Gambar halaman

Conversation of By-ends and bis Friends.

neither knows his own liberty, nor seeks his own safety."

Bý. My brethren, we are as you see, going all on pilgrimage ; and for our better diversion from tbings that are bad, give me leave to propound unto you this question.

Suppose a man, a minister or a tradesman, &c. should have an advantage lie before him to get the good blessings of this life, yet so as that he can by no means come by them, unless, in appearance at least, he become extraordinary zealous in some points of religion that he meddled not with before ; may he not use this means to attain bis end, and yet be a right honest man?

Money. I see the bottom of your question; and, with these gentlemen's good leave, I will endeavour to shape you an answer. And, first, to speak to your question as it concerns a minister himself: suppose a minister, a worthy man, possessed but of a very small benefice, and having in his eye a greater, more fat and plump by far; he has also now an opportunity of getting it, yet so as by being more studious, by preaching more frequently and zealously, and, because the temper of the people requires it, by altering some of his principles; for my part, I see no reason but a man may do this, provided he has a call, ay, and a great deal more besides, and yet be an bonest man. For why?

1. His desire of a greater benefice is lawful, (this

h The estimate which “men of the world," who have “the form of godliness, but deny its power," put upon serious self-denying christians, is, that they are “righteous overmuch," that is, more strict than religion requires them to be. The sarcasın which our author has einployed in nuaking these persons develope their motives and principles, is not inore severe than the Scriptures warrant. The delusion by which covetous christians are influenced is awfully great, when they conclude that both Scripture and reason justify their hypocritical professions, and their covetous practices. These were the sort of persuns of whom Jude speaks, as “running greedily after the error of Balaam for reward," Jude 11.

By-ends and his friends assert that Religion

cannot be contradicted,) since it is set before bim tv providence; so then he may get it if he can, asking no question for conscience' sake.

2. Besides, his desire after that benefice makes liin more studious, a more zealous preacher, &c. and so inakes him a better man, yea, makes him better improve his parts, which is according to the mind of God.

3. Now, as for his complying with the temper of his people, by deserting, to serve them, some of his prin. ciples, this argueth, 1. That he is of a self-denying temper. 2. Of a sweet and winning deportment. 3. And so more fit for the ministerial function.

4. I conclude then, that a minister who changes a small benefice for a great, should not, for so doing; be judged as covetous; but rather, since be is iinproved in his parts and industry hereby, be counted as one that pursues his call, and the opportunity put into his hand to do good.'

The question put by Mr. By-ends, and the answer by Mr. Money-love, are truly characteristic. The author had doubtless leen acquainted witli awful examples amony ministers, of those, who, because of advantage, had "altered their principles," pleading “a call of providence," and their opportunities for greater usefulness, in defence of their unprincipled and coretous practices. The satirical vein of humour which runs through this statement, not only shows the talents of the writer, but proves the conscious dignity with which Mr, Bunyan looked down upon all the timeserving sycophants, who inade religion their stalking-horse to gain promotion in the church. It has been said that covetousness is the easily besetting sin of the clergy of all descriptions : yet in then it is an aggravated crime, because they are charged particularly to avoid it. “ Feed the flock of God which is among you," says the apostle Peter, “ taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind," 1 Pet. v. 2. The Act of Uniforniity, which was passed May 17, 1662, was a test, which proved that the love of inoney was a more powerful principle with many ministers, than the love of God. Upwards of sevEN THOUSAND presbyterian parish ministers fell in with the measures of the parliament, the greater part of whom hould never seen the prayer-book with the alterations made by the convocation ; notwithstanding which, rather than part with their brings, they subscribed, declaring that they did it ex animo, the should be attended to only in its Prosperity.

· And now to the second part of the question, which concerns the tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such a one to have but a poor einploy in the world, but that, by becoming religious, he may mend his market, perhaps get a rich wife, or inore and far better customers to his shop; for my part, I see no rea. son but this may be lawfully done. For why?

1. To become religious is a virtue, by what means soever a man becomes so.

2. Nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more custom to my shop.

3. Besides, the man that gets these by becoming re. ligious, gets that which is good of them that are good, by becoming good bimself; so then here is a good wife, and good customers, and good gain, and all these by becoming religious, which is good : therefore, to become religious to get all these is a good and profitable design." following words, “That the book of conmon-prayer, and of ordaining bishops, priests, and deacons, containeth in it nothing con. trary to the word of God, and that it may be lawfully used ; and that they themselves would use the forın 'in the said books prescribed, in public prayer, and admiuistration of the sacrament, and no other.". It is however gratifying to be able to add, that upwards of two THOUSAND valuable and useful ministers were found willing to part with their livings, and with their congregations, rather than violate their consciences, by swearing to believe that which they could not approve. The following remark on this event by a man of note, deserves a place here. “Had all the ministers," said he,“ conformed, people would, have thought there was nothing in religion; and that it was only a thing to be talked of in the pulpit, and serve a state design ; while the ministers turned and changed any way with the state : but these men giving up their livings, and exposing theniselves and families to outward evils, rather than they would conform to things imposed, not agreeable (as they apprehended) to the gospel they preached, have convinced men there is a reality in religion, and given a check to atheisın." Ministers of the character justified by Mr. Money-love, have by their avaricious conduct furnished ground for the wellknown satire upon the clergy:

" And wbatsoever king should reign,

He'd be the Vicar of BRAY k Hypocritical measures for getting money have not been con. lined to the clergy, but have existed also among tradesmen These

Christian proves that Religion

This answer thus made by this Mr. Money-love to Mr. By-euds' question, was highly applauded by them all; wherefore they concluded upon the whole, that it waz inost wholesoine and advantageous. And because, as they thought, no man was able to contradict it, and because Christian and Hopeful were yet within call, they jointly agreed to assault them with the question as soon as they overtook them; and the rather, because they had opposed Mr. By-ends before. So they called after them, and they stopped and stood still till they came up to them; but they concluded as they went, that not Mr. By-ends, but old Mr. Holdthe-World, should propound the question to them, because, as they supposed, their answer to him would be without the remainder of that beat, which was kindled between Mr. By-ends and them at their parting a little before.

So they came up to each other, and after a short salutation, Mr. Hold-the-World propounded the question to Christian and bis fellow, and bid them answer it if they could.

Chr. Then said Christian, Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions. For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, as it is, (John vi. 26.) how much more aboininable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and magicians, that are of this opinion,

1. Heathens : for when Hamor and Sechem had a mind to the daughter and cattle of Jacob, and saw that there was no way for them to come at then but by being circumcised, they said to their companions,

are the persons who act as if they “supposed gain to be godliness," i Tim. vi. 5. The specious reasoning by which such men deceive themselves, is bere put into the form of an ironical syllogism, which, while it excites a smile, should lead us to feel the muust perfect contempt for those who are satisfied with such argu. ments. “Surely the love of money is the root of all evil," I Tim. vi. 10.

must be punued at all Hazardo.

If every male of us be circumcised, as they are cir. cumcised, shall not their cattle, and their substance, and every beast of theirs be ours i Their daughter's and their cattle were that wbich they sought to obtaill, and their religion the stalking-borse they made use of to coine at them. Read the whole story. (Gen. xxxiv. 20-21.)

2. The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion : long prayers were their pretence ; but to get widows' houses was their intent, and greater damnation was their judgment from God. (Luke xx. 46, 47.) · 3, Judas the devil was also of this religion : he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was therein ; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition.

4. Simon the magician was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might get money therewith ; and his sentence from Peter's mouth was according thereto. (Acts viii. 19-22.)

5. Neither will it go out of my mind, but that man who takes up religion for the world, will throw away religion for the world; for so surely as Judas designed the world in becoming religious, so surely did he also sell religion and his master for the same. To answer the question therefore affirmatively, as I perceive you have done, and to accept of, as authentic, such answer, is both heathenish, hypocritical, and devilish; and your reward will be according to your works.

Then they stood staring one upon another, but had not wherewith to answer Christian. Hopeful also approved of the soundness of Christiao's answer; so there was a great silence among them. Mr. By-ends and his company also staggered, and kept behind, that Christian and Hopeful night outgo thein. Then said Christian to his fellow, "If these men cannot stand before the sentence of men, what will they do with the sentence of God? And if they are inute when dealt with by vessels of clay, what will they do

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »