The ghus, plantes, sons, passions, ad distinctions die wonii, ure as transicta aad froloss as the events of the fair-day; எம் hich the hildren are iehgires, bat which every 1.25 A sense con emas. SOLOMO», after a um.pice experiment, pronounced the whole to be " vznity " of vanities;" the verest vanity imaginable, a comples vanity, za accaraslation of cyphers, a lottery consisting eaureiy oi blaks, every earthly objeâ beisg unsuitable to the wants of the rational sril, unsubstamial, unsatisfactory, irksote, disappointing, and perishinzYet this trafic of vanities is kept up all the gear: because the carnal mind always haakers aver one or other of these worldly trifles, and longs' for change of follies, and relays of joy; while objects uired to its leverish thirst are always at hand to allure i, deriving their efficacy from continually pressing, as it were, on the senses. When our first parents were fatally prevailed on to join SATAX's apostacy, they " forsook the " Fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves broš “ ken cisternis ;" and the idolatry, of seeking happiness from the creature instead of the Creator, has been universal among all their posterity. Since the promise of a Saviour opened to fallen men a door of hope, the rempter has continually tried w allure them by outward objects, or induce them by the dread of pain and suffering, to " neglect so great salvation.” Thus the prince of the devils sets up this fair; and by teache ing men to abuse the good creatures of God to vile purposes, or to expect from them such satisfaction as they were never meant to afford, he hath used them as baits to the ambition, avarice, levity, and sensuality of the carnal mind. No crime has ever been committed on earth, or conceived in the heart of man, which did not arise from this universal apostacy and idolatry; from the excess, to which the insufficiency of the object to answer the proposed end, gives rise; and from the vile passions, which the jarring interests or inclinations of trumberless competitors for honour, power, wealth, and pleasure, cannot fail to excite. As the areams of impiety

and vice, which flow from this source, are varied, according to men's constitutions, educations, habits, and situations: "Bo different worldly pursuits predominate in divers nations, or stages of civilization. Hence the manifold variations in the human character, which equal the diversity of their complexions, shape, or capacities, though they be all of one nature. To this an allusion is made by the rows' in this fair. The merchandize of Rome, which suited a rude and ignorant age, has now given place to the more plausible wares of sceptical philosophers, which are more agreeable to the pride of learning and human reasoning.--Even things lawful in themselves, when sought, or possessed in a manner which is not consistent with “ seeking first the kingdom of * God, and his righteousness,” become allurements of SATAN, to draw sinners into his fatal snare.

101..25. The way ..Christianity does not allow men to “ bury their talent in the earth,” or to put their light under " a bushel:" they should not “ go out of the world,” or retire into cloysters and deserts: and, therefore, they must all go through this fair. Thus our Lord and Saviour en dured all the temptations and sufferings of this evil world, without being at all impeded or entangled by them, or stepping in the least aside to avoid them. The age in which he lived peculiarly abounded in all possible allurements; and he was exposed to such enmity, contempt, and sufferings, as could never be exceeded or equalled. But " He went about doing "good;" and his whole conduct, as well as his indignant repulse of the tempter's insolent offer, hath shown emphatically his judgement of all earthly things, and exhibited to us“ an example that we should follow his steps.”-Here are inserted the following lines

• Behold VANITY FAIR! The pilgrims there

Are chained, and stoned beside:
Even so it was our Lord past here,

And on mount CALVARY died.

102..15. All the... The presence of real christians in those places, where a large concourse of worldly men is collected, must produce a disturbance and effervescence. The smaller the number is of those whose actions, words, or silence protest against the prevalency of vice and irreligion, the fiercer the opposition that will be excited. A pious clergyman, on board a vessel, where he was a single exception to the general ungodliness that prevailed, once gave great offence by silently withdrawing, when oaths or unseemly discourse made his situation uneasy, and he was called to account for so assuming a singularity!-Believers, appearing in character among worldly people, and not disguising their sentiments, will meet with this opposition; which more accommodating professors will escape. The believer's avowed dependence on the righteousness and atonement of CHRIST for acceptance, gives vast offence to those who rely on their own good works for justification: his conformity to the example, and obedience to the commandments of the Re: deemer, render him a precise, unfashionable, uncouth character, in the judgement of those who " walk according “ to the course of this world;" and they will deem him insane or outlandish for his oddities and peculiarities. His discourse, seasoned with piety, humility, seriousness, sincerity, meekness, and spirituality, so differs from the "filthy " conversation of the wicked," and the polite simulation of the courtly, that they can have no intercourse with him, or he with them: and if he speaks of the love of CHRIST, and the satisfaction of communion with him, while they “ blas.

pheme the worthy name by which he is called;" they must be as barbarians to each other. But above all, the believer's contempt of worldly things, when they interfere with the will and glory of God, forms such a testimony against all the pursuits and conduct of carnal men, as must excite their greatest astonishment and indignation : while he shuns with dread and abhorrence, as incompatible with salvation, those very things to which they wholly addict themselves without

the least remorse! When the scoffs of those, who" think it

strange that they will not run with them to the same excess “ of riot,” extort from them a more explicit declaration of their religious principles, it may be expected that the rea proaches and insults of their despisers will be increased: and then all the mischief and confusion which follow will be laid to their charge There were no such disputes about religion : before they came to “ turn the world upside down;"

they exceedingly trouble the city," town, or village, ---by their pious discourse and censorious example.Thus SATAN takes occasion to excite men to persecute the church, when he fears lest the servants of God should successfully disseminate their principles: persecuting princes and magistrates, his most trusty friends,' are deputed by him to molest and punish their peaceable subjects, for conscientiously refusing conformity to the world, or for dissenting from doctrines and modes of worship, which they deem unscriptural. Thus, the most valuable members of the community are banished, imprisoned, or murdered; multitudes are tempted to hypocrisy; encouragement is given to time-servers to seek secular advantages by acting contrary to their conscience; the prineiples of sincerity and integrity are generaily weakened or destroyed by multiplied prevarications and false professions; and numerous instruments of cruelty and oppression are involved in this complication of atrocious crimes. Our author doubtless drew many of his portraits in this historical picture from originals then sufficiently known; and if any think that he has heightened his colourings, it may furnish them with a subject for gratitude, and a reason for content and peaceable submission to our rulers. In Fox's Martyrs we meet with authenticated facts, that fully equal this allegorical representation: nay, “ The Acts of the Apostles' give us the very same view of the subject. The contempt, injustice, and cruelty, with which persecutors treat the harmless disciples of CHRIST, makes way for the exhibition of that amiable conduct and spirit which accord to the

precepts of scripture, and the example of persecuted prophets and apostles: this often produces the most happy effects on those who are less prejudiced, which still more exasperates determined opposers; but, however, frequently occasions a short respite for the persecuted, while worldly people quarrel about them among themselves. And even if greater severity be at length determined on, in order to deter others from joining them, perseverance in prudence, meekness, and patience, amidst all the rage of their enemies, will bear testimony for them in the consciences of numbers; their religion will appear beautiful, in proportion as their persecutors expose their own odious deformity; God will be with them to comfort and deliver them; he will be honoured by their profession and behaviour, and many will derive the most important advantage from their patient sufferings, and chearful fortitude in adhering to the truths of the gospel. But when believers are put off their guard by ill usage; when their zeal is rash, fiery, contentious, boasting, or dispropore tionate; when they are provoked to render " railing for

railing," or to act contrary to the plain precepts of scripture;--then they bring guilt on their consciences, stumble their brethren, harden the hearts and open the mouths of opposers, dishonour God and the gospel, and gratify the great enemy of souls; who malignantly rejoices in their misconduct, but is tortured when they endure sufferings in a proper manner.

106..1. When... The description of the process, instituted against the pilgrims, is given in language taken from the legal forms used in our courts of justice, which in Mr. BUNYAN's days were shamefully perverted to subserve the most iniquitous oppressions.--The allegorical narrative is framed in such a manner, as emphatically exposes the secret reasons, which influence men thus to persecute their inoffensive neighbours; and the very names employed declare the several corrupt principles of the heart, from whence this alrocious conduct results. Enmity against God, and his

« ForrigeFortsett »