By Thomas Brooks, (1608 - 1680)
FIVE MORE OF SATAN'S DEVICES
Whereby he keeps poor souls from believing in Christ, from receiving of Christ, from embracing of Christ, from resting, leaning, or relying upon Christ—for everlasting happiness and blessedness, according to the gospel; and remedies against these devices.
DEVICE 1. By suggesting to the soul the greatness and
vileness of his sins.
Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That the greater your sins are, the more you stand in need of a Savior. The greater your burden is, the more you stand in need of one to help to bear it. The deeper the wound is, the more need there is of the surgeon. The more dangerous the disease is, the more need there is of the physician. Who but madmen will argue thus: My burden is great, therefore I will not call out for help; my wound is deep, therefore I will not call out for balm; my disease is dangerous, therefore I will not go to the physician. Ah! it is spiritual madness, it is the devil's logic to argue thus: My sins are great, therefore I will not go to Christ, I dare not rest nor lean on Christ. Whereas the soul should reason thus: The greater my sins are, the more I stand in need of mercy, of pardon—and therefore I will go to Christ, who delights in mercy, who pardons sin for his own name's sake, who is as able and as willing to forgive pounds as pence, thousands as hundreds (Micah 7:18; Is. 43:25).
Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That the promise of grace and mercy is to returning souls. And, therefore, though you are ever so wicked, yet if you will return, God will be yours, and mercy shall be yours, and pardon shall be yours (2 Chron. 30:9): 'For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.' So Jer. 3:12: 'This is what the Lord says: O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever.' So Joel 2:13: 'Don't tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts." Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you.' So Is. 55:7 'Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,' or, as the Hebrew reads it, 'He will multiply pardon.' So Ezekiel 18.
Ah! sinner, it is not your great transgressions that shall exclude you from mercy, if you will break off your sins by repentance and return to the fountain of mercy. Christ's heart, Christ's arms, are wide open to embrace the returning prodigal. it is not simply the greatness of your sins—but your decided persisting in sin, that will be your eternal overthrow.
Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That the greatest sinners have obtained mercy, and therefore you may obtain mercy. Manasseh was a notorious sinner. "Manasseh did what was evil in the LORD's sight, imitating the detestable practices of the pagan nations whom the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had destroyed. He constructed altars for Baal and set up an Asherah pole, just as King Ahab of Israel had done. He also bowed before all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He even built pagan altars in the Temple of the Lord, the place where the Lord had said his name should be honored. He built these altars for all the starry hosts in both courtyards of the Lord's Temple. Manasseh even sacrificed his own son in the fire. He practiced sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and spiritists. He did much that was evil in the Lord's sight, arousing his anger. Manasseh even took an Asherah pole he had made and set it up in the Temple!" (2 Kings 21:1-7). Ah! what a devil incarnate was he in his actings! Yet when he humbled himself, and sought the Lord, the Lord was entreated of him and heard his supplication, and brought him to Jerusalem, and made himself known unto him, and crowned him with mercy and loving-kindness, as you may see in 2 Chron. 33.
So Paul was once a blasphemer, a persecutor and injurious, yet he obtained mercy (1 Tim. 1:13). So Mary Magdalene was a notorious strumpet, a common whore, out of whom Christ cast seven devils, yet she is pardoned by Christ, and dearly beloved of Christ (Luke 7:37, 38). So Mark 16:9, 'Now, when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.'
Jansenius on the place says, it is very observable that our Savior after his resurrection first appeared to Mary Magdalene and Peter, both of whom had been grievous sinners; that even the worst of sinners may be comforted and encouraged to come to Christ, to believe in Christ, to rest and stay their souls upon Christ, for mercy here and glory hereafter. That is a very precious word for the worst of sinners to hang upon (Psalm 68:18). The psalmist speaking of Christ says, You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive; you have received gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.'
What though you are a rebellious child, or a rebellious servant! What though you are a rebellious swearer, a rebellious drunkard! Yet Christ has received gifts for you, 'even for the rebellious also.' He has received the gift of pardon, the gift of righteousness, yes, all the gifts of the Spirit for you, that your heart may be made a delightful house for God to dwell in.
John Godin has a story concerning a great rebel that had made a strong party against a Roman emperor. The emperor makes proclamation, that whoever could bring the rebel dead or alive, he would be rewarded with a great sum of money. The rebel hearing of this, comes and presents himself before the emperor, and demands the sum of money. Now, says the emperor, if I would put him to death, the world would say I did it to save my money. And so he pardons the rebel, and gives him the money.
Ah! sinners! Shall a heathen do this, who had but a drop of mercy and compassion in him: and will not Christ do much more, who has all fullness of grace, mercy, and glory in himself? Surely his affections do yearn towards the worst of rebels. Ah! if you still but come in, you will find him ready to pardon, yes, one fully made up of pardoning mercy. Oh! the readiness and willingness of Jesus Christ to receive to favor the greatest rebels! The father of mercies did meet, embrace, and kiss that prodigal mouth, which came from feeding with swine and kissing of harlots (Col. 1:19; 2:3, 4).
Ephraim had committed idolatry, and was backslidden from God; he was guilty of lukewarmness and unbelief, etc., yet says God, 'Ephraim is my dear son, he is a pleasant child, my affections are troubled for him, I will have mercy,' or rather as it is in the original, 'I will have mercy, mercy upon him, says the Lord.' (Hosea, 4:17; 5:3; 6:8, 11; 12:12, 14; 13:12. Vide Jer. 31:20)
Well! says God, though Ephraim is guilty of crimson sins, yet he is a son, a dear son, a precious son, a pleasant child; though he is black with filth, and red with guilt, yet my affections are troubled for him; I will have mercy, mercy upon him. Ah sinners, if these affections of mercy do not melt, win, and draw you—justice will be a swift witness against you, and make you lie down in eternal misery for kicking against the affections of mercy.
Christ hangs out still, as once that warlike Scythian did, a white flag of grace and mercy to returning sinners who humble themselves at his feet for favor. But if sinners continue to rebel, Christ will put forth his red flag, his bloody flag, and they shall die for ever by a hand of justice. Sinners! there is no way to avoid perishing by Christ's iron rod—but by kissing his golden scepter!
Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That Jesus Christ has never refused the worst of sinners who are willing to receive him, to believe in him, to rest upon him for happiness and blessedness. Ah! sinners, why should you be more cruel and unmerciful to your own souls than Christ is? Christ has not excluded you from mercy, why should you exclude your own souls from mercy? Oh that you would dwell often upon that choice Scripture (John 6:37): 'Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.' Or as the original has it, 'I will not, no never cast out.'
Well! says Christ, if any man will come, or is coming to me, let him be more sinful or less; more unworthy or less; let him be ever so guilty, ever so filthy, ever so rebellious, ever so leprous—yet if he will but come, I will not, no never cast him off. So much is held forth in 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 'Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.'
Ah! sinners, do not think that he who has received such notorious sinners to mercy, will reject you. 'He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever' (Heb. 13:8). Christ was born in an inn, to show that he receives all comers; his garments were divided into four parts, to show that out of whatever part of the world we come, we shall be received. If we be naked, Christ has robes to clothe us; if we be harborless, Christ has room to lodge us. That is a choice scripture (Acts 10:34, 35) 'Then Peter opened his mouth and said—I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.'
The three tongues that were written upon the cross, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew (John 19:19, 20), to witness Christ to be the king of the Jews, do each of them in their several idioms avouch this singular axiom, that Christ is an all-sufficient Savior; and 'a threefold cord is not easily broken.' The apostle puts this out of doubt: Heb. 7:25: 'therefore he is able also to save to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.' Now, he were not an all-sufficient Savior, if he were not able to save the worst, as well as the least of sinners. Ah! sinners, tell Jesus Christ that he has not excluded you from mercy, and therefore you are resolved that you will sit, wait, weep, and knock at the door of mercy, until he shall say, 'Friends, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven, your persons are justified, and your souls shall be saved.'
Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That the greater sinner you are, the dearer you will be to Christ, when he shall behold you as the travail of his soul (Is. 53:11): 'He shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.' The dearer we pay for anything, the dearer that thing is to us. Christ has paid most, and prayed most, and sighed most, and wept most, and bled most for the greatest sinners; and therefore they are dearer to Christ than others that are less sinful. Rachel was dearer to Jacob than Leah, because she cost him more; he obeyed, endured, and suffered more by day and night for her than for Leah. Ah! sinners, the greatness of your sins does but set off the freeness and riches of Christ's grace, and the immensity of his love! This makes heaven and earth to ring of his praise, that he loves those who are most unlovely, that he shows most favor to those who have sinned most highly against him, as might be showed by several instances in Scripture, as Paul, Mary Magdalene, and others. Who sinned more against Christ than these? And who had sweeter and choicer manifestations of divine love and favor than these?
Remedy (6). The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That the longer you keep off from Christ, the greater and stronger your sins will grow. All divine power and strength against sin flows from the soul's union and communion with Christ (Rom. 8:10; 1 John 1:6, 7). While you keep off from Christ, you keep off from that strength and power which is alone able to make you trample down strength, lead captivity captive, and slay the Goliaths that bid defiance to Christ. It is only faith in Christ that makes a man triumph over sin, Satan, hell, and the world (1 John 5:4). It is only faith in Christ that binds the strong man's hand and foot, that stops the issue of blood, that makes a man strong in resisting, and happy in conquering (Matt. 5:15-35). Sin always dies most where faith lives most. The most believing soul is the most mortified soul.
Ah! sinner, remember this, there is no way on earth effectually to be rid of the guilt, filth, and power of sin—but by believing in the Savior. It is not resolving, it is not complaining, it is not mourning—but believing, which will make you divinely victorious over that body of sin that to this day is too strong for you, and that will certainly be your ruin, if it be not ruined by a hand of faith.
Remedy (7). The seventh remedy against this device of Satan is, wisely to consider, That as there is nothing in Christ to discourage the greatest sinners from believing in him, so there is everything in Christ that may encourage the greatest sinners to believe on him, to rest and lean upon him for all happiness and blessedness (Cant. 1:3). If you look upon his nature, his disposition, his names, his titles, his offices as king, priest, and prophet—you will find nothing to discourage the greatest sinners from believing in him—but many things to encourage the greatest sinners to receive him, to believe in him. (Col. 1:19; 2:3; Cant. 5:10.)
Christ is the greatest good, the choicest good, the chief good, the most suitable good, the most necessary good. He is a pure good, a real good, a total good, an eternal good, and a soul-satisfying good (Rev. 3:17, 18). Sinners, are you poor? Christ has gold to enrich you. Are you naked? Christ has royal robes, he has white clothing to clothe you. Are you blind? Christ has eye-salve to enlighten you. Are you hungry? Christ will be manna to feed you. Are you thirsty? He will be a well of living water to refresh you. Are you wounded? He has a balm under his wings to heal you. Are you sick? He is a physician to cure you. Are you prisoners? He has laid down a ransom for you. Ah, sinners! tell me, tell me, is there anything in Christ to keep you off from believing? No! Is there not everything in Christ that may encourage you to believe in him? Yes! Oh, then, believe in him, and then, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool' (Is. 1:18). No, then, your iniquities shall be forgotten as well as forgiven, they shall be remembered no more. God will cast them behind his back, he will throw them into the bottom of the sea! (Is. 43:25; 38:17; Micah 7:19).
Remedy (8). The eighth remedy against this device of Satan Is, seriously to consider, The absolute necessity of believing in Christ. Heaven is too holy to hold unbelievers; their lodging is prepared in hell (Rev. 21:8): 'But the fearful and unbelieving etc. shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.' 'If you believe not that I am he,' says Christ, 'you shall die in your sins' (John 8:24). And he who dies in his sins must go to judgment and to hell in his sins. Every unbeliever is a condemned man: 'He who believes not,' says John, 'is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And he who believes not the Son, shall not see life—but the wrath of God abides on him' (John 3:18, 36). Ah, sinners! the law, the gospel, and your own consciences, have passed the sentence of condemnation upon you, and there is no way to reverse the sentence but by believing in Christ. And therefore my counsel is this—Stir up yourselves to lay hold on the Lord Jesus, and look up to him, and wait on him, from whom every good and perfect gift comes, and give him no rest until he has given you that jewel 'faith'—which is more worth than heaven and earth, and which will make you happy in life, joyful in death, and glorious in the day of Christ (Is. 64:7; James 1:17; Is. 62:7).
And thus much for the remedies against this first device
of Satan, whereby he keeps off thousands from believing in Christ.
DEVICE 2. By suggesting to sinners their unworthiness.
Ah! says Satan, as you are worthy of the greatest misery, so you are unworthy of the least crumb of mercy. What! do you think, says Satan, that ever Christ will own, receive, or embrace such an unworthy wretch as you are? No! No! if there were any worthiness in you, then, indeed, Christ might be willing to be entertained by you. You are unworthy to entertain Christ into your house, how much more unworthy are you to entertain Christ into your heart.
Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider,That God has nowhere in the Scripture required any worthiness in the creature before believing in Christ. If you make a diligent search through all the Scripture, you shall not find, from the first line in Genesis to the last line in the Revelation, one word that speaks out God's requiring any worthiness in the creature before the soul's believing In Christ, before the soul's leaning and resting upon Christ for happiness and blessedness; and why, then, should that be a bar and hindrance to your faith, which God does nowhere require of you before you come to Christ, that you may have life? (Matt. 19:8; John 5:29). Ah, sinners! remember Satan objects your unworthiness against you only out of a design to keep Christ and your souls asunder forever; and therefore, in the face of all your unworthiness, rest upon Christ, come to Christ, believe in Christ, and you are happy forever (John 6:40, 47).
Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, wisely to consider,That none ever received Christ, embraced Christ, and obtained mercy and pardon from Christ—but unworthy souls. Pray, what worthiness was in Matthew, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, Manasseh, Paul, and Lydia, before their coming to Christ, before their faith in Christ? Surely none! Ah, sinners! you should reason thus: Christ has bestowed the choicest mercies, the greatest favors, the highest dignities, the sweetest privileges, upon unworthy sinners, and therefore, O our souls, do not faint, do not despair—but patiently and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. Who can tell but that free grace and mercy may shine forth upon us, though we are unworthy, and give us a portion among those blessed ones who are now triumphing in heaven.
Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is,That if the soul will keep off from Christ until it is worthy—it will never close with Christ, it will never embrace Christ. It will never be one with Christ, it must lie down in everlasting sorrow (Is. 50:11). God has laid up all worthiness in Christ, that the creature may know where to find it, and receive it. There is no way on earth to make unworthy souls worthy—but by believing in Christ (James 2:23). Believing in Christ—of slaves, it will make you worthy sons; of enemies, it will make you worthy friends. God will count none worthy, nor call none worthy, nor carry it towards none as worthy—but believers, who are made worthy by the worthiness of
Christ's person, righteousness, satisfaction, and intercession (Rev. 3:4).
Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider,That if you make a diligent search into your own hearts, you shall find that it is the pride and folly of your own hearts which puts you upon bringing of a worthiness to Christ. Oh! you would gladly bring something to Christ that might render you acceptable to him; you are reluctant to come empty-handed. The Lord cries out, 'Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Why do you spend money on what is not food, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and you will enjoy the choicest of foods!' (Is. 55:1, 2). Here the Lord calls upon moneyless souls, upon penniless souls, upon unworthy souls—to come and partake of his precious favors freely. But sinners are proud and foolish, and because they have no money, no worthiness to bring, they will not come, though he sweetly invites them. Ah, sinners! what is more just than that you should perish forever—who prefer husks among swine, before the milk and wine, the sweet and precious things of the gospel, which are freely and sweetly offered to you. Well, sinners! remember this, it is not so much the sense of your unworthiness, as your pride, that keeps you off from a blessed closing with the Lord Jesus.
DEVICE 3. By suggesting to sinners the lack of such and such preparations and qualifications.
Says Satan, You are not prepared to entertain Christ; you are not thus and thus humbled and justified; you are not heart-sick of sin; you have not been under horrors and terrors as such and such; you must stay until you are prepared and qualified to receive the Lord Jesus.
Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider,That such as have not been so and so prepared and qualified as Satan suggests, have received Christ, believed in Christ, and been saved by Christ. Matthew was called, sitting at the tax collector's booth, and there was such power went along with Christ's call, that made him to follow Christ (Matt. 9:9). We read not of any horrors or terrors that he was under before his being called by Christ. Reader! what preparations and qualifications were found in Zacchaeus, Paul, the jailor, and Lydia, before their conversion? (Luke 19:9, Acts 16:14, seq.). God brings in some by the sweet and still voice of the gospel, and usually such that are thus brought into Christ are the sweetest, humblest, choicest, and most fruitful Christians.
God is a free agent to work by law or gospel, by smiles or frowns, by presenting hell or heaven to sinners' souls. God thunders from mount Sinai upon some souls, and conquers them by thundering. God speaks to others in a still voice, and by that conquers them. You who are brought to Christ by the law, do not you judge and condemn those who are brought to Christ by the gospel; and you who are brought to Christ by the gospel, do not you despise those who are brought to Christ by the law. Some are brought to Christ by fire, storms, and tempests; others by more easy and gentle gales of the Spirit. The Spirit is free in the works of conversion, and, as the wind, it blows when, where, and how it pleases (John 3:8). Thrice happy are those souls that are brought to Christ, whether it be in a winter's night or in a summer's day.
Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnlyTo dwell upon these following scriptures, which clearly evidence that poor sinners who are not such and such prepared and qualified to meet with Christ, to receive and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ; may, notwithstanding that, believe in Christ; and rest and lean upon him for happiness and blessedness, according to the gospel. Read Prov. 1:20-33, and chap 8:1-11, and chap. 9:1-6; Ezek. 16:1-14; John 3:14-18, 36; Rev. 3:15-20. Here the Lord Jesus Christ stands knocking at the Laodiceans' door; he would gladly have them to sup with him, and that he might sup with them; that is, that they might have intimate communion and fellowship one with another.
Now, tell me, what preparations or qualifications had these Laodiceans to entertain Christ? Surely none; for they were lukewarm, they were 'neither hot nor cold,' they were 'wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked'; and yet Christ, to show his free grace and his condescending love, invites the very worst of sinners to open to him, though they were not such and such prepared or qualified to entertain him.
Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider,That the Lord does not in all the Scripture, require such and such preparations and qualifications before men come to Christ, before they believe in Christ, or entertain, or embrace the Lord Jesus. Believing in Christ is the great thing that God presses upon sinners throughout the Scripture, as all know that know anything of Scripture.
Obj. But does not Christ say, 'Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'? (Matt. 11:28). To this I shall give these three answers:
(1.) That though the invitation be to such that 'labor and are heavy laden,' yet the promise of giving rest, it is made over to 'coming,' to 'believing.'
(2.) That all this scripture proves and shows is, that such as labor under sin as under a heavy burden, and that are laden with the guilt of sin and sense of God's displeasure, ought to come to Christ for rest; but it does not prove that only such must come to Christ, nor that all men must be thus burdened and laden with the sense of their sins and the wrath of God, before they come to Christ.
Poor sinners, when they are under the sense of sin and wrath of God, are prone to run from creature to creature, and from duty to duty, and from ordinance to ordinance, to find rest; and if they could find it in anything or creature, Christ would never hear of them; but here the Lord sweetly invites them; and to encourage them, he engages himself to give them rest: 'Come,' says Christ, 'and I will give you rest.' I will not show you rest, nor barely tell you of rest—but 'I will give you rest.' I am faithfulness itself, and cannot lie, 'I will give you rest.' I that have the greatest power to give it, the greatest will to give it, the greatest right to give it, 'Come, heavy laden sinners, and I will give you rest.' Rest is the most desirable good, the most suitable good, and to you the greatest good. 'Come,' says Christ, that is, 'believe in me, and I will give you rest'; I will give you peace with God, and peace with conscience; I will turn your storm into an everlasting calm; I will give you such rest, which the world can neither give to you nor take from you.
(3.) No one scripture speaks out the whole mind of God; therefore do but compare this one scripture with those several scriptures that are laid down in the second remedy last mentioned, and it will clearly appear, that though men are thus and thus burdened and laden with their sins and filled with horror and terror, if they may come to Christ, they may receive and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider,That all that trouble for sin, all that sorrow, shame, and mourning which is acceptable to God, and delightful to God, and prevalent with God, flows from faith in Christ, as the stream does from the fountain, as the branch does from the root, as the effect does from the cause. Zech. 12:10, 'They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him.' All gospel mourning flows from believing; they shall first look, and then mourn. All who know anything about the gospel, know this, that 'whatever is not of faith is sin' (Rom. 14:33). Until men have faith in Christ, their best services are but splendid sins!
DEVICE 4. By suggesting to a sinner Christ's
unwillingness to save.
Remedy (1). First,The great journey that he has taken, from heaven to earth, on purpose to save sinners, strongly demonstrates his willingness to save them. Matt. 9:13: 'I came not to call the righteous—but sinners to repentance.' 1 Tim. 1:15: 'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.'
Secondly, His divesting himself of his glory in order to sinners' salvation, speaks out his willingness to save them. He leaves his Father's bosom, he puts off his glorious robes, and lays aside his glorious crown, and bids adieu to his glistering courtiers the angels; and all this he does, that he may accomplish sinners' salvation. From the cradle to the cross, his whole life was a life of sufferings.
Thirdly, That sea of sin, that sea of wrath, that sea of trouble, that sea of blood that Jesus Christ waded through, that sinners might be pardoned, justified, reconciled, and saved, strongly evidences his willingness to save sinners (2 Cor. 5:19, 20).
Fourthly, His sending his ambassadors, early and late, to woo and entreat sinners to be reconciled to him, does with open mouth show his readiness and willingness to save sinners.
Fifthly, His complaints against such as refuse him, and who turn their backs upon him, and who will not be saved by him, strongly declares his willingness to save them (John 1:11): 'He came to his own, and his own received him not.' So in John 5:40, 'But you will not come to me, that you may have life.'
Sixthly, The joy and delight that he takes at the
conversion of sinners demonstrates his willingness that they should be saved
(Luke 15:7): 'I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing
in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous
persons who do not need to repent.' God the Father rejoices at the return of
his prodigal son; Christ rejoices to see the travail of his soul; the Spirit
rejoices that he has another temple to dwell in; and the angels rejoice that
they have another brother to delight in (Is. 53:11).
DEVICE 5. By working a sinner to mind more the secret decrees and counsels of God, than his own duty.
What need you to busy yourself about receiving, embracing, and entertaining of Christ? says Satan; if you are elected, you shall be saved; if not, all that you can do will do you no good. No, he will work the soul not only to doubt of its election—but to conclude that he is not elected, and therefore, let him do what he can, he shall never be saved.
Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That not all the angels in heaven, nor all the men an earth, nor all the devils in hell, cannot tell to the contrary—but that you may be an elect person, a chosen vessel. You may be confident of this, that God never made Satan one of his privy council, God never acquainted him with the names of such that he has set his love upon to eternity.
Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, To meddle with that which you have to do. 'Secret things belong to the Lord—but revealed things belong to you' (Deut. 29:29). Your work, sinner, is, to be peremptory in believing, and in returning to the Lord; your work is to cast yourself upon Christ, lie at his feet, to wait on him in his ways; and to give him no rest until he shall say, Sinner, I am your portion, I am your salvation—and nothing shall separate between you and me.