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ministers and christian friends may help them to get on : but they will often feel that their path is miry and slippery, entangling and perplexing, dark and wearisome to their souls. Yet if this be the case, their sighs, complaints, and prayers, are hopeful symptoms: but when worldly employments and connections, which perhaps at first were in a sense unavoidable, induce prosperity; and men seek comfort from this prosperity, instead of considering it as a snare or burden, or improving it as a talent; then the professor falls asleep in the enchanted arbour. It behoves, however, all who love their souls, to shun that hurry of business, and multiplicity of af. fairs and projects, into which many are betrayed by degrees, in order to supply increasing expences, that might be avoided by strict frugality, and more moderate desires : for they lade the soul with thick clay ; are a heavy weight to the most upright; render a man's way doubtful and joyless; and “ drown
many in destruction and perdition."
162..12. Lofe... This emblem inculcates the duty of constant attention to the precepts and counsels of scripture, as well as reliance on its promises; and of an habitual application to the LORD by prayer, to teach us the true meaning of his word, that we may learn the way of peace and safety, in the most difficult and doubtful cases; and the advantage of consulting such ministers, as are most experienced in the ways of God, and most conversant with his sacred oracles.
163..2. Two men...Such men as take up a profession of the gospel, in a heedless manner, and proceed with an overbearing confidence, the result of pride and ignorance, may long maintain a form of godliness, though it be a weariness to them: but after a time, they will gradually be drawn back into the world, retaining nothing of their religion, except certain distorted doctrinal notions. They find excuses for their conduct from false maxims, and bad examples: they fall asleep in the arms of worldly prosperity: nothing can awaken them to fear, or self-suspicion; but they will, as it were, talk in their sleep about religion, in so incoherent a manner, as to
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excite the laughter of children; while they who understand the case will bewail their deplorable delusion. Such awful examples should excite us to redoubled diligence, in searching the scriptures, and in prayer; lest we too should be overcome with a destructive sleep, and perish in this fascinating way. For scenes of worldly prosperity have detected the hypocrisy of many, who have long persevered in an unsuspected profession, amidst difficulties and trials.
165..10.Knees... The case of STANDFAST shows us, that, when believer's feel the propensity of their hearts to yield to worldly proposals, it renders them jealous of themselves excites them to earnest prayer, and thus eventually tends to preserve them from the fatal delusions.
170..22. Little while... The lively exercise of faith and hope, the anticipation of heavenly felicity, and the consolations of the Holy Spirit, soon make the believer forget his conflicts and sorrows, or only remember them to enhance his grateful joy. -The ensuing description represents the happy state of those that live in places, favoured with many lively christians, united in heart and judgement; and where instances of persons dying triumphantly are often reported or witnessed. It has frequently been observed, that aged believers, in such circumstances, have been remarkably delivered from fears and temptations, and animated by the hopes and earnests of heaven, so that while death seemed bitter to nature it became pleasant to the soul, to think of the joy and glory that would immediately follow it.
172..3. A post...These messengers seem to be merely einblems of the different diseases or decays, by which the Lord takes down the earthly tabernacle, when he sees good to receive the souls of his people into his immediate presence. In plain language, it was reported that CHRISTIANA was sick and near death, and she herself became sensible of her situation. · The arrow sharpened by love 'implies, that the time, manner, and circumstances of the believer's death are appointed by him, " who loved us, and gave himself for us :"
He, as it were, says to the dying saint, “ It is I, be not “ afraid.”—The address macle by CHRISTIAN A to each of the company, and the circumstances of her passing the river, are well deserving of attention; but require no comment. When such believers as have long walked honourably, are enabled to bear a dying testimony to the truth, and to recommend the ways of the Lord with the last remains of their breath, a great effect will often be produced: but the confidence of some professors, in these circumstances, has a very different tendency. Many excellent persons, however, are incapacitated from speaking much in their last hours; and we ought by no means to judge of men's characters on these grounds : for it is remarkable, that the scripture is generally silent about the manner in which its worthies terminated their lives; and only a few exceptions are found to this rule. We are particularly instructed in the nature of their faith and its effects
upon their conduct during life; and thence we may assuredly infer, that they died in the Lord, and entered into rest. The happy death of an eminent christian is a loss to relatives and connections, to the church and the community; and in this view may be lamented: but it often yields great encouragement to ministers and other spectators of the interesting scene, and excites their adoring praises and thanksgivings.
175..10. Am come...Evident decays of natural powers as effectually convince the observing person, that death approaches, as if a messenger had been sent to inform him. But men in general cling to life, wilfully overlook such tokens, and try to keep up to the last the vain hope of recovering; and others, by a kind of cruel compassion, soothe them in the delusion: so that numbers die suddenly of chronical disorders, even as if they had been shot through the heart. Perhaps, however, the author had some reference to those inexplicable presages of death, which some persons evidently experience, ..15. Gave... These tokens are taken from
well. known portion of scripture'; but it would be inconsistent
1 Eccles. xii. 1-7:
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with the plan of this work, to enter on a particular explanation of them. The dealings, of the Lord are here represented, as uniformly gentle to the feeble, trembling, humble believers, and the circumstances of their deaths comparatively encouraga ing and easy.
180..13. River... This speech has been justly admired, as one of the most striking passages in the whole work: but it is so plain, that it only requires an attentive reader. It may, however, be worthy of our observation, that in all the instan. ces before us the pilgrims are represented as resting their only dependence, at the closing scene, on the mercy of God, through the righteousness and atonement of his son; and yet recollecting their conscious integrity, boldness in professing and contending for the truth, love to the cause, example, and words of CHRIST, obedience to his precepts, delight in his ways, preservation from their own iniquities, and consistent behaviour, as evidences that their faith was living, and their hope warranted; and in this way the retrospect conduced to their encouragement. Moreover they all concur in declaring, that while they left their infirmities behind them they would take their graces alorg with them, and that their works would follow them.”—Thus the scriptural mean is exactly maintained, between those who place their supposed good works as the foundation of their hope; and those, who would exclude even real good works from being so much as looked upon, as evidential of saving faith, or as in any way giving encouragement to the believer in his dying hour'.
181..14. Glorious... The view given in this place, of the peaceful and joyful death of the pilgrims, cannot but affect every reader in some degree; and many perhaps may be ready to say,
“ Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my " last end be like his.” But, except they make it their principal concern to live the life of the righteous, such a wish will most probably be frustrated; and every hope grounded
I 2 Tim. iv. 6-8.
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on it is evidently presumptuous, as the example of BALAAM sufficiently proves.-If any man therefore doubt whether this allegory .do indeed describe the rise and progress of religion in the soul; the beginning, continuance, and termi. nation of the godly man's course to heaven; let him diligently search the scriptures, and fervently pray to God, from whom alone “ cometh every good and perfect gift," to enable him to determine this question. But let such as own themselves to be satisfied that it does, beware lest they rest on this assent and notion, in the pleasure of reading an ingenious work on the subject, or in the ability of developing many of the author's emblems. Let them beware, lest they be fascinated, as it were, into a persuasion, that they actually accompany the pilgrims in the life of faith, and walking with God, in the same measure, as they keep pace with the author, in discovering and approving the grand outlines of his plan. And let every one carefully examine his state, sentiments, experience, motives, tempers, affections, and conduct, by the various characters, incidents, and obser. vations, that pass under his review: assured that this is a matter of the greatest consequence. We ought not indeed to call any man master, or subscribe absolutely to all his sentiments: yet the diligent practical student of scripture can scarcely doubt, but that the warnings, counsels and instructions of this singular work, agree in general with that sacred touchstone; or that characters and actions will at last be approved or condemned by the Judge of the world, in a great degree according to the sentence passed on them in this wise and faithful book. The Lord grant that both the writer and readers of these observations may “ find mercy “ in that day," and be addressed in these gracious words, " Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom " prepared for you, from the foundation of the world."