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CHRIST may appear in the outward conduct, connected with an open profession of the faith, while the ' roll with a seal ' upon it' denotes such an
assurance of acceptance, as appears most clear and satisfactory, when the believer most attentively compares his views, experiences, desires, and purposes, with the holy scriptures, --so he could not possibly in tend to ascribe such effects to any other agent than the Holy Spirit; who, by enabling a man to exercise all filial affections towards God in an enlarged degree, as “the Spirit
of adoption, bears witness" with his conscience, that GOD is reconciled to him, having pardoned all his sins; that he is justified by faith in the righteousness of EMMANUEL; and that he is a child of God, and an heir of heaven. These things are clear and intelligible to those who have experienced this happy change; and the abiding effects of their joy in the Lord; upon their dispositions and conduct, (like the impression of the seal after the wax is cooled) distinguish it from the confidence and comfort of hypocrites and enthusiasts. It must, however, continue to be " the secret of the Lord, with “ them that fear him, "" hidden manna,” and “ “ having in it a new name written, which no man know" eth saving he that receiveth it.”-Here again we meet with an engraving, and the following lines
• Who's this? The pilgrim. How! 'Tis very true:
a white stone,
38..11. 1 saw...We were before informed, that other ways butted down upon' the straight way; and the connection of the allegory required the introduction of various characters, besides that of the true believer. Many may outwardly walk in the ways of religion, and seem to be pilgrims, who . are destitute of those " things which accompany salvation." - The three allegorical persons next introduced are nearly
1 Ps. xxv. 14. Rev. ii. 17.
related; they appear to be pilgrims, but are a little out of the way, asleep, and fettered.
Many of this description are found, where the truth is preached, as well as elsewhere : they hear, and learn to talk about, the gospel; have transient convictions, which are soon quieted; cleave to the world, and rest more securely in the bondage of sin and Satan, by means of their profession of religion. They reject or pervert all instruction, hate all trouble, yet are confident that every thing is and will be well with them ; while teachers after their own hearts lull them with a Syren's song, by confounding the form with the power of godliness: and if any one attempt, in the most affectionate manner, to warn them of their danger, they answer, (according to the tenor of the words here used) · Mind your own business; we see
no danger; you shall not disturb our composure, or induce
us to make so much ado about religion ; see to yourselves, ' and leave us to ourselves.' Thus they sleep on till death and judgement awake them.
39..1. Yet... The true christian will always be troubled when he thinks of the vain-confidence of many professors: but he is more surprised by it at first than afterwards; for he sets out with the idea, that all apparently religious people sincerely seek the salvation of God: but at length experience draws his attention to those parts of scripture which mention tares among the wheat, and foolish virgins among the wise._FORMALIST and HYPOCRISY Soon come in his way: these near relations represent such as by notions and external observances deceive themselves; and those who more grossly attempt to impose upon others. They are both actuated by vain-glory, and seek the applause of men in their religious profession and most zealous performances; while the credit thus acquired subserves also their temporal interests : but repentance, conversion, and the life of faith, would not only cost them too much labour, but destroy the very principle by which they are actuated. By a much shorter • cut,' they become a part of the visible church, are satisfied
with a form of godliness, and kept in countenance by great numbers among every description of professing christians, and the example of multitudes in every age. Their confidence, however, will not bear the light of scripture; they, therefore, shrink from investigation, and treat with derision and reproaches all who would convince them of their fatal mistake, or show them the real nature of evangelical religion.
41..22. Save that... Even such christians as are most assured of their acceptance, and competent to perceive the awful delusions of false professors, find cause for sighs amidst their comforts, when employed in serious retired self-reflection. Nothing can exclude the uneasiness which arises from in-dwelling sin with its unavoidable effects, and from the crimes and miseries they witness around them.
..28. Hill... The hill DIFFICULTY represents those circumstances which require peculiar self-denial and exertion, that commonly prove the believer's sincerity, after he has first obtained “a good hope through grace.”- The opposition of the world, the renunciation of temporal interests, or the painful task of overcoming inveterate evil habits or constitutional propensities, (which during his first anxious earnestness seemed perhaps to be destroyed, though in fact they were only suspended;) these and such like trials prove a severe test : but there is no hope, except in pressing forward, and the encouragements, received under the faithful ministry of the gospel, prepare the soul for every conflict and effort.There are, however, by-ways; and the difficulty may be avoided without a man's renouncing his profession: he may decline the self-denying duty, or refuse the demanded sacrifice, and find some plausible excuse to his own conscience, or among his neighbours. But the true believer will be suspicious of these easier ways, on the right hand or the left: his path lies straight forward, and cannot be travelled without ascending the hill; which he desires to do, because his grand concern is to be found right at last.-On the contrary, they, who'chiefly desire, at a cheap rate, to keep up their
credit and confidence, will venture into perilous or ruinous paths, till they either openly apostatize, or get entangled in some fatal delusion, and are heard of no more among the people of God. These lines are here inserted
• Shall they who wrong begin yet rightly end?
42..26. I looked... The difficulties of believers often seem to increase as they proceed: this damps their spirits, and they find more painful exertion requisite, in pressing forward, than they expected, especially when they were rejoicing in the Lord: he however helps them, and provides for their refreshment that they may not faint.—But, whether their trials be moderated, or remarkable divine consolations be vouchsafed, it is, alas! very common for them to presume too much on their perseverance hitherto, and on the privileges to which they have been admitted: thus their ardour abates, their diligence and vigilance are relaxed, and they venture to allow themselves some respite from exertion. Then drowsiness steals upon them, darkness envelopes their souls, the evidences of their acceptance are obscured or lost, and the event would be fatal, did not the Lord' excite them to renewed earnestness by salutary warnings and alarms. Nor are believers at any time more exposed to this temptation, than when outward ease hath succeeded to great hardships, patiently and conscientiously endured; for at such a crisis they are least disposed to question their own sincerity; and SATAN is sure to employ all his subtlety to lull them into such a security as is in fact an abuse of the Lord's special goodness vouchsafed to them.
43..18. Two men... Some persons are better prepared to struggle through difficulties, than to face dangers : alarming convictions will induce them to exercise a temporary self
denial, and to exert themselves with diligence; yet the very appearance of persecution will drive them back to their forsaken courses and companions. Through unbelief, distrust, and timidity, they fear the rage of men more than the wrath of God; and never consider how easily the Lord can restrain or disarm the fiercest persecutors. Even true christians are sometimes alarmed by the discourse of such persons; but, as they believe the word of God, they are “ moved by fear” to go forward at all hazards : such terrors, as induce mere professors to apostacy, excite upright souls to renewed self-examination by the holy scriptures, that they may “rejcice in hope ” amidst their perils and tribulations: and this often tends to discover to them those decays and losses, in respect of the vigour of holy affection and the evidences of their acceptance, which had before escaped their notice.-CHRISTIAN's perplexity, fear, sorrow, remorse, redoubled earnestness, complaints, and self-reproachings, when he missed his roll, and went back to seek it, exactly suit the experience of humble and conscientious believers, when unwatchfulness has brought their state into uncertainty: but they do not at all accord to that of professors who strive against all doubts indiscriminately, more than against any sin whatever, which is not connected with open scandal ; who strive hard to keep up their confidence against evidence, amidst continued negligence and allowed sins; and exclaim against sighs, tears, and tenderness of conscience, as legality and unbelief.-BUNYAN would have excluded such professors from the company of his pilgrims, though they often pass muster in modern times.
45..18. Now...By means of extraordinary diligence, with renewed application to the blood of CHRIST, the believer will in time recover his warranted confidence, and God will “ restore to him the joy of his salvation :" but he must, as it were, pass repeatedly over the same ground with sorrow, which, had it not been for his negligence, he might have passed at once with comfort,