"By presenting to the soul the best men's sins and by hiding from their soul their virtures; by showing the soul their sins, and by hiding from the soul their sorrows and repentance."
What Brooks means by this is that Satan will show us the sins of such great saints (such as David in his adultery, Noah in his drunkenness, Peter in his blasphemy, etc.) so that when we look at them we can say, "See there is a man that struggles just like I, and he turned out okay". However, what we fail to see is the pain of David losing his son, the shame of Noah, the bitter weeping of Peter. We see them in their restored state and forget the deep hurt that brought them to that precious condition. For remedies consider:
- That that the Spirit of the Lord has been as careful to note the saints' rising by repentance of sin, as he has to note their falling into sins.
- That these saints did not make a trade of sin. (They were not habitual sinners)
- That though God does not, nor never will, disinherit his people for their sins, yet he has severely punished his people for their sins.
- That there are but two main ends of God's recording of the falls of his saints. 1) To strenghten the weak by their example 2) To provide an example lest we also fall in the same manner.
Again with piercing insight Brooks uncovers one of the devices of Satan. How often may we be tempted to look at the fraility of this dear saints, acknowledget that they (and we) are but dust, and then sin accordingly. Our authors advice is also quite fitting. He reminds us of the Scripture's speaking of their repentance and also reminds us that these falls are not the usual behavior of these mighty men of God. His third point may sound foreign to our contemporary ears--yet we do see throughout Scripture that God will discipline his children.
What do you think about this remark by Brooks? "God is most angry when he shows no anger. God keep me from this mercy; this kind of mercy is worse than all other kind of misery."
It is also worth noting a story Brooks quotes from Clement concerning Peter. "Clement notes that Peter so repented, that all his life after, every night when he heard a [rooster] crow, he would fall upon his knees, and, weeping bitterly, would beg pardon of his sin."
"Ah, souls, you can easily sin as the saints, but can you repent with the saints?" (46)
"The saints cannot sin with a whole will, but, as it were, with a half will, an unwillingness; not with a full consent, but with a dissenting consent." (47, ed. note)
"It is a mercy that our affliction is not execution, but a correction." (48)