Temporary’s backsliding

HOPEFUL: Now, since we are talking about [Temporary], let us a little inquire into the reason of the sudden backsliding of him and such others.

CHRISTIAN: It may be very profitable; but do you begin.

HOPEFUL: Well, then, there are, in my judgment, four reaons for it:

1. Though the consciences of such men are awakened, yet their minds are not changed. Being hot for Heaven by virtue only of the sense and fear of the torments of Hell, as their sense of Hell and fear of damnation chills and cools, so their desires for Heaven and salvation cool also. So then it comes to pass that when their guilt and fear are gone, their desires for Heaven and happiness die, and they return to their course again.

2. Another reason is, they have slavish fears that do overmaster them: I speak now of the fears that they have of men: “For fear of man bringeth a snare” (Proverbs 29:25).

3. The shame that attends religion lies also as a block in their way. They are proud and haughty, and religion in their eye is low and contemptible. Therefore, when they have lost their sense of Hell and the wrath to come, they return again to their former course.

4. Guilt, and to meditate terror, are grievous to them. They like not to see their misery before they come into it; though perhaps the sight of it first, if they loved that sight, might make them flee whither the righteous flee, and are safe; but because they do, as I hinted before, even shun the thoughts of guilt and terror, therefore, when once they are rid of their awakenings about the terrors and wrath of God; they harden their hearts gladly, and choose such ways as will harden them more and more.

CHRISTIAN: You are pretty near the business, for the bottom of all is for want of a change in their mind and will. And therefore they are but like the felon that standeth before the judge: he quakes and trembles, and seems to repent most heartily, but the bottom of all is the fear of the halter; not of any detestation of the offense, as is evident; because let but this man have his liberty, and he will be a thief, and so a rogue still; whereas, if his mind was changed, he would be otherwise.

-Paul Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

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Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

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