The Tempter’s Method in Applying his Prepared Baits 003-004/ by Richard Baxter

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Tempt, iii.‘It is the great care of the devil to keep out of sight, that he be not seen himself in the temptation. As the angler keepeth himself behind the bush( and the fowler(bird catcher) hideth himself from the birds, or else they would fear, and fly, and escape; so doth the devil use all his art, to hide himself from the sinner’s observation -, that the deluded soul shall little think that the devil is so near him, and hath so great a hand in the business. If the ambitious or covetous worldling saw the devil offer him the bait, and heard him say, ” All this will I give thee;” he would have the smaller list to take the bait; If the devil appeared to the whoremonger, and brought him his whore, and encouraged him to his filthiness, it would cool his lust: or if he appeared to the drunkard, and presented him the cup, he would have but little list to drink : if the proud and the malicious saw the devil at their backs, rejoicing in their sin, and putting them on, it might affright(frighten) them half into their wits. Therefore the great endeavour of the devil is, to persuade men that it is not he that makes the motion to them: it is such a friend, or such a neighbour, or gentleman, or minister, or wise man ; it is not the devil! till the fish is caught, and the bird is in the net; and then the author of all appeareth to kill them, and carry them away, without any concealment.’

Direct, III. Mark but the tendency and the manner of the temptations, and you may perceive the author. Who else is it that is so much against God, and against your everlasting happiness? Who else is it that would so abuse your reason, to prefer things temporal, before things eternal, and the brutish pleasures of a corruptible flesh, before the interest of immortal souls? Who else so contradicteth all the Word of God? Read God’s warnings, and he will tell you who it is. Take every temptation then, whoever be the messenger, as if thou sawest the devil standing by, and making the motion to thee, and heardest himself exhort thee to sin. Suppose you saw him conducting you to the whore-house, the play-house, the ale-house, and making you entertainment as the master of the game? How then would you take it? And what would you do? Would you go and be angry at the precise preacher that would hinder you? And would you take the devil’s part? No, nature hath possessed you with a fear of him, and an enmity to him: use it for your safety. It cannot be good for you that comes from him! He hath a fouler face to appear to you in than ever yet you saw, when you have done his work and are where he would have you. O know with whom you have to do!

Tempt, iv. ‘The tempter is most careful also to hide from men the nature and tendency of the temptation itself; that they shall not know that it is a temptation when they are tempted, but shall have nothing in sight but the bait which they desire. The angler doth not only hide himself from the fish, but also his rod, and line, and hook as much as he can : the fowler coviereth his nets: so that either the fish and bird shall not see the snare, or shall not know what it is, and what it is there laid for. So when the bait of pleasure, and honour, and wealth is presented by the devil, to the fornicator, gamester, proud, or covetous, they shall not see what the devil is doing now, and what a game he is playing for their souls ! They shall not perceive the connection that there is between the pleasure and the sin, and the sin and the threatening, and the threatening and the judgment, and the judgment and the everlasting punishment. When Judas was bargaining with the Pharisees, he knew not that the devil was in him, driving on the match.’

Direct, iv. Be wise and suspicious : blindness or foolhardiness will lead you into the snare. Be wise that you may know the tendency of every thing that is presented to your thoughts, and may be able to perceive a danger. Be suspicious and cautelous, that you make a sufficient trial, and go upon sure grounds, and avoid the very appearance of evil: when it is hell that you fear, come not too near. Play not as the fly about the candle ; salvation is necessary ; but preferment, or wealth, or liberty, or credit, or life itself are not necessary to you! Prove all things: flatter not yourselves into the snares by foolish hopes, [and judging of things as the flesh would have them to be, rather than as they are. If no danger appear, turn up all coverings, and search and see that none be hidden. The devil hath his gunpowder-plots, and mines which may blow you up before you are aware. Not only lawfulness and indifterency, but great good is the pretence for greatest evil.