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prudence, modelling a man's religion, is as ruinous as open vice and impiety; though it be very prevalent among decent and virtuous people. Such men attend to the reports that are circulated about the conversion of their neighbours, and often watch their opportunity of entering into discourse with them.
I 2..3. How now... There is great beauty in this dialogue, arising from the exact regard to character preserved throughout. Indeed this forms one of our author's peculiar excellencies; as it is a very difficult attainment, and always manifests a superiority of genius.—The self-satisfaction of WORLDLY-WISEMAN, his contempt of CHRISTIAN'S capacity, sentiments, and pursuits; his affected snearing compassion, and his censure of EVANGELIST's advice; his representation of the dangers and hardship of the way, and of the desperate ventures' of religious people ' to • obtain they know not what;' and his confident assumption, that CHRISTIAN's concern arose from weakness of intellect,' meddling with things too high' for him, hearkening to bad counsel, (that is, reading the word of God, and attending to the preaching of the gospel) and from distraction, as the natural consequence, are most admirably characteristic.-His arguments also are very specious, though wholly deduced from worldly considerations. He does not say, that EVANGELIST had not pointed out the way of salvation, or that wicked men are not in danger of future misery: but he urges, that so much concern about sin and the eternal world takes men off from a proper regard to their secular interests, to the injury of their families; that it prevents their enjoying comfort in domestic life, or in other providential blessings; that it leads them into perilous and distressing situations, of which their first terrors and despondings are only an earnest; that a troubled conscience may be quieted in a more expeditious and easy manner; and that they may obtain credit, comfort, and manifold advantages, by following prudent counsel. On the other hand,
CHRISTIAN not only speaks according to his name, but consistently with the character of a young convert. He makes no secret of his disquietude and terrors, and declares without reserve the method in which he sought relief. He owns, that he had lost his relish for every earthly comfort, and he desires to receive good counsel : but while he is prepared to withstand all persuasions to return home, he is not upon his guard against the insidious proposal of his carnal counsellor. He fears the wrath to come more than all the dreadful things which had been mentioned: but his earnestness to get present relief exposes him to the danger of seeking it in an unwarranted way. He has obtained from the scriptures a conviction of his guilt and danger; but, not having also learned the instructions of life, he does not discern the fatal tendency of the plausible advice given him by so reputable a person.—Every one, who has been in the way of making observations on these matters, must perceive how exactly this suits the case of numbers, when first brought to mind the one thing needful.
14..12. Morality... The village, MORALITY, is the emblem of that large company, who, in nations favoured with revelation, abstain from scandalous vices, and practise reputable duties, without any true fear or love of God, or regard to his authority or glory. This, connected with a system of notions, and a stint of external worship, is substituted in the place of christianity: but it is faulty in its principle, measure, and object; it results wholly from self-love; is. restricted to the qutward observance of some precepts selected from the scripture; and aims principally at the acquisition of reputation, distinction, or temporal advantages, with no more than a subordinate respect even to the interests of eternity: it is destitute of humility, delight, impartiality, and universality in obedience; it leaves the heart in the possession of some worldly idol, and never advances a man to the rank of a spiritual worshipper, or renders him meet for the peculiar pleasures of heaven. Yet this mutilated
kind of religion draws multitudes off from attending either to the holy requirements of the law, or to the humbling doctrines of the gospel. - The most noted inhabitant of this village does not derive his name, LEGALITY, from making the law of God the rule of his conduct, (for “ by the “ law is the knowledge of sin," which tends to increase the convinced sinner's distress;) but from his teaching men to depend on a defective obedience to a small part of the law, explained and lowered, according to the method of the scribes and pharisees. Such teachers, however, are admired by the wise men of this world, and are deemed very skilful in relieving troubled consciences, and recovering men from religious distractions !-His son Civility is the emblem of those who persuade themselves and others, that a decent, benevolent, and obliging behaviour, will secure men from all future punishment, and ensure an inheritance in heaven, if indeed there be any such place! Such counsellors can ease the consciences of ignorant persons when superficially alarmed, almost as well as those who superadd a form of godliness, a few doctrinal opinions, and a regard to some precepts of the gospel. Both are nigh at hand in every place: and the wise men of this world are ever ready to direct convinced sinners to seek relief from them: they allow, that it is better for those who have been immoral and profligate to reform their lives; for this will meet with the approbation of their relatives, and conduce to their advantage, while the strait gate and narrow way would prove their ruin. Most pilgrims are assailed by such counsellors; and many are not able to detect the fallacy of their reasonings till their own folly corrects them.
15..9. High hill...CHRISTIAN must go past mount SINAI to the village MORALITY: not that such men, as depend on their own reformation and good works, pay a due regard to the holy law which was delivered from that mountain, (for “ they are alive without the law;") but because they substitute their own scanty obedience in the
place of Christ's righteousness and atonement. They who are not duly humbled and enlightened, perceiving little danger, pass on quietly and securely : but the sinner who is deeply convinced of his guilt finds every attempt “ to “ establish his own righteousness" entirely abortive: the more narrowly he compares his conduct and character with the holy law, the greater is his alarm ; and he trembles lest its curses should immediately fall upon him, with vengeance more tremendous than the most awful thunder, Then the counsels of worldly wisdom appear in their true light, and the sinner is prepared to welcome the gospel of free salvation: but if the minister, whose instructions he had forsaken, meet him, his terror will unite with conscious shame; and he will even be tempted to shun his faithful friend, through fear of his merited reproofs.
17..14. Stand still...Our author judged it right, in dealing with persons under great terror of conscience, to aim rather at preparing them for solid peace, than hastily to give them comfort.--Men may be greatly dismayed, and in some degree truly humbled, yet not be duly sensible of the aggravations and degree of their guilt. In this case, further instructions, as to the nature and heinousness of their offences, are needful to excite them to proper diligence and self-denial, and to prepare them for solid peace and comfort. Whereas a well-meant, compassionate, but injudicious,method, of proposing consolatory topics indiscriminately to all under trouble of conscience, lulls many into a fatal sleep; and gives others a transient peace, which soon terminates in deeper despondency: like a wound, hastily skinned over by an ignorant practitioner, instead of being soundly cured by the patient attention of a skilful surgeon. The communica . tion of more knowledge may indeed augment a man's terror and distress; but it will produce deeper humiliation, and thus effectually warn him against carnal counsellors and legal dependences. Whatever may be generally thought of ' turning aside' from the gospel, it is a direct refusal to
hearken to CHRIST; and they who do so run into misery, and leave the way of peace, to the hazard of their souls; even though moral decency and formal piety be the result". Such denunciations are despised by the stout-hearted, but the contrite in spirit, when conscious of this guilt, are cast by them into the deepest distress: 90 that they would fall into despair did not the ministers of CHRIST encourage them by evangelic topics.-The following lines are here inserted, as before, in the old editions:
• When christians unto carnal men give ear,
A saint the way to bondage and to woe.' 18..12. To church... WORLDLY-WISEMAN goes to church at the town of MORALITY: for such men support their confidence and reputation for religion by attending on those preachers, who substitute a proud scanty morality in the place of the gospel. This coincides with their secular views. dispositions, and interests; they avoid the cross, verily thinking they have found out the secret of reconciling the friendship of the world with the favour of GOD; and then they set up for teachers of the same convenient system to their neighbours !
19..20. He to whom... When CHRIST had finished his work on earth, the SINAI covenant with ISRAEL was abrogated. The Jews, therefore, by cleaving to the Mosaic law as a complex covenant of works, were left in bondage and under condemnations and all professed christians, who thus depend on notions, sacraments, religious duties, and morality, to the neglect of CHRIST and the new covenant in his blood, are entangled in the same fatal error. Legality can only lead a man to a false peace: it can never deliver a sinner from guilt, or quiet the conscience of one who is really humbled and enlightened.-The scriptures adduced by EVANGELIST are so pertinent and conclusive against the
. Gal. v. 4.