What king, going to war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): In our lives we must always be ready to meet many temptations. For the devil is our perpetual enemy, if we are members of our Lord Jesus Christ. There will be, then, open war without ending and without ceasing.
THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Pirates do not use to set upon poor empty vessels; and beggars need not fear the thief. Those that have most of God, and are most rich in grace—shall be most assaulted by Satan, who is the greatest and craftiest pirate in the world.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): Satan runs up and down like a great warship, with twenty pieces of ordnance, shooting at all who are sailing for Canaan; and roaring out, Surrender. But give not up; suffer, suffer, take a shot…Christ will mend the gap that Satan’s bullet has made.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Are you ready for the conflict? Then let us talk awhile about it, for as we shall always have to be on the alert, it is well for us to study the map, and to acquaint ourselves with the tactics.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The devil is wily, thou hadst need be wary.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Satan is a watchful enemy; he studies our situation and disposition, that he may spread snares for us to the greatest advantage, and is not only to be dreaded when he fights directly against our faith and peace as a roaring lion, but is often as near and as dangerous when we are ready to think him at distance. He sometimes lays his schemes with little noise, and prevails before he is perceived.
THOMAS BROOKS: Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men’s temptations to their conditions and inclinations. If they be in prosperity, he will tempt them to deny God (Proverbs 30:9); if they be in adversity, he will tempt them to distrust God; if their knowledge be weak, he will tempt them to have low thoughts of God; if their conscience be tender, he will tempt to scrupulosity; if large, to carnal security; if bold-spirited, he will tempt to presumption; if timorous, to desperation; if flexible, to inconstancy; if stiff, to impenitency.
C. H. SPURGEON: Sometimes he beats the big drum, and cries with a thundering voice “There is no heaven; there is no God; you are a fool to persevere.”
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I’ve known good Christian people to be plagued by doubts even about the being of God, or any particular aspect of the Christian faith. Still more have they doubted God’s love to them when they were experiencing troubles and trials and tribulations.
C. H. SPURGEON: Or, changing his tactics, he cries, “Come back! I will give thee a better treatment than thou hadst before. Thou thoughtest me a hard master, but that was misrepresentation; come and try me; I am a different devil from what I was ten years ago; I am respectable to what I was then.”
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Or the devil may have come to them and attacked them more directly about their own belief, and said that they’re hypocrites or humbugs; that the whole thing is psychological and so on. These are the attacks he makes―he raises doubts, trying to undermine the whole position of the Christian and his faith. And again he produces the same arguments, that because we’ve got doubts then we never could have believed; that if a man believes, he surely could never be tempted by doubts again, and that they’re all ours, and therefore we never have been Christians…He attacked the Son of God with these words; he came to Son of God and said “If thou be the Son of God―if―see, there’s the doubt raised, that’s how he attacked our Lord―“If thou be the Son of God.” So, when he comes to you and says, “Are you sure you are a child of God?”―Well, tell him, “Ah, you’re repeating what you did to my Lord; you tried it even on Him, so it’s not surprising you’re trying it on me.” That’s the way to answer him.
THOMAS BROOKS: One while he will restrain from tempting, that we may think ourselves secure, and neglect our watch; another while he will seem to fly, that he may make us proud of the victory; one while he will fix men’s eyes more on others’ sins than their own, that he may puff them up; another while he may fix their eyes more on others’ graces than their own, that he may overwhelm them.
WILLIAM GURNALL: Satan divides his temptations into several squadrons, one he employs to assault here, another to storm there. We read of fleshly wickedness and spiritual wickedness; while thou repellest Satan tempting thee to fleshly wickedness, he may be entering thy city at the other gate of spiritual wickedness. Perhaps thou hast kept thy integrity in the practical part of thy life; but what armour hast thou to defend thy head, thy judgment? If he surprise thee here, corrupting that with some error, then thou wilt not long hold out in thy practice.
THOMAS BROOKS: A man may as well tell the stars, and number the sands of the sea, as reckon up all the devices of Satan.
C. H. SPURGEON: Whatever his tactics may be, his object is still the same—to catch men in his net.
THOMAS BROOKS: Satan will come on with new temptations when old ones are too weak. In a calm prepare for a storm. The tempter is restless, impudent, and subtle; he will suit his temptations to your constitutions and inclinations. Satan loves to sail with the wind. If your knowledge is weak, he will tempt you to error. If your conscience is tender, he will tempt you to scrupulosity and too much preciseness, as to do nothing but hear, pray, and read…Therefore still fit for fresh assaults, make one victory a step to another.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): The devil is a cunning pirate; he puts out false colours, and ordinarily comes up to the Christian as a friend.
RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): How diligent are all the ministers of Satan! False teachers, scoffers, persecutors―and our inbred corruptions, the most busy and diligent of all!
C. H. SPURGEON: The man who is consciously weak is strong―because of the holy caution that he will be sure to use. He will be on his guard, because he does not feel able to cope with adversaries. He will ask for a convoy for his little barque, for he is aware of pirates.