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Then I shall end my sad complaints,
And weary sinful days;
That sing Jehovah's praise.
The eye of faith is dim;
And I shall be with him!
After the Pilgrims are set out from the Delectable Mountains, there pass before us a succession of scenes of great beauty, and characters of great interest, mingled with so much instructive and delightful conversation by the way, that it is a good type of that growth in grace and that heavenly wisdom, which should more and more mark the Pilgrims, the nearer they come to the Celestial City. The first character we meet is that of Ignorance, from the town of Conceit; then Little-Faith passes before us with his story ; then the character of Great-Grace. Next comes the Flatterer, then the Atheist, then the Enchanted Ground, and Hopeful's instructive relation of his religious experience, then the farther development of the character of Ignorance, then the course of an apostate. Next comes the picture of the land Benlah, and last of all, the river of Death and the Celestial City.
Ignorance was a very brisk lad, that came out of the country, and was going to enter heaven “ as other good people do,” by his goodness and not by Christ. He was a man of morality, a payer of his debts, a faster, a tithe-payer, an almsgiver; and to this catalogue of his worthy qualities, by which he was to be received in at the Gate, he also added that he had left his own
country for whither he was going. Here then, was a Professor of religion, who meant to be saved by his own merits, and yet deemed himself to have forsaken all for Christ, at least to have left his native country of Conceit. But he had still, unknown to himself, all the manners and feelings of his native land, and though he seemed to himself to be travelling towards the Celestial City, yet he was a stranger both to himself and to Christ, and of course had never entered by the Wicket Gate, and was destitute of Christian's roll of assurance. How many professed followers of Christ there may be, who are entirely ignorant of their own depraved nature, and of their need of a Saviour's righteousness, we cannot tell, but we are all natives of this country of Conceit; and if we expect to attain salvation by our own works, prayers, fastings, merits in any way, and not by the all-sufficing merits, the all-atoning sacrifice, and the all-renewing grace of Christ, we are utterly ignorant of what be the very first principles of the Cross of Christ. Where there is this ignorance of the Cross, there is very likely to be enmity against it, or a light esteem of it. So Mr. Ignorance did not think that there were “any men in all our parts who knew the way to the Wicket Gate," and for his part, he did not think there were any need of knowing it, since there was a much nearer way.
So Ignorance and the Pilgrims parted for a season, but afterwards they renewed their conversation, and Ignorance gave the Pilgrims to know more particularly what were some of the
grounds of his own assurance in regard to his good estate. The main thing seemed to be his comfortable hopes of heaven, and the good things that his own heart was telling him about himself. He seems never to have known the des, parate wickedness of his own heart, nor to have thought of distrusting it; and when good Christian explained to him that by the judgment of the Word of God the heart is naturally altogether sinful, then did Ignorance break out with this speech, saying, I will never believe that my heart is thus bad. Therefore, said Christian, thou never hadst one good thought concerning thyself in thy life.
This good opinion of Ignorance concerning himself was a radical, blinding evil, a great delusion, as it is with many professed Pilgrims; for, not seeing his own desperate sinfulness, of course he saw not his need of Christ as a Saviour, and had never fled to him, nor known what it was to rely upon him for mercy. Yet, he spake of Christ, and expected to be saved only by him, but it was in such a way as if Christ died to give to the sinner's own works a saving efficacy.
The case of Ignorance shows that there must be deep conviction, knowledge, and hatred of one's own guilt, to make one fully see, feel and know the
preciousness of Christ, and then indeed the soul rests upon him ; but it cannot rest upon him and upon its own works or merits together. Christ will be an only Saviour, or none at all. But there are many, who, like Ignorance, profess to rest upon Christ, but make him only half their Saviour, relying on their own holiness also for acceptance before
God. This is a very dangerous error, as in the instance of Ignorance, for it proceeds from Selfconceit, and even while under its influence men still think that they hold to the fundamental doctrine .of Justification by Faith.
This was the case with Ignorance, yet his description of Faith would sound very plausible to many minds. I believe, said he, that Christ died for sinners, and that I shall be justified before God from the curse, through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to the law. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to his Father, by virtue of his merits, and so I shall be justified. Now this faith was truly, as Christian said, a fantastical, false, deceitful, faith, no where described in the Word of God, although, having a great show of scriptural truth, it was wonderfully adapted to mislead and delude the simple and ignorant.
But who does not see that such a faith as this makes Christ not a Saviour of ourselves, but of our duties; it makes Christ die in order to constitute for us a self-righteousness, in order to make what we do the ground of our salvation But Christ himself is our salvation, or we have none at all. He himself, and not our duties for his sake, is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. He died to save our souls, and not to save our righteousness, nor to make our obedience fit for us to rest upon for salvation, for it never can be fit, but always needs to be forgiven. But this faith of Ignorance would make Christ a justifier not of the believer, but of his actions, and a justifier and Sa
viour of the believer for the sake of his actions ! That is, it makes Christ die for the justification of the believer's duties, which thus, it is pretended, become merits, and may be presented, through Christ, to God, as the purchase of salvation!
Now, when Christian explained the real nature of justifying faith in Christ, as relying solely upon him and his merits, the self-righteousness of Ignorance cried out against it. What, said he, would you
have us trust to what Christ in his own person hath done without us? This conceit would loosen the reins of our lusts, and tolerate us to live as we list; for what matter how we live, if we may be justified by Christ's personal righteousness from all sin, when we believe it? This was the common outcry and reproach of Antinomianism thrown against the doctrine of justification by faith, on the part of those who reject it. Ignorance was equally prejudiced against the declaration of Christian from the Bible, that no man can know Jesus Christ but by revelation from the Father; and this was simply the common unwillingness of our proud hearts to admit such truth as throws us entirely on the sovereignty and mere good pleasure of God.
The idea of justification by works, in any way, when we look at our own depravity, must appear to every sound mind as irrational as it is unscriptural. The best works, performed by the best man, are imperfect and mingled with sin, and therefore need to be forgiven ; so that to say that a man is justified by his works is no better than saying that a man is justified by his sins; and how great an absurdity this is, there is no man who will