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elle Commendation of Godly Fear. the bass. He and his fellows sound the sackbut, whose notes are more doleful than notes of other music are : though in. deed, some say, the bass is the ground of music. And, for my part, I care not at all for that profession, that begins not in heaviness of mind. The first string that the musician usually touches, is the bass, when he intends to put all in tune : God also plays upon this string first, when he sets the soul in tune for himself. Only there was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing, he could play upon no other music but this, till towards his latter end.
[I make bold to talk thus metaphorically, for the ripening of the wits of young readers; and because, in the book of Revelation, the saved are compared to a company of musicians, that play upon their trumpets and harps, and sing their songs before the throne.*]
Hon. He was a very zealous man, as one may see by what relation you have given of him. Difficulties, Lions, or VanityFair, he feared not at all : it was only sin, death and hell, that were to him a terror ; because he had some doubts about his interest in that Celestial Country.
Gr.-H. You say right; those were the things that were his troubles : and they, as you have well observed, arose from the weakness of his mind thereabout, not from weakness of spirit, as to the practical part of a pilgrim's life. I dare believe, that, as the proverb is, “He could have bit a fire-brand, had it stood in his way :' but those things, with which he was oppressed, no man ever yet could shake off with ease.
Then said Christiana, "This relation of Mr. Fearing has done me good : I thought nobody had been like me, but I see there was some semblance betwixt this good man and I. Only we differ in two things : his troubles were so great, that they brake out; but mine I kept within. His also lay so hard upon him, they made him that he could not knock at the houses provided for entertainment; but my troubles were always such as made me knock the louder.'
Mer. If I might also speak my mind, I must say, that something of him has also dwelt in me ; for I have ever been more afraid of the Lake, and the loss of a place in Paradise, than I have been at the loss of other things. O! thought I, may I have the happiness to have a habitation there, it is enough, though I part with all the world to win it.
Then said Matthew, 'Fear was one thing that made me
* Rev. vii. xiv. 2, 3.
Character of Self-will.
287 think that I was far from having that within me that accompanies salvation ; but if it was so with such a good man as he, why may it not also go well with me ?'
No fears, no grace, said James. Though there is not always grace where there is the fear of hell; yet to be sure there is no grace where there is no fear of God.
Gr.-H. Well said, James ; thou hast hit the mark, for “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom ;” and, to be sure, they that want the beginning have neither middle nor end. But we will here conclude our discourse of Mr. Fearing, after we have sent after him his farewell.
'Whilst Master Fearing, thou didst fear
Thy God, and wast afraid
That would have thee betray'd :
Would others did so too !
They do themselves undo. (z)
Now I saw that they all went on in their talk ; for, after Mr. Great-heart bad made an end with Mr. Fearing, Mr. Honest began to tell then of another, but his name was Mr. Self-will. He pretended himself to be a Pilgrim,' said Mr. Honest; 'but, I persuade myself, he never came in at the Gate that stands at the head of the way.'
Gr.-H. Had you ever any talk with him about it?
Hon. Yes, more than once or twice : but he would always be like himself, self-willed. He neither cared for man, nor
(z) No Christians are more careless about the opinion of the world, or more zealous against its vanities, than persons of this description; or more watchful in times of ease and prosperity; but the prospect of death is often a terror to them ; especially when they sugan pose it to be at hand ; yet they often die with remarkable composure and comfort. Few ministers, who have had an opportunity of carefully observing the people entrusted to their pastoral care, can help thinking of some individual, who might seem to have been the original of this admirable portrait ; which is full of instruction both to them, and the tiinid, but conscientious, part of their congregations. Indeed numbers, who are not characteris. tically Fearfuls, have something of the same disposition in many particulars. But such as fenr reproach and self-denial anore than those things which this good man dreaded, bear a contrary character, and are travelling the road to an opposite place : and even they whose confidence of an interest in Christ far exceeds the degree of their humiliation, conscientiousness, abhorrence of sin, and victory over the world, may justly be suspected of having begun their religion in a wrong manner ; as they more resemble the stony-growd hearers, who receive the word with joy, but had 10 root in themselves, "—than those who "sow in tears, to reap in joy;" For "godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvatian, not to be repened of,"
288 Self-will's Principles confuted by Great-heart. argument, nor example : what his mind prompted him to, that would he do; and nothing else could he be got to.
Gr.-H. Pray what principles did he hold ? for I suppose you can tell.
Hon. He held, that a man might follow the vices as well as the virtues of the Pilgrims ; and that if he did both he should be certainly saved.
Gr.-H. How! if he had said, it is possible for the best to be guilty of the vices, as well as partake of the virtues, of the Pilgrims, he could not much have been blamed. For indeed we are exempted from no vice absolutely, but on condition that we watch and strive. But this, I perceive, is not the thing : but, if I understand you right, your meaning is, that he was of that opinion, that it was allowable so to be.
Hon. Ay, ay, so I mean ; and so he believed and practised.
Gr.-H. Prythee, Mr. Honest, present us with a few particulars.
Hon. So I will. He said, to have to do with other menos wives, had been practised by David, God's beloved ; and therefore he could do it. He said, to have more women than one, was a thing that Solomon practised ; and therefore he could do it. He said, that Sarah and the godly midwives of Egypt lied, and so did Rahab; and therefore he could do it. He said, that the disciples went, at the bidding of their Master, and took away the owner's ass; and therefore he could do so too. He said, that Jacob got the inheritance of his father in a way of guile and dissimulation; and therefore he could do so too.
Gr.-H. High base, indeed ! and are you sure he was of this opinion ?
Hon. I have heard bim plead for it, bring Scripture for it, bring arguments for it, &c.
Gr.-8. An opinion that is not fit to be with any allowance in the world ! Hon. You must understand me rightly : he did not say
any man might do this, but that those, that had the virtues of those that did such things, Inight also do the same.
Gr.-H. But what more false than such a conclusion ? for this is as much as to say, that, because good men heretofore have sinned of infirmity, therefore he had allowance to do it of a presumptuous mind : or if, because a child, by the blast
Self-will's Plea for his Principles. 289 of wind, or for that it stumbled at a stone, fell down, and defiled itself in mire, therefore he might wilfully lie down and wallow like a boar therein! Who could have thought that any one could so far have been blinded by the power of Just ? But what is written must be true : “They stumbled at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed."* His supposing that such may have the godly man's virtues, who addict themselves to his vices, is also a delusion as strong as the other. It is just as if the dog should say, 'I have or may have the qualities of a child, because I lick up its stinking excrements. “To eat up the sin of God's people,”+ is no sign of one that is possessed with their virtues. Nor can I believe, that one that is of this opinion, can at present have faith or love in him. But I know you have made strong objections against him ; pr’ythee what can he say for himself ?
Hon. Why, he says, to do this by way of opinion, seems abundantly more honest than to do it and yet hold contrary to it in opinion.
Gr.-H. A very wicked answer ; for, though to let loose the bridle to lusts, while our opinions are against such things, is bad ; yet to sin, and plead a toleration so to do, is worse : the one stumbles beholders accidently, the other leads them into the snare.
Hon. There are many of this man's mind, that have not this man's mouth; and that makes going on pilgrimage of so little esteem as it is. (a) * 1 Pet. ij. S.
+ Hos. iv. 8.
(a) The author peculiarly excels in contrasting his characters, of which a striking instance here occurs. The preceding episode relates to a very conscientious Christian, who, through weak faith and misapprehension carried his self-suspicion to a troublesome and injurious extreme: and we have next introduced a false professor, who, pretending to strong faith, made his own obstinate self-will the only rule of his conduct. Yet in reality this arises from total unbelief: for the word of God declares such persons to be unregenerate, under the wrath of God, "in the gall of bitterness and the bond evf iniquity.”—It would hardly be imaginerl, that men could be found maintaining such deiestable sentiments as are here. stattd, did not facts most awiully prove it! We need not, however, spend time in exposing such a character: a general expression of the deepest detestation may suffice; for none who have been given up to such strong delusiou, can reasonably be supposed accessible to the words of truth and soberness. Nor can they succeed in perverting others to such palpable and gross absunlities and abominable tenets; except they meet with those, that have long provokoi God, by endleavouring to reconcile a wicked life with the hope of salvation. But it may properly be observed, that several espressions, which seem to represent faith as an assurance of a personal interest in Christ ; or t) intimate, that believers lave nothing to do with the law, even as the rule of th ir conduct; with many anguarded assertious con
A false Alarm. Gr.-II. You have said the truth, and it is to be lamented ; but he that feareth the King of Paradise shall come out of them all.
Chr. There are strange opinions in the world ; I know one that said it was time enough to repent when he came to die.
Gr.-H. Such are not over-wise; that man would have been loath, might be bave had a week to run twenty miles for bis life, to have deferred that journey to the last hour of that week.
Hon. You say right; and yet the generality of them that count themselves Pilgrims do indeed do thus. I am, as you see, an old man, and have been a traveller in this road many a day; and I have taken notice of many things.
I have seen some, that set out as if they would drive all the world afore them, who yet have, in few days, died as they in the wilderness, and so never got sight of the promised land.--I have seen some, that have promised nothing, at first setting out to be Pilgrims, and that one would have thought · could not have lived a day, that have yet proved very good Pilgrims.- I have seen some who have run hastily forward, that again have, after a little time, run as fast just back again. -I have seen some who have spoken very well of a Pilgrim's life at first, that after a while, have spoken as much against it. I have heard some, when they first set out for Paradise, say positively, "There is such a place;' who, when they have been almost there, have come back again, and said, There is none.'-I have heard some vaunt what they would do, in case they should be opposed, that have, even at a false alarm, fled faith, the Pilgrim's way, and all.
Now as they were thus in their way, there came one running to meet them, and said, 'Gentlemen, and you of the weaker sort, if you love life, shift for yourselves, for the robbers are before you.'
Then said Mr. Great-heart, “They be the three that set upon Little-faith heretofore. Well,' said he, we are ready for thein.' So they went on their way. Now they looked at every turning, when they should have met with the villains ; but, wbether they heard of Mr. Great-heart, or whether they had some other game, they came not up to the Pilgrims.
cerning the liberty of the gospel, and indiscriminate declamations against doubts, fears, and a legal spirit, have a direct tendency to prepare the mind of impenitent sinners, to receive the poisonous principles of avowed Antinomians.--Much harm has been done in this way, and great disgrace brought upon the gospel : for 'there are many of this man's mind, who have not this man's mouth.'