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NOTES UPON PART II.
care, not to consider such temptations, as proofs of spiritual advancement; or to yield to them, as if they were essential to maturity of grace and experience; by which means SATAN often obtains dreadful advantages. It is most adviseable for tempted persons to consult some able, judicious minister, or compassionate and established christian, whose counsel and prayers may be singularly useful in this case; observing the assistance which GREAT-HEART gave to the pilgrims, in passing through the valley.
89..23. A lion... Whatever attempts SATAN may make to terrify the believer, resolute resistance by faith in CHRIST will drive him away: but if fear induce men to neglect the means of grace, he will renew his assaults on the imagination, whenever they attempt to pray, read the scripture, or attend on any duty; till for a time, or finally, they give up their religion. In this case therefore determined perseverance in opposition to every terrifying suggestion is our only safety. Yet sometimes temptations may be so multiplied and varied, that it may seem impossible to proceed any further, and the mind of the harassed believer is enveloped in confusion and dismay, as if an horrible pit were about to swallow him up, or the prince of darkness to seize upon him. But the counsel of some experienced friend or minister, exciting confidence in the power, mercy, and faithfulness of God, and encouraging him to“ pray without ceasing,” will at length make way for his deliverance.
91..20. O but...Should any one by hearing the believer say, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell
gat hold upon me," be tempted to avoid all religious duties, company, and reflections, lest he should experience similar terrors, let him well weigh this observation; it is not so • bad to go through here, as to abide here always.'—Nothing can be more absurd, than to neglect religion, lest the fear of hell should discompose a man's mind; when such neglect exposes him to the eternal endurance of it: whereas the short taste of distress, which may be experienced by the tempted
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believer, will make redemption more precious, and render peace, comfort, and heaven at last doubly delightful.
92..1. Look to... The discouragement of dark temptations is not so formidable in the judgement of experienced christians, as the spares connected with them, for, while numbers renounce their profession, to get rid of their disquietude, many are seduced into some false doctrine that may sanction. negligence, and quiet their consciences by assenting to certain notions, without regarding the state of their hearts, or what passes in their experience; and others are led to spend all their time in company, or even to dissipate the gloom by engaging in worldly amusements, because retirement exposes them to these suggestions. In short, the enemy endea
endeavours to terrify the professor, that he may drive him away from God, entangle him in heresy, or draw him into sin; in order to destroy his soul, or at least ruin his credit and prevent his usefulness. But circumspection and prayer constitute our best preservative; through which, they who take heed to their steps escape, while the heedless are taken and destroyed, for a warning to those that come after.
..19. Maul... This giant came out of the cave, where Pope and PAGAN had resided. He is therefore the emblem of those formal superstitious teachers, and those speculating moralists, who in protestant countries have too generally succeeded the Romish priests and the heathen philosophers, in keeping men ignorant of the way of salvation, and in spoiling by their sophistry such as seem to be seriously disposed. These persons often represent faithful ministers, who draw off their auditors, by preaching repentance " towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus CHRIST," as robbers and kidnappers; they terrify many, (especially when they have the power of enforcing penal statutes,) from professing or hearing the gospel, and acting according to their consciences; and they put the faith of God's servants to a severe trial. Yet perseverance, patience, and prayer will obtain the victory; and they that are strong will be instru.
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mental in animating the feeble to go on their way, rejoicing and praising God. But though these enemies may be baffled, disabled, or apparently slain, it will appear that they have left a posterity on earth to revile, injure, and oppose the spiritual worshippers of God in every generation.
93..15. Club... This seems to mean the secular arm, or power, by which opposers of the gospel are generally desirous of enforcing their arguments and persuasions.
" We have a law, and by our law he ought to die;' this decision, like a heavy club, seems capable of bearing all down before it; nor can any withstand its force, but those who rely on him that is stronger than all.
95..26. Old pilgrim...The allegory requires us to suppose that there were some places in which the pilgrims might safely sleep: so that nothing disadvantageous to the character of this old disciple seems to have been intended. An avowed dependence on Christ for righteousness, a regard to the word of God, and an apparent sincerity in word and deed, mark a man to be a pilgrim, or constitute a professor of the gospel: but we should not too readily conclude every professor to be a true believer.-The experienced christian will be afraid of new acquaintance; in his most unwatchful seasons, he will be readily excited to look about him; and will be fully convinced that no enemy can hurt him, unless he is induced to yield to temptation and commit sin,
97..4. Abstract... Honesty in the abstract seems to mean sinless perfection.--The pilgrim was a sound character, but conscious of many imperfections, of which he was ashamed, and from which he sought deliverance. The nature of faith, hope, love, patience, and other holy dispositions is described in scripture, as a man would define gold, by its essential properties. This shows what they are in the abstract: but as exercised by us, they are always mixed with considerable alloy; and we are richer, or poorer in this respect, in proportion to the degree of the gold or of the alloy, which is found in our affections and character,
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..15. Sun... The Lord sometimes calls those sinners, whose character, connections, and situation, seem to place at the greatest distance from him; that the riches of his mercy and the power
of his grace may be thus rendered the more conspicuous and illustrious.
98..28. He was... The character and narrative of FEARING has been generally admired by experienced readers, as drawn and arranged with great judgement, and in a very affecting manner. LittlE-FAITH in the first part was faint-hearted, and distrustful; and thus he contracted guilt, and lost his comfort: but FEARING dreaded sin, and coming short of heaven, more than all that flesh could do unto him. He was alarmed at the least appearance or report of opposition; but this arose more from conscious weakness, and the fear of being overcome by temptation, than from a reluctance to undergo derision or persecution. The pecu. liarity of this description of christians must be traced back to constitution, habit, first impressions, disproportionate and partial views of truth, and improper instructions: these, concurring with weakness of faith, and the common infirmities of human nature, give a cast to their experience and character, which renders them uncomfortable to themselves, and troublesome to others: yet no competent judges doubt but they have the root of the matter in them; and none are more entitled to the patient, sympathizing, and tender atten. tion of ministers and christians.
99.-22. Roaring...Professors of this description are greatly retarded in their progress by discouraging fears: they are apt to spend too much time in unavailing complaints; they do not duly profit by the counsel and assistance of their bre. thren; and often neglect the proper means of getting relief from their terrors: yet they cannot think of giving up their feeble hopes, or returning to their forsaken worldly pursuits and pleasures. They are, indeed, helped forward, through the mercy of God, in a very extraordinary manner: yet they still remain exposed to alarms, and discouragements,
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in every stage of their pilgrimage: nor can they ever habi. tually rise superior to them. They are afraid even of relying on CHRIST for salvation; because they have confused views of his love, and the methods of his grace; and imagine some other qualification to be necessary, besides the willingness to seek, knock, and ask for the promised blessings, with a real desire of obtaining them. They imagine, that there has been something in their past life, or that there is some peculiarity in their present habits and propensities, and way of applying to CHRIST, which may exclude them from the general benefit: so that they pray with diffidence; and being consciously unworthy, can hardly believe that the LORD regards them, or will grant their requests. They are also prone to overlook the most decisive evidences of their reconciliation to God; and to persevere in arguing with perverse ingenuity against their own manifest happiness.
100..30. He lay... The same mixture of humility and unbelief renders persons of this description backward in associating with their brethren, and in frequenting those companies, in which they might obtain further instruction : for they are afraid of being considered as believers, or even serious enquirers; so that affectionate and earnest persuasion is requisite to prevail with them to join in those religious exercises, by which christians especially receive the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Yet this arises not from disinclination, but diffidence;—and though they are often peculiarly favoured with seasons of great comfort, to counterbalance their dejections: yet they never hear or read of false professors wh have drawn back to perdition, but they are terrified with the idea, that they shall shortly resemble them; so that every warning given against hypocrisy or self-deception seems to point them out by name, and every new discovery of any fault or mistake in their views, temper, or conduct, seems to decide their doom. At the same time, they are often remark. ably melted into humble admiring gratitude, by contem. plating the love and sufferings of CHRIST, and seem to