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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
themselves, if peradventure God will give them repent, “ ance." But, at the same time, we should leave the doom of apparent apostates to God; and improve their example, as a warning to ourselves and others, not to venture one step in so dangerous a path.---This our author has judiciously attempted, and we should be careful not to counteract his obvious intention.
36..16. In hope...Our safety consists in a due propora tion of hope and fear: when devoid of hope, we resemble a ship without an anchor; when unrestrained by fear, we are like the same vessel under full sail without ballast'. Indiscriminate censures of all fear as the result of unbelief, and unguarded commendations of strong confidence, without respect to the spirit and conduct of professors, not only leads to much self-deception, but also tends to make believers unstable, unwatchful, and even uncomfortable; for the humble often cannot attain to that confidence that is represented almost as essential to faith; and true comfort is the effect of watchfulness, diligence, and circumspection.–Upon the whole, what lessons could possibly have been selected of greater importance, or more suited to establish the new convert, than these are which our author has most ingeniously and agreeably inculcated, under the emblem of the INTERPRETER's curiosities. They are indeed the principal subjects which faithful ministers enforce, publicly and in private, on all who begin to profess the gospel ; and which every true disciple of Christ daily seeks to have more clearly
1 Pet. i. 13-17.
discovered to his mind, and more deeply impressed upon his heart.
37..1. Now I saw... Divine illumination in many respects tends to quicken the believer's hopes and fears, and to increase his earnestness and diligence: but nothing can finally relieve him from his burden, except the clear discovery of the nature and glory of redemption. With more general views of the subject, and an implicit reliance on God's mercy through JESUS CHRIST, the humbled sinner enters the way of life, which is walled by salvation : yet he is oppressed with an habitual sense of guilt, and often bowed down with fears, till "the Comforter, who glorifies CHRIST, receives of “ his and shows it to him"."-When in this divine light the soul contemplates the Redeemer's cross, and discerns more clearly his love to lost sinners in thus dying for them; the motive and efficacy of his intense sufferings; the glory of the divine perfections harmoniously displayed in this surprising expedient for saving the lost; the honour of the divine law and government, and the evil and desert of sin most energetically proclaimed, in this way of pardoning transgressors and reconciling enemies; and the perfect freeness and sufficiency of this salvation;-then “his conscience, " is purged from dead works to serve the living God," by a simple reliance on the atoning blood of EMMANUEL, This deliverance from the burden of guilt is in some respects final, as to the well instructed and consistent believer: his former sins are buried, no more to be his terror and distress. He will indeed be deeply humbled under a sense of his guilt, and sometimes he may question his acceptance: but his distress, before he understood the way of deliverance, was habitual, except in a few transient seasons of relief, and often oppressed him when most diligent and watchful; but now he is only burdened when he has been betrayed into sin, or when struggling with peculiar temptations; and he constantly finds relief by looking to the cross. Many indeed
i John xvi. 14.
never attain to this habitual peace: this is the effect of remaining ignorance, error, or negligence, which scriptural instructions are the proper means of obviating.–But it was not probable that our author should, so to speak, draw the character of his hero from the lowest order of hopeful professors; it may rather call for our admiration, that, in an allegory, (which is the peculiar effort of a vigorous imagination) he was preserved, by uncommon strength of mind and depth of judgement, from stating CHRISTIAN's experience above the general attainments of consistent believers, under solid instructions.
..20. He looked...CHRISTIAN's tears, amidst his gladness, intimate, that deliverance from guilt, by faith in the atoning sacrifice of CHRIST, tends to increase humiliation, sorrow for sin, and abhorrence of it; though it mingles even those affections with a sweet and solid pleasure.-By the 'three
shining ones,' the author might allude to the ministration of angels as conducive to the comfort of the heirs of salvation: but he could not mean to ascribe CHRISTIAN'S confidence to any impressions, or suggestion of texts to him by a voice, or in a dream ; any more than he intended, by his view of the cross, to sanction the account that persons of heated imaginations have given, of their having seen one hang on a cross, covered with blood, who told them their sins were pardoned; while it has been evident, that they never understood the spiritual glory, or the sanctifying tendency of the doctrine of a crucified Saviour.–Such things are the mere delusions of enthusiasm, from which our author was remarkably free: but the nature of an allegory led him.' to this method of describing the happy change that takes place in the pilgrim's experience, when he obtains peace and joy in believing. His uniform doctrine sufficiently shows, that he considered spiritual apprehensions of the nature of the atonement as the only source of genuine peace and comfort. And, as the ' mark in the forehead' plainly signifies the renewal of the soul to holiness, so that the mind of
Christ may appear in the outward conduct, connected with an open profession of the faith, while the ' roll with a seal upon
it' denotes such an assurance of acceptance, as appears most clear and satisfactory, when the believer mose attentively compares his views, experiences, desires, and purposes, with the holy scriptures,-so he could not possibly intend to ascribe such effects to any other agent than the . Holy Spirit; who, by enabling a man to exercise all filial affections towards God in an enlarged degree, as “the Spirit " of adoption, bears witness" with his conscience, that God is reconciled to him, having pardoned all his sins; that he is justified by faith in the righteousness of EMMANUEL; and that he is a child of God, and an heir of heaven. These things are clear and intelligible to those who have experienced this happy change; and the abiding effects of their joy in the Lord, upon their dispositions and conduct, (like the impression of the seal after the wax is cooled) distinguish it from the confidence and comfort of hypocrites and enthusiasts. It must, however, continue to be " the secret of the Lord, with " them that fear him, "" hidden manna," and " a white stone,
having in it a new name written, which no man know" eth saving he that receiveth it!."-Here again we meet with an engraving, and the following lines
• Who's this? The pilgrim. How! 'Tis very true: Old things are past away; all's become new. Strange! he's another man, upon my word; They be fine feathers that make a fine bird.' 38..11. I saw... We were before informed, that other ways butted down upon' the straight way; and the connection of the allegory required the introduction of various characters, besides that of the true believer. Many may outwardly (walk in the ways of religion, and seem to be pilgrims, who are destitute of those " things which accompany
salvation." The three allegorical persons next introduced are nearly
1 Ps. XIV. 14. Rev, ii. 17.
related; they appear to be pilgrims, but are a little out of the way, asleep, and fettered. Many of this description are found, where the truth is preached, as well as elsewhere : they hear, and learn to talk about, the gospel; have transient convictions, which are soon quieted; cleave to the world, and rest more securely in the bondage of sin and SATAN, by means of their profession of religion. They reject or pervert all instruction, hate all trouble, yet are confident that every thing is and will be well with them ; while teachers after their own hearts lull them with a Syren's song, by confounding the form with the power of godliness: and if any one attempt, in the most affectionate manner, to warn them of their danger, they answer, (according to the tenor of the words here used) - Mind your own business; we see
no danger; you shall not disturb our composure, or induce
us to make so much ado about religion ; see to yourselves, * and leave us to ourselves.' Thus they sleep on till death and judgement awake them.
39..1. Yet... The true christian will always be troubled when he thinks of the vain-confidence of 'many professors : but he is more surprised by it at first than afterwards ; for he sets out with the idea, that all apparently religious people sincerely seek the salvation of God: but at length experience draws his attention to those parts of scripture which mention tares among the wheat, and foolish virgins among the wise.--FORMALIST and HYPOCRISY soon come in his way: these near relations represent such as by notions and external observances deceive themselves; and those who more grossly attempt to impose upon others. They are both actúated by vain-glory, and seek the applause of men in their religious profession and most zealous performances; while the credit thus acquired subserves also their temporal interests : but repentance, conversion, and the life of faith, would not only cost them too much labour, but destroy the very principle by which they are actuated. By a much shorter 'cut,' they become a part of the visible church, are satisfied