Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
[merged small][graphic]

fashionable religion, which has at present almost superseded the gospel, that they can never be fairly ansWered: nay, the more any man considers them as the testimony of GOD, the greater must be his alarm, (even as if he heard the voice from mount SINAI out of the midst of the fire;) tmless he be conscious of having renounced every other confidence, to “ flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us" in the gospel. Such alarms prepare men to attend'ip the counsel of those who preach salvation by faith in CHRIST alone provided there may yet be hope; of which there is no reason (to doubt. '

2I_..4.' _T/iy sin...ln attempting to encourage those who despond, we should by no means persuade them that their sins are few or trivial, or even that they judge too hardly of their own conduct; nay, we should endeavour-to convince them, that their guilt is even far greater than'they suppose; though not too great to be pardoned by the infinite mercy of G01) in Cnurs'r _Is'sus: for this tends to take them off more speedily from every vain attempt to justify themselves, and renders them more unreserved in relying on CHRIST for acceptance—In the midst of the most affectionate encouragements, the faithful minister must also solemnly warn young converts not to turn aside: nor can the humble ever find confidence or comfort, till they are conscious of having regained the way they had forsaken.

..20. Got 11/) to...The gate,“ at which CHRISTIAN desired admission, re'presents-CHRIST himself, as received by theipcnitent sinner in‘all his offices, and for all the purposes of salvation, according to the measure of his explicit knowledge; by which he actually enters into a state of acceptance with Gem-The scriptures referred to were spoken by our Lord himself, previous to the full revelation of‘his character and redemption; and may be very properly explained of a man's finally and decidedly renouncing his worldly and sinful pursuits, and engaging with diligence and self-denial in a life of devotedness to GOD.--“ The broad.

[ocr errors][merged small]

\
" road leads to destruction ;” the gate by which men enter
into it is wide; for we are all.F born in sin and the children
‘ of wrath,’ and “ turn every one to his own way” of folly
and transgression: but a strait gate opens into “ the narrow
“ way that leadeth unto life ;' and at this the penitent find!
admission with difficulty and conflict. As it is strait, (or in
the language of the allegory a WICK ET, or little gate) the
convert cannot carry along with him any of his sinful
practices, ungodly companions, worldly idols, or carnal
confidences, when he strives to enter in at it: nor can
he effectually contend with those enemies that obstruct his
passage, unless he wrestle continually with GOD in prayer
for his gracious assistance.--But, while we advert to these
things, we must not forget that the sinner returns to GOD
by faith in CHRIST: genuine repentance comes from him
and leads to him; and the true believer not only trusts in
the Lord for salvation, but also‘seeks his liberty and happi-
ness in his service. To enter in this manner, by CHRtsT
the door, is so contrary to man's pride and lusts, to the
course of the world, and to the temptations of the devil,
that striving or wrestling is more necessary in this than it
’can be conceived to be in any other kind of conversion.—
Various things commonly precede this unreserved accept-
ance of Cultis'r, in the experience of those who are born
of GOD : but they are not easily distinguishable from many
temporary convictions, impressions, and starts of devotion,
which evidently vanish and come to nothing. Yet even this
is judiciously distinguished by our author from that view of
the cross by which CHRISTIAN was delivered from his bur-
d-ep, for reasons which will speedily be stated—The following
lines are here inserted under an engraving:

' He that would enter in, must first without
Stand knocking at the gate, nor need he doubt,
That is a knocker, but to enter in;

For GOD can love him, and forgive his sin.’

[merged small][graphic][graphic]

22..1. ‘ Good-will...Goon-wrtt. seems to be an allegorical person, the emblem of the compassionate love of Goo t0 sinners, in and through Jesus Cnaisr'._—He " came from heaven to do the will of Him that sent him," and “ he will in nowise cast out any that come to him," either on account of their former sins, or their present mistakes, infirmities, evil propensities and habits, or peculiar temptations. “ He waits to be gracious,“ till sinners apply by earnest persevering prayer for his salvation; and even the preparation of heart which leads to this is not requisite to induce the Lord to receive them, but to make them willing to apply to him. Numbers give themselves no concern about their souls; others, after convictions, turn back with PLIABLE, or finally cleave to the counsels of worldly wisdom: but all, who come to Cmusr with a real desire of his whole salvation, are cordially welcomed; over them angels rejoice, and in them the Redeemer “ sees of the travail of “ his soul and is satisfied." So that enquirers are greatly mistaken when they fear lest CHRIST should reject them; since they need only dread being tempted to reject him, or being partial and hypocritical in their application to him.

..11. So when...As sinners become more decided in applying to CHRIST, and assiduous in the means of- grace, Satan, if permitted, will be more vehement in his endeavours to discourage them; that, if possible, he may induce them to desist, and so to come short of the prize. Indeed, the Lord will accomplish the good work which he hath begun by his special grace; but probably the powers of darkness cannot exactly distinguish between those impressions which are the effects of regeneration, and such as result from the excitement of natural passions. It is, however, certain that they attempt to disturb those who earnestly cry for mercy, by various suggestions to which they were wholly strangers while satisfied with a form of godliness: and that the christian’s grand conflict, to the end of his course, con

' Lnkcii. :4.

NOTES UPON PART I. 823

[graphic]

sists in surmounting the hindrances and opposition that he experiences, in keeping near to the throne of grace, by fervent, importunate, and persevering prayer.

23..25. Bellerment...0ur author here puts a Very emphatical word into CHRISTIAN’s mouth, (‘ there is no ' betterment betwixt him and myself’) which later editors have changed for difkrmce. This is far from an improvement, though the word he more classical: for grace had made an immense dz'fl‘erence between CHRISTIAN and PLIABLE; but the former thought his conduct equally criminal, and therefore, in respect of their descrvingr, there was no betterment betwixt them.—There are many alterations of a similar nature, in which the old copies have been; generally followed: but it would preclude more useful matter were they constantly noted.

24..24. Narroai...CHR ISTIAN,beinga(lmitlcd at the strait gate, is directed in the narrow way. In the broad road ' every man may choose a path suited to his inclinations, shift. about to avoid difficulties, or accommodate himself to circumstances; and he will be sure of company agreeable to his taste. But christians must follow one another in the narrow way along the same track, surmounting difficulties, facing enemies, and bearing hardships, without any room to evade them : nor is any indulgence given to different tastes, habits, or propensities. It is, therefore, a Jtraz'lened, or, as some render the word, an qfilz'cted way; being indeed an habitual course of repentance, faith, love, self-denial, patience, and mortification to sin and the world, according to the rule of the holy scriptures. CHRIST himselfis the Way, by which we come to the Father and walk with him; but true faith works by love, and “ sets us in the way of his steps‘." This path is also straight, as opposed to the crooked ways of wicked men“; for it consists in an uniform regard to piety, integrity, sincerity, and kindness; at a distance from all the hypocrisies, frauds, and artifices, by which ungodly men

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[merged small][graphic][graphic]
[graphic]

wind about, to avoid detection, keep up their credit, deceive others, or impose on theniselves.--The question proposed by CHRISTIAN implies, that believers are more afraid of missing the way than of encountering hardships in it: and GOODWtLL’s answer, that many ways butted' down on it, or opened into it, in various directions, shows, that the care-' less and self-willed are extremely liable to be deceived: but it follows, that all these ways are CTOO/t‘dd and wide; they turn aside from the direct' line of living faith and holy obedience, and are more soothing, indulgent, and pleasing to corrupt nature, than the path of life; which lies straight _ forward, and is every where contraryto the bias of the carnal mind. _

25..5. Asked him-"A general reliance on the mercy of GOD by faith in CH R1 ST, accompanied with a consciousness of sincerity'in'applying' for this salvation, gives some encouragement to the convinced sinner’s hope ;- and transient joys are often vouchsafed in a large proportion to uneflablished believers: but more distinct views of the glory of the gospel are necessary to abiding peace.—The young convert’s consolations resemble the breaking forth of the sun. in acloudy and tempestuous day; those of the experienced christian, his more constant light in settled weather, which is not long together interrupted, though it he sometimes dimmed by intervening clouds. BelieVers should not, therefore, rest in such transient glimpses, but press forward to more abiding peace and joy: and, as CHRIST does not in general bestow this blessing on the unellablished, the endeavours of ministers to do so must be vain.

..16. Hon/é ty‘l..\Ve continually meet with fresh proofs of our author’s exact acquaintance with the scripture, his sound judgement, deep experience, and extensive observation.—\¢Vith great propriety he places the house of the

I INTERPRETER beyond the strait gate: for the knowledge of divine things, which precedes conversion to GOD by faith in CHRIST, is very scantyI compared with the diligent

« ZurückWeiter »