The History of Little Faith
Dialogue the Nineteenth.
Shepherd. I am glad to see you. Come in, for thou art a good man, and bringest good tidings.
Steward. I bring good tidings, and bad tidings. Good tidings, for Little Faith is as happy as ever: bad tidings, for he gets worse and worse in body; nor do I think that he will be long on this side Jordan.
Shepherd. Poor man!
Steward. Don't call him poor, for I think he is immensely rich in faith, rich toward God, and one that is entrusted with true riches: he hath got bags that wax not old; a treasure in the heavens, where no moth corrupteth, nor thief approacheth. He says, he now knows what true humility is; and, I think, his present humility is a prelude to his future honour, for "before honour is humility."
Shepherd. Nothing humbles the soul like the enjoyment of pardoning mercy, and an abiding sense of everlasting love. Where this self-abhorrence and self-abasement take place, they make room for a double portion of the Spirit. It is with him that is of an humble and a contrite heart, and that trembles at the word, that the King loves to dwell.
Steward. True: Little Faith says, that he never saw himself, and his past life, in so desperate a point of view as he now sees them. "The darkness is now past, and the true light shineth. The King discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death indeed, Job, xii. 22. For I can now see," saith he, "through the whole of my former profession, and discover a deal of pride and hypocrisy under every part of it: for I used to be perpetually complaining to the Royal Family about my state, and telling them how I longed after real convictions of sin by the Holy Ghost, a deep sense of my lost estate, a broken heart, a contrite spirit, godly sorrow, and evangelical repentance; whereas if any of the penetrating Servants of the Household handled the King's speeches faithfully, so that I felt the sword of the Spirit cut me to the heart, or the hammer of the word smiting my conscience, I directly left him, secretly offended at him in my mind, though I knew in my conscience that what he delivered was the truth; and I went to one that would prophesy smooth things, or prophesy deceits, so as I could but get the wound healed, though but slightly, by one who would cry-'Peace! peace!' though, at the, same time, God and Conscience both knew that no peace had been either spoken or applied to me. And this," said he, "is base hypocrisy, both before the King and his Seed."
Shepherd. It is no better than vile hypocrisy, to pray and complain for a broken heart, and at the same time run from the hammer; mourn for a wounded spirit, and fly from the sword that gives it. It shews a deal of rottenness at the bottom; for if truth be within, and the heart sound, such a one will come to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God; but he that doth evil hateth the light, and that is his condemnation. The Psalmist says," Search me and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Sincere souls are always suspicious and jealous over their own hearts; and they know that it is by sharp rebuke they must be made sound in the faith, and not by one that can play on an instrument, nor by a very lovely song of one that a pleasant voice, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. "All things that are reproved are made manifest by the light, for whatsoever doth make manifest is light," Eph. v. 13, and God is light. To fly from the light, is flying from God; and to hate the light, is hating God; and he that hardens his neck against the reproofs of light, shall be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Steward. He told me likewise, that he had discovered a deal of pride which lay at the bottom of all his past profession, and that was the main spring of it. "For, having obtained a name of being very diligent, attentive, sober, honest, and much in retirement and devotion, I secretly fed upon it," said he; "and was most intolerably proud in spirit at gaining the name of a man singularly devout, though at the same time I knew that it was not one time in fifty that I came from retirement with the testimony or approbation either of God or my own conscience. It was my base hypocrisy, and my legal pride, and nothing else, that kept me so long pressed at the strait gate; for I could not endure the truth faithfully handled; I fed on human applause, and sought glory of man, and not the glory that cometh from God only; and I secretly loved, and felt a closer union in heart with, a refined Hagarite, than I did with a tried, tempted loyalist. A vile person, who trusted in his own heart, was not contemned in my eyes; nor did I take all my delight with the excellent of the earth, nor with such who excelled in that virtue which is coupled with faith, 2 Pet. i. 5. I frequently complained to others, that I was afraid that I was nothing but a hypocrite, when my complaint itself was nothing but hypocrisy, for I secretly indulged a very high opinion of myself. I was more taken with a person of gifts, and an external reformation, if he seemed to be of a smooth, even temper and disposition, though legally dead, carnally secure, and settled in sinful ease, sloth, and a false peace, than I was with a good soldier of Jesus Christ; though God says, 'Woe to them that are at ease;' and, 'Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.' In short, 'I savoured not the things of God, but those that be of men.'"
Shepherd. Little Faith, being brought through the deep waters, and coming out into such glorious light and liberty, must unavoidably make deep discoveries of the leaven of legal pride; and of the various evils, temptations, and entanglements, that have befallen him in the way.
Steward. Indeed he has. And he sees it to be a most abominable crime to make the Chapel-royal a place of carnal courtship. "Eyes full of adultery in the house of God," he says, "is shocking to think of. I neither kept my foot, mine eyes, nor mine heart, when I went into that sacred place. I did not obey the voice of my teachers, nor incline mine ear to them that instructed me; for my wicked heart has been in all evil, in the midst of the congregation and assembly, Prov. v. 13, 14. However," said he, "the backslider in heart has been filled with his own ways. I was above consulting any of my real friends in the matter of my marriage, and therefore the KING, in just anger, let me go on with the workers of iniquity; and sure I am that, if HE had not supported me by his undeserved power, I had at this time been like him who lodged among the tombs." Excuse me my dear brother, as I promised to be at Tabor this afternoon.
Shepherd. The King hath made thee free; and free thou shalt remain for me, for I will neither press thee, nor detain thee a moment beyond thy time. Farewell
Steward. Fare you well