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Nor can any
simply wait for them till the appointed season, in the way of patient obedience.-Reason determines, that a greater and more permanent good hereafter is preferable to a less and fleeting enjoyment at present: faith realizes, as aitainable, a felicity infinitely more valuable than all which this world can possibly propose to us; so that in this respect the life of faith is the reign of reason over passion, while unbelief makes way for the triumph of passion over reason. thing be more essential to practical religion than an abiding conviction, that it is the only true wisdom, uniformly and chearfully to part with every temporal good, whenever it interferes with the grand concerns of eternity.
30..18. A fire... The doctrine of the true believer's final perseverance is here stated in so guarded a manner as to preclude every abuse of it.—The emblem implies, that the soul is indeed quickened by special grace and endued with holy affections: and this heavenly flame is not almost extinguished or covered with ashes for many years, and then revived a little at the closing scene; but ' it burns higher • and hotter,' notwithstanding the opposition of depraved nature, and the unremitted efforts of SATAN to quench it: for the Lord secretly feeds it with the oil of his grace.Unbelievers can persevere in nothing but impiety or hypocrisy: when a professor remarkably loses the vigour of his affections, the reality of his conversion becomes doubtful, and he can take no warranted encouragement from the doctrine in question: but, when any one grows more spiritual, zealous, humble, and exemplary, in the midst of harassing temptations, while he gives the whole glory to the Lord, he may
take comfort from the assurance, that “ he shall be kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation." Yet the way, in which the tempted are preserved, often so far exceeds their expectations, that they are a wonder to them. selves: every thing seems to concur in giving SATAN advantage against them, and his efforts appear very successful; yet they continue from year to year, “ cleaving with purpose
“ of heart unto the Lord,” trusting in his mercy, and desirous of living to his glory.—The instruction especially inculcated by this emblem is, an entire reliance on the secret but powerful influence of divine grace, to maintain and carry on the sanctifying work that has been begun in the soul.
31..11. Pleasant...Many desire the joys and glories of heaven, (according to their carnal ideas of them) but few are willing to " fight the good fight of faith :" yet,
without this fixed purpose of heart, the result of divine
grace, profession will end in apostacy :-“ the man began to build, " but was not able to finish.”—This is emphatically taught us by the next emblem. Salvation is altogether free and without price: but we must learn to value it so highly as to venture or suffer “ the loss of all things that we may win “ Christ;" or we shall not be able to break through the combined opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil. If we fear any mischief, that our enemies can attempt against us, more than coming short of salvation, we shall certainly perish, notwithstanding our notions and convictions. We should, therefore, count our cost, and pray for courage and constancy, that we may give in our names as in earnest to win the prize: then, putting on the whole armour of God," and relying on his grace, we must fight our way through with patience and resolution; while many, “ being harnessed " and carrying bows,” shamefully “ turn back in the day of " battle."
32.. 17. Let me go... The time, spent in acquiring know. ledge and sound judgement, is not lost, though it may seem to retard a man's progress, or interfere with his more active services: and the next emblem is admirably suited to teach the young convert watchfulness and caution.-CHRISTIAN's discourse with the man in the iron cage sufficiently explains the author's meaning: but it has been observed by several persons, that the man's opinion of his own case does not prove that it was indeed desperate. Doubtless these fears prevail in some cases of deep despondency, when there is
NOTES UPON PART I.
every reason to conclude them groundless; and we should always propose the free grace of the gospel to those that have sinned in the most aggravated manner, when they become sensible of their guilt and danger: yet it is an awful fact, that some are thus shut up under despair,' beyond relief: and " it is impossible to renew them to repentance.” No true penitent therefore can be in this case: and we are commanded “ in meekness to instruct those that oppose " themselves, if peradventure God will give them repent“ ance.". But, at the same time, we should leave the doom of apparent apostates to God; and improve their example, as a warning to ourselves and others, not to venture one step in so dangerous a path.—This our author has judiciously attempted, and we should be careful not to counteract his obvious intention.
36..16. In hope...Our safety consists in a due proportion of hope and fear: when devoid of hope, we resemble a ship without an anchor; when unrestrained by fear, we are like the same vessel under full sail without ballast?. Indiscriminate censures of all fear as the result of unbelief, and unguarded commendations of strong confidence, without respect to the spirit and conduct of professors, not only leads to much self-deception, but also tends to make believers unstable, unwatchful, and even uncomfortable; for the humble often cannot attain to that confidence that is represented almost as essential to faith; and true comfort is the effect of watchfulness, diligence, and circumspection.—Upon the whole, what lessons could possibly have been selected of greater importance, or more suited to establish the new convert, than these are which our author has most ingeniously and agreeably inculcated, under the emblem of the INTERPRETER's curiosities. They are indeed the principal subjects which faithful ministers enforce, publicly and in private, on all who begin to profess the gospel; and which every true disciple of CHRIST daily seeks to have more clearly
1 Pct. i. 13-17.
discovered to his mind, and more deeply impressed upon his heart.
37..1. Now I saw...Divine illumination in many respects tends to quicken the believer's hopes and fears, and to increase his earnestness and diligence: but nothing can finally relieve him from his burden, except the clear discovery of the nature and glory of redemption. With more general views of the subject, and an implicit reliance on Gop's mercy through JESUS CHRIST, the humbled sinner enters the way of life, which is walled by salvation: yet he is oppressed with an habitual sense of guilt, and often bowed down with fears, till " the Comforter, who glorifies CHRIST, receives of
his and shows it to him!.”_When in this divine light the soul contemplates the Redeemer's cross, and discerns more clearly his love to lost sinners in thus dying for them; the motive and efficacy of his intense sufferings; the glory of the divine perfections harmoniously displayed in this surprising expedient for saving the lost ; the honour of the divine law and government, and the evil and desert of' sin most energeticaily proclaimed, in this way of pardoning transgressors and reconciling enemies; and the perfect freeness and sufficiency of this salvation ;--then “his conscience " is purged from dead works to serve the living God," by a simple reliance on the atoning blood of EMMANUEL. This deliverance from the burden of guilt is in some respects final, as to the well instructed and consistent believer: his former sins are buried, no more to be his terror and distress. He will indeed be deeply humbled under a sense of his guilt, and sometimes he may question his acceptance : but his distress, before he understood the way of deliverance, was habitual, except in a few transient seasons of relief, and often oppressed him when most diligent and watchful; but now he is only burdened when he has been betrayed into sin, or when struggling with peculiar temptations; and he constantly finds relief by looking to the cross. Many indeed
1 John xvi. 14.
NOTES UPON PART I.
never attain to this habitual peace: this is the effect of remaining ignorance, error, or negligence, which scriptural instructions are the proper means of obviating.–But it was not probable that our author should, so to speak, draw the character of his hero from the lowest order of hopeful professors; it may rather call for our admiration, that, in an allegory, (which is the peculiar effort of a vigorous imagination) he was preserved, by uncommon strength of mind and depth of judgement, from stating CHRISTIAN's experience above the general attainments of consistent believers, under solid instructions.
..20. He looked...CHRISTIAN's tears, amidst his gladness, intimate, that deliverance from guilt, by faith in the atoning sacrifice of CHRIST, tends to increase humiliation, sorrow for sin, and abhorrence of it; though it mingles even those affections with a sweet and solid pleasure.—By the three
shining ones, the author might allude to the ministration of angels as conducive to the comfort of the heirs of salva. tion: but he could not mean to ascribe CHRISTIAN's confidence to any impressions, or suggestion of texts to him by a voice, or in a dream ; any more than he intended, by his view of the cross, to sanction the account that persons of heated imaginations have given, of their having seen one hang on a cross, covered with blood, who told them their sins were pardoned; while it has been evident, that they never understood the spiritual glory, or the sanctifying tendency of the doctrine of a crucified Saviour.-Such things are the mere delusions of enthusiasm, from which our author was remarkably free: but the nature of an allegory led him to this method of describing the happy change that takes place in the pilgrim's experience, when he obtains peace and joy in believing. His uniform doctrine sufficiently shows, that he considered spiritual apprehensions of the nature of the atonement as the only source of genuine peace fort. And, as the ' mark in the forehead' plainly signifies the renewal of the soul to holiness, so that the mind of