ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
This is one of the most interesting of Bunyan's treatises, to edit which required the Bible at my right hand, and a law dictionary on my left. It was very frequently republished; but in an edition by John Marshall, 1725, it became most seriously mutilated, many passages were omitted, and numerous errors were made. In this state, it was copied into Mr. Whitefield's edition of his works, and it has been since republished with all those errors. It is now restored to its original state; and we hope that it will prove a most acceptable addition to our theological literature. Although Bunyan was shut up for more than twelve years a prisoner for the truth, and his time was so fully occupied in preaching, writing, and labouring to provide for the pressing wants of his family; still he managed to get acquainted, in a very remarkable manner, with all those law terms which are connected with the duties of a counsel, or advocate. He uses the words replevin, supersedeas, term, demur, nonsuit, reference, title, in forma pauperis, king's bench, common pleas, as properly and familiarly as if he had been brought up to the bar. How extraordinary must have been his mental powers, and how retentive his memory! I examined this work with apprehension, lest he had misapplied those hard words; but my surprise was great, to find that he had used every one of them with as much propriety as a Lord Chief-Justice could have done.
We are indebted for this treatise to Bunyan's having heard a sermon which excited his attention to a common, a dangerous, and a fatal heresy, more frequently preached to crowned heads, mitred prelates, members of parliament, and convocations, than it is to the poor, to whom the gospel is preached. In this sermon, the preacher said to his hearers, "see that your cause be good, else Christ will not undertake it." p. 159. Bunyan heard, as all Christians ought to hear, with careful jealousy, and at once detected the error. He exposes the fallacy, and uses his scriptural knowledge to confute it, by showing that Christ pleads for the wicked, the lost; for those who feel themselves so involved in a bad cause, that no advocate but Christ can bring them through. He manifests great anxiety that every inquirer should clearly ascertain definite truths and not be contented with general notions. See p. 189-199, and 201. This is very important advice, and by following which, we shall be saved from many painful doubts and fears. Our need of an advocate is proved by the fact, that Christ has undertaken the office. Some rely on their tears and sighs, as advocates for them with God; others on imperfect good works-from all these the soul must be shaken, until it finds that there is no prevailing Advocate but the Saviour; and that he alone, with his mystical body, the church, is entitled to the inheritance. Then sincere repentance, sighs, and tears, evidence our faith in him, and our godly sorrow for having occasioned him such inconceivable sufferings; tears of joy that we have such a Saviour and an Advocate, equally omnipotent to plead for, as to save us. The inheritance being Christ's, the members of his body cannot be cheated of it, or alienate it. p. 187. Bunyan, with his fertile imagination, and profound scriptural knowledge, spiritualizes the day of jubilee as a type of the safety of the inheritance of the saints. By our folly and sin we may lose sight for a time of our title deeds; but the inheritance is safe.
The whole work is a rich treat to those who love experimental divinity, and are safe in Christ as Noah was in the ark; but, Oh! how woeful must those be, who are without an interest in the Saviour; and that have none to plead their cause. "They are left to be ground to powder between the justice of God and the sins which they have committed. It is sad to consider their plight. This is the man that is pursued by the law, and by sin, and by death, and has none to plead his cause. Terrors take hold on him as waters; a stone hurleth him out of his place" (Job 27). p. 200. Reader, this is a soul-searching subject-may it lead us to a solemn trial of our state, and to the happy conclusion, that the Saviour is our Advocate, and that our eternal inheritance is safe in heaven.
HACKNEY. MAY 1850.
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