Precious remedies Against satan’s devices
Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That there are relapses into enormities, and there are relapses into infirmities. Now it is not usual with God to leave his people frequently to relapse into enormities; for by his Spirit and grace, by his smiles and frowns, by his word and rod, he doth usually preserve his people from a frequent relapsing into enormities; yet he doth leave his choicest ones frequently to relapse into infirmities (and of his grace he pardons them in course), as idle words, passion, vain thoughts, &c. Though gracious souls strive against these, and complain of these, and weep over these, yet the Lord, to keep them humble, leaves them frequently to relapse into these; and these frequent relapses into infirmities shall never be their bane, because they be their burden.
Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That there are involuntary relapses, and there are voluntary relapses. Involuntary relapses are, when the resolution and full bent of the heart is against sin, when the soul strives with all its might against sin, by sighs and groans, by prayers and tears, and yet out of weakness is forced to fall back into sin, because there is not spiritual strength enough to overcome. Now, though involuntary relapses must humble us, yet they must never discourage nor defect us; for God will freely and readily pardon those, in course. Voluntary relapses are, when the soul longs and loves to ‘return to the flesh-pots of Egypt,’ Exod. 16:3; when it is a pleasure and a pastime to a man to return to his old courses, such voluntary relapses speak out the man blinded, hardened, and ripened for ruin, &c.
Remedy (6). The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, to consider, That there is no such power, or infinite virtue, in the greatest horror or sorrow the soul can be under for sin, nor in the sweetest or choicest discoveries of God’s grace and love to the soul, as for ever to fence and secure the soul from relapsing into the same sin. Grace is but a created habit, that may be prevailed against by the secret, subtle, and strong workings of sin in our hearts; and those discoveries that God makes of his love, beauty, and glory to the soul, do not always abide in their freshness and power upon the heart; but by degrees they fade and wear off, and then the soul may return again to folly, as we see in Peter, who, after he had a glorious testimony from Christ’s own month of his blessedness and happiness, labours to prevent Christ from going up to Jerusalem to suffer, out of bare slavish fears that he and his fellows could not be secure, if his Master should be brought to suffer, Mat. 16:15–19, and ver. 22–24. And again, after this, Christ had him up into the mount, and there shewed him his beauty and his glory, to strengthen him against the hour of temptation that was coming upon him; and yet, soon after he had the honour and happiness of seeing the glory of the Lord (which most of his disciples had not), he basely and most shamefully denies the Lord of glory, thinking by that means to provide for his own safety; and yet again, after Christ had broke his heart with a look of love for his most unlovely dealings, and bade them that were first acquainted with his resurrection to ‘go and tell Peter that he was risen,’ Mark 16:7; I say, after all this, slavish fears prevail upon him, and he basely dissembles, and plays the Jew with the Jews, and the Gentile with the Gentiles, to the seducing of Barnabas, &c., Gal. 2:11–13.
Yet, by way of caution, know, it is very rare that God doth leave his beloved ones frequently to relapse into one and the same gross sin; for the law of nature is in arms against gross sins, as well as the law of grace, so that a gracious soul cannot, dares not, will not, frequently return to gross folly. And God hath made even his dearest ones dearly smart for their relapses, as may be seen by his dealings with Samson, Jehoshaphat, and Peter. Ah, Lord! what a hard heart hath that man, that can see thee stripping and whipping thy dearest ones for their relapses, and yet make nothing of returning to folly,
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), 112–113.
~My emphasis added