« ForrigeFortsett »
Faithful was tempted by Adam the First. 95 were those of his own begetting. Then I asked how many chillren he had? He said that he had but three daughters, "the Lust of the flesh, the Lust of the eyes, and the Pride of life; and that I should marry them if I would. Then I asked how long time he would have me to live with him ? And he told me, as long as he lived himself.
Chr. Well, and what conclusion came the Old man and
you to at last?
Faith. Why, at first I found myself somewhat inclinable to go with the man, for I thought he spake very fair ; but looking in his forehead as I talked with him, I saw there written, “Put off the old man with his deeds.”
Chr. And bow then ?
Faith. Then it came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said, and however he flattered, when he got me home to his house, he would sell me for a slave. So l bid him forbear to talk, for I would not come near the door of his house. Then he reviled me, and told me, that he would send such a one after me that should make
soul. So I turned to go away from him; but just as I turned myself to go thence, I felt him take hold of my flesh, and gave me such a deadly twitch back, that I thought he had pulled part of me after himself: this made me cry, "O wretched man!”+-So I went on my way up the bill. (f)
Now, when I had got about half way up, I looked behind me, and saw one coming after me, swift as the wind; so he overtook me just about the place where the settle stands.
Just there, said Christian, did I sit down to rest me; but being overcome with sleep, I there lost this Roll out of my bosom.
Faith. But, good brother, hear me out: so soon as the man overtook me, he was but a word and a blow, for down * 1 John ü. 16.
+ Rom. vii. 24.
() Those Christians, who, by strong faith or assured hope, endure hardships more cheerfully than their brethren, may sometimes be exposed to greater danger from the allurements of outward objects. Deep humiliation and great anxiety about the event, in many instances, tepl to repress the lusts of the heart by supplying a continual succession of other thoughts and ears; while constant encouragement, readily attained, too often leaves a inan to experience them inori forcibly. Nay, the same persons, who under pressing solicitude seem to be entinly delivered from some peculiar corruptions, find them revive and become very importunate when they bave obtained more confidence about their salvatiun. The Old Adanı, the corrupt nature, proves a constant snare to many believers, by its thirsting after the pleasures, riches, hovours, and pride of the world; nor can the victory be secured with out great difficulty and trouble, and strong faith and forvent prayer.
Faithful was almost slain by Moses. he knocked me, and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again, I asked him wherefore he served me so ? He said, because of my secret inclining to Adam the First : and with that he struck me another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down backward : so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again I cried him mercy: but he said, I know not how to shew mercy; and with that knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me, but that one came by and bid him forbear.
Chr. Who was that that bid him forbear?
Faith. I did not know him at first, but as he went by I perceived the holes in his hands and in his side: then I concluded that he was our Lord. So I went up the hill.
Chr. That man that overtook you was Moses. He spareth none,
neither knoweth he how to shew mercy to those that transgress his law.
Faith. I know it very well; it was not the first time that he has met with me. 'Twas he that came to me when I dwelt securely at home, and that told me he would burn my house over my head if I staid there. (5)
Chr. But did you not see the house that stood there on the top of that hill on the side of which Moses met you
? Faith. Yes, and the lions too, before I came at it: but, for the lions, I think they were asleep; for it was about noon :-and, because I had so much of the day before me, I passed by the Porter and came down the hill." (h)
(8) The doctrine of Moses did not essentially differ from that of Christ : but the giving
the law, ministration of co emnation to all sinners, for ed so prominent a part of his dispensation, in which the gospel was exhibited under types and shadows, that "the law” is said to have been "given by Moses," while "grace aud truth came by Jesus Christ;" especially, as the shadows were of no further use when the Substance was come. Even such desires of things forbidden as are effectually opposed and repressed, being contrary to the spirituality of the precept, “Thou shalt not covet,” often greatly discourage the new convert, who does not duly recollect, that the gospel is intended to relieve those who fet! themselves justly condemned by the law. Yet these terrors prove the occasion of deeper humiliation, and greater simplicity of dependence on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, as “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Many for a time escape discouragement, because they are but superfinally acquainted with their own hearts; yet it is proper they should be further instrueted by such conflicts as are here described, in order to their greater stability, tenderness of conscience, and compassion for their brethren, in the subsequent part of their pilgrimage.
(h) This circumstance seems to imply, that, in our author's judgment, even eminent believers sometimes decline entering into communion with their brethren, according to his sieu's of it ; and that very lively affections and strong consolations may render them less
Faithful refutes Discontent.
97 Chr. He told me indeed, that he saw you go by; but I wish
you had called at the house, for they would have shewed you so many rarities, that you would scarce have forgot them to the day of your death. But pray tell me, did you meet nobody in the Valley of Humility ?
Faith. Yes, I met with one Discontent, who would willingly have persuaded me to go back again with him : his reason was, for that the Valley was altogether without honour. He told me moreover, that there to go was the way to disoblige all my friends, as Pride, Arrogancy, Self-conceit, Worldly-glory, with others, who, he knew, as he said, would be very much offended if I made such a fool of myself as to wade through this Valley.
Chr. Well, and how did you answer him ?
Faith. I told him that although all these that he named might claim kindred of me, and that rightly, (for indeed they were my relations according to the flesh ;) yet since I became a Pilgrim they have disowned me, as I also liave rejected them, and therefore they are to me now no more than if they had never been of my lineage. I told him, moreover, that as to this Valley he had quite misrepresented the thing; for "before honour is humility," "and a haughty spirit before a fall.”. Therefore, said I, I had rather go through this Valley to the honour that was so accounted by the wisest, than choose that which he esteemed most worth our affections. (i)
Chr. Met you with nothing else in that Valley ?
Faith. Yes, I met with Shame; but of all the men that I attentive to externals. Indeed he deemed this a disadvantage and a mistake, (which seems intimated by Faithful's not calling either at the House of the Interpreter, or at the house Beautiful.) yet that is not a sufficient reason why other Christians should not cordially urite with them. This is a beantiful example of that candour, in respect of those things about which pious persons differ; that consists with decided firmness in the great essentials of faith and holiness.
(i) While some believers are most tried with inward fears and conflicts, others are more tempted to reine at the outward degradation, reproach or ridicule, to which religion exposes them. A man perhaps, at first, may flatter himself with the hope of avoiding the peculiarities and extravagances, which have brought enmity or contempt on some professors of the gospel; and of insuring respect and affection, by caution, uprightpess and benevolence : but further experience and knowledge constrain him to adopt and avow sentiments, and associate with persons, that the world despists. And, seeing himself invincibly impelked by his conscience, to a line of conduct which insures the reproach of enthusiasm and folly the loss of friends, and manifold mortifications, he is powerfully assaulted by discontent ; and teinpted to repine, that the way to heaven lies through such humiliations and worldly disappointinents : till the considerations, adduced in Faithful's answer, enable him at length novereome this assailant, and to "seek the honour that cometh from God only,"
Faithful is assaulted by Shame. met with in my pilgrimage, he, I think, bears the wrong name. The other would be said, nay, after little
argumentation and somewhat else : but this bold-faced Shame would never have done.
Chr. Why, what did he say to you?
Faith. What! why he objected against religion itself. He said, It was a pitiful, low, sneaking business for a man to mind religion; he said, that a tender conscience was an unmanly thing; and that for a man to watch over his words and ways, so as to tie up himself from that hectoring liberty that the brave spirits of the times accustom themselves unto, would make him the ridicule of the times. He objected also, that but few of the mighty, rich, or wise, were ever of my opinion; nor any of them neither, before they were persuaded to be fools, and to be of a voluntary fondness to venture the loss of all for nobody else knows what.* He, moreover objected the base and low estate and condition of those that were chiefly the Pilgrims of the times in which they lived; also their ignorance, and want of understanding in all natural science. Yea, he did hold ine to it at that rate also about a great many more things than here I reiate; as, that it was a shame to sit whining and mourning under a sermon, and a shame to come sighing and groaning home; that it was a shame to ask my neighbour forgiveness for petty faults, or to make restitution where I had taken from any. He said also, that religion made a man grow strange to the great, because of a few vices, (which he called by finer names ;) and made him own and respect the base, because of the same religious fraternity; and is not this, said he, a shame?
Chr. And what did you say to hia ?
Faith. Say! I could not tell what to say at first. Yes, he put ine so to it that my
face: even this Shame fetched it up, and has almest beat me quite off. Bat at last I began to consider that "that which is highly esteemed among men is had in abomination with God.”+ And I thought again, this shame tells me what men are; but it tells me nothing what God or the word of God is. And I thought moreover, that at the day of doom we shall not be doomed to death or life, according to the hectoring spirits of the world, but according to the wisdom and law of the Highest. Therefore, thought I, what God says is best, is best,
blood came up
* John vii. 48. 1 Cor. i. 26. . 18. Phil. iii. 7-9.
Luke xvi. 15.
Pilgrims need Vigilance.
99 though all the men in the world are against it: seeing then that God prefers his religion ; seeing God prefers a tender conscience; seeing they that make themselves fools for the kingdom of heaven are wisest; and that the poor man that loveth Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates him ; Shame, depart, thou art an enemy to my salvation ; shall I entertain thee against my sovereign Lord? how then shall I look him in the face at his coming ? Should I now be ashamed of his ways and servants, how can I expect the blessing p* But indeed this Shame was a bold villain; I could scarcely shake him out of my company: yea, he would be haunting of me, and continually whispering me in the ear, with some one or other of the infirmities that attend religion : but at last I told him, 'twas but in vain to attempt further in this business; for those things that he disdained, in those did I see most glory: and so at last I got past this importunate one. (c)
* Mark viïi. 38.
(k Persons of a peculiar turn of mind, when enabled to overcome temptations to discontent about worldly degradation, are exceedingly prone to be influenced by a false shame, and to profess religion with a timid caution ; to be afraid of declaring their sentiments with freedoin in some places and companies, even when the most favourable opportunity occurs ; to shun in part the society of those whom they most love and esteem, lest they should be involved in the contempt cast on them ; to be reserved and inconstant in attending on the ordinances of God, entering a protest against vice and irreligion, bearing testimony to the truth, and attempting to promote the gospel: being apprehensive lest the se things should deduct from their reputation for good sense, prudence, learning, or liberality of mind. Men, who are least exposed to those conflicts in which Christian was engaged, are oft n most baffled by this enemy : nor can others readily make proper allowances for them in this case ; any more than they can for such as experience those dark temptations, of which they have no conception. Constitution, habits, connexions, extensive acquaintance with mankind, and an excess of sensibility, uniteri to that pride which is common to man, continually suggest objections to every thing the world despises, which they can hardly answer to themselves, and excite such alarms as they cannot surmount : while a delicate sense of propriety, and the specious name of prudence, supply them with a kind of hail excuse for their timidity. The constant trouble which this criminal and unreasonable shame occasions some persons, contrary to their judgment, endeavours and prayers, gave our author the idea, that this enemy bears a wrong name. Many a suggestion made to the mind in this respect from time to time, is so natural, and has so strong a party within, (especially in those who are more desirous of honour than of wealth or pleasure ;) that men can scarcely beip feeling for the moment as if there were truth in though they know upon reflection that it is most irrational. Nay, these feelings insensibly warp their conduct ; though they are continually self-condemned on the retrospect. There are some who hardly ever get the better of this false shaine ; and it often brings their sincerity into doubt, both with them selves and others : but flourishing Christians at kngth in good measure rise superior to it, by such considerations as are here adduced, and by earnest persevering prayer.