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Bunyan Characters - Third Series by Alexander Whyte

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soon think of speaking to those iron pillars about a change of mind
as we would to them. If you preach to their prejudices and their
prepossessions and their partialities, they are all ears to hear
you, and all tongues to trumpet your praise. But do not expect
them to sit still with ordinary decency under what they are so
prejudiced against; do not expect them to read a book or buy a
passing paper on the other side. Sixty deaf men hold their ears;
sixty ill-conditioned men hold their hearts. Habit with them is
all the test of truth; it must be right, they've done it from their
youth. And thus they go on to the end of their term of life, full
of their own fixed ideas, with their eyes full of beams and
jaundices and darkness and death. Some people think that we take
up too much of our time with newspapers in our day, and that, if
things go on as they are going, we shall soon have neither time nor
taste for anything else but half a dozen papers a day. But all
that depends on the conditions with which we read. If we would
read as Jonathan Edwards read the weekly news-letters of his day;
if we read all our papers to see if the kingdom of God was coming
in reply to our prayer; if we read, observing all things, like
Timothy, without prejudice or partiality, then I know no better
reading for an ill-conditioned heart begun to look to itself than
just a good, out-and-out party newspaper. And if it is a church
paper all the better for your purpose. If you read with your
fingers in your ears; if you read with a beam in your eye, you had
better confine yourself in your reading; if you feel that your
prejudices are inflamed and your partiality is intensified, then
take care what paper you take in. But if you read all you read for
the love of the truth, for justice, for fair-play, and for
brotherly love, and all that in yourself; if you read all the time
with your eyes on your own ill-conditioned heart, then, as James
says, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations. Take
up your political and ecclesiastical paper every morning, saying to
yourself, Go to, O my heart, and get thy daily lesson. Go to, and
enter thy cleansing and refining furnace. Go to, and come well out
of thy daily temptation.--A nobler school you will not find
anywhere for a prejudiced, partial, angry, and ill-conditioned
heart than just the party journals of the day. For the abating of
prejudice; for seeing the odiousness of partiality, and for putting
on every day a fair, open, catholic, Christian mind, commend me to
the public life and the public journals of our living day. And it
is not that this man may be up and that man down; this cause
victorious and that cause defeated; this truth vindicated and that
untruth defeated, that public life rolls on and that its
revolutions are reported to us. Our own minds and our own hearts
are the final cause, the ultimate drift, and the far-off end and
aim of it all. We are not made for party and for the partialities
and prosperities of party; party and all its passions and all its
successes and all its defeats are made, and are permitted to be
made for us; for our opportunity of purging ourselves free of all
our ill-conditions, of all our prejudices, of all our partialities,
and of all the sin and misery that come to us of all these things.

6. 'It is the work of a philosopher,' says Addison in one of his
best Spectators, 'to be every day subduing his passions and laying
aside his prejudices.' We are not philosophers, but we shall be
enrolled in the foremost ranks of philosophy if we imitate such
philosophers in their daily work, as we must do and shall do.
Well, are we begun to do it? Are we engaged in that work of theirs
and ours every day? Is God our witness and our judge that we are?
Are we so engaged upon that inward work, and so succeeding in it,
that we can read our most prejudiced newspaper with the same mind
and spirit, with the same profit and progress, with which we read
our Bible? A good man, a humble man, a man acutely sensible of his
ill-conditions, will look on every day as lost or won according as
he has lost or won in this inward war. If his partialities are
dropping off his mind; if his prejudices are melting; if he can
read books and papers with pleasure and instruction that once
filled him with dark passions and angry outbursts; if his Calvinism
lets him read Thomas A Kempis and Jeremy Taylor and William Law; if
his High-Churchism lets him delight to worship God in an
Independent or a Presbyterian church; if his Free-Churchism permits
him to see the Establishment reviving, and his State-Churchism
admits that the Free Churches have more to say to him than he had
at one time thought; if his Toryism lets him take in a Radical
paper, and his Radicalism a Unionist paper--then let him thank God,
for God is in all that though he knew it not. And when he counts
up his incalculable benefits at each return of the Lord's table,
let him count up as not the least of them an open mind and a well-
conditioned heart, an unprejudiced mind, and an impartial heart.

7. And now, to conclude: Take old, angry, ill-conditioned
Prejudice, his daily prayer: 'My Adorable God and Creator! Thy
Holy Church is by the wickedness of men divided into various
communions, all hating, condemning, and endeavouring to destroy one
another. I made none of these divisions, nor am I any longer a
defender of them. I wish everything removed out of every communion
that hinders the Common Unity. The wranglings and disputings of
whole churches and nations have so confounded all things that I
have no ability to make a true and just judgment of the matters
between them. If I knew that any one of these communions was alone
acceptable to Thee, I would do or suffer anything to make myself a
member of it. For, my Good God, I desire nothing so much as to
know and to love Thee, and to worship Thee in the most acceptable
manner. And as I humbly presume that Thou wouldst not suffer Thy
Church to be thus universally divided, if no divided portion could
offer any worship acceptable unto Thee; and as I have no knowledge
of what is absolutely best in these divided parts, nor any ability
to put an end to them; so I fully trust in Thy goodness, that Thou
wilt not suffer these divisions to separate me from Thy mercy in
Christ Jesus; and that, if there be any better ways of serving Thee
than those I already enjoy, Thou wilt, according to Thine infinite
mercy, lead me into them, O God of my peace and my love.' After
this manner old, angry, ill-conditioned Prejudice prayed every day
till he died, a little child, in charity with all men, and in
acceptance with Almighty God.


'I am made all things to all men . . . I please all men in all

Captain Anything came originally from the ancient town of Fair-

Fair-speech had many royal bounties and many special privileges
bestowed upon it, and Captain Anything and his family had come to
many titles and to great riches in that ancient, loyal, and
honourable borough. My Lord Turn-about, my Lord Time-server, my
Lord Fair-speech (from whose ancestors that town first took its
name), as also such well-known commoners as Mr. Smooth-man, Mr.
Facing-both-ways, and Mr. Two-tongues were all sprung with Captain
Anything from the same ancient and long-established ancestry. As
to his religion, from a child young Anything had sat under the
parson of the parish, the same Reverend Two-tongues as has been
mentioned above. And our budding soldier followed the example of
his minister in that he never strove too long against wind or tide,
or was ever to be seen on the same side of the street with Religion
when she was banished from court or had lost her silver slippers.
The crest of the Anythings was a delicately poised weather-cock;
and the motto engraved around the gyrating bird ran thus: 'Our
judgment always jumps according to the occasion.' As a military
man, Captain Anything is described in military books as a proper
man, and a man of courage and skill--to appearance. He and his
company under him were a sort of Swiss guard in Mansoul. They held
themselves open and ready for any master. They lived not so much
by religion or by loyalty as by the fates of worldly fortune. In
his secret despatches Diabolus was wont to address Captain Anything
as My Darling; and be sure you recruit your Switzers well, Diabolus
would say; but when the real stress of the war came, even Diabolus
cast Captain Anything off. And thus it came about that when both
sides were against this despised creature he had to throw down his
arms and flee into a safe skulking place for his life.
*** Spell checked to here--85 ***
1. In that half-papist, half-atheistic country called France there
is a class of politicians known by the name of Opportunists. They
are a kind of public men that, we are thankful to say, are not
known in Protestant and Evangelical England, but they may be
pictured out and described to you in this homely way: An
Opportunist stands well out of the sparks of the fire, and well in
behind the stone wall, till the fanatics for liberty, equality, and
fraternity have snatched the chestnuts out of the fire, and then
the Opportunist steps out from his safe place and blandly divides
the well-roasted tid-bits among his family and his friends. As
long as there is any jeopardy, the Jacobins are denounced and held
up to opprobrium; but when the jeopardy and the risk are well past,
the sober-minded, cautious, conservative, and responsible statesmen
walk off with the portfolios of place and privilege and pay under
their honest arms. But these are the unprincipled papists and
infidels of a mushroom republic; and, thank God, such spurious
patriotism, and such sham and selfish statesmanship, have not yet
shown their miserable heads among faithful, fearless,
straightforward, and uncalculating Englishmen. At the same time,
if ever that continental vice should attack our national character,
we have two well-known essays in our ethical and casuistical
literature that may with perfect safety be pitted against anything
that either France or Italy has produced. Even if they are but a
master's irony, let all ambitious men keep Of Cunning and Of Wisdom
for a Man's Self under their pillow. Let all young men who would
toady a great man; let all young ministers who would tune their
pulpit to king, or court, or society; let all tradesmen and
merchants who prefer their profits to their principles--if they
have literature enough, let them soak their honest minds in our
great Chancellor's sage counsels; and he who promoted Anything and
dubbed him his Darling, he will, no doubt, publish both a post and
a title on his birthday for you also.

2. 'What religion is he of?' asks Dean Swift. 'He is an
Anythingarian,' is the answer, 'for he makes his self-interest the
sole standard of his life and doctrine.' And Archbishop Leighton,
a very different churchman from the bitter author of the Polite
Conversations, is equally contemptuous toward the self-seeker in
divine things. 'Your boasted peaceableness often proceeds from a
superficial temper; and, not seldom, from a supercilious disdain of
whatever has no marketable use or value, and from your utter
indifference to true religion. Toleration is an herb of
spontaneous growth in the soil of indifference. Much of our union
of minds proceeds from want of knowledge and from want of affection
to religion. Many who boast of their church conformity, and that
no one hears of their noise, may thank the ignorance of their minds
for that kind of quietness.' But by far the most powerful assault
that ever was made upon lukewarmness in religion and upon self-
seeking in the Church was delivered by Dante in the tremendous
third canto of his Inferno:-

Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swelled the sounds,
Made up a tumult that for ever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain'd,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.
I then, with error yet encompass'd, cried,
'O master! What is this I hear? What race
Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?'
He then to me: 'This miserable fate
Suffer the wretched souls of those who lived
Without or praise or blame, with that ill band
Of angels mixed, who nor rebellious proved,
Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves
Were only. Mercy and Justice scorn them both.
Speak not of them, but look and pass them by.'
Forthwith, I understood for certain this the tribe
Of those ill spirits both to God displeasing
And to His foes. Those wretches who ne'er lived,
Went on in nakedness, and sorely stung
By wasps and hornets, which bedewed their cheeks
With blood, that mix'd with tears dropp'd to their feet,
And by disgustful worms was gathered there.

3. Now, we must all lay it continually and with uttermost
humiliation to heart that we all have Captain Anything's
opportunism, his self-interest, his insincerity, his instability,
and his secret deceitfulness in ourselves. That man knows little
of himself who does not despise and hate himself for his secret
self-seeking even in the service of God. For, how the love of
praise will seduce and corrupt this man, and the love of gain that
man! How easy it is to flatter and adulate this man out of all his
former opinions and his deepest principles, and how an expected
advantage will make that other man forget now an old alliance and
now a deep antipathy! How often the side we take even in the most
momentous matters is decided by the most unworthy motives and the
most contemptible considerations! Unstable as water, Reuben shall
not excel. Double-minded men, we, like Jacob's first-born, are
unstable in all our ways. We have no anchor, or, what anchor we
sometimes have soon slips. We have no fixed pole-star by which to
steer our life. Any will-o'-the-wisp of pleasure, or advantage, or
praise will run us on the rocks. The searchers of Mansoul, after
long search, at last lighted on Anything, and soon made an end of
him. Seek him out in your own soul also. Be you sure he is
somewhere there. He is skulking somewhere there. And, having
found him, if you cannot on the spot make an end of him, keep your
eye on him, and never say that you are safe from him and his
company as long as you are in this soul-deceiving life. And, that
Anything will not be let enter the gates of the city you are set on
seeking, that will go largely to make that sweet and clean and
truthful city your very heaven to you.

4. 'I am made all things to all men, and I please all men in all
things.' One would almost think that was Captain Anything himself,
in a frank, cynical, and self-censorious moment. But if you will
look it up you will see that it was a very different man. The
words are the words of Anything, but the heart behind the words is
the heart of Paul. And this, again, teaches us that we should be
like the Messiah in this also, not to judge after the sight of our
eyes, nor to reprove after the hearing of our ears. Miserable
Anything! outcast alike of heaven and hell! But, O noble and
blessed Apostle! the man, says Thomas Goodwin, who shall be found
seated next to Jesus Christ Himself in the kingdom of God. Happy
Paul: happy even on this earth, since he could say, and in the
measure he could say with truth and with sincerity, such self-
revelations as these: 'Unto the Jews I am become as a Jew that I
might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the
law, that I might gain them that are under the law. To them that
are without law, as without law, that I might gain them that are
without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the
weak; I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means
save some. Giving none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the
Gentiles, nor to the Church of God. Even as I please all men in
all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many,
that they may be saved.' Noble words, and inspiring to read. Yes:
but look within, and think what Paul must have passed through;
think what he must have been put through before he,--a man of like
selfish passions as we are, a man of like selfish passions as
Anything was,--could say all that. Let his crosses and his thorns;
his raptures up to the third heaven, and his body of death that he
bore about with him all his days; let his magnificent spiritual
gifts, and his still more magnificent spiritual graces tell how
they all worked together to make the chief of sinners out of the
blameless Pharisee, and, at the same time, Christ's own chosen
vessel and the apostle of all the churches. Boasting about his
patron apostle, St. Augustine says: 'Far be it from so great an
apostle, a vessel elect of God, an organ of the Holy Ghost, to be
one man when he preached and another when he wrote; one man in
private and another in public. He was made all things to all men,
not by the craft of a deceiver, but from the affection of a
sympathiser, succouring the diverse diseases of souls with the
diverse emotions of compassion; to the little ones dispensing the
lesser doctrines, not false ones, but the higher mysteries to the
perfect--all of them, however, true, harmonious, and divine.' The
exquisite irony of Socrates comes into my mind in this connection,
and will not be kept out of my mind. By instinct as well as by art
Socrates mixed up the profoundest seriousness with the humorous
affectation of qualities of mind and even of character the exact
opposite of what all who loved him knew to be the real Socrates.
'Intellectually,' says Dr. Thomson, 'the acutest man of his age,
Socrates represents himself in all companies as the dullest person
present. Morally the purest, he affects to be the slave of passion
and borrows the language even of the lewd to describe a love and a
goodwill far too exalted for the comprehension of his
contemporaries. This irony of his disarmed ridicule by
anticipating it; it allayed jealousy and propitiated envy; and it
possibly procured him admission into gay circles from which a more
solemn teacher would have been excluded. But all the time it had
for its basis a real greatness of soul, a hearty and an unaffected
disregard of public opinion, a perfect disinterestedness, and an
entire abnegation of self. He made himself a fool in order that
fools by his folly might be made wise; he humbled himself to the
level of those among whom his work lay that he might raise some few
among them to his own level; he was all things to all men, if by
any means he might save some. Till Alcibiades ends the splendid
eloge that Plato puts into his mouth with these words, "All my
master's vice and stupidity and worship of wealthy and great men is
counterfeit. It is all but the Silenus-mask which conceals the
features of the god within; for if you remove the covering, how
shall I describe to you, my friends and boon companions, the
excellence of the beauty you will find within! Whether any of you
have seen Socrates in his serious mood, when he has thrown aside
the mask and disclosed the divine features beneath it, is more than
I know. But I have seen them, and I can tell you that they seemed
to me glorious and marvellous, and, truly, godlike in their

Well, now, I gather out of all that this great lesson: that it is,
to begin with, a mere matter of temperament, or what William Law
would call a mere matter of complexion and sensibility, whether, to
begin with, a man is hard, and dry, and narrow, and stiff, and
proud, and scornful, and cruel; or again, whether he is soft and
tender, broad and open, and full of sympathy and of the milk of
human kindness. At first, and to begin with, there is neither
praise nor blame as yet in the matter. A man is hard just as a
stone is hard; it is his nature. Or he is soft as clay is soft; it
is again his nature. But, inheriting such a nature, and his
inherited nature beginning to appear, then is the time when the
true man really begins to be made. The bad man dwells in
contentment, and, indeed, by preference, at home in his own hard,
proud, scornful, resentful heart; or, again, in his facile,
fawning, tide-waiting, time-serving heart; and thus he chooses,
accepts, and prefers his evil fate, and never seeks the help either
of God or man to enable him to rise above it. Paul was not, when
we meet him first, the sweet, humble, affable, placable, makeable
man that he made himself and came to be after a lifetime of gospel-
preaching and of adorning the gospel he preached. And all the
assistances and all the opportunities that came to Paul are still
coming to you and to me; till, whether naturally pliable and
affectionate or the opposite, we at last shall come to the
temperament, the complexion, and the exquisite sensibility of Paul
himself. Are you, then, a hard, stiff, severe, censorious, proud,
angry, scornful man? Or are you a too-easy, too-facile man-pleaser
and self-seeker, being all things to all men that you may make use
of all men? Are you? Then say so. Confess it to be so. Admit
that you have found yourself out. And reflect every day what you
have got to do in life. Consider what a new birth you need and
must have. Number your days that are left you in which to make you
a new heart, and a new nature, and a new character. Consider well
how you are to set about that divine work. You have a minister,
and your minister is called a divine because by courtesy he is
supposed to understand that divine work, and to be engaged on it
night and day in himself, and in season and out of season among his
people. He will tell you how you are to make you a new heart. Or,
if he does not and cannot do that; if he preaches about everything
but that to a people who will listen to anything but that, then
your soul is not in his hands but in your own. You may not be able
to choose your minister, but you can choose what books you are to
buy, or borrow, and read. And if there is not a minister within a
hundred miles of you who knows his right hand from his left, then
there are surely some booksellers who will advise you about the
classical books of the soul till you can order them for yourselves.
And thus, if it is your curse and your shame to be as spongy, and
soapy, and oily, and slippery as Anything himself; if you choose
your church and your reading with any originality, sense, and
insight, you need not fear but that you will be let live till you
die an honest, upright, honourable, fearless gentleman: no timid
friend to unfashionable truth, as you are to-night, but a man like
Thomas Boston's Ettrick elder, who lies waiting the last trump
under a gravestone engraven with this legend: Here lies a man who
had a brow for every good cause. Only, if you would have that
written and read on your headstone, you have no time to lose. If I
were you I would not sit another Sabbath under a minister whose
preaching was not changing my nature, making my heart new, and
transforming my character; no, not though the Queen herself sat in
the same loft. And I would leave the church even of my fathers,
and become anything as far as churches go, if I could get a
minister who held my face close and ever closer up to my own heart.
Nor would I spend a shilling or an hour that I could help on any
impertinent book,--any book that did not powerfully help me in the
one remaining interest of my one remaining life: a new nature and
a new heart. No, not I. No, not I any more.


' . . . the promise made of none effect.'--Paul

Toward the end of the thirteenth century Edward the First, the
English Justinian, brought a select colony of artists from Italy to
England and gave them a commission to execute their best coinage
for the English Mint. Deft and skilful as those artists were, the
work they turned out was but rude and clumsy compared with some of
the gold and silver and copper coins of our day. The Florentine
artists took a sheet of gold or of silver and divided the sheet up
with great scissors, and then they hammered the cut-out pieces as
only a Florentine hammerman could hammer them. But, working with
such tools, and working on such methods, those goldsmiths and
silversmiths, with all their art, found it impossible to give an
absolutely equal weight and worth to every piece of money that they
turned out. For one thing, their cut and hammered coins had no
carved rims round their edges as all our gold and silver and even
copper coinage now has. And, accordingly, the clever rogues of
that day soon discovered that it was far easier for them to take up
a pair of shears and to clip a sliver of silver off the rough rim
of a shilling, or a shaving of gold off a sovereign, than it was to
take of their coats and work a hard day's work. Till to clip the
coin of the realm soon became one of the easiest and most
profitable kinds of crime. In the time of Elizabeth a great
improvement was made in the way of coining the public money; but it
was soon found that this had only made matters worse. For now,
side by side with a pure and unimpaired and full-valued currency,
and mingled up everywhere with it, there was the old, clipped,
debased, and far too light gold and silver money; till troubles
arose in connection with the coinage and circulation of the country
that can only be told by Macaulay's extraordinarily graphic pen.
'It may well be doubted,' Macaulay says, in the twenty-first
chapter of his History of England, 'whether all the misery which
has been inflicted on the English nation in a quarter of a century
by bad Kings, bad Ministers, bad Parliaments, and bad Judges was
equal to the misery caused in a single year by bad crowns and bad
shillings. Whether Whigs or Tories, Protestants or Papists were
uppermost, the grazier drove his beasts to market, the grocer
weighed out his currants, the draper measured out his broadcloth,
the hum of buyers and sellers was as loud as ever in the towns; the
cream overflowed the pails of Cheshire; the apple juice foamed in
the presses of Herefordshire; the piles of crockery glowed in the
furnaces of the Trent, and the barrows of coal rolled fast along
the timber railways of the Tyne. But when the great instrument of
exchange became thoroughly deranged all trade and all industry were
smitten as with a palsy. Nothing could be purchased without a
dispute. Over every counter there was wrangling from morning to
night. The employer and his workmen had a quarrel as regularly as
Saturday night came round. On a fair day or a market day the
clamours, the disputes, the reproaches, the taunts, the curses,
were incessant. No merchant would contract to deliver goods
without making some stipulation about the quality of the coin in
which he was to be paid. The price of the necessaries of life, of
shoes, of ale, of oatmeal, rose fast. The bit of metal called a
shilling the labourer found would not go so far as sixpence. One
day Tonson sends forty brass shillings to Dryden, to say nothing of
clipped money. The great poet sends them all back and demands in
their place good guineas. "I expect," he says, "good silver, not
such as I had formerly." Meanwhile, at every session of the Old
Bailey the most terrible example of coiners and clippers was made.
Hurdles, with four, five, six wretches convicted of counterfeiting
or mutilating the money of the realm, were dragged month after
month up Holborn Hill.' But I cannot copy the whole chapter,
wonderful as the writing is. Suffice it to say that before the
clippers could be rooted out, and confidence restored between buyer
and seller, the greatest statesmen, the greatest financiers, and
the greatest philosophers were all at their wits' end. Kings'
speeches, cabinet councils, bills of Parliament, and showers of
pamphlets were all full in those days of the clipper and the
coiner. All John Locke's great intellect came short of grappling
successfully with the terrible crisis the clipper of the coin had
brought upon England. Carry all that, then, over into the life of
personal religion, after the manner of our Lord's parables, and
after the manner of the Pilgrim's Progress and the Holy War, and
you will see what an able and impressive use John Bunyan will make
of the shears of the coin-clippers of his day. Macaulay has but
made us ready to open and understand Bunyan. 'After this, my Lord
apprehended Clip-Promise. Now, because he was a notorious villain,
for by his doings much of the king's coin was abused, therefore he
was made a public example. He was arraigned and judged to be set
first in the pillory, then to be whipped by all the children and
servants in Mansoul, and then to be hanged till he was dead. Some
may wonder at the severity of this man's punishment, but those that
are honest traders in Mansoul they are sensible of the great abuse
that one clipper of promises in little time may do in the town of
Mansoul; and, truly, my judgment is that all those of his name and
life should be served out even as he.'

The grace of God is like a bullion mass of purest gold, and then
Jesus Christ is the great ingot of that gold, and then Moses, and
David, and Isaiah, and Hosea, and Paul, and Peter, and John are the
inspired artists who have commission to take both bullion and
ingot, and out of them to cut, and beat, and smelt, and shape, and
stamp, and superscribe the promises, and then to issue the promises
to pass current in the market of salvation like so many shekels,
and pounds, and pence, and farthings, and mites, as the case may
be. And it was just these royal coins, imaged and superscribed so
richly and so beautifully, that Clip-Promise so mutilated, abused,
and debased, till for doing so he was hanged by the neck till he
was dead.

1. The very house of Israel herself, the very Mint-house, Tower
Hill, and Lombard Street of Israel herself, was full of false
coiners and clippers of the promises; as full as ever England was
at her very worst. Israel clipped her Messianic promises and lived
upon the clippings instead of upon the coin. Her coming Christ,
and His salvation already begun, were the true spiritual currency
of Old Testament times; while round that central Image of her great
promise there ran an outside rim of lesser promises that all took
their true and their only value from Him whose image and
superscription stood within. But those besotted and infatuated men
of Israel, instead of entering into and living by the great
spiritual promises given to them in their Messiah, made lands, and
houses, and meat, and drink, all the Messiah they cared for.
Matthew Henry says that when we go to the merchant to buy goods, he
gives us the paper and the pack-thread to the bargain. Well, those
children and fools in Israel actually threw away the goods and
hoarded and boasted over the paper and the pack-thread. Our old
Scottish lawyers have made us familiar with the distinction in the
church between spiritualia and temporalia. Well, the Jews let the
spiritualia go to those who cared to take such things, while they
held fast to the temporalia. And all that went on till His
disciples had the effrontery to clip and coin under our Lord's very
eyes, and even to ask Him to hold the coin while they sharpened
their shears. 'O faithless and perverse generation! How long
shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Have I been so
long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? O fools,
and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets He expounded to them in
all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.'

2. But those who live in glass houses must take care not to throw
stones. And thus the greatest fool in Israel is safe from you and
me. For, like them, and just as if we had never read one word
about them, we bend our hearts and our children's hearts to things
seen and temporal, and then, after things seen and temporal have
all cast us off, we begin to ask if there is any solace or
sweetness for a cast-off heart in things unseen and eternal. There
are great gaps clipt out of our Bibles that not God Himself can
ever print or paste in again. Look and see if half the Book of
Proverbs, for instance, with all its noble promises to a godly
youth, is not clipt clean out of your dismembered Bible. That fine
leaf also, 'My son, give Me thine heart,' is clean gone out of the
twenty-third chapter of the Proverbs years and years ago. As is
the best part of the noble Book of Daniel, and almost the whole of
Second Timothy. 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and meat and drink, and wife and child shall be
added unto you.' Your suicidal shears have cut that golden promise
for ever out of your Sermon on the Mount. So much so that if any
or all of these temporal mercies ever come to you, they will come
of pure and undeserved mercy, for the time has long passed when you
could plead any promise for them. Still, there are two most
excellent uses left to which you can even yet put your mangled and
dismembered Bible. You can make a splendid use of its gaps and of
its gashes, and of those waste places where great promises at one
time stood. You can make a grand use even of those gaps if you
will descend into them and draw out of them humiliation and
repentance, compunction, contrition, and resignation. And this use
also: When you are moved to take some man who is still young into
your confidence, ask him to let you see his Bible and then let him
see yours, and point out to him the rents and wounds and wilderness
places in yours. And thus, by these two uses of a clipped-up and
half-empty Bible, you may make gains that shall yet set you above
those whose Bibles of promises are still as fresh as when they came
from God's own hand. And Samson said, I will now put forth a
riddle unto you: Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the
strong came forth sweetness.

3. 'Go out,' said the Lord of Mansoul, 'and apprehend Clip-Promise
and bring him before me.' And they did so. 'Go down to Edinburgh
to-night, and go to the door of such and such a church, and, as he
comes out arrest Clip-the-Commandments, for he has heard My word
all this day again but will not do it.' Where would you be by
midnight if God rose up in anger and swore at this moment that your
disobedient time should be no longer? You would be speechless
before such a charge, for the shears are in your pocket at this
moment with which you have clipped to pieces this Sabbath-day:
shears red with the blood of the Fourth Commandment. For, when did
you rise off your bed this resurrection morning? And what did you
do when you did rise? What has your reading and your conversation
been this whole Lord's day? How full your heart would have been of
faith and love and holiness by this time of night had you not
despised the Lord of the Sabbath, and cast all His commandments and
opportunities to you behind your back? What private exercise have
you had all day with your Father who sees in secret? How often
have you been on your knees, and where, and how long, and for what,
and for whom? What work of mercy have you done to-day, or
determined to do to-morrow? And so with all the divine
commandments: Mosaic and Christian, legal and evangelical. Such
as: A tenth of all I have given to thee; a covenant with a
wandering eye; a mouth once speaking evil, is it now well watched?
not one vessel only, but all the vessels of thy body sanctified
till every thought and imagination is well under the obedience of
Christ. Lest His anger for all that begin to burn to-night, make
your bed with Eli and Samuel in His sanctuary to-night, lest the
avenger of the blood of the commandments leap out on you in your

4. The Old Serpent took with him the great shears of hell, and
clipped 'Thou shalt surely die' out of the second chapter of
Genesis. And the same enemy of mankind will clip all the terror of
the Lord out of your heart to-night again, if he can. And he will
do it in this way, if he can. He will have some one at the church
door ready and waiting for you. As soon as the blessing is
pronounced, some one will take you by the arm and will entertain
you with the talk you love, or that you once loved, till you will
be ashamed to confess that there is any terror or turning to God in
your heart. No! Thou shalt not surely die, says the serpent
still. Why, hast thou not trampled Sabbaths and sermons past
counting under thy feet? What commandment, laid on body or soul,
hast thou not broken, and thou art still adding drunkenness to
thirst, and God doth not know! 'The woman said unto the serpent,
We may not eat of it, neither may we touch it, lest we die. And
the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.'

5. You must all have heard of Clito, who used to say that he
desired no more time for rising and dressing and saying his prayers
than about a quarter of an hour. Well, that was clipping the thing
pretty close, wasn't it? At the same time it must be admitted that
a good deal of prayer may be got through in a quarter of an hour if
you do not lose any moment of it. Especially in the first quarter
of the day, if you are expeditious enough to begin to pray before
you even begin to dress. And prayer is really a very strange
experience. There are things about prayer that no man has yet
fully found out or told to any. For one thing, once well began it
grows upon a man in a most extraordinary and unheard-of way. This
same Clito for instance, some time after we find him at his prayers
before his eyes are open; and then he keeps all morning making his
bath, his soap, his towels, his brushes, and his clothes all one
long artifice of prayer. And that till there is not a single piece
of his dressing-room furniture that is not ready to swear at the
last day that its master long before he died had become a man full
of secret prayer. There is a fountain filled with blood! he
exclaims, as he throws himself into his bath; and Jeremiah second
and twenty-second he uses regularly to repeat to himself half a
dozen times a day as he washes the smoke and dust of the city off
his hands and face. And then Revelation third and eighteenth till
his toilet is completed. Nay, this same Clito has come to be such
a devotee to that he had at one time been so expeditious with, that
I have seen him forget himself on the street and think that his
door was shut. But there is really no use telling you all that
about Clito. For, till you try closet-prayer for yourself, all
that God or man can say to you on that subject will be water spilt
on the ground. All we can say is, Try it. Begin it. Some
desperate day try it. Stop when you are on the way to the pond and
try it. Stop when you are fastening up the rope and try it. When
the poison is moving in the cup, stop, shut your door first. Try
God first. See if He is still waiting. And, always after, when
the steel shears of a too early, too crowded, and far too exacting
day are clipping you out of all time for prayer, then what should
you do? What do you do when you simply cannot get your proper
fresh air and exercise everyday? Do you not fall back on the
plasticity and pliability of nature and take your air and exercise
in large parcels? You take a ride into the country two or three
times a week. Or, two afternoons a week you have ten miles alone
if you cannot get a godly friend. And then two or three times a
year, if you can afford it, you climb an Alp or a Grampian every
day for a week or a month; and, so gracious and so adaptable is
human nature, that, what others get daily, you get weekly, or
monthly, or quarterly, or yearly. And, though a soul is not to be
too much presumed upon, Clito came to tell his friends that his
soul could on occasion take in prayer and praise enough for a week
in a single morning or afternoon, and, almost, for a whole year in
a good holiday. As Christ Himself did when He said: Come away
apart into a desert place and rest a while; for there are so many
people coming and going here that we have no time so much as to

6. But I see I must clip off my last point with you, which was to
tell you what you already know only too well, and that is, what
terrible shears a bad conscience is armed with, and what havoc she
makes at all ages of a poor sinner's Bible. But you can spare that
head. You can preach on that text to yourselves far better than
all your ministers. Only, take home with you these two lines I
have clipped out of Fraser of Brea for you. Nothing in man, he
says to us, is to be a ground of despair, since the whole ground of
all our hope is in Christ alone. Christ's relation is always to
men as they are sinners and not as they are righteous. I came not
to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 'Tis with
sinners, then, Christ has to do. Nothing damns but unbelief; and
unbelief is just holding back from pressing God with this promise,
that Christ came to save sinners. This is a faithful saying, and
worthy of all acceptation, and it is still to be found standing in
the most clipped-up Bible, that Christ Jesus came into the world to
save sinners; of whom I am chief.


'Thy neck is an iron sinew.'--Jehovah to the house of Jacob.

'King Zedekiah humbled not himself, but stiffened his neck.'--The

'He humbled himself.'--Paul on our Lord.

All John Bunyan's Characters, Situations, and Episodes are
collected into this house to-night. Obstinate and Pliable are
here; Passion and Patience; Simple, Sloth, and Presumption; Madame
Bubble and Mr. Worldly-wiseman; Talkative and By-ends; Deaf Mr.
Prejudice is here also, and, sitting close beside him, stiff Mr.
Loth-to-stoop; while good old Mr. Wet-eyes and young Captain Self-
denial are not wholly wanting. It gives this house an immense and
an ever-green interest to me to see character after character
coming trooping in, Sabbath evening after Sabbath evening, each man
to see himself and his neighbour in John Bunyan's so truthful and
so fearless glass. But it stabs me to the heart with a mortal stab
to see how few of us out of this weekly congregation are any better
men after all we come to see and to hear. At the same time, such a
constant dropping will surely in time wear away the hardest rock.
Let that so stiff old man, then, stiff old Mr. Loth-to-stoop, came
forward and behold his natural face in John Bunyan's glass again
to-night. 'Lord, is it I?' was a very good question, though put by
a very bad man. Let us, one and all, then, put the traitor's
question to ourselves to-night. Am I stiff old Loth-to-stoop?--let
every man in this house say to himself all through this service,
and then at home when reviewing the day, and then all to-morrow
when to stoop will be so loathsome and so impossible to us all.

1. To begin, then, at the very bottom of this whole matter, take
stiff old Loth-to-stoop as a guilty sinner in the sight of God.
Let us take this stiff old man in this dreadful character to begin
with, because it is in this deepest and most dreadful aspect of his
nature and his character that he is introduced to us in the Holy
War. And I shall stand aside and let John Bunyan himself describe
Loth-to-stoop in the matter of his justification before God. 'That
is a great stoop for a sinner to have to take,' says our apostolic
author in another classical place, 'a too great stoop to have to
suffer the total loss of all his own righteousness, and, actually,
to have to look to another for absolutely everything of that kind.
That is no easy matter for any man to do. I assure you it
stretches every vein in his heart before he will be brought to
yield to that. What! for a man to deny, reject, abhor, and throw
away all his prayers, tears, alms, keeping of Sabbaths, hearing,
reading, and all the rest, and to admit both himself and them to be
abominable and accursed, and to be willing in the very midst of his
sins to throw himself wholly upon the righteousness and obedience
of another man! I say to do that in deed and in truth is the
biggest piece of the cross, and therefore it is that Paul calls it
a suffering. "I have suffered the loss of all things that I might
win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own
righteousness."' That is John Bunyan's characteristic comment on
stiff old Loth-to-stoop as a guilty sinner, with the offer of a
full forgiveness set before him.

2. And then our so truthful and so fertile author goes on to give
us Loth-to-stoop as a half-saved sinner; a sinner, that is, trying
to make his own terms with God about his full salvation. Through
three most powerful pages we see stiff old Loth-to-stoop engaged in
beating down God's unalterable terms of salvation, and in bidding
for his full salvation upon his own reduced and easy terms. It was
the tremendous stoop of the Son of God from the throne of God to
the cradle and the carpenter's shop; and then, as if that were not
enough, it was that other tremendous stoop of His down to the
Garden and the Cross,--it was these two so tremendous stoops of
Jesus Christ that made stiff old Loth-to-stoop's salvation even
possible. But, with all that, his true salvation was not possible
without stoop after stoop of his own; stoop after stoop which, if
not so tremendous as those of Christ, were yet tremendous enough,
and too tremendous, for him. Old Loth-to-stoop carries on a long
and a bold debate with Emmanuel in order to lessen the stoop that
Emmanuel demands of him; and your own life and mine, my brethren,
at their deepest and at their closest to our own heart, are really
at bottom, like Loth-to-stoop's life, one long roup of salvation,
in which God tries to get us up to His terms and in which we try to
get Him down to our terms. His terms are, that we shall sell
absolutely all that we have for the salvation of our souls; and our
terms are, salvation or no salvation, to keep all that we have and
to seek every day for more. God absolutely demands that we shall
stoop to the very dust every day, till we become the poorest, the
meanest, the most despicable, and the most hopeless of men; whereas
we meet that divine demand with the proud reply--Is Thy servant a
dog? It was with this offended mind that stiff old Loth-to-stoop
at last left off from Emmanuel's presence; he would die rather than
come down to such degrading terms. And as Loth-to-stoop went away,
Emmanuel looked after him, well remembering the terrible night when
He Himself was, not indeed like Loth-to-stoop, nor near like him,
but when His own last stoop was so deep that it made Him cry out,
Father, save Me from this hour! and again, If it be possible let
this so tremendous stoop pass from Me. For a moment Emmanuel
Himself was loth to stoop, but only for a moment. For He soon rose
from off His face in a bath of blood, saying, Not My will, but
Thine be done! When Thomas A Kempis is negotiating with the Loth-
to-stoops of his unevangelical day, we hear him saying to them
things like this: 'Jesus Christ was despised of men, forsaken of
His friends and lovers, and in the midst of slanders. He was
willing, under His Father's will, to suffer and to be despised, and
darest thou to complain of any man's usage of thee? Christ, thy
Master, had enemies and back-biters, and dost thou expect to have
all men to be thy friends and benefactors? Whence shall thy
patience attain her promised crown if no adversity befall thee?
Suffer thou with Jesus Christ, and for His sake, if thou wouldst
reign with Him. Set thyself, therefore, to bear manfully the cross
of thy Lord, who, out of love, was crucified for thee. Know for
certain that thou must lead a daily dying life. And the more that
thou diest to thyself all that the more shalt thou live unto God.'
With many such words as these did Thomas teach the saints of his
day to stoop to their daily cross; a daily cross then, which has
now been for long to him and to them an everlasting crown.

3. And speaking of A Kempis, and having lately read some of his
most apposite chapters, such as that on the Holy Fathers and that
on Obedience and Subjection, leads me on to look at Loth-to-stoop
when he enters the sacred ministry, as he sometimes does. When a
half-converted, half-subdued, half-saved sinner gets himself called
to the sacred ministry his office will either greatly hasten on his
salvation, or else it will greatly hinder and endanger it. He will
either stoop down every day to deeper and ever deeper depths of
humility, or he will tower up in pride of office and in pride of
heart past all hope of humility, and thus of salvation. The holy
ministry is a great nursing-house of pride as we see in a long line
of popes, and prelates, and priests, and other lords over God's
heritage. And our own Presbyterian polity, while it hands down to
us the simplicity, the unity, the brotherhood, and the humility of
the apostolic age, at the same time leaves plenty of temptation and
plenty of opportunity for the pride of the human heart. Our
preaching and pastoral office, when it is aright laid to our
hearts, will always make us the meekest and the humblest of men,
even when we carry the most magnificent of messages. But when our
own hearts are not right the very magnificence of our message, and
the very authority of our Master, become all so many subtle
temptations to pride, pique, self-importance, and lothness-to-
stoop. With so much still to learn, how slow we ministers are to
stoop to learn! How still we stand, and even go back, when all
other men are going forward! How few of us have made the noble
resolution of Jonathan Edwards: 'Resolved,' he wrote, 'that, as
old men have seldom any advantage of new discoveries because these
are beside a way of thinking they have been long used to:
resolved, therefore, if ever I live to years, that I shall be
impartial to hear the reasons of all pretended discoveries, and to
receive them, if rational how long soever I have been used to
another way of thinking.' Let all ministers, then, young and old,
resolve to stoop with Jonathan Edwards, who shines, in his life and
in his works, like the cherubim with knowledge, and burns like the
seraphim with love.

And then, when, not having so resolved, our thin vein of youthful
knowledge and experience has been worked to the rock; when grey
hairs are here and there upon us, how slow we are to stoop to that!
How unwilling we are to let it light on our hearts that our time is
past; that we are no longer able to understand, or interest, or
attract the young; and, besides, that that is not all their blame,
no, nor ours either, but simply the order and method of Divine
Providence. How slow we are to see that Divine Providence has
other men standing ready to take up our work if we would only
humbly lay it down;--how loth we are to stoop to see all that! How
unwilling we are to make up our minds, we old and ageing ministers,
and to humble our hearts to accept an assistant or to submit to a
colleague to stand alongside of us in our unaccomplished work!

4. In public life also, as we call it, what disasters to the
state, to the services, and to society, are constantly caused by
this same Loth-to-stoop! When he holds any public office; when he
becomes the leader of a party; when he is promoted to be an adviser
of the Crown; when he is put at the head of a fleet of ships, or of
an army of men, what untold evils does Loth-to-stoop bring both on
himself and on the nation! An old statesman will have committed
himself to some line of legislation or of administration; a great
captain will have committed himself to some manoeuvre of a squadron
or of a division, or to some plan of battle, and some subordinate
will have discovered the error his leader has made, and will be
bold to point it out to him. But stiff old Loth-to-stoop has taken
his line and has passed his word. His honour, as he holds it, is
committed to this announced line of action; and, if the Crown
itself should perish before his policy, he will not stoop to change
it. How often you see that in great affairs as well as in small.
How seldom you see a public man openly confessing that he has
hitherto all along been wrong, and that he has at last and by
others been set right. Not once in a generation. But even that
once redeems public life; it ennobles public life; and it saves the
nation and the sovereign who possess such a true patriot.
Consistency and courage, independence and dignity, are high-
sounding words; but openness of mind, teachableness, diffidence,
and humility always go with true nobility as well as with ultimate
success and lasting honour.


'I made haste and delayed not.'--David.

John Bunyan shall himself introduce, describe, and characterise
this varlet, this devil's ally and accomplice, this ancient enemy
of Mansoul, whose name is Ill-pause. Well, this same Ill-pause,
says our author, was the orator of Diabolus on all difficult
occasions, nor took Diabolus any other one with him on difficult
occasions, but just Ill-pause alone. And always when Diabolus had
any special plot a-foot against Mansoul, and when the thing went as
Diabolus would have it go, then would Ill-pause stand up, for he
was Diabolus his orator. When Mansoul was under siege of Emmanuel
his four noble captains sent a message to the men of the town that
if they would only throw Ill-pause over the wall to them, that they
might reward him according to his works, then they would hold a
parley with the city; but if this varlet was to be let live in the
city, then, why, the city must see to the consequences. At which
Diabolus, who was there present, was loth to lose his orator,
because, had the four captains once laid their fingers on Ill-
pause, be sure his master had lost his orator. And, then, in the
last assault, we read that Ill-pause, the orator that came along
with Diabolus, he also received a grievous wound in the head, some
say that his brain-pan was cracked. This, at any rate, I have
taken notice of, that never after this was he able to do that
mischief to Mansoul as he had done in times past. And then there
was also at Eye-gate that Ill-pause of whom you have heard before.
The same was he that was orator to Diabolus. He did much mischief
to the town of Mansoul, till at last he fell by the hand of the
Captain Good-hope.

1. Well, to begin with, this Ill-pause was a filthy Diabolonian
varlet; a treacherous and a villainous old varlet, the author of
the Holy War calls him. Now, what is a varlet? Well, a varlet is
just a broken-down old valet. A varlet is a valet who has come
down, and down, and down, and down again in the world, till, from
once having been the servant and the trusty friend of the very best
of masters, he has come to be the ally and accomplice of the very
worst of masters. His first name, the name of his first office,
still sticks to him, indeed; but, like himself, and with himself,
his name has become depraved and corrupted till you would not know
it. A varlet, then, is just short and sharp for a scoundrel who is
ready for anything; and the worse the thing is the more ready he is
for it. There are riff-raff and refuse always about who are ready
to volunteer for any filibustering expedition; and that full as
much for the sheer devilry of the enterprise as for any real profit
it is to be to themselves. Wherever mischief is to be done, there
your true varlet is sure to turn up. Well, just such a land-shark
was this Ill-pause, who was such an ally and accomplice to Diabolus
that he had need for no other. What possible certificate in evil
could exceed this--that the devil took not any with him when he
went out on his worst errand but this same Ill-pause, who was his
orator on all his most difficult occasions?

2. Ill-pause was a varlet, then, and he was also an orator. Now,
an orator, as you know, is a great speaker. An orator is a man who
has the excellent and influential gift of public speech. And on
great occasions in public life when people are to be instructed,
and impressed, and moved, and won over, then the great orator sets
up his platform. Quintilian teaches us in his Institutes that it
is only a good man who can be a really great orator. What would
that fine writer have said had he lived to read the Holy War, and
seen the most successful of all orators that ever opened a mouth,
and who was all the time a diabolical old varlet? What would the
author of The Education of an Orator have said to that? Diabolus
did not on every occasion bring up his great orator Ill-pause. He
did not always come up himself, and he did not always send up Ill-
pause. It was only on difficult occasions that both Diabolus and
his orator also came up. You do not hear your great preachers
every Sabbath. They would not long remain great preachers, and you
would soon cease to pay any attention to them, if they were always
in the pulpit. Neither do you have your great orators at every
street corner. Their masters only build theatres for them when
some great occasion arises in the land, and when the best wisdom
must straightway be spoken to the people and in the best way. Then
you bring up Quintilian's orator if you have him at your call. As
Diabolus has done from time to time with his great and almost
always successful orator Ill-pause. On difficult occasions he came
himself on the scene and Ill-pause with him. On such difficult
occasions as in the Garden of Eden; as when Noah was told to make
haste and build an ark; as also when Abraham was told to make haste
and leave his father's house; when Jacob was bid remember and pay
the vow he had made when his trouble was upon him; as also when
Joseph had to flee for what was better than life; and on that
memorable occasion when David sent Joab out against Rabbah, but
David tarried still at Jerusalem. On all these essential, first-
class, and difficult occasions the old serpent brought up Ill-
pause. As also when our Lord was in the wilderness; when He set
His face to go up to Jerusalem; when He saw certain Greeks among
them that came up to the passover; as also again and again in the
Garden. As also on crucial occasions in your own life. As when
you had been told not to eat, not to touch, and not even to look at
the forbidden fruit, then Ill-pause, the devil's orator, came to
you and said that it was a tree to be desired. And, you shall not
surely die. As also when you were moved to terror and to tears
under a Sabbath, or under a sermon, or at some death-bed, or on
your own sick-bed--Ill-pause got you to put off till a more
convenient season your admitted need of repentance and reformation
and peace with God. On such difficult occasions as these the devil
took Ill-pause to help him with you, and the result, from the
devil's point of view, has justified his confidence in his orator.
When Ill-pause gets his new honours paid him in hell; when there is
a new joy in hell over another sinner that has not yet repented,
your name will be heard sounding among the infernal cheers. Just
think of your baptismal name and your pet name at home giving them
joy to-night at their supper in hell! And yet one would not at
first sight think that such triumphs and such toasts, such medals,
and clasps, and garters were to be won on earth or in hell just by
saying such simple-sounding and such commonplace things as those
are for which Ill-pause receives his decorations. 'Take time,' he
says. 'Yes,' he admits, 'but there is no such hurry; to-morrow
will do; next year will do; after you are old will do quite as
well. The darkness shall cover you, and your sin will not find you
out. Christ died for sin, and it is a faithful saying that His
blood will cleanse you later on from all this sin.' Everyday and
well-known words, indeed, but a true orator is seen in nothing more
than in this, that he can take up what everybody knows and says,
and put it so as to carry everybody captive. One of Quintilian's
own orators has said that a great speaker only gives back to his
hearers in flood what they have already given to him in vapour.

3. 'I was always pleased,' says Calvin, 'with that saying of
Chrysostom, "The foundation of our philosophy is humility"; and yet
more pleased with that of Augustine: "As," says he, "the
rhetorician being asked, What was the first thing in the rules of
eloquence? he answered, Pronunciation; what was the second?
Pronunciation; what was the third? and still he answered,
Pronunciation. So if you would ask me concerning the precepts of
the Christian religion, I would answer, firstly, secondly, thirdly,
and for ever, Humility."' And when Ill-pause opened his
elocutionary school for the young orators of hell, he is reported
to have said this to them in his opening address, 'There are only
three things in my school,' he said; 'three rules, and no more to
be called rules. The first is Delay, the second is Delay, and the
third is Delay. Study the art of delay, my sons; make all your
studies to tell on how to make the fools delay. Only get those to
whom your master sends you to delay, and you will not need to envy
me my laurels; you will soon have a shining crown of your own. Get
the father to delay teaching his little boy how to pray. Get him
on any pretext you can invent to put off speaking in private to his
son about his soul. Get him to delegate all that to the minister.
And then by hook or by crook get that son as he grows up to put off
the Lord's Supper. And after that you will easily get him to put
off purity and prayer till he is a married man and at the head of a
house. Only get the idea of a more convenient season well into
their heads, and their game is up, and your spurs are won. Take
their arm in yours, as I used to do, at their church door, if you
are posted there, and say to them as they come out that to-morrow
will be time enough to give what they had thought of giving while
they were still in their pew and the minister or missionary was
still in the pulpit. Only, as you value your master's praises and
the applause of all this place, keep them, at any cost, from
striking while the iron is hot. Let them fill their hearts, and
their mouths too, if it gives them any comfort, with the best
intentions; only, my scholars, remember that the beginning and
middle and end of your office is by hook or by crook to secure
delay.' And a great crop of young orators sprang up ready for
their work under that teaching and out of the persuasionary school
of Ill-pause. In fine, Mansoul desired some time in which to
prepare its answer.'

There are many men among ourselves who have been bedevilled out of
their best life, out of the salvation of their souls, and out of
all that constitutes and accompanies salvation now for many years.
And still their sin-deceived hearts are saying to them to-night,
Take time! For many years, every new year, every birthday, and,
for a long time, every Communion-day, they were just about to be
done with their besetting sin; and now all the years lie behind
them, one long downward road all paved, down to this Sabbath night,
with the best intentions. And, still, as if that were not enough,
that same varlet is squat at their ear. Well, my very miserable
brother, you have long talked about the end of an old year and the
beginning of a new year as being your set time for repentance and
for reformation. Let all the weight of those so many remorseful
years fall on your heart at the close of this year, and at last
compel you to take the step that should have been taken, oh! so
many unhappy years ago! Go straight home then, to-night, shut your
door, and, after so many desecrated Sabbath nights, God will still
meet you in your secret chamber. As soon as you shut your door God
will be with you, and you will be with God. With GOD! Think of
it, my brother, and the thing is done. With GOD! And then tell
Him all. And if any one knocks at your door, say that there is
Some One with you to-night, and that you cannot come down. And
continue till you have told it all to God. He knows it all
already; but that is one of Ill-pause's sophistries still in your
heart. Tell your Father it all. Tell Him how many years it is.
Tell Him all that you so well remember over all those wild,
miserable, mad, remorseful years. Tell Him that you have not had
one really happy, one really satisfied day all those years, and
tell Him that you have spent all, and are now no longer a young
man; youth and health and self-respect and self-command are all
gone, till you are a shipwreck rather than a man. And tell Him
that if He will take you back that you are to-night at His feet.

4. 'We seldom overcome any one vice perfectly,' complains A
Kempis. And, again, 'If only every new year we would root out but
one vice.' Well, now, what do you say to that, my true and very
brethren? What do you say to that? Here we are, by God's grace
and long-suffering to usward, near the end of another year, another
vicious year; and why have we been borne with through so many
vicious years but that we should now cease from vice and begin to
learn virtue? Why are we here over Ill-pause this Sabbath night?
Why, but that we should shake off that varlet liar before another
new year. That is the whole reason why we have been spared to see
this Sabbath night. God decreed it for us that we should have this
text and this discourse here to-night, and that is the reason why
you and I have been so unaccountably spared so long. Let us select
one vice for the axe then to-night, and give God in heaven the
satisfaction of seeing that His long-suffering with us has not been
wholly in vain. Let us lay the axe at one vice from this night.
And what one from among so many shall it be? What is the mockery
of preaching if a preacher does not practise? And, accordingly, I
have selected one vice out of my thicket for next year. Will you
do the same? The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.
Just make your selection and keep it to yourself, at least till you
are able this time next year to say to us--Come, all ye that fear
God, and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul. Yes, come
on, and from this day all your days on earth, and all the days of
eternity, you will thank God for John Bunyan and his Holy War and
his Ill-pause. Make your selection, then, for your new axe.
Attack some one sin at this so auspicious season. Swear before
God, and unknown to all men--swear sure death, and that without any
more delay, to that selected sin. Never once, all your days, do
that sin again. Determine never once to do it again. Determine
that by prayer, by secret, and at the same time outspoken, prayer
on your knees. Determine it by faith in the cleansing blood and
renewing spirit of Jesus Christ. Determine it by fear of instant
death, and by sure hope of everlasting life. Determine it by
reasons, and motives, and arguments, and encouragements known to
no-one but yourself, and to be suspected by no human being. Name
the doomed sin. Denounce it. Execrate it. Execute it. Draw a
line across your short and uncertain life, and say to that
besetting and presumptuous sin, Hitherto, and no further! Do not
say you cannot do it. You can if you only will. You can if you
only choose. And smiting down that one sin will loosen and shake
down the whole evil fabric of sin. Breaking but that one link will
break the whole of Satan's snare and evil fetter. Here is A
Kempis's forest of vices out of which he hewed down one every year.
Restless lust, outward senses, empty phantoms, always longing to
get, always sparing to give, careless as to talk, unwilling to sit
silent, eager for food, wakeful for news, weary of a good book,
quick to anger, easy of offence at my neighbour, and too ready to
judge him, too merry over prosperity, and too gloomy, fretful, and
peevish in adversity; so often making good rules for my future
life, and coming so little speed with them all, and so on. And, in
facing even such a terrible thicket as that, let not even an old
man absolutely despair. At forty, at sixty, at threescore and ten,
let not an old penitent despair. Only take axe in hand and see if
the sun does not stand still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the
valley of Ajalon till you have avenged yourself on your enemies.
And always when you stop to wipe your brow, and to whet the edge of
your axe, and to wet your lips with water, keep on saying things
like those of another great sinner deep in his thicket of vice, say
this: O God, he said, Thou hast not cut off as a weaver my life,
nor from day even to night hast Thou made an end of me. But Thou
hast vouchsafed to me life and breath even to this hour from
childhood, youth, and hitherto even unto old age. He holdeth our
soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to slide, rescuing me from
perils, sicknesses, poverty, bondage, public shame, evil chances;
keeping me from perishing in my sins, and waiting patiently for my
full conversion. Glory be to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee, for
Thine incomprehensible and unimaginable goodness toward me of all
sinners far and away the most unworthy. The voices and the concert
of voices of angels and men be to Thee; the concert of all thy
saints in heaven and of all Thy creatures in heaven and on earth;
and of me, beneath their feet an unworthy and wretched sinner, Thy
abject creature; my praise also, now, in this day and hour, and
every day till my last breath, and till the end of this world, and
then to all eternity, where they cease not saying, To Him who loved
us, Amen!


'For, what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?'--Our Lord.

This whole world is the penny, and our own souls are the pound.
This whole world is the hundred, while heaven itself is the shire.
And the question this evening is, Are we wise in the penny and
foolish in the pound? And, are we getting in the hundred and
losing in the shire?

1. Well, then, to begin at the beginning, we are already begun to
be penny-wise and pound-foolish with our children when we are so
particular with them about their saying their little prayers night
and morning, while all the time we are so inattentive and so
indolent to explain to them how they are to pray, what they are to
pray for, and how they are to wait and how long they are to wait
for the things they pray for. Then, again, we are penny-wise and
pound-foolish with our children when we train them up into all the
proprieties and etiquettes of family and social life, and at the
same time pay so little attention to their inward life of opening
thought and quickening desire and awakening passion. When we are
so eager also for our children to be great with great people,
without much regard to the moral and religious character of those
great people, then again we are like a man who may be wise for a
penny, but is certainly a fool for a pound. When we prefer the gay
and the fashionable world to the intellectual, the religious, and
the philanthropical world for our children, then we lose both the
penny and the pound as well. Almost as much as we do when we
accept the penny of wealth and station and so-called connection for
a son or a daughter, in room of the pound of character, and
intelligence, and personal religion.

Then, again, even in our own religious life we are ourselves often
and notoriously wise in the penny and foolish in the pound. As,
for instance, when we are so scrupulous and so conscientious about
forms and ceremonies, about times and places, and so on. In short,
the whole ritual that has risen up around spiritual religion in all
our churches, from that of the Pope himself out to that of George
Fox--it is all the penny rather than the pound. This rite and that
ceremony; this habit and that tradition; this ancient and long-
established usage, as well as that new departure and that
threatened innovation;--it is all, at its best, always the penny
and never the pound. Satan busied me about the lesser matters of
religion, says James Fraser of Brea, and made me neglect the more
substantial points. He made me tithe to God my mint, and my anise
and my cummin, and many other of my herbs, to my all but complete
neglect of justice and mercy and faith and love. Whether there are
any of the things that Brea would call mint and anise and cummin
that are taking up too much of the time of our controversially-
minded men in all our churches, highland and lowland, to-day is a
matter for humbling thought. Labour, my brethren, for yourselves,
at any rate, to get yourselves into that sane and sober habit of
mind that instantly and instinctively puts all mint and all cummin
of all kinds into the second place, and all the weightier matters,
both of law and of gospel, into the first place. I wasted myself
on too nice points, laments Brea in his deep, honest, clear-eyed
autobiography. I did not proportion my religious things aright.
The laird of Brea does not say in as many words that he was wise in
the penny and foolish in the pound, but that is exactly what he

Then, again, the narrowness, the partiality, the sickliness, and
the squeamishness of our consciences,--all that makes us to be too
often penny-wise and pound-foolish in our religious life. A well-
instructed, thoroughly wise, and well-balanced conscience is an
immense blessing to that man who has purchased such a conscience
for himself. There is an immense and a criminal waste of
conscience that goes on among some of our best Christian people
through the want of light and space, room, and breadth, and balance
in their consciences. We are all pestered with people every day
who are full of all manner of childish scrupulosity and sickly
squeamishness in their ill-nourished, ill-exercised consciences.
As long as a man's conscience is ignorant and weak and sickly it
will, it must, spend and waste itself on the pennyworths of
religion and' morals instead of the pounds. It will occupy and
torture itself with points and punctilios, jots and tittles, to the
all but total oblivion, and to the all but complete neglect, of the
substance and the essence of the Christian mind, the Christian
heart, and the Christian character. The washing of hands, of cups,
and of pots, was all the conscience that multitudes had in our
Lord's day; and multitudes in our day scatter and waste their
consciences on the same things. A good man, an otherwise good and
admirable man, will absolutely ruin and destroy his conscience by
points and scruples and traditions of men as fatally as another
will by a life of debauchery. Some old and decayed ecclesiastical
rubric; some absolutely indifferent form in public worship; some
small casuistical question about a creed or a catechism; some too
nice point of confessional interpretation; the mint and anise and
cummin of such matters will fill and inflame and poison a man's
mind and heart and conscience for months and for years, to the
total destruction of all that for which churches and creeds exist;
to the total suspense, if not the total and lasting destruction, of
sobriety of mind, balance and breadth of judgment, humility,
charity, and a hidden and a holy life. The penny of a perverted,
partial, and fanaticised conscience has swallowed up the pound of
instruction, and truth, and justice, and brotherly love.

2. 'Nor is the man with the long name at all inferior to the
other,' said Lucifer, in laying his infernal plot against the peace
and prosperity of Mansoul. Now, the man with the long name was
just Mr. Get-i'-the-hundred-and-lose-i'-the-shire. A hundred in
the old county geography of England was a political subdivision of
a shire, in which five score freemen lived with their freeborn
families. A county or a shire was described and enumerated by the
poll-sheriff of that day as containing so many enfranchised
hundreds; and the total number of hundreds made up the political
unity of the shire. To this day we still hear from time to time of
the 'Chiltern Hundreds,' which is a division of Buckinghamshire
that belongs, along with its political franchise, to the Crown, and
which is utilised for Crown purposes at certain political
emergencies. This proverb, then, to get i' the hundred and lose i'
the shire, is now quite plain to us. You might canvass so as to
get a hundred, several hundreds, many hundreds on your side, and
yet you might lose when it came to counting up the whole shire.
You might possess yourself of a hundred or two and yet be poor
compared with him who possessed the whole shire. And then the
proverb has been preserved out of the old political life of
England, and has been moralised and spiritualised to us in the Holy
War. And thus after to-night we shall always call this shrewd
proverb to mind when we are tempted to take a part at the risk of
the whole; to receive this world at the loss of the next world; or,
as our Lord has it, to gain the whole world and to lose our own
soul. Lot's choice of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Esau's purchase of
the mess of pottage in the Old Testament; and then Judas's thirty
pieces of silver, and Ananias and Sapphira's part of the price in
the New Testament, are all so many well-known instances of getting
in the hundred and losing in the shire. And not Esau's and Lot's
only, but our own lives also have been full up to to-day of the
same fatal transaction. This house, as our Lord again has it, this
farm, this merchandise, this shop, this office, this salary, this
honour, this home--all this on the one hand, and then our Lord
Himself, His call, His cause, His Church, with everlasting life in
the other--when it is set down before us in black and white in that
way, the transaction, the proposal, the choice is preposterous, is
insane, is absolutely impossible. But preposterous, insane,
absolutely impossible, and all, there it is, in our own lives, in
the lives of our sons and daughters, and in the lives of multitudes
of other men and other men's sons and daughters besides ours.
Every day you will be taken in, and you will stand by and see other
men taken in with the present penny for the future pound: and with
the poor pelting hundred under your eye for the full, far-
extending, and ever-enriching shire. Lucifer is always abroad
pressing on us in his malice the penny on the spot, for the pound
which he keeps out of sight; he dazzles our eyes with the gain of
the hundred till we gnash our teeth at the loss of the shire.

'He hath in sooth good cause for endless grief,
Who, for the love of thing that lasteth not,
Despoils himself for ever of THAT LOVE.'

3. 'What also if we join with those two another two of ours, Mr.
Sweet-world and Mr. Present-good, namely, for they are two men full
of civility and cunning. Let these engage in this business for us,
and let Mansoul be taken up with much business, and if possible
with much pleasure, and this is the way to get ground of them. Let
us but cumber and occupy and amuse Mansoul sufficiently, and they
will make their castle a warehouse for goods instead of a garrison
for men of war.' This diabolical advice was highly applauded all
through hell till all the lesser devils, while setting themselves
to carry it out, gnashed their teeth with envy and malice at
Lucifer for having thought of this masterpiece and for having had
it received with such loud acclamation. 'Only get them,' so went
on that so able, so well-envied, and so well-hated devil, 'let us
only get those fribble sinners for a night at a time to forget
their misery. And it will not cost us much to do that. Only let
us offer them in one another's houses a supper, a dance, a pipe, a
newspaper full of their own shame, a tale full of their own folly,
a silly song, and He who loved them with an everlasting love will
soon see of the travail of His soul in them!' Yes, my fellow-
sinners, Lucifer and his infernal crew know us and despise us and
entrap us at very little trouble, till He who travailed for us on
the tree covers His face in heaven and weeps over us. As long as
we remember our misery, all the mind, and all the malice, and all
the sleeplessness in hell cannot touch a hair of our head. But
when by any emissary and opportunity either from earth around us or
from hell beneath us we for another night forget our misery, it is
all over with us. And yet, to tell the truth, we never can quite
forget our misery. We are too miserable ever to forget our misery.
In the full steam of Lucifer's best-spread supper, amid the shouts
of laughter and the clapping of hands, and all the outward
appearance of a complete forgetfulness of our misery, yet it is not
so. It is far from being so. Our misery is far too deep-seated
for all the devil's drugs. Only, to give Lucifer his due, we do
sometimes, under him, so get out of touch with the true consolation
for our misery that, night after night, through cumber, through
pursuit of pleasure, through the time being taken up with these and
other like things, we do so far forget our misery as to lie down
without dealing with it; but only to have it awaken us, and take
our arm as its own for another miserable day. Yes; though never
completely successful, yet this masterpiece of hell is sufficiently
successful for Satan's subtlest purposes; which are, not to make us
forget our misery, but to make us put it away from us at the
natural and proper hour for facing it and for dealing with it in
the only proper and successful way. But, wholly, any night, or
even partially for a few nights at a time, to forget our misery--
no, with all thy subtlety of intellect and with all thy hell-filled
heart, O Lucifer, that is to us impossible! Forget our misery! O
devil of devils, no! Bless God, that can never be with us! Our
misery is too deep, too dreadful, too acute, too all-consuming ever
to be forgotten by us even for an hour. Our misery is too terrible
for thee, with all thy overthrown intellect and all thy malice-
filled heart, ever to understand! Didst thou for one midnight hour
taste it, and so understand it, then there would be the same hope
for thee that, I bless God, there still is for me!

Let us bend all our strength and all our wit to this, went on
Lucifer, to make their castle a warehouse instead of a garrison.
Let us set ourselves and all our allies, he explained to the
duller-witted among the devils, to make their hearts a shop,--some
of them, you know, are shopkeepers; a bank,--some of them are
bankers; a farm,--some of them are farmers; a study,--some of them
are students; a pulpit,--some of them like to preach; a table,--
some of them are gluttons; a drawing-room,--some of them are
busybodies who forget their own misery in retailing other people's
misery from house to house. Be wise as serpents, said the old
serpent; attend, each several fallen angel of you, to his own
special charge. Study your man. Get to the bottom of your man.
Follow him about; never let him out of your sight; be sure before
you begin, be sure you have the joint in his harness, the spot in
his heel, the chink in his wall full in your eye. I do not surely
need to tell you not to scatter our snares for souls at random, he
went on. Give the minister his study Bible, the student his
classic, the merchant his ledger, the glutton his well-dressed dish
and his elect year of wine, the gossip her sweet secret, and the
flirt her fool. Study them till they are all naked and open to
your sharp eyes. Find out what best makes them forget even for one
night their misery and ply them with that. If I ever see that soul
I have set thee over on his knees on account of his misery I shall
fling thee on the spot into the bottomless pit. And if any of you
shall anywhere discover a man--and there are such men--a man who
forgets his misery through always thinking and speaking about it,
only keep him in his pulpit, and off his knees, and no man so safe
for hell as he. There are fools, and there are double-dyed fools,
and that man is the chief of them. Give him his fill of sin and
misery; let him luxuriate himself in sin and misery; only, keep him
there, and I will not forget thy most excellent service to me.

Make all their hearts, so Lucifer summed up, as he dismissed his
obsequious devils, make all their several hearts each a warehouse,
a shop, a farm, a pulpit, a library, a nursery, a supper-table, a
chamber of wantonness--let it be to each man just after his own
heart. Only, keep--as you shall answer for it,--keep faith and
hope and charity and innocence and patience and especially
prayerfulness out of their hearts. And when this my counsel is
fulfilled, and when the pit closes over thy charge, I shall pay
thee thy wages, and promote thee to honour. And before he was well
done they were all at their posts.


'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light'--Paul.

Wodrow has an anecdote in his delightful Analecta which shall
introduce us into our subject to-night. Mr. John Menzies was a
very pious and devoted pastor; he was a learned man also, and well
seen in the Popish and in the Arminian controversies. And to the
end of his life he was much esteemed of the people of Aberdeen as a
foremost preacher of the gospel. And yet, 'Oh to have one more
Sabbath in my pulpit!' he cried out on his death-bed. 'What would
you then do?' asked some one who sat at his bedside. 'I would
preach to my people on the tremendous difficulty of salvation!'
exclaimed the dying man.

1. Now, the first difficulty that stands in the way of our
salvation is the stupendous mass of guilt that has accumulated upon
all of us. Our guilt is so great that we dare not think of it. It
is too horrible to believe that we shall ever be called to account
for one in a thousand of it. It crushes our minds with a perfect
stupor of horror, when for a moment we try to imagine a day of
judgment when we shall be judged for all the deeds that we have
done in the body. Heart-beat after heart-beat, breath after
breath, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, and all
full of sin; all nothing but sin from our mother's womb to our
grave. Sometimes one outstanding act of sin has quite overwhelmed
us. But before long that awful sin fell out of sight and out of
mind. Other sins of the same kind succeeded it. Our sense of sin,
our sense of guilt was soon extinguished by a life of sin, till, at
the present moment the accumulated and tremendous load of our sin
and guilt is no more felt by us than we feel the tremendous load of
the atmosphere. But, all the time, does not our great guilt lie
sealed down upon us? Because we are too seared and too stupefied
to feel it, is it therefore not there? Because we never think of
it, does that prove that both God and man have forgiven and
forgotten it? Shall the Judge of all the earth do right in the
matter of all men's guilt but ours? Does the apostle's warning not
hold in our case?--his awful warning that we shall all stand before
the judgment-seat? And is it only a strong figure of speech that
the books shall be opened till we shall cry to the mountains to
fall on us and to the rocks to cover us? Oh no! the truth is, the
half has not been told us of the speechless stupefaction that shall
fall on us when the trumpet shall sound and when Alp upon Alp of
aggravated guilt shall rise up high as heaven between us and our
salvation. Difficulty is not the name for guilt like ours.
Impossibility is the better name we should always know it by.

2. Another difficulty or impossibility to our salvation rises out
of the awful corruption and pollution of our hearts. But is there
any use entering on that subject? Is there one man in a hundred
who even knows the rudiments of the language I must now speak in?
Is there one man in a hundred in whose mind any idea arises, and in
whose heart any emotion or passion is kindled, as I proceed to
speak of corruption of nature and pollution of heart? I do not
suppose it. I do not presume upon it. I do not believe it. That
most miserable man who is let down of God's Holy Spirit into the
pit of corruption that is in his own heart,--to him his corruption,
added to his guilt, causes a sadness that nothing in this world can
really relieve; it causes a deep and an increasing melancholy, such
as the ninety and nine who need no repentance and feel no pollution
know nothing of. All living men flee from the corruption of an
unburied corpse. The living at once set about to bury their dead.
'I am a stranger and a sojourner among you,' said Abraham to the
children of Heth; 'give me a possession of a burying-place among
you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.' But Paul could find
no grave in the whole world in which to bury out of his sight the
body of death to which he was chained fast; that body of sin and
death which always makes the holiest of men the most wretched of
men,--till the loathing and the disgust and the misery that filled
the apostle's heart are to be understood by but one in a thousand
even of the people of God.

3. And then, as if to make our salvation a very hyperbole of
impossibility, the all but almighty power of indwelling sin comes
in. Have you ever tried to break loose from the old fetter of an
evil habit? Have you ever said on a New Year's Day with Thomas A
Kempis that this year you would root that appetite,--naming it,--
out of your body, and that vice,--naming it,--out of your heart?
Have you ever sworn at the Communion table that you would watch and
pray, and set a watch on your evil heart against that envy, and
that revenge, and that ill-will, and that distaste, dislike, and
antipathy? Then your minister will not need to come back from his
death-bed to preach to you on the difficulty of salvation.

4. And yet such is the grace of God, such is the work of Christ,
and such is the power and the patience of the Holy Ghost that, if
we had only an adequate ministry in our pulpits, and an assisting
literature in our homes, even this three-fold impossibility would
be overcome and we would be saved. But if the ministry that is set
over us is an ignorant, indolent, incompetent, self-deceived
ministry; if our own chosen, set-up, and maintained minister is
himself an uninstructed, unspiritual, unsanctified man; and if the
books we buy and borrow and read are all secular, unspiritual,
superficial, ephemeral, silly, stupid, impertinent books, then the
impossibility of our salvation is absolute, and we are as good as
in hell already with all our guilt and all our corruption for ever
on our heads. Now, that was the exact case of Mansoul in the
allegory of the Holy War at one of the last and acutest stages of
that war. Or, rather, that would have been her exact case had
Diabolus got his own deep, diabolical way with her. For what did
her ancient enemy do but sound a parley till he had played his last
card in these glozing and deceitful words;--'I myself,' he had the
face to say to Emmanuel, 'if Thou wilt raise Thy siege and leave
the town to me, I will, at my own proper cost and charge, set up
and maintain a sufficient ministry, besides lecturers, in Mansoul,
who shall show to Mansoul that transgression stands in the way of
life; the ministers I shall set up shall also press the necessity
of reformation according to Thy holy law.' And even now, with the
two pulpits, God's and the devil's, and the two preachers, and the
two pastors, in our own city,--how many of you see any difference,
or think that the one is any worse or any better than the other?
Or, indeed, that the ministry of the last card is not the better of
the two to your interest and to your taste, to the state of your
mind and to the need of your heart? Let us proceed, then, to look
at Mansoul's two pulpits and her two lectureships as they stand
portrayed on the devil's last card and in Emmanuel's crowning
commission; that is, if our eyes are sharp enough to see any

5. The first thing, then, on the devil's last card was this, 'A
sufficient ministry, besides lecturers, in Mansoul.' Now, a
sufficient ministry has never been seen in the true Church of
Christ since her ministry began. And yet she has had great
ministers in her time. After Christ Himself, Paul was the greatest
and the best minister the Church of Christ has ever had. But such
was the transcendent greatness of his office, such were its
tremendous responsibilities, such were its magnificent
opportunities and its incessant demands, such were its ceaseless
calls to consecration, to cross-bearing, to crucifixion, to more
and more inwardness of holiness, and to higher and higher heights
of heavenly-mindedness, that the apostle was fain to cry out
continually, Who is sufficient for these things! But so well did
Paul learn that gospel which he preached to others that amid all
his insufficiency he was able to hear his Master saying to him
every day, My grace is sufficient for thee, and, My strength is
made perfect in thy weakness! And to come down to the truly
Pauline succession of ministers in our own lands and in our own
churches, what preachers and what pastors Christ gave to
Kidderminster, and to Bedford, and to Down and Connor, and to Sodor
and Man, and to Anwoth, and to Ettrick, and to New England, and to
St. Andrews, and places too many to mention. With all its
infirmity and all its inefficiency, what a truly heavenly power the
pulpit is when it is filled by a man of God who gives his whole
mind and heart, his whole time and thought to it, and to the
pastorate that lies around it. His mind may be small, and his
heart may be full of corruption; his time may be full of manifold
interruptions, and his best study may yield but a poor result; but
if Heaven ever helps those who honestly help themselves, then that
is certainly the case in the Christian ministry. Let the choicest
of our children, then, be sought out and consecrated to that
service; let our most gifted and most gracious-minded sons be sent
to where they shall be best prepared for the pulpit and the
pastorate,--till by the blessing of her Head all the congregations
and all the parishes, all the pulpits and all the lectureships in
the Church, shall be one garden of the Lord. And then we shall
escape that last curse of a ministry such as John Bunyan saw all
around him in the England of his day, and which, had he been alive
in the England and Scotland of our day, he would have painted again
in colours we have neither the boldness nor the skill to mix nor to
put on the canvas. But let all ministers put it every day to
themselves to what descent and succession they belong. Let those
even who believe that they have within themselves the best seal and
evidence attainable here that they have been ordained of Emmanuel,
let them all the more look well every day and every Sabbath day how
much of another master's doctrine and discipline, motives, and
manners still mixes up with their best ministry. And the surest
seal that, with all our insufficiency, we are still the ministers
of Christ will be set on us by this, that the harder we work and
the more in secret we pray, the more and ever the more shall we
discover and confess our shameful insufficiency, and the more shall
we, till the day of our death, every day still begin our ministry
of labour and of prayer anew. Let us do that, for the devil, with
all his boldness and all his subtilty, never threw a card first or
last like that.

6. After offering a sufficient ministry to Mansoul, and that, too,
at his own proper cost and charge, Diabolus undertook also to see
that the absolute necessity of a reformation should be preached and
pressed from the pulpit he set up. Now, reformation is all good
and necessary, in its own time and place and order, but God sent
His Son not to be a Reformer but to be a Redeemer. John came to
preach reformation, but Jesus came to preach regeneration. Except
a man be born again, Jesus persistently preached to Nicodemus.
'Did it begin with regeneration?' was Dr. Duncan's reply when a
sermon on sanctification was praised in his hearing. And like so
much else that the learned and profound Dr. John Duncan said on
theology and philosophy, that question went at once to the root of
the matter. For sanctification, that is to say, salvation, is no
mere reformation of morals or refinement of manners. It is a maxim
in sound morals that the morality of the man must precede the
morality of his actions. And much more is it the evangelical law
of Jesus Christ. Make the tree good, our Lawgiver aphoristically
said. Reformation and sanctification differ, says Dr. Hodge, as
clean clothes differ from a clean heart. Now, Diabolus was all for
clean clothes when he saw that Mansoul was slipping out of his
hands. He would have all the drunkards to become moderate
drinkers, if not total abstainers; and all the sensualists to
become, if need be, ascetics; and all those who had sowed out their
wild oats to settle down as heads of houses, and members, if not
ministers and elders, in his set-up church. But we are too well
taught, surely; we have gone too long to another church than that
which Diabolus ever sets up, to be satisfied with his superficial
doctrine and his skin-deep discipline. We know, do we not, that we
may do all that his last card asks us to do, and yet be as far, ay,
and far farther from salvation than the heathen are who never heard
the name. A hundred Scriptures tell us that; and our hearts know
too much of their own plague and corruption ever now to be
satisfied short of a full regeneration and a complete
sanctification. 'Create in me a clean heart and renew a right
spirit within me. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. And
the very God of peace sanctify you wholly. And I pray God your
whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.' The last card has many
Scriptures cunningly copied upon it; but not these. Its pulpit
orators handle many Scripture texts, but never these.

7. Yes, the devil comes in even here with that so late, so subtle,
and so contradicting card of his. Where is it in this world that
he does not come in with some of his cards? And he comes in here
as a very angel of evangelical light. He puts on the gown of
Geneva here, and he ascends Emmanuel's own maintained pulpit here,
and from that pulpit he preaches, and where he so preaches he
preaches nothing else but the very highest articles of the Reformed
faith. Carnal-security was strong on assurance, no other man in
Mansoul was so strong; and the devil will let us preachers be as
strong and as often on election, and justification, and
indefectible grace, and the perseverance of the saints as we and
our people like, if we but keep in season and out of season on
these transcendent subjects and keep off morals and manners, walk
and conversation, conduct and character. In Hooker's and Travers'
day, Thomas Fuller tells us, the Temple pulpit preached pure
Canterbury in the morning and pure Geneva in the afternoon. And
you will get the highest Calvinism off the last card in one pulpit,
and the strictest and most urgent morality off the same card in
another; but never, if the devil can help it, never both in one and
the same pulpit; never both in one and the same sermon; and never
both in one and the same minister. You have all heard of the
difficulty the voyager had in steering between Scylla and Charybdis
in the Latin adage. Well, the true preacher's difficulty is just
like that. Indeed, it is beyond the wit of man, and it takes all
the wit of God, aright to unite the doctrine of our utter inability
with the companion doctrine of our strict responsibility; free
grace with a full reward; the cross of Christ once for all, with
the saint's continual crucifixion; the Saviour's blood with the
sinner's; and atonement with attainment; in short, salvation
without works with no salvation without works. Deft steersman as
the devil is, he never yet took his ship clear through those
Charybdic passages.

One thing there is that I must have preached continually in all my
pulpits and expounded and illustrated and enforced in all my
lectureships, said Emmanuel, and that is, my new example and my new
law of motive. My own motives always made me in all I said and did
to be well-pleasing in My Father's eyes, and at any cost I must
have preachers and lecturers set up in Mansoul who shall assist Me
in making Mansoul as well-pleasing in My Father's sight as I was

'For I am ware it is the seed of act
God holds appraising in His hollow palm,
Not act grown great thence as the world believes,
Leafage and branchage vulgar eyes admire.'

Motives! gnashed Diabolus. And he tore his last card into a
thousand shreds and cast the shreds under his feet in his rage and
exasperation. Motives! New motives! Truly Thou art the
threatened Seed of the woman! Truly Thou art the threatened Son of
God!--Let all our preachers, then, preach much on motive to their
people. The commonplace crowd of their people will not all like
that preaching any more than Diabolus did; but their best people
will all afterwards rise up in their salvation and bless them for
it. On reformation also, let them every Sabbath preach, but only
on the reformation that rises out of a reformed motive, and that
again out of a reformed heart. And if a reformed motive, a
reformed heart, and a reformed life are found both by preacher and
hearer to be impossible; if all that only brings out the
hopelessness of their salvation by reason of the guilt and the
pollution and power of sin; then all that will only be to them that
same ever deeper entering of the law into their hearts which led
Paul to an ever deeper faith and trust in Jesus Christ. With a
guilt, and a pollution, and a slavery to sin like ours, salvation
from sin would be absolutely impossible. Absolutely impossible,
that is, but for our Saviour, Jesus Christ. But with His atoning
blood and His Holy Spirit all things are possible--even our

Let us choose, then, a minister like Mr. John Menzies. Let us read
the great books that make salvation difficult. Let us work out our
own salvation, day and night, with fear and trembling, and when
Wisdom is justified in her children, we shall be found justified
among them. We shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the
day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of
God to all eternity.


'Search me, O God, and know my heart.'--David.

'Let a man examine himself.'--Paul

'Look to yourselves.'--John.

'Know thyself.'--Apollo.

The year 1668 saw the publication of one of the deepest books in
the whole world, Dr. John Owen's Remainders of Indwelling Sin in
Believers. The heart-searching depth; the clear, fearless,
humbling truth, the intense spirituality, and the massive and
masculine strength of John Owen's book have all combined to make it
one of the acknowledged masterpieces of the great Puritan school.
Had John Owen's style been at all equal to his great learning, to
the depth and the grasp of his mind, and to the lofty holiness of
his life, John Owen would have stood in the very foremost and
selectest rank of apostolical and evangelical theologians. But in
all his books Owen labours under the fatal drawback of a bad style.
A fine style, a style like that of Hooker, or Taylor, or Bunyan, or
Howe, or Leighton, or Law, is such a winning introduction to their
works and such an abiding charm and spell. The full title of Dr.
Owen's great work runs thus: The Nature, Power, Deceit, and
Prevalency of the Remainders of Indwelling Sin in Believers--a
title that will tell all true students what awaits them when they
have courage and enterprise enough to address themselves to this
supreme and all-essential subject. Fourteen years after the
publication of Dr. Owen's epoch-making book, John Bunyan's Holy War
first saw the light. Equal in scriptural and in experimental
depth, as also in their spiritual loftiness and intensity, those
two books are as different as any two books, written in the same
language, and written on the same subject, could by any possibility
be. John Owen's book is the book of a great scholar who has read
the Fathers and the Schoolmen and the Reformers till he knows them
by heart, and till he has been able to digest all that is true to
Scripture and to experience in them into his rich and ripe book. A
powerful reasoner, a severe, bald, muscular writer, John Owen in
all these respects stands at the very opposite pole to that of John
Bunyan. The author of the Holy War had no learning, but he had a
mind of immense natural sagacity, combined with a habit of close
and deep observation of human life, and especially of religious
life, and he had now a lifetime of most fruitful experience as a
Christian man and as a Christian minister behind him; and, all
that, taken up into Bunyan's splendid imagination, enabled him to
produce this extraordinarily able and impressive book. A model of
English style as the Holy War is, at the same time it does not
attain at all to the rank of the Pilgrim's Progress; but then, to
be second to the Pilgrim's Progress is reward and honour enough for
any book. Let all genuine students, then, who would know the best
that has been written on experimental religion, and who would
preach to the deepest and divinest experience of their best people,
let them keep continually within their reach John Owen's
Temptation, his Mortification of Sin in Believers, his Nature and
Power of Indwelling Sin, and John Bunyan's Holy War made for the
Regaining of the Metropolis of this World.

Well, then, as He who dwells on high would have it, there was one
whose name was Mr. Prywell, a great lover of Mansoul. And he, as
his manner was, did go listening up and down in Mansoul to see and
hear, if at any time he might, whether there was any design against
it or no. For he was always a jealous man, and feared some
mischief would befall it, either from within or from some power
without. Mr. Prywell was always a lover of Mansoul, a sober and a
judicious man, a man that was no tattler, nor a raiser of false
reports, but one that loves to look into the very bottom of
matters, and talks nothing of news but by very solid arguments.
And then, after our historian has told us some of the eminent
services that Mr. Prywell was able to perform both for the King and
for the city, he goes on to tell us how the captains determined
that public thanks should be given by the town of Mansoul to Mr.
Prywell for his so diligent seeking of the welfare of the town;
and, further, that, forasmuch as he was so naturally inclined to
seek their good, and also to undermine their foes, they gave him
the commission of Scoutmaster-general for the good of Mansoul. And
Mr. Prywell managed his charge and the trust that Mansoul had put
into his hands with great conscience and good fidelity; for he gave
himself wholly up to his employ, and that not only within the town,
but he also went outside of the town to pry, to see, and to hear.
Now, that being so, it may interest and perhaps instruct you to-
night to look for a little at some of the features and at some of
the feats of the Scoutmaster-general of the Holy War, Mr. Prywell,
of the town of Mansoul.

1. 'Well, now, as He who dwells on high would have it, there was
one whose name was Mr. Prywell, a great lover of the town of
Mansoul.' In other words: self-observation, self-examination,
strict, jealous, sleepless self-examination, is of God. Our God
who searches our hearts and tries our reins would have it so. And
if He does not have it so in us, our souls are not as our God would
have them to be.

'Bunyan employs pry,' says Miss Peacock in her excellent notes, 'in
a more favourable sense than it now bears. As, for instance, it is
said in another part of this same book that the men of Mansoul were
allowed to pry into the words of the Holy Ghost and to expound them
to their best advantage. Honest anxiety for the welfare of his
fellow-townsmen was Mr. Prywell's chief characteristic. Pry is
another form of peer--to look narrowly, to look closely.' And God,
says John Bunyan, would have it so.

2. 'A great lover of Mansoul,' 'always a lover of Mansoul'; again
and again that is testified concerning Mr. Prywell. It was not
love for the work that led Mr. Prywell to give up his days and his
nights as his history tells us he did. Mr. Prywell ran himself
into many dangerous situations both within and without the city,
and he lost himself far more friends than he made by his devotion
to his thankless task. But necessity was laid upon him. And what
held him up was the sure and certain knowledge that his King would
have that service at his hands. That, and his love for the city,
for the safety and the deliverance of the city,--all that kept Mr.
Prywell's heart fixed. Am I therefore your enemy? he would say to
some who would have had it otherwise than the King would have it.
But it is a good thing to be zealously affected in a work like
mine, he would say, in self-defence and in self-encouragement. And
then, though not many, there were always some in the city who said,
Let him smite me and it shall be a kindness; let him reprove me and
it shall be an excellent oil which shall not break my head. It was
in Mansoul with Mr. Prywell as it was in Kidderminster with Richard
Baxter, when some of his people said to one another, 'We will take
all things well from one that we know doth entirely love us.'
'Love them,' said Augustine, 'and then say anything you like to
them.' Now, that was Mr. Prywell's way. He loved Mansoul, and
then he said many things to her that a false lover and a flatterer
would never have dared to say.

3. Then, as the saying is, it goes without saying that 'Mr.
Prywell was always a jealous man.' Great lovers are always jealous
men, and Mr. Prywell showed himself to be a great lover by the
great heat of his jealousy also. 'Vigilant,' says the excellent
editress again; 'cautious against dishonour, reasonably
mistrustful--low Latin zelosus, full of zeal. "And he said, I have
been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts."' Now, it so happened
that some of Mr. Prywell's most private and not at all professional
papers--papers evidently, and on the face of them, connected with
the state of the spy's own soul--came into my hands as good lot
would have it just the other night. The moth-eaten chest was full
of his old papers, but the pieces that took my heart most were, as
it looked to me, actually gnashed through with his remorseful
teeth, and soaked and sodden past recognition with his sweat and
his tears and his agonising hands. But after some late hours over
those remnants I managed to make some sense to myself out of them.
There are some parts of the parchments that pass me; but, if only
to show you that this arch-spy's so vigilant jealousy was not all
directed against other people's bad hearts and bad habits, I shall
copy some lines out of the old box. 'Have I penitence?' he begins
without any preface. 'Have I grief, shame, pain, horror, weariness
for my sin? Do I pray and repent, if not seven times a day as
David did, yet at least three times, as Daniel? If not as Solomon,
at length, yet shortly as the publican? If not like Christ, the
whole night, at least for one hour? If not on the ground and in
ashes, at least not in my bed? If not in sackcloth, at least not
in purple and fine linen? If not altogether freed from all, at
least from immoderate desires? Do I give, if not as Zaccheus did,
fourfold, as the law commands, with the fifth part added? If not
as the rich, yet as the widow? If not the half, yet the thirtieth
part? If not above my power, yet up to my power?' And then over
the page there are some illegible pencillings from old authors of
his such as this from Augustine: 'A good man would rather know his
own infirmity than the foundations of the earth or the heights of
the heavens.' And this from Cicero: 'There are many hiding-places
and recesses in the mind.' And this from Seneca: 'You must know
yourself before you can amend yourself. An unknown sin grows worse
and worse and is deprived of cure.' And this from Cicero again:
'Cato exacted from himself an account of every day's business at
night'; and also Pythagoras,

'Nor let sweet sleep upon thine eyes descend
Till thou hast judged its deeds at each day's end.'

And this from Seneca again: 'When the light is removed out of
sight, and my wife, who is by this time aware of my practice, is
now silent, I pass the whole of my day under examination, and I
review my deeds and my words. I hide nothing from myself: I pass
over nothing.' And then in Mr. Prywell's boldest and least
trembling hand: 'O yes! many shall come from the east and the west
and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom
of heaven, when many of the children of the kingdom shall be cast
out. O yes.' Now, this 'O yes!' Miss Peacock tells us, is the
Anglicised form of a French word for our Lord's words, Take heed
how ye hear!

4. 'A sober and a judicious man' it is said of Mr. Prywell also.
To a certainty that. It could not be otherwise than that. For Mr.
Prywell's office, its discoveries and its experiences, would sober
any man. 'I am sprung from a country,' says Abelard, 'of which the
soil is light, and the temper of the inhabitants is light.' So was
it with Mr. Prywell to begin with. But even Abelard was sobered in
time, and so was Mr. Prywell. Life sobered Abelard, and Mr.
Prywell too; life's crooks and life's crosses, life's duties and
life's disappointments, especially Mr. Prywell. 'The more narrowly
a man looks into himself,' says A Kempis, 'the more he sorroweth.'
Not sober-mindedness alone comes to him who looks narrowly into
himself, but great sorrow of heart also. And if you are not both
sobered in your mind and full of an unquenchable sorrow in your
heart, O yes! attend to it, for you are not yet begun to be what
God would have you to be. Dr. Newman, with all his mistakes and
all his faults, was a master in two things: his own heart and the
English language. And in writing home to his mother a confidential
letter from college on his birthday, he confides to her that he
often 'shudders at himself.' 'No,' he answered to his mother's
fears and advices about food and air and exercise: 'No, I am
neither nervous, nor in ill-health, nor do I study too much. I am
neither melancholy, nor morose, nor austere, nor distant, nor
reserved, nor sullen. I am always cheerful, ready and eager to
join in any merriment. I am not clouded with sadness, nor absent
in mind, nor deficient in action. No; take me when I am most
foolish at home and extend mirth into childishness; yet all the
time I am shuddering at myself.' There spake the future author of
the immortal sermons. There spake a mind and a heart that have
deepened the minds and the hearts of Christian men more than any
other influence of the century; a mind and a heart, moreover, that
will shine and beat in our best literature and in our deepest
devotion for centuries to come. You must all know by this time
another classical passage from the pen of another spiritual genius
in the Church of England, that greatly gifted church. Let me
repeat it to illustrate how sober-mindedness and great sorrow of
heart always come to the best of men. 'Let any man consider that
if the world knew all that of him which he knows of himself; if
they saw what vanity and what passions govern his inside, and what
secret tempers sully and corrupt his best actions; and he would
have no more pretence to be honoured and admired for his goodness
and wisdom than a rotten and distempered body is to be loved and
admired for its beauty and comeliness. And, perhaps, there are
very few people in the world who would not rather choose to die
than to have all their secret follies, the errors of their
judgments, the vanity of their minds, the falseness of their
pretences, the frequency of their vain and disorderly passions,
their uneasinesses, hatreds, envies, and vexations made known to
the world. And shall pride be entertained in a heart thus
conscious of its own miserable behaviour?' No wonder that Mr.
Prywell was sober-minded! No wonder that Dr. Newman shuddered at
himself! And no wonder that William Law chose strangling and the
pond rather than that any other man should see what went on in his

5. And as if all that were not enough, and more than enough, to
commend Mr. Prywell to us--to our trust, to our confidence, and to
our imitation--his royal certificate continues, 'One that looks
into the very bottom of matters, and talks nothing of news, but by
very solid arguments.' The very bottom of matters--that is, the
very bottom of his own and other men's hearts. Mr. Prywell counts
nothing else worth a wise man's looking at. Let fools and children
look at the painted and deceitful surface of things, but let men,
men of matters, and especially men of divine matters, look only at
their own and other men's hearts. The very bottom of all matters
is there. All wars, all policies, all debates, all disputes, all
good and all evil counsels, all the much weal and all the
multitudinous woe of Mansoul--all have their bottom in the heart;
in the heart of God, or in the heart of man, or in the heart of the
devil. The heart is the root of absolutely every matter to Mr.
Prywell. He would not waste one hour of any day, or one watch of
any night, on anything else. And it was this that made him both
the extraordinarily successful scout he was, and the
extraordinarily sober and thoughtful and judicious man he was. O
yes, my brethren, the bottom of matters, when you take to it, will
work the same change in you. 'Two things,' says one who had long
looked at his own matters with Mr. Prywell's eyes--'two things, O
Lord, I recognise in myself: nature, which Thou hast made, and
sin, which I have added.' My brethren, that recognition, that
discovery in yourselves, when it comes to you, will sober you as it
has sobered so many men before you: when it comes to you, that is,
about yourselves. That discovery made in yourselves will make you
deep-thinking men. It will make common men and unlearned men among
you to be philosophers and theologians and saints. It will work in
you a thoughtfulness, a seriousness, a depth, an awe, a holy fear,
and a great desire that will already have made you new creatures.
When, in examining yourselves and in characterising yourselves, you
come on what some clear-eyed men have come on in themselves, and
what one of them has described as 'the diabolical animus of the
human mind'--when you make that discovery in yourselves, that will
sober you, that will humble you and fill you full of remorse and
compunction. And if in God's grace to you, that were to begin to
be wrought in you this week, there would be one, at any rate,
eating of that bread next Lord's day, and drinking of that cup as
God would have it.

6. 'A man that is no tattler, nor raiser of false reports, and
that talks nothing of news, but by very solid arguments.' Mr.
Prywell was more taken up with his own matters at home, far more
than the greatest busybodies are with other men's matters abroad.
His name, I fear, will still sound somewhat ill in your ears, but I
can assure you all the ill for you lies in the sound. Mr. Prywell
would not hurt a hair of your head: the truth is, he does not know
whether there is a hair on your head or no. This man's name comes

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