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HOPE. Alas! there are abundance in our town in this condition, whole families, yea, whole streets, and that of pilgrims too; and if there be so many in our parts, how many, think you, must there be in the place where he was born ?
em. Indeed the word saith, “ He hath blinded “ their eyes, lest they should see,” &'c.
But, now we are by ourselves, what do you think of such men? have they at no time, think you, convictions of sin, and so consequently fear that their state is dangerous?
Hora. Nay, do you answer that question yourself, for yOu are the elder man.
CHR. Then I say, sometimes (asI think) they may; but they, being naturally ignorant, understand not that such convictions tend to their good; and therefore they do desperately seek to stifle them,. and presumptuously continue to flatter themselves in the way of their own hearts.
HOPE. I do believe, as you say, that fear tends much to men’s good, and to make them right at their beginning to go on pilgrimage.
CHR. \Vithout all doubt it doth, if it be rzlglzt: for So says the word, “ The fear of the Lord is the “ beginning of wisdom‘."
HOPE. How will you describe rig/it fear?
CHR. True or rig/z! fear is discovered by three things: 1. By its rise: it is caused by saving convictions'for sin.—2. It driveth the soul to lay fast hold Of CHRIST for salvation—3. It begetteth and conti
I job, xxviii. 28. Ps.cxi. 10. Prev. i. 7- in. re.
nueth in the soul a great reverence of GOD, his word, and ways, keeping it tender, and making it afraid to ‘turn from them, to the right hand or to the left, to any thing that may dishonour GOD, break its peace, grieve the Spirit, or cause the enemy to speak reproachfully. ,
HOPE. \Vell said; I believe you have said the truth.--Are we now almost got past the ENCHANTED GROUND?
CHR. Why ? art thou weary ofthis discourse?
HOPE. No verily, but that I would know where we are.
CHR. We have not now above two miles further to go thereon.—But let us return to our matter.-— Now the ignorant know not that such convictions, that tend to put them in fear, are for their good, and therefore they seek to stifle them.
HOPE. How do they seek to stifle them?
CHR. 1. They think that those fears are wrought by the devil, (though indeed they are wrought by GOD ;) and, thinking so, they resist them, as things that directly tend to their overthrow. 2. They also think that these fears tend to the spoiling of their faith; when, alas for them, poor men that they are, they have none at all!—-and therefore they harden their hearts against them. 3. They presume they ougfit not to fear, and therefore in despite Of them wax presumptuously_ confident. 4. They see that those fears tend to take away from them their pitiful old self-holiness, and therefore they resist them with all their might.
HOPE. I know something of this myself ; before I knew myself it was sowith me.
CHR. Well, we will leave, at this time, our _ neighbour Icnormnca by himself, and fall upon another profitable question.
HOPE. With all my heart : but you shall still begin.
CHR. Well then, did you know, about ten years ago, one TEMPORARY in your parts, who was a forward man in religion then?
HOPE. Know him! yes, he dwelt in GRACELESS, a town about two miles ,off of HONESTY, and he dwelt next door to one TURNBACK.
CHR. Right, he dwelt under the same roof with him. Well, that man was much awakened once; I believe that then he had some sight of his sins, and of the wages that were due thereto. _
HOPE. I am of your mind, for (my house not being above three miles from him) he would oft times come to me, and that with many tears. Truly Ipitied the man, and was not altogether without hope of him: but, one may see, it is not every one that cries Lord, Lord.
CHR. He told me once that he was resolved to go on pilgrimage, as we go now ; but all of a sudden he grew acquainted with one SAVESELF, and then he became a stranger to me. .
HOPE. Now since we are talking about him, let us a little enquire into the reason of the sudden backsliding of him and such others.
CHR. It may be very profitable; but do you begin.
A a a
HOPE. \Vell then, there are in my judgement four reasons for it.
1. Though the conscienCes Of such men are awakened, yet their minds are not changed: therefore, when the power of guilt weareth away, that which provoketh them to be religious ceaseth: wherefore they naturally return to their old course again; even as we see the dog that is sick of what he hath eaten, so long as his sickness prevails he vomits and casts up all: not that he doeth this of free mind, (if we may say a dog has a mind) but because it troubleth his stomach: but now, when his sickness is over, and so his stomach eased, his desires being not at all alienated from his vomit, he turns him about, and licks up all; and so it is true which is written, “ The dog is turned to his own vomit again‘." Thus, I say, being hot for heaven, by virtue only of the sense and fearof the torments of hell,as their sense thell,and fear Of damnation, chills and cools, so their desires for heaVen and salvation cool also. So then it comes to pass that, when their guilt and fear is gone,their desires for heaven and happiness die, and they return to their course again.
2. Another reason is, they have slavish fears that do over-master them :--I speak now of the fears that they have of men: “ for the fear of men bringeth a snare‘.” SO then, though they seem to be hot for heaven so long as the flames Of hell are about their ears, yet, when that terror is alittle over, they betake themselves 'to second thoughts, namely, that it is good to be wise, and not to run (for they know not what) the
1 aPet. ii. 2:. 4 Prov- nix. 25.
IT IS WHOLLY THE EFFECT OF AN UNRENEWED HEART. 189
hazard of losing all, or at least of bringing themselves into unavoidable and unnecessary troubles; and so they fall in with the world again.
3. The shame that attends religion lies also as a. block in their way: they are proud and haughty, and. religion in their eye is low and contemptible; therefore, when they have lost their sense of hell and wrath to come, they return again to their former course.
4. Guilt, and to meditate terror, are grievous to them; they like not to see their misery before they come into it; though perhaps the sight of it first, if they loved that sight, might make them flee whither the righteous flee and are safe; but because they do as I hinted before, even shun the thoughts of guilt and terror, therefore, when once they are rid of their awakenings about the terrors and wrath of GOD, they harden their hearts gladly, and choose such ways as will harden them more and more.
CHR. You are pretty near the business, for the bottom of all is, for want of a change in their mind and will. And therefore they are but like the felon that standeth before the judge; he quakes and trembles, and seems to repent most heartily: but the bottom of all is, the fear of the halter; not that he hath any detestation of the Offences ; as it is evident, because, let but this man have his liberty, and he. will be a thief, and so a rogue still; whereas, if his mind was changed, he would be otherwise. ‘
HOPE. Now I have showed you the reason of their going back, do you show me the manner thereof.
CHR. So I will willingly.—They draw of their