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NOTES UPON PART II.
death, men often feel very indifferent to the world, set against sin, disinclined to former indulgences, and earnest about salvation: yet returning health, business, company, and temptation terminate such promising appearances. Many suppose themselves to be very good-tempered, while every one studies to oblige them; yet provocation excites vehement anger and resentment in their breast : nay, riches and honour seem at a distance to have no charms for those, who are pow. erfully attracted by their magnetical influence, when placed within their reach.
121..8. A mile... The refreshment of divine consolations and christian fellowship is intended to prepare us for vigorously maintaining the good fight of faith; not only against the enemies of our own souls, but also against the opposers of out holy religion, according to the talents entrusted to us, and the duties of our several stations. We are soldiers belonging to one great army under the command of the Captain of our salvation; and we ought to strive against sin, and “ contend “ for the faith once delivered to the saints," by our profession, example, prayers, converse, and every other method authorized by the word of God. All that love the Lord are our bre. thren; and every thing that can mislead, dismay, or hinder any of them, should be considered as an adversary to the common cause; and we should counteract with meekness, but with firmness and decision, all the endeavours of those, who obstruct men in the ways of the Lord, or turn them aside into by-paths. It does not however clearly appear what particular description of opposers were represented by SLAYGOOD; whether the author had in view certain selfish and malignant persecutors, who intimidated professors by fines and imprisonment, to the hazard of their lives, or of their souls; or some plausible heretics, who " taught things which
they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake,” to the total ruin of many that seemed hopeful, and the great detriment of others, who were weak in faith and confused in judgement. The conflict seems merely to denote the efforts, which chris.
NOTES UPON PART II.
tians should make, to prevent the effect of such opposition and delusion, and to remove such occasions of mischief out of the way: as also to show, that the strong in faith are peculiarly called to these services, and ought not to shrink from hardship, danger, and suffering in so good a cause.
122..17. Poor man... The character of FEEBLE-MIND seems to coincide in some things with that of FEARING; and in others with the description of LITTLE-FAITH. Constitu. tional timidity, and lowness of spirits, arising from a feeble frame and frequent sickness, while they are frequently the means of exciting men to religion, give also a peculiar cast to their views and the nature of their profession; tend to hold them under perpetual discouragements; and unfit them for hard and perilous services.—This seems implied in the name given to the native place of FE E BLE-MIND: his uncertainty or hesitation in his religious profession was the effect of his natural turn of mind, which was opposite to the sanguine and confident. Yet this timid and discouraged irresolution often connects with evident sincerity and remarkable perse, verence in the ways of God. The principal difference. between FEEB LE-MIND and FEARING seems to be this, that the former was more afraid of opposition, and the latter more doubtful about the event; which perhaps may intimate, that SLAY-GOOD rather represents persecutors than deceiv
125.-3. Alas !...Here again we meet with a contrast between a feeble believer and a specious hypocrite. The latter eludes persecution by time-serving, yet perishes in his sins: the former suffers and trembles, yet hopes; is delivered and comforted, and find his trials terminate in his greater advantage. The frequency with which this difference is introduced, and the variety of character by which it is illustrated, shows us, how important the author deemed it, to warn false professors at the same time, that we comfort the feeble minded, and to mark as exactly as we can the discrimi. nating peculiarities of their aim and experience.
NOTEŚ UPON PART II.
126..22. Offended... Weak believers are conscientious, even to scrupulosity: so far from allowing themselves in the practice of known sin, or the omission of evident duty, they are prone to abridge themselves in things which are indifferent, they often impose rules on themselves, which they do not expect others to observe; and sometimes are sensible that their uneasiness, at the liberty used by their brethren, arises from ignorance and low attainments: and therefore they deem it better to live retired, than to burden others with their peculiarities, or be grieved with things which every where meet their observation. But there are persons, that expect to be encouraged as weak believers, who are far removed from such scrupulousness; and whose weakness consists merely in an inability to maintain an unwavering confidence, while they live in a loose and negligent manner. These seem more to resemble NOT-RIGHT than FEEBLE-MIND. They that are indeed weak believers should learn from this passage, to beware of censoriousness, and of making themselves a standard for others: and their stronger brethren should be reminded not to despise or grieve them, by an inexpedient use of their liberty.-(The author, in a marginal note, has marked GREAT-HEART's answer as a christian spirit.) They will, however, commonly find associates, in some measure of their own turn, who are often more useful to them, than such as cannot entirely sympathize with their feelings.
129..11. Hard... The near prospect of persecution is formidable even to true believers, notwithstanding all the encouragements of God's word.—It is therefore very useful to realize such scenes to our minds, and to consider how we should feel were they actually present; that we may be pre. served from self-confidence, excited to diligence in every thing connected with the assurance of hope, put on our guard against every action or engagement which might weaken our confidence in God; and pray without ceasing, for that measure of wisdom, fortitude, patience, meekness, faith, and love, which might be sufficient for us should matters come to the worst,
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131.27. The sight... Even in those populous cities, where vanity most prevails, and where persecution at some seasons has most raged, a remnant of real christians will generally reside: and believers will in every place enquire after such persons and associate with them'.
136..20. Monster... This refers to the prevalence of popery for some time before the revolution in 1688; by which many nominal protestants were drawn aside, and numbers of children educated in the principles of that dark superstition. The favour or frown of the prince and his party operated so powerfully, that worldly men in general yielded to the imposition : but several persons among the non-conformists, as well as in the established church, did eminent service at that crisis by their preaching and writings, in exposing the delusions and abominations of that monstrous religion; and these endeavours were eventually the means of overturning the plan formed for the re-establishment of popery in BRITAIN. The disinterested and bold decided conduct of many dissenters on this occasion procured considerable favour both to them and their brethren, with the best friends of the nation: but the prejudices of others prevented them from reaping all the advantage from it, that they ought to have done.
140..5. Care...Under this emblem we are taught the importance of early recommending our children to the faithful care of the Lord JESUS, by fervent prayer, with earnest desires of their eternal good, above all secular advantages whatsoever: consequently we ought to keep them at a distance from such places, connections, books, and companies as may corrupt their principles and morals; to instil such pious in. structions as they are capable of receiving; to bring them early under the preaching of the gospel and to the ordinances of God; and to avail ourselves of every help, in thus “ training them up in the nurture and admonition of the “ Lord.” For depraved natural propensities, the course of the world, the artifices of SATAN, the inexperience, credu,
! Ps. cxix. 63. 1 Joha, iii. 14.
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lity, and sanguine expectations of youth, the importance of the case, and the precepts of scripture, concur in requiring this conduct of us. Yet, after all, our minds must be anxious about the event, in proportion as we value their souls, except as we find relief, by commending them to the faithful care of that tender Shepherd, who “ gathers the lambs with his arm, " and carries them in his bosom."
144..19. The head... These lines are here added, as in other places.
• Though DOUBTING-CASTLE be demolished,
Indeed they seem to be much wanted; for the exploit of destroying DOUBTING-CASTLE, and killing giant DESPAIR, is more liable to exception, than any incident in the whole work.-To relieve the minds of such as are discouraged in the path of duty, or when enquiring the way of salvation, is doubtless a most important service in the cause of CHRIST; this is represented by the attempts made to mend the road over the slough of DESPOND: but BY-PATH meadow ought to lead to DOUBTING-CASTLE: such inward distresses are as useful to christians as any other rebukes and corrections, by which their loving Friend renders them watchful and circumspect. Could this order be reversed; it would give strength to temptation; and tend to embolden men to seek relief from difficulties by transgression; for the apprehension of subsequent distress is one grand preventative, even to the believer, when such measures are suggested to his mind. Indeed, this is the Lord's method of performing his covenant to his people; “ I will,” says he,“ put my “ fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me',' If therefore love be not in lively exercise, he has so ordered
"Jero xxxü. 40.