ye Daughter of Mr Gilpin, p’son, of Graistocke,
 was borne ye 17th day of October, And Baptized ye 7th of December,

I have described the parish of Greystoke as tranquil; but even into
it there swept—as the sea-swell sweeps into the smallest nook of
shore—the ruffle of that agitation which pervaded the nation in
religious matters; and, inasmuch as it gives colour and tone to not
a few passages of the ‘_Dæmonologia Sacra_,’—his difficulty with the
Quakers—to which I have made reference—falls now to be chronicled.
We shall have an after-occasion to notice subsequent interviews with
the pre-eminently good, though provoking, Quaker missionary-preacher,
Thomas Story. Here I glean my information from the ‘Memoir’ of a
‘Greystoke’ celebrity, HENRY WINDER, D.D.[35] The following, then, is
the narrative, omitting irrelevant portions:—

‘The Reverend Richard Gilpin, M.D., was the parish minister of
Graystock before the Restoration.... Some time before the Restoration
Quakerism began to spread in Cumberland and Westmoreland. Among other
things remarkable in their behaviour, the Quakers would go into the
parish church of Graystock, and disturb Dr Gilpin in the pulpit during
divine worship. And such were their novel phrases and cross questions
and answers, that the Doctor seemed sometimes at a loss what to say
to them. Upon that, some of his parishioners were stumbled, withdrew
from their former communion, and defended the cause of the Quakers.
Among others Henry Winder was seduced, to the no small grief of good Dr
Gilpin and his friends. A day of humiliation and prayer was appointed,
in which Dr Gilpin, and some of the neighbouring ministers, as well
as some of the laity of that parish, took such proper methods as to
recover some that had fallen, and to confirm and establish those that
were wavering, though, before that, the infection had spread far and
wide. Then was Henry Winder secretly resolved to comply with the
desire of Dr Gilpin and his church, and make some public recantation.
But these convictions did not last long. For notwithstanding several
conferences with him, Henry Winder openly joined with the Quakers, and
continued among them some years.... Henry Winder and his [second] wife
[finally] left the Quakers, returning to Dr Gilpin’s church, in which
they afterwards continued.’[36]

All this goes far to explain the unusual severity of the ‘_Dæmonologia
Sacra_’ against Quakers and Quakerism—as also the ‘Agreement’—and
the grave classification of ‘double meanings,’ and ‘light within,’
&c., &c., among evident ‘devices’ of the Devil. At this later day we
willingly forget the eccentricities and vulgarities and blunders of
the early followers of GEORGE FOX, and in the spirit of the ‘Quakers’
Meeting’ of winsome Elia, reverence the service of this once powerful
and still honoured and altogether inoffensive section of God’s people.

With these minor ‘troubles’ now and again annoying him,—for they ended
in the setting up of Quaker ‘tabernacles’ in the district, remains of
which survive until now,—the Rector of Greystoke fulfilled his ‘labour
of love,’ as a good servant of Jesus Christ, until the Restoration.
That event found him with a mind made up and ‘ready’ for all loss
and sacrifice. Unable to accept the notorious ‘Act’ of Uniformity,
he anticipated the memorable ‘Ejection’ of 1662 by withdrawing from
Greystoke; whereupon the former ‘sequestered Rector Morland re-entered
on possession.’

We turn to the Family-Manuscript,[37] formerly quoted, for the
circumstances of the resignation. ‘After the Restoration,’ observes
Prebendary Gilpin, ‘when Episcopacy again took the lead, the
Presbyterian party made what stand they were able. But the Act
of Uniformity passed, and was executed with rigour. Dr Gilpin,
notwithstanding his moderation, could not subscribe it in all its
parts, and therefore resigned his benefice, trusting God for the
maintenance of himself and family, which consisted of a wife and five

The good Rector was not without a home when he thus left his beloved
Greystoke—which was turned into a Bochim when his ‘parishioners’
looked their last upon him. During his incumbency he had invested what
‘monies’ he had at his disposal in the purchase from the Musgraves,
of the Castle and small estate of Scaleby near Carlisle—filling up
the amount of the purchase-money by a mortgage. Thither accordingly
he retired into privacy; but holding with the old Nonconformists
the indefeasibility of his office as a preacher of the gospel by an
ordination more sure than that from quasi-apostolic hands, he was
wont to assemble his employés and neighbours in a ‘great room’ of
the old Castle—originally a Border-fortalice erected against the
Scots—and there ‘preach’ to them on the Sabbaths.[39] Moreover,
he resumed his previous medical studies and practice, to the great
advantage more especially of the poor. ‘How acceptable,’ says our
Manuscript, ‘his services were among the poor people of those parts,
and how much they revered him for wisdom and sanctity, appears from
the superstitious respect they paid him. During many years after his
death, it was believed among them that he had “_laid the devil_,” as
they phrased it, in a morass not far from his house.’[40] Besides
these semi-professional duties, he set about improving the somewhat
dilapidated castle, and the lands, more particularly planted trees
extensively; the result of which was an entire change of the appearance
of the estate, and now the fine woodland within which venerable Scaleby
lifts its gray towers, still worthily held by a descendant through the
female line.[41]

RICHARD GILPIN was too eminent and potential a man to be allowed to
withdraw thus from the stage of public events. He had not been long in
his retreat when a ‘tempting’ offer was made him of a Bishopric, as
Bernard Gilpin had been ‘tempted’ before him. I recur here again to
our Manuscript. Following on the passage already given we read, ‘The
king and council however seemed to have been apprehensive lest this
rigorous step against the Presbyterians [‘Act of Uniformity’] might
have ill consequences. They were much inclined therefore to compound
the matter, at least, with some of the leaders of the party; and, in
this view, three or four bishoprics and many superior dignities in the
Church were offered to them. Among others, Dr Gilpin was represented to
the king as a person highly esteemed in the Northern parts of England,
and as a man of great moderation. Accordingly, in filling up the vacant
bishoprics, his name was inserted for the see of Carlisle: and it was
not doubted by his friends but he would get over the few scruples he
had to the Act of Uniformity, and accept the preferment: for he had
always spoken favourably of the Church of England, and considered the
line between the two parties with regard to their religious sentiments
as almost an invisible one. But, to the surprise of his nearest
friends, he declined the offer.’[42] The ‘friends,’ who so lightly
estimated the ‘scruples’ of the ‘retired’ Rector, little knew the stamp
of man he was. Everything before and subsequent goes to shew that DR
GILPIN remained a Nonconformist, with, no doubt, the same reluctance as
Baxter and Calamy and the rest,—to whom bishoprics had similarly been
offered, and by whom they had similarly been promptly declined,—but
also from the same deep conviction of necessity so long as that ‘Act’
outraged the truth, and ignored conscience. And so, as his ancestor,
Bernard Gilpin to Elizabeth,[43] did Richard Gilpin to Charles II.
refuse that mitre which he could not have worn unless at the sacrifice
of principles which were dearer to him then all civil or ecclesiastical
dignities, and life itself.[44] We have an incidental allusion—as I
read it—in ‘_Dæmonologia Sacra_’ to the ‘temptation,’ and the casuistic
pleas of the ‘friends’ alluded to. Speaking of the ‘wiles’ of the
Tempter, and his many snares to induce to sin, he specially notices
this, that ‘he extenuates the offence by propounding some smaller good
or convenience that may follow that evil,’ and he continues, evidently
speaking from his own experience of the ‘fiery dart:’ ‘This, though it
be a way of arguing directly contrary to that rule, “Do not evil that
good may come,” yet it oft proves too successful; and it is like that
common stratagem of war when, by the proposal of a small booty in view,
the enemies are drawn out of their hold into a fore-contrived danger.
Thus Satan pleads, This one act of sin may put you into a capacity of
honouring God the more. _Some have admitted advancements and dignities
against conscience, upon no better ground, but they might keep out
knaves, and that they might be in a condition to be helpful to good
men._ ... Thus a pretended good to come becomes a pander to a present
certain iniquity.’ There are other like intimations in the book, which
give new significance and a strange passion to the words; but this one
must suffice.

Recurring to our Family-Manuscript—which though somewhat stilted in
its style, is generally accurate in its facts—we reach the next point
in our Worthy’s ‘Life.’ ‘The Dissenters,’ remarks the Prebendary,
‘having now found they could get nothing from government beyond a
Toleration, began to separate everywhere into assemblies, and choose
pastors of their own;’ and so eyes and hearts turned toward the Doctor,
secluded at Scaleby. ‘Among other places,’ the Narrative proceeds, ‘a
large congregation united at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where they built a
handsome meeting-house, and sent an invitation to Dr Gilpin to be their
minister; and though he had now taken his measures, and laid his plan
for a life of quiet and repose, he accepted their invitation, and as
soon as he could settle his affairs at Scaleby, removed with his family
to Newcastle.’ ‘Here,’ continues the Manuscript, ‘a new scene of life
opened before him. Hitherto he had lived in a country retirement, both
at Greystock and at Scaleby, where party prevailed little. But here he
was in the midst of a large town, divided by various opinions, where
his candour and moderation had an ample field for exercise. In fact, I
have heard it said that his meeting-house was a kind of centre of unity
among them all. It was frequented as much by Churchmen as Dissenters,
and they all found here, what was seldom found in the pulpits of those
times, their common Christianity preached, unsullied by the religious
contests which everywhere prevailed. His preaching was extremely
pleasing and popular. His subject-matter, his language, his voice, his
manner, were all engaging, and made such an impression on the people as
was never worn out, but with the lives of his contemporaries.’[45]

Gilpin arrived in Newcastle, as the successor of the admirable
SAMUEL HAMMOND, one of the ejected,[46] and the spiritual father
of Oliver Heywood,—about 1668-69, that is, in the crisis of the
‘troubles’ to all who bore the ‘mark’ of Nonconformity. High-Churchmen
were ‘building-up,’ as they deemed it, the Church, by persecuting
relentlessly those who dared not acquiesce in the ‘Act of Uniformity;’
and accordingly ‘Dissenters’ had to preach furtively, even as ‘of
old,’—and all was clamour and confusion. One of themselves, who, if not
of kin, was, in wit and wiseness, of kind, in more than name to Thomas
Fuller,—thus vividly describes the period during which the recluse
of Scaleby went to his new charge in Newcastle: ‘I am ashamed,’ says
Ignatius Fuller, ‘that whilst the Jews’ temple was building, there was
neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house,—now
when we are raising an house to Him that dwells not in temples made
with hands, we should make so much use of iron and steel, and should
reckon guns and swords, flames and fagots amongst our means of grace.
I am sorry we should seem to have more of Nimrod than Solomon in our
building; that we should partake of the curse poured upon the workmen
at Babel—

                      “Let’s make the brother,
    The sire and son, not understand each other.”’[47]

Thus plunged into the midst of all manner of ‘oppositions’ and
intolerance, RICHARD GILPIN, for a goodly number of years—as William
Durant before him—confined his ‘preaching’ to his own private house in
Newcastle. Very sad is it to come on ‘records’ such as these from the
‘Depositions from the Castle of York, relating to offences committed in
the northern counties in the seventeenth century.’[48] They may be well
left to speak for themselves, without a word of comment:—

 ‘clxxvi. Richard Gilpin, Clerk, and others. For holding a

‘Aug. 4, 1669.—Before Ralph Jenison, Mayor of Newcastle, Cuthbert
Nicholson, cordyner, [= cordwainer,] saith, that upon Sunday last,
about five or six of the clock in the morneng, he did see a great
nomber of people goe inn to the house of Mr Richard Gilpyn, minister,
in the White Freers, and afterward, he went to parson Jo^{n.} Shaw, and
acquainted him with the premisses. Whereupon the said Mr Shaw togeither
with the church-wardens, constables, and serjeants-at-mace, by the
comaund of Mr Maor, did repaire to the said Richard Gilpin’s howse. And
when they came there all the dores were shutt and made fast. And after
the dores were broken open, he did see these severall persons come
out, viz., Robert Johnson, merchant, Dr Tunstall, Wm. Cutter, James
Hargraves, merchant, Wm. Hutchinson, George Headlyn, fitter, Charles
Newton, gent, Humphrey Gill, gent, Jno. Bittleston, tanner, Matthew
Soulsbey, roper, Michaell Jobling, pully-maker, Robert Finley, chapman,
and diverse other persons to the nomber of fortie.’


 ‘The information of Cuthbert Nicholas, cordwainer, against the persons
 hereinafter named, for being att meetings and conventicles:—Mr
 Richard Gilping, Mr William Deurant, Mr John Pringle, Mr Henry Lever,
 preachers,’ &c. &c. &c. &c.

So early as 1663—which would intimate that Gilpin had previously
resided and ‘preached’ in Newcastle—Bishop Cosin wrote to the Mayor
of Newcastle, telling him to look sharply after ‘_the caterpillars_,’
naming as the ringleaders, ‘William Durant, Henry Leaver, _Richard
Gilpin_, and John Pringle.’[49] When we consider who these men
were—every one a ‘pattern’ of godliness and consuming consecration to
the Master, and more especially that one of them, viz., Gilpin, had
lately refused to elevate himself to a level with Cosin, it is hard
to repress indignation; while the word of scorn, ‘_caterpillars_,’
reminds one of the Popish parallel of Pope Alexander, wondering how the
Signory of Florence could so far have forgotten what was due to him
and to themselves as to aid and abet that ‘contemptible _reptile_,’
[vermicciattolo] in offending the majesty of the Holy See—the
‘reptile’ being SAVONAROLA; or the ‘_heretici et imperiti homines_’
of SALMERON, as applied to Augustine and Chrysostom, Jerome, _et hoc
genus omne_.[50] Very different was the ‘letter’ of Cosin, Bishop of
Durham to the Mayor, from that of another ‘in authority,’ who had
also addressed to his Worship of Newcastle ‘a letter,’ wherein he
had counselled amity and forbearance; so much so, that Mr Durant and
others of the preachers in Newcastle, returned him an answer of thanks
for his ‘inculcated exhortations to love the whole flock of Christ,
_though not walking in the same order of the gospel_.’ The writer was

       *       *       *       *       *

Until the ‘Indulgence’ of 1672, Gilpin carried on his ‘ministry’ in
the half-public, half-hidden, manner which these deplorable acts
indicate. At one time he had to leave his own house; for in the Barnes’
‘Memoirs,’ we read, ‘When the Five Mile Act came out, Dr Gilpin
lodged at Mr Barnes his house, for more security. When his goods
were destrained upon, Mr Barnes—to prevent their being squandered
away—replevyed them.’ ... ‘And when there was a design to banish the
Doctor from Newcastle, Mr Barnes, by persuading the magistrates of his
great usefulness in the town, by his skill in physic, procured him
quietness to the end of King Charles his reign.’[52] Not however until
1672 was there anything approaching ‘religious liberty’ in England, and
that only by connivance. Until that year, practically, Nonconformity
and Dissent from the Church of England was politically treason, and
ecclesiastically ‘illegal.’

The Reader will have noticed that by Barnes and others, our Worthy is
designated ‘Doctor,’ and that this stood him in stead on one occasion.
But the title was not due technically until 1676. In that year he
proceeded to Leyden—like Sir Thomas Browne earlier—and there ‘took’
the ‘degree’ of M.D. By the kindness of Professor J. Van Hoeden of
Leyden, I am enabled—for the first time—to give the ‘record’ of it from
the ‘Inscriptions of the Students.’[53] It is as follows:—‘Richard
Gilpin, [misspelled “Gulpin,”] Cumbridus,’ obtained his degrees July
6, 1676—_post disputationem privatam de Historia Hystericæ Passionis
medicinæ doctor renunciatus est a clarissimo Kraame_—and again, Richard
Gilpin—_Med. Candid., anno 50, apud Prof. Spinæus, die_ xxix. _Junii
1676_. This second inscription is only a week before ‘the promotion,
_die_ vi. _Julii 1676_.’ Gilpin ‘lodged’ with Professor Spinæus during
his brief visit. In the list at close of the Memoir, along with his
other Writings, is given the title-page of the medical Dissertation or
‘Disputation,’ which he read on the occasion and published. In passing,
I may remark that the ‘Disputation’ is entirely technical, so that
there is nothing to interest an unscientific reader.[54]

Returned from Holland as Dr RICHARD GILPIN,—and by this time married to
his second wife, a daughter of a Cumberland squire, Brisco or Briscoe
of Crofton Hall,—he gave himself to his work with unflagging zeal,
with ever-deepening power and influence, and with most gratifying
tokens that he was not labouring in vain, nor spending his strength
for nought. He was now in ‘easy’ circumstances. ‘The purchase,’
says Barnes, ‘of the Lordship of Scaleby had put him into debt, but
he now cleared it off,’ and Mr Barnes went with him to Sir Richard
Musgrave, and got the conveyances finished, and this because ‘by the
encouragement his ministry met with from the liberality of the people,
and his emoluments by the practice of physic, he [had] raised a
considerable estate.’[55] He was vigilant as a ‘watchman’ on the walls
of Zion; and as he mellowed into a beautiful old age, surrounded by a
gifted and affectionate family, and having ‘troops of friends,’ he came
to be _the_ representative man of Nonconformity, so that the ‘care’ of
all their churches, in large measure, came upon him. Very pleasant must
have been those holiday ‘escapes’ from smoky Newcastle to the sylvan
solitudes and brightness of Scaleby, which he interposed between his

His Congregation enormously increased—at a bound probably, for, on
the death of William Durant in 1681, his ‘flock’ was received by
Gilpin.[56] Accordingly, in the course of years, he received several
‘helpers.’ One was the excellent William Pell, M.A., who, ‘ejected’
from Great Stainton in 1662, after being ‘seven years minister of a
congregation at Boston,’ removed to Newcastle, where, says Calamy, ‘he
became assistant to Dr Gilpin, and died there, aged 63.’ This was in
1698.[57] Another was Timothy Manlove, M.D., who settled at Pontefract
in 1688, removed to Leeds in 1694, and became assistant to Dr Gilpin in
1698. He died August 3, 1699, and Gilpin preached two ‘Sermons’ before
his funeral, informed by a fine spirit. They were published; and the
title-page will be found in our list of his Writings at close.

As before with the ‘Temple Rebuilt,’ it was only by constraint that
Gilpin issued these Sermons—two in one. ‘The following Discourse,’
he says, ‘was preached without the least thought of offering it to
public view; and yet I was persuaded to yield to the publication of
it to prevent the printing of more imperfect notes.’ The melancholy
duty interrupted a series of Sermons on ‘Striving to enter in at
the strait gate,’ and from Galatians v. 16, ‘This I say then, Walk
in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh;’ but,
he continues, ‘having received an intimation that my dear brother
and fellow-labourer, now deceased, had found such comfort in his
meditations of this scripture in his prospect of death, that he
expressed his desires that his funeral sermon might be upon this text,’
[Romans viii. 35-39,] he had chosen it. I have space for only a very
few sentences from these ‘Sermons’ as follow:—“In all these things we
are more than conquerors.” It is a glorious victory to stand in an
evil day when Satan hath drawn up all his forces against us. It is
a glorious victory not only to escape without loss, but to gain by
his opposition. Thus we outshoot him in his own bow; and all this,
_sine labore et sudore_, easily through Divine assistance, (page 17.)
Again: “We are led by the Spirit” ver. 14. Whether we read the sense
backward or forward it holds true, “as many as are led by the Spirit
are the sons of God,” and “as many as are the sons of God have been and
shall be led by the Spirit,” (page 30.) He pays affectionate tribute
to his departed ‘assistants.’ ‘It hath pleased God Almighty and the
all-wise Disposer of all things to make another breach upon us. It is
not long since he took Mr Pell from us, and now he hath called home Mr
Manlove, both of them excellent men, worthy ministers of the Gospel,
singularly both of them fitted with abilities for their work. They
were successively my dear brethren and fellow-labourers in this part
of God’s vineyard. It must be acknowledged that it is a stroke to be
lamented: and if we look upon the present Providence we may have some
cause to fear that when God is discharging His servants from His work,
and paying them their wages, that He may shortly break up His house
with us,’ (page 21.)

From what must have been a large correspondence, only two letters
of Dr GILPIN have come down to us, in so far as known. The one is
an unimportant ‘note’ given in Horsley’s ‘Life of Dr Harle,’ (8vo,
1730,)—not worth reprinting; the other hitherto unpublished, and of
much interest and value, as shewing how staunch and true he was to the
last in his Nonconformity, and how his one fear in his ‘old age’ was
lest the Church of England should absorb his large congregation on his

This Letter is among the Ayscough MSS. 4275 in the British Museum
(Birchiana.) We have transcribed it _verbatim_.

 ‘NEWCASTLE, _Decemb. 13 ‘98_.

 ‘DEARE SR,—Since I writ last to you concerning ye proposed
 correspondence, I received a lr from you, wherein you give answer to
 yr two obiections wch I had mentioned to you. Your lr I communicated
 to ye brethren; but then there arose new mutterings about ye designe
 of yr late reflections on the circular lre, [and they] have taken hold
 of ye same advantages against it: so yt at present little is to be
 expected of any procedure in yt matter till men see what will become
 of ye publick outcry against it.

 ‘It hath pleased God to take from me my deare assistant, Mr Pell, by a
 feaver; we buryed him last weeke. It is a sad stroke upon us all, but
 it falls at present most heavy upon me. Ever since his sickness, it
 became necessary for me (such are our circumstances) to preach twice
 every Lord’s day, and I must continue to do so at least every other
 Lord’s day for some time, because there are a small party (and but
 a very small one) who have formed a designe, and are now encouraged
 upon this sad occasion to open it. This party were ye few remainders
 of Mr Durant’s congregation, who have kept communion wth ours in all
 ordinances, wthout making any exceptions, about 15 years; but when old
 Mr Barnes (their politick engineer) brought home his young son Thomas,
 from London, they presently shewed their intentions to choose him for
 their pastor; but as introductory to that they (in my absence) thrust
 him into ye pulpit, without so much as asking leave. I was silent,
 and suffered him to preach in ye evenings; but they being weary of
 that—few people staying to heare him—they thought it more conduceable
 to their designe to separate from us, and set up at ye Anabaptists’
 meeting-house; but no great party would follow them, and now they have
 chosen him to be their pastor, though before this he had in our pulpit
 vented some unsound Crispian notions, and at last had ye confidence
 to contradict what I had preached about preparation to conversion.
 For this, I thought it necessary to give him a publick rebuke, and
 to answer his exceptions. That theire designe is to worme us out of
 or meeting-house, and to breake or congregation, is visible to all:
 they now openly claime ye meeting-house for their pastor’s use, (when
 he pleaseth,) and pretend old Mr Hutchinson (upon whose ground ye
 house is built) promised them so much when they contributed towards
 ye charge of building; but Mr Jonathan Hutchinson, his son, denyes
 any such promise, and stands firmly to us, though Mr Barnes (his
 father-in-law) surprised him wth solicitations; but we offer to repay
 them all ye money they contributed towards ye building.

 ‘You see, Sr, how much I need your prayers, and (if it could be)
 ye nomination of a man of parts, prudence, piety, and authority
 to assist me at present, and to succeed me when I am gone. _Much
 of ye dissenters’ interest in ye North depends upon ye welfare of
 or congregation. The Episcopall party have long since made their
 prognostik, yt token I die, ye congregation will be broken, and then
 there will be an end of ye dissenters’ interest in Newcastle._ I pray
 give my deare love and respects to all ye brethren wth you, and
 pardon the trouble given by, Revd. sr, your affectionate brother and


 On the 4th page, folio—For the Reverend Mr Richard Stratton, minister
 of ye gospel, at the house, Hatton Garden, in London.

We have little more to tell of the author of _Dæmonologia Sacra_.
He survived his estimable ‘assistant’ Manlove but a short time.
But to the last he was ‘in harness.’ Looking over old Papers he
came upon a Sermon which he had preached so far back as ‘1660,’ at
the ‘Assize’ in Carlisle, revised and published it; and it bears
the same date of ‘1700’ as his own death: so that, like Sibbes, he
must have had proof-sheets passing through his hands very near ‘the
end.’ The ‘Epistle’ or ‘Preface’ prefixed is as terse and effective
as ever; and the ‘Sermon’ itself manly, outspoken, faithful, and
truly characteristic of the man. The title-page will be found in our
list.[58] This ‘Sermon’ having been preached before Judge Twisselton
and Serjeant Bernard and the ‘gentry’ present at the Assize, is
specially searching on ‘sins’ in ‘high places,’ for Gilpin acted on
the sentiment of Edward Boteler, who, in his own quaint way, says of
Earl Mulgrave, ‘He knew what great evils evil great ones are; that they
have many followers, go they whither they will, and seldom go to hell
alone.’ [As after, p. 48.] I detach a single ‘particular’ from this
weighty Sermon:—‘If magistrates advance not the throne of Christ, they
commonly prove furious against it, and plagues of God’s people. If this
proceed from a careless blockish temper, then judgment of itself will
degenerate into gall, and the “fruit of righteousness into hemlock.”
Justice, like water, purifies itself by motion, when it “runs down
like a stream:” if it be a standing water, it corrupts, and _corruptio
optimorum pessima_. If this neglect proceed from enmity to Christ,
then, seeing they have the greatest advantages in their hands to do
evil, they may “establish wickedness by a law:” they can “push with
the horn, and tread down the pasture with their feet.” [Ezek. xxxiv.
18.] “When the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” [Prov. xxix. 2.]
Or if it proceed from apostasy, then “the revolters are profound to
make slaughter.” [Hosea v. 27.] And this happens not so much from the
churlish and cruel dispositions of men, as from God’s giving them up
judicially to rage against His ways, either as a scourge to his people,
or in order to their own ruin. Hence it is noted that the cruellest
persecutions were set on foot by emperors, sometimes of the best parts,
and most civil dispositions, as Antoninus Philosophus, Trajan, Severus,
Decius, &c. Magistrates are for the most part like the prophet’s figs,
either very good or very bad: they are the heads of the people, and
all diseases in the head are dangerous; so when the leprosy appeared
in the head deeper than the skin, the party was pronounced utterly
unclean,’ (pp. 13, 14.)

Calamy and Mr Thompson of Stockton thus record the ‘good man’s
end:’—‘He went,’ says the former, ‘into the pulpit the last time he was
in it under a feverish indisposition, and preached from 2 Cor. v. 2,
“For in this we groan, earnestly,” &c.; and to the surprise of all, he
rather ‘groaned’ than spake this sermon. The lungs being at that time
too tender for work, his disease seized that part, and he was brought
home in a _peripneumonia_, which in ten days put a period to his
life.’[59] Mr Thompson, in his ‘Diary,’[60] thus writes:—‘Dr Gilpin,
y^t eminent servant of God, died much lamented by all, on (Tuesday)
Feb. 13, 1699/1700, about eight o’clock in y^e morning.’[61] He was
interred in the churchyard of All Saints, Newcastle. And the following
is the ‘entry’ in its Register of Burials:—‘1699 [= 1699-1700] Feb. 16.
Rich. Gilpin, doctor of physick.’[62] The ‘scutcheon of the ‘Kentmere’
Gilpins was placed on his coffin. He left a widow, who retired, as her
husband had asked, with her family, to Scaleby Castle.

From point to point of our Memoir, it has been our endeavour to bring
out the character of Dr Gilpin under his varying circumstances; so
that, unless I have failed more than I can suppose, my Readers must
by this time—even out of the scanty material which has been left to
us—have formed an idea of him, such as will bear me out, I anticipate,
in characterising him summarily as a man of no ordinary type, large of
soul,—with the spaciousness of genius that has been hallowed,—strong
and inevitable in his convictions, quick and sensitive in conscience,
intense and full of _momentum_ in whatever he undertook; and, as his
‘_Dæmonologia Sacra_’ proves, profound, sagacious, keen in his scrutiny
of human and celestial-demoniac problems, and one who must have carried
sunshine with him wherever he went. His portrait—preserved in Nova
Scotia by a descendant, Dr Gilpin of Halifax—as engraved in the earlier
edition of Palmer, shews the liquid eye of genius, the mobile lip,
the brow compact and packed of brain, a nose somewhat audacious, and
a touch of sauciness in the chin, while the long cavalier-like curled
‘locks’ of his wig seem to proclaim the lord of the manor of Scaleby
as much as the Preacher; for as Edward Boteler puts it of another,
with Fullerian alliteration, ‘Though he was very humble, yet he knew
how to be a man and no worm, as well as when to be “a worm and no man.”
He knew when to lay his honour in the dust, and when to let no dust be
upon his honour.’[63]

I would now bring together several ‘estimates’ of our Worthy by those
who knew him well, and thus could form an accurate judgment concerning
him. First of all, I am fortunate enough to be able to give, from
an old, worn, and weather-stained holograph preserved by Prebendary
Gilpin, a quaint ‘Poem,’ which probably represents in portions of it
the inscription placed on his ‘monument’—long since mouldered away.
Here it is, rude and halting in rhyme and rhythm, but biographically


    In mournfull numbers I did weep of late,
    Criton the wise,[64] and sweet Philander’s fate,[65]
    And Calvus,[66] to ye learned world well known.
    Oppress’d and wth repeated grief borne down,
    Palæmon’s[67] death succeeding struck me dumb,
    My tears were all I offer’d at his tomb.
      Thus th’ Eastern sage[68] wth wondrous patience bore
    Thrice dismal news, but he could bear no more,
    Did weep, fall down, and silently adore.
    My trouble now swells o’er, and artless strays,
    Where nature yields, and passion leads ye ways.
      Thou man of peace! born in our publick rage,
    Designed to correct ye giddy age:
    Thy solid judgment did resist ye flame,
    In midst of civil fury still ye same.
    When the grave world run madly uniform,
    Serene within thou weather’d out ye storm.
    The miter thou refused with a brow
    Wch calmness shew’d, and resolution too.
    Esteemed by ye good, by ill men fear’d,
    By ye wise admired, and followed by ye herd.
    Ev’n Satan did trembling on thy lectures wait,
    When thou display’d his mysteries of state.
    Begg’d leave to plague thee, but he begg’d in vain,
    Vowing revenge upon ye list’ning train.
      Great prophet! who could’st prudently dispense,
    With a becoming warmth, substantial sense;
    In such a manner thou thy God addrest
    As both thy rev’rence and thy wants exprest.
    Thy zeal was not confined to th’ sacred chair,
    But bright through all thy actions did appear.
    Thy spotless life thy doctrine best apply’d,
    Truth recommending wch thou first had try’d.

    Our honour and defence[69] with thee depart,
    The gift of preaching and ye healing art.
                                        J. H.

    Artes infernas Divinà Gilpinus arte
      Detexit, vicit, jam requiescit ovans.

    Presbyterûm præses, præco optimus, et medicinæ
      Doctor Gilpinus, conditur hoc tumulo.
                                        T. P.

Fitly accompanying this ‘elegy’ and—as verse little superior
but—similarly valuable as a ‘testimony,’ come the lines of Dr Harle,
which Horsley thus prefaces:—‘I have oft heard him mention the severe
shock the death of Dr Gilpin gave him.’ His tribute to Gilpin occurs
in a ‘copy of verses upon the death of the Rev. John Turnbull of North
Shields.’ It is as follows:—

    ‘How oft have we with admiration hung
    On the angelic Gilpin’s pow’rful tongue,
    Who in perfection had the mighty art,
    To form the soul and captivate the heart;
    Pour Gospel balm into the wounded soul,
    And vengeance on the harden’d conscience rowl.
    When he hell’s gloomy stratagems did clear[70]
    Man ceased, and Satan then began to fear
    His empire’s utter ruin drawing near.
    Great man! whom goodness did to greatness raise,
    Nor forced applause, nor warmly courted praise.
    The tempting dignity he did despise
    Made him more glorious still in good men’s eyes.’[71]
                             (As before, pp. 20, 21.)

I have next to set forth the famous ‘story’ of THOMAS STORY the
Quaker missionary-preacher—of his interviews with Dr Gilpin; wherein
it will be seen he shews the deepest respect for him, albeit in
his self-opinionativeness unconvinced of the erroneous tendency of
his ‘views’ and practice. These ‘notes’ are found in a folio that
has now gone out of sight, and become among the rarest of rare
Quaker books.[72] The narrative is too tedious for reproduction in
full; but a specimen will interest. Having told of his conversion
to the principles of Quakerism, and more especially of the result
of the reading of ‘three small books,’ he goes on: ‘Some time
after this, [1691,] Dr Gilpin, before mentioned, sent his son, a
counsellor-[at-law], under whom I had been initiated into the study
of the law, and who was one of those at the tavern aforesaid, and
still retained a great affection for me—to invite me to his house
at Scaleby Castle, and desired to see some of the Quakers’ books,
supposing I had been imposed upon by reading them; and I sent him,
as I remember, all that I had. Soon after I had parted with these
books, I observed a cloud come over my mind and an unusual concern;
and therein the two sacraments—commonly so termed—came afresh into my
remembrance, and divers scriptures and arguments _pro_ and _con_: and
then I was apprehensive the Doctor was preparing something of that
sort to discourse me upon; and I began to search out some scriptures
in defence of my own sentiments on those subjects: but as I proceeded
a little in that work I became more uneasy and clouded: upon which
I laid aside the Scripture and sat still, looking towards the Lord
for counsel. For I considered the Doctor as a man of great learning,
religious in his way, an ancient preacher and writer too, famous in
Oliver’s time, and a “throne” among his brethren: and that he might
advance such subtilties as I could not readily confute nor would
concede to, as knowing them erroneous, though I might not be suddenly
furnished with arguments to demonstrate their fallacy; and so might
receive hurt. And then it was clear in my understanding that as he was
in his own will and strength, though with a good intent, in his own
sense, searching the letter [of the Scripture,] and depending upon
that and his own wisdom, acquirements, and subtilty, leaning to his
own spirit and understanding, I must decline that way and trust in the
Spirit of Christ, the divine Author of the Holy Scriptures. And as
this caution was presented in the life and virtue of truth, I rested
satisfied therein, and searched no further on that occasion. When I
went to his house, he entered into a discourse on those subjects; and
had such passages of Scripture folded down as he purposed to use. And
when I observed it, I was confirmed that my sight of him in my own
chamber at Carlisle, and of his work some days before, was right, [as
if, to intercalate a remark, it needed prescience to foretell that the
Doctor’s appeal would be ‘to the Law and to the Testimony’!!] and
my mind was strengthened thereby. But before he began to move upon
the subject, he dismissed every other person out of the room, so that
himself and I remained alone. The first thing he said was, in a calm
manner, to admonish me to be very cautious how I espoused the errors
of the Quakers; for he had heard of late and with concern that I had
been among them, or seemed to incline that way. I answered that I had
not been much among them, nor seen any of their books but those I had
sent him, and knew not of any errors they held. Yes, said he, they
deny the ordinances of Christ, the two sacraments—Baptism and the Lord
s Supper; and then opened his book [his!] at one of his down-folded
leaves, where he read thus, 1 Cor. i. 2, xi. 23, 26....’ Now follows
the usual delusive appeals beyond the ‘letter,’ as ‘carnal,’ and all
the unconsciously-blaspheming, ‘_setting-aside_,’ of plain words that
reveal ‘the mind of the Spirit,’ commingled with a simple-minded
self-superiority which need not be illustrated. Very patient and
wonderingly-silent must have been the Doctor with his undoubtedly pious
and acute, but most perverse, visitor. He thus closes, ‘The Doctor
did not oppose this, [about prayer,] but only said I had given him
better satisfaction on that point than he had found in the book; and
afterwards he was much more free and familiar with me than before, or
than I expected: and so we parted in friendship, and I returned in
peace and gladness,’[73] (pp. 41-45.)

But by far the most important, as it is the most elaborate, ‘estimate’
of our Worthy, is that of Calamy, who, usually marked by judicial calm,
and chary of praise, glows and burns in the fulness of his admiration.
The fervour of his eulogy of Gilpin contrasts with his usual
matter-of-fact statements, and surprises by its suddenness and passion.
With this I shall close those personal tributes by contemporaries. Thus
the ‘Account’ under ‘Grastoke’ runs:—

‘Richard Gilpin, M.D. He was designed by God for great work in his
church, and was singularly qualified for it. He had a large share of
natural abilities, which he had wonderfully improved by an unwearied
industry and long and hard study, so that there was scarce anything
that accomplished a man, a scholar, a physician, or divine, but he
possessed it in great perfection.

‘His stature was of the middle sort, rather inclining to the lesser
size; but his presence was far from being mean. There was a pleasing
mixture of majesty and sweetness, affableness and gravity in his
aspect. He could readily set his countenance to a severity or mildness
as the business or persons he had to do with required; and he did it
not by any artificial affectation, but naturally and with ease, in such
a way as kept up the dignity of his profession, and to such an end as
made religion both more awful and more alluring.

‘He had a delicate, fine, and polite fancy, expressing itself in a
plenty of words, which gave clear and lively images of things, and kept
up the life, strength, and elegancy of the English tongue.

‘His memory was strong and faithful, and gave back with great exactness
what he committed to it, though it was a treasury of very great
reading, and filled with variety of matter in several sciences.

‘To these was added a most penetrating, discerning judgment. This
enabled him in reading to choose well, and to form a just opinion of
the sentiments of others, which was always with that candour as made
another considerable addition to his many excellences.

‘He had so well digested all necessary parts of learning that he had
them in readiness when he needed them. He used such things in their
proper place, and adorned his discourses with them as there was
occasion; and was able to make that which was little else but pageantry
appear with a due gracefulness and beautiful in its season.

‘As he had a rich fund of sense, learning, experience, and reading to
fit him for a divine, so he had all the qualifications necessary for a
preacher in the highest degree that can well be thought attainable. The
several endowments that make a man a true, divine, orator did jointly
meet in him.

‘He had a voice strong enough to command the most usual public places
of divine worship. It was piercing and sweet, and naturally well
modelled. He had the true skill of fixing an accent upon particular
words where the matter needed it. There was a force attended his way
of speaking without an undue transport. He was vigorous and vehement,
but under great conduct. His expressions were conceived and his sermons
delivered without the use of notes: and he was qualified for that way
of preaching. His pregnant memory, his ready invention, his great
presence of mind, his natural fluency, that made him able to speak well
and gracefully, with ease and assurance, entitled him to it. He could
clothe any matter in apt words, with all the ornaments of a regular
elocution. He fell neither into too swift an utterance, nor was forced
upon any unbecoming, unguarded expressions. There was no restraint
upon his delivery by being thus managed. It made him only capable of
speaking what he did with much greater warmth and life and decency of
gesture. It had all the smoothness of style and propriety of words to
make it acceptable. It had all the graces of natural oratory, all the
decencies of behaviour to recommend it. And that which completed all,
it came from a serious mind, the concern of which was visibly to be
read both in his countenance and expressions. He spoke from his very
heart, as appeared sometimes in the force of his words, sometimes
in his tears, and usually in both. He spake with solemnity and
seriousness, with gravity and majesty, and yet with so much meekness
mixed with all, as declared him to be a man of God and ambassador of
Christ. There was a lively air of delivery, a sacred vehemence of
affection in what he spake, that were very much his peculiar talent.
He knew how to temper his discourses with due motion. His gestures
were admirably taking and graceful, and further expressive of what he
was delivering. In prayer he was likewise most solemn and fervent, and
usually expressed himself much in Scripture language, and with a flood
of affection. The very fountains of it seemed in the performance of
that duty to be broken up and the great deep of it opened. It often
forced him to silence for a little till it had flowed out at his eyes.
In his pulpit discourses he was a very great example, both as to
the design and method of them. His design was vast and noble in the
ordinary course of his preachings. He usually proposed some subject,
and pursued it on various texts. Every head with its enlargements was
closely studied, and his particulars under each general were admirably
chosen. If he had ever so many, none could be wanting; if never so few,
there seemed to need no more. In the handling of any subject, after
he had explained and proved what he had undertaken, with a great deal
of clearness and affection, he was most plain, familiar, and moving
in his applications. His way in these was another particular talent
that he had. In all his uses he was excellent, but mostly so in his
exhortations. He made them as so many set discourses of persuasion.
They were delivered with most address and greatest warmth and vigour.
He entered upon them usually with some rousing, lively preface to
gain attention, and then offered his motives, which were prosecuted
with the most pungent expressions. Here his earnestness increased,
together with his voice, and the vehemency of it. He had a feeling
apprehension of the importance of what he was then urging upon his
hearers, and every word was big with concern of mind. He affected an
elaborate eloquence at no time, but least of all then. In easy but
moving expressions, and with a distinguishing πάθος he would plead with
sinners sometimes for a whole sermon together, without flagging in his
affections or suffering his attentive hearers to do it in theirs. He
was a man of a distinguishing knowledge and experience in the mysteries
of Christianity; and of a discerning spirit in understanding a work
of grace upon the hearts of others. With a clear head and searching
skill in divine things, he had a sincere and warm heart. The fire of
zeal and the light of knowledge accompanied one another. He kept up a
serious temper at all times and in all places and company, without much
discernible alteration or abatement; but this did not in the least sour
his disposition, which was cheerful, though thinking and solid. His
skill in government appeared in the managing a numerous congregation
of very different opinions and tempers. His integrity, modesty,
and contempt of the world, in refusing the bishopric of Carlisle,
as another of the family (Mr Bernard Gilpin) had done before him,
consonant to their motto, _dictis factisque simplex_. The care of the
churches lay upon him. His unblamable character had obtained amongst
all but those whose ill-nature would suffer them to speak well of none
who differed from them. He was much respected by many for the good he
had done them as a physician. Among persons of rank and quality in the
parts where he lived, all necessary means were scarce thought to have
been used if he had not been consulted. He went about doing good to
the souls and bodies of men. This world was not in his eye, none could
charge him with anything like covetousness.’

Be it remembered that these are the ‘words’ in every case, of men who
knew not to flatter, and spake out of ‘perfect knowledge.’ Above all,
be it specially remembered that I have been quoting from no ‘Funeral
Sermon,’ with its almost inevitable exaggerations.

       *       *       *       *       *

It only remains that I give a complete annotated list of the extant
writings of Dr Gilpin, arranged chronologically as published, also an
account of the manuscript of _Dæmonologia Sacra_, and the destruction
of other MSS.

I. The Agreement of the Associated Ministers and Churches of the
Counties of Cumberland and Westmerland [_sic._]. With something for
Explication and Exhortation annexed. London: Printed by T. L., for
Simon Waterson, and are sold at the sign of the Globe, in Paul’s
Churchyard, and by Richard Scot, Bookseller in Carlisle. 1656. Pp. 59.

 ⁂ In the copy of above in St Patrick’s (Cathedral) Library, (Marsh’s,)
 at p. 52, there is a careful correction in Gilpin’s autograph of
 Carolostadius for Oecolompadius, which itself confirms the authorship.
 There is no name on title-page or elsewhere; but Calamy gives it in
 his enumeration. Account, vol. ii. p. 157.

II. The Temple Rebuilt: a Discourse on Zachery vi. 13. Preached at
a Generall Meeting of the Associated Ministers of the County of
Cumberland, at Keswick, May 19. By Richard Gilpin, Pastor of the Church
at Graistock, in Cumberland. London: Printed by E. T., for Luke Fawne,
at the Parrot, in Paul’s Churchyard, and are to be sold by Richard
Scott, Bookseller in Carlisle. 1658. 4to. Ep. Dedy., pp. 6, and 40. On
reverse of title-page is this note: ‘We, the Associate Ministers of
the County of Cumberland, do earnestly desire our reverend brother, Mr
Richard Gilpin, to print his acceptable Sermon preached this day at our
Generall Meeting.

  TIMOTHY TULLIE, _Modr. pro Temp._
  JOHN JACKSON, _Scribe_.’

 ⁂ My own copy has inscribed in Gilpin’s autograph, ‘_Ex dono
 Authoris_,’ and again misprints are carefully corrected.

III. Disputatio Medica Inauguralis de Hysterica Passione, quam Præside
Deo Opt. Max. ex autoritate magnifici D. Rectoris D. Johannis Coccii,
in Inclytâ Lugd. Batav. Academia Eloquentiæ et Historiarum Professoris
celeberrimi nec non amplissimi Senatûs Academici, Consensu et Almæ
Facultatis Medicæ Decreto, Pro Gradu Doctoratus, Summisque in Medicina
Honoribus ac Privilegiis legitime obtinendis, Eruditorum examini
subjicit Richardus Gilpin, Anglus Cumbriens. Die 6 Julii, loco horisque
solitis, ante merid. Lugduni Batavorum, Apud Viduam et Haeredes
Johannis Elsevirii Academiæ Typograph. 1676. 4to. Pp. 8.

 ⁂ The following is the dedication to his (second) father-in-law:
 ‘Celeberrimo et virtute maxime conspicuo viro Gulielmo Brisco de
 Crofton, in Comitatu Cumbriæ Armigero, Socero suo venerando. Hanc
 Disputationem Inauguralem observantiæ signum offert et inscribit
 Richardus Gilpin.’

IV. _Dæmonologia Sacra._ 1677. 4to. See our reprint, pp. 2, 7, 126,
312, for general and special title-pages.

 ⁂ In our ‘Prefatory Note,’ I have characterised this the most
 important of Gilpin’s works, and add here a little from the Barnes’
 ‘Memoirs,’ (as before,) and from one well capable of pronouncing an
 opinion. 1. Barnes: ‘What had greatly raised Dr Gilpin’s fame was
 his treatise of “Satan’s Temptations,” which, in imitation of a book
 of King James I., he entitled “Dæmonologia Sacra,” the largest and
 completest of any extant upon that subject. Being out of print, both
 it and an account of its author, and others of his writings, may be
 given the world when his posterity think it convenient, (pp. 145,
 146.) 2. John Ryland, M.A.: ‘If ever there was a man that was clearly
 acquainted with the cabinet-councils of hell, this author is the man,’
 [in his ‘Cotton Mather.’]

V. The Comforts of Divine Love: Preached upon the Occasion of the much
Lamented Death of the Reverend Mr Timothy Manlove. With his Character,
done by another Hand. London. 1700. 12mo. Epistle, pp. 2. Character,
pp. 4. Sermons, pp. 46.

 ⁂ The Williams’ copy is marked contemporaneously ‘16th January 1699.’
 Prefixed is a portrait of Dr Manlove—for, like Gilpin and Pringle, he
 too was an M.D.—by Vander Gucht.

VI. An Assize Sermon, Preached before Judge Twisselton and Serg.
Bernard at Carlisle, September the 10th, Anno 1660. And Now Publish’d
and Recommended to the Magistrates of the Nation, as a Means, by God’s
Blessing, to quicken them to a serious Pursuit of the Honourable and
truly Religious Design, for the Reformation of Manners, which is now
on foot, and Countenanced by the Nobility, Bishops, and Judges, in
the late Account of the Societies for the Reformation of Manners, and
applauded by the Serious and Religious Men of all Persuasions. By R.
Gilpin, now Minister of the Gospel in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. London:
Printed for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns, near Mercers
Chapple; and Sarah Burton, Bookseller at Newcastle. 1700. 4to.

I have now to notice the MANUSCRIPTS of Gilpin. By the courtesy of
the Rev. Bernard Gilpin, Bengeo, Hertford, I have had confided to me
the original holograph of ‘_Dæmonologia Sacra_,’ and in our reprint
I have found it clearing up occasional misprints and mis-pointings.
The MS. is not complete; the collation is as follows: General title
and three special titles, pp. 3. To the Reader, pp. 6, signed ‘Rich.
Gilpin.’ Treatise on to Part II., page 255, (in our edition,) ending
in line 21st from top, 4 disqui[eting].’ The penmanship is clear and
legible, with few erasures, and having a margin on either side. On the
top of the page whereon Part I. begins, there is the date, ‘Newcastle,
July 9, 1671.’[74] Further: Calamy, in his ‘Account,’ thus mentions a
_manuscript_ treatise of which he had heard: ‘Among other things he
hath left behind him in manuscript, a valuable Treatise concerning
The Pleasantness of the Ways of Religion; and in whatsoever hands it
lies, it is pity but it should see the light,’ (vol. ii. p. 157.) It
is to be lamented that this appeal was not responded to, as Prebendary
Gilpin records sorrowfully its loss as follows: ‘Among his other papers
was found a treatise of considerable length, prepared, as it seemed,
for the press, “On the Pleasures of Religion.” This MS., and several
other MSS. of Dr Gilpin’s, consisting chiefly of heads and divisions
of sermons, from which he used commonly to preach, fell into the hands
of the author of this memoir; and being deposited in a box with
other papers, and placed in the corner of a closet, were attacked by
what is commonly called dry damp, and were almost entirely spoiled.
If anything had been interposed between the bottom of the box and
the floor so as to have suffered the air to circulate, the mischief
had been prevented;’ and what levity in the custodier of so precious
a legacy that this little care was neglected. Mr Gilpin of Juniper
Green writes me concerning these spoiled MSS.: ‘Nevertheless [_i.e._,
notwithstanding their utter destruction by the dry-rot] my mother kept
the fragments all the days of her life with great veneration. But now
these relics—they were little better than ashes—of our ancestor have

I have thus done my best to revivify the story of RICHARD GILPIN, His
highest ‘record’ is ‘on high;’ but those who love the memory of our
Worthy, will, it is hoped, accept kindly our endeavours to keep his
grave green, and to import, so to speak, personality to the name in an
old title-page—of one who did valiant service for The Master:

    ‘Sword and spear he might not wield,
    But with faith his heart to shield,
    Marched he to the battle-field.’—[‘_Paradisus Animæ._’]

And so I close with like verses by leal-hearted Sir Egerton Brydges:

    ‘His tongue, the Spirit’s two-edged sword,
      Had magic in its blade;
    For while it smote with every word,
      It healed the wounds it made.
    Yet, who so humbly walked as he,
      A conqueror in the field;
    Wreathing the rose of victory
      Around his radiant shield!’
                       ALEXANDER B. GROSART.




The different ‘County’ Historians, and Works on the old families of
England, give more or less full details concerning the Gilpins in all
their many branches. The ‘Arms’ are _Or_, a boar passant sable, armed
and tusked Gules. A fine book-plate of this adorns Prebendary Gilpin’s
Family Manuscript. These ‘Arms’ are hereditarily understood to have
been derived from the fact that a Richard de Gylpyn or Gilpin—who is
regarded as the founder of the house—killed a wild boar which had
infested the neighbourhood of Kentmere, in the reign of King John. [See
Nicholson and Burns’ ‘Antiquities of Westmoreland and Cumberland,’
(as before,) vol. i. pp. 135-137.] This is confirmed by Sir Daniel
Fleming’s Collection of Pedigrees, in the possession of Sir W. Fleming
of Rydal, Co. Westm. Bart. A.D. 1713; and is given by Bishop Carleton
in his Life of Bernard Gilpin. From these authorities, and various
other Family documents, I construct this genealogy of the elder House:—

1. Richard ... founder. He a son, 2. William, who married a daughter of
Thomas Ayray, bailiff of Kentmere. He a son, 3. Richard, who married
daughter of Fleming of Coningston, from whom many descendants are found
in and around Kendal. He a son, 4. William. He a son, 5. Richard. He a
son, 6. William, a captain at Bosworth field, and there killed. He a
brother, 7. Edwin, two of whose sons were distinguished—viz., (1.) The
ambassador of Queen Elizabeth to the States of Holland. (2.) Bernard,
the ‘Apostle of the North,’ was the fourth son. He, [_i.e._, Edwin,] a
son, 8. William. He a son, 9. George. He a son, 10. William. He a son,
11. George. He succeeded by, 12. Christopher Gilpin, a half brother of
George, in whom the direct _male_ line ended. The ‘Kentmere’ estate
sold to Sir Charles Philipson.—[_N._ and _B._—_as before_.]—William,
son of Richard, [= the 4th of our list,] married a daughter of Thomas
Lancaster of Sockbred, who descended of the baron of Kendal. His son
Richard, again [= 5th in our list,] married a daughter of Sir Rowland
Thornborroux, knight of Rampsell. This Richard married as his second
wife Margaret Layton = Enwine, second daughter of Thomas Layton of
Dalemaine, who had several sons—Anthony, Thomas, Sir William, Sir
Bryan, Sir Cuthbert, Sir Richard, all famous men, mostly soldiers, and
some knights of Rhodes. His daughters also intermarried with Redman,
Carelton, Clyborne, and Vaux. We may now tabulate the descent. From
Richard, and his second wife, Margaret Layton, comes—

     Randall = Sykes.
             │        │       │         │        │          │
          Richard.  John.  Francis.  George.  Bernard.  2 daughters.
     │       │         │         │         │       │       │       │
  William  George.  Randall.  Bernard   Richard.  Caly.  Mary.  Margaret.
  = Eliz.                    of Houghton   │
  Washington.                 le Spring.    │father of Isaac, father
     │                                                of our Dr Gilpin.
   │           │       │       │        │         │        │       │
   George.  2d son. 3d son. 4th son. 5th son. 6th son. 7th son.    3.
      │                                                         daughters
      William = * * * * Sandforth.

[See Hutchinson’s ‘History of Durham,’ vol. ii. 703, account of the
Gilpins, from a paper in the hands of Mr Rob. Sober of Sherburn, near
Durham, without date.—Randall MSS. The last George, at the time of
making out Sober’s pedigree, is said to be living, and owner of the
ancient house of the Gilpins, Kentmere Hall.]

Turning to _Dr Richard Gilpin_, I have had two elaborate pedigrees
(of descent) entrusted to me, by the former of which, it appears our
Worthy had a very large family by, (as I understand,) his two wives.
By this also I find that his second wife was born ‘Oct. 15th, 1625,’
eldest daughter of William Brisco of Crofton—her name Susannah. I have
a suspicion that the first Mrs Gilpin died at Greystoke, and that the
Doctor re-married before leaving it; but owing to the time-worn state
of the Greystoke ‘Registers,’ all the entries that remain concerning
Dr Gilpin’s family are the two children given in our Memoir. Following
William and Susannah were, 1. Isaac, born July 12, 1658; married
Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Clagget. Then, 2. Susanna, born Nov.
27th, 1659; married Matthew Parlis, minister. [The former Susannah must
have died as a child.] Then, 3. Anne, who married Sawrey of Broughton
Tower, Esq. [On this marriage, see Barnes’ ‘Memoir,’ as before, pp.
142, 143.] She was born December 5th, 1660. Then, 4. Elizabeth, born
Aug. 3, 1662; died unmarried. Then, 5. Richard: died of a blow of his
schoolmaster. Then, 6. Mary, born Dec. 28th, 1666; died unmarried.
Then, 7. Dorothy, born Aug. 13, 1668; married, (1.) Jabez Cay, M.D.;
(2.) Eli Fenton. Then, 8. John, born Feb. 13, 1669. [More of him
immediately.] Then, 9. Francis, born July 27, 1671; ob. infant.
Then, 10. Bernard, born Oct. 6, 1672, died in his youth at Jamaica,
unmarried. Then, 11. Francis, born Jan. 27, 1675, died in infancy.
Then, 12. Thomas, born July 27, 1677, died unmarried, June 20, 1700.
Returning upon John, [eighth of this list,] he married Hannah, daughter
of Robert Cay, Esq. of Newcastle, and left large issue, as follows: 1.
Richard, born April 9, 1700, (soon after his grandfather died,) died
unmarried, 1723. 2. Robert, born 17th Aug. 1702, married Ruth, daughter
of Reynold Hall of Newbiggen, Esq. [More of this pair immediately.]
3. William, born Jan. 1, 1700 (?), married Mary, daughter of Thomas
Dickenson, clerk. 4. John, born 1st Sept. 1705. 5. Thomas, born Jan. 8,
1711, ob. 12 March 1713. 6. Susanna. 7. A daughter. 8. Barbara, born
16th May 1710, wife of Braithwaite of Stockton. 9. Susanna, born 28th
April 1712, wife of Isaac Cookson of Newcastle. 10. Hannah, born 22d
May 1715, wife of.... Goldsmith. Returning again upon Robert, [second
of the list from John,] he had issue—1. John, who married daughter of
John Cookson of London. He took the name of Sawrey on succeeding to the
Broughton Tower estate. 2. Richard, died in East Indies. 3. Ruth. 4.
5. Jer. (?). William, [third of list from John,] had issue—1. Thomas,
ob. an infant. 2. John, dead 1809. 3. Robert, _ib._ 4. Hannah, married.
5. William, died 18th September æt. 67. So much for the first paper.
Now for the second, which gives the descendants of the eldest son of
Dr Gilpin, viz., William, born, as stated in Memoir, at Greystoke, 5th
Sept. 1657. He became a barrister-at-law, justice of the peace, and
deputy vice-admiral for county Cumberland, and recorder of the city
of Carlisle; bought Highfield Moor and the tithes of Crosby; died at
Scaleby Castle, Aug. 14, 1724, æt. 67. He married Mary, eldest daughter
and one of the co-heiresses of Henry Fletcher of Talantyre. The issue
were—1. Susan Maria, born at Scaleby Castle, 10th Nov. 1689, wife of
Joshua Dacre Appleby of Kirklevington, by whom she had issue—[will be
enumerated immediately]. 2. Anne, born April 14, 1691. 3. Richard, born
6th Feb. 1692, married Mary, daughter of Enoch Hudson. 4. Dorothy,
ob. an infant. 5. Henry, _ibid._ 6. William, born at Whitehaven,
married Margaret, daughter of G. Langstaff. 7. Henry, born Oct. 1692,
ob. at Jamaica. 8. John Bernard, born at Scaleby, Jan. 24, 1701, ob.
circa 1776, buried at Carlisle Cathedral. He married Matilda, eldest
daughter of George Langstaff, ob. circa 1773, buried at Carlisle. 9.
Dorothy, born at Scaleby, wife of Eaglivfield Griffith, born 4th Nov.
1703. 10. George, born at Scaleby, 29th Aug. 1706, married Elizabeth,
third daughter of George Langstaff. Returning on Susan Maria, [eldest
daughter,] she had a daughter, Elizabeth, born at Whitehaven, Feb.
12, 1708, ob. an infant, and a son, William, born June 1724, ob. at
Whitehaven, 4th Dec. 1779. He married Elizabeth Hodgson, daughter of
Robert Hodgson of Whitehaven, died at Denbigh Castle, 25th April 1792,
æt. 60. They had issue—1. William Gilpin, born at Whitehaven, 12th Nov.
1758, ob. 15th Oct. 1822, at East Sheen, Surrey, having married Sarah,
daughter of George Holland, Esq. of London, in 1793. Finally returning
on John Bernard, [eighth, _supra_,] he was father of the Rev. William
Gilpin, vicar of Boldre, prebendary of Salisbury, died April 5, 1804 at
Boldre, æt 80. He will not soon be forgotten, as his delightful books,
with their carefully finished ‘Illustrations’ on ‘Picturesque Beauty,’
are gathering increasing value as they become older. He had issue by
his first cousin. John Bernard Gilpin, Esq., who went to Philadelphia,
and afterwards became British Consul at Rhode Island. His descendants
are now partly in Nova Scotia, [J. Bernard Gilpin, Esq., M.D.,
Halifax,] and in England and Scotland; and Rev. William Gilpin, born
April 8, 1757, rector—an excellent and venerable man, and clergyman—in
county Salop; and Sawrey Gilpin, born Oct. 30, 1733, ob. 1808. For the
two Papers whence most of the preceding details have been collected,
I owe thanks to my friend Joshua Wilson, Esq., Nevil Park, Tunbridge
Wells. I may add that in Prebendary Gilpin’s Family-Manuscript there
are ‘Memoirs’ of William Gilpin, Esq., the recorder of Carlisle,
containing valuable and interesting letters to and from the Lowther
family. The ‘Recorder’ was a man of mark. His portrait is at Scaleby
Castle. Next, severally William ‘merchant at Whitehaven,’ [See Story,
as before.] Henry, of ‘the Navy,’ Thomas, John Bernard, Anne, Dorothy,
Susannah Maria, the eldest daughter, who must have been a lady of
uncommon originality and force of character, and largeness of heart.
[As _above_. She was married to Dacre Appleby, Esq. of Kirklinton,
contiguous to Scaleby Castle. Curiously enough, their eldest son
married a daughter of the Bishop of Carlisle. Mrs Appleby ‘was
followed by all the country, in tears, to her grave.’] John Bernard,—a
very capital ‘Memoir’ of a gallant soldier. Somerville, in ‘The
Chase,’ refers to the Windsor ‘roads’ constructed under his military
supervision. He was a familiar friend of the good Colonel Gardiner.
There are glimpses of the Rebellion of 1745 in this Memoir, throwing
light on events at Carlisle. At ‘leisure hours’ he cultivated painting,
and when he lived at Carlisle, he had sometimes half a dozen young
people, or more, who used occasionally to attend him for instruction.’
Of these some became famous, _e.g._, John Smith, whom Lord Warwick sent
to Rome, Robert Smirke, Esq., R.A., Mrs Head, &c. The Prebendary, in
his MS., here gives also an account of literary society of the period,
including Warburton, Dr Brown, and others. There are Letters of this
many-gifted man, revealing a very beautiful and tender veneration
for his departed wife, whose loss he ‘mourned unto the grave.’ The
correspondence between Mr and Mrs Bernard Gilpin is striking and
brilliant. Sawrey Gilpin, R.A., of Knightsbridge, their son, became
celebrated as an animal painter. Sir J. D. A. Gilpin, another son,
was knighted for his long services in America, West Indies, and
Gibraltar. He was a friend of Washington’s. Catherine, sister of the
two last, born at Scaleby Castle, 1738, was a woman of rare intellect,
and a friend of Miss Blamire, the sweet Poetess of Cumberland. In a
new edition of Miss Blamire’s ‘Poems and Songs,’ recently published,
there are given some by Miss Gilpin, equal to the others. She died
at Carlisle in 1811. Even these bare names and dates will suffice to
reveal a Family distinguished in well-nigh every department of human
achievement, to be placed in their hereditary talent with the Hunters,
Gregorys, and Browns, and equally remarkable in their hereditary piety
and worth, as well where they belonged to the Church of England as
where they held true to Nonconformity, and their descent from the great

       *       *       *       *       *


The following memoranda are taken from the three Lists of Queen’s
College, as detailed:—

 I. From the List of Fellows:

 1555. Gilpin. [In another and later hand this note is appended:

 ‘Bernardus (_ni fallor_) R^r de Houghton le Spring in Com. Dunelm.
 V. Batesii Vitas clar. virorum, p. 284.’ The apostle.]

  1569. Richard Gilpin.
  1572. Joshua Gilpin,

II. From the List of Entries:

  1594. Term. Mic. Gilpin.
  1602.   ”   Pasch.  ”
  1610.   ”     ”     ”
  1614.   ”     ”     ”   _b_, [= ‘bateller,’ or exhibitioner.]
  1631.   ”     ”  Samuel Gilpin, _b_, [_ibid._]

III. From the List of Matriculations:

     1602. } Franciscus Gilpin, Lancastrensis filius ministri verbi Dei.
  Oct. 15. }   Nat. An. 17.


The following extract from N. and B. ‘History,’ (as before,) vol. i.
p. 130, shews the Gilpins were freeholders in Strickland as early as
the days of Queen Bess: ‘And in the 14 Eliz. William Parr, marquis of
Northampton, died seised thereof [_i.e._, of the manor of Strykeland
Rogers] and the same was assigned to his widow for dower, and the
particulars in the rental made thereof was as follows: manor of
Strickland Roger: freeholders there, Edward Lancaster, Esquire, 26s.
8d.: John Master, Esquire, 11s. 9d.: _William Gilpin_, 9s. 9d. Total
of the (customary) rent of this manor £15, 14s. 5d.: ten shillings
paid yearly by Mr Lancaster’s tenants, to be free of their gift from
the lord’s will, being part of the said sum.’ Further, this notice
occurs under Chapel of Crosthwaite in parish of Heversham, ‘The chancel
and steeple of this chapel were built by one William Gilpin, who also
contributed largely towards the three bells, in 1626: on which bells
are the following inscriptions: on the first bell: “Jesus, be our
speed:” the second bell: “_Soli Deo gloria_:” the third bell:

    “A young man grave in godliness
      William Gilpin by name
    Gave forty pounds to make these sounds
      To God’s eternal fame.”
                            [Vol. I. p. 215.]

                          DÆMONOLOGIA SACRA.


 For account of the holograph MS. of ‘Dæmonologia Sacra’—still in
 the larger portion preserved—see our Memoir _in loco_. The original
 edition of the book forms a handsome quarto. The general title-page
 will be found below: the special ones of Parts I., II., and III. in
 their respective places. There have been at least two reprints, but
 none comparable with the first. Our text is a careful reprint of the
 Author’s own edition, collated in all doubtful places with the MS. as
 above. Mr Gilpin very largely quotes Scripture, without giving the
 book, chapter, and verse; we have made up the deficiency by filling
 all in, within brackets.—G.

                         _DÆMONOLOGIA SACRA._

                                 OR, A



                          Satans Temptations:

                            In Three Parts.

                          By RICHARD GILPIN.

          2 Cor. 2. 11. _We are not ignorant of his Devices._

    Printed by _J. D._ for _Richard Randel_, and _Peter Maplisden_,
            Booksellers in _New Castle_ upon _Tine_. 1677.


The accurate searches into the secrets of nature which this age
hath produced, though they are in themselves sufficient evidences
of a commendable industry, yet, seeing they fall so exceedingly
short of that discovery which men aim at—giving us at best but
probable conjectures and uncertain guesses—they are become as little
satisfactory to men that look after the true causes of things, as those
‘ships of desire’ whose great undertaking for gold had raised high
expectations in their attempts, but in the return brought nothing home
for their ventures but ‘apes and peacocks,’[1 Kings x. 22, and 2 Chron.
ix. 21.] While men reflect upon themselves under such disappointments,
they cannot but check themselves, for over-promising themselves in
their adventures, with that of Zophar, ‘Vain man would be wise,’ [Job
xi. 12.]

But how happy would it be for men if such failures of expectation
might better inform them! If our attainments in these pursuits will
not bear our charges, nor recompense our pains and loss of time
with an answerable profit, though we may see cause sometimes, as a
divertisement or recreation, to use them, yet how shall we satisfy
ourselves to make them our chief and sole business?

If we knew of nothing of higher concern to us than these, our neglect
of greater matters were more excusable; but seeing we are sufficiently
instructed that we have more weighty things to look after, such as
relate to a certain future estate of happiness or misery, the very
discovery of this to a rational being must needs entitle such things
to the first and greatest part of his care. He that knows that there
is ‘one thing necessary,’ and yet suffers himself to be diverted from
the pursuit of that, by ‘troubling himself about many things,’ [Luke x.
41,] is more justly chargeable with folly, than he that neglects his
estate, and finds himself no other employment but to pursue feathers in
the wind.

Among those things that religion offers to our study, God and our
own hearts are the chief. God is the first and last and whole of our
happiness; the beginning, progress, and completement of it is from him
and in him—for in that centre do all the lines meet; but our heart is
the stage upon which this felicity, as to the application of it, is
transacted: upon this little spot of earth doth God and Satan draw
up their several armies; here doth each of them shew their power and
wisdom; this is treated by both; each of them challenge an interest in
it; it is attacked on the one side and defended on the other. So that
here are skirmishes, battles, and stratagems managed. That man, then,
that will not concern himself in his inquiries, how the matter goes
in his own heart, what ground is got or lost, what forts are taken
or defended, what mines are sprung, what ambuscados laid, or how the
battle proceeds, must needs lie under a just imputation of the greatest
folly; neither can he be excused in his neglect by the most pressing
solicitations of other things that seem to require his attendance
upon the highest imaginable pretences of necessity: ‘For what is he
profited, that gains the whole world, if he loses his soul?’ [Mark
viii. 36.]

But the exact and faithful management of such spiritual inquiries,
with their necessary improvement to diligent watchfulness and careful
endeavours of resistance, is another manner of work than most men dream
of. To discover the intrigues of Satan’s policy, to espy his haunts and
lurking-places in our hearts, to note his subtle contrivances in taking
advantages against us, and to observe how the pulse of the soul beats
under his provocations and deceitful allurements, how far we comply
or dissent, requires so much attendance and laborious skilfulness,
that it cannot be expected that such men who design no more than to be
Christians at the easiest rate, and content themselves with a formal
superficiality of religion; or such who, having given up themselves to
the deceitful sweets of worldly carnal delights, are not at leisure to
engage themselves in so serious a work; or such whose secret guilt of
rebellious combination with the devil against God, makes them fearful
to consider fully the hazards of that wickedness, which they had rather
practise with forgetfulness, lest the review of their ways and sight of
their danger should awaken their consciences to give them an unwelcome
disquiet; it cannot, I say, be expected that any of these sorts of men,
whilst they are thus set, should give themselves the trouble of so much
pains and toil as this business doth require.

Upon this consideration I might rationally fix my prognostic of the
entertainment of the following treatise. What acceptance soever it
may find with such as are cordially concerned for their souls and
the realities of religion—and of such I may say as the apostle Paul
concerning brotherly love, 1 Thes. iv. 9, as touching this matter,
‘They need not that I write unto them, for they themselves are taught
of God’ to be suspicious of Satan’s devices; and by experience they
find his deceits so secret, and withal so dangerous, that any help
for further discovery and caution must needs be welcome to them;
yet—to be sure the prince of darkness, who is always jealous of the
least attempts that may be made against his empire, will arm his
forementioned subjects against it, and whomsoever else he can prevail
upon, by the power of prejudice, to reject it, as urging us to a study
more severe or harsh than is consistent either with the lower degrees
of knowledge of many, or with that ease which most men desire to
indulge to themselves; or as offering such things which they, to save
themselves from further trouble, will be willing to call chimeras or
idle speculations: and this last I may rather expect, because in this
latter age Satan hath advanced so far in his general design against
all Christianity, and for the introduction of paganism and atheism,
that none now can express a serious conscientious care for holiness
and the avoidance of sin, but upon pain of the imputation of silliness
or whining preciseness; and none can speak or write of conversion,
faith, or grace, but he shall be hazarded by the scoffs of those that
are unwilling to judge the private workings of the heart to God-ward,
or spiritual exercises of grace, to be any better than conceited whims
and unintelligible nonsense: but seeing such men make bold to jeer,
not only that language and those forms of speech which the Holy Ghost
thought fit to make use of in the Scriptures, but also the very things
of ‘Faith,’ ‘Grace,’ and ‘Spirit,’ which are everywhere in the sacred
oracles recommended to us with the most weighty seriousness—which with
them pass for no better than cheats and fancies—we can easily sit under
their contempt; and shall, as we hope, be so far from being jeered out
of our religion, that their scorns shall have no more impression upon
us than the ravings of a frenzical person that knows not what he speaks.

Notwithstanding these, who are no way considerable for weight, there
are, I hope, a great many who seriously employ themselves in the
inwards as well as the outwards of religion—and who will not suffer
themselves to be persuaded that the apostle obtruded an empty notion
upon believers, when he recommended that observable truth to them,
Rom. ii. 28, ‘He is not a Jew which is one outwardly,’ &c.; for their
sakes have I undertaken this labour of collecting and methodising the
grand stratagems and chief ways of delusion of the great deceiver. To
these I must particularly account for some few things relating to this
discourse. As,

1. That I have satisfied myself in the reasons of the publication of
these papers, and do not judge it requisite to trouble any so far as to
tell what these reasons are. They who desire to resist such an enemy,
and whose experience doth convince them that all helps are necessary,
will not need them; and those that are men of scorn or of avowed
carelessness will not regard them, though I should declare them.

2. To prevent the misapprehensions, which possibly some may otherwise
labour withal, of a monstrous product from one text, because they may
observe one text in the front, and no other mentioned throughout the
first and second parts; they may know that I made use of several in the
preaching of these discourses, as suitable foundations for the several
particulars herein mentioned; but in the moulding up of the whole
into the method of a treatise, for the ease of the reader, I thought
fit to lay aside those introductions—as also many other occasional
applications which were proper for sermons, and a great many things
which were necessary to be spoken for explication and illustration
of these points to a popular auditory—and have only presented the
substance in a more close connexion; because if there be any little
obscurity that may at first appear to any for want of variety of words,
the treatise being under their eye, will be at leisure to attend their
review in a second or third reading; which, however, I would recommend
earnestly to those that in these concerns do really design to be ‘wise
for themselves.’

3. Neither should it seem strange that I have frequently made use
of instances from history or other later relations. Whosoever shall
consider the nature of the matter treated on will not complain of this
as a needless trouble put upon them; yet withal I have been so careful
of doing any persons an unkindness, by making too bold with them, that
I mentioned no names but such as upon such occasions have been made
public by others before. The rest I have only mentioned in the general,
discovering their case where it was useful, but concealing the persons.

4. It may perhaps seem a defect, that the several directions, remedies,
or counsels which are requisite to be observed in making resistance
against Satan are not added, except some few hints in the latter end of
the third part, and some other things in that part, in the applications
of the several doctrines therein, which I thought fit, upon good
grounds, to leave in the order of a preaching method; but such may be
pleased to consider that several have performed that part very fully,
to whose labours I had rather refer the reader than trouble him with a
repetition. It was only my design to endeavour a more full discovery,
though every way short of the thing itself, of Satan’s craft, because
the knowledge of this is so necessary, and withal others have done it
more sparingly. Such as it is, accept and improve for thy spiritual
advantage; for that was the end of this undertaking, by him who desires
that thy soul may prosper,


                         _DÆMONOLOGIA SACRA_:

                                 OR, A



                          Satans Temptations

                            The First Part.


 A Discourse of the Malice, Power, Cruelty and Diligence of Satan. Of
his cunning in Temptation in the general. Of his Method of tempting to
  Sin. Of his Policies for maintaining his Possession. Of his Deceits
    for the preventing and spoiling Religious Services and Duties.

                              By _R. G._

          2 Cor. 2. 11. _We are not ignorant of his Devices._

    Printed by _J. D._ for _Richard Randel_, and _Peter Maplisden_,
            Booksellers in _New-Castle_ upon _Tine_, 1677.



 _Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring
 lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour._—1 PETER V. 8.


 _The introduction to the text, from a consideration of the desperate
 ruin of the souls of men.—The text opened, expressing Satan’s malice,
 power, cruelty, and diligence._

The souls of men are ‘precious.’ The whole world cannot repair their
loss. Hence by God are all men in particular charged with care and
watchfulness about them. He hath also set up watchmen and overseers,
whose business it is to watch over souls, and in the most strict and
careful manner, as those that must ‘give an account,’ [Heb. xiii. 17.]

What can more stir up men to the discharge of this duty than the
frequent alarms which we have of the assaults of such an adversary,
whose business it is to destroy the soul? ‘The Philistines are upon
thee, Samson!’ [Judges xvi. 9;] he fights continually, and useth all
the policy and skill he hath for the management of his strength.

Besides, it is a consideration very affecting, when we view the
‘desolations that are made in the earth,’ [Ps. xlvi. 8,] what wounds,
what overthrows, what cruelties, slaveries, and captivities these
conquered vassals are put to. It was, as some think, an inexcusable
cruelty in David against the Ammonites, when he ‘put them under saws,
and harrows of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln,’ 2
Sam. xii. 31; but this spiritual Pharaoh hath a more grievous ‘house
of bondage,’ and iron furnace. Neither is this miserable destruction
ended, but will keep pace with time, and shall not cease till Christ
shall at his appearance finally conquer him and tread him down. If
Xerxes wept to look upon his army through the prospective of devouring
time, which, upon an easy foresight, shewed him the death of so great
a company of gallant men, we may well weep, as David at Ziklag, till
we can weep no more; or as Rachel for her children, ‘refusing to be
comforted,’ [Jer. xxxi. 15;] while we consider what a great number of
succeeding generations, ‘heaps upon heaps,’ [Judges xv. 16,] will be
drawn with him to a consuming Tophet. And could we follow him thither,
to hear the cries of his prisoners, the roarings of his wounded, where
they ‘curse the day’ that brought them forth, and themselves for
their folly and madness in hearkening to his delusions, the dreadful
outcries of eternity, and then their ‘rage against heaven’ in cursings
and blasphemings, while they have no mitigations or ease, nor the
refreshment of ‘a drop of water to cool their tongues,’ [Luke xvi.
24,] we would surely think we could never spend our time better than
in opposing such an enemy, and warning men to ‘flee from the wrath to
come,’ [Mat. iii. 7,] to take heed they come not into his snare. With
what earnestness would we endeavour to persuade men! What diligence
would we use to cast water upon these devouring flames, and to pluck
men as brands out of the fire! It is true, if Satan had dealt plainly
with men, and told them what wages they were to expect, and set a
visible mark upon his slaves, or had managed a visibly destructive
hostility, men have such natural principles of self-preservation, and
of hatred of what appears to be evil, that we might expect they would
have fled from him, and still have been upon their guard; but he useth
such artifices, such sleights and cozenage, that men are cast into a
sleep or a golden dream; while he binds them in chains of darkness they
see not their end, the snare, nor the pit; nay, he intoxicates them
with a love of their misery, and a delight in helping forward their
ruin, so that they are volunteers in his service, and possessed with a
madness and rage against all that will not be as willing as themselves
to go to hell; but especially if they put forth a compassionate hand to
help any out of that gulf of misery, they hate them, they ‘gnash upon
them with their teeth,’ and run upon them with utmost violence, as if
they had no enemies but these compassionate Samaritans, [Luke x. 33.]

How great is this mystery of darkness! Who shall be able to open
the depths of it? Who shall declare it fully to the sons of men, to
bring these ‘hidden things to light’? Especially seeing these hellish
secrets which are yet undiscovered, are double to those that have
been observed, by any that have escaped from his power. He only whose
prerogative it is ‘to search the hearts of men’ [Rev. ii. 23] can know,
and make known, what is in the heart of Satan; he views all his goings,
even those paths which the ‘vulture’s eye hath not seen,’ [Job xxviii.
7,] and can trace those footsteps of his, which leave no more print or
track behind them than ‘a ship in the sea, or a bird in the air, or a
serpent on a stone,’ [Prov. xxx. 19.]

Yet notwithstanding, we may observe much of his policies; and more
would God discover if we did but humbly and faithfully improve what we
know already. It is my design to make some discovery of those haunts I
have observed, if by that means I may be useful to you, to quicken and
awaken you. And first I shall set before you the strength and power of
your enemy, before I open his cunning and craft.

There are found in him whatsoever may render an adversary dreadful.

1. As, first, _Malice and enmity_: ὁ Αντίδικος is a law term, and
signifies an adversary ‘at law,’ one that is against our cause; and
the text, as some think, heightens this malice, (1.) By the article
ὁ, which denotes an arch enemy.[75] (2.) The name Διάβολος, which
signifies a slanderer or calumniator—for the word is twice in the New
Testament used for a slanderer—shewing his hatred to be so great that
it will not stick at lying and falsehood, either in accusing God to us
or us to God. Nay, it particularly hints that when he hath in malice
tempted a poor wretch to sin, he spares not to accuse him for it, and
to load him with all things that may aggravate his guilt or misery,
accusing him for more than he hath really done, and for a worse estate
than he is really in.[76]

2. Secondly, _His power_. Under the metaphor of a ‘lion,’ a beast of
prey, whose innate property is to destroy, and is accordingly fitted
with strength, with tearing paws, and a devouring mouth; that as a lion
would rend a kid with ease and without resistance, so are men swallowed
up by him as with open mouth, so the word καταπιῄ signifies, he can sup
them up at a draught, à καταπίνω.

3. Thirdly, _His cruelty_: a ‘roaring lion’ implying not only his
innate property to destroy, which must be a strange fierceness, but
also that this innate principle is heightened and whetted on, as hunger
in a lion sharpens and enrages that disposition till he get his prey,
so that he becomes raving and roaring, putting an awful majesty upon
cruelty, and frighting them out of endeavours or hopes of resistance,
and increasing their misery with affrightments and tremblings. Thus
Satan shews a fierce and truculent temper, whose power being put forth
from such an implacable malice, must needs become rage and fierceness.

4. Fourthly, _His diligence_: which, together with his cruelty, are
consequences of his malice and power; he ‘goes about and seeks.’ He is
restless in his pursuit, and diligent, as one that promiseth himself a
satisfaction or joyful contentment in his conquests.


 _Of the malice of Satan in particular.—The grounds and causes of that
 malice.—The greatness of it proved, and instances of that greatness

I shall first give some account of his malice, by which it shall appear
we do not wrong the devil in calling him malicious, the truth of which
charge will evidence itself in the following particulars:—

1. First, _The devil, though a ‘spirit,’ yet is a proper subject of
sin_. We need no other evidence for this than what doth by daily
experience result from ourselves. We have sins which our spirits and
hearts do act, that relate not to the body, called ‘a filthiness of
the spirit,’ in contradistinction to the ‘filthiness of the flesh,’
[2 Cor. vii. 1.] It is true, it cannot be denied but that those
iniquities which have a necessary dependence upon the organs of the
body, as drunkenness, fornication, &c., cannot properly, as to the
formality of the act, be laid at Satan’s door, though as a tempter and
provoker of these men he may be called the father of these sins; yet
the fore-mentioned iniquities, which are of a spiritual nature, are
properly and formally committed by him, as lying, pride, hatred, and
malice. And this distinction Christ himself doth hint: John viii. 44,
‘When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own,’ where he asserts
such spiritual sins to be properly and formally acted by himself. The
certainty of all appears in the epithets given him—‘the wicked one,’
‘the unclean spirit;’ as also those places that speak his fall, ‘They
kept not their first estate,’ Jude 6; ‘The angels that sinned,’ 2 Peter
ii. 4. If sins spiritual are in a true and proper sense attributed to
the devil, then also may malice be attributed to him.

2. Secondly, _The wickedness of Satan is capable of increase, a magis
et minus_. Though he be a wicked spirit, and as to inclination full of
wickedness, though so strongly inclined that he cannot but sin, and
therefore as God is set forth to us as the fountain of holiness, so is
Satan called the author and father of sin, yet seeing we cannot ascribe
an infiniteness to him, we must admit that, as to acts of sin at least,
he may be more or less sinful, and that the wickedness of his heart may
be drawn more out by occasions, motives, and provocations; besides, we
are expressly taught thus much, Rev. xii. 12, ‘The devil is come down,
having great wrath, because his time is short.’ Where we note (1.) That
his wrath is called ‘great,’ implying greater than at other times; (2.)
That external motives and incentives, as the shortness of his time,
prevail with him to draw forth greater acts of fury.

3. Thirdly, _Whatsoever occasions do draw out or kindle malice to a
rage, Satan hath met with them in an eminent degree, in his own fall
and man’s happiness_.[77] Nothing is more proper to beget malice than
hurts or punishments, degradations from happiness. Satan’s curse,
though just, fills him with rage and fretting against God, when he
considers that from the state and dignity of a blessed angel he is
cast down to darkness and to the basest condition imaginable. For the
part of his curse, which concerned Satan as well as the serpent, ‘Upon
thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shall be thy meat,’ implies a state
most base, as the use of the phrase proves: ‘They shall lick the dust
of thy feet,’ Isa. xlix. 23; ‘Thine enemies shall lick the dust,’ Ps.
lxxii. 9; ‘They shall lick the dust as a serpent,’ Micah vii. 17.
Where the spirit is so wicked that it cannot accept the punishment of
its iniquity, all punishment is as a poison, and envenoms the heart
with a rage against the hand that afflicted it. Thus doth Satan’s fall
enrage him, and the more when he sees man enstated into a possibility
of enjoying what he hath lost. The envy and pride of his heart boils up
to a madness—for that is the only use that the wretchedly miserable can
make of the sight of that happiness which they enjoy not, especially
if, having once enjoyed it, they are now deprived. This begot the rage
and wrath in Cain against Abel, and afterward his murder. The eye of
the wicked is evil where God is good. Hence may it be concluded that
Satan, being a wicked spirit, and this wickedness being capable of
acting higher or lower according to occasions, and with a suitableness
thereto, cannot but shew an inconceivable malice against us, our
happiness and his misery being such proper occasions for the wickedness
of his heart to work upon.

4. Fourthly, _This malice in Satan must be great_.

(1.) First, _If we consider the greatness of his wickedness in so
great and total an apostasy_. He is so filled with iniquity, that
we can expect no small matters from him as to the workings of such
cursed principles; not only is he wicked, but the spirit and extract
of wickedness, as the phrase signifies, Eph. vi. 12, [πνευματικὰ τῆς

(2.) Secondly, _The Scripture lays to his charge all degrees, acts,
and branches of malice_; as [1.] Anger, _in the impetuous haste and
violence of it_. Rev. xii. 12, ‘Great wrath,’ θυμός, there signifies
_excandescentia_, the inflammation of the heart and whole man, which is
violent in its motion, as when the blood with a violent stream rusheth
through the heart and sets all spirits on fire; and therefore this
wrath is not only called great, but is also signified to be so, in its
threatening ‘a woe to the inhabitants of the earth.’ [2.] _Indignation_
is more than anger, as having more of a fixed fury; and this is applied
to him, Eph. iv. 27, in that those that have this παροργισμὸς, are
said ‘to give place to the devil,’ which is true not only in point of
temptation, but also in respect of the resemblance they carry to the
frame and temper of Satan’s furious heart. [3.] _Hatred_ is yet higher
than wrath or indignation, as having deeper roots, a more confirmed and
implacable resolution. Anger and indignation are but short furies, _ira
brevis furor_, which, like a land-flood, are soon down, though they are
apt to fill the banks on a sudden; but hatred is lasting, and this is
so properly the devil’s disposition, that Cain, in hating his brother,
is [in] 1 John iii. 12 said to be the proper offspring and lively
picture of that ‘wicked one,’ who is there so called rather than by the
name of the devil, because the apostle would also insinuate that hatred
is the masterpiece of Satan’s wickedness, and that which gives the
fullest character of him. [4.] All effects of his cruelty arise from
this root; this makes him accuse and calumniate, this puts him upon
breathing after those murders and destructions which damned spirits are
now groaning under.

(3.) Thirdly, _This malice is the result of that curse laid upon
Satan_: Gen. iii. 15, ‘I will put enmity betwixt thee and the woman,
betwixt her seed and thy seed.’ Which implies, [1.] A _great enmity_;
and some render it _inimicitias implacabiles_, implacable enmities.
[2.] A _lasting enmity_, such as should continue as long as the curse
should last. [3.] That this should be _his work and exorcise_, to
prosecute and be prosecuted with this enmity; so that it shews the
devil’s whole mind and desire is in this work, and that he is whetted
on by the opposing enmity which he meets withal. It is the work of his
curse, of his place, of his revenge, and that wherein all the delight
he is capable of is placed. In that part of the curse, ‘Dust shall be
thy meat,’ it is implied, if some interpret right,[78] that if Satan
can be said to have any delight or ease in his condition, it is in the
eating of this dust, the exercise of this enmity. No wonder, then,
if Christ speak of his desires and solicitations with God to have a
liberty and commission for this work: ‘Satan hath desired to have thee,
that he may winnow thee,’ [Luke xxii. 31.]

That this curse relates not only to the serpent, who was the
instrument, but also to Satan, who was the agent, is agreed by all
almost. That it was not the serpent alone, but the devil speaking by
it, is evinced from its speaking and reasoning. And that the curse
reached further than a natural enmity betwixt a serpent and a man,
is as evident, in that Christ is expressly held forth as giving the
full accomplishment of this curse against Satan: 1 John iii. 8, ‘The
devil sinneth from the beginning; for this purpose was the Son of God
manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil,’ which is
a clear exposition and paraphrasis of the ‘woman’s seed bruising the
serpent’s head.’

(4.) Fourthly, _I shall add to this some few instances of Satan’s
malice, by which it will appear to be great_.

[1.] First, That malice must needs be great _which shews itself where
there is such a load of anguish and horror that lies upon him_. He is
now ‘reserved in chains of darkness in hell,’ 2 Peter ii. 4. He is in
hell, a place of torment; or, which is all one, hell is in him. He
carries it about him in his conscience, which, by God’s decree, binds
him to his horror like a chain. It is scarce imaginable that he should
have a thought free from the contemplation of his own misery, to spend
in a malicious pursuit of man. What can we think less of it than a
desperate madness and revenge against God, wherein he shews his rage
against heaven, and hunts after our blood as for a little water to cool
his tongue; and when he finds his hand too short to pull the Almighty
out of his throne, he endeavours, panther-like, to tear his image in
man, and to put man, created after his image, upon blaspheming and
dishonouring his Maker.

[2.] Secondly, That malice must needs be great that _seeks its own
fuel, and provides or begs its own occasions, and those such as give
no proper provocation to his anger_. Of this temper is his malice. He
did thus with Job: he begs the commission, calumniates Job upon unjust
surmises, presseth still for a further power to hurt him, insomuch
that God expressly stints and bounds him—which shews how boundless he
would have been if left to his own will—and gives him at last an open
check, Job ii. 3, wherein he lays open the malice of his heart in three
things: [1.] His own pressing urgency: ‘Thou movedst me;’ [2.] His
destructive fury: no less would serve than Job’s utter destruction;
[3.] Job’s innocency: all this without cause: ‘Thou movedst me to
destroy him without cause.’

[3.] Thirdly, That malice must needs be great that _will pursue a small
matter_. What small game will the devil play rather than altogether sit
out! If he can but trouble, or puzzle, or affright, yet that he will
do, rather than nothing; if he can, like an adder in the path, but
bite the heel, [Gen. xlix. 17,] though his head be bruised for it, he
will notwithstanding busy himself in it.

[4.] Fourthly, That malice must be great which will _put itself
forth where it knows it can prevail nothing, but is certain of a
disappointment_. Thus did Satan tempt Christ. Those speeches, ‘if thou
be the Son of God,’ do not imply any doubt in Satan; he knew what
was prophesied of Christ, and what had been declared from heaven in
testification of him, so that he could not but be certain he was God
and man; and yet what base unworthy temptations doth he lay before him,
as ‘to fall down and worship him’! Was it that Satan thought to prevail
against him? No surely; but such was his malice, that he would put an
affront upon him, though he knew he could not prevail against him.

[5.] Fifthly, _The malice of wicked men is an argument of Satan’s great
malice_. They have an antipathy against the righteous, as the wolf
against the sheep, and upon that very ground, that they are ‘called
out of the world.’ How great this fury is, all ages have testified.
This hath brought forth discord, revilings, slanders, imprisonments,
spoiling of goods, banishments, persecutions, tortures, cruel deaths,
as burning, racking, tearing, sawing asunder, and whatever the wit
of man could devise for a satisfaction to those implacable, furious,
murderous minds; and yet all this is done to men of the same image and
lineage with themselves, of the same religion with themselves, as to
the main; nay, sometime to men of their own kindred, their own flesh
and blood, and all to those that would live peaceably in the land. What
shall we say to these things? How come men to put on a savage nature,
to act the part of lions, leopards, tigers, if not much worse? The
reason of all we have, John viii. 54, ‘Ye are of your father the devil;
he was a murderer from the beginning:’ as also Gen. iii. 15, ‘I will
put enmity between her seed and thy seed so that all this shews what
malice is in Satan’s heart, who urgeth and provokes his instruments to
such bloody hatreds. Hence whoever were the agents [Rev. ii. 10] in
imprisoning the saints, the malice of Satan in stirring them up to it,
makes him become the author of it; ‘Satan shall cast some of you into


 _Of Satan’s power.—His power as an angel considered.—That he lost not
 that power by his fall.—His power as a devil.—Of his commission.—The
 extent of his authority.—The efficacy of his power.—The advantages
 which he hath for the management of it, from the number, order, place,
 and knowledge of devils._

_That Satan’s power is great_, is our next inquiry; where,

1. First, We will consider his power _as an angel_. In Ps. ciii.
20 angels are said ‘to excel in strength;’ and in ver. 21, as also
Ps. cxlviii. 2, they are called ‘God’s host;’ which is more fully
expressed, 1 Kings xxii. 19, ‘I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne,
and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on
his left;’ which phrase, though it import their order and observance,
yet undoubtedly the main of its intendment is to set forth their
power, as hosts are the strength of kings and nations. God himself,
in putting on that title, ‘The Lord of hosts,’ makes it an evidence
of his incomprehensible power, that such armies of strong and mighty
creatures are at his command. But this only in the general. That which
comes nearer to a particular account of their strength, is that notion
of a spirit, by which they are frequently described, ‘He maketh his
angels spirits; his ministers flaming fire,’ Ps. civ. 4. The being
of a spirit is the highest our understanding is able to reach, and
that it shews a being very excellent, is manifest in this, that God
is pleased to represent himself to us under the notion of a spirit;
not that he is truly and properly such, but that this is the most
excellent being that falls under our apprehension. Besides that the
term ‘spirit’ raiseth our understanding to conceive a being of a high
and extraordinary power, it doth further tend to form our conceptions
to some apprehensions of their nature. [1.] From the knowledge that we
have of our own spirits. That our spirit is of a vast comprehension
and activity, our thoughts, desires, reasonings, and the particular
undertakings of some men of a raised spirit, do abundantly evidence.
[2.] In that it represents a spiritual being, freed from the clog and
hindrance of corporeity. Our own spirits are limited and restrained by
our bodies, as fire, an active element, is retarded and made sluggish
by matter unapt to serve its proper force, as when it is in a heap of
earth; which is also sufficiently pointed at in that opposition betwixt
flesh and blood, and principalities and powers, Eph. vi.; shewing
that flesh and blood are a disadvantage and hindrance to the activity
of a spirit. A spirit then, as incorporeal, may be conceived to move
easily without molestation, quickly, imperceptibly, and irresistibly.
[3.] This is yet further illustrated by the similitude of wind and
fire, which are, to the common experience of all, of very great force.
And it is yet further observable that the Scripture sometime speaks
of the power of angels in the abstract, choosing rather to call them
‘powers’ than powerful, ἐξουσίαι, Col. i. 16; clearly shewing that
angels are beings of vast strength, as indeed the actions done by them
do abundantly testify. Such was the destroying Sennacherib’s hosts in
a night, the opening the prison doors for Peter, the carrying Philip
in the air, and such other acts, which tend to the protection of the
faithful, or punishing of the wicked.

Though this may fully satisfy us that angels excel in strength, yet the
Scripture suggests another consideration relating to the office and
employment of angels, where their commission shews not only a liberty
for the exercise of this power, but also doth imply such a power as
is fit to be commissionated to such acts. These invisible beings are
called thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, Col. i. 16. It is
indeed a task beyond a sober undertaking to distinguish these words,
and to set their true bounds and marks of difference. This Augustine
acknowledged;[79] yet may we hence conclude, [1.] That these words
imply a very great authority in angels; [2.] A power and strength
suitable to their employment, and that God furnished them with power
answerable to the work which he intended for them, in his moving the
heavens, and governing the world, &c. However, in some cases, God
works by instruments every way disproportionable to the service, ‘that
the excellency of the power might be of God,’ [2 Cor. iv. 7;] yet, in
the ordinary way of his working, he puts an innate, suitable force
in creatures, for the acts to be done by them; as there is an innate
power in the wind to blow, in the fire to burn, in herbs and plants for
medicinal uses. Thus may we conceive of angels, that God using them
as his host, his ‘ministers to do his pleasure,’ he hath endowed them
with an innate natural power for those great things which he doth by
them, which must not be supposed in the least derogatory to the power
of God, in his ways of mercies or judgments, seeing all the strength
of angels is originally from God. Hence is it that all the names of
angels which we read of in Scripture carry this acknowledgment in their
signification; Michael thus unfolds itself, ‘Who is like God;’ Gabriel
thus, ‘The glory of God and therefore may we suppose them not so much
the proper names of angels, but, as Calvin noteth, _Nomina ad captum
nostrum indita_, Names implying God’s great power in them.[80]

Such a powerful spirit is Satan by creation. But because it will be
doubted lest his fall hath bereaved him of his excellency, and cast
him down from his strength, I shall evidence that he still retains the
same natural power. To which purpose it is not unfit to be observed,
[1.] That the same terms and names which were given to good angels,
to signify their strength and commission, Col. i. 16, and ii. 10, are
also given to Satan, Eph. vi. 12. Devils are called ‘principalities,’
‘powers,’ ‘rulers;’ and Col. ii. 15, they have the same names which
in ver. 10 were given to good angels, ‘he spoiled principalities and
powers.’ [2.] The Scripture gives particular instances of Satan’s
power and working: as his raising tempests in the air, commanding fire
from heaven—both which he did in prosecution of his malice against
Job; his carrying the bodies of men in the air—as he did with Christ,
hurrying him from the wilderness to the mountain, from thence to the
pinnacle of the temple; his breaking chains and fetters of iron, Mark
v. 4; his bringing diseases—instances whereof were that crooked woman
whom Satan had bowed together, Luke xiii. 16, and the lunatic person,
Luke ix. 31, with a great many more. [3.] It is also observable that,
notwithstanding, Satan’s fall hath made an alteration as to the ends,
uses, and office of his power; yet, nevertheless, God makes use of
this strength in him, not only as an executioner of wrath against his
enemies—as when he vexed Saul by this evil spirit; and through this
lying spirit, gave up Ahab to be deluded into his ruin, and inflicted
plagues upon Egypt, by sending evil angels among them, 1 Sam. xvi. 14;
1 Kings xxii. 21; Ps. lxxviii. 49—but also for the trial of his own
servants. Thus was Job afflicted by Satan, and Paul buffeted by his

2. Secondly, This power of his, as _a devil_, falls next under our
consideration, wherein are divers particulars to be noted: as,

(1.) First, _His commission and authority_. If any put that question to
him which the Jews did to Christ, ‘By what authority dost thou these
things?’ or, ‘Who gave thee this authority?’ we have the answer in John
xii. 24, and xvi. 11, where he is called, ‘the prince of this world;’
and accordingly the Scripture speaks of a twofold kingdom, of light
and of darkness; and in this we hear of Satan’s seat or throne, of his
servants and subjects. Yea, that which is more, the Scripture speaks
of a kind of deity in Satan; he is called ‘the god of this world,’ 2
Cor. iv. 4; which doth not only set forth the intolerable pride and
usurpation of Satan in propounding himself as such, so drawing on poor
blind creatures to worship him, but also discovers his power, which
by commission he hath obtained over the children of disobedience,
[Zanchius.] Hence doth he challenge it as a kind of right and due from
the poor Americans, and others, that they should fall down and worship
him; and upon this supposition was he so intolerably presumptuous in
offering the kingdoms of the world to Christ for such a service and

If it be questioned what Satan’s authority is, I shall answer it thus:—

[1.] First, His authority is not _absolute or unlimited_. He cannot do
what he pleaseth, and therefore we do find him begging leave of God for
the exerting of his power in particular cases, as when he was ‘a lying
spirit’ in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets, and in every assault he made
upon Job; nay, he could not enter into the swine of the Gadarenes till
he had Christ’s commission for it.

[2.] Secondly, _Yet hath he a commission in general_—a standing
commission, as petty kings and governors had under the Roman emperor,
where they were authorised to exercise an authority and power,
according to the rules and directions given them. This is clearly
signified by those expressions, ‘they are captives at his will,’ [2
Tim. ii. 16,] and ‘given up to Satan,’ [1 Tim. i. 20,] as persons
excommunicated; and when men are converted, they are said to be
‘translated from his power,’ and put under another jurisdiction, in the
‘kingdom of Christ,’ [Col. i. 13.] All which would have been highly
improper, if a commission for Satan, and an authority for those works
of darkness, had not been signified by them.

Next, let us view the _extent of this authority, both as to persons and
things_. In relation to persons, the boundary of his kingdom reacheth
as far as darkness. He rules in ‘the dark places of the earth,’ or
the darkness of this _world_; and therefore his kingdom is hence
denominated ‘a kingdom of darkness.’ This extends, we may well imagine,
as far as heathenism reacheth, where he is worshipped as God, as far as
any darkness of Mohammedanism stretcheth itself, as far as the darkness
of infidelity and blindness upon the hearts of unconverted men; which,
if summed up together, must needs take up the greatest part of the
world by far; which is acknowledged, not only by that large expression
world, ‘prince of the world,’ &c., but also by that prophetic speech of
Rev. xi. 15, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our
Lord and his Christ,’ which acknowledgeth they had not been so before,
in the sense wherein we now speak.

Neither is his kingdom so bounded but that he also can, when allowed,
make excursions and inroads into the kingdom of Christ, so far as to
molest, disturb, and annoy his subjects; as the kings of any nation,
besides the power which they exercise in their proper jurisdiction, may
molest their neighbours. And Christ so far permits this as is useful to
his own designs, yet still with straiter reserves and limitations to
Satan, and a resolved rescue and conquest for his own people.

If we inquire the extent of his power in relation to things, we find
the air in a peculiar manner permitted to him; so that he is named
by it, as by one of his chief royalties, ‘the prince of the power of
the air.’ We find also death, with the powers of it, given up to him;
so that this is a _periphrasis_ of him, ‘He that hath the power of
death,’ Heb. ii. 14. And if we take notice of his large proffer to
Christ of the kingdoms of the world, ‘All this will I give thee,’ we
may imagine that his commission reacheth far this way, as rewards and
encouragements to his service; which we will the readilier entertain
when we find that, by God’s allowance, wicked men have their ‘portion
in this life,’ and that these are called ‘their good things.’[81]

3. Thirdly, Let us proceed a step further, to _the efficacy of this
authority_; which also,

(1.) First, _Upon wicked men is no less remarkable than is his
commission_. He is called ‘the strong man,’ [Luke xi. 21,] in reference
to their hearts, which he fortifies, as so many castles and garrisons,
against God. He also ‘rules in them’ without control; his suggestions
and temptations are as laws to them; he ‘fills their hearts,’ Acts
v. 3, with his designs, and raiseth their affections to a high and
greedy pursuit of them; he works in them, and by an inward force doth
hurry them on to achieve his enterprises, in all this ensnaring and
captivating them ‘at his pleasure,’ Eph. ii. 2; 2 Tim. ii. 26.

(2.) Secondly, _The saints, which are subjects of another kingdom, are
still fearing, complaining, watching, praying, and spreading out their
hands, with lifting up their eyes to heaven for help against him_. They
complain of violence and restless assaults from him; they are sensible
that he can suggest evil thoughts, and follow them with incessant
importunities; that he can draw a darkness upon their understanding by
bribing their wills and affections against them; that he can disturb
their duties, and that because of him they cannot do the good they
would. Many a fear doth he beget in their hearts; many a disquiet hour
have they from him; their flesh hath no rest, and happy are they if
they escape from him without broken bones; many excellent ones have
been cast down by him, and for a time have been like dead men. It is
sad to see so just a person as Lot under his feet; so choice a saint
as David wounded almost to the death; so high an apostle as Peter, by
force and fear from him, to open his mouth with curses and imprecations
in the denial of his Saviour; to say nothing of the buffetings of
others, which was sufficiently wearisome to Paul, and described by
‘a thorn in the flesh,’ 2 Cor. xii. 7; which, if a learned man think
right, is compared, by a metaphor, to those sharp stakes upon which
Christians were cruelly spitted and burnt.[82]

(3.) Thirdly, _His quick and ready accomplishment_ is a further proof
of the efficacy of his power. No sooner had God given him a commission
in reference to Job, but he quickly raiseth the tempest, brings down
the house, slays his children, brings fire from heaven; and, which
would seem strange, hath the troops of the Sabeans and Chaldeans at his
beck, as if they had been listed under his known command; so that in a
little time he puts his malice into act.

(4.) Fourthly, If any would slight all this, as being the force of
principalities and powers against flesh and blood, we may see he
hath so much strength and confidence _as to grapple with an angel of
light, as he did in the contesting for Moses his body_, Jude 9. This
was a created angel, else he durst not sure have brought a ‘railing
accusation;’ but in that he strove, and railingly accused, it shews he
wanted not a daring boldness to second his commission and power.

4. Fourthly, It will be also requisite to lay open the _advantages he
hath in the management of all this power_, which are great; as,

(1.) First, _The multitude of devils_. That there are many is not
denied, upon the evidence of seven cast out of Mary Magdalene, and
the legion which were settled in one poor man at once. It may be we
may not credit the devil’s own account of his strength so much as to
believe that their number was exactly answerable to a Roman legion,
which, if some speak right, was 6666; yet there being so plain an
allusion to a Roman legion, and the Scripture in the recital favouring
it so far as to consent to a truth in that part of the story, we can
do no less than conclude that the number of devils in that person was
a very great number, and so great, that the similitude of legion was
proper to express it by. Besides, if the Scripture had been silent in
this particular, our reason would have clearly drawn that conclusion
from such premises as these, that he is the ‘god’ of the world, and
rules in the ‘children of disobedience;’ for whatsoever we conceive of
his power, we cannot think him omnipotent or omnipresent, these being
the incommunicable attributes of the great Creator of all things, in
which no creature can share with God. Being then assured that he is
the tempter of all men, and that he cannot be in all places at once,
we must needs apprehend the devils to be many, as is signified by that
expression, ‘the devil and his angels.’

(2.) Secondly, He hath also an advantage for the executing of his
designs, from _that order, which from the fore-mentioned grounds
we must be forced to conceive to be among devils_. I know the bold
determination of the order of angels by Dionysius is justly rejected,
not only by Irenæus and Augustine,[83] but also by the generality of
protestants, who upon that and other grounds of like presumption do
reject that author as not being the true Dionysius the Areopagite.
Neither do some of our protestant authors, as Chamier and others, admit
the government of angels to be monarchical, which supposition the
papists would gladly make use of, as a foundation whereon to establish
the universal headship of the pope, being a thing which Dionysius
himself, as Chamier affirms, never dreamt of.[84] Yet do none of these
authors deny an order among the angels, but willingly grant it, as
clearly implied from the term _archangel_ used by Paul, 1 Thes. iv.
16,[85] and from their being called God’s host or army, where order is
necessary for the right management of their strength, and confusion
the way to the ruin of their designs. The thing they dislike is, the
bold and peremptory determination of the particular orders among them,
and the assignment of the several charges, employments, and stations
to each; which whosoever shall do, must needs be guilty of ‘intruding
into things which he hath not seen.’[86] It would upon the same score
be a presumptuous folly to make such a determination of the several
ranks and particular employments of devils. Yet this hindereth not,
but with a warrantable sobriety we may believe in the general that
there is an order among the devils. Not only do these expressions,
‘Beelzebub the prince of devils,’ ‘the devil and his angels,’ and in
that they are called ‘principalities and powers,’ warrant us so to
think, but the fore-mentioned considerations about the multitude of
devils will force our reason to an assent: for if they must be many,
because all mankind is sensible of their assaults, they must have also
an order in the management of their temptations—without which their
designs of cruelty and malice must, at least in great part, fall to
the ground.[87] Neither do I know well how those authors may be justly
blamed, who proceed a little further in their suppositions, to tell
us, as most probable,[88] that these infernal spirits do share the
world among them, and are allotted to several countries and places, as
their own proper charge and jurisdiction; for what other interpretation
those passages in Dan. x. 13 can receive I cannot see: the prince of
the kingdom of Persia withstanding the angel one and twenty days; and
his help in that opposition from Michael, cannot, if things be well
weighed, be properly understood of Cambyses the son of Cyrus, or a
contest with any man. However, if we let this go as a thing uncertain,
because this interpretation is denied by some,[89] yet that which is
spoken of their order in the general, and the advantage these spirits
have against us upon that consideration, seems to be past denial.

(3.) Thirdly, The advantage _of place among armies is reckoned much_.
Satan seems to have something this way as an advantage of ground,
in that he is styled spiritual wickedness in high places.[90] What
advantage high places may be to devils and spirits we cannot further
imagine, than that they, being thus above us and about us in the air,
see and know our ways and actions, and so receive information from
thence for their malicious proceedings against us.

(4.) Fourthly, But his greatest advantage is from _his knowledge_,
which I shall a little explain in the following chapter.


 _That Satan hath a great measure of knowledge, proved by comparing him
 with the knowledge of Adam in innocency, and by his titles.—Of his
 knowledge, natural, experimental, and accessory.—Of his knowledge of
 our thoughts.—How far he doth not know them, and how far he doth, and
 by what means.—Of his knowledge of things future, and by what ways he
 doth conjecture them.—The advantages in point of temptation that he
 hath by his knowledge._

In the discovery of Satan’s knowledge, I shall first give evidence and
demonstration thereof. To which purpose—

1. Let us consider _the knowledge of Adam in innocency_; which being
found to be great, it will thence be easily concluded that Satan’s
knowledge is far greater. Two notable discoveries we have of Adam’s
knowledge, the one was his giving of names to all creatures, Gen. ii.
29, which was not only a sign of his dominion, but also a notable
instance of his understanding, seeing the names were given according
to the natures of creatures; whereof Bochartus gives a large account,
as the camel is called גמל, because it is apt to repay
injuries; the kite, דאה, from its sharpness of sight; the
pelican is named קאת, from its usual vomiting, &c.[91] The
consideration of the aptness of names imposed on creatures made Plato
acknowledge that it was a work above ordinary capacity. The other
discovery of Adam’s knowledge was his knowledge of the original of Eve
at first sight, Gen ii. 23; he said, ‘This is now bone of my bones,
and flesh of my flesh,’ &c. This instance Luther made use of to prove
the knowledge that we shall have of one another in heaven; which shews
that Adam’s understanding was then incomparably more sublime than
ours, and of a nearer approach to the knowledge which a state of glory
shall furnish us withal. To this might be added a further proof from
the rare inventions and excellent discoveries that some raised wits
have made, of things that have laid deep and far out of the view of
common capacities. As also those views, sights, and more than ordinary
comprehensions which the souls of men have had, when they were a little
freed from the clog and hindrance of the body, either in ecstasies or
by approaching death; all which put together will go far to prove a
very great measure of knowledge in Satan, if we take along with us this
foundation, that in all the works of God we find the highest knowledge
in the noblest being. Living creatures are more excellent than stones
or trees, and therefore hath God furnished them with senses, and hath
also distinguished them by higher degrees of sagacity, according to
their excellency above others. Thus the ape, fox, elephant, &c., have
such abilities above the worm and fly, &c., that some have questioned
whether they had not some lower degrees of reason: yet as these are
below man, so doth his reason far excel their greatest quickness of
sense. Angels are a higher being than man—for he made him ‘lower than
the angels’—and consequently their knowledge is proportionably greater.
So that if Adam in innocency understood the nature of things, how much
more exactly and fully must we imagine Satan to know them!

2. Secondly, But the proof is more full and direct, from those
_appellations and titles which the Scripture and the experience of men
have put upon him_; his usual name, Δαίμων, _quasi_ Δαήμων, which—in
Mat. viii. 31; Mark v. 12; Rev. xvi. 14—we translate _devil_, properly
signifieth one that is wise, knowing, or skilful. And however the
wickedness of that spirit hath so far dishonoured this word, that it
is always, as some think, used to signify ‘unclean spirits;’ yet still
it carries an evidence of their nature in reference to knowledge, that
though they are wicked creatures, yet are they wise and knowing. It is
said, Gen. iii. 1, ‘The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the
field;’ which, though it be true literally of the serpent, whose wisdom
and subtlety naturalists have abundantly noted, yet that expression
hath an eye upon Satan, who was the principal agent; and the serpent
there is called subtle, as influenced by Satan, whose instrument he
was:[92] which we may believe, not only upon the credit of Austin and
Lyra, but more securely upon the testimony of other scriptures, which
name him ‘the old serpent,’ Rev. xvii. 9, and impute all that craft
in the management of that temptation to a particular remarkable skill
and subtlety of Satan. ‘The serpent beguiled Eve through subtlety,’ 2
Cor. xi. 3; and, if Beza conjecture right, the appellation Δαίμων do
so fitly suit this history of the tree of knowledge, that the title of
knowledge seems to be given him for this singular masterpiece of craft.

3. Thirdly, That Satan hath great knowledge is by these arguments
discovered; but if further inquiry be made into the _nature of his
knowledge_, we shall be nearer to a satisfaction in this particular;
and here we may observe a threefold knowledge in Satan.

(1.) First, _A natural knowledge_; which the schoolmen have
distinguished into these two: [1.] _An evening knowledge_, which
he received from things created, whereby the _species_ of things
were impressed upon his mind, and so received, being a knowledge _à
posteriori_, from the effects of things; which, because it is more
dark and obscure than that which ariseth from the causes of things,
they termed evening knowledge. [2.] The other is _morning knowledge_,
which is a knowledge of things in the power and wisdom of God, in
which he saw the ideas and images of all things. This knowledge they
prefer before the other, as lines and figures are better known from
mathematical instruction than by their bare tract as written in

(2.) Secondly, Besides this he hath an _experimental knowledge_; which
is the improvement of that natural stock, by further acquisitions and
attainments. And indeed Satan had very high advantages for an increase
of knowledge. He had a great stock to begin withal; he hath had fit
and suitable objects to work upon in his contemplations, so that by
comparing things with things in so large a field of variety, and that
for so many years together, it cannot be but that he should be grown
more experienced and subtle than he was at first; and the Scripture
doth fairly countenance this supposition, by telling us of his devices,
2 Cor. ii. 11; of his wiles, Eph. vi. 11; and of his depths, Rev. ii.
24.[94] All which phrases imply that Satan hath so studied the point
of temptation, that he hath now, from long experience and observation,
digested it into an art and method, and that with such exactness that
it is become a mystery and a depth, much covered and concealed from the
notice and observation of men.

(3.) Thirdly, To both the former may be added another knowledge,
which because it is from another spring, I may call it an _accessory
knowledge_, consisting in occasional discoveries made to him, either
when God is pleased to make known so much of his mind and purpose,
as he employs him, as an instrument or servant, to execute, as he
did in the case of Job and Ahab; or when he informs himself from the
Scriptures, or catcheth hints of knowledge from the church and the
ordinances thereof. If good angels have an increase of knowledge this
way, as is evident they have, ‘for to principalities and powers in
heavenly places is made known by the church the manifold wisdom of
God,’ Eph. iii. 10, we cannot but imagine that Satan hath some addition
of knowledge from such discoveries. While we are upon this point, it
will be necessary to offer some satisfaction to two questions.

_Quest._ 1. First, Whether Satan knows our thoughts?

_Ans._ 1. It is undoubtedly God’s prerogative to know the thoughts. He
knows them intuitively, which is beyond the power of any creature: Jer.
xvii. 9, ‘Who can know it?’ This is a challenge to all, implying the
utter impossibility of it to any but to God alone; ‘I the Lord search
the heart;’ he knows the most inward thoughts: Rev. ii. 23, ‘I am he
which searcheth the reins, and the heart;’ he knows them evidently and
certainly: Heb. iv. 13, ‘All things are naked and open[95] before him
with whom we have to do.’ Those secret thinkings and intendments which
are hid from others, and which we ourselves cannot distinctly read,
because of their secret intricacy or confusedness, yet the very inside
and outside of them are uncased, cut up and anatomised by his eye; in
all which expressions God is careful to reserve this to himself, ‘I the
Lord do it,’ or ‘I am he, &c., that searcheth;’ and signifies that none
else is able to do the like.

_Ans._ 2. Yet Satan can do much this way; for if we consider how he
can come so near to our spirits, as to communicate his injections to
us, and that he often entertains a dispute with us in this secret way
of access that he hath to our thoughts; if we observe his arguings,
his answers and replies to our refusals, so direct, so pertinent, so
continued, we shall be constrained to grant that he can do more this
way than is commonly imagined. That I may explain this with a due
respect to God’s prerogative of knowing the heart, I shall,

1. First, _Shew that there are two things which are clearly out of
Satan’s reach_. [1.] Our future thoughts; he cannot tell what shall be
our thoughts for time to come. He may possibly adventure to tell what
suggestions he resolves to put into our hearts, but what shall be our
resolves and determinations thereupon he knows not. This is singled
out as one part of God’s prerogative, that he knoweth the determinate
purposes and resolves of the heart aforehand, because he turneth the
heart as he pleaseth, Prov. xxi. 1. [2.] Our present formed thoughts,
the immediate and imminent[96] acts of the mind he cannot directly
see into. He may tell what floating thinkings he hath put into our
heart, but our own proper thoughts, or formed resolves, he cannot
directly view. This is also particularly insisted on as proper to God
alone: John ii. 24, 25, ‘Christ knew all men,’ so directly, that ‘he
needed not that any should testify of man.’ This Satan stands in need
of; he sometimes knows men and their thoughts, but he needs a sign
or notification of these thoughts, and cannot immediately look into
them. The reason why Christ needed not this, is rendered thus: ‘For he
knew what was in man,’ Mat. xii. 25, that is, intuitively he knew his
thoughts, and could immediately read them.

2. Secondly, _I shall endeavour to explain how much, or how far he can
pry into our thoughts_. Several things are granted which argue Satan
can go a great way toward a discovery. As,

(1.) First, _That he knows the objects in our fancy or phantasms_, and
this as clearly as we do behold things with our eyes. And the proof
given hereof is this: that there are diabolical dreams, in which the
devil cannot create new species, and such as our senses were never
acquainted withal, as to make a blind man dream of colours, but that
he can only call forth and set in order those objects, of which our
imagination doth retain the shadows or impressions; and this he could
not do if he did not visibly behold them in our fancy.[97]

(2.) Secondly, It is certain he knows _his own suggestions and
temptations darted into our minds_, upon which he can at present know
what our thoughts are busied upon.

(3.) Thirdly, He knows _the secret workings of our passions, as love,
desire, fear_, &c., because these depend upon, or are in a concomitancy
of the motions of the blood and spirits, which he can easily discern,
though their motions and workings may be kept secret from the
observation of all bystanders.

(4.) Fourthly, Some go further, as Scotus, (_referente Barthol.
Sybilla_,)[98] supposing that he knows what is in our thoughts at any
time, only he knows not to what these thoughts incline; but I leave
this to those that can determine it certainly. In the meantime I

3. Thirdly, _To shew what a guessing faculty he hath of what he doth
not directly know_. He hath such grounds and advantages for conjecture,
that he seldom fails of finding our mind. As,

(1.) First, _His long experience hath taught him what usually men
do think_, in such cases as are commonly before them. By a cunning
observation of their actions and ways he knows this.

(2.) Secondly, _He by study and observation knows our temper and
inclination_, and consequently what temptations do most suit them, and
how we do ordinarily entertain them.

(3.) Thirdly, He knows this the more, _by taking notice of our prayers,
our complainings and mournings over our defects and miscarriages_.

(4.) Fourthly, _He is quick and ready to take notice of any exterior
sign, by which the mind is signified_, as the pulse, the motion of the
body, the change of the countenance, all which do usually shew the
assent or dissent of the mind, and at least tell him what entertainment
his offers have in our thoughts.

(5.) Fifthly, Being so quick-sighted, he can understand _those
particular signs which would escape the observation of the wisest
men_.[99] There are some things small in themselves, and therefore
unobserved, which yet to wise men are very great _indicia_ of things.
The like may be said of us, in reference to our inclinations, our
acceptance or resistance of temptations, which yet he hath curiously
marked out.

(6.) Sixthly, No doubt but he hath ways to _put us upon a discovery of
our thoughts, while we conceal them_, as by continuing and prosecuting
temptations or suggestions, till our trouble or passions do some way
discover how it is with us. By all which it appears that his guessings
and conjectures do seldom fail him. It is now time to speak to the
other question, which is,

_Quest._ 2. Whether and how far Satan knows things to come?

_Ans._ To this I shall return answer in these two conclusions:

_Conclusion_ 1. First, There is a way of knowing future things, _which
is beyond the knowledge of devils, and proper only to God_, Isa. xli.
23; there God puts the competition betwixt himself and idols, about the
truth of a deity, upon this issue, that ‘he that can shew the things
that are to come hereafter, he is God;’ which because they cannot do,
he doth hereby evince them to be no gods. If Satan could truly and
properly have done this, he had had a plea for a godhead. In divine
predictions two things are to be considered. [1.] The matter foretold;
when the events of things contingent, and as to second causes casual,
depending upon indeterminate causes, are foretold. [2.] The manner;
when these things are not uncertainly, or conjecturally, or darkly, but
clearly, certainly, infallibly, and fully predicted. Of this nature are
divine predictions, which Satan cannot perform, nor yet the angels in

_Conclusion_ 2. Secondly, _Yet Satan hath such advantages for the
knowledge of future things, and such means and helps for a discovery of
them, that his conjectures have often come to pass_.

[1.] First, He knows _the causes of things, which are secret to us_.
Upon which he seems to foretell many things strange to us; as a
physician may foretell the effects, workings, and issues of a disease,
as seeing them in the causes, which would pass for little less than
prophecy among the vulgar. Thus an astrologer foretells eclipses, which
would be taken for a divine excellency, where the knowledge of the
ground of these foretellings had not taken away the wonder.

[2.] Secondly, Many things are made known to him _by immediate divine
revelation_. We know not the intercourse betwixt God and Satan in
the matter of Job. Satan having obtained his commission to afflict
him, might have made a long prophecy of what should come to pass in
reference to Job, his children and substance. How many such predictions
he might make, we little know.

[3.] Thirdly, He hath _a deep insight in affairs of kingdoms and
states_, and so might, from his experience and observation, easily
conjecture mutations and alterations. A politician may do much this
way. For aught we know, Satan’s prophecy, in the likeness of Samuel, to
Saul, of his ruin, and the translation of his kingdom to David, might
be no more than a conjectural conclusion, from his comparing the order
of the present providence with former threatenings and promises.

[4.] Fourthly, He hath _a greater understanding of Scripture
prophecies, than ordinarily the wisest men have_, so that at second
hand he might be able to foretell what shall come to pass; whilst we
that do not so clearly see into Scripture predictions, may not be able
to find out the matter. Hence by oracle he foretold Alexander of his
success, which he knew from the prophecy of Daniel, chap. xi., long

[5.] Fifthly, He hath advantage from his nature _as a spirit, by
which he overhears and sees the private actings, complottings, and
preparations of men in reference to certain undertakings_, and can
easily, by his agents, communicate such counsels or resolves in remote
countries and kingdoms, which must pass for real predictions, if the
event answer accordingly.

[6.] Sixthly, _He can foretell, and with probability of success, such
things as he by temptation is about to put men upon, especially seeing
he can choose such instruments as he, from experience, knows are not
likely to fail his enterprise_.

[7.] Seventhly, To this may be added, _the way and manner by which
he expresseth himself, either in doubtful or enigmatical terms, or
in general expressions_, which may be applied to the event, what
way soever it should happen. Of these, authors have observed many
instances, which were superfluous to enumerate.[101]

Satan’s knowledge being thus explained, it is easy to imagine what an
advantage it is to him in the management of his temptations. For,

First, He by this means knows our tempers and dispositions.

Secondly, And what is most likely to prevail with us.

Thirdly, How inclinable we are upon any motion made to us, and what
hope to gain upon us.

Fourthly, He knows fit times, seasons, and advantages against us.

Fifthly, He knows how to pursue suggestions, and can choose strong
reasons to urge us withal.

Sixthly, He knows how to delude our senses, to disturb our passions.

Seventhly, He knows all the ways and arts of affrightments, vexations,
disquietments, hindrances, and disturbances of duty.

[8.] Eighthly, He by this means is furnished _with skill for his public
cheats and delusions in the world_; how to amuse, astonish, and amaze
men into errors and mistakes, which he hath always endeavoured with
very great success in the world, as we shall see hereafter.


 _Instances of Satan’s power.—Of witchcraft, what it is.—Satan’s power
 argued from thence.—Of wonders.—Whether Satan can do miracles?—An
 account of what he can do that way.—His power argued from apparitions
 and possessions._

I shall add, in the fifth place, some particular instances of his
power, in which I shall insist upon these four—witchcraft, wonders,
apparitions, and possessions.

1. First, _Witchcraft_ affords a very great discovery of Satan’s power.
But because some give such interpretations of witchcraft, as, if true,
would wholly take away the force of this instance, I shall first
endeavour to establish a true notion of witchcraft; and secondly, from
thence argue Satan’s power.

(1.) First, Though the being of witches is not directly denied, because
the authority of Scripture—Exod. xxii. 18; Deut. xviii. 10, &c.—hath
determined beyond controversy that such there are; yet some will allow
no other interpretation of the word,[102] than a skill and practice in
the art of poisoning, because the Septuagint doth interpret the Hebrew
word, מכשפה, by φάρμακον, _veneficam_; which apprehension
they strengthen by the authority of Josephus,[103] who giveth this
account of the law, ‘Let none of the children of Israel use any deadly
poison, or any drug wherewith he may do hurt,’ &c. It is easy to
observe that this conceit ariseth from a great inobservancy of the
reason of the application of these words, φάρμακος and _veneficus_, to
witchcraft, in Greek and Latin authors.

Witchcrafts were supposed to be helped forward by the strength of
several herbs, and these, by incantations and other ceremonies at their
gathering, imagined to attain a poisonous and evil quality or efficacy
for such effects as were intended to be produced by them, as appears
by Ovid, Virgil, and other authors.[104] Hence was it that the word
φάρμακος became applicable to any sort of witchcraft. To this may be
added, that such persons were resorted to for help against diseases,
[_vide_ Leigh. Crit. Sac. in Voc.] As also that they used unguents
for transportations. Hence Godwin [Jew. Antiq., lib. iv. cap. 10]
renders φαρμάκους by _unguentarios_. Diascorides [Cap. de Rhamno] hath
an expression to this purpose, ‘that the branch of that tree, being
placed before the doors, doth drive away τῶν φαρμάκων κακουργίας,
witchcrafts.’ It were ridiculous to say it drives away poisonings;
which is a sufficient evidence that the Grecians used that word to
signify another kind of witchcraft than that which this mistake would
establish. Besides this, the Scripture doth afford two strong arguments
against this interpretation of witchcraft.

[1.] That this word is ranked with others, as being of the same
alliance, which will carry the apprehensions of any considerate man
to effects done by the help of Satan, in an unusual way, as Deut.
xviii. 10, ‘There shall not be found among you any that maketh his son
or his daughter to pass through the fire’—this is not the consuming
of their children to Moloch, but by way of lustration, a mock
baptism, a piece of witchcraft, to preserve from violent death—‘or
that useth divination, an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a
witch,’ &c.[105] The very neighbourhood of the witch will tell us
that this witch must be a diviner, divination being the general term,
comprehending the seven particulars following.[106] It would be a
harsh straining to put in the poisoner, in the sense of our opposites,
among the diviners. Yet the second argument is more cogent, which is
this: That among those whom Pharaoh called together to encounter with
Moses, Exod. vii. 11, we find witches or sorcerers expressed by the
same word, מכשפים, which is used in Exod. xxii. and Deut.
xviii. What can more certainly fix the interpretation of the word than
this place, where the end of Pharaoh’s calling them together was, not
to poison Moses and Aaron, but by enchantment to outvie them in point
of miracles? which will shew that witchcraft is not poisoning, but the
doing of strange acts by the aid of Satan. Neither was this the act of
one man—who might possibly, together with that present age, be under a
mistake concerning witches, though it be a thing not to be supposed—but
long after him, Nebuchadnezzar, in Dan. ii. 4, being astonished with
his dreams, calls for the sorcerers or witches, and magicians, to give
him the interpretation; which had been a matter very improper for them,
if their skill had lain only in mixing poisons.[107]

When we have thus silenced this imagination, we have yet another to
encounter with, and that is, Of those that think these witches, of
which the fore-cited texts do speak, are but mere cheats, and by some
tricks of delusion and legerdemain pretend they can do things which
indeed they cannot do at all; and yet finding death threatened to such,
which, in a business of mere juggling, would seem too great a severity,
they have framed this answer to it,[108] that the death is threatened,
not for juggling, but for their presumptuous and blasphemous
undertaking to do things that belong to a divine power, and for taking
his name in vain. Or, as others are pleased to say,[109] though they
have no real power, they are justly punished for the belief they have,
that they can do such mischief, joined with their purpose to do it, if
they can.

In answer to this apprehension, I shall not much insist upon these
reasons, which yet are sufficiently weak—the latter accusing God’s laws
of unreasonable severity, and the former accusing them of unnecessary
redundancy, seeing enough in other places is provided against
blasphemers[110]—but shall offer a consideration or two, which I judge
will be of force to rectify the mistake.

[1.] First, Though it cannot be denied but that a great many cheats
there have been in all ages, by which men have endeavoured to raise
the repute and esteem of their own skill and excellencies, or for
other base ends; yet, from hence to conclude that all these things
that have been done under the name of witchcraft were such, must be an
unsufferable piece of insolence; not only denying that credit which
all sober men owe to history, to the constant belief of all ages, to
the faithfulness and wisdom of judges, jurors, witnesses, laws, and
sanctions, but also dangerously overthrowing all our senses; so that
at this rate we may well question whether we really eat, drink, move,
sleep, and anything else that we do. This reason is urged by grave and
serious men.[111]

[2.] Secondly, It cannot be imagined that such things are merely
delusory, where the voluntary confessions of so many have accused
themselves and others, not of thinking or juggling, but of really
acting and doing such things—with such circumstances as have
particularised time, place, thing, and manner.

[3.] Thirdly, The real effects done by the power of witchcraft shew
it not to be delusion. Such are the transportation of persons many
miles from their habitations, and leaving them there; their telling
things done in remote places; raising of storms and tempests;
vomiting of pins, needles, stones, cloth, leather, and such like;
and these, some of them, attested by sober and intelligent persons
who were eye-witnesses. Large accounts you have of these in Bodinus,
Sprengerius, and several others that have borrowed these relations from

The notion of poisonings, or delusory jugglings, being below what
the Scripture intends to set forth as witchcraft, it is evident that
witchcraft is a power of doing great things by the aid of the devil; by
which our way is open to improve this instance, to demonstrate— which
was the second thing promised—that Satan’s power must be great. For,

[1.] First, It is acknowledged that a great part of those things that
are done in this matter, as concurrent with, or helpful toward the
promoting of such acts, are Satan’s proper works—as the troubling of
the air, raising storms, apparitions, various shapes and appearances,
transportations from place to place, and a great many more things of
wonder and amazement, all which exceed human power.[113]

[2.] Secondly, Many things of wonder done by such persons, to which
some suppose the secret powers of herbs or things contribute their
natural aids or concurrence, are evidences of Satan’s deep knowledge
of and insight into natural causes. Of this nature is that ointment
with which witches are said to besmear themselves in order to their
transportation; the power and efficacy whereof is by some imagined
to consist in this, that it keeps the body tenantable and in a fit
condition to receive the soul by re-entry after such separations, as,
by all circumstances are concluded, have been really made in pursuit
of those visionary perambulations and transactions; which things, if
they be so—as they are not improbable—witches have them from Satan’s
discovery, and they are to be ascribed to his power.[114]

[3.] Thirdly, Those actions that are most properly the witch’s own
actions, and in which the power of hurting doth, as some suppose,
reside, are notwithstanding either awakened or influenced by Satan;
so though we grant, what some would have, that the power of hurting
is a natural power, and a venomous magnetism of the witch, and that
her imagination, by her eye darts those malignant beams which produce
real hurts upon men—after the manner of the imagination’s force upon a
child in the womb, which hath, as by daily experience and history is
confirmed, produced marks, impressions, deformities, and wounds—and
that Satan doth but cheat the witch into a belief of his aid in that
matter; that with a greater advantage he may make use of her power,
without which he could do nothing; yet even this speaks his ability,
in that at least he doth awaken and raise up that magical force which
otherwise would be asleep, and so puts the sword into their hand. Yet
some attribute far more to him—to wit, the infusion of a poisonous
ferment—by that action of sucking the witch in some part of the body—by
which not only her imagination might be heightened by poisonous streams
breathed in, which might infect blood and spirits with a noxious

2. The second grand instance of his power I shall produce from those
actions of _wonder and astonishment which he sometime performs, which
indeed have been so great that they have occasioned that question_—

Whether Satan can do miracles?

To this we answer—

(1.) _That God alone can work miracles_, a miracle being a real act,
done visibly, and above the power of nature. Such works some have
ranked into three heads:[116] [1.] Such as created power cannot
produce; as to make the sun stand still or go backward. [2.] Such
as are in themselves produceable by nature,[117] but not in such an
order; as to make the dead to live, and those that were born blind to
see, which is strongly argued, John ix. 32, to be above human power;
and, John x. 21, to be above the power of devils. [3.] Such as are the
usual works of nature, yet produced, above the principles and helps of
nature, as to cure a disease by a word or touch.

Things that are thus truly and properly miraculous are peculiarly works
of God; neither can it be imagined, that since he hath been pleased
to justify his commands, ways, and messages, by such mighty acts—2
Cor. xii. 12; Heb. ii. 4; John x. 38—and also hath been put to it,
to justify himself and his sole supreme being and godhead from false
competitors—Ps. lxxxvi. 10, and lxxii. 18—by his miraculous works, it
cannot be imagined, I say, that he would permit any created being, much
less Satan, to do such things.

(2.) Secondly, _Though Satan cannot do things miraculous, yet he can
do things wonderful and amazing—mira non miracula_. And in this point
lies the danger of delusion, as Christ foretells: Mat. xxiv. 24, ‘False
Christs shall arise, and shew great signs and wonders.’ In 2 Thes. ii.
4, the apostle tells us, ‘The coming of antichrist shall be with all
power, and signs, and wonders’—that is, as some interpret,[118] with
the power of signs and wonders; which, however they be lying, both in
reference to the design they drive at—which is to propagate errors—and
also in their own nature, being truly such, in respect of their form,
false as miracles, being indeed no such matter, but juggling cheats;
yet, notwithstanding, there is no small cunning and working of Satan
in them, insomuch that the uncautious and injudicious are ‘deceived
by those wonders that he hath power to do,’ Rev. xiii. 13. In this
matter, though we are not able to give a particular account of these
underground actions, yet thus much we may say—

[1.] First, That in many cases his great acts, that pass for miracles,
are no more _but deceptions of sense_. Naturalists have shewn several
feats and knacks of this kind. Jo. Bap. Porta[119] hath a great many
ways of such deceptions, by lamps and the several compositions of oils,
by which not only the colours of things are changed, but men appear
without heads, or with the heads of horses, &c. The like deceptions are
wrought by glasses of various figures and shapes. If art can do such
things, much more can Satan.

[2.] Secondly, He can mightily work upon _the fancy and imagination_;
by which means men are abused into a belief of things that are not; as
in dreams, the fancy presents things which are really imagined to be
done and said, whenas they are visions of the night, which vanish when
the man is awake; or as in melancholy persons, the fancy of men doth
so strongly impose upon them, that they believe strange absurd things
of themselves—that they have horns on their head, that they are made
of glass, that they are dead, and what not. If fancy, both asleep and
awake, may thus abuse men into an apprehension of impossible things,
and that with confidence, no wonder if Satan, whose power reacheth thus
far, as was before proved, doth take this advantage for the amusing
of men with strange things. Nebuchadnezzar his judgment, Dan. iv. 25,
whereby he was ‘driven from men, and ate grass as oxen,’ was not a
metamorphosis, or real change into an ox. This all expositors reject
as too hard. Neither seems it to be only his extreme necessity and low
estate, whereby he seemed to be little better than a beast, though
Calvin favour this interpretation;[120] but by that expression, ver.
25, ‘then my understanding came to me,’ it seems evident, as most
commentators think, that his understanding was so changed in that
punishment that he imagined himself to be a beast, and behaved himself
accordingly, by eating grass, and lying in the open fields. There are
several stories to this purpose of strange transformations, as the
bodies of men into asses, and other beasts, which Augustine thinks to
be nothing else but the devil’s power upon the fancy.[121]

[3.] Thirdly, There are wonderful _secrets in nature, which if
cunningly used and applied to fit things and times, must needs amaze
vulgar heads_; and though some of these are known to philosophers and
scholars, yet are there many secret things locked from the wisest
men, whose powers and natures because they know not, they may also
be deluded by them. Augustine[122] reckons up many instances, as the
loadstone, the stone pyrites, selenites, the fountain of Epirus, that
can kindle a torch, and many more; and determines that many strange
things are done by the application of these natural powers, either by
the wit of man or diabolical art. To this purpose he gives an account
of an unextinguishable lamp, Λύχνος ἄσβεστος, in a temple of Venus,
which allured men to worship there, as to an unquestionable deity, when
in truth the thing was but an ingenious composition from the stone
asbeston, of which Pliny makes mention, that being kindled, it will
not be quenched with water.[123] Of this nature were those lamps found
in several vaults accompanying the ashes of the dead, reserved there
in urns, both in England and elsewhere.[124] If men by such helps find
such easy ways to delude men, what exactness of workmanship and seeming
wonders may be expected from Satan upon such advantages!

[4.] Fourthly, Many of his wonders may challenge _a higher rise_.
Satan knows the secret ways of nature’s operations, and the ways
of accelerating or retarding those works; so that he cannot only
do what nature can do, by a due application of active to passive
principles,[125] and the help of those seminal powers that are in
things, but he may be supposed to perform them in a quicker and more
expeditious manner. Thus worms, flies, and serpents, that are bred of
putrefaction, Satan may speedily produce; and who can tell how far this
help may reach in his works of wonders?

[5.] Fifthly, _The secret way of Satan’s movings and actings is no
small matter in these affairs_. How many things do common jugglers by
the swift motions of their hands, that seem incredible! Thus they make
the bystanders believe they change the substances, natures, and forms
of things, when they only, by a speedy conveyance, take these things
away, and put others in their room. They that shall consider Satan as
a spirit, subtle, imperceptible, quick of motion, &c., will easily
believe him to be more accomplished for such conveyances than all the
men in the world.

Having now seen the way of his wonders, let us next consider the
advantage he hath by such actions. If we look upon Simon Magus, Acts
viii. 10, 11, we find that he by these ways had a general influence
upon the people, ‘To him they all gave heed, from the least to the
greatest;’ and that his actions were reckoned no less than miraculous,
as done by ‘the mighty power of God.’ If we go from hence to the
magicians of Pharaoh, Exod. vii. 11, it is said, ‘They did so with
their enchantments,’ which, howsoever the matter was, prevailed so with
Pharaoh and the court, that they saw no difference betwixt the wonders
done by Moses and them, save that, it may be, they thought Moses the
more skilful magician. But besides this, if we consider what they did,
it will argue much for his power, if we can imagine, as some do,[126]
that they turned their rods into real serpents; the power is evident:
and there is this that favours that opinion; it is said they could
not make lice, which seems to imply they really did the other things,
and it had been as easy to delude the senses in the matter of lice as
in the rods, if it had been no more than a delusion. Neither are some
awanting to give a reason of such a power—viz., serpents, lice, &c.,
being the offspring of putrefaction; by his dexterous application of
the seminal principles of things, he might quickly produce them. If we
go lower, and take up with the opinion of those that think that they
were neither mere delusions, nor yet true serpents; but real bodies
like serpents, though without life, this will argue a very great
power.[127] Or if we suppose, as some do,[128] that Satan took away the
rods, and secretly conveyed serpents in their stead, or—which is the
lowest apprehension we can have—that Pharaoh’s sight was deceived, the
matter is still far from being contemptible, forasmuch as we see the
spectators were not able to discern the cheat.

3. Thirdly, The next instance produceable for evidencing his power
is that _of apparitions_. It cannot be denied but that the fancy
of melancholic or timorous persons is fruitful enough to create a
thousand bugbears; and also that the villainy of some persons hath been
designedly employed to deceive people with mock apparitions—of which
abundance of instances might be given from the knavery of the papists,
discovered to the world beyond contradiction; but all this will not
conclude that there are no real appearances of spirit or devils. Such
sad effects in all ages there have been of these things, that most men
will take it for an undeniable truth.

Instead of others, let the apparition at Endor to Saul come to
examination. Some indeed[129] will have us believe that all that was
but a subtle cheat managed by that old woman; and that neither Samuel
nor the devil did appear, but that the woman, in another room by
herself, or with a confederate, gave the answer to Saul. But whosoever
shall read that story, and shall consider Saul’s bowing and discourse,
and the answers given, must acknowledge that Saul thought at least he
saw and spake with Samuel; and indeed the whole transaction is such,
that such a cheat cannot be supposed.

Satisfying ourselves, then, that there was an apparition, we must next
inquire whether it was true Samuel or Satan. It cannot be denied but
that many judge it was true Samuel, but their reasons are weak.[130]

[1.] That proof from Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 23, is not canonical with us.

[2.] That he was called Samuel, is of no force. Scripture often gives
names of things according to their appearances.

[3.] That things future were foretold, was but from conjecture; in
which Satan yet, all things considered, had good ground for his

[4.] That the name Jehovah is oft repeated, signifies nothing. The
devil is not so scarce of words. ‘Jesus I know,’ saith that spirit in
the Acts.

[5.] That he reproved sin in Saul, is no more than what the devil doth
daily to afflicted consciences in order to despair.

I must go then with those that believe this was Satan in Samuel’s

[1.] Because God refused to answer Saul by prophets or Urim; and it is
too harsh to think he would send Samuel from the dead, and so answer
him in an extraordinary way.

[2.] This, if it had been Samuel, would have given too much countenance
to witchcraft, contrary to that check to Ahaziah, 2 Kings i. 3, ‘Is
it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of

[3.] The prediction of Saul’s death, though true for substance, yet
failed as to the exactness of time, for the battle was not fought the
next day.

[4.] The acknowledgment of the witch’s power, ‘Why hast thou disquieted
me?’ shews it could not be true Samuel, the power of witchcraft not
being able to reach souls at rest with God.

[5.] That expression of ‘gods ascending out of the earth,’ is evidently

The reality of apparitions being thus established, Satan’s power will
be easily evinced from it. To say nothing of the bodies in which
spirits appear, the haunting of places and persons, and the other
effects done by such appearances, speak abundantly for it.

4. Fourthly, The last instance is _of possessions_, the reality of
which can no way be questioned, because the New Testament affords so
much for it. I shall only note some things as concerning this head. As,

(1.) First, The multitudes of men possessed. Scarce was there anything
in which Christ had more opportunities to shew his authority than in
casting out of Satan. Such objects of compassion he met with in every

(2.) Secondly, The multitudes of spirits in one person is a
consideration not to be passed by.

(3.) Thirdly, These persons were often strongly acted, sometime with
fierceness and rage, Mat. viii. 28; some living without clothes and
without house, Luke viii. 27; some by an incredible strength breaking
chains and fetters, Mark v. 3.

(4.) Fourthly, Sometime the possessed were sadly vexed and afflicted,
cast into the fire and water, &c.

(5.) Fifthly, Some were strangely influenced. We read of one, Acts
xvi. 16, that had a spirit of divination, and told many things to
come, which we may suppose frequently came to pass, else she could
have brought ‘no gain to her master by soothsaying.’ Another we hear
of whose possession was with a lunacy, and had fits at certain times
and seasons. The possessed person with whom Mr Rothwell discoursed,
within the memory of some living, could play the critic in the Hebrew

(6.) Sixthly, In some the possession was so strong, and so firmly
seated, that ordinary means and ways could not dispossess them: ‘This
kind comes not out but by prayer and fasting,’ Mat. xvii. 21; which
shews that all possession was not of one kind and manner, nor alike
liable to ejection.

(7.) Seventhly, To all these may be added _obsessions_: where the devil
afflicts the bodies of men, disquiets them, haunts them, or strikes
in with their melancholy temper, and so annoys by hideous and black
representations. Thus was Saul vexed by ‘an evil spirit from the Lord,’
which as most conceive was the devil working in his melancholy humour.
That the devil should take possession of the bodies of men, and thus
act, drive, trouble, and distress them, so distort, distend, and rack
their members; so seat himself in their tongues and minds that a man
cannot command his own faculties and powers, but seems to be rather
changed into the nature of a devil than to retain anything of a man,
this shews a power in him to be trembled at.

Satan’s power being thus explained and proved, I shall next speak
something of his cruelty.


 _Of Satan’s cruelty.—Instances thereof in his dealing with wounded
 spirits, in ordinary temptations of the wicked and godly, in
 persecutions, cruelties in worship.—His cruel handling of his slaves._

He that shall consider his malice and power, must unavoidably conclude
him to be cruel. Malice is always so where it hath the advantage of
a proportionable strength and opportunity for the effecting of its
hateful contrivances. It banisheth all pity and commiseration, and
follows only the dictate of its own rage, with such fierceness, that it
is only limited by wanting power to execute. We may then say of Satan,
that according to his malice and power such is his cruelty. The truth
of this will be abundantly manifested by instances: as,

1. First, _From his desperate pursuits of advantage upon those whose
spirits are wounded_. The anguish of a distressed conscience is
unspeakably great, insomuch that many are, as Heman, Ps. lxxxviii.
15, ‘even distracted, while they suffer the terrors of the Almighty.’
These, though they look round about them for help, and invite all
that pass by to pity them, ‘because the hand of the Lord hath touched
them,’ [Job xix. 21,] yet Satan laughs at their calamity, and mocks
at them under their fears, and doth all he can to augment the flame.
He suggests dreadful thoughts of an incensed majesty, begets terrible
apprehensions of infinite wrath and damnation, he aggravates all
their sins to make them seem unpardonable. Every action he calls a
sin, and every sin he represents as a wilful forsaking of God, and
every deliberate transgression he tells them is ‘the sin against the
Holy Ghost.’ He baffles them in their prayers and services, and then
accuseth their duties for intolerable profanations of God’s name; and
if they be at last affrighted from them, he then clamours that they
are ‘forsaken of God’ because they have forsaken him. He, as a right
Baal-zebub,[132] rakes in their wounds, as flies are ever sucking where
there is a sore. Their outcries and lamentations are such music to him,
that he gives them no rest; and with such triumph doth he tread upon
those that thus lie in the dust, that he makes them sometimes accuse
themselves for that which they never did, and in derision he insults
over them in their greatest perplexities, with this, ‘Where is now thy
God?’ [Ps. xlii. 3,] and ‘Who shall deliver thee out of my hand?’ This
were enough to evidence him altogether void of compassion. But,

2. Secondly, He shews no less cruelty _in his usage of those that are
his slaves_. The service that he exacts of those that are his most
willing servants, is no less than the highest cruelty; and not only
[1.] in regard of the misery and destruction which he makes them work
out for themselves, which is far greater than where men are forced by
the most brutish tyrants to buy their own poison or to cut their own
throats, because this is unspeakably less than the endless miseries
of eternal torments; but [2.] also in regard of the very slavery and
drudging toil of the service which he exacts from them. He is not
pleased that they sin, but the vilest iniquities most contrary to God
and most abominable to man, as the highest violations of the laws of
nature and reason, are the things which he will put them upon, where
there are no restraints in his way. He drave the heathens, as Paul
testifies, Rom. i., to affections so vile and loathsome, that in
their way of sinning they seemed to act rather like brutes than men,
their minds becoming so injudicious that they lost all sense of what
was fit and comely. Neither [3.] doth this satisfy his cruelty, that
the worst of abominations be practised, but he urgeth them to the
highest desperateness in the manner of performance, and so draws them
out to the front of the battle, that they might contemn and outdare
God to his face. He will have them sin with a high hand, and in the
highest bravado of madness to rush into sin as ‘the horse into the
battle.’ This cruelty of Satan were yet the less if he only brought
them forth presumptuously in some one or two set battles upon special
occasions; but [4.] he would have this to be their constant work,
the task of every day, upon the same score that Ahithophel advised
Absalom to an open and avouched defilement of his father’s concubines,
that so the breach betwixt them and God might be fixed by a resolute
determination, and consequently that their hands might be strong and
their hearts hardened in rebellion against God. And [5.] that Satan
might not come short of the utmost of what cruelty could do, we may
yet further observe, that though sinners offer themselves willingly
enough to conflict against God in the high places of the field, yet,
as not satisfied with their forwardness, he lasheth and whips them on
to their work, and sometime overdrives them in their own earnestness.
Haman was so hurried and overborne with violent hatred against Mordecai
and the Jews, that his own advancement and the marks of singular
favour from the king availed him not, as to any satisfaction and
present contentment, Esther v. 13. Ahab, though king of Israel, is so
vehemently urged in his desires for Naboth’s vineyard, that he covered
his face and grew sick upon it, [1 Kings xxi. 1, _seq._] Thus as
galley-slaves were they chained to their oar, and forced to their work
beyond their own strength.

3. Thirdly, There is also a cruelty seen in _his incessant provokings
and force upon the children of God_, while he urgeth his loathed
temptations upon them against their will. When I consider Paul’s outcry
in this case, Rom. vii. 15, 19, ‘That which I do, I allow not; the evil
which I would not, that do I,’ &c., my thoughts represent him to me,
like those Christians that were tortured in the trough, where water was
poured by a continued stream upon their mouths, till the cloth that lay
upon their lips was forced down their throats; or like those that had
stinking puddle-water by a tunnel poured into their stomachs, till they
were ready to burst; and surely he apprehended himself to be under very
cruel dealing by Satan when he cried out, ‘O wretched man that I am!
who shall deliver me?’ If we seriously consider the mind and endeavours
of those children of God that are striving against sin, and have cast
it off as the most loathsome abominable thing, when Satan urgeth them
to evil with his incessant importunities, it is as if they were forced
to eat their own excrements, or to swallow down again their own vomit;
for the devil doth but as it were cram these temptations down their
throats against their will.

4. Fourthly, If we cast our eye upon _the persecutions of all ages_, we
shall have thence enough to charge Satan withal in point of cruelty,
for he who is styled ‘a murderer from the beginning,’ [John viii. 44,]
set them all on foot. It is he that hath filled the world with blood
and fury, and hath in all ages, in one place or other, made it a very
shambles and slaughter-house of men. [1.] Can we reckon how often
Satan hath been at this work? That is impossible. His most public and
general attempts of this kind are noted by histories of all ages.
The persecutions of Pharaoh against Israel, and of the prevailing
adversaries of Israel and Judah against both or either of them, are
recorded for the most part in Scripture. The persecutions of the Roman
emperors against Christianity are sufficiently known, and what is yet
to come who can tell? A great persecution by Antichrist was the general
belief and expectation of those that lived in Austin’s time, and long
before; but whether this be one more to the ten former persecutions,
that so the parallel betwixt these and Pharaoh’s ruin in the Red Sea
after his ten plagues might run even, be only to be looked for, or
that others are also to be expected, he thinks it would be presumption
and rashness to determine.[133] But, however, his particular assaults
of this nature cannot be numbered: how busy is he still at this work
in all times and places! insomuch that ‘He that will live godly in
this world must suffer persecution,’ 2 Tim. iii. 12. But [2.] If we
withal consider what inventions and devices of cruelty and torture he
hath found out, and what endless variety of pains and miseries he hath
prepared, a catalogue whereof would fill a great deal of paper, we can
do no less than wonder at the merciless fury and implacable rage of him
that contrived them. Satan, the great engineer, doth but give us the
picture of his mind in all those instruments of destruction. And when
we see amongst tyrants ways of torturing every member of the body, and
arts of multiplying deaths, that so those that perish by their hands
might not have so much as the mercy of a speedy despatch, but that they
might feel themselves to die, we may reflect it upon Satan, in Jacob’s
words to Simeon and Levi, ‘Cursed be his anger, for it is fierce; and
his wrath, for it is cruel,’ [Gen. xlix. 7.] [3.] But if we consider
what instruments he useth, and against whom, we shall see cruelty in a
higher exaltation. Had he used some of the beasts of the earth, or some
of his apostate associates, to persecute and afflict the innocent lambs
of Christ, it might have been much excused from the natural instinct or
cursed antipathy of such agents; or had he used only the vilest of the
children of men to act his tragical fury, the matter had been less; but
as not content with common revenge, he persecutes men by men, though
all of one blood and offspring, and so perverts the ends of nature,
making those that should be the comforts and support of men to be the
greatest terror and curse to them—a thing which nature itself abhors,
and in regard of which, that the impressions of pity might be more
permanent and efficacious, God forbade Israel to ‘seethe a kid in the
mother’s milk,’ [Exod. xxiii. 19;] nay, he hath prevailed with some
of good inclinations and rare accomplishments—for such were some of
the persecuting emperors—to be his deputies for authorising the rack,
for providing fire and faggot, and, which is strange, hath prevailed
so far with them, that they have been willing to open their ears to
the most palpable lies, the grossest forgeries, the most unreasonable
suggestions that known malice could invent; and then after all, when
they were drawn out to butchery and slaughter by multitudes, they have
made such spectacles—which might make impressions upon an iron breast
or an adamant heart—only advancements of their jollity; and as Nero
upon the sight of flaming Rome took his harp and made melody, so have
these tormenting furies fired, by the help of combustible matter,
multitudes of such harmless creatures, and then taken the opportunity
of their light for their night sports. And yet, methinks, the devil
hath discovered a keener fury when he hath made them rage against the
dead, and dig their graves, and revenge themselves upon their senseless
ashes, and when they could do no more, seek to please themselves by
executing their rage against their pictures or statues; which actions,
though they might be condemned for follies, yet are they evidences of
highest fury, which commonly destroys the judgment, and sacrificeth
wit, reason, and honour upon the altar of revenge. That the devil
should so poison man’s nature that he should thus rise up against his
fellow, that carries the same specific being with himself, shews enough
of his temper against man, but never more than when he prevails against
the engagements of kindness, blood, affinity, and relation, to raise a
man’s enemies out of his own house, ‘the father against the son, and
the son against the father, the daughter against the mother, and the
mother against the daughter,’ [Mat. x. 35;] for this is little less
than an unnatural mutiny of the members against the body.

5. Fifthly, We have yet a more visible instance of his cruelty in
_his bloody and tyrannical superstitions_. Look but into the rites
and ways of his worship among the heathen in all ages and places, and
you will find nothing but vile and ridiculous fooleries, or insolent
and despiteful usages. In the former he hath driven men to villainous
debaucheries, in the latter to execrable cruelties. Of the latter I
shall only speak; though in the former, by debasing man to be his
laughing-stock, he is cruel in his scorn and mockery. Here I might
mention his tyrannical ceremonies of the lower order, such as touch not
life; such were their tedious pilgrimages, as in Zeilan; their painful
whippings, as of the youth of Lacedæmon at the altar of Diana; of
their priests, and that with knotted cords upon their shoulders, as at
Mexico and New Spain; their harsh usages in tedious fastings, stinking
drenches, hard lyings upon stones, eating earth, strict forbearances
of wine and commerce, their torturings and manglings of their bodies
by terrible lancings and cuttings for the effusion of blood, 1 Kings
xviii.; their dismembering themselves, plucking out their eyes,
mangling their flesh, to cast in the idol’s face, sacrificing their
own blood, as did the priests of Bellona and Dea Syria.[134] So did
the kings of New Spain at their election, as Montezuma the Second,
who sacrificed by drawing blood from his ears and the calves of
his legs.[135] In Narsinga and Bisnagar they go their pilgrimages
with knives sticking on their arms and legs till the wounded flesh
festered. Some cast themselves under the wheels of the waggon on which
their idol is drawn in procession.[136] Yet are all these but small
matters in comparison of the bloody outrages committed upon mankind
in the abominable custom of sacrificing men to him. Of this many
authors give us a large account.[137] The Lacedæmonians to avert the
plague sacrifice a virgin; the Athenians, by the advice of Apollo’s
oracle, sent yearly to King Minos seven males and so many females to
be sacrificed to appease the wrath of the god for their killing of
Androgeus. The Carthaginians, being vanquished by Agathocles, king of
Sicily, sacrificed two hundred noblemen’s children at once. The Romans
had every year such sacrifices of men and women, of each sex two, for
a long time; and this was so common among the wiser pagan nations,
that whensoever they fell into danger, either of war, sicknesses,
or of any other calamity, they presently, to expiate their offences
against their supposed incensed gods, and to clear themselves of their
present miseries or dangers, sacrificed some mean persons, who for
this reason were called καθάρματα, expiations,[138] and to this doth
the apostle allude in 1 Cor. iv. 13, as Budæus, Stephanus, Grotius,
and many others think; as if he should say, we are as much despised
and loaded with cursings as those that are sacrificed for public
expiation. But what cruel usage may we expect for the poor barbarous
nations of the world, where he had all possible advantages for the
exercise of his bloody tyranny! Many sad instances of this kind are
collected by Purchas in his Pilgrimage, in his discourses of Virginia,
Peru, Brasilia, Mexico, Florida, and other places, whose stories of
this subject are so terrible, and occur so frequently, that they are
almost beyond all belief,[139] all which for brevity’s sake I omit,
contenting myself to note one instance or two out of the Scripture: 2
Kings iii. 27, the king of Moab ‘took his eldest son that should have
reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the
wall.’ This he did, according to the customs of the Phœnicians and
others, being reduced to great straits, as supposing by this means,
as his last refuge, to turn away the wrath of his God. Of Ahaz it is
recorded, 2 Chron. xxviii. 3, that ‘he burnt his children in the fire,
after the abominations of the heathen.’ That this was not a lustration
or consecration of their children, though that also was used, but a
real sacrificing, is without doubt to Josephus, who expresseth it thus:
‘He offered his son as an holocaust,’ [ὁλοκάυστωσε.] But whatever Ahaz
did, it is certain the children of Israel did so; ‘They offered their
sons and daughters to devils,’ Ps. cvi. 37. And if the ‘sacrifices
of the dead’ which they ate in the wilderness, mentioned ver. 28, be
understood of the feasts which were made at ‘the burning of their
children,’ as some think[140]—though many understand it of their
senseless dead gods or their deceased heroes, or for their deceased
friends—then this cruelty had soon possessed them. However, possess
them it did, as appears also by the description of their devouring
Moloch, which the Jewish Rabbins say was a hollow brazen image in
the form of a man, saving that it had the head of a calf, the arms
stretched in a posture of receiving; the image was heated with fire,
and the priest put the child in his arms, where it was burnt to death;
in the meantime a noise was made with drums, that the cries of the
child might not be heard, and hence was it called Tophet, from _toph_,
which signifies a drum; so that the name and shape of the image shews
that it was used to these execrable cruelties.[141]

These Scripture evidences, if we were backward to credit what histories
say of this matter, may assure us of the temper and disposition of
Satan, and may enable us to believe what bloody work he hath made in
the world, which I shall briefly sum up in these particulars:—

[1.] First, These inhuman, or rather, as Purchas calls them, over-human
sacrifices, were practised in most nations. Not only the Indians,
Parthians, Mexicans, &c., but Æthiopians, Syrians, Carthaginians,
Grecians, Romans, Germans, French, and Britons used them.

[2.] Secondly, These cruelties were acted not only upon slaves and
captives, but upon children, whose age and innocency might have
commanded the compassions of their parents for better usage.

[3.] Thirdly, These sacrificings were used upon several occasions, as
at the sprouting of their corn, at the inauguration, coronation, and
deaths of their kings and noblemen, in time of war, dearth, pestilence,
or any danger; in a word, as the priests in Florida and Mexico used to
say, whenever the devil is hungry or thirsty, that is, as oft as he
hath a mind.

[4.] Fourthly, In some places the devil brought them to set times for
those offerings; some were monthly, some annual. The Latins sacrificed
the tenth child; the annual drowning of a boy and a girl in the lake of
Mexico; the casting of two yearly from the _Pons Milvius_[142] at Rome
into Tiber, are but petty instances in comparison of the rest.

[5.] Fifthly, We cannot pass by the vast number of men offered up at
one time. So thirsty is Satan of human blood, that from one or two, he
hath raised the number incredibly high. In some sacrifices five, in
some ten, in some a hundred, in some a thousand have been offered up.
It was the argument which Montezuma, the last Emperor of Mexico, used
to Cortez to prove his strength and greatness by, that he sacrificed
yearly twenty thousand men, and some years fifty thousand. Some have
reserved their captives for that end, others have made war only to
furnish themselves with men for such occasions.

[6.] Sixthly, There are also several circumstances of these diabolical
outrages that may give a further discovery of his cruelty, as that
these miserable creatures thus led to be butchered have been loaden
with all the cursings, revilings, and contumacious reproaches as a
necessary concomitant of their violent deaths. Thus were those used who
were forced to be the public καθάρματα, or expiation, for the removal
of common calamities. Death also was not enough, except it had been
most tormenting in the manner of it, as of those that suffered by the
embracements of Moloch. The joy and feastings of such sacrificings,
which were in themselves spectacles of mourning and sorrow, were
cruelties to the dead, and a barbarous enforcement against the laws
of nature in the living. But the dashing of the smoking heart in the
idol’s face, and the pulling off the skins from the massacred bodies,
that men and women might dance in them, were yet more cruel ceremonies.
And lastly, In those that have been prepared for those solemnities,
by delicious fare, gorgeous ornaments, and the highest reverence or
honours, as was the manner of several countries; yet was this no other
than Satan’s insulting over their miseries, of which we can say no
otherwise, than that his tenderest mercies are cruelties.

[7.] Seventhly, I may cast into the account, that in some places
Satan, by a strange madness of devotion, hath persuaded some to be
volunteers in suffering these tortures and deaths. Some have cast
themselves under the chariot-wheels of their idols, and so have been
crushed to pieces.[143] Some sacrifice themselves to their gods: first
they outcut off several pieces of their flesh, crying every time, ‘For
the worship of my god, I cut this my flesh;’ and at last say, ‘Now do
I yield myself to death in the behalf of my god,’ and so kills himself

[8.] Eighthly, It is wonderful to think that the devil should, by
strange pretexts of reason, have smoothed over these barbarous
inhumanities, so that they have become plausible things in the
judgments of those miserable wretches. In piacular sacrifices they
believed that except the life of a man were given for the life of
men, that the gods could not be pacified.[144] In other sacrifices,
both eucharistical and for atonement, they retained this principle,
‘that those things are to be offered to the gods that are most
pleasing and acceptable to us; and that the offering of a calf or
a pigeon was not suitable to such an end.’ This maxim they further
improved by the addition of another of the same kind, ‘that if it
were fit to offer a human sacrifice, it must also be innocent, and
consequently little children are the fittest for such a purpose.’
And some have also conjectured that the devil hath not been awanting
to improve the example of Abraham sacrificing his son, or the law in
Lev. xxvii. 28, or the prophecies concerning the death of Christ,
as the great sacrifice of atonement, to justify and warrant his
hellish cruelty.[145] In some cases cruelty hath arisen from the very
principles of reverence and love which children have to parents, and
friends to friends: as in Dragoian, when any are sick, they send to
their oracle to know whether the parties shall live or die; if it be
answered they shall die, then their friends strangle them and eat them;
and all this from a kind of religious respect to their kindred, to
preserve, as they imagine, their flesh from putrefaction, and their
souls from torment.[146] The like they do at Javamajor, when their
friends grow old and cannot work, only they eat not their own friends,
but carry them to the market and sell them to those that do eat

[9.] Lastly, Let us call to mind how long the devil domineered in
the world at this rate of cruelty. When the world grew to a freer
use of reason and greater exercise of civility, they found out ways
of mitigation, and changed these barbarous rites into more tolerable
sacrifices; as in Laodicea, they substituted a hart to be sacrificed
instead of a virgin; in Cyprus, an ox was put instead of a man; in
Egypt, waxen images instead of men. Images of straw at Rome were cast
into Tiber in the place of living men; and the terrible burnings of
Moloch, which was not peculiar only to the nations near to Canaan, but
was in use also at Carthage, and found in the American islands by the
Spaniards; the like brazen images were also found in Lodovicus Vives
his time, by the French, in an island called by them Carolina.[148]
These were at last changed into a _februation_,[149] and instead of
burning their children, they only passed them betwixt two fires; but
it was long before it came to this. In the time of Socrates, human
sacrifices were in use at Carthage, and they continued in the Roman
provinces till the time of Tertullian, Eusebius, and Lactantius; though
they had been severely forbidden by Augustus Cæsar, and afterward by
Tiberius, who was forced to crucify some of the priests that dared to
offer such sacrifices, to affright them from those barbarous customs.
In other places of the world, how long such things continued, who can
tell, especially seeing they were found at Carolina not so very long

How impossible is it to cast up the total sum of so many large
items! When these terrible customs have had so general a practice in
most nations, upon so many occasions, upon such seeming plausible
principles; when such great numbers have been destroyed at once, and
these usages have been so long practised in the world, and with such
difficulty restrained, what vast multitudes of men must, we imagine,
have been consumed by Satan’s execrable cruelty!

6. Sixthly, There remains one instance more of the devil’s cruelty,
which is yet different from the former, which I may call his _personal
cruelties_; because they are acted by his own immediate hand upon
certain of his vassals, without the help or interposure of men, who,
in most of the fore-mentioned cases, have been as instruments acted by
him. Here I might take notice of his fury to those that are possessed.
Some have been as it were racked and tortured in their bodies, and
their limbs and members so distorted, that it hath been not only
matter of pity to the beholders to see them so abused, but also of
admiration[150] to consider how such abuses should be consistent
with their lives, and that such rendings and tearings have not quite
separated the soul from the body. In the Gospels we read of some such
‘cast into the fire, and into the water,’ [Mat. xvii. 15;] others,
conversing ‘with tombs and sepulchres,’ in the cold nights ‘without
clothes;’ and all of them spoken of as creatures sadly tormented, and
‘miserably vexed.’ The histories of later days tell us of some that
vomited crooked pins, pieces of leather, coals, cloth, and such like;
of others snatched out of their houses, and tired even to fainting,
and waste of their spirits, as Domina Rossa, mentioned by Bodin, with
a great many more to this same purpose. We may take a view of his
dealing with witches, who, though he seem to gratify them in their
transportations from place to place, and in their feastings with music
and dancings, are but cruelly handled by him very often. The very work
they are put upon—which is the destruction of children, men, women,
cattle, and the fruits of the earth—is but a base employment; but the
account he takes of them, of the full performance of their enterprizes,
and the cruel beatings they have of him, when they cannot accomplish
any of their revenges, is no less than a severe cruelty. He gives them
no rest unless they be doing hurt; and when they cannot do it to the
persons designed, they are forced to do the same mischief to their
own children or relations, that they may gratify their tyrannical
master. Bodin relates the story of a French baron, [p. 180,] who was
afterward put to death for witchcraft, that after he had killed eight
children, was at last upon a design of sacrificing his own child to the
devil. And if at any time they grew weary of so execrable a slavery,
or confess their wickedness, they are so miserably tormented that they
choose rather to die than live. And what else but cruelty can these
slaves expect from him, when the ceremonies of their entrance into that
cursed service betokens nothing else; for their bonds and obligations
are usually writ or subscribed with their own blood; and some magical
books have been writ with the blood of many children; besides, the
farewell that they have of him at their usual meetings, is commonly
this thundering threatening, ‘Avenge yourselves, or you shall die.’
All these particulars are collected from the confessions of witches by
Bodin, Wierus, and others.

But leaving these, let us further inquire into Satan’s carriage toward
those that in America and other dark and barbarous places know no
other god, and give their devoutest worship to him. To those he is
not so kind as might be expected; but his constant way is to terrify
and torment them, insomuch that some know no other reason of their
worship but that he may not hurt them. And since the English colonies
went into these parts, these Americans have learned to make this
distinction between the Englishman’s God and theirs, that theirs is an
evil god, and the other a good God; though that distinction in other
places is in the general far more ancient, where they acknowledge two
gods, one good, the other bad; and the worse the god is, the saddest,
most mournful rites of sacrificing were used, as in caves, and in the
night—the manner of the worship fitly expressing the nature of the
god they served.[151] Our countrymen have noted of the natives of New
England, that the devil appeared to them in ugly shapes, and in hideous
places, as in swamps and woods. But these are only the prologue to
the tragedy itself, for they only serve to impress upon the minds of
his worshippers what cruelties and severities they are to expect from
him; and accordingly he often lets them feel his hand, and makes them
know that those dark and dismal _preludiums_ are not for nothing. For
sometimes he appears to the worshippers, tormenting and afflicting
their bodies, tearing the flesh from the bones, and carrying them away
quick[152] with him; sometimes six have been carried away at once, none
ever knowing what became of them.[153] By such bloody acts as these he
kept the poor Americans in fear and slavery; so that as bad a master
as he is, they durst not but pay their homage and service to him. All
these particulars being put together, will shew we do the devil no
wrong when we call him cruel.


 _Of Satan’s diligence in several instances.—The question about
 the being of spirits and devils handled.—The Sadducees’ opinion
 discovered.—The reality of spirits proved._

The last particular observed in the text is his _diligence_. This adds
force and strength to his malice, power, and cruelty, and shews they
are not idle, dead, or inactive principles in him, which, if they could
be so supposed, would render him less hurtful and formidable. This I
shall despatch in a few instances, noting to this purpose,

1. First, _His pains he takes in hunting his prey, and pursuing his
designs_. It is nothing for him to ‘compass sea and land,’ to labour
to the utmost in his employment; it is all his business to tempt and
destroy, and his whole heart is in it. Hence intermission or cessation
cannot be expected. He faints not by his labour; and his labour, with
the success of it, is all the delight we can suppose him to have. So
that, being pushed and hurried by the hellish satisfactions of deadly
revenge, and having a strength answerable to those violent impulses, we
must suppose him to undergo, with a kind of pleasing willingness, all
imaginable toil and labour. If we look into ourselves, we find it true,
to our no small trouble and hazard. Doth he at any time easily desist
when we give him a repulse? Doth he not come again and again, with
often and impudently-repeated importunities? Doth he not carry a design
in his mind for months and years against us? And when the motion is not
feasible, yet he forgets it not, but after a long interruption begins
again where he left; which shews that he is big with his projects, and
his mind hath no rest. He stretcheth out his nets all the day long. We
may say of him, that he riseth up early, and sitteth up late at his
work, and is content to labour in the very fire, so that he might but
either disturb a child of God or gain a proselyte.

2. Secondly, Diligence is not only discovered in laboriousness,
but also in _a peculiar readiness to espy and to close in with fit
occasions, which may in probability answer the end we drive at_. In
this is Satan admirably diligent; no occasion shall slip, or through
inadvertency escape him. No sooner are opportunities before us, but we
may perceive him suggesting to us, ‘Do this, satisfy that lust, take
that gain, please yourselves with that revenge.’ No sooner obtains he a
commission against a child of God, but presently he is upon his back,
as he dealt with Job; he lost no time, but goes out immediately from
the presence of the Lord and falls upon him. Besides what he doth upon
solemn and extraordinary occasions, these that are common and ordinary
are so carefully improved by him, that everything we hear or see is
ready to become our snare, and Satan will assay to tempt us by them,
though they lie something out of the way of our inclination, and be not
so likely to prevail with us.

3. Thirdly, It is also a discovery of his diligence, that he never
_fails to pursue every advantage which he gets against us to the
utmost_. If the occasion and motion thereupon incline us, so that if
we are persuaded by them, he follows it on, and is not satisfied with
either a lower degree of acting sinfully, or with one or two acts;
but then he presseth upon us to sin to the height, with the greater
contempt of God and grievance of his Spirit, the greater scandal and
offence to our brethren; and having once caused us to begin, he would
never have us to make an end. His temptations roll themselves upon
us like the breaking in of waters, which, by the fierceness of their
current, make a large way for more to follow. He knows how to improve
his victories, and will not, through slothfulness or pity, neglect to
complete them. Hence it is that sometimes he reaps a large harvest
where he had sown little, and from one temptation not only wounds the
soul of him that committed it, but endeavours to diffuse the venom and
poisonous steam of it to the infection of others, to the disgrace of
religion, the hardening the hearts of wicked men, and the turning the
ignorant out of the way of truth. In like manner, if he perceive the
spirits of men grow distempered and wounded, he then plies them with
threatenings, fills them with all manner of discouragements, dresseth
every truth with the worst appearance, that it may be apprehended
otherwise than it is, and puts such interpretations on all providences,
that everything may augment the smart of the wound, till they be
overwhelmed with terrors.

4. Fourthly, _The various ways which he takes_, shews also his
diligence. If one plot take not, he is immediately upon another. He
confines not himself to one design nor to one method; but if he find
one temptation doth not relish, he prepares another more suitable. If
covetousness doth not please us, then he urgeth to profuseness; if
terrors do not affright us to despair, then he abuseth mercies to make
us careless and presuming. If we are not content to be openly wicked,
then he endeavours to make us secretly hypocritical or formal. Sometime
he urgeth men to be profane; if that hit not, then to be erroneous.
If he cannot work by one tool, then he takes another; and if anything
in his way disgust, he will not urge it over-hard, but straight takes
another course. Such is his diligence, that we may say of him, as it
was said of Paul upon a better ground, he will ‘become all things to
all men, that he may gain some,’ [1 Cor. ix. 19.]

5. Fifthly, Diligence will most shew itself _when things are at the
greatest hazard, or when the hopes of success are ready to bring
forth_. In this point of diligence our adversary is not wanting. If men
are upon the point of error or sin, how industriously doth he labour to
bring them wholly over, and to settle them in evil! One would think at
such times he laid aside all other business, and only attended this.
How frequent, incessant, and earnest are his persuasions and arguings
with such! The like diligence he sheweth in obstructing, disturbing,
and discouraging us when we are upon our greatest services or near
our greatest mercies. What part of the day are we more wandering and
vain in our thoughts, if we take not great care, than when we set
about prayer? At other times we find some more ease and freedom in our
imaginations, as if we could better rule or command them; but then, as
if our thoughts were only confusion and disorder, we are not able to
master them, and to keep the door of the heart so close but that these
troublesome, unwelcome guests will be crowding in, is impossible. Let
us observe it seriously, and we shall find that our thoughts are not
the same, and after the same manner impetuous at other times as they
are when we set about holy things; which ariseth not only from the
quickness of our spiritual sense in our readier observation of them
at that time, but also from the devil’s busy molestation and special
diligence against us on such occasions. Besides, when he foresees
our advantages or mercies, he bestirs himself to prevent or hinder
us of them. If ministers set themselves to study and preach truths
that are more piercing, weighty, or necessary, they may observe more
molestations, interruptions, or discouragements of all sorts, than when
they less concern themselves with the business of the souls of men.
He foresees what sermons are provided, and often doth he upon such
foresight endeavour to turn off those from hearing that have most need
and are most likely to receive benefit by them. Many have noted it,
that those sermons and occasions that have done them most good, when
they came to them, they have been some way or other most dissuaded
from and resolved against before they came; and then when they have
broken through their strongest hindrances, they have found that all
their obstruction was Satan’s diligent foresight to hinder them of such
a blessing as they have, beyond hope, met withal. The like might be
observed of the constant returns of the Lord’s day. If men watch not
against it, they may meet with more than ordinary, either avocations
to prevent and hinder them, or disturbances to annoy and trouble, or
bodily indispositions to incapacitate and unfit them. And it is not
to be contemned, that some have observed themselves more apt to be
drowsy, dull, or sleepy on that day. Others have noted greater bodily
indispositions than ordinarily, than at other times; all which make no
unlikely conjecture of the devil’s special diligence against us on such

Let us cast in another instance to these, and that is, of those that
are upon the point of conversion, ready to forsake sin for Christ. Oh,
what pains then doth the devil take to keep them back! He visits them
every moment with one hindrance or other. Sometimes they are tempted
to former pleasures, sometime affrighted with present fears and future
disappointments; sometime discouraged with reproaches, scorns, and
afflictions that may attend their alteration; otherwhile obstructed by
the persuasion or threatening of friends and old acquaintances; but
this they are sure of, that they have never more temptations, and those
more sensibly troubling, than at that time—a clear evidence that Satan
is as diligent as malicious.

I should now go on to display the subtlety of this powerful, malicious,
cruel, and diligent adversary. There is but one thing in the way,
which hitherto I have taken for granted, and that is, Whether indeed
there be any such things as devils and wicked spirits, or that these
are but theological engines contrived by persons that carry a goodwill
to morality and the public peace, to keep men under an awful fear of
such miscarriages as may render them otherwise a shame to themselves
and a trouble to others. It must be acknowledged a transgression of
the rules of method to offer a proof of that now, which, if at all,
ought to have been proved in the beginning of the discourse: and
indeed the question at this length, whether there be a devil, hath such
affinity with that other, though for the matter they are as different
as heaven and hell, whether there be a God, that as it well deserves
a confirmation,—for the use that may be made of it to evidence that
there is a God, because we feel there is a devil,—so would it require
a serious endeavour to perform it substantially. But it would be not
only a needless labour to levy an army against professed atheists, who
with high scorn and derision roundly deny both God and devils—seeing
others have frequently done that—but also it would occasion too large a
digression from our present design. I shall therefore only speak a few
things to those that own a God, and yet deny such a devil as we have
described: and yet not to all of these neither, for there were many
heathens who were confident assertors of a deity, that nevertheless
denied the being of spirits as severed from corporeity; and others were
so far from the acknowledgment of devils, that they confounded them in
the number of their gods. Others there were who gave such credit to
the frequent relations of apparitions and disturbances of that kind,
that many had attested and complained of, that they expressed more
ingenuity[154] than Lucian, who pertinaciously refused to believe,
because he never saw them; and yet though they believed something of
reality in that that was the affrightment and trouble of others, they
nevertheless ascribed such extraordinary things to natural causes,
some to the powers of the heavens and stars in their influences upon
natural bodies, or by the mediation of certain herbs, stones, minerals,
creatures, voices, and characters, under a special observation of the
motion of the planets.[155] Some refer such things to the subtlety
and quickness of the senses of hearing and seeing, which might create
forms and images of things, or discover I know not what reflections
from the sun and moon. Some [Pomponatius, Epicureans] fancy the shapes
and visions to be exuviæ, thin scales or skins of natural things,
giving representations of the bodies that cast them off, or exhalations
from sepulchres, representing the shape of the body. Others [Cardan,
Academics] make them the effects of our untrusty and deceitful
senses, the debility and corruption whereof they conclude to be such,
and so general, that most men are in hazard to be imposed upon by
delusive appearances. But with far greater show of likelihood do some
[Averrhoes] make all such things to be nothing else but the issues of
melancholy and corrupt humours, which makes men believe they hear, see,
and suffer strange things, when there is nothing near them; or really
to undergo strange fits, as in lunacy and epilepsy.[156] Leaving these
men as not capable of information from Scripture evidence, because
disowning it, let us inquire what mistaken apprehensions there have
been in this matter among those that have pretended a reverence to and
belief of Scripture. The Sadducees deserve the first place, because
they are by name noted in Scripture to have ‘denied the resurrection,’
and to have ‘affirmed that there is neither angel nor spirit,’ Acts
xxiii. 8, and Mat. xxii. 23.

This opinion of theirs, could we certainly find it out, would make much
for the confirmation of the truth in question, seeing, whatever it was,
it is positively condemned in Scripture, and the contrary asserted to
be true. Many, and that upon considerable grounds, do think that they
do not deny absolutely that there were any angels at all, but that,
acknowledging that something there was which was called an angel, yet
they imagining it to be far otherwise than what it is indeed, were
accused justly for denying such a kind of angels as the Scripture had
everywhere asserted and described. For considering that they owned
a God, and, at least, the five books of Moses, if not all the other
books of the Old Testament—as Scaliger and others judge, not without
great probability, for neither doth the Scripture—nor Josephus mention
any such thing of the prophets—it is unimaginable that they would
altogether deny that there was angel or spirit at all.[157] They read
of angels appearing to Lot, to Abraham, and met with it so frequently,
that, believing Scriptures to be true, they could not believe angels to
be an absolute fiction; for one fable or falsity in Scripture, which so
highly asserts itself to be an unerring oracle of the true God, must of
necessity have destroyed the credit of all, and rendered them as justly
suspected to be true in nothing, when apparently false or fabulous in

Again, If we call to mind what apprehensions they had of God, which
all consent they did acknowledge, we might more easily imagine what
apprehensions they had of angels, for in regard that Moses made mention
of God’s face and back-parts, Exod. xxxiii., and that frequently hands
and other parts of man’s body were attributed to him, they concluded
God to be corporeal; and seeing the best of creatures which God created
cannot be supposed to have a more noble being than was that of their
Creator, and, at the utmost, to be made according to the pattern of
his own image and likeness, they might upon this bottom easily fix a
denial of incorporeal spirits, and by consequence that the soul of
man was mortal, and therefore that there could be no resurrection;
so that the nature of angels being described under the notion of
spiritual substances, they are judged to deny any such thing, supposing
that to be incorporeal was as much as not to be at all; and yet it
were unreasonable to deny that they had not some interpretation for
those passages of Scripture that mentioned angels, which in their
apprehensions might be some salvo to the truth of those historical
writings, which they acknowledged; but what that was we are next to
conjecture. And indeed Josephus, by a little hint of their opinion,
seems to tell us that they did not so much deny the being of the soul,
as the permanency of it; and so, by consequence, they might not so much
deny absolutely the existence of spirits, as their natural being and
continuance.[158] Something there was that was called by the name of
angel—that they could not but own—and that this must be a real and not
an imaginary thing, is evident from the real effect, and things done by
them; yet observing their appearances to have been upon some special
occasion, and their disappearing to have been on a sudden, they might
conjecture them to be created by God for the present service, and then
reduced to nothing when that service was done.

Their opinion, then, of angels seems to be one of these two: either
that they were corporeal substances created upon a special emergency,
but not permanent beings; or that they were but images and impressions
supernaturally formed in the fancy by the special operation of God,
to signify his mind and commands to men, upon which they might fitly
be called God’s messengers and ministers. I put in this last into the
conjecture, because I find it mentioned by Calvin,[159] as the opinion
of the Sadducees; but both are noted by Diodate,[160] on Acts xxiii. 8,
as with equal probability belonging to them. His words are, ‘They did
not believe they were subsisting and immortal creatures, but transitory
apparitions, or some divine actions and motions to produce some special
and notable effect.’

Others also have been lately hammering out the same apprehension
concerning angels, and profess themselves delivered from it with great
difficulty, differing only in this from some of the heathens before
mentioned, that what those ascribed to the puissance of the stars,
natural powers, or to weakness of senses and corrupt humours, they,
by the advantage of the general notions of Scripture, have ascribed
to God, putting forth his power upon the minds and fancies of men, or
working by the humours of the body.[161] Upon this foundation they
will easilier make bold with devils, to deny, if not their being, yet
their temptations, imagining that we may possibly do him wrong in
fathering upon him these solicitations and provocations to sin, which
we by experience find to be working and acting upon our minds, thinking
that our own fancies or imaginations may be the only devils that vex
us; and this they more readily hearken to, from the nature of dreams
and visions which happen to men in an ordinary natural way, where our
fancies play with us as if they were distinct from us; as also from
this consideration, that the lunatic, epileptic, and frenzical persons
are in Scripture called demoniacs, as Mat. xvii. 15, with Luke ix.,
where the person is called lunatic, and yet said to be taken and vexed
by a spirit. So also John x. 20, he hath a devil, and is mad. But these
reasonings can do little with an intelligent, considering man, to
make him deny what he so really feels, and is so often forewarned of
in Scripture; for suppose these were called demoniacs by the vulgar,
it doth not compel us to believe they were so. Men are apt to ascribe
natural diseases to Satan, and Christ did not concern himself to cure
their misapprehensions, while he cured their diseases.[162] This some
suggest as a reason that may answer many cases, though indeed it cannot
answer that of Mat. xvii., because, ver. 18, it is said expressly that
‘Jesus rebuked the devil, and he departed out of him,’ which would not
have been proper to have been spoken on the account of Christ by the
evangelist, to express the cure of a natural disease, for so would
he unavoidably have been rendered guilty of the same mistake with the
vulgar. But if we should grant that divers mentioned under the name of
demoniacs were men disturbed with melancholy, or the falling-sickness,
all were not so; for those in Mat. viii. 31, ‘besought Christ, after
their ejection,’ to have liberty ‘to go into the herd of swine:’ that
if Mr Mede intended to assert that all demoniacs were no other than
madmen and lunatics, I question not but he was mistaken, and by his
reason, not only must madmen and lunatic persons pass for demoniacs,
but all diseases whatsover; for the blind and dumb were called also
demoniacs, Mat. ix. 32, and xii. 22.[163] But the matter seems to
be this, that where men were afflicted with such distempers, Satan
took the advantage of them, and acted the possessed accordingly; as
he frequently takes the advantage of a melancholy indisposition, and
works great terrors and affrightments by it, as in Saul; or at least
that, where he possessed, he counterfeited the fits and furies of those
natural distempers, and acted some like madmen, and others he made dumb
and deaf—which seems to have been the case of those in Mat. ix. and
xii., where the deafness and dumbness did depend upon the possession,
and was cured with it—others were made to ‘fall on a sudden into fire
or water,’ as those that are epileptic, and therefore might such be
called both lunatic or epileptic, and also possessed with a devil.

As to that reason which some fetch from dreams, it is rather a dream
than a reason against the being of devils, seeing the effects of these
infernal spirits are far otherwise than the utmost of what can be
imagined to be acted upon the stage of imaginations; so that the real
and permanent being of devils may be easily proved:—

[1.] First, _From those real acts noted to be done by angels and
devils_. The angels that appeared to Lot were seen and entertained in
the family—seen and observed by the Sodomites. Those that appeared
to Abraham were more than fancied appearances, in that they ‘ate and
drank’ with him. The devil conveyed Christ from place to place. This
could not be a fancy or imagination. Their begging leave to go ‘into
the swine’ shews them real existences.

[2.] Secondly, _From the real effects done by them_. We have undoubted
testimonies of men really hurt and tormented by Satan. Of some really
snatched away, and carried a great distance from their dwellings. Of
others possessed, in whom the devil really speaks audible voices and
strange languages, gives notice of things past, and sometime of things
to come. The oracles of the heathen, which however they were for the
most part false or delusory, yet, in that they were responses from
images and idols, were more than phantasms.

[3.] Thirdly, _From what the Scripture speaks everywhere of them_. Of
their malice and cruelty; that devils are murderers from the beginning;
their daily waiting how they may devour; their arts, wiles, and
stratagems; their names and appellations, when styled principalities,
powers, spiritual wickednesses, the prince of the power of the air,
and a great many more to that purpose, shew that, without apparent
folly and dotage, we cannot interpret these of motions only upon the
minds and fancies of men. Besides, the Scripture speaks of the offices
of good angels, as their standing continually before the throne, their
beholding the face of God, their accompanying Christ at his second
coming, their gathering the elect from the four winds, &c., Dan. vii.
10, which cannot be understood of anything else but real and permanent
beings; and this is also an evidence that devils are, seeing the
Scripture mentions their fall and their punishment.

[4.] Fourthly, _Seeing also the Scripture condemned the opinion of the
Sadducees, the contrary of that opinion must be true_. And expressly in
Acts xii. 9, that which was done by an angel is opposed to what might
be visional or imaginary.

[5.] Fifthly, The reality of devils and their malignity hath been
the opinion of heathens. For there is nothing more common among them
than the belief of inferior deities, which they called δάιμονες or
δαιμόνια, that is, devils; and notwithstanding that they supposed these
to be mediators to the supreme gods, yet they learned to distinguish
them into good and evil.[164] The Platonists thought that the souls
of tyrants after death became _lemures_ and _larvæ_, that is, hurtful
devils; and at last the name _devil_ became of so bad a signification,
that to say, ‘thou hast a devil,’ was reproach and not praise; but what
these groped at in the dark, the Scripture doth fully determine, using
the word _devil_ only for a malignant spirit.


 _Of Satan’s cunning and craft in the general.—Several demonstrations
 proving Satan to be deceitful; and of the reasons why he makes use of
 his cunning._

We have taken a survey of our adversary’s strength, and this will
open the way to a clearer discovery of his subtlety and craft, which
is his great engine by which he works all his tyranny and cruelty in
the world, to the ruin or prejudice of the souls of men; of which
the apostle in 2 Cor. ii. 11 speaks, as a thing known by the common
experience of all discerning persons. His way is to overreach and take
advantages, and for this end he useth devices and stratagems, which is
a thing so ordinary with him, that none can be ignorant of the truth of
it: ‘We are not ignorant of his devices.’

This, before I come to the particulars, I shall prove and illustrate
in the general, by the gradual procedure of these few following

First, _All the malice, power, cruelty, and diligence of which we have
spoken, with all the advantages of multitude, order, and knowledge,
by which these cruel qualifications are heightened—these are but his
furniture and accomplishment which fit him for his subtle contrivances
of delusion, and make him able to deceive; neither hath he any rise
of his power and knowledge but in reference to deceit_. In Eph. vi.
11, 12, which is a place wherein the apostle doth of purpose present
Satan in his way of dealing with men, his whole practice is set forth
under the term and notion of arts and wiles: ‘that you may be able to
stand against the wiles of the devil.’ This is the whole work of Satan,
against which the furniture of that spiritual armour is requisite; and
lest any should think that his power or wickedness are other distinct
things in him, which are to be provided against by other means of
help, he presently adds, that these are no otherwise used by him but
in order to his wiles and cunning, and therefore not to be looked
upon as distinct, though indeed to be considered in conjunction with
his subtlety and cunning, as things that make his wiles the more
dangerous and hazardous: ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places;’
which words do but strengthen the apostle’s warning and caution about
the forementioned wiles, which are therefore the more carefully to be
observed and watched against, because his power is so great that he can
contrive snares with the greatest skill and art imaginable; and his
wickedness is so great, that we cannot expect either honesty or modesty
should restrain him from making the vilest and most disingenuous
proposals, nor from attesting a conveniency or goodness in his motions,
with the highest confidence of most notorious lying.

2. Secondly, _The subtlety that the Scriptures do attribute to sin, or
to the heart, is mostly and chiefly intended to reflect upon Satan,
as the author and contriver of these deceits_. In Heb. iii. 13 there
is mention of the ‘deceitfulness of sin,’ but it is evident that
something else besides sin is intended, to which deceitfulness must
be properly ascribed; for sin being, as most conclude, formally a
privation, or if we should grant it a positive being, as some contend,
yet seeing the highest notion we can arrive at this way, excluding
but the figment of Flacius Illyricus, who seems to make original sin
indistinct from the very essence of the soul, is but to call it an
act.[165] Deceitfulness cannot be properly attributed to it, but with
reference to him who orders that act in a way of deceitfulness and
delusion; which ultimately will bring it to Satan’s door. If here
the deceitfulness of sin be devolved upon the subject, then it runs
into the same sense with Jer. xvii. 9, ‘The heart is deceitful above
all things.’ But why is the deceitfulness fixed upon the heart? The
ground of that we have in the next words; it is deceitful, because it
is wicked, ‘desperately wicked.’ But who then inflames and stirs up
the heart to this wickedness? Is it not Satan? Who then is the proper
author of deceit but he? It is true, indeed, that our hearts are proper
fountains of sin, and so may be accused possibly in some cases where
Satan cannot be justly blamed; yet if we consider deceitfulness as a
companion of every sin, though our hearts be to be blamed for the sin,
Satan will be found guilty of the deceitfulness. It may be said a man
complies with those things which are intended for his delusion, and so
improperly by his negligence may fall under blame of self-deception;
but it is unimaginable that he can properly and formally intend to
deceive himself. Deceit then, not being from sin nor ourselves
properly, can find out no other parent for itself than Satan. Besides
this, that these texts upon a rational inquiry do charge Satan with
the deceitfulness of sin; they do over and above point at the known
and constant way of Satan, working so commonly by delusion, that
deceitfulness is a close companion of every sin. The deceitfulness of
one sin is as much as the deceitfulness of every sin. Nay, further,
that text of Jer. xvii. 9, shews this deceitfulness not to be an
ordinary sleight, but the greatest of all deceits above measure, and of
an unsearchable depth or mystery; ‘who can know it?’

3. Thirdly, _All acts of sin, some way or other, come through Satan’s
fingers_. I do not say that all sin is Satan’s proper offspring, for we
have a cursed stock of our own; and it may be said of us, as elsewhere
of Satan, sometime we sin out of our own inclination and disposition;
yet in every sin, whether it arise from us or the world, Satan blows
the sparks and manageth all. As David said to the woman of Tekoah,
‘Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this?’ [2 Sam. xiv. 19;]
so may we say, Is not the hand of Satan with thee in every sin thou
committest? This is so eminently true, that the Scripture indifferently
ascribes the sin sometimes to us, sometimes to the devil. It was
Peter’s sin to tempt Christ to decline suffering, yet Christ repelling
it with this rebuke, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’ Mat. xvi. 23, doth
plainly accuse both Peter and Satan. It is the personal sin of a man
to be angry, yet in such acts he ‘gives place to the devil;’ both man
and Satan concur in it, Eph. iv. 26. Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh,’ 2
Cor. xii. 7, whatever sin it was, he calls ‘Satan’s messenger.’ He
that submits not to God, doth in that comply with Satan; as, on the
contrary, he that doth submit himself to God, doth resist the devil,
James iv. 7.

Neither doth that expression of the apostle, James i. 14, ‘Every man
is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust,’ &c., give any
contradiction to this. It is not the apostle’s design to exclude
Satan, but to include man as justly culpable, notwithstanding Satan’s
temptations; and that which he asserts is this, that there is sin and
a temptation truly prevalent when there is the least consent of our
lust or desire, and that it is that brings the blame upon us; so that
his purpose is not to excuse Satan, or to deny him to have a hand in
drawing or tempting us on to sin, but to shew that it is our own act
that makes the sin to become ours.

4. Fourthly, _Such is the constitution of the soul of man, that its
sinning cannot be conceived without some deception or delusion_;[166]
for, granting that the soul of man is made up of desires, and that the
soul were nothing else but, as it were, one willing or lusting power
diversified by several objects; and that this power or these faculties
are depraved by the fall, and corrupted; and that man in every action
doth consult with his desires; and that they have so great an influence
upon him, that they are the law of the members, and give out their
commands accordingly for obedience; yet still these three things are
firm and unshaken principles:—

[1.] First, That desires cannot be set upon any object but as it is
apprehended truly or apparently good. It is incompatible to a rational
soul to desire evil as evil: _Omne appetit bonum_.

[2.] Secondly, The will doth not resolvedly embrace any object till
the light of the understanding hath made out, some way or other, the
goodness or conveniency of the object.[167]

[3.] Thirdly, There is no man that hath not a competent light for
discovery of the goodness or evil of an object presented. Unregenerate
men have, (1.) The light of nature. (2.) Some have an additional
light from Scripture discovery. (3.) Some have yet more from common
convictions, which beget sensible stirrings and awful impressions upon
them. (4.) To those God sometime adds corrections and punishments,
which are of force to make that light burn more clear, and to stir up
care and caution in men for the due entertainment of these notices that
God affords them. Regenerate men have all this light, and besides that,
they have, (1.) The light of their own experience, of the vileness and
odiousness of sin; they know what an evil and bitter thing it is. (2.)
They have a more full discovery of God, which will make them abhor
themselves in dust and ashes, Job xlii. 6; Isa. vi. 5. (3.) They have
the advantage of a new heart, the law of the spirit of life, making
them free from the law of sin and death. (4.) They have also the
help and assistance of the Spirit, in its motions, suggestions, and
teachings. (5.) They fortify themselves with the strongest resolutions
not to give way to sin.

Notwithstanding all these, it is too true that both regenerate and
unregenerate men do sin; the reason whereof cannot be given from any
other account than what we have asserted—to wit, they are some way or
other deluded or deceived; some curtain is drawn betwixt them and the
light; some fallacy or other is put upon the understanding some way or
other; the will is bribed or biassed; there is treachery in the case,
for it is unimaginable that a man in any act of sin should offer a
plain, open, and direct violence to his own nature and faculties; so
that the whole business is here, evil is presented under the notion of
good; and to make this out, some considerations of pleasure or profit
do bribe the will, and give false light to the understanding. Hence is
it, that in every act of sin, men, by compliance with Satan, are said
to deceive, or to put tricks and fallacies upon themselves.[168]

5. Fifthly, _All kinds of subtlety are in Scripture directly charged
upon Satan, and in the highest degrees_. Sometime under the notion
of logical fallacies; those sleights which disputants, in arguing,
put upon their antagonists. Of this import is that expression, 2
Cor. ii. 11, ‘We are not ignorant of his devices,’ where the word
in the original is borrowed from the sophistical reasonings of
disputants.[169] Sometime it is expressed in the similitude of
political deceits; as the Scripture gives him the title of a prince, so
doth it mark out his policies in the management of his kingdom, Rev.
xii. 7, expressly calling them deceits, and comparing him to a dragon
or serpent for his subtlety. Sometime he is represented as a warrior:
Rev. xii. 17, ‘The dragon was wroth, and went to make war,’ &c.; and
here are his warlike stratagems pointed at. Mention is made, 2 Tim. ii.
26, of his snares, and the taking of men alive, or captive, directly
alluding to warlike proceedings, [ἐζωγρήμενοι.] The subtle proceedings
of arts and craft are charged on him and his instruments. Men are said
to be enticed, James i., as fish or fowl, by a bait; others deluded,
as by cheaters in false gaming: Eph. iv. 14, ‘By the sleight of men,
and the cunning craft of those that lie in wait to deceive.’[170] The
overreaching of merchants or crafty tradesmen is alluded to in 2 Cor.
ii. 11. All these sleights are in Satan, in their highest perfection
and accomplishment. He can ‘transform himself into an angel of light,’
2 Cor. xi. 14, where he hath an occasion for it; in a word, all
‘deceiveableness of unrighteousness is in him,’ 2 Thes. ii. 10. So that
a general πανουργία, a dexterity and ability for all kind of subtle
contrivances, is ascribed to him, 2 Cor. xi. 3, and that in his very
first essay upon Eve, when the serpent deceived her ‘through subtlety;’
so that whatsoever malice can suggest, or wit and art contrive for
delusion, or whatsoever diligence can practise, or cruelty execute, all
that must be imagined to be in Satan.

6. Sixthly, All this might be further proved _by instances_. What
temptation can be named wherein Satan hath not acted as a serpent? Who
can imagine the cunning that Satan used with David in the matter of
Uriah? How easily he got him to the roof of the house in order to the
object to be presented to him! How he directs his eye, wrought upon his
passions, suggested the thought, contrived the conveniences! What art
must there be to bring a darkness into David’s mind, a forgetfulness
of God’s law, a fearlessness of his displeasure, and a neglect of his
own danger! Surely it was no small matter that could blind David’s
eye, or besot his heart to so great a wickedness. But, above all
instances, let us take into consideration that of Eve, in the first
transgression, wherein many things may be observed; as (1.) That he
chose the serpent for his instrument, wherein, though we are ignorant
of the depth of his design, yet that he had a design in it of subtlety,
in reference to what he was about to suggest, is plain from the text,
‘Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field.’ It had
been needless and impertinent to have noted the serpent’s subtlety as
Satan’s agent, if he had not chosen it upon that score, as advantageous
for his purpose. (2.) He set upon the weaker vessel, the woman; and
yet such, as once gained, he knew was likely enough to prevail with
the man, which fell out accordingly. (3.) Some think he took the
advantage of her husband’s absence, which is probable, if we consider
that it is unlikely that Adam should not interpose in the discourse
if he had been present. (4.) He took the advantage of the object. It
appears she was within sight of the tree, ‘She saw that it was good
for food, and pleasant to the eyes;’ thus he made the object plead
for him. (5.) He falls not directly upon what he intended, lest that
should have scared her off, but fetcheth a compass and enters upon the
business by an inquiry of the affair, as if he intended not hurt. (6.)
He so inquires of the matter— ‘Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of
every tree of the garden?’—as if he made a question of the reality of
the command; and his words were so ordered that they might cast some
doubt hereof into her mind. (7.) He, under a pretence of asserting
God’s liberality, secretly undermines the threatening, as if he had
said, ‘Is it possible that so bountiful a creator should deny the
liberty of eating of any tree? To what purpose was it made, if it might
not be tasted?’ (8.) When he finds that by these arts he had gained
a little ground, and brought her to some land of questioning of the
reality of the threatening, for she seems to extenuate it in saying,
‘lest we die,’ he grows more bold to speak out his mind, and plainly
to annihilate the threatening, ‘Ye shall not die.’ This he durst not
do, till he had gained in her mind a wavering suspicion, that possibly
God was not in good earnest in that prohibition. (9.) Then he begins
to urge the conveniency and excellency of the fruit, by equivocating
upon the name of the tree, which he tells her could make them knowing
as gods. (10.) He reflects upon God as prohibiting this out of envy and
ill-will to them. (11.) In all this there is not a word of the danger,
but impunity and advantage promised. (12.) This deadly advice he covers
with a pretence of greater kindness and care than God had for them. See
in this, as in a clear glass, Satan’s way of policy; after this rate he
proceeds in all his temptations.

If any inquire why so mighty and potent a prince useth rather the fox’s
skin than the lion’s paw, these reasons may satisfy:—

[1.] First, _There is a necessity upon him so to do_.[171] He must use
his craft, because he cannot compel; he must have God’s leave before he
can overcome; he cannot winnow Peter before he sue out a commission,
nor deceive Ahab till he get a licence; neither can he prevail against
us without our own consent. The Scripture indeed useth some words that
signify a force in tempting, as that he ‘put it into the heart of
Judas,’ ‘filled the heart of Ananias,’ ‘provoked David,’ ‘rules in the
hearts of the children of disobedience,’ and ‘leads them captive at his
will,’ &c.; yet all these and the like expressions intend no more than
this, that he useth forcible importunities, frames strong delusions,
and joins sometime his power to his temptations; as sometime fowlers
shew themselves to the birds they intend to ensnare, that so they may
be affrighted into an awe and amazement, to give a better opportunity
to spread their nets over them.

[2.] Secondly, _If he could compel, yet his way of craft and subtlety
is generally the most prevalent and successful_. Force stirs up an
opposition; it usually alarms to caution and avoidance, and frights to
an utter averseness in any design; so that where force should gain its
thousands, subtlety will gain its ten thousands.

[3.] Thirdly, _His strength is not useless to him_. For besides that
it enables him to deceive with higher advantage than otherwise he
could do, as hath been said, he hath times and occasions to shew his
strength and cruelty, when his cunning hath prevailed so far as to give
him possession. What was said of Pope Boniface, that he entered like
a fox, and ruled like a lion, may be applied to him; he insinuates
himself by subtlety as a fox or serpent, and then rules with rigour as
a lion.


 _Of Satan’s deceits in particular.—What temptation is.—Of tempting to
 sin.—His first general rule.—The consideration of our condition.—His
 second rule.—Of providing suitable temptations.—In what cases he
 tempts us to things unsuitable to our inclinations.—His third
 rule.—The cautious proposal of the temptation, and the several ways
 thereof.—His fourth rule is to entice.—The way thereof in the general,
 by bringing a darkness upon the mind through lust._

Our next business is to inquire after these ways of deceit in
particular; in which I shall first speak of such as are of more general
and universal concernment—such are his temptations to sin, his deceits
against duty, his cunning in promoting error, his attempts against the
peace and comfort of the saints, &c.—and then I shall come to some ways
of deceits that relate to cases more special.

As an introduction to the first, I shall speak a word _of temptation
in the general_. This in its general notion is a trial or experiment
made of a thing. The word that signifies to tempt, comes from a word
that signifies to pierce, or bore through,[172] implying such a trial
as goes to the very heart and inwards of a thing. In this sense it is
attributed to God, who is said to have tempted Abraham, and to put our
faith upon trial; and sometime to Satan, who is said to have tempted
Christ, though he could not expect to prevail. But though God and
Satan do make these trials, yet is there a vast difference betwixt
them, and that not only in their intentions—the one designing only
a discovery to men of what is in them, and that for most holy ends;
the other intending ruin and destruction—but also in the way of their
proceedings.[173] God by providence presents objects and occasions;
Satan doth not only do that, but further inclineth and positively
persuadeth to evil. Hence is it that temptations are distinguished
into trials merely, and seducements; suitable to that of Tertullian,
[De Orat.] _Diabolus tentat, Deus probat_, The devil tempts, God
only tries. We speak of temptation as it is from Satan, and so it is
described to be a drawing or moving men to sin under colour of some
reason.[174] By which we may observe that, in every such temptation,
there is the object to which the temptation tends, the endeavour of
Satan to incline our hearts and draw on our consent, and the instrument
by which is some pretence of reason; not that a real and solid reason
can be given for sin, but that Satan offers some considerations to us
to prevail with us, which, if they do, we take them to be reasons. This
may a little help us to understand Satan’s method in tempting to sin,
&c., of which I am first to speak.

In temptations to sin, we may observe, Satan walks by four general

1. First, _He considers and acquaints himself with the condition of
every man, and for that end he studies man_. God’s question concerning
Job, ‘Hast thou considered my servant Job?’ Job i. 8, doth imply, not
only his diligent inquiry into Job’s state—for the original expresseth
it by Satan’s ‘putting his heart upon Job, or laying him to his
heart’[175]—but that this is usual with Satan so to do; as if God had
said, It is thy way to pry narrowly into every man: hast thou done this
to Job? Hast thou considered him as thou usest to do? And indeed Satan
owns this as his business and employment in his answer to God, ‘I come
from going to and fro in the earth, from walking up and down in it.’
This cannot be properly said of him who is a spirit. Bodies go up and
down, but not spirits; so that his meaning is, he had been at his work
of inquiring and searching. And so Broughton translates it,[176] from
searching to and fro in the earth; as it is said of the eyes of God,
that they ‘run to and fro,’ which intends his intelligence, search, and
knowledge of things. It is such a going to and fro as that in Dan. xii.
4, which is plainly there expressed to be for the increase of knowledge.

The matter of his inquiry or particulars of his study are such as
these: (1.) Man’s state; he considers and guesseth whether a man
be regenerate or unregenerate. (2.) The degree of his state: if
unregenerate, how near or far off he is the kingdom of God; if
regenerate, he takes the compass of his knowledge, of his gifts, of his
graces. (3.) He inquires into his constitution and temper; he observes
what disposition he is of. (4.) His place, calling, and relation; his
trade, employment, enjoyments, riches, or wants. (5.) His sex. (6.) His
age, &c.

The way by which he knows these things is plain and easy. Most of
these things are open to common observation; and what is intricate or
dark, that he beats out, either by comparing us with ourselves, and
considering a long tract of actions and carriage; or by comparing us
with others, whose ways he had formerly noted and observed.

The end of this search is to give him light and instruction in point
of advantage; hence he knows where to raise his batteries, and how to
level his shot against us. This Christ plainly discovers to be the
design of all his study, John xiv. 30, where he tells his disciples
he expected yet another onset from Satan, and that near at hand; ‘for
the prince of the world’ was then upon his motion, he was a-coming;
but withal, he tells them of his security against his assaults, in
that there was ‘nothing in Christ’ of advantage in any of these
forementioned ways to foot a temptation upon. It appears, then, that
he looks for such advantages, and that without these he hath little
expectancy of prevailing.

2. Secondly, Satan having acquainted himself with our condition, makes
it his next care to provide _suitable temptations, and to strike in the
right vein_; for he loves to have his work easy and feasible, he loves
not [to] go against the stream. Thus he considered Judas as a covetous
person, and accordingly provided a temptation of gain for him. He
did the like with Achan; and hence was it that he had the Sabeans so
ready for the plunder of Job; he had observed them a people given to
rapine and spoil; and accordingly, Job’s goods being propounded to
them as a good and easy booty, he straightway prevailed with them. It
was easy for him to draw Absalom into an open rebellion against his
father; he had taken notice of his ambitious and aspiring humour, and
of the grudges and dissatisfactions under which he laboured; so that,
providing him a fit opportunity, he engaged him immediately. According
to this rule, where he observes men of shallow heads and low parts, he
the more freely imposeth upon them in things palpably absurd; where he
takes notice of a fearful temper, there he tempts them with terrors and
affrightful suggestions. He hath temptations proper for the sanguine
complexion and for the melancholy; he hath his methods of dealing with
the lustful and wanton, with the passionate and revengeful; he hath
novelties at hand for the itching ear, and suggestions proper for those
that are atheistically inclined.

_Obj._ To this may be objected, That experience tells us Satan doth not
always walk in this road, nor confine himself to this rule: sometime he
tempts to things which are cross to our tempers and inclinations, &c.

_Ans._ It is true he doth so; but yet the general rule is not
prejudiced by this exception, especially if we consider,

[1.] First, _That Satan being still under the commands and restraint
of the Almighty, he cannot always tempt what he would, but according
to a superior order and command_. Of this nature I suppose was that
temptation of which Paul complained so much; ‘he kept down his body,’
1 Cor. ix. 27, upon this very design, that he might have it in
subjection, and yet is he buffeted with a temptation which expected
an advantage usually from the temper and frames of our bodies—for so
much, I suppose, that phrase, ‘a thorn in the flesh,’ will unavoidably
imply—though it still leave us at uncertainties what the temptation was
in particular. Here Satan tempts at a disadvantage, and contrary to
this rule; but then we must know that he was not the master of his own
game—God expressly ordering such a temptation as was disagreeing with
the apostle’s disposition, that it might the less prevail or hazard
him, and yet be more available to keep him low, ‘lest he should be
exalted above measure,’ which was God’s design in the matter.

[2.] Secondly, _Sometime our temper alters_; as the tempers of our
bodies in a sickness may in a fit be so changed that they may desire at
that time what they could not endure at another. A special occasion or
concurrence of circumstances may alter for the time our constitution,
and so an unusual temptation may at that time agree with this design.

[3.] Thirdly, _Sometime by one temptation Satan intends but to lay the
foundation of another_; and then of purpose he begins with a strange
suggestion, either to keep us at the gaze while he covertly doth
something else against us, or to move us to a contrary extreme by an
over-hasty rashness.

[4.] Fourthly, _Sometime he tempts when his main design is only
to trouble and disquiet us_; and in such cases the most unnatural
temptations, backed with a violent impetuousness, do his work the best.

3. Thirdly, Satan’s next work is _the proposal of the temptation_.
In the two former he provided materials and laid the trains; in this
he gives fire, by propounding his design; and this also he doth with
caution these several ways:—

[1.] First, He makes _the object speak for him, and in many he is
scarce put to any further trouble_: the object before them speaks
Satan’s mind, and gains their consent immediately; yet is there no
small cunning used in fitting the object and occasion, and bringing
things about to answer the very nick of time which he takes to be
advantageous for him.

[2.] Secondly, Sometime he appoints _a proxy to speak for him_; not
that he is shamefaced in temptation, and not always at leisure for his
own work, but this way he insinuates himself the more dangerously into
our affections, and with less suspicion, using our friends, relations,
or intimate acquaintance to intercede for a wicked design. He did
not speak himself to Eve, but chose a serpent: he thought Eve would
sooner prevail upon Adam than the serpent could. He tempted Job by the
tongue of his wife, as if he had hoped that what so near a relation had
counselled would easily be hearkened to. He tempted Christ to avoid
suffering by Peter, under a pretence of highest love and care, ‘Master,
spare thyself,’ [Mat. xvi. 23;] yet our Saviour forbears not to note
Satan’s temptation closely twisted with Peter’s kindness. At this rate
are we often tempted where we little suspect danger.

[3.] Thirdly, If he finds the two first ways unhopeful or unsuitable,
then he _injects the motion, and so plainly speaks to us inwardly
himself_, ‘Do this act, take this advantage for pleasure or profit,’
&c. He thought it not enough to tempt Judas by the object of gain, but
he brake his mind in direct terms, and ‘put it into his heart,’ John
xiii. 2. He did the like to Ananias, whose heart he filled with a large
motion for that lie, and backed it with many considerations of the
necessity and expediency of it, Acts v. 3. There is no question to be
made of this. Dr Goodwin gives clear proofs of it, and so do several
others.[177] When we consider that thoughts are sometime cast upon the
minds of men which are above their knowledge, and that they say and
do things sometime which are far beyond any of their accomplishments
and parts, and yet in the nature of it wicked, we must be forced to
run so high as to charge it upon Satan. Saul’s prophesying, 1 Sam.
xviii. 10, was by the influence of the evil spirit; and this—as Junius,
Tirinus, and others interpret[178]—must of necessity be understood of
such a kind of action and speaking as the true prophets of the Lord
usually expressed under the influences of the blessed Spirit; for from
the likeness of the action in both must the name be borrowed. The
experience that we have of inward disputings, the bandying of arguments
and answers in several cases, is a proof of this beyond exception.
Wounded consciences express an admirable dexterity in breaking all
arguments urged for their peace and establishment; as also in framing
objections against themselves, so far above the usual measure of common
capacities, that we cannot ascribe it to any other than Satan’s private
aid this way.

[4.] Fourthly, The motion being made, if there be need, he doth
_irritate and stir up the mind to the embracement of it_; and this he
doth two ways:—

_First, By an earnestness of solicitation_; when he urgeth the
thing over and over, and gives no rest; when he joins with this an
importunity of begging and entreating with the repeated motion;
when he draws together and advantageously doth order a multitude of
considerations to that end; and when in all this he doth hold down the
mind and thoughts, and keep them upon a contemplation of the object,
motions, and reasons. Thus he provoked David, 1 Chron. xxi. 1; and this
kind of dealing occasioned the apostle to name his temptations and our
resistance by the name of ‘wrestlings,’ in which usually there appears
many endeavours and often repeated, to throw down the antagonist.

_Secondly_, He doth irritate _by a secret power and force that he
hath upon our fancies and passions_. When men are said to be carried
and led by Satan, it implies, in the judgment of some,[179] more than
importunity; and that though he cannot force the spring of the will,
yet he may considerably act upon it by pulling at the weights and
plummets—that is, by moving and acting our imaginations and affections.

4. Fourthly, The motion being thus made, notwithstanding all his
importunity, often finds resistance; in which case he comes to the
practice of a fourth rule, which is _to draw away and entice the heart
to consent_—as it is expressed, James i. 14, ‘Every man is tempted,
when he is drawn away and enticed.’[180] I shall avoid here the variety
of the apprehensions which some declare at large about the meaning of
the words, satisfying myself with this, that the apostle points at
those artifices of Satan by which he draws and allures the will of
man to a compliance with his motions, which when he effects in any
degree, then may a man be said to be prevailed upon by the temptation.
But then here is the wonder, how he should so far prevail against
that reason and knowledge which God hath placed in man to fence and
guard him against a thing so absurd and unreasonable as every sin is.
The solution of this knot we have in 2 Cor. iv. 4, ‘The god of this
world blinds the eyes of men,’ draws a curtain over this knowledge,
and raiseth a darkness upon them: which darkness, though we cannot
fully apprehend, yet that it is a very great and strange darkness may
be discovered, (1.) Partly by considering the subject of it—man, a
rational creature, in whom God hath placed a conscience, which is both
a law, and witness, and judge. It cannot be supposed an easy matter to
cloud or obliterate that law, to silence or pervert that witness, or to
corrupt that judge; but it will rise higher in the wonder of it if we
consider this in a godly man, one that sets God before him, and is wont
to have his fear in his heart—such a man as David was, that in so plain
a case, in so high a manner, so long a time, with so little sense and
apprehension of the evil and danger, Satan should so quickly prevail,
it is an astonishment: neither will it be less strange if we consider,
(2.) The issue and effect of this blindness. Some rise up against
this law of conscience, arguing it false and erroneous, and making
conclusions directly contrary, as Deut. xxix. 19, ‘I shall have peace,
though I walk on in the imaginations of my heart;’ ‘I have fellowship
with him, though I walk in darkness,’ 1 John i. 6; ‘We will not hearken
unto thee, but will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth out of our own
mouth,’ Jer. xlv. 16, 17; in which cases the συντήρησις, or principles
of conscience, are quite overthrown. Some are hardened, and as to any
application of their acts to this rule, quite dead and senseless.
Though they rise not up against the light, yet are they willingly
ignorant, without any consideration of what they are doing. Here the
συνείδησις, or witnessing and excusing power of conscience, is idle and
asleep. Some, though they know the law, and in some measure see their
actions are sinful, yet they pass no judgment, apprehend no danger:
‘No man smites upon his thigh, saying, What have I done?’ Jer. viii.
6. Nay, some are so far from this, that they presumptuously justify
themselves, though they see their own blame and ruin before them: ‘I do
well to be angry, and that to the death,’ saith Jonah, when Satan had
spread a darkness upon him.

What shall we say of these things? Here is darkness to be felt,
Egyptian darkness. To explain the way of it fully is impossible for
us; to do it in any tolerable way is difficult. To make some discovery
herein I shall, (1.) Shew that the devil doth entice to sin by
‘stirring up our lust;’ (2.) That by the power and prevalency of our
lust he brings on the blindness spoken of.


 _That Satan enticeth by our lust.—The several ways by which he doth
 it.—Of the power and danger of the violence of affections._

The way, then, by which he doth entice is by ‘stirring up our lust.’ By
‘lust’ I mean those general desirings of our minds after any unlawful
object which are forbidden in the tenth commandment. Thus we read of
‘worldly lusts,’ of the ‘lusts of the flesh,’ of ‘lustings to envy,’
and, in a word, we read of ‘divers lusts,’ the whole attempt and
striving of corrupt nature against the Spirit being set forth by this
expression ‘of lusting against the Spirit,’ Titus ii. 12; 1 Peter ii.
18; James iv. 5; Titus iii. 3; Gal. v. 17.

That Satan takes advantage of our own lusts, and so ploughs with our
heifer, turning our own weapons against ourselves, is evident by the
general vote of Scripture. The apostle James, chap. i. 14, tells us
that every temptation prevails only by the power and working of our
own lusts. Satan is the tempter, but our lusts are the advantages by
which he draws and enticeth. The corrupt principle within us is called
‘flesh,’ but the way whereby it works, either in its own proper motion
or as stirred up by the devil, is that of lust and affection; and
therefore he that would stop that issue must look to mortify it in its
affections and lusts, Gal. v. 24. We are further told by John, 1 Epist.
ii. 16, that all those snares that are in the world are only hazardous
and prevailing by our lusts. More generally the apostle Peter speaks,
2 Peter i. 4; the whole bundle of actual sins that have ever been in
the world came in at this door, ‘The corruption that is in the world
is through lust.’ In the stirring up our lusts Satan useth no small
art and subtlety, and ordinarily he worketh by some of these following

1. First, He useth his skill _to dress up an object of lust that
it may be taking and alluring_. He doth not content himself with a
simple proposal of the object, but doth as it were paint and varnish
it, to make it seem beautiful and lovely. Besides all that wooing
and importunity which he useth to the soul by private and unseen
suggestions, he hath no doubt a care to gather together all possible
concurring circumstances, by which the seeming goodness or conveniency
of the object is much heightened and enlarged. We see those that have
skill to work upon the humours of men place a great part of it in
the right circumstantiating a motion, and in taking the tempers and
inclinations of men at a right time. And they observe that the missing
of the right season is the hazard of the design, even there where
the object and inclination ordinarily are suitable. There is much in
placing a picture in a right position, to give it its proper grace and
lustre in the eyes of the beholders. When a man is out of humour he
nauseates his usual delights, and grows sullen to things of frequent
practice. It is likely Eve was not a stranger to the tree of knowledge
before the temptation, but when the serpent suggests the goodness of
the fruit, the fruit itself seems more beautiful and desirable, ‘good
for food, and pleasant to the eyes,’ [Gen. ii. 9.] Though we are not
able to find out the way of Satan’s beautifying an object that it may
affect with more piercing and powerful delights, yet he that shall
consider that not only prudence, in an advantageous management of
things, adds an additional beauty to objects proposed, but also that
art, by placing things in a right posture, may derive a radiancy and
beam of beauty and light upon them, as an ordinary piece of glass may
be so posited to the sunbeams that it may reflect a sparkling light
as if it were a diamond,—he that shall consider this, I say, will not
think it strange for the devil to use some arts of this kind for the
adorning and setting off an object to the eye of our lusts.

2. Secondly, We have reason to suspect that he may have _ways of deceit
and imposture upon our senses_. The deceits of the senses are so much
noted, that some philosophers will scarce allow any credit to be given
them; not that they are always deceitful, but that they are often so,
and therefore always suspicious.[181] The soul hath no intelligence but
by the senses. It is then a business of easy belief, that Satan may
not altogether slight this advantage, but that when he sees it fit for
his purpose, he may impose upon us by the deception of our eyes and
ears. We little know how oft our senses have disguised things to us.
In a pleasing object, our eyes may be as a magnifying or multiplying
glass. In the first temptation Satan seems to have wrought both upon
the object and also upon the senses; she ‘saw it was good for food
and pleasant.’ Who can question but that she saw the fruit before?
But this was another kind of sight, of more power and attraction. An
instance of Satan’s cunning in both the forementioned particulars we
have from Austin, relating the story of his friend Alypius, who by the
importunity of his acquaintance consented to go to the theatre, yet
with a resolve not to open his eyes, lest the sight of these spectacles
should entice his heart; but being there, the noise and sudden
shouting of the multitude prevailed so far with him that he forgot his
resolution; takes the liberty to see what occasioned the shouting, and
once seeing, is now so inflamed with delight that he shouts as the rest
do, and becomes a frequenter of the theatre as others.[182] What was
there to be seen and heard he knew before by the relation of others;
but now being present, his eyes and ears were by Satan so heightened
in their offices, that those bloody objects seemed pleasant beyond all
that had been reported of them, and the lust of his heart drawn out by
Satan’s cunning disposal of the object and senses.

3. Thirdly, There is no small enticement arising from _the fitness and
suitableness of occasion_. An occasion exactly fitted is more than
half a temptation. This often makes a thief, an adulterer, &c., where
the acts of these sins have their rise from a sudden fit of humour,
which occasion puts them in, rather than from design or premeditation.
Cunningly contrived occasions are like the danger of a precipice. If
a man be so foolish as to take up a stand there, a small push will
throw him over, though a far greater might not harm him if he were upon
a level. It is Satan’s cunning to draw a man within the reach of an
occasion. All the resolves of Alypius were not safeguard to him, when
once he was brought within hearing and sight of the temptation. If he
had stayed at home, the hazard of Satan’s suggestions, though earnest,
had not been so much as the hearing of his ears and sight of his eyes.
In 2 Cor. ii. 11, Paul’s fears of Satan’s taking advantage against the
Corinthians, did manifestly arise from the present posture of their
church affairs: for if the excommunicated person should not be received
again into the church, an ordinary push of temptation might either have
renewed or confirmed their contentions, or precipitated[183] them into
an opinion of too much severity against an offending brother; and that
their present frame made them more than ordinarily obnoxious to these
snares, is evident from the apostle’s caution inserted here in this
discourse, so abruptly, that any man may observe the necessity of the
matter, and the earnestness of his affections did lead his pen.[184]
The souls of men have their general discrasias and disaffections, as
our bodies have, from a lingering distemperature of the blood and
humours; in which case, a small occasion, like a particular error of
diet, &c., in a declining body, will easily form that inclination into
particular acts of sin.

4. Fourthly, Satan hath yet a further reach in his enticements, by
_the power which he hath upon our fancies and imaginations_. That he
hath such a power was discovered before. This being then supposed,
how serviceable it is for his end it is now to be considered. Our
fancy is as a glass, which, with admirable celerity and quickness of
motion, can present before us all kinds of objects; it can in a moment
run from one end of the earth to the other; and besides this, it hath
a power of creating objects, and casting them into what forms and
shapes it pleaseth, all which our understanding cannot avoid the sight
of. Now the power of imagination is acknowledged by all to be very
great, not only as working upon a melancholy and distempered spirit,
of which authors give us large accounts,[185] but also upon minds
more remote from such peremptory delusions; as may be daily observed
in the prejudices and prepossessions of men, who by reason of the
impressions of imagination, are not without difficulty drawn over to
the acknowledgment of the truth of things, and the true understanding
of matters; neither is the understanding only liable to a more than
ordinary heat and rapture by it, but the will is also quickened and
sharpened in its desires by this means. Hence is it, as one of the
forecited authors observes,[186] that fancy doth often more toward
a persuasion by its insinuations than a cogent argument or rational

This is no less a powerful instrument in Satan’s hand, than commonly
and frequently made use of. Who amongst us doth not find and feel him
dealing with us at this weapon? When he propounds an object to our
lust, he doth not usually expose it naked under the hazard of dying
out for want of prosecution, but presently calls in our fancy to his
aid, and there raiseth a theatre, on which he acts before our minds the
sin in all its ways and postures. If he put us upon revenge, or upon
lusts of uncleanness, or covetousness, or ambition, we are sure, if we
prevent it not, to have our imagination presenting these things to us
as in lively pictures and resemblances, by which our desires may be
inflamed and prepared for consent.

5. Fifthly, Sometime he shews his art _in preparing and fitting our
bodies to his designs, or in fitting temptations to our bodies and
the inclinations thereof_. The soul, though it be a noble being, yet
is it limited by the body, and incommodated by the craziness and
indispositions thereof, so that it can no more act strenuously or
evenly to its principles in a disordered body, than it can rightly
manage any member of it, in its natural motions, where the bones are
disjointed. Hence sickness or other bodily weaknesses do alter the
scene, and add another kind of bias to the soul than what it had
before. This Satan takes notice of, and either follows his advantage
of the present indisposition, or, if he hath some special design,
endeavours to cast our body into such a disorder as may best suit his
intention. Asa was more easily drawn to be overseen in peevishness and
rash anger in his latter days, when his body grew diseased. Satan had
his advantage against Solomon to draw him to idolatry when old age and
uxoriousness had made him more ductile to the solicitations of his
wives; ‘When Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart,’ 1 Kings
xi. 4. The devil, when he took upon him to foretell Job’s blaspheming
God to his face, yet he attempted not the main design till he thought
he had thoroughly prepared him for it, by the anguish and smart of a
distempered body and mind; and though he failed in the great business
of his boast, yet he left us an experiment in Job, that the likeliest
way to prevail upon the mind in hideous and desperate temptations, is
to mould the body to a suitable frame. He prevailed not against Job
to cause him curse God, yet he prevailed far, ‘he cursed the day of
his birth,’ and spake many things by the force of that distress, which
he professeth himself ashamed of afterwards. The body then will be in
danger, when it is disordered, to give a tincture to every action, as
a distempered palate communicates a bitterness to everything it takes

6. Sixthly, _Evil company is a general preparatory to all kinds of
temptation_. He enticeth strongly that way. For, (1.) Evil society doth
insensibly dead the heart, and quench the heat of the affections to
the things of God. It hath a kind of bewitching power to eat out the
fear of the Lord in our hearts, and to take off the weight and power
of religious duty. It not only stops our tongues, and retards them in
speaking of good things, but influenceth the very heart, and poisons it
into a kind of deadness and lethargy, so that our thoughts run low, and
we begin to think that severe watchfulness of thoughts and the guard of
our minds to be a needless and melancholy self-imposition. (2.) Example
hath a strange insinuating force to enstamp a resemblance, and to beget
imitation. Joseph, living where his ears were frequently beaten with
oaths, finds it an easy thing, upon a feigned occasion, to swear by
the life of Pharaoh, [Gen. xlii. 15]. Evil company is sin’s nursery
and Satan’s academy, by which he trains up those whose knowledge and
hopeful beginnings had made them shy of his temptations; and if he can
prevail with men to take such companions, he will with a little labour
presently bring them to any iniquity.

7. Seventhly, But his highest project in order to the enticing of
men, is to _engage their affections to a height and passionateness_.
The Scripture doth distinguish betwixt the ἐπιθυμίας and παθήματα,
the affections and lusts, Gal. v. 24; clearly implying that the way
to procure fixed desires and actual lustings, is to procure those
passionate workings of the mind.

How powerful a part of his design this is, will appear from the nature
of these passions: which are,

[1.] First, _Violent motions of the heart_; the very wings and sails
of the soul, and every passion, in its own working, doth express a
violence.[187] Choler is an earnest rage; voluptuousness is nothing
less; fear is a desperate hurry of the soul; ‘love strong as death;
jealousy cruel as the grave;’ each of them striving which should excel
in violence, so that it is a question yet undetermined which passion
may challenge the superiority.

[2.] Secondly, _Their fury is dangerous and unbridled_; like so many
wild horses let loose, hurrying their rider which way they please.
They move not upon the command of reason, but oft prevent it in their
sudden rise; neither do they take reason’s advice for their course
proportionable to the occasion, for often their humour, rather than
the matter of the provocation, gives them spurs; and when they have
evaporated their heat, they cease, not as following the command of
reason, but as weakened by their own violence.

[3.] Thirdly, _They are not easily conquered_; not only because they
renew their strength and onset after a defeat, and, like so many
hydra’s heads, spring up as fast as cut off; but they are ourselves—we
can neither run from them, nor from the love of them.

[4.] Fourthly, And consequently _highly advantageous in Satan’s design
and enticement when they are driven up to a fury and passionateness_;
for besides their inward rage, which the Scripture calls burning, 1
Cor. vii. 9; Rom. i. 27, by which men are pricked and goaded on without
rest or ease, to ‘make provisions for the flesh,’ and to enjoy or act
what their unbridled violence will lead to in the execution of their
desires, they carry all on before them, and engage the whole man with
the highest eagerness ‘to fulfil every lust,’ Eph. ii. 3, to go up
to the highest degrees, and with an unsatiable greediness to yield
themselves ‘servants of iniquity unto iniquity,’ Rom. vi. 19.


 _That lust darkens the mind.—Evidences thereof.—The five ways by
 which it doth blind men: First, By preventing the exercise of
 reason.—The ways of that prevention: (1.) Secrecy in tempting;
 Satan’s subtlety therein; (2.) Surprisal; (3.) Gradual

That Satan doth entice us by stirring up our lust, hath been
discovered; it remains that I next speak to the second thing
propounded, which was,

That by this power of lust he _blinds and darkens our mind_. That the
lusts of men are the great principle upon which Satan proceeds in
drawing on so great a blindness as we have spoken of, I shall briefly
evince from these few observations:—

1. First, _From the unreasonableness and absurdity of some actions
in men otherwise sufficiently rational_. He that considers the acts
of Alexander, in murdering Calisthenes, for no other crime than
defending the cause of the gods, and affirming that temples could
not be built to a king without provoking a deity; and yet this so
smoothed, if Quintus Curtius represent him right, that he seemed to
flatter Alexander with an opinion of deification after his death;[188]
whosoever, I say, shall consider this cruelty, will condemn Alexander
as blind and irrational in this matter; and yet no other cause can be
assigned hereof, but that his lust after glory and honour darkened his
reason. The like may be said of his killing Hephæstion’s physician,
because _he_ died. The brutal fury of that consul, that made a slave
to be eaten up with lampreys, for no other fault than the breaking of
a glass, can be ascribed to nothing else but the boiling over of his
passion. A sadder instance of this we have in Theodosius senior, who,
for an affront given to some of his officers in Thessalonica, commanded
the destruction of the city, and the slaughter of the citizens to
the number of seven thousand, without any distinction of nocent
and innocent.[189] This blind rage the historian notes as the fruit
of violent and unbridled lust in a man otherwise just and gracious.
Thousands of instances of this nature might be added. But,

2. Secondly, If we consider _the known and visible hazards to life
and estate, and, that which is more, to that part of them which is
immortal_; upon all which men do desperately adventure, upon no other
ground or motive than the gratifications of their lusts,—we may easily
conclude that there is a strange force and power in their passions to
blind and besot them; and this, notwithstanding, is the common practice
of all men, where grace, as the only eye-salve, doth not restore the
sight. The heathens in all these practices of filthiness and folly,
recorded Rom. i. 29, they had so far a discovery of the danger, if
they had not imprisoned that truth and light in unrighteousness, ver.
18, that they knew the ‘judgment of God, that they which commit such
things are worthy of death,’ ver. 32. Yet, notwithstanding, the vanity
of their imaginations, influenced by lust, darkened their heart so much
that they did ‘not only do these things,’ of so great vileness and
unspeakable hazard, ‘but had pleasure in those that did them.’

3. Thirdly, The blinding power of lust is yet more remarkable, _when we
see men glorying in their shame, and mounting their triumphal chariots
to expose themselves a spectacle to all, in that garb of deformity
which their lusts have put them in_. It is a blindness to do any act
against the rules of reason, but it is a far greater blindness for men
to pride themselves in them. What have the issues of most wars been,
but burning of cities, devastations of flourishing kingdoms, spilling
the blood of millions, besides all the famine and other miseries that
follow; yet these actions, that better beseem tigers, lions, and savage
brutes, than men of reason, are honoured with the great, triumphant
names of virtue, manhood, courage, magnanimity, conquest, &c. If the
power and humour of their lusts of vainglory and revenge had not quite
muffled their understandings, these things would have been called by
their proper names of murder, cruelty, robbery, &c.; and the actors of
such tragedies, instead of triumphal arches and acclamations of praise,
would have been buried under heaps of ignominy and perpetual disgraces,
as prodigies of nature, monsters of men, and haters of mankind.

4. Fourthly, But there is yet one evidence more plain and convincing;
_when our lusts are up, though reason offer its aids to allay the
storm, yet the wisest of men, otherwise composed and calm, are so far
from taking the advantage of its guidance, that oftentimes they trample
upon it and despise it_; and as if lusts, by some secret incantation,
had made them impenetrable, they are not capable of its light and
conduct, and can make no more use of it than a blind man can do of a
candle. To this purpose, let us observe the carriage of disputants.
If men do any way publicly engage themselves in a contest of this
nature, though truth can be but on the one side, yet both parties
give arguments and answer objections with equal confidence of victory,
and a contempt of the reasons and strength of each other’s discourses;
and this proves so fatal to him that maintains the mistake or untruth,
that not one of a thousand hath the benefit and advantage for the
finding of truth, which free and unprejudiced bystanders may have;
so true is that, _Omne perit judicium cum res transit in affectum_,
When affections are engaged, judgment is darkened. It is a thing of
common observation, that when men are discoursed into anger and heat,
they presently grow absurd; are disabled for speaking or understanding
reason, and are oft hurried to such inconveniences and miscarriages,
that they are ashamed of themselves; when they cool, and the fit is
over, _Impedit ira animum_, &c. To all this might be added the power of
lust in persons voluptuous, who dedicate themselves to the pleasures of
the flesh. Those that ‘serve divers lusts and pleasures,’ their slavish
estate, their base drudgery, do clearly evince that lust unmans them,
and puts out their eyes. Mark Antony by this means became a slave to
Cleopatra; never did a poor captive strive more to obtain the good-will
of his lord than he to please this woman, insomuch that, besotted
with his lust, he seemed to want that common foresight of his danger,
which the smallest measure of reason might have afforded to any, and
so dallied himself into his ruin. From all these considerations and
instances, it appears our lusts afford such vapours and mists that our
reason is darkened by them, or rather they are like a dose of opium,
that strongly stupifies and binds up the senses. But yet it remains
that the various ways by which our lusts do blind us be particularly
opened, and they are five. (1.) Our lusts blind us by preventing the
use and exercise of reason. (2.) By perverting it. (3.) By withdrawing
the mind from it. (4.) By disturbing it in its operation. And (5.) By a
desperate precipitancy; all which I shall more fully explain.

I. First, Our lusts blind us _by preventing and intercepting the
exercise of light and reason_; and Satan in this case useth these

1. First, He endeavours so to _stir up our lust as yet to conceal his
design_. Secrecy is one of his main engines. He doth not in this case
shew his weapon before he strikes; and indeed his policy herein is
great. For, [1.] By this means he takes us at unawares, secure, and
unprepared for resistance. [2.] We are often ensnared without noise,
and before our consideration of things can come in to rescue us. [3.]
If he get not his whole design upon us this way, yet he oft makes a
half victory. By this means he procures a half content or inclination
to sin, before we discover that we are under a temptation; for when the
foundation of a temptation is laid unespied, then we awaken with the
sin in our hand, as sleeping men awake sometime with the word in their
mouths. If any question, How can these things be? How can he steal a
temptation upon us with such secrecy? I answer, he can do it these
three ways:—

(1.) First, He sometimes after _a careless manner, and as it were by
the by, drops in a suggestion into our hearts, and that without noise
or importunity, giving it as it were this charge, ‘Stir not up nor
awaken him;’_ and then he sits by to observe the issue, and to see if
the tinder will take fire of itself. Thus many a motion thrown into our
hearts, as it were accidentally, ere ever we are aware, begets a sudden

(2.) Secondly, He sometimes _fetcheth a compass, and makes a thing far
different to be a preamble or introduction to his intended design_.
Thus by objects, employments, discourse, or company, that shew not any
direct tendency to evil, doth he insensibly occasion pride, passion,
or lust. How slyly and secretly doth he put us upon what he intends
as a further snare! How unawares, while we think of no such thing,
are we carried sometime upon the borders of sin, and into the enemy’s
quarters! Satan in this acts like a fowler, who useth a stalking-horse,
as if he were upon some other employment, when yet his design is the
destruction of the bird.

(3.) Thirdly, Another way of secrecy is his raising _a crowd of
other thoughts in the mind, and while these are mixed and confusedly
floating in the understanding or fancy, then doth he thrust in among
them the intended suggestion_; and then suffering the rest to vanish,
he by little and little singles this out as a more special object of
consideration, so that we cast a sudden glance upon this, and we are
often taken with it before we consider the danger. In this Satan doth
as soldiers, who take the advantage of a mist to make a nearer approach
to their enemies, and to surprise them before discovery of the danger.
This he doth with us while we are in a musing fit or a melancholy dream.

2. A second deceit for the preventing of a serious consideration
is _sudden surprisal_. In the former he endeavoured to conceal the
temptation while he is at work with us, but in this he shews the
temptation plainly, only he sets upon us without giving of us warning
of the onset; but then he backs it with all the violent importunity
he can, and by this he hinders the recollecting of ourselves and the
aid of reason. This course Satan only takes with those whose passions
are apt to be very stirring and boisterous, or such as, being his
slaves and vassals, are more subject to his commands. Thus a sudden
provocation to an angry man gives him not time to consider, but carries
him headlong. A surprise of occasion and opportunity is frequently
a conquest to those that have any earnestness of hope, desire, or
revenge. Surely David was taken at this advantage in the matter of
Bathsheba. And here we may note that good men upon such a sudden motion
do yield, without any blow or struggling, to that which at other times
they could not be drawn to by many reasons.

3. Thirdly, Consideration is prevented by _gradual entanglements_.
Satan so orders the matter that sin creeps on upon us as sleep, by
insensible degrees. For this end sometimes he dissembles his strength,
and sets upon us with lower temptations, and with less force than
otherwise he could. He knows we are not moved to extremes, but by steps
and habits; are not confirmed, but by gradual proceedings. To take too
great strides may sometime prevail at present; but the suddenness and
greatness of the alteration begetting a strangeness on the soul, may
occasion after-thoughts and recoiling. Therefore he tempts first to
thoughts, then to a delight in these thoughts, then to the continuation
of them, then to resolve, and so on to practice. And in like manner,
he tempts some to make bold with a small matter, which shall scarce
come under the notion of wrong; then to a greater, and so gradually to
higher things, and thus he insensibly brings on a thievish inclination
and practice. For the same end sometimes he shews his skill in the
management of occasions; he imperceptibly hooks men into sin by drawing
them first to be bold with occasions; he tells them they may sit at
the ale-house, and yet not be drunk; that they may keep familiarity,
and yet not be lewd; that they may look upon a commodity, and yet not
steal; and when the occasions are by this means made familiar to them,
then he puts them on a step further, but by such slow motions that the
progress is scarce discerned till they be in the snare.


 _Of Satan’s perverting our reason.—His second way of blinding.—The
 possibility of this, and the manner of accomplishing it directly,
 several ways; and indirectly, by the delights of sin, and by
 sophistical arguments; with an account of them._

II. Secondly, The second way by which Satan blinds us through the
power of lust is by _perverting and corrupting our reason, drawing it
to approve of that which it first disapproved_. That our lusts have
such a power upon the understanding to make such an alteration, need
not seem strange to those that shall consider that the Scripture,
propounding the knowledge of the highest mysteries, doth positively
require, as a necessary pre-requisite to these things, that we ‘lay
aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness,’ James i. 20,—in
these terms, noting the loathsome defilement of our lusts,—that so we
may ‘receive the engrafted word;’ strongly implying that our lusts have
a power to elude and evade the strongest reasons, and to hinder their
entertainment: which our Saviour notes to have been also the cause of
the Jews’ blindness, ‘How can ye believe, which receive honour one of
another?’ John v. 44. Their lusts of honour stood in their light, and
perverted their reason.

But because this may seem to some almost impossible, that lusts should
turn our sun into darkness, I shall a little explain it.

The understanding doth usually, if practice of sin have not put out its
light, at the first faithfully represent to our mind the nature of good
and evil in matters of temptation and duty; yet its power in this case
is only directive and suasive to the will, not absolutely imperative.
The will must follow the understanding’s dictate, but is not under any
necessity of following its first advice; it is the _ultimum dictamen_,
the last dictate, that it is engaged to follow. However the will, in
the case last mentioned, be dependent upon the understanding, yet the
understanding doth also, _quoad exercitium_, depend upon the will, and
as to the act of consideration, is under its command; so that after the
understanding hath faithfully represented the evil of a sin, the will
can command it to another consideration, and force it to new thoughts
and consultations about it; in which case the will doth prompt the
understanding, tells it what verdict it would have it to bring in, and
so doth really solicit and beg for a compliance.

The understanding is ductile and capable of being bribed, and therefore
suffers its right eye to be put out by the will, and as a false witness
or a partial judge gives sentence as the will would have it; and thus,
as one observes,[190] the understanding and will are like Simeon and
Levi, brethren in evil, mutually complying with and gratifying each

The possibility of lusts perverting our understanding being discovered,
the way and manner how lust doth thus corrupt it, is needful to be

Lust exerciseth this power under the management of Satan, directly and

1. First, _Our reason is directly perverted when it is so far wrought
upon as to call that good, which is indeed plainly and apparently
evil_. So great a corruption is not common and ordinary, neither can
the heart of man be easily drawn to go so palpably against clear light
and evidence. It is therefore only in some cases and in some persons,
either of weaker faculties or of extraordinary debauched principles,
that Satan can work up lust to give so great a darkness. However, it is
evident that Satan useth these deceits in this thing.

(1.) First, He strives, where the matter will bear it, _to put the
name of virtue or good upon actions and things that are not so_. This
temptation doth most appear in those things that are of a doubtful and
disputable nature, or in those actions which in their appearance or
pretensions may seem to be virtuous. Whatever sin is capable of any
paint or varnish, that he takes the advantage of. Saul’s sacrificing
was a great iniquity, and yet the pretence of the general goodness of
the action, being in itself commanded, and the supposed necessity of
Saul’s doing it, because Samuel came not, were considerations upon
which his understanding warranted to him that undertaking. Paul’s
persecution, though a real gratification of his envious lustings, by
his blinded understanding was judged duty. What more common than for
worldly-mindedness and covetousness to be called a faithful and dutiful
care for the provision of our families! Lukewarmness is often justified
under the notion of moderation and prudence; and anything that can but
pretend any kindred to or resemblance of good, our lusts presently
prevail for an approbation and vindication of it.

(2.) Secondly, Satan useth _the advantage of extremes for the
corrupting of our understandings_. To this purpose he doth all he can
to make such an extreme odious and displeasing, that so we may run upon
the contrary as matter of duty. Many there are whose heads are so weak,
that if they see the danger of one extreme, they never think themselves
in safety till they fly to a contrary excess, and then they think the
extreme they embrace needs no other justification than the apparent
evil of what they have avoided. Satan knowing this, like the lapwing,
makes the greatest noise when he is furthest from his nest, and in much
seeming earnestness tempts us to something that is most cross to our
temper or present inclination; or endeavours to render something so to
us, not with any hopes to prevail with us there, but to make us run as
far from it as we can into another snare, and also to make us believe
that we have done well and avoided a temptation, when indeed we have
but exchanged it.

(3.) Thirdly, He directly binds our understandings in sinful practices,
by engaging us _to corrupt opinions which lead to wicked or careless
courses_. Satan with great ease can put men upon sin, when once he hath
prevailed with them to receive an error which directly leads to it.
Corrupt principles do naturally corrupt practices, and both these may
be observed to meet in those deluded ones whom the Scripture mentions,
‘that denied the only Lord God, and Jesus Christ, turning also the
grace of God into lasciviousness,’ Jude 4; false teachers that brought
in ‘damnable heresies,’ counted it ‘pleasure to riot,’ had ‘eyes full
of adultery, and could not cease from sin,’ 2 Pet. ii. 1, 13, 14. With
what confidence and security will sin be practised, when an opinion
signs a warrant and pleads a justification for it!

(4.) Fourthly, In actions whose goodness or badness is principally
discoverable _by the ends upon which they are undertaken, it is no
great difficulty for Satan to impose upon men a belief that they act
by ends and respects which do not indeed move them at all_; and in
this case men are so blinded that they do not, or will not know or
acknowledge they do evil. The matter of the action being warrantable,
and the end being out of the reach of common discovery, they readily
believe the best of themselves; and looking more at the warrantableness
of the nature of the act in the general than at their grounds and
intentions, they think not that they do evil. This was a fault which
Christ observed in the disciples when they called for ‘fire from
heaven upon the Samaritans,’ Luke ix. 55. The thing itself Elias had
done before, and Christ might have done it then, but they wanted the
spirit of Elias, and therefore Christ rejects their motion as unlawful
in them, who considered not that a spirit of passion and revenge did
altogether influence them; and instead of shewing a just displeasure
against the Samaritans, he shews that Satan had blinded them by their
lust, and that the thing they urged was so far from being good, that
it was apparently evil, in that they were acted by ‘another spirit’
than they imagined. This way of deceit is very common. How often may
we observe Christians pretending conscientious dissatisfactions about
the actions of others, when the private spring that animates them is
some secret grudge that lies at the bottom; and yet because the thing
wherein they are dissatisfied may truly deserve blame, they are not apt
to condemn themselves, but think they do well.

2. Secondly, _Lusts also pervert our reason and knowledge indirectly_;
and this is, when we are not so far blinded as to believe the thing
unto which we are tempted, to be good absolutely; yet notwithstanding,
we are persuaded of some considerable goodness in it, and such as may
for the present be embraced. For this purpose Satan hath ready these
two engines:—

(1.) First, He sets before us _the pleasures, profits, and other
delights of sin_. These he heightens with all his art and skill, that
he may fix in our minds this conclusion, that however it be forbidden,
yet it would conduce much to our satisfaction or advantage if it were
practised; and here he promiseth such golden ends and fruits of sin as
indeed it can never lead unto, inviting us in the words of the harlot,
‘I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works,
with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed it with myrrh, aloes, and
cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of these delights,’ Prov. vii.
16. Thus he set upon Eve, ‘Take this fruit, and ye shall be as gods.’
Thus he attempted Christ himself, ‘All these will I give thee,’ [Mat.
iv. 9,] proffering the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.
The pleasures of sin are Satan’s great bait, and these strongly invite
and stir up our lusts; yet because the fear of the danger may stick
in the heart, ‘It is pleasant, but oh I dare not,’ saith the sinner,
‘I fear the hazard or the evil that may follow:’ therefore Satan hath
his other engine at hand to blind us, and to carry our minds from such
considerations; and that is,

(2.) Secondly, _His sophistical arguments_, by which the danger may be
lessened. Of these his quiver is full: as,

[1.] First, He urgeth that the sin tempted to _is little_. ‘But a
little one;’ it is not, saith he, so great a matter as you make it;
there are other sins far greater, and these also practised by men that
profess as much as you. Thus he would shame us, as it were, out of our
fear, by calling it severity, niceness, or an unnecessary preciseness.
If this prevail not,

[2.] Secondly, He hath then another argument: Oh, saith he, be it so,
that it is a little more than ordinary, yet it is but once; taste or
try it; you need not engage yourselves to frequent practice, you may
retreat at pleasure. But if the fear of the danger prevail against
this, then,

[3.] Thirdly, He labours to put us under _a kind of necessity of
sinning, and this he pleads as a justification of the evil_. It is
not altogether right, but you cannot well avoid it. This plea of
necessity is large; occasion, example, command of others, strength of
inclination, custom, and what not, are pleaded by him in this case.
Some particularly reckon them up;[191] and rather than some men will
acknowledge the evil, they will blame God’s decree, as if they were
necessitated by it, or his providence, as Adam, ‘The woman that thou
gavest me, she gave me of the tree.’ David’s bloody resolve against
the house of Nabal seems to be justified by him, from Nabal’s great
ingratitude, ‘In vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the
wilderness,’ &c., 1 Sam. xxv. 21; and as one engaged by a necessity of
repaying such wrongs and affronts, doth he determine to cut them off.
Aaron, when he was taxed by Moses about the golden calf, excuseth the
matter by a pretended necessity of doing what he did upon the violent
importunity of such a heady people, Exod. xxxii. 22; and that when
Moses was not to be found, ‘Thou knewest the people, that they are set
on mischief.’ This that he urged to Moses Satan no doubt had urged to
him, and he had acquiesced in it as something that he thought would
excuse, or at least mitigate the offence. Yet if the sinner break
through this snare,

[4.] Fourthly, He comes on with _a softer plea of infirmity_, and
endeavours to persuade men that they may yield under pretence of being
forced, and that their strivings and reluctances will lessen the evil
to an apparent sin of infirmity; and thus he bespeaks them, Have not
God’s children infirmities? They sin, though with reluctancy, and
dost not thou resist?—doth not the fear that is in thy heart shew an
unwillingness? Mayest thou not plead, the evil that I would not do,
that do I? If thou yield, will not God account it a rape upon thine
integrity? If this arrow stick not,

[5.] Fifthly, Then he _extenuates the offence by propounding some
smaller good or convenience that may follow that evil_. And this,
though it be a way of arguing directly contrary to that rule, ‘Do
not evil that good may come,’ yet it oft proves too successful; and
it is like that common stratagem of war, when, by the proposal of a
small booty in view, the enemies are drawn out of their hold into a
fore-contrived danger. Thus Satan pleads, This one act of sin may put
you into a capacity of honouring God the more. Some have admitted
advancements and dignities against conscience, upon no better ground
but that they might keep out knaves, and that they might be in a
condition to be helpful to good men. Surely the devil prevailed with
Lot by this weapon, when he offered the prostitution of his daughters
to the lusts of the Sodomites, that the strangers, as he thought them,
might be preserved; by this evil, thinks he, a greater may be avoided.
Herod’s conscience could not at first consent to the cutting off the
head of John Baptist, but when Satan suggests the obligation of his
oath, he concludes that in the killing of John he should escape the
violation of the oath. Thus a pretended good to come becomes a pander
to a present certain iniquity. Now if after all these arguings the
conscience carrieth an apprehension of danger, then,

[6.] Sixthly, He plainly disputeth _the possibility of the escape of
danger, though the sin be committed_. All the insinuations of pleasure
and advantage by which Eve was tempted could not at first blot out her
fears of the consequence of that transgression; it did stick in her
mind still, ‘lest we die;’ then Satan plainly denieth the danger she
feared: ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ ‘The threatening,’ saith he, ‘it may
be, was but for trial, or without a strict and positive purpose in God
to execute it; there is no certainty that God was in good earnest when
he spake so.’ The devil usually urgeth the mercy of God, the merits of
Christ, his promises of pardon, the infirmities of the saints, their
sins and repentances, &c.; from all these drawing this conclusion,
that we may venture upon the temptation without any apparent hazard.
It is but repenting, saith he, and that is an easy work to a gracious
soul. God is ready to be reconciled, even to a prodigal son; he is
not so cruel as to cast away any for a small matter; he that waits to
be gracious will not lie at catch for opportunities and occasions to
destroy us; he that delights not in the death of a sinner will not
delight to take strict exceptions against every failing.

If Satan can prevail with us to extenuate the sin, to slight the
hazard, or any way to lessen it upon any of the forementioned accounts;
then having possessed us before with high apprehensions of delights and
satisfactions in the sin, he quickly persuades to accept the motion, as
having a conveniency and advantage in it not to be despised: and thus
doth he indirectly pervert our reason; which is the second way by which
he blinds us through the working of our lust.


 _Of Satan’s diverting our reason, being the third way of blinding
 men.—His policies for diverting our thoughts.—His attempts to
 that purpose in a more direct manner; with the degrees of that
 procedure.—Of disturbing or distracting our reason, which is Satan’s
 fourth way of blinding men.—His deceits therein.—Of precipitancy,
 Satan’s fifth way of blinding men.—Several deceits to bring men to

III. Thirdly, Satan blinds the sons of men by _diverting and
withdrawing their reason_, and taking it off from the pursuit of its
discovery or apprehensions. For sometime it cannot be induced to go
so contrary to its light as to call evil good, either directly or
indirectly. Then is Satan put to a new piece of policy, and if the
frame of the heart and the matter of the temptation suit his design,
he endeavours to turn the stream of our thoughts either wholly another
way, or to still them by turning them into a dead sea, or by some trick
to beguile the understanding with some new dress of the temptation. So
that we may observe in Satan a threefold policy in a subserviency to
this design. For,

1. First, _Satan sometimes ceaseth his pursuit and lets the matter
fall, and thinks it better to change the temptation than to continue
a solicitation at so great a disadvantage_. When he tempted Christ
and could not prevail, he ‘departed for a season,’ Luke iv. 13, with
a purpose to return at some fitter time, which Christ himself was
in expectation of, knowing it to be his manner to lie in wait for
advantages; and accordingly when his suffering drew nigh, which, as
he speaks to the Jews, was ‘their hour and power of darkness,’ Luke
xxii. 53, he foretold his return upon him, ‘Now the prince of this
world cometh.’ However this attempt of his against the Lord Jesus
prevailed not, yet he shewed his art and skill in the suspending of his
temptation to a more suitable time. And the success of this against us
is sadly remarkable, for however we resist and at present stand out,
yet his solicitations are often like leaven, which while it is hid in
our thoughts, doth not a little ferment and change them, so that at his
return he often finds our lusts prepared to raise greater clouds upon
our mind. Many there are that resist strongly at present that which
they easily slide into when Satan hath given them time to breathe; that
say, ‘I will not,’ and yet ‘do it afterwards,’ [Mat. xxi. 29.]

2. Secondly, He sometimes withdraws their considerations, by _huffing
them up with a confidence that they are above the temptation_; as a
conquest in a small skirmish, begetting an opinion of victory, makes
way for a total overthrow over a careless and secure army. We are
too apt to triumph over temptations because we give the first onset
with courage and resolution. Christ forewarned Peter of his denial;
he stoutly defies it, and not improving this advertisement to fear
and watchfulness, Satan, who then was upon a design to sift him, took
him at that advantage of security, and by a contemptible instrument
overthrew him. Thus while we grow strong in our apprehensions by a
denial of a sin, and undervalue it as below us, our confidence makes us
careless, and this lets in our ruin.

3. Thirdly, If these ways of policy fail him, he _seemingly complies
with us, and is content we judge the matter sinful, but then he
proffers his service to bring us off by distinctions_; and here the
sophister useth his skill to further our understanding in framing
excuses, coining evasions, and so doth out-shoot us in our own bow.
The Corinthians had learnt to distinguish betwixt eating of meat in an
idol’s temple in honour to the idol, and as a common feast in civility
and respect to their friends that invited them. This presently withdrew
their consideration, and so quieted them in that course, that the
apostle was forced to discover the fallacy of it. The Israelites cursed
him that gave a wife to any of the tribe of Benjamin; but when they
turned to them in compassion, they satisfied themselves with this poor
distinction, that they would not give them wives, but were willing to
suffer them to take them, Judges xxi. 18, 20. It is a common snare in
matters of promise or oath, where conscience is startled at a direct
violation thereof, by some pitiful salvo or silly evasion to blind the
eyes, and when they dare not break the hedge, to leap over it by the
help of a broken reed.

But I must here further observe, that Satan doth sometimes set
aside these deceits aforementioned, and tries his strength for the
withdrawing of our consideration from the danger of sin in a more plain
and direct manner—that is, by continuing the prospect of the sweets
and pleasures of sin under our eye, and withal urging us by repeated
solicitations to cast the thoughts of the danger behind our back:
in which he so far prevails sometimes, that men are charged with a
deep forgetfulness of God, his law, and of themselves; yet usually it
ariseth to this by degrees. As,

(1.) First, When a temptation is before us, and our conscience _relucts
it_. If there be any inclination to recede from a conviction, the
motion is resisted with a secret regret and sorrow. As the young man
was said to ‘go away sorrowful,’ [Mat. xix. 22,] when Christ propounded
such terms for eternal life as he was not willing to hear of: so do
we; our heart is divided betwixt judgment and affection, and we begin
to wish that it might be lawful to commit such a sin, or that there
were no danger in it; nay, often our wishes contradict our prayers, and
while we desire to be delivered from the temptation, our private wishes
beg a denial to those supplications.

(2.) Secondly, If we come thus far, we usually proceed to the next
step, which is, to _give a dismission to those thoughts that oppose the
sin_. We say to them, as Felix to Paul, ‘Go thy way for this time, and
when I have a convenient opportunity I will send for thee,’ [Acts xxiv.

(3.) Thirdly, If a plain dismission serve not to repel these thoughts,
we begin to _imprison the truth in unrighteousness_, Rom. i. 18; 2
Peter iii. 5, and by a more peremptory refusal to stifle it and to keep
it under, and become at last willingly ignorant.

(4.) Fourthly, By this means at last the heart grows _sottish and
forgetful_. The heart is ‘taken away,’ as the prophet speaks, and
then do these thoughts of conviction and warning at present perish
together. This withdrawing of our consideration is Satan’s third way
of blinding us. Follows next,

IV. The fourth way by which our lust prevails in Satan’s hand to blind
knowledge, and that is by _distracting and disturbing it in its work_.
This piece of subtlety Satan the rather useth, because it is attended
with a double advantage, and, like a two-edged sword, will cut either
way. For (1.) A confusion and distraction in the understanding will
hinder the even and clear apprehensions of things, so that those
principles of knowledge cannot reach so deep nor be so firm and full
in their application. For as the senses, if any way distracted or
hindered, though never so intent, must needs suffer prejudice in their
operations, a thick air or mist not only hinders the sight of the eye,
but also conduceth to a misrepresentation of objects. Thus is the
understanding hindered by confusion. But (2.) If this succeed not, yet
by this he hinders the peace and comfort of God’s children. It is a
trouble to be haunted with evil thoughts. To work this distraction,

1. First, Satan useth a _clamorous importunity_, and doth so follow us
with suggestions, that what way soever we turn they follow us. We can
think nothing else, or hear nothing else, they are ever before us.

2. Secondly, He worketh this disturbance in our thoughts by _levying a
legion of temptations against us_—many at once, and of several kinds,
from within, from without, on every side. He gathers all, from the Dan
to the Beersheba of his empire, to oppress us with a multitude; so that
while our thoughts are divided about many things, they are less fixed
and observant in any particular.

3. Thirdly, He sometimes endeavours _to weary us out with long
solicitations_: as those that besiege a city, when they cannot storm,
endeavour to waste their strength and provisions by a long siege. His
design in this is to come upon us, as Ahithophel counselled Absalom,
when we are ‘weary and weak-handed’ by watching and long resistance.

4. Fourthly, But his chief design is _to take the advantage of any
trouble, inward or outward_, and by the help of this he dangerously
discomposeth and distracts our counsels and resolves. If any have a
spirit distempered, or lie under the apprehensions of wrath, it is easy
for him to confound and amaze such, that they shall scarce know what
they do or what they think. The like advantage he hath from outward
afflictions, and these opportunities he the rather takes, for these

(1.) First, Usually inward or outward troubles leaves some _stamp of
murmuring and sullenness upon our hearts_, and of themselves distemper
our spirits with a sad inclination to speak ‘in our haste,’ or to
act unadvisedly. Job’s affliction imbittered his spirit, and Satan
misseth not the advantage. Then he comes upon him with temptations, and
prevailed so far that he spake many things in his anguish of which he
was ashamed afterward, and hides his face for it. ‘Once have I spoken,
but I will not answer: yea, twice, but I will proceed no further,’ Job
xl. 5.

(2.) Secondly, By reason of our burden we are _less wieldy and more
unapt to make any resistance_. God himself expresseth the condition of
such, under the similitude of those that are ‘great with young,’ who,
because they cannot be driven fast, he ‘gently leads’ them. But Satan
knows a small matter will discompose them, and herein he deals with us,
as Simeon and Levi dealt with the Shechemites, who set upon them when
they were sore by circumcision.

(3.) Thirdly, _Troubles of themselves occasion confusion, multitudes of
thought, distractions, and inadvertencies_. If men see a hazard before
them they are presently at their wits’ end, they are puzzled, they know
not what to do—thoughts are divided, now resolving this, then presently
changing to a contrary purpose. It is seldom but ‘as in a multitude
of words there is much folly,’ Prov. x. 19, so in a distraction of
thoughts there are many miscarriages, and Satan with a little labour
can improve them to more. Here he works unseen; in these troubled
waters he loves to angle, because his baits are not discerned.

V. Fifthly, Our considerations and reasonings against sin are hindered
by _a bold forward precipitancy_. When men are hasted and pressed to
the committing of sin, and like the ‘deaf adder stop their ears against
the voice of the charmer,’ [Ps. lviii. 4;] in this case, the rebellious
will is like a furious horse, that takes the bridle in his teeth, and
instead of submitting to the government of his rider, he carries him
violently whither he would not. Thus do men rush into sin, as the horse
into the battle. The devices by which Satan doth forward this, we may
observe to be these, among others:—

1. First, He endeavours _to affright men into a hopelessness of
prevailing against him_, and so intimidates men that they throw down
their weapons, and yield up themselves to the temptation; they conclude
there is no hope by all their resistance to stand it out against him,
and then they are easily persuaded to comply with him. To help this
forward, Satan useth the policy of soldiers, who usually boast high of
their strength and resolutions, that, the hearts and courage of their
adversaries failing, the victory may fall to them without stroke. The
devil expresseth a disdain and scorn of our weak opposition, as Goliath
did of David, ‘Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? Dost
thou think to stand it out against me? It is in vain to buckle on thine
armour, and therefore better were it to save the trouble of striving
than to fight to no purpose.’ With such like arguings as these are men
sometimes prevailed with to throw down their weapons, and to overrun
their reason through fear and hopelessness.

2. Secondly, Sometimes he is more subtle, and _by threaping[192] men
down, that they have consented already, he puts them upon desperate
adventures of going forward_. This is usually where Satan hath used
many solicitations before, after our hearts have been urged strongly
with a temptation. When he sees he cannot win us over to him, then he
triumphs and boasts we are conquered already, and that our thoughts
could not have dwelt so long upon such a subject but that we had a
liking to it, and thence would persuade us to go on and enjoy the
fulness of that delight which we have already stolen privately: over
shoes, over boots. Now though his arguings here be very weak—for though
it be granted that by the stay of the temptation on our thoughts he
hath a little entangled us, it cannot hence be inferred that it is our
wisdom to entangle ourselves further—yet are many overcome herewith,
and give up themselves as already conquered, and so give a stop to any
further consideration.

3. Thirdly, When men will not be trepanned into the snare by the former
delusions, he attempts to work them up _to a sudden and hasty resolve
of sinning_; he prepares all the materials of the sin, puts everything
in order, and then carries us, as he did Christ, into the mountain, to
give us a prospect of their beauty and glory: ‘All these,’ saith he,
‘will I give thee,’ [Mat. iv. 9;] do but consent, and all are thine.
Now albeit there are arguments at hand, and serious considerations to
deter us from practice, yet how are all laid aside by a quick resolve!
Satan urgeth us by violent hurry, as Christ said to Judas, ‘What thou
hast to do, do it quickly,’ [John xiii. 27.] The soul, persuaded with
this, puts on a sudden boldness and resolution, and when reason doth
offer to interpose, it holds fast the door, because the ‘sound of
its master’s feet is behind it,’ [2 Kings vi. 32.] Doth it not say
to itself, ‘Come, we will not consider, let us do it quickly, before
these lively considerations come in to hinder us’? It is loath to be
restrained, and conceiteth that if it can be done before conscience
awaken and make a noise, all is well; as if sin ceased to be sinful
because we by a violent haste endeavoured to prevent the admonition
of conscience. Thus they enjoy their sin, as the Israelites ate their
passover, ‘in haste, and with their staves in their hands,’ [Exod. xii.

4. Fourthly, _When opportunities and occasions will well suit it_. He
takes the advantage of a passionate and sullen humour, and by this
means he turns us clearly out of our bias; reason is trampled under
foot, and passion quite overruns it. At this disadvantage the devil
takes Jonah, and hardens him to a strange resolve of quarrelling God,
and justifying himself in that insolency. The humour that Satan wrought
upon was his fretful sullenness, raised up to a great height by the
disappointment of his expectation; and this makes him break out into
a choleric resolution, ‘I do well to be angry,’ [Jonah iv. 9.] Had
he been composed in his spirit, had his mind been calm and sedate,
the devil surely could not by any arguments have drawn him up to it;
but when the spirit is in a rage, a little matter will bind reason in
chains, and push a man upon a desperate carelessness of any danger that
may follow; suitable to that expression of Job, chap xiii. 13, ‘Let me
alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.’

5. Fifthly, All these are but small in comparison of those _deliberate
determinations which are to be found with most sinners_, who are
therefore said to sin with a high hand, presumptuously, wilfuly,
against conscience, against knowledge; and this ordinarily to be found
only among those whom a custom of sin hath hardened and confirmed into
a boldness of a wicked way and course. When the spirits of men are thus
harnessed and prepared, Satan can, at pleasure almost, form them into
a deliberate resolve to cast the commandment behind their back, and to
refuse to hearken. When any temptation is offered them, if God say,
‘Ask for the old paths, and walk therein,’ as Jer. vi. 16, they will
readily answer, ‘We will not walk therein.’ If God say, ‘Hearken to the
sound of the trumpet,’ they will reply, ‘We will not hearken.’ When
the people by a course of sinning had made themselves like the wild ass
used to the wilderness, then did they peremptorily set up their will
against all the reason and consideration that could come in to deter
them, though they were told the inconveniences, Jer. ii. 25; that this
did unshoe their foot, and afflicted them with thirst and want, yet
was the advice slighted. ‘There is no hope,’ said they; there is no
expectation that we will take any notice of these pleadings, for we
have fixed our resolve, ‘We have loved strangers, and after them will
we go.’ So Jer. xliv. 16, ‘As for the word that thou hast spoken unto
us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee, but we will
certainly do whatsoever thing goeth out of our own mouth.’ A plain and
full resolve of will dischargeth all the powers of reason, and commands
it silence. And that this is most ordinary among men, may appear by
these frequent expressions of Scripture, wherein God lays the blame
of all that madness which their lives bring forth upon their will,
‘Ye would not obey,’ ‘ye will not come to me’; ‘their heart is set to
do evil,’ &c. It may indeed seem strange that Satan should proceed
so far with the generality of men, and that they should do that that
should seem so inconsistent with those principles which they retain,
and the light which must result from thence; but we must remember that
these _wills_ and _shalls_ of wicked men are for the most part God’s
interpretation of their acts and carriage, which speaks as much, though
it may be their minds and hearts do not so formally mould up their
thoughts into such open and brazen-faced assertions. And yet we ought
also further to consider, that when the Spirit of God chargeth man with
wilfulness, there is surely more of a formal wilfulness in the heart of
man than lieth open to our view. And this will be less strange to us
when we call to mind,

6. Sixthly, That through the working of Satan _the minds of men
are darkened, and the light thereof put out by the prevalency of
atheistical principles_.[193] Something of atheism is by most divines
concluded to be in every sin, and according to the height of it in its
various degrees, is reason and consideration overturned. There are, it
may be, few that are professed atheists in opinion, and dogmatically
so, but all wicked men are so in practice. Though they profess God,
yet ‘the fool saith in his heart, There is no God,’ [Ps. liii. 1,] and
in ‘their works they deny him,’ [Titus i. 16.] This is a principle
that directly strikes at the root: for if there be no God, no hell or
punishment, who will be scared from taking his delight in sin by any
such consideration? The devil, therefore, strives to instil this poison
with his temptation. When he enticed Eve by secret insinuations, he
first questions the truth of the threatening, and then proceeds to an
open denial of it, ‘ye shall not surely die;’ and it is plain she was
induced to the sin upon a secret disbelief of the danger. She reckons
up the advantages, ‘good for food, pleasant to the eye, to be desired
to make one wise;’ wherein it is evident she believed what Satan had
affirmed, ‘that they should be as God,’ and then it was not to be
feared that they should die. This kind of atheism is common. Men may
not disbelieve a Godhead; nay, they may believe there is a God, and yet
question the truth of his threatenings. Those conceits that men have
of God, whereby they mould and frame him in their fancies, suitable to
their humours—which is a ‘thinking that he is such a one as ourselves,’
Ps. 1.—are streams[194] and vapours from this pit, and ‘the hearts of
the sons of men are desperately set within them to do evil,’ upon these
grounds; much more when they arise so high as in some who say, ‘Doth
God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?’ [Ps. lxxiii. 11.] If
men give way to this, what reason can be imagined to stand before them?
All the comminations of Scripture are derided as so many theological
scarecrows, and undervalued as so many pitiful contrivances to keep men
in awe.


 _Of Satan’s maintaining his possession.—His first engine for
 that purpose is his finishing of sin, in its reiteration and
 aggravation.—His policies herein._

Having explained the five ways by which Satan through the power of lust
causeth blindness of mind in tempting to sin, I shall next lay open
Satan’s devices for the _keeping and maintaining his possession_, which
are these:—

1. First, He endeavours, after he hath prevailed with any man to commit
an iniquity, _to finish sin_: James i. 15, ‘After if is conceived
and brought forth, then it is finished;’ which notes its growth and
increase. This compriseth these two things, its reiteration and its

(1.) First, Its _reiteration_ is, when by frequent acts it is
strengthened and confirmed into a habit. There are various steps,
by which men ascend into the seat of the scornful. _Nemo repentè
turpissimus_, It is not one act that doth denominate men ‘wise to do
evil.’ In Ps. i. 1 _seq._, David shews there are gradations and degrees
of sin: some walk in the counsel of the ungodly; some by progress and
continuance of sin ‘stand in the way of sinners;’ some, by a hardness
of heart and fixedness in wicked purposes, ‘sit in the seat of the
scornful.’ To this height doth he labour to bring his proselytes; yet
he further designs,

(2.) Secondly, That sin may have its utmost accomplishments in _all
the aggravations whereof it may be capable_. He strives to put men
upon such a course of sinning as may be most scandalous to the gospel,
most ensnaring and offensive to others, most hardening and desperate
to ourselves, most offensive and provoking to God. In this he imitates
the counsel of Ahithophel to Absalom, when he advised him to go in
unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel, that so the
breach betwixt him and his father might be widened to an impossibility
of reconciliation. Thus he labours that sinners should act at such a
rate of open defiance against heaven, as if they resolved to lie down
in their iniquity, and were purposed never to think of returning and
making up their peace with God. That sin may be finished in both these
respects, he useth these policies:—

[1.] First, _After sin is once committed, he renews his motions and
solicitations to act it again, and then again, and so onward till they
be perfect and habituated to it_. In this case he acts over again
the former method by which he first ensnared them, only with such
alterations as the present case doth necessitate him unto. Before,
he urged for the committing of it but once. How little is he to be
trusted in these promises! Now, he urgeth them by the very act they
have already done, Is it not a pleasant or profitable sin, to thy
very experience? hast thou not tasted and seen? hast thou not already
consented? Taste and try again, and yet further; withdraw not thy
hand. A little temptation served before, but a less serves now; for
by yielding to the first temptation our hearts are secretly inclined
to the sin, and we carry a greater affection to it than before; for
this is the stain and defilement of sin, that when once committed it
leaves impressions of delight and love behind, which are still the more
augmented by a further progress and frequent commission, till at last
by a strong power of fascination it bewitches men that they cannot
forbear; all the entreaties of friends, all their own promises, all
their resolves and purposes, though never so strong and serious, except
God strike in to rescue by an omnipotent hand, can no more restrain
them than fetters of straw can hold a giant. God himself owns it as
a natural impossibility, ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin? no more
can ye do good,’ [Jer. xiii. 23;] and the reason of that impossibility
is from hence, that they are ‘accustomed to do evil.’ Such strong and
powerful inclinations to the same sin again are begot in us by a sin
already committed, that sometime one act of sin fills some men with as
vehement and passionate desires for a further enjoyment, as custom and
continuance doth others. Austin reports that Alypius, when once he gave
way to the temptation of beholding the gladiators, was bewitched with
such a delight, that he not only desired to come again with others, but
also before others. Neither is it any great wonder it should be so,
when, besides the inclinations that are begot in us by any act of sin
to recommit it, sin puts us out of God’s protection, debilitates and
weakens our graces, strengthens Satan’s arm, and often procures him
further power and commission against us.

[2.] Secondly, Satan endeavours _to make one sin an engagement to
another, and to force men to draw iniquity with cords of vanity_.
Agur notes a concatenation in sins, ‘Lest I steal, and take the name
of God in vain,’ Prov. xxx. 9. Adam sinning in the forbidden fruit,
and proclaimed guilty by his conscience, runs into another sin for
the excuse of the former, ‘the woman that thou gavest me,’ &c. David
affords a sad instance of this, the sin with Bathsheba being committed,
and she with child upon it, David to hide the shame of his offence,
(1.) Hypocritically pretends great kindness to Uriah. (2.) When that
served not, next he makes him drunk, and, it may be, he involved many
others in that sin as accessories. (3.) When this course failed, his
heart conceives a purpose and resolution to murder him. (4.) He cruelly
makes him the messenger of his own destruction. (5.) He engageth Joab
in it. (6.) And the death of many of his soldiers. (7.) By this puts
the whole army upon a hazard. (8.) Excuseth the bloody contrivance by
providence. (9.) In all using still the height of dissimulation. Satan
knows how natural it is for men to hide the shame of their iniquity,
and accordingly provides occasions and provocations to drive them on to
a kind of necessity.

[3.] Thirdly, _By a perverse representation of the state of godly
and wicked men_, he draws on sin to a higher completement. How often
doth he set before us the misery, affliction, contempt, crosses,
and sadnesses of the one, and the jollity, delights, plenty, peace,
honours, and power of the other! It was a temptation that had almost
brought David to an atheistical resolve against all religious duty, and
that which he observed had prevailed altogether with many professors,
Ps. lxxiii. When they observed ‘they were not in trouble like other
men,’ and that their mouth and tongue had been insolent against God,
without any rebuke or check from him; when in the meantime the godly
were ‘plagued all the day, and chastened every morning:’ some that
were, in profession or estimation at least, God’s people, returned to
take up these thoughts, and to resolve upon such practices, ver. 10;
as if God, who sees all these with so much silence, must be supposed
knowingly to give some countenance to such actions. This, indeed, when
it is prosecuted upon our hearts in its full strength with those ugly
surmises, jealousies, and misapprehensions that are wont to accompany
it, is a sad step to a desperate neglect of duty and a carelessness in
sinning, in that it insensibly introduceth atheistical impressions upon
the hearts of men, and such are apt to catch hold even upon good men,
who are but too ready to say as David, ‘I have cleansed my hands in
vain,’ [ver. 13.]

[4.] Fourthly, Satan hath yet another piece of policy for the
multiplication and aggravation of sin, which is _the enmity and
opposition of the law_. Of this the apostle Paul sadly complains
from his own experience: Rom. vii. 8, ‘Sin taking occasion by the
commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.’ What he
laments is this, that such is the perverseness of our natures, that
the law, instead of restraining us, doth the more enrage us, so that
accidentally the law doth multiply sin; for when the restraint of the
law is before us, lust burns not only more inwardly, but when it cannot
be kept in and smothered, then it breaks out with greater violence,
‘Let us break their bonds asunder,’ &c., [Ps. ii. 3.] When the law
condemns our lusts, they grow surly and desperate: ‘Let us eat and
drink, for to-morrow we die,’ &c., [Isa. xxii. 13.] If any wonder that
the law, which was given of purpose to repress sin, and which is of so
great use in its authority to kill it in us, and to hinder temptations,
should thus be used by Satan to increase and enrage it, they may
consider that it is but still an accidental occasion, and not a cause,
and sin takes this occasion without any fault of the law. Satan to
this end watcheth the time[195] when our hearts are most earnestly set
upon our lusts, when our desires are most highly engaged, and then by
a subtle art so opposeth the law, letting in its contradictions in way
and measure suitable, that our hearts conceive a grudge at restraint,
which together with its earnestness to satisfy the flesh, ariseth up
to a furious madness, and violent striving to maintain a liberty and
freedom to do according to the desires of their heart; whereas this
same law, if it be applied to the heart when it is more cooled and
not so highly engaged upon a design of lust, will break, terrify, and
restrain the heart, and put such a damp upon temptations that they
shall not be able to stand before it. So great a difference is there
in the various seasons of the application of this law; in which art
for the enflaming of the heart to iniquity, Satan shews a wonderful


 _Of Satan’s keeping all in quiet, which is his second engine for
 keeping his possession, and for that purpose his keeping us from going
 to the light by several subtleties; also of making us rise up against
 the light, and by what ways he doth that._

Satan’s next engine for the maintaining his possession, is to _keep
all in quiet_; which our Saviour notes: Luke xi. 21, ‘When a strong
man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.’ He urgeth
this against those that objected to him, that he cast out devils by
Beelzebub, which calumny he confuteth, by shewing the inconsistency of
that with Satan’s principles and design—it being a thing sufficiently
known and universally practised, that no man will disturb or dispute
against his own peaceable possession; neither can it be supposed Satan
will do it, because he acts by this common rule of keeping down and
hindering anything that may disquiet. Breach of peace is hazardous to
a possession. An uneasy government occasions mutinies and revolts of
subjects; yet we might think that, the wages of sin, the light and
power of conscience considered, it were no easy task for the devil
to rule his slaves with so much quiet as it is observed he doth. His
skill in this particular, and the way of managing his interest for
such an end, we may clearly see in John iii. 20, ‘Every one that doth
evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds
should be reproved.’ From which place we may observe—(1.) The great
thing that doth disquiet Satan’s possession is light. (2.) The reason
of that disquietment is the discovery that light makes, and the shame
that follows that discovery. (3.) The way to prevent that light, and
the reproof of it, is to avoid coming to it; and where it cannot be
avoided, to hate it. It is Satan’s business then for keeping all in
peace—(1.) To keep us from the light; or if that cannot be, then (2.)
To make us rise up against it. I shall make inquiry after both these
projects of the devil.

To keep us from coming to the light, he useth a great many subtleties.

1. First, _For his own part he forbears to do anything that might
discompose or affright entangled souls_. At other times, and in other
cases, he loves to torment and affright them, to cause their wounds
to stink and corrupt; but in this case he takes a contrary course,
he keeps off, as much as may be, all reflections of conscience; he
conceals the evil and danger of sin, he sings them asleep in their
folly, ‘till a dart strike through their liver,’ and hastens them
to the snare, ‘as a bird that knoweth not that it is for his life,’
Prov. vii. 23. They that shall consider that the heart of a sinner
is hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and that the greatest
part of the affrightment that molests the consciences of such is from
Satan’s fury and malice, they will easily conceive how much his single
forbearance to molest may contribute to the peace and ease of those
that are ‘settled upon their lees;’ but besides his forbearance, we
may expect that whatever clouds or darkness he can raise to exclude
the light, or to muffle the eyes, he will not be negligent in the use
of that power. Whatever he can positively do, in the raising up the
confidence of presumption or security in the minds of men, whatever he
can do to make them sottish or careless, that shall not be wanting.

2. Secondly, He shews no less skill and diligence _by secret
contrivances to hinder occasions of reproof and discovery_. How much he
can practise upon others, that out of pity and compassion to the souls
of men, are ready to draw a sinner ‘from the error of his way, and to
save a soul from death!’ [James v. 20.] We can scarce imagine what ways
he hath to divert and hinder them. By what private discouragements he
doth defer them, who can tell? He that could dispute with the angel
about the body of Moses to prevent the secret interment of it, Jude
9; he that could give a stop of one and twenty days to the angel
that was to bring the comfortable message to Daniel, chap. x. 13,
of the hearing of his prayers, may more easily obstruct and oppose
the designs of a faithful reprover. Sometime he doth this by visible
means and instruments, stirring up the spirits of wicked men to give
opposition to such as seek to deliver their souls from the blood of
men, by faithful warnings or exhortations. The devil was so careful to
keep Jeroboam quiet in his sinful course of idolatry, that he stirs up
Amaziah to banish Amos from the court, lest his plain dealing should
startle or awaken the conscience of the king: Amos vii. 12, 13, ‘Go,
flee thee away into the land of Judah, &c.; but prophesy not any more
at Bethel, for it is the king’s chapel, it is the king’s court.’

3. Thirdly, In order to the keeping out the light from the consciences
of men, he insinuates himself _as a lying spirit into the mouths of
some of his mercenaries_; and they speak ‘smooth things’ and deceit
to Satan’s captives, telling them that they are in a good condition,
Christians good enough, and may go to heaven as well as the precisest.
It is a fault in unfaithful ministers, they do the devil this service.
God highly complains of it: Jer. vi. 14, ‘They have healed also the
hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when
there is no peace;’ Ezek. xiii. 10, ‘They have seduced my people,
saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and
others daubed it with untempered mortar.’ Besides, this stratagem is
the more likely to prevail, because it takes the advantage of the
humours and inclinations of men, who naturally think the best of
themselves, and delight that others should speak what they would have
them; so that when men by the devil’s instigation prophesy deceit to
sinful men, it is most likely they should be heard, seeing they desire
such prophets, ‘and love to have it so.’

4. Fourthly, Satan keeps off the light, by _catching away the word
after it is sown_. This policy of his, Christ expressly discovers:
Mat. xiii. 19, ‘When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and
understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away
that which was sown in his heart.’ Such opportunities the devil doth
narrowly watch. To be sure, he will be present at a sermon or good
discourse, and if he perceive anything spoken that may endanger his
peaceable possession, how busy is he to withdraw the heart, sometime
by the sight of the eyes, sometimes by vain thoughts of business,
occasions, delights, and what not; and if this come not up to his
end, then he endeavours, after men have heard, to justle all out by
impertinent discourses, urgencies of employment, and a thousand such
divertisements, that so men may not lay the warning to heart, nor by
serious meditation to apply it to their consciences.

5. Fifthly, He sometimes _snuffs out the light by persecution_.
Those hearers, Mat. xiii. 20, 21, that had received the word with
some workings of affections and joy, are ‘presently offended when
persecution, because of the word, ariseth.’ By this he threatens men
into an acquiescency in their present condition, that if they ‘depart
from iniquity, they shall make themselves a prey,’ [Isa. lix. 15.]
Bonds, imprisonments, and hatreds, he suggests, shall abide them, and
by this means he scares men from the light.

6. Sixthly, He sometimes _smothers and chokes it with the cares of
the world_, as those that received seed among thorns. By earnest
engagements in business, all that time, strength, and affection which
should have been laid out in the prosecution of heavenly things, are
wholly taken up and spent on outward things. By this means that light
that shines into the hearts of men is neglected and put by.

7. Seventhly, He staves off men from coming to the light, by putting
them upon _misapprehensions of their estate in judging themselves by
the common opinion_. Satan hath so far prevailed with men, that they
are become confident of this conceit, that men may take a moderate
liberty in sinning, and yet nevertheless be in a good condition; that
sin is not so great a matter in God’s esteem, as in the judgment of
some rigorous precisian; that he will not be so extreme to mark what
we do amiss, as some strict professors are. What can be of greater
hindrance to that ingenuous search, strict examination, and impartial
judging or shaming ourselves for our iniquities, which the light of
Scripture would engage us unto, than such a conceit as this! And yet
that this opinion is not only common, but ancient, is manifest by
those warnings and cautions given by the apostle to the contrary: Gal.
vi. 7, ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap;’ Eph. v. 6, ‘Let no man deceive you with vain
words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the
children of disobedience.’ If it had not been usual for men to live
in uncleanness, covetousness, and such like offences, which he calls
‘sowing to the flesh,’ and yet in the midst of these to think they
were not under the hazard of wrath, or if men had not professedly and
avowedly maintained such an opinion, it had been superfluous for the
apostle to have warned us with so much earnestness, ‘Be not deceived;
let no man deceive you with such vain words,’ [1 Cor. vi. 9.]

8. Eighthly, It is usual for Satan to still and quiet the stirring
thoughts of sinners _with hopes and assurances of secrecy_. As children
are quieted and pleased with toys and rattles, so are sinners put off
and diverted from prosecuting the discoveries that the light would make
in them, by this confidence, that though they have done amiss, yet
their miscarriages shall not be laid open or manifested before men.
It is incredible how much the hopes of concealment doth satisfy and
delight those that have some sense of guilt. Sometime men are impudent,
that ‘they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not,’ Isa. iii. 9.
But before they arrive at so great an impudency, they usually ‘seek
deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the
dark; and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?’ Isa. xxix.
15. Like those foolish creatures that think themselves sufficiently
concealed by hiding their heads in a bush, though all their bodies be
exposed to open view, Isa. xxviii. 15, those that made ‘lies their
refuge, and under falsehood hid themselves,’ became as confident of
their security as if they had ‘made a covenant with death, and were at
an agreement with hell;’ and when they have continued in this course
for some time with impunity, the light is so banished that they carry
it so as if God observed their actions done in the dark as little as
men do. ‘How doth God know?’ say they; ‘can he judge through the dark
clouds? thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not,’ Job
xxii. 13. And hence proceed they to promise themselves a safety from
judgments: ‘When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall
not come nigh unto us, for we have made lies our refuge,’ &c.

9. Ninthly, Satan keeps them from going to the light by _demurs and
delays_. If the light begin to break in upon their consciences, then
he tells them that there is time enough afterward. Oh, saith he,
thou art young, and hast many days before thee; it is time enough to
repent when you begin to be old. Or thou art a servant, an apprentice
under command, thou wantest fit opportunities and conveniences for
serious consideration, defer till thou becomest free, and at thine own
disposal. That this is one of Satan’s deceits to hinder us from making
use of the light, besides what common experience may teach every man,
may be clearly gathered from the exhortations of Scripture, which do
not only shew us ‘the way wherein we ought to walk,’ but also press us
to a present embracement of that counsel: ‘To-day, to-day, while it
is called to-day, harden not your hearts;’ ‘Now is the accepted time,
now is the day of salvation;’ ‘Remember thy Creator in the days of thy
youth, before the evil day comes;’ ‘If ye will enquire, enquire: yea,
return, come,’ Heb. iii. 7; 2 Cor. vi. 2; Eccles. xii. 1; Isa. xxi. 12.
This hasty urgency to close with the offered occasions, plainly accuse
us of delays, and that it is usual with us to adjourn those thoughts to
a fitter opportunity, which we are not willing to comply with for the

By these nine devices he keeps the light from ensnared sinners, or them
from coming to the light. But if all this cannot draw a curtain before
the sun, if its bright beams breaks through all, so that it cannot be
avoided, but there will be a manifestation and discovery of ‘the hidden
things of darkness,’ then Satan useth all his art and cunning to stir
up in the hearts of men their hatred against the light.

This is his second grand piece of policy to keep all in quiet under his
command, to which purpose,

1. First, He endeavours to draw on a hatred against the light, by
raising in the minds of men _a prejudice against the person that
brings or offers it_. If he that warns or reproves express himself
anything warmly or cuttingly against his brother’s sins, this the devil
presently makes use of; and those that are concerned think they have a
just cause to ‘stop their ears and harden their necks,’ because they
conceive that anger, or ill-will, or some such base thing did dictate
those, though just, rebukes. The devil turned the heart of Ahab against
the faithful warnings of Micaiah upon a deep prejudice that he had
taken up against him; for so he expresseth himself to Jehoshaphat, ‘I
hate him, for he never prophesieth good unto me,’ 1 Kings xxii. 8.
In this case men consider not how justly, how truly, how profitably
anything is spoken; but, as some insects that feed upon sores, they
pass by what is sound and good, and fix upon that which is corrupt and
putrid, either through the weakness and inobservancy of the reprover,
or pretended to be such, by the prejudice of the party which doth
altogether disable him to put a right construction upon anything.

2. Secondly, If this help not, then he seeks to get the advantage _of a
provoked, passionate, or otherwise distempered fit_; and then hatred is
easily procured against anything that comes in its way.

3. Thirdly, Satan endeavours to engage our hatred against the light, by
presenting our _interest as shaken or endangered by it_. If interest
can be drawn in and made a party, it is not difficult to put all the
passions of a man in arms, to give open defiance to any discovery it
can make. That great rage and tumult of kings and people mentioned in
Psalm ii., combining and taking counsel against the Lord and his laws,
is upon the quarrel of interest. Their suspicions and jealousies that
the setting up of Christ upon his throne would eclipse their power and
greatness, makes them, out of a desperate hatred against the light,
fall into resolves of open rebellion against his laws: ‘Let us break
his bands asunder, and cast away his cords from us.’ This pretence of
interest strengthened the accusation of Amaziah against Amos: chap.
vii. 10, ‘Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of
Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.’ No wonder, then,
if Jeroboam, instead of hearkening to the threatening, banish him out
of the land. We find the like in Asa, a good man; the devil stirs up
his hatred against the seer: ‘He was wroth with him, and put him in the
prison-house; for he was in a rage against him,’ 2 Chron. xvi. 10. The
ground of that rage was this: the king’s interest, in his apprehension,
was wrapped up in that league with the king of Syria, ver. 2, 3, so
that he could not bear so plain a reproof, which directly laid the
axe to the root of so great an interest as the safety of the king and
kingdom, which seemed to depend so much upon that league.

4. Fourthly, Satan stirs up hatred against the light from the
_unavoidable effects of light, which are discovery and manifestation_:
Eph. v. 13, ‘All things that are reproved are made manifest; for
whatsoever doth make manifest is light.’ Now the issue of this
manifestation is shame, which however it be the daughter of sin and
light, yet would it naturally destroy the sin that bred it; and
therefore repentance is usually expressed by being ‘ashamed and
confounded:’ but that Satan might avoid this, he turns the edge of
shame against the light, which should have been employed against sin.
When men therefore have sinned, and are as ‘a thief when he is taken,’
Jer. ii. 26, ready to fall into the hands of shame; for the avoiding of
that, they ‘rebel against the light,’ Job xxiv. 13. The ground of this
hatred, Christ, in John iii. 20, tells us, is ‘lest their deeds should
be reproved,’ and they forced to bear their shame. To this end they are
put upon it to hide themselves from shame by lies, pretences, excuses,
extenuations, or by any fig-leaf that comes first to hand. And as those
that live in hotter regions curse the sun because it scorcheth them, so
do these curse the light: and instead of taking its help, raise up an
irreconcilable enmity against it; and so run from it.


 _Of Satan’s third grand policy for maintaining his possession; which
 is his feigned departure: (1.) By ceasing the prosecution
 of his design; and the cases in which he doth it. (2.) By
 abating the eagerness of pursuit; and how he doth that. (3.) By
 exchanging temptations; and his policy therein.—The advantage he seeks
 by seeming to fly.—Of his fourth stratagem for keeping his possession,
 which is his stopping all ways of retreat; and how he doth that._

Besides the two former designs, of finishing sin, and keeping all
in quiet, by which the devil endeavours to maintain his possession,
he hath a third grand subtlety, which is this: he keeps his hold by
feigning himself dispossessed and cast out. Of this we have a full
account: Luke xi. 24, ‘When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man,
he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he
saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.’ Christ had there
noted that it is Satan’s great principle to do nothing by which his
kingdom may be divided or undermined. Satan will not be divided against
himself, and yet very seasonably he tells us, that for an advantage he
will seem to quit his interest, and upon design he will sometimes so
carry himself that he may be deemed and supposed to be ‘gone out of a
man;’ as those that besiege forts or walled towns do sometimes raise
the siege and feign a departure, intending thereby to take a sudden
advantage of the carelessness of the besieged. In the explanation of
this policy, I shall, (1.) Shew how many ways he feigns a departure.
(2.) Upon what designs he doth it.

There are three ways whereby Satan seems to forsake his interest:—

1. First, He frequently _ceaseth the prosecution of a design, which
yet he hath in his eye and desire, when he perceives that there are
some things in his way that render it not feasible_; nay, he forbears
to urge men to their darling sins, upon the same score: and who would
not think Satan cast out in such a case? When a man spits out the
sweet morsel which heretofore he kept under his tongue, and sucked a
sweetness from it; when men of noted iniquities abstain from them,
and become smooth and civil, who would not think but that the unclean
spirit were gone? This way and course he puts in practice in several

[1.] First, When he perceives some _extraordinary occasion puts any of
his subjects into a good mood or humour of religion_. Wicked men are
not ordinarily so highly bent upon evil ways, but that they may be at
some times softened and relaxed. Pharaoh, who is most eminently noted
for a heart judicially hardened, at the appearance of the plagues upon
himself and Egypt, usually relented somewhat, and would confess he had
sinned, and that fit would continue upon him for some little time. But
very frequently it is thus with others; an extraordinary occasion melts
and thaws down the natural affections of men, as a warm day melts the
snow upon the mountains, and then the stream will for a time run high
and strong, at which time Satan sees it is in vain to urge them. Thus
men that receive an eminent kindness and deliverance from God, what is
more common than for such men to say, Oh, we will never be so wicked
as we have been, we will never be drunk more, the world shall see us
reformed and new men! These are indeed good words, and yet though Satan
knows that such expressions are not from a good heart,—as that of
Deut. v. 29 implies, ‘They have well said, Oh that there were such an
heart in them!’—he nevertheless thinks it not fit then to press them
to their usual wickedness at that time; for natural affections raised
high in a profession of religion will withstand temptations for a fit,
and therefore he forbears till the stream run lower. What a fit of
affection had the Israelites when their eyes had seen that miraculous
deliverance at the Red Sea! What songs of rejoicing had they! what
resolves never to distrust him again! Ps. cvi. 12, ‘Then believed they
his words, they sang his praise.’ Satan doth not presently urge them
to murmuring and unbelief, though that was his design, but he stays
till the fit was over, and then he could soon tempt them to ‘forget his
works.’ How like a convert did Saul look, after David had convinced him
of his integrity, and had spared his life in the cave! 1 Sam. xxiv.
16, and xxvi. 21. He weeps, and acknowledgeth his iniquity, justifies
David, owns his kindness, and seems to acquiesce in his succession to
the kingdom. The devil had, no question, a great spite at David, and it
was his great design to stir up Saul against him, and yet at that time
he could not prevail with him to destroy David, though he might easily
have done it; he was then in a good mood, and Satan was forced to give
way to necessity, and to seem to go out of Saul for the present.

[2.] Secondly, He also ceaseth from his design when he sees he cannot
fit his temptation with a _suitable opportunity_. What could be more
the devil’s design, and Esau’s satisfaction, than to have had Jacob
slain? Esau professeth it was the design of his heart, and yet he
resolves to forbear so long as his father Isaac lived: Gen. xxvii. 41,
‘The days of my father’s mourning are at hand; then, but not till then,
will I slay my brother Jacob.’ The devil often sows his seed, and yet
waiteth and hath long patience, not only in watering and fitting the
hearts of men for it, but also in expectancy of fit opportunities;
and in the meantime, he forbears to put men upon that which time and
occasion cannot fitly bring forth to practice. The prophet, Hosea
vii. 4, speaks of that people as notoriously wicked, ‘they are all
adulterers;’ but withal, he observes that they forbare these enormous
abominations for want of fit seasons, ‘their heart was as an oven
heated by the baker,’ sufficiently enflamed after their wickedness,
and yet the baker, after he had kneaded the dough, prepared all the
groundwork of the temptation, ceased from raising, sleeping all the
night till all was leavened; that is, though their hearts were enraged
for sin, yet the devil doth wait till occasions present themselves,
and becomes in the meantime like one asleep. Now while the devil
thus sleeps, the fire that is secretly in the heart, being not seen,
men gain the good opinion of converts with others, and often with
themselves, not knowing what spirit they are of, because Satan ceaseth,
upon the want of occasions, to tempt and provoke them.

[3.] Thirdly, Our adversary is content to forbear, when he perceives
that _a restraining grace doth lock up the hearts and hands of men_.
When ‘a stronger than he cometh,’ who can expect less but that he
should be more quiet? That God doth restrain men sometime when he doth
not change them, needs no proof; that Satan knows of these restraints,
cannot be denied. Who can give an account of these communings and
discourses that are betwixt God and Satan concerning us? His pleadings
in reference to Job were as unknown to Job, till God discovered them,
as his pleadings concerning ourselves are to us. Besides, who can tell
how much of God’s restraining grace may lie in this, of God’s limiting
and straitening Satan’s commission? Now the devil hath not so badly
improved his observations, but that he knows it is in vain to tempt
where God doth stop his way and tie up men’s hands. Abimelech was
certainly resolved upon wickedness when he took Sarah from Abraham,
Gen. xx. 2, and yet the matter is so carried for some time, how long
we know not, as if the devil had been asleep, or forgot to hasten
Abimelech to his intended wickedness; for when God cautions him, ‘he
had not come near her,’ ver. 4. The ground of all this was neither in
the devil’s backwardness nor Abimelech’s modesty, but Satan lets the
matter rest, because he knew that ‘God withheld him, and suffered him
not to touch her.’

[4.] Fourthly, When men are under _the awe and fear of such as carry an
authority in their countenances and employments for the discouraging
of sin_, Satan, as hopeless to prevail, doth not solicit to scandalous
iniquities. Much of external sanctity and saintlike behaviour ariseth
from hence. The faces and presence of some men have such a shining
splendour, that iniquity blusheth and hideth its head before them.
Sin dare not do what it would; so great a reverence and esteem of
such persons is kept up in the consciences of some, and so great an
awe and fear is thence derived to others, that they will not or dare
not give way to an insolency in evil. The Israelites were generally
a wicked people, yet such an awe they had of ‘Joshua, and the elders
that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord,’
Josh. ii. 7, that Satan seemed to be cast out all their days. Who could
have thought Joash had been so much under Satan’s power, that had
observed his ways all the time of Jehoiada the priest? 2 Chron. xxiv.
2, ‘Then he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.’ Satan
was content to let him alone, because Jehoiada’s life and authority
did overawe him; but after his death Satan returned to his possession,
‘and the king hearkened to the princes of Judah, and served groves and
idols,’ ver. 17. The like is observed of Uzziah, 2 Chron. xxvi. 5.
The reverence that he had for Zechariah, who had understanding in the
visions of God, discouraged the tempter from soliciting him to those
evils which afterward he engaged him in, ver. 16. Satan is willing,
when he perceives the awe and authority of good men stands in his way,
rather to suspend the prosecution of his design, than, by forcing it
against so strong a current, to hazard the shipwreck of it.

[5.] Fifthly, He also makes as if he were cast out when he perceives
_the consciences of men are scared by threatened or felt judgments_.
He forbears to urge them against the pricks when God draws his sword
and brings forth the glittering spear. Balaam’s ass would not run
against the angel that appeared terribly against him in his way. The
devil knows the power of an awakened conscience, and sees it in vain
to strive against such a stream; and when it will be no better he
withdraws. As great a power as the devil had in Ahab, when he was
affrighted and humbled he gave way, and for that season drave him not
on to his wonted practice of wickedness. He also carried thus to the
Ninevites, when they were awakened by the preaching of Jonah. Then
we see them a reforming people, the devil surceased to carry them
into their former provocations. How frequently is this seen among
professors, where the word hath a searching power and force upon them!
Sin is so curbed and kept under, that it is like a root of bitterness
in winter, lying hid under ground, Satan forbearing to act upon it
or to improve it, till the storms and noise of judgments cease, and
then usually it will ‘spring up and trouble them,’ Heb. xii. 15. If
Satan hath really lost his hold, he ceaseth not to molest and vex
even awakened consciences with urgent solicitations to sin; but if he
perceive that his interest in the hearts of men remains sure to him and
unshaken, then, in case of affrightment and fear of wrath, it is his
policy to conceal himself, and to dissemble a departure.

[6.] Sixthly, Satan is also forced to this by the _prevailing power of
knowledge and principles of light_. Where the gospel in profession and
preaching displays abroad his bright beams, then whatever shift men
make to be wicked in secret, yet ‘the light is as the shadow of death
to them,’ and it is even ‘a shame to speak of these things in public,’
Eph. v. 12. Here Satan cannot rage so freely, but is put to his shifts,
and is forced to be silent, whilst the power of the gospel cuts off
half his garments. Men begin to reform; some are clean escaped from
error, 2 Pet. ii. 18; others abandon their filthy lusts and scandalous
sins, and so ‘escape the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,’ ver. 20. Yet under all these
great alterations and appearances of amendment, the devil is but
seemingly ejected; for in the place mentioned, when the light declines,
those that were escaped from error, and those that had fled from sinful
pollutions, were both entangled again and carried to the same pitch,
and a great deal further, of that sin and error in which they had been
formerly engaged.

These are the six cases in which Satan ceaseth the prosecution of his
design, which was his first policy in feigning himself to be cast out;
but he further dissembles a flight when he thinks it not fit to cease

_By abating his pursuit_, by slacking his course; and this he doth,

[1.] First, When he tempts still, but yet _less than formerly_. So
great is his cunning and patience, that when he cannot get what he
would have, he contents himself with what he can get, rather than lose
all. He desires that men would give up themselves fully and freely to
his service; but if they like not this, he is willing to take them, as
one speaks, as retainers, and to suffer them to take a liberty to come
and go at pleasure.[196] He hath two main ends in tempting men to sin:
one is to avenge himself upon God, in open defiance and dishonour of
his name; the other is the ruin and perdition of souls. If he could,
he would have these two ends meet in every temptation; yet he pleaseth
himself with the latter when he cannot help it, and in that too he
satisfies himself sometimes with as small an interest as may be, so
that his possession and interest be but preserved. He knows that one
sin loved and embraced brings death for its wages. A leak unstopped and
neglected may sink the ship as well as a great storm; and therefore
when he perceives the consciences of men shy and nice, he is willing
they come to him, as Nicodemus came to Christ, by night in private, and
that by stealth they do him service.

[2.] Secondly, He sometimes offers men _a composition, and so keeps his
hold privately, by giving them an indulgence and toleration to comply
with religious duties and observations_. Pharaoh condescended that
Israel should go and serve the Lord in the wilderness, upon condition
that their wives, children, and substance were left behind. So Satan
saith to some, ‘Go and serve the Lord,’ only let your heart be with me;
leave your affections behind upon the world. That serious warning of
Christ, ‘Ye cannot serve two masters; ye cannot serve God and mammon,’
evidently shews that the devil useth to conceal his interest in the
hearts of sinners by offering such terms; and that men are so apt to
think that Satan is gone out when they have shared the heart betwixt
God and him, that they stand in need of a full discovery of that cheat,
and earnest caution against it. The devil was forced to yield, that
Herod should do many things at the preaching of John; yet he maintained
his possession of his heart, by fixing him in his resolved lust in the
matter of Herodias: and this gives just ground of complaint against the
generality of sinners, ‘Ye return, but not to me, not with your whole
hearts: have ye fasted to me? have ye mourned to me? they come and sit
as my people, but their hearts are after their covetousness,’ [Ezek.
xxxiii. 31.]

[3.] Thirdly, Satan hath yet another wile by which he would cheat men
into a belief that he is cast out of the heart; and this is a subtle
way that he hath _to exchange temptations_. How weak and childish are
sinners that suffer themselves thus to be abused! When they grow sick
and weary of a sin, if the devil take that from them, and lay in the
room of it another as bad, or the same again, only a little changed and
altered, they please themselves that they have vomited up the first,
but consider not that they have received into their embracement another
as bad or worse. Concerning this exchange, we may note two things:—

_First_, That sometimes he attains his end by exchanging _one heinous
sin for another as heinous, only not so much out of fashion_: as
the customs and times and places give laws and rules for fashions,
according to which the decencies or indecencies of garbs and garments
are determined, so is it sometimes with sin. Men and countries have
their darling sins; times and ages also have their peculiar iniquities,
which, in the judgment of sinners, do clothe them with a fitness and
suitableness. Sometimes men grow weary of sins, because they are
everywhere spoken against; because men point at them with the finger.
The devil in this case is ready to change with them. Drunkenness hath
in some ages and places carried a brand of infamy in its forehead;
so hath uncleanness and other sins. When sinners cannot practise
these with credit and reputation, then they please themselves with an
alteration. He that was a drunkard is now, it may be, grown ambitious
and boasting; he that was covetous is become a prodigal or profuse
waster; the heart is as vain and sottish as before, only their lusts
are let out another way, and run in another channel. Sometimes lusts
are changed also with the change of men’s condition in the world.
Poverty and plenty, a private and a public station, have their peculiar
sins. He that of poor is made rich leaves his sins of distrust, envy,
or deceitful dealing, and follows the bias of his present state to
other wickednesses equally remarkable, and yet may be so blinded as to
apprehend that Satan is departed from him.

_Secondly_, We may observe that Satan exchangeth sins with men in such
_a secret private manner, that the change is not easily discovered_;
and by this shift he casts a greater mist before the eyes of men. Thus
he exchangeth open profaneness into secret sins: filthiness of the
flesh into filthiness of the spirit. Men seem to reform their gross
impieties, abstaining from drunkenness, swearing, adulteries; and
then, it may be, they are taken up with spiritual pride, and their
hearts are puffed up with high conceits of themselves, their gifts and
attainments; or they are entangled with error, and spend their time in
‘doting about questions that engender strife rather than edifying,’ [1
Tim. vi. 4;] or they are taken up with hypocrisies. Thus the Pharisees
left their open iniquities, washing the outside of the cup and platter,
Mat. xxiii. 26; and instead of these, endeavoured to varnish and paint
themselves over, so that in all this change they were but as graves
that appeared not, Luke xi. 44. Or they acquiesce in formality and the
outwards of religion; like that proud boaster, ‘Lord, I thank thee I am
not as other men are,’ &c., [Luke xviii. 11.] In all these things the
devil seems cast out and men reformed, when indeed he may continue his
possession; only he lurks and hides himself under ‘the stuff,’ [1 Sam.
x. 22.] These ways of sinning are but finer poisons, which, though not
so nauseous to the stomach, nor so quick in their despatch, yet may be
as surely and certainly deadly; such fly from the iron weapon, and a
bow of steel strikes them through.

Having thus explained the three ways by which Satan pretends to depart
from men, I must next shew his design in making such a pretence of
forsaking his habitation.

[1.] First, That all this is done by him only _upon design_, may be
easily concluded from several things hinted to us in the fore-cited
place of Luke xi. As (1.) He doth not say that the devil is ‘cast
out,’ as if there were a force upon him, but that he ‘goeth out;’
it is of choice, a voluntary departure. (2.) That his going out in
this sense is notwithstanding irksome and troublesome to him. The
heart of man, as one observes,[197] is a palace in his estimation,
and dispossession, though upon design, is as a ‘desert’ to him, that
affords him little ease or rest. (3.) That his going out is not a
quitting of his interest; he calls it ‘_his_ house’ still: ‘I will
return to _my_ house,’ saith he. (4.) He takes care in going out to
lock the door, that it may not be taken up with better guests; he keeps
it ‘empty’ and tenantable for himself: he tempts still, though not so
visibly, and strives to suppress such good thoughts and motions as
he fears may quite out him of his possession. (5.) He goes out, _cum
animo revertendi_, with a purpose of returning. (6.) His secession
is so dexterously and advantageously managed, that he finds an easy
admittance at his return, and his possession confirmed and enlarged:
‘they enter in and dwell there.’

[2.] Secondly, _The advantages that he designs by this policy are
these chiefly_: (1.) By this means men are dangerously confirmed _in
their securities_. Thus the Pharisee blessed himself, ‘Lord, I thank
thee,’ &c. They please themselves with this supposition, that the devil
is cast out; and upon this they cease their war and watchfulness. As
Saul, when he heard that David had escaped, ‘went not out to seek after
him;’ so these trouble not themselves any further to inquire Satan’s
haunts in their hearts. Thus he sits securely within, whilst they
think he is fled from them. (2.) By this means also he fits men as
instruments _to serve his turn in other works of his_. He must have,
in some cases, handsome tools to work withal. All men are not fit
agents in persecution, either to credit it, or to carry it through with
vigour and zeal; for this end he seems to go out of some, that under
a smoother and profession-like behaviour, when they are stirred up to
persecute, the rigour might seem just. Thus ‘devout and honourable
women’ were stirred up to persecute Paul and Barnabas, Acts xiii. 50.
The devil had gone out so far, that they had gained the reputation of
devout, and then their zeal would easily take fire for persecution,
and withal put a respect and credit upon it; for who would readily
suspect that to be evil or Satan’s design, which is carried on by
such instruments? Besides, if he at any time intends to blemish the
good ways of God by the miscarriages of professors, he fetcheth his
arrow out of this quiver usually; if he brings a refined hypocrite to
a scandalous sin, then doth the mouth of wickedness open itself to
blaspheme ‘the generation of the just,’ as if none were better. Such
agents could not be so commonly at hand for such a service, if Satan
did not in the ways aforementioned seem to go out of men. (3.) It
is another part of his design, after a pretended departure, to take
the advantage of their security, to return with greater strength
and force. This Christ particularly notes, ‘Then taketh he seven
spirits worse than himself,’ &c. Such, as Peter tells us, being ‘again
entangled, are totally overcome, and their latter end is worse with
them than their beginning,’ 2 Pet. ii. 20. How many might I name, if it
were convenient, that I have known and observed, exactly answering this
description of the apostle, that have for some years left off their
wicked ways, and engaged for a profession of religion; and yet at last
‘have returned like the dog to his own vomit again’! The devil, when he
fights after the Parthian manner—_Terga vertentes metuendi Parthi_—is
most to be feared; when he turns his back, he shoots most envenomed
arrows, and whom he so wounds, he commonly wounds them to the death.

The fourth and last stratagem of Satan for the keeping his possession,
is _to stop the way, to barricade up all passages, that there may be no
possibility of escape or retreat_. When he perceives that his former
ways of policy are not sufficient, but that his slaves and servants are
so far enlightened in the discovery of the danger that they are ready
to turn back from him, then he bestirs himself to oppose their revolt;
and as God sometimes ‘hedgeth up the way’ of sinners with ‘thorns,’
that they should not follow their old lovers, so doth Satan, Hosea ii.
6; to which purpose,

[1.] First, He endeavours to turn them off such resolutions, by
threatening _to reduce them with a strong hand_. Here he boasts and
vaunts of his power and sinners’ weakness; as Rabshakeh did against
Hezekiah, ‘What is that confidence wherein thou trustest? have the gods
of Hamath and Arpad,’ &c., ‘delivered their land out of my hand?’ [2
Kings xviii. 33, 34.] Have those that have gone before you been able to
deliver themselves from me? Have they been able to rescue themselves?
Did I not force those that were stronger than you? Did I not make David
number the people? Did I not overcome him in the matter of Uriah?
Did I not compel Peter to deny his Lord, notwithstanding his solemn
profession to the contrary? And can you think to break away from me so
easily? By this means he would weaken their heart, and enfeeble their
resolutions, that they might sit down under their bondage, as hopeless
ever to recover themselves from his snare: but if these affrightments
hinder not, if, notwithstanding these brags, sinners prepare themselves
to turn from sin to God; then,

[2.] Secondly, He _improves all he can that distance which sin hath
made betwixt God and them_. Sins of ordinary infirmity and common
incursion do not so break the peace of God’s children, as sins of a
higher nature do. Even in the saints themselves, we may observe, after
notorious transgression, (1.) That the acquaintance and familiarity
betwixt God and them is immediately broken. What a speedy alteration is
made! How suddenly are all things changed! God hides himself. The sun
that shined but now, and did afford a very comfortable and cherishing
heat, before we are aware, is now hid in a cloud. Our warmth and
refreshments are turned into cold and chillness. There is also a change
on our part, and that suddenly. As in the resurrection, we shall be
changed ‘in the twinkling of an eye;’ so here, in a moment, our joys
flag and decay, our delights grow dull, our activity is impaired, we
are bound and frozen up, and it is altogether winter with the soul.
(2.) It may be noted, that this begets an enstrangement in us, and we
so carry it as if we had resolved not to renew our league with God; for
though we are not altogether so desperate as to make formal resolutions
of continuing in sin, of casting off God, and bidding an everlasting
farewell to our former acquaintance; though we do not say, We will
now undo ourselves quite, and harden ourselves in our rebellion; yet
sin hath left us in such a maze, and filled us with so many damps
and misgiving thoughts, that we do not think of returning; we are
at a stand, and like a mighty man astonished that cannot find his
hands. We perceive we have lost so much, and have run into such great
unkindnesses, that, like broken merchants, nothing is more irksome and
tedious than to review our ways, or look into our debt-books. Instead
of this, we endeavour to divert our thoughts, to cast off care, as
if we conceived that time would eat it out, and that then of course
we might fall into the old channel of freedom and comfort. (3.) When
we return at last, oh, with what bashfulness and amazedness do we
appear at our next supplications! what blushing, what damps, what
apology! Nay, sometimes as the man without the wedding garment, ‘we are
speechless!’ [Mat. xxii. 12.] How rightly doth such a man resemble the
publican confessing, and the prodigal supplicating. While consulting
what to say for himself, he now begins to feel with what sense and
feeling the prophets and holy men of old used to express themselves
in their confessions, ‘We blush, we are ashamed, astonished, and
confounded.’ This distance sin makes betwixt saints and God sometimes;
but betwixt God and the unconverted it is far greater. Now, when either
an unconverted sinner or a fallen saint puts himself to look to God for
reconciliation, then doth the devil labour to improve this for their
hindrance. That he accuseth us to God, is evident by Satan’s standing
at Joshua’s right hand, Zech. iii. 1. How he accuseth God to us we
know. He tells us it is in vain to seek to make up our peace after
so great provocations; urging that he is ‘a jealous God,’ ‘of pure
eyes,’ highly resenting the affronts we have given him, &c. Nay, he
goes so high this way, that God is put to it in Scripture, of purpose
to furnish us with an answer to these objections, to proclaim that he
is ‘slow to anger,’ ‘not easily provoked;’ that if men return from the
evil of their ways, he will ‘return to them,’ ‘accept,’ and ‘pity’
them, &c.

[3.] Thirdly, If this divert them not, but that they still persist
in their resolves, then he _follows after them with a high hand_;
sometimes, as Pharaoh did with Israel, he grows severe and imperious
with them, and redoubles the tale of their bricks. He forceth them to
higher and more frequent iniquities. Sometimes, as the same Pharaoh,
he musters up all his chariots and horsemen to pursue after them,
and in the highest diligence imaginable he brings forth his greatest
power, besetting them on all sides with temptations and allurements
of pleasures and delight. Where he perceives his time to be short,
and his power shaken, he comes down in resolves to try his utmost
strength. And hence it is that converts complain, that when they begin
in earnest to look after God, they are most troubled with temptations.
Besides this, whatever he can do to make them ‘drive heavily,’ [Exod.
xiv. 25,] shall not be wanting. Sometimes he makes attempts upon their
thoughts and affections, which are as their chariot wheels; and if
these can be knocked off any way, it retards them. Sometimes he casts
stumbling-blocks in their way. If any prejudice may divert them, if
threatenings or penalties can hinder; if the frownings of friends or
anything else can put a stop to their proceedings, he will have them
ready. Sometimes he endeavours to retard them by solicitations of
acquaintance, offers of former occasions and opportunities of sinning,
or whatever else may be as a _remora_ to their intentions.

[4.] Fourthly, But if none of these serve, then, as his last shift, he
_proclaims open war against them, pursues them as enemies and rebels_.
Now he begins to accuse them for that which they did by his advice and
temptation. Now sins that were called little are aggravated. Now that
day of repentance, which he was wont to say was long, he tells them it
is quite spent, that the sun of their hope is set. Nothing now doth he
suggest but hell, damnation, and wrath; he makes them, as it were, see
it, hear it, and feel it in everything. That interest in their hearts
which he dissembled before, now he stands upon and asserts, and will
not be beat off; designing in all this either to make them weary of
these new resolves by this unusual disquietment and hostility, or to
precipitate them upon some desperate undertaking, or at least to avenge
himself upon them, in venting his malice and rage against them; but of
this more afterward.


 _Satan’s deceits against religious services and duties.—The grounds
 of his displeasure against religious duties.—His first design against
 duties is to prevent them.—His several subtleties for that end, by
 external hindrances, by indispositions bodily and spiritual, by
 discouragements; the ways thereof, by dislike; the grounds thereof, by
 sophistical arguings.—His various pleas therein._

Our next work is to take notice of the spite and methods of the serpent
against the ways of worship and service. That these are things against
which his heart carries a high fury, and for the overthrow of them
employs no small part of his power and subtlety, needs no proof, seeing
the experience of all the children of God is an irresistible evidence
in this matter. I shall therefore first only set forth the grounds of
his displeasure and earnest undertakings against them, before I come to
his particular ways of deceit, which are these:—

1. First, By this means, if he prevail, _he deprives us of our
weapons_. This is a stratagem of war which we find the Philistines
practised against Israel: they took away all their smiths, lest the
Hebrews should make them swords or spears; hence was it that in the
battle there was ‘neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of
the people that were with Saul and Jonathan,’ 1 Sam. xiii. 19, 22. The
word of God is expressly called ‘the sword of the Spirit,’ [Eph. vi.
17.] Prayer is as a spear, or rather a general piece of armour. If the
devil deprive us of these, he robs us of our ammunition; for by reason
of these the church is compared to ‘a tower built for an armoury,
wherein hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men,’ Cant. iv.
4; and the apostle expressly calls them ‘weapons of our warfare,’ 2
Cor. x. 4, of purpose given us for ‘the pulling down of strongholds,’
and the demolishing of those forts and batteries of ‘high imaginations’
that Satan rears up in the hearts of men against their happiness. If
these be taken away, our locks are cut, as Samson’s were, our strength
is departed, and we become weak as other men, [Judges xvi. 17,]—we are
open to every incursion and inroad that he pleaseth to make against us.

2. Secondly, If he hinders these, _he intercepts our food and cuts
off our provisions_. The word is called ‘milk, sincere milk of the
word.’ It is that by which we are born, nourished, and increase; it
is our cordial and comfort. Christ indeed is ‘the bread of life,’ and
the fountain of all our consolations, but the word and prayer are the
conduit pipes that convey all to us. If these be cut, we ‘fade as a
leaf,’ we languish, we consume and waste, we become as a ‘skin-bottle
in the smoke,’ ‘our moisture as the drought in summer,’ our ‘soul
fainteth,’ ‘our heart faileth, and we become as those that go down
to the pit’; so that if the devil gain his design in this, he hath
all. Give him this, and give him the kingdom also. This is the most
compendious way of doing his work, and that which saves him a labour in
his temptations. The strongest holds, that cannot otherwise be taken,
are easily subdued by famine; and, like fig-trees with their ripe figs
when they are shaken, ‘even fall into the mouth of the eater,’ Nahum
iii. 12. If our spiritual food fail us, of our own accord we yield up
ourselves to any lust that requires our compliance.

3. Thirdly, Besides these, there is no design whereby Satan can shew
_more malice and spite against God_. He doth all he can to maintain a
competition with the Almighty. His titles of ‘the god of the world,’
‘the prince of the power of the air,’ shew what in the pride of his
heart he aspires to, as well as what by commission God is pleased to
grant him. These duties of worship and service are the homage of God’s
children, by which they testify the acknowledgments of his deity. By
wresting these out of our hands, Satan robs God of that honour, and
makes the allegiance of his servants to cease. If he could do more
against God, doubtless he would; but seeing he hath not ‘an arm like
God,’ and so cannot pull him out of heaven, by this means he sets up
himself as the god of the world, and enlargeth his territories, and
staves off the subjects of the God of heaven from giving him ‘the
honour due to his name;’ and that the devil in these endeavours is
carried on by a spite against God, as well as by an earnest desire of
the ruin of souls, may be abundantly evidenced by his way of management
of that opposition that he gives to the duties of service and worship.
I shall only, to make out this, instance in three things:—(1.) That
where the devil prevails to set up himself as an object of worship,
there he doth it in a bold, insolent, presumptuous imitation of God’s
appointments in the ways of his service. He enjoins covenants, seals,
sacrifices, prayers, and services to his miserable slaves, as may
appear by undoubted histories, of which more in due place. (2.) He
never acknowledgeth the truth of God’s ways, but with an evil mind and
upon design to bring them under contempt. His confessions have so much
of deceit in them that Christ would not accept them; and therefore we
read that when the devil was sometime forward to give his testimony
to Christ, as Mark i. 25, ‘I know thee who thou art, the Holy One
of God,’ Jesus rebuked him, and commanded him to hold his peace. He
clearly saw that he confessed him not to honour him, but by such a
particular acknowledgment to stir up the rage and fury of the people
against him. To this end Satan, in Acts xvi. 17, many days together
publicly owns Paul and Silas, ‘These men are the servants of the most
high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.’ Though he spake
truth, yet had he a malicious aim in it, which he accordingly brought
about by this means; and that was to raise up persecution against
them, and to give ground to that accusation which they afterwards met
withal; ver. 21, ‘That they taught customs which were not lawful to
be received.’ But (3.) his particular spite against God in seeking to
undermine his service is further manifested in this, that the devil
is not content to root out the service due to God, but when he hath
done that, he delights to abuse those places where the name of God
was most celebrated, with greatest profanations. I shall not in this
insist upon the conjecture of Tilenus,[198] that _Sylva Dodonœa_, a
place highly abused by the devil, and respected for an oracle, was the
seat or a religious place of Dodanim, mentioned in Gen. x. 4; nor upon
that supposal, mentioned also by the same author, that the oracle of
Jupiter Hammon was the place where Cham [Ham] practised that religious
worship which he learned in his father’s house. We have at hand more
certain evidences of the devil’s spite. Such was his abuse of the
tabernacle by the profane sons of Eli, who profaned that place with
their uncleanness and filthy adulteries. Such was his carriage to the
ark while it was captivated by the Philistines. Of like nature were
his attempts against the temple itself. Solomon in his latter days was
tempted to give an affront to it: he built a high place for Chemosh,
the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, 1 Kings
xi. 7, in the very sight and face of the temple; but afterward he
prepared to defile the temple itself. Gilgal and Beth-aven are places
of such high profanation, that the prophet Hosea, chap. ix. 15, tells
them ‘all their wickedness was in Gilgal,’ none of their abominations
were like to those; and in chap. iv. 15, they are dehorted from going
to Gilgal or Beth-aven; and yet both these places had been famous for
religion before.[199] Gilgal was the place of the general circumcision
of the Israelites that were born in the wilderness; there was their
first solemn passover kept after their entering into the land. Bethel
was a place where God as it were kept house, ‘the house of God.’ Here
Jacob had his vision. But the more famous they had been for duties of
worship, the devil sought to put higher abuses upon them, so that
Gilgal became ‘an hatred,’ and Bethel became a Beth-aven, ‘an house of

4. Fourthly, Satan is the more animated to undertake a design against
the ways of religious service, because _he seldom or never misseth at
least something of success_. This attempt is like Saul and Jonathan’s
bow, that ‘returned not empty,’ [2 Sam. i. 22.] In other temptations
sometimes Satan comes off baffled altogether, but in this work, as
it was said of some Israelites, ‘he can throw a stone at an hair’s
breadth, and not miss,’ Judges xx. 16. He is sure in one thing or
other to have the better of us. His advantage in this case is from our
unsuitableness to our service. What we do in the duties of worship,
requires a choice frame of spirit. Our hearts should be awed with the
most serious apprehensions of divine majesty, filled with reverence,
animated with love and delight, quickened by faith, clothed with
humility and self-abhorrency, and in all the procedure of duties
there must be a steady and firm prosecution under the strictest
watchfulness. Of this nature is our work, which at the first view would
put a man to a stand, and out of amazement force him to say, ‘Who is
sufficient for these things? who can stand before such an holy Lord
God?’ But when we come to an impartial consideration of our manifold
weaknesses and insufficiencies in reference to these services, what
shall we say? we find such a narrowness of spirit, such ignorances,
sottishness, carelessness of mind, thoughts so confused, tumultuous,
fickle, slippery, and unconstant, and our hearts generally so deceitful
and desperately wicked, that it is not possible that Satan should
altogether labour in vain or catch nothing. This being then a sure
gain, we may expect it to be under a most constant practice.

5. Fifthly, If he so prevails against us that the services of worship
become _grossly abused or neglected, then doth he put us under the
greatest hazards and disadvantages_. Nothing so poisonous as duties
of worship corrupted; for this is to abuse God to his face. By this,
not only are his commands and injunctions slighted, as in other sins,
but we carry it so as if we thought him no better than the idols of
the heathens, that have ‘eyes and see not, that have ears and hear
not.’ To come without a heart, or with our idols in our heart, is it
anything of less scorn than to say, ‘Tush, doth the Most High see?’
Besides, he hath given such severe cautions and commands in these
matters as will easily signify the aggravation of the offence. You see
how sharply God speaks of those that came to inquire of the Lord with
‘the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face,’ Ezek. xiv.
4, 7, ‘I will answer them according to the multitude of their idols; I
will answer them by myself.’ Saul’s miscarriage in offering sacrifice,
1 Sam. xiii. 13, was that great offence for which God determined to
take the kingdom from him. God’s severity against Nadab and Abihu,
his stroke upon Uzziah, do all shew the hazard of such profanations.
But, above all, that danger which both Old and New Testament speak
of—the hardening of the heart, blinding the eyes, dulling the ears,
that men should not hear nor see nor be converted and saved, but that
the word should, instead of those cordial refreshing smells which
beget and promote spiritual life in the obedient, breathe forth such
envenomed, poisonous exhalations when it is thus abused and profaned,
that it becomes ‘the savour of death unto death’—is most dreadful. No
wonder, then, if Satan be very busy against these holy things, when,
if he catch us at an advantage of this nature, it proves so deadly and
dangerous to us; for what can more please him that makes it his delight
and employment to destroy?

All these reasons evince that Satan hath an aching tooth against
religious services, and that to weaken, prevent, or overthrow them is
his great endeavour. Here then especially may we expect an assault,
according to the advice of Sirach: Ecclus. ii. 1, 2, ‘My son, when
thou enterest God’s service, stand fast in righteousness and fear, and
prepare thy soul for temptation.’

What are the subtleties of Satan against the holy things of God, I am
next to discover. Duties and services are opposed two ways: (1.) _By
prevention_, when they are hindered. (2.) _By corruption_, when they
are spoiled. He hath his arts and cunning, which he exerciseth in both
these regards:—

1. First, then, Of Satan’s policy for the preventing of religious
services. He endeavours by various means to hinder them. As,

(1.) First, _By external hindrances_. In this he hath a very great
foresight, and accordingly he foresees occasions and opportunities
at a distance, and by a long reach of contrivance he studies to lay
blocks and hindrances in the way. Much he doth in the dark for this
end that we know not. As God hath ‘secrets of wisdom that are double
to that which is known,’ Job xi. 6, so also hath Satan many ways and
actings that are not discerned by us. His contrivances of businesses
and avocations long aforehand are not so observed by us as they might
be. Where he misseth of his end it comes not to light, and often
where he is successful in his preventions we are ready to ascribe it
to contingencies and the accidental hits of affairs, when indeed the
hand and policy of Satan is in it. Paul, that was highly studied and
skilful in Satan’s devices, observing how his purposes of coming to
the Thessalonians were often broken and obstructed, he knew where the
blame lay, and therefore instead of laying the fault upon sickness, or
imprisonments, or the oppositions of false brethren—which often made
him trouble beyond expectation—he directly chargeth all upon Satan:
1 Thes. ii. 18, ‘We would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and
again, but Satan hindered us.’ At the same rate, understanding the
purposes of faithful men for the promoting the good of men’s souls, he
often useth means to stop or hinder them. Some have observed, having a
watchful and jealous eye over Satan, that their resolves and endeavours
of this nature have usually been put to struggle sore in their birth
when their purposes for worldly affairs and matters go smoothly on
without considerable opposition.

(2.) Secondly, He makes use of indispositions to hinder service; and
here he works sometimes upon the body, sometimes upon the soul, for
both may be indisposed.

[1.] First, Sometimes he takes the advantage of _bodily
indispositions_. He doth all he can to create and frame these upon us,
and then pleads them as a discharge to duty. If he can put the body
into a fit of drowsiness or distemper, he will do it: and surely he
can do more this way than every one will believe—he may agitate and
stir the humours. Hence some have observed more frequent and stronger
fits of sleepiness and illness to come upon them on the days and times
that require their attendance upon God, than on other days; when they
shall be lively, active, and free of dulness upon common occasions—at
sports, songs, interludes—when they shall not have the like command
of themselves in the exercises of worship. Surely it was more than an
ordinary drowsiness that befell the apostles, Mat. xxvi. 41. He had
told them the seriousness of the occasion, that he was ‘betrayed,’
that his ‘soul was exceeding sorrowful even to the death:’ these were
considerations that might have kept their eyes from slumber. When they
sleep, he awakens them with a piercing rebuke, ‘Could ye not watch with
me one hour?’ and adds to this an admonition of their own danger, and
the temptation that was upon them, and yet presently they are asleep
again, and after that again. Strange drowsiness! But he gives an
excuse for them, which also tells us the cause of it: the ‘spirit is
willing’—their hearts were not altogether unconcerned—‘but the flesh,’
that is, the body, that was ‘weak’—that is, subject to be abused by
Satan, who brought them into a more than ordinary indisposition, as is
noted ver. 43, ‘their eyes were heavy.’

[2.] Secondly, _The soul hath also its indispositions_, which he
readily improves against duty to hinder it. As,

_First_, It is capable of _a spiritual sluggishness and dulness_,
wherein the spiritual senses are so bound up, that it considers not,
minds not, hath no list nor inclination to acts of service. What a
stupefaction are our spirits capable of! as David in his adultery seems
not to mind nor care what he had done. In like manner are some in a
lethargy; as the prophet speaks, they ‘care not to seek after God.’
Bernard hath a description of it: _Contrahitur animus, subtrahitur
gratia, defervescit novitius fervor, ingravescit torpor fastidiosus_,
The spirit is contracted, grace withdrawn, fervour abates, sluggishness
draws on, and then duties are neglected.

_Secondly_, The spirit is indisposed by _a throng of worldly affairs,
and these oft jostle out duty_. Christ tells us they have the same
influence upon men that gluttony and drunkenness have, and these unfit
men for action. ‘Take heed,’ saith Luke xxi. 34, ‘to yourselves, lest
at any time your heart be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness,
and the cares of this life.’ These then may at so high a rate
overcharge the souls of men so as to make them frame excuses: ‘I have
bought a farm or oxen,’ and therefore ‘I cannot attend;’ and by this
means may they grow so neglective that the ‘day of the Lord may come
upon them at unawares.’

_Thirdly_, Sometimes the soul is _discomposed through passion_, and
then it is indisposed, which opportunity the devil espying, he closeth
in with it. Sometime he ‘blows the fire,’ that the heat of anger may
put them upon a carelessness. Sometimes he pleads their present frame
as an unfitness for service, and so upon a pretence of reverence to
the service, and ‘leaving the gift at the altar’ till they be in a
better humour, many times the gift is not offered at all, 1 Pet. iii.
7. The apostle directs husbands to manage their authority over their
wives with prudence, for the avoiding of brawls and contentions: ‘Ye
husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour to the
wife as the weaker vessel;’ the reason of which advice he gives in
these words, ‘that your prayers be not hindered.’ Prayers are hindered
partly in their success when they prevail not, partly they are hindered
when the duty of prayer is put by and suspended; and this doubtless
the apostle aims at, to teach us that contentious quarrellings in a
family hinder the exercise of the duty of prayer. Elisha, 2 Kings iii.,
discomposed himself in his earnest reproof of Jehoram, for with great
vehemency he had spoken to him: ver. 13, 14, ‘What have I to do with
thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father. Were it not that I regard
the presence of Jehoshaphat, I would not look toward thee, nor see
thee.’ But when he set himself to receive the visions of God, he calls
for a minstrel, ver. 15, the reason whereof, as P[eter] Martyr and
others suppose,[200] was this, that however what he spake to Jehoram
proceeded from zeal, yet being but a man, and subject to the like
infirmities of other men, it had distracted and discomposed his spirit,
which made him unfit and uncapable to entertain the visions of God.
Music then being a natural means for the composure and quiet of the
mind, he takes that course to calm and fit himself for that work.

_Fourthly, Ignorance and prejudice are spiritual indispositions_, which
are not neglected by the devil. Knowledge is the eye and guide of the
soul. If there be darkness there, all acts which depend upon better
instruction must cease. The disciples’ ignorance of Scriptures brought
in their unbelief. Christ notes that as the fountainhead of all their
backwardness: Luke xxiv. 25, ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all
that the prophets have spoken.’ In like manner, if men are not clear
or knowing in the ways and necessities of duty and service, the devil
can easily prevail with them to forbear and neglect. Prejudice riseth
up to justify the disregard of duty, and offers reasons which it thinks
cannot be answered.

(3.) Thirdly, Satan endeavours to prevent duty _by discouragements_.
If he can make the ‘knees feeble,’ and the ‘hands hang down,’ he will
quickly cause activity and motion to cease. The ways by which he
endeavours to discourage men from the duties of service are these:—

[1.] First, He sets before them _the toil and burden of duty_. If a man
sets his face toward heaven, thus he endeavours to scare him off: Is
not, saith he, the way of religion a dull, melancholy way? Is it not
a toil—a tedious task? Are not these unreasonable injunctions: ‘Pray
continually,’ ‘Pray without ceasing,’ ‘Preach in season and out of
season’? This suggestion, though it be expressly contrary to command,
yet being so suitable to the idle and sluggish tempers of men, they
are the more apt to take notice of it, and accordingly they seek ways
and shifts of accommodating the command to their inclinations. In Amos
viii. 5, the toil of sabbaths and festival services, as they thought
it, makes them weary of the duty, ‘When will the new moon be gone, that
we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?’ These
men thought their services tedious and entrenching upon their callings
and occupations: Mal. i. 13, ‘They said, Behold, what a weariness is
it!’ looking upon it as an insufferable burden, nay they proceeded
so far as to snuff at it. Now when the devil had so far prevailed
with them, it was easy to put them upon neglect; which, as the place
cited speaks, presently followed upon it, they ‘brought the torn, and
the lame, and the sick for a sacrifice.’ Satan first presented these
services as a wearisome burden, then they snuffed at them; next they
thought any service good enough, how mean soever, though to an open
violation of the law of worship; and lastly, from a pollution of the
table of the Lord they proceeded to a plain contempt of duty, ‘the
table of the Lord is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even his meat
is contemptible,’ ver. 12. In the management of this discouragement,
the devil hath most success upon those that have not yet tasted the
sweetness and easiness of the ways of the Lord, ‘his yoke is indeed
easy, his burden is light;’ his service is a true freedom to those that
are acquainted with God, and exercised in his service. But when men are
first beginning to look after God and duty, and are not yet filled and
‘satisfied with the fatness of his house,’ this temptation hath the
greater force upon them, and they are apt to be discouraged thereby.

[2.] Secondly, He endeavours to discourage them, from _the want of
success in the duties of worship_. When they have waited long and
sought the Lord, then he puts them upon resolves of declining any
further prosecution, as he did with Joram at the siege of Samaria; ‘Why
wait I upon the Lord any longer?’ 2 Kings vi. 33, said he, after he
had expected deliverance a long time without any appearance of help.
When Saul saw that God ‘answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by
Urim, nor by prophets,’ 1 Sam. xxviii. 6, 7, the devil easily persuaded
him to leave off the ordinary ways of attendance upon God, and to
consult with the witch of Endor. The profane persons mentioned in Mal.
iii. 14, that had cast off all regard to his laws, all respect to his
ordinances, were brought to this pitch of iniquity by the suggestions
of want of success; they said, ‘It is vain to serve God: and what
profit is it that we have kept his ordinances, and that we have walked
mournfully before the Lord of hosts?’ It seems they were like the
people spoken of in Isa. lviii. 2, 3: they had fasted and prayed, and
God delayed to answer them, which they looked upon as a disobligement
from duty, and that which they could peremptorily insist upon as a
reason which might justify their neglect. ‘Wherefore have we fasted,
say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and
thou takest no knowledge?’ Neither doth this discouragement fall heavy
only upon those whose hearts are departed already from God, who might
be supposed to be forward to embrace any excuse from his service; but
we shall find it bears hard upon the children of God. David was ready
to give over all, as a man forsaken of God: Ps. xxii. 1, 2, ‘Why hast
thou forsaken me? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not;
and in the night season, and am not silent.’ We may clearly gather from
his expressions that this temptation had sorely bruised him, and that
upon God’s delay of answer, he was ready to charge an unrighteousness
upon God’s carriage toward him; for in that he adds that he kept his
ground, and did not consent to it—as the words following, ‘But thou
continuest holy,’ do imply—it shewed what the devil was objecting to
him. And elsewhere, in Ps. lxix. 3, when he had cried and was not
answered, he began to be ‘weary, and his eyes failed; nay, his flesh
and heart failed;’ his spirit sunk, as a man almost vanquished and
overcome with the temptation.

[3.] Thirdly, This our adversary raiseth up discouragements to us
from _the unsuitableness of our hearts to our services_. Herein he
endeavours to deaden our hearts, to clog our spirits, to hinder and
molest us, and then he improves these indispositions and discomposures
against the duty, in which he hath a double advantage; for (1.) He
deprives us of that delight in duty which should whet on our desires
to undertake it, so that we come to the Lord’s table as old Barzillai,
without a taste or relish of what we eat or drink. When we come to
hear, ‘the ear that trieth words,’ as the palate tasteth meat, finds
no savour in what is spoken; and this Satan can easily do by the
inward deadness or disquiet of the heart, even as the anguish of
diseases takes away all pleasures which the choicest dainties afford;
as Job observes, ‘When a man is chastened with pain upon his bed,
his life abhors bread, and his soul dainty meat,’ chap. xxxiii. 20.
And when a man is brought to loathe his duties, as having nothing of
that sweetness and satisfaction in them which is everywhere spoken
of, a small temptation may put him upon neglect of them. (2.) He hath
plausible and colourable arguments by which he formeth an opinion in
the minds of men, that in cases of indisposition they may do better
to forbear than to proceed. He tells them they ought not to pray or
present any service while they are so indisposed, that no prayer is
acceptable where the Spirit doth not enliven the heart and raise the
affections; that they do but take his name in vain, and increase their
sin, and that they should wait till the Spirit fill their sails: and
to say the truth, it is a great difficulty for a child of God to hold
his feet in such slippery places. How many have I known complaining of
this, and persuading themselves verily that they might do far better
to leave off all service than to perform them thus! And scarcely
have I restrained them from a compliance with Satan, by telling them
that indispositions are no bar to duty, but that duty is the way to
get our indispositions cured; that duty is absolutely required, and
dispositions to be endeavoured; and that it is a less offence to keep
to duty under indispositions, than wholly upon that pretence to neglect
it; and indeed, where these indispositions are bemoaned and striven
with, the services are often more acceptable to God than pleasing to
ourselves. The principle is truly spiritual and excellent, a foundation
of sapphires and precious stones, upon which, if we patiently wait,
he will build a palace of silver; for that service is more spiritual
that is bottomed and carried on by a conscientious regard to a command,
when there are no moral motives from sense and comfort concurring, than
that which hath more of delight to encourage it, while the power of the
command is less swaying and influential.

[4.] Fourthly, Men are oft discouraged from _a sense of unworthiness of
the privilege of duty, a kind of excess of humility_, which principally
relates to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. The accuser
of the brethren tells them that they have nothing to do to take the
name of God in their mouths; that it is an insufferable presumption.
Hence some, like the woman with the bloody issue, dare not come to
Christ to ask a cure, while yet they earnestly desire it, and would
rather, if they could, privately steal it than openly beg it. The
publican [Luke xviii. 10, _seq._] is presented to us in the parable
as one that could scarce get over that objection. He is set forth
standing at a ‘distance, not daring to lift up his eyes to heaven;’
scarce attempting to speak, rather expressing his unworthiness to
pray, than setting upon the duty; his ‘smiting upon his breast,’ and
saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner,’ argued that much of these
discouragements lay upon him. The like we may see in the prodigal, who
it seems had it long in dispute whether he should go to his father,
whose kindness he had so abused; and so long as he could make any other
shift he yielded to the temptation: at last he came to that resolve, ‘I
will arise and go to my father, and say, I have sinned against heaven,
and thee, and am not worthy to be called thy son.’ Which shew that
the sense of this kept him off till necessity forced him over it. And
this is a discouragement the more likely to prevail for a neglect of
service, because part of it is necessary, as the beginning of those
convictions of our folly: to have such low thoughts of ourselves that
we are not worthy to come into his presence, nor to look toward him,
is very becoming; but to think that we should not come to him because
our conscience accuseth of unworthiness, is a conclusion of Satan’s
making, and such as God never intended from the premises, but the
direct contrary. Come, saith God, though unworthy. The like course doth
the devil take to keep men off from the Lord’s table. Oh, saith he, it
is a very solemn ordinance; he that partaketh of it unworthily, eateth
and drinketh damnation to himself. How darest thou make such bold
approaches? While the hearts of men are tender, their consciences quick
and accusing, the threatening begets a fear, and they are driven off
long, and debar themselves unnecessarily from their mercies.

(4.) Fourthly, Satan endeavours to hinder duty by bringing them into _a
dislike and loathing of duty_. This is a course most effectual. Dislike
easily bringeth forth aversation, and withal doth strongly fix the mind
in purposes of neglect and refusal. The devil bringeth this about many
ways; as,

[1.] First, _By reproaches and ignominious terms_. It was an old trick
of the wicked one to raise up nicknames and scoffs against the ways of
God’s service, thereby to beget an odium in the hearts of men against
them. ‘The seat of the scornful’ is a chair that Satan had reared up
from the beginning. By this art—when ‘God was known in Jewry, and
his name was great in Israel’—were the heathens kept off from laying
hold on the covenant of God. He rendered them and the ordinances of
worship ridiculous to the nations. The opprobrium of circumcision, and
their unreasonable faith, as the heathens thought it, upon things not
seen, was a proverb in every man’s mouth, _Credat Judœus Apella—non
ego_.[201] The Jews were slandered with the yearly sacrifice of a
Grecian. And Apion affirms that Antiochus found such a one in a bed in
the temple; and that they worshipped an ass’s head in the temple. Apion
slandered the Jews with ulcers in their privy parts every seventh day;
hence he derives _sabbath_, of _sabatosis_, which with the Egyptians
signifies an ulcer.[202]

Lysimachus slandered the Jews in Egypt as leprous church-robbers; and
that their city was hence called _Hierosola_.[203] When the Gentiles
were called into the fellowship of the gospel, it was aspersed with the
like scoffs and flouts. It was frequently called a sect, a babbling
and strange and uncouth doctrine, Acts xxviii. 22; besides a great
many lies and forgeries that were invented to make it seem odious;
and by this means it was ‘everywhere spoken against,’ Acts xvii.
18, 20. Machiavel, that propounded the policy of full and violent
calumniations to render an adversary odious, knowing that how unjust
soever they were, yet some impression of jealousy and suspicion would
remain, had learned it of this old accuser, who had often and long
experienced it to be a prevalent course, to bring the services of
God under dislike, _Calumniare fortiter; aliquid adhœrebit_. David,
speaking of what befell himself in this kind, Ps. lxix. 9-12, that his
zeal lay under reproach; his weeping and fasting became a proverb; and
that in all these he was ‘the song of the drunkard,’ he expresseth
such apprehensions of the power of this temptation upon the weak,
that he doth earnestly beg that Satan might not make it a snare to
them: ver. 6, ‘Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts,
be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded
for my sake.’ And further declares it, as a wonderful preservation
and escape of this danger, that notwithstanding these reproaches, he
had not declined his duty: ver. 13, ‘But as for me, my prayer is unto
thee, Lord.’ Paul seems to speak his sense of this piece of policy;
his imprisonment administered matter of reproach to his profession.
Though his cause were good, yet he suffered trouble as ‘an evil-doer,’
2 Tim. ii. 9. This he knew the devil would improve to a shame and
disgrace unto the service of God, and therefore he chargeth Timothy
to be aware of that temptation: 2 Tim. i. 8, ‘Be not thou therefore
ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner.’ And ver.
16, he takes notice of Onesiphorus, that had escaped that snare, and
was not ‘ashamed of his chain.’ And we have the greater reason to fear
the danger of this art, when we find that the tempter made use of it
to turn away the affections of the Capernaumites from Christ himself:
Mat. xiii. 57, when he had preached in their synagogues to the applause
and astonishment of all his hearers, the devil, fearing the prevalency
of his doctrine, finds out this shift to bring them to a dislike of
him and his preaching: ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son? And they were
offended in him.’

[2.] Secondly, Duties are brought under dislike _by the hazards that
attend them_. The devil leaves it not untold what men shall meet with
from the world if they ‘run not with them into excess of vanity’ and
neglect. If bonds, imprisonments, banishments, hatreds, oppositions,
spoiling of goods, sufferings of all kinds will divert them, he is
sure to set all these affrightments before them; which though they
do not move some from their steadfastness—such as Daniel, whose
constancy in duty was not pierced by the fear of lions; and the three
children, who would not decline the ways of the Lord for the terror of
a fiery furnace—yet these considerations prevail with most; as Christ
notes, in those that received seed in stony places, whose joy in the
word was soon blasted, and they offended at the ways of duty, ‘when
tribulation and persecution because of the word arose,’ Mat. xiii. 21.
Christ pronouncing him blessed that should ‘not be offended in him,’
because of the dangers of his service, shews that the escape of such a
temptation is not a common mercy, Mat. xi. 6. And if we shall observe
Paul’s practice upon his first undertaking of the ministry, when ‘it
pleased God to call him to preach his Son Christ among the heathen,’
Gal. i. 16, we shall see, (1.) That he was aware of such objections as
these; (2.) That flesh and blood are apt to comply with them, and to
take notice of them; (3.) And that the best way to avoid them is to
stop the ears against them, and not to hearken to them or consult with
them; (4.) And that he that must do it to purpose, must, without delay,
immediately resolve against such hindrances; it being most difficult
for men that will be inclining to such motions, and hearkening to what
the devil offers, under pretence of self-preservation, to disengage
themselves after they have suffered their souls to take the impression.

[3.] Thirdly, _The meanness of religious appointments, as to the
outward view, is also made use of to beget a loathing of them_. In this
the devil hath this advantage, that however they are all ‘glorious
within,’ and ‘as the curtains of Solomon,’ yet are they, as to their
outward appearance, like ‘the tents of Kedar,’ without any of that
pomp and splendour which the sons of men affect and admire. Christ
himself, when he had veiled his glory by our flesh, was of no exterior
‘form or beauty.’ The ministration of his word, which is ‘the sceptre
of his kingdom,’ seems contemptible, and a very ‘foolishness to men;’
insomuch that Paul was forced to make an apology for it, in that it
wanted those outward braveries of ‘excellency of speech and wisdom,’
by shewing it was ‘glorious in its power,’ and was indeed a ‘hidden
wisdom’—though not like that ‘wisdom which the princes of wisdom’ and
philosophy affected—‘among such as were perfect,’ 1 Cor. ii. 1,4, 6.
The sacraments, both of the Old and New Testament, seemed very low and
contemptible things to a common eye; neither need we any other evidence
to shew that men are apt to disrelish them, and to entertain strange
thoughts of them upon this very account, than this, that some raise
up batteries against these ordinances upon this ground, that because
they seem low and mean to them, therefore they think it improbable
that God should have indeed appointed them to be used in the literal
sense, or that at best they are to be used as the first rudiments of
Christianity, and not enjoined upon the more grown Christians. Neither
may I altogether pass over that remarkable humour that is in some, to
give additional ornaments of outward garb and form for the greater
honour and lustre of these injunctions of Christ; so that while they
endeavour to shew their greatest respects to them, they betray their
inward thoughts to have carried some suspicion of their reality because
of their plainness; and by this means, whilst they endeavour to put
an honour upon Christ’s institutions, they really despise them, and
shew their respects to their own inventions. But that we may be further
satisfied that Satan works by this engine, let us consider that of
1 Cor. i. 23. The Jews were for signs from heaven to give a credit
and testimony to that doctrine which they would receive. The Greeks,
who were then the only people for learning, were for philosophical
speculations and disputes. Now, saith the apostle, the doctrine of
the gospel, which is the preaching of Christ crucified, because it
came not within the compass of what both these expected, therefore the
devil so wrought upon this advantage, that both contemned it; ‘It was
to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness.’ Of this
also he speaks more fully, 2 Cor. xi. 3, where he shews that the minds
of the Corinthians were ready to be corrupted with error against the
plain import of the gospel; and that which they took offence at was its
simplicity. They looked upon it as contemptible, because not containing
such gorgeous things as might suit a soaring and wanton fancy. Now
he resolves all this into a cheat of Satan, taking the advantage of
this, as he did upon Eve from the seeming inconsiderableness of the
prohibition of eating a little fruit, to persuade them that so mean a
thing as the gospel could not be of God. ‘I fear,’ saith he, ‘lest by
any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your
minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.’

[4.] Fourthly, _The sins of professors, through the craft of Satan,
beget a loathing of these holy things_. If God loathe his own
appointments, and ‘cannot bear them,’ because of the iniquities of
those that offer them, no wonder if men be tempted to disgraceful
apprehensions of them, when they observe some that pretend a high
care and deep respect for them live profanely. The sins of Eli’s sons
wrought this sad effect upon the people, that men, for their sakes,
abhorred the offerings of the Lord, 1 Sam. ii. 17. Those that fell off
to error, and thence to abominable practices, ‘caused the way of truth
to be evil spoken of,’ 2 Pet. ii. 2. The priests that departed out of
the way, ‘caused many to stumble at the law,’ Mal. ii. 8. Nay, so high
doth Satan pursue this sometimes, that it becomes an inlet to direct

[5.] Fifthly, Satan also works mightily _in the profane dispositions
of men, and acts that principle to a disregard and weariness of the
services of God_. A flagitious wicked life naturally leads to it. Those
that ‘eat up God’s people as bread,’ Ps. xiv. 4, ‘called not upon
God.’ This eats out at last the very exterior and formal observation
of religious duties. In this Satan bends his force against them, (1.)
By heightening the spirits of men to an insolent defiance of God by
a continued prosperity. He draws out the pride and vanity of their
spirits to a bold contempt: ‘Who is the Lord that we should serve him?
We are lords; we will come no more at thee; our tongues are our own,’
&c., Jer. ii. 31. Thus they ‘set their mouths against heaven.’ Eliphaz
tells us this, as the usual carriage of those that lived in peace and
jollity: Job xxi. 15, ‘Therefore say they unto God, Depart from us;
for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways: who is the Almighty that
we should serve him?’ (2.) By hiding from them the necessities of duty.
Job speaking of the hypocrite, chap. xxvii. 10, describes him by these
neglects of duty, ‘Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he
always call upon God?’ Of this he gives the reason, ver. 9, ‘He will
call and cry when trouble comes upon him.’ When distresses make duties
necessary, then he will use them; in his ‘affliction he will seek him
early,’ Hosea v. 15; as the Israelites did, Ps. lxxviii. 34, ‘When he
slew them, then they sought him, and enquired early after God.’ But
when he is not thus pinched—and Satan will endeavour in this case,
that he be as far from the rod of God as he can make him—he gives over
seeking God and loathes it, nay, accounts it as ridiculous so to do;
they ‘mock at his counsel,’ and contemn his advice of waiting upon him.

[6.] Sixthly, Satan picks quarrels in men _at the manner of performance
of duty_. When duty cannot be spoken against, then he endeavours to
destroy it by the modes, circumstances, and way of performance: as
(1.) If those that act in them discover any weakness—as who doth not,
when he hath done his best?—this he endeavours to blemish the duty
withal. The bodily presence of Paul was objected against him, as being
‘contemptible,’ and his ‘speech as weak,’ [2 Cor. x. 10;] but the
design of that objection lay higher, the devil thereby endeavouring
to render the duties of his ministry as contemptible, and not to be
regarded. (2.) If the circumstances please not, he teacheth them to
take pet with the substance, and, like children, to reject all, because
everything is not suitable to their wills. (3.) If it be managed in any
way not grateful to their expectations, if too cuttingly and plain,
then they think they be justified to say they hate it, as Ahab did
Micaiah; if any way too high or abstrusely, then likewise they fling
off. On this point the devil persuaded many of Christ’s followers
to desert him, John vi. 66, because he had spoken of himself in
comparisons that they judged too high. When he said he was that ‘bread
that came down from heaven,’ ver. 58, they said ‘that was a saying not
to be borne;’ and on that occasion ‘they went back, and walked no more
with him.’

[7.] Seventhly, The devil brings a nauseating of the duties of worship,
by _a wrong representation of them, in the carriage and gestures of
those that engage in them_. It seems strange to some that are but as
idle spectators to observe the postures of saints, seriously lifting
up their eyes to heaven, or humbly mourning and smiting on their
breasts. These the devil would render ridiculous, and as the suspicious
managements of an histrionical or hypocritical devotion; as men at a
distance beholding the strange variety of actions and postures of such
as dance, being out of the sound of their music, shall think them a
company of madmen and frantic people. Such perverse prospects doth
he sometimes afford to those that come rather to observe what others
do, than to concern themselves in such duties, that, not seeing their
private influences, nor the secret spring that moves them, they judge
them foolish, and from thence they contract an inward loathing of the
duties themselves.

(5.) Fifthly, In order to the hindering or preventing of duty, Satan
useth to impose upon men _by fallacious arguings_: and by a piece of
his sophistry he endeavours to cheat them out of their services. I
shall note some of his remarkable dealings in this kind: as,

[1.] First, _He heightens the dignity of God’s children, upon a design
to spoil their duty_. He tells them they are ‘partakers of the divine
nature,’ [2 Pet. i. 4;] that they are ‘in God and Christ,’ and have
the communications of his Spirit, and therefore they need not now
drink of the cistern, seeing they enjoy the fountain; and that these
services, in their attainments, are as useless as scaffolds are when
once the house is built. To prosecute this he takes advantage, (1.)
of the natural pride of their hearts. He puffs them up with conceits
of the excellency of their condition—a thing which all men are apt
to catch at with greediness upon the least imaginary grounds, 1 Cor.
viii. 7; Col. ii. 18. If a man have but a little knowledge, or have
attained to any vain speculations, he is presently apt to be vainly
‘puffed up by his fleshly mind.’ The same hazard attends any conceited
excellency which a man apprehends he hath reached unto. Those monsters
of religion, mentioned by Peter and Jude, that made no other use of
the ‘grace of God’ but to ‘turn it into wantonness,’ Jude 4; yet were
they so tumefied with the apprehensions of their privileges, that
whilst they designed no other thing than plain licentiousness and a
wantonness in the lusts of the flesh, yet it seems they encouraged
themselves and allured others from a supposed liberty which their
privileges gave them; and to this purpose had frequently in their
mouths ‘great swelling words of vanity,’ 2 Pet. ii. 18, even whilst
they ‘walked after their own lusts,’ Jude 16. (2.) To strengthen their
proud conceits, the devil improves what the Scriptures speak of the
differences of God’s children—that some are spiritual, some are carnal;
some weak, others strong; some perfect, some less perfect; some little
children, some young men, some fathers, 1 Cor. ii. 1; Phil. iii. 15;
1 John ii. 12, 13. The end of all this is to make them apprehend
themselves Christians of a higher rank and order, which also makes way
consequently for a further inference, viz., that there must needs be
immunities and privileges suitable to these heights and attainments.
To this purpose (3.) he produceth those scriptures that are designed
by God to raise up the minds of men to look after the internal work
and power of his ordinances, and not to centre their minds and hopes
in the bare formal use of them, without applying their thoughts to God
and Christ, unto whom they are appointed to lead us. Such as these
scriptures: Rom. ii. 28, ‘He is not a Jew which is one outwardly;
neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is
a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in
the spirit, and not in the letter.’ And Rom. vi. 7, we should ‘serve
in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.’ 2 Cor. v.
16, ‘Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though
we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him
no more.’ Eph. iv. 13, ‘He gave some apostles, and some prophets,’
&c., ‘for the perfecting of the saints, ... till we all come in the
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a
perfect man.’ By a perverse interpretation of these, and some other
scriptures of like import, he would persuade them that the great thing
that Christ designed by his ordinances was but to ‘train up the weaker
Christians by these rudiments,’ as the A B C to children, to a more
spiritual and immediate way of living upon God; and that these become
altogether useless when Christians have gotten up to any of these
imaginary degrees of a supposed perfection. Enough of this may be seen
in the writings of Saltmarsh, Winstanly, and others, in the late times.
How great a trade Satan drove by such misapprehensions not long since
cannot easily be forgotten; so that God’s worship did almost lie waste,
and in many places ‘the way to Zion did mourn.’

[2.] Secondly, He will sometimes confess an _equality of privilege
among the children of God, and yet plead an inequality of duty_.
That God is as good and strong to us, and that we have all an equal
advantage by Christ, he will readily acknowledge; but then, when we
should propound the diligence of the saints in their services for our
pattern, as of David’s ‘praying seven times a-day,’ Daniel’s three
times, Anna’s serving God with fastings and prayers night and day,
&c.,[204] he tells us these were extraordinary services, and as it were
works of supererogation, more than the command of God laid upon them.
So that we are not tied to such strictness; and we, being naturally apt
to indulge ourselves in our own ease, are too ready to comply with such
delusions. And by degrees men are thus brought to a confident belief
that they may be good enough, and do as much as is required, though
they slacken their pace, and do not fast, pray, or hear so often as
others have done.

[3.] Thirdly, Another sophism of his _is to heighten one duty, to
the ruin of another_. He strives to make an intestine war among the
several parts of the services we owe to God; and from the excellency
of one, to raise up an enmity and undervaluing disregard of another.
Thus would he sever as inconsistent those things that God hath joined
together. As among false teachers, some say, ‘Lo, here is Christ,’ and
others, ‘Lo, he is there;’ so we find Satan dealing with duties. He
puts some upon such high respects to preaching, that, say they, Christ
is to be found here most frequently, rather than in prayer or other
ordinances; others are made to have the like esteem for prayer: and
they affirm in this is Christ especially to be met withal; others say
the like of sacraments or meditation. In all these Satan labours to
beget a dislike and neglect of other services. Thus, in what relates
to the constitution of churches, he endeavours to set up purity of
churches, to the destruction of unity, or unity to the ruin of purity.
A notable example hereof we have in the _Euchytæ_, a sect of praying
heretics, which arose in the time of Valentinian and Valens, who,
upon the pretence of the commands of Christ and Paul for praying
continually, or without ceasing and fainting, owned no other duty as
necessary; vilifying preaching and sacraments as things at best useless
and unprofitable.[205] The like attempts he makes daily upon men, where
though he prevail not so far as to bring some necessary duties of
service into open contempt, yet he carries them into too much secret
neglect and disregard, Luke xviii. 1; 1 Thes. xv. 17.

[4.] Fourthly, He improves the grace of the gospel to infer an
_unnecessariness of duty_; and this he doth not only from the advantage
of a profane and careless spirit in such as presumptuously expect
heaven, though they mind not the way that leads to it; for with such
it is usual, as one observes,[206] for Satan to sever the means from
the end in things that are good; to make them believe they shall have
peace, though they walk in the imaginations of their heart; to make
them lean upon the Lord for heaven, in the apparent neglect of holiness
and duty; as in evil things he severs the end from the means, making
them confident they shall escape hell and condemnation, though they
walk in the path that leads thither. But besides this, he abuseth the
understandings and affections of men by strange and uncouth inferences;
as that God hath received a satisfaction, and Christ hath done all, so
that nothing is left for us to do. The apostle Paul was so much aware
of this kind of arguing, that when he was to ‘magnify the grace of
God,’ he always took care to fence against such perverse reasonings,
severely rebuking and refelling such objections: as in Rom. iii. 7, 8,
where speaking that our ‘unrighteousness did commend the righteousness
of God,’ he falls upon that reply, ‘Why then am I judged as a sinner?’
which he sharply refells, as an inference of slanderous imputation to
the gospel, which hath nothing in it to give the least countenance to
that conclusion, ‘Let us do evil, that good may come;’ and adds, that
damnation shall justly overtake such as practise accordingly. The like
we have, Rom. vi. 1, ‘Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?’
which he rejected with the greatest abhorrency, ‘God forbid!’ From both
which places we may plainly gather, that as unsound as such arguings
are, yet men, through Satan’s subtlety, are too prone, upon such
pretences, to dispute themselves to a careless neglect of duty. This
might be enlarged in many other instances, as that of Maximus Tyrius,
who disputed all duties unnecessary upon this ground, ‘That what God
will give, cannot be hindered; and what he will not give, cannot be
obtained; and therefore it were needless to seek after anything.’
Much to the same purpose do many argue, if they be predestinated to
salvation, they shall be saved, though they do never so little; if
they be not predestinated, they shall not be saved, though they do
never so much. In all which inferences the devil proceeds upon a false
foundation of severing the means and the end, which the decree of
God hath joined together; but the main of the design is to hide the
necessity of duty from them.

[5.] Fifthly, By urging a necessity or conveniency for _suspending or
remitting duties_. In temptations to sin, he doth from a little draw
on the sinner to more; but in omissions of duty he would entice us
from much to little, and from little to nothing. Very busy he is with
us to break or interrupt our constant course of duty. Duties in order
and practice, are like so many pearls upon one string; if the thread
be broken, it may hazard the scattering of all. If we be once put out
of our way, we are in danger to rove far before we be set in our rank
again. To effect this, (1.) he will be sure to straiten or hinder us
in our opportunities if he can, and then to plead necessity for a
dispensation. It is true indeed, necessities, when unavoidable—as the
issue of providence rather than our negligence—may excuse an omission
of duty, because in such cases, God accepting the will for the deed,
will have mercy and not sacrifice. But necessity is most-what[207] a
pretence or cover to the slothfulness of professors, and the devil
will do all he can to gratify them in that humour, and to prepare
excuses for them from such hindrances or interruptions as business
or disturbances can make; yet if these be not in readiness, he will
(2.) endeavour to take off our earnestness by suggesting to us our
former diligence, that we at other times have been careful and active;
or (3.) by setting before us the greater negligence of those that
are below us. The meaning of both which insinuations is to this one
purpose, that we may make bold with some omissions, without any great
hazard of our religious intentions, or scandal and offence to others.
Now if he can by any of these ways bring us to any abatement of our
wonted care and exercise, he will then still press for more, and from
fervency of spirit to a cold moderation; from thence he will labour
to bring us down to seldom performances; from thence, to nothing. The
spiritual sluggard that will be overcome to some neglects, shall be
found a companion at last to a waster, Prov. xviii. 9, and will be
brought to a total neglect of all. The church of Ephesus, Rev. ii. 4,
5, may sadly give proof of this; they left their first love, and from
thence declined so far that at last God was provoked to ‘remove the
candlestick out of its place.’

[6.] Sixthly, Satan puts tricks upon men in order to the hindering
of duty, by putting us from a service _presently needful, with the
proposal of another, in which, at that time, we are not so concerned_.
In several duties of Christianity there is a great deal of skill
required to make a right choice, for present or first performance; and
to have a right judgment to discover the times and seasons of them,
is matter of necessary study. Our adversary observing our weaknesses
in this, when no other art will prevail, endeavours to put us upon
an inconvenient choice, when he cannot make us neglect all. As (1.)
by engaging us in a less duty, that we may neglect a greater; he is
willing that we, as the Pharisees, should ‘tithe mint and anise,’ upon
condition that we ‘neglect the greater things of the law.’ This was the
fault of Martha, Luke x. 41, who busied herself in making entertainment
for Christ’s welcome, and in the meantime neglected to hear his
preaching: which, as he notes, was the only necessary duty of that
time; ‘one thing’ is necessary. She is not blamed for doing that which
was simply evil in itself—for the thing she did was a duty—but for
not making a right choice of duty; for that rebuke, ‘Mary hath chosen
the better part,’ is only a comparative discommendation; as Austin
interprets, _Non tu malam, sed illa meliorem_, The thing thou doest is
not evil, if it had not put thee upon a neglect of a greater good. (2.)
He sometimes puts men upon what is good and necessary, but such as they
cannot come at without sin. Thus sacrificing in itself was a necessary
duty; and such was Saul’s condition, that it concerned him at that time
to make his peace with God, and to inquire his mind. Yet when the devil
upon that pretence put him upon offering a sacrifice, he put him upon
no small transgression, 1 Sam. xiii. 13. The like game Satan sometimes
plays with private Christians, who are persuaded beyond their station
and capacity in reference to some ordinances of God. (3.) He sometimes
puts men upon dangerous undertakings in pursuit of their fancy, of
gaining an advantage for some service; and so are they turned out of
the way of present obedience, in grasping at opportunities of duty out
of their reach. Saul spared the sheep and oxen of the Amalekites for
sacrifice, 1 Sam. xv. 15, 22, when obedience had been more acceptable
than sacrifice. (4.) There is a further cheat in the choice of duty,
when Satan employs them to provide for duties to come, to the neglect
of duties presently incumbent upon them; whereas we are more concerned
in that which at present is necessary, than in that which may be so for
the future; which is a mistake, like that of caring for the morrow,
while we use not what God puts in our hand for to-day.


 _Satan’s second grand design against duties is to spoil them. (1.)
 _In the manner of undertaking, and how he effects this. (2.) In the
 act or performance, by distracting outwardly and inwardly. His various
 ways therein, by vitiating the duty itself. How he doth that. (3.)
 _After performance, the manner thereof._

The chief of Satan’s ways for the hindering and preventing of duty have
been noted; what he comes short in this design he next labours to make
up, by spoiling and depraving them: and this he doth endeavour three

I. 1. First, By putting us upon services _in such a manner as shall
render them unacceptable and displeasing unto God, and unprofitable to
us_: as by a careless and rash undertaking of service. We are commanded
to ‘take heed’ to ourselves ‘how we hear’ or pray; and to ‘watch’
over our hearts, that they be in a fit posture for meeting with God,
because the heart in service is that which God most looks at, and our
services are measured accordingly. If then by a heedless undertaking we
adventure upon them, not keeping our ‘foot when we go into the house of
God,’ Eccles. v. 1, we offer no other than ‘the sacrifice of fools,’
and give occasion to God to complain that we do but ‘draw near to him
with our lips, while our hearts are far from him.’

2. Secondly, The like spoil of duty is made when we adventure upon
it _in our own strength, and not in the strength of Christ_. Satan
sees the pride of our heart, and how much our gifts may contribute to
it, and how prone we are to be confident of a right performance of
what we have so often practised before; and therefore doth he more
industriously catch at that advantage to make us forget that our
‘strength is in God,’ and that we cannot come to him acceptably but
by his own power. Christians are often abused this way. When their
strength is to seek, duty is oft perversely set before them, that they
may act as Samson did when his locks were cut, who thought to ‘shake
himself, and to go out as at other times,’ and so fell into the hands
of the Philistines, [Judges xvi 20.]

3. Thirdly, If he can substitute _base ends and principles, as motives
to duty, instead of these that God hath commanded_, he knows the
service will become stinking and loathsome to God. Fasting, prayers,
alms, preaching, or any other duty may be thus tainted, when they
are performed upon no better grounds than ‘to be seen of men,’ or
out of envy, or to satisfy humour, or when from custom, rather than
conscience. How frequently did the prophets tax the Jews for this,
that they fasted to themselves! and brought forth fruit to themselves!
How severely did Christ condemn the Pharisees upon the same account!
telling them that in hunting the applause of men, by these devotions,
they had got all the reward they were like to have.

4. Fourthly, When we do our services _unseasonably_, not only the
grace and beauty of them is spoiled; but often are they rendered
unprofitable. There are times to be observed, not only for the right
management of common actions, but also for duties. What is Christian
reproof, if it be not rightly suited to season and opportunity? The
same may be said of other services.

5. Fifthly, Services are spoiled, when men set upon them _without
resolutions of leaving their sins_. While they come with their ‘idols
in their heart,’ and ‘the stumbling-block of their iniquity before
their face, God will not be inquired of by them,’ Ezek. xiv. 3. He
requires of those that present their services to him, that at least
they should not affront him with direct purposes of continuing in
their rebellions against him; nay, he expects from his servants that
look for a blessing in their duties, that they come with their ‘hearts
sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies washed with pure
water,’ Heb. x. 22. If they come to hear the word, they must ‘lay aside
all filthiness, and superfluity of naughtiness,’ James i. 21; if they
pray, they must ‘lift up pure hands,’ 1 Tim. ii. 8; if they come to
the Lord’s Supper, they must eat that feast ‘with the unleavened bread
of sincerity and truth,’ 1 Cor. v. 8. And albeit, he may accept the
prayers of those that are so far convinced of their sins—though they
be not yet sanctified—that they are willing to lay down their weapons,
and are touched with a sense of legal repentance; for thus he heard
Ahab, and regarded the humiliation of Nineveh: yet while men cleave to
the love of their iniquity, and are not upon any terms of parting with
their sins, God will not look to their services, but abhor them. For
thus he declares himself, Isa. i. 11, ‘To what purpose is the multitude
of your sacrifices? Bring no more vain oblations. I cannot away with
them, it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting,—my soul hateth them,
they are a trouble to me, I am weary to bear them: when you spread
forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when you make
many prayers, I will not hear.’ The ground of all this is, that their
heart was no way severed from the purposes of sinning, ‘Your hands are
full of blood,’ ver. 15. Satan knowing this so well, he is willing
that they engage in the services of God, if they will keep up their
allegiance to him, and come with intentions to continue wicked still;
for so, while he cannot prevent the actual performance of duty,—which
yet notwithstanding he had rather do, because he knows not but God may
by that means some time or other rescue these slaves of Satan out of
his hand, —he makes their services nothing worth, and renders them
abominable to God.

6. Sixthly, In the manner of undertaking duties are spoiled, when men
have not _a submissive ingenuity[208] in them, by giving themselves up
to the direction and disposal of the Almighty_; but rather confine and
limit God to their wills and desires. Sometimes men by attempting of
services to God, think thereby to engage God to humour them in their
wills and ways. With such a mind did Ahab consult the prophets about
his expedition to Ramoth-Gilead; not so much seeking God’s mind and
counsel for direction, as thinking thereby to engage God to confirm
and comply with his determination. With the same mind did Johanan and
the rest of the people consult the Lord concerning their going down to
Egypt, Jer. xlii. 5. Though they solemnly protested obedience to what
God should say, ‘whether it were good or evil;’ yet when the return
from God suited not with their desires and resolutions, they denied
it to be the command of God; and found an evasion to free themselves
of their engagement, Jer. xliii. 2. Such dealings as these being the
evident undertakings of a hypocritical heart, must needs render all
done upon that score to be presumptuous temptings of God; no way
deserving the name of service.

II. Secondly, Not only are services thus spoiled in those wrong grounds
and ways of attempting, or setting about them, but in _the very act
or performance of them_. While they are upon the wheel—as a potter’s
vessel in the prophet—they are often marred; and this Satan doth two
ways. (1.) By disturbing our thoughts, which should be attentive and
fixed upon the service in hand. (2.) By vitiating the duty itself.

1. First, _By distracting or disturbing our thoughts_. This is a usual
policy of Satan. Those fowls which came down upon Abraham’s sacrifice
are supposed by learned expositors to signify those means and ways by
which the devil doth disorder and trouble our thoughts in religious
services, Gen. xv. 12. And Christ himself compares the devil stealing
our thoughts from duty, to the ‘fowls of the air,’ that gather up
the seed as soon as it is sown, Mat. xiii. 4. There are many reasons
that may persuade us that this is one of his masterpieces of policy.
As (l.) in that the business of distraction is oft easily done. Our
thoughts do not naturally delight in spiritual things, because of their
depravement; neither can they easily brook to be pent in or confined
so strictly as the nature of such employments doth require; so that
there is a kind of preternatural force upon our thoughts, when they
are religiously employed; which as it is in itself laborious, like
the stopping of a stream, or driving Jordan back, so upon the least
relaxing of the spring, that must bend our thoughts heavenward, they
incline to their natural bend and current; as a stone rolled up a hill,
hath a _renitentia_, a striving against the hand that forceth it, and
when that force slackens it goes downward. How easily then is it for
Satan to set our thoughts off our work! If we slacken our care never so
little, they recoil and tend to their old bias; and how easy is it for
him to take off our hand, when it is so much in his power to inject
thoughts and motions into our hearts, or to present objects to our
eyes, or sounds to our ears, which by a natural force raiseth up our
apprehension to act, for in such cases _non possumus non cogitare_; we
cannot restrain the act of thinking, and not without great heedfulness
can we restrain the pursuit of those thinkings and imaginations.
(2.) Satan can also do it insensibly. Our distractions or rovings of
thoughts creep and steal upon us silently, we no more know of it when
they begin than when we begin to sleep, or when we begin to wander in
a journey, where oft we do not take ourselves to be out of the way,
till we come to some remarkable turning. (3.) And when he prevails to
divide our thoughts from our duty, he always makes great advantage, for
thus he hinders at least the comfort and profit of ordinances. While
we are busied to look to our hearts, much of the duty goeth by, and we
are but as those that in public assemblies are employed to see to the
order and silence of others, who can be scarce at leisure to attend for
their own advantage. Besides, much of the sweetness of ordinances are
abated by the very trouble of our attendance. When we are put to it,
as Abraham was, to be still driving away those fowls that come down
upon our sacrifice, the very toil will eat out and eclipse much of the
comfort. Thus also he at least provides matter to object against the
sincerity of the servants of God; and will assuredly find a time to
set it home upon them to the purpose, that their hearts were wandering
in their services. Thus he further gets advantage for a temptation to
leave off their duty, and will not cease to improve such distractions
as we have heard to an utter overthrow of their services. Nay, if he
prevail to give us such distractions as wholly takes away our minds and
serious attentions from the service, then is the service become nothing
worth, though the outward circumstances of attendance be never so exact
and saint-like. Who could appear in a more religious dress than those
in Ezek. xxxiii. 31, who came and sat, and were pleased with divine
services, as to all outward discovery, as God’s people; yet was all
spoiled with this, that their hearts were after their covetousness?

Now this distraction Satan can work two ways.

(1.) First, _By outward disturbances_. He can present objects to the
eyes on purpose to entice our thoughts after them. The closing of
the eyes in prayer is used by some of the servants of God to prevent
Satan’s temptations this way. And we find, in the story of Mr Rothwel,
that the devil took notice of this in him, that he ‘shut his eyes to
avoid distraction in prayer;’[209] which implies a concession in the
devil, that by outward objects he useth to endeavour our distraction
in services. The like he doth by noises and sounds. Neither can we
discover how much of these disturbances, by coughings, hemmings,
tramplings, &c., which we hear in greater assemblies, are from Satan,
by stirring up others to such noises. We are sure the damsel that had
an unclean spirit, Acts xvi., that grieved and troubled Paul, going
about these duties with her clamours, was set on by that spirit within
her, to distract and call off their thoughts from the services which
they were about to undertake. Besides the common ways of giving trouble
to the servants of God in outward disturbances, he sometimes, though
rarely, doth it in an extraordinary manner; thus he endeavoured to
hinder Mr Rothwel from praying for a possessed person, by rage and
blaspheming. The like hindrance we read he gave Luther and others; and
truly so strict an attendance in the exercise of our minds, spiritual
senses and graces, is required in matters of worship, and so weak are
our hearts in making a resistance or beating off these assaults, that a
very small matter will discompose us, and a smaller discomposure will
prejudice and blemish the duty.

(2.) Secondly, He distracts or disturbs us also _by inward workings,
and injections of motions, and representations of things to our minds_:
and as this is his most general and usual way, so doth he make use of
greater variety of contrivance and art in it. As,

[1.] First, _By the troublesome impetuousness and violence of his
injections, they come upon us as thick as hail_. No sooner do we put by
one motion but another is in upon us. He hath his quiver full of these
arrows, and our hearts, under any service, swarm with them; we are
incessantly infested by them and have no rest. At other times, when we
are upon worldly business, we may observe a great ease and freedom in
our thoughts; neither doth he so much press upon us; but in these Satan
is continually knocking at our door, and calling to us, so that it is a
great hazard that some or other of these injections may stick upon our
thoughts, and lead us out of the way; or if they do not, yet it is a
great molestation or toil to us.

[2.] Secondly, He can so order his dealings with us, that he provokes
us sometimes _to follow him out of the camp, and seeks to ensnare us by
improving our own spiritual resolution and hatred against him_; even as
courage, whetted on and enraged, makes a man venture some beyond the
due bounds of prudence or safety. To this end he sometimes casts into
our thoughts hideous, blasphemous, and atheistical suggestions, which
do not only amaze us, but oftentimes engage us to dispute against them,
which at such time is all he seeks for; for whereas in such cases we
should send away such thoughts with a short answer, ‘Get thee behind
me, Satan,’ we by taking up the buckler and sword against them are
drawn off from minding our present duty.

[3.] Thirdly, He doth sometimes seek to allure and draw our thoughts
to the object _by representing what is pleasant and taking_. (1.) He
will adventure to suggest good things impertinently and unseasonably,
as when he puts us upon praying while we should be hearing; or while
we are praying, he puts into our hearts things that we have heard in
preaching. These things, because good in themselves, we are not so
apt to startle at, but give them a more quick welcome. (2.) He also
can allure our thoughts by the strangeness of the things suggested.
Sometimes we shall have hints of things which we knew not before, or
some fine and excellent notions, so that we can scarce forbear turning
aside after them to gaze at them; and yet when all is done, except we
wholly neglect the duty for them, they will so vanish, that we can
scarce remember them when the duty is over. (3.) Sometimes he suits
our desires and inclinations with the remembrances of things that are
at other times much in our love and affection; and with these we are
apt to comply, the pleasure of them making us forget our present duty.
Thoughts of estates, honours, relations, delights, recreations, or
whatever else we are set upon at other times, will more easily prevail
for audience now.

[4.] Fourthly, He hath a way to betray and circumvent us _by
heightening our own jealousies and fears against him_; and here he
outshoots us in our own bow, and by a kind of overdoing makes us undo
our desired work. For where he observes us fearful and watchful against
wandering, he doth alarm us the more: so that (1.) instead of looking
to the present part of duty, we reflect upon what is past, and make
inquiries whether we performed that aright, or whether we did not
wander from the beginning. Thus our suspicions that we have miscarried
bring us into a miscarriage: by this are we deceived, and put off from
minding what we are doing at present. Or (2.) an eager desire to fix
our thoughts on our present service doth amaze and astonish us into
a stupid inactivity, or into a saying or doing we know not what; as
ordinarily it happens to persons, that out of a great fearfulness to
offend in the presence of some great personages, become unable to
do anything right, or to behave themselves tolerably well; or as an
oversteady and earnest fixing the eye weakens the sight, and renders
the object less truly discernible to us.

[5.] Fifthly, Sometimes _the exercise of fancy acting or working
according to some mistake which we have entertained as to the manner of
performance, doth so hold our thoughts doing, that we embrace a cloud
or shadow when we should have looked after the substance_. I will give
an instance of this in reference to prayer, which, I have observed,
hath been a snare and mistake to some, and that is this: because in
that duty the Scripture directs us to go to God, and to set him before
us, therefore have they thought it necessary to frame an idea of God
in their thoughts, as of a person present to whom they speak. Hence
their thoughts are busied to conceive such a representation; and when
the shadow of imagination vanisheth, their thoughts are again busied to
inquire whether their hearts are upon God. Thus by playing with fancy,
they are really less attentive upon their duty.

[6.] Sixthly, Satan can lay _impressions of distraction upon men
before they come to religious services_, which shall then work and
shew their power to disturb and divide our hearts, which is by a
strong prepossession of the heart with anything that we fear, or hope,
or desire, or doth any way trouble us. These will stick to us, and
keep us company in our duties, though we strive to keep them back.
And this was the ground of the apostle’s advice to the unmarried
persons, to continue in single life,—times of persecution and distress
nearly approaching,—that they might ‘attend upon the Lord without
distraction,’ 1 Cor. vii. 37; implying that the thoughtfulness and more
than ordinary carefulness which would seize upon the minds of persons
under such straits and hazards, would unavoidably follow them in their
duties, and so distract them.

2. Secondly, The other way, besides this of distraction, by which Satan
spoils our duties in the act of performance, is _by vitiating duty
itself_; and this he commonly doth three ways.

(1.) First, _When he puts men upon greater care for the outward garb
and dress of a service than for the inward work of it_. He endeavours
to make some devotionaries deal with their duties, as the pharisees did
with their cups, washing and adorning the outside, while the inside is
altogether neglected. Thus the papists generally are for the outward
pomp and beauty of services, being only careful that all things should
have their external bravery, as the tombs of the prophets were painted
and beautified, which yet were full of rottenness. And the generality
of Christians are more taken up with this than with the service of the
heart. Paul was so sensible of this snare in the work of preaching,
where ordinarily men cared for ‘excellency of speech or wisdom,’ 1 Cor.
ii. 2, that he determines another course of preaching; not notions, or
rhetoric, and enticing words, but the doctrine of Christ crucified in
sincerity and plainness, 1 Cor. ii. 2. It is not indeed the outward
cost and fineness of ordinances that God regards. ‘Incense from Sheba,
and the sweet cane from a far country,’ Jer. vi. 20, are not to any
purpose where the heart doth not most design a spiritual service; for
these are rather a satisfaction to the humours of men than to please
God: an offering to themselves rather than to him. And therefore is
it, that what Jeremiah confessed they did, (chap. vi. 20,) in buying
incense and the sweet cane, Isaiah (chap, xliii. 24) seems to deny,
‘Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money’—that is, though thou
didst it, yet it was to thyself, rather than to me: I accepted it not,
and so was it all one as if thou hadst not done it.

(2.) Secondly, Duties and services are more apparently vitiated
by _human additions_; a thing expressly contrary to the second
commandment, and yet is there a strange boldness in men this way, which
sometimes riseth to such a height, that the plain and clear commands
of God are violated under the specious pretence of decency, order, and
humility; and nothing doth more take them than what they devise and
find out. Satan knows how displeasing this is to God, and how great
an inclination there is in men to be forward in their inventions and
self-devised worship, that he can easily prevail with the incautious.
This was the great miscarriage of the Jewish nation all along the
Old Testament; and of the pharisees, who, though they declined the
idolatries of their fathers, yet were so fond upon their traditions,
that they made their worship vain, as Christ tells them. And this
humour also in Paul’s time was insinuating itself into Christians,
managed by a great deal of deceit [Col. ii. 8] and ‘show of wisdom,’
ver. 23, which accordingly he doth earnestly forewarn them of. There
are indeed several degrees of corrupting a service or ordinance by
human additions, according to which it is more or less defiled: yet the
least presumption this way is an offence and provocation.

(3.) Thirdly, Duties are vitiated _in their excess_. Natural worship,
which consists in fear, love, faith, humility, &c., can never be too
much, but instituted worship may. Men may preach too much, and pray
too long—a fault noticed by Christ in the pharisees; they made ‘long
prayers’—Even in duties, a man may be righteous overmuch. Timothy was
so in his great pains and over-abstemious life, to the wasting of his
strength—which the apostle takes notice of, and adviseth against it,
‘Drink no longer water,’ &c., [1 Tim. v. 23.] The Corinthians were so,
when out of a high detestation of the miscarriage of the incestuous
person, they were backward to forgive him, and to receive him into the
church again. Peter is another instance to us of excess, John xiii. 8.
First, in a modest humility, he refuseth to let Christ ‘wash his feet;’
but after understanding the meaning of it, then he runs to the other
extreme, and offers not ‘only his feet, but his hands and his head.’
When the servants of God are conscious of defects in their services,
as if they would make amends for these by the length and continuance
of their services, they are easily drawn into an excess every way
disadvantageous to themselves and the service.

III. Thirdly, When Satan’s designs do not take to spoil the duties,
either by the manner of the attempt or in the act, he then seeks
to play an after-game, and endeavours to spoil them _by some
after-miscarriage of ours in reference to these services_. As,

(1.) First, _When he makes us proud of them_. We can scarce perform any
service with a tolerable suitableness, but Satan is at hand to instil
thoughts of applause, vainglory, and boasting: and we readily begin to
think highly of ourselves and performances; as if we were better than
others, whom we are apt to censure as low and weak in comparison of
ourselves. Though this be an apparent deceit, yet it is a wonder how
much the minds, even of the best, are apt to be tainted with it; even
where there are considerable endeavours for humility and self-denial,
these thoughts are apt to get too much entertainment. Now though we
run well, and attain some comfortable strength and watchfulness in
the services of God; yet if they be afterward fly-blown with pride,
or if we think to embalm them with praises, or reserve them as matter
of ostentation; though they be angels’ food, yet, like the manna of
the Israelites when kept too long, they will putrify and breed worms,
and so be good for nothing, after that we have been at the pains of
gathering it.

(2.) Secondly, When well-performed services are perverted _to
security_, then are they also spoiled. We are ready to say of them,
as the rich man of his abundance, ‘Soul, take thine ease: thou hast
much laid up for many years,’ [Luke xii. 19.] Satan is willing, for
a further advantage, that we think ourselves secure from him; and as
after a full meal we are apt to grow drowsy, so after services we are
apt to think ourselves out of harm’s way. The church after a high feast
with Christ, presently falls asleep, and highly miscarries in security
and neglect, Cant. v. 2. By this means do the best of saints sometimes
lose the things they have wrought, and throw down what they formerly
built up.


 Agreeably to Note at the beginning, there will be found below the more
 specific title page of Part II.—G.





Satans Temptations:

The Second Part.


The manifold Subtilties and Stratagems of Satan, for the corrupting of
the minds of Men with Error; and for the destruction of the Peace and
Comfort of the Children of God.

By _R. G._

_London_, Printed by _J. D._ for _Richard Randel_, and _Peter
Maplisden_, Booksellers in _New-Castle_ upon _Tine_, 1677.



 _That it is Satan’s grand design to corrupt the minds of men with
 error—The evidences that it is so—And the reasons of his endeavours
 that way._

Next to Satan’s deceits in tempting to sin and against duty, his
design of _corrupting the minds of men by error_ calls for our search;
and indeed this is one of his principal endeavours, which takes up a
considerable part of his time and diligence. He is not only called in
Scripture an ‘unclean spirit,’ but also a ‘lying spirit,’ [1 Kings
xxii. 22,] and there are none of these cursed qualifications that
lie idle in him. As by his uncleanness we may easily conjecture his
attempts upon the will and affections to defile them by lust; so by
his lying we may conclude that he will certainly strive to blind the
understanding by error. But a clear discovery of this we may have from
these considerations:—

I. 1. First, _From God’s interest in truth, in reference to his great
designs of holiness and mercy in the world_. Truth is a ray and beam
of him who is the Father of lights.[210] All revealed truths are but
copies and transcripts of that essential, archetypal truth. Truth is
the rod of his strength, Ps. cx. 2, the sceptre of his kingdom, by
which he doth subdue the hearts of men to his obedience and service in
conversion. Truth is that rock upon which he hath built his church,
the foundations are the prophets and apostles, Eph. ii. 20—that is,
the doctrine of the prophets and apostles, in the Scriptures of the
Old and New Testament. Truth is that great _depositum_ committed to
the care of his church, which is therefore called the pillar of truth,
1 Tim. iii. 15; because as princes or rulers put their proclamations
on pillars for the better information of their subjects, so doth his
church hold out truth to the world. Holiness is maintained by truth,
our ways are directed by it, and by it are we forewarned of Satan’s
devices, John xvii. 17. Now the prince of darkness carrying himself in
as full an opposition to the God of truth as he can in all his ways,
God’s interest in truth will sufficiently discover the devil’s design
to promote error; for such is his hatred of God, that, though he cannot
destroy truth, no more than he can tear the sun out of the firmament,
yet he will endeavour by corrupting the copy to disgrace the original.
Though he cannot break Christ’s sceptre, yet by raising error he would
hinder the increase of his subjects; though he cannot remove the rock
upon which the church is built, he will endeavour to shake it, or
to interrupt the building, and to tear down God’s proclamation from
the pillar on which he hath set it to be read of all; and if we can
conceive what a hatred the thief hath to the light, as it contradicts
and hinders his designs, we may imagine there is nothing against which
the devil will use greater contrivances than against the light of
truth. He neither can nor will make a league with any, but upon the
terms that Nahash propounded to the men of Jabesh-Gilead—that is, that
he may ‘put out their right eye,’ and so ‘lay it for a reproach upon
the Israel of God,’ 1 Sam. xi. 3. It is the work of the Holy Spirit ‘to
lead us into truth,’ and by the rule of contraries it is the devil’s
work to lead into error.

2. Secondly, Though the Scripture doth charge the sin and danger of
delusion and error upon those men that promote it to the deception of
themselves and others, yet doth it chiefly blame Satan for _the great
contriver of it, and expressly affirms him to be the grand deceiver_.
Instruments and engineers he must make use of to do him service in that
work, but still it is the devil that is a lying spirit in their mouths;
it is he that teacheth and prompts them, and therefore may they be
called, as Elymas was by Paul, the children of the devil, Acts xiii.
10, or, as Cerinthus of old, the first-born of Satan, πρωτότοκον τοῦ

The church of Corinth, among other distempers, laboured under
dangerous errors, against which when the apostle doth industriously
set himself, he doth chiefly take notice, (1.) Of the false teachers,
who had cunningly wrought them up to an aptitude of declining from
the ‘simplicity of the gospel.’ These he calls false apostles, as
having no commission from God, and Satan’s ministers, 2 Cor. xi. 13,
15; thereby informing us who it is that sends them out and employs
them upon this errand. (2.) He especially accuseth Satan as the great
contriver of all this evil. If any shut their eyes against the light,
he gives this for the principal cause, that ‘the god of the world
blinded their minds,’ 2 Cor. iv. 4. If any stumbled at the simplicity
of the gospel, he presently blames the ‘subtlety of the old serpent’
for it, 2 Cor. xi. 3. When false doctrine was directly taught, and
varnished over with the glorious pretexts of truth, still he chargeth
Satan with it, ver. 14, ‘No marvel, for Satan himself is transformed
into an angel of light;’ where he doth not only give a reason of the
corrupting or the adulterating the word of God by false apostles, as
vintners do their wines by mixtures; a metaphor which he makes use
of, chap. ii. 17, καπειλεύοντα; that they learned it of Satan, ‘who
abode not in the truth, but was a liar from the beginning;’ but also,
he further points at Satan, to furnish us with a true account of the
ground of that cunning craft which these deceitful workers used,
while they metamorphosed themselves, by an imitation of the way and
manner, zeal and diligence of the apostles of Christ, they were taught
by one who had exactly learned the art of imitation, and who could,
to all appearance, act to the life the part of an angel of light. And
to take away all objection or wonder, that so many with such seeming
earnestness and zeal should give up themselves to deceive by false
doctrine, he tells us that this hath been the devil’s work from the
first beguiling of Eve, ver. 3, and that as he then made use of a
serpent for his instrument, so ever since in all ages he hath made so
often and so much use of men as his emissaries, that it should now
neither seem a marvel, nor a great matter to see the devil at this work
by his agents, οὐ Θαυμαστόν, οὐ μέγα, ver. 14, 15.

3. Thirdly, That this is Satan’s great design, may be further cleared
from _the constant course of his endeavours_. The parable of the tares,
Mat. xiii. 25, shews that Satan is as busy in sowing tares, as the
master of the field is in sowing wheat. That by tares, not errors in
the abstract, but men are to be understood, is evident from the parable
itself; but that which makes men to be tares is sin and error; so
that, in a complex sense, we are taught how diligent the devil, who is
expressly signified by the enemy, ver. 39, is in that employment: much
of his time hath been taken up that way. ‘There were false prophets,’
saith Peter, 2 Epist. ii. 1, ‘and there shall be false teachers; that
is, so it was of old, and so it will be to the end. The shortest
abstract of Satan’s acts in this matter would be long and tedious;
judge of the rest by a few instances.

In the apostles’ times how quickly had the devil broached false
doctrine. That it was necessary to be circumcised, was early taught,
Acts xv. 1. In Col. ii. 8, the vain deceit of philosophy, traditions,
and the elements of the world, which were the body of Mosaical
ceremonies, are mentioned as dangerous intrusions; and in ver. 18, the
worshipping of angels, as it seems, was pleaded for, with no small
hazard to the church. The denial of the resurrection is expressly
charged upon some of the Corinthian church, 1 Cor. xv. 12; and that
‘the resurrection is past already,’ 2 Tim. ii. 18, is affirmed to have
been the doctrine of Hymeneus, Philetus, and others. But these are
comparatively little to that gross error of denying Christ, Jude 4, or
‘that Jesus is the Christ,’ 1 John ii. 22, or ‘Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh,’ 1 John iv. 3, which are branded for antichristian errors,
and were boldly asserted by many false prophets that were then ‘gone
out into the world;’ and to such a height came they at last, that they
taught the lawfulness of ‘committing fornication, and to eat things
offered to idols,’ Rev. ii. 20. All these falsehoods took the boldness
to appear before all the apostles were laid in their graves: and if we
will believe what Austin tells us [_De Hæeres._] from Epiphanius and
Eusebius, there were no less than ten sorts of heretical Antichrists
in the apostle John’s days, the Simonians, Menandrians, Saturnalians,
&c. This was an incredible increase of false doctrine in so short a
time, and in the times and preachings of the apostles themselves,
whose power and authority, one would think, might have made Satan
‘fall before them as lightning.’ What progress, then, in this work
of delusion might be expected when they were all removed out of the
world! They left, indeed, behind them sad predictions of the power
of delusion in after times: ‘Of yourselves shall men arise, speaking
perverse things.’ ‘After my departing shall grievous wolves enter,‘
&c., Acts xx. 30. ‘The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter
times some shall depart from the faith,’ 1 Tim. iv. 1; and Paul, 2
Thes. ii. 3, prophesies of a general apostasy, upon the revealing of
‘the man of sin,’ and the ‘mystery of iniquity,’ and that these should
be ‘perilous times,’ 2 Tim. iii. 1. To the same purpose, John mentions
the coming of the great Antichrist as a thing generally known and
believed, 1 John ii. 18. But before all these, Christ also had fully
forewarned his servants of false Christs, the power and danger of their
delusion, and of the sad revolt from the faith which should be before
his second coming, Mat. xxiv. 24. And as we have heard, so have we
seen; all ages since the apostles can witness that Satan hath answered
the prophecies that were concerning him. What a strange increase of
errors hath been in the world since that time! Irenæus and Tertullian
made catalogues long since; after them Epiphanius and Eusebius reckoned
about eighty heresies; Austin, after them, brings the number to
eighty-eight. Now though there be just exceptions against the largeness
of their catalogues, and that it is believed by many that there are
several branded in their rolls for heretics that merely suffer upon the
account of their name and nation, for Barbarism, Scythism, Hellenism
are mustered in the front; and others also stand there for very small
matters, as the _quarto-decimani_, &c., and that some ought altogether
to be crossed out of their books; yet still it will appear that the
number of errors is great, and that all those hard names have this
general signification, that the devil hath made a great stir in the
world by error and opinion. Aftertimes might also be summoned in to
speak their evidence, and our own knowledge and experience might,
without any other help, sufficiently instruct us, if it were needful,
of the truth of this, that error is one of Satan’s great designs.

II. Secondly, Let us next look into _the reasons which do so strongly
engage Satan to these endeavours of raising up errors_. If we set these
before us, it will not only confirm us in our belief that this is one
of his main employments—for if error yield him so many advantages for
the ruin of men and the dishonour of God, there can be no doubt of his
readiness to promote it. This also may be of use to put us in mind who
it is that is at work behind the curtain, when we see such things acted
upon the stage, and consequently may beget a cautious suspicion in our
minds against his proceedings. The reasons are such as these:—

1. First, _Error is sinful_, so that if Satan should be hindered in
his endeavours for any further mischief than the corrupting of any
particular person, yet he will reckon that he hath not altogether lost
his labour. Some errors, that overturn fundamentals of faith, are as
deadly poison, and called expressly ‘damnable’ by the apostle, 2 Pet.
ii. 1. These heresies are by Paul, Gal. v. 20, recounted among ‘the
works of the flesh,’ of which he positively affirms, that ‘they that
do such things cannot inherit the kingdom of God.’ Those that are of
a lower nature, that do not so extremely hazard the soul, can only
be capable of this apology, that they are less evil; yet as they
are oppositions to truth, propounded in Scripture for our belief and
direction, they cease not to be sins, though they may be greater or
less evils, according to the importance of those truths which they
deny, or the consequences that attend them; and if we go yet a step
lower, to the consideration of those rash and bold assertions about
things not clearly revealed, though they may possibly be true, yet the
positiveness of avouchments and determinations in such cases, where
we want sufficient reason to support what we affirm—as that of the
pseudo-Dionysius for the hierarchy of angels, and some adventurous
assertions concerning God’s secret decrees, and many other things
of like nature—are by the apostle, Col. ii. 18, most severely taxed
for an unwarrantable and unjust presumption, in setting our foot
upon God’s right; as if such men would by violence thrust themselves
into that which God hath reserved for himself—for so much the word
intruding—ἐμβατεύειν—imports. The cause of this he tells us is the
arrogancy of corrupt reason, the fleshly mind—suitable to that
expression, Mat. xvi. 17, ‘Flesh and blood hath not revealed it.’ The
bottom of it is pride, which swells men to this height; and the fruit,
after all these swelling attempts, is no other than as the apples of
Sodom, dust and vanity, ‘intruding into those things which he hath not
seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.’ If then Satan do but gain
this, that by error, though not diffused further than the breast of
the infected party, truth is denied, or that the heart be swelled into
pride and arrogancy, or that he hath hope so to prevail, it is enough
to encourage his attempts.

2. Secondly, But error is a sin _of an increasing nature, and usually
stops not at one or two falsehoods, but is apt to spawn into many
others_—as some of the most noxious creatures have the most numerous
broods; for one error hath this mischievous danger in it, that it
taints the mind to an instability in every truth; and the bond of
steadfastness being once broken, a man hath no certainty where he
shall stay: as a wanton horse, once turned loose, may wander far. This
hazard is made a serious warning against error: 2 Pet. iii. 17, ‘Beware
lest ye, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your
own steadfastness.’ One error admitted, makes the heart unsteady;
and besides this inconvenience, error doth unavoidably branch itself
naturally into many more, as inferences and conclusions resulting from
it, as circles in water multiply themselves. Grant but one absurdity,
and many will follow upon it, so that it is a miracle to find a single
error.[211] These locusts go forth by bands, as the experience of all
ages doth testify, and besides the immediate consequences of an error,
which receive life and being together with itself, as twins of the same
birth, we may observe a tendency in errors, to others that are more
remote, and by the long stretch of multiplied inferences, those things
are coupled together that are not very contiguous. If the Lutherans—it
is[212] Dr Prideaux his observation—admit universal grace, the
Huberians introduce universal election, the Puccians natural faith, the
Naturalists explode Christ and Scriptures at last as unnecessary. This
is then a fair mark for the devil to aim at; if he prevails for one
error, it is a hundred to one but he prevails for more.

3. Thirdly, Satan hath yet a further reach in promoting error, he knows
_it is a plague that usually infects all round about_; and therefore
doth he the rather labour in this work, because he hopes thereby to
corrupt others, and infected persons are commonly the most busy agents,
even to the ‘compassing of sea and land to gain proselytes’ to their
false persuasions. This harvest of Satan’s labour is often noted in
Scripture. ‘They shall deceive many,’ Mat. xxiv. 24; ‘Many shall follow
their pernicious ways,’ 2 Pet. ii. 2. How quickly had this leaven
spread itself in the church of Galatia, even to Paul’s wonder! Gal. i.
6, ‘I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into
the grace of Christ unto another gospel.’ Instances of the spreading of
error are frequent. Pelagianism rose about the year 415, but presently
spread itself in Palestine, Africa, Greece, Italy, Sicily, France, and
Britain. Arianism, like fire in straw, in a little time brought its
flame over the Christian world, and left her wondering at herself that
she was so suddenly become Arian. Socinianism had the like prevalency;
Lælius privately had sowed the seeds, and after his death, Faustus
Socinus, his nephew, did so bestir himself, that within ten years after
his confident appearing, whole congregations in Sarmatia submitted
themselves to his dictates, as Calovius affirms,[213] and within twenty
or thirty years more several hundreds of churches in Transylvania were
infected, and within a few years more the whole synod was brought
over to subscribe to Socinianism. We have also instances nearer home.
After the Reformation, in the reign of Edward VI., how soon did popery
return in its full strength when Queen Mary came to the crown! which
occasioned Peter Martyr, when he saw young students flocking to mass,
to say, ‘that the tolling of the bell overturned all his doctrine at
Oxford,’ _Hæc una notula omnem meam doctrinam evertit_. And of late we
have had the sad experience of the power of error to infect. No error
so absurd, ridiculous, or blasphemous, but, once broached, it presently
gained considerable numbers to entertain it.

4. Fourthly, Error is also eminently serviceable to Satan for the
bringing in _divisions, schisms, rents, hatreds, heart-burnings,
animosities, revilings, contentions, tumults, wars, and whatsoever
bitter fruits, breach of love, and the malignity of hatred can
possibly produce_. Enough of this might be seen in the church of
Corinth. The divisions that were amongst themselves were occasioned
by it, and a great number of evils the apostle suspected to have been
already produced from thence, as debates, envyings, wraths, strifes,
backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults, 2 Cor. xii. 20. He
himself escaped not from being evilly entreated by those among them
that were turned from the simplicity of the gospel. The quarrelsome
exceptions that they had raised against him he takes notice of. They
charged him with levity, in neglecting his promise to come to them,
2 Cor. i. 17. They called him carnal, one that walked according to
the flesh, chap. x. 2: they taunted him as a contemptible fellow,
ver. 10. They undervalued his ministry, which occasioned, not without
great apology, a commendation of himself; nay, they seemed to call him
a false apostle, and were so bold as to challenge him for a proof of
Christ speaking in him, 2 Cor. xiii. 3.

If the devil had so much advantage from error that was but in the
bud, and that in one church only, what may we imagine hath he done by
it, when it broke out to an open flame in several churches! What work
do we see in families when an error creeps in among them! The father
riseth up against the son, the son against the father, the mother
against the daughter, the daughter against the mother. What sad divided
congregations have we seen! what fierceness, prejudices, slanders,
evil surmises, censurings, and divisions hath this brought forth! what
bandying of parties against parties, church against church, hath been
produced by this engine! How sadly hath this poor island felt the smart
of it! The bitter contests that have been betwixt presbyterian and
independent, betwixt them and the episcopal, makes them look more like
factious combinations, than churches of Christ. The present differences
betwixt conformists and nonconformists, if we take them where they
are lowest, they do daily produce such effects as must needs be very
pleasing and grateful to the devil, both parties mutually objecting
schism, and charging each other with crime and folly. What invectives
and railings may be heard in all companies, as if they had been at
the greatest distances in point of doctrine! But whosoever loseth, to
be sure the devil gains by it. Hatreds, strife, variance, emulations,
lyings, railings, scorn, and contempt, are all against the known
duty of brotherly kindness, and are undoubted provocations against
the God of love and peace. What can we then think of that can be so
useful to Satan as error, when these above-mentioned evils are the
inseparable products of it? The modestest errors that ever were among
good men are still accompanied with something of these bitter fruits.
The differences about meats and days, when managed with the greatest
moderation, made the strong to despise the weak as silly, wilful,
factious humorists; and, on the contrary, the weak judged the strong as
profane, careless, and bold despisers of divine institutions; for so
much the apostle implies, Rom. xiv. 3, ‘Let not him that eateth despise
him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not, judge him that
eateth.’ But should we trace error through the ruins of churches, and
view the slaughters and bloodshed that it hath occasioned, or consider
the wars and desolations that it hath brought forth, we might heap up
matter fit for tears and lamentations, and make you cease to wonder
that Satan should so much concern himself to promote it.

5. Fifthly, The greatest and most successful stratagem for the
hindering a reformation, is that of _raising up an army of errors_.
Reformation of abuses, and corruptions in worship or doctrine, we may
well suppose the devil will withstand with his utmost might and policy,
because it endeavours to pull that down which cost him so much labour
and time to set up, and so crosseth his end. They who are called out by
God to ‘jeopard their lives in the high places of the field,’ Judges
v. 18, undertake a hard task in endeavouring to check the power of the
mighty, whose interest it is to maintain those defilements which their
policy hath introduced, to fix them in the possession of that grandeur
and command which so highly gratifies their humours, and self-seeking
aspiring minds. But Satan knowing the strength of that power which
hath raised them up to oppose, with spiritual resolution, the current
of prevailing iniquity, usually provides himself with this reserve,
and comes upon their backs with a party of deluded, erroneous men,
raised up from among themselves, and by this means he hopes either to
discourage the undertakers for reformation, by the difficulty of their
work, which must needs drive on heavily when they that should assist
prove hinderers, or at least to straiten and limit the success; for
by this means, (1.) He divides the party, and so weakens their hands.
(2.) He strengthens their enemies, who not only gather heart from
these divisions, seeing them so fair a prognostic of their ruin, but
also improve them, by retorting them as an argument, that they are
all out of the way of truth. (3.) The erroneous party in the rear of
the reformers do more gall them with their arrows, even bitter words
of cursed reviling, and more hazard them with their swords and spears
of opposition, than their adversaries in the front against whom they
went forth. In the meanwhile, they that stand up for truth are as corn
betwixt two millstones—oppressed with a double conflict, beset before
and behind.

This hath been Satan’s method in all ages. And indeed policy itself
could not contrive anything that would more certainly obstruct
reformation than this. When the apostles, who in these last days were
first sent forth, were employed to reform the world, to throw down
the ceremonies of the Old Testament and heathen worship, Satan had
presently raised up men of corrupt minds to hinder their progress.
What work these made for Paul at Corinth, and with the Galatians,
the epistles to those churches do testify. The business of these men
was to draw disciples after them from the simplicity of the gospel,
nay, to another gospel; and this they could not do but by setting up
themselves, boasting of the Spirit, carrying themselves as the apostles
of Christ, and contemning those that were really so, insinuating
thereby into the affections of the seduced, as if they zealously
affected them, and that Paul was but ‘weak and contemptible,’ nay,
their very ‘enemy, for telling them the truth,’ [Gal. iv. 16.] What
unspeakable hindrance must this be to Paul! What grief of heart, what
fear and jealousy must this produce! He professeth he was afraid lest
he had ‘bestowed upon them labour in vain,’ Gal. iv. 11; and that he
did no less than ‘travail of them in birth the second time,’ ver.
19. If one Alexander could do Paul so much evil by ‘withstanding his
words,’ that he complains of him, and cautions Timothy against him, 2
Tim. iv. 24; if one Diotrephes, by ‘prating against John with malicious
words,’ prevailed with the church, that they ‘received him not, nor the
brethren,’ 3 John 10, what hurt might a multitude of such be able to do!

In the primitive times of the church, after the apostles’ days, when
those worthies were to contest with the heathen world, the serpent
‘cast out of his mouth water, as a flood, after the woman,’—which most
interpret to be a deluge of heresies, and some particularly understand
it of the Arian heresy,—that he might hinder the progress of the
gospel; which design of his did so take, that many complaints there
were of hindering the conversion of the heathens, by the errors that
were among Christians. Epiphanius tells us that pagans refused to come
near the Christians, and would not so much as hear them speak, being
affrighted by the wicked practices and ways of the Priscillianists.
Austin complains to the same purpose, that loose and lascivious
heretics administered matter of blaspheming to the idolatrous heathens.

In after-times, when religion grew so corrupt by popery, that God
extraordinarily raised up Luther, Calvin, and others in the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries, to discover those abominations, and to bring
back his people from Babylon, the devil gave them no small trouble
by a growth of errors, so that they were forced to fight against the
papists before and those Philistines behind; insomuch that reformation
attained not that height and universality which might rationally have
been expected from such blessed undertakings. This was the conjecture
of many, particularly of our countryman Dr Prideaux,[214] that if these
fanatic enthusiasts, which with so great a scandal to the gospel then
brake forth, had not retarded and hindered those glorious proceedings,
that apocalyptical beast of Rome had been not only weakened and
wounded, but utterly overthrown and slain. In particular cities, where
any of the faithful servants of Christ endeavoured to detect the
errors of popery, these instruments of Satan were ready to join with
the common adversary in reproaches and disturbances. How they opposed
Musculus at Augusta, and with what fierceness they called him viper,
false prophet, wolf in sheep’s clothing, &c., you may see in those
that write his life. How these men hindered the gospel at Limburg
against Junius, at Zurich against Zuinglius, at Augsburg against
Urbanus Regius, you may also see in their lives.[215] In all which, and
others of like nature, you will still find, (1.) That there was never
a reformation begun, but there were erroneous persons to hinder and
distract the reformers; (2.) That these men expressed as great hatred
against the reformers, and oftentimes more, than against the papists;
and were as spitefully bitter in lies, slanders, and scorns against
them, as the papists themselves.

6. Sixthly, Satan can also make use of error either to _fix men in
their present mistaken ways and careless course, or as a temptation
to atheism_. Varieties of opinions and doctrines do amuse and amaze
men. While one cries, ‘Lo, here is Christ,’ and another, ‘Lo, he is
here,’ men are so confounded that they do not know what to choose. It
is one of the greatest difficulties to single out truth from a crowd of
specious, confident pretences, especially seeing truth is modest, and
oftentimes out-noised by clamorous, bold error; yea, sometimes out-vied
by the pretensions of spirit and revelation in an antiscriptural
falsehood. At what a loss is an unskilful traveller where so many
waves[216] meet! While one party cries up this, another that, mutually
charging one another with error, they whose hearts are anything
loosened from a sense and reverence of religion, are easily tempted to
disbelieve all. Thus error leads to atheism, and lays the foundation
for all those slanderous exceptions against Scripture by which godless
men usually justify themselves in their religion. Now though all wicked
men are not brought to this, because the consciences of some do so
strongly retain the sentiments of a deity, that all Satan’s art cannot
obliterate those characters; yet the consideration of the multitude
of errors doth rivet them in the persuasion of the truth and goodness
of that way of religion wherein they had been educated. Papists are
hardened by this; and though they have no reason to boast of their
unity among themselves, as they have been often told, and now of late
by Dr Stillingfleet,[217] who hath manifested that their divisions
among themselves are as great, and managed with as great animosity,
as any amongst us; yet are their ears so beaten with the objection
of sects and schisms elsewhere, that they are generally confirmed to
stay where they are. Besides, this is a stumbling-block which the
devil throws in the way of poor ignorant people. If they are urged to
a serious strictness in religion, they are affrighted from it by the
consideration of sects and parties, and the woeful miscarriages of some
erroneous persons that at first pretended to strictness, imagining that
strictness in religion is an unnecessary, dangerous thing, and that
the sober, godly Christians are but a company of giddy, unsettled,
conceited, precise persons, who will in a little time run themselves
into madness and distraction, or into despair. And thus out of fear
of schism or error, they dare not be religious in good earnest; but
content themselves with ‘drawing near to God with their mouths, and
confessing him with their lips, whilst their hearts are far from him,
and in their works they deny him,’ [Titus i. 16.]

There is such a propensity in the hearts of men to be staggered by the
multitude and boldness of errors, that the apostle Paul expresseth
a sense of it, and seems tenderly careful to avoid that blow, which
he knew Satan would readily give through that consideration, by
the apology that he makes for God in his holy, wise, providential
permission of them, 1 Cor. xi. 19, ‘There must be heresies among you.’
His intent is not barely to put them off with this, that heresies are
unavoidable, but to satisfy them that there is a necessity of them,
and that they are useful, as God’s furnace and fan, to purify and to
cleanse, that ‘they which are approved may be made manifest.’ The
like care he hath in 2 Tim. ii. 19, 20, upon the mention of the error
of Hymeneus and Philetus, where he obviateth the offence that might
arise by reason of their apostasy, partly by removing the fears of the
upright, in affirming their safety whatever became of other men, seeing
‘the foundation of God standeth sure,’ and partly by declaring it no
more suitable or dishonourable for God to permit the rise of errors
in his church, than for great men to have in their houses not only
‘vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; some to
honour, and some to dishonour.’ By these very apologies it appears that
Satan by this device of error designs to shake men’s faith and to drive
them from their religion.

7. Seventhly, Neither can this, _that corrupt doctrines bring forth
corrupt practices_, be of any less weight with Satan, or less engaging
for the pursuit of this design, than any of the forementioned reasons.

Corrupt doctrines are embraced as the very truth of God by the deluded;
and one way or other, directly or consequentially, they lead on
practice, and that with the highest security and confidence, as if they
were very truths indeed.

The devil then hath this great advantage by error, that if he can
but corrupt the minds of men, especially in the more weighty and
fundamental points of religion, then by a great ease and without any
more labour he hath gained them to the practice of whatsoever these
corrupted principles will lead unto. No course can be taken that with
greater expedition and prevalency can introduce profane debaucheries
than this. Thus he conquers parties and multitudes, as a victorious
general takes cities and whole countries, by surrender; whereas his
particular temptations to sin are but inconsiderable, less successful
_picqueerings_[218] in comparison; and when he hath once corrupted
the understandings of men, he hath by that means a command over their
consciences, and doth not now urge to evil in the notion of a devil or
tempter, but as an angel of light, or rather as a usurper of divine
authority. He requires, he commands these wicked practices as necessary
duties, or at least gives a liberty therein, as being harmless
allowances. This difference was of old observed in Satan’s management
of persecution and error, that in the former he did compel men to deny
Christ, but by the latter he did teach them. _In persecutione cogit
homines negare Christum, nunc docet._

That the lives and practices of men are so concerned by corrupt
doctrines, may appear to any that are but indifferently acquainted
with Scripture or history. We are told by the apostle Paul that faith
and conscience stand so related to each other that they live and die
together, and that when the one is shipwrecked the other is drowned for
company, 1 Tim. i. 19. In Phil. iii. 2, he seems severely harsh against
those of the concision; he calls them dogs, ‘Beware of dogs; beware of
evil workers.’ The reason of which expression I apprehend lies not so
much in these resemblances, that dogs spoil the flock by devouring,
or that they are fawning creatures, or that they are industrious in
prosecution of their prey,—though in all these particulars false
teachers may be compared to dogs, for they spare not the flock, they
compass sea and land to gain disciples, and they entice them with fair
speeches,—but rather he intends the similitude to express the profane
life and carriage of these seducers, for dogs are filthy creatures, to
a proverb, ‘The dog to his vomit.’ And common prostitutes, for their
uncleanness, were called dogs in the Old Testament. So some expound
Deut. xxiii. 18, ‘The hire of a whore, or the price of a dog.’ And we
have full and clear descriptions of seducers from their wicked and
abominable practices: 2 Peter ii. 10, ‘They that walk after the flesh,
in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government; presumptuous are
they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities: ver.
14, ‘Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; an
heart exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:’ ver. 18,
‘They allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness.’
Jude 4, ‘There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of
old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of
God into lasciviousness:’ ver. 16, ‘These are murderers, complainers,
walking after their own lusts,’ &c. 2 Tim. iii. 2-5, ‘Men shall be
lovers of their own selves; covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers,
disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection,
truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those
that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more
than lovers of God; of this sort are they which creep into houses.’
All which do set forth heretical persons as the most scandalous wicked
wretches that we shall meet with; grossly filthy in themselves,
corrupted in all the duties of their relations, natural and civil;
defiled in all the ways of their converse with men.

Neither are these wicked practices issuing from gross errors to be
looked upon as rare, accidental, or extraordinary effects thereof,
but as the natural and common fruits of them; for Christ makes this
to be the very special property and note whereby false prophets may
be discovered, Mat. vii. 16, ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do
men gather grapes off thorns, or figs off thistles?’ &c. These fruits
were not their doctrines, but their lives; for to know false prophets
by false doctrines is no more than to know false doctrine by false
doctrine. If any object that many false teachers appeared in the shape
of seeming holiness and strictness of life, they may be answered from
Christ’s own words; for there he tells us, to avoid mistakes, that
their first appearance, and it may be the whole lives of some of the
first seedsmen of any error, is under the form of sanctity: ‘They come
to you in sheep’s clothing,’ in an outward appearance of innocency and
plausible pretences; but then he adds, that their fruits afterward will
discover them. A tree at its first planting is not discovered what it
is, but give it time to grow to its proper fruitfulness, and then you
may know of what kind it is; so that we need not affirm that damnable
doctrines produce wicked lives in all that entertain them at the very
first. It is enough for discovery if there be a natural consequential
tendency in such doctrines to practical impieties, or that at last they
produce them, though not in all, yet in many.

And that this matter hath been always found to be so, all history doth
confirm. Such there were in the apostles’ days, as is evident by their
complaints. Such there were in the church of Pergamos: Rev. ii. 14,
‘Thou hast them that hold the doctrine of Balaam; who taught Balak to
cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel; to eat things
sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.’ There were also the
Nicolaitans, of whom Christ declares his abhorrency, ver. 15. In the
church of Thyatira there was the ‘woman Jezebel, who taught and seduced
many’ of that church to the like abominable doctrines and practices,
ver. 20. Besides these, the apostle John was troubled with the
abominable Gnostics, [and] the filthy Carpocratians, who taught that
men must sin and do the will of all the devils, or else they could not
evade principalities and powers, who would no otherwise be pleased to
suffer them to escape to the superior heavens. Of these men and their
licentious doctrine doth he speak, 1 John iii. 6, &c., that they that
are born of God indeed, must not, dare not, cannot give themselves up
to a liberty in such abominations.

The same fruits of corrupt doctrine appeared after the apostles’ days.
What was Montanus, but an impure wretch? What were his two companion
prophetesses, Priscilla and Maximilla, but infamous adulteresses? The
Priscillianists, the Manichees, and abundance more, left the stink of
their profaneness behind them, by reason of whom, according to Peter’s
prophecy, 2 Peter ii. 2, ‘The way of truth was evil spoken of.’

Later times have also given in full evidence of this truth. How
shameful and abominable were the lives of John of Leyden and the
rest of those German enthusiasts! Who reads the story of Hacket and
Coppinger without detestation of their wicked practices! What better
have the Familists and libertines of New and Old England been! Some
were turned off to highest ranting, in all profaneness of swearing,
drinking, adultery, and the defying of a godly life; and this, under
the unreasonable boast of spirit and perfection.[219] The heavens may
blush and the earth be astonished at these things! But in the meantime
Satan hugs himself in his success, and encourageth himself to further
attempts in propagating error, seeing it brings in so great a harvest
of sin.

8. Eighthly, In this design of false doctrine Satan is never altogether
out; if he cannot thus defile their lives, yet it is a thousand to one
but _he obstructs their graces by it_. What greater hindrance can there
be to conversion than error! The word of truth is the means by which
God, through his Spirit, doth beget us; it is part of that image of God
that is implanted in us: it is God’s voice to the soul to awaken it. It
cannot then be imagined that God will give the honour of that work to
any error; neither can truth take place or have its effect upon a soul
forestalled with a contrary falsehood. Falsehood in possession will
keep truth at the door. Neither is conversion only hindered by such
errors as directly contradict converting truths, but also by collateral
non-fundamental errors; as they fill the minds of men with prejudice
against those that profess another persuasion, so that for their own
beloved error’s sake men will not entertain a warning or conviction
from those that dissent from their opinions: they first account them
enemies, and then they despise their message. It is no small matter in
Satan’s way to have such an obstruction at hand in the grand concern
of conversion. Yet this is further serviceable to him, to hinder
or weaken the graces of the converted already. If he can set God’s
children a-madding upon error, or make them fond of novelties, he will
by this means exhaust the vigour and strength of their hearts, so that
the substantials of religion will be neglected. For as hurtful plants
engross all the moisture and fatness of the earth where they stand, and
impoverish it into an inability for the nourishment of those that are
of greater worth, so doth error possess itself of the strength of the
spirit, and in the meantime neglected graces dwindle into emptiness,
and ‘fade as a leaf.’ The most curious questions and opinions that
are, contribute nothing to the establishment of the heart; it is
only grace that doth that: Heb. xiii. 9, ‘The heart is established
with grace,’ and not with disputes about meats; nay, they do grace a
prejudice, in that they make it sick and languishing—for to that sense
is the original, in 1 Tim. vi. 4, ‘Doting about questions,’ or growing
diseased, because of the earnest prosecution of opinions, Νοσῶν περὶ

9. Ninthly, Error hath yet another mischief in it, which makes it not a
little desirable to Satan; and that is _the judgment or punishment that
it brings_. So that it every way answers the devil’s hatred against
both soul and body. The blessings of prosperity and peace do attend the
triumphal chariot of truth: Ps. lxxxv. 11, 12, ‘Truth shall spring out
of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.’ And then
it follows, that ‘the Lord shall give that which is good, and our land
shall yield her increase.’ But on the contrary, error doth more provoke
God than men are aware. How often did God desolate the Israelites, set
a fire in their cities, and gave them into the hands of their enemies,
because of their changing the truth of God into a lie, and worshipping
and serving the creature more than the Creator! God left not the church
of Pergamos and Thyatira without severe threatenings for the error of
the Nicolaitans: Rev. ii. 16, ‘Repent, or else I will come unto thee
quickly.’ Ver. 22, ‘I will cast them into great tribulation, except
they repent of their deeds, and I will kill her children with death.’
And accordingly God fulfilled his threatening upon them, by bringing
in the Saracens to desolate them, and to possess their land—as he
also brought the Goths upon the empire for the Arian heresy. How is
Satan pleased to labour in a design that will kindle the wrath of the


 _Of the advantages which Satan hath, and useth, for the introduction
 of error; as (1.) From his own power of spiritual fascination.
 That there is such a power, proved from Scripture, and from the
 effects of it. (2.) From our imperfection of knowledge;
 the particulars thereof explained. (3.) From the bias of
 the mind. What things do bias it, and the power of them to sway
 the understanding. (4.) From curiosity. (5.) From
 atheistical debauchery of conscience._

That Satan may the better speed in his design, he carefully takes
notice of, and diligently improves all advantages. Indeed all his
stratagems are advantages taken against us; for so the apostle, in his
caution to the Corinthians, calls his devices, ‘lest Satan should get
an advantage of us,’ 2 Cor. ii. 11. But here I only understand those
that are more general, which are the grounds and encouragements to his
particular machinations against men, and which also direct him in his
procedure. These are,

1. First, Satan’s own power of _spiritual fascination_, by which he
infatuates the minds of men, and deludes them, as the external senses
are deceived by enchantments or witchcraft.

That Satan is a cunning sophister, and can put fallacies upon the
understanding; that by subtle objections or arguments he can obtrude
a falsehood upon the belief of the unskilful and unwary; that he can
betray the judgment by the affections, are things of common practice
with him. But that which I am now to speak of is of a higher nature,
and though it may probably take in much of his common method of
ordinary delusion, yet in this it differs, at least that it is more
efficacious and prevalent; for as his power over the children of
disobedience is so great that he can ‘lead them captive at his will,’
except when he is countermanded by the Almighty, so hath he, by special
commission, a power to lead those to error effectually, without missing
his end, that have prepared themselves for that spiritual judgment by a
special provocation; and for aught we know, as he hath an extraordinary
power which he exerts at such times, so may he have an extraordinary
method which he is not permitted to practise daily, nor upon all.

That such a power as this the devil hath, is believed by those whose
learning and experience have made their judgments of great value with
serious men; and thus some do describe it: It is a delusion with a kind
of magical enchantment; so Calvin, Gal. iii. 1: a satanical operation
whereby the senses of men are deluded; thus Perkins, who after he had
asserted that Satan can corrupt the fantasy or imagination, he compares
this spiritual witchcraft to such diseases of melancholy, that make men
believe that they are, or do, what they are not or do not, as in the
disease called _lycanthropia_; and to the enchantments of Jannes and
Jambres, who deluded the senses of Pharaoh. Others more fully, call it
‘a more vehement operation of the great impostor, whereby he obtrudes
some noxious error upon the mind, and persuades with such efficacy that
it is embraced with confidence, defended strenuously, and propagated

A particular account of the way and manner by which the devil doth
this, is a task beyond sober inquiry. It may suffice us to know that
such power he hath, and this I shall confirm from Scripture, and from
the effects of such delusion.

(1.) First, There are several scriptures which assert a power in Satan
to bewitch the minds of men into error, from which I shall draw such
notes as may confirm and in part explain this truth in hand.

And I shall begin with that of Gal. iii. 1, ‘O foolish Galatians, who
hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?’ &c. The word
which the apostle here useth for bewitching, as grammarians and critics
note,[221] is borrowed from the practice of witches and sorcerers, who
use by secret powers to bind the senses, and to effect mischiefs. It
is true he speaks of false apostles, but he intends Satan as the chief
workman; and this he transfers to signify Satan’s power upon the mind,
in blinding the understanding for the entertainment of error. Neither
can anything be objected why this place should not prove a fascinating
power in Satan, such as we have been speaking of, but this, that it
may be supposed to intend no more than an ordinary powerful persuasion
by arguments. Yet this may be answered, not only from the authority of
learned interpreters, who apprehend the apostle and his expression to
intend more, but also from some concomitant particulars in the text. He
calls them ‘foolish Galatians,’ as we translate it, but the original
goes a little higher, to signify a madness; and withal he seems to
be surprised with wonder at the power of Satan upon them, which
had not only prevailed against the truth, but against such evident
manifestations of it as they had when they were so plainly, fully, and
efficaciously instructed; for ‘before their eyes Jesus Christ had been
evidently set forth;’ which expressions and carriage cannot rationally
be thought to befit a common ordinary case.[222]

Next to this, let us a little consider that famous scripture in 2
Thes. ii. 9-11, ‘Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all
power ... and for this cause, God shall send them strong delusions,
that they should believe a lie.’ I shall from this place observe a
few things, which if put together will clear the truth we speak of:
As, first, In this delusion here mentioned, the apostle doth not only
set down extraordinary outward means, as signs and lying wonders,
but also suits these extraordinary means with a suitable concomitant
inward power; for by ‘power’ I do not understand, as some, [Piscator
and Sclater,] a power of shewing signs and doing wonders, as if the
apostle had said, ἐν δυνάμει σημέιων καὶ τεράτων, with the power of
signs and wonders—for the words will not well bear that without some
unnatural straining; but I understand by it a power, distinct from the
signs and wonders, by which he moves their hearts to believe, by an
inward working upon their minds, striking in with the outward means
of lying miracles propounded to their senses. And we may the better
satisfy ourselves in this interpretation, if we compare it with Rom.
xv. 19,[223] where not only the power of doing wonders is expressed by
a phrase, proper and different from this of the text in hand, ‘through
mighty signs and wonders,’ or in the power of signs and wonders, but
it is also clearly distinguished from the power of the Spirit of
God, in working upon the hearts, to make those wonders efficacious
and persuasive; so that, as in the Spirit of God we observe a power
to do wonders, and a power to work upon the heart by these wonders,
we may conclude that this wicked spirit hath also, in order to sin
and delusion, this twofold power. But secondly, I note further, That
this power is called a special energy of peculiar force and efficacy
in its working—κατ’ ἔνέργειαν τοῦ Σατανᾶ. The strange inexpressible
strength of it seems to stand in need of many words for explanation.
He calls it ‘all power’—ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει—which as well notes the degree
and height, as the variety of its operations, and then the energy,
the virtue, operativeness, and strength of power. Thirdly, It is also
to be observed that Satan’s success and exercise of this power of
delusion depends upon the commission of God, and that therefore it is
extraordinary, and not permitted to him but upon special occasions and
provocation, ‘for this cause God shall send,’ &c. Fourthly, The success
of this power when exercised is certain. They are not only strong
delusions, in regard of the power from whence they come, but also in
regard of the event; those upon whom they come cannot but believe.
Infatuation and pertinaciousness are the certain fruits of it.[224]
Fifthly, The proof of all is manifest in the quality of the errors
entertained, for they are palpable gross lies, and yet believed as the
very truths of God, and they are in such weighty points as do evidently
determine the soul to ruin, ‘lies to be damned,’ which two things are
sufficient proofs of spiritual fascination; it being unimaginable that
rational men, and especially such as were instructed to a belief of a
contrary truth, should so far degenerate from the light of reason as
to be deluded by gross and apparent lies, and of such high importance,
except their minds had been blinded in some extraordinary way. Some
further confirmation may be added to this truth from 1 Kings xxii.
21, ‘And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and
said, I will persuade him.... I will go forth, and I will be a lying
spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt
persuade him, and prevail also.’ I might here take notice of Satan’s
readiness in this work, as wanting neither skill nor will, if he were
but always furnished with a commission; as also the powerful efficacy
of spiritual witchcraft, where it pleaseth the Lord to permit to Satan
the exercise of his power, ‘Thou shalt persuade, and prevail also.’ But
that which I would observe here, is something relating to the manner
of his proceeding in these delusions. He attempted to deceive the
false prophets, and by them to delude Ahab; and both, by being a lying
spirit in the mouth of the prophets, which necessarily, as Peter Martyr
observes, implies, (1.) That Satan had a power so strongly to fix upon
their imaginary[225] faculty the species, images, or characters of what
was to be suggested, that he could not only make them apprehend what
he presented to their minds, but also make them believe that it was a
divine inspiration, and consequently true; for these false prophets
did not speak hypocritically what they knew to be false, but what they
confidently apprehended to be true, as appears by the whole story.
(2.) He could irritate and inflame their desires to publish these
their persuasions to the king, after the manner of divine prophecies.
(3.) He had a further power of persuading Ahab that his prophets spake

That passage of Rom. i. 28, ‘God gave them over to a reprobate mind,’
doth give some account how men are brought by the devil into these
false persuasions. A reprobate mind is a mind injudicious, a mind that
hath lost its power of discerning—Νοῦς ἀδοκιμός. It is plain then that
he can so besot and blind the mind that it shall not be startled at
things of greatest absurdity or inconveniency.

If any yet further inquire how he can do these things; we must answer,
that his particular ways and methods in this case we know not: only
it may be added, that, Eph. iv. 17, Paul tells us he can make their
‘minds vain, and darken their understandings.’ By mind, Νοὸς, the seat
of principles is commonly understood. By understanding, Διάνοια, the
reasoning or discursive faculty, which is the seat of conclusions: so
that his power seems to extend to the obliterating of principles, and
can also disable them to make right inferences, insomuch that he wants
nothing that may be necessary to the begetting of strong persuasions of
any falsehood which he suggests, according to what is intimated, Gal.
v. 3, ‘This persuasion cometh not of him that called you’—that is, not
of God, but of the devil.

From all these scriptures then it appears that this spiritual
fascination is a power in Satan, which he exerts, by special
commission, upon those that receive not the truth in the love of it, by
which he can so strongly imprint falsehoods upon their minds, that they
become unable to discern betwixt truth and a lie, and so by darkening
their understanding, they are effectually persuaded to believe an error.

(2.) Secondly, There is yet another proof of this spiritual witchcraft,
from the consideration _of the effects of it upon the deluded, and the
uncouth, strange, unnatural way of its proceeding_. Let all particulars
of this kind be put together, and it will not be found possible to give
any other rational account of some errors than that of extraordinary

[1.] First, Let us take notice of the _vileness and odiousness of
some errors that have prevailed upon men_. Some have been plainly
sottish, so evidently foolish that it cannot be imagined that men that
entertained them had at that time the use of reason, or any competent
understanding. This very consideration the prophet Isaiah insists
upon largely, chap. xliv. 9-21, where he taxeth them smartly for the
senseless doltishness of their error in worshipping idols. He tells
them the matter of it is the work of nature, a cedar, oak, or ash, that
they themselves possibly had planted, and the rain did nourish it,
ver. 14. He tells them also that the form of it was from the art of
the workman, the smith, or carpenter: ver. 12, 13, ‘The smith with the
tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and
worketh it with the strength of his arms.... The carpenter stretcheth
out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes,
and he marketh it out with a compass.’ He further minds them, that
without any reverence they make use of the residue of the materials out
of which they formed their idol to common services of dressing their
meat and warming themselves. ‘He burneth part thereof in the fire; with
part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied; yea,
warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire,’
ver. 16. Then he accuseth them of sottishness, in that the ‘residue
thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down to it,
and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for
thou art my god,’ ver. 17. And from all this he concludes, that seeing
this is so directly contrary to common reason and understanding—which
in the ordinary exercise of it would easily have freed them from such
a dotage; for if they had but ‘knowledge or understanding to say, I
have burnt part of it in the fire; I have baked bread, and shall I
make the residue an abomination?’ ver. 19, they could not have been
so foolish. It must, then, of necessity be a spiritual infatuation.
‘Their eyes were shut that they cannot see, and their hearts, that they
cannot understand,’ ver. 18. ‘A deceived heart hath turned him aside,’
ver. 20. Other errors there are that lead to beastly and unnatural
villanies, such as directly cross all the sober principles of mankind,
the natural principles of modesty, the most general and undoubted
principles of religion and holiness, as when adulteries, swearing,
ranting, going naked, cruelties, murders, outrageous confusions and
madness, are clothed with pretences of spirit, revelation, freedom
in the use of the creature, exercise of love, and having all things
common, &c.: of which sad instances have been given more than once.
Let any sober man consider how it could come to pass, that men that
have reason enough to defend them against such furies, and the
knowledge of Scripture, which everywhere—with the greatest happiness
imaginable and highest earnestness—doth prohibit such practices as
most abominable, and doth direct to a sober, just, modest, humble,
inoffensive life, should entertain notwithstanding, such errors as
transform men into beasts, monsters, or rather devils, and religion
into the grossest impieties; and all this as the perfection and top of
religious attainment commanded in the word of God or by his Spirit, and
well-pleasing to most holy and pure divine majesty! Let it, I say, be
left to the consideration of men how it should be, without some such
extraordinary cause as hath been mentioned.

[2.] Secondly, Let it be observed also, that some errors bring with
them some _extraordinary, strange, unnatural, unusual actions_, and
put men into such odd garbs, postures, and behaviours, that it is
easy to see they are acted by a force or power not human. Some have
been carried to do things beyond whatsoever might have been expected
from the age and capacities of the parties; as ecstasies, trances,
and quakings of little children; their prophesying and speaking
Scripture threatenings after such fits. Some have been acted in a way
of ecstatical fury; as Montanus, of whom Eusebius witnesseth,[227]
that ‘sometimes he would be seized upon by a kind of malignant
spirit, and would suddenly break forth into a rage and madness, and
presently utter rash and bold speeches, strange, unusual voices, with
prophesyings; insomuch that he was judged by those that saw him to be
acted by the devil.’ Others have been as in a more sober spiritual
rapture; an instance whereof I shall give you from Mr Baxter in these
words: ‘I have heard from an ancient godly man that knew Arthington
and Coppinger, that they were possessed with the spirit of the
Grundletonians. The same man affirmed that he went but once among them
himself, and after prayer they breathed on him as giving him the Holy
Ghost; and he was so strangely transported for three days that he was
not the same man, and his family wondered what was the matter with
him: he had no confession of sin, but an elevated strain in prayer,
as if he had been in strange raptures; and after three days he was
as before, and came no more at them.’[228] Some have been carried
into childish and ridiculous actions: such was the behaviour of Jo.
Gilpin in his delusion at Kendal in Westmoreland; as his going to the
fiddler’s house, playing upon a bass viol in token of spiritual melody;
his creeping up the streets upon hands and knees in token of bearing
his cross; his making marks on the ground, and beating it, as his
mortification of sin; and a great many more things of like nature.[229]

Such things as these are as spiritual marks and characters engraven
upon errors, by which a diabolical power, moving and acting such
deluded creatures, like so many puppets, is evidently discovered.

[3.] Thirdly, When we see not only idiots, and those whose defect of
understanding might put them under the power of an ordinary cheat, thus
imposed upon, _but men otherwise intelligent, rational, and serious_,
blinded with follies, taken with apparent dotages, admiring trifles,
and carried away with things which common reason would teach them
to abhor, it is more than suspicious that it is not any probability
of truth or excellency in the error that prevails with them, but a
spiritual power that doth bewitch them. When we consider that such a
learned man as Tertullian begins to admire such a wretch as Montanus;
or such a one as Arthington led away with Hacket and Coppinger; or such
a man as Kneperdollin seduced by John of Leyden; and especially such
numbers of wise and seemingly sober and religious persons, going down
the stream after irrational and plainly irreligious errors,—what else
can be apprehended to be the cause but a powerful satanical delusion?

[4.] Fourthly, Add we to these the consideration of _the suddenness of
the prevalency of such errors against plain and evident truths_, which
is a circumstance taken notice of by the apostle: Gal. i. 6, ‘I marvel
that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of
Christ unto another gospel.’ In which case we may observe it usually
falls out that men’s affections prevent their discoveries; at the first
view they are taken, before they understand what the error is, and they
are persuaded before they know.

[5.] Fifthly and lastly, That _the earnestness of the prosecution by
which they maintain and propagate the error is a kind of unnatural
fury, which hurries men with violence into an unyielding stiffness,
to the stifling of all kind of charity and consideration_. These
things put together, I say, makes the matter in hand evident; when
men otherwise rational are at first touch highly enamoured with, and
violent in the pursuit of errors that are sottish or devilish, we can
resolve it into nothing less than into that of the apostle, ‘Who hath
bewitched you?’ The improvement of this first and great advantage for
the introduction of errors is more than can be well expressed; but he
hath besides other advantages which he noway neglects: among which,

2. Secondly, _Our imperfection in knowledge_ is none of the least. If
our knowledge had been perfect, it would have been a task too hard for
the devil to make us erroneous; for men do not err but so far as they
are ignorant. To impose upon men against clear and certain knowledge is
impossible. Men cannot believe that to be true which they know to be
false. It would be as silly for Satan to make such attempts as for a
juggler to endeavour the deception of those that know and see the ways
of his conveyances as well as himself. That our knowledge is imperfect,
I shall prove and explain in the following particulars:—

[1.] First, _The Scripture plainly asserts it_. The greatest number of
men which are in an unregenerate estate are expressly called foolish,
blind, ignorant—men that are in darkness, men that do not know nor
consider, that perish through ignorance. Others that, in comparison to
these, are called ‘children of the light,’ and such as ‘see with open
face,’ are notwithstanding, when compared to a state of perfection,
represented to be in the non-age of their knowledge, unripe, imperfect.
The apostle doth so express it, 1 Cor. xiii. 9, ‘We know in part,
we prophesy in part.’ In the explanation of this, he compares our
attainments in this world to the understanding, thoughts, and speakings
of children, ver. 11: concludes, ver. 12, that all our knowledge gives
us but a dark, imperfect reflection of things: ‘we see through a glass

[2.] Secondly, _Men that have had the clearest heads, and have been at
the greatest pains in their inquiries to find out truths, have brought
back the clear conviction of their own ignorance_. Austin confesseth
that in the Scriptures—which he made his chief study—the things which
he knew not were more than the things he understood.[230] Chytræus,
in humble modesty, goes a little further: ‘My dearest knowledge,’
saith he, ‘is to know that I know nothing;’ and it will be a clear
demonstration of that man’s ignorance that boasts of his knowledge; his
own mouth will prove against him that ‘he knows nothing as he ought to
know,’ [1 Cor. viii. 2.]

[3.] Thirdly, The consideration of _the nature of the things which are
the objects upon which we employ our search_ will sufficiently convince
us that we do comprehend but very little. For though the Scripture hath
expressed the main concerns of eternal life so fully that they are as
clear as light, and need no such stretch of the brain but that the
meanest capacities may as certainly understand them as they understood
anything of common business; as, that Christ died for sinners; that
without faith it is impossible to please God; that without holiness
no man shall see his face, &c. Yet, as Peter speaks, 2 Pet. iii. 16,
‘There are many things that are hard to be understood,’ δυσνόητά τινα.
There are difficulties, depths, and mysteries. Some things, whereof
we have but dark touches in Scripture, though enough to let us know
that such things there are, and, to humble us for our ignorance, are
in their own nature sublime, bounded on all sides with rocks and
precipices, where our near and bold approaches are prohibited: such
are those things that concern the decrees of God, the Trinity, &c.
Other things are dark and uncertain to us, from their very proximity
to us—as some are pleased to fancy the reason. Such are the nature,
faculties, and workings of our own souls within us—which we cannot
directly see, as the eye sees not itself, and do but, as it were, guess
by dark reflections. Some things in Scripture are accidentally obscure
to us that were plain to those that heard them first, to whom they
were spoken and written; for now to the understanding of a great many
passages there is necessary the knowledge of the tongues in which they
were dictated, of the histories of those times to which they severally
related; as also of the particular customs of the Jewish nation, which
gave a mould and form to a great many Scripture assertions; all which
were easy and familiar to those that knew the exact propriety of such
languages, were acquainted thoroughly with such histories, customs,
usages, and manner of speakings; and besides all these, the application
of general rules to particular cases—where a little circumstance may
make a great alteration—is full of puzzle and intricacy; insomuch that
some have thought that there are several cases of conscience that are
not yet fully determined, and that are like so to remain.[231]

[4.] Fourthly, Neither is _the nature of knowledge itself_ without
an argument to prove the insufficiency of our knowledge. To know is
properly to understand things by their causes, or at least by their
effects, and to make a right result of particulars from a general
maxim. Such a kind of knowledge is necessary in religion, for setting
aside some particulars of mysterious height, about which God hath
set bounds, lest men in presumptuous boldness should adventure to
‘break through unto the Lord to gaze;’ and some things which are the
principles of nature, or their next results, which are, upon that
score, beyond all need of inquiry—in all which it is enough to believe
that what the Scripture saith is true, without asking a further
account; yet in other things the Scripture gives us the grounds,
reasons, and proofs of what it declares or asserts, as may appear
by infinite examples; so that to know Christ died, or that we are
justified by faith, or that Christ shall come to judgment, without a
knowledge of the grounds and reasons of these things, is indeed but
gross ignorance. The like may be said of the knowledge of general
precepts, without the knowledge of their necessary application.

But how few are there that do thus know! The greatest part of men
satisfy themselves with the bare affirmations of Scripture, and they
resolve all into this, that the word of God saith so, or that it is the
will of God it should be so, without further inquiry.

And as for others, though they may know the reasons of many things,
yet are there a vast number of particulars whose reasons we know
not, though the Scripture may contain them; and as for consequences,
and the application of general rules, their just limitation, and the
enumeration of the cases wherein they are true or false, it is that
that keeps the wits of men upon the rack perpetually.

[5.] Fifthly, _The unsuitableness of our capacities to those objects of
knowledge_ may be particularly considered as a further confirmation of
our ignorance. The incapacity of the vulgar is generally observed. Some
we find so grossly ignorant, that they are incapable to comprehend the
easiest matters; and this makes their persuasion to some plain truths
so very difficult, that when they are, as it were, ‘brayed in a mortar’
by a multitude of unreasonable[232] arguments, yet their ignorance
‘departs not from them,’ but they will stubbornly hold the conclusion
of their own fancy, whatever become of the premises. Those that are
of a higher form, and seem to understand a great many particulars in
religion, are ordinarily unable to conjoin all truths into one entire
proportionable body: they heap up several notions that they hear here
and there, but know not their consistencies; insomuch that they either
are like children, who know all the letters of the alphabet, without
the skill to frame words or sentences out of them, being unable to
give an account how their notions are related one to another, or to
the whole; or if they attempt such a thing, they hang inconsistent
things on the same thread, and do but _humano capiti cervicem jungere
equinam_. If these instances, and a great many more of like kind, were
not at hand, yet the very condescensions of our great prophet the
Lord Jesus, and of his disciples in their ways of teaching, do evince
that the capacities of men are low—that they are ‘dull of hearing,
children in understanding.’ The course they took was to instruct them
in a plain, familiar way, by parables and examples. Thus were they
‘fed as babes in Christ,’ according to the apostle’s similitude, with
‘milk, and not with strong meat, because they were not able to bear
it,’ 1 Cor. iii. 1. And yet Christ sometimes complained that this would
not do. For so he speaks, John iii. 12, ‘If I have told you earthly
things,’ that is, divine truth in earthly and common similitudes, ‘and
ye believe not,’ _i.e._, cannot apprehend them, ‘how shall ye believe
if I tell you of heavenly things?’ How unable, then, would you be to
understand these truths if I should speak in language and expression
properly suited to their natures? A great check to our slowness of

But possibly some may expect higher matters from those that are exalted
above the common rank of men by the repute they have of learning. And
indeed it cannot be denied but such have very great advantages for the
widening of their capacities; yet are they not such as wholly take
away the distemper, but still so much incapacity may be seen in them
as will sufficiently justify the charge of imperfection in knowledge
against the most learned. Let us bring in some instances, and it will
be evident:

(1.) _The greatest errors that have most disturbed the church in all
ages have had their rise from learned men._ The names of their authors
are marked upon their foreheads. These known errors are so many, that
they fill whole volumes. The result of which consideration will be
this, that learned men have often been very dangerously mistaken.

(2.) _The present contentions and disputes of men_, managed on all
hands with so much earnestness, wherein one party triumphs over
another, and all, in their own apprehensions, are victorious. Instead
of conquests by arguments and answers, each party is but more confirmed
in its own apprehensions; and yet the one-half is certainly wrong,
and perhaps in many things both parties are mistaken. This, I say,
sufficiently shows the incapacities of the learned; for if every
capacity were truly correspondent to truth, there would be no more
disputes nor differences.

(3.) _The most learned find the business of their own persuasion and
satisfaction in many truths, in which common people have no scruple
nor doubt, very difficult_; because they see more objections to be
answered, and more of the weakness of arguments than others do; but
this shews their capacities are not so large as some would think.

(4.) Let us once for all consider _that which seems to be the highest
evidence for knowledge and understanding in the learned, and we shall
find, upon just examination, it is no more than an argument of their
ignorance_. What is there wherein they seem more acute and eagle-eyed
than in their distinctions, by which they would give us the most minute
differences of things, and appear so exact as if they would divide
an atom, and give everything its just weight and measure? But let us
consider that, though all distinctions are not unprofitable, their
multitude is become oppressive and troublesome, and more time must
be spent in learning terms and words of art than things; and their
nicety and subtlety so great, that they rather darken truth, and give
occasion to bold spirits to undertake the defence of any paradox. Nay,
if we could sever these clearly from their abuses, yet, seeing it is
certain there are more distinctions of terms than things, they will
evince that our knowledge is more verbal than real, and that often for
a mountain of words we have but a molehill of substantial matter. Nay,
seeing we make but a sorry shift at best by these artifices to come
to some rude conceptions of things, which otherwise we cannot in any
tolerable manner comprehend, it is as great a proof of our imperfection
in knowledge, as the necessary use of staves and crutches is an
evidence of lameness. If I should pass from this to the consideration
of the multitude beyond all number of books that are written, we
shall find them but so many proclamations of our ignorance; for if
we could believe them all to contain so many wholesome precepts of
necessary truth, which yet we cannot rationally imagine, this would
imply that the greatest part wanted these informations; and that common
ignorance is not only a general distemper, but also a distemper hard
to be cured, that stands in need of such multitudes of instructors and
such varieties of helps. But if we believe that among this infinite
number of volumes there are thousands of lies, millions of unproved
conjectures, millions of millions of idle, unprofitable fancies, then
do we in express terms pronounce them guilty of ignorance, and of
ignorance so much the more dangerous, by how much the more bold it is
to avouch itself in the light, and to obtrude itself upon the belief of
others, who, instead of being better informed by it, shall but increase
their own blindness. Were there nothing to be said but this, that there
are such a vast multitude of commentators upon the Bible, which do all
pretend to expound and explain it, it would of necessity admit of these
conclusions:—[1.] That the Bible hath in it things so dark, or at least
our capacities are so dull, that there is need of great endeavours to
explain the one, or assist the other. [2.] That the knowledge of men
is imperfect; for if all or most men could certainly interpret the
Scripture, there needed not so many volumes, but that one or two might
have signified as much as now whole libraries can do.

The imperfection of our knowledge being thus laid open, it is easy
to see what advantages the devil may make out of it for the promoting
of error; for it must now become our wonder, not that any man errs,
but that all do not. We find it easy to impose anything upon children;
it is an easy matter for a trifle to cheat them out of all they have.
Surely then Satan may do as much by men, who are but ‘children in
understanding.’ The apostle, Eph. iv. 14, puts us in mind of this
hazard under that very similitude, ‘that we henceforth be no more
children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of
doctrine.’ How fitly doth he resemble us to children! Their weaknesses
are, [1.] Want of discerning; they see not the true worth of things.
[2.] Credulity; they believe all fair speeches and specious promises:
and the hazard of both these is in this, that it makes them unconstant,
uncertain, and fickle; and such are we made by our ignorance, so little
do we truly discern, so apt are we to believe every pretence, for the
simple believes every word, Prov. xiv. 15; that, as the apostle’s
metaphors do tell us, we are easily tossed from one conceit or opinion
to another, as a ship is by the waves, or a feather in the wind.
κλυδονιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι.

3. Thirdly, A third advantage which the devil takes against us in his
design of error, is _the bias of the mind_. Were our understandings
purely free, in a just and even balance toward all things propounded
to its deliberation and assent, though it were imperfect in its light,
the danger were the less; but now, in regard of the bent and sway it
is under, it is commonly partial, and inclined to one side more than
to another, and yet the matter were the less, if only one or two noted
things had the power of setting up a false light before the mind; but
there are many things that are apt to do us this mischief, which have
the same effect upon us that bribes have upon persons interested in
judgment, which not only tempts them to do wrong, but so blinds their
eyes that they know not they do so, or at least not in so great a
measure. The mind is biassed,

(1.) First, _Naturally to error rather than truths_. The corruption
of our nature is general, and doth not only dispose the will and
affections to practical iniquities, but doth also incline the
understanding to error and misapprehension. And that seems to be the
ground of Christ’s assertion against the Jews: John v. 43, ‘I am come
in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come
in his own name, him ye will receive.’ Which implies that men are
naturally more prone to believe an impostor, than one that speaks
the most certain and profitable verities; and besides this general
inclination to vanities and lies, there are, if some think right, some
errors that are formally engraven in the nature of fallen man—as that
opinion to be saved by works.[233] For not only do all men that have
any apprehensions of a future eternal state resolve that question of
obtaining salvation into works as the proper cause,—and indeed no
other could have been imagined, if the Scripture had not revealed the
redemption by the blood of Jesus—but the Jews in John vi. 28, when they
propound that question, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works
of God?’ take it for granted, that works of some kind or other are the
causes of happiness. Possibly some impression of that notion, while it
was a truth, as in the state of innocency it was, may yet remain upon
our natures, though by the fall the case is altered with us.

(2.) Secondly, The mind is biassed _by bodily temper and complexional
inclination_. The varieties of complexions introduce varieties of
humours and dispositions; and the understanding being necessitated to
look through these, as so many coloured glasses, is apt to judge, that
is, to misjudge, according to the misrepresentation of objects.

(3.) Thirdly, Sometimes _habitual acquirements have the same influence
upon the understanding that natural humours have_. The arts and
sciences we study, our ways of education and employment, are but so
many prejudicate prepossessions that do secretly taint the mind.

(4.) Fourthly, There are also _accidental inclinations_, which, though
not customary, have the force of a second nature, because their
working is violent and impetuous, and these, which are from a wounded
conscience or excesses of melancholy, have a bias more than ordinary;
they lay violent hands upon the understanding, and with a mighty
torrent run it down. So that if an error be offered that is suitable
to such fears or misapprehensions, it can scarce miss of success. The
extraordinary turbulences of some other passions, as anger, love, &c.,
have the like effect.

(5.) Fifthly, _Vicious habits_ do so much bias the mind, that the
understanding must needs be defiled by them. Nothing can more prepare
the mind to a wicked error than a wicked life. An error of indulgence
being so grateful to corruption may readily find favour with the
understandings of those that know not to do good, because they have
accustomed themselves to do evil.

(6.) Sixthly, There are _external things_ that have no less power on
the understanding than any of the foregoing; and these are custom,
education, and interest. These stick so close, and work so subtly, that
though there are few that are not, in disputable cases, influenced by
them, yet none are able or willing to take notice how and by what steps
they do engage them to pass sentence against truth. And indeed that
man must have a singular measure of suspicious watchfulness and clear
integrity that is not deceived by them. And the best way to keep clear
of the mischief that these may do us, is to be severe in our suspicions
on that side to which custom and interest have their tendencies.

(7.) Seventhly, I might note that there is something considerable to
this purpose _in the nature of spirits_. Some spirits are unfixed and
volatile, and these are soon altered by their own unsteadiness. Others
are tenacious and unflexible; and if such be first set wrong, it is
not an easy thing that will reduce them to truth. Others are soft and
ductile, persuaded by good words as soon as strong arguments. And
again, some are of such a rough, sour, contradictious temper, that
they will sooner choose to run wrong than comply with the persuasions
of those that offer truth, even for that reason, because they are
persuaded to it; so that the truth which, if none had minded them, they
of themselves would have embraced, they will now refuse when it is
pressed upon them, out of a cross and thwarting humour, because they
hate nothing more than to do as they are bidden.

To come a little nearer, let us consider how these things shew their
power upon the mind to sway and incline it. It is indeed true, that in
things that are clearly and strongly propounded to the understanding,
it cannot but judge according to the evidence of truth, and cannot be
guided by the will to judge contrary; nay, the will—though in things
purely speculative it may retain its averseness, as also in things
practical, while they are considered only as what may be done before
the understanding hath come up to its final resolve, determining that
such things must or ought to be done—cannot but follow the light and
information of the understanding, and that according to the proportion
of its conviction; so that though in some cases a man would have things
otherwise than he believes them to be, yet he cannot believe what he
will, neither can he refuse to will what is certainly represented to be
good and necessary. _Tantum quisque vult, quantum intelligit se velle
debere._ Notwithstanding all this, the forementioned particulars may so
bias the mind that it shall not act truly and steadily, as we may see
in these three particulars:

[1.] First, _In things clearly demonstrated to the understanding_,
though the will cannot directly oppose, nor prevail to have them judged
false, yet it can indirectly hinder the procedure of the understanding,
and divert it from fixing its consideration upon the truth, or from
working itself into positive determinations for bringing it into
practice. _Intellectus sequitur voluntatem quoad exercitium, non quoad
specificationem._ Thus many that cannot but believe there is a God,
and that his law is true, being biassed by their lusts, the power of
pleasures or interest, &c., do prevail upon their understandings to
take up other objects of consideration; so that they are said to forget
God, and to cast his commandments behind their backs, as also not to
remember their latter end, though they cannot but believe that they
shall die. Truth may be imprisoned and fettered, where it cannot be
slain. We read of ‘holding the truth in unrighteousness,’ Rom. i. 18,
which was this, that those heathens of whom the apostle speaks, by
reason of their vicious inclinations and practices, though they could
not obliterate those notices of equity and religion that were imprinted
on their minds, yet they kept them at under, as captives in a dungeon,
and suffered them not to rise up in a just practical improvement. Now
the wrong that is done to truth this way is not only by rendering
it unfruitful and useless at present, but hereby the devil hath his
advantage in the gaining of time to gather together more forces against
that truth, and by frequent onsets of contrary arguings, especially
upon the advantage of the mind’s indifferency and remissness, begot by
long and often diversions, to set another face upon it, and by degrees
to overturn former persuasions. This was the very case of the heathens
in the place last cited, who, being first swayed by their impieties,
became unwilling to give way to those dictates of light and justice
which they had; and having thus gratified their lusts, the devil
further prevailing with them to find evasions from the power of those
truths, they began to make unsuitable inferences from these premises,
which they could not deny, and so became sottish and vain in their
reasonings, ‘changing the glory of the uncorruptible God, into an image
made like unto corruptible man.’ And by such practices against truth,
they at last changed the truth into a lie, ver. 25, and at long-run
obliterated the knowledge of God out of their minds. This is Satan’s
old method of overturning truth at last, by diverting the mind from
receiving the present powerful impressions of those principles.

[2.] Secondly, But in things doubtful, where there is not a clear
certainty what is truth, but contrary opinions strive with such
equal confidence, that it is difficult to determine which hath the
conquest, there the mind may be so swayed by its bias that it _may give
approbation to error; nay, where, upon a fair and indifferent trial,
truth hath the greater appearance of strength, and error nothing else
than little shadows or appearances of reason to shelter itself under_;
yet that way may the mind be inclined by the aforesaid things. We have
a more easy and facile belief for what we would have than for what we
would not. Though there is nothing more noted by common experience
than this, that men are usually drawn aside by humours, inclinations,
interests, and education, &c., to judge well of that which an
unprejudiced person would easily see to be weak, unjust, ridiculous, or
unreasonable; yet how these considerations and tempers do exert their
force upon the understanding to draw it into a compliance, or by what
secret art they can heighten probabilities, and lessen objections; or
by what insensible progress they move, that men thus carried do not
perceive that they are under such a force, is not so very discernible.
How often may we observe men, that are rational enough to discover the
pitiful shifts and poor allegations of others, with such gravity and
confidence, where their own interests are concerned, to offer such low
reasonings and extravagant impertinences, that all that hear them are
ready to laugh at their folly; and yet they themselves entertain no
less than persuasions of the invincibleness of their arguings. They
so eagerly desire what they would establish, that they think anything
is enough to justify it, and are apt to imagine that their shifts and
excuses appear as strong to others as to themselves. I have known some
that, by the sway of interest, have changed their opinions in religious
matters, and have really become otherwise persuaded than they had been
formerly, and not as some who, for advantage, will knowingly take up
what they cannot believe to be true, and have not been able to say that
they have met with new arguments or new answers to objections, but
I know not how arguments, which they had contemned, and laid by for
weak, began to look big upon them. The arguments by which their former
persuasion was upheld grew insensibly feeble in their hands; the one
revived, gathered strength, after they had a little cherished them,
by thinking there might be something in them, though before they knew
all the particulars, and could not instance in anything which they had
not formerly notified and answered; and the other sort of arguments
grew weaker and weaker, till at last they parted with all good conceit
of them; so that such a change was but as the turning of the tables.
That which acted behind the curtain, and wrought this change of the
fancy, could be no other than some of the forementioned things that
biassed their mind; for where the arguments, _pro_ and _con_, were the
same, the alteration of opinion, where men are not so wicked as to go
directly against their own light, must of necessity be imputed to the
different positions of external things, and the different humours and
inclinations begot by them, even as the different stations of men in
the prospect of some pictures represent them variously; one way they
give the shape of a beautiful face, another way they express the ugly
deformity of a devil; or as different reflections of the sunbeams upon
the same object clothe it with several colours. The Scripture doth
also give us notice of this advantage which the devil takes from the
inclinations of men to lead them into mistakes. That of Micah ii. 11,
‘If a man, walking in the spirit of falsehood, do lie, saying, I will
prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the
prophet of this people,’ hath this for its foundation, that, let the
error be never so gross and palpable, as if a man should prophesy a
liberty for drunkenness, if it be suitable to the sway of people’s
humours, it will readily enough be embraced, ‘he shall be a prophet to
this people,’ that is, such a prophet will easily prevail with such
a people; their vicious inclinations fit them for any impression of
a suitable error. The apostle Paul also found this too true in the
heresies of his own times; for he tells us that seducers had learned
that cunning from the devil to draw men to error by the sway of their
lusts: 2 Tim. iii. 6, ‘They creep into houses, and lead captive silly
women laden with sins, and led away with divers lusts;’ as also 2 Tim.
iv. 6, he prophesies of the future use of this stratagem, ‘After their
own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers.’ So that the usual
prevalency of error was and is from the underground working of lusts,
humours, habits, and inclinations, which make men willing to entertain
an opinion, which can but gratify them with a suitableness or fitness.

[3.] Thirdly, Where the forementioned particulars of inclination,
natural or acquired humours, custom, education, &c., do neither divert
the understanding, nor engage it to close with error; yet often do
they discover how powerfully they can bias the mind, in that these
prevail with men _to modify and mould a truth according to the bent
or form of their inclinations_; as a bowl which is skilfully aimed
at a mark, goes nevertheless by a compass which its bias forceth it
unto, according to the risings or fallings of the ground it meets with
in the way. Men may arrive at real truth in the main, and yet may
shape it according to their humours. For instance, let us consider
the different modes or forms in which the same truth is represented
under the workings of different tempers. A melancholy person conceives
of all things under such reflections as fear and sadness do usually
give. If he consider God, he looks upon him in the notion of greatest
severity and justice; if upon the ways of duty, he colours them all in
black, and can scarce account anything piety which is not accompanied
with sadness and mourning; if he calls his soul to a reckoning, his
conclusions concerning himself are sad, doleful, or at best suspicious.
On the contrary, a hilarious, cheerful temper censures all sadness for
sullenness, and is apt to accuse those that go mourning in their way
for unthankful murmurers and unbelieving complainers; it interprets
God’s favourable condescensions to the weak in the greatest latitude,
and is easily persuaded to those things that are upon the utmost brink
of liberty, to which others of a more timorous disposition dare not
approach for fear of offending. This puts a higher excellency upon
the duties of praise, as the other upon fasting and mourning. Those
men that are morose and severe, they are apt to think that God ‘is
such an one as themselves;’ and though they acknowledge there is such
a grace as charity, yet under a pretence of strictness they cannot
believe they are bound to exercise it towards any that are under any
failing of which they judge themselves to be free; and therefore such
men are usually very difficult in all cases wherein condescension is to
be used; they are hard to be reconciled, and after the miscarriage of
any person, are not easily satisfied of their repentance; and in cases
of dissent from their way and practice of religion, they are commonly
censorious, and conclude the worst. They again that are naturally mild
and gentle, under a pretence of charity and meekness, are apt to become
remiss in their carriages towards any brother; and because ‘charity
thinks not evil,’ they model their acknowledged duty into the form
of their own disposition, and so think they must ‘see, and yet not
perceive;’ and instead of covering the ‘infirmities’ of a brother, they
have a mantle to cast over every transgression. At the same rate also
do they frame their conceptions of God, as if he was so merciful that
he would scarce reckon any abomination to be above the height of an
ordinary infirmity. These are apt to think that the mercies of God, so
much praised in Scripture, signify little less than an indulgence in
transgression far above what precisians are apt to imagine; and that
it is as easy to obtain forgiveness from God for any offence, as it
is to say, ‘The Lord be merciful to me a sinner.’ Those that accustom
themselves to the delights of the senses are apt to bend the way of
their religion to that humour; and think that nothing can be solemn
in worship that is not set out with garnishings that may please the
eye or ear. Nay, it is observable enough that religion borrows some
taint or shape from the various studies and sciences of men; in some,
as in many of the fathers, we may see religion dipped in Platonism
or Peripateticism. Some introduce the distinctions and definitions
of philosophy, others compel all scriptures to submit to the laws of
strict logical analysis. Thus, according to the various mediums that
men look through, are truths discoloured and dressed up in several
shapes. It is easy from these instances to imagine that Satan must have
a great advantage against us, in point of error, from the bias of the

4. Fourthly, _Adventurous curiosity_ is another general advantage by
which he works. This ariseth partly from a desire of knowledge, and
partly from pride; and both these make way for his design.

A desire after knowledge is natural, and withal very bewitching.
_Divinum est scire quam-plurima_, To know hath something in it more
than ordinary. This is noted in Job xi. 12, ‘Vain man would be wise,
though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.’ Though he be foolish, yet
he affects wisdom, and the very delight of knowing doth engage men to
curious prying searches, though with much labour and hazard. Of this
temper were the Athenians: Acts xvii. 21, ‘They spent their time in
nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing;’ not barely
in telling news, but in inquiries after new notions and discoveries,
and this made them willing to hear Paul, as ‘a setter forth of strange
gods, and a new doctrine.’

When this desire after knowledge is animated with pride, as oft it is,
for ‘knowledge puffeth up,’ then it is more dangerous. When men are
upon a design to seem higher than others, to be singular, to see more
than what all men see, to be admired, to out-talk their neighbours,
what adventures will they not make! How fair do they lie open to any
conceit that may serve this end!

That Satan labours to improve this curiosity is without doubt; he
carefully affords fuel to this burning, and diligently blows it up
into a flame. The first temptation had that ingredient in it, ‘Ye
shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,’ [Gen. iii. 5.] And we see it
was a great enticement to Eve: that which would make ‘one wise’ was
therefore desirable. The blame of Israel’s first idolatry seems to be
laid at this door: Deut. xxxii. 17, ‘They sacrificed to gods whom they
knew not,’ to new gods that came newly up; implying that they were
drawn aside from their old established way of worship by a curiosity
to try the new ways of the heathens. And so great a hand hath this
generally in errors, that Paul, 2 Tim. iv. 3, makes this itch after
novelty the great ground of that defection from truth which he foresaw
was coming, ‘They shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching
ears,’ _Pruritus aurium est scabies ecclesiarum_. This itch of the
ear is the usual forerunner of a scab in the church, because it doth
dispose men to receive any kind of teacher. God indeed doth sometimes
take the advantage of our natural curiosity for our good. By this means
many of John’s hearers, who went out into the wilderness to him, as
to a ‘strange sight,’ as those words imply, ‘What went ye out into
the wilderness to see?’ [Mat. xi. 7,] were converted. By this means,
the gospel afterwards made a large progress, as we see commonly new
teachers affect most at first; for when men grow acquainted with their
gifts, their admiration decays, and the success of their labours is
not so great many times. The devil also observing the prevalency of
curiosity, and that men are more pleased with new notions than with old
truths, he endeavours also to plough with this heifer, and oft makes
a great harvest by it. There is yet another advantage more that he
sometimes useth, and that is,

5. Fifthly, _Atheistical debauchery_. When men by long custom in
sinning have arrived to habitual carelessness and presumption, then
they become practical atheists. Their vicious habits work upon their
understandings to obliterate all principles. When men are gone so far,
they are fit engineers for Satan; for while they disbelieve all things,
they can, to serve a design or to head a party, take up any opinion,
and pretend the greatest seriousness in the propagating it, though in
the meantime they secretly laugh at the credulity of the vulgar.

These men let out themselves and all their parts to the devil, and he
knows how to make use of them, to bring on the delusion and deception
of others. Many ages have given examples of such. Those seducers
mentioned in the New Testament were, some of them, of this rank, and
therefore called ‘deceitful workers,’ [2 Cor. xi. 13.] Such as were not
really under those persuasions which they thought to fix upon others,
but upon design, transformed themselves into the apostles of Christ;
such as served not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies, and
yet by good words and fair speeches deceived the hearts of the simple:
Rom. xvi. 18, ‘Who, through covetousness, with feigned words, made
merchandize of men,’ 2 Pet. ii. 3. Balaam was such, and the woman
Jezebel, that called herself a prophetess, Rev. ii. 20. Such was the
Archbishop of Spalato,[234] who for advantage could at pleasure take up
and lay down his religion. Such a one was the false Jew, not so long
since discovered in this place, who being a Romish emissary, pretended
to be a Jew converted; and seeking a pure church, under that vizor,
designing to overthrow, by private insinuations, the faith of the
simple, uncautious admirers![235] By such instruments Satan works where
he hath opportunity.


 _Of Satan’s improving these advantages for error: 1. By deluding the
 understanding directly: which he doth—_(1.) By countenancing
 error from Scripture. Of his cunning therein. (2.) By specious
 pretences of mysteries; and what these are. Of personal flatteries._
 (3.) By affected expressions. Reason of their prevalency._
 (4.) By bold assertions. The reasons of that policy._
 (5.) By the excellency of the persons appearing for it, either
 for gifts or holiness. His method of managing that design. (6.)
 _By pretended inspiration. (7.) By pretended miracles. His
 cunning herein. (8.) By peace and prosperity in ways of error.
 (9.) By lies against truth, and the professors of it._

What are the general advantages which Satan hath to forward his design
of error we have seen. It now remains that we take an account of the
various ways by which he improves those advantages, and those may be
referred to two heads: (1.) They are such stratagems as more directly
work upon the understanding to delude and blind it. Or, (2.) They are
such as indirectly by the power of the will and affections do influence

1. First, Those stratagems that more immediately concern the
understanding are the use of such _arguments, which carry in them a
probability to confirm an error_, though indeed they are but fallacies,
sophisms, or paralogisms, of which the apostle speaks, Col. ii. 4,
‘Lest any beguile you,’—that is, lest they impose upon you by ‘false
reasonings.’ His usual way of proceeding in this case is:

(1.) First, When he hath to do with men that are brought up with
profession and belief of Scripture, he is then careful _to give an
error some countenance or pretence from Scripture_. It is not his
course to decry the Scriptures with such men, but to suppose their
truth and authority, as the most plausible way to his design; for by
this means he doth not only prevent a great many startling objections
which would otherwise rise up against him—seeing men brought up
with Scripture cannot easily be brought to call them false—but with
considerable advantage lie doth thereby authorise and justify his
error, for nothing can give more boldness or confidence to a mistake
than a belief that it is backed with Scripture.

That this is one of his grand stratagems may be sufficiently evinced
from the infinite number of errors that pretend to Scripture warrant.
Those that are above or beyond Scripture, which acknowledge no
dependence upon it, are but few and rare, and indeed among Christians
error cannot well thrive without a pretence of Scripture. Men would
have enough to do to persuade themselves to such errors, but it would
be impossible to make a party or persuade others. Such errors would
presently be hissed out of the world. Upon this account is it that
atheism skulks and conceals itself, except where generally tolerated
profaneness gives it more than ordinary encouragement, which is not to
be ascribed to any shame-faced modesty that atheisms can be supposed
to nourish, but to the general dislike of others, who so stick to the
authority of the Bible that they reject all direct contradictions to
it with great abhorrency. Hence also it is that some erroneous persons
are forced to contradictions in their practice against their professed
principles, because they find it impossible to propagate their errors
without some pretence or other to Scripture. They that would undermine
those sacred records are forced to make use of their authority for
proof of what they would say. The papists have a quarrel at them, and
envy them the title of perfection and perspicuity, upon design to
introduce traditions, and to set up the pope’s judicial authority in
matters of faith; and when they have said all they can to subject the
Scriptures to the pope’s determination, they are forced at last to be
beholden to the Scriptures to prove the pope’s determination. They
would prove the Scriptures by the church, and then the church by the
Scriptures, which is a circle they have been often told of, and of
which some of the wiser sort among themselves are ashamed. Others also
that will not allow the Scriptures to be a general standing rule are
yet forced to make it, in some cases, a rule to themselves, and eagerly
plead it to be so to others. They that pretend to be above ordinances,
and decry outward teachings as unnecessary or hurtful, yet they teach
outwardly, because they see they are not able to enlarge the empire
of error without such teaching. Those very errors that make it their
chief business to render the Scriptures no better than an old almanack,
they yet seek to Scripture to countenance their blasphemous assertions;
and if they get any scrap or shred of it that may by their unjust
torture be wrested to speak any such thing, or anything toward it, they
think all their follies are thereby patronised, 2 Pet. iii. 16; and
commonly such men either fix upon such places as give warning of the
necessary concomitances of the spirit and heart with the outward act
of service; and from hence, separating what God hath joined together,
they set up spiritual sabbaths, spiritual baptism, spiritual worship,
to cry down and cashier the external acts of such ordinances, or they
pretend kindred to Scripture, as prophesying or foretelling those new
administrations which they are about to set up. Let H. Nicholas be an
instance of this, who, though he decried the service of the law under
God the Father, and the service of the belief under Christ, and in
the room of both these would set up another administration under the
Spirit; yet, that he might be the better believed, he applied several
scriptures to his purpose, as prophetically foretelling H. Nicholas and
his services, and would have men imagine that he was that ‘angel flying
in the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel,’ Rev. xiv. 6; and
that prophet inquired after by the Jews: John i. 21, ‘Art thou that
prophet?’ and that ‘man ordained to judge the world,’ Acts xvii. 31;
and that the times of his dispensation were the times of perfection and
glory spoken of in 1 Cor. xiii. 9, and Heb. vi. 1. The like pretences
for new administrations had Saltmarsh and several others.

Satan, fixing his foot upon this design, and taking advantage of men’s
ignorance, curiosity, and pride, &c., it is impossible to tell what
he may do. He hath introduced many heresies already, and none knows
what may be behind. Many passages of Scripture are dark to the wisest
of men, a great many more are so to the common sort of Christians. A
great many wits are employed by him as adventurers for new discoveries,
and a small pretence is ground enough for a bold undertaker to
erect a new notion upon; and a new notion in religion is like a new
fashion in apparel, which bewitcheth the unsteady with an itch to be
in it before they well understand what it is; so that it is alike
impossible to stint the just number of errors, as to adjust the various
pretences from Scripture upon which they may be countenanced. Leaving,
therefore, this task to those that can undertake it, I shall only
note a particular or two of Satan’s cunning in affixing an error upon

[1.] First, In any grand design of error, he endeavours _to lay the
foundation of it as near to truth as he can_; but yet so that, in the
tendency of it, it may go as far from it as may be, as some rivers,
whose first fountains are contiguous, have notwithstanding a direct
contrary course in their streams. For instance, in those errors that
tend to overthrow the doctrine of the gospel concerning Christ and
ordinances—and these are things which the devil hath a great spite
at—he begins his work with plausible pretences of love and admiration
of Christ and grace; he proceeds from thence to the pretence of purer
enjoyments; from thence to a dislike of such preachers and preaching as
threaten sin and speak out the wrath of God against iniquity, and these
are presently called legal preachers, and the doctrine of duty a legal
covenant. Having them once at this point, they easily come to immediate
assistances and special gifts, which they pretend to have above
others. Being thus set up, they are for free grace and the enjoyment
of God in spirit. From thence they come to Christian liberty, and by
degrees duties are unnecessary. There is no Christ but within them;
and being freed from the law, whatever they do is no transgression.
This is a path that Satan hath trodden of old, though now and then he
may vary in some circumstances, and be forced to stop before he come
to the utmost of his journey. You may observe this method in the late
errors of New England,[236] in the Familists of Germany, and in those
of Old England; in all which at the long-run men are led as far from
Scripture as darkness is from light. Now this is not only to be seen
in a progressive multiplication of errors, but often may we perceive
the same subtlety of Satan in a simple error, as when he takes up part
of a truth which should stand in conjunction with another, and sets it
up alone against its own companion, where we shall have the name and
pretence kept up, but the thing quite destroyed. God requires services
of men, and prescribes to their use prayer, hearing, sacraments; but
because in these God is dishonoured when men only draw near with their
lips, he further tell us, ‘that he is not a Jew which is one outwardly,
neither is that circumcision which is of the flesh,’ &c., [Rom. ii.
28.] This part are some men so fixed upon, that they think they are
discharged of the other, and in practice go quite from these duties;
and yet still they profess they are for ordinances and the worship of
God. Just so are some men for Christ, but then it is but the name,
not the thing; they own Christ, they say, but then it is Christ in
them, and Christ come in their flesh, but not that Christ that died at
Jerusalem as a sacrifice for the sins of men.

[2.] Secondly, Satan takes great care that an error be, in all the ways
of its propagation, _clothed with Scripture phrases_; and the less
the error can pretend to any plausible ground of Scripture, the more
doth he endeavour to adorn it with Scripture language: I understand
this chiefly of such errors as are designed for the multitude: so that
though Scripture be not used to prove the error, yet are deceivers
taught to express their conceptions by it, and to accommodate the
words and sentences of it to their purposes; for besides pride and
confidence, scriptural eloquence is a necessary ingredient to make a
powerful deluder. Observe the ringleaders of errors, and you shall find
that ordinarily such have at first been studious of the Scriptures;
and though never able to digest them, yet when they turned their ears
from truth, they have carried their Scripture language, which they had
before brought themselves unto by long custom, away with them, and
still retain it, and express their opinions by it.

Now this is a great advantage to Satan. For, _first_, By this means
_the ignorant multitude are often caught without any more ado_. If
they hear Scripture expressions, they are apt to think that all is
truth which is spoken by them; and they the rather believe it, because
they will imagine such teachers to be well versed in Scripture, and
consequently either so honest or so knowing that they neither can
nor will delude them. _Secondly_, There is a majesty in Scripture
which, in some sense, _doth stick to the very expressions of it_. Men
may perceive that generally hearers are more affected with Scripture
eloquence than with play-book language. It hath, as it were, a charm
in the words, which makes the ear attentive more than a quaint
discourse, starched up in the dress of common rhetoric. One gives us
an observation to that purpose of his own preaching,[237] and so may
many others. While, then, men hear such language, they have a reverence
to it. And as physicians cover their pills with gold that the patient
might more willingly take them, so do men often swallow down error
without due consideration, because conveyed to them in a language which
they respect.

(2.) Secondly, Satan’s second care for the advancement of error, after
he hath given it all the countenance he can from Scripture, is to gild
it over with _specious pretences_. He sets it off with all the bravery
he can, and then urgeth that as an argument of its truth. Men are apt
to judge that what doth better their spiritual condition cannot be a
lie or delusion; and the argument were the more considerable, if the
advantages were such as he pretends them to be; but the very noise
and boast of advantages please the unwary, without a due inquiry into
their reality. The apostle, in Rom. xvi. 18, reduceth all this policy
of the deceiver to two heads: (1.) Good words, χρηστολογίας—words that
set out the profit and advantage of the thing; (2.) And fair speeches,
εὐλογίας—speeches that flatter the condition of the party. His art,
as to the first of these, is to tell them that the notions offered to
them are special discoveries, rare mysteries, which have been hidden
from others; and thence infers, that it must of necessity conduce much
to their happiness and spiritual perfection to know and embrace them.
Those that troubled the church in Paul’s days with false doctrines,
used this sleight of boasting, as appears by that expression in 1 Tim.
vi. 20, ‘oppositions of science.’ It seems they called their opinions,
though they were but profane and vain babblings, by the name of
‘science’ or ‘knowledge,’ implying that all others, even the apostles
themselves, were in the dark, and came short of their illumination.
The like we have in Rev. ii. 24 of that abominable prophetess Jezebel,
who recommended her blasphemous, filthy doctrines under the name of
‘depths,’ profundities or hidden knowledge, though the Spirit of
God told that church they were not such; but if depths, they were
‘depths of Satan’—as it is added there by way of correction—and not
of the Spirit of God. We may trace these footsteps of Satan in all
considerably prevailing errors; for what hath been more common than
to hear men speak of the designs they have been carrying on under the
specious titles of Christ’s coming to set up a righteous kingdom, the
church’s coming out of Babylon and out of the wilderness, the dawning
of the day of the Lord, the day of reformation, ‘the time of the
restitution of all things,’ with abundance of brags of the same kind? I
shall add no particular instance of this nature, but a few strains of
H. Nicholas, with whom such high promising vaunts were ordinary. His
service of love he compares to the ‘most holy;’ whereas John’s doctrine
of repentance was but a preparation to the holy, and the service
of Christ he allowed to be no more than as the holy of the temple.
This his service he calls ‘the perfection of life, the completion of
prophecies, the perfect conclusion of the works of God, the throne of
Christ, the true rest of the chosen of God, the last day, the sure word
of prophecy, the new Jerusalem,’ and what not.

If we make further inquiry into the nature of these fair promising
mysteries, we shall find that Satan most frequently pitcheth upon these

[1.] _First_, He befools men into a belief that the Scriptures do,
under the veil of their words and sentences, contain _some hidden
notions_ that are of purpose so disguised that they may be locked up
from the generality of men, at least from learned and wise men; and
that these rarities cannot be discerned from the usual significations
of the words and phrases, as we understand other books of the same
language, but they fancy these sacred writings to be like the writings
of the Egyptians,[238] by which they absconded[239] their mysteries,
especially like that kind of writing, whereby under words of common
known sense they intended things which the words themselves could
not signify; and that which occasions this imagination is this, that
we read frequently of ‘mysteries’ in [the] Scriptures, and ‘hidden
wisdom,’ and the ‘special revelation’ of them to God’s children, which
are very great truths, but yet not to be so understood as this delusion
supposeth; for these expressions in Scripture intend no more than this,
that the design of God to save man by Christ is in itself a ‘mystery,’
which never would have been found out without a special revelation; and
that though this ‘mystery’ is now revealed by the gospel, yet as to the
application of it to the hearts of men in conversion by the operation
of the Spirit, it is yet a ‘mystery.’ But none of these intend any
such suggestion, that there are private notions of truth or doctrine
that are lying under ground, as it were, in Scripture words, which the
words in the common language will not acquaint us withal; nay, the
contrary is expressly affirmed when we are told that all is plainly
laid open to the very simple, so that from the Scriptures they may as
well understand the fundamental principles of religion, as they may
understand any other thing which their language doth express to them.
However, in this Satan takes advantage of men’s pride and curiosity to
make them forward in the acceptation of such offers, especially when
such things are represented as the only saving discoveries, which a man
cannot be ignorant of but with hazard of damnation.

[2.] _Secondly_, In this boast of mystery, Satan sometimes takes
another course somewhat differing from the former, and that is to
put men upon _allegorical reflections and allusions_, by which the
historical passages of Scripture are made, besides the import of
the history, resemblances of spiritual truths, which supposeth the
letter of Scripture to be true, but still as no better than the first
rudiments to train up beginners withal, yet withal that the spiritual
meaning of it raiseth the skilful to a higher form in Christ’s school.
At this rate all are turned into allegories. If they fall upon the
first of Genesis, they think they then truly understand it when they
apply the light and darkness, and God’s separating of them, with such
other passages, to the regeneration of the soul. The like work make
they with the sufferings of Christ. But then the crafty adversary at
last enticeth them on to let go the history, as if it were nothing
but a parable, not really acted, but only fitted to represent notions
to us. Allegories were a trap which the devil had for the Jews, and
wherein they wonderfully pleased themselves. How much Origen abused
himself and the Scriptures by this humour is known to many; and how the
devil hath prevailed generally by it upon giddy people in later times I
need not tell you.

The pretence that Satan hath for this dealing is raised from some
passages of the New Testament, wherein many things of the Old Testament
are said to have had a mystical signification of things expressed or
transacted then, and some things are expressly called allegories. Hence
papists determine the Scripture to have, besides the grammatical sense,
which all of us do own, and besides the tropological sense, which is
not diverse or distinct from the grammatical, as when from histories
we deduce instructions of holy and sober carriage, an allegorical and
analogical sense; in which dealing men consider not that the Spirit of
God his interpreting a passage or two allegorically, will never justify
any man’s boldness in presuming to do the like to any other passage of
Scripture; and beside, when any hath tried his skill that way, another
may with equal probability carry the same scripture to a different
interpretation, and by this means the Scripture shall not only become
obscure, but altogether uncertain and doubtful, and unable to prove
anything; so that this doth extremely dishonour Scripture, by making it
little less than ridiculous. Porphyry and Julian made themselves sport
with it upon the occasion of Origen’s allegorizing; and no wonder,
seeing that humour, as one calls it,[240] is no better than a learned
foolery. Notwithstanding this, men are sometime transported with a
strange delight in turning all into allegories, and picking mysteries
out of some by-passages and circumstances of Scripture where one would
least expect them; which I can ascribe to no second cause more than to
the working and power of fancy, which, as it can frame ideas and images
of things out of that that affords no real likeness or proportion, as
men that create to themselves similitudes and pictures in the clouds or
in the fire, so doth it please itself in its own work; and with a kind
of natural affection it doth kiss and hug its own baby. It hath been my
wonder sometimes to see how fond men have been of their own fancies,
and how extremely they have doted upon a very bauble. I might note you
examples of this, even to nauseousness, in all studies, as well as
in this of religion. Those that affect the sublimities of chemistry
do usually by a strange boldness stretch all the sacred mysteries of
Scripture, as of the Trinity, of regeneration, &c., to represent their
secrets and processes, as may be seen sufficiently in their writings.
One of them I cannot forbear to name, and that is Glauber, who doth so
please himself with some idle whims about _sal_ and _sol_, that at last
he falls in with Bernardinus Gomesius, whom he cites and approves, who
in this one word, ἃλς, which signifies _salt_, finds the Trinity, the
generation of the Son, the two natures of Christ, the calling of the
Jews and Gentiles, the procession of the Spirit, and the communications
of the Spirit in the law and gospel; and all this he gathers from the
shapes, strokes, and positions of these three letters—a very subtle
invention.[241] Not unlike to this were some of the dotages of the
Jewish Cabala, which they gathered from the different writing of
some letters in the sacred text, from the transposing of them, and
from their mystical arithmetic. R. Ellis from the letter _aleph_,
mentioned six times in Gen. i. 1, collected his notion of the world’s
continuance for six thousand years, because that letter א stands for a
thousand in the Hebrew computation. Another Rabbi, mentioned by Lud.
Cappellus,[242] hath a profound speculation concerning the first letter
of Genesis, which, as he saith, doth therefore begin with _beth_, and
not with _aleph_, to shew the unexceptionable verity of God’s word,
against which no mouth can justly open itself; and this he gathers from
the manner of the pronunciation of that letter ב, which is performed by
the closure of the lips. It were not possible to imagine that wise men
should be thus carried away with childish follies, if there were not
some kind of enchantment in fancy, which makes the hit of a conceit,
though never so silly, intoxicate them into an apprehension of a rare
discovery. And doubtless this is the very thing that doth so transport
the allegorizers and inventors of mysteries, that they are ravished
either with the discovery of a new nothing or with the rare invention
of an enigmatical interpretation.

[3.] Thirdly, The devil hath yet another way of coining mysteries, and
that is a pretence of _a more full discovery of notions and ways_;
which, as he tells those that are willing to believe him, are but
glanced at in the Scripture; and this doth not only contain his boast
of unfolding prophecies, and the dangerous applications of them to
times and places that are no way concerned—which hath more than once
put men upon dangerous undertakings,—but also his large promise of
teaching the way of the Lord more perfectly, and of leading men into a
full comprehension of those tremendous mysteries, wherein the Scripture
hath as industriously concealed the reasons, way, and manner of their
being, as it hath fully asserted that they are: such are the decrees of
God, the Trinity, &c.; as also of unfolding and teaching at large those
things that the Scripture seems only to hint at. In all which points
we have instances enough at hand which will shew us how the devil hath
played his game, either by making men bold in things not revealed,
or by drawing men to dislike solid truths, and by puffing them up
with notions, till at last they were prepared for the impression of
some grand delusion. All this while I have only explained the first
head of Satan’s specious pretences, which consists in the promise of
discoveries and mysteries—χρηστολογίαι, good words.

The next head of pretences are those that relate to the _persons_
enamoured with these supposed mysteries—εὐλογίαι, fair speeches. With
these he strokes their heads, and causeth them to hug themselves in
a dream of an imaginary happiness. For if they have the knowledge of
mysteries which are locked up from other men, they cannot avoid this
conclusion, that they are the only favourites of heaven, that they
only have the Spirit, are only taught of God, &c. Such swelling words
of vanity have ever accompanied delusion. And indeed we shall find
the confidence of such men more strong, and their false embracements
more rapturous, than ordinarily the ways of truth do afford, upon
this account, that in such cases fancy is elevated, and the delights
of a raised fancy are excessive and enthusiastical. It is a kind of
spiritual frenzy, which extends all the faculties to an extraordinary
activity, the devil doing all he can to further it by his utmost
contributions. Joy, delight, hope, love, are all raised to make a
hubbub in the heart; whereas, on the contrary, truth is modest,
humble, sober, and affords a more silent joy, though more even and

Here might I set error before you in its rant, and give you a taste
of the high-flown strains of it. Montanus, as vile as he was, had
the confidence to call himself ‘the comforter.’ Novatus and his
brother would be no less than Moses and Aaron. The Gnostics called
themselves the _Illuminati_. The Swinkfieldians assumed the title of
the Confessors of the glory of Christ. The Family of Love had their
_Evangelium regni_, the gospel of the kingdom. The _Fratricelli_
distinguished themselves from others by the term spiritual. Muntser
asserted, that all of his opinion were God’s elect, and that all the
children of their religion were to be called the children of God, and
that all others were ungodly and designed to damnation. H. Nicholas
affirms, that there was no knowledge of Christ nor Scripture, but in
his family. To this purpose most of them speak that forsake the ways of
truth; and though these swellings are but wind and vapour, yet those
heights are very serviceable to the devil’s purposes: who by this means
confirms those whom he hath already conquered, and then fits them out
with the greater confidence to allure others; and men are apt enough to
be drawn by fair shows and confident boastings. But I proceed.

(3.) The third stratagem of Satan for promoting error, is to
_astonish men with strange language and affected expressions_. It
was an old device of Satan to coin an unintelligible gibberish as
the proper vehicle of strange enthusiastics’ doctrine, and this he
artificially suits to his pretended mysteries. Without this, his
rare discoveries would be too flat and dull to gain upon any man of
competent understanding. For if these dotages were clothed in plain
words, they would either appear to be direct nonsense, or ridiculous
folly. It concerns him when he hath any feats of delusion in hand, to
set them off with a canting speech, as jugglers use their hard words
of _Ailif_, _casyl_, _zaze_, _presto_, _millat_, &c., to put their
ignorant admirers into a belief of some unknown power by which they
do their wonders. And this is in some sort necessary. Extraordinary
matters are above expression, and such wild expressions put men into
an expectation of things sublime. This knack Satan hath constantly
used. Montanus had his strange speeches; and all along, downward to
our times, we may observe that error hath had this gaudy dress. The
Familists especially abound with it. You may read whole books full of
such a kind of speaking, as the book called _Theologia Germanica_, or
German divinity,[243] the books of Jacob Behmen, ‘The Bright Morning
Star,’ &c. Neither are the papists free; one of late hath taken the
pains to shew them this and other follies.[244] Among them you may
find such talk as this: of being ‘beclosed in the midhead of God,
and in his meek-head; of being substantially united to God, of being
one’d to God; as also of the abstractedness of life, of passive
unions, of the deiform fund of the soul; of a state of introversion;
of a super-essential life, a state of nothingness,’ &c. Just like the
ravings of H. Nicholas, David George, and others, who confidently
discourse of being ‘godded with God,’ of being ‘consubstantiated with
the Deity,’ and of God’s ‘being manned with them.’

I have oft considered what reason might be given for the takingness of
such expressions, and have been forced to satisfy myself with these:
_First_, Many mistake the knowledge of words for the knowledge of
things. And well may poor ignorant men believe they have attained, no
man knows what, by this device; when among learned men the knowledge
of words is esteemed so great a pitch of learning, and they nourish a
great many controversies that are only verbal. _Secondly_, Some are
pleased to be accounted understanders by others, and rest in such high
words as a badge of knowledge. _Thirdly_, Some are delighted with such
a hard language upon a hope that it will lead them to the knowledge of
the things at last; they think strange expressions are a sign of deep
mysteries. I knew one that set himself to the reading of Jacob Behmen’s
books, though at present he confessed he was scarce able to make
common sense of three lines together, upon a secret enticement that
he had from the language, to come to some excellent discovery by much
pains and reading. _Fourthly_, Some that have their fancies heated,
have by this means broken, confused impressions of strange things in
their imaginations, and conceive themselves to know things beyond what
common language can express: as if with Paul, rapt up into the third
heaven, ‘they hear and see wonders unutterable.’ But what reason soever
prevails with men to take up such a way of speaking, Satan makes them
believe that it contains a rich mine or treasury, not of common truths,
but of extraordinary profundities.[245]

(4.) Fourthly, Instead of argument to confirm an error, sometimes we
have only _bold assertions that it is truth, and a confident condemning
the contrary as an error_, urging the danger of men’s rejecting it,
backed with threatening of hell and damnation; and all this in the
Words of Scripture. To be sure, they are right, and all other men
are wrong. This kind of confidence and fierceness hath been still
the complexion of any remarkable way of delusion; for that commonly
confines their charity to their own party, which is a great token of an
error. Not only may you observe in such extraordinary proclamations of
wrath against those that will not believe them: a practice used by the
mad fanatics of Munster, who, as our Quakers were wont to do, go up and
down the streets, crying, ‘Wo, wo; repent, repent; come out of Babylon;
the heavy wrath of God; the axe is laid to the root of the tree;’ but
in their more settled teaching they pronounce all to be antichrist, and
of the carnal church, that do oppose them. Take for this H. Nicholas
his words: ‘all knowledge’ besides his, ‘is but witchery and blindness,
and all other teachers and learners are a false Christianity, and
the devil’s synagogue; a nest of devils and wicked spirits; a false
being, the antichrist, the kingdom of hell, the majesty of the devil,’
&c. This piece of art, not only our Quakers, to whom nothing is more
familiar than to say to any opposer, ‘Thou art damned, thou art in
the gall of bitterness, the lake of fire and brimstone is prepared for
thee,’ &c., but also the papists commonly practise, who shut all out
of heaven that are not of their church; and when they would affright
any from protestantism, they make not nice to tell him that there is no
possibility of salvation but in their way.

The reasons of this policy are these: (1.) The heart is apt to be
startled with threatenings, and moved by commands; especially those
that are of a more tender and frightful spirit; and though they know
nothing by themselves, yet these beget fears which may secretly betray
reason, and make men leave the right way because of affrightment.
(2.) The confidence of the assertors of such things hath also its
prevalency; for men are apt to think that they would not speak so if
they were not very certain, and had not real experience of what they
said, and thus are men threaped[246] out of their own persuasions. (3.)
The native majesty of Scripture, in a business of so great hazard,
adds an unexpressible force to such threatenings; and though, being
misapplied, they are no more Scripture threatenings, yet, because God
hath spoken his displeasure in those words, men are apt to revere
them—as men cannot avoid to fear a serpent or toad, though they know
the sting and poison were taken out, because nature did furnish them
with a sting or venom.

(5.) Fifthly, It is a usual trick of Satan to _derive a credit and
honour to error, from the excellencies, supposed or real, of the
persons that more eminently appear for it_. So that it fetcheth no
small strength from the qualities of those that propagate it. The
vulgar, that do not usually dive deep into the natures of things,
content themselves with the most superficial arguments, and are sooner
won to a good conceit of any opinion by the respects they carry to the
author, than by the strongest demonstration.

The excellencies that usually move them are either their gifts or
their holiness. If the seedsman of an error be learned, or eloquent
and affectionate in his speaking, men are apt to subscribe to anything
he shall say, from a blind devotional[247] admiration of the parts
wherewith he is endowed. And often, where there is no learning, or
where learning is decried, as savouring too much of man, if there be
natural fluency of speech, with a sufficient measure of confidence,
it raiseth them so much the higher in the esteem of the common sort,
who therefore judge him to be immediately taught of God, and divinely
furnished with gifts. At this point began the divisions of the church
of Corinth. They had several officers severally gifted; some were
taken with one man’s gift, others with another man’s; some are for
Paul, as being profound and nervous in his discourses; others for
Apollos, as eloquent; a third sort were for Cephas, as, suppose,
an affectionate preacher. Thus upon personal respects were they
divided into parties: and if these several teachers were of different
opinions, their adherents embraced them upon an affectionate conceit
of their excellencies. And generally Satan hath wrought much by such
considerations as these. This he urgeth against Christ himself, when
he set up the wisdom and learning of the rulers and pharisees, as an
argument of truth in their way of rejecting such a Messias: John vii.
48, ‘Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees believed on him?’
There is no insinuation more frequent than this: these are learned,
excellent, able men, and therefore what they say or teach is not to be
disbelieved; and though this be but _argumentum stultum_, a foolish
argument, yet some that would be accounted wise do make very great use
of it. The crack[248] ‘of learned doctors among the papists’ is one
topic of persuasion to popery, and so to other errors, as appears by
this, that all errors abound with large declamations of the praises of
their founders and teachers: and the most illiterate errors usually
magnify the excellent inspirements and gifts of utterance of their

But the other excellency of holiness in the teachers of error is more
generally and more advantageously improved by Satan, to persuade men
that all is true doctrine which such men profess. Of this delusion
Christ forewarned us, ‘They shall come in sheep’s clothing—that is,
under the mask of seeming holiness, at least at first; notwithstanding,
‘beware of them,’ Mat. vii. 15. Those complained of by Paul, 2 Cor.
xi. 15, though they were Satan’s ministers, yet that they and their
doctrine might be more plausibly entertained, they were ‘transformed as
the ministers of righteousness.’ This cunning we may espy in heretics
of all ages. The Scribes and Pharisees used a pretence of sanctity as
a main piece of art to draw others to their way. Their alms, fastings,
long prayers, strict observations, &c., were all designed as a net to
catch the multitude withal. The lying doctrines of Antichrist were
foretold by Paul, to have their success from this stratagem; all that
idolatry and heathenism which he is to introduce must be, and hath
been, through the hypocrisy of a painted holiness, 1 Tim. iv. 2; and
where he intends most to play the dragon, Rev. xiii. 11, he there
most artificially counterfeits the innocency and simplicity of the
lamb. Arch-heretics have been arch-pretenders to sanctity, and such
pretences have great influence upon men; for holiness and truth are
so near of kin, that they will not readily believe that it can be a
false doctrine which a holy man teacheth. They think that God that hath
given a teacher holiness will not deny him truth. Nay, this is an easy
and plausible measure which they have for truth and error. To inquire
into the intricacies and depths of a disputation is too burdensome
and difficult for ordinary men, and therefore they satisfy themselves
with this consideration, which hath little toil in it, and as little
certainty: that surely God will not leave holy men to a delusion. It
would be endless to give all the instances that are at hand in this
matter. I shall only add a few things of Satan’s method in managing
this argument, as,

[1.] First, When he hath a design of common or prevailing delusion, he
mainly endeavours _to corrupt some person of a more strict, serious,
and religious carriage, to be the captain and ringleader_; such men
were Pelagius, Arius, Socinus, &c. He mainly endeavours to have fit
instruments. If he be upon that design of blemishing religion, and to
bring truth into a disesteem, then, as one observes,[249] he persuades
such into the ministry as he foresees are likely to be idle, careless,
profane, and scandalous; or doth endeavour to promote such ministers
into more conspicuous places, and provokes them to miscarriage, that so
their example may be an objection against truth, while in the meantime
he is willing that the opposers of truth should continue their smooth
carriage; and then he puts a two-edged sword into the hands of the
unstable: Can that be truth where there is so much wickedness? and can
this be error where there is so much holiness?

[2.] Secondly, In prosecution of this design he usually puts men upon
some more than _ordinary strictness, that the pretence of holiness
may be the more augmented_. In this case a course of ordinary
sanctity is not enough, they must be above the common practice; some
singular additions of severity and exactness above what is written,
are commonly affected to make them the more remarkable. Christ notes
this in the Pharisees, concerning all their devotions, and the ways
of expressing them; their phylacteries spoken of, Mat. xxiii. 5, as
some think,[250] were not intended by that text of Deut. vi. 8, but
only that they should remember the law, and endeavour not to forget
it, as they do that tie a thread or such like thing about their finger
for a remembrancer; according to Prov. iii. 3, ‘Bind them about thy
neck, write them upon the table of thine heart.’ However, if they were
literally enjoined, they would have them, as Christ tells them, broader
than others, as an evidence of their greater care. The _Cathari_
boasted of sanctity and good works, and rejected second marriages; the
_Apostolici_ were so called from a pretended stricter imitation of the
singular holiness of the apostles. The _Valesians_ made themselves
eunuchs, according to the letter, ‘for the kingdom of God.’ The
_Donatists_ accounted that no true church where any spot or infirmity
was found. The _Messalians_, or _Euchytæ_, were for constant praying,
the _Nudipedales_ for going barefoot, &c. The papists urge canonical
hours, whippings, penances, pilgrimages, voluntary poverty, abstinence
from meats and marriage in their priests and votaries. In a word, all
noted sects have something of special singularity, whereby they would
difference themselves from others, as a peculiar character of their
greater strictness; and for want of better stuff they sometimes take up
affected gestures, devotional looks, and outward garbs; all which have
this note, that what they most stand upon, God hath least, or not at
all, required at their hands—their voluntary humility, or neglecting of
the body being but will-worship, and a self-devised piece of religion.

[3.] Thirdly, When once men are set in the way of exercising
severities, Satan endeavours, by working upon their fancies, to _press
them on further to a delight and satisfaction in these_[251] ways of
strictness, so that the practisers themselves are not only confirmed
in these usages, and the opinions that are concomitant with them, but
others are the more easily drawn to like and profess the same things.
Any serious temper, under any profession of religion, easily comes to
be devout, and readily complies with opportunities of evincing its
devotion by strictness. And therefore we shall find among heathens a
great devotional severity, and such as far exceeds all of that kind
which the papists do usually brag of. The Magi abstained from wine, ate
not the flesh of living creatures, and professed virginity. The Indian
Brachmans did the like, and besides used themselves to incredible
hardship; they laid upon skins, sustained the violence of the sun and
storms, and exercised themselves therewith; some spending thirty-seven
years in this course, others more. We read strange things of this
nature concerning the Egyptian priests, and others. The Mohammedans
are not without their religious orders, which pretend a more holy and
austere life than others; and though of some, as of the _torlachs_
and _dervizes_, several private villainies are reported, yet of
others, as of the order of _calender_, we are assured from history
that they profess virginity, and expose themselves to hardship, and
a stricter devotion in their way; and generally it is said of all
of them, that they go meanly clad, or half naked; some abstinent in
eating and drinking, professing poverty, renouncing the world. Some can
endure cutting and slashing, as if they were insensible; some profess
perpetual silence, though urged with injuries and tortures; others have
chains about their necks and arms, to shew that they are bound up from
the world, &c. If such things may be found among heathens, no wonder
that error boasts of them, for in both there is the same reason of
men’s pleasing themselves in such hardships, which is from a natural
devotion, assisted by Satan’s cunning, and the same design driven on by
it; for the devil doth confirm heathens and Mohammedans in their false
worship by the reverence and respect they carry to such practices.

[4.] Fourthly, Because religious holiness hath a beauty in it, and
is very lovely, he doth all he can _to affect men with the highest
reverence for these pretences of religious strictness_; so that they
that will not be at pains to practise them, can bestow an excessive
respect and admiration upon those that are grown famous in the use of
such things; and by that means being almost adored, they are without
doubt persuaded that all they teach or do is right, and in a doting
fondness they multiply superstitious errors. Idolatry is supposed to
have a great part of its rise from this. While men endeavoured to
express their thankful and admiring remembrances of some excellent
persons by setting up their pictures, their posterity began to worship
them as gods. Pilgrimages were first set on foot by the respects that
men gave to places that were made famous by persons and actions of
more than ordinary holiness;[252] and because the devil found men so
very apt to please themselves in paying such devotional reverences, he
wrought upon their superstitious humour to multiply to themselves the
occasions thereof, and by fabulous traditions sent them to places no
otherwise made memorable than by dreams and impostures. Much of this
you might see if you would accompany a caravan from Cairo to Mecca and
Medina, where you would see the zealous pilgrims, with a great many
orisons and prayers, compassing Abraham’s house, kissing a stone which,
they are told, fell from heaven; blessing themselves with a relic of
the old vesture of Abraham’s house, washing themselves in the pond,
which, as their tradition goes, the angel shewed to Hagar; saluting
the mountain of pardon, throwing stones in defiance of the devil, as
their legend tells them Ishmael did; their prayers on the mountain of
health, their visit to the prophet’s tomb at Medina, &c.[253] The like
might you observe among the papists, in their pilgrimages to Jerusalem
and the sepulchre, to the Lady of Loretto’s chapel, and other places.
By such devices as these the unobservant people are transported with
a pleasure, insomuch that they not only persuade themselves they are
very devout in these reverences, but they also become unalterably fixed
to these errors that do support these delightful practices, or as
consequences do issue from them.

(6.) Sixthly, A more plausible argument for error than the learning
and holiness of the persons that profess it, is that of _inspiration_,
in which the devil soars aloft and pretends the highest divine warrant
for his falsehoods; for ‘God is truth,’ and ‘we know that no lie is of
the truth.’ Now to make men believe that God by his Holy Spirit doth
in any manner dictate such opinions, or certainly reveal such things
for truths, is one of the highest artifices that he can pretend to, and
such a confirmation must it be to those that are so persuaded, that all
disputes and doubtings must necessarily be silenced.

That the devil can thus ‘transform himself into an angel of light,’
we are assured from Scripture, which hath particularly cautioned us
against this cheat. The apostasy of the later times, 1 Tim. iv. 1,
the apostle foretells should be carried on by the prevalency of this
pretence: ‘Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits.’ That by ‘spirits’ there, doctrines are intended rather than
doctors, is Mr Mede’s interpretation;[254] but it will come all to
one if we consider that the word ‘spirit’ carries more in it than
either doctrine or doctor; for to call either the one or the other
‘a spirit’ would be intolerably harsh, if it were not for this, that
that ‘doctor’ is hereby supposed to pretend an infallibility from the
Spirit of God, or, which is all one, that he received his doctrine by
some immediate revelation of the Spirit; so that by ‘seducing spirits’
must be men or doctrines that seduce others to believe them, by the
pretence of the Spirit or inspiration; and that text of 1 John iv. 1
doth thus explain it: ‘Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits
whether they are of God,’ which is as much as if he had said, Believe
not every man or doctrine that shall pretend he is sent of God and
hath his Spirit; and the reason there given makes it yet more plain,
because many ‘false prophets are gone out into the world;’ so that
these ‘spirits’ are ‘false prophets,’ men that pretend inspiration. And
the warning, ‘Believe not every spirit,’ tells us that Satan doth with
such a dexterity counterfeit the Spirit’s inspirations, that holy and
good men are in no small hazard to be deceived thereby. Most full to
this purpose is that of 2 Thes. ii. 2, ‘That ye be not soon shaken in
mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as
from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand;’ where the several means
of seduction are particularly reckoned as distinct from the doctrine
and doctors, and by ‘spirit’ can be meant no other than a pretence of
inspiration or revelation.[255]

It is evident then that Satan by this artifice useth to put a stamp
of divine warrant upon his adulterate coin; and if we look into his
practice, we shall in all ages find him at this work. Among heathens he
frequently gained a repute to his superstitious idolatrous worship by
this device. The men of greatest note among them feigned a spiritual
commerce with the gods. Empedocles endeavoured to make the people
believe that there was a kind of divinity in him, and affecting to be
esteemed more than a man, cast himself into the burnings of Mongebel,
that they might suppose him to have been taken up to the gods.[256]
Pythagoras his fiction of a journey to hell was upon the same account.
Philostratus and Cedrenus report no less of Apollonius, than that he
had familiar converses with their supposed deities; and the like did
they believe of their magi and priests; insomuch that some cunning
politicians, observing how the vulgar were under a deep reverence to
such pretences, gave it out that they had received their laws by divine
inspirations. Numa Pompilius feigned he received his institutions from
the nymph Ægeria, Lycurgus from Apollo; Minos the lawgiver of Candia
boasted that Jupiter was his familiar. Mohammed also speaks as high
this way as any; his Alcoran must be no less than a law received from
God, and to that end he pretends a strange journey to heaven, and
frequent converse with the angel Gabriel.

If we trace Satan in the errors which he hath raised up under the
profession of the Scriptures, we may observe the same method. The
Valentinians, Gnostics, Montanists talked as confidently of the Spirit
as Moses or the prophets could do, and a great deal more; for some
of them blasphemously called themselves the Paraclete or Comforter.
Among the monsters which later ages produced, we still find the same
strain: one saith he is Enoch, another styles himself the ‘great
prophet,’ another hath raptures, and all immediately inspired. The
papists have as much of this cheat among them as any other; and some
of their learned defenders avouch their _lumen propheticum_, and
_miraculorum gloria_, prophesies and miracles, to be the two eyes, or
the sun and moon of their church; nay, by a strange transportment of
folly, to the forfeiture of the reputation of learning and reason, they
have so multiplied revelations that we have whole volumes of them,
as the revelations of their St Bridget and others; and by wonderful
credulity they have not only advanced apparent dreams and dotages to
the honour of inspirations or visions, but upon this sandy foundation
they have built a great many of their doctrines, as purgatory,
transubstantiation, auricular confession, &c. By such warrants have
they instituted festivals and founded several orders. The particulars
of these things you may see more at large in Dr Stillingfleet and
others. And that there might be nothing wanting that might make them
shamelessly impudent, they are not content to equal their fooleries
with the Scriptures of God, as that the rule of their St. Francis—for
I shall only instance in him, omitting others for brevity sake—was not
composed by the wisdom of man, but by God himself, and inspired by the
Holy Ghost, but they advance their prophets above the apostles, and
above Christ himself. Their St Benedict, if you will believe them, was
rapt up to the third heavens, where he saw God face to face, and heard
the choir of angels; and their St. Francis was a nonsuch for miracles
and revelations. Neither may we wonder that Satan should be forward in
urging this cheat, when we consider,

[1.] First, _What a reverence men naturally carry to revelations,
and how apt they are to be surprised with a hasty credulity_. An old
prophecy, pretended to be found in a wall, or taken out of an old
manuscript, of I know not what uncertain author, is usually more doted
on than the plain and infallible rules of Scripture. This we may
observe daily; and foreigners do much blame the English for a facile
belief of such things; but it is a general fault of mankind, and we
find even wise men forward in their persuasions upon meaner grounds
than those that gain credit to old prophecies. For their antiquity and
strangeness of discovery, especially at such times wherein the present
posture of affairs seem to favour such predictions with a probability
of such events, are more likely to get credit than these artificial
imitations of the ways and garbs of the old prophets, and the cunning
legerdemain of those that pretend to inspirations by seeming ecstasies,
raptures, and confident declarations, &c.; nevertheless arrant cheats
have by these ways deceived no mean men. Alvarus acknowledgeth that he
honoured a woman as a saint that had visions and raptures as if really
inspired—and the same apprehensions had the bishop and friars—who was
afterward discovered to be a naughty woman.[257] Who shall then think
it strange that the unobservant multitude should be deluded by such an

[2.] Secondly, Especially if we consider that _God himself took
this course to signify his mind to men_. His prophets were divinely
inspired, and the Scriptures were not of ‘any private interpretation,’
ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως. The words that the penmen of Scriptures wrote were not
the interpretations of their own private thoughts, ‘for the prophecy
came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as
they were moved by the Holy Ghost,’ 2 Pet. i. 20, 21. Now though the
prophecies of Scripture are sealed, and no more is to be added to them
upon any pretence whatsoever, yet seeing there are promises left us of
the ‘giving of the Spirit,’ of ‘being taught and led by the Spirit,’
it is an easy matter for Satan to beguile men into an expectation of
prophetic inspirations, and a belief of what is pretended so to be; for
all men do not or will not understand that these promises of the Spirit
have no intendment of new and extraordinary immediate revelations,
but only of the efficacious applications of what is already revealed
in Scripture. This kind of revelation we acknowledge and teach, which
is far enough from enthusiasm, that is, a pretended revelation of new
truths, and we have reason to assert that internal persuasions without
the external word are to be avoided as Satan’s cozenages.[258] But
for all this, when men’s minds are set agadding, if they meet with
such as magnify their own dreams, and call their fancies visions,
the suitableness of this to their humour makes them to reject our
interpretations of these promises as false, and to persuade themselves
that they are to be understood of such inspirations as the prophets of
old had; and then they presently conclude they are to believe them,
lest otherwise they should resist the Holy Ghost.

[3.] Thirdly, But _the advantage which the devil hath to work delusion
upon by this pretence is a high motive to him to practise upon it_. For
inspirations, visions, voices, impulses, dreams, and revelations are
things wherein wicked impostors may by many ways and artifices play
the counterfeits undiscovered. It is easy to prophesy false dreams,
and to say, thus saith the Lord, when yet they do but lie, and the
Lord never sent them nor commanded them, Jer. xxiii. 31; nay, it is
easy, by tricks and illusions, to put that honour and credit upon their
designs which they could not by their bare assertions, backed with
all their art of seeming seriousness. The inventions of men that have
been formerly successful in this deceit being now laid open to our
knowledge, may make us more wary in our trust. Among the heathens you
may find notable ways of deceits of this nature. The story of Hanno
and Psappho is commonly known; they tamed birds and learned them to
speak, ‘Hanno and Psappho are gods,’ and then set them at liberty, that
men hearing such strange voices in the woods from birds, might imagine
that these men were declared gods by special discovery. Mohammed’s
device of making a dove to come frequently to his ear, which he did by
training her up to a use of picking corn out of it, served him for an
evidence among the vulgar beholders, who knew not the true cause of
it, of his immediate inspiration by the angel Gabriel, who, as he told
them, whispered in his ear in the shape of a dove. The like knavery he
practised for the confirmation of the truth of his Alcoran, by making
a bull, taught before to come at a call or sign, to come to him with a
chapiter upon his horns. Hector Boetius tells us of a like stratagem
of a king of Scots, who, to animate his fainting subjects against
the Picts that had beaten them, caused a man clothed in the shining
skins of fishes, and with rotten wood, which, as a glow-worm in the
night, represents a faint light, to come among them in the dark, and
through a reed or hollow trunk, that the voice might not appear to be
human, to incite them to a vigorous onset: this they took to be an
angel bringing them this command from heaven, and accordingly fought
and prevailed. Crafty Benedict, who was afterward pope under the name
of Boniface VIII., made simple Celestine V. give over the popedom by
conveying to him a voice through a reed to this purpose: Celestine,
Celestine, renounce the papacy, give it over, if thou wouldst be
saved, the burden is beyond thy strength, &c. The silly man, taking
this for a revelation from heaven, quitted his chair and left it for
that crafty fox Benedict. Not very many years since the same trick
was played in this country to a man of revelations—Paul Hobson—who
called himself David in spirit. When he had wearied his entertainer
with a long stay, he quitted himself of his company, as I was credibly
informed, by a policy which he perceived would well suit with the
man’s conceitedness, for through a reed in the night-time he tells him
that he must go into Wales, or some such country, and there preach the
gospel; the next morning the man avouches a revelation from God to go
elsewhere, and so departs. These instances shew you how cunningly a
cheating knave may carry on a pretence of revelation or vision. And
yet this is not all the advantage which the devil hath in this matter,
though it is an advantage which he sometime makes use of when he is
fitted with suitable instruments. But he works most dangerously when
he so acts upon men that they themselves believe they have visions,
raptures, and revelations, for some are really persuaded that it is
so with them. Neither is it strange that men should be deluded into
an apprehension that they hear and see what they do not; in fevers,
frenzies, and madness we clearly see it to be so; and who can convince
such persons of their mistakes, when with as high a confidence as may
be they contend that they are not deceived? Shall we think it strange
that Satan hath ways of conveying false apprehensions upon men’s minds?
No, surely. Do we not see that the senses may be cheated, and that
the fancies of men may be corrupted? Is it not easy for him to convey
voices to the ear, or shapes and representations to the eye? and in
such cases, what can ordinarily hinder a belief that they hear or see
such things? But he needs not always work upon the fancy by the senses.
If he hath the advantage of a crazy distempered fancy, as commonly he
hath in melancholy persons, he can so strongly fix his suggestions upon
them, and so effectually set the fancy on work to embrace them, that
without any appearance of madness they will persuade themselves that
they have discoveries from God, impulses by his Spirit, scriptures set
upon their hearts, and what not; and because they feel the workings
of these things within them, it is impossible to make them so much as
suspect that they are deceived. Do but consider the power of any fancy
in a melancholic person, and you may easily apprehend how Satan works
in such delusions. Melancholy doth strangely pervert the imagination,
and will beget in men wonderful misapprehensions, and that sometimes
doth bewitch them into peremptory, uncontrollable belief of their
fancy. It is a vehement, confident humour, what way soever it takes;
the imagination thus corrupted hath an enormous strength, so that if it
fix upon things never so absurd or irrational, it is not reducible by
the strongest reasons. If such a man conceits himself dead, or that he
is transformed to a wolf or cat, or that he is made of glass, as many
in this distemper have done, there is no persuasion to the contrary
that can take place with him. Now if this humour be taken up with
divine matters, as usually it doth, for it hath a natural inclination
to religious things, it still acts with fierceness and confidence,
and there are many things often concomitant to such actings, that if
it misconceit inspiration or prophecy, the parties themselves are not
only bound up under that persuasion, but even unwary spectators are
deluded. For sometime a melancholy imagination is not wholly corrupt,
but only in respect of some one or two particulars, whilst in other
things it acts regularly, and then neither they nor others, that are
unacquainted with such cases, are so apt to suspect that they are
mistaken in these things, while they act rationally and soberly in
other matters. Sometime they have vehement fits of surprisal—for the
humour hath its ebbings and flowings—and this gives them occasion to
apprehend that something doth supernaturally act or raise them, and
then when the things they speak are for the matter of them of religious
concern and odd notions—for the humour flies high and bounds not itself
with ordinary things—and withal uttered in Scripture rhetoric and with
fervency and urgency of spirit—when these things concur, there is such
an appearance of inspiration that the parties themselves and others
rest fully persuaded that it is so.

(7.) Seventhly, _Pretended and counterfeit miracles the devil makes
much use of to countenance error, and this is also one of his
strongholds_; for he suggests that God himself bears witness by these
signs, wonders, and miracles to such erroneous doctrine as seems to be
concerned[259] by them.

That the devil cannot work a true miracle hath been discoursed before,
but that he can perform many strange things, and such as may beget
admiration, none denies; and that by such unwonted actions he usually
endeavours to justify false doctrines, and to set them off with the
appearance of divine approbation, we are sufficiently forewarned
in the Scriptures.[260] Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses by false
miracles. In Deut. xiii. 1, God speaks of the signs and wonders of
false prophets, who would by that means seek to seduce the people to
follow after other gods. Christ also, in Mat. xxiv. 24, foretells that
‘false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shew great signs
and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive
the very elect,’ and puts a special note of caution upon it: ‘Behold,
I have told you before.’ And to the same purpose is that of Paul
concerning Antichrist, 2 Thes. ii. 9, where he tells us of powerful
‘signs and wonders by the working of Satan,’ who doth all the while
only lie and cheat that he may draw men to error.

If we make inquiry how Satan hath managed this engine, we shall observe
not only his diligence in using it on all occasions to countenance all
kind of errors both in paganism and Christianity, but also his subtle
dexterity by cheating men with forgeries and falsehood.

Heathenish idolatry, among other helps for its advancement, wanted not
this. The oracles and responses, which were common before the coming
of Christ, were esteemed as miraculous confirmations of the truth
of the deities which they worshipped; the movings and speakings of
their statues[261] were arguments that the operative presence of some
celestial _Numen_ was affixed to such an image. In some places the
solemn sacrifices are never performed without a seeming miracle. As in
Nova Zembla, where the priest’s trances, his running a sword into his
belly, his making his head and shoulder fall off his body into a kettle
of hot water by the drawing of a line, and then his reviving again
perfect and entire, without maim or hurt, are all strange, astonishing
things to the beholders.[262] But besides such things as these, which
are standing constant wonders, we read of some that have had, as it
were, a gift of miracles, that they might be eminently instrumental
to promote and honour paganism. All histories agree that Simon Magus
did so many strange things at Rome—as the causing an image to walk,
turning stones into bread, transforming himself into several shapes,
flying in the air, &c.—that he was esteemed a god. Philostratus and
Cedrenus[263] report great things of Apollonius [of Tyana,] as that
he could deliver cities from scorpions, serpents, earthquakes, &c.,
and that many miracles were wrought by him. This man Satan raised up
in an extraordinary manner to revive the honour of paganism, that it
might at least vie with Christianity. And though few ever attained to
that height which Apollonius and Simon Magus reached unto, yet have we
several instances of great things done now and then by some singular
persons upon a special occasion, which Satan improved to his advantage.
Vespasian cured a lame and blind man.[264] Adrianus cured a blind
woman; and which is more, after he was dead, by the touch of his body,
a man of Pannonia who was born blind received his sight.[265] Valerius
Maximus tells of many strange things, and particularly of a vestal
virgin that drew water into a sieve. As Livy tells of another, Claudia
by name, who with her girdle drew the ship to the shore which carried
the mother of their gods, when neither strength of men nor oxen could
do it.[266]

Errors under profession of Christianity have been supported and
propagated by the boast of miracles. A clear instance for this we
have in popery, that religion being a perpetual boast of wonders. To
let pass their great miracle of transubstantiation, which, as one
hath lately demonstrated, is a bundle of miracles, or contradictions
rather,[267] because it appears not to the senses of any man, and
consequently is not capable of being an argument to prove any of
their opinions. We have abundance of strange things related by them,
as proofs of some doctrines of theirs in particular, as purgatory,
invocation of saints, transubstantiation, &c., and of their profession
in the general, devils cast out, blind and lame cured, dead raised, and
what not; it would be endless to recite particulars. It would take a
long time to tell what their St Francis hath done—how he fetched water
out of a rock, how he was homaged by fowls and fishes, how he made a
fountain in Marchia run wine, and how far he exceeded Christ himself in
wonderful feats. Christ did nothing which St Francis did not do, nay,
he did many more things than Christ did: Christ turned water into wine
but once, but St Francis did it thrice; Christ was once transfigured,
but St Francis twenty times; he and his brethren raised above a
thousand to life, cast out more than a thousand devils, &c.[268] Their
Dominicus raised three dead men to life. Their Zeverius,[269] while
he was alive, did many miracles, and after he was dead his body lay
fifteen months sweetly smelling, without any taint of corruption. It
is irksome to repeat their stories; abundance of such stuff might be
added out of their own writings, the design of all which is to prove,
to those that are so prodigal of their faith as to believe them, that
they only are the true church, and that by this note among others they
may be known to be so.

But let us turn aside a little to observe Satan’s cunning in this
pretence of miracles; let things be soberly weighed, and we may see
enough of the cheat. This great boast is, as Austin hath it, resolved
into one of these two—either the figments of lying men, or the craft
of deceitful spirits: _Vel figmenta hominum mendacium, vel portenta
fallacium spirituum_.

As to the first of these, it is evident that a great many things that
have been taken by the vulgar for mighty wonders, were nothing but
the knaveries of impostors, who in this matter have used a threefold

[1.] First, _By mere juggling and forgery in confederacies and private
contrivances they have set upon the stage persons before instructed to
act their parts, or things aforehand prepared, to pretend to be what
they were not, that others might seem to do what they did not, and all
to amaze those that know not the bottom of the matter_. Of this nature
was Mohammed’s dove and bull, who were privately trained up to that
obedience and familiarity which they used to him. The pagan priests
were not altogether to seek in this piece of art. Lucian tells us of
one Alexander, who nourished and tamed a serpent, and made the people
of Pontus believe that it was the god Æsculapius, and doubtless the
idol priests improved their private artificial contrivances: as of the
movings of their images, as that of Venus made by Dædalus, which by
the means of quicksilver enclosed could stir itself;[270] their eating
and drinking, as in the story of Bel in the Apochryphal adjections to
the Book of Daniel; their responses, and several other appearances; as
of the paper head of Adonis or Osiris, which, as Lucian reports, comes
swimming down the river every year from Egypt to Byblos, &c.; these
and such like they improved as evidences of the power, knowledge, and
reality of their gods. And though in the prevalency of idolatry, where
there was no considerable party to oppose, their cheats were not always
discovered, yet we have no reason to imagine that the priests of those
days were so honest that they were only deceived by the devil’s craft,
and did not in a villainous design purposely endeavour the delusion of
others. If we had no other grounds for a just suspicion in these cases,
the famous instances of the abuse of Paulina at the temple of Isis
in Rome, in the reign of the emperor Tiberius, by the procurement of
Mondus, who corrupted the priest of Anubis to signify to her the love
of their god, and under that coverture gratified the lust of Mondus,
mentioned by Josephus.[271] And that of Tyrannus, priest of Saturn in
Alexandria, who by the like pretence of the love of Saturn, adulterated
most of the fairest dames of the city, mentioned by Ruffinus.[272]
These would sufficiently witness that the priests of those times were
apt enough to abuse the people at the rate we have been speaking of.
In popery nothing hath been more ordinary. Who knows not the story of
the holy maid of Kent and the boy of Bilson? How common is it with them
to play tricks with women troubled with hysterical distempers; and to
pretend the casting out of devils, when they have only to deal with
a natural disease. Not very many years since they practised upon a
poor young woman at Durham, and made great boasts of their exorcisms,
relics, and holy water against the devil, with whom they would have all
believe she was possessed, when the event discovered that her fits were
only the fits of the mother. I myself, and some others in this place,
have seen those fits allayed by the fume of tobacco blown into her
mouth, to the shame and apparent detection of that artifice. I might
mention the legerdemain of Antonius of Padua, who made his horse adore
the host, for the conversion of a heretic; the finding of the images of
St Paul and St Dominic in a church at Venice, with this inscription for
Paul, ‘By this man you may come to Christ;’ and this for Dominic, ‘But
by this man you may do it easilier;’ and the honour put upon Garnet, by
his image on straw,[273] found at his execution, in all probability by
him that made it and threw it down, or by his confederate: but these
are enough to shew the honesty of these kind of men.

[2.] Secondly, _They have also a cunning of ascribing effects to
wrong causes, and by that means they make those things wonders that
are none_. Mohammed called his fits of falling-sickness ecstasies
or trances. Austin tells us the heathens were notable at this: the
burning lamp in the temple of Venus, though only the work of art, was
interpreted to be a constant miracle of that deity.[274] The image
which, in another temple, hung in the air, by ignorant gazers was
accounted a wonder, when indeed the loadstone in the roof and pavement,
though unseen, was the cause of it. The Sidonians were confirmed in
their constant annual lamentations of Adonis, by a mock miracle of
the redness of the river Adonis at one time of the year constantly;
they take it to be blood, when it is nothing else but the colouring
of the water by the dust of red earth or _minium_, which the winds
constantly at that time of the year from mount Libanus do drive into
the water.[275] Neither are the papists out in this point. I will only
instance in that observation of Dr Jenison, to confirm the doctrine and
practice of invocation:[276] they take the advantage of sovereign baths
and waters, and where they espy any fountain good against the stone, or
other diseases, presently there is the statue or image of some saint
or other erected by it, by whose virtue the cure and miracle must seem
to be done; or some chapel is erected to this or that saint, to whom
prayers before and thanks after washing must be offered.

[3.] Thirdly, where the two former fail, men that devote themselves
to this kind of service _imitate their father the devil, and fall to
plain lying and devised fables_. Idolatry was mainly underpropped by
fabulous stories; and no wonder, when they esteemed it a pious fraud
to nourish piety towards the gods, in which case, as Polybius saith,
though their writers speak monsters, and write childish, absurd,
and impossible things, yet are they to be pardoned for their good
intent.[277] Among the papists what less can be expected, when the
same principle is entertained among them? Canus, and Lodovicus Vives
mentioned by him,[278] as also some few others, do exceedingly blame
that blind piety of coining lies for religion, and feigning histories
for the credit of their opinions; but while they with great freedom
and ingenuity do tax the fables of their own party, they do plainly
acknowledge that they are too much guilty of feigning, insomuch that
not only the author of the Golden Legend is branded with the characters
of a brazen face and a leaden heart, but also Gregory’s Dialogues and
Bede’s History are blamed by him, as containing narrations of miracles
taken upon trust from the reports of the vulgar.[279] And indeed the
wonders they talk of are so strange, so unlikely, so ridiculous and
absurd some of them, that except a man offer violence to his reason,
and wilfully shut his eyes against the clear evidences of suspicion, he
cannot think they are anything else than dreams and fables, no better
than Æsop’s. You may meet with several catalogues of them in protestant
writers:[280] as their St Swithins making whole a basket of broken eggs
by the sign of the cross; Patricius his making the stolen sheep to
bleat in the thief’s belly after he had eaten it; their St Bridget’s
bacon, which in great charity she gave to a hungry dog, was found again
in her kettle; Dionysius after he was beheaded carried his head in his
hand three French miles; St Dunstan took the devil by the nose with his
tongs till he made him roar; Dominicus made him hold the candle till he
burnt his fingers; St Lupus imprisoned the devil in a pot all night;
a chapel of the Virgin Mary was translated from Palestine to Loretto;
a consecrated host, being put into a hive of bees to cure them of the
murrain, was so devoutly entertained that the bees built a chapel in
the hive, with doors, windows, steeple, and bells, erected an altar
and laid the host upon it, sung their canonical hours, and kept their
watches by night, as monks used to do in their cloisters, &c. Who would
ever imagine that men of any seriousness could satisfy themselves with
such childish fopperies? These are the usual ways by which men of
design have raised the noise of miracles.

The other part of Satan’s coming[281] relates to himself and his
own actions. When his agents can go no further in the trade of
miracle-making, he as a spirit doth often make use of his power,
knowledge, and agility, by which he can indeed do things incredible
and to be wondered at: _Portenta fallacium spirituum_. It is nothing
for him, by his knowledge of affairs at a distance, of the private
endeavours or expressed resolves of princes, to prognosticate future
events. By his power over the bodies of men, he can, with the help of
inclinations and advantages, do much to bring a man into a trance, or
take the opportunity of a fit of an apoplexy, and then, like a cunning
juggler, pretend, by I know not what nor whom, to raise a man from
death. He knows the secret powers and virtues of things, and by private
applications of them may easily supply spirits, remove obstructions,
and so cure lameness, blindness, and many other distempers, and then
give the honour of the cure to what person or occasion may best fit
his design; so that either by the officious lies of his vassals, or
the exerting of his own power on suitable objects at fit times, he
hath made a great noise of signs and wonders in the world. And this
stratagem of his hath ever been at hand to gain a repute to false
doctrine. And the rather doth he insist upon this,

_First_, Because true miracles are a divine testimony to truth. As
Nicodemus argued, John iii. 2, ‘No man could do these miracles that
thou doest except God be with him.’ And there were solemn occasions
wherein they were necessary; as when God gave public discoveries of
his mind before the Scriptures were written; and also when he altered
the economy of the Old Testament and settled that of the New. In these
cases it was necessary that God should confirm his word by miracles.
But now, though these ends of miracles are ceased, though God hath so
settled and fixed the rule of our obedience and worship that no other
gospel or rule is to be expected, and consequently no need of new
miracles, where the certain account of the old miracles are sufficient
attestations of old and unalterable truths; nay, though God have
expressly told us, Deut. xiii. 1, that no miracle—though it should
come to pass, and could not be discovered to be a lie—should prevail
with us to forsake the established truths and ways of Scripture, or to
entertain anything contrary to it; yet doth Satan exercise herein a
proud imitation of the supreme majesty, and withal doth so dazzle the
minds of the weaker sort of men—who are more apt to consider the wonder
than to suspect the design—that, without due heed given to the cautions
which God hath laid before us in that particular, they are ready to
interpret them to be God’s witness to this or that doctrine, to which
they seem to be appendant.

_Secondly_, Because Satan hath a more than ordinary advantage to
feign miracles; he doth more industriously set himself to pretend
them and to urge them for the accomplishment of his ends. It is an
easy work to prevail with men that are wholly devoted to their own
interest, under the mask of religion to say and do anything that may
further their design; and the business of miracles is so imitable by
art, through the ignorance and heedlessness of men, that with a small
labour Satan can do it at pleasure. The secret powers of nature—such
as that of the loadstone—by a dexterous application brought into act
in a fitly-contrived subject, will seem miraculous to those that see
not the secret springs of those actions. There have been artificial
contrivances of motions which, had they been disguised under a
religious form, and directed to such an end, might have passed for
greater miracles than many which we have mentioned. Such was the
dove of Archyas, which did fly in the air as if it had been a living
creature.[282] Such was the fly of Regiomontanus, and the eagle
presented to the Emperor Maximilian, which, in the compass of their
little bodies, contained so many springs and wheels as were sufficient
to give them motion, and to direct their courses as if they had been
animated. Albertus Magnus his artificial man, and the silver galley
and tritons made by a goldsmith at Paris,[283] were rare pieces of
art—their motions so certain and steady, that they seemed to have life
and understanding. If art can do all this, how much more may we suppose
can Satan do! how easily can he make apparitions, present strange
sights to the eye and voices to the ear, and, by putting out his power,
do a thousand things astonishing and wonderful!

(8.) Eighthly, _Sometimes Satan pleads for error, from the ease,
peace, or other advantages which men pretend they have received since
they engaged in such a way or received such a persuasion_. This is an
argument from the effect, and frequently used to confirm the minds
of men in their opinions. Hence they satisfy themselves with these
reasonings: ‘I was before always under fears and uncertainties; I never
was at peace or rest in my mind. I tried several courses, followed
several parties, but I never had satisfaction or comfort till now,
and by this I know that I am in a right way.’ Others argue after the
same manner from their abundance and outward prosperity: ‘I met with
nothing but crosses and losses before, but now God hath blessed me with
an increase of substance, prospered my trade and undertakings,’ &c.
These, though apparently weak and deceitful grounds, are reputed strong
and conclusive to those that are first resolved upon an error. For men
are so willing to justify themselves in what they have undertaken,
that they greedily catch at anything that hath the least appearance of
probability to answer their ends.

This plea of satisfaction is commonly from one of these two things:

1. First, _From inward peace and contentment of mind_. Satan knows
that peace is the thing to which a man sacrificeth all his labours
and travail. This he seeks, though often in a wrong way, and by wrong
means. He knows also that true peace is only the daughter of truth,
‘the ways whereof are pleasantness, and the paths whereof are peace;’
neither is he ignorant of the delights which a man hath, by enjoying
himself in the sweet repose of a contented mind, that he may charm the
hearts of the erroneous into a confidence and assurance that they have
taken a right course; he doth all he can to further a false peace in
them, and to this purpose he commonly useth this method:—

[1.] First, He doth all he can to _unsettle them from the foundation
of truth upon which they were bottomed_. He labours to render things
suspicious, doubtful, or uncertain. This some have noted from 2 Thes.
ii. 2, where Satan’s first attempts are to shake their minds, not only
by disquiet, of which we are next to speak, but by alteration of their
judgment; for mind is sometimes taken for sentence, opinion, judgment,
as 1 Cor. ii. 16, ‘We have the mind of Christ;’ and 1 Cor. i. 10, ‘In
the same mind, and in the same judgment.’[284]

[2.] Secondly, His second approach is to _raise a storm of restless
disquiet upon that uncertainty_; and in order to his intended design,
he usually fills them with the utmost anxiety of mind, and makes their
thoughts, like a tempestuous sea, dash one against another. This
piece of his art is noted in the fore-cited place, that ‘ye be not
shaken in mind, or troubled:’ the word signifies a great perplexity,
θροεῖσθαι. And this is a usual method which the false teachers among
the Galatians practised; they first troubled them, and then endeavoured
by the advantage of that trouble to pervert the gospel of Christ, Gal.
i. 7, and v. 12. To effect both these, he doth amuse them with all the
objections that can be raised. If he can say anything of the antiquity
of the error, the number, wisdom, learning, or authority of those
that embrace it, they are sure to hear of these things to the full.
The danger of continuing as they were, and the happiness of the new
doctrine, are represented with all aggravating circumstances; and these
so often, that their thoughts have no rest: and if this restlessness
does wound or weaken them, he pursues with a high hand. These ways
of disturbing the unsettled mind are hinted to us in the aforesaid
place—spirit, word, letter, anything that carries a seeming authority
to unsettle, or power to amaze and distress. And we may here further
note, that where the minds of men are discomposed with other fears or
disquiets, Satan is ready to improve them to this use, so that commonly
when the word of God begins to work at first upon the consciences of
men, to awaken them to the consideration of their sin and danger, the
adversary is then very busy with them to inveigle them into some error
or other.

[3.] Thirdly, Having thoroughly prepared the mind with restless fears,
he then advanceth forward with the _proffers of peace and comfort in
the way of error which he proposeth_; and in this case error will
boast much, ‘Come to me, and ye shall find rest for your souls.’ How
grateful and welcome the confident proffers of ease and satisfaction
are to a tossed and disquieted mind, any man will easily imagine. It is
usually thus: men that are tired out will easily embrace anything for
ease. A man in this case may be wrought upon like wax, to receive any
impression; he will fasten on anything, true or false, that doth but
promise comfort.

[4.] Fourthly, The completement of his method is _to please the man in
the fruition of the peace promised_; and this he labours to do, not
only to fix the man in his delusion, but to make that man brag of ease,
to be a snare to others. And it is easy for the devil to do this: for,
_first_, The novelty of a new opinion doth naturally please, especially
if it give any seeming commendation for discovery or singularity. We
see men are fond of their own inventions, and delighted to be lifted
up above others. _Secondly_, Satan can easily allay the storm which
he himself raised: he gives over to molest with anxious thoughts—on
the contrary, he suggests thoughts of satisfaction. _Thirdly_, And
whatever he can do in a natural way to raise up our passions of joy and
delight, he will be sure to do it now, to ravishment and excess if he
can; and then he not only makes these men sure—for what argument can
stand before such a confidence?—but hath an active instrument for the
allurement of such as cannot discover these methods.

2. Secondly, _Outward prosperity_ is the other common plea for error.
Though successes, plenty, and abundance of worldly comforts argue of
themselves neither love nor hatred, truth nor falsehood—because the
wise providence of God, for holy ends and reasons often undiscerned by
us, permits often the tabernacles of robbers to prosper, and permits
those that ‘deal treacherously’ with the truths of God ‘to be planted,
to take root, to grow, yea, to bring forth fruit’—nevertheless if in a
way of error they meet with outward blessings, they are apt to ascribe
all to their errors, and to say as Israel, Hosea ii. 5, ‘I will go
after my lovers that gave me my bread and my water, my wool and my
flax, mine oil and my drink,’ without any serious consideration of
God’s common bounty, which upon far other accounts, ‘gives them corn,
and wine, and oil, and multiplies their silver and gold,’ which they
prepared for Baal, ver. 8. I shall not need to add anything further for
the proof and explanation of this than what we have in Jer. xliv. 17,
18, where the Jews expressly advance their idolatrous worship as the
right way, and confirm themselves even to obstinacy in the pursuit of
it, upon this reason: ‘We will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth out
of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven ... for then
had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil: but since
we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out
our drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been
consumed by the sword and by the famine.’

(9.) Ninthly, Instead of better arguments, Satan usually makes _lies
his refuge_: and these respect either the truth which he would cry
down, or the errors which he would set up.

Those lies that are managed against truth are of two sorts: mistakes
and misrepresentations of its doctrines, or calumnies against the
persons and actions of those that take part with it.

Those lies that are proper to bespatter a truth withal are such as tend
to render it unlovely, inconvenient, or dangerous. Satan hath never
been a-wanting to raise up mists and fogs to eclipse the shining beauty
of truth. Sometime he persuades men that it is a novelty, and contrary
to the tradition of the fathers; and then, if an error had been once
upon the stage before, and had again been hissed out of the world, when
it peeps out again into the world, its former impudency is made an
argument for its antiquity, and truth is decried as novel. Or if it be
but an error of yesterday, and hath only obtained an age or two, then
the ghosts of our forefathers are conjured up as witnesses, and the
plea runs current, What has become of your fathers? or, are you wiser
than your fathers? are they all damned? These were insisted on by the
heathens: the gods of the country and the worship of their fathers,
they thought, should not be forsaken for Christianity, which they
judged was but a novelty in comparison of paganism. Of the same extract
is that old song of the papists, ‘Where was your religion before
Luther?’ and to this purpose they talk of the succession of their
bishops and popes. And other errors grow a little pert and confident,
if they can but find a pattern or sample for themselves among the old
heresies. Sometime he endeavours to bring truth into suspicion, by
rendering it a dangerous encroachment upon the rights and privileges
of men, as if it would turn all upside down, and introduce factions
and confusions. This clamour was raised against the gospel, that it
would subvert the doctrine of Moses and the law. Sometimes he clothes
the opinions of truth with an ugly dress, and misrepresents it to the
world as guilty of strange inferences and absurdities, which only arise
from a wrong stating of the questions; and where it doth really differ
from error, he endeavours to widen the differences to an inconvenient
distance, so that if it go a mile from error, Satan will have it to
go two: if truth teach justification by faith, error represents it as
denying all care of holiness and good works; if truth say bare moral
virtues are not sufficient without grace, error presently accuseth
it as denying any necessary use of morality, or affirming that moral
virtues are obstructions and hindrances to salvation. It were easy to
note abundance of such instances.

As for calumnies against the persons and actions of those that are
assertors of truth, it is well known for an old threadbare design, by
which Satan hath gained not a little. Machiavel borrowed the policy
from him, and formed it into a maxim; for he found by experience that
where strong slanders had set in their teeth, though never so unjustly,
the wounds were never thoroughly healed; for some that heard the report
of the slander never heard the vindication, and those that did were not
always so unprejudiced as to free themselves from all suspicion, but
still something remained usually upon their spirits for ever after; and
that, like a secret venom, poisons all that could be said or done by
the persons that wrongfully fell under their prejudice, and did not a
little derogate from the authority and power of the truths which they

The friends of truth have always to their cost found it so. Christ
himself escaped not the lies and censures of men when he did the
greatest miracles; they raised this calumny against him, that ‘he cast
out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils,’ John viii. 48. When he
shewed the most compassionate condescensions, they called him ‘a man
gluttonous, a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners;’ and at
last, upon a misinterpretation of his speeches, ‘I will destroy this
temple, and in three days I will build it up,’ Mat. xxvi. 61, they
arraigned and condemned him for blasphemy; and his servants have,
according to what he foretold, drunk of the same cup: the more eminent
in service the greater draught. Paul, a chosen vessel, met with much
of this unjust dealing: he was accused, Acts xxi. 28, as speaking
against the people, the law, and the temple, and, chap. xxiv. 5, called
‘a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition, a profaner of the temple.’
Neither can we wonder at this, that the greatest innocency or highest
degree of holiness is no armour or proof against the sharp arrows of
a lying tongue; when we read this as one of Satan’s great characters,
that he is ‘the accuser of the brethren,’ and that his agents are
so perfectly instructed in this art that they are also branded with
the same mark of ‘false accusers,’ Jude 10. It is well known how the
primitive Christians were used: they were accounted ‘the filth and
offscouring of all things;’ there could be nothing that could render
them odious or ridiculous but they were aspersed with it; as that
they ‘sacrificed infants, worshipped the sun, and used promiscuous
uncleanness;’ nay, whatever plague or disaster befell their neighbours,
they were sure to carry the blame. And we might trace this stratagem
down to our own days. Luther in his time was the common butt for all
the poisoned arrows of the papists’ calumny; which so exceeded all
bounds of sobriety and prudence that they devised a romance of his
death, how he was choked of the devil; that before he died he desired
his corpse might be carried into the church and adored with divine
worship; and that after his death the excessive stench of his carcase
forced all his friends to forsake him. All this and more to this
purpose they published while he was alive; whose slanders, worthy only
of laughter, he refuted by his own pen. The like fury they expressed
against Calvin by their Bolsecus, whom they set on work to fill a book
with impudent lies against him. Neither did Beza, Junius, or any other
of note escape without some slander or other. How unjustly the Arians
of old accused Athanasius of uncleanness, and of bereaving Arsenius of
his arm, is sufficiently known in history.[285]

But the devil’s malice doth not always run in the dirty channel of
odious calumnies. He hath sometimes a more cleanly conveyance for his
lies against holy men. In prosecution of the same design, it is a
fair colour for error if he can abuse the name and credit of renowned
champions of truth, by fathering an error upon them which they never
owned. By this means he doth not only grace a false doctrine with the
authority of an eminent person, whose estimation might be a snare
to some well-meaning persons, but weakens the truth, by bringing
a faithful assertor of it into suspicion of holding, at least in
some points, dangerous opinions; by which many are affrighted from
entertaining anything that they write or preach. For though they may
be confessedly sound in the most weighty doctrines, yet if it be once
buzzed abroad that they are in anything unsound, this dead fly spoils
all the precious ointment. And the matter were yet the less if there
were any just cause for such a prejudice; but such is Satan’s art, that
if a man explains the same truth, but in different words and forms
of speech than those that others have been used unto; or if he casts
it into a more convenient mould, that, by laying aside doubtful or
flexible expressions, it may be more safely guarded from the exceptions
of the adversaries; especially if he carefully choose his path betwixt
the extremes on either hand,—this is enough for Satan to catch at,
and presently he bestows upon him the names of the very errors which
he most strenuously opposeth; nay, sometimes if he mention anything
above the reach or acquaintance of those that hear him, it is well if
he escapes the charge of heresy, and that he meets not with the lot of
Virgilius, bishop of Salzburg, who was judged no less than heretical
for venting his opinion concerning the antipodes.[286] I know men do
such things in their zeal; but while they do so they are concerned to
consider how Satan doth abuse their good meaning to the disservice of

As Satan’s design in bespattering the actions and doctrines of good
men is to bring the truth they profess into a suspicion of falsehood,
and to advance the contrary errors to the place and credit of truth,
so doth he use a skill proportionable to his design. And though he
be so impudent that he will not blush at the contrivance of the most
gross and malicious lie, yet withal he is so cunning that he studiously
endeavours some probable rise for his slanders, and commonly he takes
this course:—

[1.] First, He doth all he can _to corrupt the professors of truth_.
If riches or honours will tempt them to be proud, high-minded,
contentious, or extravagant, he plies them with these weapons; if the
pleasures of the flesh and world be more likely to besot them, or
to make them sensual, earthly, or loose, he incessantly lays those
baits before them; if fears and persecutions can affright them out of
duty, if injuries and provocations may prejudice them into a froward
or wayward temper, he will certainly urge them by such occasions;
and when he hath prevailed in any measure, he is sure to aggravate
every circumstance to its utmost height, and upon that advantage to
make additions of a great many things beyond what they can be justly
accused of. This old device Paul, in Rom. ii. 24, takes notice of
concerning the Jews, whose breach of the law so dishonoured God that
‘the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles through them.’ The
Jews lived wickedly, and their wicked lives was a current argument
among the Gentiles to confirm them in paganism; for they judged the
law of God could not approve itself to be better than their own, when
the professors of it were so naught. To prevent this mischief, we are
seriously warned to be carefully strict in all our stations, ‘that the
name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed,’ 1 Tim. vi. 1; Titus
ii. 5.

[2.] Secondly, _Whatever miscarriages any professor of truth is
guilty of, Satan takes care that it be presently charged upon all the
profession_. If any one offend, it is matter of public blame; much more
if any company or party shall run into extravagances, or do actions
strange and unjustifiable; those that agree with them in the general
name of their profession, though they differ as far from their wild
opinions and practices as their enemies do, shall still be upbraided
with their follies. We see this practised daily by differing parties;
according to what was foretold in 2 Pet. ii. 2, ‘false prophets’ seduce
a great number of Christians to follow their pernicious ways, and by
reason of their wild, ungodly behaviour, ‘the whole way of truth was
evil spoken of.’

[3.] Thirdly, _The least slip or infirmity of the children of truth the
devil is ready to bring upon the stage_; and they that will not charge
themselves as offenders for very great evils, will yet object, to the
disparagement of truth, the smallest mistakes of others: a mote in the
eye of the lovers of truth shall be espied when a beam in the eye of
falsehood shall pass for nothing.

[4.] Fourthly, _Slanderous aspersions are sometimes raised from a
simple mistake of actions, and their grounds or manner of performance,
and sometimes from a malicious misrepresentation_. The devil seldom
acts from a simple mistake; but he will either suborn the passionate
opposers to a wilful perverting of the true management of things,
or will by a false account of things take the advantage of their
prejudice, to make men believe that such things have been said or done,
which indeed never were. The Christians in the primitive times were
reported to be bloody men, and that they did kill men in sacrifice, and
did eat their flesh and drink their blood; and this was only occasioned
by their doctrine and use of the sacrament of the body and blood of
Christ. They were accused for promiscuous uncleanness with one another,
and this only because they taught that there was no distinction of male
and female in respect of justification, and that they were all brethren
and sisters in Christ. This account Tertullian gives of the calumnies
of those times, and others have noted the like occasions of other
abuses of them.[287] They were reported to worship the sun, because
they in times of persecution were forced to meet early in the fields,
and were often seen undispersed at sunrising. They were reported to
worship Bacchus and Ceres, because of the elements of bread and wine in
the Lord’s supper. If they met in private places, and in the night, it
was enough to occasion surmises of conspiracy and rebellion: so ready
is Satan to take occasion where none is given.

[5.] Fifthly, But if none of these are at hand, then _a downright lie
must do the turn, according to that of Jer._ xviii. 18, ‘Come and let
us devise devices against Jeremiah;’ and when once the lie is coined,
Satan hath officious instruments to spread it: Jer. xx. 10, ‘Report,
say they, and we will report it.’

These were the lies raised against truth; but besides this endeavour,
he useth the same art of lying to enhance the credit of error. Lying
inspirations, lying signs and wonders we have spoken of; I shall only
mention another sort of lying, which is that of forgery, an art which
error hath commonly made use of. Sometimes books and writings erroneous
have been made to carry the names of men that never knew or saw them.
The apostles themselves escaped not these abuses: you read of the
counterfeit Gospels of Thomas and Bartholomew, the Acts of Peter and
Andrew, the Apostolical Constitutions, and a great many more. Later
writers have by the like hard usage been forced to father the brats of
other men’s brains. I might be large in these, but they that please may
see more of this in authors that have of purpose discovered the frauds
of spurious, supposititious books.[288] The design is obvious: error
would by this means adorn itself with the excellent names of men of
renown, that so it might pass for good doctrine with the unwary.


 _Of Satan’s second way of improving his advantages, which is by
 working upon the understanding indirectly by the affections.—This
 he doth—(1.) By a silent, insensible introduction of error.
 His method herein. (2.) By entangling the affections with the
 external garb of error, a gorgeous dress, or affected plainness.
 (3.) By fabulous imitations of truth. The design thereof.
 (4.) By accommodating truth to a compliance with parties that
 differ from it. Various instances hereof. (5.) By driving to a
 contrary extreme. (6.) By bribing the affections with rewards,
 or forcing them by fears. (7.) By engaging pride and anger.
 (8.) By adorning error with the ornaments of truth._

The usual arguments by which Satan doth directly blind the
understanding to a persuasion to accept darkness for light, we have now
considered. It remains that some account be given of the second way of
prevailing upon the understanding, and that is _by swaying it through
the power and prevalency of the affections_. In order to this he hath
many devices, the principal whereof are these:—

1. First, _By silent and insensible procedure he labours to introduce
errors_; and lest men should startle at a sudden and full presentment
of the whole, he thinks it policy to insinuate into the affections,
by offering it in parcels. Thus he prevents wonderment and surprisal,
lest men should boggle and turn away, and doth by degrees familiarise
them to that which at first would have been rejected with abhorrency.
We read in the parable of the tares that the envious man which sowed
them, who was Satan, took his opportunity ‘while men slept,’ and then
went away in the dark; insomuch that the discovery was not made at
the sowing, but at their coming up. In pursuance of this policy, we
find the principal instruments of Satan have followed the footsteps of
their master; they ‘creep in unawares,’ Jude 4; they ‘privily bring in
damnable heresies,’ 2 Pet. ii. 1; and, as if they were guilty of some
modest shamefacedness, they ‘_creep_ into houses,’ 2 Tim. iii. 6. The
steps by which the devil creeps into the bosoms of men to plant error
in the heart are these:—

[1.] First, He endeavours to gain the heart by _the ingenuous, sweet,
and delightful society of those that are corrupted already_. Error
hath a peculiar art to woo the good-will before it disclose itself.
It first steals the ear and affections to the person, and thence
insensibly derives it to the opinion. Truth is masculine, and persuades
by teaching, but error doth often teach by persuading. It is very
difficult to affect the person, and not to bestow upon the error better
thoughts than it deserves. Those therefore that are cunning in the art
of seduction, make extraordinary pretences of affectionate kindness,
and, as the apostle noted concerning the seducers of his time, Gal.
iv. 17, ‘they zealously affect’ those whom they would delude, ‘but
not well.’ Their art doth also teach them not to be over-hasty in
propounding their opinions, nor so much as to touch upon them, till
they perceive they have gained a firm persuasion of their amity, and of
the reality of those kindnesses which they have made show of; but when
they have once gained this point of advantage, they take opportunity
more freely to propound and press their doctrines. Thus are men at last
beguiled ‘with enticing words.’

It is also part of the same design that Satan sometimes makes use of
women seducers: For, (1.) They are more apt to be deluded themselves:
‘silly women’ are soon ‘led captive.’ (2.) Being deceived, they are
most earnestly forward in the heat of zeal to propagate their opinions.
(3.) And by the advantage of their nature they are most engaging;
their affectionate persuasions usually have a peculiar prevalency. The
daughters of Moab, through Balaam’s counsel, were made choice of as the
fittest instruments to seduce Israel to idolatry. Solomon, though a
wise man, was prevailed with by the importunity of his wives, against
his former practice and knowledge, to favour false worship. The woman
Jezebel, Rev. ii. 20, was Satan’s under-agent ‘to teach and seduce
God’s servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to
idols.’ (4.) Besides, they have a greater influence upon their children
to leaven them with their own opinions.

[2.] Secondly, Satan also observes _a gradual motion in fixing any
particular error_. If he attempt it immediately, without an external
agent, he first puts men upon the reading or consideration of some dark
passages that seem to look favourably upon his design; then he starts
the notion or objection; then begets a scruple or questioning. Having
once proceeded thus far, he follows his design with probable reasons,
till he have formed it into an opinion. When it is come to this, a
little more begets a persuasion, that persuasion he ripens into a
resoluteness and obstinacy, and then at last fires it with zeal for the
deluding of others. Having thus laid the foundation by one error, he
next endeavours to multiply it, and then brings in the inferences that
unavoidably follow; for as one wedge makes way for another, so from one
falsehood another will easily force itself, and from two or three who
knows how many? And though the consequences are usually more absurd
than the principles, yet are they with a small labour brought into
favour where the principles are first confidently believed; so that
those errors, which because of their ugly look Satan durst not at first
propound, lest he should scare men off from their reception, he can now
with an undaunted boldness recommend. It cannot be imagined that ever
men would at first have entertained opinions of contempt of ordinances
and libertinism, and therefore we may observe they usually come in the
rear of other opinions, which by a long tract of art prepare their way.

Yet may we note, that though Satan usually is forced to wait the
leisure of some men’s timorousness and bashfulness, and therefore
cannot ripen error to a hasty birth as he desires, hence is it that
one man often doth no more for his time, but only brew it, or, it may
be, makes only the rude draught of it, and another vents and adorns
it; for so it was betwixt Lælius and Faustus Socinus, betwixt David
George and his successors. And though he be so confined to the first
principles of error which he hath instilled that he cannot at present
enlarge them beyond their own just consequences; yet there are some
choice principles of his which, if he can but fasten upon the mind,
they presently open the gap to all kind of errors imaginable. They
are like the firing a train of gunpowder, which in a moment blows
up the whole fabric of truth. Such are the delusions of enthusiasm,
inspirations, and prophetic raptures. Let these be once fixed, and then
there is nothing so inhuman, irreligious, mad, or ridiculous, but Satan
can with ease persuade men to it, and also under the highest pretences
of religion and certainty. The experience of all ages hath made any
further proof of this altogether needless.

This is his way when he acts alone. But if he use instruments, though
he is also gradual in his procedure, yet it is in a different method;
for there he sometimes proceeds from the abuse of something innocent
and lawful, by the help of a long tract of time, to introduce the
grossest falsehood. Thus may we conceive he brought idolatry to
its height: first men admired the wisdom or famous acts of their
progenitors or benefactors; next they erected pillars or images of such
persons to perpetuate the names, honour, and memory of them and their
actions. Another age, being at a greater distance from the things done,
and consequently greater strangers to the true ends and reasons of such
practices, which being, as it usually falls out in such cases, abused
by false reports or misrepresentations of things—for time covers things
of this nature with so thick a mist that it is difficult to discover
the true metal of an original constitution—they in a devout ignorance
gave the images a greater respect than was at first intended. Then
did they slide into a conceit they were not of the ordinary rank of
mortals, or at least they were exalted to a condition which ordinary
mortals were not capable of. Thus they supposed them deities, and gave
them worship of prayers and sacrifices. Hence they went further, and
multiplied gods, and that of several sorts, according to the natures of
things that were good or hurtful to them; and then at last consulting
how mean their offerings were, and how unlikely to please their
godships, they concluded human sacrifices most suitable, especially to
expiate greater provocations, and in times of great calamity.

The burdensome heap of ceremonious superstitions in popery was the
work of several ages; they were not brought in all at once. One in a
devotional heat fancied such a ceremony as a fit testimony of zeal,
or a proper incitement of his affections; another deviseth a second,
and so all along. As the minds of men were best pleased with their
own inventions, and had so much credit or authority to recommend them
to others, they increased the sum by new additions, till at last
they are become a burden not to be borne; and still as they receded
from the primitive purity, and became more careless and corrupt in
their lives—for from good bishops they declined to but tolerable
archbishops, till at last they are become incurable Babylonians—so they
departed gradually from the simplicity of the gospel, and abounded in
contrivances of ceremonies.[289]

[3.] Thirdly, _In corrupting established truths_. Satan’s proceedings
are not by sudden and observable leaps, but by lingering and slow
motions—as flowers and plants grow insensibly, and as men gradually
wax old and feeble. Violent and hasty alterations he knows would beget
observation, dislike, and opposition; neither will he make such
attempts but where he is sure of a strong prevalent party, which
by force and power is able to carry all before it. In this case he
is willing to enforce error by fire and sword. Thus he propagated
Mohammedanism at first, and still continueth to do so by the conquering
arms of the Turks; but where he hath not this advantage, he betakes
himself to another course, and studieth to do his work so that he may
not be observed. The possibility of such a change, with the manner
of effecting it, we may observe in many churches that have declined
from the doctrine which they at first received, but most of all in
the church at Rome, which at first was a pure church, as the apostle
testifieth, but now so changed from the truths upon which they were
bottomed in their first constitution, as if she had not been the
same church. They boast indeed that as they were at first, so they
are now; but nothing is more evident than the contrary; and the
possibility of their insensible corruption is as demonstrable as the
alteration of doctrine in any other church. The manifold ways that
Satan takes in this matter, in the abuse of Scripture, by raising
perverse interpretations and unnatural inferences, and the advantages
of a long succession in authority; of the negligence and ignorance of
the common people; of the crafty subtlety of the teachers, especially
when religion began to be abused to secular interest, is described by
Acontius and others.[290] If we should single out any of their noted
errors, and follow up the history of it to its first original, we shall
find that whatever strong current it hath now gotten, it was very
small and inconsiderable in the fountain. The invocation of saints,
though it be now an established article among them, yet its first rise
was from the unwary _prosopopœias_ of the ancients, and the liberty
of their oratorical declamatory style. These gave occasion to some
private opinions, these opinions to some private devotional liberty in
practice, and from private opinions and practices, at last it obtained
so strong a party that it procured a public injunction. The like method
was used for the doctrine of transubstantiation, whose beginning was
from the abuse of such sentences as this in ancient writers, that
‘after consecration it was no more bread and wine, but the body and
blood of Christ;’ by which expression the authors intended no more
than this, that the bread and wine in the sacrament were relatively
altered, and were more than ordinary bread and wine, because they were
representatives of the body and blood of Christ: however, this gave
them courage to interpret literally and strictly these words of Christ,
‘This is my body;’ and thus by degrees from the opinion of a few it
became the judgment of many, and from the toleration of a private
opinion of some doctors, and unimposed, it obtained at last a canon to
make it authentic public doctrine.

[4.] Fourthly, This insensible proceeding is in nothing more evident
than _in the power of custom and education_. Custom doth by degrees
take off the startling of conscience; and those opinions or practices
which at first look affright it, are by a little familiarity made
more smooth and tolerable. The dissents of men by frequent seeing
and hearing become tame and gentle; but the force of education is
incomparably great, for this makes an error to become as it were
natural; they suck it in with their milk, and draw it in with their
air. This general advantage the devil hath over all the children of
erroneous parents, especially where countries or nations are of the
same persuasion; insomuch that Turks have as great belief of their
Alcoran as we of the Bible, and think as reverently of Mohammed as
Christians do of Christ. The children of idolatrous pagans have as
great a confidence of the truth of their way of heathenish worship, as
we have of God’s ordinances and institutions.

[5.] Fifthly, We may see something of this stratagem of silent
entanglement _in Satan’s surprisals_; for sometimes he inveigles men at
unawares, and engageth them in error while they know not what they are
doing. Weak heads cannot see the far end of a smooth-faced doctrine,
and they usually embrace it by wholesale, for some particular that
strikes upon their fancy, or gratifies their humour. If they read a
book that hath some good things in it, or is affectionate, for the sake
of these they swallow all the rest, though never so dangerous doctrine,
without further examination. The like advantage he hath from actions
that are bad or tolerable, according to the various respects which
they have to the ends or consequences that lie before them; for he
frequently doth interest men in an erroneous consequence, by concerning
them in actions that lead that way; and having thus beguiled them into
an evil mistake, instead of drawing their foot out of the snare, he
pusheth them forward to maintain their ground, and to justify their
proceedings. This was the case of some of the Corinthians; when the
heathens had offered a sacrifice to an idol, part of the sacrifice
was reserved, and either sold at the shambles, or used in a feast, to
which the heathens sometimes invited their Christian acquaintance or
relations. Those that went, knowing that ‘an idol was nothing,’ ate
what was set before them without any regard to the idol, and ‘making
no question for conscience sake;’ by their example others that ‘had
not that knowledge,’ 1 Cor. viii. 7, were emboldened, not only to eat
against their scruples and doubts of conscience,—which is all that
many interpreters think to be intended in that place,—but also—as the
words make probable—with some positive regard to the idol; so that by
the examples of those that sat in the idol’s temple, eating what was
set before them as common meat, others misinterpreting their actions,
proceeded to eat with a conscience of the idol, as if the idol had been
something indeed, and deserving a conscientious regard. Not unlike
to this was that art of Julian, mentioned by Sozomen, whereby he
endeavoured to twist something of paganism with actions and things that
were lawful or necessary.[291] He caused the images of Mars and Mercury
to be placed by his own, so that the respects that were payed to the
emperor’s picture, seemed to carry a concomitancy of reverence to those
idols. He also, in prosecution of the same policy, caused their meats
and drinks to be sprinkled or mixed with the lustral water, that so
every one that used them might be inured to give some regard to his
idols; and that some, at least, might be engaged to a justification of
that and such other practices.

All these are but instances of Satan’s silent insinuation, by which he
secretly steals the affections, and through these taints the judgment.
Next follows,

A second plot upon the affections, which is an endeavour to entangle
them by _the external garb of error_. In this he works by two contrary
extremes, that he may the better prevail with men’s different

[1.] First, He sometimes _clothes a false doctrine with the most
pompous, gorgeous, delightful attire_, that, like Solomon’s harlot,
it may entice those that are pleased with the highest gratifications
of the senses, ‘I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with
fine linen of Egypt,’ &c. Most men that are given up to an animal
life cannot be pleased with any religion but such as may most please
the senses. They so disrelish the simplicity of the gospel—which is,
notwithstanding, its particular mark and honour, 2 Cor. xi. 3—that they
cannot persuade themselves they do anything in religious worship except
they abound in costly ceremonious observances. Thus do some interpret
that fear of the heathens, which first put them upon images and outward
representations of their gods. They were afraid they should not have
any religion to their own satisfaction, except they proceeded in such a
course as might make their senses sure that they were doing something,
_primus in orbe deos timor fecit_. The devil, knowing well the force
of external beauties in religion, prepared the way to idolatry by it.
They had their costly temples, some of them admirable for antiquity and
magnificence, enriched with gifts and offerings, excellent for matter
and workmanship, adorned with images, lamps, beds, and tables of gold,
beautified by art, and natural pleasantness of situation; they had
also their groves in the most pleasant and delightful places, as that
of the Daphne, besides[292] Antiochia, which was environed with tall
cypress trees ten miles about, and within adorned with the sumptuous
temples of Apollo and Diana’s sanctuary. In these places they had
their music and solemn festivals, which were sometimes extraordinary
for cost and continuance. Antiochus at Daphne continued an incredible
solemnity, with a vast train and costly preparation, for thirty days’
together; and that nothing might be wanting, they had their annual
feasts, sacrifices, rites, the adornments of their priests, their white
garments, their coats of divers colours, their mitres, &c.; in a word,
nothing was lacking that might please the eye or ear. And doubtless
the devil found this course very successful to win the affections of
men to Gentilism. And if it were not for this consideration, it might
be admired that the Jews, who were instructed in the true worship of
God, should, notwithstanding, be so prone to idolatry, and so hardly
drawn from it; but surely their strong inclinations that way proceeded
from a natural delight that men have in a sensual religion, which,
by a powerful witchcraft, doth enchant them to an excess of love.
The same method the devil takes in popery. The chief enticement lies
in its glorious external appearance. All their religious places are
dressed up in the highest bravery, they are beautified with images
and pictures, with lights and costly adornments; they abound in
rites, ceremonies, gestures, and observances, and all this is but to
dazzle the eyes, and to win a reverence in men to their worship; and
accordingly they practise in these exterior things on purpose to ravish
men’s affections; their children are brought up to a confirmed delight
and resolution for popery, by pleasing them with shows, pictures,
representations, processions, and grateful observances. If a stranger
of another religion come among them, then, as their first essay, they
shew them all their play-things, that their affections may be tickled
with the outward pomp and ornament of their way, for they know by
experience that a glittering outside and a great deal ado of bodily
labour is the all of most men’s religion. If it have but body enough,
they never inquire whether it have spirit or life within. A dead
carcase in robes, that may put them to the exercise of their postures
and ceremonious compliments, doth make up a more grateful religion for
a carnal man than a living, spiritual service, that necessarily will
put them upon inward care and watchfulness in the constant exercise of
holy spiritual graces, without affording any considerable gratification
to the senses. Hence is it truly more difficult, and yet inwardly more
beautiful and glorious, to pray in faith and humility, even in short
breathings after God, than to say a thousand Ave Marias, or to perform
a task of ordinary penance. But as those that have no children of their
own delight themselves in playing with a monkey or baboon, so those
that know not how to worship God in spirit and truth seek to satisfy
themselves in the performance of external gesture and ceremony.

[2.] Secondly, On the other hand he sometimes is willing that an
error should affect _an excess of plainness and simplicity_. In this
he takes advantage of those expressions in Scripture, wherein the
gospel is commended for its simplicity; and the inventions of men,
under the pretences of wisdom, humility, and neglecting of the body,
are condemned. Upon this ground he runs men upon such an excess of
dotage, that they never think the things of God are rightly managed
but when they are brought down to a contemptible silliness. By this
means he arms conceited ignorant men with exceptions against learning,
and the necessary decencies of language in preaching; and with them
they are the only preachers, and most likely to be inspired, that use
least study and preparation for their work. It is indeed very true
that the affected fooleries of a bombast style or starched discourse,
and needless citations of sentences for ostentation, without any
true advantage to the matter in hand, are things very pedantic, and
exceedingly unsuitable to the gravity of the work of the ministry, and
renders it very ungrateful to a pious mind; but this contrary folly
makes the solemn ordinances of God so nauseous and contemptible, that
it often makes way, by Satan’s cunning improvement of the temptation,
to an atheistical rejection of all worship. In the meantime it is
wonderful to observe how some persons please themselves with this
conceit, that their way of worship is plain, and that they speak
what immediately comes into their mind; and though it be nonsense or
contradictions, which sufficiently evidenceth that it is nothing of
kin to the Spirit’s inspirations, which they utter, yet it is argument
enough to them that their opinions and ways are right, because they
proceed in a designed neglect of all necessary order, and under
pretence of the simplicity of the gospel they reduce all they do to
childish silliness. Neither is this all the mischief which the devil
raiseth out of this conceit, for the contempt and disuse of the
sacraments may in great part be ascribed to it. Those erroneous ways
of worship that are most noted for decrying those institutions of
Christ, have this for their plea, that the worship which God is best
pleased with is spiritual, and that all bodily services and external
observations are things that God stands not upon, such as profit
little, and were no further in use, but to recommend an internal
spiritual communion with God; so that the more they reject these
things, they persuade themselves they have a more true understanding
of the design of God in religion. Either of these ways Satan makes use
of for the befooling of men into a humour of pleasing themselves with
error. But,

[3.] Thirdly, He hath of old endeavoured _to cloud and enervate the
doctrine of the Bible by traditionary fables_. We meet with many
passages to this purpose. Sometimes he sets up unwritten traditions,
not only of equal authority to the written word, but as completions and
perfections of it. This he practised among the Jews with such success,
that the traditions of the elders were of greater force with them than
the commands of God, as Christ himself noted of them, Mat. xv. 13. Of
these unwritten traditions, which they called ‘the law by the word of
mouth,’ feigned by them to be given to Moses when he was in the mount,
and so delivered from hand to hand, the apostles gave many warnings,
and signified the hazards that truth stood in by them through the
cunning of Satan; as Col. ii. 8, ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through
the traditions of men;’ 1 Tim. i. 4, ‘Neither give heed to fables, and
endless genealogies;’ Titus i. 14, ‘Not giving heed to Jewish fables,
and commandments of men;’ 2 Tim. iv. 4, ‘And they shall turn away their
ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.’

The papists at this day give the same entertainment to this device
that the Jews did of old; they boast as high of their traditions, and
are every whit as fabulous and foolish in them as they were. Satan in
his attempts upon the Gentiles to confirm them in their false worship,
though he kept up the substance of this design, yet he was necessitated
to alter the scene a little, that he might more handsomely accommodate
it to their condition; and therefore he set up amongst them fabulous
imitations of the truths and ordinances of the Scripture, insomuch that
there is scarce any grand mystery or remarkable history or ordinance
mentioned in the Scripture but we may find something among the heathens
in tradition or practice that doth allude to it. What traditionary
imitations had they of the creation recorded in the book of Genesis!
That of Ovid concerning the chaos and first beginning of things is
known to every schoolboy. The Phœnicians in their theology give an odd
account of it from their Taautus, to this purpose:[293] ‘That the
first beginnings of all things were a dark, disordered chaos, and the
spirit of the dark air; hence proceeded _moth_, that is, mire, from
thence issued the seeds and generation of all creatures in earth and
heaven,’ &c. The wickedness of men before the flood—mentioned Gen.
vi. 1, 2—is fabulously related in an ancient book, falsely ascribed
to Enoch, wherein the watchmen or angels are reported to take them
wives of the daughters of men, and that from thence was the race of
giants.[294] For the description of paradise, the heathens had the
poetical fiction of the Elysian fields; as they had the story of
Deucalion, instead of Noah’s ark and the deluge. The story of Lot’s
wife was abused by the fiction of Orpheus his wife, suddenly snatched
from him for looking back. The history of Samson was turned into their
story of Hercules and his ten labours. From the sun standing still in
Joshua and Hezekiah’s time, came that fiction of Jupiter’s doubling
the night, that he might enjoy Alcmena. In some of these disguises
of sacred story, they go so near in name and circumstances, that it
is past doubt they imitated the true history, which they corrupted.
For instance, Herodotus relates that Sethon, king of Egypt and priest
of Vulcan, was helped by his god from heaven against Sennacherib,
which plainly relates to Hezekiah king of Judah, and the wonders that
God did for him.[295] So in imitation of Uriah’s letters to Joab for
his own destruction, we have in Homer and others the story of Prœtus
sending letters to Jobatas by Bellerophon, wherein his death was
commanded; the near affinity of the names Joab and Jobatas, shews with
what heifer the devil ploughed. The history of Abraham’s offering
up Isaac is by Porphyry applied to Saturn, who saith he was by the
Phœnicians called Israel; he had by Anobreth one only son called
Jeud,—an evident allusion, saith Godwyn, [Antiq., lib. iv. cap. 3,] to
Gen. xxii. 2, where Isaac is in the Hebrew called Jechid, that is, an
only-begotten,—him he offered up on an altar purposely prepared. Here
not only the matter, but the names, do clearly shew that Abraham’s
story is imitated in this. The like imitation I might shew to have
been among the heathen of doctrinal truths, as of the sacred mystery
of the Trinity. In Peru they worship the father, son, and brother; as
also their Tangatauga, which they say was one in three, and three in
one.[296] But their imitation of ordinances is everywhere remarkable,
so that I need say nothing of their temples, priests, sacrifices, and
other religious rites; only the devil’s imitation of the sacraments
of the New Testament deserves particular observation. Instances of an
apish imitation of baptism are everywhere obvious, and that of the
Lord’s supper or Christian communion was frequently resembled in the
chief Peruvian feasts, where they carried small loaves of bread in
great platters of gold, of which all present received and ate little
pieces, and this as a sign of honour and profession of obedience to
their gods and the ingua.[297] Not unlike to this were those morsels
of paste which the Mexicans used in their religious feasts, which they
laid at their idol’s feet, consecrating them by singing and other
ceremonies, and then they called them the flesh and bones of their
god Vitziliputzli, alluding directly to that of our Saviour, ‘This is
my body,’ &c., insomuch that Acosta thought the devil mocked their
transubstantiation by it. This was distributed among all, and was eaten
with a great deal of reverence, fear, and devotion.[298]

We may see by those instances that in these fabulous imaginations of
truth the devil hath industriously traded, and that which he aimed at
in this design may easily be conjectured to be,

[1.] _The despiting and discrediting of truth._ He renders it by this
means suspicious of some forgery; as if the Scripture were no better
than an uncertain tradition, as if, at the best, it were doubtful
whether Scripture or these traditionary fables had better authority.

[2.] He further intends _the entanglement of the affections to error
by this device_; for he doth, as it were, take the spoils of the
tabernacle to adorn his Dagon withal; and without doubt the heathens
were very much hardened in Gentilism by these traditionary stories.
Hence one observes,[299] the devil imitated the history of the miracle
done in favour of Hezekiah, that the Scriptures might lose their credit
and authority, and that the glory of such a wonder might be transferred
to their idols; and the consequence of both these is,

[3.] _To deprive the truth of its convincing power upon the consciences
of men._ The principles of Scripture convince by the evidence of their
truth. If that truth be questioned by the substitution of another
competitor, it presently loseth its force, and the commands thereof are
disregarded upon a supposition of its uncertainty.

[4.] Another of his ways to betray the understanding by the affections,
is by _putting men upon an accommodation of truth to a compliance
with parties differing from it_. And this hath been so much the more
successful, because it hath begun, and been carried on, upon the most
specious pretences. The avoiding of offences, the smoothing of the way
of religion for the gaining of the contrary minded, the preservation of
peace and unity, are pleas very plausible; and really, upon the account
of these things, the Scripture, both by its precepts and examples,
hath recommended to us condescensions and brotherly forbearances. The
Jews, who were dissatisfied at the first publication of the liberty
from the yoke of Mosaical ceremonies purchased for us by Christ, were
indulged in the use of circumcision, and observance of the difference
of meats for a long time, till they might be the better satisfied in
the truth. These pretences the devil makes use of to undermine truth.
And pleasing his agents with the honour of a pious design—and it may be
at first really so intended by them—he prevails with them, not only for
a present condescension to men of contrary practice, but to cast the
principles of truth into such a fixed mould that they may carry a more
near resemblance to those opinions which they do most directly oppose.
The appearance of sanctity, peaceableness, prudence, and successfulness
in such an undertaking, doth exceedingly animate the well-meaning
designers, which Satan, in the meantime, carries them beyond all
bounds, and so dangerously fixeth an unnatural representation of truth,
that it loseth its own splendour, and settles at last upon unsafe
notions. Thus by the continuance of such a compliance, error begins to
recruit its forces, and is as likely to draw over truth wholly to its
side—by the argument of resemblance, and the consequences following
thereupon—as truth is wholly to extirpate and conquer error. And if it
do not that, succeeding ages, that minded not the first design, finding
things so continued to them, in deep reverence to their predecessors,
form their prudential condescensions into perverse opinions.

If we follow the tract of time from the first preaching of the gospel,
we may find Satan’s footsteps all along. In the apostles’ times, when
the believing Jews were tolerated necessarily till time and experience
might fully convince them in their observation of the law of Moses,
which was certainly given of God, and so might very easily occasion an
opinion of the continuance of it, Acts xv. 1, 5, though the apostles
did not at all accommodate the standing precepts of the New Testament
to carry a perpetual resemblance of that opinion, neither did they
still countenance that practice, but did seasonably and fully declare
against it, exhorting Christians ‘to stand in the liberty wherewith
Christ hath made them free,’ Gal. v. 1, 2, yet Satan was busy to
take advantage of the present forbearances, which the Holy Ghost
had directed them unto; insomuch that instead of convincing all the
dissenters by that lenity, some dissenters waxed bold to persuade the
Christians ‘to another gospel.’ But after their days the devil pursued
this design with greater scope; for instance, in Constantine’s time,
when the Gentiles flocked into the church with dirty feet and in their
old rags, they were tolerated in some old customs of Gentilism, and
upon a design to win them, they made bold to bend the doctrine of the
gospel toward their former usages; they thought indeed it was best to
wink at things, and not to bear too hard upon them at first, but that,
tolerating a lesser evil, they might avoid a greater inconvenience;
and withal they deemed they had done great service to the church and
Christian religion, if they could any way divert the heathen from
worshipping their idols. And to effect this the easilier, they seemed
to cherish their customs and rites of worship, as consonant in the
general to the principles of Christianity, only they excepted against
the object of their worship as unlawful, so that upon the matter they
did no more than change the name. The manifold inconveniences that
followed this kind of dealing, they did not discover at first; but
besides the infecting the simplicity of Christian religion with the
dirt and dregs of paganism, which they might easily have seen, time
hath since discovered that here the devil secretly laid the chief
foundations of popery.

Whosoever shall impartially compare the rites, customs, usages, and
garbs of popery, with those of paganism, will to his admiration find
such an exact agreement and consonancy, that he must necessarily
conclude that either paganism imitated popery, or popery imitated
paganism; but the latter is true, and that these corruptions in
religion by popery came in by a designment of conforming Christianity
to heathenism, though it may be upon pious intentions at first, is
no difficult thing to evince; for besides that the rites of paganism
were more ancient, and so could not be borrowed from popery, which
came long after, the Scripture did foretell a great defection from
truth which should be in the ‘last days,’ and this under a profession
of religion; and the things particularised are such as shew that the
defection should carry an imitation of paganism: for no less seems to
be signified by 1 Tim. iv. 1, ‘The Spirit speaketh expressly, that
in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to
seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;’ that is—as Mr Mede, whose
interpretation I follow,[300] doth prove—doctrines concerning devils
or demons: as in Heb. vi. 2, we have the phrase of ‘doctrines of
baptisms,’ which must needs signify doctrines concerning baptisms; the
Gentile theology of demons is the thing which Paul prophesies should be
introduced into Christianity. How clearly this relates to popery may be
evident to any that doth not wilfully blind himself by prejudice. Their
doctrine of demons was this: they supposed two sorts of gods, supreme
and inferior; the supreme they supposed did dwell in the heavenly
lights, sun, moon, and stars, without change of place; these they
judged were so sublime and pure, that they might not be profaned with
the approach of earthly things, and that immediate approaches to them
were derogatory to their sovereignty. The inferior order of gods they
imagined were of a middle sort, betwixt the supreme beings and men,
as participating of both. These they called mediators and agents, and
supposed their business was to carry up men’s prayers to God, and to
bring down blessings from God upon men. These were in Scripture called
Baalim, and by the Greeks demons; to this purpose Austin and others

Now these demons they supposed were the souls of dead men, that had
been more than ordinarily famous in their generation. Thus Ninus
made an image to his father Belus after he was dead, and caused him
to be worshipped. Hermes confesseth that Æsculapius, grandfather to
Asclepius, and Mercury, his own grandfather, were worshipped as gods
of this order. Abundance of instances I might produce to this purpose;
but to go on, these demons, because to them was committed the care of
terrestrial affairs, as Celsus argues against Origen, and because of
the help and advantage that men might receive from them, they supposed
it gratitude and duty to worship them, and this worship they performed
at their images, sepulchres, and relics. To this purpose Plutarch tells
us of Theseus his bones, and Plato of the θῆκαι or shrines of their

How evident is it that the papists in their doctrine and practice about
the invocation of saints and angels, have writ after this copy, and
that they are the men that have introduced this doctrine of demons,
the thing itself declares without further evidence. Had the heathens
their dead heroes for agents betwixt the supreme gods and men? so
have the papists their dead saints to offer up their prayers. Did
the heathen expect more particular aids from some of these demons in
several cases than from others? so do the papists. Instead of Diana
for women in labour, and Æsculapius for the diseased, they have their
St Margaret and St Mary for travailing; Sebastian and Roch against
the pestilence; Apollonia against the toothache; St Nicholas against
tempests, &c. Did the heathen pray to these demons for their aid? so
do the papists to their saints, as their breviaries, rosaries, and
Lady’s psalters testify. Had the heathen their feasts, their _statas
ferias_ to their demons? so have the papists. Had they their _Februalia
et Proserpinilia_ with torches and lights? so have the papists their
Candlemas with lights. Did the heathen erect images and pillars, or
keep the ashes and shrines of their demons? so do the papists; the
one had processions and adorations, so have the other; and a great
many more things there are wherein popery keeps a correspondence with
heathenism. To this purpose you may read enough in Monsieur de Croy,
‘Of the Three Conformities.’

To make it yet more clear that the corruptions in religion by popery
came in by the design of suiting Christian religion to paganism, I
shall in a testimony or two shew you that they professedly avouched
the design. Gregory the Great writes chidingly to Serenus, bishop of
Marseilles, who it seems was no forward man in this matter to this
purpose,[303] ‘Thou shouldst have considered that thou didst converse
chiefly with the Gentiles, to whom pictures are instead of reading,
to the end that no offence be given them under colour of lawful zeal,
wherewith thou art not cunningly endued.’ And in another epistle to
Mellitus,[304] he adviseth, ‘That the honours and offerings which the
heathens gave to their demons should be transferred to the martyrs
and their relics,’ and gives this reason for it, ‘It is impossible,’
saith he, ‘to cut off all at once from stubborn minds.’[305] Eusebius
also endeavours to persuade to Christianity by this argument, that
the Christians’ custom of honouring the memories of the martyrs, and
solemnly assembling at their sepulchres, did agree with the custom
of the Gentiles of doing the like honour to their demons, and having
mentioned what Hesiod speaks concerning Plato’s opinion, that their
champions became demons after death, helpers and protectors of men—for
which cause they were worshipped at their sepulchres as gods; he
adds to this purpose, that ‘if these honours had been given to the
favourites of God, and champions of true religion, it had been well
enough;’ and for this shews the example and custom of Christians then
to go to the tombs of martyrs, there to pray in honour of their blessed
spirits. And although at first they might be more modest in honouring
the martyrs than now they are, according to that of Austin, ‘These
observances at the tombs of martyrs,’ saith he, ‘are only ornaments of
their memories, not sacrifices to them as to gods.’[306] Yet this soon
slid into greater abuse, insomuch that Lud. Vives,[307] in his notes
on that chapter, blames those of his own time for worshipping saints
as gods, and tells us he cannot see the difference betwixt the opinion
concerning saints, as generally practised, and that of the heathens
concerning their gods. I might add the positive acknowledgment of
Beatus Rhenanus, Jacobus de Voragine, concerning the burning of candles
to the Virgin Mary, which custom they confess was borrowed from the
heathens, with a respect to the frowardness of paganism, and a design
not to exasperate them, that they might gain them.

I might also shew that the mischief of this design, of accommodating
truth to a compliance with different parties, hath not only shewn
itself in introducing strange actions and ceremonies, but hath also
discovered itself in leavening men’s judgments in reference to opinion.
Calvin conjectures[308] that those confident assertions of the powers
of nature were first occasioned by an over-officious willingness
to reconcile the doctrine of the Scripture with the opinions of
philosophy; and that men being unwilling to run the hazard of the
scorn which they might meet with in contradicting the general received
principles of philosophers, were willing to form the doctrine of
truth relating to human ability accordingly. Abundance of instances
of this kind may be given. Whence came the doctrine of purgatory, but
from hence? It is but Plato’s philosophy Christianised by the Roman
synagogue.[309] He divided all men into three ranks: the virtuous,
who are placed by him in the Elysian fields; the desperate ungodly,
these he adjudgeth to everlasting fire; and a third sort, betwixt the
perfectly virtuous and the desperately wicked, he sendeth to Acheron,
to be purged by punishment. All of this Eusebius makes mention of at
large.[310] That the papists derived their purgatory from hence is
generally affirmed by protestants—nay, not only in these cases, but
in very many more, corruptions have entered into Christianity by an
over-eager endeavour to make the doctrine of the Scriptures to run
even with the sayings and assertions of the schools of philosophers;
a thing complained of old by Tertullian, who plainly affirmed the
philosophers to be the patriarchs of the heretics.[311] To which
agrees that observation of Dr Owen, that those who either apologised
for Christians, or refuted the objections of the heathens against
Christianity, frequently cited the opinions or sentences of the
philosophers, and accommodated them to their purpose, that so they
might beget in their adversaries more friendly persuasions towards
the Christian religion, by evidencing that the mysteries thereof were
not absurd, nor dissonant from reason, seeing they might be justified
by the sayings of their own philosophers. And ‘here was laid, in this
design and its prosecution, (and surely it pleased its undertakers
not a little,) the foundation of that evil which religion hath since
groaned under, that men made bold with the tremendous mysteries of
Christianity, to accommodate them unwarily to the notions of the
Gentiles.’[312] And this the apostle Paul foresaw in that caution he
gave, Col. ii. 8, ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy
and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of
the world, and not after Christ.’ Certainly the snare is neither
unusual nor weak, where the caution is so serious. It is a thing
naturally pleasing, to be the inventor of any new thing, or to make
new discoveries in religion, to raise new hypotheses, or to adventure
in unbeaten paths, for a reconcilement of religion to any notion or
practice famous for its antiquity, or pretence to beauty and decency.
Men hug themselves when they can make several things to hit right, and
an exact suiting of parallels is instead of demonstration. By this
foolish delight the devil makes men bold to make essays; and what doth
answer their humour passeth current for undoubted truth.

[5.] He doth sometime blind the understanding, _by working up the
affections to such an earnest opposition to some error, that in a
forward haste they cast the mind upon a contrary extreme_; so that
through a hasty, violent avoidance of one error, they are cast upon a
contrary, and, it may be, as dangerous as that they fly from. And this
the devil doth with great ease, having the plausible pretence of zeal
and care to truth, wherein the affections being highly engaged, the
mind in a careless confidence doth easily overshoot the truth, which
commonly lies in the middle, and thinks it doth well enough if it gives
the greatest contradiction to the error now to be abominated. Men in
this case, having their eyes only fixed upon what they would avoid,
consider not so much whither they are going, as from what they go. So
that seeking, as men in a fright, to avoid the pit that is before them,
they run backward into another behind them.

This is such a noted stratagem of Satan, that all men take notice of
it in the general, though all men do not improve the discovery for
their own particular caution. The wisest of men are often so befooled
by their violent resistance of an untruth, that they readily overshoot
themselves and miss the mark. The fathers, in the heat of dispute,
said many things so inconveniently, that those who come after do see
and lament these hasty oversights, and have no other way to salve
their credit but by giving this observation in excuse for them. And it
may be observed that some errors which have risen from this root at
first have so strongly fixed themselves, that they have grown up to
the great annoyance of the truth; while the contrary errors that did
occasion them are forgotten, and their memories are perished. I shall
but instance in one instead of many, and that shall be Arianism. How
sadly prevalent that hath been in its time, all men know that know
anything of church history. The Christian world once groaned under
it. But that which gave the first occasion to Arius to fix himself
in that error was the doctrine of Alexander, who, discoursing of
the unity in the Trinity too nicely, seemed to justify the error of
Sabellius, who had taught, as also Noetus before, that there was but
one person in the Trinity, called by divers names of Father, Son, and
Spirit, according to different occasions; the Trinity, according to
his doctrine, being not of persons, but of names and functions. While
Arius was dissatisfied with this account of the Trinity, he ran to a
contrary extreme; and that he might give the highest proof of a Trinity
of persons, he affirmed that Jesus Christ had a beginning, and that
there was a time when he was not, &c. Thus Socrates speaks of the rise
of that heresy.[313]

We might further follow the footsteps of this device, and trace it in
most opinions; where we might find the humour of running to a contrary
extreme hath still either set up a contrary error, or at least leavened
the truth with harsh and unjustifiable expressions and explanations.
The disputes betwixt faith and works have been thus occasioned and
aggravated. Some speak so of faith, as if they slighted works; others
so urge a necessity of works, as if they intended to make faith
useless. Some talk of grace, to an utter contempt of morality; others,
on the contrary, magnify morality to the annihilating of grace. Some
in their practice acquiesce in the outward performance of ordinances:
if they pray or receive the sacraments, though never so formally,
they are at peace, supposing they have done all that is required;
others observing the mistake, and knowing that God looks more to the
performance of the soul and spirit than to the act of the body, upon
a pretence of worshipping God in spirit, throw off the observation of
his ordinances altogether. Neither is there anything that doth more
generally and apparently undo us in the present dissensions, as many
have complained, than men’s violent overdoing and running to contrary

[6.] Satan _makes use of rewards or punishments, on the one hand
to bribe, or on the other to force the affections, and they being
strongly possessed, easily prevail with the understanding to give
sentence accordingly_. Men are soon persuaded to take that for truth
which they see will be advantageous to them. Some men indeed take
up with a profession of truth, which yet their hearts approve not;
but the advantages they have by their profession, do silence their
dissatisfactions; these are said to use the profession of truth as
‘a cloak of covetousness,’ 2 Thes. ii. 5. But others go further, and
are really brought to an approbation of that doctrine or way that
makes most for their profit, their minds being really corrupted by a
self-seeking principle. They persuade themselves, where there is any
contest about doctrines, that that doctrine is true which is gainful,
and will accordingly dispute for it. Hence that expression in 1 Tim.
vi. 5, ‘supposing that gain is godliness.’

To this may be added, that the affections are quickly sensible of the
ease and sensual gratifications of any doctrine, and these are usually
thrown into the same scale to make more weight. Men have naturally a
good liking to that doctrine that promiseth fair for ease, liberty,
gain, and honour; and this hath made it a usual piece of Satan’s
business in all ages to gild an error with outward advantages, and to
corrupt the mind by secret promises of advancement.

On the other side, he labours as much to prejudice truth, by
representing it as hazardous and troublesome to the professors of
it. And this not only affrights some from an open confession of the
truth they believe, but also, by the help of the affections, doth
persuade some to believe that to be an error, which unavoidably brings
persecution with it. By this engine are the minds of men turned about
to think well or ill of a doctrine presented to them. This is so well
known that I shall forbear a further prosecution of this head, and
go to the next course that Satan takes to corrupt the judgment by the
affections; which he doth,

[7.] _By stirring up some particular passions, which in opinions do
usually more influence the understanding._ And here I shall only insist
upon these two, pride and anger, with the peculiar means that Satan
hath to engage them in his service.

That pride and anger are the two usual firebrands of contention and
fountains of error, all ages have acknowledged and bewailed. These two
companions in evil do so darken the mind, that the miserable captive in
whom they domineer is carried blindfold, he knows not whither, nor how.
Pride usually begins, and anger follows with all its forces, to justify
what pride hath undertaken. Hence the apostle, in 1 Tim. vi. 4, rakes
up all the concomitant filth of error, as envy, strife, railings, evil
surmisings, and perverse disputings of men, and lays them at the door
of pride: ‘He is proud, knowing nothing.’

For the engaging of these two thieves, that rob the understanding
of its light, Satan hath many artifices in readiness. Pride, which
is forward enough of itself, is soon excited by laying before it an
opportunity of a seeming rare discovery, or of advancing the glory of
knowledge above the common pitch, of being seen and admired as more
excellent than others, &c.: for upon such unworthy grounds have some
dared to adventure upon strange notions; yet there is nothing that
doth more firmly engage it than contention or dispute: for though the
proper end of disputation be the sifting out of truth, yet such is
man’s pride, and Satan’s advantage by it, that it seldom attains its
true end in those that are engaged. Bystanders that keep their minds
calm and unbiased, may receive more satisfaction than the contenders
themselves; and there needs no other evidence of this than the common
experience which men have of our frequent contentions; where we
have confutations, answers and replies, and yet still all parties
continue in their opinions without conviction. So that they that would
unfeignedly seek truth, in my mind, take not the best course in their
pursuit, that presently engage themselves in a public dispute; for the
usual heats that are begot in a contention alienate their minds from
a just impartiality, and the dust they raise blinds their eyes, that
they discern not truly. Let us look into this artifice of engaging
pride by disputation, and by it the judgment. First we find that when
a humour of contending is raised, certain truths are neglected, as
to their improvement and practice; for so much of the strength of
the soul is laid out upon disputable questions, that little is left
for more weighty matters. Secondly, In disputes men’s credit is so
concerned, that it is a most difficult thing to preserve a faithful
regard to verity, especially where they are managed with affronts
and contumelies. They that by calm handling might be induced to
acknowledge a mistake, will scarce come near that point of ingenuity,
when they must be called fool, knave, or ass for their labour. Hence
ordinarily, though they profess otherwise, men seek rather victory than
truth. Thirdly, In disputes pride and passion are usually heightened,
and the stronger the passions are the weaker is the judgment. Eager
altercations bring a confusion, both upon the matter of which they
dispute and upon the understanding that should judge. Fourthly, In the
heat of disputation, when the mind is inflamed, men usually behave
themselves like those in a fray, where they snatch and throw anything
that comes to hand, and never mind where it hits; they will affirm or
deny anything that may seem any way to bring them off. Fifthly, These
assertions being once affirmed must be maintained, and so errors and
contentions increase without end. Disputes fix a man in his persuasion,
and do, as it were, tie him to the stake, so that right or wrong he
will go through with it. Sixthly, Some dispute in jest against their
present judgment, and yet at last dispute themselves into a belief of
what they wantonly at first affirmed; as some tell lies so long, that
at length they believe them to be true. Seventhly, A sadder mischief
often follows a disputing humour, which is a hazard of the loss of all
truth. Men dispute so long till they suspect all things, and after a
long trade of scepticism turn atheists.[314]

After the same manner doth the devil engage anger in all disputes and
controversies, for it keeps company with pride, wherever there is a
provocation. And besides this, anger stirring up injuries and wrongs,
hath often engaged men, as it were in revenge, to change their opinion,
and to take up another way or doctrine. Nay, often that simple mixture
of pride and anger which we call emulation, hath privately tainted the
integrity of mind, and prepared it for the next fair opportunity of
error. This is noted of Arius, by Theodoret, that when Alexander was
chosen bishop of Alexandria, he envied him the preferency, and from
thence sought occasions of contention, which after a little while the
devil brought to his hand, as we have heard.[315]

So great is the power of these two passions over the understanding,
that we have cause to wonder at their success. Seldom or never can it
be shewn that any ringleader in error was not visibly tainted with
pride, or not apparently soured with discontents and emulation.

[8.] To these ways of blinding the understanding by the affections
I shall add but one more, which is this: Satan endeavours mainly to
_adorn an error with truth’s clothing_. He takes its ornaments and
jewels to dress up a false doctrine, that it may look more lovely and
dutiful; I mean that he designs, where errors are capable of such an
imitation, to put them into the way, method, garb, and manner which
truth doth naturally use. If truth be adorned with zeal, order,
strictness, or have advantageous ways of managing itself, error must
straightway imitate it in all these things; and though he that looks
near may easily discern that it is not the natural complexion of error,
but an artificial varnish, and such as doth no more become it than a
court dress doth become a coarse, clownish, country person—for you may
at first look usually discover the wolf under sheep’s clothing, and
under the garb of the apostles of Christ you may see the ministers of
Satan—yet are the credulous usually affected with these appearances.
If they find a professed strictness, a seeming severity, an imitation
of the ways of truth, or of the fruits thereof, they commonly seek no
further, but judge that to be truth which doth the things that truth
doth; and if error can handsomely stand in competition with truth,
upon a pretence of being as effectual in good works, and doing things
of themselves lovely and of good report, it doth much gain upon the
good liking of those whose consideration leads them not much further
than fair appearances. I shall only exemplify this by the art and
policy which Julian used to set up paganism, and to ruin Christianity;
and those who have observed the ways which he took to gain his end,
will readily acknowledge he was as well skilled in advancing error
and suppressing truth as any whosoever, and knew exactly to suit his
designs to men’s inclinations. He observing that Christian religion
had some particular things in its practice and way which made its face
to shine, as that it had persons solemnly set apart by ordination for
teaching the mysteries of the gospel, and for managing the public
worship of God; that these persons were to be grave in their carriage,
and exemplary in a strict holy conversation; that the constitutions
of religion appointed certain necessary and effectual ways of
discipline, for punishment, and restoring of offenders, and bringing
them to repentance; that it took care of the comfortable maintenance
of those that had given up themselves to the ministry of the word and
prayer; that it also enjoined a relief of the poor and strangers, &c.:
taking notice, I say, of these excellencies in Christianity, and how
lovely they were in the eyes of their enemies, he appointed the like
constitutions for paganism, and ordained that the idol temples should
be suited in conveniency and comeliness to Christian churches: that
there should be seats and desks for the chief doctors and readers of
Gentilism, who at set times were to exhort the people and pray with
them; and that colleges and monasteries should be erected for them,
and for the relief of the poor and strangers; he commanded discipline
and penances for the chastisement of offenders; he required that their
priests should seriously give up themselves to the worship of God, as
also their families, that they should not frequent shows and taverns,
nor practise any infamous trade and art. Thus Sozomen reports him,[316]
and gives us a copy of his letter to Arsacius, high priest of Galatia,
to this purpose; and all this he did to bring Gentilism into credit
with the vulgar, whom he had observed to be affected to Christianity
for its order, strictness, and government.

Yet is not this the only instance that may be given in this kind: for
observe but any error that by schism sets up for itself in a distinct
party, and you shall see that though it departs from the truth of the
church, and from its communion, yet still, as the Israelites did with
the Egyptians, it carries away with it these jewels of the church, and
keeps to some considerable part of the church’s way, though modified
according to its own bent, that it might have a lustre with it, to make
it taking with others.

These eight particulars are the most remarkable ways of Satan whereby
the affections are gained to a good liking of error, and by them the
judgment secondarily corrupted to call it truth.


 _Satan’s attempts against the peace of God’s children
 evidenced—(1.) By his malice; (2.) From the concernment
 of peace to God’s children; what these concerns are, explained.
 (3.) From the advantages which he hath against them by
 disquieting their minds—1. Confusion of mind; 2.
 Unfitness for duty, and how; 3. Rejection of duty; 4.
 A stumbling-block to others; 5. Preparation of the mind to
 entertain venomous impressions, and what they are; 6. Bodily
 weakness; 7. Our miseries Satan’s contentment._

We have viewed the ways of Satan by which he tempts to sin, by which
he withdraws men from duty and service, by which he corrupts the mind
through error. It only now remains that something be spoken of his
attempts against the peace and comfort of the children of God.

That it is also one of Satan’s chief designs to cheat us of our
spiritual peace, may be fully evinced by a consideration of his malice,
the great concern of inward comfort to us, and the many advantages
which he hath against us by the disquiet of our minds.

1. First, Whosoever shall seriously consider the devil’s _implacable
malice, will easily believe that he so envies our happiness that he
will industriously rise up against all our comforts_. It is his inward
fret and indignation that man hath any interest in that happiness
from which he irrecoverably fell, and that the Spirit of God should
produce in the hearts of his people any spiritual joy or satisfaction
in the belief and expectation of that felicity; and therefore must
it be expected that his malice—heightened by the torment of his
own guilt, which, as some think, are those ‘chains of darkness’ in
which he is reserved at present ‘to the judgment of the great day,’
[2 Peter ii. 4,]—will not, cannot leave this part of our happiness
unattempted. He endeavours to supplant us of our birthright, of our
blessing, of our salvation, and the comfortable hopes thereof. From his
common employment in this matter, the Scripture hath given him names,
importing an opposition to Christ and his Spirit in the ways they take
for our comfort and satisfaction. Christ is our advocate that pleads
for us; Satan is διάβολος, a calumniator. The Spirit intercedes for
us; Satan is κατήγορος τῶν ἀδελφῶν, ‘the accuser of the brethren, who
accuseth them before God night and day,’ Rev. xii. 10. The Spirit is
our comforter; Satan is our disturber, a Beelzebub who is ever raking
in our wounds, as flies upon sores. The apostle Paul had his eye
upon this when he was advising the Corinthians to receive again the
penitent incestuous person; his caution was most serious: 2 Cor. ii.
11, ‘Lest Satan get advantage of us,’ lest he deceive and circumvent
us; for his expression relates to men cunningly deceitful in trade,
that do overreach and defraud the unskilful, πλεονεκτηθῶμεν; and the
reason of this caution was the known and commonly experienced subtlety
of Satan, ‘for we are not ignorant of his devices,’ implying that he
will, and frequently doth lie at catch to take all advantages against
us. Some indeed restrain these advantages to ver. 10,[317] as if
Paul only meant that Satan was designing to fix the Corinthians upon
an opinion, that backsliders into great sins were not to be received
again, or that he laid in wait to raise a schism in the church upon the
account of this Corinthian. Others[318] restrain this advantage which
he waited for to ver. 7, where the apostle expresseth his fear lest the
excommunicated person should ‘be swallowed up of too much sorrow;’ but
the caution being not expressly bound up to any one of these, seems to
point at them all, and to tell us that Satan drives on many designs
at once, and that in this man’s case Satan would endeavour to put the
Corinthians upon a pharisaical rigour, or to rend the church by a
division about him, and to oppress the penitent by bereaving him of his
due comfort; so that it appears still that it is one of his designs to
hinder the comfort and molest the hearts of God’s children.

2. Secondly, Of _such concern is inward spiritual peace to us_, that
it is but an easy conjecture to conclude from thence that so great an
adversary will make it his design to rob us of such a jewel; for,

[1.] Spiritual comfort is the _sweet fruit of holiness_, by which
God adorns and beautifies the ways of religious service, to render
them amiable and pleasant to the undertakers: ‘Her ways are ways of
pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,’ Prov. iii. 17; and this is
the present ‘rest and refreshment’ of God’s faithful servants under all
their toil, that when they have ‘tribulation from the world,’ yet they
have ‘peace in him,’ John xvi. 33; and that, being ‘justified by faith,
they have peace with God,’ and sometimes ‘joy unspeakable and full of
glory,’ 1 Peter i. 8; and this they may the more confidently expect,
because ‘the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace,’ &c., Gal. v.

[2.] Spiritual comfort is not only our satisfaction, but our _inward
strength and activity; for all holy services doth depend upon it_. By
this doth God strengthen our heart and gird up our loins ‘to run the
ways of his commandments.’ It doth also strengthen the soul to undergo
afflictions, to glory in tribulations, to triumph in persecutions. The
outward man is also corroborated by the inward peace of the mind: ‘A
merry heart doth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the
bones,’ Prov. xvii. 22; all which are intended by that expression, Neh.
viii. 10, ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength;’ it is strength to the
body, to the mind, and that both for service and suffering; the reason
whereof the apostle doth hint to us, Phil. iv. 7, ‘The peace of God,
which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds’—that
is, peace doth so guard us as with a garrison, φρουρήσει—for so much
the word imports—that our affections, our hearts, being entertained
with divine satisfactions, are not easily enticed by baser proffers
of worldly delights, and our reasonings, our minds, being kept steady
upon so noble an object, are not so easily perverted to a treacherous
recommendation of vanities.

[3.] Joy and peace are propounded to our careful endeavours, for
attainment and preservation, _as a necessary duty of great importance
to us_. Rejoicings are not only recommended as seemly for the upright,
but enjoined as service, and that in the constant practice: ‘Rejoice
evermore;’ ‘In everything give thanks,’ 1 Thes. v. 16, 18; ‘Rejoice
in the Lord alway; and again I say, rejoice,’ Phil. iv. 4. In the Old
Testament, God commanded the observation of several feasts to the
Jews. These, though they had their several respective grounds from
God’s appointment, yet the general design of all seems to have been
this, that ‘they might rejoice before the Lord their God,’ Lev. xxiii.
40; as if God did thereby tell them that it was the comely complexion
of religion, and that which was very acceptable to himself, that his
children might always serve him in cheerfulness of heart, seeing such
have more cause to rejoice than all the world besides. They are then
much mistaken that think mournful eyes and sad hearts be the greatest
ornaments of religion, or that none are serious in the profession of it
that have a cheerful countenance and a rejoicing frame of spirit. It is
true, there is a joy that is devilish, and a mirth which is madness, to
which Christ hath denounced a woe: ‘Woe be to them that laugh now, for
they shall mourn and weep,’ [Luke vi. 25]; but this is a joy of another
nature, a carnal delight in vanity and sin, by which men fatten their
hearts to ruin; and whatsoever is said against this can be no prejudice
to spiritual, holy joy in God, his favour and ways.

[4.] Spiritual comfort is also _a badge of our heavenly Father’s
kindness_. As Joseph, the son of his father’s affections, had a special
testimony thereof in his parti-coloured coat, so have God’s favourites
a peculiar token of his good-will to them when he gives them ‘the
garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness,’ [Isa. lxi. 7.] If
spiritual comfort be so advantageous to us, it will be no wonder to see
Satan so much rage against it. It would be a satisfaction to him to
tear these robes off us, to impede so needful a duty, to rob us of so
much strength, and to bereave us of the sweet fruits of our labours.

3. Thirdly, It further appears that Satan’s design is against the
comforts of God’s children, _by the many advantages he hath against
them, from the trouble and disquiet of their hearts_. I shall reckon up
the chief of them; as,

[1.] From the trouble of the spirit _he raiseth confusions and
distractions of mind_; for, (1.) It is as natural to trouble to raise
up a swarm of muddy thoughts as to ‘a troubled sea to cast up mire and
dirt;’ and hence is that comparison, Isa. lvii. 20; a thousand fearful
surmises, evil cogitations, resolves, and counsels immediately offer
themselves. This disorder of thoughts Christ took notice of in his
disciples when they were in danger, ‘Why do thoughts arise in your
hearts?’ Luke xxiv. 38. And David considered it as matter of great
anxiety, which called for speedy help: Ps. xciv. 19, ‘In the multitude
of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.’ Sometimes one
fear is suggested, then presently another; now this doubt perplexeth,
then another question is begot by the former; they think to take this
course, then by and by they are off that, and resolve upon another,
and as quickly change again to a third, and so onward, one thought
succeeding another, as vapours from a boiling pot. (2.) Such thoughts
are vexatious and distracting, the very thoughts themselves, being
the poisonous steams of their running sores, are sadly afflictive,
and not unfitly called _cogitationes onerosæ_, burdensome thoughts.
But as they wrap up a man in clouds and darkness, as they puzzle him
in his resolves, nonplus him in his undertakings, distract him in
his counsels, disturb and hinder him in his endeavours, &c., so do
they bring the mind into a labyrinth of confusion. What advantage the
devil hath against a child of God when his heart is thus divided and
broken into shivers, it is easy to imagine. And David seems to be very
sensible of it when he put up that request, Ps. lxxxvi. 11, ‘Unite my
heart to fear thy name.’

[2.] By disquiet of heart the devil _unfits men for duty or service_.
Fitness for duty lies in the orderly temper of body and mind, making a
man willing to undertake, and able to finish his work with comfortable
satisfaction. If either the body or mind be distempered, a man is
unfit for such an undertaking; both must be in a suitable frame, like
a well-tuned instrument, else there will be no melody. Hence, when
David prepared himself for praises and worship, he tells us his ‘heart
was ready and fixed,’ and then ‘his tongue was ready also,’ so was his
hand with psaltery and harp; all these were awakened into a suitable
posture, Ps. xlv. 1, 2, and cviii. 1, 2. That a man is or hath been
in a fit order for service may be concluded from—(1.) His alacrity
to undertake a duty. (2.) His activity in the prosecution. (3.) His
satisfaction afterward, right grounds and principles in these things
being still presupposed. This being laid as a foundation, we shall
easily perceive how the troubles of the spirit do unfit us for duty.

_First_, These do take away all _alacrity and forwardness of the mind,
partly by diverting it from duty_. Sorrows when they prevail do so
fix the mind upon the present trouble, that it can think of nothing
but its burden; they confine the thoughts to the pain and smart, and
make a man forget all other things, as David in his trouble ‘forgot
to eat his bread,’ [Ps. cii. 4]; and sick persons willingly discourse
only of their diseases; partly by indisposing for action. Joy and
hope are active principles, but sorrow is sullen and sluggish. As the
mind in trouble is wholly employed in a contemplation of its misery,
rather than in finding out a way to avoid it, so if it be at leisure
at any time to entertain thoughts of using means for recovery, yet it
is so tired out with its burden, so disheartened by its own fears, so
discouraged with opposition and disappointment, that it hath no list
to undertake anything. By this means the devil brings the soul into
a spiritual catoche,[319] so congealing the spirits, that it is made
stiff and deprived of motion.

_Second_, Disquiets of heart unfit us for duty, _by hindering our
activity in prosecution of duty_. The whole heart, soul, and strength
should be engaged in all religious services, but these troubles are as
clogs and weights to hinder motion. Joy is the dilatation of the soul,
and widens it for anything which it undertakes; but grief contracts the
heart, and narrows all the faculties. Hence doth David beg an ‘enlarged
heart,’ as the principle of activity: Ps. cxix. 32, ‘I will run the way
of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart;’ for what can
else be expected when the mind is so distracted with fear and sorrow,
but that it should be uneven, tottering, weak, and confused? so that
if it do set itself to anything, it acts troublesomely, drives on
heavily, and doth very little with a great deal ado; and yet, were the
unfitness the less, if that little which it can do were well done, but
the mind is so interrupted in its endeavours that sometimes in prayer
the man begins, and then is presently at a stand, and dare not proceed,
his words are ‘swallowed up, he is so troubled that he cannot speak,’
Ps. lxxvii. 4. Sometimes the mind is kept so employed and fixed on
trouble, that it cannot attend in hearing or praying, but presently the
thoughts are called off, and become wandering.

_Third_, Troubles hinder _our satisfaction in duty, and by that means
unfit us to present duties, and indispose us to future services of that
kind_. Our satisfaction in duty ariseth, (1.) Sometimes from its own
lustre and sweetness, the conviction we have of its pleasantness, and
the spiritual advantages to be had thereby; these render it alluring
and attractive, and by such considerations are we invited to their
performance, as Isa. ii. 3, ‘Come ye, let us go up to the mountain of
the Lord; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his
paths.’ Hosea vi. 1, ‘Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he
hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us
up;’ but trouble of spirit draws a black curtain over the excellencies
of duty, and presents us with frightful thoughts about it, so that
we judge of it according to our fears, and make it frightful to
ourselves, as if it would be to no purpose—rather a mischief than an
advantage. (2.) Sometime our satisfaction ariseth from some special
token of favour which our indulgent Father lets fall upon us while we
are in his work, as when he gives us more than ordinary assistance, or
puts joy and comfort into our hearts. And this he often doth to make
us come again, and to engage afresh in the same or other services,
as having ‘tasted and seen that the Lord is gracious,’ [1 Pet. ii.
3,] and that there is a blessedness in waiting for him. As in our
bodies he so orders it that the concocted juices become a successive
ferment to those that succeed from our daily meat and drink: so from
duties performed doth he beget and continue spiritual appetite to new
undertakings. But oh how sadly is all this hindered by the disquiet of
the heart! The graces of faith and love are usually obstructed, if not
in their exercise, yet in their delightful fruits, and if God offer a
kindness, inward sorrow hinders the perception: as when Moses told the
Israelites of their deliverance, ‘they hearkened not for hard bondage,’
[Exod. vi. 9.] If a message of peace present itself in a promise, or
some consideration of God’s merciful disposition, yet usually this is
not credited. Job confesseth so much of himself: Job xix. 16, ‘If I
had called and he had answered me, yet would I not believe that he had
hearkened unto my voice.’ David also doth the like: Ps. lxxvii. 2, 3,
‘My soul refuseth to be comforted; I remembered God, and was troubled.’
Matter of greatest comfort is often so far from giving ease, that it
augments the trouble. However, the heart is so hurried with its fears,
and discomposed with grief, that it cannot hearken to, nor consider,
nor believe any kind offer made to it.

By all these ways doth the devil, through the disquiet of mind, unfit
the Lord’s people for duty; and what a sad advantage this is against us
cannot easily be told. By this means he may widen the distance betwixt
God and us, keep our wounds open, make us a reproach to religion;
and what not? But (3.) By these disquiets he pusheth us on to reject
all duties; for when he hath tired us out by wearisome endeavours,
under so great indispositions and unfitness, he hath a fair advantage
to tempt us to lay all aside. Our present posture doth furnish him
with arguments, he forgeth his javelins upon our anvil, and they are
commonly these three:—

[1.] That duties are _difficult_. And this is easily proved from our
own experience; while we are broken or bowed down with sorrows, we make
many attempts for duty, and are oft beat off with loss; our greatest
toil helps us but to very inconsiderable performances; hence, he
infers, it is foolishness to attempt that which is above our strength,
better sit still than toil for nothing.

[2.] That they are _unfruitful_; and this is our own complaint, for
troubled spirits have commonly great expectations from duties at first,
and they run to them, as the impotent and sick people to the pool of
Bethesda, with thoughts of immediate ease as soon as they shall step
into them; but when they have tried, and waited a while, stretching
themselves upon duty, as Elisha’s servant laid the staff upon the
face of the Shunammite’s son, and yet there is no voice nor hearing,
no answer from God, no peace, then are they presently dissatisfied,
reflecting on the promises of God and the counsels of good men, with
this, Where is all the pleasantness you speak of? what advantage is it
that we have thus run and laboured, when we have got nothing? And then
it is easy for the devil to add, And why do you wait on the Lord any

[3.] His last and most dangerous argument is, that they are _sinful_.
Unfitness for duty produceth many distractions, much deadness,
wandering thoughts, great interruptions, and pitiful performances.
Hence the troubled soul comes off from duty wounded and halting,
more distressed when he hath done than when he began; upon these
considerations, that all his service was sin, a mocking of God, a
taking his name in vain, nay, a very blasphemous affront to a divine
majesty. Upon this the devil starts the question to his heart, Whether
it be not better to forbear all duty, and to do nothing? Thus doth
Satan improve the trouble of the mind, and often with the designed
success. For a dejected spirit doth not only afford the materials of
these weapons which the devil frames against it, but is much prepared
to receive them into its own bowels. The grounds of these arguments
it grants, and the inferences are commonly consented to, so that
ordinarily duty is neglected, either, 1. Through sottishness of heart;
or, 2. Through frightful fears; or, 3. Through desperateness; bringing
a man to the very precipice of that atheistical determination, ‘I have
cleansed my hands in vain,’ [Ps. lxxiii. 13.]

_Fourth_, Satan makes use of the troubles of God’s children as a
_stumbling-block to others_. It is no small advantage to him, that he
hath hereby an occasion to render the ways of God unlovely to those
that are beginning to look heavenward; he sets before them the sighs,
groans, complaints, and restless outcries of the wounded in spirit, to
scare them off from all seriousness in religion, and whispers this to
them, ‘Will you choose a life of bitterness and sorrow? can you eat
ashes for bread, and mingle your drink with tears? will you exchange
the comforts and contents of life for a melancholy heart and a dejected
countenance? how like you to go mourning all the day, and at night to
be scared with dreams and terrified with visions? will you choose a
life that is worse than death, and a condition which will make you a
terror to yourselves and a burden to others? can you be in love with
a heart loaden with grief, and perpetual fears almost to distraction,
while you see others in the meantime enjoy themselves in a contented
peace? Thus he follows young beginners with his suggestions, making
them believe that they cannot be serious in religion, but at last they
will be brought to this, and that it is a very dangerous thing to be
religious overmuch, and the highway to despair; so that if they must
have a religion, he readily directs them to use no more of it than
may consist with the pleasures of sin and the world, and to make an
easy business of it, not to let sin lie over-near their heart, lest it
disquiet them; nor overmuch to concern themselves with study, reading,
prayer, or hearing of threatening, awakening sermons, lest it make them
mad; nor to affect the sublimities of communion with God, exercises of
faith and divine love, lest it discompose them and dash their worldly
jollities out of countenance. A counsel that is readily enough embraced
by those that are almost persuaded to be Christians; and the more to
confirm them in it, he sticks not sometime to asperse the poor troubled
soul with dissimulation—where that accusation is proper, for the devil
cares not how inconsistent he be with himself, so that he may but
gain his end—affirming all his seriousness to be nothing but whining
hypocrisy. So that whether they judge these troubles to be real or
feigned, his conclusion is the same, and he persuades men thereby to
hold off from all religious strictness, holy diligence, and careful

_Fifth_, A further use which the devil makes of these troubles of
spirit is, _to prepare the hearts of men thereby to give entertainment
to his venomous impressions_. Distress of heart usually opens the door
to Satan, and lays a man naked, without armour or defence, as a fair
mark for all his poisoned arrows; and it is a hundred to one but some
of them do hit. I shall choose out some of the most remarkable, and
they are these:—

[1.] _After long acquaintance with grief he labours to fix them in it._
In some cases custom doth alleviate higher griefs, and men take an odd
kind of delight in them; _Est quædam etiam dolendi voluptas_. It is
some pleasure to complain, and men settle themselves in such a course,
their finger is ever upon their sore, and they go about telling their
sorrows to all they converse with—though to some this is a necessity,
for real sorrows, if they be not too great for vent, will constrain
them to speak—yet in some that have been formerly acquainted with
grief, it degenerates at last into a formality of complaining; and
because they formerly had cause so to do, they think they must always
do so. But besides this, Satan doth endeavour to chain men to their
mourning upon two higher accounts[320]: 1. By a delusive contentment
in sorrow, as if our tears paid some part of our debt to God, and made
amends for the injuries done to him. 2. By an obstinate sullenness and
desperate resolvedness they harden themselves in sorrow, and say as
Job, chap. vii. 11, ‘I will not refrain my mouth, I will speak in the
anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am
I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?’

[2.] Another impression that men’s hearts are apt to take, is,
_unthankfulness for the favours formerly bestowed upon them_. Their
present troubles blot out the memory of old kindnesses. They conclude
they have nothing at all, because they have not peace. Though God
heretofore hath sent down from on high, and taken them out of the
great waters, or out of the mire and clay where they were ready to
sink; though he hath sent them many tokens of love, conferred on them
many blessings; yet all these are no more to them, so long as their
sorrows continue, than Haman’s wealth and honour was to him, so long as
Mordecai the Jew sat at the king’s gate. Thus the devil oft prevails
with God’s children, to deal with God as some unthankful persons deal
with their benefactors; who, if they be not humoured in every request,
deny the reality of their love, and despise with great ingratitude all
that was done for them before.

[3.] By inward griefs, the heart of the afflicted are prepared to
entertain _the worst interpretation that the devil can put upon the
providences of God_. The various instances of Scripture, and the
gracious promises made to those that ‘walk in darkness and see no
light,’ do abundantly forewarn men from making bad conclusions of
God’s dealings, and do tell us that God in design, for our trial and
for our profit, doth often hide his face ‘for a moment,’ when yet his
purpose is to ‘bind us up with everlasting compassions.’ Now the devil
labours to improve the sorrows of the mind to give a quite contrary
construction. If they are afflicted, instead of saying, ‘Sorrow may
endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning,’ [Ps. xxx. 5,]
or that ‘for a little while God hath hidden himself,’ he puts them to
say, ‘this darkness shall never pass away.’ If the grief be little,
he drives them on to a fearful expectation of worse; as he did with
Hezekiah, Isa. xxxviii. 13, ‘I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion,
so will he break all my bones; from day even to night wilt thou make
an end of me.’ If God purpose to teach us by inward sorrows our pride
of heart, carelessness, neglect of dependence upon him, the bitterness
of sin, or the like, the devil will make us believe, and we are too
ready to subscribe to him, that God proclaims open war against us,
and resolves never to own us more. So did Job, chap. xix. 6, ‘Know
now that God hath overthrown me, and compassed me with his net;’ how
often complained he, ‘thou hast made me as thy mark, thou hast broken
me asunder, thou hast taken me by my neck and shaken me to pieces’! So
also Heman, Ps. lxxxviii. 14, ‘Why castest thou off my soul? why hidest
thou thy face from me?’

[4.] Upon this occasion the devil is ready to envenom the soul _with
sinful wishes and execrations against itself_. Eminent saints have
been tempted in their trouble to say too much this way. Job solemnly
cursed his day: Job iii. 3, ‘Let the day perish wherein I was born,
and the night in which it was said, There is a man-child conceived,’
&c. So also Jeremiah, chap. xx. 14, ‘Cursed be the day wherein I was
born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be
the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man-child is born
unto thee; and let that man be as the cities which God overthrew, and
repented not.’ Strange rashness! what had the day deserved? or wherein
was the messenger to be blamed? Violent passions hurried him beyond all
bounds of reason and moderation. When troubles within are violent, a
small push sets men forward; and when once they begin, they are carried
headlong beyond what they first intended.

[5.] On this advantage the devil sometimes emboldens them to _quarrel
God himself directly_. When Job and Jeremiah cursed their day, it was
a contumely against God indirectly; but they durst not make bold with
God at so high a rate as to quarrel him to his face. Yet even this are
men brought to often when their sorrows are long-lasting and deep. The
devil suggests, Can God be faithful, and never keep promise for help?
can he be merciful, when he turns away his ears from the cry of the
miserable? where is his pity, when he multiplies his wounds without
cause? Though at first these cursed intimations do a little startle
men, yet when by frequent inculcating they grow more familiar to the
heart, the distressed break out in their rage with those exclamations,
Where is the faithfulness of God? where are his promises? hath he not
forgotten to be gracious? are not his mercies clean gone? And at last
it may be Satan leads them a step higher, that is—

[6.] _To a despairing desperateness._ For when all passages of relief
are stopped up, and the burden becomes great, men are apt to be drawn
into rage and fury when they think their burden is greater than
they can bear, and see no hope of ease; in a kind of revenge they
express their anger against the hand that wounded them. The devil is
officiously ready with his advice of ‘Curse God and die,’ [Job. ii. 9,]
and they, being full of anguish, are quickly made to comply with it.

[7.] When it is at this height, the devil hath but one stage more, and
that is the suggesting of _irregular means for ease_. Rage against
God doth not quench the inward burning, blasphemies against heaven
easeth not the pain, the sore runs still and ceaseth not, the trouble
continues, the man cannot endure it longer, all patience and hope is
gone. What shall he do in this case? The devil offers his service; he
will be the physician, and commonly he prescribes one of these two
things: (1.) That it is best to endeavour to break through all this
trouble into a resolved profaneness; not to stand in awe of laws, not
to believe that there is a God that governs in the earth, but that this
is only the bitter fruit of melancholy and unnecessary seriousness, and
therefore it is best ‘to eat, drink, and be merry,’ If a man can thus
escape out of his trouble, the devil needs no more; but oft he cannot,
the wounds of conscience will not be thus healed. Then, (2.) He hath
another remedy, which will not fail, as he tells them, that is, to
‘destroy themselves,’ to end their troubles with their lives. How open
are the breasts of troubled creatures to all these darts! and were it
not that God secretly steps in and holds the afflicted with his right
hand, it is scarce imaginable but that wounded consciences should by
Satan’s subtle improvement of so fair an advantage be brought to all
this misery.

[8.] Satan can afflict the _body by the mind_. For these two are
so closely bound together that their good and bad estate is shared
betwixt them. If the heart be merry the countenance is cheerful, the
strength is renewed, the bones do flourish like an herb. If the heart
be troubled the health is impaired, the strength is dried up, the
marrow of the bones wasted, &c. Grief in the heart is like a moth in
the garment, it insensibly consumeth the body and disordereth it. This
advantage of weakening the body falls into Satan’s hands by necessary
consequence, as the prophet’s ripe figs, that fell into the mouth of
the eater. And surely he is well pleased with it, as he is an enemy
both to body and soul. But it is a greater satisfaction to him in
that as he can make the sorrows of the mind produce the weakness and
sickness of the body, so can he make the distemper of the body, by a
reciprocal requital, to augment the trouble of the mind. How little can
a sickly body do! It disables a man for all services; he cannot oft
pray, nor read, nor hear; sickness takes away the sweetness and comfort
of religious exercises. This gives occasion for them to think the worse
of themselves. They think the soul is weary of the ways of God, when
the body cannot hold out. All failures which weariness and faintness
produce are ascribed presently to the bad disposition of the mind, and
this is like oil cast upon the flame. Thus the devil makes a double
gain out of spiritual trouble.

[9.] Let it be also reckoned among the advantages which Satan hath
against men from trouble of spirit, that it is _a contentment to him to
see them in their miseries_. It is a sport to him to see them, as Job
speaks, take their flesh in their teeth, and cry out in the bitterness
of their souls, [Job. xiii. 14.] Their groanings are his music. When
they wallow in ashes, drown themselves in tears, roar till their throat
is dry, spread out their hands for help, then he gluts his heart in
looking upon their woes. When they fall upon God with their unjust
surmises, evil interpretations of providence, questioning his favour,
denying his grace, wishing they had never been born, then he claps his
hands and shouts a victory. The pleasantest sight to him is to see
God hiding himself from his child, and that child broken with fears,
torn in pieces with griefs, made a brother to dragons, a companion to
owls, under restless anxieties, perpetual lamentations, feeble and
sore broken, their strength dried like a potsherd, their throat dry,
their tongue cleaving to their jaws, their bowels boiling, their bones
burnt with heat, their skin black upon them, their flesh consumed,
their bones sticking out, chastened with strong pain upon their bed.
This is one of Satan’s delightful spectacles, and for these ends doth
he all he can to bereave them of their comfort, which we may the more
certainly persuade ourselves to be true, when we consider the grounds
forementioned, his malicious nature, the advantages of spiritual peace,
and the disadvantages of spiritual trouble.


 _Of the various ways by which he hinders peace—1. Way by
 discomposures of spirit. These discomposures explained, by shewing,
 (1.) What advantage he takes from our natural temper, and
 what tempers give him this advantage. (2.) By what occasions
 he works upon our natural tempers. (3.) With what success.
 [1.] These occasions suited to natural inclinations, raise
 great disturbance. [2.] They have a tendency to spiritual
 trouble. The thing proved, and the manner how discovered. [3.]
 These disturbances much in his power. General and particular
 considerations about that power._

Having evidenced that one of Satan’s principal designs is against the
peace and comfort of God’s children, I shall next endeavour a discovery
of the various ways by which he doth undermine them herein. All inward
troubles are not of the same kind in themselves, neither doth Satan
always produce the same effects out of all; some being in their own
nature disquiets, that do not so directly and immediately overthrow the
peace and joy of believing, and the comforts of assurance of divine
favour, as others do. Yet seeing that by all he hath no small advantage
against us as to sin and trouble, and that any of them at the long run
may lead us to question our interest in grace and the love of God, and
may accordingly afflict us, I shall speak of them all; which that I
may do the more distinctly, I shall rank these troubles into several
heads, under peculiar names—it may be not altogether so proper but
that the curious may find matter of exception to them—that by them and
their explanation the differences may the better appear. I distinguish
therefore of a fourfold trouble that the devil doth endeavour to
work up upon the hearts of men. They are, 1. Discomposures. 2.
Affrightments. 3. Dejections of sadness. 4. Distresses of horror. Of
all which I shall speak in their order. And,

1. _Of discomposures of soul._ These are molestations and disturbances
by which the mind is put out of order and made unquiet. The calm in
which it should enjoy itself, and by which it should be composed to a
regular and steady acting, being disturbed by a storm of commotion,
and in which the conscience or the peace of it is not presently
concerned. This distinction of the trouble of soul from the trouble
of conscience is not new. Others have observed it before,[321] and do
thus explain it: Trouble of soul is larger than trouble of conscience;
every troubled conscience is a troubled soul, but every troubled soul
is not a troubled conscience; for the soul may be troubled from causes
natural, civil, and spiritual, according to variety of occasions and
provocations, when yet a man’s inward peace with God is firm; and in
some cases, as in infants and in men distracted with fevers, &c.,
there may be passions and disturbances of soul when the conscience
is not capable of exercising its office: nay, the soul of Christ was
troubled—John xii. 27, ‘Now is my soul troubled’—when it was not
possible that sin or despair should have the least footing in him.

For the opening of these discomposures of soul I shall—1. Shew upon
what advantage of natural temper the devil is encouraged to molest men.
2. By what occasions he doth work upon our natural inclinations. 3. And
with what success of disturbance to the soul.

(1.) As to our natural dispositions, Satan, as hath formerly been
noted, _takes his usual indications of working from thence_. These
guide him in his enterprises; his temptations being suited to men’s
tempers, proceed more smoothly and successfully. Some are of so
serene and calm a disposition, that he doth not much design their
discomposure; but others there are whose passions are more stirring—fit
matter for him to work upon: and these are,

[1.] _The angry disposition._ How great an advantage this gives to
Satan to disturb the heart, may be easily conceived by considering the
various workings of it in several men, according to their different
humours. It is a passion that acts not alike in all; and for the
differences, so far as we need to be concerned, I shall not trouble
the schools of philosophers, but content myself with what we have in
Eph. iv. 31, where the apostle expresseth it by three words, not that
they differ essentially, declaring thereby the various ways of anger’s
working. The first is πικρία, which we translate _bitterness_. This is
a displeasure smothered; for some when they are angry cover it, and
give it no vent, partly for that they are sometimes ashamed to mention
the ground as trivial or unjust, partly from sullenness of disposition,
and oft from a natural reservedness; while the flame is thus kept
down, it burns inwardly, and men resolve[322] in their minds many
troublesome, vexatious thoughts. The second word is θυμὸς, _wrath_;
this is a fierce, impetuous anger. Some are soon moved, but so violent
that they are presently transported into rage and frenzy, or are so
peevishly waspish that they cannot be spoken to. The third is ὀργὴ,
translated here _anger_, but signifies such a displeasure as is deep,
entertaining thoughts of revenge and pursuit, settling itself at last
into hatred. Any of these is enough to bereave the heart of its rest,
and to alarm it with disturbances.[323]

[2.] Others have an _envious nature, always maligning and repining at
other men’s felicity_; an evil eye that cannot look on another’s better
condition without vexation. This turns a man into a devil. It is the
devil’s proper sin, and the fury that doth unquiet him, and he the
better knows of what avail it would be to help on our trouble.

[3.] Some are _of proud tempers_, always overvaluing themselves, with
the scorn and contempt of others. This humour is troublesome to all
about them, but all this trouble doth at last redound to themselves.
These think all others should observe them, and take notice of their
supposed excellencies, which if men do not, then it pines them or stirs
up their choler to indignation. Solomon, Prov. xxx. 21, mentioning
those things that are greatly disquieting in the earth, instanceth
in ‘a servant when he reigneth; and the handmaid that is heir to her
mistress,’ intending thereby the proud, imperious insolency of those
that are unexpectedly raised from a low estate to wealth or honour. He
that is of ‘a proud heart stirreth up strife,’ Prov. xxviii. 25; and as
he is troublesome to others, so doth he create trouble to himself; for
he not only molests himself by the working of his disdainful thoughts,
while he exerciseth his scorn towards others: Prov. xxi. 24, ‘The
haughty scorner deals in proud wrath;’ but this occasions the affronts
and contempt of others again, which beget new griefs to his restless

[4.] Some have a natural _exorbitancy of desire, an evil coveting_;
they are passionately carried forth toward what they have not, and have
no contentment or satisfaction in what they do enjoy. Such humours are
seldom at ease, their desires are painfully violent; and when they
obtain what they longed for, they soon grow weary of it, and then
another object takes up their wishes, so that these ‘daughters of the
horse-leech are ever crying, Give, give,’ Prov. xxx. 15.

[5.] Others have _a soft effeminate temper, a weakness of soul that
makes them unfit to bear any burden, or endure any hardness_. These,
if they meet with pains or troubles—and who can challenge an exemption
from them?—they are presently impatient, vexing themselves by a vain
reluctancy to what they cannot avoid; not but that extraordinary
burdens will make the strongest spirit to stoop, but these cry out for
the smallest matters, which a stout mind would bear with some competent

[6.] And there are other dispositions that _are tender to an excess of
sympathy_, so that they immoderately affect and afflict themselves with
other men’s sorrows. Though this be a temper more commendable than any
of the former, yet Satan can take advantage of this, as also of the
fore-named dispositions, to discompose us, especially by suiting them
with fit occasions, which readily work upon these tempers. And this was,

(2.) The second thing to be explained, which shall be performed by a
brief enumeration of them, the chief whereof are these:

[1.] _Contempt or disestimation._ When a man’s person, parts, or
opinion are slighted, his anger, envy, pride, and impatience are
awakened, and these make him swell and restless within. Even good men
have been sadly disturbed this way. Job, as holy a man as he was, and
who had enough of greater matters to trouble his mind, yet among other
griefs complains of this more than once: Job xii. 4, ‘I am as one
mocked of his neighbour: the just upright man is laughed to scorn;’
chap. xix. 15, ‘They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me
for a stranger. I called my servant, and he gave me no answer. Yea,
young children despised me; I rose up and they spake against me.’ Thus
he bemoans himself, and, which is more, speaks of it again with some
smartness of indignation: Job xxx. 1, ‘Now they that are younger than I
have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set
with the dogs of my flock.’ David also, who had a stout heart under
troubles, complains that he could not bear reproaches: Ps. lxix.,
‘Reproach hath broken mine heart; I am full of heaviness.’ What these
reproaches were, and how he was staggered with them, he tells us: ver.
10, ‘I chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made
sackcloth my garment; and I became a proverb to them. They that sit in
the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.’ With
these he was so stounded that if he had not catched hold on God by
prayer, as he speaks, ver. 13, he had fallen, ‘But as for me, my prayer
is unto thee, O Lord,’ &c.; and he afterward speaks of his support
under reproaches as a wonder of divine assistance: Ps. cxix. 51, ‘The
proud have had me in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.’

[2.] _Injury_ is another occasion by which the devil works upon our
tempers to disquiet us. Wrongs of injustice and oppression are hard
to bear. This is a common ground of trouble. Good men cannot always
acquit themselves in this case as they ought. Jeremiah, when smitten by
Pashur, and put in the stocks, Jer. xx. 2, 8, falls into a sad passion:
‘I am a derision daily, every one mocketh me. I cried out, I cried
violence and spoil,’ imitating the passionate affrightments of those
that cry, Murder, murder, &c. No wonder, seeing Solomon gives it as an
axiom built upon manifold experience, Eccles. vii. 7. Oppression doth
not only make a man unquiet, but mad in his unquietness; and not only
those that are foolish and hasty, but the most considerate and sedate
persons: ‘Oppression makes a wise man mad.’

[3.] Another occasion of men’s discomposure is, _the prosperity of the
wicked_. Their abundance, their advancements to honours and dignity,
hath always been a grudge to those whose condition is below them, and
yet suppose themselves to have better grounds to expect preferment
than they. This astonished Job even to trembling: Job xxi. 7, ‘When I
remember, I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh;’ and the
matter was but this, ‘Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea,
and mighty in power?’ &c. The trouble that seizeth on men’s hearts
on this occasion is called fretting, a vexation that wears out the
strength of the soul, as two hard bodies waste by mutual attrition or
rubbing. And it takes its advantage from our envy chiefly, though other
distempers come in to help it forward: Ps. xxxvii. 1, ‘Fret not thyself
because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of
iniquity.’ David confesseth that he was apt to fall into this trouble,
Ps. lxxiii. 3, ‘I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity
of the wicked.’ Against this disquiet we have frequent cautions, Prov.
xxiv. 1, 19, and Ps. xlix. 16, ‘Be not afraid when one is made rich,
when the glory of his house is increased.’ All which shew our proneness
to this disease.

[4.] _Crosses and afflictions give Satan an opportunity to work upon
our passions_; as disappointments of expectations, loss of friends, of
estate, persecutions and sufferings for conscience sake, &c. None of
these in their own nature are ‘joyous, but grievous;’ and what use they
have been of to the devil to discompose the minds of the sufferers,
is evidenced by common experience. The tears, sad countenances, and
doleful lamentations of men are true witnesses of the disquiet of
their hearts. Every one being pressed with the sense of his own smart
is ready to cry out, ‘Is there any sorrow like my sorrow? I am poor
and comfortless; my lovers and my friends have forsaken me, and there
is none to help.’ Some grow faint under their burden, while their
eyes fail in looking for redress, especially when new unexpected
troubles overwhelm their hopes: ‘When I looked for good, then evil
came; and when I waited for light, there came darkness,’ Job xxx. 26.
‘Why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? We looked
for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and
behold trouble,’ Jer. xiv. 19; and here they sink, concluding there
is no hope. Others that bear up better in a blessed expectation of
spiritual profit, having that of David in their eye, ‘Blessed is the
man whom thou afflictest, and teachest in thy law;’ yet they cannot
forbear their complaints even to God; Ps. xxv. 17, ‘The troubles of
mine heart are enlarged; oh bring thou me out of my distresses; look
upon mine affliction and my pain.’ Nay,[324] those that have had the
highest advantages of heavenly support, whose hearts have been kept in
peace, counting it all joy that they have fallen into these trials—and
God doth more this way for those that suffer for the gospel’s sake
than ordinarily for others; yet have not these been under a stoical
senselessness of their trouble. Though they were not ‘distressed,’ they
were ‘troubled on every side;’ though ‘not in despair,’ yet they were
‘perplexed,’ 2 Cor. iv. 8; though their afflictions were light, yet
were they afflictions still.

[5.] To these may be added, _the pain or anguish of sickness and bodily
distemper_. Though there are various degrees of pain, and that some
sicknesses are less afflictive than others, yet none of them forbear
to pierce the mind. The whole man is discomposed. He that is exercised
with ‘strong pains upon his bed,’ cries out in the bitterness of his
soul; and he that by insensible degrees languisheth, grows ordinarily
peevish, and his mind bleeds by an inward wound, so that he ‘spends
his days in sighing,’ and his years in mourning. And others there are
who, being before acquainted with bodily pains, grow very impatient in
sickness, and are able to bear nothing. And besides the present sense
of pain, the expectation of death puts some into great commotion; the
fears of it, for it is naturally dreadful, fills them with disquiet
thoughts; and those that approach to the grave by slow steps, under
consumption or languishing sicknesses, they are habituated to sadness,
and can think of nothing cheerfully—except they have great assurance of
salvation, and have well learned to die—because the coffin, grave, and
winding-sheet are still presented to them. These, though they be very
suitable objects for meditation, and, well improved, of great advantage
for preparation to death, yet doth Satan thereby, when it is for his
purpose, endeavour to keep men under grief, and to bereave them of
their peace.

[6.] Satan takes an advantage of trouble from _the miseries of others_.
Sympathy is a Christian grace; and to bear one another’s burdens, to
mourn with those that mourn, shews us to be fellow-feeling members
of the same body; for ‘if one member suffer, all the members suffer
with it,’ [1 Cor. xii. 26.] Yet are some men naturally of so tender a
constitution, that Satan overdrives them herein. Every common occasion
will wound them. The usual effects of God’s ordinary providence on the
poor, lame, or sick, are deeply laid to heart by them; and instead of
being not unsensible of other men’s miseries, they are not sensible of
anything else, neither do they enjoy their own mercies. And here, as
Satan can every moment present them with objects of pity, ordinary or
extraordinary, so upon a religious pretence of merciful consideration,
they are made cruel to themselves, refusing their own peace, because
other men are not at ease.

(3.) The third particular promised to be explained for the discovery
of these discomposures of soul was this, that by _a concurrence of
these and such like occasions to such tempers, the hearts of men are
disturbed, and their inward peace broken_. This I shall evidence
of these three things: 1. That these occasions meeting with such
dispositions, do naturally raise great disturbances in their present
working; 2. That they have a tendency to further trouble; 3. That Satan
doth design, and hath it ordinarily in his power, to discompose the
hearts of men hereby.

[1.] That these occasions meeting with such dispositions, do naturally
raise _great disturbances_. This is evident from what hath been said
already; for (1.) _All these dispositions carry as much fire in their
own bosoms, as is sufficient to burn up the standing corn of any man’s
peace._ What is anger, but an inward burning, a restless confusion of
the spirits? sometime a frenzy, a distraction, a troubled sea full of
rage, a wild beast let loose. Envy, that is a fretful peevishness, a
vexatious repining, needing no other tormentors but its own furies,
recoiling upon him that bred it, because it cannot wreak its spite upon
its objects. An envious person is a self-murderer, by the verdict of
Eliphaz: Job v. 2, ‘Wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth
the foolish one.’ This is not barely to be understood of its provoking
the judge of all the earth to send down its deserved destruction;
but also, if not chiefly, of its own corroding temper, which by
long continuance wastes the strength and consumes the body. Pride
is a perpetual vexation, creating its troubles from its own fancy.
Irregular covetings keep a man still upon the rack; they make a man
like the Tantalus of the poets; they give a man a _caninus appetitus_,
a strong appetite with excessive greediness, and restless pursuit,
and constant dissatisfactions; he is ever gaping, and never enjoying.
Impatience is a wearisome conflict with a burden which it can neither
bear nor yet shake off; where all the fruit of the vain labour amounts
to no better account than this, that the impatient makes his burden
the greater, the bands that tie it on the stronger, and the strength
that should bear it the weaker. Lastly, An excess of pity multiplies
‘wounds without cause.’ It hinders a man to be happy so long as
there are any that are miserable. He is always, in reference to his
quiet, at the mercy of other men. The afflicted can torment him at a
distance; and, by a kind of magic, make him feel the torments that are
inflicted upon his image. Who can deny but that men that are ridden
by such vexatious dispositions must lead an unquiet life, and always
be tossed with inward tempests? Especially, (2.) When we consider
_how fit the fore-mentioned occasions are to draw out these humours
to their tumultuary extravagances_. A lighted match and gunpowder are
not more exactly suited to raise a shaking blast, than those occasions
and tempers are to breed an inward annoyance. Some of these humours
are so troublesome, that rather than they will want work, they will
fight with their own shadows, and, by a perverseness of prejudicated
fancy, will create their own troubles; and the best of them, which seem
sometime to take truce and compose themselves to rest, while occasions
are out of the way; yet they are quickly awakened, like sleeping
dogs that are roused with the least noise. What work, then, may we
expect they will make when they are summoned to give their appearance
upon a solemn occasion? But (3.) If we should deal by instances, and
bring upon the stage the effects that have been brought forth by these
concurring causes, it will appear that they make disturbances in good
earnest. Let us either view _the furious fits that have been, like
sudden flashes, soonest gone_, or their more lasting impressions, and
we shall find it true. As to violent fits raised by such occasions and
dispositions, examples are infinite. What rages, outrages, madnesses,
and extravagances have men run into! Some, upon provocations, have
furiously acted savage cruelties, and for small matters have been
carried to the most desperate revenges. Others have been brought to
such violent commotions within themselves, that the frame of nature
hath been thereby weakened and overthrown. As Sylla, who in a strong
passion vomited choler till he died. Some in their fury have acted that
which hath been matter of sorrow to them all their days. But, omitting
the examples of heathens and wicked men, let us consider the wonderful
transports of holy men. Moses, a man eminent beyond comparison in
meekness, was so astonished with a sudden surprise of trouble at the
sight of the golden calf, that he threw down the tables of the law, and
brake them. Some indeed observe from thence a significancy of Israel’s
breaking the law and forfeiting God’s protection as his peculiar
people; but this is more to be ascribed to the designment of divine
providence, that so ordered it, than to the intendment of Moses, who no
doubt did not this from a sedate and calm deliberation, as purposing
by this act to tell Israel so much; but was hurried by his grief, as
not considering well what he did, to break them. Asa, a good man, when
he was reproved by the prophet, instead of thankful acceptance of the
reproof, grows angry, falls into a rage, and throws the prophet into
prison. Elias, discomposed with Jezebel’s persecution, desires that God
would take away his life. Jonah, in his anger, falls out with God, and
justifies it when he hath done. Surely such fits as these proceeded
from great inward combustion. Would wise, sober, holy men have said or
done such things if they had not been transported beyond themselves?
and though in such cases the fits are soon over, yet we observe that
some are apt to fall into such fits often, and are so easily irritated,
that, like the epileptic person possessed by the devil, upon every
occasion, they are by him ‘cast into the fire or into the water,’ [Mat.
xvii. 15,] and by the frequent return of their distemper are never at

As to others, whose tempers are more apt to retain a troublesome
impression, it is very obvious that their discomposures have as much
in length and breadth as the other had in height. You may view Haman
tormented under his secret discontent, which his pride and envy formed
in him, for the want of Mordecai’s obeisance. The king’s favour, a
great estate, high honour, and what else a man could wish to make him
content, are all swallowed up in this gulf, and become nothing to him.
You see Amnon, vexed and sick for his sister Tamar, waxing lean from
day to day. You see Ahab, though a king, who had enough to satisfy
his mind, in the same condition for Naboth’s vineyard. If you say
these were wicked men, who rid their lusts without a bridle, and used
the spur; look then upon better men and you will see too much. Rachel
so grieves and mourns for want of children, that she professeth her
life inconsistent with her disappointment: ‘Give me children, else
I die,’ [Gen. xxx. 1.] Hannah upon the same occasion weeps and eats
not, and prays in the bitterness of her soul, and the abundance of
her complaint and grief. Jeremiah, being pressed with discouragements
from the contradiction of evil men, calls himself ‘a man of strife
and contention to the whole earth,’ Jer. xv. 10; his sorrows thence
arising, had so imbittered his life, that he puts ‘a woe’ upon his
birth: ‘Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast born me a man of strife.’
Paul had a noble courage under manifold afflictions; he could glory
in the cross and rejoice in persecutions; nevertheless the greatness
of his work, the froward perverseness and unsteadiness of professors,
which put him under fears, jealousies, and new travail, the miseries
of Christians, and the care he had for the concerns of the gospel—2
Cor. xi. 2; Gal. vi. 19—which was a constant load upon his mind, his
heart,—like old Eli’s, trembling still for the ark of God, made him
complain as one worn out by the troubles of his heart: 2 Cor. xi.
27, ‘In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and
thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things
that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the
churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak?’ &c. For the Jews he had
great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart; and for the Gentiles
he had perpetual fears, Rom. ix. 2. Now though he had a great share
of divine comforts intermixed, and a more than ordinary assistance of
the Spirit to keep him from sinful discomposure of spirit, at least to
such a height as it ordinarily prevails upon others, yet was he very
sensible of his burden, and doubtless the devil laboured to improve
these occasions to weary out his strength. For by these and such
like things he frequently vexeth the righteous souls of the faithful
ministers of the gospel from day to day; so that their hearts have
no rest, and their hands grow often feeble, and they cry out, Oh the
burden! oh the care! being ready to say, as Jeremiah, chap. xx. 7,
‘O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: I am a derision
daily, every one mocketh me.’ Thus say they, Did we ever think to meet
with such disappointments, such griefs, from the wilfulness, pride,
weakness, ignorance, pettishness, inconstancy, negligence, and scandals
of friends? and such hatred, contradictions, scorns, and injuries from
enemies? Were we free, what calling would we not rather choose? what
place would we not rather go to, where we might spend the remainder of
our days in some rest and ease? Were it not better to work with our
hands for a morsel of bread? for so might our sleep be sweet to us at
night, and we should not see these sorrows. At this rate are good men
sometime disturbed, and the anguish of their spirit makes their life a

[2.] Yet is not this all the disturbance that the devil works upon our
hearts by these things, though these are bad enough, but they have
a tendency _to further trouble_. Discomposures of spirit, if they
continue long, turn at last into troubles of conscience. Though there
is no affinity betwixt simple discomposure of soul and troubles of
conscience in their own nature—the objects of the former being things
external, no way relating to the soul’s interest in God and salvation,
which are the objects of the latter—yet the effects produced by the
prevalency of these disturbances are a fit stock for the engrafting
of doubts and questionings about our spiritual condition. As Saul’s
father first troubled himself for the loss of his asses, and sent his
son to seek them; but when he stayed long, he forgot his trouble, and
took up a new grief for his son, whom he feared he had lost in pursuit
of the asses; so is it sometime with men, who, after they have long
vexed themselves for injuries or afflictions, &c., upon a serious
consideration of the working and power of these passions, leave their
former pursuit, and begin to bethink themselves in what a condition
their souls are, that abound with so much murmuring, rage, pride, or
impatience, and then the scene is altered, and they begin to fear they
have lost their souls, and are now perplexed about their spiritual
estate. To make this plain I will give some instances, and then add
some reasons, which will evidence that it is so, and also how it comes
to be so.

For instances, though I might produce a sufficient number to this
purpose from those that have written of melancholy, yet I shall only
insist upon two or three from Scripture.

Hezekiah, when God smote him with sickness, at first was discomposed
upon the apprehension of death, that he should so soon be deprived of
the ‘residue of his years, and behold man no more with the inhabitants
of the world,’ as he himself expresseth it, Isa. xxxviii. 10; afterward
his trouble grew greater, ‘He chattered as a crane or swallow, and
mourned as a dove;’ he was in ‘great bitterness,’ ver. 17; and sadly
oppressed therewith, ver. 14. That which thus distressed him was not
simply the fear of death. We cannot imagine so pious a person would
so very much disquiet himself upon that single account; but by the
expressions which he let fall in his complainings, we may understand
that some such thoughts as these did shake him: that he apprehended
God was angry with him, that the present stroke signified so much to
him, all circumstances considered—for he was yet in his strength,
and Jerusalem in great distress, being at that time besieged by
Sennacherib’s army,[325] and for him to be doomed to death by a sudden
message at such a time, seemed to carry much in it—and that surely
there was great provocation on his part; and it seems, upon search, he
charged himself so deeply with his sinfulness, that his apprehensions
were no less than that, if God should restore him, yet in the sense of
his vileness he should never be able to look up; ‘I shall go softly
all my years in the bitterness of my soul,’ ver. 15; which expression
implies a supposition of his recovery, and a deep sense of iniquity,
and accordingly when he was recovered, he takes notice chiefly of God’s
love to his soul and the pardon of his sin, which evidently discover
where the trouble pinched him: ‘Thou hast in love to my soul delivered
it from the pit of corruption, for thou hast cast all my sins behind
thy back,’ ver. 17.

Job’s troubles were very great, and his case extraordinary. Satan
had maliciously stripped him of all outward comforts; this he bore
with admirable patience: Job i. 21, ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s
womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord
hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ The devil, seeing
now himself defeated, obtains a new commission, wherein Job is wholly
put into his hand—life only excepted, chap. ii. 9. He sets upon him
again, and in his new encounter labours to bring upon him spiritual
distresses, and accordingly improves his losses and sufferings to
that end, as appears by his endeavours and the success; for as he
tempted him by his wife to a desperate disregard of God that had so
afflicted him, ‘Curse God and die,’ so he tempted him also by his
friends to question the state of his soul and his integrity, and all
from the consideration of his outward miseries. To that purpose are
all their discourses. Eliphaz, chap. iv. 5-7, from his sufferings and
his carriage under them, takes occasion to jeer his former piety, as
being no other than feigned, ‘It is come upon thee, and thou faintest:
is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of
thy ways?—that is, Is all thy religion come to this? and also concludes
him to be wicked, ‘Who ever perished, being innocent? and where were
the righteous cut off?’ Bildad, chap. viii. 6, 13, chargeth him with
hypocrisy upon the same ground, and while he makes his defence, Zophar
plainly gives him the lie, chap. xi. 3; and at this rate they go their
round; and all this while Satan, whose design it was to afflict his
conscience with the sense of divine wrath, secretly strikes in with
these accusations, insomuch that though Job stoutly defended his
integrity, yet he was wounded with inward distresses, and concluded
that these dealings of God against him were no less than God’s severe
observance of his iniquity; as is plain from his bemoaning himself in
chap. x. 2, ‘I will say unto God, Do not condemn me: shew me wherefore
thou contendest with me;’ ver. 16, 17, ‘Thou huntest me as a fierce
lion, thou renewest thy witnesses against me,’ &c.

David was a man that was often exercised with sickness and troubles
from enemies, and in all the instances almost that we meet with in the
psalms of these his afflictions, we may observe the outward occasions
of trouble brought him under the suspicion of God’s wrath and his
iniquity; so that he was seldom sick, or persecuted, but this called
on the disquiet of conscience, and brought his sin to remembrance; as
Ps. vi., which was made on the occasion of his sickness, as appears
from ver. 5, wherein he expresseth the vexation of his soul under the
apprehension of God’s anger; all his other griefs running into this
channel, as little brooks, losing themselves in a great river, change
their name and nature. He that was at first only concerned for his
sickness, is now wholly concerned with sorrow and smart under the fear
and hazard of his soul’s condition; the like we may see in Ps. xxxviii.
and many places more.

Having made good the assertion that discomposures of soul upon outward
occasions, by long continuance and Satan’s management, do often run
up to spiritual distress of conscience, I shall next, for further
confirmation and illustration, shew how it comes to be so.

(1.) Discomposures of spirit _do obstruct, and at last extinguish the
inward comforts of the soul_; so that if we suppose the discomposed
person at first, before he be thus disordered, to have had a good
measure of spiritual joy in God’s favour, and delight in his ways, yet
the disturbances,

[1.] _Divert his thoughts from feeding upon these comforts, or from
the enjoyment of himself in them._ The soul cannot naturally be highly
intent upon two different things at once, but whatsoever doth strongly
engage the thoughts and affections, that carries the whole stream with
it, be it good or bad, and other things give way at present. When the
heart is vehemently moved on outward considerations, it lays by the
thoughts of its sweetness which it hath had in the enjoyment of God;
they are so contrary and inconsistent, that either our comforts will
chase out of our thoughts our discomposures, or our discomposures will
chase away our comforts. I believe the comforts of Elias, when he lay
down under his grief, and desired to die; and of Jeremiah, when he
cried out of violence, run very low in those fits of discontent, and
their spirits were far from an actual rejoicing in God. But this is not
the worst; we may not so easily imagine that upon the going away of the
fit, the wonted comforts return to their former course. For,

[2.] The mind being distracted with its burden, is _left impotent and
unable to return to its former exercise_. The warmth which the heart
had, being smothered and suspended in its exercise, is not so quickly
revived, and the thoughts which were busied with disturbance, like
the distempered humours of the body, are not reduced suddenly to that
evenness of composure as may make them fit for their old employment.

[3.] If God should _offer the influences of joyful support, a
discomposed spirit is not in a capacity to receive them_, no more
than it can receive those counsels that by any careful hand are
interposed for its relief and settlement. Comforts are not heard in
the midst of noise and clamour. The calmness of the soul’s faculties
are presupposed as a necessary qualification towards its reception of
a message of peace. Phinehas his wife being overcome of grief for the
ark’s captivity and her husband’s death, could not be affected with the
joyful news of a son, [1 Sam. iv. 19, _seq._] But,

[4.] Sinful discomposures _hinder these gracious and comfortable
offers; if we could possibly, which we cannot ordinarily, receive
them, yet we cannot expect that God will give them_. The Spirit of
consolation loves to take up his lodging in a ‘meek and quiet spirit,’
and nothing more grieves him than bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour,
and malice, which made the apostle, Eph. iv. 30, 31, subjoin his
direction of ‘putting these away’ from us, with his advice of ‘not
grieving the Spirit by which we are sealed unto the day of redemption.’
And then,

[5.] _The former stock of comfort, which persons distempered with
discomposures might be supposed to have, will soon be wasted_, for our
comforts are not like the oil in the cruse, or meal in the barrel,
which had, as it were, their spring in themselves. We are comforted
and supported by daily communication of divine aid, so that if the
spring-head be stopped, the stream will quickly grow dry. It is
evident then that inward consolations in God will not ripen under
these shadows, nor grow under these continual droppings, seeing a
discomposed spirit is not capable to receive more, nor able to keep
what comfort it had at first. We may easily see how it comes to pass
that these disturbances may in time bring on spiritual troubles; for
if our comforts be once lost, trouble of conscience easily follows.
Where there is nothing to fortify the heart, the poison of malicious
suggestions will unavoidably prevail.

(2.) Discomposures of soul afford the devil _fit matter to work upon_.
They furnish him with strong objections against sincerity of holiness,
by which the peace of conscience, being strongly assaulted, is at
last overthrown. The usual weapons by which Satan fights against the
assurance of God’s children, are the guilt of sins committed and the
neglect of duty; and the disturbed soul affords enough of both these to
make a charge against itself: for,

[1.] _Where there is much discomposure there is much sin._ If in the
multitude of words there wants not iniquity, then much more in the
multitude of unruly thoughts. A disturbed spirit is like troubled
water; all the mud that lay at the bottom is raised up and mixeth
itself with the thoughts. If any injury or loss do trouble the
mind, all the thoughts are tinctured with anger, pride, impatience,
or whatsoever root of bitterness was in the heart before. We view
them not singly as the issues of wise providence, but ordinarily we
consider them as done by such instruments, and against ourselves, as
malicious, spiteful, causeless, ungrateful wrongs; and then we give
too great a liberty to ourselves to rage, to meditate revenge, to
threaten, to reproach, and what not. And if our disposition have not
so strong a natural inclination to these distempers, yet the thoughts
by discomposure are quickly leavened. It is the comparison used by
the apostle, 1 Cor. v. 8, to express the power of malice, which is a
usual attendant in this service, to infect all the imaginations with a
sharpness, which makes them swell into exorbitancy and excess; hence
proceed revilings, quarrellings, &c. When the tongue is thus fermented,
it is ‘a fire, a world of iniquity,’ producing more sins than can be
reckoned, ‘it defileth the whole body,’ engaging all the faculties in
heady pursuit, James iii. 6.

[2.] _Discomposures obstruct duties._ This is the inconvenience which
the apostle, 1 Pet. iii. 7, tells us doth arise from disturbances
among relations. If the wife or husband do not carry well, so that
discontents or differences arise, their prayers are hindered. Duties
then are obstructed, 1. _In the act_. When the heart is out of frame,
prayer is out of season, and there is an averseness to it; partly
because all good things are, in such confusions, burdensome to the
humour that then prevails, which eats out all desire and delight to
spiritual things; and partly because they dare not come into God’s
presence, conscious of their own guilt, and awe of God hindering
such approaches. 2. They obstruct the _right manner of performance_,
straitening the heart and contracting the spirit, that if anything be
attempted it is poorly and weakly performed, 3. And also _the success
of duty_ is obstructed by discomposure. God will not accept such
services, and therefore Christ adviseth to ‘leave the gift before the
altar,’ though ready for offering, where the spirit is overcharged
with offences or angry thoughts, and ‘first to go and be reconciled to
our brother,’ and then to ‘come and offer the gift,’ it being lost
labour to do it before, [Mat. v. 24.] From these sins of omission and
commission Satan can, and often doth, frame a dreadful charge against
those that are thus concerned, endeavouring to prove by these evidences
that they are yet, notwithstanding pretence of conversion, in ‘the gall
of bitterness and bond of iniquity,’ [Acts viii. 23,] whereby the peace
of conscience is much shaken; and the more because also,

[3.] These discomposures of soul give Satan _a fit season for the
management of his accusation_. Strong accusations do often effect
nothing when the season is unsuitable. Many a time he hath as much
to say against the comforts of men, when yet they shake all off, as
Paul did the viper off his hand, and feel no harm, [Acts xxviii. 3.]
But that which prepares the conscience to receive the indictment is a
particular disposition which it is wrought into by suspicious credulity
and fearfulness. These make the heart, as wax to the seal, ready
to take any impression that Satan will stamp upon it. Now, by long
disturbances, he works the heart into this mould very often, and upon
a double account he gains himself a fit opportunity to charge home his
exceptions. 1. In that he sets upon the conscience with his accusations
after the heart hath been long molested and confused with its other
troubles; for then the heart is weakened, and unable to make resistance
as at other times. An assault with a fresh party after a long conflict
disorders its forces, and puts all to flight. 2. In that long and
great discomposures of mind bring on a distemper of melancholy; for
it is notoriously known by common experience that those acid humours
producing this distemper, which have their rise from the blood, may
be occasioned by their violent passions of mind, the animal spirits
becoming inordinate by long discomposures of sadness, envy, terror,
and fretful cares, and the motion of the blood being retarded, it by
degrees departs from its temperament, and is infected with an acidity,
so that persons no way inclined naturally to melancholy may yet become
so by the disquiets of their troubled mind.

Both these ways, but chiefly melancholy, the devil hath his advantage
for disturbing the conscience. Melancholy most naturally inclines men
to be solicitous for their souls’ welfare; but withal disposeth them
so strongly to suspect the worst—for it is a credulous, suspicious
humour in things hurtful—and afflicts so heavily with sadness for what
it doth respect, that when Satan lays before men of that humour their
miscarriages under their discontents, their impatience, unthankfulness,
anger, rash thoughts, and speeches against God or men, &c., withal
suggesting that such a heart cannot be right with God, after serious
thoughts upon Satan’s frequently repeated charge, they cry out, Guilty,
guilty; and then begins a new trouble for their unregenerate estate,
and their supposed lost souls.

[4.] In this case usually Satan hath greater _liberty to accuse, and by
his accusations to molest the conscience_, in that men of discomposed
spirits, by the manifold evils arising thence, provoke God to desert
them, and to leave them in Satan’s hand to be brought into an hour of
temptation. Satan’s commission is occasioned by our provocations, and
the temptations arising from such a commission are usually dreadful.
They are solemn temptations, and called so after a singular manner; for
of these I take those scriptures to be meant, ‘Watch and pray, that
ye enter not into temptation, Mat. xxvi. 41; ‘And lead us not into
temptation,’ Mat. vi. 13. Such temptations are not common temptations,
and are of unknown force and hazard to the soul, which way soever they
are designed, either for sin or terror. For several things do concur in
a solemn temptation. As, 1. Satan doth in a special manner challenge
a man to the combat, or rather he challenges God to give him such a
man to fight with him, as he did concerning Job. This Christ tells us
of, Luke xxii. 31, ‘Simon, Satan hath desired to have you.’ The word
signifies a challenging or daring—ἐξαιτεῖσθαι; and it seems the devil
is oft daring God to give us into his hand, when we little know of it.
2. There is also a special suitableness of occasion and snare to the
temper and state of men. Thus he took Peter at an advantage in the
high priest’s hall; and in the case we now speak of he takes advantage
of men’s provocations and melancholy. 3. There is always a violent
prosecution, which our Saviour expresseth under the comparison of
sifting, which is a restless agitation of the corn, bringing that which
was at the bottom to the top, and shuffling the top to the bottom, so
that the chaff or dirt is always uppermost. 4. And to all this there
is divine permission, Satan let loose, and we left to our ordinary
strength, as is implied in that expression, ‘He hath desired to have
you that he might sift you.’ Now then, if the devil have such ground to
give God a challenge concerning such men, and if God do, as he justly
may, leave such men, whose bitterness of spirit hath been as ‘a smoke
in his nostrils all the day,’ [Isa. lxv. 5,] in Satan’s hand, he will
so shake them that their consciences shall have no rest. And this he
can yet the more easily effect, because,

[5.] Discomposures of spirit have a particular tendency _to incline our
thoughts to severity and harshness_, so that those who have had long
and great disturbances upon any outward occasions—of loss, affliction,
or disappointment, &c.—do naturally think, after a solemn review of
such troubles, harshly of God and of themselves. They are ready to
conclude that God is surely angry with them in that he doth afflict
them, or that they have unsanctified hearts in that their thoughts
are so fretful and unruly upon every inconsiderable petty occasion.
It is so ordinary for men under the weight of their trouble, or under
the sense of their sin, to be sadly apprehensive of God’s wrath
and their soul’s hazard, that it were needless to offer instances:
let David’s case be instead of all. That his troubles begot such
imaginations frequently, may be seen throughout the book of the Psalms.
We never read his complaints against persecuting enemies, or for other
afflictions, but still his heart is afraid that God is calling sin to
remembrance. In Ps. xxxviii. he is under great distress, and tells how
low his thoughts were: he was ‘troubled,’ greatly ‘bowed down;’ he
‘went mourning all the day long;’ he expresseth his thoughts to have
been that ‘God had forsaken him,’ ver. 21: and his hopes, though they
afterward revived, were almost gone; he cries out of his sins as having
‘gone over his head,’ and become ‘a burden too heavy for him,’ ver. 4,
and therefore sets himself to confess them, ver. 18. He trembles at
God’s anger, and feels the ‘arrows of God sticking fast in him,’ ver.
2. But what occasioned all this? The psalm informs us, God had visited
him with sickness, ver. 7. Besides that—for one trouble seldom comes
alone—his friends were perfidious, ver. 11; his enemies also were busy
laying snares for his life, ver. 12. Now his thoughts were to this
purpose, that surely he had some way or other greatly provoked God by
his sins, and therefore he fears wrath in every rebuke, and displeasure
in every chastisement, ver. 1. The like you may see in Ps. cii., where
the prophet upon the occasion of sickness, ver. 3, 23, and the reproach
of enemies, ver. 8, is under great trouble, and ready to fail except
speedy relief prevent, ver. 2: the reason whereof was this, that he
concluded these troubles were evident tokens of God’s indignation and
wrath; ‘because of thine indignation and thy wrath,’ ver. 10. From
these five particulars we may be satisfied that it cannot be otherwise,
and also how it comes to be so, that sometime trouble of conscience is
brought on by other discomposing troubles of the mind. For if these
take away the comforts which supported the soul, and afford also
arguments to the devil to prove a wicked heart, and withal ‘a fit
season’ to urge them to a deep impression, God in the meantime standing
‘at a distance,’ and the thoughts naturally inclined to conclude God’s
wrath from these troubles, how impossible is it that Satan should miss
of disquieting the conscience by his strong, vehement suggestions of
wickedness and desertion!

In our inquiries after Satan’s success in working these discomposures
of mind, we have discovered, 1. That the disturbances thence arising
are great; 2. That they have a tendency to trouble of conscience. There
is but one particular more to be spoken of, relating to his success in
this design, and that is,

(3.) These disturbances are _much in Satan’s power_. Ordinarily he can
do it at pleasure, except when God restrains him from applying fit
occasions, or when, notwithstanding these occasions, he extraordinarily
suspends the effect, which he frequently doth when men are enraged
under suffering upon the account of the gospel and conscience; for
then, though they be bound up under affliction and iron, yet the ‘iron
enters not into the soul;’ though they are troubled, they are not
distressed. These extraordinaries excepted, he can as easily discompose
the spirits of men as he can by temptation draw them into other sins;
which may be evidenced by these considerations:

[1.] We may observe that those _whose passionate tempers do usually
transport them into greater vehemencies, are never out of trouble_.
Their fits frequently return, they are never out of the fire, and this
is because Satan is still provided of occasions suitable to their

[2.] Though God, out of his common bounty to mankind, hath allowed him
a comfortable being in the world, yet we find that generally the sons
of men, under their various occupations and studies, are wearied out
_with vexations of spirit_. This Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, discovers
at large in various employments of men, not exempting the pursuit of
wisdom and knowledge: chap. i. 18, ‘In much wisdom is much grief;
and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow:’ nor pleasures
nor riches, for by all these he shews that a man is obnoxious to
disquiets; so that the general account of man’s life is but this:
chap. ii. 23, ‘All his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea,
his heart taketh not rest in the night.’ That it is so, is testified
by common experience past denial; but how it comes to be so, is the
inquiry. It is either from God, or from Satan working by occasions upon
our tempers. That it is not from God, is evident; for though sorrow
be a part of that curse which man was justly doomed unto, yet hath
he appointed ways and means by which it might be so mitigated that
it might be tolerable without discomposure of spirit; and therefore
Solomon, designing in his Ecclesiastes to set forth the chief good,
shews that felicity consists not in the common abuse of outward things,
because that brings only vexation, but in the fear of God leading
to future happiness, and in the meantime in a thankful, comfortable
use of things present without anxiety of mind. Hence doth he fix his
conclusion, as the result of his experience, and often repeats it:
‘There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink,
and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour,’ chap. ii.
24, iii. 12, 13, and v. 18, 19. Not that Solomon plays the epicure,
giving advice ‘to eat and drink, for to-morrow we die,’ nor that he
speaks deridingly to those that seek their felicity in this life, as
if he should say, ‘If ye do terminate your desires upon a terrene
felicity, there is nothing better than to eat and drink,’ &c. But he
gives a serious positive advice of enjoying the things of this life
with cheerfulness, which he affirms proceeds from the sole bounty of
God as his singular gift: ‘It is the gift of God,’ chap. iii. 13; ‘it
is our portion’—that is, our allowance, chap. v. 19, for these two
expressions, ‘our portion,’ and ‘God’s gift,’ they are of the same
signification with Solomon here; and when a man hath power to enjoy
this allowance in comfort, it is God that ‘answereth him in the joy of
his heart,’ ver. 20. It is plain, then, that God ‘sows good seed in his
field;’ the springing up, therefore, of these tares of vexation, which
so generally afflict the sons of men, must be ascribed to this, ‘the
enemy hath done it,’ [Mat. xiii. 28.]

[3.] It is also a considerable ground of suspicion that Satan can
do much in discomposures of spirit, in that sometimes those whose
tempers are _most cool and calm, and whose singular dependence upon,
and communion with God, must needs more strengthen them against these
passionate vexations, are notwithstanding precipitated into violent
commotions_. Moses was naturally meek above the common disposition
of men, and his very business was converse with God, whose presence
kept his heart under a blessed awe; yet, upon the people’s murmuring,
he was so transported with sullenness and unbelief, at the waters of
Meribah, Num. xx. 10-12, that ‘it went ill with him;’ which David
thus expresseth, Ps. cvi. 33, ‘They provoked his spirit, so that
he spake unadvisedly with his lips.’ Who can suppose less in this
matter than that Satan, having him at advantage, hurried him to this
rashness—specially seeing such vehemencies were not usual with Moses,
and that his natural temper led him to the contrary? This hath some
affinity with the next consideration, which is,

[4.] That when _men most foresee the occasions of their trouble, and
do most fear the trouble that might thence arise, and most firmly
design to keep their hearts quiet, yet are they oft forced, against
all care and resolution, upon extravagant heats_. David resolved
and strenuously endeavoured to possess his soul in serenity and
patience;—for what could be more than that solemn engagement? Ps.
xxxix. 1, ‘I said I will look to my ways;’ and what endeavours could be
more severe than to keep himself ‘as with bit and bridle’? what care
could be more hopeful to succeed than to be ‘dumb with silence’?—yet
for all this he could not keep his heart calm nor restrain his tongue:
ver. 3, ‘My heart waxed hot within me; while I was musing the fire
burned: then spake I with my tongue.’ Who suspects not the hand of
Satan in this?

[5.] It is also remarkable, that when we have _least reason to give way
to discomposure, when we have most cause to avoid all provocations,
yet then we have most occasions set before us_. When we would most
retire from the noise of the world for private devotion, when we would
most carefully prepare ourselves for a solemn ordinance, if we be
not very watchful, we shall be diverted by business, disturbed with
noises, or some special occasion of vexation shall importune us to
disquiet ourselves—when yet we shall observe, if we have not these
solemn affairs to wait upon, we shall have fewer of these occasions of
vexation to attend us. This cannot be attributed to mere contingency of
occasions, nor yet to our tempers solely; for why they should be most
apt to give us trouble when they are most engaged to calmness, cannot
well be accounted for. It is evidently, then, Satan that maliciously
directs these occasions—for they have not a malicious ingenuousness to
prepare themselves, without some other chief mover—at such times as he
knows would be most to our prejudice.

These general considerations amount to more than a suspicion, that it
is much in Satan’s power to give disturbances to the minds of men; yet,
for the clearer manifestation of the matter, I shall shew that he can
do much to bring about occasions of discomposure, and also to stir up
the passions of men upon these occasions.

1. That occasions are much in his hand, I shall easily demonstrate. For,

_First_, There being _so many occasions of vexation to a weak, crazy
mind, we may well imagine that one or other is still occurring_; and
while they thus offer themselves, Satan needs not be idle for want of
an opportunity.

_Second_, But if common occasions do not so exactly suit his design,
_he can prepare occasions_; for such is his foresight and contrivance,
that he can put some men—without their privity to his intentions, or
any evil design of their own—upon such actions as may, through the
strength of prejudice, misinterpretation, or evil inclination, be an
offence to others; and, in like manner, can invite those to be in the
way of these offences. I am ready to think there was a contrivance of
Satan—if we well consider all circumstances—to bring David and the
object of his lust together; while Bathsheba was bathing, he might use
his art in private motions to get David up to the roof of his house.
But more especially can the devil prepare occasions that do depend upon
the wickedness of his slaves; these are servants under his command, he
can ‘say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes.’
If contempt or injury, affronts or scorns, &c., be necessary for his
present work against any whom he undertakes to disturb, he can easily
put his vassals upon that part of the service; and if he have higher
employment for them, he ever finds them forward. And hence was it,
that when Satan designed to plunder Job, he could quickly perform it,
because he had the Chaldeans and Sabeans ready at a call.

_Third_, If both these should fail him, he can easily awaken in us _the
memory of old occasions that have been heretofore a trouble to us_.
These being raised out of their graves will renew old disturbances,
working afresh the same disquiets which the things themselves gave us
at first.

If Satan’s power were bounded here, and that he could do no more
than set before men occasions of vexation, yet we might justly, on
that single account, call him the troubler of the spirits of men;
considering that naturally the thoughts of men are restless, and
their imaginations ever rolling. If men sequester themselves from
all business, if they shut themselves up from commerce with men,
turn Eremites—as Jerome did—on purpose to avoid disquiet, yet their
thoughts would hurry them from place to place, sometimes to the court,
sometimes to the market, sometimes to shows and pastimes, sometimes to
quarrellings; sometimes they view fields, buildings, and countries;
sometimes they fancy dignities, promotions, and honours; they are ever
working upon one object or other, real or supposed, and according
to the object such will the affections be, high or low, joyful or
sorrowful; so that if the utmost of what Satan could do were no more
than to provide occasions, discomposures would follow naturally. The
evil dispositions of men would thereby be set a-working, though Satan
stood by as an idle spectator. The serpent—in our breasts, as Solomon
tells us, Eccles. x. 11—would ‘bite without enchantment,’ that is,
except it were charmed. But Satan can do more than tempt objectively,
when he hath provided the fuel he can also bring fire. For,

2. _He can also set our passions on work, and incense them to greater
fury than otherwise they would arrive at._ We see persons that are
distempered with passion may be whetted up to a higher pitch of rage
by any officious flatterer, that will indulge the humour and aggravate
the provocation. Much more then can Satan do it by whispering such
things to our minds as he knows will increase the flame; and therefore
is it, that where the Scripture doth caution us against anger—as the
proper product of our own corruption, calling it our wrath, Eph. iv.
26, 27—there also it warns us against the devil, as the incendiary,
that endeavours to heighten it. And where it tells us of the disorders
of the tongue,—which, though a little member, can of itself do great
mischief, James iii. 6—there it also tells us that the devil brings it
an additional fire from hell: ‘It is set on fire of hell.’ And there
are several ways by which Satan can irritate the passions. As,

[1.] _By presenting the occasions worse than they are, or were ever
intended, unjustly aggravating all circumstances._ By this means he
makes the object of the passions the more displeasing and hateful. This
must of necessity provoke to a higher degree.

[2.] _He can in a natural way move, as it were, the wheels, and set the
passions a-going, if they were of themselves more dull and sluggish_,
for he hath a nearer access to our passions than every one is aware
of. I will make it evident thus: our passions in their workings do
depend upon the fluctuations, excursions, and recursions of the blood
and animal spirits, as naturalists do determine.[326] Now that Satan
can make his approaches to the blood, spirits, and humours, and can
make alterations upon them, cannot be denied by those that consider
what the Scripture speaks in Job’s case, and in the cases of those that
were by possession of the devil made dumb, deaf, or epileptic; for if
he could afflict Job with grievous boils, chap. ii. 7, it is plain he
disordered and vitiated his blood and humours, which made them apt to
produce such boils or ulcers; and if he could produce an epilepsy, it
is evident that he could infect the _lympha_ with such a sharpness as
by vellicating the nerves might cause a convulsion; and these were
much more than the disorderly motions of blood, spirits, or humours,
which raise the passions of men. If any object to this, that then,
considering Satan’s malicious diligence, we must expect the passions of
men would never be at rest; it is answered, that this power of Satan is
not unlimited, but oft God prohibits him such approaches, and without
his leave he can do nothing; and also grace in God’s children, working
calmness, submission, and patience, doth balance Satan’s contrary
endeavour. For as hurtful and vexatious occasions, being represented by
the sense to the imagination, are apt to move the blood and spirits;
so, on the contrary, the ballast of patience and other graces doth so
settle the mind, that the blood and spirits are kept steady in their
usual course.

[3.] _When the passions are up, Satan can by his suggestions make
them more heady and violent._ He can suggest to the mind motives and
arguments to forward it, and can stir up our natural corruption, with
all its powers, to strike in with the opportunity. Thus he not only
kindles the fire, but blows the flame.

[4.] _And he can further fix the mind upon these thoughts, and keep
them still upon the hearts of men._ And then they eat in the deeper,
and like poison diffuse their malignity the further. We see that men,
who are at first but in an ordinary fret, if they continue to meditate
upon their provocation, they increase their vexation; and if they give
themselves to vent their passions by their tongues, though they begin
in some moderation, yet as motion causeth heat, so their own words whet
their rage, according to Eccles. x. 13, ‘The beginning of the words of
his mouth is foolishness, but the latter end of his talk is mischievous
madness.’ The same advantage hath Satan against men by holding down
their thoughts to these occasions of discomposure.

If occasions be so much in Satan’s power, and he have also so great a
hand over men’s passions, it is too evident that he can do very much
to discompose the spirits of men that are naturally obnoxious to these
troubles, except God restrain him, and grace oppose him. Thus have I
spoken my thoughts of the first sort of troubles, by which Satan doth
undermine the peace of men’s hearts.


 _Of the second way to hinder peace.—Affrightments, the general nature
 and burden of them, in several particulars.—What are the ways by
 which he affrights: 1. Atheistical injections. Observations
 of his proceeding in them; 2. Blasphemous thoughts; 3.
 Affrightful suggestions of reprobation. Observations of his
 proceedings in that course; 4. Frightful motions to sin;
 5. Strong immediate impressions of fear; 6. Affrightful
 scrupulosity of conscience._

The next rank of troubles by which the devil doth endeavour to
molest us, I call _affrightments_. It is usual for those that speak
of temptations, to distinguish them thus: Some are, they say,
enticements, some are affrightments; but then they extend these
affrightments further than I intend, comprehending under them all those
temptations of sadness and terror, of which I am next to speak. But
by affrightments, I mean only those perplexities of spirit into which
Satan casts men, by overacting their fears, or astonishing their minds,
by injecting unusual and horrid thoughts against their consents.[327]
Some there are that have thought those temptations, of which the
apostle complains, 2 Cor. xii. 7, ‘There was given me a thorn in the
flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me,’ were of this kind—that
is, horrid injections frequently repeated, as men deal their blows in
fighting. Gerson, speaking of these, tells us they sometime come from
the sole suggestion of Satan troubling the fancy, and saying, Deny God,
curse God; and then adds, such was the thorn in the flesh given to the
apostle.[328] But whether this was the trouble of the apostle, or some
other thing—for several things are conjectured, and nothing can be
positively proved—we are sure, from the sad experience of many, that
such troubles he doth often give; which I shall first explain in the
general, and then give a particular of these frightful injections.

1. To explain the nature and burden of this kind of trouble, I shall
present you with a few observations about them. As,

[1.] These astonishing thoughts are purely _injections_, such as _Satan
casts into the mind, and not what the mind of itself doth produce_; as
one expresseth it, they are more darting than reflecting. Not but that
our natural corruption could of itself beget blasphemous or atheistical
thoughts; but when they have their rise from ourselves solely, they
do not so startle us. Having some share at least of our consent going
along with them, they appear not so strange. But in this case in hand,
Satan is the agent, and men are the sufferers, their understandings
and souls being busied all the while to repel them, with the utmost
of their reluctances. And to those that do thus strive against them,
making resistance with all their strength, with tears and prayers, they
are only their afflictions, but not their sins. For the thoughts are
not polluted by the simple apprehension of a sinful object, no more
than the eye is defiled by beholding loathsome and filthy things; for
then should the mind of Christ have been defiled, when Satan propounded
himself blasphemously as the object of his worship; his mind as truly
apprehended the meaning of that saying, ‘fall down and worship me,’ as
ours can do, when he casts such a thing immediately into our thoughts.
Which is a consideration to be observed diligently by those that meet
with such sad exercise. If they do truly apprehend that they are but
their sufferings, and that God will not charge the sin upon them, they
will more easily bear and overcome the trouble.

These injections are commonly impetuous and sudden, frequently compared
to lightning; and this is usually made a note of distinction betwixt
wicked, blasphemous thoughts rising from our natural corruption, and
darted in by Satan; the former being more leisurely, orderly, and
moderate, according to the usual course of the procedure of human
thoughts, the latter usually accompanied with a hasty violence, subtly
and incoherently shooting into our understandings, as lightning into a
house; so that all the strength we have can neither prevent them nor
expel them, nor so much as mitigate the violence of them.

[3.] They are also for the most part _incessant and constant troublers
where they once begin_. Though Satan hath variety, in regard of the
matter of these amazing injections—for sometimes he affrights one
man with blasphemous thoughts, another with atheistical thoughts, a
third with grievous, unusual temptations to sin, as murder, &c.—yet
usually he fixeth his foot upon what he first undertakes. And as
cunning huntsmen do not change their game that they first rouse, that
they may sooner speed in catching the prey; so what frightful thought
Satan begins the trouble with, that he persists in, and is withal so
vehement in his pursuit, that he gives little intermission. He makes
these unwelcome thoughts haunt them like ghosts, whithersoever they
go, whatsoever they do; he will give solemn onsets it may be twenty or
forty times in a day: and at this rate he continues, it may be for some
considerable time, so that they are not quit of the trouble for several
months, or it may be years.

[4.] The matter of these affrightments are things _most contrary
to the impressions of nature or grace, and therefore most odious
and troublesome_. When he is upon this design, things that are most
contrary to the belief and inclination of men are best for his purpose;
as men that intend to affright others choose the most ugly vizors,
the strangest garbs and postures, and make the most uncouth, inhuman
noises; and the more monstrous they appear, the better they succeed in
their purposes. Yet Satan doth not always choose the very worst, for
then most of the troubles of this kind would be about the same thing;
but he considers the strength of our persuasions, our establishment in
truths, the probability or improbability of an after game with us; and
accordingly sometimes refuseth to trouble us with injections, contrary
to what we are most firmly rooted in, choosing rather that which,
though contrary to our thoughts and resolves, we have not been fixed
in without a great deal of labour, and which, if there be occasion,
might most fitly be charged upon us as our own, so that, whereas other
suggestions would be slighted as apparent malice and scarecrows, these
are most afflicting, as being an assault against such a fort which
costs us much to rear, and which we are most afraid to lose, and most
liable to his accusation after a long continuance, as being the issue
of our own unsettledness.

[5.] The first and most obvious effects of these injections are
_the utmost abhorrency of the mind_—which presently startles at the
appearance of such odious things—_and the trembling of the body,
sometimes to an agony and fainting_. The invasion of one single
injection hath put some into such a heart-breaking affrightment,
that they have not recovered themselves in a whole day’s time. This
trembling of the body and agony of the mind are the usual consequences
of anything that is surprising, strange, and fearful; and therefore is
trembling of the body made by divines a mark to discover that these
hideous, blasphemous thoughts are cast in by Satan, and have not their
rise from our own hearts; for the horror of the mind is usually so
great, when it is spoken to in this language, that it cannot bear
up under its astonishment and trouble. Yea, those very men that are
otherwise profane, and can with boldness commit great iniquities,
cannot but shake, and inwardly conceive an unspeakable hatred at these
monstrous suggestions.[329]

[6.] _These affrightments are more common than men are usually aware
of._ They are by some thought to be rare and extraordinary; but this
mistake ariseth from the concealment of these kind of troubles. Those
that are thus afflicted are often ashamed to speak to others what
they find in their own hearts; but if all would be so ingenuous as to
declare openly what fearful imaginations are obtruded upon them, it
would appear that Satan very frequently endeavours to trouble men this

[7.] _These are very grievous burdens, and hard to be borne upon many

_First_, Who can well express _the inward torture and molestation
of the mind_, when it is forced against its own natural bent and
inclination to harbour such monsters within itself! How would nature
reluct and abominate the drinking down of noisome puddled water, or the
swallowing of toads and serpents! And hence was it that persecutors in
their devilish contrivances invented such kind of tortures. And what
less doth the devil do when he forceth blasphemies upon their thoughts,
and commits a rape by a malicious violence upon their imaginations?
David, under these temptations, Ps. lxxiii. 21, cries out, ‘Thus my
heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins:’ and it cannot be
otherwise, for the reason already mentioned. Nature abhors to be
forced to what is most contrary to itself, and so doth grace. Now the
things by which Satan works these affrightments are contrary to nature
or grace, or both together; and as they will strive to the utmost of
their ability to cast out what is so opposite to them, so must the
devil to the utmost of his ability, if he would carry his design,
strengthen himself in his force, and from hence, as when fire and
water are committed together, ariseth a most troublesome conflict;
and indeed if there were a compliance of our consent, there would be
no affrightment; neither can this kind of temptation be managed except
there be the utmost dissent of the mind. If any think there is no
great ground for these temptations, because some of the particulars by
which he is said to affright men are natural to us, as, for instance,
atheistical thoughts, which are by some called the master-vein of our
original corruption, and by others said to be in the heart of every man
naturally, and then consequently not so troublesome as is imagined,
&c.; I answer, that when divines call these or blasphemous thoughts
natural, they do not mean that they are natural impressions engraven
on us by creation,—for they assert the contrary; that it is a natural
and unextinguishable impression upon every man that there is a God,
&c., and usually give in this for proof, that the greatest atheists
in fear and extremity will manifest a secret belief of a deity, by
calling out, O God, &c.,[330] or by some other posture, as Caligula by
hiding himself when it thundered,—but they mean only that our natural
corruption may produce these thoughts, and that they are the natural
issues thereof; and therefore Perkins, in answer to a question of this
nature, tells us that these two thoughts, ‘there is a God,’ and ‘there
is no God,’ may be, and are both, in the same heart.[331] Now as this
will give us the reason why Satan doth make choice of these thoughts
to trouble us withal, which may also rise from ourselves—which I have
hinted before, and shall presently again touch upon—so it tells us
still that whether these thoughts arise from our own corruption or from
Satan, our natural impressions are strong against them, and withal that
they cannot be so affrightful but when Satan doth manage them, and
when the contrary impressions of nature are awakened to give strong
resistance, and then that struggling must be as the tearing of our
bowels, and still the worse in that we are incessantly pursued, Satan
still casting back with unwearied labour the same thoughts as they are
repulsed and rejected, as soldiers that besiege cities use to cast over
the walls their fired grenades.

_Second_, These are also grievous, _as they set the mind upon the rack,
and stretch it under laborious and doubtful inquiries after the grounds
or causes of this kind of trouble_, for the heart, astonished with such
cursed guests against his will, presently reflects upon God and itself
What have I done, and wherefore am I thus disquieted with monsters?
Why doth the righteous Lord suffer Satan to break open my heart, and
fill me with such fearful thoughts? But when men’s inquiries are not
so high, but detained in a consideration of the nature of the trouble
and manner of its working, without looking up to the providence of God,
then are their troubles increased.

_Third_, As these injections necessitate men, in their own defence, _to
oppose and every way to resist, it is an increase of the burden_. What
pleadings are they put to, what defiances, what endeavours to call off
the thoughts! and all to little purpose; while the trouble continues
they are forced to lie in their armour, and to be constantly in their

_Fourth_, And yet are they further troublesome _in the after-game that
Satan plays by these thoughts_. It is not all of his design to affright
men, but he usually hath another temptation to come in the rear of
this, and that is to turn these affrightments into accusations, and by
urging them long upon the hearts of men, to make them believe that they
are their own thoughts, the issues of their own natural corruption; and
after men are by continual assaults weakened, their senses and memory
dulled, their understanding confounded, &c., they easily conclude
against themselves. The tempter imputes all the horrid blasphemy to
them, boldly calls them guilty of all; and because their thoughts have
dwelt long upon such a subject, and withal knowing that corrupt nature
of itself will lead men to such horrid blasphemies or villainies—which
makes it probable that it might be their own fault, and for this reason
Satan makes choice of such injections as may in the accusation seem
most likely to be true—being strongly charged as guilty, they yield;
and then begins another trouble more fearful than the former.[332]
Oh, what sad thoughts have they then of themselves, as the most vile
blasphemous wretches! Sometimes they think that it is impossible that
other men’s hearts should entertain such intolerable things within them
as theirs, and that none was ever so bad as they; sometimes they think
that if men knew what vile imaginations and monstrous things are in
their minds, they would in very zeal to God and religion stone them, or
at least exclude them from all commerce with men; sometimes they think
their sin to be the sin against the Holy Ghost; sometimes they think
God is engaged in point of honour to shew upon them some remarkable
judgment, and they verily look for some fearful stroke to confound
them, and live under such a frightful expectation. These and many more
to this purpose are their thoughts, so that these temptations are every
way troublesome, both in their first and second effects.

Thus I have in the general expressed the nature of these affrightments.
What the particular injections are by which he studies to affright men,
I shall next declare. They are principally six:

1. _Atheistical thoughts._ By injecting these into the mind he doth
exceedingly affright men, and frequently for that end doth he suggest
that there is no God, and that the Scriptures are but delusive
contrivances, &c. Concerning these I shall note a few things; as,

[1.] Though there be an observable difference betwixt _atheistical
injections and temptations to atheism_, not only in the design—Satan
chiefly intending seduction in the latter, and affrightment by the
former—but also in the manner of proceeding—(for when he designs
chiefly to tempt to atheism, he first prepares his way by debauching
the conscience with vicious or negligent living,—according to Ps. xiv.
1, that which makes men ‘say in their hearts there is no God,’ is
this, that ‘they are corrupt, and have done abominable works’—and in
this method was famous Junius tempted to atheism: but when he chiefly
intends to affright, he sets upon men that by a watchful and strict
conversation cut off from him that advantage)—yet he doth so manage
himself that he can turn his course either way, as he finds probability
of success after trial; for he presseth on upon men most where he finds
them most to yield, so that those who were but at first affrighted may
at last be solemnly persuaded and urged to believe the suggestion to be
true if they give him any encouragement for such a procedure.[333]

[2.] _Contemplative heads and great searchers_ are usually most
troubled in this manner, partly because they see more difficulties than
other men, and are more sensible of human inability to resolve them,
and partly because God, who will not suffer his children to be tempted
‘above what they are able,’ doth not permit Satan to molest the weaker
sort of Christians with such dangerous assaults.

[3.] _Persons of eminent and singular holiness may be, and often are,
troubled with atheistical thoughts, and have sad conflicts about them_,
Satan labouring, where he cannot prevail for a positive entertainment
of atheism, at least to disquiet their minds by haunting them with
his injections, if not to weaken their assent to these fundamental
truths, in which he sometimes so prevails, that good men have publicly
professed that they have found it a harder matter to believe that there
is a God than most do imagine.

[4.] _Satan lies at the catch in this design, and usually takes men
at the advantage, suddenly setting upon them, either in the height of
their meditations and inquiries into fundamental truths_—for when they
soar aloft, and puzzle themselves with a difficulty, then is he at
hand to advise them to cut the knot which they cannot unloose—_or in
the depth of their troubles_—for when men cannot reconcile the daily
afflictions and sufferings which they undergo, with the love and care
of God toward his children, then it is Satan’s season to tell them that
there is no supreme disposer of things. In both these cases the devil
leaps upon them unawares, like a robber out of a thicket, who, if he
do not wound them by the dart of atheistical injection, at least he is
sure to astonish them, and to confound them with amazement. For,

[5.] _Sometimes he pursues with wonderful violence, and will dispute
with admirable subtlety, urging the inequality of providence, the
seeming contradictions of Scripture, the unsuitableness of ordinances
to an infinite wisdom and goodness, with many more arguments of
like kind_; and this with such unexpected acuteness and seeming
demonstration, that the most holy hearts and wisest heads shall not
readily know what to answer, but shall be forced to betake themselves
to their knees, and to beg of God that he would rebuke Satan, and
uphold them that their faith fail not. Nay, he doth not only dispute,
but by urging, and with unspeakable earnestness threaping,[334] the
conclusion upon men, doth almost force them to a persuasion, so that
they are almost carried off their feet whether they will or no; which
was the very case of David when the devil pursued him with atheistical
thoughts on the occasion of the prosperity of wicked men, and his
daily troubles: Ps. lxxiii. 2, ‘My feet were almost gone, my steps had
well-nigh slipped.’

[6.] Yet for all this he sometimes _lays aside his sophistical
subtlety, and betakes himself to an impudent importunity_; for
sometimes he insists only on one argument, not changing that which
he first took up, nor strengthening his suggestion with variety of
arguments, but by frequent repetition of the same reason persists to
urge his injected atheism. This gives no discovery of any deep reach
if he designed to persuade—for it is scarce rational to imagine that
serious men, who by many arguments are fully persuaded there is a God,
should readily lose their hold upon the appearance of one objection—but
it shews that he purposeth only to molest. And this appears more
evidently, when he contents himself with weak and trivial arguments,
which the afflicted party can answer fully, and yet cannot for all that
quit themselves of the trouble; for instance, it is not very many years
since a serious and pious person came to me, and complained that he
could not be at rest for atheistical thoughts that perpetually haunted
him; and upon a particular inquiry into the cause and manner of his
trouble, he told me the first rise of it was from his observation, that
I had interpreted some scriptures otherwise than he had heard some
others to have done; but withal he added that he knew the reason of his
perplexity was but silly, and that which he could easily answer; this
being no just charge against the Scripture, whose sense and truth might
for all that be one, and uniform to itself, but only an implication of
human weakness appearing in the different apprehensions of expositors;
yet notwithstanding he affirmed he could not shake off the trouble,
and that his thoughts were ever urged with the same thing for a long
time together. Nay, such is his impudency in this kind of trouble, that
those who know it is the best way not to dispute fundamentals with
Satan, but with abhorrency to reject him—after the example of Christ,
with a ‘get thee behind me, Satan’—and accordingly do with their
utmost strength reject them, yet they find that he doth not readily

How sad is this trouble! how are pious persons affrighted to see the
face of their thoughts made abominably ugly and deformed by these
violent and unavoidable injections! It is not only wearisome to those
that know it to be solely Satan’s malice, but it often proves to be an
astonishing surprisal—like that of a traveller who, while he passeth
on his way without foresight or thought of danger, is suddenly brought
to the top of a great precipice, where, when he looks down to the vast
deep below, his head swims, his heart pants, his knees tremble, and
the very fear of the sudden danger so confounds him that he is through
excessive dread ready to fall into that which he would avoid; so are
these amazed at so great hazards before them. Satan could not by all
his art prevail with them to abandon the holy ways of God in exchange
for the pleasures of sin, and now they seem to be in danger to lose all
at once; and yet it is more affrightful by far to those that charge,
through Satan’s cunning, all this atheism upon themselves.

2. Another affrightful injection is that of _blasphemous thoughts_, as
that God is not just, not compassionate; that scriptures and ordinances
are but low and sorry things, &c.

That Satan doth delight to force such thoughts upon men, is evident,

[1.] _From his nature._ He is a blasphemous spirit, and withal so
malicious, that whatsoever is in his cursed mind he will be ready to
vent upon all occasions.

[2.] _From his practice_; for where he can obtain the rule over men’s
imaginations, as in some distracted persons, and those that are
distempered with fevers, he usually makes them vomit forth oaths,
cursings, and blasphemies, and this he doth to some that, while they
have had the use of their reason, have not been observed to give their
tongue the liberty of swearing or cursed speaking.

[3.] _From his professed design in the case of Job_, concerning whom he
boasted to God himself that he would make him curse him to his face,
and accordingly tempted him by his wife to curse God and die.

[4.] _From the sad experience of those that have suffered under this
sad affliction_: for many have complained of blasphemous thoughts;
and those whom he cannot conquer he will thus trouble. Neither need
we think it strange that the devil can impress blasphemies upon the
imaginations of men against their wills, when we consider that he could
make Saul, in his fits, to behave himself like an inspired person, and
cause him to utter things beyond and unsuitable to his disposition,
after the rate and manner of those raptures which idolatrous priests
used to be transported withal. _Bacchatur vates._ [Virgil.][335] This,
in 1 Sam. xviii. 10, is called Saul’s prophesying, when the ‘evil
spirit from the Lord vexed him;’ and is the same with that which is
spoken concerning Baal’s priests: 1 Kings xviii. 29, ‘They prophesied
until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice’—that is, they
were exercised with trances and rapturous furies, in which they uttered
strange sounds and speeches. How easily, then, may Satan possess the
fancies of men with blasphemies! so that the unwilling may be troubled
with them, and those that are deprived of the benefit of reason, may,
from the power of the impression upon their imagination, vent them with
a kind of unwillingness.

Melancholy persons do very frequently meet with this kind of trouble,
Satan having a great power upon their imagination, and great
advantages, from the darkness of that humour, to make the fear arising
from such thoughts the more astonishing, and to delude them into an
apprehension that they are guilty of all that passeth through their
thoughts, and also to work this perplexity to more dismal effects.
In these kind of men he doth play the tyrant with such injections,
abusing them to such a height as if they were his vassals and slaves,
whose thoughts and tongues were in his and not their own keeping; and
so strongly doth he possess them with this perplexity sometimes, that
all the counsels, reasonings, or advice of others cannot in the least
satisfy or relieve them; yet, notwithstanding, I have known several
under this affliction who, when by physic the state of their bodies
hath been altered, have found themselves at ease immediately, the
trouble gradually and insensibly ceasing of itself.

Others there are that have great vexation from these thoughts, and
these are commonly such as by some long and grievous pain, sickness,
or other crosses, have their spirits fretted and imbittered; then is
Satan ready to suggest that God is cruel or regardless of his people;
and these thoughts are the more dreadful because fretting and murmuring
spirits have a natural tendency to think harshly of God; so that Satan
in this case doth with the more boldness obtrude these suggestions upon
them, finding so great a forwardness toward such imaginations, and
also with greater severity he doth reflect upon them, as being in some
likelihood compliant and consenting.

When other persons—not so concerned as these two sorts of men above
mentioned—are assaulted with blasphemous thoughts, the fits are less
permanent, and, because they easily discover the design and author of
them, not highly affrightful, though still troublesome.

The burden of these injections are much like the former, very sadly
afflicting. For who can easily bear the noise of Satan while he
shouts continually into their ears odious calumnies and blasphemous
indignities against God? David could not hear wicked men blaspheme
God but it was ‘as a sword in his bones,’ exceeding painful. The
impressions of nature, that teach us to revere and honour God; the
power of education, that confirms these impressions; the persuasion
of faith, that assures us of the reality and infinite excellency
of a Godhead; and the force of love, that makes us more sensibly
apprehensive of any injury or dishonour done to him whom we love above
all;—all these do suffer by these violent incursions of Satan, and the
sufferer finds himself to be pained and tortured in these noble parts.
How grievous must it be to a child of God to have his ear chained to
these intolerable, ingrateful reproaches!—especially when we consider
that the devil will in this case utter the most dreadful blasphemies he
can devise, which will still add to the affliction—for even those men
that through habit can well bear ordinary petty oaths, will yet startle
at outrageous prodigious swearing—and therefore whatever covert and
consequential blasphemies may be to some men, these impudent, hideous
abuses of the holy and just God must needs sadly trouble those that
are forced to hear them. And the more constant the greater trouble.
Who would not be weary of their lives that must be forced to undergo
this vexation still without intermission? And yet the devil can advance
the trouble a little higher by the apparatus or artificial[336] dread
which he puts upon the temptation in the manner of the injection; as
the roaring of the lion increaseth terror in the beasts of the field,
who without that would tremble at his presence; and as the thundering
and lightning at the giving of the law increased the fear of Israel,
so when Satan is upon this design, he shakes as it were the house, and
makes a noise that the fright may be increased.

3. _Suspicious fears of being excluded out of God’s eternal decree of
election is another of his affrightments._ This is when Satan boldly
takes upon him to determine God’s secret counsel concerning any man;
peremptorily asserting that he is none of God’s elect. In which case
he often doth only inject the suspicion confidently, without offer of
proof; or if he use arguments, they never amount to a proof of his
assertion; neither is it possible they should, for these are among
‘God’s secrets,’ and out of Satan’s reach, though possibly they may
prove the person to be not converted at present. So that this kind of
trouble differs exceedingly from those disquiets of temptation which
frequently men suffer about their state of regeneration. And indeed the
question should not be confounded, it being of great concern to men
when their peace is assaulted to be able to observe the difference
betwixt these two assertions, ‘Thou are not elected,’ and ‘Thou art not
yet regenerated.’ Seeing—the latter being granted—there yet remains
a hope of the probability or possibility of that man’s conversion
afterwards. The suspicions of non-conversion are more common, and not
so dangerous; nay, in unregenerate persons the fears of their being yet
in that condition, being joined with diligence and care to avoid the
danger, are necessary and advantageous; but the former being granted,
all hopes are, together with that concession, laid off, which must
needs make the affrightment intolerable. In this we may observe,

[1.] That Satan, for the better management of this design, doth not
only inject these suspicions _in the most dreadful language_—as, ‘Thou
art a lost and damned wretch, hopelessly miserable to all eternity; God
hath not elected thee to life, but prepared for thee, as a vessel of
wrath, the lake of fire and brimstone for ever,’ &c.—but also he doth
assert them with the highest peremptoriness imaginable, as if he had
authority from God to pronounce a sentence of condemnation against a
man. This must needs amaze the afflicted unspeakably.

[2.] In this he also _observes his advantages_; for there are some men
so sadly suited to this design, that Satan comes better to speed upon
them than others. Usually he fixeth his eyes,

_First, Upon young persons at their first serious attendances upon, and
considerations of, Scripture truths._ Their hearts are then tender.
Youth hath a natural tender-heartedness. We find them coupled together
in Rehoboam’s character: 2 Chron. xiii. 7, ‘When Rehoboam was young and
tender-hearted.’ And they are apt to receive strong impressions. When
those who were formerly mindless of their spiritual concern begin to be
serious, they can no sooner fall upon a consideration of those weighty
doctrines, that there are sheep and goats, some saved and some damned,
that the blessed are few in comparison of the many that take the broad
way to destruction, and that these were from eternity ordained unto
life, and these only, &c.; no sooner, I say, begin they to ponder these
things, but Satan is ready with his suspicion, ‘And what dost thou know
but thou art one of these excluded wretches? If but few are saved, a
thousand to one thou art none of them; for why should God look upon
thee more than another?’ These are his first essays[337] with young men
beginning to be serious, in which afterward he proceeds with greater
boldness as he seeth occasion.

_Secondly_, He also doth this to persons that are _some way quickened
to a devotional fear of God and care of their souls, but withal are
ignorant, and not able distinctly to apprehend and orderly to range
the doctrines of the Scriptures into a due consistency with one
another_. Their careful fears make them inquire into what God hath
said concerning the everlasting state of men; and before they can be
able to digest the principles of religion, Satan sets some truths
edgeways against them, which put them into great affrightment; while,
through their ignorance, other truths, appointed and declared for
the satisfaction of the minds of those that hunger and thirst after
righteousness, cannot come in to their relief. How startling must the
truths of God’s election be when they stand forth alone, and are not
accompanied with the invitations of the gospel, that promise pardon and
acceptance to all that will come in and submit to Christ! Satan usually
holds such kind of men to the consideration of those truths that have
the most dismal aspect; and while they are stopped there, they can draw
forth no other conclusions than these, that they are in hazard, and,
for aught they know, utterly lost.

_Third_, Satan hath also this plot against those that by some _grievous
iniquity, or long continuance in sin, have highly provoked the Lord_.
Here he useth arguments from the heinousness of their iniquity: Thou
art a reprobate, because thou hast committed these great evils, these
are marks of damnation, &c.; which arguments, though they be of no
value, and no way proving that for which they are brought, yet Satan
injecting suspicions, and their own consciences in the meantime justly
accusing, they so sink under their fear that they suffer Satan to make
what conclusion he will, and then they subscribe to it.

_Fourth_, Above all, _melancholy persons give the devil the greatest
advantage to raise affrightments_. That distemper naturally fills
men with sad thoughts, and is credulous of the worst evil that can
be objected against him that hath it. Of itself, it can create
the blackest conceits and saddest surmises, and then believes its
own fancy. When Satan strikes in with this humour—_finguntque
creduntque_—they are the more confirmed in their suspicions; and the
fright is the greater, because they are as incredulous of what is good,
if it be told them, as they are apt to believe what is evil, and to
believe it, because they fear it, _dum timet credit_,—though no other
reason were offered: but much more when Satan, in a prophetic manner,
foretells their misery, and assures them they must never be happy.

[3.] The suspicions which the devil hath by these advantages _raised
up, he doth endeavour to increase, and to root them deeply in the
minds of them upon whom he hath thus begun_. And indeed, by frequent
inculcating the same thing, with his continued peremptoriness of
asserting the certainty of their non-election, he at last brings
up very many to a full persuasion that it is so; and besides other
arts that he may have, or exercise in this particular, he commonly
practiseth upon men by perverting the true intendment and use of the
doctrine of election. That there is such a thing as election, and
that of a determinate number, are truths undeniable; and the end of
their discovery in the gospel is the comfort and confirmation of the
converted. Here they may see God’s unchangeable love to them—how much
they stand engaged for the freeness of grace, and that the foundation
of God is sure, &c.; for to this purpose doth our Saviour improve these
doctrines, John xvii. 6, 7, 9, 12, 15, 16. But nothing of this is
spoken to discourage any man from his endeavours, neither can any man
prove that he or any other is excluded out of the decree of election,
except in case of the sin against the Holy Ghost; neither is it
possible for the devil to prove any such thing against any man; neither
ought any to suppose himself not elect; but on the contrary, if he is
willing to forsake sin, and desirous to be reconciled to God, he ought
to apprehend a probability that he is elected, because the proffer of
Christ is made to all that will receive him. And therefore should men
stop their ears against such suggestions, and not dispute that with
Satan, but rather hearken to the commands, exhortations, and promises
of Scripture, it being most certain that these ‘secret things belong
to God,’ Deut. xxix. 29, and are no man’s rule to walk by, seeing
‘revealed things only belong to us;’ all this the devil perverts, for
he endeavours to make election the immediate object of our faith, and
our rule to walk by, as if it were necessary that every man knew God’s
eternal purpose concerning him before he begin his endeavours. And as
he argues some men into a perverse carelessness upon the ground of
election, making them to conclude that if they are ordained to life,
they shall be saved, though they live wickedly; if they be not, they
shall be damned, though they endeavour never so much to the contrary;
so he also argues some, from this doctrine, into terrible fears
of damnation, because they cannot be assured aforehand that their
names are written in heaven. And these dreadful suspicions he doth
labour to strengthen by some men’s unwary handling of the doctrine
of non-election. When some preachers unskilfully urge the dangerous
signs of reprobation, or speak severely of God’s decrees, without due
caution and promise of mercy to all penitent sinners; or when some,
unskilful in the methods of comforting the distressed in conscience,
because they are not able to shew the afflicted their condition, or to
speak ‘a word in season’ to quiet their minds, and to direct them what
course to take, do usually refer them to God’s decree, and tell them,
If God have decreed them to salvation, they shall be saved; Satan doth
industriously hold them there; by this means he leads them from their
promises and their duty, and keeps them musing and poring upon election
till they are bewildered, and cannot find the way out. Thus have
several continued under their affrightments for many years.

[4.] We may observe, That when Satan hath brought them into this snare,
_he doth tyrannically domineer over them_. He doth deride them under
their trouble, and mock at them when their fear comes upon them. And
because now the very thought or hearing of election is as a dagger to
the heart, and a ‘dreadful sound in their ears,’ he delights to repeat
it to them; for the very naming of the word becomes as dreadful as the
sentence of condemnation to a malefactor, being always accompanied with
this reflection, Oh how miserable am I that have no part nor portion in
it! Besides, he doth busy their minds with imaginary representations
of hell, and sets before them, as in a scheme, the day of judgment,
the terrors of the damned, the sentence against the goats on the left
hand, the intolerable pains of everlasting burnings, and that which is
the misery of all these miseries, the eternity of all. Thus he forceth
their meditations, but still with application to themselves; neither
doth he suffer them to rest in the night, but they are terrified with
sad dreams, and the visions of the night do disquiet them.

[5.] _How grievous this affrightment is_, I should next observe; but
that is partly expressed in the aforegoing particulars, and may yet
more fully appear by a consideration of these three things:

_First, That a man hath nothing dearer to him than his soul._ Alas!
that cannot be counterbalanced by the gaining of the whole world, and
to have no hope or expectancy of its salvation must needs be terribly

_Second, These suspicions of non-election prevailing, all promises and
comforts are urged in vain, and they commonly return them back again to
those that offered them with this reply_, ‘They are true and useful to
those unto whom they appertain, but they belong not unto me.’ Nay, all
means are rejected as useless. If such be advised to pray or read, they
will in their fit of affrightment refuse all; upon this reason, that
they are not elected. And then to what purpose, say they, is prayer,
or any endeavours? For who can alter his decree? And, indeed, if their
affrightments continued at a height without intermission, they would
never do anything; but this is their help, that some secret underground
hopes which they espy not, do revive, at least sometimes, and put them
upon endeavours which, through God’s blessing, become means of better

_Third_, Though Satan’s injections of non-election be altogether
unproveable, and withal so terrifying, that it might be supposed men
should not be forward in their belief of so great an unhappiness; yet
can he prevail so far _that the persons above named—especially the
melancholy—are made to believe him, and this chiefly by possessing
their imaginations with his frequent confident affirmations_. We see
it is a common practice to teach birds musical notes and sounds, which
is only by constant repetition, till a strong impression is made upon
their fancy; and thus may one man impose upon the imagination of
another with his songs or sayings; for what we hear often we cannot
forbear to repeat in our thoughts, being strongly fixed upon our
fancy. No wonder, then, if Satan, by often repeating, ‘Thou art not
elected, thou art damned,’ &c., do form so strong an impression upon
the imagination, that poor amazed creatures learn to say after him,
and then take the echoes of their fancy to be the voice of conscience
condemning them. Now, then, if the unhappiness suspected be the
greatest beyond all comparison, if these suspicions entertained cut off
all succours of comfort that may arise from the promises of God and the
endeavours of man, if Satan can prevail with men to entertain them with
any persuasion—as we see he can—how dreadfully will these persuasions
recoil upon a man! And thus will his thoughts run, ‘I am persuaded I am
not elected; and if not elected, then comforts and prayers are all in
vain; and if these be in vain, there is no possibility of salvation,
nor the least hope of a _who knows_, or a _peradventure_; and if that,
oh unspeakably miserable!’ Under these astonishing thoughts doth Satan
exercise their hearts by suspicions of non-election. But,

4. Sometimes he takes another course to affright men, and that is by
_injecting motions of some abominable sin or evil into their minds,
to the commission whereof he seems strongly to solicit_; yet not with
any full intention or expectation of prevalency, but with a purpose
to molest and disquiet. And for that end, he commonly chooseth such
sins as are most vile in their own nature, and most opposite to the
dispositions of men. Thus he injects thoughts of uncleanness to a
chaste person; thoughts of injustice and wrong to a just man; thoughts
of revenge and cruelty to a weak man; thoughts of rejoicing in the loss
and misery of others to the merciful man. Or else he injects motions
to such sins wherein formerly men have been overtaken, but have been
made bitter by deep repentance; the very thoughts whereof are now
become most loathsome. And sometimes he pursues men with thoughts of
self-murder, even while there is nothing of discontent or trouble in
their minds to second such a temptation. By this manner of proceeding
he creates great affrightments to the hearts of men. For,

[1.] _These are strange surprisals_; and persons under this kind
of trouble cannot but be amazed to find such thoughts within them,
which are most contrary to their dispositions, or their most serious
resolves. The chaste person tempted to uncleanness, or the just man to
revenge; the humble person urged to the same sin that cost him so dear,
&c.; they wonder at their own hearts, and while they mistake these
temptations, by judging them to be the issues of their own inclination,
with astonishment they cry out, Oh, I had thought that I had mortified
these lusts, but what a strange heart have I! I see sin is as strong in
me as ever! And I have cause to fear myself, &c.

[2.] And this is yet a greater trouble, because usually Satan takes
them _at some advantage of an offered occasion or opportunity_, then
he gives them a sudden push, and with importunity urgeth them to take
the time. This often affrights them into trembling, and their fears do
so weaken their purposes that their hazards are the greater, in that
they are astonished into an inactivity. So that in this case the men of
might do not readily find their hands.

[3.] Neither are these motions _sudden and transient glances, which
perish as soon as they are born_, though it be a very frequent thing
with Satan to cast in motions into the heart for trial sake, without
further prosecution; but he, in this case, pursues with frequent
repetitions, following hard after them, to the increase of the
affrightment. So that for a long time together men may be afflicted
with these messengers of Satan to buffet them; and though they may pray
earnestly against them that they may be removed, yet they find the
motions continue upon them. Which must needs be a hateful annoyance
to an upright heart, that doth know it to be only Satan’s design to
affright; much more must it afflict those that do not perceive the
contriver and end of such motions, but judge them to be the natural
workings of their own evil heart.

5. Satan can also affright men _by immediate impressions of fear
upon their minds_. He can do much with the imagination, especially
when persons are distempered with melancholy, for such are naturally
fearful, and any impressions upon them have the deepest, most piercing
operation. They are always framing to themselves dismal things, and
abound with black and dark conceits, surmising still the worst, and
always incredulous of what is good. Hence it is that sometimes men are
seized upon by fearfulness and trembling, when yet they cannot give any
tolerable account of a cause or reason why it should be so with them.
And others are excessively astonished with the shadows of their own
thoughts upon the meanest pretences imaginable.

That this is the work of Satan doth appear by unquestionable evidence.
This was that ‘evil spirit’ which God sent between Abimelech and the
men of Shechem, Judges ix. 23. God permitted Satan, for the punishment
of them both, to raise fears and jealousies in the heart of Abimelech
against the men of Shechem, and in the hearts of the men of Shechem
against Abimelech. They were mutually afraid of one another, and
these fears wrought so far, that they were, for the prevention of a
supposed danger, engaged in treacherous conspiracies, to the real ruin
of them both. The ‘evil spirit’ that vexed Saul, 1 Sam. xvi. 14, was
nothing else but sudden and vehement fits of terror and inward fear,
which the devil raised by the working up of his melancholy. For we may
observe these fits were allayed by music; and also we might see by his
disposition out of his fits, and by his carriage in them, that inward
fears were his tormentors; for, 1 Sam. xviii. 9, it is noted that Saul
eyed David, that is, his jealous fears began to work concerning David,
of whom it is said expressly, ver. 12, ‘that he was afraid because the
Lord was with him,’ and when the evil spirit came upon him his heart
was exercised with these fears, and accordingly he behaved himself
when he cast the javelin at David with a purpose to slay him. Upon any
occasion, of trouble especially, the devil was at hand to heighten his
affrightment, insomuch that when the supposed Samuel told him of his
death, 1 Sam. xxviii. 20, he was afraid to such a height that he ‘fell
straightway all along on the earth, and there was no strength in him.’
Neither must we suppose that Satan in this kind of working is confined
only to wicked men; for there is nothing in this manner of affrightment
which is inconsistent with the condition of a child of God, especially
when God gives him up to trial or correction. Nay, many of God’s
servants suffer under Satan’s hand in this very manner. Let us consider
the troubles of Job, and we shall find that though Satan endeavoured
to destroy his peace by discomposure of spirit, by questioning his
integrity, by frightful injections of blasphemous thoughts, yet all
these he vanquished with an undaunted courage, the blasphemy he
rejected with abhorrency, his integrity he resolved he would not
deny so long as he lived, his losses he digested easily with a sober
composed mind, blessed God that gives and takes at pleasure; and yet he
complains of his fears, and his frequent surprisals thereby, insomuch
that his friends take notice that most of his trouble arose from
thence: chap. xxii. 10, ‘A sudden fear troubleth thee;’ and he himself
confesseth as much, ix. 34, ‘Let not his fear terrify me ... but it
is not so with me.’ So that it appears that Job’s inward distress was
mostly from strong impressions of affrighting fears.

These fears impressed upon the mind must needs be an unexpressible
trouble. There is nothing that doth more loosen the sinews and joints
of the soul, to the weakening and utter enfeebling of it in all its
endeavours, than fears; it scatters the strength in a moment. And
besides the present burden, which will bow down the backs of the
strongest, these fears have a special kind of envious magnanimity
in them. For (1.) they come by fits, and have times of more fierce
and cruel assaults, yet in their intervals they leave the heart in a
trembling fainting posture; for the devil gives not over the present
fit till he hath rent them sore, and left them, as he did the man’s son
in Mark ix. 26, ‘as one dead’: so that it is no more to be reckoned
compassion and gentleness in Satan toward the afflicted that their fits
are not constant, than it can be accounted tenderness or kindness in a
tyrant who, when he hath racked or tormented a man as much as strength
will bear without killing out of hand, gives over for a time that the
party might be reserved for new torments. (2.) These fits usually
return at such times as the party afflicted seems to promise himself
some little ease, being designed to give the greater disappointment in
intercepting his expected comforts. Sleep and meat are the two great
refreshments of the distressed; these times Satan watcheth for his
new onsets. Job found it so in both cases; his meal-times were times
of trouble: chap. iii. 24, ‘My sighing cometh,’ that is, the fits of
sighing return, ‘before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the
waters,’ And his sleeping-times were no better: vii. 13, ‘When I say,
My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; then thou
scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions: so that
my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than life.’ (3.) These
fears do make them feel the weight, not only of real present evils,
but of all others which the imagination can represent to them. So that
the sight or hearing of any sad thing afflicts them with surmises that
this will be their case. Hence are they full of misgiving thoughts.
Sometimes they fear that they shall at last fall off from God into some
scandalous sin, to the dishonour of God and religion, as that they
shall be apostates, and turn openly profane; sometimes they fear they
shall meet with some signal devouring judgment by which they shall one
day perish, as David said in the like case, ‘I shall one day perish by
the hand of Saul,’ [1 Sam. xxvii. 1.] Thus are they crucified betwixt
their present burden and future expectations of evil.

6. The last, and indeed the meanest, engine for the working of
affrightment, is _scrupulosity of conscience_. Satan vexeth the
conscience and distracteth the mind, by raising up _needless,
groundless fears concerning a man’s practice_. Where the ignorance
of men or their timorous dispositions do encourage Satan to this
enterprise, there he multiplies scruples upon them; so that, though
they assent to the doing of anything as good or lawful, yet are they
constantly affrighted from it by a suspicious fear that it may be

This kind of trouble takes in almost all kind of actions. It extends
to the way of a man’s calling, the way of his management of it, the
rates he takes and the prices he gives for his commodities; our very
natural actions of sleeping, eating, drinking, company, recreation,
are not unconcerned. In all which the devil affrights the timorous
conscience that, _it may be_ he hath offended: if he buys or sells,
he is disquieted with a _maybe_ that he hath sold too dear, or bought
too cheap; if he eats or sleeps, he fears he hath been excessive, a
sluggard or a glutton: thus are some men molested in everything they do.

Neither is this kind of affrightment to be despised; for though often
it is a groundless fear, and so appears to be to discerning Christians,
yet those that are under this molestation think it bad enough. Though
it be not as a rack, that afflicts with violent pains, yet it is
as those kinds of punishments which at first are nothing, but by
continuance do tire men out with little ease, and so at last become
intolerable. Besides, this is a multiplying trouble; for one scruple
begets another, and by continuance of scrupling, the conscience grows
so weak and unsteady, that everything is scrupled, and the man brought
to a continual affrightment of doing wrong in every action. Neither
can all men make use of the remedy that is prescribed for the cure of
this distemper, which is, that when such scruples cannot be removed by
reason, then either men should forbear the thinking upon such things
from whence scruples are apt to arise, or they should break them down
by violence, and go over the belly of their scruple to the performance
of their action. I deny not but that something may be done and
endeavoured this way; but any may see that it is not easy for every one
to do either of these: so that this is also a troublesome evil, from
which it is not easy to be discharged.


 _Of Satan’s third way to hinder peace, by spiritual sadness.—Wherein,
 1. Of the degrees of spiritual sadness. 2. Of the
 frequency of this trouble, evidenced several ways. Of the difference
 betwixt God and Satan in wounding the conscience. 3. Of the
 solemn occasions of this trouble. 4. The engines by which
 Satan works spiritual sadness. (1.) His sophistry. His
 topics enumerated and explained. [1.] Scriptures perverted.
 [2.] False notions. [3.] Misrepresentations of God.
 [4.] Sins: how he aggravates them. [5.] Lessening their
 graces: how he doth that. (2.) His second engine, fear: how he
 forwards his design that way._

Besides the troubles already mentioned under the heads of discomposures
of spirit and affrightments, there is a third kind of trouble which
Satan gives to the children of God, and this may, for distinction sake,
be called _spiritual sadness_. These spiritual sadnesses _are troubles
raised in the mind, relating to the conscience and spiritual state or
condition of men_. They differ exceedingly from the two former sorts
of trouble: for, (1.) These troubles wholly concern the conscience in
point of regeneration, and men’s suitableness thereunto; whereas simple
discomposures of spirit firstly relate to outward things. (2.) In these
the conscience is immediately concerned, but in other troubles the
conscience is either wholly untouched, or wounded only secondarily, by
continuance and progress of the discomposure of the spirit. (3.) In
these troubles, conscience is the great instrument by which the devil
works; whereas, in the trouble of affrightments, the devil acted alone,
the heart being in the meantime uncompliant and resisting. For the
opening of this trouble I shall explain—

1. _The several degrees thereof._ It is a trouble of conscience unduly
aggravated by Satan, wherein he confines himself to the operations
of conscience. But then, as he suggests the troubles of men by the
voice of conscience, so he doth all he can to make it irregular in its
actings, and excessive in that irregularity. So that in this case the
conscience is evil, and employs itself in that mistake, to inquire
into men’s regeneracy or holiness, always being either a neuter or an
adversary, and the devil helps this forward all he can.

The apostle, in Heb. x. 22, makes mention of an ‘evil conscience,’
and that chiefly as it doth occasion fear, hindering our comfortable
access to God. This the conscience doth when it doth not execute its
office aright, either in ‘not excusing’ when it ought, or in ‘accusing’
when it should not; and these false accusations cause different sorts
of troubles according to the variety of the matter for which it doth
condemn. Hence is it that there are three degrees of trouble of
conscience below the trouble of despair:—

[1.] The lowest degree is when _a regenerate person doth not positively
determine the case of his soul, whether he be regenerate or not, but
is only kept in suspense betwixt hope that he is, and fear that he is
not, the conscience in the meantime forbearing to witness for him,
though it hath just cause to excuse him_. This we may call a doubting
or questioning conscience; and though it comes far short of these
distresses in which some men are plunged upon the account of their
souls, yet is it a trouble, for their peace is hereby hindered and
their desires of satisfaction frustrated, which in matters of so great
concern, as are these of everlasting life and everlasting misery,
must be very disquieting. When the affections are earnest, their
satisfaction cannot be delayed without trouble; for ‘hope deferred
makes the heart sick,’ Prov. xiii. 12; not only doth it faint under its
doubts, but is by that means so weak in its purposes that it is easily
drawn to admit of greater inconveniences, which may lay the foundation
of more perplexing disturbances.

That the conscience may be in such a distemper that it will not witness
for a man, when yet it cannot witness against him, is the observation
of those that have treated of the nature of conscience.[338] Sometimes
it will not make application of God’s promises. Though it will believe
that he that forsakes sin is regenerate, that he that truly repents
shall be pardoned, yet it will not affirm for a man that he forsakes
sin or repents, though he really do so; or if it cannot deny that, yet
it will sometimes refuse to make that conclusion which one would think
would follow of itself by natural consequence, and so refuseth to judge
the person regenerate or pardoned, though it cannot deny but that he
forsakes sin and repents. The greatness of the blessing, the remainders
of unbelief, the deep sense of unworthiness, with other considerations,
do keep off the heart from making, as I may say, so bold with the
promises; but all this while the devil is doing his utmost to aggravate
these considerations, affrighting the conscience from that just
absolution which it ought to give.

[2.] Another degree of trouble arising from an evil conscience, is when
_the condition of a regenerate person is determined by conscience, but
falsely, to be very bad_. I must here, as some others have done,[339]
for want of better terms, distinguish betwixt the state of regeneracy
and a man’s condition in that state, though the words _state_ and
_condition_ are used promiscuously the one for another. A man may be in
a regenerate state, and yet his condition in that state may be very
bad and blameworthy, as not walking worthy of so holy a calling; as a
person may be a man, and yet unhealthy or languishing. Thus many of
the Asian churches were true churches, and yet in a bad condition;
some ‘lukewarm;’ some had ‘a name to live,’ and yet were comparatively
‘dead,’ because their works were not full or ‘perfect before God;’
and others had ‘left their first love.’ To this purpose is that of
the apostle, 2 Cor. xiii. 5, ‘Know ye not your own selves, how that
Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’—εἰ μή τι ἀδόκιμοί
ἐστε—where the word ‘reprobate’ is not to be taken in the strict,
severe sense for one ‘not elected,’ but for one whose conversation is
not so sound and approved as it should be: for this relates not to
their being in Christ, but to their assurance of being in that state,
which the apostle affirms they might know, except the fault lay in
their negligent, careless conversation.

This kind of trouble then is of this nature: the conscience doth not
accuse a man to be unregenerate, yet it condemns him for a carriage
unsuitable to the gospel; and this sometimes when his actions are not
absolutely evil, but partly good, partly bad. When the conscience
condemns the actions as altogether sinful, because of some mixture of
infirmities, in which case we should imitate the apostle, in Rom. vii.,
who when by reason of the remainders of sin in him, he could not do the
good he would—that is, in such a manner and degree as he desired, nor
avoid the evil which he would so clearly and fully as he wished, some
imperfections in his best endeavours still cleaving to him; yet his
conscience took a right course, he was humbled for his imperfections,
but withal acquits himself in point of integrity; his conscience
testified, ver. 16, that he ‘consented to the law as good;’ and ver.
22, that he ‘delighted in the law of God, after the inward man.’ But in
this case of spiritual trouble, the conscience takes all in the worst
sense; it only fixeth upon the imperfections, and makes them to serve
for proofs against the sincerity. Thus if a man in praying be troubled
with wandering thoughts, then a distempered conscience condemns that
prayer as a sinful profanation of the name of God. If the great concern
of God’s glory run along in such a way as is also advantageous to the
person in outward things, then will such a conscience condemn the man
for self-seeking, though his main design were truly the honour of God.
In all actions where there is infirmity appearing with the most serious
endeavours, or where God’s glory and man’s good are twisted together,
the disordered conscience will be apt to take part with Satan, accusing
and condemning the action. Yea, very often when the actions are very
good, no way justly reprovable, the conscience shall condemn. If he
have had peace, he shall be judged for security; if he have faith in
God’s promises, it will call it presumption; if he have a zeal for God,
it will be misinterpreted for carnal rigour; if he have joy, it shall
be misjudged to be natural cheerfulness or delusion; in a word, all his
graces shall be esteemed no better than moral virtues. At this rate are
the children of God put to great trouble, losing, as I may say, the
things they have wrought, sadly bemoaning their hardness of heart, or
want of faith and love, when in their carriage and complainings, they
give very high proofs of all. In this also Satan is busy to nourish
the conscience in its jealousies, and doth suggest many objections
to confirm it in its distemper. The conscience is not always of a
peevish or perverse humour; for sometimes it will smite a man for a
miscarriage,—as it did to David when he cut off the lap of Saul’s
garment,—and yet not break his peace: which is a sufficient evidence
that it is put, in this case, far out of order; which advantage Satan
works upon to disquiet the heart, to make men unthankful for the
mercies they have received, and to incapacitate them for more. This,
for distinction sake, we may call the trouble of a grieved or dejected
conscience, according to that of Ps. xlii. 5, 11, ‘Why art thou cast
down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?’ Though such
men are under God’s favour, yet they misdeem it, and think God is angry
with them; their heart pants, their soul thirsts, their tears are their
meat, they are ready to say unto God, ‘My rock, why hast thou forsaken
me?’ and though they have some hopes for the future, that God ‘will
command his loving-kindness,’ and that they ‘shall yet praise him;’ yet
their present apprehension of their spiritual wants and weaknesses, and
of the displeasure of God, which they suppose they are under, makes
them go mourning all the day.

[3.] The third degree of trouble of conscience is when the conscience
_peremptorily denies the state of regeneration_. Hereby a man that is
really regenerate, is concluded to be yet ‘in the gall of bitterness,
and bond of iniquity;’ his former hopes are taxed for self-delusion,
and his present state to be a state of nature. This trouble is far
greater than the two former, because the party is judged to be in
greater hazard, and by many degrees more remote from hope. It is the
frequent and sad thought of such, that if death should in that estate
cut off their days, oh, then they were for ever miserable! The fears
and disquiets of the heart on this account are very grievous, but
yet they admit of degrees, according to the ignorance of the party,
the distemper of the conscience, the strength of the objections, or
severity of the prosecution, in regard the conscience is now sadly out
of order. We may call this degree of grief, for distinction, ‘a wounded
spirit;’ which how hard it is to be borne Solomon tells us, Prov.
xviii. 14, by comparing it with all other kind of troubles, which the
spirit of a man can make some shift to bear, making this heavier than
all, and above ordinary strength.

Some make inquiry what may be the difference betwixt a wounded spirit
in the regenerate and the reprobate? To which it may be answered,
(1.) That in the party’s apprehension there is no difference at all;
both of them may be compassed about with the sorrows of death, and
suppose themselves to be in the belly of hell. (2.) Neither is there
any difference in the degree of the trouble; a child of God may be
handled with as much seeming severity, as he whom God intends for a
future Tophet. (3.) Neither is there any such remarkable difference in
the working of the spirits of the one and other, that they themselves
at present, or others that are bystanders, can easily observe. Yet a
formal difference there is; for grace being in the heart of the one,
will in some breathing or pulse discover its life. And though sometimes
it acts so low or confusedly that God only can distinguish, yet often
those that are experienced observers will discover some real breathings
after God, and true loathing of sin, and other traces of faith and
love, that are not so discernible to the parties themselves. (4.) But
in God’s design the difference is very great; the wicked lie under his
lash as malefactors, but the regenerate are as patients under cure,
or children under discipline. (5.) And accordingly the issue doth
determine, that God’s intention in wounding their spirits were not
alike to both; the one at last coming out of the furnace as gold, the
other still remaining as reprobate silver, or being consumed as dross.
Thus have ye seen the nature and degree of spiritual sadness.

2. For the further explanation whereof I shall next shew you that this
is a usual trouble to the children of God.

Which, (1.) I might evidence from several _instances of those that
have suffered much under it_; as David, whose complaints in this case
are very frequent, and Heman, who left a memorial of his griefs in Ps.
lxxxviii. Jonah also, in the belly of the whale, had a sharp fit of it,
when he concluded that he was ‘cast out of God’s sight,’ and his ‘soul
fainted within him,’ Jonah ii. 4, 7. Neither did Hezekiah altogether
escape it, for though his disquiet began upon another ground, it ran
him into spiritual trouble at last. But besides these, innumerable
instances occur. One shall scarce converse with any society of
Christians but he shall meet with some who, with sad complaints, shall
bemoan the burden of their hearts, and the troubles of their conscience.

(2.) _The provisions which God hath made in his word for such, is
an evidence that such distempers are frequent._ He that in a city
shall observe the shops of the apothecaries, and there take notice of
the great variety of medicines, pots, and glasses full of mixtures,
confections, and cordials, may from thence rationally conclude, that it
is a frequent thing for men to be sick, though he should not converse
with any sick person for his information. Thus may we be satisfied from
the declarations, directions, and consolations of Scripture that it is
a common case for the children of God to stand in need of spiritual
physicians and spiritual remedies to help them when they are wounded
and fainting. Solomon’s exclamation, ‘A wounded spirit who can bear?’
shews that the spirit is sometimes wounded. The prophet’s direction,
‘He that walks in darkness and sees no light, let him trust in the
Lord,’ [Isa. l. 10,] clearly implies that some there are that walk
in darkness. God’s creating the ‘fruit of the lips, Peace, peace;’
his promises of restoring ‘comforts to mourners;’ his commands to
others to comfort them; do all inform us that it is a common thing for
his children to be under such sadnesses of spirit, that all this is
necessary for their relief.

(3.) _The reasons of this trouble_ do also assure us of the frequency
of it; for of them we may say, as Christ speaks of the poor, [Mat.
xxvi. 11,] ‘we have them always with us;’ so that the grounds of
spiritual sadness considered, it is no wonder to find many men
complaining under this distemper. The reasons are,

[1.] _The malice of Satan_, who hath no greater revenge against a child
of God, when translated from the power of darkness to the kingdom of
Christ, than to hinder him of the peace and comfort of that condition.

[2.] _The many advantages which Satan hath against us._ For the
effecting of this we cannot imagine that one so malicious as he is
will suffer his malice to sleep, when so many fair opportunities of
putting it in practice do offer themselves. For, _first, The questions
to be determined for settling the peace of the soul are very intricate,
and often of greater difficulty than doctrinal controversies_. How
hard is it to conclude what is the _minimum quod sic_, the lowest
degrees of true grace! or the _maximum quod sic_, the highest degree
of sin consistent with true grace! To distinguish betwixt a child
of God at the lowest, and a hypocrite or temporary believer at the
highest, is difficult. In mixed actions, to be able to shew how the
soul doth manage its respect to God, when the man hath also a respect
to himself, especially when it is under any confusion, is not easy.
And in these actions, where the difference from others of like kind
lies only in the grounds and motives of the undertaking, or where the
prevailing degree must distinguish the act in reference to different
objects that are subordinate to one another—as our loving God above
the world or ourselves, our fearing God above men, &c.—it is not
every one that can give a satisfactory determination. _Second_,
As the intricacies of the doubts to be resolved give the devil an
advantage to puzzle us, so is the advantage heightened exceedingly
_by the great injudiciousness and unskilfulness of the greatest part
of Christians_. These questions are in their notion difficult; more
difficult in their application to particular persons, where the ablest
Christian may easily be nonplussed; but most difficult to the weak
Christians. These Satan can baffle with every poor objection, and
impose what he will upon them. _Third_, Especially having the advantage
of _the working guilt of conscience_, which he can readily stir up to
present to a man’s remembrance all his failings and miscarriages of
what nature soever. And when guilt rageth in an unskilful heart, it
must needs create great disquiet. _Fourth_, But most of all when our
_natural fears are awakened_; as when a man hath been under any great
conviction, though he be cured of his trouble, yet it usually leaves
a weakness in the part, as bruises and maims do in any member of the
body, which at the change of weather or other accidental hurt will
renew their old trouble; and then when fresh guilt begins to press
hard upon the conscience, not only do the broken bones ache, by the
reviving of former fears, but the impressions of his old suspicions,
bad conceit of himself, and jealousies of the deceitfulness of his
heart, which had then fixed themselves by a deep rooting, do now make
him most fearful of entertaining any good thought of himself. So that
if any consideration tending to his support be offered, he dare not
come near it, suspecting his greatest danger to lie on that hand. These
advantages considered, we should not think it strange that any child of
God is driven to spiritual sadness, as some do, but may rather wonder
that this is not the common condition of all Christians.

[3.] Another reason that must be assigned for these troubles is _divine
dispensation_. Such are his children, some so careless, others proud,
others stubborn, many presumptuous, that God is forced to correct them
by this piece of discipline, and to cure them by casting them into
a fever. Others of his children he thus exerciseth for other ends,
sometimes to take occasion therefrom of making larger discoveries of
his love; sometimes thereby preventing them from falling under some
grievous miscarriage, or for the trial and exercises of their graces.
We may observe, accordingly, that there are three sorts of men that
usually have exercises of this kind.

(1.) Those who at their conversion are either _ignorant, melancholy, or
were grossly scandalous, are usually brought through with great fear
and sadness_. And this is so observable, that by the mistake of men it
is made a general rule that none are converted but they are under great
and frightful apprehensions of wrath and dismal terrors. This indeed
is true of some, but these ordinarily are the scandalous, melancholy,
and ignorant sort—though sometimes God may deal so with others, for who
can limit him? Yet are there many whose education hath been good, and
their instruction aforehand great, whose conversion is so gradual and
insensible, that they are strangers to these troubles of conscience,
and profess that if these heights of fear be necessary to conversion,
they must be at a loss; neither can they give an account of the time of
their conversion, as others may.

(2.) Those whose conversion was easy, when after their conversion _they
miscarry by any great iniquity, they meet with as great a measure of
terror and fear, and some think far greater, as those whose new birth
was more difficult_. David’s greatest troubles of soul came upon him
after he began to appear more public in the world; for then he met
with many temptations, and great occasions for God’s exercising his
discipline over him. I believe, when he kept his father’s sheep, his
songs had more of praises and less of complainings than afterward. It
is the opinion of some that God’s dealing in this kind of dispensation,
even when miscarriage is not the cause, is more sharp usually to those
whose conversion hath been most easy.

(3.) _There is another sort of men, to whom God vouchsafes but seldom
and short fits of spiritual joy, as breathing times, betwixt sharp
fits of soul-trouble, for necessary refreshment and recovery of
strength_; but the constant course which God holds with them is to
exercise them under fears, while he hides his face from them, and
suffers Satan to vex them, by urging his objections against their
holiness and integrity. Heman was one of this rank, and the great
instance which God hath given in his word for the support of others
that may be in the same case. For he testifies, Ps. lxxxviii., that
he suffered the terrors of God almost to distraction, and this from
his youth up. It is not fit for us too narrowly to question why God
doth thus to his children, seeing his ‘judgments are unsearchable,’
and his ‘ways past finding out;’ but we may be sure that God sees this
dealing to be most fit for those that are exercised therewith. It may
be to keep pride from them, or to prevent them from falling into some
greater inconvenience or sin, unto which he takes notice of a more than
ordinary proneness in their disposition; or for the benefit of others,
who may thereby take notice what ‘an evil and bitter thing it is’ to
sin against God, and what a malicious adversary they have to deal with.
Whoso shall consider these reasons of spiritual sadness, must needs
confess, that seeing the advantages which men give to a malicious
devil to vex their consciences are so many and great, and the weakness
of God’s children so hazardous, for the prevention whereof, a wise,
careful Father will necessarily be engaged to exercise his discipline,
it cannot be expected but that spiritual troubles should be very
frequent among the servants of God.

_Quest._ Here it is requisite that I give satisfaction to this query.
Seeing that God doth sometime wound the consciences of his children,
and that Satan also wounds them, what are the differences betwixt God
and Satan in inflicting these wounds?

_Ans._ For the right understanding of this question I shall propound
two things:

(1.) That it is a truth that _God doth sometimes wound the consciences
of his children_; and this,

[1.] _Before conversion_: but in order to it, as preparatory to that
change, men are then in their sins, walking in the vanity of their
minds. To translate them from this estate he awakens the conscience,
shews them their iniquities, and the danger of them, that at present
they are ‘in their blood,’ ‘children of wrath, as well as others,’ and
that without Christ they are miserable. The effect of this must needs
be serious consideration, deep thoughts of heart, with some trouble;
only as to the measure and degree there is great difference. God doth
not in the particular application of these things to the conscience tie
up himself exactly to the same manner and measure of proceeding, though
he keep still to his general method. Hence is it that some, in regard
of God’s gentle, leisurely dealing, and the frequent interposure of
encouragements, are, if compared with the case of others, said to be
allured and ‘drawn with cords of love.’ But others have a remarkable
measure of trouble, sharp fits of fear and anguish; and those most
commonly are such whose conversion is more quick, and the change
visible from one extreme to another, as Paul, when converted in the
midst of his persecuting rage, or those whose ignorance or melancholy
makes their hopes and comforts inaccessible for the present. These
troubles God owns to be the work of his Spirit. The same Spirit, which
is a ‘Spirit of adoption’ to the converted, is a ‘spirit of bondage’
to these, Rom. viii. 16. And accordingly we find it was so to the
converts in Acts ii., who being ‘pricked in their hearts’ by Peter’s
sermon, ‘cried out, Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ The like did
the jailor. And the promise which God makes of calling the Jews, Zech.
xii. 10, doth express God’s purpose of dealing with them in this very
method: ‘They shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall
mourn for him as one that mourneth for his only son, and shall be in
bitterness for him; ... in that day shall be a great mourning.’

[2.] God also sometimes wounds the conscience of his children _after
conversion_; and this he doth to convince and humble them for some
miscarriage which they become guilty of.[340] As when they grow secure,
carnally confident of the continuance of their peace—when they are
carelessly negligent of duty and the exercises of their graces—when
they fall into gross and scandalous sins, or wilfully desert the ways
of truth, and in many more cases of like kind. When his children make
themselves thus obnoxious to divine displeasure, then God hides his
face from them, takes away his Spirit, signifies his anger to their
consciences, threatens them with the danger of that condition, from
whence follows grief and fear in the hearts of his people. In this
manner God expressed his displeasure to David, as his complaints in Ps.
li. do testify: ‘Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which
thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins. Cast me not
away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore
unto me the joy of thy salvation,’ &c.

(2.) Notwithstanding all this, there is _a great difference betwixt God
and Satan in this matter_, which mainly appears in two things:—

[1.] _God doth limit himself in all the trouble which he gives his
children, to his great end of doing them good, and healing them_, and
consequently stints himself in the measure and manner of his work to
such a proportion as his wisdom sees will exactly suit with his end.
So that his anger is not like the brawlings of malicious persons that
know no bounds. He will not ‘always chide;’ his debates are in measure,
and this ‘lest the spirit should fail before him,’ Isa. lvii. 16. So
that when he wounds the conscience before conversion, it is but to
bring them to Christ, and to prevent their taking such courses as might
through delusion make them take up their stand short of him. So much
of mourning and fear as is requisite for the true effecting of this,
he appoints for them, and no more. When he wounds after conversion,
it is but to let them feel that it is an evil and bitter thing to sin
against him, that their ‘godly sorrow may work repentance’ suitable
to the offence, and that they may be sufficiently cautioned for the
time to come to ‘sin no more, lest a worse thing befall them.’ He
that afflicts not willingly, will put no more grief upon them than is
necessary to bring them to this. But Satan, when he is admitted—and
God doth often permit him in subservience to his design, to wound the
conscience—he proceeds according to the boundless fury of his malice,
and plainly manifests that his desire is to destroy and to tread them
down that they may never rise again. This though he cannot effect, for
God will not suffer him to proceed further than the bringing about
his holy and gracious purpose, yet it hinders not but that still his
envious thoughts boil up in his breast, and he acts according to his
own inclination. For it is with Satan as it is with wicked men. If
God employ them for the chastisement of his children, they consider
not who sets them on work, nor what measures probably God would have
them observe, but they propose to themselves more work than ever God
cut out for them; as Assyria, when employed against Jerusalem, Isa.
x. 7, had designs more large and cruel than was in God’s commission.
God had stinted him in his holy purpose; yet the ‘Assyrian meant
not so, neither did his heart think so; but it was in his heart to
destroy and cut off nations not a few.’ So that when God is ‘a little
displeased,’ as he speaks, Zech. i. 15, they do all that lies in them
to help forward the affliction. Thus doth the devil endeavour to make
all things worse to God’s children than ever God intended. Here is one
difference betwixt God and Satan, in the wounding of consciences. But,

[2.] They are yet further differenced, in that all that God doth in
this work is still _according to truth_. For if he signify to the
unconverted that they are in a state of nature, liable to the damnation
of hell, unless they accept of Christ for salvation upon his terms,
this is no more than what is true. God doth not misrepresent their
case to them at that time. Again, if he express his displeasure to
any of his converted children that have grieved his Spirit by their
follies, by setting before them the threatenings of his word, or the
examples of his wrath, he doth but truly tell them that he is angry
with them, and that _de jure_, according to the rigour of the law and
the demerit of their offence he might justly cast them off; but he doth
not positively say that, _de eventu_, it shall infallibly be so with
them. But Satan, in both these cases, goes a great way further. He
plainly affirms to those that are in the way to conversion, that God
will not pardon their iniquities, that there is no hope for them, that
Christ will not accept them, that he never intended the benefit of his
sufferings for them. And when the converted do provoke God, he sticks
not to say the breach cannot be healed, and that they are not yet
converted. All which are most false assertions. And though God can make
use of Satan’s malice, when he abuseth his children with his falsehoods
to their great fear, to carry on his own ends by it, and to give a
greater impression to what he truly witnesseth against them; yet is
not God the proper author of Satan’s lying, for he doth it of his own
wicked inclination. The effect of these desperate false conclusions,
which is the putting his children into a fear in order to his end, may
be ascribed to God; but the falsehood of these conclusions are formally
Satan’s work and not God’s; for he makes use of so much of Satan’s
wrath as may be to his praise, and the ‘remainder of his wrath he doth
restrain,’ [Ps. lxxvi. 10.]

I have discovered the nature and degrees of these spiritual troubles,
and that it is a common thing for the children of God to fall under
them. For the further opening of them I shall next discover,

3. The usual solemn occasions that do, as it were, invite Satan to give
his onset against God’s children; and they are principally these six:—

[1.] _The time of conversion._ He delights to set on them when they are
in the straits of a new birth, for then the conscience is awakened,
the danger of sin truly represented, fear and sorrow, in some degree,
necessary and unavoidable. At this time he can easily overdrive them.
Where the convictions are deep and sharp, ready to weigh them down,
a few grains more cast into the scale will make the trouble, as Job
speaks, ‘heavier than the sand,’ [chap. vi. 3;] and where they are
more easy or gentle, yet the soul being unsettled, the thoughts in
commotion, they are disposed to receive a strong impression, and
to be turned, as wax to the seal, into a mould of hopelessness and
desperation. That this is one of Satan’s special occasions, we need
no other evidence for satisfaction than the common experience of
converts. Many of them do hardly escape the danger, and after their
difficult conquest of the troubles of their heart—which at that time
are extraordinarily enlarged—do witness that they are assaulted with
desperate fears that their sins were unpardonable, and sad conclusions
against any expectation of favour from the Lord their God. These
thoughts we are sure the Spirit of God will not bear witness unto,
because false, and therefore we must leave them at Satan’s door.

[2.] Another occasion which Satan makes use of, is the time of
_solemn repentance for some great sin committed after conversion_.
Sometimes God’s children fall, to the breaking of their bones. What
great iniquities they may commit through the force of temptation, I
need not mention. The adultery and murder of David; the incest of
the Corinthian; Peter’s denial of Christ, with other sad instances
in the records of the Scriptures, do speak enough of that. These
sins—considering their heinousness, the scandal of religion, the
dishonour of God, the grieving of his Spirit, the condition of the
party offending against love, knowledge, and the various helps
which God affords them to the contrary, with other aggravating
circumstances—being very displeasing to God, their consciences at
least, either compelled to examination by God immediately, or mediately
by some great affliction, or voluntarily awakening to a serious
consideration of what hath been done, by the working of its own light,
assisted thereunto by quickening grace, 1 Cor. xi. 31, 32,—call them to
a strict account. Thence follow fear, shame, self-indignation, bitter
weeping, deep humiliation. Then comes Satan; he rakes their wounds, and
by his aggravations makes them smart the more. He pours in corrosives
instead of oil, and all to make them believe that their ‘spot is not
the spot of God’s children,’ [Deut. xxxii. 5;] that their backslidings
cannot be healed. An occasion it is, as suitable to his malice as he
could wish; for ordinarily God doth severely testify his anger to them,
and doth not easily admit them again to the sense of his favour. At
which time the adversary is very busy to work up their hearts to an
excess of fear and sorrow. This was the course which he took with the
incestuous Corinthian, taking advantage of his great transgressions to
‘overwhelm him with too much sorrow,’ 2 Cor. ii. 7, 11.

[3.] Satan watcheth _the discomposures of the spirits of God’s
children, under some grievous cross or affliction_. This occasion also
falls fit for his design of wounding the conscience. When the hand of
the Lord is lifted up against them, and their thoughts disordered by
the stroke, suggesting at that time God’s anger to them and their sins,
he can easily frame an argument from these grounds, that they are not
reconciled to God, and that they are dealt withal as enemies. David
seldom met with outward trouble, but he at the same time had a conflict
with Satan about his spiritual condition or state, as his frequent
deprecations of divine wrath at such times do testify; ‘Lord, rebuke me
not in thy wrath,’ &c. There is indeed but a step betwixt discomposure
of spirit and spiritual troubles, as hath been proved before.

[4.] _When Satan hath prepared the hearts of God’s children by
atheistical or blasphemous thoughts, he takes that occasion to deny
their grace and interest in Christ_, and the argument at that time
seems unanswerable. Can Christ lodge in a heart so full of horrid
blasphemies against him? Is it possible it should be washed and
sanctified, when it produceth such filthy, cursed thoughts? All the
troubles of affrightment, of which before, are improvable to this

[5.] Another spiritual occasion for spiritual trouble is _melancholy_.
Few persons distempered therewith do escape Satan’s hands. At one time
or other he casts his net over them, and seeks to stab them with his
weapon. Melancholy indeed affords so many advantages to him, and those
so answerable to his design, that it is no wonder if he make much of
it. For, 1. Melancholy affects both head and heart; it affords both
fear and sadness, and deformed, misshapen, delirious imaginations to
work upon, than which nothing can be more for his purpose.[341] For
where the heart trembles and the head is darkened, there every object
is misrepresented. The ideas of the brain are monstrous appearances,
reflected from opaque and dark spirits, so that Satan hath no more to
do but to suggest the new matter of fear. For that question, Whether
the man be converted, &c., being once started, to a mind already
distempered with fear, must of itself, it being a business of so high
a nature, without Satan’s further pursuit, summon the utmost powers
of sadness and misreprehension[342] to raise a storm. 2. Besides,
the impressions of melancholy are always strong. It is strong in its
fears, or else men would never be tempted to destroy themselves; it is
strong in its mistakes, or else they could never persuade themselves
of the truth of foolish, absurd, and impossible fancies; as that of
Nebuchadnezzar, who by a delusive apprehension, believing himself to
be a beast, forsook the company of men, and betook to the fields to
eat grass with oxen. The imaginations of the melancholic are never
idle, and yet straitened or confined to a few things; and then the
brain, being weakened as to a true and regular apprehension, it
frames nothing but bugbears, and yet with the highest confidence of
certainty. 3. These impressions are usually lasting, not vanishing as
an early dew, but they continue for months and years. 4. And yet they
have only so much understanding left them as serves to nourish their
fears. If their understanding had been quite gone, their fears would
vanish with them, as the flame is extinguished for want of air; but
they have only knowledge to let them see their misery, and sense to
make them apprehensive of their pain.[343] And therefore will they
pray with floods of tears, unexpressible groanings, deepest sighing,
and trembling joints, to be delivered from their fears. 5. They are
also apt after ease of their troubles to have frequent returns. What
disposition, all these things being considered, can be more exactly
shaped to serve Satan’s turn? If he would have men to believe the
worst of themselves, he hath such imaginations to work upon as are
already misshapen into a deformity of evil surmising. Would he terrify
by fears or distress by sadness? he hath that already, and it is but
altering the object, which oftentimes needs not—for naturally the
serious melancholic employs all his griefs upon his supposed miserable
estate of soul, and then he hath spiritual distress. Would he continue
them long under their sorrows, or take them upon all occasions at his
pleasure, or act them to a greater height than ordinary? still the
melancholic temper suits him. This is sufficient for caution, that we
take special care of our bodies, for the preventing or abating of that
humour by all lawful means, if we would not have the devil to abuse us
at his will.

[6.] _Sickness or death-bed_ is another solemn occasion which the devil
seldom misseth with his will. Death is a serious thing; it represents
the soul and eternity to the life. While they are at a distance, men
look slightly upon these; but when they approach near to them, men
usually have such a sight of them as they never had before. We may
truly call sickness and death-bed an hour of temptation, which Satan
will make use of with the more mischievous industry, because he hath
but ‘a short time’ for it. That is the last conflict, and if he miss
that, we are beyond his reach for ever. So that in this case Satan
encourageth himself to the battle with a _now or never_. And hence we
find that it is usual for the dying servants of God to undergo most
sharp encounters. Then to tell them, when the soul is about to loose
from the body, that they are yet ‘in their blood’ ‘without God and
hope,’ is enough to affright them into the extremest agonies, for
they see no time before them answerable to so great a work, if it be
yet to do. And withal they are under vast discouragements from the
weariness and pains of sickness, their understandings and faculties
being also dull and stupified, so that if at this last plunge God
should not extraordinarily appear to rebuke Satan and to pluck them out
of these great waters, as he often doth, by the fuller interposition
of the light of his face, and the larger testimony of his Spirit,
after their long and comfortable profession of their faith and holy
walking, their light would be ‘put out in darkness,’ and they would
‘lie down in sorrow.’ Yet this I must note, that as desirous as Satan
is to improve this occasion, he is often remarkably disappointed,
and that wherein he, it may be, and we would least expect, I mean in
regard of those who, through a timorous disposition or melancholy,
or upon other accounts, are, as I may so say, ‘all their lifetime
subject to bondage.’ Those men who are usually exercised with frequent
fits of spiritual trouble, when they come to sickness, death-bed, and
some other singular occasions of trouble, though we might suspect
their fears would then be working, if ever, yet God, out of gracious
indulgence to them, considering their mould and fashion, or because he
would prevent their extreme fainting, &c., doth meet them with larger
testimonies of his favour, higher joys, more confident satisfactions
in his love, than ever they received at any time before, and this,
to their wonder, their high admiration, making the times which they
were wont to fear most, to be times of greatest consolation. This
observation I have grounded not upon one or two instances, but could
produce a cloud of witnesses for it. Enough it is to check our forward
fears of a future evil day, and to heal us of a sighing distemper,
while we afflict ourselves with such thoughts as these: If I have so
many fears in health, how shall I be able to go through the valley of
the shadow of death?

4. I have one thing more to add for these discoveries of these
spiritual troubles, and that is to shew you _the engines by which Satan
works them_, and they are these two, sophistry and fears.

I. _As to his sophistry_, by which he argues the children of God into a
wrong apprehension of themselves, it is very great. He hath a wonderful
dexterity in framing arguments against their peace; he hath variety
of shrewd objections and subtle answers to the usual replies by which
they seek to beat him off. There is not a fallacy by which a cunning
sophister would seek to entangle his adversary in disputation, but
Satan would make use of it; as I might particularly shew you, if it
were proper for a common auditory. Though he hath so much impudence
as not to blush at the most silly, contemptible reason that can be
offered, notwithstanding he hath also so much wit as to urge, though
never true, yet always probable arguments. How much he can prevail
upon the beliefs of men, in cases relating to their souls, may be
conjectured by the success he hath upon the understandings of men, when
he argues them into error, and makes them believe a lie. We usually
say, and that truly, that Satan cannot in any case force us properly to
consent; yet considering the advantages which he takes, and the ways
he hath to prepare the hearts of men for his impressions, and then his
very great subtlety in disputing, we may say that he can so order the
matter that he will seldom miss of his aim. It would be an endless work
to gather up all the arguments that Satan hath made use of to prove
the condition or state of God’s children to be bad. But that I may not
altogether disappoint your expectations in that thing, I shall present
to your view Satan’s usual topics, the commonplaces or heads unto which
all his arguments may be reduced. And they are,

[1.] _Scripture abused and perverted._ His way is not only to suggest
that they are unregenerate, or under an evil frame of heart, but to
offer proof that these accusations are true. And because he hath to
do with them that profess a belief of Scriptures as the oracles of
God, he will fetch his proofs from thence, telling them that he will
evidence what he saith from Scripture. Thus sometimes he assaults the
weaker, unskilful sort of Christians, Thou art not a child of God;
for they that are so are enlightened, translated from darkness, they
are the children of the light; but thou art a poor, ignorant, dark,
blind creature, and therefore no child of God. Sometimes he labours
to conclude the like from the infirmities of God’s children, abusing
to this purpose that of 1 John iii. 9, ‘He that is born of God doth
not commit sin,’ and ‘he cannot sin, because he is born of God,’ Thus
he urgeth it, Can anything be more plainly and fully asserted? Is not
this scripture? Canst thou deny this? Then he pursues, But thou sinnest
often; that is thine own complaint against thyself, thy conscience also
bearing witness to the truth of this accusation; therefore thou canst
be no child of God. Sometimes he plays upon words that are used in
divers senses—a fit engine for the devil to work by—for what is true in
one sense will be false in another; and his arguing is from that which
is true to that which is false. I remember one that was long racked
with that of Rev. xxi. 8, ‘The fearful and unbelieving,’ &c., ‘shall
have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.’ From
whence the party thus argued: The proposition is true, because it is
scripture, and I cannot deny the assumption. ‘Fearful I am, because I
am doubtful of salvation; and unbelieving I am, for I cannot believe
that I am regenerate, or in a state of grace, and therefore I cannot
avoid the conclusion.’ To the same purpose he disputes against some
from 1 John iv. 18, ‘There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth
out fear; but thou art full of fears, therefore thou lovest not God.’
Sometimes he makes use of those scriptures that make the prevailing
degree of our love and respects to God above the world and the things
of this life, to be the characters of true grace; as that of John, ‘If
any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him;’ and that
of Christ, ‘If a man love anything more than me, he is not worthy of
me: he that forsakes not all for me cannot be my disciple,’ &c. Then
he urgeth upon them their love of the world, and unwillingness to part
with their estates; and so brings the conclusion upon them. Instances
might be infinite; but by these you may judge of the rest. Let us now
cast our eye upon his subtlety in managing his arguments against men.
1. He grounds his arguments on Scripture, because that hath authority
with it, and the very troubled conscience hath a reverence to it. 2. He
always suits his scriptures, which he thus cites, to that wherein the
conscience is most tender. If there be anything that affords matter of
suspicion or fear, he will be sure to choose such an arrow out of the
quiver of Scripture as will directly hit the mark. 3. Though in the
citation of Scripture he always urgeth a sense which the Holy Ghost
never intended, yet there will be always something in those scriptures
which he makes use of, which, in words at least, seem to favour his
conclusion; as appears in the instances now given. For when he would
conclude a man not to be a child of God because of his ignorance,
something of his argument is true: it may be the man is sensible that
his knowledge is but little, compared with the measures which some
others have; or that he is at a loss or confused in many doctrinal
points of religion; or hath but little experience in many practical
cases, &c. This as it is true, so it is his trouble; and whilst he
is poring upon his defect, Satan claps an arrest upon him of a far
greater debt than God chargeth upon him, and from scriptures that speak
of a total ignorance of the fundamentals of religion, as that there
is a God, that Christ Jesus is God and man, the Redeemer of mankind
by a satisfaction to divine justice, &c., or of a wilful ignorance
of the worth of the proffer of the gospel, or its reality, which is
discovered in the refusal of the terms thereof, he concludes him to be
in a state of darkness; whereas the ignorance which the man complains
of is not the ignorance which those scriptures intend. So in the next
instance, the sins which a child of God complains of are those of daily
incursion, which he labours and strives against; but that committing
sin mentioned in the text hath respect to the Gnostics, who taught a
liberty in sinning, and fancied a righteousness consistent with the
avowed practice of iniquity. Hence doth John, 1 Epist. iii. 7, directly
face their opinion in these terms, ‘Little children, let no man deceive
you; he that doth righteousness is righteous;’ and, ‘He that is born
of God’ neither doth nor can avouch a liberty of sinning, it being
contrary to the principles of the new nature. So that the miscarriages
of infirmity which the child of God laments in himself are not the
same with that of the text, upon which Satan grounds the accusation.
The like may be said of the third instance, from Rev. xxi. 18. The
threatening there is against such a fear to lose the comforts of the
world, that they dare not believe the gospel to be true, and accept it
accordingly; which is nothing to those fears and doubtings that may
be in a child of God, in reference to his happiness. Thus in all the
rest the fallacy lies in misapplying the Scripture, to suit them to
that wherein the conscience is tender, under a sense which was never
intended by them; yet in another sense, the thing charged upon the
conscience is true. (4.) Yet is Satan so subtle, that when he disputes
by such fallacious arguments, he chiefly endeavours to draw off the
defendant’s eye and consideration from that part of the argument
wherein its weakness lies, which in this case is always in the abuse of
the scripture to a wrong sense. This he doth, partly from the advantage
which he hath from the reverence that they carry to Scripture; they
believe it to be true, and are not willing to suspect the sense; and
many are so weak that if they should, Satan is so cunning that he can
easily baffle them in any distinction that they can make. And partly
from the sense they have of that whereof they are accused, they feel
themselves so sore in that place, and for that very end doth Satan
direct his scripture to hit it, that they readily take it for granted
that the hinge of the controversy turns upon it, and that the whole
dispute rests upon it. Now Satan having these fair advantages, by a
further improvement of them hides the weakness of his argument. For,
[1.] He takes that sense of the Scripture, in which he misapplies it,
for granted, and that with great confidence, making as if there were
no doubt there. [2.] He turns always that part of the argument to them
which they can least answer, pressing them eagerly with the matter of
charge, which they are as ready to confess as he is to accuse them of,
and aggravating it very busily. And because the unskilful have no other
direction for the finding the knot of the controversy than Satan’s
bustle—though he, like the lapwing, makes the greatest noise when he
is furthest from his nest, on purpose to draw them into a greater
mistake—they look no further; and then, not being able to answer, they
are soon cast, and striking in with the conclusion against themselves,
they multiply their sorrows, and cry out of themselves as miserable.

[2.] Another piece of his sophistry is, the improving certain _false
notions, which Christians of the weaker sort have received, as proofs
of their unregeneracy or bad condition_. As there are vulgar errors
concerning natural things, so there are popular errors concerning
spiritual things. These mistakes in a great part have their original
from the fancies or misapprehensions of unskilful men. Some indeed
have, it may be, been preached and taught as truths, others have risen
without a teacher from mere ignorance, being the conclusions and
surmises which weak heads have framed to themselves, from the sayings
or practices of men, which have not been either so cleared from the
danger of mistake, or not so distinctly apprehended as was necessary.
These false inferences, once set on foot, are traditionally handed
down to others, and in time they gain among the simple the opinion of
undoubted truths. Now, wherever Satan finds any of these that are fit
for his purpose—for to be sure whatever mistake we entertain, he will
at one time or other cast it in our way—he will make it the foundation
of an argument against him that hath received it, and that with very
great advantage. For a falsehood in the premises will usually produce
a falsehood in the conclusion. And these falsehoods being taken for
granted, the devil is not put to the trouble to prove them. If then
he can but exactly fit them to something in the party which he cannot
deny, he forthwith carries the cause, and condemns him by his own
concessions, as out of his own mouth.

It is scarce possible to number the false notions which are already
entertained among Christians relating to grace and conversion, much
less those that may afterward arise. But I shall mention some that
Satan frequently makes use of as grounds of objection.

_First_, It is a common apprehension among the weaker sort, that
conversion _is always accompanied with great fear and terror_. This is
true in some, as hath been said, and though none of the preachers of
the gospel have asserted the universality of these greater measures
of trouble, yet the people, taking notice that many speak of their
deep humiliations in conversion, and that several authors have set
forth the greatness of distress that some have been cast into on that
occasion—though without any intention of fixing this into a general
rule—have from thence supposed that all the converted are brought to
their comforts through the flames of hell. Upon this mistake the devil
disquiets those that have not felt these extreme agonies of sorrow in
themselves, and tells them that it is a sure sign that they are not
yet converted. Though it is easy for a man that sees the falsehood
of the notion to answer the argument, yet he that believes it to be
true cannot tell what to say, because he finds he never was under such
troubles, and now he begins to be troubled because he was not troubled
before, or, as he supposeth, not troubled enough.

_Second_, Another false notion is, that a convert can _give an account
of the time and manner of his conversion_. This is true in some, as in
Paul and some others, whose change hath been sudden and remarkable,
though in many this is far otherwise; who can better give account
that they are converted, than by what steps, degrees, and methods
they were brought to it. But if any of these receive the notion, they
will presently find that Satan will turn the edge of it against them,
and will tell them that they are not converted, because they cannot
nominate the time when, nor the manner how, such a change was wrought.

_Third_, Some take it for granted that conversion is accompanied with
a _remarkable measure of gifts for prayer and exhortation_; and then
the devil objects it to them, that they are not converted, because
they cannot pray as others, or speak of the things of God so readily,
fluently, and affectionately as some others can. Thus the poor, weak
Christian is baffled for want of abilities to express himself to God
and men.

_Fourth_, False notions about _the nature of faith are a sad
stumbling-block to some_. Many suppose that saving faith is a certain
belief that our sins are pardoned, and that we shall be saved, making
faith and assurance all one. This mistake is the deeper rooted in
the minds of men because some have directly taught so, and those men
of estimation, whose words are entertained with great reverence by
well-meaning Christians. For whom notwithstanding this may be pleaded
in excuse, that they have rather described faith in its height than
in its lowest measures. However it be, those that have no other
understanding of the nature of faith can never answer Satan’s argument,
if he takes them at any time at the advantage of fear or doubting: for
then he will dispute thus, Faith is a belief that sins are pardoned,
but thou dost not believe this, therefore thou hast no faith. Oh, what
numbers of poor doubting Christians have been distressed with this

_Fifth_, Some take it for a truth that _growth of grace is always
visible, and the progress remarkable_. And then because they can make
no such discovery of themselves, the devil concludes their grace to be
counterfeit and hypocritical.

_Sixth_, Of like nature are some _mistaken signs of true grace, as that
true grace fears God only for his goodness_. And then if there be any
apprehension of divine displeasure impressed upon the heart, though
upon the necessary occasion of miscarriage, they, through the devil’s
instigation, conclude that they are under ‘a spirit of bondage,’ and
their supposed grace not true, or not genuine at least, according to
that disposition which the New Testament will furnish a man withal.
It is also another mistaken sign of grace, that it doth direct a man
to love God singly for himself, without the least regard to his own
salvation; for that, they think, is but self-love. Now, when a child
of God doth not see his love to God so distinct, but that his own
salvation is twisted with it, Satan gets advantage of him, and forceth
him to cast away his love as adulterate and selfish. Like to this
mistake, but of a higher strain, is that of some, that where grace is
true, it is so carried forth to honour God, that the man that hath it
can desire God may be honoured though he should be damned. God doth
not put us to such questions as these, but upon supposition that this
is true, the grace of most men will be shaken by the objection that
Satan will make from thence; he can and will presently put the mistaken
to it, Canst thou say thou art willing to go to hell, that God may be
glorified? If not, where is thy grace? From such mistakes as these
he disputes against the holiness of the children of God; and it is
impossible but that he should carry the cause against those who grant
these things to be true. Satan can undeniably shew them that their
hearts will not answer such a description of a convert or gracious
heart as these false notions will make. So long then as they hold these
notions they have no relief against Satan’s conclusions; no comfort
can be administered till they be convinced that they have embraced
mistakes for truths. And how difficult that will be in this case,
where the confidence of the notion is great, and the suspicion strong,
that the defect is only in the heart, hath been determined by frequent
experience already.

[3.] The third piece of Satan’s sophistry from whence he raiseth false
conclusions, is his _misrepresentation of God_. In this he directly
crosseth the design of the Scriptures, where God in his nature and
dealings is so set forth, that the weakest, the most afflicted and
tossed, may receive encouragement of acceptance, and of his fatherly
care over them in their saddest trials. Yet withal, lest men should
turn his grace into wantonness, and embolden themselves in sin because
of his clemency, the Scriptures sometimes give us lively descriptions
of his anger against those that wickedly presume upon his goodness,
and continue so to do. Both these descriptions of God should be taken
together, as affording the only true representation of him. He is
so gentle to the humbled sensible sinner, that ‘he will not break
their bruised reed, nor quench their smoking flax,’ [Mat. xii. 20.]
And so careful of health that, for their recovery, he will not leave
them altogether unpunished, nor suffer them to ruin themselves by a
surfeit upon worldly comforts; yet with ‘the froward he will shew
himself froward,’ Ps. xviii. 26. And ‘as for such as turn aside unto
their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of
iniquity,’ Ps. cxxv. 5. He will ‘put out the candle of the wicked,’
for he sets them in ‘slippery places, &c., so that they are cast down
into destruction, and brought into desolation as in a moment; they are
consumed with terrors,’ [Ps. lxxiii. 19.] Now Satan will sometimes
argue against the children of God, and endeavour to break their hopes
by turning that part of the description of God against them, which is
intended for the dismounting of the confidence of the wicked, and the
bringing down of high looks. By this means he wrests the description of
God to a contrary end, and misrepresents God to a trembling afflicted
soul. This he doth,

_First_, By misrepresenting _his nature_. Here he reads a solemn
lecture of the holiness and justice of God, but always with reflection
upon the vileness and unworthiness of the person against whom he
intends his dart. And thus he argues: Lift up thine eyes to the
heavens, behold the brightness of God’s glory: consider his unspotted
holiness, his infinite justice. The heavens are not clean in his
sight; how much more abominable and filthy then art thou! His eyes
are pure, he cannot wink at nor approve of the least sin; how canst
thou then imagine, except thou be intolerably impudent, that he hath
taken such an unclean wretch into his favour? He is a jealous God,
and will by no means acquit the guilty; canst thou then with any show
of reason conclude thyself to be his child? He beholds the wicked
afar off; he shuts out their prayer; he laughs at their calamity; he
mocks when their fear comes; and therefore thou hast no cause to think
that he will hear thy cry, though thou shouldst make many prayers. It
cannot be supposed that he will incline his ear. It is his express
determination, that if any man regard iniquity in his heart, the Lord
will not hear his prayer. This, and a great deal more will he say.
And while Satan speaks but at this rate, we may call him modest,
because his allegations are in themselves true, if they were applied
rightly. Sometimes he will go further, and plainly belie God, speaking
incredible falsehoods of him: but because these properly appertain to
a higher sort of troubles, of which I am next to speak, I shall not
here mention them. However, if he stops here, he saith enough against
any servant of God that carries a high sense of his unworthiness. For
being thus brought to the view of these astonishing attributes, he
is dashed out of countenance, and can think no other, but that it is
very unlikely that so unworthy a sinner should have any interest in so
holy a God. Thus the devil affrights him off, turning the wrong side
of the description of God to him; and in the meantime hiding that part
of it that speaks Gods wonderful condescensions, infinite compassions,
unspeakable readiness to accept the humble, broken-hearted, weary,
heavy-laden sinner, that is prostrate at his footstool for pardon. All
which are on purpose declared in the description of God’s nature, to
obviate this temptation, and to encourage the weak.

_Second_, He misrepresents God _in his providence_. If God chastise
his children by any affliction, Satan perversely wrests it to a bad
construction, especially if the affliction be sharp, or seem to be
above their strength, or frequent, and most of all if it seem to
cross their hopes and prayers; for then he argues, These are not the
chastisements of sons. God indeed will visit their transgressions
with rods, but his dealing with thee is plainly of another nature,
for he ‘breaketh thee with his tempests,’ And whereas he corrects his
sons that serve him in measure, thou art bowed down with thy trouble
to distress and despair: but he will lay no more upon his sons than
they are able to bear. He will not always chide his servants; but
thou art afflicted every morning. And besides, if thou wert pure and
upright, surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation
of thy righteousness prosperous: for to his sons he saith, ‘Call upon
me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee; and thou shalt glorify
me,’ Ps. l. 15. Hence comes the complaint of many, that they are not
regenerated, because they think God deals not with them as with others.
Oh, say they, we know God chastiseth ‘every son whom he receiveth;’ but
our case is every way different from theirs, our troubles are plagues,
not rods; our cry is not heard, our prayers disregarded, our strength
faileth us, our hearts fret against the Lord, so that not only the
nature and quality of our affections, but the frame of our heart under
them, in not enduring the burden,—which is the great character of the
chastisement of sons, Heb. xii. 7,—plainly evinceth that we are under
God’s hatred, and are not his children. This objection, though it might
seem easy to be answered by those that are not at present concerned,
yet it will prove a difficult business to those that are under the
smart of afflictions. How much a holy and wise man may be gravelled by
it, you may see in Ps. lxxii., where the prophet is put to a grievous
plunge upon this very objection; ver. 14, ‘All the day long have I been
plagued, and chastised every morning.’

And yet in all this Satan doth but play the sophister, working upon the
advantages which the nature of the affliction and the temper of men’s
hearts do afford him. For, 1. Afflictions are a great depth, one of the
secrets of God, so that it is hard to know what God intends by them. 2.
The end of the Lord is not discovered at first, but at some distance,
when the fruits thereof begin to appear. 3. The mind of the afflicted
cannot always proceed regularly in making a judgment of God’s design
upon them: especially at first, when it is stounded by the assault,
and all things in confusion; faith is to seek, patience awanting, and
love staggering. After it hath recollected itself, and attained any
calmness to fit it for a review of the ways of God and of the heart,
it is better enabled to fix some grounds of hope: Lam. iii. 19-21,
‘This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope,’ 4. Afflictions
have a light and a dark side, and their appearances are according to
our posture in which we view them: as some pictures, which if we look
upon them one way, they appear to be angels, if another way, they seem
devils. 5. Some men in affliction do only busy themselves in looking
upon the dark side of affliction. Their disposition, either through
natural timorousness or strong impressions of temptation, is only to
meditate terrors, and to surmise evils. These men out of the cross can
draw nothing but the wormwood and the gall, while others, that have
another prospect of them, observe mixtures of mercy and gentleness,
and do melt into submission and thankfulness. These, considered
together, are a great advantage to Satan in disputing against the peace
of God’s afflicted children, and it often falls out, that as he doth
misrepresent God’s design, so do they, urged by temptation, upon that
account misjudge themselves.

_Third_, He also misrepresents God _in the works of his Spirit_. If God
withdraw his countenance, or by his Spirit signifies his displeasure
to the consciences of any, if he permit Satan to molest them with
spiritual temptations, presently Satan takes occasion to put his false
and malignant interpretation upon all; he tells them that God’s hiding
his face is his casting them off; that the threatenings signified to
their conscience are plain declarations that their present state is
wrath and darkness; that Satan’s molestations by temptations shew them
to be yet under his power; that the removal of their former peace,
joy, and sensible delight which they had in the ways of God is beyond
contradiction an evidence that God hath no delight in them, nor they
in him; that their faith was but that of temporaries, their joy but
that of hypocrites, which is only for a moment. How often have I
heard Christians complaining thus: We cannot be in a state of grace;
our consciences lie under the sense of God’s displeasure, they give
testimony against us, and we know that testimony is true, for we feel
it. It is true, time was when we thought we had a delight in hearing,
praying, meditating, but now all is a burden to us, we can relish
nothing, we can profit nothing, we can remember nothing. Time was when
we thought we had assurance, and our hearts rejoiced in us; sometimes
we have thought our hearts had as much of peace and comfort as they
could hold, now all is vanished, and we are under sad fears; if God
had had a favour to us, would he have dealt thus with us? Thus are
they cheated into a belief that they never had any grace; they take
all for granted that is urged against them; they cannot consider God’s
design in hiding his face, nor yet can they see how grace acts in them
under these complainings; how they express their love to God in their
desires and pantings after him, in their bewailing of his absence, in
abhorring and condemning themselves, &c.; but their present feeling—and
an argument from sense is very strong—bears down all before it.

Thus doth Satan frame his arguments from misrepresentations of God,
which, though a right view of God would easily answer them, yet how
difficult it is for a person in an hour of temptation to dispel, by
a right apprehension of the ways of the holy God, doth abundantly
appear from Ps. lxxvii., where the case of Asaph, or whoever else he
was, doth inform us—1. That it is usual for Satan, for the disquieting
of the hearts of God’s children, to offer a false prospect of God.
2. That this overwhelms their hearts with grief, ver. 3. 3. That the
more they persist in the prosecution of this method, under the mists
of prejudice, they see the less, being apt to misconstrue everything
in God to their disadvantage, ver. 3, ‘I remembered God, and was
troubled.’ 4. The reason of all that trouble lies in this, that they
can only conclude wrath and desertion from God’s carriage toward
them. 5. That till they look upon God in another method, and take up
better thoughts of him and his providences, even while they carry the
appearance of severity, they can expect no ease to their complainings.
For before the prophet quitted himself of his trouble, he was forced
to acknowledge his mistake, ver. 10, in the misconstruction he made of
his dealings, and to betake himself to a resolve of entertaining better
thoughts of God, ver. 7. His interrogation, ‘Will the Lord cast off
for ever?’ &c., shews indeed what he did once think, being misled by
Satan, but withal that he would never do so again. ‘Will the Lord cast
off for ever?’ is not here the voice of a despairing man, but of one
that, through better information, hath rectified his judgment, and now
is resolved strongly to hold the contrary to what he thought before: as
if he should say, It is not possible that it should be so; he will not
cast off for ever, and I will never entertain such perverse thoughts
of God any more. 6. But before they can come to this, it will cost
them some pains and serious thoughts. It is not easy to break these
fetters, to answer this argument, but they that will do so must appeal
from their present sense to a consideration of the issues of these
dealings upon other persons, or upon themselves at other times; for the
prophet, ver. 5, ‘considered the days of old, and the years of ancient
times;’ and ver. 6, he also made use of his own experience, calling to
remembrance that after such dealings as these, God by his return of
favour gave him ‘songs in the night.’

[4.] Another common head from whence this great disputant doth fetch
his arguments against the good condition and state of God’s servants,
is their _sin and miscarriages_. Here I shall observe two or three
things in the general concerning this, before I shew how he draws his
false conclusions from thence. As,

_First_, That with a kind of _feigned ingenuity_[344] he will grant a
difference betwixt sin and sin—betwixt sins reigning and not reigning,
sins mortified and not mortified; betwixt the sins of the converted and
the unconverted; and upon this supposition he usually proceeds. He doth
not always, except in case of great sins, argue want of regeneration
from one sin; for that argument, This is a sin, therefore thou art not
a convert, would be easily answered by one that knows the saints have
their imperfections; but he thus deals with men: These sins whereof
thou art guilty are reigning sins, such as are inconsistent with a
converted estate, and therefore thou art yet unregenerated.