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it, there may be, plenty of it; wit and learning, and common gossip in abundance; but of the salt of grace, hardly enough to keep the talk from the dunghill. This is sad, and yet true. But Christian conversation, warm from the heart, is a precious means of life, and the means, eometimes, of opening the prison doors, and bringing out a sleeper. Bunyan's lines are as true as they are pithy:
Saints' fellowship, if it be managed well,
Such conversation as that of Christian and Hopeful is full of awakening and edifying power.
Hopeful gave Christian an account of his own conversion, and seldom indeed has there ever been a description of the workings of conscience, and the leadings and discipline of Divine Providence and Grace with an individual soul bringing it to repentance, in which the points and main course of conviction, conversion, and Christian experience, have been brought out with such beautiful distinct
power. Is is very instructive to trace them in Hopeful's relation. He was first awakened by the life and death of Faithful in Vanity Fair. Many a conscience can answer to the truth of his enumeration of the occasions and times in which, even in his unconverted state, he used to remember God, and be troubled. Heart-frightening hours of conviction he had upon him, and many things would bring his sins to mind; as, if he did but meet a good man in the streets, or if he heard any one read in the Bible; or if his head did begin to ache; or if he were told that some of his neigh
bors were sick; or if he heard the bell toll for some that were dead; or if he thought of dying himself; or if he heard that sudden death happened to others; but especially when he thought of himself, that he must come to judgment. So there was continually, as with all wicked men, a dreadful sound in Hopeful's ears. The truth is, the Ocean of Eternity will make itself heard. And there is a low wailing sound, as of spirits in torment, always wafted across it to the inhabitants of this world, as well as the voice of the spirits in bliss, saying, Come
ир hither! These things set Hopeful upon an effort to amend his life, for otherwise, thought he, I am sure to be damned. So he betook himself to praying, reading, weeping for sin, speaking the truth to his neighbors, and many other things, and thus, for a little season, succeeded in lulling and satisfying conscience. But again his difficulties were renewed, and his trouble came tumbling upon him, and that over the neck of all his reformation. Such sentences as these sounded in his ears ; By the works of the law shall no man be justified; and He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all. Moreover, Hopeful found that no present reformation would wipe off the score of past sins, and indeed he could get no relief but in Christ. By Faithful's directions, he went to the mercy-seat, and pleaded with God to reveal Christ unto him ; and though he was tempted to give up praying, an hundred times twice told, yet he persevered, till in that saying, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, he found peace; he found that
coming to Christ, and believing on him are all one. He found then to whom he must look for righteousness, and what it was to trust in the merits of Christ, and what was meant when it was said that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Hopeful's experience stands in a fine instructive contrast with that of Ignorance; the first shows the relish of the renewed heart for pare divine truth, and the secret of it; the second shows the secret of the opposition of the unrenewed heart against that same divine truth in its purity. The pride of our nature is one of the last evils revealed to ourselves, and whatever goes against it, we do naturally count as our enemy. But Humility, learning of Christ, makes a different estimate, and counts as precious, beyond price, all that truth and virtue in the Gospel which abases self
The soul, whose sight all quickening grace renews,
On the other hand, those who do not love God cannot expect to find in his Word a system of truth that will please their own hearts. A sinful heart can have no right views of God, and of course will have defective views of his Word ; for sin distorts the judgment, and overturns the balance of the mind on all moral subjects far more than even
the best of men are aware of. There is, there can be, no true reflection of God or of his Word from the bosom darkened with guilt, from the heart at enmity with him. That man will always look at God through the medium of his own selfishness, and at God's Word through the coloring of his own wishes, prejudices, and fears.
A heart that loves the Saviour, and rejoices in God as its Sovereign, reflects back in calmness the perfect view of his character, which it finds in his Word. Behold, on the borders of a mountain lake, the reflection of the scene above received into the bosom of the lake below! See that crag projecting, the wild flowers that hang out from it, and bend as if to gaze at their own forms in the water beneath. Observe that plot of green grass above, that tree springing from the cleft, and over all, the quiet sky reflected in all its softness and depth from the lake's steady surface. Does it not seem as if there were two heavens ! How perfect the reflection ! And just as perfect and clear and free from confusion and perplexity is the reflection of God's character, and of the truths of his Word from the quietness of the heart that loves the Saviour and rejoices in his supreme and sovereign glory.
Now look again. The wind is on the lake, and drives forward its waters in crested and impetuous waves, angry and turbulent. Where is that sweet image? There is no change above: the sky is clear, the crag projects as boldly, the flowers look just as sweet in their unconscious simplicity; but below, banks, trees and skies are all mingled in
confusion. There is just as much confusion in every unholy mind's idea of God and his blessed Word. God and his truth are always clear, always the same ; but the passions of men fill their own hearts with obscurity and turbulence; their depravity is itself obscurity, and through all this perplexity and wilful ignorance they contend that God is just such a being as they behold him, and that they are very good beings in his sight. We have heard of a defect in the bodily vision, that represents all objects upside down : that man would certainly be called insane, who, under the influence of this misfortune, should so blind his understanding, as to believe and assert that men walked on their heads, and that the trees grew downwards. Now, it is not a much greater insanity for men who in their hearts do not love God, and in their lives perhaps insult and disobey him, to give credit to their own perverted misrepresentations of bim and of his Word. As long as men will continue to look at God's truth through the medium of their own pride and prejudice, so long they will have mistaken views of God and eternity, so long will their own self-righteousness look better to them for a resting place than the glorious righteousness of Him, who of God is made unto us our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption.
Such an one is the mere “natural man (who) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” He has not the proper discipline and preparation of heart