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50 The Men of the next World the Wisest.
Then said Christian, Now I see that Patience has the best wisdom, and that upon many accounts; because he stays for the best things :—and also because he will have the glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.
Inter. Nay you may add another, to wit, the glory of the next world will never wear out, but these are suddenly gone. Therefore Passion had not so much reason to laugh at Patience, because he had his good things first, as Patience will have to laugh at Passion, because he had his best things last; for first must give place to last, because last must have bis time to come; but last gives place to nothing, for there is not another to succeed: he therefore that hath his portion first, must needs have a time to spend it: but he that hath a portion last, must have it lastingly. Therefore it is said of Dives, “In thy life-time thou receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented."*
Chr. Then I perceive 'tis not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.
Inter. You say truth, “ For the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal :94 But though this be so, yet since things present, and our fleshly appetite, are such near neighbours one to another ; and again because things to come, and careal sense, are such strangers one to another : therefore it is that the first of these so suddenly fall into amity, and that distance is so continued between the second.
Then I saw in my dream, that the Interpreter took Chris. tian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it to quench it; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter. Then said Christian, What means this?
, The Interpreter answered, This fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the Devil : but in that thou seest the fire, notwithstanding, burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the back side of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of the which he did also continually cast, but secretly, into the fire. Then said Christian, What means this?
+ 2 Cor. ir. 18.
Luke xvi. 19-31.
The Fire Icept from being quenched.
51 • The Interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually with the oil of his grace maintains the work already begun in the heart; by the means of which, notwithstanding what the Devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still.* And in that thou sawest, that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire; this is to teach thee, that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul. (h)
I saw also that the Interpreter took him again by the hand, and led hiin into a pleasant place, where was builded a stately palace, beautiful to behold ; at the sight of which Christian was greatly delighted : he saw also upon the top thereof, certain persons walking who were clothed all in gold.
Then said Christian, May we go in thither :
Then the Interpreter tooš him, and led him up toward the door of the palace; and behold at the door stood a great company of inen, as desirous to go in, but durst not. Tliere also sat a man, at a little distance fro:n the door, at a table-side, with a look and his ink-horn before him, to take the name of him that should enter therein : He saw also that in the door way, stood many men in armour to keep it, being resolved to do to the man that would enter, what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze; at last, when every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of a very stout countenance, come
* 2 Cor. xii. 9.
(h) The doctrine of the true believer's final perseverance is here stated, in so guarded a manner as to preclude every abuse of it. The emblem implies, that the soul is indeed born of God and emulued with holy affections : but this heavenly flame is not represented, as almost extinguished or covered with ashes for many years, and then revived a little at the closing scene : for 'it burns higher and hotter, notwithstanding the opposition of depraved nature, and the unremittid efforts of Satan to quench it ; the Lord secretly feeding it with his grace-Unbelievers ean persevere in nothing but impitty and hypocrisy : and when a professor remarkably loses the vigour of his affections, the reality of his conversion becomes doubtful, and he can take no warranted encouragement from this doctrine. When, however, any one grows more spiritual, zealous, humble, and exemplary, in the midst of harass. ing temptations ; while he gives the whole glory to the Lord, he may take comfort from the assurance, that "he shall be kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation.” But the way, in which the tempted are preserved, often so far exceeds their expectations, that they are a wonder to themselves; every thing seems to concur in giving Satan advantage against them, and his efforts appear very successful ; yet they continue from year to year, “cleaving with purpose of heart unto the Lord,” trusting in his mercy, and desirous of living to his glory--The instruction especially inculcated by this emblem is, an entire reliance, in the use of the appointed means, on the secret, but powerful influence of divine grace, to maine tain and carry on the sanctifying work that has been bugun in the soul.
52 The Man who fights into the Palace.
my name, Sir; the which when he bad done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put an helmet upon his head, and rush toward the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force ; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely; so after he had received and* given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace ; at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying,
"Come in, come in,
Eternal glory thou shalt win.' So he went in, and was clothed with such garments as they. Then Christian smiled, and said, I think verily I know tħe meaning of this. (0)
Now said Christian, let me go hence : Nay, stay, said the Interpreter, till I have shewed thee a little more, and after that thou shalt go on thy way. (k) , So he took him by the hand again, and led him into a very dark 'room, where there sat a man in an iron cage.
Now the man to look on seemed very sad : he sat with his eyes looking down to the ground, his hands folded together, and he sighed as if he would break his heart.
Then said Christian, What means this ?
* Acts xiv. 22.
(1) Many desire the joys and glories of heaven, according to their carnal ideas of them ; but few are willing to "fight the good fight of faith :" yet, without a fixed purpose to do this, resulting from divine grace, profession will at length end in apostacy : “The man began to build, but was not able to finish.” This is emphatically taught by the emblem before us. We must be made willing unreservedly to venture or "suffer the loss of all things that we may win Christ ;" or we shall never be able to break through the combined opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil. If we habitually fear any mischief that our enemies can attempt against us, more than coming short of salvation, we shall certainly perish, notwithstanding our notions and convictions. We should, therefore, count our cost, and pray for courage and constancy, that we may give in our names as in earnest to win the prize : then,“putting on the whole armour of God,” we must fight our way through with patience and resolution ; while many, “being harnessed and carrying bows," shame fiuly "turn back in the day of battle."
(k) The time, spent in acquiring knowledge and sound judgment, is far from lost, though it may seem to retard a man's progress, or interfere with his more active services : and the Hext emblem is almirably suited to teach the convert watchfulness and caution,
The Man in the Iron Cage.
in it as
The man answered, I am what I was not once. Chr. What wast thou once ? The man said, I was once a fair and flourishing professor, both in mine own eyes, and also in the eyes of others : I was once, as I thought, fair for the Celestial city, and had then even joy at the thoughts that I should get thither. *
Chr. Well, but what art thou now >
Man. I am now Man of despair, and am shut up in this iron cage. I cannot get out. O now I cannot !
Chr. But how camest thou in this condition ?
Man. I left off to watch and be sober : I laid the reins upon the neck of my lusts ; I sinned against the light of the word, and the goodness of God ; I have grieved the Spirit, and he is gone ; I tempted the Devil, and he is come to me ; I have provoked God to anger, and he has left me ; I have so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.
Then said Christian to the Interpreter, But is there no hopes for such a man as this ?
Ask him, said the Interpreter.
Then, said Christian, Is there no hope, but you must be kept in the iron cage of despair ?
Man. No, none at all.
Man. I have "Crucified him to myself afresh,”+ I have despised his Person, I have despised his righteousness, I have counted his blood an unholy thing, I have done despite to the Spirit of grace ;ý therefore I have shut myself out of all the promises ; and there now remains to me nothing but threatenings, dreadful threatenings, faithful threatenings, of certain judgment which shall devour me as an adversary.
Chr. For what did you bring yourself into this condition ?
Man. For the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world ; in the enjoyment of which I did then promise myself much delight : but now every one of those things also bite me, and gnaw me like a burning worm.
Chr. But canst thou not now repent and turn ?
Man. God hath denied me repentance; his word gives me no encouragement to believe; yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage ; nor can all the men in the world let me out. O Eternity! Eternity! how shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in Eternity!
Then said the interpreter to Christian, Let this man's mis-* Luke viii. 13. + Heb. vi. 4-0.
Heh. X. 28, 29,
Luke xix. 14.
56 His Burden falls off at the Cross.
'Here I have seen things rare and profitable ;
Thankful, o good Interpreter, to thee.' Now I saw in my dream, that the highway, up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation.* Up this way therefore did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending,
that place stood a Cross, and a little below in the bottom a Sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up
with the Cross, his burden loosed from off bis shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the Sea pulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. (n)
* Isa. xxvi. 1.
(n) 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 the mercy of God 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 shews 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 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 energetieally proclaimed, even in pardoning transgressors and reconciling enemies; and the perfect freeness and sufficiency of this salva. tion ;-then "his conscience is puurged from dead works to serve the living God," by a simple reliance on the atoning blood of Emanuel. 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 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 greatly oppressed him when most diligent and watchful; whereas now he is only burdened when he has been betrayed into sin, or when struggling with peculiar temptations; and be constantly finds relief by looking to the cross. Many indeed never attain to habitual peace : but this arises from remaining ignorance, error, or negligence, which scriptural instructions
proper means of obviating. It was not however proper, that our author should drams. * John xyi. 14.