The first device addressed by Brooks has two elements: presentation and concealment
Device (1). To present the bait and hide the hook; to present the golden cup, and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin, and by hiding from the soul the wrath and misery that will certainly follow the committing of sin.
There is the presentation of the bait & the concealment of the hook. Brooks places this device as having its original use in the Garden:
By this device he took our first parents: Gen. 3:4, 5, ‘And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ Your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods! Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. Oh, but he hides the hook,—the shame, the wrath, and the loss that would certainly follow!
This device has sufficient biblical warrant. It lies in the basic structure temptation itself. In Proverbs 5, the adulterous woman is described in just this way:
Proverbs 5:3–6 (ESV)
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
Look at the structure here: What is seen is all desirable: honey and oil. But what is not seen is the end: wormwood, sword, death, Sheol. There is nothing in the presentation which is not desirable: that is the very point of temptation. When fishing we use baits and lures fit to the fish and the fish’s palate. The fish is offered something which it desires:
James 1:14 (ESV)
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Our desire ensares us. When we are presented with a satisfaction to our desire, it is normal and appropriate – in many circumstances to fulfill that desire.
For instance, I am hungry. I see food which is good to eat. I eat it, satisfying my hunger. There is nothing bad in that. I am cold and wear a coat. There is nothing bad in that.
Temptation uses that same mechanism. Often the desires are perfectly good – if met in the right way and the right place. A desire for material security is not bad; but if it turns to theft and coveting, it becomes sin.
The things which are sin to us are things which lead to our sorrow and hurt – and the hurt of others. God has not forbidden us any good thing. God has forbidden us things which are hurtful to us. The Devil baits the hook with forbidden solutions to desire:
There is an opening of the eyes of the mind to contemplation and joy, and there is an opening of the eyes of the body to shame and confusion. He promiseth them the former, but intends the latter, and so cheats them—giving them an apple in exchange for a paradise, as he deals by thousands now-a-days. Satan with ease puts fallacies upon us by his golden baits, and then he leads us and leaves us in a fool’s paradise. He promises the soul honour, pleasure, profit, &c., but pays the soul with the greatest contempt, shame, and loss that can be.
Notice something else in Brooks’ description: the contemplation. In its initial stage, the tempting object may be rejected because it is known to be wrong. But as the contemplation ensues, the strength of desire overcomes the objection with the resulting death. As we look at the desirable object, the result of the object fades from view. The contemplation creates a bondage of the will:
Take heed of the servitude and bondage which the flesh is wont to bring upon the soul where it reigneth. It maketh men very slaves; the heart groweth weak, and lust strong, Ezek. 16:30. They are not under the government of the Spirit, but under the tyranny of their fleshly lusts, doing whatever it commandeth, be it never so base, foolish, and hurtful. If anger provoke them to revenge, they must fight, kill, and slay, and hazard their worldly interest for anger’s sake, or at least cannot forgive injuries for God’s sake; if filthy lusts send them to the lewd woman, away they go like a fool to the correction of the stocks; and though they dishonour God, ruin their estates, stain their fame, hazard their lives, yet lust will have it so, and they must obey. If covetousness say they must be rich, however they get it; they rise early, go to bed late, eat the bread of sorrow, and pierce through themselves with many cares: yea, make no question of right or wrong, trample conscience under foot, cast the fear of God behind their backs, and all because their imperious mistress, ambition, urgeth them to it. If envy and malice bid Cain kill his brother, he will break all bonds of nature to do it; if ambition bid Absalom rebel against his father, and kill him too, it shall be done, or he shall want his will. If covetousness bid Achan take a wedge of gold, he will do it, though he know it to be a cursed thing; if it bid Judas betray his Lord and Master, though he knew if he should do it, it had been better he had never been born, yet he will do it. Thus they are not at their own command, to do what reason and conscience inclineth them to do. If, sensible of their bondage, they would think of God and the world to come, and the state of their souls, lust will not permit it; if to break off this sensual course, they are not able; they are servants of corruption. Some, God hangeth up in chains of darkness for a warning to the rest of the world of the power of drunkenness, gluttony, avarice and wretched worldliness; yea, of every carnal man it is true: (John 8:34,) ‘Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.’ Therefore if the slavery and imperious disease begin to grow upon you, the flesh hath prevailed very far, and you need more to look to it, and that betimes.
Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 12 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1873), 52–53. When this device works upon the heart, the poor soul is in grave danger. Mark these words of Manton: “Thus they are not at their own command, to do what reason and conscience inclineth them to do.”
There is a great power in this device, because it sails along with the course of desires and the natural of offer of this world:
By a golden bait he laboured to catch Christ, Mat. 4:8, 9. He shews him the beauty and the bravery of a bewitching world, which doubtless would have taken many a carnal heart; but here the devil’s fire fell upon wet tinder, and therefore took not. These tempting objects did not at all win upon his affections, nor dazzle his eyes, though many have eternally died of the wound of the eye, and fallen for ever by this vile strumpet the world, who, by laying forth her two fair breasts of profit and pleasure, hath wounded their souls, and cast them down into utter perdition. She hath, by the glistering of her pomp and preferment, slain millions; as the serpent Scytale, which, when she cannot overtake the fleeing passengers, doth, with her beautiful colours, astonish and amaze them, so that they have no power to pass away till she have stung them to death. Adversity hath slain her thousand, but prosperity her ten thousand.
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 12–13.
For homework then:
Consider what sorts of sin you are prone to. Then consider how the hook is baited: what is offered? Where is it offered? Consider the end. Use Proverbs 5 as a guide: immediately following the offer of the adulteress, there is a list of sorrow which will follow upon the sin.