Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Hopeful drowsy: Enchanted Ground. 175 thee, and to fetch from thee a fruit of the honesty of thy heart. As for this man, I know that he is blinded by the god of this world. Let thee and I go on, knowing that we have belief of the truth, and “no lie is of the truth.**

Hope. Now I do rejoice in hope of the glory of God. So they turned away from the man, and he, laughing at them, went his way. (m)

I saw then in my dream, that they went till they came into a certain country whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here Hopeful began to be very dull and heavy of sleep: wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes ; let us lie down here, and

By no means, said the other, lest sleeping we never awake more.

Hope. Why, my brother ? sleep is sweet to the labouring man; we may be refreshed if we take a nap.

Chr. Do you not remember that one of the Shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground ? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping ; "Wherefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober.”+ : Hope. I acknowledge myself in a fault; and, had I been

†1 Thess, v. 6.

take one nap:

[ocr errors]

1 John ii. 21.

(m) Some false professors gradually renounce "the truth as it is in Jesus :" but others openly set themselves against all kinds of religion, and turn scoffers and infidels. Lir deed none are more likely to become avowed atheists, than such as have for many years hy: pocritically professed the gospel : for they often acquire an acquaintanee with the several parts of religion, their connexion with each 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 ascribe's 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 judginent permits Satan to blind their eyes, bc. cause they "obeyed not the truth, but had pleasure in uprightevusness.” 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 ; and corrections for previous mistakes will render thern jealous of themselves and one anodier ; so that they will go on their way with greater ejrewnspection, and pity due scorner who ridicules them.

176

Hopeful's first Convictions. here alone, I had by sleeping run the danger of death. I see it is true that the wise man saith, “Two are better than one."* Hitherto hath thy company been my mercy ; and thou shalt "have a good reward for thy labour.” (n)

Now then, said Christian, to prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.

With all my heart," said the other.
Chr. Where shall we begin?

Hope. Where God began with us :—but do you begin, if you please.

"When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,
And hear how these two Pilgrims talk together :
Yea, let them learn of them in any wise,
Thus to keep ope their drowsy slumb’ring eyes.
Saints' fellowship, if it be manag‘d well,

Keeps them awake, and that, in spite of hell.' Then Christian began, and said, I will ask you a question: how came you to think at first of doing as you do

Hope. Do you mean, how came I at first to look after the good of my soul ?

Chr. Yes, that is my meaning.

Hope. I continued a great while in the delight of those things which were seen and sold at our Fair ; things which I believe now would have, had I continued in thein still, drowned me in perdition and destruction.

Chr. What things were they?
Hope. All the treasures and riches of the world. Also I

now ?

* Eccles. iv. 9.

(n) 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 agree able dispensations sometimes succeeds 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 powerfully tends, through remaining depravity, to produce a lethargie 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 creditably in a varied course of trials and conflicts, often lose much of their vigour, activity and vigilance, in these fascinating circumstances. No situation, in which a believer can be placed, requires so much watchful ness: 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 conçaigs. tile author's own exposition of several particulars in the preceding allegory.

dience."*

His Strivings against them.

177 delighted inuch in rioting, revelling, drinking, swearing, lying, uncleanness, sabbath-breaking, and what not, that tended to destroy the soul. But I found at last by hearing and considering of things that are divine, which indeed I heard of you, as also of the beloved Faithful, that was put to death for his faith and good living in Vanity Fair, that the end of these things is death ;” and that "for these things' sake, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobe

Chr. And did you presently fall under the power of this conviction ?

Hope. No, I was not willing presently to know the evil of sin, nor the damnation that follows upon the commission of it; but endeavoured, when my mind at first began to be shaken with the word, to shut mine eyes against the light thereof.

Chr. But what was the cause of your carrying of it thus to the first workings of God's blessed Spirit upon you ?

Hope. The causes were-1. I was ignorant that this was the work of God upon me. I never thought that by awakenings for sin God at first begins the conversion of a sinner. 2. Sin was yet very sweet to my flesh, and I was loth to leave it. 3. I could not tell how to part with mine old companions, their presence and actions were so desirable unto

4. The hours in which convictions were upon me were such troublesome and such heart-aftrighting hours, that I could not bear, no not so much as, the remembrance of them upon my heart.

Chr. Then it seems, sometimes you got relief of your trouble.

Hope. Yes, verily, but it would come into my mind again; and then I should be as bad, nay worse than I was before.

Chr. Why, what was it that brought your sins to mind again?

Flope. Many things : as, if I did but meet a good man in the street; or if I have heard any read in the Bible ; or if mine head did begin to ache ; or if I were told that some of my neighbours were sick ; or if I heard the bell toll for some that were dead; or if I thought of dying myself; or if I heard that sudden death happened to others : but especially when I thought of myself, that I must quickly come to judsment.

Rom. vi. 21--23. Eph. v. 6.

me.

178 External Amendment Insufficient.

Chr. And could you at any time, with ease, get off the guilt of sin, when by any of these ways it came upon you :)

Hope. No, not heartily ; for then they got faster bold of my conscience : and then, if I did but think of going back to sin, (though my mind was turned against it, it would be double torment to me.

Chr. And how did you do then ?

Hope. I thought I must endeavour to mend my life ; for else, thought I, I am sure to be damned.

Chr. And did you endeavour to mend ?

Ilope. Yes; and fled froin not only my sins, but sinful company too, and betook me to religious duties, as praying, reading, weeping for sin, speaking truth to my neighbours, &c. These things I did, with many other, too much here to relate.

Chr. And did you think yourself well then ?

Hope. Yes, for a while ; but at the last my trouble came tumbling upon me again, and that over the neck of all my reformations.

Chr. How came that about, since you were now reformed?

Hope. There were several things brought it upon me; especially such sayings as these~ All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags :

:*_By the works of the law no man shall be justified :"_“When ye have done all these things, say, We are unprofitable:** with many more such like. From whence I began to reason with myself thus :-If all my righteousnesses are filthy rags ; if by the deeds of the law no man can be justified ; and if, when have done all, w are yet unprofitable-then 'tis but a folly to think of heaven by the law. I further thought thus : If a man runs a hundred pounds into the shopkeeper's debt, and after that shall pay,

for all that he shall fetch : yet, his old debt stands still in the book uncrossed, for the which the shopkeeper may sue him, and cast him into prison till he shall pay the debt.

Chr. Well, and liow did you apply this to yourself ?

* Isa. Ixiv, 6. Luke xvii. 10. Gal. ii. 16.

(0) 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 conscieuce 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.

A perfect Righteousness needful. 179 Hope. Why, I thought thus with myself, I have by my sins run a great way into God's book, and that my now reforming will not pay off that score ; therefore I should think still, under all my present amendments, ‘But how shall I be freed from that damnation, that I brought myself in danger of by my former transgressions ?

Chr. A very good application but pray go on.

Hope. Another thing that hath troubled me, even since my late amendments, is, that, if I look narrowly into the best of what I do now, I still see sin, new sin, mising itself with the best of that I do : so that now I am forced to conclude that, notwithstanding my former fond conceits of myself and duties, I have committed sin enough in one duty to send me to hell, though my former life had been faultless.

Chr. And what did you then do ? Hope. Do! I could not tell what to do, till I break my mind to Faithful ; for he and I were well acquainted. And he told me that unless I could obtain the righteousness of a man that never had sinned, neither mine own, nor all the righteousness of the world, could save me.

Chr. And did you think he spake true ? Hope. Had he told me so, when I was pleased and satisfied with mine own amendments, 1 bad called him fool for his pains ; but now, since I see mine own infirinity, and the sin that cleaves to my best performance, I have been forced to be of his opinion.

Chr. But did you think, when at first he suggested it to you, that there was such a man to be found, of whom it might justly be said that he never committed sin ?

Hope. I must confess the words at first sounded strangely, but, after a little more talk and company with him, I had full conviction about it.

Chr. And did you ask him what man this was, and how you must be justified by him **

Hope. Yes, and he told me it was the Lord Jesus, that dwelleth on the right hand of the Most High : And thus, said he, you must be justified by him—even by trusting to what he hath done by himself, in the days of his flesh, and suffered when he did hang on the tree. I asked him further how that man's righteousness could be of that efficacy to justify another before God ? And he told me he was the mighty God, and did what he did, and died the death also,

* Rom. iv. Col. i. Heb. x. 2 Pet, i.

« ForrigeFortsett »