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with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burthen upon his back (Isa. Ixiv. 6; Luke xiv. 33 ; Psal xxxviii. 4; Hab. ii. 2.) I looked, and saw him open the book and read therein; and as he read he wept and trembled ; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, 'What shall I do ?' (Acts, ii. 37.)
fore kings. His face turned from luis own house' represents the simmer convinced that it is absolutely necessary to s:ibordinale all other concerns to the care of his inmortal soul, and to renounce every thing which interferes with that grand object : this makes him lose his former relish for the pleasures of sin, and even for the most lawful temporal satisfactions, while he trembles at the thought of impending destruction (Heb. xi. 8. 24–27.) • The book in his hand,' &c. instructe us, that sinners discover their real state and character, by reading and believing the Scriptures; that their first attention is often die rected to the denunciations of the wrath to come contained in thein, iind that such persons cannot but continue to search the word of God, though their grief and alarm be increased by every perusal. The burthen upon his back' represents that distressing sense of guilt, and fear of wrathi, which deeply convinced Finners cannot shake ofi"; the remembraxe of their sins is grievous to them, the burthen of them is intoler. able :' their consciences are oppressed with guilt, even on account of those actions in which their reighbours perceive no harm; their hearts tremble at the prospect of dangers of wliich others have no apprehension ; and they see an absoluto necessity of escaping from a situation in which others live most securely : for true faith, from the very first,“ sees things that are invisible.' In one way or other, therefore, they soon inanifest the earnestness of their ininds, in inquiring • what they must do to be saved ? The circumstances of these hupviliating convictions exceedingly vary ; but the life of faith and grace always begins with them: and they, who are wholly strangers to this experience, are Christians only in name and form:
• Ile knows no hope, who never knew a fear.'
In this plight* therefore he went home, and refrained himself as long as he could, that his wife and children should not perceive his dis
*' In thus plight'-—The contempt or indignation, which worldly people express towards thuse who are distreereil in conscience, commonly induces them to conceal their imuice face as long as they can, even from their relatives; but this son becomes impracticable. Natural aslection also, connect. ed with a view of the extreme danger to which a man seng the objects of his most tender attachments exposeil, but ot' which they have no apprehensions, will extort such earnest representations, warnings, and entreaties, as are here expressed. The city of Destruction (as it is afterwards calle) sig. nifies this present evil world, as doomed to the flames; or the condition of careless sinners, immersed in secular pursuits and pleasures, neglecting eternal things, and exposed to the unquencluable fire of hell,' at the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.' They who are ignorant of the Scriptures, anit unaccustomed to compare their own conduct with the Divine law, will be amazed at such discourse ; and, instead of duly regarding the warnings given them, will commonly ascrite them to enthusiasm or insanity; and as prophets, apostles, an: the Son of God hiinself, were looked upon in inis light by their contemporaries, we may be sure that no prudence, excellence, or benevolence, can exempt the consistent believer from the trial. Near relations will generally be the first to form this opinion of his case; and will devise various expedients to quiet his mind : diversions, company, feastings, absence from serious friends or books, will be prescribest. and by these nieans a false peace often succeeds a transient alarm. But when a genuine humiliating discovery of the evil and desert of sin has been made to the soul, such expedients will not alleviate, but increase, the anguish ; and will be folo lowed by still greater earnestness about a man's own salvation, anil that of others. This commonly strengthens prejudice, and induces obduracy: and contemptuous piiy gives place to resentment, ill usage, derision, or neglect. The disconsolate believer will then be driven into retirement, and relieve his burthened inind by reading the Scriptures, and meditation on his doleful case, with compassionate prayers for luis despisers : and thus he cows in tcars tilat seed from which the harvest of his future joy will surely be produced.
tress ; but he could not be silent long, becauso that his trouble increased : wherefore at length he borake his mind to his wife and children, and thus he began to talk to them :'( my dcar wife,' said he' and you the children of my bowels, I your dear friend am in myself undone, by reason of a burthen that lieth hard upon me : moreover, I am certainly informed that this our city will be burned with fire from heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except (the which yet I see not) some way of escape may be found, whereby we may be delivered.' At this his relations were sore amazed ; not for that they believed that what he had said to them was true, but because they thought some frenzy distemper had got into his head ; therefore, it drawing towards night, and they hoping that sleep might settle his brains, with all haste they got him to bed : but the night was as troublesome to him as the day; wherefore, instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears. So when the morning was come they would know how he did : he told them“ worse and worse. He also set to talking to them again, but they began to be hardened. They also thought to drive away his distemper by harsh and surly carriage to him ; sometimes they would deride, sometimes they would chide, and sometimes they would quite neg. lcct him. Wherefore hc began to retire himself to his chamber, to pray for and pity them; and also to condole his own misery. Ho
would also walk solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading and sometimes praying ; and thus for some days he spent his time.
Now I sawi upon a time when he was walking in the fields, that he was (as he was wont) reading in his book, and greatly distressed in his mind ; and as he read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying, 'What shall I do to be saved ?' (Acts xvi. 30, 31.)
I saw also that he looked this way and that way, as if he would run ; yet he stood still, because (as I perceived) he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and he asked, 'Wherefore dost thou cry ?
He answered, Sir, I perceive by the book in my hand that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second (Heb. ix 27 ; Job xvi. 21, 22; Ezek. xxii. 14.)
Then said Evangelist, Why not willing to die, since this life is attended with so many evils? The man answered, Because I fear that this burthen that is upon my back will sink me lower than the grave,
and shall fall ** Now I saw'—The Scriptures are indeed sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, as well as to shew us our guilt and danger; yet the Lord commonly uses the ministry of his servants to direct, into the way of peace, even those who have previously discovered their lost condition. Though convinced of the necessity of escaping from impending ruin, hey hesitate, not kn ing what to do, till Providence brings
acquainted with some faithful preacher of the Gospel, instructions afford an explicit answer to their secret
alter the way of salvation.
into Tophet (Isa. xxx 33.) And, Sir, if I ba not fit to go to prison, I am not fit to go to juug ment, and from thence to execution; and the thoughts of these things make me cry.
Then said Evangelist,* If this be thy condition, why standest thou still ? He answered, Because I know not whither to go. Then he gave him a parchment roll ; and there was written within, Flee from the wrath to comc' (Matt. iii. 7.)
The man therefore read it, and, looking upon Evangelist very carefully, said, Whither must I fee ?t Then said Evangelist, point
* Then said'--The ahle minister of Christ will deem it necessary to enforce the warning, • flee from the wrath to come,' even opon those who are alarmed about their souls ; because this is the proper way of exciting them to diligence and decision, and of preserving them from procrastination They, therefore, who would persuade such persons, that their fears are groundless, their guilt far less than they suppose, and their danger imaginary, use the most effectual means of soothing them into a fatal security. Nor can any discoveries of lenious guilt or helpless ruin in themselves produce despon. dency, provided the salvation of the Gospel te sully exhibited, and proposed to them.
tiwlither - The awakened sinner may be incapable for a time of perceiving the way of salvation by faith in Christ; for divine illumination is often very gradual. Thus, though the pilgrim could not see the gate, when Evangelist poinied it out to him, he thought he could discern the shining byht. Upright inquirers attend to the general instructions and encouragements of Scripture, and the declarations of the pardoning mercy of God; which by degrees lead them to the knowledge of Christ, and to faith in him : for, as our author says in a marginal note, ' Christ, and the way to him, cannot be found without the word.' Thus instructed, the pilgrim • began to run ;' for no persuasions or considerations can induce the man, who is duly in earnest about salvation, to neglect those things which lie knows to be his present dury: at it must ise expected that carnal relations will oppose wis,