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down in scripture: and it not only changes the way of acceptance, but it takes away the rule and standard of righ. teousness, and substitutes a vague notion, called sincerity, in its place, which never was, or can be, defined with precision.
183..21. Hid...Pride, unbelief, and carnal prejudices of affections so close the mind of a sinner against the spiritual glory of the Person and redemption of CHRIST, that nothing, but the illumination of the Spirit removing this veil, can enable him to understand and receive the revelation of the sacred oracles on these important subjects.
185..3. Pilgrims... If such numbers of ignorant persons may be found among the apparently religious, what must be the case of those who are left without instruction to their native pride and self-conceit!
..15. But they...Fears of wrath are too generally ascribed to unbelief, and deemed prejudicial : but this arises from igno. rance and mistake; for belief of God's testimony must excite fcars in every heart, till it is clearly perceived how that wrath may be escaped; and doubts mingled with hopes must arise from faith, till a man is conscious of having experienced a saving change. These fears and doubts excite men to selfexamination, watchfulness, and diligence, and thus tend to the believer's establishment, and “the full assurance of hope
unto the end :" while the want of them often results from unbelief and stupidity of conscience, and terminates in carnal security and abuse of the gospel. They may indeed be exces. sive and unreasonable, and the effect of unbelief: but it is better to mark the extreme, and caution men against it, than by declaiming indiscriminately against all doubts and fears, to help sinners to deceive themselves, and discourage weak believers from earnestly using the scriptural means of " mak. ing their calling and election sure."
186..29. Pitiful... The expression,' pitiful old self-holiness,' denotes the opinion that ignorant persons entertain of their hearts as good and holy; while the term " self-righteousness” relates to their supposed good lives; but nothing can be
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further from our author's meaning, than to speak against “ sanctification by the Spirit unto obedience,” as evidential of our union with CHRIST and acceptance in his righteous.
187..8. Did you?... TEMPORARY was doctrinally acquainted with the gospel, but a stranger to its sanctify. ing power.
Such men have been forward in religion, but that is now past ; for they were always graceless, and came short of honesty, in their profession, if not in their moral conduct, and were ever ready to turn back into the world at a convenient season. They have indeed been alarmed; but terror without humiliation will never subvert self-confidence: and of the numbers with whom some minis. ters converse under trouble of conscience, and of whom they hope well, how many disappoint their expectations, and after a time plunge deeper into sin than ever! Such convictions resemble the blossoms of the fruit-tree, which precede the ripe fruit, but do not always produce it: so that we cannot say, 'the more blossoms there are, the greater abundance will
there be of fruit;' though we may be assured that there can be no fruit if there be no blossoms. The reasons and the manner of such men's declensions and apostacy are very justly and emphatically stated; though perhaps not with suf. ficient delicacy to suit the taste of this fastidious age.
190..2. Then they... The hypocrite will not pray always; nor can he ever pray, with faith or sincerity, for spiritual blessings: but he may deprecate misery, and beg to be made happy, and continue to observe a form of private religion. But when such men begin to shun the company of lively christians, to neglect public ordinances; and to excuse their conduct by imitating the devil, the accuser of the brethren, in calumniating pious persons, magnifying their imperfections, insinuating suspicions of them, and aiming to confound all distinction of character among men; we may safely con. clude their state to be perilous in the extreme. While professors should be exhorted carefully to look to themselves, and
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and to watch against the first incursions of this spiritual declension, it should also be observed, that the lamented infirmities and dulness of those who persist in using the means of grace, and striving against sin; who decidedly prefer the company of believers, and deem them the excellent of the earth; and who are severe in judging themselves, but candid to others, are of a contrary nature and tendency to the steps of TEMPORARY's apostacy.
..25. Country... The word BEULAH signifies married; and the prophet, in the passage whence it is quoted, predicted a very flourishing state of religion, which is yet in futurity : but the author accommodates it to the sweet peace and confi. dence which tried believers commonly experience towards the close of their lives. This general rule admits indeed of exceptions: but the author, having witnessed many of these encouraging scenes, was willing to animate himself and his afflicted brethren with the hope of similar triumphant joys. The communion of saints in prayer, praises, and thanksgivings, with liberty and ardour, and hearts united in cordial love; the beauties of holiness, and the consolations of the Holy Spirit; the healing beams of the Sun of righteousness, shining by the sweet light of divine truth upon the soul; exemption from darkening temptations and harassing doubts; lively earnests and near prospects of heavenly felicity; a chearing sense of union of spirit with the heavenly host, in their fervent adorations, and a realizing apprehension of their ministering care over the heirs of salvation; a comfortable renewal of the acceptance of Christ, sealed with the tokens, pledges, and assurances of his love; gratitude, submission, confidence in Gon, hope, and the sweet exercise of tenderness, sympathy, meekness, and humility, but little interrupted by the working of the contrary evils; these things seem to constitute the happy state here represented. It is remarkable that the Psalms (which were intended, among other uses, to regulate the devotions and experiences of believers) abound at first with confessions, complaints, fears, and earnest cries of
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distress or danger; but towards the close become more and more the language of confidence, gratitude, and joy, and conclude with unmingled praises and thanksgivings.
191..29. Desire... In the immediate view of heavenly feli, city, PAUL “ desired to depart hence and be with CHRIST,
far better” than life; and DAVID “ fainted for God's “salvation.” In the lively exercise of holy affections, the believer grows weary of this sinful world, longs to have his faith changed for sight, his hope swallowed up in enjoyment, and his love perfected, and secured from all interruption and abatement. Were this frame of mind habitual, it might unfit men for the common concerns of life, which appear very trifling to the soul when employed in delightful admiring contemplation of heavenly glory.
192..9. Whose ?...Attendance on the public. ordinances is always the believer's duty and privilege; yet he cannot at all times delight in them: but, when holy affections are in lively exercise, he sweetly rests in these earnests of heavenly joy; and speaks freely and fervently of the love of CHRIST and the blessings of salvation, to the edification of those around him; who often wonder at witnessing such a change, from reserve and diffidence to boldness and earnest. ness in urging others to mind the one thing needful.
193.-3. These... Perhaps the author here alluded to those pre-intimations of death that some persons seem to receive; and he appears to have referred them to the common opinion of guardian angels watching over every individual believer.Death and admission into the city were the only difficulties that awaited the pilgrims.
..15. Now... Death is aptly represented by a deep river without a bridge, separating the believer from his heavenly inheritance; as the JORDAN flowed between Israel and the promised land. From this river nature shrinks back, even when faith, hope, and love are in lively exercise; but, when these decline, alarm and consternation may unite with reluc. tance. The dreaded pangs that precede the awful separation
of those intimate associates, the soul and body; the painful parting with dear friends and every earthly object; the gloomy ideas of the dark, cold, and noisome grave, and the solemn thought of launching into an unseen eternity, render death the king of terrors. Faith in a crucified, buried, risen, and ascended Saviour; experience of his faithfulness and love in times past; hope of an immediate entrance into his presence, where temptation, conflict, sin, and suffering, will find no admission; and the desire of perfect knowledge, holiness, and felicity, will reconcile the mind to the inevitable stroke, and sometimes give a complete victory over every fear : yet if faith and hope be weakened, through the recollection of any peculiar misconduct, the with-holding of divine light and consolation, or some violent assault of the tempter, the believer will be peculiarly liable to alarm and distress. His reflecting mind; having long been accustomed to consider the subject in its important nature and consequences, has very different apprehensions of God, of eternity, of judgement, of sin, and of himself, than other men have. Sometimes experienced saints are more desponding in these circumstances than their junior brethren: constitution has considerable effect upon the mind; and some men (like CHRISTIAN) are, in every stage of their profession, more exposed to temptations of a discouraging nature, than to ambition, avarice, or fleshly lusts.--It has before been suggested, that the author probably meant to describe the peculiarities of his own experience, in the character of CHRISTIAN; and he may perhaps here have intimated his apprehension lest he should not meet death with becoming fortitude. A conscientious life indeed is commonly favoured with a peaceful close, even when forebodings to the contrary have troubled men during their whole lives: this is so far general, that they best provide for a comfortable death, who most diligently. attend to the duties of their station and the improvement of their talents, from evangelical principles: whereas they who live negli. genily, and yield to temptation, make, as it were, an