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things, of which he understands neither the nfiture nor the consequences. CnnisrtAn’s plain warnings and earnest entreaties; OBSTINATE’s contempt of believers, as ‘ crazy‘ beaded coxcomlu',’ and his exclamation when PLXABLB inclines to be a pilgrim, ‘ \Vhat more fools still!’ are admirably characteristic; and show that such things are peculiar to no age or place, but always accompany serious godliness as the shadow does the substance.
6..19. .Now I:aw...This conversation between CH RISTIAN and PLIAB LE marks the difference in their characters, as well as the measure of the new convert’s attainments,-The want of a due apprehension of eternal things is evidently the primary defect of all who oppose or neglect religion; but more maturity ofjudgement and experience are requisite to discover, that many professors are equally strangers to a realizing view ‘ of the powers and terrors of what is yet ' unseen.’ The men represented by PLIABLE disregard these subjects: they enquire eagerly about the good things to be enjoyed, but not in any proportion about the way of salvation, the difficulties to be encountered, or the danger of coming short: and new converts, being zealous, sanguine, and unsuspecting, are naturally led to enlarge on the descriptions of heavenly felicity given in scripture. As these are generally figurative or negative, such unhumblcd professors, annexing carnal ideas to them, are greatly delighted; and, not being retarded by any distressing remorse and terror, or feeling the opposition of corrupt nature, they are often more zealous, and seem to proceed faster in exter
' nal duties than true converts. They take it for granted that all the privileges of the gospel belong to them; and, being Very confident, zealous, and joyful, they often censure those who are really fighting the good fight of faith—There are also systems diligently propagated, which marvelloule encourage this delusion, excite a high flow of false affections, especially ofa mere selfish gratitude to a supposed benefactor for imaginary benefits, which is considered as a very high
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attainment: till the event proves them to be like the ISRAELrrzs at the RED SEA, who “ believed the Lord’s Word, and “ sang his praise; but soon forgat his works, and waited not “ for his counsel ‘."
8..20. Miry slang/z...The slough of DESPOND represents those discouraging fears which often harrass new converts. It is distinguished from the alarms which induced CHRISTIAN to leave the city, and “ flee from the wrath to come :" for the anxious apprehensions of one who is diligently seeking salvation are very different from those which excited him to enquire after it. The latter are reasonable and useful, and arise from faith in GOD's word: but the _ former are groundless, they result from remaining ignorance, inattention, and unbelief, and greatly retard the pilgrim in his progress. .They should also be carefully distinguished from those doubts and discouragements, which assault the established christian: for these are generally the consequence of negligence, or yielding to temptation; whereas new converts fall into their despondings, when most diligent according to the light they have received: and, if some conscientious persons seem to meet with this slough in every part of their pilgrimage, it. arises from an immature judgement, erroneous sentiments, or peculiar temptations. \Vhen the diligent student of the scriptures obtains such an acquaintance with the perfect holiness of GOD, the spirituality of his law, the inexpressible evil of sin, and his own obligations and transgressions, as greatly exceeds the measure in which he discerns the free and full salvation of the gospel, his humiliation will verge nearer and nearer to dcspondency. This, howchr, is not essential to repentance, but arises from misapprehension; though few in proportion wholly escape it.-—The mire of the slough represents that idea which desponding persons entertain of themselves and their situation, as altogether vile and loathsome; and their confessions
212 NOTES UPON PART I.
and self-abasing complaints, which render them contemptiblc in the opinion of others. As every attempt to rescue themselves discovers to them more of the latent evil of their hearts, they seem to grow worse and worse; and, for want of a clear understanding of the gospel, they have no firm ground to tread on, and know neither where they are, or what they mustdo.—But how could PLIAB LE fall into this slough, seeing he had no such views of GOD or his law, of himself, ‘or of sin, as this condition seems to pre-suppose? To this it
'may be answered, that men can hardly associate with reli
gious persons, and hear their discourse, confessions, and complaints, or become acquainted with any part of scripture, without making some alarming and mortifying discoveries concerning themselves. These transient convictions taking place when they fancied they were about to become very good, and succeeding to great self-complacency, constitute il grievous disappointment; and they ascribe their uneasiness to the new doctrine they have heard.-But, though PLIAB LB fell into the slough, CHRISTIAN ‘ by reason of his burden' sunk the deepest (8. 26.); for the true believer’s humiliation for sin tends greatly to increase his fear of wrath. Superficial professors, expecting the promised happiness without trouble or suffering, are often very angry at those who were the means of inducing them to think of religion; as if they had deceived them: and, being destitute of true faith, their only object is, at any rate to get rid of their uneasiness. This is a species of stony-ground hearers abounding in every part of the church, who are offended and fall away, by means of a little inward disquietude, before any outward tribulation arises because of the word.
9..11. Il"/ze~re/bre...Cqus'r1AN dreaded the doom of his city more than the slough. Many persons, under deep distress of conscience, are afraid of relief, lest it should prove delusive. Deliverance from wrath and the blessings of salvation appear to them so valuable, that all else is comparatively trivial: desponding fears may connect with their
religious diligence; but despair would be the consequence of a return to their former course of sin: if they perish, therefore, it shall be, while earnestly struggling, under deep discouragement, after that salvation, for which their souls even faint within them. Their own efforts indeed fail to extricate them: but in due time the Lord will send them assistance.-This is described by the allegorical person named HELP, who may represent the instruments by which they receive encouragement; a service in which it is a privilege to be employedl—FEAR is also personified: in the midst of the new convert’s discourse on thejoys of heaven, fears of wrath often cast him into despondency, while he so thinks of the terrors of the Lord, as to overlook his precious promises. , ~
..29. 17101 Irteppea'...This account of the slough, which 0ur author in his vision received from HELP, coincides with the preceding explanation.-Increasing knowledge produces deeper self-abasement: hence discouraging fears arise in men’s minds lest they should at last perish; and objections against themselves continually accumulate, till they fall into habitual despondency, unless they constantly attend to the encouragements of the scripture, or, in the apostlc's language, have their " feet shod with the “ preparation of the gospel of peace."-As this state. of mind is distressing and enfcebling in itself, and often furnishes enemies with a plausible objection to religion, the servants of GOD have always attempted to preserve humble enquirers from it, by various scriptural instructions and consolatory topics: yct their success is not adequate to their wishes; for the Lord is pleased to permit numbers to be thus discouraged, in order to detect the false professor, and to render the upright more watchful and humble._—Our author, in a marginal note, eXplains the rte/)3 to mean, ‘the promises ‘ of forgiveness and acceptance to life by faith in CHRIST;’ which include the general invitations, and the various encouragements given in scripture to all who seek the salvation of
the Lord, and diligently use the appointed means.—It was evidently his opinion, that the path from destruction to life lies by this slough; and that none are indeed in the narrow way, who have neither struggled through it, or gone over it by means of the steps—The ‘ c/zungc qfwcallzer’ seems to denote those seasons when peculiar temptations, exciting sinful passions, confuse the minds of new converts; and so, losing sight of the promises, they sink into despondency during humiliating experiences: but faith in CHRIST, and in the mercy of GOD through him, sets the pilgrim's feet on good ground.
II..5. Now I saw...They, who rifled to despise real christians, often both express and feel great contempt for those that cast off their profession: such men are unable, for a time, to resume their wontcd confidence among their former companions; and this excites them to pay court to them by rcviling and deriding those whom they have forsaken.
"25. IVor/a'ly-wircman...The wise men of this world carefully 'notice those who begin to turn their thoughts to religion, and attempt to counteract their convictions before the case becomes desperate: from their desponding fears they take occasion to insinuate that they are deluded or disordered in their minds; that they make too much ado about religion; and that a decent regard to it (which is all that is requisite) consists with the enjoyment of this life, and even conduces to secular advantagC.—WORLDLY-\VISEMAN, therefore, is a person of consequence, whose superiority gives him influence over poor pilgrims: he is a reputable and successful man; prudent, sagacious, and acquainted with mankind; moral, and religious in his way, and qualified to give the very best counsel to those who wish to serve both G01) and MAMMON : but he is decided in his judgement against all kinds and degrees of religion, which interfere with a man’s worldly interest, disquiet his mind, or spoil his relish for outward enjoyments.-—He resides at CARNAt-Poucv, a great town near the city of DESTRUorlon: for worldly