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            When to expect to be attacked

I will mention to you one circumstance of conformity to your blessed Savior which if it should occur in your experience, I would not have you wonder at it. Our Savior having had Heaven opened, with astonishing testimonies with astonishing testimonies of divine favor to him at his Transfiguration in the the Mount. (Mark 9:2-13) He presently [immediately] met with what was grievous to him; a horrid spectacle of one possessed by a devil and something in the carriage of his own disciples which administered grief to him.

In conformity with this, it has been the observation made by some servants that just after they have been admitted unto a more than ordinary familiarity with Heaven, the Evil Spirits presently entertains them with some vexatious object, something that proves very troublesome and abusing unto them, and most probably some obloquy raised by the Devil against them. It may be you have (especially in the days which you have set apart for religion of the closet) had an admission into Heaven, yea, into the most Holy Place of Heaven by a lively faith beholding Jesus in the Holy of Holies concerned for you. You have been swallowed up with raptures of assurance of what the Glorious One has done and will do for you. It has been with you a time of astonishing irradiations from the Heavenly World.

Now let it not surprise you if you immediately have to do with people that have the evil spirit in them. Oh, ‘tis an unknown power that the Devil has over the minds and tongues of defamatory people. Nor let it be a surprise to you, if some from whom you might expect better things be now left unto something that may grieve you wonderfully.  Nor let it surprise you if some from whom you might expect better thing be now left unto something that may grieve you wonderfully. Rejoice, again I say rejoice (Phil. 4:4) in this conformity to your Savior.

Paul: If thou hast been in Heaven, expect a messenger of Satan (some Zedekiah) immediately to buffet thee. (2 Chron. 18)

Part V

Do not Let Slander Keep You From Service

Let not your defamations be the discouragements unto your usefulness; by no means be discouraged from well-doing by being ill-spoken of.

Doubtless one design of Satan (the Prince of Defamers) in raising a storm of defamation against you is to overset your disposition for the service of God. But, oh, do not gratify him. So, when the prophet heard the defaming of many, he fell into that unhappy pang. Jer. 20:9 “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his Name.” I hope sir you’ll be better advised. If you had not been a fruitful tree, it may be there had not been so many stones and sticks thrown at you. Now my friend, bear not fewer good fruits because of what you have met withal.

What a triumph was that? Rom. 8:37, 39. “We are more than conquerors—DEPTH—shall not be able to separate us form the Love of God.” Though you are brought into a depth of disgrace, and laid low by defamation, yet, Oh! Love God, as much as ever, and Lover the service of God with a flame that shall never be extinguished. Let no defemations retund [blunt, turn aside] or flatten your brave resolutions to do all you can.

            Stand steady like a beaten anvil

Ignatius[1] of old said unto Polycarp[2], “Stand steady like a beaten anvil.”[3] Give me leave to address you with the like advice. Bear all the blows that are gtiven you: And after all, be what you were before. Be as firm in your intentions and endeavors to do good as you were before. Be much better than you were before. Let nothing issue form you but bright strictures of piety and patience, and sparklingly devotion and usefulness.

The great God is by the defamations which are smitten withal making a trial of your sincerity and fidelity.[4] He is trying whether you will serve him upon purer principles than the praise of men.

Oh, that you may be able to say when tried, I shall come forth as gold. It is a wonderful speech of Plato, “For the trial of true virtue ‘tis necessary that a good man should be defamed as an evil doer, when he does all things well, justly and fairly; and that he should hold immovable under such discouragements.”

[1] “IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, Ignatios Antiocheias). An early church father and bishop of Antioch of Syria. Wrote seven letters before his martyrdom (ca. AD 110–117) that provide insight into the post-apostolic church. Ignatius is also known as Theophorus (“God-bearer”).” Alexander H. Pierce, “Ignatius of Antioch,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). Contemporary and acquaintance of Polycarp. Ignatius left behind a series of letters written as Polycarp was being transported to his martyrdom. The letters of Ignatius, as well as the documents by and concerning Polycarp can be found here: https://www.ccel.org/l/lightfoot/fathers/cache/fathers.pdf

[2] Bishop of Smyrna. His dates are uncertain, but likely 69-155 A.D.

[3] At this point, Mather quotes the original Greek. The text itself is difficult to read at this point, but the Greek text in Lightfoot’s edition here reads, “στῆθι ἑδραῖος, ὡς ἄκμων τυπτόμενος” Joseph Barber Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, “The Apostolic Fathers” (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), 132.

A longer quotation from Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp, as Ignatius was on his way to be martyred, reads, “Let not those who seem to be specious and yet bring novel teaching dismay you. Stand firm as an anvil when it is smitten. It is the part of a great athlete to suffer blows and to conquer. And above all for God’s sake we ought to endure all things, that He also may endure us. Become more zealous than you are. Consider the seasons.3 Look for Him Who is above all seasons, Who is timeless, invisible, made visible for our sakes, Who is beyond the touch of our hands, beyond suffering, Who yet suffered for us, Who in every way endured for us.” J. H. Srawley with St. Ignatius, The Epistles of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, Second Edition, Revised., vol. 1 & 2, Early Church Classics (London; Brighton: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1910), 50–51.

[4] Two allusions stand behind this section. First, Job 1-2, where Satan argues that Job only serves God for the benefit to Job. Second, 1 Peter 1:3–7 (AV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.