It is a woeful thing to consider what slight thoughts the most have of this thing. So men can keep themselves from sin itself in open action, they are content, they scarce aim at more; on any temptation in the world, all sorts of men will venture at any time. How will young men put themselves on company, any society; at first, being delighted with evil company, then with the evil of the company! How vain are all admonitions and exhortations to them to take heed of such persons, debauched in themselves, corrupters of others, destroyers of souls.
When by a man’s state or condition of life, or any means whatever, it comes to pass that his lust and any temptation meet with occasions and opportunities for its provocation and stirring up, let that man know, whether he perceives it or not, that he is certainly entered into temptation. I told you before, that to enter into temptation is not merely to be tempted, but so to be under the power of it as to be entangled by it. Now, it is impossible almost for a man to have opportunities, occasions, advantages, suited to his lust and corruption, but he will be entangled.
The temptation will give oil and fuel to our lusts,—incite, provoke, and make then tumultuate and rage beyond measure. Tendering a lust, a corruption, a suitable object, advantage, occasion, it heightens and exasperates it, makes it for a season wholly predominant: so dealt it with carnal fear in Peter, with pride in Hezekiah, with covetousness in Achan, with uncleanness in David, with worldliness in Demas, with ambition in Diotrephes. It will lay the reins on the neck of a lust, and put to the sides of it, that it may rush forward like a horse into the battle. A man knows not the pride, fury, madness of a corruption, until it meet with a suitable temptation. And what now will a poor soul think to do? His mind is darkened, his affections entangled, his lusts inflamed and provoked, his relief is defeated; and what will be the issue of such a condition?
What it is to “enter into temptation”—Not barely being tempted—Not to be conquered by it—To fall into it—The force of that expression—Things required unto entering into temptation—Satan or lust more than ordinarily importunate—The soul’s entanglement—Seasons of such entanglements discovered—Of the “hour of temptation,” Rev. iii. 10, what it is—How any temptation comes to its hour—How it may be known when it is so come—The means of prevention prescribed by our Saviour—Of watching, and what is intended thereby—Of prayer.
From CCEL, “In his treatise, Owen addresses the nature and power of temptation, the risk of entering into it, and the means of avoiding its danger. Owen defines temptation as anything with the ability to entice the Christian’s mind or heart away from obedience to God and redirect it towards sin. Owen warns us that our power is not strong enough to protect us from temptation; rather, it is by God’s power of preservation that we are saved. As Christians, we can guard ourselves against temptation in part by praying for God’s power to help us resist it. His treatise teaches Christians how to recognize the threat of temptation and protect themselves against it.
My heart yearns towards you, and will indulge itself a little, because we are both in the same low place—feeling our vileness, and mourning after our Beloved. Surely there never was such a one as I, so weak and wicked; so willful, not full of His will—but of my own. How I need the emptying from vessel to vessel. I need to have my purposes and enterprises broken that I may learn that His purposes shall stand fast and that He will do all His pleasure. I can say, as the repenting thief did, I am “in the same condemnation,” and “indeed justly,” receiving but the due reward of my deeds. I have been walking after the sight of my eyes. “The legs of the lame are not equal;” so when we act from sight and sense, our walk is not consistent; it is only when walking by faith that it is so. Vile, ungrateful worm that I am, what has it cost me in bitter anguish; yet the sorrow is nothing to the sin. And, as I said to you, the ill savor will come up continually, until the blessed Comforter brings the savor of rest, even the fragrant sacrifice for sin which was once offered, and which is now pleaded by Him who is the sinner’s surety and the sinner’s friend. Well, I can only lie at His feet and continue confessing all. I dare not promise to do better; I am in self-despair; but to Him will I look for pardon of the sin, and power against it.
The great enemy would suggest that you are too filthy for the fountain, too cold for the fire, too much diseased to appear in the presence of the great Physician. He does this in a wily way, bringing to mind, when you would approach the mercy-seat, some shortcoming or misdoing, in order to turn your eye away from that sprinkled blood which is the sinner’s all-prevailing plea. May the Comforter reveal Christ, as He convinces of sin, and take of His precious things–and set them against your vile ones, giving you heavenly skill and understanding to plead–His precious blood against your sin–His perfect obedience against your constant disobedience–His power to heal against your desperate disease.
“June 27.— Reading Life of David Brainerd. Most wonderful man! What conflicts, what depressions, desertions, strength, advancement, victories, within thy torn bosom! I cannot express what I think when I think of thee. To-night, more set upon missionary enterprise than ever.” “June 28.—Oh for Brainerd’s humility and sin-loathing dispositions!” “June 30.—Much carelessness, sin, and sorrow. ‘Oh wretched man than I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death?’ Enter thou, my soul, into the rock, and hide thee in the dust for fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty.”
The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Chapter 7
Christian education, from the very beginning of the New England colonies, engaged the attention of the Puritans, and ample provisions were made for the instruction of all the children and youth in every branch of human and divine knowledge. This, indeed, was one object they had in coming to the New World. Cotton Mather, in presenting the considerations for the plantation of the colonies, says :— “The schools of learning and religion are so corrupted as (besides the unsupportable charge of education) most children, even the best and wittiest, and of the fairest hopes, are perverted, corrupted, and utterly overthrown by the multitude of evil examples and licentious behavior in these seminaries.”
“ The ends,” says Cotton Mather, “for which our fathers chiefly erected a college were that scholars might there be educated for the service of Christ and his churches, in the work of the ministry, and that the youth might be seasoned in their tender years with such principles as brought their blessed progenitors into this wilderness. There is no one thing of greater concernment to these churches, in present and after times, then the prosperity of that society. We cannot subsist without a college.”
The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, 1864
“Of the Puritans, it may be said,” remarks Judge Story, “with as much truth as of any men that have ever lived, that they acted up to their principles, and followed them out with an unfaltering firmness. They displayed at all times a downright honesty of heart and purpose. In the simplicity of life, in godly sincerity, in temperance, in humility, and in patience, as well as in zeal, they seemed to belong to the apostolical age. Their wisdom, while it looked on this world, reached far beyond it in its aim and objects. They valued earthly pursuits no farther than they were consistent with religion. Amidst the temptations of human grandeur, they stood unmoved, unshaken, unseduced. Their scruples of conscience, if they sometimes betrayed them into difficulties, never betrayed them into voluntary sin.