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read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying, “ What shall I do to be saved ?"c*
I saw also that he looked this way, and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still because (as I perceived) he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and asked, Wherefore dost thou cry?t
He answered, Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second."
Then said Evangelist, Why not willing to die, since this life is attended with so many evils ? The man answered, Because I fear that this burden that is upon my backs will sink me lower than the grave, and I shall fall into Tophet. And, sir, if I be not fit to go to prison, I am not fit to go to judgment, and from thence to execution : and the thoughts of these things make me cry. Then said Evangelist, If this be thy condition, why
standest thou still ? He answered, Because I know not whither to go. Then he gave
C Acts xvi. 30, 31.
d Heb. ix. 27.
Job xvi. 21, 22.
Ezek. xxii. 14.
e Isa. xxx. 33.
No soul was ever in earnest for salvation, till there is a cry in his heart to be saved from damnation.
+ Behold here the tender love and care of Jesus, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, to sin-distressed, heavy-laden sinners, in sending Evangelist, that is, a preacher of gospel grace, and glad tidings of salvation to them.
* A true confession of an enlightened, sensible sinner.
§ The convictions of the Spirit of God in the heart make a man feel the insupportable burden of sin upon his back, and to dread the wrath of God revealed from heaven against sin,
him a parchment roll; and there was written within, “ Fly from the wrath to come."f*
The man therefore read it, and looking upon Evangelist very carefully, said, Whither must I fly? Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, Do you see yonder wicket-gate ?: The man said, No. Then said the other, Do you see yonder shining light ?ht He said, I think I HIM, CANNOT BE do. Then said Evangelist, Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do. So I saw in my dream, that the man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door, when his wife and children (perceiving it) began to cry after him to return ;' but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, “Life! life! eternal life!' So he looked not behind him, but fled towards the middle of the plain.:
The neighbours also came out to see him run :$ and,
f Matt, iii. 7.
g Matt, vii, 13, 14.
h Psa. cxix. 105. 2 Pet. i. 19.
* The gospel never leaves a convinced sinner in the miserable situation in which it finds him, without hope and relief; but points him to Jesus for safety and salvation, that he may fly from himself, and the wrath he feels in himself, to the fulness of the grace of Christ, signified by the Wicket-gate.
+ Christ, and the way to him, cannot be found without the word. The word directs to Christ, and the Spirit shines into the heart, whereby the sinner sees Christ in the word. This makes God's word precious.
When a sinner begins to fly from destruction, carnal relations will strive to prevent him; but it is wiser to stop our ears against the reasonings of flesh and blood, than to parley with them. Carnal affections cannot prevail over spiritual convictions. The sinner who is in earnest for salvation, will be deaf to invitations to go back. The more he is solicited by them, the faster he will fly from them.
§ They who fly from the wrath to come are a gazing-stock to the world.
THEY THAT PLY FROM THE WRATH TO COME ARE A GAZINGSTOCK TU THE WORLD.
as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some
cried after him to return; and among those that did so, there were two that were re
solved to fetch him back by force. The name of the one was Obstinate, and the name of the other Pliable. Now by this time the man was got a good distance from them; but, however, they were resolved to pursue him; which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said the man, Neighbours, wherefore are you come? They said, To persuade you to go back with us. But he said, That can by no means be. You dwell, said he, in the city of Destruction; the place also where I was born : I see it to be so; and dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the grave, into a place that burns with fire and brimstone: be content, good neighbours, and go along with me.
Obst. What, said Obstinate, and leave our friends and our comforts behind us !
Chr. Yes, said Christian, (for that was his name,) because that all which you shall forsake is not worthy to be compared with a little of that that I am seeking to enjoy;' and if you will go along with me, and hold it, you shall fare as I myself; for there, where I go, is enough and to spare." Come away, and prove my words.
Obst. What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them ?
Chr. I seek an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; and it is laid up in heaven," and safe there, to be bestowed, at the time appointed, on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in
1 2 Cor iv 18.
m Luke xv. 17
n 1 Pet. i. 4-6.
Heb. xi. 6, 16.
* The genuine spirit of a sinner convinced of sin, and fleeing from destruction. He would gladly persuade other poor sinners to go with him. The least spark of grace from God in the heart discovers itself in good-will to men.
will you go
Obst. Tush, said Obstinate, away with your book ;
you go back with us, or no ? Chr. No, not I, said the other, because I have laid my hand to the plough.°
Obst. Come then, neighbour Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without him : there is a company of these crazy-headed coxcombs, that, when they take a fancy by the end, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason.
Pli. Then said Pliable, Don't revile; if what the good Christian says is true, the things he looks after are better than ours : my heart inclines to go with my neighbour.
Obst. What ! more fools still! Be ruled by me, and go back; who knows whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you ? Go back, go back, and be wise. *
Chr. Nay, but do thou come with thy neighbour Pliable ; there are such things to be had which I spoke of, and many more glories be- soul. sides. If you believe not me, read here in this book ; and, for the truth of what is expressed therein, behold, all is confirmed by the blood of Him that made it."
Pli. Well, neighbour Obstinate, said Pliable, I begin to come to a point; I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him: but, my good companion, do you know the way to this desired place ?
Chr. I am directed by a man, whose name is Evan
CHRISTIAN AND OBSTINATE PULL
PLIABLE CONSENTETH TO GO WITH CHRISTIAN
* He who never became a fool in the eyes of the world for Christ, is not yet made wise unto salvation through the faith of Christ.
OBTINATE GOES RAILING BACK,
gelist, to speed me to a little gate that is before us, where we shall receive instruction about the way.
Pli. Come then, good neighbour, let us be going. Then they went both together. Obst. And I will go back to my place, said Obsti
nate: I will be no companion of such misled,
fantastical fellows. * Now I saw in my dream, that when Obstinate was TALK NETWEEN gone back, Christian and Pliable went talk
ing over the plain ; and thus they began their discourse.
Chr. Come, neighbour Pliable, how do you do? I am glad you are persuaded to go along with me. Had even Obstinate himself but felt what I have felt of the powers and terrors of what is yet unseen, he would not thus lightly have given us the back.
Pli. Come, neighbour Christian, since there are none but us two here, tell me now farther, what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are going. Chr. I can better conceive of them with my mind,
than speak of them with my tongue : but yet,
since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in
book. Pli. And do you think that the words of your book are certainly true ?
Chr. Yes, verily; for it was made by Him that cannot lie.9
Pli. Well said; what things are they ?
GOD'S THINGS UXSPEAKABLE.
q Tit. i. 2. Here see the different effects which gospel truths have upon natural men.
Obstinate totally rejects them: Pliable hears of them with jov, believes somewhat of them for a season, and accompanies Christian a little way.