Every time I begin to read a new Puritan work I find myself wondering why I don’t read more Puritan works. I always focus on the classics, which means the process of elimination through the centuries has determined that this one book stands above hundreds or thousands of others as one of the few to stand the test of time. I am always blessed by them.
Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices is a study on the subtle ways Satan does battle against God by doing battle against God’s people. Over the next couple of months I’ll be offering weekly reflections on some of book’s highlights.
Brooks begins by saying “Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter.” It has been his job in preparing this book to do his best “to discover the fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature, and the snares of the great deceiver.”
Satan is the great enemy of the Christian and he is “so full of malice and envy that he will leave no means unattempted, whereby he may make all others eternally miserable with himself. [He] “makes use of all his power and skill to bring all the sons of men into the same condition and condemnation with himself.” His desire is our destruction and he will do whatever is necessary to bring it about:
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.
For that reason he will prove that Satan has many and diverse devices through which he deceives, entangles and undoes the souls of men. As the book continues, Brooks will:
- Prove this point
- Show a variety of Satan’s devices
- Suggest the remedies against such devices
- Show how it is that he has so many effective devices at his disposal
- Provide some propositions concerning Satan’s devices
Next week I will begin to share Satan’s devices as Brooks shares them. For now, though, here are two choice quotes. The first is an encouragement to read slowly and meditatively:
[I]t is not hasty reading—but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower, which gathers honey—but her abiding for a time upon the flower, which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most—but he who meditates most, who will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.
The second is a warning about Satan’s skill and at the same time a reason to read this book:
Satan has snares for the wise and snares for the simple; snares for hypocrites, and snares for the upright; snares for generous souls, and snares for timorous souls; snares for the rich, and snares for the poor; snares for the aged, and snares for youth. Happy are those souls that are not taken and held in the snares that he has laid!
Please do read along with me if you are interested. For next week, turn to Section II (“Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin”) and read the first six devices (so the last subsection you will read is “By persuading the soul that repentance is easy and that therefore the soul need not scruple about sinning”). I will be offering some thoughts about all of that next Thursday.
Also, Logos has kindly offered the ebook for free for anyone who cares to download it and read along (or not; you can have it for free and read it later). It is part of Volume 1 of The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks. If you use the coupon code RCT613 you can have the whole thing for free. You don’t need to be a Logos user either, as you can download one of their apps and read that way.
Alternatively, the book is available in print (Westminster Books, Banner of Truth, Grace & Truth Books; Reformation Heritage), Kindle (Amazon) and HTML (alternate).
The purpose of this series is to read the classics together. Do feel free to leave a comment below or to leave a link to your own blog if you have chosen to discuss this book there.