Taken and adapted from, “The Christian Soldier,”
Written by Thomas Watson, 1669.
We must offer violence to Satan. Satan opposes us both by open violence, and by secret treachery.
In open violence, he is called the Red Dragon; in secret treachery, he is called the Old Serpent. We read in Scripture of his snares and darts; he hurts more by his snares than by his darts.
1. His Violence. He labors to storm the castle of the heart he stirs up to passion, lust, revenge. These are called ‘fiery darts’ Ephes. 6: 16, because they often set the soul on fire. While Satan in regard to his fierceness is called a Lion, “l Peter 5: 8. ‘Your adversary the Devil as a roaring Lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.’ Not (saith Chrysostom) whom he may bite, –but devour.
2. His Treachery. What he cannot do by force, he will endeavor to do by fraud. Satan hath several subtle policies in tempting.
In suiting his temptations to the complexion and temper of the body, Satan studies the physiognomy, and lays suitable baits.— He knew Achan’s covetous humor, and tempted him with a wedge of gold. He tempts the sanguine man with beauty.
2. Another subtlety is to draw men to evil, sub specie boni, under a pretense of good. —The pirate does mischief by hanging out false colors: so does Satan by hanging out the colors of religion. He puts some men upon sinful actions, and persuades them much good will come of it. He tells them in some cases they may dispense with the rule of the Word, and stretch their conscience beyond that line that they may be in a capacity of doing more service. As if God needed our sin to raise his glory.
3. Satan tempts to sin gradually. As the husbandman digs about the root of a tree, and by degrees loosens it, and at last it falls. Satan steals by degrees into the heart: he is at first more modest: he did not say to Eve at first, Eat the apple; no, but he goes more subtlety to work; he puts forth a question, Hath God said? Sure Eve, thou art mistaken; the bountiful God never intended to debar thee one of the best trees of the garden. Hath God said? Sure, either, God did not say it; or if he did, he never really intended it. Thus by degrees he wrought her to distrust, and then she took of the fruit and eat. Oh, take heed of Satan^ first motions to sin, that seem more modest—principiis obsta. He is first a fox, and then a lion.
4. Satan tempts to evil in lawful things. It was lawful for Noah to eat the fruit of the grape; but he took too much, and so sinned. Excess turns that which is good into evil. Eating and drinking may turn to intemperance. Industry in one’s calling (when excessive) is covetousness. Satan draws men to, an immoderate love of the creature, and then makes them offend in that which they love. As Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius in that meat he loved most.
5. Satan puts men upon doing good out of bad ends: if he cannot hurt them by scandalous actions, he will by virtuous actions. Thus he tempts some to espouse religion out of policy to get preferment, and to give alms, for applause, that others may see their good works, and canonize them. This hypocrisy does leven the duties of religion, and make them lose their reward.
6. The Devil persuades to evil by such as are good. This sets a gloss upon his temptations, and makes them less suspected. The devil hath made use sometimes of the highest and holiest men to promote his temptations. The devil tempted Christ by an apostle, Peter dissuades him from suffering. Abraham, a good man, bids his wife equivocate: Say, Thou art my sister. These are his subtleties in tempting. Now here we must offer violence to Satan,
1. By faith, 1 Peter 5:9. ‘Whom resist, steadfast in faith.’ Faith is a wise intelligent grace; it can see a hook under the bait.
2. It is a heroic grace; it is said, above all, to quench the fiery darts of Satan. Faith resists the devil:
1. As it does keep the castle of the heart that it does not yield. It is not the being tempted makes guilty,’ but giving consent. Faith enters its protest against Satan.
2. Faith not only not yields, but beats back the temptation. Faith holds the promise in one hand, and Christ in the other: the promise encourages faith, and Christ strengthens it: so faith beats the enemy out of the field.
3. We must offer violence to Satan by prayer. We overcome him upon our knees. As Samson called to Heaven for help, so a Christian by prayer brings in auxiliary forces from Heaven. In all temptations go to God by prayer.’ Lord, teach me to use every piece of the spiritual armor; how to hold the shield how to wear the helmet, haw to use the sword of the Spirit. Lord, strengthen me in the battle; let me rather die a conqueror, than be taken prisoner, and led by Satan in triumph. —Thus we must offer violence to Satan. There is ‘a lion in the way,’ but we must resolve upon fighting.
And let this encourage us to offer violence to Satan. Our enemy is beaten in part already. Christ, who is ‘the captain .of our salvation,’ hath given Satan his death-wound upon the cross, Col. 2: 15. The serpent is soonest killed in his head. Christ hath bruised the head of the old Serpent, —the devil is a chained enemy, and a conquered enemy and therefore fear not to give battle to him. Resist him, and he will fly: he knows no march but running away.
We must offer violence to the world…
…The world shews its golden apple, it is a part of our vow in baptism to fight under Christ’s banner against the world. Take heed of being drowned in the luscious delights of it. It must be a strong brain that bears heady wine. He had need have a great deal of wisdom and grace, that knows how to bear a great estate. Riches oft send up their intoxicating fumes, which makes men’s heads giddy with pride, “Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked,’ Deut.31:15. It is hard to climb up the hill of God with too many golden weights. Those that want the honors of the world, want the temptations of it. The world is blandus Dcemon, a flattering enemy. It is given to some as Michal to David, for a snare. The world shews its two breasts of pleasure and profit, and many fall asleep with the breast in their mouth. The world does never kiss us, but with an intent to betray us. It is a silken halter.
The world is no friend to grace; it chokes our love to heavenly things: the earth puts out the fire. Naturally we love the world, Job 31: 24. ‘If I have made gold my hope;’ the Septuagint renders it, ‘If I have been married to my gold.’ Too many are wedded to their money; they live together as man and wife. O let us take heed of being entangled in this pleasing snare. Many who have escaped the rock of scandalous sins, yet have sunk in the world’s golden quicksand. The sin is not in the using of the world, but in the loving, 1 John 2: 15. ‘Love not the world.’ If we are Christians, we must offer violence to the world. Believers are ‘called out of the world:’ they are in the world, but not of it, John 17. As we say of a dying man, he is not a man for this world. A true saint is crucified in his affections to the world, Gal. 6: 14. He is dead to the honors and pleasures of it. What delight does a dead man take in pictures or music? Jesus Christ gave himself ‘ to redeem us from this present evil world,’ Gal. 1:4. If we will be saved, we must offer violence to the world. Living fish swim against the stream. We must swim against the world, else we shall fee carried down the stream, and fall into the Dead Sea. That we may offer violence to the world, let us remember, it is deceitful; our Savior calls it, ‘The deceitfulness of riches,’ Matt.13:22.
The world promises happiness. It promises us nothing less Rachel, but puts off on us blear-eyed Leah:’ it promises to satisfy our desires, but instead increases them: it gives us poisoned pills, but it always wraps them in sugar.