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the apostles' days, in the midst of terrible persecutions; it may well be expected, that the same attempts will be made at other times. Among persons unacquainted with the gospel a different method of seduction will be employed; in some places by vain philosophy or pharisaical self-righteousness, in others by enthusiastic imaginations or dreams of sinless perfection: but among established christians, some plausible scheme, flattering men as wise and strong in CHRIST, and as knowing their liberty and privileges, must be adopted; such as were propagated among the CORINTHIANS, or those profes- 1 sors whom JAMES, Peter, and JUDE successively addressed. In the present state of religious profession, a more important caution, I apprehend, cannot be given by the united voice of all those ministers, whom the shepherds represent, than this, · Beware of the FLATTERER;' of all teachers who address the self-preference of the human heart, and thus render men forgetful of taking heed to their way according " to the word of God.' For if men overlook the precepts of scripture, and forsake practical distinguishing preachers, to follow such as bolster up their hopes in some smoother way, they will either be fatally deceived, or drawn out of the path of truth and duty, taken in the net of error, and entangled among injurious connections, and with perplexing difficulties: at length indeed they will be undeceived in respect of these fine-spoken men, but not till they scarcely know what to do or what will become of them. For when the Lord plucks their feet out of the net; he will humble them in the dust for their sin and folly, and make them thankful to be delivered, though with severe rebukes and corrections.
165..28. Yonder...Some false professors gradually renounce “ the truth as it is in Jesus:” others openly set themselves against all kinds of religion, and turn scoffers and infidels. Indeed none are more likely to become avowed atheists, than such as have for many years professed the gospel in hypocrisy : they often acquire an acquaintance with the several parts of religion, their connection will cacha
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other, and the arguments with which they are supported ; so that they know not where to begin, if they would oppose any particular doctrine or precept of revelation : yet they hate the whole system; and, having never experienced those effects from the truth, which the scripture ascribes to it, they feel, that if there be any reality in religion, their own case is very dreadful, and wish to shake off this mortifying and alarming conviction: and, as they have principally associated with loose professors, and witnessed much folly and wickedness among them, they willingly take up a bad opinion of all who pretend to piety, (as rakes commonly revile all women) and so they make a desperate plunge, and treat the whole of religion as imposture and delusion; pretending, that upon a thorough investigation, they find it to be a compound of knavery, folly, and fanaticism. Thus God in awful judgement permits Satan to blind their eyes, because they “ obeyed not the
truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Men set out with a dead faith and a worldly heart, and at length occupy the seat of the scorner! The vain reasonings and contemptuous sneers of such apostates may turn aside other unsound characters, and perplex new converts : but the experience of established believers will fortify them against these manifest delusions; corrections for previous mistakes will render them jealous of themselves, and one another; so that they will go on their way with greater circumspection, and pity the scorner who ridicules them.
168..8. Enchanted... The ENCHANTED GROUND may represent a state of exemption from peculiar trials, and of worldly prosperity, especially when christians are unexpectedly advanced in their outward circumstances, or engaged in extensive flourishing business. A concurrence of agreeable dispensations sometimes succeed to long continued difficulties: the believer's peace is little interrupted, but he has not very high affections or consolations; he meets with · respect and attention from his friends and acquaintance, and is drawn on by success in his secular undertakings. This
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powerfully tends, through remaining depravity, to produce a lethargic and indolent frame of mind: the man attends on religious ordinances, and the constant succession of duties, more from habit and conscience, than from delight in the service of God: and even they, who have acquitted themselves in a varied course of trials and conflicts, often lose much of their vigour, activity, and vigilance, in these fascia nating circumstances. No situation, in which a believer can be placed, requires so much watchfulness as this does : other experiences resemble storms, which keep a man awake almost against his will: this is a treacherous calm, which invites and lulls him to sleep. But pious discourse, the jealous cautions of faithful friends, and recollections of the Lord's dealings with us in times past, are admirably suited to counteract this tendency.—The subsequent dialogue contains the author's own exposition of several particulars in the preceding allegory.
171..1. Guilt... This word is used, here and in other places, not to signify the evil of sin in the sight of God, and the transgressor's deserved liableness to punishment; but the remorse and fear of wrath, with which the convinced sinner is oppressed, and from which he often seeks relief by means which exceedingly increase his actual guilt. Nothing, except a free pardon, by faith in the atoning sacrifice of CHRIST, can take away guilt: but the uneasiness of a man's conscience may be for a time removed by various expedients. The words guilt or guilty are often used in this latter sense, by modern divines ; but it does not seem to be scripturally accurate, and may produce misapprehensions.
176..6. Coming...Coming to CHRIST is properly the effect of faith: yet the language here used is warranted by scripture.—The word reveal, and the vision of CHRIST conversing with HOPEFUL, seem to sanction such things as have been greatly mistaken and abused, and have occasioned many scandals and objections : yet it is evident, that the author meant nothing contrary to the most sober statement
of scriptural truth.-Christ did not appear to HOPEFUL's senses, but to his understanding: and the words spoken are no other than texts of scripture taken in their genuine meaning; not informing him, as by a new revelation, that his sins were pardoned, but encouraging him to apply for this mercy, and all other blessings of salvation. So that, allowing for the nature of an allegory, the whole account for substance exactly coincides with the experience of the most sober christians; who, having been deeply humbled, and ready to sink under discouragement, have had such views of the love of CHRIST, of his glorious salvation, the freeness of the invitations, the largeness of the promises, and the nature of justifying faith, as have " filled them with peace and joy in “ believing:" and these have been followed by those abiding effects afterwards described, which completely distinguish them from all the false joys of hypocrites and enthusiasts. Others indeed cannot relate so orderly an account of their convictions and comforts; yet they are brought (though by varied methods to the same reliance on CHRIST, and the same devoted obedience.
178..3. I take... In the following dialogue IGNORANCE speaks exactly in character; and the answers of the pilgrims are conclusive against such absurd and unscriptural grounds of confidence, as are continually maintained by many who would be thought pious christians.
..19. Desire... The desire of heavenly felicity, when the real nature of it is not understood, the proper means of obtaining it are neglected, other objects are preferred to it, or sloth and procrastination intervene, is no proof that a man will be saved.-In like manner this expression, the • desire of grace is grace,' must be owned to be very fallacious and ambiguous. Men may be notionally convinced that without grace they must perish, and mere selfishness may excite some feeble desires after it; though worldly affections predominate, and the real value of the spiritual good is not perceived. But to hunger and thirst for God
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and his righteousness, his favour, image, and service, as the supreme good ; so that no other object can satisfy the earnest desire of the heart, and every thing is renounced that interferes with the pursuit of it, is grace indeed, and shall be completed in glory.
179..4. Comforts... It is exceedingly dangerous to make comfort a ground of confidence; unless the nature, source, concomitants, and effect of that comfort be considered: for it may result entirely from ignorance and self-flattery, in a variety of ways.
180..5. Natural..." That which is born of the flesh is " flesh;” “ the carnal mind is enmity against God; is not “ subject to his law, neither indeed can be; so then they " that are in the flesh cannot please God;" for “ they are
by nature the children of wrath.” This is man's natural condition: but of the regenerate it is said,
“ Ye are not in " the flesh, but in the spirit,” " for that which is born of " the Spirit is fpirit;" and to such persons the texts adduced do not apply.
181..13. Stinks... The external services performed by unregenerate persons from selfish motives, being scanty and partial, and made the ground of self-complacency, and the pride of self-righteousness, are abomination in the sight of
God," however “ highly esteemed among men:" for men " look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh
at the heart.” Even the obedience of a true believer, though it springs from right principles, and has some spiritual excellency in it, is yet so defective and defiled by sin, that if it were not accepted as the fruit of the Spirit, through the mediation of CHRIST, it would be condemned by the holy law, and rejected with abhorrence by a God of infinite purity. Men may allow this in words, and yet not know what it is to come as condemned sinners, for a free justifi. cation and salvation, by faith in Christ. The way of being justified by faith, for which IGNORANCE pleads, may well be called fantastical,' as well as "false;' for it is no where laid