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Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.

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"Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan his work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain.

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3. Secret scriptures also--from that enlightening day Christiana's Bible became full of them. Peter says that no prophecy is of any private interpretation; and, whatever he means by that, what he says must be true. But Christiana would have understood the apostle better if he had said the exact opposite of that,--if not about the prophecies, at least about the psalms. Leave the prophecies in this connection alone; but of the psalms it may safely be said that it is neither the literal nor the historical nor the mystical interpretation that gets at the heart of those supreme scriptures. It is the private, personal, and, indeed, secret interpretation that gets best at the deepest heart of the psalms. An old Bible came into my hands the other day--a Bible that had seen service--and it opened of its own accord at the Book of Psalms. On turning over the yellow leaves I found a date and a deep indentation opposite these words: "Commit thy way unto the Lord: trust also in Him: and He will bring it to pass." And as I looked at the figures on the margin, and at the underscored text, I felt as if I were on the brink of an old-world secret. "Create in me a clean heart" had a significant initial also; as had this: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit." The whole of the hundred-and-third psalm was bracketed off from all public interpretation; while the tenth, the cardinal verse of that secret psalm, had a special seal set upon it. Judging from its stains and scars and other accidents, the whole of the hundred-and-nineteenth psalm had been a special favourite; while the hundred-and-forty- third also was all broidered round with shorthand symbols. But the secret key of all those symbols and dates and enigmatical marks was no longer to be found; it had been carried away in the owner's own heart. But, my head being full of Christiana at the time, I felt as if I held her own old Bible in my hand as I turned over those ancient leaves.

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4. Our Lord so practised secrecy Himself in His fasting, in His praying, and in His almsgiving, and He makes so much of that same secrecy in all His teaching, as almost to make the essence of all true religion to stand in its secrecy. "When thou prayest," says our Lord, "shut thy door and pray in secret." As much as to say that we are scarcely praying at all when we are praying in public. Praying in public is so difficult that new beginners, like His disciples, have to practise that so difficult art for a long time in secret. Public prayer has so many besetting sins, it is open to so many temptations, distractions, and corruptions, that it is almost impossible to preserve the real essence of prayer in public prayer. But in secret all those temptations and distractions are happily absent. We have no temptation to be too long in secret prayer, or too loud, or too eloquent. Stately old English goes for nothing in secret prayer. We never need to go to our knees in secret trembling, lest we lose the thread of our prayer, or forget that so fit and so fine expression. The longer we are the better in secret prayer. Much speaking is really a virtue in secret prayer; much speaking and many repetitions. Also, we can put things into our secret prayers that we dare not come within a thousand miles of in the pulpit, or the prayer-meeting, or the family. We can enter into the most plain-spoken particulars about ourselves in secret. We can put our proper name upon ourselves, and upon our actions, and especially upon our thoughts when our door is shut. Then, again, we can pray for other people by name in secret; we can enter, so far as we know them, into all their circumstances in a way it is impossible to do anywhere but in the utmost secrecy. We can, in short, be ourselves in secret; and, unless it is to please or to impress men, we had better not pray at all unless we are ourselves when we are engaged in it. You can be yourself, your very worst self; nay, you must be, else you will not long pray in secret, and even if you did you would not be heard. I do not remember that very much is said in so many words in her after-history about Christiana's habits of closet-prayer. But that Secret taught her the way, and waited till she had tasted the sweetness and the strength of being a good while on her knees alone, I am safe to say; indeed, I read it between the lines in all her after-life. She was rewarded openly in a way that testifies to much secret prayer; that is to say, in the early conversion of her children, in the way they settled in life, and such like things. Pray much for those things in secret that you wish to possess openly.

5. But perhaps the best and most infallible evidence we can have of the truth of our religion in this life is in the steady increase of our secret sinfulness. Christiana had no trouble with her own wicked heart so long as she was a woman of a wicked life. But directly she became a new creature, her heart began to swarm, such is her own expression, with sinful memories, sinful thoughts, and sinful feelings; till she had need of some one ever near her, like Greatheart, constantly to assure her that those cruel and deadly swarms, instead of being a bad sign of her salvation, were the very best signs possible of her good estate. Humility is the foundation of all our graces, and there is no humility so deep and so ever- deepening as that evangelical humility which in its turn rises out of and rests upon secret sinfulness. Not upon acts of secret sin. Do not mistake me. Acts of secret sin harden the heart and debauch the conscience. But I speak of that secret, original, unexplored, and inexpugnable sinfulness out of which all a sinner's actual sins, both open sins and secret, spring; and out of which a like life of open and actual sins would spring in God's very best saints, if only both He and they did not watch night and day against them. Sensibility to sin, or rather to sinfulness, is far and away the best evidence of sanctification that is possible to us in this life. It is this keen and bitter sensibility that secures, amid all oppositions and obstructions, the true saint's onward and upward progress. Were it not for the misery of their own hearts, God's best saints would fall asleep and go back like other men. A sinful heart is the misery of all miseries. It is the deepest and darkest of all dungeons. It is the most painful and the most loathsome of all diseases. And the secrecy of it all adds to the bitterness and the gall of it all. We may know that other men's hearts are as sinful as our own, but we do not feel their sinfulness. We cannot sensibly feel humiliation, bondage, sickness, and self-loathing on account of another man's envy, or ill-will, or resentment, or cruelty, or falsehood, or impurity. All these things must be our own before we can enter into the pain and the shame of them; but, when we do, then we taste what death and hell are indeed. As I write these feeble words about it, a devil's shaft of envy that was shot all against my will into my heart this morning, still, after a whole day, rankles and festers there. I have been on my knees with it again and again; I have stood and looked into an open grave to-day; but there it is sucking at my heart's blood still, like a leech of hell. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Create in me a clean heart, O God, O wretched man that I am! "Let a man," says William Law when he is enforcing humility, "but consider that if the world knew all that of him which he knows of himself: if they saw what vanity and what passions govern his inside, and what secret tempers sully and corrupt his best actions, he would have no more pretence to be honoured and admired for his goodness and wisdom than a rotten and distempered body to be loved and admired for its beauty and comeliness. This is so true, and so known to the hearts of almost all people, that nothing would appear more dreadful to them than to have their hearts fully discovered to the eyes of all beholders. And, perhaps, there are very few people in the world who would not rather choose to die than to have all their secret follies, the errors of their judgments, the vanity of their minds, the falseness of their pretences, the frequency of their vain and disorderly passions, their uneasinesses, hatreds, envies, and vexations made known to all the world." Where did William Law get that terrible passage? Where could he get it but in the secret heart of the miserable author of the Serious Call?

6. The half cannot be told of the guilt and the corruption, the pain and the shame and the manifold misery of secret sin; but all that will be told, believed, and understood by all men long before the full magnificence of their sanctification, and the superb transcendence of their blessedness, will even begin to be described to God's secret saints. For, all that sleepless, cruel, and soul- killing pain, and all that shameful and humbling corruption,--all that means, all that is, so much holiness, so much heaven, working itself out in the soul. All that is so much immortal life, spotless beauty, and incorruptible joy already begun in the soul. Every such pang in a holy heart is a death-pang of another sin and a birth-pang of another grace. Brotherly love is at last being born never to die in that heart where envy and malice and resentment and revenge are causing inward agony. And humility and meekness and the whole mind of Christ are there where pride and anger and ill-will are felt to be very hell itself. And holiness, even as God is holy, will soon be there for ever where the sinfulness of sin is a sinner's acutest sorrow. "As for me," said one whose sin was ever before him, "I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I wake with Thy likeness."

"But the fearful [literally, the timid and the cowardly] shall have their part in the second death."--Revelation xxi.

No sooner had Secret bidden Christiana farewell than she began with all her might to make ready for her great journey. "Come, my children, let us pack up and begone to the gate that leads to the Celestial City, that we may see your father and be with him, and with his companions, in peace, according to the laws of that land." And then: "Come in, if you come in God's name!" Christiana called out, as two of her neighbours knocked at her door. "Having little to do at home this morning," said the elder of the two women, "I have come across to kill a little time with you. I spent last night with Mrs. Light-mind, and I have some good news for you this morning." "I am just preparing for a journey this morning," said Christiana, packing up all the time, "and I have not so much as one moment to spare." You know yourselves what Christiana's nervousness and almost impatience were. You know how it upsets your good temper and all your civility when you are packing up for a long absence from home, and some one comes in, and will talk, and will not see how behindhand and how busy you are. "For what journey, I pray you?" asked Mrs. Timorous, for that was her visitor's name. "Even to go after my good husband," the busy woman said, and with that she fell a-weeping. But you must read the whole account of that eventful morning in Christiana's memoirs for yourselves till you have it, as Secret said, by root-of-heart. On the understanding that you are not total strangers to that so excellently-written passage I shall now venture a few observations upon it.

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