« 上一页继续 »
has given us, in different parts of this book, of the communion which pilgrims enjoy with the Lord; of the confolations which they experience at times; of the fupport, protection, and deliverance, by which they are preserved, and enabled to perfevere, and to prefs on towards the mark through every oppofition which they meet with in their way. He was well acquainted with Satan's devices, the mystery of iniquity, the man of fin, the deceivableness of unrighteousness, the deceitfulness of his own heart, and the depravity of fallen nature. This appears, on one hand, from the account he has given us of the workings of a legal spirit, and of those foul-conflicts with which the pilgrims were exercised; and, on the other hand, from the characters which he has given of Worldlywifeman, and of various falfe, formal, and hypocritical profeffors; in which he has dif covered great knowledge of the human heart, and of the various ways by which the god of this world blinds the eyes of them that believe not, and the various difguifes by which hypocrites try to deceive others; in which they go on, if grace prevent not, till they fall into utter and eternal perdition; for, as St. Paul b 2
fays, evil men and feducers wax worse and worfe, deceiving and being deceived; for God fends them strong delufions that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness, i. e. truft in the works of their own hands, and glory in them.
Reader, if thou haft eyes to fee, and a heart to understand, thou wilt, in this book, fee the difference between true and false religion displayed in a moft lively and striking manner. Thou wilt find no foolish questions, but fuch as tend to godly edifying; no genealogies or multiplied reafoning-one argument begetting another; no perverse disputings, contentions, and ftrivings, about the law, which are unprofitable and vain here thou wilt fee the reign of grace, the power of the gofpel, the operation of the Spirit, exemplified in various inftances, and in various characters; all confpiring to exalt the Saviour, and prove the neceflity of vital union and fpiritual communion with him; fince, without fresh fupplies and continual communications of life, light, and love, from him, there can be no fruitfulness, no foul profpe
C 2 Theff. ii. 10.
rity, no resisting the world, the flesh, and the devil, no running the heavenly race, and no fighting the good fight of faith.
We are exhorted to hold faft the form of found words; and St. John fays, in his fecond epistle, that "whofoever tranfgreffeth, and "abideth not in the doctrine of Chrift, hath "not God." It is certainly good to be eftablished, rooted, grounded, and fettled in the truth; but that religion, which goes no further than a scheme of doctrines, a set of notions or opinions, which may be learnt by heart, be collected from authors, or be fyftematically arranged in what is called a body of divinity, will never bring thee near and reconcile thy heart to God, will never bring peace to thy soul, or purge thy conscience from dead works to ferve the living and true God. Nothing can properly be called religion which, in its own nature, is not practical. Our Lord fays, "He that hath these fayings of mine, and doeth them, is the only wife builder :" it is not the forgetful hearer, but the doer of the word who is bleffed in his deed. The peculiar excellency of the Pilgrim's Progress, and that which was my principal
principal inducement for engaging in this publication, was the practical improvement which may be drawn from every character therein defcribed, and from every occurrence therein related. Let this be remembered, that the true end of reading is a practical improvement of what we read. This likewife is the true end of preaching; and this is the end of that converfation which is according to the gospel-edification, that it might minifter grace to the hearers.
If, Reader, thou fhouldeft find in this book fome things hard to be understood, remember that it is the cafe with St. Paul's Epiftles, as St. Peter himself expressly declares; nay, the scriptures, from one end to the other, are full of proverbs: fo that, if thou wouldeft understand their true meaning, thou wilt find frequent occafion for prayer and meditation, that thou mightest understand the words of the wife and their dark fayings; for, as the well-fpring of wisdom is as a flowing brook, fo, if thou doft apply thine heart unto her,' and incline thine ear to understanding, thou wilt be concerned to draw it out: then thou wilt find that the mouth of a righteous