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Faithful describes the Nature of practical Religion.
mind to misjudge in this matter: therefore in him that hath this work there is required a very sound judgment, before he can with steadiness conclude that this is a work of grace.
To others it is thus discovered:
First, By an experimental confession of his faith in Christ. Secondly, By a life answerable to that confession ; to wit, a life of holiness; heart-holiness, family-holiness (if he hath a family) and by conversation-holiness in the world; which in the general teacheth him inwardly to abhor his sin, and himself for that in secret; to suppress it in his family, and to promote holiness in the world: not by talk only, as a hypocrite or talkative person may do, but by a practical subjection in faith and love to the power of the word it. And now, Sir, as to this brief de. scription of the work of grace, and also the discovery of it, if you have aught to object, object; if not, then give me leave to propound to you a second question.
Talk. Nay, my part is not now to object, but to hear: let me therefore have your second question. . ! Faith. It is this: Do you experience this first part of the description of it? and doth your life and conversation testify the same? or standeth your religion in word or tongue, and not in deed and truth? Pray, if you incline to answer me in this, say no more than you know the God above will say Amen to; and also nothing but what your conscience can justify you in: “for not he that commendeth himself
9 This, and this only, will evidence that we are real disciples of Christ, honour his name, and his truths, and recommend his religion in the world. Without this power of godliness we have only a name to live, while we are dead. Examine yourself: look to your ways.
f Psal. 1. 23. Ezek. xx. 43, 44. Matth. v. 8. John xiv. 15. Roni. x. 9, 10. Phil. iii, 17-20,
Talkative is offended.
him for justin id not expect; uns: because
is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” Besides, to say I am thus and thus, when my conversation and all my neighbours tell me I lie, is great wickedness 8.
Talk. Then Talkative at first began to blush; but, recovering himself, thus he replied :. You come now to experience, to conscience, and God; and to appeal to him for justification of what is spoken : this kind of discourse I did not expect; nor am I disposed to give an answer to such questions : because I count not myself bound thereto, unless you take upon you to be a catechiser; and though you should so do, yet I may refuse to make you my judge. But, I pray, will you tell me why you ask me such questions?
Faith. Because I saw you forward to talk, and because I knew not that you had aught else but no. tion. Besides, to tell you all the truth, I have heard of you, that you are a man whose religion lies in talk, and that your conversation gives this your profession the lie. They say you are a spot among Christians; and that religion fareth the worse for your ungodly conversation; that some already have stumbled at your wicked ways, and that more are in danger of being destroyed thereby; your religion and an alehouse, and covetousness, and uncleanness, and swearing, and lying, and vain company-keeping, &c. will stand together. The proverb is true of you
8 Blessed faithful dealing! Oh, that it was more practised in the world, and in the church ! How then would vain talkers be detected in the one, and driven out of the other!
9 Heart-searching, soul-examining, and close-questioning of the conduct of life, will not do with talkative professors. Ring a peal on the doctrines of grace, and many will chime in with you ; but speak closely how grace operates upon the heart, and influences the life to follow Christ in self-denying obedience, they cannot bear it: they are offended with you, and will turn away from you and call you LEGAL.
Talkative leaves Christian and Faithful.
which is said of a whore, to wit, that “she is a shame to all women;" so you are a shame to all professors.
Talk. Since you are ready to take up reports, and to judge so rashly as you do, I cannot but conclude you are some peevish or melancholic man, not fit to be discoursed with :--and so, adieu'. · CHR. Then came up Christian, and said to his brother, I told you how it would happen: your words and his lust could not agree. He had rather leave your company than reform his life; but he is gone, as I said : let him go, the loss is no man's but his own : he has saved us the trouble of going from him; for he continuing (as I suppose he will do) as he is, he would have been but a blot in our company; besides, the apostle says, “From such withdraw thyself.”
FAITH. But I am glad we had this little discourse with him; it may happen that he will think of it again: however, I have dealt plainly with him, and so am clear of his blood if he perisheth”.
CHR. You did well to talk so plainly to him as yon did ; there is but little of this faithful dealing with men now-a-days, and that makes religion to stink so in the nostrils of many as it doth: for they are these talkative fools, whose whole religion is only in words, and are debauched and vain in their conversation, that, being so much admitted into the fellowship of the godly, do puzzle the world, blemish Christianity, and grieve the sincere. I wish that all men would deal with such as you have done; then should they be either made more conformable to religion, or the
that, beindebauched awhole religió
i Where the heart is unrenewed, it will ward off conviction, turn from a faithful reprover, condemn him, and justify itself.
? Mind this. These are right principles to act from, and right ends to act to, in faithfully reproving, or aiming to convict, our fellow-sinners. Study and pursue these,
Christian and Faithful meet Evangelist.
company of saints would be too hot for them. Then did they say
“How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes !
And so will all but he that heart-worki knows. Thus they went on, talking of what they had seen by the way, and so made that way easy which would otherwise no doubt have been tedious to them : for now they went through a wilderness.
Now, when they were almost quite out of this wilderness, Faithful chanced to cast his eye back, and spied one coming after them, and he knew him. Oh! said Faithful to his brother, who comes yonder! -Then Christian looked, and said, It is my good friend Evangelist. Ay, and my good friend too, said Faithful, for it was he that set me in the way to the gate. Now as Evangelist came up unto them, he thus saluted them:
Evan. Peace be with you, dearly beloved : and peace be to your helpers.
CHR. Welcome, welcome, my good Evangelist; the sight of thy countenance brings to my remembrance thy ancient kindness and unwearied labours for my eternal good.
FAITH. And a thousand times welcome, said good Faithful; thy company, 0 sweet Evangelist, howdesirable is it to us poor pilgrims !
s Spiritual observations, and conferences on past experiences, are very profiting and enlivening to the soul. They very often change the wilderness of dejection into a garden of delights, and so beguile the weary steps of pilgrims through tedious paths.
4 A sincere and cordial love for gospel-ministers, under a sense of their being made instrumental to our soul's profit, is a'sure and a blessed sign of a pilgrim's spirit.
Evangelist encourages Christian and Faithful,
Evan. Then said Evangelist, How hath it fared with you, my friends, since the time of our last parting? what have you met with”, and how have you behaved yourselves ?
Then Christian and Faithful told him of all things that had happened to them in the way; and how, and with what difficulty, they had arrived to that place. ;
Evan. Right glad am I, said Evangelist, not that you have met with trials, but that you have been victors, and for that you have, notwithstanding many weaknesses, continued in the way to this very day. I say, right glad am I of this thing, and that for my own sake, and yours. I have sowed, and you have reaped; and the day is coming, when “both he that sowed and they that reaped shall rejoice together;" that is, if you hold out; “ for in due time ye shall reap, if you faint not 8.” The crown is before you, and it is an incorruptible one; “ so run that you may obtain it."-Some there be that set out for this crown, and after they have gone far for it, another comes in and takes it from them; “ hold fast therefore that you have, let no man take your crown":" you are not yet out of the gun-shot of the devil : “ you have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin :" let the kingdom be always before you, and believe steadfastly concerning the things that are invisible : let nothing that is on this side the other world get within you: and, above all, look well to your own hearts and to the lusts thereof,
3 To enquire after soul-concerns, and soul-experiences, and prosperity, should always be the business of faithful ministers of Christ; but is not this sadly neglected ? Oh, how often do ministers visit and depart without close, savoury, experimental converse with their people! Hence both suffer present loss, and much harm is the consequence.
6 John iv. 36. Gal. vi. 9. B i Cor. ix. 24–27. Rev, iii. 11