Dr. Thomas Goodwin says somewhere that the worm that dieth not only comes to its sharpest sting and to its deadliest venom when it is hatched up under gospel light. The very light of nature itself greatly aggravates some of our sins. The light of our early education greatly aggravates others of our sins. But nothing wounds our conscience and then exasperates the wound like a past experience of the same sin, and, especially, an experience of the grace of God in forgiving that sin. Had we found young Presumption in his irons before his conversion, we would have been afraid enough at the sight. Had we found him laid by the heels after his first uncleanness, it would have made us shudder for ourselves. But we are horrified and speechless as we see him apprehended and laid in irons on the very night of his first communion, and with the wine scarcely dry on his unclean lips. Augustine postponed his baptism till he should have his fill of sin, and till he should no longer return to sin like a dog to his vomit. Now, next Sabbath is our communion day in this congregation. Let us therefore this week examine ourselves. And if we must sin as long as we are in this world, let it henceforth be the sin of ignorance and of infirmity.
So the three reprobates lay down to sleep again, and Christian as he left that bottom went on in the narrow way singing:
’O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.’
THE THREE SHINING ONES AT THE CROSS
’Salvation shall God appoint for walls.’—Isaiah.
John Bunyan’s autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, is the best of all our commentaries on The Pilgrim’s Progress, and again to-night I shall have to fall back on that incomparable book. ’Now, I saw in my dream that the highway up which Christian was to go was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall is called Salvation. Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.’ In the corresponding paragraph in Grace Abounding, our author says, speaking about himself: ’But forasmuch as the passage was wonderful narrow, even so narrow that I could not but with great difficulty enter in thereat, it showed me that none could enter into life but those that were in downright earnest, and unless also they left this wicked world behind them; for here was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul and sin.’ ’He ran thus till he came to a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below in the bottom a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with this cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where