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reading the scriptures, and meditation on his doleful case, with compassionate prayers for his despisers :--and thus he sows in tears that seed from which the harvest of his future joy will surely be produced.
2..29. Now I saw...The scriptures are indeed sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, as well as to show us our guilt and danger: yet the Lord commonly uses the ministry of his servants to direct, into the way of peace, even those who have previously discovered their lost condition. Though convinced of the necessity of escaping from impending ruin, they hesitate, not knowing what to do, till providence brings them acquainted with some faithful preacher of the gospel, whose instructions afford an explicit answer to their secret enquiries after the way of salvation.
3..20. Then said... The able minister of Christ will deem it necessary to enforce the warning, “ free from the wrath to
come,” even upon those who are alarmed about their souls; because this is the proper way of exciting them to diligence and decision, and of preserving them from procrastination. They, therefore, who would persuade such persons, that their fears are groundless, their guilt far less than they suppose, and their danger imaginary, use the most effectual means of soothing them into a fatal security. Nor can any discoveries of heinous guilt or helpless ruin in themselves produce despondency, provided the salvation of the gospel be fully exhibited, and proposed to them.
..26. Thither... The awakened sinner may be incapable for a time of perceiving the way of salvation by faith in CHRIST; for divine illumination is often very gradual.-Thus, though the pilgrim could not see the gate, when EVANGELIST pointed it out to him, he thought he could discern the shining light. Upright enquirers attend to the general instructions and encouragements of scripture, and the declarations of the pardoning mercy of God; which by degrees lead them to the knowledge of Christ, and to faith in him: for, as our author savs in a marginal note, CHRIST, and the way to
him, cannot be found without the word.'—Thus instructed, the pilgrim · began to run :' for no persuasions or considerations can induce the man, who is duly in earnest about salvation, to neglect those things which he knows to be his present duty: but it must be expected that carnal relations will oppose this; especially as it appears to them destructive of all their prospects of worldly advantage.—The following lines are here subjoined to a very rude engraving:
• CHRISTIAN no sooner leaves the world, but meets
4..12. The neighbours... The attention of numbers is in general excited, when one of their companions in sin and vanity engages in religion, and forsakes the party. He soon becomes the topic of conversation among them: their minds are variously affected; some ridicule, others rail, threaten, attempt force, or employ artifice, to withdraw him from his purpose; according to their different dispositions, situations, or relations to him. Most of them, however, soon desist, and leave him to his choice. But two characters are not so easily shaken off: these our author has named OBSTINATE and PLIABLE, to denote their opposite propensities. The former, through a resolute pride and stoutness of heart, persists in attempting to bring back the new convert to his worldly pursuits: the latter, from a natural easiness of temper and susceptibility of impression, is pliant to persua. sion, and readily consents to make a profession of religion.
The subsequent dialogue admirably illustrates the characters of the speakers. CHRISTIAN (for so he is henceforth called) is firm, decided, bold, and sanguine:-OBSTINATE is profane, scornful, self-sufficient, and disposed to contemn God's word, when it interferes with his worldly interests:PLIABLE is yielding, and easily induced to engage in
things, of which he understands neither the nature nor the consequences.
CHRISTIAN's plain warnings and earnest entreaties; OBSTINATE's contempt of believers, as crazy• headed coxcombs,' and his exclamation when PLIABLE inclines to be a pilgrim, • What more fools still!' admirably characteristic; and show that such things are peculiar to no age or place, but always accompany serious godliness as the shadow does the substance.
6..19. Now I saw... This conversation between CHRISTIAN and PLIABLE marks the difference in their characters, as well as the measure of the new convert's attainments.—The want of a due apprehension of eternal things is evidently the primary defect of all who oppose or neglect religion; but more maturity of judgement and experience are requisite to discover, that many professors are equally strangers to a realizing view ' of the powers and terrors of what is yet
unseen.' The men represented by PLIABLE disregard these subjects: they enquire eagerly about the good things to be enjoyed, but not in any proportion about the way of salvation, the difficulties to be encountered, or the danger of coming short: and new converts, being zealous, sanguine, and unsuspecting, are naturally led to enlarge on the descriptions of heavenly felicity given in scripture. As these are generally figurative or negative, such unhumbled professors, annexing carnal ideas to them, are greatly delighted; and, not being retarded by any distressing remorse and terror, or feeling the opposition of corrupt nature, they are often more zealous, and seem to proceed faster in external duties than true converts. They take it for granted that all the privileges of the gospel belong to them; and, being very confident, zealous, and joyful, they often censure those who are really fighting the good fight of faith.—There are also systems diligently propagated, which marvellously encourage this delusion, excite a high flow of false affections, especially of a mere selfish gratitude to a supposed benefactor for imaginary benefits, which is considered as a very high
attainment: till the event proves them to be like the ISRAELITES at the RED SEA, who “ believed the Lord's word, and
sang his praise; but soon forgat his works, and waited not “ for his counsel."
8..20. Miry slough... The slough of DESPOND represents those discouraging fears which often harrass new converts. It is distinguished from the alarms which induced CHRISTIAN to leave the city, and “ flee from the wrath to come :" for the anxious apprehensions of one who is diligently seeking salvation are very different from those which excited him to enquire after it. The latter are reasonable and useful, and arise from faith in God's word: but the former are groundless, they result from remaining ignorance, inattention, and unbelief, and greatly retard the pilgrim in his progress. They should also be carefully distinguished from those doubts and discouragements, which assault the established christian: for these are generally the consequence of negligence, or yielding to temptation; whereas new converts fall into their despondings, when most diligent according to the light they have received: and, if some conscientious persons seem to meet with this slough in every part of their pilgrimage, it arises from an
immature judgement, erroneous sentiments, or peculiar temptations. When the diligent student of the scriptures obtains such an acquaintance with the perfect holiness of God, the spirituality of his law, the inexpressible evil of sin, and his own obligations and transgressions, as greatly exceeds the measure in which he discerns the free and full salvation of the gospel, his humiliation will verge nearer and nearer to despondency. This, however, is not essential to repentance, but arises from misapprehension; though few in proportion wholly escape it. The mire of the slough represents that idea which desponding persons entertain of themselves and their situation, as altogether vile and loathsome; and their confessions
NOTES UPON PART I.
and self-abasing complaints, which render them contemptible in the opinion of others.' As every attempt to rescue themselves discovers to them more of the latent evil of their hearts, they seem to grow worse and worse; and, for want of a clear understanding of the gospel, they have no firm ground to tread on, and know neither where they are, or what they must do.—But how could PLIABLE fall into this slough, seeing he had no such views of God or his law, of himself, or of sin, as this condition seems to pre-suppose? To this it may be answered, that men can hardly associate with religious persons, and hear their discourse, confessions, and complaints, or become acquainted with any part of scripture, without making some alarming and mortifying discoveries concerning themselves. These transient convictions taking place when they fancied they were about to become very good, and succeeding to great self-complacency, constitute a grievous disappointment; and they ascribe their uneasiness to the new doctrine they have heard. But, though PLIABLE fell into the slough, CHRISTIAN .by reason of his burden' sunk the deepest (8. 26.); for the true believer's humiliation for sin tends greatly to increase his fear of wrath. Superficial professors, expecting the promised happiness without trouble or suffering, are often very angry at those who were the means of inducing them to think of religion; as if they had deceived them: and, being destitute of true faith, their only object is, at any rate to get rid of their uneasiness. This is a species of stony-ground hearers abounding in every part of the church, who are offended and fall away, by means of a little inward disquietude, before any outward tribulation arises because of the word.
9..11. Wherefore...CHRISTIAN dreaded the doom of his city more than the slough. Many persons, under deep distress of conscience, are afraid of relief, lest it should prove delusive. Deliverance from wrath and the blessings of salvation appear to them so valuable, that all else is compa. ratively trivial : desponding fears may connect with their