This is the final part, continuing from part 3 from Puritan Thomas Brooks’ book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”, where the devil entices people to sin by suggesting repentance is an easy thing.

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Thomas Brooks – Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

From Thomas Brooks:

The sixth device that Satan hath to draw the soul to sin is,

Device (6). By persuading the soul that the work of repentance is an easy work, and that therefore the soul need not make such a matter of sin. Why! Suppose you do sin, saith Satan, it is no such difficult thing to return, and confess, and be sorrowful, and beg pardon, and cry, “Lord, have mercy upon me;” and if you do but this, God will cut the score (footnote: this references notched sticks by which debt accounts were recorded anciently), and pardon your sins, and save your souls, etc.

By this device Satan draws many a soul to sin, and makes many millions of souls servants or rather slaves to sin, etc.

Now, the remedies against this device of Satan are these that follow:

Remedy (1). The first remedy is, seriously to consider, That repentance is a mighty work, a difficult work, a work that is above our power.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider of the nature of true repentance.

Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is seriously to consider, That repentance is a continued act.

Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is solemnly to consider, That if the work of repentance were such an easy work as Satan would make it to be, then certainly so many would not lie roaring and crying out of wrath and eternal ruin under the horrors and terrors of conscience, for not repenting; yea, doubtless, so many millions would not go to hell for not repenting, if it were such an easy thing to repent.
Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is seriously to consider, That to repent of sin is as great a work of grace as not to sin.

(Footnote: Yet it is better to be kept from sin than cured of sin by repentance, as it is better for a man to be preserved from a disease than to be cured of the disease.

By our sinful falls the powers of the soul are weakened, the strength of grace is decayed, our evidences for heaven are blotted, fears and doubts in the soul are raised (will God once more pardon this scarlet sin, and shew mercy to this wretched soul?), and corruptions in the heart are more advantaged and confirmed; and the conscience of a man after falls is the more enraged or the more benumbed.

Now for a soul, notwithstanding all this, to repent of his falls, this shews that it is as great a work of grace to repent of sin as it is not to sin. Repentance is the vomit of the soul; and of all physic [medicine], none so difficult and hard as it is to vomit. The same means that tends to preserve the soul from sin, the same means works the soul to rise by repentance when it is fallen into sin.

We know the mercy and lovingkindness of God is one special means to keep the soul from sin; as David spake, “Thy lovingkindness is always before mine eyes, and I have walked in thy truth, and I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers, and will not sit with the wicked,” Ps. xxvi. 3-5. So by the same means the soul is raised by repentance out of sin, as you may see in Mary Magdalene, who loved much, and wept much, because much was forgiven her, Luke vii. 37-39, etc. So those in Hosea, “I Come, let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight, or before his face,” Hos. vi. 1, 2 ; as the Hebrew hath it, i.e. in his favour. Confidence in God’s mercy and love, that he would heal them, and laud up their wounds, and revive their dejected spirits, and cause them to live in his favour, was that which did work their hearts to repent and return unto him.

I might further shew you this truth in many other particulars, but this may suffice: only remember this in the general, that there is as much of the power of God, and love of God, and faith in God, and fear of God, and care to please God, zeal for the glory of God, 2 Cor. vii. 11, requisite to work a man to repent of sin, as there is to keep a man from sin; by which you may easily judge, that to repent of sin is as great a work as not to sin.

And now tell me, O soul, is it an easy thing not to sin? We know then certainly it is not an easy thing to repent of sin.

Remedy (6). The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, that he that now tempts thee to sin upon this account, that repentance is easy, will, ere long, to work thee to despair, and for ever to break the neck of thy soul, present repentance as the difficultest and hardest work in the world; and to this purpose he will set thy sins in order before thee, and make them to say, “We are thine, and we must follow thee.”

(Footnote: Beda tells of a certain great man that was admonished in his sickness to repent, who answered that he would not repent yet; for if he should recover, his companions would laugh at him; but, growing sicker and sicker, his friends pressed him again to repent, but then he told them it was too late, for
now, said he, I am judged and condemned.

As one Lamachus, a commander, said to one of his soldiers that was brought before him for a misbehaviour, who pleaded he would do so no more, saith he, no man must offend twice in war; so God will not suffer men often to neglect the day of grace.)

Now, Satan will help to work the soul to look up, and see God angry; and to look inward, and to see conscience accusing and condemning; and to look downwards, and see hell’s mouth open to receive the impenitent soul: and all this to render the work of repentance impossible to the soul.

What, saith Satan, dost thou think that that is easy which the whole power of grace cannot conquer while we are in this world? Is it easy, saith Satan, to turn from some outward act of sin to which thou hast been addicted? Dost thou not remember that thou hast often complained against such and such particular sins, and resolved to leave them? and yet, to this hour, thou hast not, thou canst not? What will it then be to turn from every sin? Yea, to mortify and cut off those sins, those darling lusts [corrupt desires of the heart], that are as joints and members, that be as right hands and right eyes? Hast thou not loved thy sins above thy Saviour? Hast thou not preferred earth before heaven? Hast thou not all along neglected the means of grace? and despised the offers of grace? and vexed the Spirit of grace? There would be no end, if I should set before thee the infinite evils that thou hast committed, and the innumerable good services that thou hast omitted, and the frequent checks of thy own conscience that thou hast contemned; and therefore thou mayest well conclude that thou canst never repent, that thou shalt never repent.

Now, saith Satan, do but a little consider thy numberless sins, and the greatness of thy sins, the foulness of thy sins, the heinousness of thy sins, the circumstances of thy sins, and thou shalt easily see that those sins that thou thoughtest to be but motes, are indeed mountains; and is it not now in vain to repent of them? Surely, saith Satan, if thou shouldest seek repentance and grace with tears, as Esau, thou shalt not find it; thy glass is out, thy sun is set, the door of mercy is shut, the golden sceptre is taken in, and now thou that hast despised mercy, shalt be for ever destroyed by justice. For such a wretch as thou art to attempt repentance, is to attempt a thing impossible. It is impossible that thou, that in all thy life couldst never conquer one sin, shouldst master such a numberless number of sins; which are so near, so dear, so necessary, and so profitable to thee, that have so long bedded and boarded with thee, that have been old acquaintance and companions with thee. Hast thou not often purposed, promised, vowed, and resolved to enter upon the practice of repentance, but to this day couldst never attain it? Surely it is in vain to strive against the stream, where it is so impossible to overcome; thou art lost and cast for ever; to hell thou must, to hell thou shalt.

Ah, souls! he that now tempts you to sin, by suggesting to you the easiness of repentance, will at last work you to despair, and present repentance as the hardest work in all the world, and a work as far above man as heaven is above hell, as light is above darkness. Oh that you were wise, to break off your sins by timely repentance!

May we seek the Lord almighty in true repentance out of love for Him, and may He grant us that! May He protect us from the lies of the Accuser, and may we look to Christ Jesus alone for His redemption, righteousness, forgiveness and cleansing!

— David