The Combat between Christ and the Devil Displayed:
or A Commentary upon the Temptations of Christ:
Preached in Cambridge by that reverend and judicious divine Master William Perkins
The second edition much enlarged by a more perfect copy, at the request of Master Perkins’s executors, by Thomas Pierson preacher of God’s Word.
“The God of peace shall tread Satan under your feet shortly”—Rom. 16:20. “You are they which have continued with me in my temptations: Therefore I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed unto me”—Luke 22:28–29.
Printed by Melchizedek Bradwood for E.E. and are to be sold in Paul’s church-yard at the sign of the Swan. 1606
To the Right Honorable Sir William Russell, Lord Russell, Baron of Thornhaugh, with the virtuous Lady his wife, grace and peace.
Upon that strange battle in heaven [Rev. 12:7], between Michael “the great prince” [Dan. 12:1], and Satan that old serpent, was heard a loud voice sounding forth joy and woe: “joy to the heavens and to them that dwell therein: because the accuser of the brethren is cast out thence” [Rev. 12:12], but “woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea” (that is, to the sons of men in this vale of tears), “for the devil is come down unto them with great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time” [Rev. 12:12].
In this voice (Right Honorable) are two things affirmed, touching Satan;
First, that his casting out of heaven is joyful to the saints; next that his coming down on earth is woeful unto men. Is the matter of our woe, joy to the saints? Nothing less; but that the devil might be known to be an evil guest wherever he comes, the heavens do rejoice for his departure, and sea and earth ought to mourn for his approaching; so that he is, or at leastwise ought to be, nowhere welcome, except it be in hell; and all such persons may well perceive themselves, not heavenly but plainly hellish minded, as give more kind welcome unto Satan in their cheerful practice of the works of darkness, than they do unto Jesus Christ, “who knocks at the door of their hearts promising to come in and sup with them, if they will hear his voice and open unto him” [Rev. 3:20].
But what do the heavens gain by Satan’s casting down?
And how does his descending to the earth work man such woe?
For heaven’s gain, they are well rid of the malicious accuser of the brethren [Rev. 12:10]. Who would know more, must strive to get to heaven, and if more be needful, there his information shall be certain. As for man’s woe by Satan’s company here on earth, who so doubts hereof, may well suspect himself to have already received of him that deadly hurt, in blindness of mind and hardness of heart, whereof none save Jesus Christ the good Physician of our souls, by the “eye-salve” [Rev. 3:18], and “anointing of his Spirit” [1 John 2:27], can work the cure.
Is it not woeful to the flocks and to the herds, when ravenous beasts do frequent their pastures? Then woe to man because of Satan: for the peril of the lamb from the wolf; of the kid from the leopard; of the fat beast from the lion; and of the sucking child from the asp, is nothing comparable to the danger of man from this old serpent, who in craft and cruelty, yea in every hurtful property goes beyond them all. Other devouring creatures keep their circuits and observe their times; they are sometimes weary, and not always hungry; some are unfit for the dark, and others afraid of the light, whereby their silly prey gets some respite, but Satan is “a prince of the darkness of this world” [Eph. 6:12], who yet for his advantage “can transform himself into an angel of light” [2 Cor. 11:14], so as the day and night are to him both alike for the working of our woe.
He is ever greedy, and never weary, and therefore always seeking; and if we dream of any restraint to him for time or place we deceive ourselves, for he was a “murderer from the beginning” [John 8:44], and so will continue till time shall be no more; and “he compasseth the whole earth walking in it to and fro” [Job 1:7], even “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” [1 Peter 5:8]. With other creatures woe is ended, when the prey is once devoured; but to Satan’s prey it is not so, for unless his snare be broken and they [be] delivered in this life, their woe continues easeless, endless, and remediless after natural death.
Indeed the natural man does not perceive that working of Satan which does procure his woe; it may be he has seen the players’ and the painters’ devils, some black horned monster with broad eyes, crooked claws or cloven feet; and till some such thing appear unto him, he never fears hurt by Satan. Little does he think that ignorance in the Scriptures, neglect of God’s worship, profaning God’s Sabbaths, with greedy affecting the wealth, pomp, and pleasures of this world do give advantage unto Satan against his soul; and therefore while the matters of this life do answer his desire, he can sing to himself this pleasant requiem: “soul, soul, take thy rest” [Luke 12:19]. But “our voice from heaven cries woe” to all such inhabitants of the earth because of Satan; for they are of this world, and he is “their prince” [John 14:30], and “their god” [2 Cor. 4:4], who having blinded their minds, “worketh in their hearts” [Eph. 2:2], and so keeps them sure in his possession. Indeed like a seeming friend he suffers “all things to be in peace” [Luke 11:21]; but woeful peace, like to Absalom’s wine which he gave to Amnon, that “when his heart was most merry therewith, his least suspected deadly wound might light upon him” [2 Sam. 13:28].
Everyone “by nature is the child of wrath” [Eph. 2:3], and so of himself full of all misery; but merciless Satan seeks the increase hereof, by causing the root of man’s corruption to spread forth the branches of all transgressions. Indeed he is not the beginner of every sin, for much impiety flows from man’s inbred impurity; yet so sure a friend is Satan to corruption in the works of darkness, that if nature does but stretch forth the hand, Satan will thrust at the elbow.
Does Cain hate Abel? Then will Satan bring this hatred from the heart to the hand, and cause Cain to kill Abel [Gen. 4:8]. Is Judas covetous? Then will Satan for the satisfying of that desire “make him traitorous” [John 13:2]. Let him find but a sparkle, he will soon kindle it to a flame, so that woeful is his coming to all natural men.
But does the child of God escape his hands?
No verily; Satan is a professed deadly foe to all such, he is their “adversary” [1 Peter 5:8] and “accuser” [Rev. 12:10]: that which should procure them good he seeks to hinder; and whatever may work them woe, he will be sure to further. If they fall into sin, he seeks to bring them to despair; and when they endeavor to do good, he moves them to be proud. They are no sooner converted to the Lord, but he has some Elymas to turn them back to the world [Acts 13:8]. Though they stand against that assault, yet he will pursue them still, by troubles without and terrors within; by raging foes, and flattering friends; so as in regard of Satan advantaged by their flesh and his world, they shall find this to be true, “while their flesh is upon them, they shall be sorrowful”; and “while their souls be in them, they shall mourn” [Job 14:22]. Satan is a mighty “prince” [John 12:31], and a “wily serpent” [2 Cor. 2:11], and if either force or fraud may work them woe, no child of God shall escape his hands; he spared not the green tree, what then will he do to the dry?
But is there no remedy to man for all this woe that comes by Satan?
Yes, blessed be our God who has not left us for a prey unto his teeth, but to show the exceeding riches of His grace and love to the world, “hath given his only begotten Son” [John 3:16] to be our Prince and our Deliverer; who in no sort “took the angels, but the seed of Abraham” [Heb. 2:16], and “because they were partakers of flesh and blood, he himself took part with them, that he might destroy through death him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” [Heb. 2:14]. For the evidence and application of which deliverance, He has ordained in His church a holy ministry, whereby natural men are “brought from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan to himself” [Acts 26:18]; and His own children do “grow up into Christ their head” [Eph. 4:15], and be “edified in their most holy faith” [Jude 20], through “which they are kept by the power of God unto salvation” [1 Peter 1:5].
Yet we must so conceive of this deliverance, that as Israel being brought out of Egypt, was not presently settled in the land of Canaan, but for the space of forty years was exercised with sundry temptations in a barren and dry wilderness, where they met with “fiery serpents” [Num. 21:6], and were encountered with many and strong enemies, who sought to debar them from the promised land, so the children of God, though redeemed by Christ, are not presently translated from the bondage of corruption, to the full inheritance of perfect glory in the heavens; but must pass through this vale of tears, and in the wilderness of this world meet with that crooked serpent the devil who will seek to sting their souls to death, and also stir up many an Amalek to entrap them in the way [1 Sam. 15:2], that either through disobedience or unbelief they may be deprived of their heavenly Canaan.
True it is, this match is far unequal, for flesh and blood to fight against spiritual powers;
Yet here is comfort, that we have Him for our Captain who in His deepest humility spoiled our strongest adversary [Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14], and is now “crowned with glory and honor” [Heb. 2:7], being “highly exalted far above all might and domination at his Father’s right hand” [Eph. 1:20], where He must “reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet” [1 Cor. 15:25]; yea, till He has “trodden Satan under the feet of all his members” [Rom. 16:20]. Only this He requires that we should “be valiant and quit ourselves like men in the power of his might” [Eph. 6:10], knowing that the battle is the Lord’s, and so the victory sure before we strike a stroke.
Now for the manner of our fight;
(A matter indeed of great moment, because a “smooth stone out of David’s sling will foil to the ground great Goliath” [1 Sam. 17:49]), we have in this combat between Christ and the devil, so pregnant direction set before us, that unless we do willfully shut our eyes against the light, in this behalf we cannot be ignorant of our duty. “Whatsoever was written aforetime was written for our learning” [Rom. 15:4]; and therefore the recording of this combat is as much from Christ to every Christian, as the speech of Gideon to his soldiers, “look on me and do likewise; even as I do, so do ye” [Judg. 7:17]. For Christ left Himself an example that we should follow His steps, though not in His miraculous fast, yet in His courageous fight against sin.
The view hereof has formerly been presented to your Honors, by Master Robert Hill, Bachelor of Divinity, under this title, “Satan’s sophistry answered by our Savior Christ.” And now at the entreaty of Master Perkins’ executors, I have published it again; yet under a new title, and more large almost by one third part. My endeavor has been that this poor orphan might imitate his brethren, who were the messengers of love unto our church, while their happy father lived among us. What is wanting herein, or may deserve a just reproof I willingly take to myself, me me adsum qui feci, etc. What I have been able to do, I humbly commend to the church of God under your honorable protection. If herein I seem presumptuous, because I am unknown unto you, I humbly crave this favorable construction; that I chose rather by presuming to wrong myself, than to alienate this book from your Honors, who had right hereto by former dedication.
When your honorable employments in time past required your wisdom and courage, for the just defense of our sovereign’s right, I make no question, but as well the messengers of victory over rebels, as the counselors of peace, were always welcome to your honor. Why then should I doubt, whether this ensuing display, being as well a counselor of peace with God, as a herald of triumph through Christ over Satan, the archenemy of our souls, will be grateful unto you, who have learned long since, that whosoever will keep a good conscience towards God or man, must endure many a conflict with Satan?
Now that God of peace who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, grant unto your Honors according to the riches of His mercy, so to fight the good fight of faith on earth, that you may receive the crown of glory in heaven.
Cambridge, Emmanuel College, June 25, 1606.
Your Honors’ in the Lord to be commanded,
William Perkins, 1606, 1, 71–77.