CHAP. 20.

The Second Part of the speculative way of curing the former Malady, which is by Counsel.
Two things which Men must be counselled to practise.

BE thou therefore patient under them, humbled by them, make a holy and profitable use of them, comfort thyself in them by these considerations commended unto thee for that purpose, and learn how to behave thyself about them by the following counsels: —

1. As at their first approach and offer thou oughtest to stir up and steel thy heart to improve the strength and stoutness of all the powers of they soul; to make a mighty and forcible resistance, lifting up at the same instant thy heart in a bitter complaint against the cruelty and malice of the adversary, a strong cry for the rebuking of him and restraint of his hellish spite, with extreme detestation of all such devilish filth, so take heed that thou never revolve in thy mind those his blasphemous temptations; but say with [[379]] Luther, “a kite or cormorant may fly over my house, but sure shall never roost or nestle there.” Or as another, “a ravenous and hateful bird may begin to build in mine arbour, I cannot hinder it; but I will never fail to pull it down as often as she begins.” The devil will inject whether thou wilt or no; but resolve to suffer them by no means to have any rest or residence in thine imagination. If thou be a minister (and the holiest men are Satan's special mark that he would gladly hit with his fiery darts), take advice which hath proved sovereign and helpful to beat back and banish these temptations of blasphemy. The mind of every man of God instructed to the kingdom of heaven is, as I suppose, still digging into the rich mines of divine truth, diving into the great mystery of Christ, ever discoursing in itself for, or doing something for the advancement of the work of the Lord, their ministerial affairs, and welfare of souls. Temporizers indeed, seldom and self-preachers, are not much troubled this way, neither take these things so to heart. They seek more to advance themselves than save souls: their chief study is, if they be not downright good-fellows, as they call them, either to grow rich, or rise, and so they are still negotiating industriously about the one, or plotting ambitiously for the other. But were they of Paul's mind, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. ix, 16); of Chrysostom's temper, who was wont to tremble when he took into consideration those words, Heb. xiii, 17, “For they watch over your souls, as they that must give account;” of Austin's resolution for not meddling in worldly matters, wherein to deal he deemed a very tiring and tedious vexation, and was never well but when he was wading in the depths of Christian Religion, and busied about the things of God: I say, if they were thus affected, they would be such as they ought, and as 1 now suppose, to wit, have many webs, as it were, of their holy work in their heads, all at once; many ministerial tasks in agitation and on foot still. Some part of the day they would, perhaps, search and pierce into the pith and marrrow of some scripture text; at another time wrestle with the difficulties and knotty distinctions of some popish or other controversy. At another, discuss and drive unto a resolution some perplexed and intricate case of conscience, &c. Well, then, this supposed, upon the very first proposal of these monstrous and hideous thoughts, presently divert and resort to the hardest of all those irons thou hast in the fire, if I may so speak, and that which hath need of most hammering; I mean, to the most difficult and weighty points of all those several spiritual businesses thou hadst last in thy brain, and [[380]] single out that particular which did most puzzle and put thy understanding to it. Whereabouts, when the strength, heat, and intensity of thy whole soul is spent and improved, not only other impertinent wanderings and vagaries, but these idle and irksome injections also, will more easily vanish and be gone. Let others also proportionably upon such occasions, besides other helps, have recourse to the most troublesome and over-mastering part of their honest employments, to the chiefest and most needful affair of their lawful callings.

2. In temptations of this nature, never set thyself to dispute with the devil; he is an old sophist, of above five thousand years standing in the school of hideous temptations and hellish policies, and thou art but a novice. He bath many methods, devices, and depths, which thy shallow forecast cannot possibly fathom. Direct opposition by reasons and replies stirreth up the outrageous blasphemer to grow more furious, and hereby we give him greater advantage, snore matter of molestation and mischief, and may so plunge ourselves further into an intricate maze of horror and confused distractions. Our blessed captain, Christ Jesus, may be a pattern for us in this point. When he was tempted “to fall down and worship Satan; “he reasoneth not the case, but repels him with vehement, extraordinary detestation and disdain: “Get thee hence, Satan.” It will therefore be our best wisdom at such a time to turn from him; and as Hezekiah spread his blasphemous letter, so to lay open his fury before the Lord, crying mightily unto him, entreating him even for his own honour's sake to vindicate the purity of his great majesty, and excellency of his unspotted glory, from this hellish filth and horrible villany of the malicious fiend: that he would cast it as dung upon the tempter's face; and in the passion and blood of Christ, free fully, and for ever, our poor souls, trembling under the hideousness of his malice and cruelty, from the guilt, stain, terror, and assault of all such abhorred and prodigious blasphemy.

In that other terrible temptation also, to self-murder, many much wrong themselves this way. In managing this fiery dart, the adversary deals by way of argument too, and presses reasons, such as they are, upon the tempted; sometimes extremely absurd, especially if the party be something more simple and ignorant; sometimes exceedingly subtle, if he be of better understanding and capacity. And thus: “It is soon done, and the pain quickly past; thou art likely thus to languish and lie in misery all thy life-long. The longer thou livest, the larger will be the score of thy sins, [[381]] and so thy torments in hell more horrible hereafter. If it be once done, it will appear to have been God's decree, and I hope thou wilt not oppose the accomplishment of that. Do what thou canst, thou wilt be damned when all is done[1].” Now in this case if thou debate the matter with the devil, and begin to confer, thou art likely enough to be more and more confounded and entangled with inextricable astonishment and danger to be utterly undone, and suddenly blown up by the mine of his soul-murdering sophistry. But if, according to the example and practice of thy Lord and Master, who hath begun unto thee in this bitter cup, “is afflicted in all thy afflictions,” and ever stands by thee as a victorious commander and conqueror in all such assaults; first abominate and beat back this base and bloody motion with infinite indignation and loathing, “Avaunt, Satan! “and then immediately lay hold on the sword of the Spirit, and keep him at the point of it, and then assuredly all the devils in hell cannot hurt thee. Tell him, that against his vile and villainous suggestions and all the subtleties and sophistry with which he seconds it, this is thy only answer, even the precise, holy, and everlasting countermand of his and thy Creator, the mighty Lord of heaven and earth, “Thou shalt not kill.” Now if it be a crimson and crying sin, the most deadly opposite and desperate cut-throat of charity to kill another, and fasteneth such a deep and inexpiable stain upon the face of a whole kingdom, that it cannot be razed out “but by the blood of him that shed it” (Numb. xxxv, 33); how execrable and heinous then is this, and what depth of bell and height of horror doth that abhorred miscreant deserve and may expect, who makes [[382]] away with himself? For the rule of charity, whereby we love one another, is proportioned by that charity whereby a man loves himself. If the devil be able to dissolve and disannul the most absolute, perfect, and just law of the Most High, who though all other things besides may be something in possibility which as yet they are not in act; yet himself is actually and everlastingly whatsoever he may be, and cannot hereafter be that which now he is not; and so by consequence is without all “variableness or shadow of turning: “I say, if the “prince of darkness “can reverse this law of the “Father of lights,” “Thou shalt not murder;” thou mayest well say thou wilt then think of another answer. But till that be, which is more than infinitely impossible ever to come to pass, thou wilt rather lie in the miseries of hell upon earth (which indeed were incomparably better), than breaking God's blessed law, go down into the grave in a bloody coffin made by thy own hands only at the devil's bidding. Can this madness ever be matched? for a man, besides self-severing the soul from his body before the time, by a more heinous and unnatural villany than murdering of his own father (for every man is naturally next unto himself'), and sending it suddenly covered with blood, by becoming his own butcher and hangman, unto the dreadful tribunal of the all-powerful God, the most certain and severe revenger of all bloodshed; to bring also abundance of unnecessary shame, grief, and hopeless mourning upon friends, kindred, husband, children, parents; a reproachful stain and brand upon house, name, burial, posterity, &c.; and that merely at the instance, and upon the most absurd, ridiculous, and senseless suggestion of the arch-murderer, thy mortal and immortal enemy; against sense, reason, nature, religion, scripture, God's direct command to the contrary, even heathen philosophy, heaven and earth!

[1] Here if thou answer—Yea, but in the meantime it is better to spend the remainder of my few and evil days upon earth than in hell, he will reply, But so thou shalt increase thy sins here, and by consequence thy hellish pains hereafter; to which if thou rejoin, But the heinousness of self-murder and horribleness of despair may appear more vile anti execrable in the eyes of God than all the other sins I may commit to the last period of my natural course;—he may then hideously roar, But so thou mayest both go on to increase thy sins and make away thyself at last, and where art thou then? &c. 1 know him to have thus thrown his fiery darts into trembling• hearts one after another with extreme subtleness and cruelty; and therefore in these cases do not admit of any dispute or conference with him; but upon the very first assault (for who would hear him talk that will tell never a true word, and is thy sworn enemy?) be ever sure presently to lay hold upon the word of God, that weapon of proof which serves like a sword, not only for defence, as all the other pieces of armour, but also for offence. Beat hack with undaunted resolution and confidence this devilish dart, and stop for ever the mouth of the tempter with the contrary charge of the most holy anti all-powerful God— “Thou shalt not kill.”