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NOTES UPON PART I.
uncandid, they think, to suspect a man, who says so many good things, with great confidence and zeal; their dissatisfaction with the conversation or sermon they suppose was their own fault; if they disagreed with the speaker, probably they were in an error; if a doubt arose in their minds about his spirit or motives, it might be imputed to their own pride and envy.-Thus men are seduced to sanction what they ought to protest against, and to admire those whom they should avoid; and that even by means of their most amiable dispositions.-What follows is peculiarly calculated to rectify such mistakes, and to expose the consequences of this ill. judged candour.
86.. 18. At this... Those believers, who have made the most extensive and accurate observation on the state of relia gious profession in their own age and place, and are most acquainted with the internal history of the church in other lands or former periods, may be deemed inferior in charity to their brethren; because they surpass them in penetration, and clearly perceive the mischiefs which arise from countenancing loose professors. They would vie with them in
doing good to all men,” “ bearing with the infirmities of “ the weak," “ restoring such as are overtaken in a fault," or in making allowances for the tempted: but they dare not sanction such professors, as talk about religion and disgrace it, as mislead the simple, stumble the hopeful, prejudice the observing, and give enemies a plausible objection to the truth. Here charity constrains us to run the risque of being deemed uncharitable, by unmasking a hypocrite, and undeceiving the deluded. We must not indeed speak needlessly against any one, nor testify more than we know to be true even against a suspected professor: but we should show, that vain talkers belong to the world, though numbers class them among religious people, to the great discredit of the cause.
89..14. I see that...TALKATIVE seems to have been introduced on purpose that the author might have a fair opportunity of stating his sentiments concerning the practical
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religion, to which numbers in his day were too inattentive. This admired allegory has fully established the important distinction, between a dead and a living faith, on which the whole matter depends. We may boldly state every doctrine of grace, with all possible strength and clear. ness, and every objection must ultimately fall to the ground, all abuses be excluded, provided this distinction be fully and constantly insisted on: for they arise without exception from substituting some false notion of faith in the place of that living, active, and efficacious principle, which the scriptures so constantly represent as the grand peculiarity of vital godliness. The language used in this passage is precisely the same, as is now branded with the opprobrious epithet of legal, by numbers who would be thought to admire the Pilgrim; as any impartial person must perceive, upon an attentive perusal of it: and indeed some expressions are used which they, who are accustomed to stand their trial before such as “ make a man an offender for a word," have learned to avoid. The practic part' is more accurately defined to be the unfailing effect of that inward life which is the soul of religion, than the soul itself. True faith justifies indeed, as it forms the sinner's relation to, and union with, CHRIST; but it always “ works by love," and influ. ences to obedience: hence the enquiry at the day of judgement will be rather about the inseparable fruits of faith, than its essential properties and nature.
91..1. Well... When we speak to loose professors, we should always keep two things in view; either to get rid of such ensnaring and dishonourable companions, or to use proper means to convince them of their fatal mistake. There is indeed more hope of the most ignorant and careless sinners than of them: yet“ with God all things are possible," and we should not despair of any, especially as the very same method is suited to both the ends proposed; which the subsequent discourse most clearly evinces. Very plain and particular declarations of those things, by which true believers
NOTES UPON PART I.
are distinguished from the most specious hypocrites (whether in conversation or preaching,) are best calculated to undeceive and alarm false professors; and form the most commodious fan, by which the irreclaimable may be winnowed from the society of godly persons. This is of great impor. tance: for they are Achans in the camp of ISRAEL, spots and blemishes to every company that countenances them. Doctrinal or even practical discussions, if confined to general terms, will not startle them; they will mimic the language of experience, declaim against the wickedness of the world and the blindness of pharisees, and strenuously oppose the opinions held by some rival sect or party: they will endure the most awful declarations of the wrath of God against the wicked; supposing themselves to be unconcerned in them : nay they will admit that they are backsliders, or inconsistent believers. But when the conversation or sermon compels them to complain, “ in so saying thou condemnest us also," they will hear no longer, but seek refuge under more comfortable preachers, or in more candid company; and represent their faithful monitors as censorious, peevish, and melancholy
93.-5. There is... Spiritual knowledge, obtained by an implicit belief of God's sure testimony under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, producing a hearty love of revealed truth, is always humbling, sanctifying, and transforming: but speculative knowledge is a mere notion of divine things, as distant from a man's own concern in them, or any due apprehension of their excellency and importance, which puffs up the heart with proud self-preference, feeds carnal and malignant passions, and leaves the possessor under the power of sin and SATAN.
..27. The sin of...Divine teaching convinces a man that he is justly condemned for his transgressions of the law, and cannot be saved unless he obtain an interest in the merits of Christ by faith; and that unbelief, or neglect of this great salvation, springs from pride, aversion to the character,
authority, and law of God, and love to sin and the world; that it implies the guilt of treating the truth of God as a lie, despising his wisdom and mercy, demanding happiness as a debt from his justice, and defying his "wrath revealed from “ heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." This conviction makes way for his discovering the suitableness to his case of a free salvation by faith: he perceives the glory of the divine perfections harmoniously displayed in the person and redemption of CHRIST; and his heart is inwardly drawn to close with the invitations of the gospel, and to desire above all things the fulfilment of its exceedingly great and precious promises to his soul.-The expression' re• vealed in him,' is taken from St. Paul's account of his conversion'; but as that was extraordinary, without the intervention of means or instruments, perhaps it is not accurately applied to the ordinary experience of believers. Our author, however, evidently meant no more, than the illumination of the Holy Spirit enabling a man to understand, believe, admire, and love the truths of the bible respecting CHRIST; and not any new revelation, declaring his interest in the Saviour, by a whisper, vision, or any such thing. These enthusiastic expectations and experiences have deceived many and stumbled more : and have done greater harm to the cause of evangelical religion, than can be con. ceived or expressed.
95.-5. It is... It is not enough to state practical and expe, rimental subjects in the plainest and most distinguishing manner: we ought also to apply them to men's consciences, by the most solemn and particular interrogations. In preach. ing, indeed, care must be taken, not to turn the thoughts of a congregation to an individual: yet we should aim to lead every one to reflect on his own case, and excite his conscience to perform the office of a faithful monitor. But in private, when we have ground to suspect that men deceive themselves, such plain-dealing is the best evidence of disinterested love,
Gal. i. 16.
NOTES UPON PART I.
It is at present, alas! much disused, and deemned inconsistent with politeness; so that, in many cases, such an attempt would be considered as a direct outrage and insult: and per. haps, in some circles, the language of these plain pilgrims might be exchanged for that which would be less offensive, without deducting from its energy: yet zeal for the honour of the gospel, and love to the souls of men, are, no doubt, grievously sacrificed to urbanity, 'in this age of courteous insincerity.
96..22. From such... This apostolical rule is of the greatest importance. While conscientious christians, from a mistaken candour, tolerate scandalous professors and associate with them, they seem to allow that they belong to the same family; and the world will charge their immoralities on the doctrines of the gospel, saying of those who profess them,
they are all alike, if we could find them out.' But did all, who “ adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour," withdraw from such men, their crimes would rest with themselves, and the world would be compelled to see the difference be. tween hypocrites and real christians. This is also the most effectual method of exciting self-deceivers or inconsistent professors to self-examination, and of thus bringing them to be ashamed and humbled in true repentance: at the same time, it tends to deprive such men of that influence which they often employ to mislead and pervert hopeful enquirers and unestablished believers. The best discipline would have but a partial effect in preventing these evils, if not followed up by this conduct of individuals; and, where the former cannot be obtained, the latter would produce happier conse. quences than believers in general can suppose.
97..22. It is my... The author, intending next to represent his pilgrims as exposed to severe persecution, and to exhibit in one view what christians should expect, and may be exposed to, from the enmity of the world, very judiciously introduces that interesting scene by EVANGELIST's meeting them, with suitable cautions, exhortations, and encourage.