This is continuing from part 3 from Puritan Thomas Brooks’ book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”, where the devil draws people from holy duties and service using the allurements of the world.
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Thomas Brooks – Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices
From Thomas Brooks:
Device (1). By presenting the world in such a dress, and in such a garb to the soul, as to ensnare the soul, and to win upon the affections of the soul.
Now the remedies against this device of Satan are these,
Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell upon the impotency and weakness of all these things here below.
Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell upon the vanity of them as well as upon the impotency of all worldly good.
Remedy (3). The third remedy against the device of Satan is, To dwell much upon the uncertainty, the mutability, and inconstancy of all things under the sun.
Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That the great things of this world are very hurtful and dangerous to the outward and inward man, through
the corruptions that be in the hearts of men.
Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That all the felicity of this world is mixed.
Remedy (6). The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, To get better acquaintance and better assurance of more blessed and glorious things.
Remedy (7). The seventh remedy against tins device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That true happiness and satisfaction is not to be had in the enjoyment of worldly good.
(Footnote: True happiness lies only in our enjoyment of a suitable good, a pure good, a total good, and an eternal good ; and God is only such a good, and such a good can only satisfy the soul of man. Philosophers could say, that he was never a happy man that might afterwards become miserable.)
The blessed angels, those glistering courtiers, have all felicities and blessedness, and yet have they neither gold, nor silver, nor jewels, nor none of the beauty and bravery [livery] of this world. Certainly if happiness was to be found in these things, the Lord Jesus, who is the right and royal heir of all things, would have exchanged his cradle for a crown; his birth chamber, a stable, for a royal palace; his poverty for plenty; his despised followers for shining courtiers; and his mean [low] provisions for the choicest delicates, etc. Certainly happiness lies not in those things that a man may enjoy, and yet be miserable for ever.
Now a man may be great and graceless with Pharaoh, honourable and damnable with Saul, rich and miserable with Dives [the rich man in the rich man and Lazarus story], etc.: therefore happiness lies not in these things. Certainly happiness lies not in those things that cannot comfort a man upon a dying bed. Is it honours, riches, or friends, etc, that can comfort thee when you come to die?
Or is it not rather faith in the blood of Christ, the witness of the Spirit of Christ, the sense and feeling of the love and favour of Christ, and the hopes of eternally reigning with Christ? Can happiness lie in those things that cannot give us health, or strength, or ease, or a good night’s rest, or an hour’s sleep, or a good stomach? Why, all the honours, riches, and delights of this world cannot give these poor things to us, therefore certainly happiness lies not in the enjoyment of them, etc.
(Footnote: Gregory the Great used to say, He is poor whose soul is void of grace, not whose coffers are empty of money. The reasonable soul may be busied about other things, but it cannot be filled
And surely happiness is not to be found in those things that cannot satisfy the souls of men. Now none of these things can satisfy the soul of man. ‘He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase; this is also vanity,’ said the wise man, Eccles. v. 10. The barren womb, the horse leech’s daughter, the grave and hell, will as soon be satisfied, as the soul of man will by the enjoyment of any worldly good. Some one thing or other will be for ever wanting [lacking] to that soul that hath none but outward good to live upon. You may as soon fill a bag with wisdom, a chest with virtue, or a circle with a triangle, as the heart of man with anything here below. A man may have enough of the world to sink him, but he can never have enough to satisfy him, etc.
Remedy (8). The eighth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, Of the dignity of the soul.
Seneca could say, ‘I am too great, and born to greater things, than that I should be a slave to my body.’ Oh! do you say my soul is too great, and born to greater things, than that I should confine it to a heap of white and yellow earth.
(Footnote: Plutarch tells of Themistocles, that he accounted it not to stand with his state to stoop down to take up the spoils the enemies had scattered in flight; but said to one of his followers, You may, for you are not Themistocles. Oh what a sad thing it is that a heathen should set his feet upon those very things that most professors [of religion] set their hearts, and for the gain of which, with Balaam, many run the hazard of losing their immortal souls for ever.)
I have been the longer upon the remedies that may help us against this dangerous device of Satan, because he doth usually more hurt to the souls of men by this device than he doth by all other devices.
For a close, I wish, as once Chrysostom did, that that sentence, Eccles. ii. 11, ‘Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun,’ were engraven on the door-posts into which you enter, on the tables where you sit, on the dishes out of which you eat, on the cups out of which you drink, on the bed-steads where you lie, on the walls of the house where you dwell, on the garments which you wear, on the heads of the horses on which you ride, and on the foreheads of all them whom you meet, that your souls may not, by the beauty and bravery [livery] of the world, be kept off from those holy and heavenly services that may render you blessed while you live, and happy when you die; that you may breathe out your last into his bosom who lives for ever, and who will make them happy for ever that prefer Christ’s spirituals and eternals above all temporal transitory things.
Amen, and may the Lord grant us all that protection from Satan’s devices, and that the things of the world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!