The Inward Kingdom of God
A sketch of the Christian experience the writer has gone through - V
The stormy assaults of Satan, and the fiery rage of indwelling sin, aided by the remaining unsubdued pride and worldliness in me, and the snares of the world, formed over me a threefold dark trying cloud under the government of the prince of darkness. "And the men of Ai smote the children of Israel, and chased them; and they fled before the men of Ai. Wherefore the hearts of the people melted and became as water; and Joshua rent his clothes and fell upon his face to the earth before the ark, he and the elders, and put dust upon their heads." (Josh. Vii.) "And an angel of the Lord came up, and said, I made you go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land I sware unto you; and ye have not obeyed" (fully) "my voice. Wherefore there shall be thorns in your sides and also a snare. And when the angel spake, Israel lifted up their voice and wept!" (Judges ii.) "Behold! Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you." (Luke xxii. 31.) "For lo! I will command and will sift the house of Israel as corn in a sieve; yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth." (Amos ix. 9.) O the dreadfulness and searchings of Satan s sieve! It was inward trouble more than any outward snares that Satan assaulted my soul with ever after God came, in the forgiveness of sins, in my conscience. For instance, now I began to be tempted to curse all the Persons in the blessed Trinity; yea, I have been tempted many times to do so while on my knees! Such outlandish temptations of various kinds now used to beset me; such wiles, devices, plots, and counter-plottings of the adversary! Now I began to be tempted again very much to destroy myself in various ways. Now I began to be tempted to lead a loose life; for, says Satan, "You know that your sins are forgiven you. You are an elect soul, and you know by solemn and marvellous experience that salvation is not by good works at all, but by faith and grace alone. Therefore, you may live as you like." And I am sorry to say that I ignorantly fell in for some time, in some small degree, with this awful temptation. Now I began to be tempted to curse and swear. (Behold, before God I lie not!) I had never sworn in my life; but inward blasphemy now began to rage like a tiger in me. It seems to me now as if Satan strove his utmost to swamp my religion; to plunge me into the unpardonable sin; to drive me beyond the reach of mercy. All my thoughts were riveted, by affliction and joy, seemingly as by a spell. On the one hand gratitude, love, and prayer to God in some degree flourished in me; and on the other hand, in my carnal mind and fleshly nature, all the artillery of sin, filth, and Satan raged against God in me. Thus these two foes met in me, most worthless worm that I am; thus I was screwed in the bustle to my wits end. "I could not do the things that I would;" "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; so that ye cannot do the things that you would." White-washed Pharisees, with their skin-deep morality, can do what they would. They can varnish themselves over with the applause of their neighbours and of their own "uncircumcised hearts." But if God, with the life-giving, pruning knife of his everlasting love in election was to circumcise their hearts to love the Lord the God of Israel, then they could not do the things that they would; then the stormy blasts of Satan would at times drive their souls more or less, like a little ship, heavens high; now again they would be plunged into the gulfs below. But because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
It is worth a thousand worlds to have a clear evidence that Satan hates one with a perfect hatred. Depend upon it that he hates not the non-elect!
O how my soul used to quail at the unheard-of temptations that used to be blown like wildfire out of the bottomless pit into my soul. Satan from without with his pullies used to draw the blackest sins out of my heart, which the Scripture saith is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked;" and then with relentless fury to charge them on my conscience, in order to plunge me into black despair. Yea, there is no one but an experimental person can have any just idea of what is meant by "fiery darts of the wicked one," and of God quenching them in the ransomed soul with the shield of faith! Mysteries, mysteries, mysteries! I declare I have walked about sometimes by myself in such a maze that persons without God in their souls might have thought me mad, low-spirited, melancholy, or possessed with Satan. My body shattered for years could scarcely bear up under all of it. It seemed to me that for two or three years, I was, through divers afflictions or through joys and exercises from God or Satan, not for five minutes at rest, except when asleep, and not even then either; for I have had painful experience that Satan even can, when permitted by God, assault the soul in sleep sadly. (I hope I knew once also what it is to be like the saints in the Bible, taught of God in a dream by night, "in thoughts when deep sleep falleth on elect men thus; then a thing is secretly brought to them thus, and their ear received a little thereof." (Job. Iv. 13, &c.)) "Remembering mine affliction and my misery, therefore have I hope;" for I felt fear and love to God, and yet was goaded almost to madness by Satan and indwelling sin. Then, like the tongue, the whole course of nature seems set on fire of hell, and, like a wheel, seems whirled round to break the whole framework of the soul on the dangerous brinks and ledges of utter desperation and final and complete ruin; which I have no doubt is the aim of Satan and his ally "the carnal mind," against the new man Christ, the felt hope of glory in the regenerate heart. But God holdeth our soul in Life in spite of every foe; and no man ("not even the old man of sin") can ever pluck an elect sheep of Christ finally away to ruin. No, never.