Now I saw, that tliey all went on in their talk. For after Mr. Great-heart had made an end with Mr. Fearing, Mr. Honest began to tell them of another, but bis name was Mr. Self-will. He pretended himself to be a pilgrim, said Mr. Honest; bnt I persuade myself, he never came in at the gate that stands at the head of the way.
Great-heart. Had you ever any talk with him about it.
Hon. Yes, more than once or twice; but he would always be like himself, Self-willed. He neither cared for man, nor argument, nor example; what his mind prompted him to, that he will do, and nothing else could he be got to.
Great-heart. Pray what principles did be hold? for I suppose you can tell.
lion. He held, that a man might follow the vices as well as the virtues of the pilgrims; and that if he did both, he should be certainly saved.
Great-heart. How! if he had said, It is possible for the bfst to be guilty of the vices, as well as partake of the virtues of pilgrims, he could not much have been blamed; for indeed we are exempted from no vice absolutely, but on condition that we watch and strive.—But this I perceive is hot the thin»; but if I understand you right, your meaning is, that he was of that opinion, that it was allowable so to he. 'Hon. Ay, ay, so I mean, and so he believed and practised.
Great-heart. But what grounds had he for his so saying?
Hon. Why, he said he had the scripture for his warrant.
Great-heart. Prithee, Mr. Honest, present us with a few particulars.
Hon. So I will. He said , to have to do with other men's wives, had been practised by David, God's beloved, and therefore he could do it. He said, to have more women than one was a thing that Solomon practised, and therefore he could do it. He said, that Sarah and the godly midwives of Egypt lied, and so did Rahab, and therefore he could do it. He said, that the disciples went at the hidding of their master, and took away the owner's ass, and therefore he could do so too: He said, that Jacob got the inheritance of his father in a way of guile and dissimulation, and therefore he could do so too.
Great-heart. Highly base indeed! And are you sure he was of this opinion?
Hon. I have heard him plead for it, bring scripture for it, bring arguments for it, &c.
Great-heart. An opinion that is not fit to be with any allowance in the world.
Hon. You must understand me right!y: he did not say that any man might do this; but that those that had the virtues of those that did such things, might nha do the same.
Great-heart. But what more false than such a conclusion! for this is as much as to say, that because good men heretofore have sinned of infirmity, therefore he had allowance to do it of a presumptuous mind: or if, because a child, by the blast of the wityl, or for that it stumbled at a stone, fell down and defiled itself in mire, therefore he might wilfully lie down and wallow like a boar therein. Who could have thought that any one could so far have been blinded by the power of lust? But what is written must be true: they " stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed (a)"
His supposing that such may have the godly men's virtues, who addict themselves to their vices, is also a delusion as strong as the other. It is just as if the dog should say, I have, or may have the qualities of the child, because I lick up its stinking excrements. To eat up the sin of God's people (b), is no sign of one that is possessed with their virtues. Nor can I believe, that one that is of this opinion can at present have faith or love in him. But I know you have made some strong objections against him: Prithee what can he say for himself?
Hon. Why, he sa}s, To do this by way of opinion, seems abundantly more honest than to do it, and yet hold contrary to it in opinion.
Great-heart. A very wicked answer; for though to let loose the bridle to lusts, while our opinions are against such things, is bad; yet, to sin, and plead a toleration so to do, is worse; the one stumbles beholders accidentally, the other leads them into the snare.
Hon. Tliere are many of this man's mind, that have not this man's mouth, and tiiat makes going on pilgrimage of so little esteem as it is.
Great-heart. You have said the truth, and it is to be lamented; but he that faareth the King of Paradise, shall come out ol them all.
Christ. Tliere are strange opinions in the world. 1 .know ouc that said, It was time enough to repent when we come to die.
Great-heart. Such are not over wise: that man "would have been loath, might he have had a week 'to run ..twenty mi'es in his life, to hare deferred 'that journey to the last hour of that week.
Hon. You say right, and yet the generality of ..them that count themselves pilgrims, do indeed do thus. I am, as yousee, an old man, and have been a traveller in this road many a day; and I have taken notice of many things.
'I have seen some that have set out as if they would drive all the world afore them, who yet have in a few days died as they in the wilderness, and so .never got sight of the promised land.
I have seen some that have promised nothing at first setting out to be pilgrims, and that one would have thought could not have lived a day, that have yet proved very good pilgrims.
I have'seen some who have run hastily forward, that again have, after a little time, run just as fast back again.
I have seen some who have spoke very well of a pilgrim's life at first, that after a while have spoken as much against it.
I have heard some, wiien they first set out for Paradise, say positively, there is such a place, who when they have been almost there, have come back jirain, and said there is none. „
"i have heard some vaunt what they would do in case they should be opposed, that have, even at a, false alarm, fkd faith, the pilgrim's way and all.
A Character as much as possible the reverse of the formor* is here depicted. Mr. Self-will, a sort of antinoinian, whose carnal and stubborn will had never been brought into subjection to the holy will of God. That heart is awfully depraved, and deplorably hardened, which can, not only habitually and freely wallow in the vilest lu-ts, but also hasely attemptUo justify such a course of life by the most holy word of God. It is a horrible and blasphemous perversion of scripture indeed, to lake encouragement in sin, from those sad examples of it in the saints, which are held up on terrorem) as so many beacons or sea-marks, by which we may avoid the same. To talk, and especially to act like Mr. Self-will, affords the fullest proof that that man never came in at the gate. The .Lord change every such perverse will, and preserve the church from principles and practices so diabolical.