Sin vs Self-Love

From Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory, page 88,

Sin is not only a preferring the body before the soul, but it is also an unmercifulness or cruelty against ourselves, both soul and boy, and so is contrary to the true use of the indelible principle of self-love; for it is a wounding and abusing the soul and defiling the body in this life, and casting both on the wrath of God, and into the flames of hell hereafter, or a dangerous venturing them into the way of endless damnation and despair, and a contempt of those insufferable torments. All these parts of malignity and poison are intrinsical to sin, and found in the very nature of it.

The Devil in Temptation

From Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory, Chapter III, Part I, page 78,

Take every temptation in its naked, proper sense, as coming from the devil, and tending to your damnation by enticing your hearts from your subjection unto God: suppose you saw the devil himself in his instruments offering you the bait of preferment, or honour, or riches, or fleshly lust, or sports, or of delightful meats, or drinks, to tempt you to excess; and suppose you heard him say to you plainly, Take this for thy salvation; sell me for this thy God, and thy soul, and thy everlasting hopes; commit this sin, that thou mayst fall under the judgment of God, and be tormented in hell with me for ever. Do this to please thy flesh, that thou mayst displease thy God, and grieve thy Saviour: I cannot draw thee to hell, but by drawing thee to sin; and I cannot make thee sin against thy will; nor undo thee, but by thy own consent an doing: therefore I pray thee consent and do it thyself, and let me have thy company in torments. This is the naked meaning of every temptation: suppose therefore you saw and heard all this, with what detestation then would you reject it! with what horror would you fly from the most enticing bait! If a robber would entice you out of your way and company, with flattering words, that you might fall into the hands of his companions, if you knew all his meaning and design beforehand, would you be enticed after them? Watch therefore, and resolve when you know beforehand the design of the devil, and what he intendeth in every temptation.”

Fruitful Obedience, Bitter Disobedience

From Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory, Chapter III, Part 1, page 77,

Forget not the fruits of your former obedience and disobedience, if you would be kept in an obedient frame. Remember that obedience hath been sweetest afterward; and that you never yet found cause to repent or be ashamed of it. Remember that the fruit of sin was bitter, and that when your eyes were opened, and you saw your shame, you would fain have fled from the face of God; and that then it appeared another thing to you, than it seemed in the committing. Remember what groans an heart’s grief it hath cost you; and into what fears it brought you of the wrath of God; and how long it was before your broken bones were healed; and what it cost both Christ and you. And this will make the very name and first approach of sin, to cast you into a preventing fear. A beast that hath once fallen into a gulf or quick-sand, will hardly be driven into the same again: a fish that was once stricken and escaped the hook, will fear and fly from it the next time:  bird that hath once escaped the snare, or the talons of the hawk, is afterwards afraid of the sight or noise of such a thing. Remember where you fell, and what it cost you, and what you escaped which might have cost you, and you will obey more accurately hereafter.”

Jesus Prays For Us

From Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory, Chapter III, Part I, page 68,

In this case, what an excellent remedy hath faith, in looking to the perpetual intercession of Christ. Is he praying for us in the heavens,  and shall we not be bold to pray, and expect an answer? O remember that he is not weak, when we are weak; and that it concerneth us, that he prayeth for us: and that we have now an unchangeable Priest, who is able to save them to the uttermost, or to perpetuity…If you heard Christ pray for you, would it not encourage you to pray, and persuade you that God would not reject you? Undoubtedly it would.”

Dealing with Agony

From Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory, Chapter III, Part I, page 67,

Sometimes, the soul that would draw near to God, is overwhelmed with grief and terror, so that the sense of sin, and danger, and misery do even distract men and cast them into agony…Yea, they think they feel God thrust them from him, and tell them that he hath utterly forsaken them. In this case, faith must look to Christ, and remember that he was in an agony when he prayed, and in greater agony than ever you were so that he sweat even drops of blood; and yet in agony he prayed more earnestly…And yet he was the beloved of the Father, and is no at his right hand in glory: and all this he did that we might not be forsaken. He hath removed the enmity: he hath reconciled us to God. By grief he passed himself to joy, and he will wipe away his servants’ tears, and cause their griefs to end in joy.
Sometimes the soul that would draw near to God, is molested with a storm of hideous temptations, and even confounded with a swarm of disordered, perplexed thoughts. Satan assaulteth it with temptations to despair, temptations to horrid blasphemous thoughts, temptations to entangle, intermit, corrupt, or pervert the duty which they are about; so that the soul is discouraged, overwhelmed, and broken with the inward assaults, and troubles, and distractions which it undergoeth. In this case faith bath a Saviour suitable to our relief. It can look to him that was tempted in all points lie as we are, without sin, and is now such a High Priest as can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; and therefore we may come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
He submitted not only to be tempted by Satan, but tempted in a wilderness, where he had no man to comfort him; and to be tempted to the most horrid blasphemy and wickedness, even to fall down and worship the devil himself: and he suffered the tempter violently to carry him to the pinnacle of the temple. What should we think of ourselves, if we had been used thus? Should we not think that God had utterly forsaken us? He suffered himself to be tempted also by men; by the abused and reproaches of his enemies; by the desertion of his followers; by the carnal counsel of Peter, persuading him to put by the death which he was to undergo. And he that made all temptations serve to the triumph of his patience, and conquering power, will give the victory also to his grace, in the weakest soul.
It would be the greatest attractive to us to draw near to God, and make the thoughts of him pleasant to us, if we could but believe that he dearly loveth us, that he is reconciled to us, and taketh us for his children, and that he taketh pleasure in us, and that he resolveth for ever to glorify us with his Son; and that the dearest friend that we have in the world, doth not love us the thousandth part so much as he. And all this in Christ, is clearly represented to the eye of faith…Light and heat are not more abundant in the sun, than love is in Jesus Christ. To look on Christ, and not perceive the love of GOd, is as to look on the sun, and not to see and acknowledge its light. Therefore whenever you find your hearts averse to God, and to have no pleasure in him, look then to Jesus, and observe in him the unmeasurable love of God.”