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Bunyan Characters - Third Series by Alexander Whyte

Part 4 out of 4

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parish ministers, then, give themselves to this kind of reading.
Let them all aim at a doctor's degree in the divinity of their own

3. We are done at last, and we are done for ever, in Scotland,
with patrons and with presenters; but I daresay our most Free
Church people would be quite willing to surrender their dear-bought
franchise if the old plan could even yet be made to work in all
their parishes as it worked in Mansoul. For not only was the
presented minister in this case a well-read man; he was also, what
the best of the Scottish people have always loved and honoured, a
man, as this history testifies, with a tongue as bravely hung as he
had a head filled with judgment. In Scotland we like our minister
to have a tongue bravely hung, even when that is proved to our own
despite. When any minister, parish minister or other, is seen to
tune his pulpit, our respect for him is gone. The Presbyterian
pulpit has been proverbially hard to tune, and it will be an ill
day when it becomes easy. 'Here lies a man who had a brow for
every good cause.' So it was engraven over one of Boston's elders.
And so is it always: like priest, like people in the matter of the
hang of the minister's tongue and in the boldness of the elder's

'Bravely hung' is an ancient and excellent expression which has
several shades of meaning in Bunyan. But in the present instance
its meaning is modified and fixed by judgment. A bravely hung
tongue; at the same time the parish minister of Mansoul's tongue
was not a loosely-hung tongue. It was not a blustering, headlong,
scolding, untamed tongue. The pulpit of Mansoul was tuned with
judgment. He who filled that pulpit had a head filled with
judgment. The ground of judgment is knowledge, and the minister of
Mansoul was a man of knowledge. It was his early and ever-
increasing knowledge of himself, and thus of other men; and then it
was his excellent judgment as to the use he was to make of that
knowledge; it was his sound knowledge what to say, when to say it,
and how to say it,--it was all this that decided his Prince to make
him the minister of Mansoul. How excellent and how rare a gift is
judgment--judgment in counsel, judgment in speech, and judgment in
action! 'I am very little serviceable with reference to public
management,' writes the parish minister of Ettrick, 'being
exceedingly defective in ecclesiastical prudence; but the Lord has
given me a pulpit gift, not unacceptable: and who knows what He
may do with me in that way?' Who knows, indeed! Now, there are
many parish ministers who have a not unacceptable pulpit gift, and
yet who are not content with that, but are always burying that gift
in the earth and running away from it to attempt a public
management in which they are exceedingly and conspicuously
defective. Now, why do they do that? Is their pulpit and their
parish not sphere and opportunity enough for them? Mine is a small
parish, said Boston, but then it is mine. And a small parish may
both rear and occupy a truly great divine. Let those ministers,
then, who are defective in ecclesiastical prudence not be too much
cast down. Ecclesiastical prudence is not in every case the
highest kind of prudence. The presbytery, the synod, and the
assembly are not any minister's first or best sphere. Every
minister's first and best sphere is his parish. And the presbytery
is not the end of the parish. The parish, the pastorate, and the
pulpit are the end of both presbytery and synod and assembly. As
for the minister of Mansoul, he was a well-read man, and also a man
of courage to speak out the truth at every occasion, and he had a
tongue as bravely hung as he had a head filled with judgment.

4. But there was one thing about the parish pulpit of Mansoul that
always overpowered the people. They could not always explain it
even to themselves what it was that sometimes so terrified them,
and, sometimes, again, so enthralled them. They would say
sometimes that their minister was more than a mere man; that he was
a prophet and a seer, and that his Master seemed sometimes to stand
and speak again in His servant. And 'seer' was not at all an
inappropriate name for their minister, so far as I can collect out
of some remains of his that I have seen and some testimonies that I
have heard. There was something awful and overawing, something
seer-like and supernatural, in the pulpit of Mansoul. Sometimes
the iron chains in which the preacher climbed up into the pulpit,
and in which he both prayed and preached, struck a chill to every
heart; and sometimes the garment of salvation in which he shone
carried all their hearts captive. Some Sabbath mornings they saw
it in his face and heard it in his voice that he had been on his
bed in hell all last night; and then, next Sabbath, those who came
back saw him descending into his pulpit from his throne in heaven.

'Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-page
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume.
Thou tremblest, and the whiteness in thy cheek
Is apter than thy tongue to tell thine errand.'

If you think that I am exaggerating and magnifying the parish
pulpit of Mansoul, take this out of the parish records for
yourselves. 'And now,' you will read in one place, 'it was a day
gloomy and dark, a day of clouds and thick darkness with Mansoul.
Well, when the Sabbath-day was come he took for his text that in
the prophet Jonah, "They that observe lying vanities forsake their
own mercy." And then there was such power and authority in that
sermon, and such dejection seen in the countenances of the people
that day that the like had seldom been heard or seen. The people,
when the sermon was done, were scarce able to go to their homes, or
to betake themselves to their employments the whole week after.
They were so sermon-smitten that they knew not what to do. For not
only did their preacher show to Mansoul its sin, but he did tremble
before them under the sense of his own, still crying out as he
preached, Unhappy man that I am! that I, a preacher, should have
lived so senselessly and so sottishly in my parish, and be one of
the foremost in its transgressions! With these things he also
charged all the lords and gentry of Mansoul to the almost
distracting of them.' It was Sabbaths like that that made the
people of Mansoul call their minister a seer.

5. And, then, there was another thing that I do not know how
better to describe than by calling it the true catholicity, the
true humility, and the true hospitality of the man. It is true he
had no choice in the matter, for in setting up a standing ministry
in Mansoul Emmanuel had done so with this reservation and addition.
We have His very words. 'Not that you are to have your ministers
alone,' He said. 'For my four captains, they can, if need be, and
if they be required, not only privately inform, but publicly preach
both good and wholesome doctrine, that, if heeded, will do thee
good in the end.' Which, again, reminds me of what Oliver Cromwell
wrote to the Honourable Colonel Hacker at Peebles. 'These: I was
not satisfied with your last speech to me about Empson, that he was
a better preacher than fighter--or words to that effect. Truly, I
think that he that prays and preaches best will fight best. I know
nothing that will give like courage and confidence as the knowledge
of God in Christ will. I pray you to receive Captain Empson

6. The standing ministry in Mansoul was endowed also; but I cannot
imagine what the court of teinds would make of the instrument of
endowment. As it has been handed down to us, that old
ecclesiastical instrument reads more like a lesson in the parish
minister's class for the study of Mysticism than a writing for a
learned lord to adjudicate upon. Here is the Order of Council:
'Therefore I, thy Prince, give thee, My servant, leave and licence
to go when thou wilt to My fountain, My conduit, and there to drink
freely of the blood of My grape, for My conduit doth always run
wine. Thus doing, thou shalt drive from thine heart all foul,
gross, and hurtful humours. It will also lighten thine eyes, and
it will strengthen thy memory for the reception and the keeping of
all that My Father's noble secretary will teach thee.' Thus the
Prince did put Mr. Conscience into the place and office of a
minister to Mansoul, and the chosen and presented man did
thankfully accept thereof.

(1) Now, there are at least three lessons taught us here. There
is, to begin with, a lesson to all those congregations who are
about to choose a minister. Let all those congregations, then, who
have had devolved on them the powers of the old patrons,--let them
make their election on the same principles that the Prince of
Mansoul patronised. Let them choose a probationer who, young
though he must be, has the making of a seer in him. Let them
listen for the future seer in his most stammering prayers.
Somewhere, even in one service, his conscience will make itself
heard, if he has a conscience. Rather remain ten years vacant than
call a minister who has no conscience. The parish minister of
Mansoul sometimes seemed to be all conscience, and it was this that
made his head so full of judgment, his tongue so full of a brave
boldness, and his heart so full of holy love. Your minister may be
an anointed bishop, he may be a gowned and hooded doctor, he may be
a king's chaplain, he may be the minister of the largest and the
richest and the most learned parish in the city, but, unless he
strikes terror and pain into your conscience every Sabbath, unless
he makes you tremble every Sabbath under the eye and the hand of
God, he is no true minister to you. As Goodwin says, he is a
wooden cannon. As Leighton says, he is a mountebank for a

(2) The second lesson is to all those who are politically
enfranchised, and who hold a vote for a member of Parliament. Now,
crowds of candidates and their canvassers will before long be at
your door besieging it and begging you for your vote for or against
an Established church. Well, before Parliament is dissolved, and
the canvass commences, look you well into your own heart and ask
yourself whether or no the Church of Christ has yet been
established there. Ask if Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church,
has yet set up His throne there, in your heart. Ask your
conscience if His laws are recognised and obeyed there. Ask also
if His blood has been sprinkled there, and since when. And, if
not, then it needs no seer to tell you what sacrilege, what
profanity it is for you to touch the ark of God: to speak, or to
vote, or to lift a finger either for or against any church
whatsoever. Intrude your wilful ignorance and your wicked passions
anywhere else. March up boldly and vote defiantly on questions of
State that you never read a sober line about, and are as ignorant
about as you are of Hebrew; but beware of touching by a thousand
miles the things for which the Son of God laid down His life.
Thrust yourself in, if you must, anywhere else, but do not thrust
yourself and your brutish stupidity and your fiendish tempers into
the things of the house of God. Let all parish ministers take for
their text that day 2 Samuel vi. 6, 7:- And when they came to
Nachon's threshing-floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of
God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of
the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his
error; and there he died by the ark of God.

(3) There is a third lesson here, but it is a lesson for
ministers, and I shall take it home to myself.


'Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all
the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God.'--

In our soft and self-indulgent day the very word 'to fast' has
become an out-of-date and an obsolete word. We never have occasion
to employ that word in the living language of the present day. The
men of the next generation will need to have it explained to them
what the Fast-days of their fathers were: when they were
instituted, how they were observed, and why they were abrogated and
given up. If your son should ever ask you just what the Fast-days
of your youth were like, you will do him a great service, and he
may live to recover them, if you will answer him in this way. Show
him how to take his Cruden and how to make a picture to his opening
mind of the Fast-days of Scripture. And tell him plainly for what
things in fathers and in sons those fasts were ordained of God.
And then for the Fast-days of the Puritan period let him read aloud
to you this powerful passage in the Holy War. Public preaching and
public prayer entered largely into the fasting of the Prophetical
and the Puritan periods; and John Bunyan, after Joel, has told us
some things about the Fast-day preaching of his day that it will be
well for us, both preachers and people, to begin with, and to lay
well to heart.

1. In the first place, the preaching of that Fast-day was
'pertinent' and to the point. William Law, that divine writer for
ministers, warns ministers against going off upon Euroclydon and
the shipwrecks of Paul when Christ's sheep are looking up to them
for their proper food. What, he asks, is the nature, the
direction, and the strength of that Mediterranean wind to him who
has come up to church under the plague of his own heart and under
the heavy hand of God? You may be sure that Boanerges did not
lecture that Fast-day forenoon in Mansoul on Acts xxvii. 14. We
would know that, even if we were not told what his text that
forenoon was. His text that never-to-be-forgotten Fast-day
forenoon was in Luke xiii. 7--'Cut it down; why cumbereth it the
ground?' And a very smart sermon he made upon the place. First,
he showed what was the occasion of the words, namely, because the
fig-tree was barren. Then he showed what was contained in the
sentence, to wit, repentance or utter desolation. He then showed
also by whose authority this sentence was pronounced. And, lastly,
he showed the reasons of the point, and then concluded his sermon.
But he was very pertinent in the application, insomuch that he made
all the elders and all their people in Mansoul to tremble. Sidney
Smith says that whatever else a sermon may be or may not be, it
must be interesting if it is to do any good. Now, pertinent
preaching is always interesting preaching. Nothing interests men
like themselves. And pertinent preaching is just preaching to men
about themselves,--about their interests, their losses and their
gains, their hopes and their fears, their trials and their
tribulations. Boanerges took both his text and his treatment of
his text from his Master, and we know how pertinently The Master
preached. His preaching was with such pertinence that the one half
of His hearers went home saying, Never man spake like this man,
while the other half gnashed at Him with their teeth. Our Lord
never lectured on Euroclydon. He knew what was in man and He
lectured and preached accordingly. And if we wish to have praise
of our best people, and of Him whose people they are, let us look
into our own hearts and preach. That will be pertinent to our
people which is first pertinent to ourselves. Weep yourself, said
an old poet to a new beginner; weep yourself if you would make me
weep. 'For my own part,' said Thomas Shepard to some ministers
from his deathbed, 'I never preached a sermon which, in the
composing, did not cost me prayers, with strong cries and tears. I
never preached a sermon from which I had not first got some good to
my own soul.'

'His office and his name agree;
A shepherd that and Shepard he.'

And many such entries as these occur in Thomas Boston's golden
journal: 'I preached in Ps. xlii. 5, and mostly on my own
account.' Again: 'Meditating my sermon next day, I found
advantage to my own soul, as also in delivering it on the Sabbath.'
And again: 'What good this preaching has done to others I know
not, yet I think myself will not the worse of it.'

2. The preaching of that Fast-day was with great authority also.
'There was such power and authority in that sermon,' reports one
who was present, 'that the like had seldom been seen or heard.'
Authority also was one of the well-remembered marks of our Lord's
preaching. And no wonder, considering who He was. But His
ministers, if they are indeed His ministers, will be clothed by Him
with something even of His supreme authority. 'Conscience is an
authority,' says one of the most authoritative preachers that ever
lived. 'The Bible is an authority; such is the Church; such is
antiquity; such are the words of the wise; such are hereditary
lessons; such are ethical truths; such are historical memories;
such are legal saws and state maxims; such are proverbs; such are
sentiments, presages, and prepossessions.' Now, the well-equipped
preacher will from time to time plant his pulpit on all those kinds
of authority, as this kind is now pertinent and then that, and
will, with such a variety and accumulation of authority, preach to
his people. Thomas Boston preached at a certain place with such
pertinence and with such authority that it was complained of him by
one of themselves that he 'terrified even the godly.' Let all our
young preachers who would to old age continue to preach with
interest, with pertinence, and with terrifying authority, among
other things have by heart The Memoirs of Thomas Boston, 'that
truly great divine.'

3. A third thing, and, as some of the people who heard it said of
it, the best thing about that sermon was that--'He did not only
show us our sin, but he did visibly tremble before us under the
sense of his own.' Now I know this to be a great difficulty with
some young ministers who have got no help in it at the Divinity
Hall. Are they, they ask, to be themselves in the pulpit? How far
may they be themselves, and how far may they be not themselves?
How far are they to be seen to tremble before their people because
of their own sins, and how far are they to bear themselves as if
they had no sin? Must they keep back the passions that are tearing
their own hearts, and fill the forenoon with Euroclydon and other
suchlike sea-winds? How far are they to be all gown and bands in
the pulpit, and how far sackcloth and ashes? One half of their
people are like Pascal in this, that they like to see and hear a
man in his pulpit; but, then, the other half like only to see and
hear a proper preacher. 'He did not only show the men of Mansoul
their sin, but he did tremble before them under the sense of his
own. Still crying out as he preached to them, Unhappy man that I
am! that I should have done so wicked a thing! That I, a preacher,
should be one of the first in the transgression!'

This you will remember was the Fast-day. And so truly had this
preacher kept the Fast-day that the Communion-day was down upon him
before he was ready for it. He was still deep among his sins when
all his people were fast putting on their beautiful garments. He
was ready with the letter of his action-sermon, but he was not
equal to the delivery of it. His colleague, accordingly, whose
sense of sin was less acute that day, took the public worship,
while the Fast-day preacher still lay sick in his closet at home
and wrote thus on the ground: 'I am no more worthy to be called
Thy son,' he wrote. 'Behold me here, Lord, a poor, miserable
sinner, weary of myself, and afraid to look up to Thee. Wilt Thou
heal my sores? Wilt Thou take out the stains? Wilt Thou deliver
me from the shame? Wilt Thou rescue me from this chain of sin?
Cut me not off in the midst of my sins. Let me have liberty once
again to be among Thy redeemed ones, eating and drinking at Thy
table. But, O my God, to-day I am an unclean worm, a dead dog, a
dead carcass, deservedly cast out from the society of Thy saints.
But oh, suffer me so much as to look to the place where Thy people
meet and where Thine honour dwelleth. Reject not the sacrifice of
a broken heart, but come and speak to me in my secret place. O
God, let me never see such another day as this is. Let me never be
again so full of guilt as to have to run away from Thy presence and
to flee from before Thy people.' He printed more than that, in
blood and in tears, before God that Communion-morning, but that is
enough for my purpose. Now, would you choose a dead dog like that
to be your minister? To baptize and admit your children and to
marry them when they grow up? To mount your pulpits every Sabbath-
day, and to come to your houses every week-day? Not, I feel sure,
if you could help it! Not if you knew it! Not if there was a
minister of proper pulpit manners and a well-ordered mind within a
Sabbath-day's journey! 'Like priest like people,' says Hosea.
'The congregation and the minister are one,' says Dr. Parker.
'There are men we could not sit still and hear; they are not the
proper ministers for us. There are other men we could hear always,
because they are our kith and our kin from before the foundation of
the world.' Happy the hearer who has hit on a minister like the
minister of Mansoul, and who has discovered in him his everlasting
kith and kin. And happy the minister who, owning kith and kin with
Boanerges, has two or three or even one member in his congregation
who likes his minister best when he likes himself worst.

But what about the fasting all this time? Was it all preaching,
and was there no fasting? Well, we do not know much about the
fasting of the prophets and the apostles, but the Puritans
sometimes made their people almost forget about fasting, and about
eating and drinking too, they so took possession of their people
with their incomparable preaching. I read, for instance, in
Calamy's Life of John Howe that on the public Fast-days, it was
Howe's common way to begin about nine in the morning and to
continue reading, preaching, and praying till about four in the
afternoon. Henry Rogers almost worships John Howe, but John Howe's
Fast-days pass his modern biographers patience; till, if you would
see a nineteenth-century case made out against a seventeenth-
century Fast-day, you have only to turn to the author of The
Eclipse of Faith on the author of Delighting in God. And, no
doubt, when we get back our Fast-days, we shall leave more of the
time to reading pertinent books at home and to secret fasting and
to secret prayer, and shall enjoin our preachers, while they are
pertinent and authoritative in their sermons, not to take up the
whole day with their sermons even at their best. And then, as to
fasting, discredited and discarded as it is in our day, there are
yet some very good reasons for desiring its return and
reinstatement among us. Very good reasons, both for health and for
holiness. But it is only of the latter class of reasons that I
would fain for a few words at present speak. Well, then, let it be
frankly said that there is nothing holy, nothing saintly, nothing
at all meritorious in fasting from our proper food. It is the
motive alone that sanctifies the means. It is the end alone that
sanctifies the exercise. If I fast to chastise myself for my sin;
if I fast to reduce the fuel of my sin; if I fast to keep my flesh
low; if I fast to make me more free for my best books, for my most
inward, spiritual, mystical books--for my Kempis, and my Behmen,
and my Law, and my Leighton, and my Goodwin, and my Bunyan, and my
Rutherford, and my Jeremy Taylor, and my Shepard, and my Edwards,
and suchlike; if I fast for the ends of meditation and prayer; if I
fast out of sympathy with my Bible, and my Saviour, and my latter
end, and my Father's house in heaven--then, no doubt, my fasting
will be acceptable with God, as it will certainly be an immediate
means of grace to my sinful soul. These altars will sanctify many
such gifts. For, who that knows anything at all about himself,
about his own soul, and about the hindrances and helps to its
salvation from sin; who that ever read a page of Scripture
properly, or spent half an hour in that life which is hidden in
God--who of such will deny or doubt that fasting is superseded or
neglected to the sure loss of the spiritual life, to the sensible
lowering of the religious tone and temper, and to the increase both
of the lusts of the flesh and of the mind? It may perhaps be that
the institution of fasting as a church ordinance has been permitted
to be set aside in order to make it more than ever a part of each
earnest man's own private life. Perhaps it was in some ways full
time that it should be again said to us, 'Thou, when thou fastest,
appear not unto men to fast.' As also, 'Is not this the fast that
I have chosen: to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed
go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread
to the hungry, and that thou bring the outcast to thy house?' Let
us believe that the form of the Fast-day has been removed out of
the way that the spirit may return and fashion a new form for
itself. And in the belief that that is so, let us, while parting
with our fathers' Fast-days with real regret--as with their
pertinent and pungent preaching--let us meantime lay in a stock of
their pertinent and pungent books, and set apart particular and
peculiar seasons for their sin-subduing and grace-strengthening

The short is this. The one real substance and true essence of all
fasting is self-denial. And we can never get past either the
supreme and absolute duty of that, or the daily and hourly call to
that, as long as we continue to read the New Testament, to live in
this life, and to listen to the voice of conscience, and to the
voice of God speaking to us in the voice of conscience. Without
strict and constant self-denial, no man, whatever his experiences
or his pretensions, is a disciple of Jesus Christ, and secret
fasting is one of the first, the easiest, and the most elementary
exercises of New Testament self-denial. And, besides, the lusts of
our flesh and the lusts of our minds are so linked and locked and
riveted together that if one link is loosened, or broken, or even
struck at, the whole thrall is not yet thrown off indeed, but it is
all shaken; it has all received a staggering blow. So much is this
the case that one single act of self-denial in the region of the
body will be felt for freedom throughout the whole prison-house of
the soul. And a victory really won over a sensual sin is already a
challenge sounded to our most spiritual sin. And it is this
discovery that has given to fasting the place it has held in all
the original, resolute, and aggressive ages of the Church. With
little or nothing in their Lord's literal teaching to make His
people fast, they have been so bent on their own spiritual
deliverance, and they have heard and read so much about the
deliverances both of body and of soul that have been attained by
fasting and its accompaniments, that they have taken to it in their
despair, and with results that have filled them in some instances
with rapture, and in all instances with a good conscience and with
a good hope. You would wonder, even in these degenerate days,--you
would be amazed could you be told how many of your own best friends
in their stealthy, smiling, head-anointing, hypocritical way deny
themselves this and that sweetness, this and that fatness, this and
that softness, and are thus attaining to a strength, a courage, and
a self-conquest that you are getting the benefit of in many ways
without your ever guessing the price at which it has all been
purchased. Now, would you yourself fain be found among those who
are in this way being made strong and victorious inwardly and
spiritually? Would you? Then wash your face and anoint your head;
and, then, not denying it before others, deny it in secret to
yourself--this and that sweet morsel, this and that sweet meat,
this and that glass of such divine wine. Unostentatiously,
ungrudgingly, generous-heartedly, and not ascetically or morosely,
day after day deny yourself even in little unthought-of things, and
one of the very noblest laws of your noblest life shall immediately
claim you as its own. That stealthy and shamefaced act of self-
denial for Christ's sake and for His cross's sake will lay the
foundation of a habit of self-denial; ere ever you are aware of
what you are doing the habit will consolidate into a character; and
what you begin little by little in the body will be made perfect in
the soul; till what you did, almost against His command and
altogether without His example, yet because you did it for His sake
and in His service, will have placed you far up among those who
have forsaken all, and themselves also, to follow Jesus Christ, Son
of Man and Son of God. Only, let this always be admitted, and
never for a moment forgotten, that all this is said by permission
and not of commandment. Our Lord never fasted as we fast. He had
no need. And He never commanded His disciples to fast. He left it
to themselves to find out each man his own case and his own cure.
Let no man, therefore, take fasting in any of its degrees, or
times, or occasions, on his conscience who does not first find it
in his heart. At the same time this may be said with perfect
safety, that he who finds it in his heart and then lays it on his
conscience to deny himself anything, great or small, for Christ's
sake, and for the sake of his own salvation,--he will never repent
it. No, he will never repent it.


'He brought me into his banqueting house.'--The Song.

Emmanuel's feast-day in the Holy War excels in beauty and in
eloquence everything I know in any other author on the Lord's
Supper. The Song of Solomon stands alone when we sing that song
mystically--that is to say, when we pour into it all the love of
God to His Church in Israel and all Israel's love to God, and then
all our Lord's love to us and all our love back again to Him in
return. But outside of Holy Scripture I know nothing to compare
for beauty, and for sweetness, and for quaintness, and for
tenderness, and for rapture, with John Bunyan's account of the
feast that Prince Emmanuel made for the town of Mansoul. With his
very best pen John Bunyan tells us how upon a time Emmanuel made a
feast in Mansoul, and how the townsfolk came to the castle to
partake of His banquet, and how He feasted them on all manner of
outlandish food--food that grew not in the fields of Mansoul; it
was food that came down from heaven and from His Father's house.
They drank also of the water that was made wine, and, altogether,
they were very merry and at home with their Prince. There was
music also all the time at the table, and man did eat angels' food,
and had honey given him out of the rock. And then the table was
entertained with some curious and delightful riddles that were made
upon the King Himself, upon Emmanuel His Son, and upon His wars and
doings with Mansoul; till, altogether, the state of transportation
the people were in with their entertainment cannot be told by the
very best of pens. Nor did He, when they returned to their places,
send them empty away; for either they must have a ring, or a gold
chain, or a bracelet, or a white stone or something; so dear was
Mansoul to Him now, so lovely was Mansoul in His eyes. And, going
and coming to the feast, O how graciously, how lovingly, how
courteously, and how tenderly did this blessed Prince now carry it
to the town of Mansoul! In all the streets, gardens, orchards, and
other places where He came, to be sure the poor should have His
blessing and benediction; yea, He would kiss them; and if they were
ill, He would lay His hands on them and make them well. And was it
not now something amazing to behold that in that very place where
Diabolus had had his abode, the Prince of princes should now sit
eating and drinking with all His mighty captains, and men of war,
and trumpeters, and with the singing men and the singing women of
His Father's court! Now did Mansoul's cup run over; now did her
conduits run sweet wine; now did she eat the finest of the wheat,
and now drink milk and honey out of the rock! Now she said, How
great is His goodness, for ever since I found favour in His eyes,
how honourable have I ever been!

1. Now, the beginning of it all was, and the best of it all was,
that Emmanuel Himself made the feast. Mansoul did not feast her
Deliverer; it was her Deliverer who feasted her. Mansoul, in good
sooth, had nothing that she had not first and last received, and it
was far more true and seemly and fit in every way that her Prince
Himself should in His own way and at His own expense seal and
celebrate the deliverance, the freedom, the life, the peace, and
the joy of Mansoul. And, besides, what had Mansoul to set before
her Prince; or, for the matter of that, before herself? Mansoul
had nothing of herself. Mansoul was not sufficient of herself for
a single day. And how, then, should she propose to feast a Prince?
No, no! the thing was impossible. It was Emmanuel's feast from
first to last. Just as it was at the Lord's table in this house
this morning. You did not spread the table this morning for your
Lord. You did not make ready for your Saviour and then invite Him
in. He invited you. He said, This is My Body broken for you, and
This is My Blood shed for you; drink ye all of it. And had any one
challenged you at the fence door and asked you how one who could
not pay his own debts or provide himself a proper meal even for a
single day, could dare to sit down with such a company at such a
feast as that, you would have told him that he had not seen half
your hunger and your nakedness; but that it was just your very
hunger and nakedness and homelessness that had brought you here;
or, rather, it was all that that had moved the Master of the feast
to send for you and to compel you to come here. There was nothing
in your mind and in your mouth more all this day than just that
this is the Lord's Supper, and that He had sent for you and had
invited you, and had constrained and compelled you to come and
partake of it. It was the Lord's Table to-day, and it will be
still and still more His table on that great Communion-Day when all
our earthly communions shall be accomplished and consummated in

2. All that Mansoul did in connection with that great feast was to
prepare the place where Diabolus at one time had held his orgies
and carried on his excesses. Her Prince, Emmanuel, did all the
rest; but He left it to Mansoul to make the banqueting-room ready.
When our Lord would keep His last passover with His disciples, He
said to Peter and John, Go into the city, and there shall meet you
a man bearing a pitcher of water, and he will show you a large
upper room furnished and prepared. There is some reason to believe
that that happy man had been expecting that message and had done
his best to be ready for it. And now he was putting the last touch
to his preparations by filling the water-pots of his house with
fresh water; little thinking, happy man, that as long as the world
lasts that water will be holy water in all men's eyes, and shall
teach humility to all men's hearts. And, my brethren, you know
that all you did all last week against to-day was just to prepare
the room. For the room all last week and all this day was your own
heart, and not and never this house of stone and lime made with
men's hands. You swept the inner and upper room of your own heart.
You swept it and garnished its walls and its floors as much as in
you lay. He, whose the supper really was, told you that He would
bring with Him what was to be eaten and drunken to-day, while you
were to prepare the place. And, next to the very actual feast
itself, and, sometimes, not next to it but equal to it, and even
before it and better than it, were those busy household hours you
spent, like the man with the pitcher, making the room ready. In
plain English, you had a communion before the Communion as you
prepared your hearts for the Communion. I shall not intrude into
your secret places and secret seasons with Christ before His open
reception of you to-day. But it is sure and certain that, just as
you in secret entertained Him in your mother's house and in the
chambers of her that bare you, just in that measure did He say to
you openly before all the watchmen that go about the city and
before all the daughters of Jerusalem, Eat, O friends; drink, yea,
drink abundantly, O beloved. Yes; do you not think that the man
with the pitcher had his reward? He had his own thoughts as he
furnished, till it was quite ready, his best upper room and carried
in those pitchers of water, and handed down to his children in
after days the perquisite-skin of the paschal lamb that had been
supped on by our Lord and His disciples in his honoured house that
night. Yes; was it not amazing to behold that in that very place
where sometimes Diabolus had his abode, and had entertained his
Diabolonians, the Prince of princes should sit eating and drinking
with His friends? Was it not truly amazing?

3. Now, upon the feasting-day He feasted them with all manner of
outlandish food--food that grew not in all the fields of Mansoul;
it was food that came down with His Father's court. The fields of
Mansoul yielded their own proper fruits, and fruits that were not
to be despised. But they were not the proper fruits for that day,
neither could they be placed upon that table. They are good enough
fruits for their purpose, and as far as they go, and for so long as
they last and are in their season. But our souls are such that
they outlive their own best fruits; their hunger and their thirst
outlast all that can be harvested in from their own fields. And
thus it is that He who made Mansoul at first, and who has since
redeemed her, has out of His own great goodness provided food
convenient for her. He knows with what an outlandish life He has
quickened Mansoul, and it is only the part of a faithful Creator to
provide for His creature her proper nourishment. What is it? asked
the children of Israel at one another when they saw a small round
thing, as small as hoarfrost, upon the ground. For they wist not
what it was. And Moses said, Gather of it every man according to
his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your
persons. And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna,
and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. He gave them
of the corn of heaven to eat, and man did eat in the wilderness
angels' food. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and
are dead; but this is the bread of which if any man eat he shall
not die. And the bread that I will give is My Flesh, which I will
give for the life of the world. And so outlandish, so
supernatural, and so full of heavenly wonder and heavenly mystery
was that bread, that the Jews strove among themselves over it, and
could not understand it. But, by His goodness and His truth to us
this day, we have again, to our spiritual nourishment and growth in
grace, eaten the Flesh and drunk the Blood of the Son of God; a
meat that, as He who Himself is that meat has said of it, is meat
indeed and drink indeed--as, indeed, we have the witness in
ourselves this day that it is. They drank also of the water that
was made wine, and were very merry with Him all that day at His
table. And all their mirth was the high mirth of heaven; it was a
mirth and a gladness without sin, without satiety, and without

4. There was music also all the while at the table, and the
musicians were not those of the country of Mansoul, but they were
the masters of song come down from the court of the King. 'I love
the Lord,' they sang in the supper room over the paschal lamb--'I
love the Lord because He hath heard my voice and my supplication.
Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call
upon Him as long as I live. What shall I render to the Lord,' they
challenged one another, 'for all His benefits towards me? I will
take the cup of salvation, and will call upon the name of the
Lord.' 'Sometimes imagine,' says a great devotional writer with a
great imagination--'Sometimes imagine that you had been one of
those that joined with our blessed Saviour as He sang an hymn.
Strive to imagine to yourself with what majesty He looked. Fancy
that you had stood by Him surrounded with His glory. Think how
your heart would have been inflamed, and what ecstasies of joy you
would have then felt when singing with the Son of God! Think again
and again with what joy and devotion you would have then sung had
this really been your happy state; and what a punishment you would
have thought it to have then been silent. And let that teach you
how to be affected with psalms and hymns of thanksgiving.' Yes;
and it is no imagination; it was our own experience only this
morning and afternoon to join in a music that was never made in
this world, but which was as outlandish as was the meat which we
ate while the music was being made.

'Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God,
And not forgetful be
Of all His gracious benefits
He hath bestow'd on thee.

Who with abundance of good things
Doth satisfy thy mouth;
So that, ev'n as the eagle's age,
Renewed is thy youth.'

The 103rd Psalm was never made in this world. Musicians far other
than those native to Mansoul made for us our Lord's-Table Psalm.

5. And then, the riddles that were made upon the King Himself, and
upon Emmanuel His Son, and upon Emmanuel's wars and all His other
doings with Mansoul. And when Emmanuel would expound some of those
riddles Himself, oh! how they were lightened! They saw what they
never saw! They could not have thought that such rarities could
have been couched in so few and such ordinary words. Yea, they did
gather that the things themselves were a kind of portraiture, and
that, too, of Emmanuel Himself. This, they would say, this is the
Lamb! this is the Sacrifice! this is the Rock! this is the Door!
and this is the Way! with a great many other things. At Gaius's
supper-table they sat up over their riddles and nuts and sweetmeats
till the sun was in the sky. And it would be midnight and morning
if I were to show you the answers to the half of the riddles. Take
one, for an example, and let it be one of the best for the
communion-day. 'In one rare quality of the orator,' says Hugh
Miller, writing about his adored minister, Alexander Stewart of
Cromarty, 'Mr. Stewart stood alone. Pope refers in his satires to
a strange power of creating love and admiration by just "touching
the brink of all we hate." Now, into this perilous, but singularly
elective department, Mr. Stewart could enter with safety and at
will. We heard him, scarce a twelvemonth since, deliver a
discourse of singular power on the sin-offering as minutely
described by the divine penman in Leviticus. He described the
slaughtered animal--foul with dust and blood, its throat gashed
across, its entrails laid open and steaming in its impurity to the
sun--a vile and horrid thing, which no one could look on without
disgust, nor touch without defilement. The picture appeared too
vivid; its introduction too little in accordance with a just taste.
But this pulpit-master knew what he was all the time doing. "And
that," he said, as he pointed to the terrible picture, "that is
SIN!" By one stroke the intended effect was produced, and the
rising disgust and horror transferred from the revolting, material
image to the great moral evil.' And, in like manner, This is the
LAMB! we all said over the mystical riddle of the bread and the
wine this morning. This is the SACRIFICE! This is the DOOR! This
is EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US, and made sin for us!

6. In one of his finest chapters, Thomas A Kempis tells us in what
way we are to communicate mystically: that is to say, how we are
to keep on communicating at all times, and in all places, without
the intervention of the consecrated sacramental elements. And John
Bunyan, the sweetest and most spiritual of mystics, has all that,
too, in this same supreme passage. Every day was a feast-day now,
he tells us. So much so that when the elders and the townsmen did
not come to Emmanuel, He would send in much plenty of provisions to
them. Yea, such delicates would He send them, and therewith would
so cover their tables, that whosoever saw it confessed that the
like could not be seen in any other kingdom. That is to say, my
fellow-communicants, there is nothing that we experienced and
enjoyed in this house this day that we may not experience and enjoy
again to-morrow and every day in our own house at home. All the
mystics worth the noble name will tell you that all true
communicating is always performed and experienced in the prepared
heart, and never in any upper room, or church, or chapel, or new
heaven, or new earth. The prepared heart of every worthy
communicant is the true upper room; it is the true banqueting
chamber; it is the true and the only house of wine. Our Father's
House itself, with its supper-table covered with the new wine of
the Kingdom--the best of it all will still be within you. Prepare
yourselves within yourselves, then, O departing and dispersing
communicants. Prepare, and keep yourselves always prepared. And
as often as you so prepare yourselves your Prince will come to you
every day, and will cat and drink with you, till He makes every day
on earth a day of heaven already to you. See if He will not; for,
again and again, He who keeps all His promises says that He will.


'And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen,
clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of

The Plantagenet kings of ancient England had white and scarlet for
their livery; white and green was the livery of the Tudors; the
Stuarts wore red and yellow; while blue and scarlet colours adorn
to-day the House of Hanover. And the Prince of the kings of the
earth, He has his royal colours also, and His servants have their
badge of honour and their blazon also. Then He commanded that
those who waited upon Him should go and bring forth out of His
treasury those white and glittering robes, that I, He said, have
provided and laid up in store for my Mansoul. So the white
garments were fetched out of the treasury and laid forth to the
eyes of the people. Moreover, it was granted to them that they
should take them and put them on, according, said He, to your size
and your stature. So the people were all put into white--into fine
linen, clean and white. Then said the Prince, This, O Mansoul, is
My livery, and this is the badge by which Mine are known from the
servants of others. Yea, this livery is that which I grant to all
them that are Mine, and without which no man is permitted to see My
face. Wear this livery, therefore, for My sake, and, also, if you
would be known by the world to be Mine. But now can you think how
Mansoul shone! For Mansoul was fair as the sun, clear as the moon,
and terrible as an army with banners.

White, then, and whiter than snow, is the very livery of heaven. A
hundred shining Scriptures could be quoted to establish that. In
the first year of Belshazzar, King of Babylon, Daniel had a dream,
and visions of his head came to Daniel upon his bed. And, behold,
the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and
the hair of his head like the pure wool. My beloved, sings the
spouse in the Song, is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten
thousand, and altogether lovely. Then, again, David in his
penitence sings, Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash
me, and I shall be whiter than snow. And what is it that sets
Isaiah at the head of all the prophets? What but this, that he is
the mouth-piece of such decrees in heaven as this: Though your
sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red
like crimson, they shall be as wool. The angel, also, who rolled
away the stone from the door of the sepulchre was clothed in a long
white garment. Another evangelist says that his countenance was
like lightning and his raiment white as snow, and for fear of him
the keepers did quake, and became as dead men. But before that we
read that Jesus was transfigured before Peter and James and John on
the Mount, and that His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment
was white as the light. And, then, the whole Book of Revelation is
written with a pen dipped in heavenly light. The whole book is
glistening with the whitest light till we cannot read it for the
brightness thereof. And the multitude that no man can number all
display themselves before our eyes, clothed with white robes and
with palms in their hands, so much so that we sink down under the
greatness of the glory, till One with His head and His hairs white
like wool, as white as snow, lays His hand upon us, and says to us,
Fear not, for, behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from
thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

'I also saw Mansoul clad all in white,
And heard her Prince call her His heart's delight,
I saw Him put upon her chains of gold,
And rings and bracelets goodly to behold.
What shall I say? I heard the people's cries,
And saw the Prince wipe tears from Mansoul's eyes,
I heard the groans and saw the joy of many;
Tell you of all, I neither will nor can I.
But by what here I say you well may see
That Mansoul's matchless wars no fable be.'

'And to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine
linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of
saints.' We need no exegesis of that beautiful Scripture beyond
that exegesis which our own hearts supply. And if we did need that
shining text to be explained to us, to whom could we better go for
its explanation than just to John Bunyan? Well, then, in our
author's No Way to Heaven but by Jesus Christ, he says: 'This fine
linen, in my judgment, is the works of godly men; their works that
spring from faith. But how came they clean? How came they white?
Not simply because they were the works of faith. But, mark, they
washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
And therefore they are before the throne of God. Yea, therefore it
is that their good works stand in such a place.' 'Nor must we
think it strange,' says John Howe, in his Blessedness of the
Righteous, 'that all the requisites to our salvation are not found
together in one text of Scripture. I conceive that imputed
righteousness is not here meant, but that righteousness which is
truly subjected in a child of God and descriptive of him. The
righteousness of Him whom we adore as made sin for us that we might
be made the righteousness of God in Him, that righteousness has a
much higher sphere peculiar and appropriate to itself. Though this
of which we now speak is necessary also to be both had and
understood.' Emmanuel's livery, then, is the righteousness of the
saints. Emmanuel puts that righteousness upon all His saints;
while, at the same time, they put it on themselves; they work it
out for themselves, and for themselves they keep it clean. They
work it out, put it on, and keep it clean, and yet, all the time,
it is not they that do it, but it is Emmanuel that doeth it all in
them. The truth is, you must all become mystics before you will
admit all the strange truth that is told about Emmanuel's livery.
For both heaven and earth unite in this wonderful livery. Nature
and grace unite in it. It is woven by the gospel on the loom of
the law--till, to tell you all that is true about it, I neither can
nor will I. Albert Bengel tells us that the court of heaven has
its own jealous and scrupulous etiquette; and our court journalist
and historian, John Bunyan, has supplied his favoured readers with
the very card of etiquette that was issued along with Mansoul's
coat of livery, and it is more than time that we had attended to
that card.

1. The first item then in that etiquette-card ran in these set
terms: 'First, wear these white robes daily, day by day, lest you
should at some time appear to others as if you were none of Mine.--
Signed, EMMANUEL.'

Now, we put on anew every morning the garments that we are to wear
every new day. We have certain pieces of clothing that we wear in
the morning; we have certain pieces that we wear when we are at our
work; and, again, we have certain other pieces that we put on when
we go abroad in the afternoon; and, yet again, certain other pieces
that we array ourselves in when we go out into society in the
evening. After a night in which Mercy could not sleep for blessing
and praising God, they all rose in the morning with the sun; but
the Interpreter would have them tarry a while, for, said he, you
must orderly go from hence. Then said he to the damsel, Take them,
and have them into the garden to the bath. Then Innocent the
damsel took them, and had them into the garden, and brought them to
the bath. Then they went in and washed, yea, they and the boys and
all, and they came out of that bath, not only clean and sweet, but
also much enlivened and much strengthened in their joints. So when
they came in they looked fairer a deal than when they went out.
Then said the Interpreter to the damsel that waited upon those
women, Go into the vestry, and fetch out garments for these people.
So she went and fetched out white raiment and laid it down before
him. And then he commanded them to put it on. It was fine linen,
white and clean. Now, therefore, they began to esteem each other
better than themselves. For, You are fairer than I am, said one;
and, You are more comely than I am, said another. The children
also stood amazed to see into what fashion they had been brought.
William Law--I thank God, I think, every day I live for that good
day to me on which He introduced me to His gifted and saintly
servant--well, William Law used every morning after his bath in the
morning to put on his livery, piece by piece, in order, and with
special prayer. The first piece that he put on, and he put it on
every new morning next his heart to wear it all the day next his
heart, was gratitude to God. And it was a real, feeling, active,
and operative gratitude that he so put on. On each new morning as
it came, that good man was full of new gratitude to God. For the
sun new from his Almighty Maker's hands he had gratitude. For his
house over his head he had gratitude. For his Bible and his
spiritual books he had gratitude. For his opportunities of reading
and study, as also for ten o'clock in the morning when the widows
and orphans of King's Cliffe came to his window, and so on. A
grateful heart feeds itself to a still greater gratitude on
everything that comes to it. So it was with William Law, till he
wakened the maids in the rooms below with his psalms and his hymns
as he went into his vestry and put on his singing robes so early
every morning. And then, after his morning hours of study and
devotion, Law had a piece of livery that he always put on and never
came downstairs to breakfast without it. Other men might put on
other pieces; he always clothed himself next to gratitude with
humility. Men differ, good men differ, and Emmanuel's livery-men
differ in what they put on, at what time, and in what order. But
that was William Law's way. You will learn more of his way, and
you will be helped to find out a like way for yourselves, if you
will become students of his incomparable books. You will find how
he put on charity, 1 Cor. thirteenth chapter; and then how, over
all, he put on the will of God; till, thus equipped and thus
accoutred, he was able to say, as it has seldom been said since it
was first said, 'I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my
judgment was to me as a robe and as a diadem. The Almighty was
then with me, and my children were about me. When I washed my
steps with butter, and when the rock poured me out rivers of oil!'
So much for that livery-man of Emmanuel, the author of the
Christian Perfection and the Spirit of Love. As for the women's
vestry in the Interpreter's House, Matthew Henry saw the thirty-
first chapter of the Proverbs hung up on that vestry wall, and
Christiana making her morning toilet before it with Mercy beside
her. Who would find a virtuous woman, let him look before that
looking-glass for her, and he will be sure to find her and her
daughters and her daughters-in-law putting on their white raiment

2. 'Secondly, keep your garments always white; for if they be
soiled, it is a dishonour to Me. I have a few names even in Sardis
which have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with Me
in white, for they are worthy.' Even in Sardis, with every street
and every house full of soil and dishonour to the name of Christ,
even in Sardis Emmanuel had some of whom He could boast Himself.
Would you not immensely like at the last day to be one of those
some in Sardis? Shall it not be splendid when Sardis comes up for
judgment to be among those few names that Emmanuel shall then read
out of His book, and when, at their few names, two or three men
shall step out into the light in His livery? Some of you are in
Sardis at this moment. Some of you are in a city, or in a house in
a city, where it is impossible to keep your garments clean. And
yet, no; nothing is impossible to Emmanuel and His true livery-men.
Even in that house where you are, Emmanuel will say over you, I
have one there who is thankful to My Father and to Me; thankful to
singing every morning where there is little, as men see, to sing
for. There is one in that house humble, where humility itself
would almost become high-minded. And meek, where Moses himself
would have lost his temper. And submissive, where rebelliousness
would not have been without excuse. Mark these few men for Mine,
says Emmanuel. Mark them with the ink-horn for Mine. For they
shall surely be Mine in that day, and they shall walk with Me in
white, for they are worthy.

3. 'Wherefore gird your garments well up from the ground.' A
well-dressed man, a well-dressed woman, is a beautiful sight. Not
over-dressed; not dressed so as to call everybody's attention to
their dress; but dressed decorously, becomingly, tastefully. Each
several piece well fitted on, and all of a piece, till it all looks
as if it had grown by nature itself upon the well-dressed wearer.
Be like him--be like her--so runs the third head of the etiquette-
card. Be not slovenly and disorderly and unseemly in your livery.
Let not your livery be always falling off, and catching on every
bush and briar, and dropping into every pool and ditch. Hold
yourselves in hand, the instruction goes on. Brace yourselves up.
Have your temper, your tongue, your eyes, your ears, and all your
members in control. And then you will escape many a rent and many
a rag; many a seam and many a patch; many a soil and many a stain.
And then also you will be found walking abroad in comeliness and at
liberty, while others, less careful, are at home mending and
washing and ironing because they went without a girdle when you
girt up your garments well off the ground. Wherefore always gird
well up the loins of your mind.

4. 'And, fourthly, lose not your robes, lest you walk naked and
men see your shame'; that is to say, the supreme shame of your
soul. For there is no other shame. There is nothing else in body
or soul to be ashamed about. There is a nakedness, indeed, that
our children are taught to cover; but the Bible is a book for men.
And the only nakedness that the Bible knows about or cares about is
the nakedness of the soul. It was their sudden soul-nakedness that
chased Adam and Eve in among the trees of the garden. And it is
God's pity for soul-naked sinners that has made Him send His Son to
cry to us: 'I counsel thee,' He cries, 'to buy of Me gold tried in
the fire, that thou mayest be rich; white raiment, that thou mayest
be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.
Behold!' He cries in absolute terror, 'Behold! I come as a thief!
Blessed is he that walketh and keepeth his garments, lest he walk
naked, and they see his shame.' Were your soul to be stripped
naked to all its shame to-morrow; were all your past to be laid out
absolutely naked and bare, with all the utter nakedness of your
inward life this day; were all your secret thoughts, and all your
stealthy schemes, and all your mad imaginations, and all your
detestable motives, and all your hatreds like hell, and all your
follies like Bedlam to be laid naked--I suppose the horror of it
would make you cry to the rocks and the mountains to cover you this
Sabbath night, or the weeds of the nearest sea to wrap you down
into its depths. It would be hell before the time to you if your
soul were suddenly to be stripped absolutely bare of its ragged
body, and naked of all the thin integuments of time, and were for a
single day to stand naked to its everlasting shame. And it is just
because Jesus Christ sees all that as sure as the judgment-day
coming to you, that He stands here to-night and calls to you: I
counsel thee! I counsel thee! Before it be too late, I again
counsel thee!

5. But the Prince Emmanuel is persuaded better things of all His
livery-men, though He thus speaks to them to put them on their
guard. Yes, sternly and severely and threateningly as He sometimes
speaks, yet, in spite of Himself, His real grace always breaks
through at the last. And, accordingly, his fifth command runs
thus: But, it runs, if you should sully them, if you should defile
them, the which I am greatly unwilling that you should, then speed
you to that which is written in My law, that yet you may stand, and
not fall before Me and before My throne. Always know this, that I
have provided for thee an open fountain to wash thy garments in.
Look, therefore, that you wash often in that fountain, and go not
for an hour in defiled garments. Let not, therefore, My garments,
your garments, the garments that I gave thee be ever spotted by the
flesh. Keep thy garments always white, and let thy head lack no
ointment.--Signed in heaven, EMMANUEL.


'A better covenant.'--Paul.

Magna Charta is a name very dear to the hearts of the English
people. For, ever since that memorable day on which that noble
instrument was extorted from King John at the point of the sword,
England has been the pioneer to all the other nations of the earth
in personal freedom, in public righteousness, in domestic
stability, and in foreign influence and enterprise. Runnymede is a
red-letter spot, and 1215 is a red-letter year, not only in the
history of England, but in the history of the whole modern world.
The keystone of all sound constitutional government was laid at
that place on that date, and by that great bridge not England only,
but after England the whole civilised world has passed over from
ages of bondage and oppression and injustice into a new world of
personal liberty and security, public equity and good faith,
loyalty and peace. All that has since been obtained, whether on
the battle-field or on the floor of Parliament, has been little
more than a confirmation of Magna Charta or an authoritative
comment upon Magna Charta. And if every subsequent law were to be
blotted out, yet in Magna Charta the foundations would still remain
of a great state and a free people. 'Here commences,' says
Macaulay, 'the history of the English nation.'

Now, after the Prince of Peace had subjugated the rebellious city
of Mansoul, He promulgated a proclamation and appointed a day
wherein He would renew their Charter. Yea, a day wherein he would
renew and enlarge their Charter, mending several faults in it, so
that the yoke of Mansoul might be made yet more easy to bear. And
this He did without any desire of theirs, even of His own frankness
and nobleness of mind. So when He had sent for and seen their old
Charter, He laid it by and said, Now that which decayeth and waxeth
old is ready to vanish away. An epitome, therefore, of that new,
and better, and more firm and steady Charter take as follows: I do
grant of Mine own clemency, free, full, and everlasting forgiveness
of all their wrongs, injuries, and offences done against My Father,
against Me, against their neighbours and themselves. I do give
them also My Testament, with all that is therein contained, for
their everlasting comfort and consolation. Thirdly, I do also give
them a portion of the self-same grace and goodness that dwells in
My Father's heart and Mine. Fourthly, I do give, grant, and bestow
upon them freely, the world and all that is therein for their true
good; yea, all the benefits of life and death, of things present
and things to come. Free leave and full access also at all seasons
to Me in My palace, there to make known all their wants to Me; and
I give them, moreover, a promise that I shall hear and redress all
their grievances. To them and to their right seed after them, I
hereby bestow all these grants, privileges, and royal immunities.
All this is but a lean epitome of what was that day laid down in
letters of gold and engraven on their doors and their castle gates.
And what joy, what comfort, what consolation, think you, did now
possess every heart in Mansoul! The bells rang out, the minstrels
played, the people danced, the captains shouted, the colours waved
in the wind, and the silver trumpets sounded, till every enemy
inside and outside of Mansoul was now glad to hide his head.

Our constitutional authors and commentators are wont to take Magna
Charta clause by clause, and word by word, and letter by letter.
They linger lovingly and proudly over every jot and tittle of that
splendid instrument. And you will indulge me this Communion night
of all nights of the year if I expatiate still more lovingly and
proudly on that great Covenant which our Lord has sealed to us
again to-day, and has written again to-day on the walls of our
hearts. Moses made haste as soon as the old Charter was read over
to him, and nothing shall delay us till we have feasted our eyes,
and our ears, and our hearts to-night on the contents of this our
new and better covenant.

1. The first article of our Magna Charta is free, full, and
everlasting forgiveness of all the wrongs, injuries, and offences
we have ever done against God, against our Saviour, against our
neighbour, and against ourselves. The English nobles extorted
their Charter from their tyrannical king with their sword at his
throat, and after he had signed it, he cast himself on the ground
and gnawed sticks and stones in his fury, so mad was he at the men
who had so humiliated him. 'They have set four-and-twenty kings
over my head,' he gnashed out. How different was it with our
Charter! For when we were yet enemies it was already drawn out in
our name. And after we had been subdued it would never have
entered our fearful hearts to ask for such an instrument. And,
even now, after we have entered into its liberty, how slow we are
to believe all that is written in our great Charter, and read to us
every day out of it. And who shall cast a stone at us for not
easily believing all that is so written and read? It is not so
easy as you would think to believe in free forgiveness for all the
wrongs, injuries, and offences we have ever done. When you try to
believe it about yourselves, you will find how hard it is to accept
that covenant and always to keep your feet firm upon it. That the
forgiveness is absolutely free is its first great difficulty. If
it had cost us all we could ever do or suffer, both in this world
and in the world to come, then we could have come to terms with our
Prince far more easily; but that our forgiveness should be
absolutely free, it is that that so staggers us. When I was a
little boy I was once wandering through the streets of a large city
seeing the strange sights. I had even less Latin in my head that
day than I had money in my pocket. But I was hungry for knowledge
and eager to see rare and wonderful things. Over the door of a
public institution, containing a museum and other interesting
things, I tried to read a Latin scroll. I could not make out the
whole of the writing; I could only make out one word, and not even
that, as the event soon showed. The word was gratia, or some
modification of gratia, with some still deeper words engraven round
about it. But on the strength of that one word I mounted the steps
and rang the bell, and asked the porter if I could see the museum.
He told me that the cost of admission was such and such. Little as
it was, it was too much for me, and I came down the steps feeling
that the Latin writing above the door had entirely deceived me. It
has not been the last time that my bad Latin has brought me to
shame and confusion of face. But Latin, or Greek, or only English,
or not even English, there is no deception and no confusion here.
Forgiveness is really of free grace. It costs absolutely nothing,
the door is open; or, if it is not open, then knock, and it shall
be opened, without money and without price.

'Free and full.' I could imagine a free forgiveness which was not
also full. I could imagine a charter that would have run somehow
thus: Free forgiveness and full, up to a firmly fixed limit. Free
and full forgiveness for sins of ignorance and even of infirmity
and frailty; for small sins and for great sins, too, up to a
certain age of life and stage of guilt. Free and full forgiveness
up to a certain line, and then, that black line of reprobation, as
Samuel Rutherford says. Indeed, it is no imagination. I have felt
oftener than once that I was at last across that black line, and
gone and lost for ever. But no -

'While the lamp holds on to burn,
The greatest sinner may return.'

'Free, full, and everlasting.' Pope Innocent the Third came to the
rescue of King John and issued a Papal bull revoking and annulling
Magna Charta. But neither king, nor pope, nor devil can revoke or
annul our new Covenant. It is free, full, and everlasting. If God
be for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the
love of Christ? Neither death nor life, nor angels nor
principalities nor powers, shall be able to separate us from the
love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2. 'Free, full, and everlasting forgiveness of all the wrongs, the
injuries, and the offences you have done against My Father, Me,
your neighbours, and yourselves.' Now, out of all that let us fix
upon this--the wrongs and the injuries we have done to our
neighbours. For, as Calvin says somewhere, though our sins against
the first table of the law are our worst sins, yet our sins against
the second table, that is, against our neighbours, are far better
for beginning a scrutiny with. So they are. For our wrongs
against our neighbours, when they awaken within us at all, awaken
with a terrible fury. Our wrongs against our neighbours wound, and
burden, and exasperate an awakened conscience in a fearful way. We
come afterwards to say, Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned! But
at the first beginning of our repentances it is the wrongs we have
done to our neighbours that drive us beside ourselves. What
neighbour of yours, then, have you so wronged? Name him; name her.
You avoid that name like poison, but it is not poison--it is life
and peace. More depends on your often recollecting and often
pronouncing that hateful name than you would believe. More depends
upon it than your minister has ever told you. And, then, in what
did you so wrong him? Name the wrong also. Give it its Bible
name, its newspaper name, its brutal, vulgar, ill-mannered name.
Do not be too soft, do not be too courtly with yourself. Keep your
own evil name ever before you. When you hear any other man
outlawed and ostracised by that same name, say to yourself: Thou,
sir, art the man! Put out a secret and a painful skill upon
yourself. Have times and places and ways that nobody knows
anything about--not even those you have wronged; have times and
places and ways they would laugh to be told of, and would not
believe it; times, I say, and places and ways for bringing all
those old wrongs you once did ever and ever back to mind; as often
back and as keen to your mind as they come back to that other mind,
which is still so full of the wrong. Even if your victim has
forgiven and forgotten you, never you forget him, and never you
forgive yourself when you again think of him. Welcome back every
sudden and sharp recollection of your wrong-doing. And make haste
at every such sudden recollection and fall down on the spot in a
deeper compunction than ever before. Do that as you would be a
forgiven and full-chartered soul. For, free and full and
everlasting as God's forgiveness is, you have no assurance that it
is yours if you ever forget your sin, or ever forgive yourself for
having done it. 'Forgive yourself,' says Augustine, 'and God will
condemn you. But continually arraign and condemn yourself, and God
will forgive and acquit and justify you.'

3. 'I give also My holy law and testament, and all that therein is
contained, for their everlasting comfort and consolation.' This is
not the manner of men, O my God. Kind-hearted men comfort and
console those who have suffered injuries and wrongs at our hands,
but the kindest-hearted of men harden their hearts and set their
faces like a flint against us who have done the wrong. All Syria
sympathised with Esau for the loss of his birthright, but I do not
read that any one came to whisper one kind word to Jacob on his
hard pillow. All the army mourned over Uriah, but all the time
David's moisture was dried up like the drought of summer, and not
even Nathan came to the King till he could not help coming. All
Jericho cried, Avenge us of our adversary! But it was Jesus who
looked up and saw Zaccheus and said: Zaccheus, come down; make
haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house. 'The
injuries they have done themselves also,' so runs the very first
head of our forgiveness covenant. Ah! yes; O my Lord, Thou knowest
all things; Thou knowest my heart. Thou knowest that irremediably
as I have injured other men, yet in injuring them I have injured
myself much more. And much as other men need restitution,
reparation, and consolation on my account, my God, Thou knowest
that I need all that much more--ten thousand times more. Oh, how
my broken heart within me leaps up and thanks Thee for that
Covenant. Let me repeat it again to Thy praise: 'Full, free, and
everlasting forgiveness of all wrongs, injuries, and offences done
by him against his neighbours and against himself.' Who, who is a
God, O my God, who is a God like unto Thee!

4. 'I do also give them a portion of the self-same grace and
goodness that dwells in My Father's heart and Mine.' The self-same
grace and goodness, that is, that My Father and I have shown to
them. That is to say, we shall be made both willing and able to
grant to all those men who have wronged us the very same charter of
forgiveness that we have had granted to us of God. So that at all
those times when we stand praying for forgiveness we shall suspend
that prayer till we have first forgiven all our enemies, and all
who have at any time and in any way wronged or injured us. Even
when we had the Communion cup at our lips to-day, you would have
seen us setting it down till we had first gone and been reconciled
to our brother. Yes, my brethren, you are His witnesses that He
has done it. He has taken you into His covenant till He has made
you both able and willing, both willing and able, to grant and to
bequeath to others, all that free, full, and everlasting
forgiveness and love that He has bequeathed to you. Till under the
very last and supreme wrong that your worst enemy can do to you and
to yours, you are able and forward to say: Father, forgive him,
for he knows not what he has done. Forgive me my debts, you will
say, as I forgive my debtors. And always, as you again say and do
that, you will on the spot be made a partaker of the Divine Nature,
according to the heavenly Charter, 'I do also give them a portion
of the self-same grace and goodness that dwells in My Father's
heart and in Mine.'

5. 'I do also,' so Mansoul's Magna Charta travels on, 'I do also
give, grant, and bestow upon them freely the world and all that is
therein for their good; yea, I grant them all the benefits of life
and of death, and of things present and things to come.' What a
magnificent Charter is that! 'All things are yours: whether Paul,
or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things
present, or things to come; all are yours.' What a superb Charter!
Only, it is too high for us; we cannot attain to it. Has any human
being ever risen to anything like the full faith, full assurance,
and full victory of all that in this life? No; the thing is
impossible! Reason would fall off her throne. The heart of a man
would break with too much joy if he tried to enter into the full
belief of all that. No; it hath not entered into the heart of a
still sinful man what God hath chartered to them whom He loves.
This world, and all that therein is, and then all the coming
benefits of life and of death. What benefits do believers receive
from Christ at their death? We all drank in the answer to that
with our mother's milk, but what is behind the words of that answer
no mortal tongue can yet tell. All are yours, and ye are Christ's,
and Christ is God's. Till, what joy, what comfort, what
consolation, think you, did now possess the hearts of the men of
Mansoul! The bells rang, the minstrels played, the people danced,
the captains shouted, the colours waved in the wind, and the silver
trumpets sounded.

6. 'And till the glory breaks suddenly upon you, and as long as
you yet live in this life of free grace I shall give and grant you
leave and free access to Me in My palace at all seasons, there to
make known all your wants to Me; and I give you, moreover, a
promise that I will hear and redress all your grievances.' At all
seasons; in season and out of season. There to make known all your
wants to Me. And all your grievances. All that still grieves and
vexes you. All your wrongs. All your injuries. All that men can
do to you. Let them do their worst to you. My grace is sufficient
for all your grievances. My goodness in you shall make you more
than a conqueror. I undertake to give you before you have asked
for it a heart full of free, full, and everlasting forgiveness and
forgetfulness of all that has begun to grieve you. No word or
deed, written or spoken, of any man shall be able to vex or grieve
the spirit that I shall put within you. You will immediately
avenge yourselves of your adversaries. You will instantly repay
them all an hundredfold. For, when thine enemy hungers, thou shalt
feed him; when he is athirst, thou shalt give him drink. For thou
shalt not be overcome of evil, but thou shalt overcome evil with

7. 'All these grants, privileges, and immunities I bestow upon
thee; upon thee, I say, and upon thy right seed after thee.' O
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, give us such a seed! Give us a
seed right with Thee! Smite us and our house with everlasting
barrenness rather than that our seed should not be right with Thee.
O God, give us our children. Give us our children. A second time,
and by a far better birth, give us our children to be beside us in
Thy holy Covenant. For it had been better we had never been born;
it had been better we had never been betrothed; it had been better
we had sat all our days solitary unless all our children are to be
right with Thee. Let the day perish, and the night wherein it was
said, There is a man-child conceived. Let that day be darkness;
let not God regard it from above; neither let the light shine upon
it, unless all our house is yet to be right with God. O my son
Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O
Absalom, my son, my son! But thou, O God, art Thyself a Father,
and thus hast in Thyself a Father's heart. Hear us, then, for our
children, O our Father, for such of our children as are not yet
right with Thee! In season and out of season; we shall not go up
into our bed; we shall not give sleep to our eyes nor slumber to
our eyelids till we and all our seed are right with Thee. And then
how we and all our saved seed beside us shall praise Thee and bless
Thee above all the families on earth or in heaven, and shall say:
Unto Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
and hath bestowed upon us a free, full, and everlasting
forgiveness, and hath made us partakers of His Divine Nature, to
Him be our love and praise and service to all eternity. Amen and


'Hold fast till I come.'--Our Lord.

There are many fine things in Emmanuel's last charge to Mansoul,
but by far the best thing is the answer that He Himself there
supplies to this deep and difficult question,--to this question,
namely, Why original sin is still left to rage in the truly
regenerate? Why does our Lord not wholly extirpate sin in our
regeneration? What can His reason be for leaving their original
sin to dwell in His best saints till the day of their death? For,
to use His own sad words about sin in His last charge, nothing
hurts us but sin. Nothing defiles and debases us but sin. Why,
then, does He not take our sin clean out of us at once? He could
speak the word of complete deliverance if He only would. Why,
then, does He not speak that word? That has been a mystery and a
grief to all God's saints ever since sanctification began to be.
And the great interest and the great value of Emmanuel's last
charge to Mansoul stands in this, that He here tells us, if not
all, then at least some of His reasons for the policy He pursues
with us in our sanctification. Dost thou know, He asks, as He
stands on His chariot steps, surrounded with His captains on the
right hand and the left--Dost thou know why I at first did, and do
still, suffer sin to live and dwell and harbour in thy heart? And
then, after an O YES! for silence, the Prince began and thus

1. Dost thou ask at Me why I and My Father have seen it good to
allow the dregs of thy sinfulness still to corrupt and to rot in
thine heart? Dost thou ask why, amid so much in thee that is
regenerate, there is still so much more that is unregenerate? Why,
while thou art, without controversy, under grace, indwelling sin
still so festers and so breaks out in thee? Dost thou ask that?
Then, attend, and before I go away to come again I will try to tell
thee, if, indeed, thou art able and willing to bear it. Well,
then, be silent while I tell thee that I have left all that of thy
original sin in thee to tempt thee, to try thee, to humble thee,
and to thrust, day and night, upon thee, what is still in thine
heart. To humble thee, take knowledge, take warning, and take
forethought. To make thee humble, and to keep thee humble. To
hide pride from thee, and to lay thee all thy days on earth in the
dust of death. I tell thee this day that in all thy past life I
have ordered and administered all My providences toward thee to
humble thee and to prove thee, and to make thee dust and ashes in
thine own eyes. And I go away to carry on from heaven this same
intention of My Father's and Mine toward thee. We shall try thee
as silver is tried. We shall sift thee as wheat is sifted. We
shall search thee as Jerusalem is searched with lighted candles. I
tell thee the truth, I shall bend from heaven all My power which My
Father has given Me, and all My wisdom, and all My love, and all My
grace. What to do, dost thou think? What to do but to make thee
to know and to acknowledge the plague of thine own heart. The
deceitfulness, that is, the depth of wickedness, and the
abominableness, past all words, of thine own heart. I do not
ascend to My Father, with all things in My hand, to make thy seat
soft, and thy cup sweet, and thy name great, and thy seed
multiplied. I have far other predestinations before Me for thee.
I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and it is to
everlasting life that I am leading thee. And thou must let Me lead
thee through fire and through water if I am to lead thee to heaven
at last. I shall have to utterly kill all self-love out of thy
heart, and to plant all humility in its place. Many and dreadful
discoveries shall I have to make to thee of thy profane and inhuman
self-love and selfishness. Words will fail thee to confess all thy
selfishness in thy most penitent prayer. Thy towering pride of
heart also, and thy so contemptible vanity. As for thy vanity, I
shall so overrule it that double-minded men about thee shall make
thee and thy vanity their sport, their jest, and their prey. And I
shall not leave thee, nor discharge Myself of My work within thee,
till I see thee loathing thyself and hating thyself and gnashing
thy teeth at thyself for thy envy of thy brother, thy envy
concerning his house, his wife and his man-servant, and his maid-
servant, and his ox, and his ass, and everything that is his. Thou
shalt find something in thee that shall allow thee to see thine
enemy prosper, but not thy friend. Something that shall keep thee
from thy sleep because of his talents, his name, his income, and
his place which I have given him above thee, beside thee, and
always in thy sight. It will be something also that shall make his
sickness, his decay, his defamation, and his death sweet to thee,
and his prosperity and return to life bitter to thee. Thou shalt
have to confess something in thyself--whatever its nature and
whatever its name--something that shall make thee miserable at good
news, and glad and enlarged and full of life at evil tidings. It
will be something also that shall give a long life in thy evil
heart to anger, and to resentment, and to retaliation, and to
revenge. For after years and years thou shalt still have it in
thine heart to hate and to hurt that man and his house, because
long ago he left thy side, thy booth in the market, thy party in
the state, and thy church in religion. As I live, swore Emmanuel,
standing up on the step of His ascending chariot, I shall show thee
thyself. I shall show thee what an unclean heart is and a wicked.
I shall teach to thee what all true saints shudder at when they are
let see the plague of their own hearts. I shall show thee, as I
live, how full of pride, and hate, and envy, and ill-will a
regenerate heart can be; and how a true-born man of God may still
love evil and hate good; may still rejoice in iniquity and pine
under the truth. I shall show thee, also, what thou wilt not as
yet believe, how thy best friend cannot trust his good name with
thee; such a sweet morsel to thee shall be the mote in his eye and
the spot on his praise. Yes, I shall show thee that I did not die
on the cross for nothing when I died for thee; when I went out to
Calvary a shame and a spitting, an outcast and a curse for thee!
Thou shalt yet arise up and fall down in thy sin and shalt justify
all my thorns, and nails, and spears, and the last drop of My blood
for thee! Yea, thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy
God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee,
and to prove thee, and to know what was in thine heart, and whether
thou wouldest keep His commandments or no.

2. It is also, the still tarrying Prince proceeded--it is also to
keep thee wakeful and to make thee watchful. Now, what conceivable
estate could any man be put into even by his Maker and Redeemer
more calculated to call forth wakefulness and watchfulness than to
have one half of his heart new and the other half old? To have one
half of his heart garrisoned by the captains of Emmanuel, and the
other half still full of the spies and the scouts and the
emissaries of hell? Nay, to have the great bulk of his heart still
full of sin and but a small part of his heart here and there under
grace and truth? Here is material for fightings without and fears
within with a vengeance! If it somehow suits and answers God's
deep purposes with His people to teach them watchfulness in this
life, then here is a field for watchfulness, a field of divine
depth and scope and opportunity. There used to be a divinity
question set in the schools in these terms: Where, in the
regenerate, hath sin its lodging-place? For that sin does still
lodge in the regenerate is too abundantly evident both from
Scripture and from experience. But where it so lodges is the
question. The Dominican monks, and some others, were of opinion
that original sin is to be found only in the inferior part of the
soul, but not in the mind or the will. Which, I suppose, we shall
soon find contrary both to Scripture and reason and experience.
Old Andrew Gray speaks feelingly and no less truly concerning the
heart, when he says, 'I think,' he says, 'that if all the saints
since Adam's day, and who shall be to the end of the world, had but
one deceitful heart to guide they would misguide it.' What a plot
of God, then, it is to seat grace, a little saving grace, in the
midst of such a sea of corruption as a human heart is, and then to
set a sinful man to watch over that spark and to keep the boiling
pollutions of his own heart from extinguishing that spark! Well
may Paul exclaim: Yea, what carefulness it calls forth in us; yea,
what indignation; yea, what fear; yea, what vehement desire; yea,
what zeal; yea, what revenge! And, knowing to what He has left our
hearts, well may Emmanuel say to us from His ascending steps,
'Watch ye, therefore; and what I say unto you, I say unto all,

3. It is to keep thee watchful and to teach thee war also, the
Prince went on. Bishop Butler is about the last author that we
would think of going to for light on any deep and intricate
question in the evangelical and experimental life. But Butler is
so deeply seen into much of the heart of man, as also into many of
the ways of God, that even here he has something to say to the
point. 'It is vain to object,' he says in his sober and sobering
way, 'that all this trouble and danger might have been saved us by
our being made at once the creatures and the characters which we
were to be. For we experience that what we are to be is to be the
effect of what we shall do. And that the conduct of nature is not
to save us trouble and danger, but to make us capable of going
through trouble and danger, and to put it upon us to do it.' The
Apostle Peter has the same teaching in a passage too little
attended to, in which he tells us that we are set here to work out
our own salvation, and that our salvation will just be what, with
fear and trembling, or, as Butler says, with trouble and danger, we
work out. No man, let all men understand, is to have his salvation
thrust upon him. No man need expect to waken up at the end of an
idle, indifferent, inattentive life and find his salvation
superinduced upon all that. No man shall wear the crown of
everlasting life who has not for himself won it. As every man
soweth to the Spirit so also shall he reap. As a soldier warreth,
so shall he hear it said to him, Well done. And as a sinner keeps
his heart with all diligence, and holds it fast till his King
comes, so shall he hear it said to him, Thou hast been faithful
over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. If thy
sins, then, are left in thee to teach thee war, O poor saint of
God, then take to thee the whole armour of God; thou knowest the
pieces of it, and where the armoury is, and, having done all,

4. And dost thou know, O Mansoul, that it is all to try thy love
also? Now, how, just how, do the remainders of sin in the
regenerate try their love? Why, surely, in this way. If we really
loved sin at the deepest bottom of our hearts, and only loved
holiness on the surface, would we not in our deepest hearts close
with sin, give ourselves up to it, and make no stand at all against
it? Would we not in our deepest and most secret hearts welcome it,
and embrace it, look out for it with desire and delight, and part
with it with regret? But if, as a matter of fact, we at our
deepest and most hidden heart turn from sin, flee from it, fight
against it, rejoice when we are rid of it, and have horror at the
return of it,--what better proof than that could Christ and His
angels have that at bottom we are His and not the devil's? And
that grace, at bottom, has our hearts, and not sin; heaven, and not
hell? The apostle's protesting cry is our cry also; we also
delight in the law of God after our most inward man. For, after
our saddest surprises into sin, after its worst outbreaks and
overthrows, such all the time were our reluctances,
recalcitrations, and resistances, that, swept away as we were, yet
all the time, and after it was again over, it was with some good
conscience that we said to Christ that He knew all things, and that
He knew that we loved Him.

'O benefit of ill! now I find true
That better is by evil still made better;
And ruined love, when it is built anew,
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater,
So I return rebuked to my content,
And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.'

Yes; it is a sure and certain proof how truly we love our dearest
friend, that, after all our envy and ill-will, yet it is as true as
that God is in heaven that, all the time, maugre the devil of self
that remains in our heart,--after he has done his worst--we would
still pluck out our eyes for our friend and shed our blood. I have
no better proof to myself of the depth and the divineness of my
love to my friend than just this, that I still love him and love
him more tenderly and loyally, after having so treacherously hurt
him. And my heavenly friends and my earthly friends, if they will
still have me, must both be content to go into the same bundle both
of my remaining enmity and my increasing love; my remainders of
sin, and my slow growth in regeneration. So when they had dined,
Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me
more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I
love Thee. He saith unto him again the second time, Simon, son of
Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest
that I love Thee. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of
Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him
the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou
knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee!

5. And, to sum up all--more than your humility, more than your
watchfulness, more than your prayerfulness, more than to teach you
war, and more than to try your love, the dregs and remainders of
sin have been left in your regenerate heart to exalt and to extol
the grace of God. In Emmanuel's very words, it has all been to
make you a monument of God's mercy. I put it to yourselves, then,
ye people of God: does that not satisfy you for a reason, and for
an explanation, and for a justification of all your shame and pain,
and of all your bondage and misery and wretchedness since you knew
the Lord? Is there not a heart in you that says, Yes! it was worth
all my corruption and pollution and misery to help to manifest
forth and to magnify the glory of the grace of God? You seize on
Emmanuel's word that you are a monument of mercy. Somehow that
word pleases and reposes you. Yes, that is what out of all these
post-regeneration years you are. You would have been a monument to
God's mercy had you, like the thief on the cross, been glorified on
the same day on which you were first justified. But it will
neither be the day of your justification nor the day of your
glorification that will make you the greatest of all the monuments
that shall ever be raised to the praise of God's grace; it will be
the days of your sanctification that will do that. Paul was a
blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious at his conversion, but he
had to be a lifetime in grace and an apostle above all the twelve
before he became the chiefest of sinners and the most wretched of
saints. And though your first forgiveness was, no doubt, a great
proof of the grace of God, yet it was nothing, nothing at all, to
your forgiveness to-day. You had no words for the wonder and the
praise of your forgiveness to-day. You just took to your lips the
cup of salvation and let that silent action speak aloud your
monumental praise. You were a sinner at your regeneration, else
you would not have been regenerated. But you were not then the
chief of sinners. But now. Ah, now! Those words, the chief of
sinners, were but idle words in Paul's mouth. He did not know what
he was saying. For, what has horrified and offended other men when
it has been spoken with bated breath to them about envy, and hate,
and malice, and revenge, and suchlike remainders of hell, all that
has been a breath of life and hope to you. It has been to you as
when Christian, in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, heard a voice
in the darkness which proved to him that there was another sinner
at the mouth of hell besides himself. There is no text that comes
oftener to your mind than this, that whoso hateth his brother is a
murderer; and, communicant as you are, you feel and you know and
you are sure that there are many men lying in lime waiting the day
of judgment to whom it would be more tolerable than for you were it
not that you are to be at that day the highest monument in heaven
or earth to the redeeming, pardoning, and saving grace of God.
Yes, this is the name that shall be written on you; this is the
name that shall be read on you of all who shall see you in heaven;
this name that Emmanuel pronounced over Mansoul that day from His
ascending chariot-steps, a very Spectacle of wonder, and a very
Monument of the mercy and the grace of God.

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