Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

are

forted and thou art tormented (Luke xvi 19–31.)

Chr. Then I perceive it is not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.

Interp. You say truth ; ' For the things that are seen are temporal ; but the things that are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. iv. 18). But, though this be so, yet, since things present and our fleshly appetite are such near neighbours one to another; and again, because things to come and carnal sense such strangers one to another ; therefore it is that the first of these so suddenly fall into amity, and that distance is so continually between the second.

Then I saw in my dream that the Inter

A fire'- The doctrine of the true believer's final perseverance is here stated in so guarded a manner as to precludc every abuse of it. The einblein implies, that the soul is indeed quickened by special grace, and endued with holy affections; and this heavenly flame is not almost extinguished or covered with ashes for many years, and then revived a little at the closing scene; but it burns higher and hotter,' notwithstanding the opposition of depraved nature, and the unremitted efforts of Satan to quench it; for the Lord secretly feeds it with the oil of his grace. Unbelievers can persevere in nothing but impiety or hypocrisy : when a proSensor remarkably loses the vigour of his ailections, the reality of his conversion becomes doubtful, and he can take no warranted encouragement from the doctrine in quesiion; but when any one grows more spiritual, zealous, humble, and exemplary, in the midst of harassing temptations, while he gives the whole glory to the Lord, he may take comfort from the assurance, that he shall be kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation. Yet the way, in which the tempted are preserved, often so far exceeds their expectations, that they are a wonder to themselves : cvery thing seems to concur in giving Satan advantage against them, and his edire

preter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a fire* burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it to quench it ; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter.

Then said Christian, What means this?

The Interpreter answered, This fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart ; he that casts water upon it to extinguish and put it out, is the devil : but in that thou seest the fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the backside of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of which he did also continually cast, but secretly, into the fire.

Then said Christian, What means this? The Interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually with the oil of his grace maintains the work already begun in the heart : by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still (2 Cor. xii. 9). And in that thou sawest that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire ; that is to teach theo, that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul.

appear very successful ; yet they continue from year to year,

cleaving with purpose of heart unto the Lord,'trusting in his mercy, and desirous of living to his glory. The instruc tion especially inculcated by this emblem is, an entire reliance on the secret but powerful influence of divine grace, 10 maintain and carry on the sanctifying work that has been be gan in une soul.

I saw also that the Interpreter took him again by the hand, and led him into a pleasant* place, where was builded a stately palace, beautiful to behold ; at the sight of which Christian was greatly delighted : he saw also upon the top thereof, cerain persons walking, who were clothed all in gold.

Then said Christian, May we go in thither ?

Then the Interpreter took him and led him up towards the door of the palace ; and behold at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but durst not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his inkhorn before him, to take the name of him that should enter therein : he saw also, that in the doorway stood many men in armour to keep it, being resolved to do to the men that

** Pleasant'_Many desire the joys and glories of heaven (according to their carnal ideas of them,) but few are willing to fight the good fight of faith :' yet, without this fix. ed purpose of heart, the result of Divine grace, profession will end in apostacy :--the man began to build, but was not able to finish.' This is emphatically taught us by the next emblem. Salvation is altogether free and without price: but we must learn to value it so highly as to venture or sufser the loss of all things that we may win Christ;' or we shall not be able to break through the combined opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil. If we fear any mischief that our enemies can attempt against us, more than coming short of salvation, we shall certainly perish, note withstanding our notions and convictions. We should, therefore, count our cost, and pray for courage and constancy, that we may give in our names as in earnest to win the prize : tien, putting on the whole armour of God,' and relying on his grace, we must fight our way through with patience and resolution; while many, óbeing harnessed and carrying bows,' shamefullyó tura back in the day of battle.'

would enter what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze : at last, when every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of a very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, 'Set down my name, Sir :' the which when he had done, ho saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet upon his head, and rush towards the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man was not at all discouraged, but fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace ; at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying,

Come in, come in;

Eternal glory thou shalt win. So he went in, and was clothed with such garments as they. Then Christian smiled, and said, I think verily I know the meaning of this. Now, said Christian, let me go* hence.

• Let me go'— The time, spent in acquiring knowledge, and sound judgment, is not lost, though it may seem to retard a man's progress, or interfere wiih his more active services : and the next emblem is admirably suited to teach the young convert watchfulness and caution. Christian's discourse with the man in the iron caye sufficiently explains the author's meaning ; but it has been observed by several persons, that the man's opinion of his own case, does not prove that it was indeed desperate. Doubtless these fears pevail in sɔme cases of deep despondency, when there is

Nay, stay, said the Interpreter, till I have shewed thee a little more, and after that thou shalt go on thy way. So he took him by the hand again, and led him into a very dark room, where there sat a man in an iron cage

Now the man, to look on, seemed very sad. He sat with his eyes looking down to the ground, his hands folded together, and he sighed as if he would break his heart. Then said Christian, what means this ? At which the Interpreter bid him talk with the man.

Then said Christian to the man, What art thou ? The man answered, I am what I was not once.

Chr. What wert thou once ? The man said, I was once a fair and flourishing professor, both in mine own eyes, and also in the eyes of others : I once was, as I thought, fair for the celestial city, and had then even joy at the thoughts that I should get thither (Luke viii. 13).

Chr. Well, but what art thou now ?
Man. I am now a man of despair, and am

every reason to conclude them groundless; and we should always propose the free grace of the Gospel to those that have sinned in the most aggravated manner, when they become sensible of their guilt and danger : yet it is an awful fact, that some are thus shut up under despair,' beyond relief; and. It is impossible to renew them to repentance.' No true penitent, therefore, can be in this case : and we are commanded · in meekness to instruct those that oppose them. selves, is peradventure Goil will give them repentance.' But, at the same time, we should leave the doom of apparent apostates to God; and in prove their example, as a warning to ourselves and others, not to venture one step in so dange. rous a path. This our author has judiciously attempted, and we should be careful no to counteract his obvious intention

« ForrigeFortsett »