Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

47..15. The Porter... The Porter's enquiries and Chris. TIAN's answers exhibit our author's sentiments on the caution, with which members should be admitted into the communion of the faithful: and it very properly shows, how ministers, by private conversation, may form a judgement of a man's profession, whether it be intelligent and the result of experience, or notional and formal.-CHRISTIAN assigned his sinful sleeping as the cause of his arriving so late: when believers are oppressed with prevailing doubts of their acceptance, they are backward in joining themselves to God's people; and this often tempts them to sinful delays, instead of exciting them to greater diligence. The subsequent discourse of Discretion with the pilgrim represents such precautions and enquiries into the character and views of a professor, as may be made use of by any body of christians in order to prevent the intrusion of improper persons. The answers, given to the several questions proposed, constitute the proper external qualifications for admission to the Lord's table, when there is nothing in a man's principles and conduct inconsistent with them: the Lord alone can judge how far they accord to the inward dispositions and affections of the heart.-By the little discourse of others belonging to the family with CHRISTIAN previous to his admission, the author probably meant, that members should be admitted into chris. tian societies with the approbation at least of the most prudent, pious, and candid part of those that constitute them; and according to the dictates of those graces or endowments here personified.-By giving him something to eat before

supper,' he probably referred to those preparatory sermons and devotions, by which the administration of the Lord's supper was then frequently and with great propriety introduced.

49..13. Come... The further conversation of Piety and her companions with CHRISTIAN was subsequent to his admission, and represents the advantage of the communion of the saints, and the best method of conducting it. To lead

believers to a serious review of the way in which they have been led hitherto, is every way profitable, as it tends to increase humiliation, gratitude, faith, and hope; and must, therefore, proportionably conduce to the glory of God, and the edification of their brethren.

51..27. Prudence... Men may learn by human teaching to profess any doctrine, and relate any experience; nay, general convictions, transient affections, and distinct notions may impose upon the man himself, and he may mistake them for true conversion. The best method of avoiding this dangerous rock consists in daily self-examination, and constant prayer to be preserved from it: and, as far as we are concerned to form a judgement of others, in order to perform our several duties towards them, prudence is especially required, and will suggest such questions as follow in this place. The true christian's inmost feelings will best explain the answers, which no exposition can elucidate to those who are unacquainted with the conflict to which they refer. The golden hours (fleeting and precious) are earnests of the everlasting holy felicity of heaven.

53.... Charity... When a man knows the value of his own soul, he will become greatly solicitous for the souls of others. It is, therefore, a very suspicious circumstance, when a professor shows no earnestness in persuading those he loves best to seek salvation also: and it is absurd to excuse this negligence by arguments taken from God's secret purposes; when these have no influence on the conduct of the same persons in their temporal concerns.-CHARITY's discourse with CHRISTIAN shows what our author thought to be the duties of believers in this most important concern; and what he understood to be the real reasons why carnal men reject the gospel.

55.-5. Supper... The administration of the Lord's supper is here emblematically described. In it the Person, humiliation, sufferings, and death of CHRIST, with the mo. tive and event of them, are kept in perpetual remembrance.

[ocr errors]

By seriously contemplating these interesting subjects, with the emblems of his body wounded, and his blood shed, before our eyes; and by professing our cordial acceptance of his purchased salvation, and surrender of ourselves to his scrvice--we find every holy affection revived and invigorated, and our souls melted into deep repentance, inspired with calm confidence, animated to thankful, zealous, self-denying obedience, and softened into tender affection for our fellow christians, with compassionate forgiving love of our most inveterate enemies. The believer will readily apply the allegorical representation of the Lord of the hill” to the love of Christ for lost sinners, which no words can ade. quately describe, for “ it passeth knowledge."

56..8. Peace... That peace of conscience and serenity of mind, which follow a humble upright profession of faith in CHRIST, and communion with him and his people, is not the effect of a mere. outward observance; but of that inward disposition of the heart which is thus cultivated, and of the Lord's blessing on his own appointments. This is here represented by the chamber PEACE: it raises the soul above the care and bustle of this vain world, and springs from the healing beams of the Sun of righteousness.

..17. Study... Christian communion, properly conducted, tends to enlarge the believer's acquaintance with the holy scriptures: and this conduces to the increase of faith, hope, love, patience, and fortitude; to animate the soul in emu. lating the illustrious examples there exhibited, and to furnish instruction for every good work.

57..17. Armoury... The provision, which is made in Christ and his fulness, for maintaining and increasing, in the hearts of his people, those holy dispositions and affections, by the vigorous exercise of which victory is obtained over all their enemies, is here represented by the armoury?. This suffices for all who seek to be supplied from it, how many soever they be. We ought, therefore, “ to take to 1 Is. XIV. 6, 7.

2 Eph. vi. 10-18. Thess, y. Q.

“ ourselves the whole armour of God," and " put it on," by diligently using all the means of grace; and we may assist others, by our exhortations, counsels, example, and prayers, in doing the same.—The following allusions to the scripture history, which have a peculiar propriety in an allegory, intimate that the means of grace are made effectual by the power of God, which we should depend on, in implicit obedience to his appointments.

58..11. Mountains... The DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS, as seen at a distance, represent those distinct views of the privileges and consolations attainable in this life, with which believers are sometimes favoured, when attending on divine ordinances, or diligently making a subsequent improvement of them. The hopes thus inspired prepare them for meeting and pressing forward through dangers and hardships: this is the pre-eminent advantage of christian communion, and can only be enjoyed at some special seasons, when the Sun of righteousness shines upon the soul.

..27. Now he... The ordinances of public or social worship are only the means of being religious, not the essence of religion itself. Having renewed our strength by waiting on the Lord, we must go forward, by attending with increasing diligence to the duties of our several stations, and preparing to resist temptations, which often assault us after special seasons of divine consolation. - Ministers, therefore, and experienced believers should warn young converts to expect trials and conflicts, and recommend to them such companions as may be a comfort and help in their pilgrimage.

59..19. Down... The humiliation requisite for receiving CHRIST, obtaining peace, and making a good confession of the faith, is general and indistinct, compared with that which subsequent trials and conflicts will produce: and the Lord commonly dispenses comfort and humiliating experiences alternately, that the believer may neither be elated nor depressed above measure':-the valley of HUMILIATION,

2. Cor. xii. 1-5.

[ocr errors]

therefore, is very judiciously placed beyond the house BEAUTIFUL. Some explain it to signify a christian's outward circumstances, when reduced to poverty, or subjected to great temporal loss by professing the gospel; and perhaps the author had this idea in his mind; yet it could only be viewed as the means of producing inward humiliation.In going down into the valley, the believer will greatly need the assistance of discretion, piety, charity, and prudence, and the recollection of the instructions and counsels of such christians as are eminent for these endowinents: for humilia. ting dispensations and experiences excite the latent evils of the heart, and often cause men to speak and act unadvisedly; so that, notwithstanding every precaution, the review will commonly discover many things which demand the remorse and sorrow of deep repentance.

60..5. Spied... Under discouraging circumstances the be. liever will often be tempted to murmur, despond, or seek relief from the world. Finding that his too sanguine expec. tations are not answered; that he grows worse rather than better in his own opinion of himself; that his comforts are transitory; and that much reproach, contempt, and loss, are incurred by his profession of religion, discontent will often rise up

in his heart, and weakness of faith will expose him to sharp conflicts.—Mr. BUNYAN, having experienced, in an uncommon degree, the most dreadful temptations, was probably led by that circumstance to speak on this subject, in language not very intelligible to those who have been exempted from such painful exercises of mind. The nature of his work required, that they should be described under outward emblems; but the inward suggestions of evil spirits are especially intended. These seem to have peculiar access to the imagination, and are able to paint before that illusive faculty the most alluring or terrifying representations, as if they were realities.—APOLLYON signifies the destroyer '; and in carrying on the work of destruction, fallen angels

Revelis. 11.

« ForrigeFortsett »