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the least remorse! When the scoffs of those, who “think it
strange that they will not run with them to the same excess “ of riot," extort from them a more explicit declaration of their religious principles, it may be expected that the reproaches and insults of their despisers will be increased: and then all the mischief and consusion which follow will be laid to their charge-There were no such disputes about religion before they came to turn the world upside down;" " they exceedingly trouble the city,” town, or village,—by their pious discourse and censorious example. Thus SATAN takes occasion to excite men to persecute the church, when he fears lest the servants of God should successfully disseminate their principles: persecuting princes and magistrates, his most trusty friends,' are deputed by him to molest and punish their peaceable subjects, for conscientiously refusing conformity to the world, or for dissenting from doctrines and modes of worship, which they deem unscriptural. Thus, the most valuable members of the community are banished, imprisoned, or murdered; multitudes are tempted to hypocrisy; encouragement is given to time-servers to seek secular advantages by acting contrary to their conscience; the principles of sincerity and integrity are generaily weakened or destroyed by multiplied prevarications and false professions; and numerous instruments of cruelty and oppression are involved in this complication of atrocious crimes. Our author doubtless drew many of his portraits in this historical picture from originals then sufficiently known; and if any think that he has heightened his colourings, it may furnish them with a subject for gratitude, and a reason for content and peaceable submission to our rulers. In Fox's Martyrs we meet with authenticated facts, that fully equal this allegorical representation: nay, “ The Acts of the Apostles' give us the very same view of the subject. --The contempt, injustice, and cruelty, with which persecutors treat the harmless disciples of CHRIST, makes way for the exhibition of that amiable conduct and spirit which accord to the
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precepts of scripture, and the example of persecuted prophets and apostles: this often produces the most happy effects on those who are less prejudiced, which still more exasperates determined opposers; but, however, frequently occasions a short respite for the persecuted, while worldly people quarrel about them among themselves. And even if greater severity be at length determined on, in order to deter others from joining them, perseverance in prudence, 'meekness, and patience, amidst all the rage of their enemies, will bear testimony for them in the consciences of numbers; their religion will appear beautiful, in proportion as their persecutors expose their own odious deformity; God will be with them to comfort and deliver them; he will be honoured by their profession and behaviour, and many will derive the most important advantage from their patient sufferings, and chear. ful fortitude in adhering to the truths of the gospel. But when believers are put off their guard by ill usage; when their zeal is rash, fiery, contentious, boasting, or disproportionate; when they are provoked to render" railing for
railing," or to act contrary to the plain precepts of scripture;--then they bring guilt on their consciences, stumble their brethren, harden the hearts and open the mouths of opposers, dishonour God and the gospel, and gratify the great enemy of souls; who malignantly rejoices in their misconduct, but is tortured when they endure sufferings in a proper manner.
106..1. When... The description of the process, instituted against the pilgrims, is given in language taken from the legal forms used in our courts of justice, which in Mr. BUNYAN's days were shamefully perverted to subserve the most iniquitous oppressions.-The allegorical narrative is framed in such a manner, as emphatically exposes the secret reasons, which influence men thus to persecute their inoffen, șive neighbours; and the very names employed declare the several corrupt principles of the heart, from whence this atrocious conduct results.-Enmity against God, and his
holy character, law, worship, truth, and servants, is the principal source of persecution; the judge in FAITHFUL's trial. The interference of spiritual religion with men's covetous, ambitious, and sensual pursuits; and the interruption it gives to their false peace and unanimity in ungodliness or hypocrisy, which it tends to expose and undermine, form the grounds of the indictment: that is, when the persecuted can truly answer, that they only set • themselves against that which sets itself against God;' and when they do not suffer“ as evil-doers, busy-bodies in other “ men's matters," ambitious competitors for secular advantages, or contentious disputants about political questions.
..23. Witnesses... The names of these witnesses declare the characters of the most active instruments of persecution. Even PILATE could perceive that the JEWISH scribes and priests were actuated by envy, in delivering up Jesus to him. His instructions discredited theirs, and diminished their reputation and influence: he was more followed than they; and in proportion as he was deemed a teacher sent from God, they were regarded as blind guides. Thus formal instructors and learned men, who are strangers to the power of godliness, have always affected to despise the professors and preachers of the gospel as ignorant enthusiasts; they envy the reputation acquired by them, and are angry at the success of their doctrines. If they have not the authority to -silence the minister, they will browbeat such of his hearers as are within the reach of their influence; especially, if they have affronted them, by forsaking their uninteresting in. structions. If they cannot prevail upon“ the powers that be" to interfere, they will employ reproaches, menaces, or even oppression, to obstruct the progress of evangelical ministers: should any obsolete law remain unrepealed, of which they can take advantage, they will be the first to enforce it : and, if the rulers engage in persecution, they will take the lead, as prosecutors and witnesses.-As this was remarkably the case in our author's days; and as the history of the old and new
Testament, and every authentic record of persecutions, give the same view of it; we cannot be greatly at a loss to know what was especially meant by this emblem. In other respects there is seldom much in the circumstances of pious persons, to excite the envy of their ungodly neighbours; as they despise their spiritual privileges and comforts.
107..6. Disloyal...It has always been the practice of envious accusers to represent those who refuse religious conformity as disloyal, and disaffected to the civil government of their country; because they judge it right to obey God rather than man; how grievous then is it, that any, who profess the gospel, should give plausibility to such calumnies! How desirable for them, after the example, and in obedience to the precepts of Christ and his apostles,
by well-doing to put to silence the ignorance of foolish
men,” “ to avoid all appearance of evil;” “ to render to “ CESAR the things that are Cesar's;" and to constrain even enemies to bear testimony to their peaceable deportment! This would exhibit their patient suffering for conscience' sake as amiable and respectable in the eyes of all, not immediately engaged in persecution; and would give a sanction to their most bold and decided testimony against every kind of vice, irreligion, and false religion. But when they revile the persons of rulers, or make religion the pretext for intermeddling out of their place in political matters, and of attempting to disturb the peace of the community, they exceedingly strengthen men's prejudices against the doctrines of the gos. pel, and the whole body of those who profess them; and thus give occasion, and furnish an excuse, for that very persecution, of which they complain, in other respects, with the greatest justice.
..22. They called...SUPERSTITION represents anothes class of underling persecutors (for the principals are often masked infidels). Traditions, human inventions, forms, and externals, appear to them decent, venerable, and sacred; and are mistaken, with pertinacious ignorance, for the substance
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of religion. As mere circumstances of worship, some of these may very well answer the purpose; provided they be not imposed, magnified above their value, or substituted in the place of things essentially good: others are bad, in their origin, use, and tendency; yet the truths, ordinances, and commandments of God are made void, that men may keep them. What is pompous or burdensome appears to such men meritorious; and the excitement of mere natural pas. sions (as at a tragedy) is deemed a most needful help to true devotion. They are, therefore, eminently qualified to be witnesses against the faithful servants of God: for they “think they are thus doing him service,” while they are opposing a company of profane despisers of their idolized forms; a set of fanatics, heretics, and pestilent schismatics. Their religious zeal contracts and hardens their hearts, and the supposed goodness of the cause sanctifies their bitter rage, enmity, and calumny. The manifest odiousness of these proceedings should excite all who love the truth to keep at the utmost distance from such obstinate confidence and violence; to discountenance them to the utmost, in the zealots of their own party; and to leave the enemies of the gospel, if possible, to monopolize this disgrace. For hitherto, almost every party has been betrayed into it, when advanced to power, and has given its opponents the most plausible arguments against it.
108..6. Then was...PICKTHANK represents a set of tools that
persecutors continually use: men of no religious principle, who assume the appearance of zeal for any party, as may best promote their interests; who inwardly despise both the superstitious and the spiritual worshipper; and see nothing in the conduct or circumstances of the latter to excite their rage or envy. But if their superiors be disposed to persecute, they will afford their assistance; for preferment runs in this channel. So that they bear testimony against believers from avarice or ambition, and flatter the most execrable characters, in order to get forward in the world: this being the grand