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much to men's good, and to make them right at their beginning to go on pilgrimage. 3G MENESTE XW Tu Chr. Without all doubt it doth, if it be right : for so says the word, “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Job xxviii. 28. Psal. cxi. 10. Prov. i. 7; ix. 10.) te constantes von Laos
HOPE. How will you describe right fear? 19131 T
Chr. True or right fear is discovered by three things: zis 1. By its rise : it is caused by saving conviction for sin.
2. It driveth the soul to lay fast hold of Christ for salvation. · 3. It begetteth and continueth in the soul a great reverence of God, his word, and ways'; keeping it tender, and making it afraid to turn from them, to the right hand or to the left, to any thing that may dishonour God, break its peace, grieve the Spirit, or cause the enemy to speak reproachfully. “ HOPE. Well said ; I believe you have said the truth. Are we now almost got past the Enchanted Ground? * Chr. Why?-art thou weary of this discourse ? · HOPE. No, verily, but that I would know where we are. • Chr. We have not now above two miles further to go thereon.-But let us return to our matter.
Now the ignorant know not that such convictions, that tend to put them in fear, are for their good, and therefore they seek to stifle them.
HOPE. How do they seek to stifle them ? · Cur: 1. They think that those fears are wrought by the devil, (though indeed they are wrought by God,) and, thinking so, they resist them, as things that directly tend to their overthrow. 2. They also think that these fears tend to the spoiling of their faith; when, alas for them, poor men that they are, they have none at all!-and therefore they harden their hearts against them. 3. They presume they
Conversation of Christian and Hopeful,
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ought not to fear, and therefore in despite of them, wax presumptuously confident. : 4. They see that those fears tend to take away from them their pitiful old self-holiness, and therefore they resist them with all their might.'
HOPE. I know something of this myself; before I knew myself it was sowith me.
Chr. Well, we will leave, at this time, our neighbour Ignorance by himself, and fall upon another profitable question.
HOPE. With all my heart: but you shall still begin.
Chr. Well then, did you know, about ten years ago, one Temporary in your parts, who was a forward inan in religion then? , Hope. Know him! yes; he dwelt in Graceless, a town about two miles off of Honesty, and he dwelt next door to one Turnback.
Chr. Right; he dwelt under the same roof with him. Well, that man was much awakened once: I believe that then he had some sight of his sins, and of the wages that were due thereto.
Hope. I am of your mind, for- (my house not
b.Self righteous persons are not so weil satisfied with themselves and their performances, as not to have many fears that they shall lose their souls ; but finding these fears uncomfortable, they eodeavour lo stifle them, and thus get rid of their convictions. Believers, on the contrary, encourage fear, because they see there is just cause for them to fear, on account of their sinfulness. Their fears lead them to flee for refuge to the Lord Jesus, and influence them to regard the precepts of the word of God, lest by sinning they should grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom they are sealed to the day of redemption, or should make the generation of God's people to offend. It is a new covenant blessing, -I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me, Jer. xxxii. 40. Person's ignorant of the causes and operation of fear never think such convictions are for their good, but conclude that they came from the devil, though they are the operations of the Holy Spirit. They think such fears destroy their faith, which indeed is not faith, hut presumption; and they are determined not to give up the good opinion which they have of the merit of their works.
as to the Reason of Declension in Religion.
being above three miles from him) he would ofttimes come to me, and that with many tears. Truly I pitied the man, and was not altogether without hope of him: but one may see, it is not every one that cries," Lord, Lord.".. 1 Chr. He told me once that he was resolved to go on pilgrimage, as we go now; but all of a sudden he grew acquainted with one Save-self, and then he became a stranger to me. "
HOPE. Now, since we are talking about him, let us a little enquire into the reason of the sudden backsliding of him and such others.
Chr. It be may véry profitable; but do you begin." . i
HOPE. Well then, there are in my judgment four reasons for it:
1. Though the consciences of such men are awakened, yet their minds are not changed: therefore, when the power of guilt weareth away, that which provoketh them to be religious ceaseth; wherefore they naturally return to their old course again ; even as we see the dog that is sick of what he hath eaten, so long as his sickness prevails, he vomits and casts up all; not that he doth this of a free mind, (if we may say a dog has à mind,) but because it troubleth his stomach: but now, when his sickness is over, and so the stomach eased, his desires being not at all alienated from his vomit, he turns him about, and licks up all; and so it is true which is written, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again.” (2 Pet. ii. 22.)-Thus, I say, being hot for heaven, by virtue only of the sense and fear of the torments of hell, as that sense of hell and fear of damnation chills and cools, so their desires for heaven" and salvation cool also.' So then it comes to pass, that when their guilt and fear is gone, their desires for heaven and happiness die, and they return to their course again.
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Conversation of Christian and Hopeful, s
2. Another reason is, they have slavish fears that do overmaster them :- I speak now of the fears that they have of men: “ for the fear of man bringeth å snare.” (Prov. xxix. 25.). So then, though they seem to be hot for heaven so long as the flames of hell are about their ears, yet, when that terror is a little over, they betake themselves to second thoughts, namely, that it is good to be wise, and not to run (for they know not what) the hazard of losing all, or at least of bringing themselves into unavoidable and unnecessary tronbles ; and so they fall in with the world again.
3. The shame that attends religion lies also as a block in their way: they are proud and haughty, and religion in their eye is low and contemptible : therefore when they have lost their sense of hell and wrath to come they return again to their former course.
4. Guilt, and to meditate terror, are grievous to them; they like not to see their misery before they come into it; though perbaps the sight of it at first, if they loved that sight, might make them flee whither the righteous flee, and are safe; but because they do, as I hinted before, even shun the thoughts of guilt and terror; therefore, when once they are rid of their awakenings about the terrors and wrath of God, they harden their hearts gladly, and choose such ways as will harden them more and more. in
Chr. You are pretty near the business, for the bottom of all is, for want of a change in their mind and will. And therefore they are but like the felon that standeth before the judge: he quakes and trembles, and seems to repent most heartily, but the bottom of all is, the fear of the halter; not that he hath any detestation of the offence, as it is evident; because, let but this man have his liberty, and he will be a thief, and so a rogue still; whereas, if his mind was changed he would be otherwise.
Hope. Now I bave shewed you the reason of
respecting the Manner of declining in Religion.
their going back, do you shew me the manner thereof. : CHR. So I will willingly:
1. They draw off their thoughts, all that they may, from the remembrance of God, death, and judgment to come.
2. Then they cast off by degrees private duties, as closet prayer, curbing their lusts, watching, sor. row for sin, &c.
3. Then they shun the company of lively and warm Christians.
4. After that, they grow cold to public duty; as hearing, reading, godly conference, and the like.
5. Then they begin to pick holes, as we say, in the coats of some of the godly, and that deyilishly, that they may have a seeming colour to throw religion (for the sake of some infirmities they have spied in them) behind their backs.
6. Then they begin to adhere to, and associate themselves with, carnal, loose, and wanton men.
7. Then they give way to carnal and wanton discourses in secret; and glad are they if they can see such things in any that are counted honest, that they may the more boldly do it through their example.
8. After this, they begin to play with little sins openly
9. And then, being hardened, they shew themselves as they are. Thus, being launched again in the gulf of misery, unless a miracle of grace prevent it, they everlastingly perish in their own deceivings.
• Deep convictions of sin are no evidence of grace, as they may exist where there is no honest hatred of sin, and no objection to turn back to its pleasures. Such persons may be forward in religion, but it will be for a while only; and in time of temptation they will fall away. While asking what they shall do to be saved, their state is hopeful; but when they depend upon their own resolutions, they